Thursday, September 28, 2006

Why am I doing this?

Amateur theatre.

I've been in quite a few plays in my short lifetime so far: skits, cabarets, one-acts, two-acts, you name it. In most of these performances, I was an actor. Being in a play is typically a stressful affair -- I mean, no one wants it to be so, but usually there is something that everyone worries about, whether it be a wobbly part of the set, a wrong prop, or knowing that one of the actors just just memorized his lines five days before the show. And even if there isn't anything tangible that can go wrong, there is always a chance for a slip-up, someone jumping four pages ahead and then jumping back again, and then you having no idea what the heck you're supposed to say.

Days, hours, or even minutes before going on stage, there can be utter chaos. How on earth are you even supposed to pull this off? We've only done the plate breaking scene once with a real plate! Won't it be clear as day to everyone that you aren't even close to being ready? How long will you be able to keep up the facade?!
Now, this is the appropriate time when you will ask yourself, "Why am I doing this? Why am I putting myself through this madness?" There is stress coming out of your ears!

And yes, I have even heard my Dad utter those frenzied words minutes before opening night, getting ready backstage, as the chaos reigns around him. The set will fall over! Hubert doesn't know his lines! I need to run away! Why am I here again?

But, of course, the question is always answered at the end. Somehow, you've managed to pull the play off. Somehow, everything came together in the end. Nothing fell over! No one fumbled up! Somehow, the play was successful! Yes, successful! People actually liked it; heck, they even laughed! You had forgotten how funny it was. You had forgotten how much you love audiences.

After the play, you are on a plateau'd high, and you can't imagine doing anything else but theatre. You know exactly why you do it. For the love of the arts, for the performance, for the entertainment of the audience! You only remember the positive parts of it all; you remember how great your cast is and how wonderful it is that you will be performing this play five more times. Your day job can wait; you are living the high life of an actor now!

Repeated performances are always the best -- you are much less nevous, more excited, and you strive to make every performance the absolute greatest it can be. Finally, you now have the opportunity to actually concentrate on being an actor, rather than chewing your fingernails, asking yourself whether or not Marge will remember her cues.

However, perhaps the worst part of theatre is the end of it. The fact that you were part of this group, this magical ensemble, and suddenly now, you have finished your last show, and it is back to reality for you, man! No more crazy actors, no more theatre highs, no more audiences -- it's back to that grim factory of yours, where you are expected to work as a serf for 16-hours a day, turning trees into Thneeds. Okay, okay, so maybe your job isn't quite that bleak, but anything is depressing after being a real, live actor for two weeks!

But, what about having that magical opportunity to actually make acting your day job? Well, I only promised amateur theatre in this entry. If you've entered the realm of professional theatre, disregard this entry, and please, take me with you!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Balsamic Vinegar

There is only one kind of food that I really despise, and it is balsamic vinegar. Any one of those weird vinegars, like malted, balsamic, or the cider apple vinegar is absolutely vomitrocious.

Right now the smell permeates the entire house. Andrea oh-so clumsily spilled it on our futon. It is pandemonium. Out of all the foods that could be taking over the house, why must it be that blasted apple cider vinegar! Why, I would tolerate chunky stew or red wine spewn all over the couches rather than that filthy acidic stench.

Balsamic vinegar isn't something that should ever be consumed, let alone spilled on couches.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Oh, Canada?

Love to travel? But strangely enough feel more Canadian abroad than at home?

"Canadians are not, by and large, patriotic people, but if there's one thing I've noticed from my years overseas, it's how our national pride swells whenever we leave. Yes, there's nothing quite like leaving Canada to make you feel Canadian."

Read more of Cindy's great article here!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

My little brown bag

Allow me, just this once, to wallow in self-pity. I so seldom do indulge my readers in my misfortunes; I figure that most people, including myself, are sick of hearing other bloggers complain about their so-called miserable lives.

I am merely miserable about one thing -- I have lost my purse, containing all of my cards and keys that I need. I did not have much money in it, thankfully, but the real problem is that so much is lost with that one thing. Even my Ukranian money! Phone numbers, Student ID, Bank card, Health Card, everything vanished with it.

The strangest part of this entire ordeal is that the loss of my purse makes no sense to me. From what I have deduced, it should be in the house. But, let me tell you, I have scoured my house from top to bottom and have come up with nothing. The only other plausible place it may be is Bandeen Hall, where I have choir practise. I still doubt very much that I left it there, but it is the only other explanation.

Just as a warning, as I am somewhat in the depths of despair, blog entries may slow down because of this dilemma.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Saving Face

The world of theatre is a strange place, not only due to its eccentric actors, to its "modern plays", nor to its abnormal schedules, but also because it is a place to express yourself, to release those emotions that you've bottled up for years... and then get someone to perform them on stage?

Many people release sadness of a particularly bad break-up through a painting, for example, or they will vent their anger and frustration of their world or the world around them in a form of a poem or a short story. But the strangest, almost funniest, way to release emotions, especially personal emotions of a particular circumstance or situation, is writing a play about it. I shouldn't really say strange because I do think that writing about something that has bothered you or is still bothering you is a good antidote; it can put your situation in perspective. I suppose the real funny thing about this is when you pen something hurtful that happened to you in your past, and then you spend weeks or months perfecting this very personal script, just so you can see it acted out in front of you! Yes, instead of burying these emotions deep within your wounded soul, you intentionally thrust these sharded feelings up on stage, for everyone to see, as well as yourself, so you have the opportunity to relive this horribly negative experience (that you likely never wanted to go through again) many times on stage!

Of course, not every dramatist has the desire to write about their darkest times, nor do many of them choose to write about something so close to home. It is true, however, that the majority of playwrights to tend to slip in at least something personal (such as a specific character or a political view they may have) into their scripts. It's very tempting to add something of youreslf into the script because it is always neat to watch something that has something of you in it. It's like your very own private joke.

So, is playwriting only for the strong and the bold? Not at all; people write anything from a milkman to octopus' to the country of Latvia. For some, it's just another way to get those artsy fartsy I'm-so-filled-with-emotions out. It is just peculiar that seeing your problem acted out on stage can be therapeutic, but I suppose it could be the interpretation of your play that you are interested in. Perhaps it helps you realize that others are in the same boat, or even, it helps you find a solution or a way to move on.

At the auditions yesterday, I had the opportunity to read almost the entire script of one of the plays. It is student written. I was shocked at the content of the script because I know the playwright, and I could never see him writing something like that. He is witty and funny, sometimes quiet, and he is a brilliantly hilarious actor. I just did not see him writing about a love triangle. Although, as Andrea pointed out, maybe he's just writing about something that happened to him. Makes sense -- even the witty and the funny get into difficult situations.

In a way, that reminds me of how interesting it is to read something for the first time of someone you already know. Sometimes, their writing comes to you as a complete surprise. You would have never guessed that they write that way! It makes you think about them in a slightly different way; you have now pierced into their life as a writer. I believe that someone's writing is a critical part about them, especially if they are one to write articles, music, or even a weblog.

Of course, something that is potentially even more interesting is meeting someone after having read and followed their blog religiously. Interesting, yes, but not necessarily pleasant.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Photos and Chocolate Chip Cookies

As promised, I have uploaded photos from my time in Germany on aisle four. Feel free to check them out. Pictures of my time in Berlin, Poland, Vienna, and Boston will come shortly.

For years now, I have been searching for the perfect chocolate chip recipe. It is the most well-known and standard cookie, but I also believe it is one of the most delicious. The chocolate chip cookie recipes on chocolate chips packaging are often lame and require strange ingredients. Those cookies have never turned out well for me. Only about a week ago, I stumbled across the most perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. Now, I doubt that many of you were also on this chocolate chip cookie quest, but I have decided to post the recipe, just in case.

I follow this recipe very closely, except that I add about two tablespoons of milk to the batter, which makes a great difference in terms of the fluffiness of the cookies. I have also heard that adding a "dollop" of sour cream also makes the cookies softer. The amount of a "dollop" is left up to your own interpretation.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) with rack in center of oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), cream the butter. Add the white and brown sugars and beat until fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in eggs, one at a time, making sure to beat well after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat until incorporated.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and beat until incorporated, adding the chocolate chips about half way through mixing. If you find the dough very soft, cover and refrigerate until firm (about 30 minutes).
For large cookies, use about a 2 tablespoon ice cream scoop or with two spoons, drop about 2 tablespoons of dough (35 grams) onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake about 12 - 14 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges. Cool completely on wire rack.

Makes about 4 dozen - 3 inch round cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) (226 grams) unsalted
butter, room temperature
1 cup (200 grams) granulated white
1 cup (215 grams) firmly packed light brown
2 large
2 teaspoons pure
vanilla extract
3 cups (420 grams) all-purpose
1 teaspoon
baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (270 grams) semisweet chocolate chips

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Art of Meeting People

Being a Freshman at University practically shouts out at you the welcomed words of "you'll meet new people", "a good place to meet people", "meet interesting people with similar interests as you", etc.
Most of these things are true, unless, of course, you have extremely atypical interests, where your idea of a good time involves reptiles and a shoddy-looking urinal.

Meeting people is an artform; there are many different ways to approach people. I find it interesting to note the various ways people choose to approach others; some prefer the loud and outgoing method, whilst others opt for a quiet, perhaps more intellectual approach. And, of course, there is never anything wrong with the witty and funny method.

I also find it very interesting to observe the way close friends of mine react and communicate when they are faced with new people. Different styles and techniques are used, depending on whether you are just humouring someone or making small-talk, rather than considering them as a potential friend; also, I will approach both sexes differently, especially when the situation is only a one-on-one.

As you get older and as you chalk up more life experience, I find it becomes easier to weed out the people that have no friend potential whatsoever. You know what you are looking for, you know the type of person you prefer, so it is easier to pick out those unworthy after a good conversation; then again, sometimes it just takes a five minutes or an obnoxious or ignorant comment.

I enjoy making people laugh, almost in any situation, whether it be a close friend or a possible new friend, so that is part of my technique. I also tend to be a little more blunt, sarcastic, quirky, and even witty when I encounter someone new. I find it amusing to be able to talk in any fashion you want, without the other person wondering how on earth you became so bonkers. You may just be naturally bonkers! Perhaps you are of the errant bonkish nature. They don't know. So, when you've found someone worthy of your time, savour it, play with it, test some borders, and before you know it, you'll be adorned in a pretty, yet somehow unmanageable long-sleeved white shirt that makes arm movement significantly more difficult.

Like food, painting, and theatre, overall in their goodness and disasters, people are an art.