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The End

October 19, 2007

Friday, October 19, 2007

Fall colours on the way home

Tomorrow it will be two weeks since we closed. Amazing. I think all of us are home now, with the possible exception of Derbhle, who is finishing a visit with her Aunt in Toronto. And Kelly who left Ottawa to go to a job out in B.C. There was a great email from Jenny the other day about sitting with a cup of tea and her boyfriend, trying to remember her living room. It’s not that seventeen weeks is such a long time away from home, but that we covered so much land and sea, and so much happened that it feels more protracted than it was.

I was inundated with company upon my arrival home, and am only now settling and having some time for reflection. Such a long journey from a chat with Peter Hinton in his apartment last December, to this return home. Here are a few thoughts, in no particular order:

Almost two months before the auditions, my friend David bought me a copy of Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad for Christmas. This is what he inscribed in the front of the book: “I hope this revamped Odyssey becomes an adventure of your own… “. Prescient words.

I truly believe that the plays we work on as actors become our lives for the time we work on them. They effect us deeply. Consciously and subconsciously. And through our focus and dedication, we live them in our relationships and in our behaviour. As I say to my students, we don’t create the world of the play and the character outside ourselves, we discover the world of the play and the character inside ourselves. We hold all possible experiences already. Somewhere within. Eager to be divulged. 

What was I thinking when I said I would live in the Ferry House?! Wacky. Here I am, a forty-something woman, with 26 years of experience of theatre housing… and I choose the place that is listed as “halls of residence”. Now Kelly and Jenny, and Jade and Lisa will be disgruntled as they read this… if they read this… because the truth is, despite my enormous reservations upon seeing the “digs”, I had a great summer in that house, and some fundamental relationships were developed, and we laughed and cried, and had times to remember, and earplugs to discard, and I don’t think the blog would have been the same without that remarkable view of the Avon River.  

I’m so glad we had Newcastle and Ottawa. Because I discovered through the audience how compelling our play really was. How grateful they were to hear the voice of Margaret Atwood, telling the tale of a woman with faults and secrets and sins. Thank you to all who came. Theatre is an exchange.

Women are great. Not always easy. But great: “of an extent, amount, or intensity considerably above the normal or average; of ability, quality, or eminence considerably above the normal or average”.

As I celebrate Jade and her luscious energy and creativity, I mourn the lost chance to work with and to know Frank. 

I have had three life-long dreams come true in my career: I have played Hamlet, I have played Sally Bowles, and I have played with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Cool.

I am so grateful to all of you who have read, religiously or not, this record of an adventure in theatre (41,833 words at final count). I thank especially those who have had the chutzpah to comment online. All those interchanges gave me energy and an understanding of my readership. Thank you. 

I am so grateful to Josette Bushell-Mingo for casting me and the rest of our band of warriors. And for her boundless energy, vision, and imagination. And to Deborah Shaw and Peter Hinton, who had a helluvan idea.

I am so grateful to the gods of the theatre for granting me this vocation. I burn thigh bones nightly in your praise. 

I leave you with the great feminine wisdom of Margaret Atwood, which she expresses through the voice of Penelope: “Don’t follow my example”.

(A bit of a Zen ending, don’t you think?! Tee hee.)

With love. Always.



The Aperture begins to close

August 17, 2007

Friday, August 17, 2007

An actor’s life is full of transition. So begins another one: packing, banking, finishing up what’s in the fridge, saying good-byes. The aperture begins to close on this picture of the Canadian girls in Stratford-upon-Avon. I don’t realise how close to the surface all this is until George hands us a poem to read in warm-up and I overflow with tears. It has been such an adventure. And I know the adventure continues now with holidays, and Newcastle, and then bringing the project home, but this mind-blowing stay in Stratford will be over in two sleeps.

There is a company meeting in the Swan at 6:30pm. Denise Wood, one of the producers, tells us the bad news. Though they have been working on various possibilities for transfer to Turin and Greece, these negotiations have failed and our option to extend will not be exercised. Disappointing, no doubt. I could have loved a paid holiday in Greece and Italy! But at least we know now, and we begin the mundane task of looking for work at home.

We had a hot show tonight. It was really good. Really focussed, and fun. These internal differences are so subtle, but since we feel them, I’m sure they are conveyed to the audience as well. I bashed my toe open again. It was so close to being healed that I didn’t have a bandage on it. And smash; I was bleeding all over the stage. Sitting there in my pretty silk dress, feeling the blood roll over my toes and splash onto the stage. And at the craziest point in the show for me: one quick change after another. So I run offstage after the scene. My wonderful dresser Keith is there, and there is no time to do anything, but can he give the heads up to the upstage left corner for my next exit. When I go back on I can see these little puddles of my bright red blood glistening on the shiny black floor in Bonnie Beecher’s perfect light. I do the scene and run for the next quick-change. Thank God for Stage Management. In this country, the Stage Manager sits on book in the alcove, while the Deputy Stage Manager calls the show from the booth. So Katie, our new SM came to the rescue. In about 15 seconds she had bandaged and taped my toe and I was able to go back into the scene without a hitch. You see, the drama is not confined to the work on-stage. Sometimes there’s just as much entertainment in the wings!