Sunday, April 28, 2013

Summer is Here and I am Inside.


Despite the depressing vibe emanating from my entry title; I am very well. I was outside for most of the morning showing a good friend of mine the lay of the land and some of my favourite spots in Montreal. She is here on her "Grad Trip" and wanted to see some of the city, and seeing as it is beautiful out I leapt at the opportunity to show her around!

There is officially one week of school left, and even if I couldn't read a calendar, I can feel it in the air. It's the time of year where things start to pick up and change, the days become longer and productivity seems possible again, because not only do I feel like getting more done but I can be outside doing it! I was talking to a friend of mine last night about how things are changing, because we have come to the end of an era. Most people anticipated that 2012 was the end, and that there wouldn't be anything after that, but thankfully there is and I am so excited to see what the rest of this year brings for me personally and artistically.

I was filling out a form for a scholarship and it asked for the the start and finish dates of the program I intend to use the money for. As I wrote out May 2014 for the end date, it struck me that the end is so close. This part of my life that seemed so far away two summers ago, is one year from now. Life is slowly creeping up, and as much as I don't want to wish away the time, I feel so ready for my final year at NTS.

Last night, I went to see the New Words Festival Shows which are the efforts of all the third year graduates of the Playwriting, Production, Set and Costume Design, and Acting programs and I really enjoyed myself. The first, You Can Do Whatever You Want, was written by Jesse Stong and chronicled the lives of three generations of women in a small town. It was beautiful. I love stories about families and the struggles of reality. The second, Model Wanted, was written by Step Taylor and was so fascinating, I thought each character was deeply interesting and well developed, and the ending left me with this raw exposed nerve feeling that I love having. These experiences made me so excited to see what we will be working with next year.

As time goes on here, I realize how my classmates and I are continually changing and discovering who we are, what we like and don't like and what our futures may hold for us. And since the start of meeting them all I knew our journeys here and in our futures would be so different and I am thrilled to see where we all go after this time together. Life is remarkable and as many struggles that I have had over the last two years, I know that every one of them was necessary for me to be where I am right now. I am slowly discovering clarity over what I want for myself artistically and that is a good feeling.

My summer is shaping up to be quite full of plans and arrangements and I am really excited for the experiences that lie within them. I need to start packing, but it comes down to what do I really need? I really want to indulge in simplicity this summer, and truly live in the present rather than constantly searching for what is coming down the tubes. The more serene my summer is the more time I can dedicate to my work being the best it can be. And really, I would rather it be the best, then be almost the best but then I got distracted with this new project that I really like.

I think that wraps up my thoughts for the day. Bring on the final week.

Jeremy Webb is the meanest director in Halifax (I hope this brings a smile to your face.)

Night Abyss.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Snap Back to Reality.

Hey Abyss,
Many discoveries were made last week. I think the one that had the most impact on me was being put on the spot for not knowing my lines. That seems like a basic thing, an actor knowing their lines, but for some reason I have always struggled with memorizing text. Not a good quality to have in an actor, but it is not the worst thing. I can honestly tell you I have never gone on stage not knowing my lines, I have always managed to get everything down before we open, it just seems to takes me a lot longer than everyone else. Being at NTS has certainly enabled me to get better at locking the words in my brain by offering me a bounty full of approaches to do just that. 
I felt I had been doing well with my text for Midsummer Nights Dream and therefore over the last week, in anticipation for the weekend (which I will get into in a moment) did not do what is necessary for myself for the last part of my text. And, as it should, it came back to bite me. 
A few weeks ago I was offered a lead part in a short film that was being shot in Halifax, by a well known Actor/Director, named Jeremy Webb. His company’s previous film Wake garnered some notable attention in the festival circuit and was being back by CBC, not a bad combo. When the role was offered to me I clarified that the only way I could fly home and do it was to get the permission from my superiors at the school. So, I proceeded that Monday to acquire all the approval I needed, which was graciously given and I agreed to do the short that weekend. The plan was to fly home Thursday night and fly back Monday morning. So I would only miss two days of classes. 
Everything seemed to flow perfectly until Thursday came and I kept flubbing through my lines in the final part of the play. And it was at this time when I was put on the spot, by my director. I had been working extremely hard on my text, but due to the excitement of the weekend I failed to give it the added time I know it needed. This ultimately disappointed him, and made me feel like a complete schmuck, especially considering his generosity. He was harsh and to the point, and it was that snap back to reality that made me realize the lesson; Which was to focus on one thing at a time, and give it 150% of my energy. This problem is something that has been an issue for a while with myself. And I think it took this situation to finally let it sink in. 
Do your best with what you have right now. Then when that is over, focus on the next thing. This is my mantra for the next while until I can calm down and just enjoy what is in front of me rather than worrying about what is coming next. It is difficult, but this is what I want for a career more than anything else, and so I have to let it flow. 
The stress from not knowing my lines and disappointing my director, lead to me heading to the airport 12 hours earlier than my flight was scheduled to leave and left me stranded there for 4 hours until a friend of mine came and picked me up. Again, if I had just read the itinerary of the flight and chilled, instead of thinking how I may have been blacklisted from the class, that would not have happened and I would have been 60 dollars richer. Once, I finally got back to Halifax, everything became clearer and I spent every bit of downtime I had on set memorizing those lines for Monday. I came back yesterday, having done what should have been done and it feels good to be free of that pressure. 
Filming over the weekend was great and reminded me of how much I love film as a medium. The team was wonderful and there was such an artistry behind the whole thing, which made me feel proud to be part of it. The atmosphere on set, even though we were rushed for time, was positive and happy. There was a specific moment I recall on the second day where I was talking to Jessica Marsh over lunch and the crew and other cast members were all playing music and singing together, and it was this moment that encapsulated the whole shoot for me. A bunch of talented people coming together to make art. It was beautiful. And I am extremely grateful to have been part of such a piece. 
The film is called Bone Deep, and if you hit the link you can read more about it. 

We are into tech week right now for MSND, and so I have some things that need to get done tonight before I hit the hay. 
Night Abyss

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The End is Near!

Hey Abyss,

I know that I have been commenting on how much is left of the semester in recent posts, but I cannot get over how the time flies. The school has this warp effect where the days are so long that they seem to slug by, but we are always working so the weeks just disappear.

A pointless clarification, but it's there now.

This week has been really great, we have made a lot of progress with Midsummer Nights Dream. As I have stated before, Joe is awesome. Him and I were talking about what he feels is the most important thing in performing Shakespeare, and he is a huge advocate for bringing it back to reality. Going through and understanding everything that you are saying and acting it from a true place, rather than an idea of what Shakespeare acting is. He has such a natural approach to the text, and I think that is because he revears the "story" so much. He has said, many times, that we as actors/directors/writers are to tell the story to the best of our ability. As soon as a production becomes about indulging, or making it "interesting" we are veering away from what the story is.

Could this be the secret to what makes good or bad Theatre?

Speaking of indulging. That word has been quite prevalent in my vocabulary this week. I think that it is such a pitfall in all acting. As soon as you start making the scenes about you and your ability, you have abandoned your fellow actors and made it the You Show. Now, that may sound awesome to some people, but I can guarantee you that you wont get work. As soon as you start pulling focus and being distracting on stage, sure you may get some laughs (in High school), but in the real world that kind of behaviour doesn't fly. It is about listening, to your scene partners and responding as realistically and true to the text as possible.

It is certainly a hard thing to do, and I still struggle with it everyday. The more we can listen the more realistic our responses can be.

This year has been a long journey for me about reclaiming my artistry. For some reason I lost sight of who I was and what things I loved when I started training here last year, and as much progress as I have made and as many things that I have learned it has only been the last few months that things have started to crystallize in my mind. I am here for me, to teach me about myself and how I can improve the talent that I have. How to become a stronger person and performer. And too be frank, I have wasted so much energy on trying to make sure everyone likes me, and it isn't as important as I thought.

For some reason I can't help but think of this The Weekenders episode.

For those of you who don't know me, Tino is a younger version of me.

We had a meeting with Alisa Palmer, our Artistic Director, on Thursday and she talked to us about the plans for our third and final year, and what we can expect. Tomorrow we are meeting Tadeusz Bradecki, he is currently directing Guys and Dolls at The Shaw Festival, and he will be directing our first show in the Ludger-Duvernay Theatre at The Monument-Nationale. The play is still undecided, but I am anxious to meet him.

Alisa also mentioned that over the next three weeks we will be meeting Ian Watson who will be working with us on our classical monologues in preparation for Theatre Ontario auditions. Alisa has spoken about how she wants our final year to consist of material that will ready us for a seamless transition into the acting world, and I am totally game.

Well, that's about it for now I am heading out to see The Place Beyond the Pines!

Night Abyss

Sunday, April 7, 2013


Hey Abyss,

This week has zoomed by, the work with Joe has been wonderful, and considerably less stressful than I anticipated. He is such a generous man and is very text driven in his direction, which is providing a very organic space for us to work in. And by that I mean that he is allowing us to free form choices and blocking to some extent, as long as the focus is on truthfully speaking.

We finished "staging" the whole play on Friday and started to re-run through it on Saturday with a more fine toothed comb, which is great. Right now the challenge for me is getting off book and having the text truly live in me so that I can use it to my full advantage. It is such a blessing to have 5 weeks for a production, this is a luxury.

Today, along with doing my laundry and cleaning my insanely messy apartment I am learning lines for 4 different things: Midsummer Night's Dream, my Nova Scotia Talent Trust submission and two auditions in Halifax. So, needless to say I have a heavy day for memory. I am excited to be submitting for things in Halifax though, it is making me anxious to get back and be there in person. I miss it. I am hoping for a lucrative summer this year, as I usually am, and just hope that I can get some great work in.

Last summer, was really difficult but paid off in the end with the people I met and projects I was able to work on. And so I hope that similar opportunities arise this year.

Last night I celebrated my birthday with some of the cast and crew of Midsummer's and I had a blast. We went Laser Tagging and it was the most intense 20 minutes of my life. I ended up coming in last place out of 27 people.

It was the little Rambo children that kept killing me.

I really had fun though, and will most likely be going back before the year is out. So great. Then we went out to dinner to this place called Restaurant Hachoir which was very fancy and the food was amazing. I totally splurged and got a drink, appetizer, main course and dessert. But hey, it was my birthday!

What amazed me the most was the generosity of a few of the people at my table who paid for my entire bill, which was completely unnecessary, and extremely expensive. I was totally humbled. It is moments like those that make me believe in people and how generosity is something that is so rare and it truly is something special. I am so blessed and feel extremely grateful to have people in my life with this quality.

Well, I am off to do what I mentioned above and hope that If you are in town for May 1, 2 and 3rd that you will drop by The National Theatre School to see our rendition of A Midsummer Night's Dream!\

Also, if you haven't already heard; Blackbird is being theatrically released on May 10th across canada in select theatres! Here is the trailer:

Blackbird Theatrical Trailer

Night, Abyss.