Wednesday, May 27, 2009

This Is What I Like To See

Tonight I went to see, for the second time, the Mitch & Murray Equity Co-op Production of Neil Labute’s play “Fat Pig”. I rarely go to see a production more than once so this should tell you something about the quality of the production; however this is about so much more than just a great production.

I believe this is also they type of theatre Vancouver needs to be doing more of. And, there must be a lot of people out there who agree with me because not only was the show completely sold-out but they oversold tickets and had to bring in more chairs to seat people. AND, the majority of the audience was under the age of 45. I’m guessing probably about 85%. That is freakin’ amazing! Just seeing this makes me want to run around yelling in victory and I’m in no way involved with this production; but, I do believe we are all in this together. Together we are building a new industry and hopefully making it cool again. And, this production is cool.

Two words: clean & crisp. Every detail of the design of the production was consistent. The set (designed, along with the costumes, by Naomi Sider) was clean & white. Every prop was anonymous from the white of the “picture” of Helen to the white-out of the screen on the white mac-book computer. The costumes were crisp, all of them wearing black with bright, vibrant colours of a specific palette of blues, greens, pinks and purples. The lighting (designed by Itai Erdal) and sound (designed by Corinne Kessel) were funky and disco-like making the transition between scenes seamless with actors changing on stage. Smooth, slick and seamless: three more words I would use to describe this production.

Then there is the acting. Great all around but Lawerence Haegert really stuck out. His portrayal of Tom is spot on. He is neither a poor cliché nor a hero. He is an everyday guy with flaws included. Does this make him likable? Not necessarily. But it sure does make him real. And Jennifer Mawhinney is pitch-perfect as the highly-strung ex-girlfriend/co-worker. In some of her scenes I was laughing out loud for an extended period of time (sorry to the people seated around me).

Huge kudos to the director, Michael Scholar Jr, for a putting together such a unified and well-acted production. In December of this past year, I was in New York, where I had the chance to see “Speed-the-Plow” on Broadway (before Jeremy Piven decided he had “mercury poisoning”) and I can quite honestly say that besides the fact they obviously had a much bigger budget to do fancy things on stage (like have walls move) the quality of this Vancouver production of “Fat Pig” was equal to what I saw on Broadway.

To be able to say this about our city makes me very proud indeed.

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Monday, May 25, 2009

Marketing 101: Part Deux

Last time in this series I left off on the topic of branding. Now, the question is, how did I create a “brand” for Twenty-Something Theatre.

Well when you have approx $0 dollars to work with it’s not like you can just go out and hire some Marketing superstar to create an entire brand for you so where do you start?

Well, we started with our visuals: flyers, posters, etc. As much as the old standards of marketing aren’t as effective as they use to be. You still need to have some kind of image. Something that will tell your audiences what the company/play is about: your brand (you see where I’m going with this and how it all connects).

And, personally I think it is SO important to have a strong image that looks professional. So I hired a professional. When I see a messy/poorly thought out graphic I look at it and think well if the poster is messy then the production is going to be low quality. And, while this isn’t necessarily the case, don’t judge a book by the cover and all that, it is the reality. We all make judgements based on appearance whether we like to admit it or not.

So, do people come out to see the play just because of the poster? Probably not. But at least it starts the conversation out on a good note. If done well these visuals will make a great first impression. Then it is up to me, and the production, to create an ongoing connection that will lead them into the theatre.

Now, the real question: how did I do this with approx $0 dollars? See my posts on fundraising & budgeting. I decided what was going to be most important and allocated $$$ for it.

His posters always get SO much attention. I have had numerous people comment on the quality and ask me who does our posters. Most of the posters he has done for us have won awards around the world. So, has my $$$ been well spent. I think so but I don’t know everything so you tell me…

Summer 2007

Winter 2008

Summer 2008

Winter 2009

(Click on the image to see a larger version)

Who is this guy? His name is Andrew Lewis and right now he is working away in his studio on our next poster for “Remains”. I can’t wait to see what he’s got up his sleeve for this one. The poster graphic should be in my hands soon. When it is, I promise to post and give you all a sneak peek so keep checking back in.

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Hiccup #2

The last post was about the slight bump in the road before I left on holiday and now to the small hiccup I arrived home to:

Meet our new Stage Manager - Aliya Rozenberg.

She’s got a BFA in technical theatre from the University of Alberta (so many Edmontonians working on this production). After graduation she spent a couple years working on cruise ships and recently moved back here from Toronto. I’m looking forward to working with her and I was very happy she agreed to step in when the original SM bowed out.

Goodbye Ted. We wish you the best of luck.

And now onwards and upwards.

Sabrina Evertt,
Artistic Producer/Director

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hiccups and Hardball

The course of a production never does run smooth. There are always a few hiccups along the way. Before I left on holidays I had one hiccup and then came back to another.

Hiccup #1: Up until a couple of weeks ago we had an “understanding” with the Venue we are performing in this summer. This “understanding” was originally agreed to last September. The reason I say “understanding” in quotations is because nothing was set in writing. Lesson #1: Always get things in writing. Then the management of the Venue changed hands and the old “understanding” was suddenly compromised. Basically last summer we received a summer discount and as far as I know a “summer” discount is a “summer” discount and since we are producing the show in the “summer” I was under the “understanding” that this would apply to all “summer” productions.

Apparently, not the case, as the new management then decided to do away with the “summer” discount. So here I am basically stuck between a rock and a hard place because venues (and reasonably priced ones at that) are hard to come by in this city and we are set to get the ball rolling on this production mid-May. I pretty much thought I was screwed.

Then I was told to play hardball.

So, I researched out other venues, and told the original venue that due to the fact that our “understanding” of what we had agreed to and budgeted for was no longer being offered that we would have to take our production elsewhere. Furthermore, I personally felt that even though other Venues are WAY more expensive it was much better to go somewhere where I wasn’t going to get screwed around.

But then a magical thing happened.

The original venue came back to me and said that they would honor the original “understanding” and give us our “summer” discount. Lesson #2: Don’t fuck with me. I’m a nice person, people call me sweet, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to rollover and take what you dish out. If you play nice so will I.

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Damn These Actors are HOT

From L to R: Joel Sturrock as Kane, Kirsten Kilburn as Candy, and Rob Monk as David

From L to R: Joel Sturrock as Kane, Kirsten Kilburn as Candy, and Rob Monk as David

From L to R: Rob Monk as David, Joel Sturrock as Kane, and Kirsten Kilburn as Candy

From L to R: Joel Sturrock as Kane, Kirsten Kilburn as Candy, and Rob Monk as David

Photography: David Cooper

So, here are the rest of our choices from the advanced publicity photo shoot. Which one do you like the best?

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer/Director

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Cast

After all that talk about the auditioning process I am happy to announce this summer’s cast of “Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love” (hereinafter called “Remains”):

David – Rob Monk
Candy – Kirsten Kilburn
Bernie – Sebastian Kroon
Kane – Joel Sturrock
Robert – Kevan Kase
Jerri – Aili Storen
Benita – Emilie Leclerc

David McMillan is a former actor, current waiter on the verge of turning thirty. Together with his book-reviewing roommate, Candy, and his best friend, Bernie, David encounters a number of seductive strangers in his search for love and sex. However, the games turn ugly when it appears a serial killer lurks among them….

Photography by David Cooper; shown from left to right: Joel Sturrock as Kane, Kirsten Kilburn as Candy, and Rob Monk as David.

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer/Director

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Actors in This City

Before I left on my holiday in the sun I had just finished wrapping up this year's auditions plus earlier in the month I had posted a blog “Auditioning: A little Advice”. This is my follow up to that blog.

Overall I was impressed with everyone who came to audition: people showed up on time with their headshots and resumes. There were no wild costumes or crazy props. That being said there was one glaringly obvious item that I touched on in my last auditioning blog but didn’t discuss in too much detail.

And that is the no-show.

This boggles my mind. I can’t remember it being this bad the first couple of years. I remember last year there being quite a few no-shows but on the Wednesday night of the auditions 50% of the actors that confirmed (yes, they even confirmed that they were coming) failed to show up. That is insane! I thought to myself, what is happening? Is this just me? Then I realized, no, it’s actually a Vancouver thing.

I was talking to Peter Boychuk, Playwright/Director who also does Communications at the Alliance for Arts and Culture, afterwards and he was telling me the same thing happened to him in the Fall when he was holding his auditions. He has lived and worked across Canada from Montreal to Banff to Vancouver and he said, and I quote, “I have NEVER seen it this bad”. Then yesterday as I was catching up on my blog reading after being away for a week I read Simon’s (Ogden, The Next Stage) interview with Ben Ratner. Simon asks him “Speaking as an instructor, what is the single most common problem neophyte acting students have to overcome?” Ben’s answer: “Laziness. And it’s not just the neophytes”.

This just blows my mind. I cannot for the life of me understand how any actor thinks they are going to get anywhere by sitting around on their butts waiting for the next Spielberg to discover them. Because I hate to be the one to break it to you but people, seriously, this is NOT going to happen. You have to work at it. This means going out there and auditioning for each and every show you can. This is the only way you are going to improve. The more you audition and work at it, the more parts you will get, and the more parts you get, the more experience you will get, which in turn leads to bigger and better roles, etc so on and so forth.

It’s called perseverance.

And, you better believe that if you have confirmed ahead of time that you will be there and then fail to show, that with me, your ship has sailed. There is no room for laziness in my company. Plus the main thing I have a hard time wrapping my head around is by failing to show up for auditions you are basically burning bridges with people in this industry. Isn’t the idea to open doors for yourself so that you can go further with your career rather than slam them closed?!

~Sabrina Evert
Artistic Producer

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sunning & Shopping

The two key elements to a great holiday. And, a great holiday it was!

Location: Canyon Lakes, approx 60 minutes inland from San Diego near Temecula.
Weather: 90+ degrees every day! Perfect roasting in the sun weather.


Sunday: Arrive in San Diego
Monday: Shopping/Old Town Temecula
Tuesday: Sunning
Wednesday: Shopping/Desert Hills Outlet (I’ll go anywhere for you Mr. Jimmy Choo)
Thursday: Sunning
Friday: Shopping/Dos Lagos Promenade
Saturday: Sunning
Sunday: Depart San Diego

Currently: Looking out my window at the grey drizzle daydreaming of my fun in the sun!

And so, all good things must come to an end…

I have plugged back in. Turned on the phone. Returned the messages. Managed to sort through most of the emails that piled up in my inbox(s). And am now working my way through Twitter and various Blogs.

Upcoming Blog Posts:

-Cast Announcement
-Advance Publicity Photo Shoot
-Actors in this City: Audition/Callbacks Debriefing
-Playing Hardball (I bet that peaked your curiosity, didn’t it?!)
-Continuation of Marketing Series

Plus much, much more!!!

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Rest & Relaxation

So, I am off on holidays for a week to San Diego to visit some family friends. These are the best kind of holidays sometimes. It isn’t about touring around, seeing the sights and going like mad until you crash on your pillow at 2am only to get up the next day and do it all again. When I’m “traveling” sometimes I get home and I need a vacation from my vacation but going on “holiday” is a whole other story.

If it is sunny and hot which it usually is because I am naturally a hot weather person and could sit roasting in the sun for hours on end. Why am I living in Vancouver then? God only knows. Often the schedule for my holiday looks something like this:

Get up, have a cup of coffee and read (either the newspaper or some book I’ve brought with me), have some breakfast, eventually put my bathing suit on & make my way to pool/beach where I will sit for the next 4-6 hours doing a combination of roasting, swimming, reading and/or listening to music. Somewhere in there I might take a break to have some lunch. Then I will pack up my stuff and head back to wherever it is I am staying. Have glass of wine. Read on the patio until the sun goes down. Have some dinner and go for a walk. Or if we (me and my holiday companion) are up for something really exciting maybe I’ll put on a sundress and go out for dinner. Go home. Read. Go to bed. Get up. Do it all again with the occasional break from roasting in the sun to check out the local shopping situation and come back with any insane amount of new shoes that I will then have to pack into my bag somehow.

This is my version of a good “holiday”. I personally believe it is of utmost important to take the time to relax and do absolutely nothing. This also means unplugging. A good holiday for me also involves turning my phone off when I set foot in the aircraft and not turning it back on until I set foot on Vancouver soil. I stay away from the internet, email and facebook. And now, this rule will also include include twitter and blogging.

So to all my blog readers and twitter friends sorry to disappoint but as of tomorrow, Sunday May 3rd, at approx. 7am I will be officially unplugged and on holiday mode. I will be back and plugged in on Monday May 10th.

Talk to you then!

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer