Sunday, September 27, 2009

Theatre For All Ages

Last night I went to see the North American premiere of True Love Lies by Brad Fraser at the Factory Theatre here in Toronto. It is a continuation of the David Macmillan saga. Well actually this one focuses on Kane, the 17-year old we first meet in Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love, and the effect David has on his life when he re-enters the picture 20 years later.

It was interesting to see the development of the playwright from the time he first wrote Human Remains in 1989 to now. It was a lot more focused than the sort of scattered nature of Human Remains but it still had all the classic Brad Fraser trademarks. The scenes move quickly, flowing from one into the next with the fast-pace, witty rhetoric we have all become accustomed to. And, I personally enjoy seeing the references to his earlier “David” plays especially to Human Remains. The rifle even makes a guest appearance. For those of you who know the play or who came to see our production of Human Remains you will know what I am talking about. If you don’t know what I am talking about I suggest you go out and read the play. It is part of the Canadian theatre canon. Or at least it should be.

In the director’s notes for the show Brad Fraser talks about the success of the original production at Manchester England’s Royal Exchange Theatre and that it is possibly slated to move to London’s West End at some point. A bunch of other productions are also slated to open in various other cities across America but no others in Canada yet. Brad Fraser says “I hope another theatre from Canada will also do the show eventually.”

Yes, I agree. But again this strikes me as odd. I mean, why hasn’t another Canadian city picked up this play yet? Moreover, why hasn’t a theatre in Vancouver picked it up? This is just another example of why I am so often frustrated by the Vancouver theatre scene. Because, in my opinion, this is EXACTLY the type of play Vancouver should be doing. My parents, who just happened to be passing through Toronto on their way to New York, came with me. And guess what?! They loved it!!!! So, it isn’t just because I am young and like the edgy, provocative stuff. My parents are in their 50’s & 60”s and they still want to see stuff that is current, relevant and edgy.

And maybe I am just making a huge leap here but I think this might just be representative of a larger Vancouver audience as well. Another example of why I believe this to be true is that it wasn’t just the young “twenty-something’s” who made our production of Human Remains such a huge success. I was genuinely surprised at the number of older audience members who came out to see it and loved it as well. So, maybe we should stop underestimating our audiences here in Vancouver?! They aren’t just a bunch of grey hairs that want to see another production of The Importance of Being Earnest. Maybe if we stop thinking of them that way we as a community might realize we can put on contemporary, edgy theatre and they will still come out to see it. Maybe they’ll even come out in flocks. Why are we so afraid to take a little risk?!

Last night at Factory Theatre all ages came out to see the North American premiere of Brad Fraser’s newest play True Love Lies and he is a playwright known for being controversial. We even bumped into one of my dad’s old buddies from when my parents lived in Toronto. He too has to be in his 60’s. Everyone, all ages, left that show talking about how much they enjoyed it.

I don’t know how much more evidence we need.

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Friday, September 18, 2009

TIFF 09: Part II

Before I left for Toronto I wrote a post about finding the energy and inspiration again. Well I found it: a film called “Cole” directed by Carl Bessai. This movie was incredible. The direction, the acting, the music. Just phenomenal. And the best part is that it is a Canadian film set in Lytton, BC and has a lot of Vancouver actors in it. A home grown film that is as good as any “hollywood” film if not better than most. Now that is something to be inspired by.

The lead role of Cole is played by Richard de Klerk and his portrayal of this character was mesmerizing. It was simple and truthful. Chad Willett portrayed the character of Bobby who you loved to hate. Both were there at the screening along with Carl Bessai, and his producer, Jason James, and at the end of the film they all did a talkback with us, the audience.

And, while the film was incredible, this talkback was probably what inspired me the most. All of them talked with such passion and energy about what they do. You could tell they do it because they love it. They talked about how the three of them (Carl Bessai, Richard de Klerk, and Jason James) would just get into some SUV with a camera and a boom and go backroading through the country-side on their time off to get shots of the landscape. I mean, how cool, is that?! They lived in the town and really became a part of it. Riding their bicycles to and from the shoot. The producer made mix-tapes and they would drive around Lytton with them playing so he could get a feel for what kind of music they wanted. They were all there to make a great film. How can you not be inspired by that?!

I have never really been interested in film-making; however, "Cole" may have just changed my mind.

~Sabrina

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

TIFF 09

I’ve been in Toronto for 4 days so far and it has been non-stop-go-go-go. This is literally the first second I have had to sit down and chill and think to myself ‘Hey, maybe I’ll throw up a blog post today’.

Right now the city is currently in the midst of a little known festival, you might have heard of it, the Toronto International Film Festival. Otherwise known as TIFF. It is funny because in July I was here for the Fringe and now I am back for TIFF so really I couldn’t have picked two better times to be in Toronto. During both festivals there is so much energy and excitement going on with people running around town trying to fit in as many shows as possible.

My friend and I yesterday were sitting on the patio of a pub after seeing our fourth film and having a glass of wine and talking about the film and art and life and I just thought to myself life doesn’t get much better than this. Because of the flexibility and freedom of what we do as artists I have the ability to come to Toronto for a month and spend my days seeing films. Yes, it really doesn’t get much better than that.

So, what films have I seen? A polish film called “Mall Girls” which was a really disturbing look into the culture of teen girls living in Poland and the lengths to which they will go to get the things they want. My favourite so far has to be “Whip It” which is the new film starring Ellen Paige and directed (in her debut as a director) Drew Barrymore. I was completely surprised by this film. I new I would like it but I didn’t expect it to be as good as it was. It was so captivating and funny and from the heart. Next was “Harry Brown” starring Michael Caine as this vigilante who goes around killing these street gang kids. It was VERY disturbing but, hey, it made us talk. We left that film and were discussing it for probably at least the next hour or so. And, the same can be said about the film we saw yesterday which was “The Informant” starring Matt Damon. Matt Damon was actually quite brilliant in it. It is hilarious but when you realize what you are laughing at it also makes you realize how disturbing the whole thing is.

On today’s agenda we’ve got two more films “Suck” and “Cole”. I don’t really know too much about these ones yet so I am excited to be surprised.

And, let me know, if you have any suggestions of other films to see.

~Sabrina

Thursday, September 10, 2009

By The Numbers

Yesterday I finished crunching the numbers for “Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love”. It is very exciting news indeed. A summary:

Number of sold-out shows: 6
Average audience attendance: 88%
Audience attendance increase from last year: 34%

Yay! I really couldn’t have asked for more. We surpassed any goals/targets I had for this year and I am so proud of that. Ok, and now for some fun numbers:

Actors who were maimed on stage: 1
Times the cleaners came in and “cleaned” (ie. threw out all our props): 1
Windows broken while loading-in the set: 1
Audience members who laughed in awkward places: 2 many 2 count.
Belligerent audience members who yelled at the Front of House manager because he/she had to be put on a no-shows/waitlist: 1
Audiences who oooh-ed and awe-ed in all the right places: 2 many 2 count.

Thanks to everyone who came out and supported us & this show. It is because of you, our audiences, that we continue to do this year after year!!

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

New Life in Me

In my very first blog post I wrote:

“In an attempt to join the rest of the social networking world I am creating a blog for our upcoming production Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love by Brad Fraser. The idea is that as we go along the production and design team, as well as the cast and crew, will blog about the process. The good, the bad and the ugly.”

And, while I (and or other members of the cast & crew) did blog about the process, it turned out to be so much more than just a “production blog”. I ended up blogging about ideas just as much as I blogged about the production itself and I realized something: I have a voice and I am going to use it.

So, looks like you’re stuck with me.

But, where to go from here? Obviously I will still blog about our productions and things that are happening with the company; however, what about those in between times? Well that is less defined and we’ll just have to take that as it comes.

In 3 days I am off to Toronto for the rest of September through to possibly mid-October. There are many reasons I am going: i) for TIFF (Toronto International Film Fest) ii) the opportunity to possibly be a part of a few productions and iii) just to get some new life into me.

It's the third one that is actually the most important to me. I’ve been in Vancouver for 5 years now, working away, and that was the plan. When I moved back here from Victoria my plan was to just put my nose to the grindstone and see what happens. Well a lot has happened and I’m so proud of that. I work professionally as a costume designer and I started my own successful theatre company. And, I’m not even thirty yet.

But recently, I’ve started to feel that restlessness because I find that I’m often bored and uninspired by what is happening around me. And, that is not necessarily about anyone else. It is about me. I need to have new experiences and meet new people. I need to find that energy and freshness and sense that all things are possible again. When we stick in one place or one community I find that it becomes so easy to get bogged down by negativity and this sense of hopelessness and it just crushes our own sense of wonder and creativity.

And, if there is one thing I never want to be is bored and negative. Life is too short for that. I want to be passionate and excited and energetic about what I am doing. So, I am off to Toronto to find that energy again.

And, I promise to blog all about it…

~Sabrina Evertt,
Artistic Producer

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Charmed Life

The life of an actor is not all the glitz and glam you see in the papers, magazines, or on the late night talk shows. For many actors rejection and un-knowing is a constant feeling. Many must retain part-time jobs to make ends meet in the pursuit of their career paths. Constant frustration re-arranging schedules, running around town, holding together relationships and trying to maintain a sense of self, when on a daily basis we are asked to believably portray characters that can wear on one’s own mental and emotional stability. It’s hard work usually with very little payback and the worst feeling being that of not doing it at all. So why would anyone choose a career acting in the first place?

Photo courtesy of Kevan Kase

For many of us it is a haunting question being asked constantly. For others the answer is quite simple: We couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Sure fame and fortune is the ultimate perk in this industry but I, as well as others like me, know that there is no greater high then the feeling one gets when the phone rings saying they booked the part, having a complete stranger come up to you saying that they saw you in a show and were blown away, or even better, changed in some way by seeing it.

I believe that actors in theatre and film can change perspectives, give hope, a sense of escape, or aid during a rough time in an audience members life. Theatre has a rich history of educating the public on political and social matters that are affecting the present populace or better educating them on mistakes and achievements of the past. It’s these little gifts that make the struggle we all go through worth it. And, like I said before, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else with my life.

“I don't know what is better than the work that is given to the actor - to teach the human heart the knowledge of itself.” --Laurence Olivier

~Kevan Kase,
Robert, "Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love"