Friday, December 31, 2010

2010: Year In Review

What a year! I saw 55 shows; I produced and developed an original piece of Canadian theatre as well as directed a Vancouver premiere of another play; I designed the costumes for 2 other productions; I was hired as Head of Wardrobe at the new SFU Woodward’s for their involvement with the Cultural Olympiad during the 2010 Winter Olympics that included working on Robert Lepage’s The Blue Dragon; and, last but certainly not least, I started being invited to blog about different theatrical productions around Vancouver.

And, as a result of all this, and all the work that I have put into Twenty-Something, I am starting to feel, for possibly the first time since I moved back here from Victoria, that I am, really, truly, part of this community.

The reason I know this to be true is, since I moved back here, I will admit that I have pretty much thought of Vancouver as temporary stopping place to some place else. In many ways, I’ve always had one foot out the door. Ready to take off to places unknown. Toronto. New York. London. But this past year I made a very real decision to stay & make Vancouver my home base because low-and-behold after all this time I have found my community.

And, I’m going to stay and see things through, because although we moan, and wine, and complain, I think Vancouver is really only beginning to see the potential of what we can be. Vancouver is starting to become internationally recognized for the work that comes out of here and I, for one, am proud to be part of this community.

So, I thank all of you (you know who you are), who have been there these past 6 years. Who have been my champions. Who have encouraged me to keep going when all I wanted to do was give up. Who have shown me kindness and generosity. Who believe in what we do. Thank you for welcoming me into this community and making me feel like I was part of something and that what I was doing mattered.

Okay, enough of the mushy stuff, and onto the cold hard (subjective) facts: My Top 5 Picks for 2010 (in no particular order)…

1) Nevermore presented by the Arts Club and the Cultch from Edmonton’s Catalyst Theatre during the 2010 PuSh Festival. Words cannot begin to do it justice or explain how much I loved this show.

2) Elephant Wake presented by the Cultch from Regina’s Globe Theatre. Secured a fully-fledged crush on Bretta Gerecke that started in January with the above-mentioned Nevermore.

3) Exquisite Hour presented as part of the 2010 Vancouver Fringe by one of Vancouver’s newest theatre companies: Relephant Theatre. An outstanding production from a brand new company and I look forward to seeing what more they have to offer.

4) Wide Awake Hearts at Tarragon Theatre in Toronto. I saw it twice. On my own dime. Enough said.

5) Glengarry Glen Ross at the Arts Club here in Vancouver. I didn’t blog about this show. Partly because I was extremely busy at the time producing my own show. Partly because I think Eric McCormack pretty much sold himself.

Often when I go to see shows with celebrities in the lead roles I often think to myself “oh, great, another cash grab”. Maybe that’s cynical and unfair. I don’t know. But it’s what I think. Well, all I can say was, this was not just a good cash grab but also a damn good show (and hey, I won’t knock a good cash grab when I see one, I am a producer after all). Eric McCormack’s performance as Ricky Roma was outstanding. Furthermore, add to that a brilliant performance by Gerard Plunkett playing Levene and I could have watched those two for hours. Add to that again, a fantastic set and overall design and this definitely makes my top 5.

Since I saw almost 20 more productions this year than I did last year there are also some significant other achievements that I would like to give honourable mention to as well:

1) For Design: Drowning Girls at Gateway. Bretta Gerecke. That is all.

2) For Innovation/Creation: Kismet 1 to 100 as part of the Tremors Festival at the Cultch. Unexpected and delightful.

3) For Male Performance: Zachary Stevenson in Buddy Holly. Incredible. If this guy isn’t at least nominated for a Jessie for this performance I will eat my shirt. Literally. You can hold me to it.

4) For New Script/Young Playwright: Dave Deveau who wrote Tiny Replicas which was part of the first annual Neanderthal Festival. Honest, funny and heart-wrenching.

5) For Physical Comedy: The 39 Steps at the Arts Club. I nearly peed my pants during the train scene. Honestly. I haven’t laughed that hard at a show in a long, long time. So good.

6) For Female Performance – Julie McIsaac in Hamlet at the Havana. I hate Ophelia. Not in this show. For that alone she gets my admiration. But even beyond that I felt for her. The crazy scene was some of the finest acting work I’ve seen this year.

And, that’s 2010. In a short (well short-ish) blog post. Up next on the blog: Looking ahead to 2011.

Happy New Year everyone! Thanks for making 2010 such a memorable year!

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Man Behind the Design

If you’ve been following Twenty-Something Theatre you’ve all had the opportunity to see our posters. If you live in Vancouver you’ve probably seen them plastered up in various places around the city.

The man behind the posters is Andrew Lewis and he took some time during this very crazy holiday season to answer some questions for you guys. I first met Andrew in 2006 (I believe) when he was doing the logo design and branding for my family’s business. I had only recently graduated from UVic and was working there while I pursued a career in the theatre. During the process of creating this logo and brand for the company I had the privilege of being part of the company’s marketing team. I hadn’t even really started Twenty-Something Theatre yet. It was still mainly an idea in my head but when I told Andrew about it he put me in touch with Sarah Gordon (who had experience doing Marketing & Publicity for both Gateway and the Vancouver Playhouse) and she really helped me articulate what I wanted Twenty-Something to be. And the rest, as they say is history. Andrew has (with the exception of our first production) been designing our posters and marketing materials ever since.

Andrew’s poster designs for Twenty-Something Theatre have been exhibited in the following biennials, galleries, etc:

International Poster Biennial of Mexico
Plakatok Posters The Pécs Gallery Hungary
Colorado International Invitational Poster Exhibition
International Poster Biennial of Bolivia
National Gallery, Ljubljana Slovenia
Modern Advertising Magazine, China
Novum Magazine, Germany
University Diego Portales, Santiago Chile
Exposiciones del Espacio Simón, La Paz, Bolivia
ITESO University Guadalajara, Mexico
Palermo University Buenos Aires, Argentina
Rockport Publishers, USA

(Andrew, standing in front of his poster design for our production of The Fever, at the International Poster Biennial 2008 in Mexico City)

So, without further ado, some thoughts on art, marketing and life from the man himself…

1) Tell us how you got to be where you are today? Did you go to school or train anywhere?

I always was drawing, ever since I could remember. It was something that came naturally but not easily so I worked very hard at understanding the process and mechanics of creating images in art. After highschool I studied at Bealart in London, Ontario which was recognized nationally for its fine art program which was based on the Bauhaus school. You needed to take all forms of art study before specializing in one area. Graphics design was obviously my major but textiles was my minor. While studying at Bealart I was offered a job at the London FreePress laying out pages and creating illustrations. This provided a nice income and I travelled to Europe that spring to see art galleries in Paris, London and Edinburgh to fuel my mind. After Bealart came the Ontario College of Art in Toronto whereupon I was accepted on advanced standing due to attending Bealart. This lasted until Christmas whereupon I dropped out to begin freelancing and working for design agencies. I just needed to get on with it and also begin a career. We all take individual paths to get us to where we should be.

2) If you had to choose one, what would you consider yourself to be first and foremost: an artist or a graphic designer?

I’m a graphic artist.

Actually, I look at what I do as “applied arts” in that I try to integrate artwork into marketing. There is SO much mundane, dull advertising and design being done compared to what has been in design history. Just look at the incredible posters of Paris, circa 1895-1910, this was “The Belle Epoque” of posters and where Henri Toulouse Lautrec created his posters (note: he designed only 34 posters) and many other designers. Advertising during the 1960’s also was very imaginative, same goes for the 1970’s when you had Milton Glaser and Push Pin in New York creating the best design (think, I love New York logo). Compared to today where it seems due to the economy, corporate marketing departments want to just play it safe and not create fresh new ideas. Yes, there are exceptions but this is not the direction taken globally. So to answer your question properly, I am an artist that uses graphic design to create a business in order to use my artwork in a continual cycle.

3) How important is it for artists to understand the business side of creating art and in this case specifically marketing?

This is where so many artists fail in not knowing that art is business unless you are financially secure and independent. Though Henri Toulouse Lautrec was a true bohemian and lived in Paris along with his Moulin Rouge absinthe fueled cohorts, he was financed comfortably by his family. He had not a single worry about money and lived very well in order to create his art. I feel creating artwork is a privilege and one needs to put in place a strong business plan to fund this personal venture. I would easily say I design and create art 20% of my time, the other 80% is running my studio, dealing with clients, finding new clients, collecting money owed and dealing with the endless accounting headaches and then... Revenue Canada, not to mention the latest icing on the cake – the HST. It takes guts and a strong belief in your own work and ability.

4) In your words define “marketing/branding”?

These are two very different animals, and I shall try to simply explain the difference.

Marketing is once you have created a product or perhaps a theatre production and then getting this noticed through the various forms of available media. It is simply creating interest or attention in the public’s mind in order to buy in or desire ownership of this thing or event.

Branding is creating a unique presence within the marketplace of a company or product by the use of design and complete overall unity of the look and attitude of that company or organization. Just think about the difference between Tim Hortons and Starbucks and how they project their images onto the public. It is the difference between an urban cool, hipster latte and a homey, honest, suburban regular coffee.

5) What is the most important thing to consider when it comes to marketing something like the arts as opposed to another business?

I have had the privilege to work for numerous arts organizations here in Canada and the US including many in New York City on and off Broadway. Marketing the arts is (I feel) very different than marketing lets say Black and Decker tools. The arts must address not only the obvious arts community but also must reach out to the community that does not necessarily buy into the arts. There are so many layers of sensitivity that one must keep in mind while creating an advertising or promotional campaign. For example, lets look at creating a poster for an opera production and all of the players you have to be working with. First you have the Artist Director that has their own vision for that production but also for the season of productions and the overall direction he/she wants to take. The General Manager whom you would think would not be involved in the creative aspect, always wants to add their thoughts. The Communication Director, the person who has hired you to create the poster, has their own agenda in terms of overall look and graphic feel. The production itself has a Director, whom has a vision, and the Playwright (if available will add their ideas and visions for how to represent their work). You must mind read all these subtle messages even before you read the script or research the production in order to create a poster that will appeal to these various egos and personalities but ultimately sell the production itself. It can be a horrific experience!

6) When you sit down to begin work on a poster design what is the first thing you do?

Understanding the essence of what the subject, topic, production is and then distilling it down to the simplest form is the complete process for me. It doesn’t matter if the poster is for a theatre, a social commentary or commercial poster that is selling beer, creating an image that peaks the imagination is critical, also conveying the message in an immediate manner makes for the best posters.

7) In the theatre world (and I imagine other sectors as well) there is an ongoing question as to the importance of posters and whether they have any real impact on a public that is so inundated with images and advertising on a daily basis. As someone who is internationally recognized for his poster art what are your thoughts on this topic?

Posters help sell a production and don’t let anyone tell you differently. Just stand in Times Square, and look up to see huge, billboard images taken from theatre posters. The poster is the business card for a particular theatre production and initially begins its life out on the street but then the image migrates to online ads, print ads, programs, t-shirts and to billboards. If it is successful, it helps maintain the branding of that production, just think of The Lion King image. It pops to your mind immediately, there it is living in your imagination and represents a memory of your experience seeing that show or you wanting to buy tickets to that show.

8) What is the best thing about your work?

My posters and international recognition have taken me around the world 2-3 times. I have been invited to have my work in exhibitions, biennials, teach at universities in China, Japan, Europe, US, Central and South America. I have met the best international graphic designers living today – period. They all have one thing in common; they are all humble and honest people that leave their egos at home locked up in a small box.

9) What is next for you?

The immediate future is I am in Paris in February teaching at a fantastic University and having an exhibition of posters. Following that I will be in La Paz and Santa Cruz in Bolivia, Caracas in Venezuela, Veracruz and Guadalajara in Mexico and Helsinki in Finland attending poster biennials and having more exhibitions. Also, just trying to manage my studio...

(Andrew's solo exhibition held at the Espacio Simon Gallery in La Paz, Bolivia)

10) As an established professional in your field, if you had one piece of advice for an aspiring youngster, what would it be?

Read as much as you can and not just about design or art.
Ask questions.
Talk to professional designers, artists, research them, hunt them down, hound them, ask more questions.
Think bigger.
Move away from your hometown, that is very good for you.
Work hard, don’t be lazy.
Less Facebook and more drawing.
Never be satisfied with your first, second or 20th idea.
Every student around you is your future competition.
Learn art history. Learn design history.
Working in art/design/communications is one of the most difficult ways to make a living and live a life, brace yourself for one crazy roller coast ride...

Great words of wisdom! Many thanks again to Andrew for taking the time to answer the Q&A!

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Things Need To Change

So, here we are again. A new year is upon us soon complete with a new season and a new batch of shows. And, a new batch of shows means new casts. And, new casts means one thing: auditions.

The past two years of auditions has been H-E-double-hockey-sticks. No joke. You can read a variety of my posts on the subject spanning a spectrum of emotion from bewilderment to anger & frustration.

For this year, one thing was clear to me: things need to change.

So, instead of holding auditions for specific productions we are holding General Auditions. This means I get to go into the audition room and just sit back and relax and see what kind of talent comes across my path. I don’t have any of the pressure of worrying about casting for a specific show because casting for specific productions & roles will be done later.

Moreover, I’m especially tired of the apathetic attitudes that seem to proliferate this city. So this year I am putting my hard-ass helmet on and setting up some strict, non-negotiable, rules:

1) Every actor submission will require a cover letter that states why they are interested in working with Twenty-Something Theatre and a brief overview of their most recent work. You can view the actual post here.

No cover letter. No audition. No exceptions.

2) If we can’t open the files you submit or you forget to attach the documents: No audition, No exceptions.

It is not our job to chase after you. It is your job to do your due diligence. You can read this great post at Lois Backstage on tips for actor submissions.

The actors in the city are enormously talented. Many whom I adore. Many whom I call good friends. But many also just can’t seem to get out of their own way and it is extremely disappointing.

It’s called tough love people.

So, this is my advice to all the wonderful actors in this city: It is time to stop. It is time to get your act together and get out of your own way. It is time to rise to the challenge or get left behind.

Because from here on out, at Twenty-Something Theatre, you will be held up to a higher standard. I am only interested in working with actors who are committed to their craft. Actors who are advocates for their work and who are advocates for the theatre community in general.

Apathy just won’t cut it anymore.

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Home From Hiatus

Home from hiatus and back to reality.

This month besides all the Christmas craziness I've got a pile of administration type stuff to organize as we gear up for the start of our 2011 season. Top of that list is getting the marketing materials done for the first show of the season and getting them printed off before the real holiday madness starts (approx dec 17th) so they are ready for distribution when everything goes back to normal in the New Year (approx Jan 3rd).

Yes, I plan that far ahead. FYI: I currently have two desk calendars on the go. One for the remaining portion of 2010 and one for 2011 that already has important dates and information on it all the way up to November of next year (!).

Anyways - that was a tangent but I often still find it hard to believe - I've recently been sent the graphics for Nocturne which is our Spotlight series production opening February 22nd. So, without further ado and before it goes out to the public here's a seek peak:

The story is about an ex-piano prodigy turned writer so, in my humble opinion, I think Andrew (our graphics guy) has done a great job of representing that through his artwork.

I'm also hoping that after 4 years of him doing our marketing materials (including our website and my personal online portfolio) that I might be able to convince him to do an interview with me and post it here on the blog. So, stay tuned for that....

~Sabrina Evertt,
Artistic Producer

Monday, November 29, 2010

Push My Boundaries: I Agree

After my last post there was a bit of conversation around the topic of “pushing boundaries” and “crossing lines” and then a theatre colleague and friend posted a response to my blog post called “Go Ahead, Push My Boundaries”. The thing is I completely agree with what she says. So, I just want to take a moment to clarify some things from my last post because I think that it is important that people who read my blog (and hers) understand what my actual concern is here.

I’m all for exploring tough topics and dark materials. In fact, those are often my favourite plays to see. So, I agree. Go ahead, push my boundaries. Make me think. Discuss pedophilia, euthanasia, sexual violence, murder, WWII, nazi’s, etc. One of my favourite plays of all-time is How I Learned to Drive by Paula Vogel and it is about pedophilia and incest. And, even better, do what these companies that Lois worked with did, bring in people who have experience with these issues to discuss them with the audience. I think that is fantastic.

What I don’t agree with is sensationalizing sensitive issues just to shock people. And, that is exactly what I saw happen on stage in New York. Ghosts in the Cottonwoods wasn’t a play that was discussing/exploring the issue of sexual violence against women. If that was the case maybe I would’ve been more understanding of what was being portrayed on stage.

But in this case the play was about a mother and son waiting for another son to return home from prison. Then in the last 15 minutes of the play a completely arbitrary character – not the returning son but a random prison inmate who I presume follows the son home – and who doesn’t speak one word but just emerges from the ground covered in dirt and runs around the stage like a savage. After which he proceeds to physically assault the mother. Next he throws her over his shoulder and slams her down on the kitchen table her head hanging off the table and staring out at the audience. Under full lights, and front and center on stage, this character proceeds to rip off her clothing. Literally. He rips off her underwear and throws it across the stage. Next he begins to grunt and thrust for approx 2-3 minutes. Then he comes and leaves her in a heap only to escape out of the door. And, the play ends.

Now, I would love it if someone could tell me that particular graphic piece of stage business was in any way necessary. But it wasn’t. It not only had no point its only purpose was to shock. Its intent was not to discuss an important issue. This was not about having a conversation with the audience. No, this was for shock value only. This I am not okay with.

And, frankly, it really bothers me that anyone involved in the show or who went to see this play would find what they saw on stage okay because sexual assault is a very real issue experienced by women everyday across the country and in the US.

Here in Canada a 1993 survey found that one half of all Canadian women have experienced at least one incident of sexual or physical violence. Almost 60% of these women were the targets of more than one of these incidents (Statistics Canada, "The Violence Against Women Survey," The Daily, November 18, 1993). Statistics also show that one in four Canadian women will be sexually assaulted during her lifetime. In BC this number is almost double (47%) (J. Brickman and J. Briere, "Incidence of Rape and Sexual Assault in an Urban Canadian Population," The International Journal of Women's Studies, Vol. 7, no. 3, 1984) [Statistics taken from Women Against Violence Against Women, a rape crises centre in Vancouver, that works for the interests of women who have been victimized by sexual assault.]

This is the reality. So, yes, do a play that engages the audience about this topic. Talk about it from all sides. Discuss it from the side of the victims. Discuss it from the perspective of the perpetrators. Delve into all kinds of grey areas. Push boundaries. Bring in organizations and professionals in the field to engage the audience. I would love that. Seriously.

But don’t trivialize this subject. Don’t sensationalize this subject. Don’t throw in a 10 minute-long highly graphic sexually violent scene just because you want to shock people. Because, looking at the the stastics above, in a theatre of an audience of 160 people half the audience or more are going to be women and very likely at least half of those women have been victims of sexual assault in one way or another. That is at the very least 40 women. Forty women who don’t need to see the violence they have suffered being trivialized on stage and used as a shock tactic.

So, the next time a writer/director/theatre company, thinks about arbitrarily throwing sexual violence into a play for no other purpose than to shock, I would suggest they think about those facts.

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How Far Is Too Far?

Last night I decided to venture off the beaten path. I had been to most of the major Broadway/Off-Broadway shows that I wanted to check out and so decided it was time to venture into Indie/Off-Off-Broadway territory. Through a variety of links and connections I decided on Ghosts in the Cottonwoods written and directed by Adam Rapp and produced by the company The Amoralists.

I wish I could tell you the risk paid off but unfortunately that is not the case. Not the case at all. I left the theatre – for the first time in my life - so angry that I almost demanded they give my $40 dollars back. I almost didn’t even clap. But then I realized what the actors just went through on stage and thought better of it. It wasn’t their fault that the writer/director chose to put, in my opinion, highly objectionable content stage. And, so I clapped. A bit. What, might you ask, made me so angry?

Well, let me first start with a small story. Before I left for Toronto I was having a conversation with a friend and colleague and I don’t know how or why – it might even be because we were discussing Red Light Winter (another Rapp play) – but we were discussing the question: How Far is Too Far? In Red Light Winter two characters practically have sex on stage. I’ve never seen a production so I’ve no idea how it would be done on stage and I’m guessing the explicitness of the act would depend on the production and director.

And, god knows, I’m no prude when it comes to the stage. From “sexually explicit” to “nudity” we’ve done it on the Twenty-Something stage. I’m all for provocative.

To a point.

So, how far IS too far?

Well, if I recall this conversation correctly I think me and my friend were sort-of joking around and I think I might have said something like “people actually having sex on stage. Oh wait, that already has a name. Porn.” and then there were a few more jokes and laughs and then she paused and said quite seriously something along the lines of “any kind of simulated rape/violent sex act would probably not be cool". To which I certainly agreed.

Well, ladies and gentleman, that was exactly what I saw on stage last night. In full view, and under full lights, a gratuitous violent simulated rape scene took place on stage that could have only been made worse had the actor actually penetrated the woman.

That my friends, in no uncertain terms is WAY TOO FUCKING FAR.

Pardon my French but I’m way beyond angry to a point where I don’t even have the proper words and only F—K seems to really convey how I am feeling in this moment.

In the words of another controversial playwright:

(This is not a comment on the actor. This is purely for text only as I'm in New York and had no access to the actual text and couldn't find it online but I did find this video)

I don’t care what kind of point you are trying to make or what kind of “artistic statement” you might be trying make, what happened on that stage last night was NOT okay. It would not be okay for someone to put any kind of “simulated” violent sex act perpetrated against a child on stage. So, what in God’s green earth, makes it okay to put any kind of “simulated” violent sex act against a woman on stage?!

And to make it even worse, I’m not even sure there was a point or an “artistic statement” because the mandate of the company is as follows: “a theatre company that produces work of no moral judgement”.


The Amoralists. Amoral: 1a) being neither moral nor immoral: lying outside the sphere to which moral judgements apply 1b) lacking moral sensibilities 2) being outside or beyond the moral order or a particular code of morals.

This just pisses me off even more. So basically, if I am correct, the argument here is that because this company places no moral judgements on human beaviour they are basically absolved of any responsibility for putting on stage gratuitous violent rape scenes.

Not in my books.

So, I was curious to see if anyone else had even blinked an eye at the sexual violence on stage so I looked up a few reviews. And...some people mention it, some people don’t and most are not in the least shocked by it or care.

Slant Magazine referred to it as “a very violent and grotesteque 10 minutes or so of wordless action” but overall gave it a rave review. A review from Backstage Magazine actually refers to the act itself stating that “suddenly a second filthy man emerges from the floor…and proceeds to rape Bean on the kitchen table” and calling the whole thing ‘funny’. WHAT THE F—K? A comment on another blog review thankfully acknowledged this fact by saying “The Backstage reviewer saw Ghosts in the Cottonwoods as a black comedy. I find it creepy that someone could ‘have a blast’ watching a show with an on-stage rape”. Thank you. I think Charles Isherwood from the New York Times puts it best when he says “Ghosts in the Cottonwoods feels like a series of lurid set pieces stitched together, a hoedown of misbehaviour that strains so hard to shock that it leaves you numb.” And I would add appalled.

Maybe it is me. Maybe I’m not New-York-gritty-shocking-and-perverse enough. Which is just fine by me. I like my morals just the way they are, thank you.

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Theatrical Quote of the Day

As I was flying 40,000 feet in the air reading my "American Theatre" magazine (November issue) I came across an interesting quote from an article on Michael John Garces, Artistic Director of Cornerstone Theatre Company, where he says:

"Any theatre that has a result in mind is not having a conversation. The future of the form in these changing times is really about plunging into the unknown and new contexts. We're at a point where those risks are going to have to be taken. The future doesn't lie in the status quo"

Interesting, huh?! It immediately made me stop and want to talk about it; however, on my flight from Toronto to New York City there was no one in the seat next to me, not that they would want to discuss the topic anyway, so I pose it to you, my friends. What do you think (particularly about the results vs converstion aspect)?

Let's chat.

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Read the full article here

Thursday, November 11, 2010

How Do I Do It?

Today I’ve been in Toronto for one week and I have to tell you I have seen some amazing theatre since I’ve been here. Maybe I’m here at the right time and it’s just a coincidence? Maybe the grass is always greener? Who knows, right?!

Part of my job as an Artistic Producer/Director is to know what is happening. And, not just in my own city but across the country and internationally. Someone asked me recently “How do you do it? How do you seem to have your finger right on the pulse of things?” In that moment I didn’t really know what to say because I never really thought of it that way before. I just have a curious mind. I always have. I’m always looking to see what other people are doing. I’ve said this before but I see myself as a giant sponge just soaking up influences and inspiration from all around me. I love to travel. I am intrigued by different cultures and cities and how other people around the world live. It’s just a part of who I am. So, even though I don’t see myself in that way (at all), I guess that would be my answer. This is what makes that part of my job so easy. To me it is not work at all. It’s just who I am.

So, back when people were announcing seasons and so on and so forth. I was online doing some research into the Toronto theatre scene. Seeing what they were doing at Canadian Stage, Factory, Passe Muraille, Tarragon, etc. And, I came across the blurb for Wide Awake Hearts which just seemed right up my alley. Young, contemporary, etc and at the time I had no idea I would end up in Toronto during its run. I just thought “Hmmm…cool, that they are doing work like this”. Fast forward a couple months I’m now on my way to Toronto and I see a tweet from someone I follow saying they had seen this show and loved it. Now, I really want to go, and so I look it up online to discover it’s pretty much sold-out for the first week and they are still in previews. Now, I really, REALLY, want to go. So I call to get myself put on a waitlist and lo and behold someone calls to cancel and viola! I find myself with a ticket to Wide Awake Hearts.

And, I was not disappointed. At all. What a brilliant production! I often get really irritated by the constant misuse of video & projections in theatre. Yes, it’s innovative. But that doesn’t mean that everyone and their dog needs to go out and insert video and projections into their next play just because it is the thing to do. Plunking a screen on stage and showing a projection to identify locale does not make you innovative. It makes you lazy. I mean c’mon can’t you be more creative than that?! However, if video and projections are integrated well into the story and the design of the show it can be brilliant. And, in this case it is. AND, the story/narrative, doesn’t suffer (in my humble opinion) to serve the video and projections (which is another reason I am often irritated by video/projection).

The playwright, Brendan Gall, has written a great piece of theatre. If you like Closer by Patrick Marber (which I do) then you will like this play. It has a similar vibe. It’s the story of a young married couple: a film producer and actor. They are making a film and the film producer casts his best friend who he believes had (or is having) an affair with his wife. Next enters the film’s editor and the best friend’s on-again-off-again girlfriend. So, just by this description you can probably guess that all this might make for an interesting situation. Which, of course, it does. And, oh, does it also make for great drama!

There have only been a couple productions in the past couple of years where I have gone to see a production more than once because I liked it so much (Nevermore and Fat Pig being the other two). Wide Awake Hearts will be the third. A bunch of us are going to do rush tickets on Sunday and hopefully get in for $10 (How awesome is that?!). So, if you are reading this, and are in Toronto, I suggest you go see this play.

Because that is the other thing that blows my mind. The amount of theatre artists that don’t actually go to the theatre. How do you expect to know what is happening or “have your finger on the pulse of it” if you never actually go to the theatre? Or read plays? If I had one piece of advice for any aspiring theatre artist it would be this: GO SEE THEATRE!!! And, if you can’t afford to go to the theatre then READ PLAYS.

Because that is “how I do it”. I go to see as much theatre as I possibly can. And, I read plays. All the time. I also read newspapers, magazines, blogs. I go to art galleries and museums. I go to concerts. I listen to music. I know what is happening because I live it. Everyday. I don’t just sit around and talk about it or whine or complain about it. I’m a “doer”. You want to know what is happening? Then get out there and “do” things.

And, you can start by checking out Wide Awake Hearts at Tarragon Theatre.

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Monday, November 1, 2010

Fall Hiatus

In 3 days I’m officially on fall hiatus.

5 years ago, it used to be that we did one show which I maybe starting planning for 6-8 months before with really the last 2 months being a lot of work. Then I added another smaller show which was a little more work but nothing that took over my life. Next I started applying for grants which meant over a year’s worth of planning going into our summer production.

Then came Prodigals which by the time we have our official World Premiere in May next year I will have spent almost 2 and half years developing and producing since I first took script submission back in February 2009. Awesome! But, whoa.

Now with season planning and grants coming out the ying-yang plus long range planning it feels like a never ending workload which to a workaholic like myself is not helpful. It feels like since last November when I wrote the post “In The Slow Times” like I’m never going to have another “slow time” ever again in my life which isn’t a bad thing. It’s just...whoa.

So, I’m taking a hiatus and I’m going to force myself to do as little work as possible. The grants are done and sent in. Now we just wait. The things that absolutely need to be done are done. The rest can wait a month. No one will die.

So, I’m off to Toronto (and then to NYC for a week) in 3 days and I can’t believe how excited I am. It’s not even exotic or in a different country (well except New York for a week) or on a different continent or anything. It’s Toronto. And, trust me (sorry all you Torontonians that might be reading this) it’s not anything special. It’s just that I get a break. For a whole month! I could be going to Timbucktoo and I’d be excited.

And, mostly I’m super excited about all the awesome theatre I’m going to see. I’ve already got a list a mile long for New York. I think that’s pretty much all I’m going to do with the exception of eat and go to Century 21. Oh, and maybe the MoMA.

So, if you’re in TO or NYC and you follow me on twitter or read this blog, drop me a line I’d love to meet up and chat. I could talk theatre until I’m blue in the face (just ask Simon or Lois). Wait a second...

Didn’t I just say I was going to do as little theatre work as possible?

Well, you can’t win ‘em all. As long as I’m not writing grants, drafting letters, crunching numbers or obsessively checking my email then it’s all good. Watching and talking is okay. Oh, and I promise to blog a little if I see an awesome show that I want to share with you guys.

So, sayonara, adios & arrivederci Vancouver, I will see you in a month’s time.

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Thursday, October 21, 2010

5-Year Plan

In my last post I announced our upcoming 2011 Season which is an exciting new development for us. The past couple of years we've done 2 shows per year but it wasn't in any attempt to have an "official" season. We've been more of a project-based organization. And, for the most part, I've kind of been flying by the seat of my pants. Honestly. I just kind of make it up as I go along for the most part. I mean I've had short term goals or goals for a particular production but nothing really long term.

Almost 2 years ago I had someone ask me what my long range goals for Twenty-Something were and I literally stared at them blankly and then mumbled something-or-other about not really having thought about it much. And, back then it was the truth. It wasn't until about January/February of this year when I actually started to think long term. Now I've started to put in motion a 5-year plan that will hopefully (*knocks on wood*) take Twenty-Something Theatre to a new stage in its development.

Part of Stage 1 (Years 1-3 in the 5-year plan) is having an official season and the reason for having an official season is so that we can continue to develop our audiences. There are people that come to see all our productions. So, like other theatre companies, we want to be able to offer those people - and all audiences - the opportunity to save money by "subscribing" to our season.

So, on that note, we've got an amazing deal: a 3-Ticket Flex pass that you can use as 1 ticket per show (or bring 2 friends to see a show or see one show 3 times) and save 15%!!

Regular $54
Under 35 (with valid id) $43
Seniors (with valid id) $43
Preview $25

Click Here to Get Tickets

That starts at as little as $8 per ticket! So, help us continue to develop our audience base by "subscribing" to our amazing 2011 season.

Thank you, to those of you who have been there from the beginning and, welcome, to those of you who may be new to Twenty-Something this year. I think it's going to be an awesome year!

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Thursday, October 14, 2010

2011 Season

Drum roll please....

1) SPOTLIGHT: Nocturne by Adam Rapp and featuring Troy Anthony Young.

February 22nd - February 27th

"Rapp uses subtle, sensuous, bold and funny language...So detailed and poetic is the writing...that we buy and are powerfully moved by the whole thing." --New York Post

Adam Rapp's highly acclaimed play Nocturne begins as a former piano prodigy recounts the tragic events that tore his family apart. At only 17 years old the young man leaves home and sets out for New York City where he seeks an uneasy refuge in books and he reinvents himself as a writer. Throughout the next decade and a half he tries to cope with the ramifications of his own anguish and estrangement while making a desperate search for redemption. With a keen eye for human relationships and a deft ear for language, Rapp explores the aftershock of an unimaginable event.

2) WORLD PREMIERE: Prodigals by Sean Minogue. Directed by Peter Boychuk.

May 3rd - May 14th

“There’s an ache that runs through this play, and it’s about the difficulty of negotiating the terrain between adventure and compromise…Minogue is a promising writer” --Colin Thomas, Georgia Straight

(Cast from the 2010 workshop production at the Havana)

After a sold-out & critically acclaimed workshop production Prodigals returns for its official World Premiere. Set in a small bar in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, six young underachievers await the results of a murder trial that’s hit close to home. Their world of drinking, sarcasm and missed opportunities is flipped upside down when a former friend returns from Toronto to testify in the trial, reopening old wounds and creating some new ones as well.

3) SUMMER: Tough! by George F. Walker

August 23rd - September 4th

“Walker has an eye for the ridiculous and an imagination that packs his plays with action”
--New York Times

Bobby and Tina are nineteen. Bobby gets caught cheating. Tina finds out she’s pregnant. Jill, Tina’s best friend, hates Bobby and welcomes the opportunity to kick his ass. Sometimes life is tough. First written in 1993 this dark comedy by George F. Walker is a wrenchingly funny, painful, and honest depiction of the conflicting desires and troubled relationships that continue to epitomize young people today.

See you at the theatre!

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

VIFF 2010

So, if you’ve been following along with my blog for awhile you’ll remember that last year I gushed about a TIFF film called Cole which was directed by Carl Bessai. So, this year when I found out he was coming to VIFF with not one but two films I bought tickets immediately.

When I tell people who don’t know me or aren’t part of the community - you know “regular” people - what I do for a living I usually get “oh, like in film and tv” and then I have to explain to them that, no, actually, in something called the the-a-tre. After that there is always an awkward silence. At this point I just find it funny whereas I used to find it annoying. Because many people who know me know that working in films or tv is not my ultimate destination. I know shocker right?! I’m kind of a theatre purist in that way.

But after seeing Cole last year and hearing them talk about the making of the films it made me start to think a bit differently about it. Now, I’m not saying I’m going to up and leave the theatre industry to pursue Hollywood. I’m just saying that if the opportunity came along to work on the right project. A project like Cole. I might consider it.

Because the thing is when you hear Carl Bessai talk about filmmaking - which I’ve now had the pleasure of hearing three times - you can see that it isn’t about celebrity or being famous (which is what I equate with most Hollywood film and television projects) its about making great art. It just so happens that his medium is film. He’s a storyteller just like the rest of us. And I happen to really like his stories.

The first weekend of VIFF I went to the screening of Carl Bessai film #1: Fathers and Sons. Jay Brazeau, who many of you will know from the Vancouver theatre scene, is hysterical. He plays a Russian (I believe) father to Ben Ratner’s son and in one scene they have a knife fight that is amazing. This film is much different than Cole in that it is made through collective creation. Something we hear a lot about in the theatre world. They do this in films too? Who knew?! So all the scenes are improvised around a central theme which is the relationship of Father to Son (or vice versa). It’s funny and poignant and has a very raw feel to it. It’s been so popular that they’ve actually added an additional screening on the 15th of October at 11:20. So go check it out. You won’t regret it.

This past weekend I went to Carl Bessai film #2: Repeaters. One of the films three leads is Richard De Klerk who also played the lead in Cole (The one thing you’ll notice about Carl Bessai films is he recycles a lot of the same actors) and also helped to produce the film. This time instead of Lytton for Cole they used Mission for Repeaters. And they all moved out there to make the film and had their offices in an old Residential School building they used to shoot the film. And again, they just went out and drove around to find cool locations and stumbled upon a BC Ferries junkyard that plays a part in the final scene of the movie. It's a pretty intense thriller and there is another screening of this film on Thursday, October 14th at 6:30pm so I won't spoil it for you.

When you hear Carl and the actors talk about making the films they speak like they are a small family. And, I like that. Because that is exactly what I love about theatre. The intimacy. The small intense amount of time you spend with people creating and telling stories. And, if that same feeling can be translated to the filmmaking process, then that is a process I might want to be a part of some day.

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Saturday, October 9, 2010

I Hate Halloween

Hello, my name is Sabrina, and I’m a costume designer that hates Halloween. There I said it. Halloween is probably my least favourite day of the year. Some of you hate Valentine's Day well I hate Halloween. Okay, maybe “hate” is a strong word but “strongly dislike” could be appropriate.

Maybe you can trace it back to being traumatized as a kid when I got chicken pox twice on Halloween and couldn’t go out trick or treating. (The doctors like to tell us that once you get chicken pox you are immune. Well I’m living proof that’s a bold-face lie.) Maybe it is because I have a deep-rooted fear of all horror movies involving someone being possessed by the devil. (Blood and Guts. All Good. Scary Devil. Bad.) Who knows?! All I know is that I "strongly dislike" a once-a-year day that most people love.

Every year around the beginning of October, I get the same question, mostly from people who don’t know me very well or I’ve just recently met. I tell them I’m a costume designer and they ask “What are you going to be for Halloween?” eyes wide with anticipation that I’m going to announce some phenomenal costume that will blow their minds. And when I say “you know, I haven’t really given it much thought” they look at me as though I’m crazy. Okay, call me crazy, but I haven’t been thinking about what I’m going to be for Halloween since November 1st of the previous year because I’ve spent the past year worrying about costumes for a variety of other projects. So, I’m sorry to disappoint, but my Halloween costume falls to approx #99 on a list of 100 things I need to do in a year.

So, yes, part of the reason, I "strongly dislike" Halloween is that I spend most of my year making costumes as a job. Yes, I love my work. But, when it comes to my time off, the idea of coming up with and/or making another costume is about as appealing as… drinking piss. Okay, maybe not that bad, but it is definitely not high on the list of the things I would choose to do because to me it just feels like more work.

But part of it is also that Halloween in many respects isn’t really about the costumes anyways. For most young people, it’s just another reason to party or for girls to dress up like whores. (Wow, I’m officially starting to sound old). Again, call me crazy, but my top priority in life isn’t deciding whether this year I’m going to be a slutty nurse or a slutty school girl…or a slutty witch or a slutty…okay, you get the picture. Halloween is generally not about making up a creative costume. For girls it’s about doing the one thing you can’t do the rest of the year without risking social judgement and that is wearing lingerie as actual clothing. And, for the guys, well hell, I think that is pretty self-explanatory (read above statement).

All you need to do is a search in Google Images for ‘Halloween Costumes” and you will find among many other examples this:

So, no, I haven’t given my costume much thought. Well that’s a lie because the truth is I haven’t given my costume any thought. The truth is I probably won’t even dress up. Yes, folks, sometimes the truth hurts.

And, the truth is, I hate Halloween.

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Monday, October 4, 2010

Choosing A Season

What have we done in the past? What haven’t we done in the past? What did we do last year? What were themes we explored in the last production? What themes haven’t we explored? What themes would I like to explore? What are our goals for the future? What plays will help us reach those goals?

And so on and so forth…

These are only just a fraction of the questions that go through my mind when choosing plays. Choosing a season is hard. So, when I am critical of other companies and their play choices, I get how difficult it can be. And, I can only imagine how difficult it must be for larger companies who have boards and subscribers to answer to.

It is easy to choose the first play your company ever does because usually you start the company in order to do a play that’s been nagging at you in the back of your mind. You really want to do such and such a play so you start a company. That’s the easy part. The hard part is actually putting on that first production.

The second play you do is still easy enough because I guarantee if you had that first idea to do such and such a play then play “B” is not sitting too far behind such and such a play in the back of your mind. And, the second time you produce a play, the producing part gets a little easier because you’ve done it once, learned from your mistakes or missteps (hopefully) and are ready to do it again.

But eventually at some point, you will inevitably run out of plays that have been sitting in the back of your mind because other people have done them by now or they just aren’t right for your company or whatever. And, then it is not so easy any more.
Because as your company grew over the years, it established a mandate and a set of goals & criteria that reflects that mandate so, now when you choose a play, it is not just about ‘oh, that’s a cool play, I’d really like to do it’ any more, it’s about asking yourself all those hard questions.

Sometimes it can still be easy. You can happen upon a play that just speaks to you and also happens to answer all your questions and fit the criteria. But more often then not it is hard. You read plays upon plays upon plays and it is not that you dislike those plays but for one reason or another they don’t quite fit. So you make the best choice you can at that time and hope and pray that it works out. Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn’t. Not every choice you make as an Artistic Director/Producer is going to hit it out of the park. That is a given.

So all you can hope for is that the majority will be “successful” (by the set of criteria or goals you have chosen that makes it a success not just monetary success). And, that when a play or production is not as successful as hoped that you go back and assess the “why’s and how’s” and use that information in the choices you make in the future.

Coming up with our very first official season of plays (announcement to come soon), was definitely a bit of a challenge. First because through the years we’ve established the winter spotlight production that features one emerging (there’s that term again) artist. First year of the series: easy. I knew exactly the play I wanted to do and I knew exactly the actor I wanted to do it. Second & third year: still fairly easy because they all started with an initial idea. But this year after a three-year cycle of putting a spotlight on an actor, director and then playwright, I decided it was time to come back to an actor.

So, you see, without really meaning to, I established a set of criteria for myself that I have to now follow. I need to find a one-person play (and an actor to do it) that also fits the mandate of the company. Not as easy as just choosing a play because I like it.

The new spring production was easy (not even easy, a given) and is basically the reason we are moving into a 3-show season. You can probably guess what that production is and if you can’t you’ll just have to wait for it.

So, onto our third and final show for the year, our annual summer production. This one was the hardest. As it should be. We’ve got five years under our belt. So, that means there is a lot more to take into consideration before I make my decision. What did we do this past year? What have we done in the past 5 years? What haven’t we done? If for this year I want to do a Canadian play then that narrows the selection pool down. If I want to do a play with younger characters after doing Blue Surge because the characters in that play were on the high end of our target demographic then that narrows the selection pool even further. These are just a fraction of the types of things I consider when making my choices. Again, it’s not just a matter of “Oh, I like that play” any more. It has become a lot more complicated than that. And, I can only anticipate that it will get harder and more complicated as the years go on.

This upcoming year we’ve established a 3-show season, and if I would like to continue with that the following year, then what?! I’ve got to choose 3 plays based on a set of criteria that have been established over the years. The craziest part is that I haven’t even announced this coming year’s season and I am already thinking about the following year. Choosing a season is hard. I can’t imagine having to choose and balance 6 shows per year or god forbid 17 shows like they are doing at the Arts Club (6 at the Stanley, 5 at the GI, 3 at the new Revue and 3 Touring) this year. That gives me heart palpitations just thinking about it.

Anyways, no need to give myself a heart attack at the moment, I’ve chosen the plays for our upcoming season. That is done. Now I’m just working out a few of the logistics. Then, the exciting part, official announcement time.

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Friday, October 1, 2010

EAA (Emerging Adult and Artist)

If you are anything like me you are sick to death of the term “Emerging Artist”. Well, unfortunately, we all better get used to the word “Emerging” because a new term has been coined to describe the 20-something crowd and that term would be the “Emerging Adult”.

Sean (playwright for Prodigals) sent me an article back in August that appeared in the New York Times called “What is it about 20-Somethings?”. I was too busy back then to take the time to actually read it properly but I knew it was something I wanted to address because what this article discusses is at the very core of why I created Twenty-Something Theatre.

Back then I had no idea that the notion of “Emerging Adulthood” was even being discussed. All I knew was that as a 25-year old there were some things that I was going through in my life that were very specific to me and my friends and I had the idea to put on production that reflected our lives on stage. What became of that idea was our inaugural production of This Is Our Youth.

Reading this article on “Emerging Adulthood” and looking back at This Is Our Youth, I have a new appreciation for the play and the playwright because it appears that Mr. Lonergan was way ahead of his time. Lonergan wrote the play in 1996 yet Jeffery Jenson Arnett (the coiner of the term “Emerging Adult”) didn’t publish his first article on the subject until 2000 in the American Psychologist. Originally a fellow by the name Kenneth Keniston (what is with these scholars and their alliterative names) declared “a new stage of life” in the American Scholar in 1970 and he called it “youth”.

“In the late 60’s, Keniston wrote that there was a ‘growing minority of post-adolescents [who] have not settled the questions whose answers once defined adulthood: questions of relationship to the existing society, questions of vocation, questions of social role and lifestyle’.” And, moreover, among the many characteristics of “youth” the most important was a “pervasive ambivalence toward self and society”. If that doesn’t describe the characters in “This Is Our Youth” or a most of the characters we’ve explored throughout the past 5 year then I don’t what does.

So what does this new stage in development mean for theatre? Well, back in April, Aslam (Eliot in Prodigals) articulated in his guest blog post what I have believed for many years. I’m paraphrasing but he basically talked about how he views Twenty-Something Theatre as a continuation of the work done by TYA Theatres (Theatre for Young Audiences) such as Green Thumb Theatre or Carousel Theatre.

Erik Erikson (again with the alliteration) developed in 1950 a highly regarded life cycle model that is based on the 8 stages of human development: infant (0 – 1.5 yrs), toddler (1 – 3 yrs), preschool (3 – 6 yrs), school age (5 – 12 yrs), adolescence (9 – 18 yrs), young adulthood (18 – 40 yrs), mid-adulthood (30 – 65 yrs) & late-adulthood (50+). In 1966 the Young Peoples Theatre, now known as the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People, was formed and is Canada’s largest TYA company. Carousel Theatre was formed in 1974 with Green Thumb following suit in 1975.

All three of these companies are dedicated to producing theatre for toddlers thru to adolescents which covers approx 18 years of life while the rest of the theatre-producing world generally targets the rest. The rest being what many like to refer to as the general theatre-going population - which with the average life expectancy in Canada being approximately 81 years - covers the next 63+ years of life. Doesn’t this seem a little odd to anyone else?

Even then these TYA Theatres break down their shows even further and specifically designate certain shows as being suitable for or appealing to a certain age bracket. For example, if you go to the LKTYP web page for their 2010-2011 season you will note that all the production are listed by date and then under the date the grade range. Or, Green Thumb has their 2010-2011 season of plays listed as either elementary or secondary. Why do they do this? Because it is a well known and accepted fact that a 5 or 6 year old has different needs then a 15 or 16 year old.

This may seem obvious to us now but the addition of a new stage in life called “Adolescence” only came into existence in 1904 when G. Stanley Hall published a massive study on the subject. Hall’s original book had its flaws but it “marked the beginning of the scientific study of adolescence and helped to lead to its eventual acceptance as a distinct stage of life with its own challenges, behaviours and biological profile”. Then recently Arnett began to believe that something similar was happening with those in their late teens and into their twenties and that Erikson’s model that defined “young adulthood” as between the ages of 18-40 might be too broad because “the 20’s are something different from the 30’s and 40’s”.

As the NY Times article discusses “The 20’s are a black box and there is a lot of churning in there. One-third of people in their 20’s move to a new residence every year. 40% move back home with their parents at least once. They go through an average of 7 jobs in their 20’s, more job changes than in any other stretch. Two-thirds spend at least some time living with a romantic partner without being married. And marriage occurs later than ever. The median age at first marriage in the early 70’s, when the baby boomers were young, was 21 for women and 23 for men; by 2009 it had climbed to 26 for women and 28 for men, 5 years in a little more than a generation.”

Furthermore, the article goes on to discuss how we’re in a “changing timetable for adulthood” because traditionally adulthood was marked by 5 milestones: completing school, leaving home, becoming financially independent, marrying and having a child. “In 1960, 77 percent of women and 65 percent of men, had by the time they reached 30, passed all five milestones” while according to data from the US Census among 30 year olds in 2000 “fewer than half of the women and one-third of the men had done so”. Plus closer to home a Canadian study said that a “typical 30-year-old in 2001 had completed the same number of milestones as a 25 year old in the 70’s.”

Take me for example: I just turned 30 in June. I am not married nor do I find it likely that I will get married in the near future. I don’t have any children. And, I have definitely completed 2 of the 5 milestones: I completed school and I left home. I tentatively could say 3 out of 5, if at this point in my life I considered being an artist financially stable, but I’m just going to err on the side of cautious here and go with a good solid 2.5 out of 5. Wow, so according to this study, I’m not very “adult”. I’m actually approx 50% of an adult. You could call me a… wait for it… an “Emerging Adult”.

Henceforth I would like to be referred to in writing as “Sabrina Evertt, BFA, EAA” (EAA = Emerging Artist and Adult). Thank you.

Even though this milestone method of determining adulthood is a little dated (Really?! thank you for pointing that out NY Times writer Mr. Robin Marantz Hening) because it doesn’t include those who are single or childless by choice or unable to marry even if they wanted to because they’re gay (yet another reason why Canada rocks!); however, it is becoming increasingly clearer that getting to what is generally thought of as adulthood is happening later than ever. Psychologists and academics are all starting to believe that “what we’re seeing…is the dawning of a new life stage” and in the same way society adjusted to the emergence of “Adolesecence” society will also need to adjust to the idea of the “Emerging Adult”.

This includes creating theatre that speaks to a new generation of 20-year olds who have different needs now then they did a generation or two ago and why theatre for “Emerging Adults” in my opinion could be seen as the new TYA. And why, “Twenty-Something Theatre” is in many ways a continuation of the work that begins with theatres like Green Thumb or Carousel. It is about telling stories that address the needs and wants of a specific stage in life.

“Just as adolescence has its particular psychological profile, Arnett says, so does emerging adulthood: identity exploration, instability, self-focus, feeling in-between and a rather poetic characteristic he calls ‘a sense of possibilities’. A few of these, especially identity exploration, are part of adolescence too, but they take on new depth and urgency in the 20’s. The stakes are higher when people are approaching the age when options tend to close off and lifelong commitments must be made. Arnett calls it ‘the age 30 deadline’”.

I think Jennifer, who is quoted in the NY Times article (from her original article that appeared something called the “20 something Manifesto”), sums it up perfectly by saying “It’s somewhat terrifying… to think about all the things I’m supposed to do be doing in order to ‘get somewhere’ successful: ‘Follow your passions, live your dreams, take risks, network with the right people, find mentors, be financially responsible, volunteer, work, think about or go to grad school, fall in love and maintain personal well-being, mental health and nutrition,’ When is there time to just be and enjoy?” Many 20-somethings struggle to “figure it all out” and with all the options that we have today as opposed to a few generations ago its no wonder that many 20-somethings postpone “adulthood”.

So, it looks like, whether society likes it or not, “Emerging Adulthood” may just be here to stay and because of this we need to start thinking of ways in the theatre world as to how we can understand this new stage in life and adapt accordingly. Creating theatre companies like Twenty-Something Theatre that specifically targets that stage in life is one way but there are plenty more opportunities out there just waiting for forward-thinking theatre-makers to jump on.

I know, in the theatre world, we talk about “audience development” all the time and you might ask how this is any different. This is different because it comes at it from a different approach. It isn’t about sitting around dreaming up ways we can get young people into the theatre that already exists. It’s about creating theatre for young people that doesn’t already exist.

In the same way that TYA Theatres split up their programming to suit the needs of specific age or grade ranges that have different needs so too wouldn’t it make sense to create general theatre programming that targets specific age ranges or stages in life. I doubt anyone would disagree that a 20 year old is at a different stage of life than a 40 year old.

Or, theatre companies who have two stages could use their Studio stage (or “B” series of shows) for programming that is geared towards a “20-something” crowd. This doesn’t mean that all audiences won’t show up and enjoy it. It just means that you are being specific about who you are targeting and why.

Because, at the end of the day, in order to appeal to us 20-somethings (I say “us” even though technically I’m now a 30-something but only by approx 5 months) you are going to have to come to us because we definitely aren’t coming to you. We are too busy trying to “figure it all out” and “follow our dreams” and be “financially responsible” and “fall in love” and “maintain personal well-being, mental health and nutrition” (that includes alcohol, right?! Red wine is okay, right?!) all the while maintaining a healthy ambivalence and optimism towards the whole thing.

Wow, I’m exhausted just writing about it, so I’m going to go and put an end to this extremely long post because, well, looks like I've got stuff to figure out because I just hit that “age 30 deadline” and technically that means I should have it already figured out. Hmmmm…better get on that.

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

***Read the entire NY Times article here

Sunday, September 12, 2010

An Exquisite Hour

Blue Surge is over but it’s still been one helluva week trying to get a ton of stuff done before I go on vacation: 1) packing to move out of my condo (long story) 2) getting preliminary designs and such done for my upcoming project and 3) finishing up a grant and getting it in the mail by yesterday afternoon. Phew!

But I did manage to squeak in a couple of Fringe shows yesterday and boy am I glad that I did. Relephant Theatre’s production of Stewart Lemoine’s The Exquisite Hour was the loveliest way I could have spent an afternoon hour of my life. So, even though, it is 9:30am and I should be cleaning and packing to get out of my place by this evening (once again long story) I wanted to take some time to tell you about this charming little show because not only am I impressed by the production but I am very impressed by this new company.

From the start I was impressed with their marketing and publicity materials (see above). The graphics were creative yet simple and clear. I felt from the moment I set eyes on the graphics I knew exactly what this show was about (and I wasn’t wrong which is another important factor). This is very impressive considering this is their first time out as a company (although the Co-Producers [Jessie Van Rijn and Steven Greenfield] who comprise the company have lots of experience working with other more established companies in town, namely Carousel Theatre for which Jessie is the General Manager, which I am sure came in handy). Not many new companies put much effort into their marketing and publicity materials because a) it costs money they don’t have and b) it takes time and resources they may not have. Most of the effort goes into just rehearsing and getting the actors up onstage with little thought to much else which brings me to the other reason I’m so impressed with this company and production.

There was considerable (and well executed) effort that went into the design and look of this production. From the moment I stepped into Carousel Studio I knew that this was going to be something special. They had created a lovely little backyard garden comprised of a small white wood plank path and a little white picket fence with white flower pots and white wooden garden chairs. Actual little yellow flowers were planted in the flower pots and a tree stood behind the small white picket fence. This particular afternoon we were even served lovely little mason jars of lemonade to sip while we watched the humourous and sweet love connection unfold on stage.

The actors (Josue Laboucane & Nevada Yates Robart), were costumed in charming late 1950’s/early 1960’s Mad Men-esque garb – him in grey pants and vest with a black skinny tie and her in a yellow full-skirted dress – that also added to the look and feel of the show which is set in 1962. It seemed to me like every detail was thought of. This doesn’t happen often at any level, new company or not.

So, you take all of this, and then you add into it wonderfully funny and sweet performances (directed by 20-something alumni Julie McIsaac) and yes, it is very impressive, indeed. I won’t tell you what happens but let’s just say that at the end of this exquisite hour there were a lot of “awwww’s” and cooing sounds going on in the audience.

So, take my advice, and get down to Carousel Studio to check out The Exquisite Hour which is part of this year’s Vancouver Fringe Festival, not only because it is a great way to spend an hour of your life but also to support this very impressive new company in town but you better get your tickets quick yesterday afternoon’s performance was sold-out.

See you all in 10 days when I’m back from vacation rested and relaxed!

~Sabrina Evertt,
Artistic Producer

Friday, September 3, 2010

Everybody Has An Opinion: II

It’s the final weekend!! You’ve got 3 more chances – tonight (Friday), Saturday night and Sunday night – to check out Blue Surge. Here are a few more comments/reviews and photos for your reading and viewing pleasure:

"Evertt gets good work from all five actors…Leroux (as Curt) has some charming moments--especially the scene in which he eagerly identifies trees by a set of flashcards that Sandy tests him with. Pratt, as Heather, has a couple of good drunk scenes, and it's pretty funny when buck naked Doug flashes his badge at her in the massage parlour”Jo Ledingham, Vancouver Courier

From L to R: Megan McGeough as Sandy & Jeremy Leroux as Curt. Photo courtesy of Jergus Oprsal.

“Twenty Something Theatre’s economic production does have much to recommend it. One just has to accept that hookers and cops are just as ‘screwed-up’ as the rest of us – hardly much of a stretch”
John Jane,

From L to R: Chris Rosamond as Doug & Jeremy Leroux as Curt. Photo courtesy Jergus Oprsal.

Get your tickets at the door or through Tickets Tonight. We looking forward to seeing you all at the show this long weekend!!!

~Sabrina Evertt,
Artistic Producer

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Everybody Has An Opinion

Lately, there has been much controversy in the blogosphere regarding the ongoing debate regarding reviewers vs bloggers. I’ve even discussed this myself previously. I believe it all has a purpose. Critics/Reviewers have an important function because they are there to critically analyze your work. Great, we need that, so we all can be held up to a higher standard. But Bloggers/Reviewers also have an important function because they are there in many ways as a representative of your average audience member. They are there for the experience.

I honestly welcome all opinions so below are a few audience and reviewer comments from week one of Blue Surge:

“Claire Lindsay brings a lively intelligence and subtle responsiveness to Beth. When Curt accuses Beth of not wanting to sleep at his place because it’s not good enough for her, Beth doesn’t speak, but you can see the guilt register on her face. Chris Rosamond, who plays Curt’s horny cop pal, Doug, and Tara Pratt, who takes the role of Doug’s girlfriend, Heather, deliver freewheeling characterizations”Colin Thomas, Georgia Straight

“The actors who portray the main characters manage to intensely immerse themselves in their work, so much so that they made me want to slap them (particularly Leroux as Curt and McGeough as the sweet Sandy). I’m not surprised that Evertt and her cast and crew achieve such an intense and in-depth exploration of terrain that is often uncharted. This is no Pretty Woman, don’t get your hopes high. This is intense drama…”Raul Pacheco,

“The inside of Studio 16 felt like I’d just stepped into a small New York theatre with only about 6 rows of seating, forcing you to feel like you’re practically in the play as well. The intimate setting was perfect for this production, which I decided that I like more than most movies I’ve seen lately. Within the first 15 minutes, Blue Surge had me completely encompassed in the happenings of the actors”
Alicia (, Back on the Block

“Lindsay, Rosamond and Pratt all attack their own characters with gusto. Lindsay is perhaps given the least to work with by playwright Gilman, which is a real shame as when she is called upon, she delivers beautifully. Rosamond and Pratt are nice counterpoints to the more serious relationships around them”Mark Robins,

Thank you to all who came out to see the show this past week. I appreciate you sharing your opinion with us. I will finish the post with one more highlight from Colin Thomas:

“Twenty-Something Theatre fills an important function in Vancouver’s cultural ecology: it offers edgier scripts, including original works such as Sean Minogue’s Prodigals and, even in its name, attempts to appeal to a younger demographic. Our city needs theatrical entrepreneurs like the company’s artistic director Sabrina Evertt.”

So come on out and support Twenty-Something Theatre and its most recent production of Blue Surge. It will continue to run this week until Sunday, September 5th at Studio 16.

See you at the show!!!

~Sabrina Evertt,
Artistic Producer

Friday, August 27, 2010

Blue Surge Production Photos

Last night we opened Blue Surge to a packed house and our first review was just posted so it looks like we're all set for another awesome run! Here are some of the great photos that were taken of the production at dress rehearsal by Emily Cooper:

From L to R: Jeremy Leroux (Curt) and Claire Lindsay (Beth)

From L to R: Tara Pratt (Heather)

From L to R: Jeremy Leroux (Curt) and Tara Pratt (Heather)

From L to R: Jeremy Leroux (Curt) and Megan McGeough (Sandy)

From L to R: Tara Pratt (Heather) and Chris Rosamond (Doug)

Come check us out at Studio 16. Hope to see you all there!!

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Coffee Talk with Chris Rosamond

Last, but certainly not least in our cast, is Chris Rosamond who plays our long-searched-for “Doug” in Blue Surge. After the all the drama in finding the right actor for this part, we’re grateful that Chris has the guts to take on the nudity and also give heart and humour to the role. Chris and I grabbed a quick break in the parking lot of the rehearsal space a couple of weeks ago for a quick chat.

Hey Chris! So tell me about your “Aha! I want to be an actor” moment.

Uh, you know it was something I always wanted to do when I was young. I was in this sort of musical dance troupe called “The Young Canadians”. We used to do the Grandstand show at the Calgary Stampede. It was great and I loved it. It was really exciting and a lot of fun for me. I did that for a few years and that’s when I kind of knew that I really enjoyed it. But through peer-pressure I just kind of lost it and didn’t have the courage to pursue it. Thankfully I found it again. And I think that I always knew it, I just didn’t have the courage to pursue it.

I know you went to “Circle in the Square” in New York City. What was that like?

You know, it was fantastic. I went later you know, in my thirties, but it was the right time for me. It was a great experience. Honestly, I think every actor should spend time in New York. I feel that that’s where the real work is being done. It’s not so image-based and there’s just really good work being done. It’s the epicentre of it. Creatively, it’s just the place to be because there’s just so much of any medium – not just acting. So yeah, it was incredible. It was the best three years of my life, for sure.

So what was a really memorable performance or show that really stands out to you?

You know, there’s a lot because I was in New York and so I went to shows all the time. The best play I saw was a play called The Journey’s End and it’s an English play about World War I. It had Hugh Dancy, Boyd Gaines, and Jefferson Mays – just an incredible ensemble cast. It was such a moving play – just incredible. It was the best play I’ve seen. But you know performances and stuff I saw, I would say Frank Langella in Frost/Nixon was pretty spectacular. When he does confess to Frost in that last interview I swear to God I could see every pore on his face open. It was pretty, pretty spectacular.

You know another memorable thing, which was really interesting, was I went and saw a play called The Country Girl; a Clifford Odets play with Morgan Freeman, Frances McDormand, and Peter Gallagher. And I thought, you know, Morgan Freeman and Frances McDormand! They got onstage and they were working away and I was like, “Umm yeah, it’s pretty average,” and then Peter Gallagher cam
e onstage and just blew them away. Blew them away. He had such a stage presence. It was really spectacular to see. Another great one was Liev Schreiber in a revival of Talk Radio, an Eric Bogosian play, where I saw the first day of previews and I could have sworn to God that he had been running that show for six months. It was just so good! I was very fortunate and I tried to go see everything. I saw a lot of good stuff.

Tell me a bit about your character, “Doug”.

I think he’s a guy’s guy. I don’t think he’s incredibly ambitious – quite content with where he is in life. No one really expected much of him. He’s got a decent paying job and a career. He’s just pretty content. I can relate to him. I think he’s simple, but he’s not easy and he’s likeable. So yeah, you know I just did a play not too long ago where I had a similar character. It was Three Days of Rain. The character, “Pip”, you know he wasn’t very ambitious, somewhat successful in his own eyes, content, and simple. It’s refreshing to play those roles, rather than the shamed or deeply emotional. But yeah, he’s a good guy.

Without giving too much away, what is one of your favourite moments in Blue Surge?

I think the third scene in the play, when I come into the office and sort of catch “Curt” chatting up this prostitute and I fanaggle my way in and I have a banter with him. I ride him a little bit about things. I like just how the scene carries on and I start to explain how basically I wanted to see how far I could get with my prostitute, which led to me technically entrapping her. It was well worth it because I could have had anal sex with her and that’s a pretty big deal. It’s pretty funny how open and honest “Doug” is, especially in front of “Beth”. He knows how to push the right buttons, so to speak. There’s no shame. He’s honest to a fault.

Why should people come and see Blue Surge?

Because they can see my #W$% and @#$%. (I laugh).

Cool answer. Anything else?

Nah. (laughs)

Would you have any advice to give to someone who’s made the decision that they want to be an actor?

Audition for everything. Start doing plays, go to class, and just start working. No one’s going to hand anything to you. You just have to create your own opportunities. Start auditioning for everything and learn how to audition.

You can catch Chris, just as nature intended, in Blue Surge tonight and running until September 5th at Studio 16. Tickets may be purchased from Tickets Tonight or by calling the box office at 604.684.2787.

~ Sarah MacKay
Associate Producer

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Coffee Talk with Jeremy Leroux

Another fresh face on the Twenty-Something Theatre scene is Jeremy Leroux, who will be playing "Curt" in Blue Surge (which opens this week, I might add!). Jeremy was most recently seen in Doubt with the North Vancouver Community Players, in which he tackled the controversial role of "Father Flynn". I sat down with Jeremy a couple of weeks ago for a good ol' cup of coffee and chat.

Tell me about a memorable performance that just stands out for you.

I think the most memorable for me would be when I first saw Miss Saigon in Seattle. I loved the production – it was fantastic. A friend bought me tickets and we went down to Seattle to see it. I loved the music and that aspect of things. Everything was top notch. You always find characters where you’re like, “Ooo I’d love to play that one day,” type of thing. So “Chris” in Miss Saigon is on my list.

What has been your favourite role to date?

My favourite role to date was the last one I did, which was “Father Flynn” in Doubt. It was a very big role, one I could really cut my teeth with, and do a lot with. It was also another one of those roles where I watched the movie and saw Philip Seymour Hoffman play it and I was like, “There’s another one of those roles!” For me, that was a total dream come true, being able to play that and I really enjoyed that.

What was your “Aha! I want to be an actor.” moment?

I started off in music, so I started taking voice lessons to better myself in my singing. Through that I was introduced more to musical theatre pieces. I started auditioning for musicals and I just kind of put it out there. It was in 2005 that I did my first show with Pipedream – I did Sweet Charity and I loved it. After that, I did another show with Raving Theatre, it was called Jeffrey. Immediately after that I was like, “I really like doing this!” (laughs) So whether it be musicals or straight plays, I was just kind of hooked from there.

If you were to audition for a musical right now what would be your audition song?

I actually am going to be auditioning for Fighting Chance and I’m going to be doing “Being Alive” and then also, from Miss Saigon, “Why God Why”.

Excellent songs. I love both of those! So what have been some of the highs and lows you’ve experienced as an actor?

I guess I’ve been doing this seriously now for two years so there have been times where I some film and television auditions. My first film and television audition I had, I got because I was a look-alike for the younger version of a character or something like that. And then I totally messed it up. I remember going into the room and I was kind of acting at the director and not towards the camera when I think back. So I’m thinking, yeah they probably only saw the side of me and the reader was probably wondering what the heck I was doing. It’s a live and learn thing. As far as the highs, I mean I would say anytime I get to be onstage. I would also say working on Doubt and it was the biggest role I’d had to date. Everybody at North Vancouver Community Players was really awesome. It was a pretty fantastic experience.

Tell me about your character, “Curt” and can you relate to him or not relate to him?

In some areas I can relate to “Curt”. For me, the hardest part has been relating to the socio-economic background that he comes from because I don’t come from that. I am probably closer to “Beth” in that aspect. I can relate to him trying to do things and trying to help people. For me, I think it’s important that “Curt” doesn’t become the victim of the play. He does act, and he makes mistakes, and he “louses stuff up” to quote some of the other sayings. And that’s what he does and it’s not because he’s not trying to do the best, or what he think is going to be the best, for people. You have to feel for him.

Why do you think people should come and see Blue Surge?

I think it’s a really honest portrayal. It’s very truthful. The writing is great and the fights we have, they are real fights. They’re structured as such. For me, when I want to go see something, oftentimes that is what I find is the most real. For instance, I was just in London and I saw Billy Elliot and I saw a couple of other plays. Billy Elliot really stood out to me as being really awesome because of the fact that it had so much heart and it was so real. That’s why I go to theatre and what I want to see. I want it to be real and I want it to touch me. For Blue Surge I hope it touches a lot of people.

Without giving too much away, what is one of your favourite moments in Blue Surge?

(Laughs). Umm, well the work they’ve done on the second scene, that I’m not in but I’ve gotten to see, I think it’s pretty awesome. I think they’ve just done a really great job with it. Chris and Tara have done awesome. It’s one of my favourite scenes in the play, for sure. For me, I mean a good fight’s always good and I have a few of those. I mean it’s always kind of fun to get into it with someone and to have that level of trust with someone that you can really go at it. I really enjoy that, when you get lost in it. That’s what I hope to do throughout the whole thing.

What advice would you have for someone just starting out as an actor?

I think it’s important to realize that even if they’re just starting out that it really is just a start. I mean I just finished my six month program and that was what I realized. It’s just a start and it keeps going. I’ve said it to a few people, and people have said it to me. I don’t know why actors think they’re going to be good after just a year or two years. It takes ten years to get good at anything else. You have to keep the training up. You have to keep working on it. Do it because you love doing it, because there’s no other reason to do it! (We both laugh) In a nutshell, it’s a lot of work that you put into it, but there’s so much that you can get out of it. It doesn’t end after your first class or school. It keeps going so keep working at it and keep plugging away. It not always easy but it’s always, in my opinion, worth it.

You can catch Jeremy this week in Blue Surge, which runs from August 24th - September 5th at Studio 16. Tickets may be purchased from Tickets Tonight or by calling the box office at 604.684.2787.

~ Sarah MacKay
Associate Producer