Monday, July 26, 2010

The Five Year Cycle

Five years ago, I was given the advice, not to do theatre in the summer because apparently no one in Vancouver was going to go see theatre when they could go to the beach instead. Well, am I ever glad that I trusted my instincts and did it anyways, because Twenty-Something Theatre’s success has shown that, shocker, people actually do like to go see theatre all year ‘round. And, in the five years since we put up our first production in 2006 what used to be a pretty quiet indie summer theatre scene is now starting to be a much more happening one. And, this makes me very happy.

In 2007, a year after Twenty-Something put up it’s first summer production, Itsazoo migrated to Vancouver from Victoria bringing with them their roving summer productions of fairy-tales-turned-upside-down. And they weren’t the only the ones. That year a few other young companies started to pop up with summer plays and musicals.

Now, fast forward in time to the present, and we’ve now got a brand new indie summer theatre festival formatted after Toronto’s Summerworks: Neanderthal Arts. On Friday night I went to see another young company called Thirty Below Theatre and their production of Tiny Replicas. The writing by Dave Deveau was funny and poignant and the performances moving. He’s a young playwright to watch. I don’t say that lightly and I look forward to seeing more of his stuff. Plus it was geared right at young audiences. My theatre-going companions and I talked about it long after it was over while we sipped our wine in The Cultch’s fabulous new Wine Bar and Café. If this is the kind of stuff that is going to come out of the new Neanderthal Arts Festival, I look forward to seeing many more shows in the years to come. And, from the sound of things, that certainly looks possible. Speaking to Daniel Martin after the show (Co-Artistic Director of Upintheair Theatre and Co-Producer of the festival) it sounds like they are having a great turn out so far. From the packed Wine Bar and the amount of people I saw buzzing around the building, I would say that he’s not lying. And maybe, just maybe, part of that happy-go-lucky atmosphere of the crowd, was due in part to the fact that it is summer. Hmmmm….who would’ve thought?! Theatre in the summer a good thing?!

But it’s not just in the summer, something is in the air and seems to be translating from summer through to the rest of the traditional, September - May, theatre season. Twenty-Something Theatre’s got a 3-show season coming up next year. Young new companies seem to be popping up all over the place. We’ve got Glass City doing it’s first Fringe show and then moving on to a production of “Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train” in March. Or, Relephant Theatre, who is producing its first production of Stewart Lemoine’s “The Exquisite Hour” during the Vancouver Fringe. And, these are just two examples that come to mind but there are many more. Times they are a-changin’.

And it seems to me that maybe in the next five years, Vancouver’s indie theatre scene might look very different than it does today. What do you think?

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Monday, July 19, 2010

Meet the cast of BLUE SURGE

Yay! The drama of casting Doug is over. We have one week of rehearsals already under our belts, and before we know it the show will be opening. So without further ado, it is my pleasure to introduce you to the fabulous cast of Blue Surge:

SANDY - Megan McGeough
Megan is new to the Vancouver theatre scene, and this will be her first lead role in a professional performance. She is currently pursuing a degree in English Literature and Film Studies at UBC and finds that both these fields of study helpful to “becoming“ other people on stage. She was last involved in Eastside Ghosts which was part of the Bridge Mix Festival and similarly played a prostitute; both roles she has found equally fascinating because she has been able to shine a spotlight on characters whose situations in reality are often overlooked politically and socially.

CURT - Jeremy Leroux
This Jeremy’s 1st production with Twenty-Something Theatre. Past credits include: Father Brendan Flynn in Doubt, (North Van Community Players) Herman in Sweet Charity (Pipe Dream) , Pat, Padric, Perry in Some Men (Raving Theatre) and Darius in Jeffrey (Raving Theatre) Jeremy is also an accomplished singer and a songwriter. He has performed for different charity events and at the Abbotsford Agrifair.

HEATHER - Tara Pratt
A graduate of the University of Alberta’s drama program (2002), Tara was last seen as Jen in Twenty-Something Theatre’s production of Prodigals in April. Other stage credits include Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love (2009) and Hamlet (2007). Film credits include The Red Rooster (Cinemanovel Films) and the award-winning short film, Food for the Gods.

DOUG - Chris Rosamond
Chris is happy to be making his Twenty-Something Theatre debut. Originally from Calgary, Chris is a graduate of Circle in the Square Theater School in NYC. Select credits include: Trigorin in The Seagull, Gayev in The Cherry Orchard, and most recently Pip/Theo in Three Days of Rain, where he received Best Supporting Actor at the 2010 BC Mainstage. Select Film and TV credits include: Supernatural, Guiding Light, and All My Children.

BETH - Claire Lindsay
Claire is delighted to be making her debut with Twenty-Something Theatre! A graduate of the Canadian College of Performing Arts; she has enjoyed working on various professional projects around the province. Theatre credits in Vancouver include Bollywood Wedding (New Works Dance), The Vertical Hour (United Players), Storyeum, and the Canadian premier of Debbie Does Dallas the Musical (Pickled Productions). TV and film appearances include Supernatural, The One That Got Away (Independent), and Don’t Call Me Zombie (Independent). She is represented by Emilio Salituro at MUSE Artist Management.

You can catch them all onstage in Blue Surge at Studio 16 from August 24 - September 5. Buy your tickets here or by phone at 604.684.2787.

~Sarah MacKay
Associate Producer

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

It's About Respect

I received a comment on my post from Saturday and I started to write back but I had so much to say - and things that I believe are important to put out there - so I decided to turn it into a full post.

Quickly, before I dive into it, I want say a very sincere thank you to Anonymous for their comments. Because of their comments, I now have the opportunity to discuss this in depth, and that is what this blog is all about: conversation.

Okay, now on with the conversation, I am extremely passionate about what I do and that often means that I have very strong opinions. That also means that sometimes I get pretty heated about what I believe in. And, one thing I believe in very, very strongly, is being respectful of other people’s time and hard work.

This is our fifth year as a company and further to that I have been working as a professional designer for over six years and in that time I have encountered countless situations where artists who consider themselves to be “professional” act in a completely disrespectful manner. This behaviour is tolerated, which only creates a vicious cycle of people treating other people disrespectfully and getting away with it over and over and over again.

Frustrated with this, I’ve gotten to a point in my career where I’ve decided I'm not going to be one of the people who tolerate it any longer. And, nor should I have too.

If this wasn’t the theatre and these people weren’t actors, they would have been fired from their jobs long ago. If you were going to a job interview (which is essentially what an audition is) and you just didn’t show up, would the person doing the hiring give you a second or third chance? Probably not. If you were going to a job interview and you were late, what are the chances you'll be hired? Slim to None. Or, what if you showed up to that job interview an hour late? If it is not acceptable to not show up for work or continuously show up late to a regular job, what makes it tolerable in theatre?

This is what perplexes me. And by that same standard, if you sat down to discuss the terms of your employment with a potential employee and – just to use an example - one of them was to, say, wear a uniform? And, you agreed. And then the next day, you called up and said “no, sorry, I can’t wear the uniform” does that employer not have the right to be angry with you. Because basically the terms of the agreement were broken. The same goes with negotiating the terms of your work schedule. If you sit down with an employer to discuss a work schedule of working Monday – Friday from 9-5 and the next day you call up the employer and says “oh, actually, by the way, I can’t work on Friday’s” that employer would have every right to be furious with you. Again, an agreement previously made had been broken.

So, as I said, I’m not sure, what makes this type of behaviour unacceptable in a “normal” work environment but acceptable in the theatre. Paid or unpaid. It is still a job. And it is disrespectful to show up to work late. It is completely disrespectful to just not show up at all. And no boss in a "normal" work environment, would tolerate disrespectful behaviour from an employee.

I can see why the comments in my post may seem harsh and, maybe, I should have let some more time pass (and my hot head to cool off) before I posted my thoughts. I also could have been more tactful but I stand behind the core of what I was trying to express. These people did waste my time. Not only my time. But Sarah’s time. And any of the other people who were involved in the process. And it is disrespectful.

I put a lot of my time (all of it unpaid) into running this company, putting on quality productions and creating opportunities for other artists. I always try to treat people with the utmost respect. And I treat actors, and any other artist, with the respect that I expect to be treated with. This means that I show up to rehearsals (or auditions or any other meeting) on time and prepared to work. This also means, however, that if an actor or any other artist's actions have been disrespectful to the people they are working with, I will call them on it. Just like, if I did something disrespectful, I should expect to be held accountable which is also why I appreciate Anonymous for their comments. I should be held to the same standard that I expect of others.

I am just frustrated by the ongoing disrespectful behaviour that I see happening all around me. If this was a one time deal I probably wouldn't be so frustrated but these kinds of things continue to happen over and over again and it makes me beyond frustrated. Hence, the post.

I don’t believe that we should tolerate this type of behaviour just because we’re “artists”. Artists should be held up to the same standards as anyone else. Being an artist is not an excuse to be irresponsible. It only feeds into the stereotype that we are so often fighting against.

Here at Twenty-Something, I always try to create an environment where we can laugh, have fun and most importantly create good theatre. Five years in and still going strong I'd like to believe we've been successful at it. Why? Because we treat each other with respect.

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Monday, July 12, 2010

Thank You For Not Wasting My Time

In the last blog post I had just one request and that was: PLEASE DON'T WASTE MY TIME.

Well, God, the Universe, Whatever, must've been listening because Actor #11 showed up to audition on Saturday afternoon EARLY. Hallelujah!!!

And, I'm not just saying this, he actually turned out to have better chemistry with the actress playing Heather than Actor #10 so we offered him the role. He's accepted and read the scene where the nudity is involved AND is willing to take it on. Thank god. For that alone, my hat goes off to Actor #11, because he's apparently in the 1% of actors in this city who are brave enough.

So, it looks like we (finally) have our entire cast for Blue Surge (*knocks on wood*) and just in time for rehearsals to start tonight. Full cast announcement to come soon I promise.

Until then I just have one more thing to say: Dear God, the Universe, Whatever, if you are still listening, could you please let it be smooth sailing from here on out. Thank You.

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Thank You For Wasting My Time

A long time ago I said I was going to write about the good, the bad and the ugly. Well I thought nothing could be uglier than the “firing debacle” (as I refer to it now) but what’s happening right now is definitely much uglier. And it has definitely shaken my confidence (which was already on shaky ground) in the so-called professionalism of the actors in this city. Last year after auditions I wrote a post about this very topic and then Sarah, Associate Producer for this year, recently wrote two different posts about it. Yesterday morning I sent this tweet out over the interweb: “UNDER EXTREME AMOUNT OF DISTRESS. Is 11:34 too early to start drinking??? #sometimesbeingintheatreamakesmewanttokillmyself”. I wasn’t joking.

Well, if you follow this blog or the goings-on of 20-something, then you may be wondering why I haven’t posted a cast announcement. Well, it is because we don’t have a full cast. I have been trying - without much luck - to cast the role of Doug since May 23rd. And it is now July 10th. We are scheduled to start rehearsing this Monday, July 12th. That is approximately 7 weeks from when we first held auditions. Is for real or am I living in some kind of alternate universe?!

So, I thought it was about time that I documented the course of events so that all of you could share in my hell:

May 23rd, Callbacks: The one good thing is that we did have a lot of amazingly talented people show up (this has never been an issue, it’s the lack of professionalism that is the issue) and I was honestly having a hard time making decisions. So, we decided to bring a few people back to read again. Sarah set it all up. Then Actor #1 sends Sarah a text message at 7am, which she couldn’t open, so when she actually woke up, she called this actor to find out what was up. He wasn’t going to be able to come in because he had all of sudden (magically) realized he had a conflict with the show dates.

STOP: Um, not only were the show dates on the audition posting but they were also on the audition sheet. THANK YOU FOR WASTING MY TIME.

Actor #2, that same day, also phones up last minute to say that after going through the auditions and callbacks, is now not comfortable with the whole nudity thing.

STOP: Okay, I get it. Not everyone is comfortable with nudity. No problem. Only it was also in the posting. Further to that, I actually pulled people aside during auditions/callbacks to make sure they were okay with it before I went any further with my casting ideas. THANK YOU FOR WASTING MY TIME.

Then Actor #2 actually had the gall to say to Sarah, “oh, so you don’t want me to come in then?”. Um, yeah, because you know, we’ll just re-write the script for you…. No, we don’t want you to come in then. We then offered the role to Actor #3 who also wasn’t comfortable with the nudity.

Post Callbacks: Then we decided to also start looking outside the pool of actors who auditioned. Actor #4 & #5. Also not comfortable with the nudity. Actor #6. Busy. Actor #7. Busy. Actor #8. Not comfortable with nudity.

Simultaneously, I started to go back through the actors who came to auditions/callbacks, and decided to bring some people in who maybe I hadn’t originally considered in the role of Doug and have them read with the actor cast in the role of Heather (they play love interests). So, Sarah organized for 3 actors to come in.

July 8th, 2nd round of auditions for Doug: What are we at now? Actor #9? Okay. Actor #9 calls Sarah at approx 6:45 (auditions scheduled to start at 7pm) to tell her that he got a gig in Toronto that conflicts with one of our show dates. Then a couple minutes later Actor #10 calls to say he is going to be late and same goes with Actor #11. Seriously?! This can’t be for real.

Oh, trust me, this is as real as it gets. Actor #10 is an hour late. 1 HOUR. Wasting not only my time but also Sarah’s and the other actor. We eventually told Actor #11 we weren’t prepared to wait around any longer. After a long discussion of pros/cons of casting Actor #10 we finally decided to offer him the role because, well, honestly, we’re running out of time. Sarah, calls him the next morning (which was yesterday morning) to offer him the role to which he then tells her that he won’t be able to make it to Saturday rehearsals.

STOP: Are you F#*$ING kidding me, right now?! Not only did Sarah tell him exactly when and what time rehearsals were to make sure he was available but I also talked to him about the rehearsal schedule just the night before at the auditions. I shouldn't be surprised (which honestly I'm not and pretty much nothing surprises me anymore) but THANK YOU FOR WASTING MY TIME.

Hence the tweet: “UNDER EXTREME AMOUNT OF DISTRESS. Is 11:34 too early to start drinking??? #sometimesbeingintheatreamakesmewanttokillmyself”.

So, what you ask, am I going to do now?! Good question. Well, Actor #11 had called Sarah later that night to explain and said that he was still interested in the play. So, we are bringing Actor #11 in today and I just have one request: PLEASE DON’T WASTE MY TIME.

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Blue Surge

This summer Twenty-Something Theatre celebrates our 5th anniversary (yay!) and are excited to be presenting the Vancouver premiere of Blue Surge by Rebecca Gilman.

Blue Surge tells the story of Curt, a small-town cop, and Sandy, the 18-year old prostitute he meets in a raid on a massage parlour. Curt finds an unlikely kindred spirit in Sandy and begins a relationship with her that puts everything he’s worked for – his career, his friendships, and his engagement to his fiancée – at risk. But Curt sees a future with Sandy, an escape from his difficult past. As the two of them chase their dreams, they must learn a skill that is foreign to them both: they must learn to hope.

Previews: August 24th & 25th (Tues & Weds) at 8pm.
Opening Night: Thursday, August 26th at 8pm and runs until September 5th at 8pm
(Monday is dark)

Find us at: Studio 16, 1545 West 7th (just off Granville Street)

Tickets: $22 Regular, $18 Under 35 & Seniors, $10 Previews.
***2-for-1 Sunday August 29th & September 1st at 8pm. Talkback performance Tuesday August 31st after the show***

Tickets available at Tickets Tonight or by phone at 604.684.2787 or at the door

Please Note: Explicit Language, Sexual Content & Nudity

“Blue Surge never cheats and yet manages to surprise as it unfolds with increasing intensity. The climax is persuasive, shatteringly beautiful and absolutely right” --New York Magazine

See you all at the show in August!!

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer