Friday, January 28, 2011

PuSh 2011: Hard Core Logo Live

As I walked into the Rickshaw Theatre on East Hastings I knew that this was not going to be your regular ordinary theatre production. First off I was offered ear plugs upon my arrival (although I didn’t use them cuz, you know, I’m hardcore like that) then I was greeted by what looked like a dilapidated old theatre with yellow construction tape blocking off a section of seats (which nobody paid any attention to cuz, you know, that’s how hardcore they are). As Michael Scholar Jr says in an interview in the program “hardcore punk is not about following a set of rules”

(Michael Scholar Jr as Joe Dick. Photography by Ian Jackson/EPIC)

Based on the film of the same name and like any good spoof or ‘mockumentary’ Hard Core Logo: Live begins with a film called “Punkerland Who’s Who”: an amusing commentary about the 70’s and 80’s punk scene in Vancouver starring Joe “Shithead” Keithley (of punk band D.O.A). He’s also the Composer and Musical Director for the show. How hardcore!

From there the band arrives with Michael Scholar Jr as Joe Dick, Telly James as Billy Tallent (ever wonder where the band Billy Talent got their name?!), Clinton Carew as John Oxenberger and Tony Berner as Pipefitter and they begin to rock the house. Throughout the next 2 and 1/2 hours they take us on a journey as the band gets back together to do a benefit concert for Bucky - who’s been shot and is now possibly an amputee - and end up doing an across Canada tour. Through the clever use of video and projection and old-fashioned stage trickery some of the funniest sequences in the show are of them “on the tour bus”.

(From L to R: Clinton Carew, Toby Berner, Telly James & Michael Scholar Jr. Photography by Ian Jackson/EPIC)

Shining through with excellent comic timing are Clinton Carew as the schizophrenic bass player (John Oxenberger) and Toby Berner as the childish drummer (Pipefitter). These two have some of the best lines and moments in the play. And, I have to applaud Rachael Johnston, who plays every other character in the show including Bucky and who manages to make each one distinct and memorable.

Another one of the funniest scenes in the show is when one of the characters played by Rachel arrives at one of the band’s gigs with her “daughter” in tow. I’m not going to delve any further into that one because you’ll just have to go see it to find out what I’m talking about. Trust me, it’s pretty good.

(From L to R: Michael Scholar Jr and Rachael Johnston. Photography by Bev Davies)

Together with the Set (Cory Sincennes), which was entirely covered in black and white newsprint, the projection (Jaime Nesbitt) and lighting (Scott Peters) design really made it feel like you were at a punk rock concert. It was all bright colours and crazy images including an acid trip sequence where the projections and lighting really had a chance to go to town.

Presented by November Theatre, Theatre Network and Touchstone Theatre, Hard Core Logo: Live will be playing at the Rickshaw Theatre as part of the PuSh Festival until February 6th. There is a FREE Hard Core Creators chat today (January 28th) at 2pm at the Firehall Arts Centre moderated by Glen Schaefer

Other Satellite Events include:

January 29th – Joe “Shithead” Keithley will play a 30-min set after the performance
February 4th – Mecca Normal will play a 30-min set after the performance
Now until February 26th – Post No Bills. An exhibition of Vintage Vancouver Punk posters and paraphernalia is on at the Museum of Vancouver.

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Monday, January 24, 2011

This Is More Like It

This past weekend we held our General Auditions for the 2011 Season and I will be honest and tell you I was a little hesitant to hold out too much hope for things to change. Yes, I was hoping they would; but, was I confident all the new “rules” I put in place would actually work?! The short answer is No.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to announce that I believe my faith in the actors in this city may have just been restored. Everyone who confirmed their audition time with Sarah showed up! Plus, everyone showed up on time! Lois (who so graciously agreed to help us out) didn’t have to turn one single person away for being late like I warned her she might have to.

So, this is just a short Monday morning post to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who came out to audition. It was a great day. I got to see some amazingly talented actors and the day went by fast and smoothly. Everyone was professional, courteous and respectful and I really couldn’t have asked for more.

This, Vancouver, is more like it.

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Friday, January 21, 2011

PuSh 2011: Floating

“Our imaginations and our dreams are forever invading our memories and since we are apt in believing in the reality of our fantasies, we end up transforming our lies into truth” – Luis Bunuel

This is the quote projected onto the screen in front of us at the start of Floating and so begins the 90-minute story of Hugh Hughes and his excellent adventure. This excellent adventure is a story that like all personal truths is a combination of memory and imagination where Hugh recounts his experience living on the Welsh island of Anglesey.

Hugh tells his story along with his sidekick Sioned Rowlands - who plays the three other central characters in the story - all the while running around stage operating the various modes of multimedia, from old-school slide projector to power point, that are all part of the storytelling process. This includes a particularly funny sequence where she tries to re-enact Hugh's swimming from the island of Anglesey to the Welsh mainland by ferociously bobbing her head up and down in a tub of water.

It’s one of the those moments that has to be experienced to be explained. Like when you tell a funny story of something that happened to you to another person who wasn’t there and they kind of sit there and look at you with a blank face. Yes, they might find your story amusing but they weren’t there to experience it. So, that particularly funny moment inevitably becomes an inside joke between you and whoever was there with you during that moment.

This is exactly, what I believe happens every night during Floating. The audience together with Hugh and Sioned become party to one giant inside joke that will only exist on that night between those people. You could go see Floating every night of the run and every night what happens between the audience and the performers will be an experience not to be repeated.

I can easily tell you that my face and side actually hurt at one point because I was laughing so hard but it won’t mean a thing to you unless you go see it because most of hilarity of this production comes out of Hugh’s honest and open interaction with the audience. Through his attempt to create connections.

And, through his attempt to create connections with each and every one of us as audience members, we in turn create connections with other audience members. This connection between us all, performer to audience and audience to audience, in the confines of the four walls of the theatre re-affirms for us that sense of community. The sense that we were all part of something special and unique.

I definitely left the performance after last night's Opening feeling as though whatever just happened back in that theatre was something I have never experienced before. It was truly a unique and special moment. And, honestly, it was also just plain funny. You’ll know what I’m talking about if you go see it and get to the part where Hugh gets into his swimsuit and invites the rest of us in the audience to undress as well.

All I really have left to say is that I encourage you to go see Floating so that you too can be part of the inside joke. Because me trying to tell you how funny it is just won’t cut it. You need to have been there.

A Hoipolloi production, created & performed by Hugh Hughes and Sioned Rowlands, Floating will play at the Arts Club New Revue Stage as part of the PuSh Festival until February 5th. Performances run nightly at 8pm (Tuesday’s 7:30pm) except for Sundays with Matinee performances on Wednesday and Saturday at 2pm. A post-show talkback lead by Veda Hille will take place on Tuesday, January 25th.

(photos courtesy of the PuSh Festival)

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Creating A Plan

Up to this point I've blogged a little about fundraising including a short post on different ways to raise funds for your show, the importance of showing your appreciation for the donations people give to your organization & how to write a sponsorship letter.

But, considering that raising money and finding funding for our projects, constitutes approximately 75% (minimum) of my job as Artistic Producer then 3 posts really doesn't seem like much at all. Maybe it is because talking about money is boring. I would much rather talk about casting or planning a season. You know, the fun part of my job.

Fundraising is not fun. Full stop. But it is a necessity if you are going to be successful at running a theatre company.

So, I thought I would take you step-by-step through our process for #fc2011 (which is our biggest fundraising campaign to date). Hopefully we can all share in the challenges and successes together and that in the future I can help other small independent companies reach their goals.

First thing first: Create A Plan. Unless you have a plan and certain goals and a timeline in which to achieve those goals hitting your target is going to be pretty difficult. What does a Fundraising Campaign plan look like? Well here is ours as an example:

[Please note: this plan is based on private sector fundraising only as public funding (grants, foundations, etc is a whole other ball game)]


Goal: (fill in the $ amount you need to fundraise)

Timeline: (fill in the date you need to have the funds by)

Plan: (fill in with all your different avenues of fundraising. Ours for example looks like this:)

I. Corporate/Major Sponsors
II. Individual Donations
III. Events
IV. Ads
V. Other

Next I break those sections down even further to look like this:

I. Corporate/Major Sponsors: (fill in with the $ amount you hope to raise through this avenue then break it down to look like this:)

a) Company/Major Sponsor A: (fill in with $ amount)
b) Company/Major Sponsor B: (fill in with $ amount)
c) Company/Major Sponsor C: (fill in with $ amount)

And so on and so forth. Next...

II. Individual Donations: (fill in with the $ amount you hope to raise through this avenue then break it down to look like this:)

a) Private Campaign - this could be something like a donation drive/letter writing campaign: (fill in with $ amount)

b) Public Campaign - this could be using a platform like IndieGoGo or Kickstarter: (fill in with $ amount)

And continue to do the same steps throughout the rest of your plan...

III. Events:

a) Event 1: (fill in with $ amount)
b) Event 2: (fill in with $ amount)

IV. Ads - this could be charging for ads in your program or on website/blog, etc): (fill in with $ amount)

V. Other:

a) Raffle: (fill in with $ amount)
b) 50/50: (fill in with $ amount)
c) Silent Auction: (fill in with $ amount)
d) Concession: (fill in with $ amount)
e) Merchandise: (fill in with $ amount)
f) Garage/Bake Sale: (fill in with $ amount)

And, there you go. All the (fill in with $ amount) should then total the amount at the top of your plan where you wrote your goal.

Creating a plan helps to give you focus. It helps to break down what might be a very daunting fundraising goal into smaller achievable goals. Focus on the small goals and those will all combine to help you reach your larger goal.

Or, at least this is what I keep telling myself, as we embark to achieve a rather large goal ourselves.

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Monday, January 17, 2011

PuSh 2011: In the Solitude of Cotton Fields

Today kicks off the start to the 2011 PuSh Festival and I’m so thrilled to be once again blogging for the festival. Over the next three weeks I’ll be writing an array of posts on different shows involved in the festival but let’s start with the Polish Cultural Institute of New York and Pi Theatre’s presentation of In the Solitude of Cotton Fields.

I first met Richard Wolfe, Artistic Director of Pi Theatre, when he took over at the helm of Pi a few years back now. Since then I’ve been really impressed with the direction he has taken Pi Theatre. Under Richard’s leadership they’ve been doing some really exciting work that includes their highly acclaimed co-production (with Rumble Productions) of an adaptation of Haruki Murakami’s After the Quake.

Now Pi is back again to bring us an exciting new production from Poland so I thought I would shoot a few questions Richard’s way and get his thoughts on the show, why he brought it to Vancouver and what the audience can expect.

1. How did you get involved in bringing In the Solitude of Cotton Fields to the PuSh Festival?

I have a long relationship with PuSh. I’ve had a couple of shows in the festival, was an associate producer for a season, and was the co-creator of the PuSh Cabaret (which was the precursor to Club PuSh). Norman saw Cotton Fields in Poland and told me about it. Because of the iconoclastic writer (Bernard Marie Koltes) and visionary director (Radoslaw Rychcik) I felt the show would fit well into Pi’s season and our renewed mission to support the most daring and relevant voices in contemporary theatre. I told Norman Armour about this and he invited us to participate.

2. What is it about this particular piece of theatre that gets you excited?

It’s fearless.

3. “A combination of a concert, disco, poetry slam and club event” is the description on the website and with live music by art-rock band the Natural Born Chillers clearly the rock concert feel to the piece is central to the production but could you tell us a little more about the story?

It’s not a linear narrative. It’s merely the meeting of two men – the Dealer and the Client. It’s a metaphorical representation of the power and status games people play everyday that can result in feelings of desire, rejection, dominance and humiliation. The actors deliver what are essentially stream of consciousness monologues. They’re focused and connected to the particular (the meeting of a Dealer and a Client on a deserted city street) and at the same time, the universal. In the end Koltes may be suggesting that where there is no love there can only be violence – one or the other. Be that as it may, none of us can live in solitude.

4. The director, Radoslaw Rychcik, is a young (born in 1981) rising director from Poland. Can you give us a little insight into what it is about his work that is so unique?

Rychcik reinvents difficult plays like this one and recently, A Lover's Discourse: Fragments by Roland Barthes, an adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s Versus: In the Jungle of Cities and Gustav Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. He gives them a visceral, intensely physical treatment and often incorporates an energetic live music soundtrack into his productions. He calls it hysterical theatre – one based on extreme emotion.

5. Finish this Sentence: The audience will leave the theatre feeling….

Energized and reflective.

Thanks to Richard for taking the time to give us a little insight into the production and I, for one, can’t wait to see it. If the trailer below is any indication it looks like it is going to be an incredible show!

In the Solitude of Cotton Fields opens Wednesday, January 19th and will be playing until Saturday, January 22. Performances begin at 8pm and tickets are available through Tickets Tonight or at the door. There is a Post-Show Talkback on Thursday January 20th if you are interested in learning more about the production.

(Photos and video content provided courtesy of the PuSh Festival)

~Sabrina Evertt,
Artistic Producer

Friday, January 14, 2011

One-Man Show

SPOTLIGHT 2011 returns and this year we return to the year of the actor. Three years ago as our inaugural SPOTLIGHT production we presented The Fever performed by long time Twenty-Something collaborator Kirsten Kilburn. Now, we look forward to having another actor join the ranks in our second “one-man show”.

I’m not going to lie, I’m a big fan of the “one-man show”. I like watching them. I like working on them. So, a couple years ago when I first came across Nocturne and read the play, I just knew that this was a play I wanted to work on for Twenty-Something. It’s so poetic. In rehearsal the other day we talked about it being modern Shakespeare. Yes, it is prose and not iambic pentameter but it is poetry nonetheless. However, I still needed to find an actor, to do it. Not everyone can carry off a “one-man show”.

I’ve known this actor for approximately 5 years now, I guess. We both have mutual friends. I’ve worked along side him at the Walking Fish Festival. The first year we did the festival I was assistant directing and he was acting. The next we were both directing. I’ve seen him perform in various productions including Coriolanus and Moon for the Misbegotten (both directed by Jack Paterson). We’ve always talked about working together on something but nothing ever came up or worked out until now.

So, without further ado, I introduce Troy Anthony Young and hope that you will all come out to see what I think will be a pretty powerful performance.

Originally from Leduc, Alberta, Troy trained at The Victoria School for the Performing Arts, is a graduate of Red Deer College’s Theatre Studies Program, and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the renowned University of Alberta’s Acting Program. Most recently, he was seen in Rogue Insomniac’s Comfort at the Havana, as well as at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. Previous to that, he performed in Spokesong at the Serca Irish Theatre Festival (Prospero Theatre) in Edmonton. Other theatre credits include Faustmachine (Walking Fish Festival), King John (7 Tyrants), The China Tea Deal (7 Tyrants), Coriolanus (Coriolanus / Mad Duck Co-op), Three Rings for Michelle (Stone’s Throw / Pacific Theatre), Supermarket Scuffle (Binky Productions), Moon for the Misbegotten (United Players), Grace (Sawhorse Theatre), crackbabykind (Nextfest, Edmonton), Thinking With Jerome (Dead English Theatre). Film and television credits include Deranged, Helix, 668 and Supernatural.

Advance single tickets are available at Tickets Tonight or you can purchase a 3-ticket Season Flex Pass at TicketLeap.

See you all the show!

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Every Little Bit Counts

So to kick off Fundraising Campaign 2011 (hereinafter referred to #fc2011) I am going to start with a little story:

Once upon a time there was a 26-year old young man and he was a typical 26 year-old young man. He doesn’t make a ton of money. He hangs out with his friends, is an avid Canucks fan, loves his beer and likes to travel. He like many young men doesn’t carry a “murse” or “man-purse”. He puts his wallet in his pants pocket along with his keys and his blackberry. That is enough weight for a pair of pants as it is so probably like many young men he doesn’t like to carry around a lot of change.

So, instead of carrying around a load of change, the young man has a piggy bank. Now, it is not your average piggy bank. No, it is a 26-year old young man’s piggy bank. It is a giant empty bottle of Canadian Club and this Narrator doesn’t even want to think about the ways this young man drained this giant bottle. That much whisky could send this 6”1, 180 lb young man to the hospital with severe alcohol poisoning or by-passing the hospital altogether to a hole in the ground.

But, remarkably, this young man is alive and well so every day he comes home and puts all his change in his very large piggy bank. Clink. Clink. Clink. Days, weeks and months go by and pretty soon the young man has practically filled half the giant bottle with change. Now, like most typical 26-year old young men, this young man has a tendency towards laziness so while it looks like there could be a lot of money in that giant piggy bank he hasn’t emptied it yet because that would mean he would have to roll it all. Banks don’t just take a bunch of loose change, silly.

Then one day the young man’s older sister (and your trusty Narrator) visits the young man in his home. Feeling daunted by the amount of fundraising the sister has to do over the next four months she is having a bit of a rant. The young man just listens to his sister rant graciously even though he hasn’t a clue what she is talking about. He is a good brother. Then after some discussion he says to his sister “If you roll that, you can have it”. He is talking about his giant piggy bank. “I just want the bottle back”

“Really?!” the sister thinks to herself and says to her brother “there has to be almost $500 in there?!” His sister says that she’ll give him a tax-deductible receipt for his donation. This young man just smiles and says “okay” because he is smart. Essentially his sister is going to do all the work of rolling all this change and he will still get his money. Plus, his sister’s theatre company will benefit so everyone wins. And, they all live happily ever after.

The moral of this little story: Every Little Bit Counts.

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

PS...To my brother who reads this blog religiously, thank you.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Things Need To Change: Part II

Deadline for submissions for our upcoming General Auditions has passed and Sarah (Associate Producer) is now busy working on organizing and booking all the time slots.

Included in her email will be information pertaining to some more strict non-negotiable hard-ass rules that I have now put in place and plan to execute without feeling badly or guilty. These are as follows:

1) Unless you confirm your audition time with Sarah, within 2 business days, your time slot will be given to someone else and you will not be given another audition time slot. No confirmation. No audition.

2) If you confirm your audition time with Sarah and fail to show up for your audition without 24 hours notification you will forfeit your chance to audition for any production with us for the next 3 years. No exceptions.

3) Actors are to arrive at least 5 minutes before their audition time to check-in and fill out any forms. If you are late (by even 30 seconds) you will forfeit your audition time slot and you will not be given another one. No exceptions.

Now this may seem reasonable to you or this may seem harsh but this is how it stands and it is not going to change. This I can assure you of.

I am going to be honest with you and tell you that these type of strict rules are not easy for me. Generally I’m a “give the benefit-of-the-doubt” sort of person but after five years of going easy on people I now know that it doesn’t do anyone any good. It wastes my time and does a disservice to people because it is not teaching them anything. It’s instead saying it is okay to be lazy and inconsiderate and people will still give you a chance.

And, the biggest overall reason to change, is that going easy on the lazy and inconsiderate doesn’t reward the people who do show up on time and who do go out of their way to show you that this audition does matter to them.

For example in my latest batch of submission I had 4 people send me submissions after the deadline had passed. One of them wrote a really nice cover letter and said “I know this is 2 hours past the deadline but I’d love to audition for you”.

Now my bleeding heart really wants to give this actor a chance; however, what about all those people who got their submissions in on time? If I give a late submission actor a time slot that might mean I have to take one away from someone who submitted on time. And, that is just not right. Not in my books anyway. Plus, besides all that, these people have had over 3 weeks to make a submission. That is plenty of time.

So I’m sorry but late is late and I just can’t do it anymore. No more bleeding heart syndrome for me.

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Friday, January 7, 2011

2011: Looking Ahead

So, I’m writing this at 4:19pm on January 7th. One week into the new year and already I’m feeling like this week has flown by and I didn’t get nearly as much as I wanted to accomplish done. Some of that had to do with an unfortunate event that came out of nowhere on Monday so I won’t be too hard on myself.

But, for better or worse, if this past week is any indication of what my life is going to be like for the next 4-5 months I better start looking into meditation and stress reduction techniques. No joke. So here we go this is what my January looks like:

1) Rehearsing and production mode for Twenty-Something’s first show of the season, Nocturne.

2) Design phase for my first costume design contract of 2011 that goes into rehearsal the same week Nocturne opens.

3) Pre-production has commenced for our second show of the season, Prodigals which includes re-casting one of the roles, script development, organizing the publicity and marketing, etc so on and so forth

4) General Auditions and if you've been reading my posts regarding this particular topic you will understand the stress level for this alone.

5) Launching a full-scale MAJOR fundraising campaign starting next week so that we can actually mount the type of production we want for Prodigals. The reason I have not included this in #3 “Pre-production for Prodigals” is because this is a job unto itself. More on this to come but it will likely include at least 1 if not 2 events that also require all the same amount of organization and time to put on that a regular theatre production does. (Just thinking about this makes my head want to explode but I just keep telling myself: one day at a time, one day at a time…)

Plus, like the masochist I am, I have also signed on to blog for the PuSh Festival again this year which, all joking aside, I’m actually totally stoked for. Some of the shows they have lined up for this year look incredible. So stay tuned for that.

Plus, plus… there is so much other amazing theatre going on around Vancouver that I am hoping to check out. Some of that includes: This at the Vancouver Playhouse, August: Osage County at the Arts Club, Agokwe at the Cultch (from Buddies in Bad Times in Toronto) and the three other Opening Night invitations that I’ve got sitting in my inbox that I haven’t responded to yet.

*looks up to the sky* and shouts “WHY DOES IT ALL HAVE TO HAPPEN AT ONCE?!”

Okay, that was my one tantrum moment and I am now going to commence being an adult about it:

*shrugs* and says nonchalantly “When it rains, it pours, right?!”

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer