Category Archives: Theater

Oh, Juliet…

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So then, Juliet drinks this potion stuff (didn’t her mother ever tell her not to take drinks from strangers?) and, sure enough, she falls into a deep, death-like slumber. Fools everyone – her mother, her nurse, all the townsfolk and, yes, Romeo! Somehow a letter describing the intricacies of the plot-twists never quite made it from the Friar to poor old lover boy…

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Funeral Symphony (V) by Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis, 1903

Today, being Canada Day, was a day of processions, though not of a funereal type.

Spirits were high as we sang, danced, and laughed our way through the streets of Canmore!

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Happy Canada Day!!!!

No More Counting! (And, R&J)

Ok, life is just sometimes going to get in the way of the blog. Rather than agonize over a missed day and beating myself up over having to start the count again at 0… I’m not counting any more. Until such time as things settle into a nice, boring routine around here, at which point I’ll pen some nice, boring blog posts.

Meanwhile, here’s the next installment of, “What happens in Romeo and Juliet?” – the brief, illustrated edition…

 

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The dude in the bell bottom pants at the top is Friar Lawrence. But, our version of R&J takes place the late 60’s, early 70’s, when bell bottoms were oh so cool. Hey – if you are around in Canmore tomorrow, come on down to the Canada Day Parade – quite a few cast members from both shows will be in costume and taking part!! 

 

I know Juliet looks a bit like Gretel (of Hansel and Gretel fame) in this fine drawing, but take my word for it, that’s Juliet. Gretel never had a knife or she would have dispatched the old witch a lot faster.

If you are hoping to come to see the shows (afternoons will be The Apple Kingdom, a musical fairytale with princes and princesses and the most adorable lizard ever, and evenings Romeo and Juliet), performances start July 4, so get your tickets if you don’t want to miss out!! If you are trying to decide whether to come based on the how good Juliet looks in my drawings… well, our real life actual Juliets are lovely, fine actresses who look a LOT better than depicted… (there are two Juliets – Kiki Monteith and Sarah Keith are alternating shows). Likewise, both Romeos (Ben Francis and Liam Brett) are better looking than my scribbles may suggest. What is entirely accurate, though, is that both Romeos flop to the ground in despair, weeping and wailing and acting like limp noodles… you know, typical woe-is-me, my-life-is-over teenager stuff. For that matter, Juliet has her moments of misery, too… One must keep in mind that this is R&J and maybe they weren’t actually being that melodramatic about their problems…

(If you missed the first installment of R&J – the Comic Strip – here’s the link to the earlier post).

 

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Hansel and Gretel by Mikhail Vrubel, 1896 (You see what I mean?)

 

 

 

Final Week (Reboot365-7)

We are fast coming up to opening night… and that means rehearsals come rain or shine.

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Given we will be performing in the park, we can’t be put off by a sudden drop in temperature, howling winds and bucket-loads of precipitation.

We are in the mountains, so wait a few minutes and the weather changes.

The sun came out for a bit and it was every man, woman and child for him/herself… So many great brawls! My admiration for our fight choreographer, Anastasia St. Amand knows no bounds… I want to write a play full of ugly fights just so I can have an excuse to work with her again!

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Plenty of people in town have wandered past and enjoyed watching bits and pieces of rehearsals, but there’s just as much going on behind the scenes. The mask-making project is racing along (suddenly the first show seems really, really close), costumes are being stitched, props made, sets built… It is always so cool and so nerve-wracking to see shows come together. Just when it seems an impossible feat to pull off – yikes! There’s an audience out there and somehow the show happens!!

Check out the Pine Tree Players website for details and if you are anywhere near here… come see The Apple Kingdom (matiné) and Romeo and Juliet (evening) performance starting July 4…

 

O, Life (Reboot365-1)

 

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Aaaaaand… it’s full-on summer! (the view from the bridge on my way to rehearsal the other morning).

 

Apparently, there is a threshold of busy-ness which, once crossed, makes it tough to meet the blog-a-day challenge. I hit that a few days ago after… let’s see, 30 (for my April challenge) plus 44 (in my blogging every day for a year project) days. Not a bad streak, really, but long enough to hurt when I managed to get home and to bed late enough one night only to realize that it was after midnight and I had totally forgotten to blog. I threw up my hands, heaved a deep sigh and said, ‘Never mind.’

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One of my favourite parts in our production of Romeo and Juliet is when the ethereal maids are humming, in harmony, The Sound of Silence. Bring tissues!! (A Woman Weeping by Rembrandt, 1644)

I was up early the next morning to continue on a writing project and considered posting a photo and back-dating the entry (cheater!!) and couldn’t quite bring myself to be so deceitful. Then, I was going to just post and stats be damned, but I couldn’t decide how to number the next post…

Anyway, enough time has passed that I now feel I can clear the slate and just suck it up and start again.

 

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With plants like this around (and they are all over the place, apparently…) there’s no need to slow down to smell the flowers. These puppies exude an exquisite scent so intense I smell it as I whiz by on my bike. With the hot weather here now, the wee flowers are fading (along with their perfume). Can anyone tell me what this bush is called? 

 

Not that life has slowed down, mind you (that was another consideration – wait until I actually have time to embark upon such a project). Much as I live in a fantasy world that has me sitting with my feet up somewhere balmy, but breezy, preferably with a sailboat under my backside, the reality is I always have lots of balls in the air. I’m picking this blog ball up and tossing it back in the mix.

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(Fight choreography – we have a gorgeous brawl in Romeo and Juliet, but wow – it’s complicated to get all the moving parts right without hurting anyone. Anastasia, our fight choreographer is amazing!!)

I warn you. though, that there may not be too much meaty content for another 3 weeks or so until our Canmore Summer Theatre Festival performances are done and the edits to the current draft of the medical assistance in dying book are back off my plate. Sorry, you might be looking at more photos than usual…

Romeo and Juliet – Part 1 (39/365)

Pretty much the whole day spent at rehearsals for the Canmore Theatre Festival. I assume you are all coming!! If not, here’s what you will miss… except with music, and dancing, and great hippy costumes, and amazing acting and a TREEHOUSE!! Yes, really.

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With a party and a war, all kind of happening at the same time. Can you say fight choreography? And then, across a crowded room…

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That thing happens between two people… it doesn’t make any sense. The parents think it sucks. But… the line gets crossed. I can’t draw that part because it’s sort of x-rated and this is a more-or-less PG blog.

Did I mention party? Hippies? Yeah, well – drinking, drape-smoking, stabbings can’t be far behind… Uh-oh. Tybalt doesn’t fare too well.

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Romeo takes off… leaving his beloved Juliet behind… This can’t be good.

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Juliet reacts as one might expect and rapidly sinks into a spiralling pit of despair (no idea how to draw one of those…)

So does Romeo… but to see how it all turns out, you’ll need to keep reading the blog (or, come to the real show, which will be in 3-D with actual live actors, even the ones who die… which, in this case, is quite a few of them).

Red Cedar and Perilous Prickles! (33/365)

What a wild and crazy day today! Up early to work on a freelance writing assignment, then off to rehearsal for the Canmore Summer Theatre Festival (bonus – it’s a SUMMER festival, so rehearsals are outside!!!!)

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Ran home mid-dance choreography to take part (virtually) in the Red Cedar gala hosted by the Vancouver Public Library (Deep Roots: How Trees Sustain Our Planet was a nominated title this year!!! Woot! Woot!). Thanks to Skype, I was able to deliver a super-quick talk and say hello to everyone… shared a story about my favourite tree, the one that saved my life in the BVI a few years back when I climbed the boulder on the right…

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only to discover that once I’d made it to the top I couldn’t get back down again! A tree growing up beside the rock over on the back side saved my bacon, as they say… though it was a perilous descent through prickly branches and over a massive termite nest before I was back on sandy land once again…

Then, raced back over to rehearsals and more dancing… and then home again for more writing! Head. Exploding.

I’m almost done now… still need to do a bit more writing (after the blog, that is), then have a quick peek at the Canmore Ghost Walks scripts (stay tuned for more on that project!) before crashing hard into bed!

Wherever you are, hug a tree when you next see one… That special tree which saved my life? I was hoping for a reunion and a quick snuggle when I was back in the BVI recently, but the tree (along with many others in the islands) was gone, ripped out by the roots when hurricane Irma blasted through last year.

 

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The Tree of Life by Marc Chagall, 1948

 

Sorry to leave you on a saddish note, but never forget that nothing lasts forever. Appreciate those special connections you have today – with trees, your cat, your folks, your kids… They matter.

 

Memory Lane… (28/365)

Sometimes it seems that my life is a series of different digressions, fascinating side roads that are way more interesting than the whatever the main road was supposed to have been.

Those side roads are braided, looping back and around themselves like Celtic knots, leading to familiar corners rounded and re-encountered when least expected.

At the moment I’m exploring a theatre cul de sac where the familiar and the new are sending me back to the very beginning of my acting career. 

 

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Wow! Look what I found online in the archives of the Banff Centre! That’s Dad (holy smokes he looks so young!) in about 1970 teaching a student… (reference #A 05 01 09, no photographer listed). 

 

Back in 1969 when we first came to Canada from Australia we moved to Banff in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta. Dad was the first Artist in Residence at the Banff School of Fine Arts (now known as the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity).  I was all of 8 and determined to perform my way onto the stage. I took ballet classes and enrolled in an acting class for kids. I landed a small part in a play. The director of that play and my teacher was a dynamo called Shirley Tooke.

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The Banff School of Fine Arts (c 1970)

I’ve thought about Shirley many times over the years. She was the first person I had ever met who took theatre seriously. And, more to the point, she took me seriously, even though I had pigtails and could barely see over a table I was so short.

Imagine my surprise and delight when I ran into Shirley at the 40th Anniversary gala event hosted by Pine Tree Players the other night. Turns out Shirley has been working her magic, directing plays, mentoring actors, and making theatre happen here in the Bow Valley for decades! Everyone in the room had a connection to Shirley, a story about how instrumental she has been in terms of nurturing and developing all things theatrical around here!

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I remember going to this production of the opera, Hansel and Gretel back in 1970. We were so lucky to be able to attend performances – ballet, modern dance, opera, music (I saw Oscar Peterson live), authors (Farley Mowat comes to mind), and theatre… And, of course, art shows. I never thought much about it at the time, but how lucky were we as kids to have access to so much art in our back yard? 

It was pretty cool to see my first acting mentor from so many years ago. Though she remembered my parents (she and my dad would have crossed paths at the Banff Centre), of course Shirley didn’t remember the earnest little kid with the big dreams. But that little kid never forgot her! I’m so happy we ran into each other again and I was able to say a long overdue thank-you for the kindness, support, and enthusiasm she offered so generously.

I wish I’d had my wits about me and had someone snap a photo of us together, but I confess I was so flabbergasted it never crossed my mind to do so!