Browsing articles in "Creative Discontent"

Catching Up

Aug 7, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Weekly Round-up  //  No Comments

And I’m back. Wow. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, and I’m definitely feeling it. This weekend is the first that we’re in Calgary with almost nothing going on since… oh, Father’s Day, give or take. I’m looking forward to it. Of course, when I say that we’ve got “nothing going on,” I mean that our schedule includes two Fringe shows tonight (both of us), a workshop tomorrow morning (me), an appointment at the bank tomorrow afternoon (both), coffee with a friend sometime this weekend (both), mixing the Passion Play recordings (Colin), and a date night tomorrow night (we still haven’t used a gift card that Colin’s parents gave us for Christmas in 2007, and it’s going to expire soon if we don’t use it!).

I have at least three entries rolling around in my brain, bumping up against each other and refining themselves as I continue trying to get them down on paper. Screen. Whatever. For now, though, I’m going to do a “Weekly” update. In other words, I’m going to try my hardest to remember what I’ve watched, listened to, read, experienced, and been working on in the past few weeks. It may not be the most complete list I’ve ever put together, but I’ll see how I do.

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Pictures and other such fun

Jul 29, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Uncategorized  //  No Comments

We’re heading out of town bright and early tomorrow morning, off to Colorado for my cousin’s wedding and to see family that I haven’t seen since the last family vacation I went on in high school. Colin and I, my sister and brother-in-law, my parents, and my brother will be piling into two cars and spending a long weekend on the road together, and it should be a grand ol’ time, especially since this is both Colin and Justin’s first time meeting that side of the family (and Colin gets to meet them with pink hair!).

I’ll be back next week with some posts that have more substance than talking about my pink hair, but in the meantime, you should check out the photo album and see the pink hair for yourself!

Enjoy your long weekend — if you’re in Canada, that is. See you on the other side…

The five of us at the end of the walk.

The five of us at the end of the walk.

Weekly Roundup, of a sort

Jul 24, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Real Life, Weekly Round-up  //  2 Comments
Mixing up the pink hair dye for our Weekend to End Breast Cancer hair-dying party.

Mixing up the pink hair dye for our Weekend to End Breast Cancer hair-dying party.

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Wanted: Help!

Jul 17, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Real Life  //  1 Comment

I’m taking a little bit of a break from my regular posts to ask for your help with something:

This year, for the third time, I’m walking in the Weekend to End Breast Cancer, a 60-km (36-mile), 2-day walk, raising money to combat breast cancer and other women’s cancers. In 2007, I walked with my mom and my sister Esther; last year, Mom, Colin, and I walked together; and this year, Mom, Esther, Colin, his mom Nancy, and I are all going to walk. (Here’s a recap of the 2008 walk, and here’s 2007.)

And… the walk is next weekend! (Yes, it’s amazing how quickly the summer is going.)

In order to walk, I need to raise $2000, and as of today, one week from the walk, I’m still $800 short. This year’s been a tough one, fundraising-wise, which isn’t surprising, and $800 seems like a lot, but I also know that I have a great, supportive community of people surrounding me. I’m asking you to step up and help me out in the last few days of preparation this week, whether you can give $10, $25, or $100. Whether you can sacrifice a couple of coffees at Starbucks or a couple of movie tickets, every bit helps, and it goes a long way. The money raised goes directly to the Alberta Cancer Foundation, and the impact of the Weekend over the past few years has been absolutely phenomenal. (Check out the website for specific information about where the money goes.)

We have a weekend full of training walks, and then a busy week ahead of us, and Saturday morning, we’ll head out bright and early (more than likely with pink hair, as is our tradition!) with thousands of other men and women from Calgary and beyond, because, “Breast Cancer is hard. Walking isn’t.”

Please visit my profile page, where you can donate any amount you choose (and all donations over $10 are tax deductible), and where you can also see the story of why I’m walking and why this is important to my family. We’ve been touched by breast cancer in several generations, and we walk in hope and faith that we, along with our circle of family and friends, can make a difference, and that the funds we raise will improve patients’ lives, fund research, provide treatments, and so many other important services.

Colin and I, stopping for a quick break halfway through the walk last year.

Colin and I, stopping for a quick break halfway through the walk last year.

We wore the names of each of our donors on our packs--the pink things are individual ribbons with each name written on it.  You really are with us every step of the way!

We wore the names of each of our donors on our packs--the pink things are individual ribbons with each name written on it. You really are with us every step of the way!

Thank you in advance for your help, and be sure to watch for an update (with lots of pictures!) when the walk is over!

(And thanks for letting me hijack my own blog to ask for your help with this. We’ll get back to the usual posts soon!)

Harry Potter and the Generative Artist’s Intent

Jul 16, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Books, Creative Discontent, Movies, Theatre  //  2 Comments

I’m a reader. Always have been, always will be. I started reading when I was about 3, and I’ve never looked back, and while reading was my first love (okay, second; I’m pretty sure that music was first), I have a distinct love for other, non-literary art forms. Of course I do. My life wouldn’t be what it is if I didn’t have that love. Theatre, music, film, dance, and visual arts are all art forms that I have a great deal of respect and passion for (and in the case of music and theatre, extensive training and a career built around), and they’re not necessarily based on the written word.

Read enough books, and you’ll soon come across movie adaptations of some of them. Take something successful and make it even more successful by making it accessible to a different audience! What could go wrong with that? I think it’s most prevalent in the film/TV adaptations of books and plays; then in plays that are adaptations of books or movies; and then novelizations of existing movies, TV shows, and plays.

(I think that music, dance, and visual arts tend more toward derivative works than toward adaptations; because their storytelling is less narrative and less linear, the relationship between those three and the other three, going both ways, is less of a direct re-telling of a story. That’s another conversation altogether; right now, I’m mostly concerned with the distinctly narrative art forms.)

Now, don’t misunderstand; I’m not trying to argue the superiority of books to their film adaptations. While this may be couched in a conversation that is primarily about books and movies, the scope is far broader than that. I’m talking about understanding the generative artist’s intent. Regardless of form or genre, that’s the most important thing to be aware of. A TV show can be superior to a book; a movie can be superior to a play. It’s not about which forms are more “valid,” because none is more or less valid than the others. They each require a different set of skills, they each have the potential to showcase truly great art and storytelling, and every single one of them is constantly adapted from and by other art forms. Books are not inherently better than television; theatre is not inherently better than film, and great culture and art can be found in all of them.

I think, though, that there are several important questions to consider:

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Unseen heroes

Jul 10, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Theatre  //  2 Comments

Last weekend, we went to the Stampede and saw the grandstand show, which is essentially a big, expensive variety show that happens every night of the Stampede and involves music, dance, 130 (dancing and singing) kids, aerial gymnasts (Cirque du Soleil-type), extreme motocross bikers, and $45,000 of pyrotechnics each night. In other words, quite the production. It’s always fun; we love the whole spectacle of the thing, and we make sure to go see it pretty much every year.

Given a show that size, it’s pretty obvious that it requires a high-caliber staff — everyone from the producers to the stage managers to the designers to the composer to the choreographers to the crew. Especially when it comes to each individual show, there are too many elements for things to be only half-done. I mean, they have kids suspended in birdcage-type things above the stage and pyrotechnics in the near vicinity of many, many kids and teens. There’s definitely a large potential for things to go very wrong, if the work is done incorrectly.

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What we do best

Jul 6, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Culture, Faith, School  //  3 Comments

Ever feel like there’s a message that keeps hitting you over the head, getting more and more obvious?

John Cosper, a Christian playwright and filmmaker, posted a manifesto about “Christian films,” particularly talking about what needs to change. It’s a great read, and I wholeheartedly agree — and if you’ve ever heard me talking about many, many Christian scripts, you’ll have heard the same concepts as they relate to very specific pieces that I’ve worked on.

However, the broad meaning of his manifesto isn’t what struck me most today. Instead, it was the following paragraph:

Seek out the best teacher or mentor you can. Don’t go to a Christian teacher just because they’re a Christian. Go somewhere that you can learn from a true artist, one who is a master of the craft in their own right. In other words don’t seek to be the best Christian writer/actor/director you can be. Seek to be the best writer/actor/director you can be.

A few hours later, a very different entry popped up on my RSS reader. Cole Matson, a theatre artist and C.S. Lewis scholar, is writing a series of posts on his transition from the Protestant church to the Catholic church, and it’s a fascinating and deeply personal story. Today, part of his entry talked about the decision to go to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, rather than Wheaton College, for his undergrad:

I had loved Wheaton, and had been in awe of its existence as an intentional Christian community of scholars “for Christ and His Kingdom,” as Wheaton’s motto goes. However, I also wanted to study to become a professional actor, and Wheaton did not have a theatre major, much less a professional training program. As a matter of fact, there did not seem to exist a Christian college of Wheaton’s faithfulness and academic caliber that also provided professional arts training. (This gap is one I hope the C.S. Lewis Foundation’s C.S. Lewis College can fill.) The other school to which I had been accepted was NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, which has one of the top undergraduate theatre programs in the country. I asked my dad, who I knew was pleased that I had fallen in love with his alma mater, for his advice. He said:

“What do you want to do?”

“Become an actor.”

“Then go where they do that best. In this case, that’s not Wheaton.”

Twice, in very different contexts, the concept of choosing a school or other training for its quality rather than for its theology.

Two things strike me as I think about that.

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Parading through tradition

Jul 2, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Culture, Real Life  //  2 Comments

The Stampede parade is tomorrow, kicking off 10 days of free pancakes, fireworks, and free concerts. And, of course, we’re going to the parade on Friday morning and to the grounds. Twice.

A lot of Calgarians have a love-hate relationship with the Stampede, but we love it, cowboy cliches and all. Colin and I are both third-generation Calgarians, which is increasingly rare in this booming, diverse city, and my great-grandfather was at the first Stampede in 1912. We’re looking forward to the 2012 Stampede — I’m not sure if there has been a member of either of our families at every single Stampede in the last 100 years, but I’m sure it’s close, and barring any extreme circumstances, we’ll be well-represented at the centennial.

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Culture gets personal

Jul 1, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Culture, Real Life  //  1 Comment

On the surface, I’m a Canadian who moved to the U.S. in August, 2005 and has been splitting my time between both countries since then — about 18 months (plus vacations) of the last 4 years have been spent in Canada. Culturally and definitively, I’m Canadian, having spent the first 24 years of my life north of the 49th parallel in a time when Canadian identity was going through phases of being defined as, “Well, I’m not sure what we are, but we’re not American!”, but it’s still a bit more complicated than just being an ex-pat or an immigrant. (Side note: As a kid, I always thought it was so funny that my mom was an immigrant, because to me, immigrants came on ships in the 1800s and early 1900s, had to learn a new language, and travelled in steerage.) Growing up with a dual citizenship and choosing to relocate as an adult have put me somewhere on the scale of Canadian-ish and American-ish, and where I fit on the scale completely depends on the day.
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Letting go, stepping back, giving up?

Jun 29, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Theatre  //  5 Comments

I made a decision yesterday.

I made the tough decision to step back from a project that I’ve been involved with — a project incorporates many departments, most of which are continually reaching new levels of professionalism and quality — because the element of it that I’ve been a part of is the lowest quality, the least professional, and the most resistant to change.

It was a tough call, and I’m still not sure I did the right thing, but if I’d stayed with it, I’m not sure that would have been the right thing, either. There is no right answer here, and I’m having a hard time reconciling that.

I place great value on not doing work that is below an acceptable standard, and that holds true for the work I do as an individual, as well as for organizations that I’m involved with. I don’t want my name associated with that particular sub-group of the project. I don’t want my reputation to be intertwined with it, no matter how little of an impact my involvement may have in the larger scheme of things, until the quality improves.

And that’s the thing. I’m still committed to the long-term success of the project as a whole — including this particular, less-than-quality element of it. There are many things that can, should, and must be done in order to up the ante and make it what it can and should be; they’re just not being done yet, and until they are, I don’t feel like I can be involved in a visible way. I’ll be working behind the scenes and offering support and help to those who are making the decisions and taking things in the right direction, but I don’t know that I can be the one to put my name to it.

And yet, Colin can. He’s staying on in the same capacity as he always has, and he’ll continue to be that presence, and that’s the right decision for him.

But for me? I don’t know. I’m unsettled, no matter what I do.

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