Browsing articles in "Creative Discontent"

Weekly Round-up: June 21

Jun 22, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Books, Creative Discontent, Movies, Reviews, Television, Theatre, Weekly Round-up  //  No Comments

This was supposed to post last week, but with one thing and another (first some internet downtime and then some “me” downtime), I’m just getting to it today. The plan is for this to be a weekly post, but like everything else, it seems that it’s taking a little longer to get started than I’d like it to.

Once I get into the habit and routine, this will be a weekly roundup of what I’m reading, listening to, watching, attending, and doing. This one, however, is not quite a weekly roundup; more like a “last 3 or 4 weeks” listing.

It’s a dance

Jun 18, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Faith, Ministry, Real Life  //  3 Comments

Man, it’s been quite the week around here. Changes, opportunities, losses, gains, answered prayers, an inconsistent internet connection at home (putting at least three entries on hold while I contemplated throwing my laptop across the room to see if that would speed things up), and a fainting spell on the train, and it’s not even the weekend yet! There’ll be a post coming about all of that eventually (except the fainting; that was just a Monday morning anomaly), but in the meantime, it’s been on the forefront of my mind.

There are few posts coming down the line that relate to it in some way, but for the moment, I want to re-post something that was on my other blog a few months ago. For reasons that are related to everything I mentioned above (except maybe the internet connection), I’ve been thinking about the way that Colin and I work together, and the fact that in the very early months of our relationship, we each placed ourselves in situations where we were under the artistic direction and ministry leadership of the other.

That decision has set the tone for our professional relationship, but it also allowed each of us a glimpse into the other’s character as a leader, which was so important when we were making those early decisions in our relationship.

This post isn’t as much about the arts as most of this blog is and will be, but it’s one of the foundational ways that my faith has manifested itself in the way I work and live, and because of that, it impacts my art and the choices I make. If nothing else, it’s something that still makes me think — and I wrote it! Seriously, though, this is something that I live in the midst of every day, and it’s on my mind right now, so if you don’t mind a re-run (if you happen to be one of those who reads my other blog), here it goes:

This is why we do it

Jun 12, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Real Life, School, Theatre  //  5 Comments

I don’t think I’ve ever not had an understanding of producing. There are some artists who don’t know or understand what it takes to actually put on a show (or an exhibit, or whatever), but that’s never been me. Yes, I have training as an actor and director, but I also have always put in the production work to make it happen, even when that wasn’t my primary role.

One of my jobs at CalArts is Resident Producer in the Coffeehouse Theater, which is an interdisciplinary space open to students to present non-curricular work. The committee acts in a curatorial capacity, as the Coffeehouse is primarily a presenting, not a producing, entity. That means that we work with a lot of artists who want to show their work, but have no idea what goes into producing it. Our job is to walk them through the process, step-by-step, and teach them how to work with a presenting organization, because those basic producing skills are things that every artist should know.

In any case, that side of things has always been, to me, an integral part of the art-making process, and I started doing it simply because no one else was. I needed to have a place to do work, and, like many artists who begin producing, it began with that simple need.


Things you should see

Jun 8, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Uncategorized  //  No Comments

Two quick things to direct your attention to, while I whip up a brand-new post full of chewy goodness for you to think on:

1) I’ve finally added a blogroll. Check out the “Great Blogs” link at the top of the page for some great reading. It’s not nearly finished, and as I continue to discover bloggers and sites that are worth sharing, I’ll add them, so check that page regularly! In the meantime, it’s off to a great start, so go give my blogging friends some love!

2) I’m now a member of YYC Blogs, a community of bloggers in Calgary, talking about the city and everything else under the sun. I’m just starting to discover what else is in there, and you should wander over, too, and take a look.

Culture at critical mass

Jun 2, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Books, Creative Discontent, Culture, Faith  //  2 Comments

I love the city. By which I mean both “The City,” as in any of the cities that I have lived in and many that I have visited; and “the city,” as opposed to “the small town” or “the country.” (But not “The City” as a spinoff of “The Hills.” Can’t say that I’ve ever watched either show.) I just don’t thrive in a small town, and Calgary (at a million people) is just about the smallest place that Colin and I can see ourselves living.

I grew up on a farm, went to school in a small town, and had most of my social life in the city, and the city was where I have always connected and resonated best. Of course, I have a connection to both the farm and the small town, and there are things about both that were very influential during my formative years, but when it comes down to it, cities have always been my personal preference. (In fact, I can remember a family vacation when I was about 14 where I begged my dad not to take the back highways that avoided the cities, because I needed to see a few skyscrapers along the way.)

There’s just something about the convergence of nature, culture, the arts, creativity, technology, innovation, business, busy-ness, vibrancy, dynamism, and diversity that’s exciting and energizing. If God’s greatest creation is mankind, and if our greatest fulfillment and achievements happen when we work in the image of the Creator, then it makes sense that we see God’s creativity and beauty so clearly in the places where it’s shown through the creativity of people. I see God’s fingerprints as much in architecture as I do in mountains. A gorgeous building, an active crowd, street art, a bustling city — these are all things that reinforce my awareness of God’s creativity and greatness, just as much as seeing the majesty of the natural world.

Let’s go to a show!

May 28, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Culture  //  No Comments

I still need to get a second job for the summer, since my internship with Calgary Arts Development is not quite full-time, but I have to admit that I’m dragging my heels a little bit in getting something set up. There’s so much going on in this city that it kills me to think of eating up my evenings with a second job. I don’t take advantage of nearly enough of the stuff that Calgary offers, but these days, it’s coming across my desk constantly. When I’m more aware of what’s happening — and around people who are more excited about it — I’m reminded that I need to be out there, seeing and doing more. I want to be getting out there and doing something at least once a week, and there are that many opportunities (and more!), if only I didn’t have to work evenings elsewhere.

It’s the same thing when I’m in school. While I was working in the Public Affairs office, I knew about virtually everything that was going on at the school and at REDCAT, and there was always so much I wanted to see, but there’s just never enough time for all of it.

I make it more of a priority than some people, of course. Even in a “bad” month, I’ll see at least one performing arts event. It’s very, very rare that I’ll go longer than that without seeing something, but occasionally, it happens. Still, I aim for at least two events a month. It’s made somewhat easier by the number of people I know in the arts — even if I only go see events that have friends in them, I’ll see an average of 12-15 events a year, and that’s not even getting to everything that my friends are in.

I try to go beyond just the places where I know someone, though. That’s a good place to start, but it does tend to be a bit limiting. I’m a fan of subscribing to half-price and other listing services (TicketWeb in New York, Goldstar in L.A., ArtsMart in Calgary) and choosing something random with a company I’ve never seen before.

With my job at CADA, I’ll have the opportunity to see all kinds of work. Part of that is, like I said, simply because I’m more aware of what’s out there. Part of it is because I have access to tickets. I just hope that whatever other job I get doesn’t interfere too much with the important stuff in life, especially during the summer, when I don’t have things like classes and rehearsals to fill my time. Even though the summer is traditionally the down season for theatre and regular season programming, there are more than enough festivals, concerts, special events, and exhibits to see, and I plan to take advantage of as much as I can.

I’ll try and post once a week with a roundup of what I’m seeing, reading, listening to, watching, and browsing. It’ll keep me accountable to make sure I’m not getting lazy with my arts intake, and it’ll maybe give Colin and I an excuse to go see things we wouldn’t otherwise see.

How much do you see? What do you wish you had time for? If you’re in Calgary, what’s the most important thing I should make an effort to see this summer?

Die young, leave a beautiful corpse

May 25, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Television  //  No Comments

I love Bryan Fuller’s shows; I think he’s brilliant as a show-runner.

However, I have a theory.

Part of the reason that he’s so brilliant is that his shows always get canceled too early. Wonderfalls was 13 episodes, 4 aired. Dead Like Me was two short seasons and a movie. Pushing Daisies is two short seasons.

And as tragic as that is, and as much as I’d love to see his shows last longer, they never have the chance to jump the shark. The plot devices don’t have time to get old; the premises don’t get worn out; the original, fresh storylines that are the impetus for the beginning of the show aren’t played out; the characters don’t have the chance to become something different than what they were in the beginning.

In that short a time — 30 episodes or less, basically — the shows can remain these encapsulated moments of brilliance, and the showrunner is never faced with the challenge of sustaining the world created in the show for a long period of time. I mean, any show that runs for more than a season faces a weak season; a show, no matter how brilliant, can’t sustain the same level forever. Gilmore Girls, Veronica Mars, Heroes, Ugly Betty, Everwood, Joan of Arcadia — those are just a few off the top of my head that I’ve watched recently, but each of them has strong seasons and weak ones, and each of them has storylines that are generally considered to be weaker than the others. (And, incidentally, each of those shows had first seasons that were widely considered to be exceptionally strong.) Individual fans’ favorites may differ, of course, but the fact is, when a show runs past the initial premise, there are going to be developments that don’t work as well as others.

So, as much as I think it’s tragic that Pushing Daisies was canceled early, and as much as I would have loved to have seen any of these shows go on and live longer, maybe it’s not completely a bad thing. I’d love to see how Bryan Fuller would do as a long-term showrunner, and how he would carry a show through multiple seasons, but at the same time, the circumstances a) allow his reputation as an excellent showrunner to be preserved, and b) allow the various ideas floating around in his head to see the light of day, in one way or another.

(And yes, I realize that he’s working on Heroes now, which is great, and from what I hear, he’s been a big part of turning it around after the very weak season 2. I haven’t caught up on the third season yet — to be honest, it lost me after season 2 — but I’ve heard that it got exponentially better in the second half of season 3, so I need to catch up and see for myself. I’m talking a little more specifically about shows that are his own brainchild, though, as opposed to already-existing shows that he’s working on.)

What do you think?

Creating the audience, not just the work

May 22, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Theatre  //  3 Comments

I spent last summer working as the production manager for the Canadian Badlands Passion Play, a huge, outdoor, site-specific work depicting the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It’s a pretty spectacular production in a lot of ways, with a huge outdoor set, live animals, a cast of over 100, and completely acoustic sound effects (many of which are provided by a choir and orchestra).

As you might expect with a show that size, there were a lot of ups and downs over the course of the summer, and overall, I was really proud of the show that we put up and the work that I did, but the thing that was most disappointing was the audience. I realize that it’s partly because we had an average audience of 2000 per show, so the cross-section of people is going to be much larger than the type of theatre-goers who go see other forms of theatre. Most of the audience, proportionately, was fine, but there are those few people who just ruined it, and their behavior was one of the things that was the most disconcerting for me last year.


Site news

May 22, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Uncategorized  //  No Comments

I’ve been a little slow in getting this blog into a regular posting schedule, despite my best intentions. I’m still wading through almost 8 years of my personal blog, finding the entries that I want to rewrite and post over here, and I’ve also got a whole bunch of new content that I’m starting to work on. Hopefully by next week, I’ll be into a regular schedule and routine with the posting; the past couple of weeks, I’ve been in the middle of finishing up the semester, driving back to Calgary from California, unpacking, running errands, and enjoying a few days off.

I’ll have some new content to post later today, and next week, we’ll be back on track!


May 14, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Uncategorized  //  2 Comments

I don’t think there’s anyone out there who hasn’t seen this yet, but it’s making me smile tonight, so I feel like re-sharing.

In the spirit of Improv Everywhere, here’s “Doe, a Deer” in the Central Station in Antwerp. Yeah, I know you’ve all seen it, but I’m also willing to bet that it still makes you smile every time.




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