Browsing articles tagged with " Theatre"

Nights on the town

Feb 11, 2010   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Culture, Real Life, Theatre  //  No Comments

The other day, I participated in a focus group that was part of a study commissioned by a theatre company in Calgary, to explore theatre-going trends and opinions in the city. The focus group that I was part of was one of three types: people who have been to the theatre within the past six months; people who have been in the past (2 or more years ago), but not more recently; and people who have never been to the theatre. Of course, this one was the first type, and most of the people there were even more frequent than every six months. I think that I was the only theatre professional in attendance, but most of the others were season ticket holders, and many regularly attended shows presented by more than one company.

The first question we were asked was, “What is your ideal night out in Calgary?” Read more >>

First of many steps

Oct 13, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Career, Creative Discontent, Ministry, Theatre  //  No Comments

I got my start in the arts in church. I sang in the kids’ choir (which my mom directed), got my first speaking parts in musicals, and did special music on Sunday mornings, all starting from the time I was 5 years old. My first full-length script was produced there; I started directing plays when I was in high school; I did shows where I simultaneously wore the hats of director, producer, production manager, and designer; and I even got my first taste of arts administration and producing in the church. I wouldn’t have called it that at the time, but I instinctively knew that something had to make the show go. Someone needed to create the infrastructure for the work to happen, and there was no one else doing it, so I did.

I’ve gone on and done a lot of work outside of a church environment, of course, and I’ve never wanted to build my entire career within the church, but I’ve always had a very clear view of its strengths and weaknesses when it comes to the arts. I know how important the arts are within the church. I know the kind of growth and support that a church can give to an arts program. I also know how incredibly frustrating it can be at times to work primarily with volunteers, or to work in an organization whose mandate is not, first and foremost, arts-centered — where the arts fit into the fabric of the rest of the community, and not the other way around.

However. Read more >>

Weekly (ha!) Round-Up

Sep 2, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Weekly Round-up  //  4 Comments

This has been a good week to be working from home.

Calgary Arts Development is moving, so this week, everyone’s working elsewhere, since we have no office for a few days. It just so happens that I’ve been fighting a cold and sinus infection of some sort all week, so it’s been nice to be able to take it a little easier without actually taking time off work — and, more importantly for my co-workers, to not be sneezing and spreading germs all over them!

It’s also been a good week, weather-wise, to be working from home, finding excuses to take my computer outside and work from a park bench somewhere. Seriously, some absolutely gorgeous weather here.

And this is really a “Monthly Round-Up,” not weekly (as usual. When do I ever get this out every week?), but here’s the list of what I’ve been watching, listening to, reading, and doing over the past few weeks.

Read more >>

It’s the little things

Aug 25, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Culture, The Arts, Theatre  //  No Comments

A few things that are disappointing me (just a little bit) right now:

Standing Ovations

We saw two shows this weekend. One of them deserved a standing ovation. The other was okay, but not brilliant. However, they both received ovations.

It’s sad that the power of a standing ovation has been lost — it’s expected, for the most part, that an adequate performance will receive a standing O, and the power of that collective moment of awe that drives the audience to its feet has been lost.

As an audience member, the automatic expectation of an ovation takes away my power to respond in some way to a performance that deeply moves me or is in some way excellent enough to be acknowledged beyond simple applause. As a performer, the ubiquity of standing ovations takes away that next level of connection with the audience. It removes the breathlessness of knowing that this show garnered a reaction above the ordinary.

When standing ovations lose that power, what’s left? Standing on the seats to elevate the praise to another level?

I don’t stand for every curtain call. I’m not letting the fact that everyone else is standing up take the power of my own reaction away from me. It does, however, mean that I don’t always get to see the curtain call, which kinda sucks.

Facebook

Or rather, what Facebook tells me about people. The Lion King has been on tour in Calgary and Edmonton this summer, and a lot of people have gone to see it. We saw it on Sunday, and it was fantastic. Truly. I’d been wanting to see it for years, but when I lived in New York, I didn’t have the opportunity, so it was finally time. Definitely worth it, and it’s the kind of show that it’s been great to hear people talking about, knowing that so many people are going (and taking their kids) to the theatre.

However, all summer, I’ve been seeing people’s Facebook statuses updated about how amazing Lion King is — which it is — but those updates seem to be at the expense of seeing the Fringe Festival or Shakespeare in the Park or the Folk Fest or the cultural festivals or any of the other — local — shows and events that are going on. I’ve seen exponentially fewer updates about those events, even though there have been a summer’s worth of festivals and things to see, than I have about one show. It’s a sad day when it’s a tour, as opposed to local work, that gets the most attention.

Broadway Tours

More specifically, the fact that Calgary is a place where things are seen on tour, 10 years after they’ve been something cutting-edge and on the cusp of what’s big and groundbreaking. I love this city, but there’s something to be said for living in a place where you can see those shows when they’re a) just opening, or b) (and even better) being developed and still just outside the realm of really being big. By the time they’re on tour, there’s really no more street cred to them. They’re just part of the mainstream culture, which isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, but I like being ahead of the game.

That’s it. Nothing earth-shattering. Just a few little things I wanted to get off my chest.

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.

Read more >>

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.

Read more >>

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:

Read more >>

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.

Read more >>

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.

Read more >>

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.

Pages:12»

Blog Categories

Contact Me