Browsing articles tagged with " things I’m working on"

Dinner and a movie

Oct 20, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, School, Theatre, Weekly Round-up  //  No Comments

Ah, this was the kind of weekend that makes my heart sing.

I saw the West Coast premiere of Eclipsed at the Kirk Douglas Theatre on Friday night. Saturday, I saw Medea at UCLA Live — two very intense, very brilliant nights of theatre. Which, of course, meant that I needed a comedic break, so Sunday, I saw Whip It. Read more >>

Five years later

Oct 16, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Ministry, Real Life, School, The Arts  //  1 Comment

The one “real” class that I’m taking this semester is an Entrepreneurship class, which is really kind of a goal-setting and career-planning class — you know, the kind that almost every school offers in the last year or semester before graduation. In some programs, it’s a mandatory class; this one isn’t, but it’s a great class anyway.

This week’s assignment is to outline goals, starting with long-term, and then breaking it down into 5- and 10-year steps. Now, in my opinion, setting goals like this is good for two things. One is, of course, the (stated) intended purpose: to be able to look ahead at where I want to be, and then to figure out how to get there and what the steps are along the way. Break it down into manageable steps that are, in a sense, accomplishments in themselves, as well as being milestones along the way to a larger goal.

The second is having a record to look back at and see how life changes. The best thing about setting goals is being able to watch them shift and fluctuate as life changes, watching priorities and important moments change along with them. 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 >>

Resurfacing

Sep 28, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Uncategorized  //  No Comments

Well, these last two weeks have been a rather unintentional mini-hiatus — I suppose I just wasn’t quite as on-the-ball as I should have been about getting entries ready for what I knew would be a busy few weeks! 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.

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Create your own Culture Month

Aug 28, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Career, Creative Discontent, Culture  //  1 Comment

Okay, my readers. I want you to do something for me. But I’m not going to tell you what quite yet. First, you need a little background and a lot of links.

I just came from a press conference where Mayor Dave Bronconnier declared September as Culture Month in Calgary. It’s pretty exciting stuff, coinciding with the fact that September 18-20 is the second annual Alberta Arts Days, with all kinds of free events taking place province-wide. September starts with the 2009 WorldSkills Competition in Calgary, which is kind of like the Olympics of the trades (and is actually the largest international competition after the Olympics themselves, and Colin and I are planning to watch some of the competition), and then leads into Alberta Arts Days, the Mayor’s Evening for Business and the Arts, and ends with the Calgary International Film Festival, which, this year, features the largest monetary prize in a North American competition.

And, of course, in between all of that, the arts season is kicking off in a big way, with theatre companies launching new seasons, galleries and museums bringing in new exhibits, community organizations auditioning for their 2009-2010 seasons, and way more. It’s an exciting time of year — the excitement and forward motion of a new academic year carries through even if you’re not in school. All the coolest stuff runs on a September start date, right? 🙂

I’ve been totally immersed in Culture Month this summer — it’s everything that my internship is leading up to. Half my time is spent on Culture Month initiatives themselves — things like helping with a magazine that’s just been released, highlighting the fall arts season in Calgary (which you can find here), pulling together other support material, and getting outside and handing out postcards and other marketing materials.

And, of course, getting the new arts and culture website, CalgaryCulture.com ready to launch. I’ve spent a lot of time in the past few weeks inputting events and making sure that the calendar is as up-to-date as possible before we launched this week, and my inbox is full of emails of even more events that need to go into it. It’s an exciting site, and if you’re in Calgary, you should really bookmark it, sign up for the newsletter, and make sure you submit your own events to it. It already is — and will continue to become — the hub for arts and culture news in the city.

The other half of my time has been spent working on the Mayor’s Evening for Business and the Arts, an awards night that recognizes the partnerships between arts organizations and the businesses that support them, celebrating the fact that these two components are such a significant part of what makes any city what it is. It’s going to be a fun evening (and will really be the end of my internship — I leave for California two days after the event!), and I’ve had a lot of fun working on the steering committee, meeting people from across the arts sector.

So this is Culture Month. Calgary is the first city in Canada to designate an entire month to publicizing and advocating the arts. Several provinces have provincial arts days, and there are some long-term plans to create a national arts days, celebrating arts and culture across the country. We’ll see what happens with municipal arts days, and how other cities take up the challenge to put their arts and culture at the forefront of the city’s collective mind for 30 days.

The thing is, there’s all kinds of amazing work happening all year, and September is just the kickoff. It’s a city-wide celebration and a fantastic way to honor the creative industries that form the heart and soul of the city.

So here’s my challenge to you:

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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.

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.

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Everyone and no one

May 12, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Theatre  //  1 Comment

I directed a show a few years ago that still sticks out to me very vividly, not because the show was particularly memorable, but because of the reactions it got and my own reaction to it.

It was a Christmas show (200… 4? Yeah, it had to have been 2004), which we’d ended up starting from scratch at the end of October. As in, we had no script or anything. We’d started rehearsing a different script (which I’d still like to do one of these years) in August/September, but for various reasons, it just wasn’t the right show with the right people, so we scrapped it and wrote something entirely new, six weeks before it went up. Well, I didn’t write the new script, but a new script was written, and I pulled together a completely different cast and started directing it with less than six weeks to go. (Keep in mind, this is a volunteer cast, so six weeks of rehearsal when you’re only rehearsing once or twice a week for 2-3 hours at a time means something very different than it does in a professional setting where you can put in 30-40 hours of rehearsal a week and 4-6 weeks is a normal rehearsal period.)

To be honest, it wasn’t any of our greatest work — actors, writers, me. Artistically, it didn’t push any boundaries, and the concept was okay, but not great. The staging wasn’t what we wanted it to be (some of our decisions were overridden by people higher up the food chain than us), and the laughs, while genuine, were sometimes a bit cheap. It served its purpose as the church’s Christmas production that year, and it had a good turnout, as always, but there was something about it that left a stale taste in my mouth.

I found that there were three distinct reactions to the show. First, there were friends that I’d invited who just loved it. They laughed, the whole family had a good time, and they had a nice evening out that didn’t ask much of them. Second, I had colleagues who came who gave me those very reserved congratulations. You know; the kind that are masking their real opinion while trying to find something nice to say. It wasn’t that they thought it was an awful show, but they knew that I had the talent and skill to do something better. Third, there was my team’s reaction. The core team had pulled through a lot to get the show up, and we were proud of the fact that the show came together, despite everything. We knew it wasn’t the best work any of us had done, but we also knew what it took to make, and because of that, the experience glowed a little more than it would have otherwise.

So whose opinion counts?
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When “good enough” isn’t good enough

May 9, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Books, Creative Discontent, Faith, Reviews  //  4 Comments

One of my primary goals when I was working with the drama ministry at the church was to see it become as professional and high-quality as possible, because what’s the point of putting on shoddy work? Too often, I think that the attitude within the church is, “Whatever we give God, he’ll do something good with, so I don’t have to give my best.” And yes, while it’s true that God makes beauty out of our brokenness, it doesn’t give us the excuse to be lazy or to give less than our best–not only the best of what we currently are, but the best of what we can be, through training, practice, and honing our skills.

(And if I ever end up back in a position of leading the drama ministry at Foothills, one of my goals is to make it a place of training, mentoring, and growth for the team members themselves, as well as a place to use theatre as a ministry to the church and community.)

Mom and Dad gave Colin and I the movie Fireproof for Valentine’s Day. We haven’t watched it yet, but despite not having seen it, I’ve been pretty vocal with my disappointment in it (and maybe I’ll post a review of the movie itself once I’ve seen it, but this isn’t a review of the movie; it’s a discussion of the reactions I’ve heard). I’ve read reviews from sources that I trust, and everything I’ve heard indicates that it’s a pretty formulaic “Christian” movie: overly expository writing, not-so-great acting, less-than-subtle conveyance of its message, and mediocre production value.

Even the opinions of people who liked it have been mixed. They thought it was a good story, but the acting wasn’t the best they’ve ever seen; or they thought the message was good, but it could have been told better.

My argument against it from the beginning has been this: Why put something out there on a stage where it can’t possibly compete with the best that’s it’s up against? Why create something–with a God-honoring message, and with the best intentions in the world–to a standard of mediocrity, where even the people who like it only like it with reservations?

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