Category Archives: theatre

Into The Books

Looking for many hidden dragons and finding the gorilla sneaking into the zoo keeper’s bed were just a couple of the adventures I shared with a three year old child yesterday. Among other things such as little pigs making big messes and needing hidden kisses from a mother racoon we also considered how to detangle the horns of the wild reindeer so that they could be harnessed to fly. Worries about everything a three year old and her parents might worry about such as going to school and deciding what costume to wear in a parade and listening to the wisdom of a very cool laid-back grandma were covered in depth.It was a very full story hour or two and intense enough for my over sixty years old self. However,it was a precious part of her three year old day along with her special gifts, family and fun around her. This little patch of the day, shoulder to shoulder finding ourselves inside the storybooks together, sharing the stories,art and wonder. The blessing for me was to hear the tiny sighs and laughter responding to my telling and pointing out and questioning either the obvious or the insightful. You had to have been there.

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Leftovers Again

Extension cords in a bundle are heaped on the mudroom bench and three garden rakes lean against the wall in the television room. A truck load of new lumber wrapped in places with duct tape and hammered with a few nails landed in my back yard and helpful neighbours have carried it away to repair their own projects. Other things such as a fat suit and a play sword have just been returned to a dance group. A few useful things such as a small carpet, flashlights and a one dollar charity shop lamp ended up in my son’s apartment. Some things were trashed and some were donated. A few boxes of things are still in the car. A rehearsal hall fan, purchased by me is stored away,somewhere. These things, related by their usefulness in a recent play directed by my son seem almost charged still with some kind of weird energy, like the props and costumes in my years and years and years old dramatic play collection, now totally dispersed. My long acquired collection was for school kids. This recent collection was for theatre.

Something else has arrived here waiting to be dealt with when the energy builds to face it. A form of anti-climatic mood lingers around the place like a distant relative, familiar, welcome enough but a bit tiring after an over extended stay. Time for it to go, run along, clean up after itself,” toodle-loo” and close the door. Routine needs to be enforced and motivation in the form of new projects, hard work and completed tasks should alter the clingy mood sighing to itself in the little piles of stuff in the mudroom and also in the back of the car.

Tomorrow is a new day. Up at sunrise. Clear the decks. Green tea (gag/trying to be healthy), journals, coffee ( finally), emails, scrambled eggs ( with hot sauce) and toast, garden rakes and extension cords. Then clean the car and put the boxes in the mudroom to sit for days and days and days.

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Opening Night and They Fight and Fight and Fight and Fight and Fight

Well now, if you are tired of the old run of the mill kind of song and dance type theatre offered up by the typical theatre companies and would just like to check your disbelief at the door and join in something that is a disturbingly funny storytelling and theatre experience, Have I got a show recommendation for you!

If my blog title doesn’t ring a little bell in your head try singing it in a jingle way…meh, maybe you won’t ever get it by doing that. Perhaps just google for the sake of time.

( Mr. Burns, A Post Electric Play, McManus Theatre,London, Ontario. )

Everyone involved in this madness of art, tonight, opening night, “bravo”in an old school way and I’ll be back to see it again!

( Yes, I am the mother of the director but this is my blog and I’m plugged in, shamelessly.)

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Mixed Messages

He walked over to my friend and asked her for money but also told her why he needed it. When he turned to me he was still telling his best story, leaning in a bit, rather shaky and not totally coherent. The bottom line being he needed a couple of dollars to buy a slice of pizza because he had used up all his money helping his sister.

This fellow was making the best of the steady flow of people going into an evening performance at the theatre and zeroed in on us. Well, he had a prepared story anyhow and we gave him a little money despite the awkwardness of the situation. Entering the theatre, my son waiting for us at the entrance gently commented on what we had done .He felt it encouraged such individuals to panhandle and that he encounters another fellow everyday requesting money from him using a standard tale about needing bus money at the same spot during the morning rush to work.

Later when we left the concert and the crowd spilled out onto the sidewalk there was yet another man, seated in a doorway, holding up a cardboard sign, not saying a word but scanning the crowd for possible benefactors. Troubled by this and wondering if I should give him something also, I managed to get by and out of range of the guilt factor of not handing over a coin. At this point, hours later I’m wondering what the message on his sign said. I’m wondering about his story.

At dinner earlier the stories were about me involving my struggle to get a technical computer program problem straightened out so I can write for my own enjoyment and my storytelling preparations for an evening presentation I’m giving at the local library. My friend shared her stories about getting things packed for her trip to the cottage and also the elaborate vacation some good friends of hers had just taken. In between these stories we spoke about a great many other things such as lost children, a terrible local tragedy and our sadness about the recent passing of a talented actor who we felt we knew a little somehow because we admired his work so much. Of course we didn’t know his story at all and didn’t foresee the ending.

In the theatre, the showcased performer provided an amazing concert letting her music reach us on it’s own merit, no explanation given or required. During the performance her storytelling was there all the time through her wonderful trained voice and everyone in the audience was steeped in the richness of her range and style. Many thoughts and impressions stirred in my mind based on the experience and I was aware of the awe of the other audience members as they enjoyed the concert in their individual ways. So many different memories, impressions and stories must have been inspired by her tonight.

In the lobby I encountered a woman, visibly unwell but attended by friends.

A friend I haven’t seen for awhile reached out to me at intermission when I reached out to her. We have some shared childhood experiences and our stories are very different but there is a feeling of understanding there. We will find the time and talk.

My son’s story is all about his work, his art and doing what he has to do, right now. It’s all about telling a story and creating a shelter from reality. He has his responsibilities and he also has his creative adventures. At the moment it is challenging, meaningful and ambitious.

Hours later, I’m wondering about the man, seated on the busy sidewalk who quietly held his cardboard sign. The sign I didn’t read.

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Stretching It Out

Billed as “local literary talent” the predicament of choosing the most suitable material for the event is upon me. Two weeks from now I will be the entertainment for an age group that ranges from toddler to adult and perhaps, senior adults.
With some concentration I can recall some fun songs and rhymes that I used in my days of Kindergarten teacher. Oddly enough, at first I had some trouble dredging them up. After all it’s been four years since I had to use them daily, almost nonstop from total recall. Where do these wee rhymes go once their time and usefulness has past? Fortunately, I remember a couple and one begets another and so on.
There will be the older children to contend with and hold them rapt while the evening unfolds. Something interesting and off beat and yet relatable to their experience and understanding is required. Fortunately my drama experience will fill the bill here. Oddly though, the little book of excellent ideas that I’d put away for a rainy day isn’t to be found. It’s here in a bin or a drawer or hidden away on a shelf, snickering at me because I can’t find it or recall where I might have used it last. Annoyed, I’ve come up with something based on a drama structure that I do recall and there is more than enough for a lively hour of preteen activity and creative inclination.
The older ones, the high school kids, will have their cell phones on so their time will be occupied nicely by texting each other in the same room and I need not worry too much about them . Yet, something should be included for their benefit. My poetry may fit the bill for them even though it is not written in a thumping rap or whine. It is unrhymed and melancholic, self absorbed stuff and therefore good enough. On second thought, maybe I should bring food.
My adult audience will consist of neighbours, family and church folk with a few unknowns. Hopefully, I won’t offend. For their edification, they can join in with the little ones and do the fishy dance song and soak up the vibe of the poetry non slam that I offer. As an added bonus for them I have some short stories from my stockpile or from blog archives. These are a style mix like if Maeve, Alice and Kurt were writing together maybe with a dash of Pym and side of Herriot.
This writing is gentle, at times gloomy, at times humorous but reflective. It has taken a couple of years to write out all the emotion to the point where it is now, still holding back some of the reality and as a result any art in that respect is still unwrapped. (What would the neighbours, family members and church folk think of it otherwise?
Hmmm, would anyone recognize themselves in the mirror?
My writing mentor and I haven’t worked together for over a year because of my irregular routines, the polar vortex, my aches and pains and my lack of focus. Next week though, we will work again and see where I am headed. All it took was the friendly invitation to be the local storyteller again to jolt me into seeking this focus once more. Apparently I don’t just write for myself like a reclusive artist content with elaborate stockpiles of unfinished work. I need an audience, even one that is prone to tantrums, texting, worrying and supporting.

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Shelf Life

Here and there and everywhere little sentiments are in the forefront of my rather significant collection of favourite books on my bookshelves. A picture of  my Dad and myself, another of my mom and a niece, my ( retirement) brass school bell,  “Mumma’s” delicate rose and blue china cup, my son’s baby photo, a neutral faced  theatre mask, a carved wooden angel holding a bountiful floral garland, two die-cut cards from my son, figurines of dogs, birds, old souls and a snow globe shaker containg a picture of my sweet departed cat, are a fair representation of what is gathered there.

These things sit usually at the corners of the bookshelves but often are moved to centre place when access to the books hiding behind them are sought. Books are so plentiful that they are stacked vertically on the shelves rather than horizontally. Another bookcase might be purchased soon if my budget can stand it.

My books are organized at this moment in my life. The two top shelves are dedicated to classic literature as I feel that is only fitting for Shakespeare and those I’ve grouped with him there. On the next level are two full shelves of Canadian literature full of strange, often grim but treasured thought. On the shelves beneath contemporary American and European literature balance each other well.Further down, the two lower shelves begin to appear archive like holding assorted children’s books, art books, (several) books on the monarchy, some of my Aunt Bea’s book club books, baskets of CD’s and a few photo albums. Dear Maeve Binchy has an entire lower shelf dedicated solely to herself as she helped me survive my divorce twenty eight years ago. She provided the wholesome comfort of gentle romance when I was dashed and broken by my own decision to remove myself from my marriage. She stays on her shelf for all time, not ever in my lifetime to be culled in a book clearout as she deserves a permanent home.

The really old books that I collect are relegated to my bookshelves built into my bedroom. Among this assortment are my treasured old school readers, honoured for being the delicate rare taste of literature I was exposed to as a very young child. Along these shelves are little ornaments my mother kept so special in her heart. Things like little wooden shoes that have their own story,small framed pictures of Dad, my brother and an eccentric uncle, little flower vases she liked are arranged amongst the books and Bibles stored there.

All the cookbooks I’ve collected fill another full bookshelf in the small family room beside the kitchen. Several of these books are hand written or collections of recipes from my family’s heritage pasted into old scrapbooks. Many books about gardening and healing are also propped up there. These shelves are decorated with some funky pottery and woven baskets.

The spillage of books and sentimental clutter often needs to be tidied and refreshed. At the moment,  a good couple of hours dedicated to decluttering, putting things away, sorting through some recently acquired books from the used book store and other housekeeping duties is most likely a good idea. If only I had  the luxury of a daily domestic helper, like Maeve often described in her books these things might be more consistently done.  It is perhaps better that I do this work myself. After all, I know where things belong.

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Happy Valentine’s Day Bat Boy !

A little bit of a chorus line, mixed with a gospel revival and a tad of mid summer night’s dream..oh and some my fair lady with a dash of Saturday night live …and that’s how my valentine’s celebration at the theatre tonight turned out.  The production of Bat Boy at the Mc Manus Theatre, (Grand Theatre) London, Ont., Canada runs until February 23. Tonight was opening night and I plan to go again several times. To say it is an unusual story is an understatement. What I experienced was an intriguing night of entertainment and I took away the message that the ones we shouldcomfort, love and protect are vulnerable to danger, mistrust and ignorance and we are often too damaged ourselves to really sort these problems out. Pretty much, that’s the lesson in a nutshell. Oh yeah, did I mention that my wonderful son, who never thinks just inside the box, is the director…?.(and set designer…and other stuff.) Quite the musical !

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Tough Enough

During a whirling dervish wind in late October, I had some help from a great- nephew to tidy up some yard work, put up my Christmas lights and haul in about twenty potted flowers and  herbs. It seemed like the right thing to do, especially with the help of a young nephew. Otherwise, I would have turned my back on the garden, dumped out the pots, strung a few lights and called it a day. But,no. (I’ve never written a” sentence” like that before….must be losing it.)

Lined up in my huge bay window, resting on sturdy boot trays, my flowers and herbs enjoyed the last warm days of fall and only needed watering and a little turn now and again for optimal sunlight.  Needless to say, I didn’t water them enough and some soon fizzled and got tossed out. The rest hung on through Christmas and looked stunning from both inside and outside the house. At night, the outdoor fairy lights draped in the tree added to the magic.

With the coming of January, my watering and maintenance program ended up being quite inconsistent. Usually, I just tipped the remains of a cold cup of tea or murky coffee into the pot and just hoped for the best. Writing about my procrastination habits in my daily journal seemed to help and I would load up a pail of water and take a dipper and gently water the plants so they could carry on bravely through the winter.

When the bulldog pup came to stay for extended visits from town where she was feeling somewhat neglected because her owner, my son, was burning his candle at both ends working and  also producing and directing a show in the evenings, the plants went through their worst trial. Pup ate some, dragged some and knocked some over. All that remain of the herbs are pots of chewed sage, chomped chives and respectable looking rosemary. Multicolored geraniums continue to glow gloriously in four big pots at the most sunny spots in the window. There is an old fashioned red one that cheers, a salmon pink that softly shines, a white one that calms and a rosy orange one that blooms like gangbusters. The faded peacelily hangs on, hopefully a little longer and the large leaf shamrock bursts with tiny white flowers. At night, once in awhile just to bug the neighbours, I turn on the outside muticoloured fairy lights. It looks awesome out there, especially when nobody else is quirky enough to let their lights stay on well into February and beyond.

What is the lesson in all this? Perhaps it is beauty is in the eye of the beholder as long as you remember to water the plants and never get a bulldog pup….or maybe it is just buy more geraniums, fairy lights and let the quirks of nature take its course.

 

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Unique Stay Awhile Style

First time inside the door today and I was gently overwhelmed by the adorable vintage feel of the small place but within seconds I was ready to order a nice lunch at The Bag Lady Variety. Located  at Pall St. (at Maitland), in London Ontario, Canada it is the sweetest little retreat , somewhat off the beaten track of regular coffee shops and diners. I honestly felt like I had been dropped into another time period. The feel of the place is very relaxed and I noticed several people writing in journals, reading and get this.. interacting with other friendly customers! Two large store front windows open up the view to an established leafy neighbourhood while the decor inside is retro comfy. Seriously, when I came home I got all of my crocheted throws out of the blanket box and draped them around just to mimic the mood of the place.

The yummy food is prepared in a tiny open kitchen which is fascinating to peek through at while watching three of four people maneuver very carefully around each other as they work behind the counter.  Lots of takeout orders were rustled up while I was there blissfully relaxing at one of the old-fashioned kitchen table sets. I think the local professional crowd of workers are loving the convenience of takeout lunches but the laid back, sit and daydream types like myself  delight in the atmosphere as much as the food. My lunch was homemade tasty and the coffee was good and hot. Oh, and they get points for having the right kind of soft folksy music playing too.

I know I’ll be going back when I’m in town doing my daytime artsy theatre/writing adventures Monday through Friday 7:30 am-4:00pm (as if I’d ever be up at 7:30 am nowadays..ha!), or on Saturday and Sunday 9:00 am-2:00pm. I purchased a gift certificate for a lucky friend and a really good brownie for the road. You can’t have too much of a good thing!

It was a rather special experience today as it felt like I was among friends…including the charming staff and the patrons.

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Wuthering At A Later Date

Bright sun, a gentle cooling wind and deep blue skies mean that the season is just starting to change and I will be out of excuses for not writing every day. After all, if I don’t write everyday I’m just plain lazy. The time is ripe for shaking things up and getting a move on.

Well, that didn’t work.

Instead of beating myself up for my extended vacation from creating stories and poems I intend to just go with the flow. I will read into the late and early hours, doze off with my reading lamps blazing and jolt myself awake at 5:30 am to put myself finally to bed. Sleeping in, ignoring the world outside my door until I get organized enough to grind some fragrant dark roasted coffee beans, read my emails and blogs that I follow and day-dream for most of the remaining day. It is time to soak up the glory of the back yard and garden even if there are  a few towering goldenrod weeds obscuring the view. It is time to cook all the gorgeous fall treats that I particularly like such as soups, sauerkraut, fruit cobblers and fudge. It is time to do all kinds of things. The ideas, emotions and sensations of this time are enough to paint my imagination so that I can draw inspiration from it later.

When the sheeting, driving rains come and the ragged branches tap piteously at my dark, icy bedroom window, then I will pull out all the stored and preserved  material and rock my writing.

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