Category Archives: theatre

Getting Something Accomplished

Distractions have interfered with my writing only because I’ve looked for excuses to let them do so. I’ve had some different things to attend to but that was not the real reason for not stockpiling my writing over the summer. It must have been just a break that I needed for some creative purpose and now I feel compelled to start it all up again. I even bought new pens today.

My sister tells me I should write children’s stories and I will. My son tells me to write about the theatre experiences I enjoy so I will do that too. My good friends keep me stocked up with journals so that I will write about what I read or plant in the garden (that’s why I need lots of pens). I also handwrite a stream of consciousness journal that is just a flow of stuff I should be doing or what I’m thinking about doing (i go through pens like crazy!). That journal is amazing as it works in that it usually gets me off my procrastination sidelines and somehow motivates me to do some errands, repairs and duties. It is like being mothered again after losing my wonderfully feisty but very elderly mom. It is my push to get moving and get stuff done.

I need to write again and get something accomplished. Maybe this time, while I’m stockpiling the stories, reports, poems and observations I’ll find whatever it is that I need to say.

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Fall Projects Give Me An Appetite

With a very slight change in our hot weather, I felt stirrings of fall projects in the air so I went out looking for new drapes at a little commercial mall on Hyde Park Rd, London, Ontario (Canada). I’ve been considering these rather funky looking drapes for over a year now and despite them being on sale I was a little hesitant to commit to the purchase. Then I realized it was just hunger so I walked a few doors down and tried out a brand new place to eat called Porcino. The drapes could wait….afterall, they were just hanging around until I got there.

Porcino is a relaxed and contemporary place with an appealing artsy vibe . The menu is neat to read as the prices are simply noted with a numeral such as 8 or 12 or……. for some reason that also appealed to me. Scanning down the menu I decided to try the chicken parmesan with side salad and then sat back to do some journal notes (always the amateur writer!) and enjoy a cold drink. I had made the weekday lunch seating just in time (11 am to 3pm)  and noted the supper seating time was also an option (5pm-10pm) and Sunday hours are accommodating ( 4pm-9pm).  Quite hospitable, when a couple came in just on the late side of 3pm, they were graciously seated by the young owner and the available chef sprung into action. The food choices are a great selection of starters, soups, salads, panini, pizza and pasta. My chicken parmesan panini was delicous but if I’m feeling more adventurous next time I could try fried calamari, steamed mussels, panko crusted goat cheese, quattro stagioni pizza or wild mushroom ravioli…..to name only a few of the tempting dishes. There are a couple of large tables but mostly it is a cosy, intimate setting for friends and family to gather. It has the right feel , a nice decor (love the varied art lamps hanging from the ceiling), pleasant, clean washrooms with individual real terry towels and good food. I intend to take my family and friends there (on theatre outing days) but  have a feeling I might go on my own again very soon…..maybe when I pick up the funky drapes I finally felt nourished enough to order.

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Puppy Love

Today is my day off and it really felt like it for a change. Whew….I went out to the farmer’s market, greenhouse. did laundry, had a nap, worked in the garden and had another nap. Since retiring I’ve thoroughly adapted (like a big time slacker and I deserve it) to the laid back routine of extra sleep, reading, theatre,writing, puttering, little drives to fun spaces, some gardening, some short walks, cooking a  super healthy and gourmet farmstyle cusine, cleaning once in a while and visiting with friends and family. However, the puppy on loan has changed things significantly. Last week I ate cold meatloaf and pickles over the kitchen sink so she wouldn’t see me eat anything.

I offered to keep her last week to bond with Miss Moneypenny as she will be staying with me next week anyway to recover from some eye surgery to correct something called cherry eye, a common problem for little bullies.

Getting up to walk and feed her early has reminded me of my working days, but at least now after checking to make sure I’m dressed completely (long story) to walk around the quiet neighbourhood I don’t have to  shower and do my hair or makeup (for days if I don’t want to), but instead crawl back into bed for another snooze before really getting up for the day. The puppy maintenance schedule is bathroom walk, feedings, more bathroom walks, cleaning up wet newspaper safety targets, floor washing, more feeding, more walking, some training for puppy kindergarten, more or the aforementioned, over and over….playing, hugging, cuddling….writing several email updates to my son working in a beautiful theatre about his puppy child….and so…when she went home yesterday for the weekend…..I missed her.

No worries though, by evening tomorrow she’ll be back and into everything, upsetting the retired apple cart big time. Surgery on her eye is on Monday morning and both my son and I will be worried, concerned and relieved when it is safely over. Just think, next week, I’ll be doing the puppy lifestyle all over again but this time she’ll be upset about wearing a cone protector around her bulky little neck, she will be wild as a bronco as she won’t likely have her quiet time routine in her crate due to wearing the cone….thank goodness we bonded this past week. I’ll let you know…….( in case you haven’t seen her picture yet, (gush from Nana)….see my blog post Precious Penny.)

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Penny’s Progress

I bet you are just waiting with breathless excitement for the next Penny post (see Penny’s picture on Precious Penny post). She is getting bigger, sassier and has a pronounced pout when she hears “no” , “don’t chew Grandma’s jewelled sandals”! During the past week she has started puppy education class and ranks right in the middle . Marvellous Monty (another bulldog pup) is the smartest at this point, next comes Penny and at the bottom of the class is Rangy Riley. Monty has had the advantage of a longer, stable homelife than Penny. He is a beautiful little guy and impressed the trainer with his manners but even Monty has his faults apparently. He is a porch peeing dog. Riley on the other hand, looks as cute as can be, like a typical Benji type dog but is a notorious ankle biter. Penny is just learning to settle in so we give her a break for the time being. She is a food focused dog so likes her twenty-minute training homework each day and is earning numnums for sit, stay and high fives. So cute, those high fives!

My son’s vacation has turned into a young parent experience with five o’clock am wakeup yelps, outdoor walks, feeding times, medication times( to clear up some tummy trouble), wet newspaper cleanups, more outdoor walks, monitoring adjustment to crate times (hopefully she is calm in her crate when returns to work next week), buying supplies and feed and washing his floors to keep ahead of the pungent puppy smells. Some vacation, eh?

We are going on a day trip to see a friend perform in a play at The Shaw Festival, Niagara on The Lake, and have lined up my neighbours to puppy sit. Penny will be in good, kind training hands while we are away. No doubt, my son will go through separation anxiety while we are gone for the day. He will probably buy a souvenir chew toy or  British design collar for Penny as if she even cares for it or not. All Penny cares for are her numnums. I expect she will be at the top of her class on Friday or at least tieing for first place with Monty. Riley, bless him…we just hope for the best.

 

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Alternatives

Trying to overpower the sound of a hovering helicopter through song, spouting Eastern European poetry during an intense “perogie” workout class and making sense out of the clues connected with an overdue library book ( 123 years overdue) are three of the highlights of the performances I’ve seen the last couple of days at the Fringe Festival in London, Ontario. This material is astounding and only a little sample of the range of inspired and creative work offered. Some of it may not be everybody’s cup of tea but it does make a refreshing change from the usual theatrical experience. Don’t get me wrong. I love the traditional, the classic and typical forms of theatre with all my heart and soul. This alternative offering is different, challenging and staged on a shoe string. It provides enough of a change of pace to alter the atmosphere of the different theatre venues somehow. An interesting observation is the overall audience dynamic. They are all ages, arty and comfortable with each other…..it is this acceptance….this vibe….that is truly worth the price of the entire showcase of performances.

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Early Summer Dream

A good fairy appears in my wild garden of perennials and quietly works. Pulling weeds, clipping shoots and branches, tidying up pots and planters, discovering lost garden tools and toting away (with permission!) wheelbarrows full of green compost to my neighbour’s bracken pile she has opened up my little yard again and made it more presentable, enjoyable and loveable. The neighbour is even more into natural gardening than I am and allows me to bring my green compost over to his wildlife sanctuary for the birds, rabbits, squirrels and skunks to shelter themselves in.

My garden is on a  rural village street that curves from the park to the main road of the village and serves as a walkway for many neighbours. Everyone walks here. Some of my neighbours have kids , many have visiting grandkids and sweet doggies that need the quiet, peaceful walkway that goes all along my property.

My garden, porch and sedentary bookish lifestyle is on full view and that is fine. However, the weeds and chaos of a jumbled garden can work against the creative vibe so I try to pull and yank weeds with the best of them so I can get back on task with my writing. I can do it but it is an unpleasant effort when it gets crazy ahead of me with weeds and long grass.

Now, the good fairy, home from university, majoring in history and human resources (clever fairy!) and living on a neighbouring farm with her family, flies in and out like a whisper to give me a hand. She has made my wild garden a little more trimmed and ready to burst out in its glory with seasonal appearances of white and pink hydrangea shrubs, blue morning glories trailing up an ivy wall on my little house, white and lilac Rose of Sharon bushes, ENORMOUS pink Himalayan orchids, leafy Boston ferns , a few wild red roses and a quaint trellis covered with rosy bittersweet.

She promises to fly in later in the early fall when she visits her farm family (to help show pigs, sheep and cattle at fall fairs) and come by again to work some gentle magic on the forsythia and lilac bushes that will need to be trimmed so that they can bloom beautifully in the spring. I will take advantage of her willingness to work and get her to dig lots of holes for tulips, daffodils and hyacinths.  Gently she has coaxed the old and established wild garden to reveal itself gracefully if not as eccentrically arranged as before. Now I can keep ahead of the weeds,  just water everything as needed, plant my annuals (bought on sale) creatively in an odd assortment of planters and just wander in the garden. Middle age fairy myself, I truly appreciate the help and can get back to writing, reading, going to artsy events and theatre.

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Staged Right

Reserved seating for the playwrights took up the entire front row of the historic theatre. A minimalist set of four chairs and four wooden crates made up the set. Professional lighting effects were simple and effective. Four talented actors performed with dignity, humour and unlimited energy. The director beamed as the afternoon of pure theatre went off without a hitch….well, one slight hitch in misreading the script. The improvisation skills of the actors saved the  day, as usual. All in all a very unique festival of playing with words of children, ages 8 to 13 and I was most pleased to be invited there as a guest.

During the presentations there were many magical talking trees, superheroes and ways to deal with schoolyard bullies. Some plays were about loss, abandonment and even grief. Many were flat-out, side-splitting hilarious such as the one about the third grade rap star and his rapper horse sidekick. (I know……the kid who thought this up is a genius!) And then there was the bird house play with its mounting tension and surprise ending…..( reminded me  just a little of the movie Fargo!), My favourite had to be the play about a wishing star, two headed snake and a walking candle. Talk about deep.

The Grand Theatre in London Ontario was the venue for this entertaining project, Word Play. Funds were raised , supporters were included, professional actors and directors worked with the kids and the audience simply loved it. Reactions from the audience at times overwhelmed the young playwrights but they all took their bows in turn. We all shared the great atmosphere, laughter and pride in these kids. Theatre really doesn’t get any better than this!

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Second Childhood

I did it again. Twice this winter I have eagerly anticipated a writer’s event so much that I have gone a week early. When I got to the correct destination but on the wrong night I considered what to do instead. I thought about hanging out in the coffee shop with the funky lights and decor, going shopping at the one store still open at that time of night in our small town, visit a friend or just go home.  I went home.

It may be that I’m not getting enough sleep. It may be that I have a couple of distracting projects underway. Most likely it was just another senior moment. Looking on the positive side, perhaps it is  an over eagerness to connect with local writers after all these years of putting my desire to write out of my life .Not only do I enjoy the conversation and ideas shared at these events but I get a huge kick out of the dynamics of interacting with creative and authentic characters like myself.

Reflecting back to the fork in the road about forty years ago I chose a tangled path to follow. Fortunately I managed to get my education and career on course despite the pitfalls as well as raise a wonderful son. However, along the way I was sidetracked from following my  dream of writing. With significant effort and resources the impediment to following my creative spirit was dealt with some time ago. However, other than a joyful period of drama training , teaching and performing I have ignored my childhood desire to write.

Some forty years later, the forgotten  artist child within has been acknowledged again, nourished and wants to play, darn it. She is quite stiff now but is enjoying going for thirty minute walks through the park again. Too old to play imagination games in the school yard she enthusiastically attends any theatrical performance she can. Books  surround her and continue to give quiet comfort. Unfortunately, she mixes up days and details despite writing things on post it notes and calendars. As a result she goes to writing group meetings a week early. Fortunately, she now has the sense to come straight home.

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Lights Turned Down Low

Without stopping to find my beret I dashed off to the poetry workshop in town. I happened upon the information at the last moment but as it was in the same venue as the recent writer’s workshop I had attended, I knew exactly what to expect. Wrong.

Sitting in on a poetry reading session prior to the poetry performance I was shown the ropes. The evening’s performer had provided a sample of her work to be analyzed by the group. A group facilitator serenely led this exercise. Immediately absorbed into the group I was fascinated with the personalities around the table. No doubt, I was under scrutiny as well.

When this experience came to its conclusion we went into the main event room and joined the group gathered there to be entertained. After a few predictable moments of listening to a couple of original poems we had also workshopped in the other room, a few contest details and a pleasant introduction of the performing poet artist , the overhead lights were shut off.  A trio of very muted lamps were turned on to set the mood. A séance/coffee house- like mood was achieved. No bongo drums were used but the artist at one point kept a beat by tapping her index finger on her microphone.

Sitting at the rear of the room my view of the petite performer was limited due to the size of the man sitting directly in front of me. I could have moved closer to the front but I didn’t want to draw attention to myself in the process so I spent the next couple of hours in the dark.  I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Instead of hearing the typical poetry I expected to hear I absorbed sound distortions, cringed when the artist checked her cell phone several times during her performance and watched the reactions of everyone in the room. At one point the artist forgot some stuff she intended to say and worked through it. Only one person walked out on her.

Her material was about animals, women and relationships. Her use of technology, sound manipulation of her own voice and references to her performance art experiences was beginning to get through to me. I sat in my dim corner behind a big guy and just appreciated the on the spot art happening in the room. My mind absorbed and opened a little further.

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Third Thursday of The Month

Driving through the rather unique section of the city with its quirky little shops, coffeehouses and older homes I found my way to the library holding the writers meeting. Downstairs in the building a couple of meeting rooms are available to the public for various events and meetings. A few people were there early with me and the room filled eventually. It wasn’t awkward, honest.

Not knowing a soul I merely spoke a few words initially to the folks on either side of me. The dynamics of the group was interesting to me as I am a retired teacher. It felt like being with any new class except that it was a mixed group of ages, artistic personalities and writing enthusiasts. A few rarely spoke but they continued to write industriously throughout the meeting. Dominant personalities emerged from time to time. Everything from crime historical fiction, fantasy,plays, children’s and young adult literature , short stories and poetry were discussed with glee. A leader emerged to suggest a writing prompt and we all wrote madly for a few minutes and shared these little gems openly.Another gave a presentation on plot and pacing further stirring the discussion pot quite nicely. Someone brought cookies to share and this inspired an impromptu revenge story. ( You had to have been there!) A select reading of a current novel was shared by one of the writers. Feedback for this writer was positive and freely given.

Recommended books were referenced around the table much to my delight. I appreciated the loosely structured plan for the meeting. Imagine about two dozen people of varying backgrounds gathering for two hours of listening, writing, sharing, critiquing and laughing in the right places. A unique and quirky evening  in an interesting part of the old town and right up my alley!

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