Archive for the ‘Career’ Category

Current Status part 2

December 25th, 2013 No comments

Wow, another long time since my last post. Been going through some crazy personal stuff which for the most part has died down now.

HATCH did not go through, but I learned a lot about the submission process for curated theatre festivals, so that was really useful.

Three scripts went out, two came back with the big “REJECTED” stamp across them in my imagination. Third one I still have hopes for, as I really love the piece.

Not directing for New Ideas this year, because I did not know you could apply with a script AND apply to direct. I did do the cold reads for New Ideas this year. I don’t have a current headshot or the $$$ to get a new professional one done up. Guess I’ll do a selfie with a duck face.

No, just kidding.

Applying to InspiraTO to direct this year again if there are some scripts that grab me. Because let’s be frank, if you’re not getting paid to direct, then the script you work with had better excite you. Otherwise you’re just going to drag the whole production down with you.

That’s it for now. As part of the clean up of the personal mess of my life, I can n0w devote more time to creativity and happiness. So expect more blog posts on a regular basis.

Subsidizing someone else’s Dream

September 17th, 2012 No comments

(This post is with respect to creative endeavours only. There is a whole wriggly can of worms waiting to be opened if I start talking about normal joe jobs as well.)

I am not an Amanda Palmer fan. Nor do I hate Amanda Palmer. My sum total knowledge surrounding her before this morning was “Partner (or something) of Neil Gaiman who does music stuff. Oh, and Andrew likes her.”

Then, through the magic of the Internet, I came across the kerfuffle around her. Briefly, she did a Kickstarter for an album release, made scads of money, spent said money on album production costs, is now going on tour.

Her tour vision requires classical musicians to help play in each city. Rather than hiring a touring group, or paying for musicians in each city, she is crowd sourcing out for classical players to come rehearse and play for a night in return for beer and possibly a hat passing around. In some cities, like NYC, she is actually paying pros to come in and do the show.

Full story of original request here and open letter from Amanda after a musician responded to that post here.

So where to start? Ordinarily I would be “MOAR PAY FOR ARTISTS”, but Ms. Palmer makes the good point that musicians have the freedom of choice to volunteer or not volunteer. I am guessing she has huge respect in the musical community, so this would be a great opportunity for selected people to play on stage with one of their idols.

On the other hand, some of the comments I’ve seen are really nasty toward anyone suggesting getting paid to perform is a good thing. They invoke both the invisible hand of Adam Smith and the cheerful friendliness of Ayn Rand to tell pro-payment people that the arts are changing and almost no one makes a career out of the classical music scene and if they can’t get that, then they should go to a workhouse and decrease the surface population.

(OK, there might have been a BIT of hyperbole in that last paragraph.)

I can only speak from the perspective of a mostly unpaid actor. If Patton Oswalt was coming to town and offering people a chance to improvise a public set with him for beer and thanks, I’d be phoning in sick and elbowing people in the face to get into that audition hall. However, I would not be telling myself I’m doing it for my career. I would be doing it because Patton Oswalt.

(DISCLAIMER: Patton Oswalt might not do improv. Try and stay with me as I acknowledge I hate doing research into celebrity careers.)

People who say I’d be doing it because wow, it’s great exposure and would look good on my resume…I agree with people who have commented on blogs about this that a one shot appearance with a celeb or group of celebs isn’t necessarily going to rocket your career to the stratosphere.

The other thing this does is open a slippery slope. I tweeted back and forth a bit this morning on Twitter with @ProResting. (She helped inspire this blog entry.)

She’s one of my favourite people who tweet, and one of her main interests is how auditions for actors are basically offering no pay. Indeed, there’s a huge number of low/no pay gigs out there. Up to a point, you can tell yourself (and it might be true) that these unpaid gigs are helping you to network and hone your craft.

I don’t want to see what @ProResting has documented already, paying to be in a production. Performing artists live to perform, and the unscrupulous will do what they can to get them to perform while delivering back as little as they can.

AND I DON’T THINK AMANDA PALMER IS UNSCRUPULOUS. She’s offering fairer terms than most unpaid gigs, which is some beer and a lot of respect, and a chance to actually interact with an idol. So if people want to go for that and be on stage with their idol, that’s great. But don’t demonize people who can perform at a professional level and want money for demonstrating that skill. Just because some artists will always work for free doesn’t mean every artist should.

Performing, the B*tch Goddess

September 15th, 2011 No comments

I go between performing and swearing off it for life in regular cycles. Right now I’m into a performing kind of mood.

Part of the reason I go off doing it is auditions. I hate them. You go through all kinds of prep for two minutes of time, and then EVERYONE says “Really good”, and then the cycle repeats. But a special part in my flames of torment, nestled deep in my heart, are cattle call auditions. My God. Can there be any clearer way to say to actors “You don’t matter?” Yeah, I know, efficiencies of scale and economy and large volume of applicants. It still sucks.

Improv and clown kind of get around that, in that there is a smaller pool of people doing it, so the unique you that is a performer can stand out more clearly. I blame myself for abandoning those routes.

Well, self-blame gets boring after a while, so I’ve stopped (for now) and throwing myself back into it. Let’s see where it ends up.

Categories: Career, Doing the work Tags: , ,

Fear of Playing

May 23rd, 2011 No comments

Part of my changes in career choices have been motivated by my own cowardice.

It takes a certain kind of bravery to be an actor. An ability to roll with the punches, and to punch back when you need to. I can do the second, but the first has been very difficult.

I did get valuable advice from Lawrence Bayne at a Q&A session he held down at Harbourfront. He said most people in this industry have an ego of latex, but you need to have one of concrete. Wise words.

Categories: Career Tags:

Improv and Me

April 13th, 2011 No comments

I’ve had an interesting time with improv here in Toronto.

When I first moved to town, the acting bug had bitten hard, but I didn’t know where to go. I had no network in place.

Then one day, strolling down Bloor Street by Bathurst, I came across a sign advertising free improv drop-ins at the Poor Alex Theatre. (I will now observe a moment of silence on the departure of this beloved venue.)

There. Anyway, I started attending drop-ins there, and it was OK, but it wasn’t great. And then I heard whispers of a second improv group in town, over at Solar Stage at King and Yonge. (Moment of silence, venue, etc.)

So I also started going to the classes offered at this second improv group. And they were a lot better. The environment was friendlier, the class size was smaller, and they were actual classes. You committed to a certain number of weeks. For a ridiculously bargain price.

Time went on, and I was allowed to go in shows, more than allowed to do tech, and I quickly stopped going to any drop-ins offered by the Annex group.

More time went on, and I got more involved with Theatresports Toronto, as they were called. And then I got pulled into helping manage the organization.

Around the same time, my confidence in myself as a performer was growing, but there was also a lot of intriguing politics and offstage drama going on. I was there when they moved into their first permanent space on the Danforth. But shortly after, a lot of factors combined to make me decide that it was time to pull up stakes and do something else.

So I did a lot of acting, some clowning. And then I got really annoyed at acting, and went on hiatus, then came back and got into directing and really started enjoying that.

However, I never totally abandoned improv. I took some courses now and then, and recently took a course where I really clicked with the class. Everyone in the class was keen to keep going, so we started doing group practise session at the new home of arts in the east end, the Black Swan tavern, steps from the site of the now closed Bad Dog Theatre (venue, moment, yada).

I’m enjoying the chance to do improv again. I’m enjoying it even more in a low drama atmosphere. But do I want to go back to it full-time?

I don’t know. I love directing a lot, and committing to improv would throw a monkey wrench in that. I guess I’ll just (wait for it) improvise.

** Crickets **

Categories: Career, Thinking Tags:

Plate’s 3/4 Empty

April 5th, 2011 No comments

Or 1/4 full.
I have said before that if your current artistic project isn’t making you both scared and excited, then you need to step up the level of the projects you’re involved in. Or choose more interesting projects. Or both.
Here I sit at the end of a successful theatre production, community, yeah, but still valuable. Now my plate is 1/4 full. Or 3/4 empty.
The point is, if you want to get your own arts world cooking, you really have to go out, hunt down your kill, bring it back to more than life, and present it to your paying guests. Who will hopefully like it and pay you for your efforts. So you can go out and do it all over again.
Fast food projects might be sweet in the mouth but bitter in the belly. Having too many chefs (gov’t grants, multiple producers) in the kitchen can really spoil the broth. Simple, honest presentation of your healthy ingredients…really, what more do you need to do?
Simple and honest is very scary to do. But the most rewarding. They give the best excited/scared ratios in the world.

Categories: Career Tags:

The Crux

February 4th, 2011 No comments

So I have a job. It pays the bills, and it’s not unpleasant.

Then I have theatre. It electrifies me and feeds my soul. But it’s hard to imagine it paying the bills.


  • Reduce my bills
  • Trust in the universe that my bills will still be paid
  • ??

Well, that’s not the worst set of options I’ve seen. Except for that ?? part.

Categories: Career Tags: ,

Auditions From the Other Side

January 4th, 2011 No comments

It’s very instructive watching auditions from the other side.

Theatre school? Who needs that structured fa-flummfle? Just do the following, even if you want to be an actor, at least once:

  • Do sound
  • Do lights
  • Stage manage
  • Direct

It will give you some perspective on how life is lived by the people on the other end of the theatre. Which in turn will make you a better actor.

Sure, focus on the acting craft. But remember you don’t exist in a vacuum. Even if you think you’re a superstar.

Categories: Career Tags:

So the ADSM begins

January 8th, 2010 No comments

The wheels of community theatre run slowly sometimes, but I am finally physically part of the process as I watched a set of auditioners last night at the Alumnae Theatre.

Even though I don’t have any say in casting, I took notes anyway. I found I didn’t need to take a lot of notes per actor. One or two lines. Either I liked them for the role in the play, or I didn’t.

The good thing is that my mentor actually seems genuinely interested in mentoring. We had a great phone conversation before I came on board the production. I’m looking forward to the process.

Soon I’ll have to stage manage. Carrying around binders and first aid kits and bottled water and teddy bears. Gaah. It harrows my soul.

Categories: Career, Directing Tags:


November 22nd, 2009 No comments

There are quite a few interesting workshops for performers coming up. I am feeling really rusty in the performing side of things, so I am going to be signing up for quite a few.

The challenge is always to pick and choose. Some are offered by actors who want to pay their own rent between gigs. Not saying those can’t be useful, but in my mind, I’m already biased against that sort of “workshop”. Maybe I’ll just start asking the question, “So what average increase in bookings have your students had after taking your course, and how many of those were for paying gigs?”

But then I’d get accused of hating art. But then would I really care?

Categories: Career, Training Tags: