Photos from FRANCE: Cannes

Part of the reason I applied for my current artists’ residency was its location: the French Riviera is among those almost mythical places you read about. Where the gargantuan artists and authors worked, where water, sky, and wine blend together. And, it’s 5 minutes from Cannes.

Cannes is very polished compared to Nice and Antibes, and normally I don’t like that. But it works here – the beaches, trees, ancient buildings and colour of the water aren’t overcome by the opulent hotels, fancy cars and designer shops. Everything goes together. The city isn’t remotely shy about playing up its glamorous image – the Palme D’Or symbol is on the roads, there are banners and murals of movie stars everywhere. They’re saying: “Of course movies happen here, of course the world’s most prestigious film festival is here.  Because it’s beautiful!”

Advertisements

Today, I’m out of love with #playwriting. It’s like a bad day in a long term #relationship.

I realised something this morning, on a sunny day in the south of France. It’s a bit of a whinge. But it’s also a bit scary for me, and makes me sad.

I just sent off an application for a playwriting venture. One should keep track of how many competitions, initiatives, etc, one enters…but I’ve given up. Yes, everyone gets rejected, and I admit, tracking the number of things I entered and got rejected for became too much.

My FB and Twitter feeds have recently been filled with invitations to the Fringe shows of friends, as well as previews and reviews. I posted that I was a bit sad I didn’t have a show this year. That’s true…but not quite accurate. I’m also relieved I’m not doing a stage production, and THAT feeling makes me sad. I used to live for the insanity of putting on a show. Even when things went wrong, the result was a show I was proud of. I got the festival’s Artist Badge. I got reviews — good ones — and I could say “Yep, that’s me.” Audiences have told me how much they liked what I did.

Last year, I got my first ever 5-star review for It Started with an Allergy. I leveraged that, I promoted that show every hour of every day, and my houses still never got very big. The spectators who came loved it — there just weren’t very many of them. There’s a prestigious award given to theatre productions every year in Edmonton, and I really, REALLY hoped I might get nominated for Allergy. I didn’t. It’s occurred to me since that I don’t remember if I, or my director, invited the jury to the show! How can I not remember that? But I was also writing, producing, acting, flyering, doing the show. And I just…don’t… recall. That’s bad.

I submitted this play to yet another contest, out of resignation. I couldn’t muster anything to say in my cover letter: “yes, my play’s really good, these other industry people have said so, here’s my amazing CV of other amazing plays which nonetheless didn’t take off, PLEASE GIVE THIS TO ME.”

I wonder if that’s why I’m doing pre-production on a short film. Because it feels like I’ve done everything I possibly can in theatre, and I’m tapped. I’m on the French Riviera, on a writer’s retreat (which I paid for, didn’t get paid for, again). And still, today, I’m discouraged.

Why I love theatre technicians.

Having sent out what I believe to be a pretty kick-butt play, I’m now at the hard part: waiting. Waiting to see if anyone else with any pull to put the play onstage thinks it’s remotely as good as I think it is.

I used to wonder if writing is what I should be doing, if maybe I just really was not that good. For a while now, I’ve had a different problem: knowing that my writing is good, and still not having got one professional-level — PACT, Equity, etc — production, nor enough of a hit from one of my self-produced shows to keep working on theatre regularly.

Here is where technicians have been my saving grace.

Theatre techs — lighting, sound, set-building, the ones who do everything — are all utterly professional. They are there to make your show the absolute best it can be in the time given, and will bend over backwards, given the equipment and time they have, to give your show what it needs. And given that they work in theatre…they put up with a lot of crap.

Here’s the wonderful Henry Rollins on backstage crews. Maybe this is the reason technicians tend to be detached — I’ve never worked with one who didn’t love their work, but also maintained a very professional yet clear distance from whatever show they were working on.

And here’s the thing of which I am envious: technicians have skills. I was acquainted with a guy in Edinburgh, who produced a show at his own site-specific venue the same year we did Take a Bite.  We made a bit of money.  This fellow ended the Fringe £6,000 in debt.  The understanding among everyone involved in the show was that they were working on spec: if they show made money, they would get paid. But the producer made a terrible mistake: he assumed this included their technician. In the middle of their tech rehearsal, the tech walked out for another venue, because that’s when the producer made it clear he had no intention of paying the tech anything until and unless the show recouped its costs. He had to find and hire a new tech with one day’s notice before the start of the Edinburgh Fringe.

The technicians don’t have to like your show. They will get paid, whether your show is good or not. They will work their butts off for your show because that’s their job and they take pride in their job, but they don’t need to be invested in any show.

How do I know I’m good? Because the techs have not been able to stop themselves from saying my show is good.  When I doubt, I remember that, and grin.

I’m one of the Best!

So says the Alberta caucus of the Playwrights Guild of Canada, anyway.

The weekend of May 29 to 31, 2015, the annual PGC Conference will be held here in Edmonton.  And on the very first night, ten short plays by Edmonton writers will have public readings at the latest Script Salon.  A brand new snippet of mine, My Boyfriend’s Cat, will be one of them.

It’s only occurred to me now that this is a national event, and other theatre folk from all over Canada will be here and may be hearing my work.  So.  Cool.

photo

Busy busy Acting Writing WOW

So.  StageStruck, the Edmonton Regional One-Act festival happened this past weekend.  I stopped posting a while ago about how The Ugly Princess was going, because things very nearly went…pear-shaped, as they would say in Scotland.  (That’s one of my favourite UK expressions, after “mingin’ ” – stinky – and “bollocks” – self-explanatory).  BUT, everyone pulled together, ended up playing the title role in my own play…and I won an award for Outstanding Actor.  I’m still gobsmacked.  To everyone who donated to the Writeathon to get me writing this play, and to everyone who saw it and wants to see again, THANK YOU. AND.  My play Crushed will be getting two performances shortly – one at a high school in Lac La Biche, Alberta, and the other at a university in Kingston-Upon-Thames.  And I’m getting paid for them. :O

The Ugly Princess at StageStruck!

The Ugly Princess will open the 2015 StageStruck! one-act festival at:

7 pm

27 February 2015

La Cite Francophone, 8627 Rue Marie-Anne Gaboury Northwest, Edmonton.

Tickets are on sale NOW!

My show about endometriosis WILL be at Edmonton Fringe 2015!

Okay, it’s also about sex and drinking (when I could still do that) in Scotland, and cats, as well as uteruses (uteri…?)

It was confirmed today that my redux of It Started With an Allergy will be on at the Strathcona Edmonton Public Library for Fringe this summer.  YAY!

Heather Morrow in It Started With an Allergy.  Photo by Adrien Guyot & Alix Popescu

Heather Morrow in It Started With an Allergy. Photo by Adrien Guyot & Alix Popescu