Luckily for us, Red Light Winter held over until March 22.

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This is not a review. We’re not doing those right now (although we might start down the road a bit). This is a gush. This is a love letter to playwright Adam Rapp, and a fan letter to the cast and production team that make up the Speckled Bird Equity Co-op. This is one of those plays that makes you want to call all your friends and tell them to see it come hell or high water or, if you happen to have a blog, to go straight home and gush about it.

Simply put, this is the kind of play that should be being mounted here, the kind of work that utterly convinces you that theatre is still vital. For non-theatregoers, it’s a preconception killer. It is contemporary, it’s raw, it’s heartbreaking, it’s freaking hilarious, and it’s not afraid to be smart. Actually, it proves that you can write a smart play that can still pierce your audience to its emotional centre. And most importantly, it’s identifiable. Either you recognize aspects of yourself onstage, or you recognize aspects of people in your life. It will give you pause. That’s good theatre.

Technically, the play is superb. If you’re an actor, you really want to see this cast work. Unselfconscious, simple acting between people listening to each other. God, I love watching actors listen to each other. Their timing was splendid, and every pause was earned. I was drawn in. This is great direction married to open acting.

Two acts, cast of three, lights up and lights down. With songs by Tom Waits. Red Light Winter is being held over until this Saturday at the Havana, you will love me for recommending this play to you. Click here for more info.

This One Goes to Eleven: Kirsten Kilburn

I know that there are those of you out there with concerns for the future of our theatre. Rest assured, if it lies in the hands of young artists like Kirsten you have absolutely nothing to worry about.

Ms. Kilburn is a Vancouver stage and screen actor. She opens Twenty-Something Theatre’s one-woman show The Fever by Wallace Shawn at the newly refurbished Beaumont tomorrow (Tuesday, January 29). Tickets are available at the door or at boxoffice@twentysomethingtheatre.com.

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1.) In one word, describe your present condition.

Growing.

2.) Use as many words as you’d like to describe the present condition of the Vancouver theatre scene.

I feel as though we are having a subtle shift in the Vancouver theatre scene. There are more independent companies coming out with either original or lesser known productions that are different from what we usually see from the larger playhouses. Hopefully, we can continue to diversify and create further on what’s happening. As of right now, I feel as though the theatre community can be quite scattered.

3.) What is the major obstacle we have in getting Vancouver’s bums in the seats?

This is a tough one. I’m not sure I could define one thing as the major obstacle. There are many people who don’t consider theatre worthy of an evening out. It’s artsy, fake, not as entertaining as a movie. Living in this city for eight years, I’m always shocked by the number of people I meet who have never seen a play. I feel as though the mentality of the theatre community is more competitive than supportive. (I’m sure there are those who disagree with that statement!) If we could create a more collective feel, perhaps we would be able to open up and make theatre more accessible for everyone. Being willing to create something new and continuously grow, not just create the same type of productions, could draw more people into the seats. Really getting the word out that there is very valid, and worthy entertainment out there on our stages. Maybe by creating a blog?

4.) What do we need more of on Vancouver stages?

Productions that are willing to take a risk; to try something innovative and different. Continuing to produce the same kind of shows isn’t going to draw more people to the theatres, it just perpetuates the assumptions they have already made.

5.) What do you need above all else from your director?

An open mind. Moving through a creative process requires everyone involved to be open to new ideas and possibilities. Working with a director who has a vision of what they would like to see happen on stage, but feels confident enough to allow the piece to evolve and change is a gift. As an actor, I feel infinitely more comfortable and able when working with someone who takes the time to listen and process with you; guiding you in a certain direction without diminishing your creative process.

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6.) What’s the best advice on acting that you’ve ever received?

Always be open to change. A good one for acting and life, I think!

7.) Which three actors, living or dead, would you like to have drinks with, and why?

River Phoenix, because he was so brilliant and real. And I have been in love with him as long as I can remember. Is that a bad reason? Kate Winslet, because she has managed to have an incredible career and a seemingly balanced life. She is someone who is always so interesting to watch. Judy Garland. Such a complicated life, yet so beautiful.

8.) How do you first approach creating a role?

It depends on the role. I was trained in the traditional theatre sense, which is to approach a role by doing a very thorough script analysis. Create a background for your character, their likes, dislikes, quirks, habits, and so forth. And to write it all down. Also, to break down a script and find the different beats; sections where there’s a shift in emotion or topic. As I’ve grown and experienced different techniques, I’ve learned to use personalization as a great tool in building emotion and life in a character. Following one’s instinct and trusting the emotional journey is what allows me to really be present in my work. Creating the background of a character is extremely important, but thinking about what you’ve written down doesn’t work when you’re on stage. Knowing all those things, then letting them go and taking the plunge into the story. That’s what’s working for me right now.

9.) What’s your fondest theatrical memory?

Moving to a new school in grade two and auditioning for the musical “Danny the Dark Green Dinosaur”. I got the lead (yes, I was a boy dinosaur)! I didn’t make any friends very quickly, but it was so worth it. Ahhh, my first taste of getting the lead. Sweet, sweet victory!

10.) What are your top 3 reads for the aspiring actor?

True and False by David Mamet. This book should be read by everyone involved in theatre and film. Sanford Meisner’s On Acting. Some great exercises in this book. The Intent to Live by Larry Moss. Very inspirational. Also, if you can find it, Free to Act by Warren Robertson, one of the most unique and wonderful acting coaches I have worked with.

11.) What’s next?

A break! To Cuba. Then I’m looking at doing another play in May. And finishing my voice-over animation component! So much fun to stand in a booth and be fifty-two different people!

Controversy in Canadian Theatre. No, Seriously.

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Near the beginning of last year a big ol’ Toronto theatre organization, The Canadian Stage Company (billed as Canada’s largest not-for-profit contemporary theatre co.) gave a “political” play called My Name is Rachel Corrie some no-such-thing-as-bad publicity by canceling its planned production in their 07/08 season. Artistic Producer Martin Bragg dropped it from the line-up for one of two possible reasons: a.) members of CanStage’s board indicated that they thought the play may offend people, specifically Jewish people, or b.) Mr. Bragg attended an off-Broadway staging of it that was so bad that he declared that he didn’t like it any more. “It didn’t seem as powerful on the stage as it did on the page” declared Mr. Bragg. Really? Charges of antisemitism have dogged the play, in addition to CanStage the original New York company and a Miami company canceled planned mountings. Meanwhile, Canadian theatre had a bona-fide controversy on its hands.

As if that in itself isn’t awesome enough, a Vancouver grassroots theatre company is mounting MNiRC at the Havana starting tonight and running to Feb. 9. Neworld Theatre, in a co-production with Montreal’s Teesri Duniya Theatre, isn’t shrinking from any potential backlash to this play here, neither is the Havana itself, despite negative reaction which included an email that read: “Too bad Havana restaurant and theatre has decided to get involved in a political play that has no artistic interests but the fact that it serves to expose pro-Palestinian propaganda.” The emailer further promised to boycott the theatre and the restaurant that it resides in. Oh, snap.

No artistic interests? It’s a play, weirdo. Yeesh. Rachel Corrie was a young American peace activist and writer who went to the Gaza Strip to support Palestinians whose homes were being demolished, and in 2003 at the age of 23 was crushed beneath an Israeli bulldozer that was advancing on the home of a Palestinian doctor. The play is a one-woman show adapted from her own writing in journals and emails home from Rafah by Alan Rickman (cooler they do not come) and Guardian journalist Katherine Viner. It is selections from the personal writings of this woman on her experience, so how can it be judged propagandist? Do these people really believe theatre-goers to be unable to anatomize art and formulate our own opinions? Isn’t that the very definition of art? Try and keep me from seeing this play.

Meanwhile, back over in the T-dot, Theatre Panik mounts the Toronto premier of My Name is Rachel Corrie in May. Some of those shows are already sold out.

This One Goes to Eleven: Sabrina Evertt

A graduate of the theatre program at UVic, Sabrina has a solid academic footing in both directing and costume design. She is the artistic producer of Twenty-Something Theatre, a new, energetic Vancouver company that is already notable for its excellent taste in established material. Their next production is Wallace Shawn’s The Fever, opening January 29th at the Beaumont Studios.

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1.) In one word, describe your present condition.

Driven

2.) In more than one word, describe the condition of the Vancouver theatre scene.

The Vancouver theatre scene is a complicated one. I really believe that the issues concerning the Vancouver theatre scene generally reflect the issues that Vancouver is dealing with as a whole. Vancouver is not yet a BIG city in the way we think of New York, London or even Toronto. People resist change, and in much the same way that Vancouverites are resisting the amount of growth that is happening in this city (with condos being built, housing prices going up, fancy new transit systems being built, the 2010 Olympics), the established theatre practitioners in this city resist change as well.

For so long the theatre community and the audiences available to go and see theatre were comparatively small, so for these established theatres and theatre practitioners who have managed to gather a steady following I can understand how they don’t want to let go or risk the chance of losing what they have fought so hard to build. When I lived in London I had the great opportunity to hear Trevor Nunn speak and he said there is nothing worth doing if risk isn’t involved. The higher the risk the bigger the pay-off, consequently: the higher the risk the harder we may fall; however, it is from the great failures that we learn. Status quo takes us nowhere.

And that is sort of how I see the Vancouver theatre scene. It is happy with the status quo. You’ve got your established theatre who cater mainly to an older, loyal audience. Then you’ve got your alternative theatre who do very exciting but very different work. You’ve got a few festivals with the Fringe and PUSH, but where is the theatre for the young, average Joe? These are the audiences of the future so why aren’t we thinking about how we can appeal to them?

3.) What is the long-term vision for Twenty-Something?

Long term I would like to be able to produce a full-season of shows to continue giving more and more opportunities to young artists.

4.) What criteria do you use for choosing material?

Firstly, it must be a great play, and I understand that what makes a play great is subjective, but it must be, in my opinion, solid writing. Secondly, the majority of roles must be in our target demographic (approx 18-35). Thirdly, it must have issues that reflect the lives of this demographic and then society as a whole.

Then for me personally if I am to direct the production it must have some new element that interests me, that I haven’t done before or that I will learn from.

5.) What can we be doing better to popularize theatre for a twenty-something demographic?

This is “THE QUESTION” isn’t it?! Truthfully, I don’t know if I have anymore insight into this one than anybody else, but I will give it go.

The easy answer is to make going to the theatre an “it” thing to do for your average twenty-something demographic. Let me just clarify what I mean by average. I am talking about the everyone and anyone in the twenty-something demographic: the ones who listen to The Beat, who shop at places like Aritizia or Lululemon, who eat at Earls or Cactus Club, who go to the clubs on Granville, who go to see the big blockbuster movies, etc. These average twenty-somethings are looking for fun, but to them a night at the theatre does not equal fun. I’m not saying we need to pander to our instant gratification generation but I do think we can find a balance between commercialism and artistic integrity. I think we can make theatre fun and thought-provoking. How do we do this? By putting on high-quality productions that appeal to their lives, and most importantly market the theatre in the same way we market movies, or restaurants, or nightclubs. Somehow we need to make it hot, exciting, and the place to be. That could be a start.

6.) How well did your academic theatre training prepare you for running a company?

No training program is perfect but I feel that I developed a lot of skills that have become indispensable, especially discipline. Often when we think of artists we don’t think of discipline as an immediate tool, but it is necessary because in order to ever get things done (and done well) an artist must be disciplined.

7.) Costume design is often one of the last things considered in indie productions. Any thoughts on how to approach this component?

Well, first of all, costume design wouldn’t be one of the last things to be considered. Costume design is important because it immediately supports the characters in the story being told. It helps an actor find his/her character. And when it comes right down to it if the actors are not believable as their characters then the audience won’t suspend their disbelief. No matter the production, I personally believe design, all design, should be one of the first things to be considered. The design of a production supports the story and the visual story should mold seamlessly together with the action. This overall vision for the piece, in my opinion, should be the very first thing to be considered.

8.) Who are your major influences?

You would think this would be an easy one to answer, but for me not so much, because I am influenced by so many things. I try to read and go to see as many plays/productions as possible. I travel as much as I can and am often highly influenced by the places I travel, too. The people I meet. The plays and productions I see while I am there. I am influenced by my friends & family. I’m definitely influenced by other theatre practitioners whether it be old professors/instructors & mentors and/or other directors, actors and designers, etc. In many ways I am a like a giant sponge and I just soak up as much as possible from wherever I can. That probably sounded cheesy but, oh well, its true.

9.) What would you like to see more of on Vancouver stages?

I would like to see the Vancouver stages take bigger risks and do something that is daring and new and contemporary and relevant. I would like to see something that reflects the fact that we live in a cosmopolitan city. I would like to see some Canadian theatre that isn’t just about the prairies or the backwater experience or the Yukon goldmine. We aren’t just a bunch of hicks & outsiders. Why can’t we write plays and/or produce plays that reflect this?

10.) What are your top 3 theatre reads?

Oh gosh…this is a tough one to narrow down. Ok I’m just going to attack this one from a purely directing standpoint.

1) True & False by David Mamet
2) A Sense of Direction by William Ball
3) The Empty Space by Peter Brook

11.) What’s next?

Up next for Twenty-Something is the summer show and at the moment I am pretty sure, it is not 100% definite quite yet, that we are going to be doing SubUrbia by Eric Bogosian.

This One Goes to Eleven: TJ Dawe

TJ is probably the hardest working man in Vancouver independent theatre, and undoubtedly one of its most talented. His one-man shows are consistently sold out at the Fringe, both here and internationally. An acclaimed performer, writer, and director (One Man Star Wars Trilogy, among others), he was given the Jessie Richardson award for Best New Play or Musical in 1998, which is just one of his many theatre and comedy related awards. He shows no sign of slowing down.

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1.) In one word, describe your present condition.

Recharging.

2.) In any amount of words, describe the present condition of Vancouver theatre.

Small. Underfunded. Struggling. Gutted by the everpresent need to stay available for an audition for a mustard commercial. Gasping for an audience. With the notable exceptions of the PUSH festival and the Fringe. So there’s hope…

3.) How does the health of the independent theatre here compare to other cities across Canada?

A little feeble. But everyone says that, across the country. I’ve never heard a theatre person in Canada (independent or otherwise) say “the scene here is thriving! There’s work and funding and audience enough for everyone! And there are so many excellent plays being put on!” Canada’s generally not a nation where people go to plays. Why is it so absurd to imagine two roommates sitting on the couch after a hard day’s work, saying: “Man, I’m exhausted.” “Me too.” “I need to blow off some steam.” “Yeah.” “I know! Let’s go to the THEATRE!!”? Answer: because so much theatre is irrelevant. Or dull. Or both. Theatre’s doing fine in francophone Quebec, though. They have their own hugely well known actors. And directors. And writers. And comedians. And people actually go see them. Regular, normal people. They genuinely want to, and look forward to it. They have their own popular TV shows and movies, too. So it’s possible! It’s happening within our own country!

4.) What effect do you see the Fringe having on indie theatre throughout the rest of the year?

Not much. How many fringe shows get remounted? How many companies that produce a fringe show do anything the rest of the year? The fringe lets you do it cheap and easy. And brings in an audience. Proving there is an audience. And there are people capable of doing good work. Why can’t we do that the rest of the year? Hard to get funding. Hard to find spaces. Hard to bring in an audience. And why aren’t people from the bigger theatres recruiting people from the better fringe shows? Are they? Maybe they are. The Back Kitchen Release Party made the Arts Club mainstage season. Lazy Susan had a remount in the Here Be Monsters festival. The Drowsy Chaperone is still running on Broadway. The One Man Star Wars Trilogy is still touring the world. It can happen. But I rarely hear whispers of there being artistic directors and agents and producers going to see fringe shows. There are pretty sharp lines dividing levels of the theatre world’s hierarchy. Maybe that’ll get better. How? Same answer as the answer to the next question.

5.) What does indie theatre here need to be doing to popularize itself with Vancouverites?

Knock people’s socks off. Produce work so powerful, so good, that people can’t help but grab their friends by the lapels and demand they go see it. I’m still naive and idealistic enough to believe talent and quality can break through the thickest walls.

6.) Can you quantify your approach to playwriting?

I try to be interesting. Do something that hasn’t been done. Something that would keep me engaged if I were just some guy walking in off the street. Something you don’t have to be a theatre insider to get. Keep it simple. Tell the truth.

To answer the question from another direction, I harvest thoughts and conversations. I find regular experience and the things that naturally come out of people’s mouths much more interesting than guns, vampires and political conspiracies.

7.) More gifted comedy writers and actors are produced by Canada than any other nation. Why is that?

We’re a nation of outsiders. We grow up in the shadow of the most influential culture in the history of human civilization up to this point. We’re raised on American movies and TV, showing us aspects of life that often don’t apply to us, advertising products we often can’t buy, wowing us with contests we often can’t enter. We’re wooed with a dream that doesn’t necessarily apply to us. Makes us outsiders. Artists are outsiders. Comedians are outsiders. Comedians in the states very often come from minorities for the same reason.

8.) Any pearls of wisdom for someone trying to make a living through stage work?

Be in it for the long haul. Do what you can on your own, without waiting for someone to let you work. Find like-minded people. Put up some kind of regular gig. Get in front of audiences, even small ones, as often as possible. Explore your ideas. Come up with your own stuff. Do something unique. Self-produce. Tour the fringe. The more you do the better you’ll get. The more you see the more you’ll learn. Examine why you’re in this in the first place. Is it to make money or to create art? If you had to choose between the two, which would you take?

9.) Given a time-traveling DeLorean, what would you tell a young TJ Dawe just setting out on his career?

Find artists whose work means something to you – writers, directors, actors, musicians, composers, painters. Then get your hands on everything they ever did. Even the bad stuff. Look for patterns. Get a sense of how their brains worked. Read biographies of them. Look for interviews online. Find out who their influences are. Do the same with them. Keep this up for the rest of your life.

10.) Besides The Power of Ignorance, what are your top 3 reads for the aspiring theatreist?

Anything that inspires you as an artist. And that’s a highly personal thing. Three books that have inspired me are The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, John Barleycorn by Jack London and The Diviners by Margaret Laurence. Another huge one: The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Riso and Hudson. It’s about personality types. Brilliant. Changed the way I look at life.

11.) What’s next?

My new solo show is called Totem Figures – it’s about personal mythology – which faces, which stories, which ideas, which physical details would be on your own personal Mt. Rushmore, your own Sgt Pepper’s album cover (or in this case, mine). I’m touring the fringe circuit with that, Orlando to Vancouver. I’m also involved with four other touring fringe shows. It’s gonna be a motherfucker summer. And I’m trying to write something full-length, with an actual cast. Busy days.

Dishpig, a Pick of the Fringe play from last year that was co-written and directed by TJ, is running at the Havana until  January 19. See the Listings section for more details. 

This One Goes to Eleven: Galen Olstead

Welcome back gentle reader, it is my distinct pleasure to introduce you to a true Vancouver theatreist, Mr. Galen Olstead. Furthering his life-long commitment to theatre, Galen is the artist relations manager at the gorgeous Kay Meek Center in North Vancouver, a relatively new facility that boasts a 500 seat Main Stage and an intimate 200 seat studio theatre. He was kind enough to offer his view on the state of the union from the other side of the Lion’s Gate…

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1.) In one word, describe your present condition.

Simmering.

2.) In as many words as you choose, describe the current condition of Vancouver theatre.

In the midst of a sea change; I see a number of the prominent players moving on. The East Cultural Centre and Vancouver Playhouse have both undergone creative/administrative shifts. This can also been seen at the provincial level in theatres such as the Belfry which recently has undergone a turnover in Artistic Directorship.

The scene currently offers what I feel is a disproportionate number of remounts. Where are all the writers? It’s probably more the case that I need to get out more.

3.) What trends do you see emerging in North Van theatre?

The North Shore seems to be split between three mainstage theatres, each making significant choices about their style, and in turn are beginning to define themselves in significant ways.

Family entertainment is definitely drawing the largest audience. While the North Shore has a vibrant theatre and Arts community, it caters to a family centered community bias.

There does however seem to be a smaller focus on developing work that appeals to a more explorative audience. Presentation House in particular stands out as the venue that is helping to bring original/alternative theatre to the North Shore.

There’s a personal hope that with the arrival of Ian Forsythe we will see the arts here begin to be focused on a larger scale. At the very least it shows a real commitment from the City/District of North to step things up a notch.

4.) In terms of choosing material, what should Vancouver theatre be
concentrating on in order to attract a new audience?

I think it should just be all the things it actually is. It’s pretty diverse and can be honest when it wants to.

5.) What do young theatre companies here need to do to popularize their art form?

Advertise. You simply can’t do enough to tell people about what you are doing. So many artists are getting the word out so poorly that they are killing any hope of being noticed before they have even presented anything. It’s equally frustrating to see groups that are presenting (in my humble opinion) crap – but seem to find consistent audiences. Despite their lack of artistic merit, these groups have learned how to advertise.

6.) What would you like to see more of on Vancouver stages?

Puppetry. Children’s Theatre. Original Works. I would love to see more mixed-media. I am overwhelmed to see people that I knew when I was younger making work that resonates with me – people that innately take risks – T.J. Dawe, The Old Trout Puppet Workshop, Britt Small

7.) Why is theatre important here?

For me this is an odd question because I cannot imagine a community without theatre of some kind. Maybe the question is meant to ask what Vancouver has to contribute to theatre. I’m not sure.

8.) Any pearls of wisdom for young companies looking for production space?

I hear Chilliwack has lots of room…less condos. Honestly – seek until ye find. Space is dire and there seems to be no real solution – even groups with budgets are finding it hard to get space. There are any number of ways to approach it – look to larger groups to see if they have space outside their schedule, time sharing with other smaller groups, – at this point even office space becomes an option.

9.) What is your most memorable theatrical experience?

Passing out in front of a packed audience during a Beckett monologue…

10.) What are your top three theatre reads?

The National Theatre in London has had a great success with an adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse – so I have been trying to locate anything written by him.

I love the website www.ubu.com – it has such weird things that you never get to see or hear in your daily travels.

A book I am trying to lay my hands on is Rehearsing With Gods. This is a collection of essays on the Bread and Puppet Theater in Vermont which has had a long history of political activism through theatre (on a communal farm no less – I can’t think of anything more leftwing!)

11.) What’s next?

Vancouver on the international stage.

Theatre is Process

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Happy New Year, all y’all. I sincerely hope 2008 brings with it a fulfilling creative boon, and your art is seen by as many people as possible. Oh, and that you make some money at it, too. Not that that’s what it’s about, but it would be nice, wouldn’t it? Just a few more coppers in the coffer, to continue to make art? Not a lot, just enough, is what we in the theatre hope for, and it’s amazing to me that a small profit is considered a great success in indie theatre, fie, breaking even is considered to be a success. Truly, this is a labour of love.

Well, that’s not good enough for me. I want to make a living at it. I don’t need a Lear jet or a pet tiger or anything like that, I just want to afford to do nothing for a job but creating theatre, and not just for a little while in a humble flat eating KD, but for a career alongside other artists with similar aspirations. Last year brought with it a revelation for me about the type of people who choose to make art, and I’d like to share it.

Artists in the dramatics break down into two distinct categories. There are those who are process-oriented and those who are end-result-oriented. Process-oriented artists love all the work that goes into creation; the rehearsals, the re-writes, the mis-steps. They feel that they can only figure a thing out by getting it wrong, by falling on their face. A lot. For this artist it’s never really done even when it’s done, because it could have been better, there’s always some clearer way of telling their truth. They’re hardly ever satisfied. End-result-oriented artists want to get the work in the box and move on to the next. They tend to be impatient with the rehearsal process and want to cut right to the meat of the thing, get it done, and step back to examine it, learning from the finished product.

I do not claim one of these personality types to be superior to the other, but I’ve realized that it is the former that I prefer to work with. I find the exploration of the idea more interesting than the idea itself, the journey more satisfying than the destination, if you will. As a gross generalization I would say that you would find PO artists gravitating to theatre, while film and television tends to attract the ERO artist. The overlap is huge of course, due to the similarities between these media, with residents of both camps working within each discipline (especially actors). I just find them a little easier to identify now. I saw Joaquin Phoenix on Conan, by way of example, promoting Walk the Line. Conan had asked him, with no small measure of incredulity, whether or not the rumour that Phoenix refused to watch his own movies was true. It was, actually, he admitted to an obviously disbelieving host and studio audience, whose reaction suggested that this indicated a certain egoism or perhaps a false modesty. I, however, didn’t see that at all, I saw an actor who loves acting, present tense, and to watch his work set in stone with all his decisions finalized and unchangeable must be anathema to him. I would like to work with Joaquin Phoenix.

Film and sculpture and painting and prose all have a clear end product. These art forms attract ERO artists, and the POs find themselves in disciplines like dance and theatre. Process-oriented artists find fulfillment in theatre for one simple reason: theatre is process. It’s never really done, is it? Even when rehearsals are finished and the curtain rises on opening night there’s still an entire run ahead of you, offering many more chances to nail that one little moment you wish was nailed the night before (probably only to discover that it won’t work the next night, and the moment was lost forever into the abyss of the what-if and the if-only). Even when the run is over and the closing curtain falls it’s not really “finished”, because there is no physical evidence of the experience to study, it now exists only in the commutative memory of its audience and participants. (Filmed theatre simply does not count, as the nature of the art form dissolves when it is not immediate. End of discussion.) After the run there is but a script, and most playwrights are probably never 100% happy with that either. We were unable to attain performance rights to Sam Shepard’s The Tooth of Crime last year because he’s working on a new draft, and it premiered 35 years ago. Sam’s as PO as they get. I wonder if he likes watching his films?

So now we move into another year of trying to find new buyers for our art, hopefully using what we’ve learned so far to find new ways of financing our goals. I intend to use The Next Stage this year to foster that, not just for my company but for theatre here in general. That is, in a nutshell, where I think the great opportunity of the theatre blogosphere resides: in sharing our process and our experience with one another, for the good of the art form and for the community. I’m going to up the ante on The Next Stage this year and re-tool it a bit as a marketing opportunity not just for LSP, but for Vancouver independent theatre et al, a go-to site for an insider’s perspective on our work. Fun and informative is what we’re going for here, and I’ll be asking for your help to spread the word, and to kindly share your process with us. This conversation needs to get going.