Everybody writes

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Write Club began as a cheeky little challenge to my company to get in touch with their inner playwright over one summer break. Write a short play, bring it in on the night we reasemble, I buy the beer and pizza, we all cast our scripts and spend the night cold-reading some new works. Just for fun. Kind of a team-building exercise, if you will.

As it turned out, the crew had more than just acting talent tucked into their shorts. That first Write Club spawned a short format festival called Riffs that went off like gangbusters, and now, tradition established, we’re back at it again…

Contains language and subtext most likely NSFW.

All material in the above video is the property of the members of Lyric Stage Project, and is protected under the copyright laws of Canada and all other countries of the Copyright Union.

Show time

I should be sleeping right now.

I have to get up soon and put together some cocktails and canapes for the grand opening of our very first original full-length work of theatrical experience tomorrow. That, and about 300 other tasks before we welcome the city into our microcosm of itself. We’ve written a play about Vancouver, it seems. Set right now, in this present. Not in New York in the 60s or in turn of the century Russia. We’ve written a play about our observations of life here, and our frustrations with it, and our wonder of it. It’s the most intense thing I’ve ever been a part of. It’s raw, it’s true, it’s very, very ballsy. I’m so very proud of this piece of art we’ve made, I’ve never seen anything like it. But I still can’t sleep. So instead I’m going to drink this glass of red wine and talk to you, and officially invite you to come and experience the work we’re doing. That is, those of you reading this who haven’t already been bombarded by my marketing. Sorry guys. I’m new at it and eager, what can I say.

We built an entire floor of a Coal Harbour condo tower, on the top floor of an actual Coal Harbour condo tower (which happens to be a brand new theatre built for a community of retired performers), so The 21st Floor and its audience actually overlook the neighbourhood its set in. How money is that?

11 Vancouverites. You know them all. You work with some of them, you pass by others on the street and don’t see them, or pretend you don’t. Some of them are you. One of them happens to be a blogger with a chip on his shoulder, he’s being enacted by Steve Park, that’s him at the top of the page in the header, in character as Craig John. To promote the play and to help him with character developement, Steve’s been writing Craig’s blog, Soggy City, for some time now, and actually engaging with real Vancouver bloggers online. You can read his vitriol here, if you’d like an advance peek into the world of our story. It’s an interesting take on blog marketing, and I think my attempt to start something viral. I’m surprised this cheeky video didn’t make it to youtube, actually. That’s Nadine by the way, she’s doing some of the best work in this piece that I’ve seen from her yet , and that’s saying something. Worth the price of admission alone, I daresay.

MInd you, I daresay that about the whole ever-lovin’ cast. Break legs, you guys.

As for me, I’ve learned an awful lot about the theatre in this city, at this time in history. Most importantly, I’ve learned a lot about selling it here. I’ve got a lot to talk about when this whole thing is over.

Maybe you should come see the show, just so you know know what I’ll be talking about. (*wink*)

Send me an email reservation at vanstage@gmail.com, say you saw it here on The Next Stage, and I’ll give you a discount, even.

Okay, I seriously have to go to bed. Right after I finish one last glass…

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Getting the Ball Rolling…

My bogging has been a little blogged down of late, but my excuse is a good one: I’m back in the director’s chair workin’ on a new piece that I wrote for the company as my contribution to this summer’s Write Club. The work my lovely cohorts turned up with was breathtaking (it turns out actors, when pushed, have a natural bent for writing great dialogue), and duly inspired a new and ongoing LSP series of short play productions we’ve titled Riffs. The first series runs November 30 to December 2, details to follow. So, in preparation and inspiration I’ve been seeing tons of theatre around town and re-reading William Ball’s A Sense of Direction, as good a focuser of nervous energy as any book out there, some would agree. It’s too good not to pass on, so, inspired by Ian’s ongoing series of talking points over at Praxis, allow me to share some of the sentences that I’ve been running my turquoise Staedtler Textsurfer Classic over:

Theatre…is expected to reveal Universe.

The most important characteristic of a work of art is unity.

When it is not art, it lacks a sense of the beauty of humankind.

The experience of drama is one of those moments in which a human being sits in awe, wonder, and admiration of something outside of self.

[The actor] is revealer of the universe.

The director is entrusted with the care of these very special creatures. They are unique in society, and most of society does not understand them.

The artist is the conduit by which Universe expresses itself.

It’s important for a director to know when to keep his mouth shut.

Failure is a necessary and important part of the creative process. A director must encourage it and reward it.

A thing becomes beautiful because of the possibility of its absence.

To complain merely gives evidence of amateur status.

A wise director touches.

To interrupt someone who is trying to express himself is unforgivable.

For directors, line readings are forbidden.

…never permit an actor to tell another actor how to do something.

All directors, in my opinion, should have to act.

The best relationship between a pair of onstage lovers is a remote and professional relationship offstage.

If the director does nothing more than continuously ask the actor for his objective, he will have a successful production.

…most actors tend to resist acting.

The first off-book rehearsal is always a disaster.

Very few people can improvise in iambic pentameter.

The purpose of the improvisation is to awaken the actor’s imagination to the total life, the total experience, of the character.

One puts a pebble in an actor’s shoe by asking him to memorize before he understands.

“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”