October 10, 2009

Adorable French toddlers watching an outdoor play in the 1960s:

cute kids

cute little kids

Look at the little guys holding hands!
All art should enrapture its audience like this.
These are old Life Magazine pics, which I found via Marieaunet.

Eye Magazine Cover Story!

July 1, 2009
Clockwise from top left:  Cara Gee, Rebecca Applebaum, Lauren Bride, Donna Maloney, Julia Lederer, Laura McCoy, Liz Peterson, Aurora Stewart de Pena, Nika Mistruzzi, Sochi Fried, Jolene Devoe, Monique Moses

Clockwise from top left: Cara Gee, Rebecca Applebaum, Lauren Bride, Donna Maloney, Julia Lederer, Laura McCoy, Liz Peterson, Nika Mistruzzi, Sochi Fried, Jolene Devoe, Monique Moses

This is the amazing cast of my Fringe show, 36 Little Plays About Hopeless Girls. They will be seen on the cover of Eye Weekly Magazine tomorrow. Aren’t they all so cute and interesting? Well, they sure are. I heart them lots.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Comprised of not 36 but 39 one- to two- minute plays, which run over the course of an hour (the dramaturge said that 36 had a better ring to it), the play has 13 local actresses making up a cast of bartenders, waitresses and negligent mothers with intersecting stories. They’re a Toronto indie-theatre-scene wish list, and include Lauren Bride, a curator for Trampoline Hall, Liz Peterson, who acts enigmatically in Alex Wolfson’s work, Rebecca Applebaum, who sang in the band Europe In Colour and game-show host Nicole Stamp. (“Nicole was nominated for a Genie,” she tells me. “She’s keeping us professional.”)

(Note from Nicole: For the record, I was not nominated for a Genie!!! This is a beautiful rumour that I should probably encourage, but unfortunately it’s just not the truth. I was once nominated for “Person who made the ugliest face in the ugly face contest”, but I only came second.)

With cardboard props and choreographed routines set to MIDI ring tones, 36 Plays is not only a great bang for your buck, but a DIY play inside a DIY festival. It’s the Fringe within the Fringe.

Fringe 2009

June 22, 2009

I’m in two fringe plays this year. Should be pretty fun! Here’s info:

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36 Little Plays About Hopeless Girls

"36 little plays" "hopeless girls" "birdtown and swanville" "nicole stamp" "aurora stewart de pena"

This is a dark, odd collection of tiny plays about young women who are messing up in funny ways, intercut with 30-second modern dance pieces choreographed to celphone ringtones. I play Evangeline, whom I’ve nicknamed “the most overbearing person on the planet”. After the first readthrough they all said “OMG Nicole, you’re perfect for this part” and I wasn’t sure what to feel.

Runs July 1-12. 75 minutes long, with intermission. No latecomers!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It’s Just A Phase

"its just a phase" "gregarious produtions" "marissa gregoris" toronto fringe" "nicole stamp"

This one’s a musical comedy about a new-ish lesbian trying to convince her family that her Sapphic tendencies are more than just a phase. I play Tonya, a butchy carpenter in love with the lead ingenue, and I get to sing a fun Motown number. Luckily my vocal range is lezzo-soprano.

Runs July 1-12. 90 minutes long, no intermission. No latecomers!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

And let’s say you REALLY love me and you want to see both shows. There are several days you could comfortably see them both back-to-back. The venues are about 8 blocks apart and it’s enough time to walk and even get a popsicle! Check the online schedules for the deeeetails!

Yee haw!

Overheard in Toronto (but not by me)

June 4, 2009

After reading “My Acting”, a funny conversation I recently overheard on the subway and posted on this blog, Toronto theatre artist Mark Cassidy drew my attention to his site, where he’s been collecting snippets of overheard conversation from around the city in preparation for an upcoming show with his theatre company, Threshhold Theatre. Here’s one I particularly liked:

Guy in line at Tim Hortons’:
(really quick, auctioneer-like delivery) Had a coffee already today, but I liked it so much, I think I’ll have another coffee.

Other person in line:
Can you say that any faster?

Auctioneer guy:
After I drink my coffee.

There’s a whole list of conversations here- some pretty intense- along with lots of interesting ideas about theatre creation.
Thanks, Mark!

Awesome Stop-Motion Vid: Her Morning Elegance, Oren Lavie

February 1, 2009

Beautifully- animated 3.5 min vid.  Nice song, too.

The bird’s-eye view of the bed was an old fave of mine from my past life directing theatre.  There’s really no other way to stage a bed scene- side views are annoying and look amateurish.  A clean, stylish bird’s-eye, though?  With smart details of how it gets constructed the moment before it’s needed?  Yes.  Wait a sec, do I miss directing plays?  Maybe I do.

Thanks to JessPerson for the tip.

Disney artist Carson van Osten’s tips for good composition

November 29, 2008
click to see full-size image.

click to see full-size image.

These composition, staging, and posing tips are specifically for comic artists & animators, but I thought there were some good principles in here for directors, and even actors. More here.

Movie Theatres have Secret Bathrooms for People More Important Than You

October 20, 2008

Did you know that every big movieplex has a secret fancy bathroom for when execs and movie stars come to visit? And did you know that those secret bathrooms are always clean and smell nice and have fresh flowers in ‘em? And hand lotion? And Angelina Jolie has probly peed in it or something! Yep.

This photo shows the secret Famous People Bathroom in the movie theatre at Richmond & John in Toronto. It has a black square toilet! And I peed in it! So that is one of the many ways Angelina Jolie and me have in common!

Mac Rogers says interesting things.

September 9, 2008

I have no idea who this dude is other than that he’s a young indie playwright who lives in NYC. I found an interview with him where he said something I really liked:

…I don’t know what’s going on. I want there to be one spot I can look at and see the whole thing, but there is no such spot. This was something I loved about the recent film Cloverfield, that the glimpses of the monster were metaphorically true to what I experience when I try to look at the world around me, or even at myself: there’s a leg – oh – wait – there’s the jaws for a second – there’s the eyes – wait, there it’s going around the corner and I barely saw anything! I can’t see what’s happening while it’s happening. There’s too much work, too much need for entertainment and sensation, too many places to be.

And then I link-hopped over to his blog, where I found another post I liked, about how to make political theatre.

Sometimes I think about all the good stuff waiting out there on the internet and I freak out a bit.

Passion, by Grumblebee.

September 8, 2008

This is a fantastic and thoughtful answer to the question, “How do you find your passion?” The question was asked on Metafilter, and this answer was written by a user named Grumblebee:

Is there a difference between “discover your passion” and “discover what you want to do”?

I ask because I hear people talk about their Passion (with a capital P), as if everyone has one whether they know it or not. As it it’s a special glowing ball inside each of us. Yet I see no evidence that this ball necessarily exists.

To me, it’s more likely that we have things we like and things we dislike. A like becomes a passion when it repeats with regularity. For instance, I like peaches, but I don’t constantly crave them. So I wouldn’t call peaches a passion. On the other hand, whenever I see a book, I want to read it. I like reading… I like reading… I like reading… So I’d call reading a passion.

Is there anything like this for you, even if it’s something “stupid” (e.g. watching TV or eating poptarts)? If so, that a passion for you. If it repeats with great rapidity (and if the urge is very strong), then it’s an obsession. (I can’t keep my hands off my iPod. I think about it all the time. If I lose it, I panic.)

You don’t get to chose your passions. Since passions are just intense likings, choosing a passion would be like choosing to like eating eggplant. You either like eating eggplant or you don’t. Perhaps, if you don’t like it, you can learn to like it. But RIGHT NOW, you either like it or you don’t.

I’ve met some people who don’t seem to have any strong passions. Some admit to this. They certainly have likes and dislikes, but nothing specific crops up over and over. In fact, some people dislike anything that repeats too often (you could say such people have a passion for novelty). Other people DO have passions (defined as I’ve done so, above), but they don’t think of them as such. For many people, their passion is other people: passion for their kids, passion for their families, passion for helping others in need, etc….

Many people THINK they’ve discovered a passion when if fact they’ve only found a surface activity that lays atop their real passion. For instance, I love working in the theatre. At the risk of sounding holier-than-thou, I believe my passion is pretty “pure.” In other words, my passion for theatre doesn’t hide a deeper passion. I love theatre because I’m fascinated by the specific mechanics of telling stories on stage. When I’m not rehearsing a play, I will choose to read a book about theatre mechanics just for fun (for another dose of my obsession).

I’ve met others like me, but I meet far more theatre people who seem to be USING theatre to feed some deeper passion. (Please note that I’m NOT saying that there’s anything wrong with this or that I’m better than these people. I believe neither of those things. And there are plenty of other activities — just not theatre — that I use as tools to feed deeper passions.) Such people may be into theatre because they love attention and praise; they may love belonging to an open-minded group (many “misfits” find their way into theatre in high school and stay because they love belonging to such an accepting culture); they may even be operating on autopilot, doing theatre because for whatever reason, they got into it when they were younger and it never occurs to them to quit. (They probably enjoy having mastered something.)

I think it’s useful to delve into your psychology and ask yourself WHY you like what you like. Sometimes (as with me and theatre), the answer might be “because I simply love the activity.” (How do you know if this is true? Try mentally removing orbiting aspects of the activity: would I still want to direct plays if no one saw them? would I still want to direct plays if I could only work with bad actors? Would I still want to direct plays if I hated the results? Would I still want to direct plays if I always got bad reviews? etc. For me, though I wouldn’t enjoy the activity as much in these cases, I’d still want to do it.)

This is useful because if you learn what your TRUE passion is (the underlying one, if there is one), you may be able to change your life for the better. You may be able to say, “Wow! It’s not theatre I like, it’s collaboration! Maybe I instead of continuing in theatre, I should look into all sorts of collaborative activities and get into the one that’s the MOST collaborative.”

Such psychological delving may also help you deal with a crisis: “Oh no! I’ve lost my voice. I can’t act anymore. Wait a minute: it’s not specifically theatre that I like, it’s storytelling! I could write a novel.”

There’s also nothing wrong (and a lot right) with realizing, “I love attention and praise, so theatre is a great activity for me.” In all of these cases, you’ll have learned something about yourself.

Once you know your passion, you will be tempted to ask — as you did — “How can I turn this into a career?” I think that’s the wrong question. I don’t think it’s totally wrong. I just think it’s too specific. Instead, I recommend you ask yourself this: “How can I best arrange my life so that I can spend the most time engaging in my passion IN ITS PUREST POSSIBLE FORM and derive the least amount of pain doing non-passion activities?”

I am a director, but I’m not a working (as in paid) director. To pay my rent, I have a “day job.” I COULD work as a director, but I’d have to direct plays that I don’t want to direct. For some people, that would be fine. For me, it’s not a good trade off. I’ll be more happy with the day job and the ability to direct whatever I want — forgoing pay. It took me a while to come up with that “formula,” and it’s a personal one. Mine won’t necessarily work for you.

(If you realize you’re like me, find the least painful day job you can, getting yourself training if you have to. I actually like my day job. And I continually work to make it better and more interesting. The cliche of waiting tables to support your passion isn’t a necessity. If you commit to the idea of having a day job — I’ll likely have one for the rest of my life — it behooves you to make it a good one. Or at least the least painful one you can find.)

I see a lot of people working REALLY hard to make their passion into a job, and — tragically — when they finally make it happen, they don’t enjoy the passion any more. (E.g. a lot of working actors, who got into the business to play Shakespeare or Chekhov, spend most of their time acting in commercials.) If this happens, it’s really worthwhile to do some soul searching. Would I be happier with a day job? Am I happy doing a compromised version of my passion? If I AM happy doing a compromised version of my passion, does that (perhaps) mean that what I thought was my passion wasn’t really my passion? (“Hmm. I thought I wanted to act, but in order to do theatre for a living, I’ve had to become a producer. And — hey — I like it. Maybe acting isn’t my real passion. Maybe my real passion is being a key part of a big project.”)

I am NOT saying there’s anything wrong with figuring out a way to do your passion for pay. Often, that’s a great way to spend most of your time doing your passion. Just make sure that if you’re doing your passion as a job, it’s really your passion that you’re doing and not a perverted version of it that will fail to make you happy.

So, go through this thought process:

1. I’ve identified my passion as X. I am now going to define X as fully as possible. For X to be X, it MUST include A and B. C is optional. It can’t include D.

2. I’ve realized that I won’t be happy unless I’m doing X for a living.

3. Are there any jobs that will allow me to do X as I’ve defined it? (Or that will let me gradually work towards a pure version of X?)

4. If not, then I need to either brainstorm other ways I could be happy (compromised X? doing X as a hobby?) or resign myself to unhappiness.

5. If so, then I need to make sure that I can live with non-X aspects of the job. (Wow! I can do full time, paid theatre, but I’d have to work with the dreaded Mr. Y!)

Finally: I’ve noticed that people (myself included) have a strong urge to classify themselves. People REALLY want to be able to say, “I’m a director!” “I’m an engineer!” “My passion is gourmet cooking!”

There’s nothing wrong with that drive, but putting yourself in a category is not the same thing as actually being in that category. In fact, categorizing yourself — since it’s so final — is a good way to thwart any attempt to discover your actual passions. Once you say, “I’m a director,” it’s hard to think, “Wait a minute: is it actually directing that I like or some other activity that directing helps me achieve?” Which is why, at the start of this long post, I suggested you de-romanticize the whole thing and, instead, think about what you like and dislike, rather than trying to pin down your Passion.

Maybe you don’t have a Passion. Maybe you have many likes — you like playing in the sun; you like watching movies; you like hanging out with friends… If so, you’ll be much happier if you arrange your life to maximize your chances to do these activities than if you expend a ton of energy categorizing yourself.

Via Metafilter.


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