Well it has been almost I year, I realize, since I’ve last posted. Wow. Last March. So crazy. It’s been a pretty amazing year. So much has happened. So much continues to happen. When last I wrote, I was about to head off to the Banff Centre to be one of the 6 actors available to workshop with participants of the Playwrights’ Colony. Well let me tell you all, people, it was the best time I’ve had in a long time. Now for those of you who don’t know what the Banff Centre is, it was created . . . I don’t know how many years ago – what am I, an archivist?- … but it was created as a haven for creative enterprise; for playwrights, actors, dancers, directors, writers, dramaturgs, etc. Artists of all kinds are brought there or can go there and work . . . in fact, get paid to work on their art in some cases. It’s amazing. So the Playwrights’ Colony happens for 2 weeks (well there are some satellite programs for playwrights as well but I will only deal with the version that I was a part of). And in those two weeks, a handful of playwrights are brought to the Banff Centre based on some example of the work they are working on. Then the head of the colony also asks 6 actors, 3 male and 3 female, to come for the two weeks and be tools for the playwright. This means the actors may be asked to read, improvise, discuss, basically whatever the playwright needs to go the next step in whatever their play needs.
So I was one of the 6 actors last year – in April to be exact. It was amazing. First of all, Banff is gorgeous.
I didn’t get a picture of all of the complexes that make up the centre. It’s really big, let’s just say that. These are from the first day. When you first get there, you check in, go to your room and then the rest of the day is yours to get settled, wander, etc. After I dropped my bags in my room, I wanted to walk around and see the place. Within the first half an hour, I saw this guy…..
Can’t quite see him?, . . . oh let me get a little closer…
Yeah . . . just walking around the grounds. That told me what a lovely experience this was going to be.
So let’s start with the fact that the other 5 actors were the greatest people and we all got along and hung out and had such a good time with each other, it made the experience even more magical. These people, aside from being the nicest ever, they are all wonderful actors in all kinds of different ways. Cara Ricketts, Christopher Hunt, Nadien Chu, Keith Barker, and Quelemia Sparrow.
Below is a shot of myself, with (clockwise from me) playwright/actor/artistic director Marjorie Chan, actor/writer/director Keith Barker, associate dramaturg Jenna Rodgers, then I forget the young man’s name beside her, then finally beside me, my wonderful new pal, actress,Nadien Chu.
And below we have (clockwise from the top) Cara Ricketts, Nadien Chu, Quelemia Sparrow, Jenna Rodgers and, viola, myself. We had too many laughs that day . . . . aaaand every day.
Below are some shots of some get togethers with some of the playwrights and the head of the playwrights colony and someone I have collaborated with on some projects, Brian Quirt (2nd gentleman from the right with the glasses). An amazing man. So funny and creative and supportive and smart.
And what was truly heaven was when I had the time off to do my own work, the library has an added bonus of places to sit and work that have this tiny little views….
Just as a side note. They have these specialty cottages that were each designed by a different designer with different themes. They were given to artist to work it – write, write music, etc. I forget who built this particular one but apparently in it, Yann Martel wrote the novel The Life of Pi.
AAAAANDD… now there are no pics because as good Canadians, we want to respect privacy but… you see, the food is covered for us and there is a lovely cafeteria with buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner (delish, BTW) and everyone goes there to eat . . at different times – whatever. Well the first night, we are all meeting for the first time and as we are sitting there, I’m chatting with one of the actors and suddenly he goes white. Then he says, “look over by the buffet”. So I do but I don’t see anyone who looks out of the ordinary, just a person getting some food, . . . then she turns around and it’s ….. k.d. lang. I almost poop my pants. She was there working on something new and was there most of the time we were. I saw her about 3 more times. She was all shy and cordial but I was a bit star-struck I have to admit.
Anyway, so that was my time in Banff. I would welcome the chance to go back in a second. That was two weeks in April. Then in May I was director and dance captain (please no comments) of an amazing show called STAND BY ME: The Music Of The Brill Building which was doing a mini tour of Ontario. It featured the great music of the 50’s and 60’s. And it starred former members of the international singing group, The Nylons – Micah Barnes and Billy Newton Davis, as well as a current member of The Nylons, Gavin Hope, and amazing Canadian singer/performer Jeremiah Sparks. Here’s a pic of all of us, plus our musical director, Michael Shand.
I had such a great time with these boys. We did the show May through August. (Okay they DID it, I directed and then gave notes and judged. Shhhh it’s my job!) And the show did really well, so there will be more of these.
What was thrilling was I mostly had the summer off which hasn’t happened in well over 10 years. I got to do some traveling. The best trip was a few days in Montreal. For those of you who have never been, it’s as close as Canadians get to being in Europe while being in Canada. (Except for some places on the east coast) See for yourself.
Then September started and all hell broke loose. In a wonderful way. I did a new cabaret . . . well, I guess I did a re-vamped version of an old cabaret. All Sondheim – telling the story of my life. 28 Sondheim songs in 90 minutes. WHAT WAS I THINKING???!!!!! Jesus Murphy, that almost killed me. But it was amazing, experiencing all of the worlds of Sondheim in one evening. Here is a little taste.
It was an Autumn filled with fundraising cabarets and concerts. I love doing those. People ask you to sing and you show up and sing a song or two here or there. One of the highlights was the 50th Anniversary Gala for Young People’s Theatre in Toronto. It’s the foremost children’s theatre in Ontario. I did the opening number as a mixture of the Cat in the Hat and the Wizard of Oz with the wonderful Steffi Didomenicantonio as Dorothy (yes that is her real and actual stage name)
And I also got to do some film and TV too in the fall. (Lord the fall got busy, y’all. I was like I was being punished with too many wonderful things, for actually taking time off.) A couple of highlights include a movie where I played a transexual hooker…. if I had a nickel….. here is the audition look (that I had to put together myself … “I’m sorry, are you giving me a pantyhose budget????!!!!” Luckily I got the gig. P.S. They loved and used my wig and shoes.)
Yes, I did my own make-up. Take that, Oprah! And here she was, final product. (I did NOT do my own make-up. The chick who did it as amazing.)
I also did a kids show with the fabulous Starr Domingue as the sassy villainess and me as a singing chef…
Then just before Killjoys started filming Season 2 – yes Season 2 and I’ll get to that after – I did a couple of days as a guest star on Jason Priestly’s new series and had the best time. He and his co-star, Cindy Sampson are the nicest and funniest. We laughed our asses off for two days. Caught us all in a bit of love with Pascal Langdale and our director and writer. We were literally having this much fun….
Like I said, it was a very busy fall. Oh, plus I brought back my Christmas cabaret/concert, SHUT UP, IT’S CHRISTMAS. I play Mrs. Claus in the first act and play myself in concert singing Christmas songs in the second act. Did two shows of that and it was so great to be doing it again. In fact, I may have some news about that show very soon. But here is a little look at Mrs. Claus – when I say, I was her, I mean, I WAS HER!
Which brings us to the biggest part of the year. My very first TV series aired, Killjoys. It launched in June of 2015. And you may or may not know but it was the highest rated original TV series Space Channel has ever had. And it went well enough that we are filming the second season right now. I was totally giddy when I first saw one of these in Toronto last summer.
Here’s a little look at my character, Pree.
His look changes constantly. He’s been a real hoot to play. And really well received. It was very unique being on TV every week. My Twitter followers increased exponentially, which was wild but the most intriguing experience was getting to know the fans on social media. Sci-fi fans are so lovely and committed and warm. Everyone has been so friendly and supportive. It’s been such a pleasure to get to know them and have them walk this journey with us.
Here are some amazing online offerings from our sweet fans. The first are two collages done by one of our superfans.
Another did some super-imposing of my character’s face onto some chocolate (if only it were real …. mmmm chocolate)
And the last one actually drew my character (as well as the doctor).
These people are amazing.
And there is the last “almost” year since I wrote in my blog. I’m going to promise right here to start writing more. I’ve missed keeping up with what’s going on. I like checking in with everyone. I feel like there is so much happening professionally that I can’t mention, that it stops me from talking, but there is more than that to life. So much more.
Speaking of more, that’s exactly what I’ve been feeling like I need lately. I’ve already mentioned I’m ready to make changes in my life. I want to see what else I’ve got in me cause I feel like I haven’t been living up to my potential. I’m starting to explore other ways of being in the world and thinking about the world and my place in it. Starting to do some yoga, meditation – gently. I want to start opening new doors. Trying something new, if not every day, every 2 or 3 days. I want to have different experiences. I’ve really been pulled toward the coaching lately as well as directing. I love working with actors and I don’t know how much more I need to be on stage or in front of the camera.
I have not fallen away from writing. There is something very fulfilling about getting thoughts down where you can clarify and arrange. I often feel I think so fast I trip over my own mind . . . . of course that may be because my mind is too slack like the worn-out band of a pair of overused underpants but let’s try to stay positive, shall we?! I’m going to stay connected to this blog and see where it wants to go.
That may be all for now. This is a travelogue of my year away from you. There are kinds of other bits but I can’t get them all in here.
I’m happy to be back and if you’re reading this, I’m happy you’re back too. Let’s go on a journey together.