Little Martyrs

The Publicist's Dilemma (Part Who Knows Now)

I've noticed a marked improvement in my marketing skills throughout the last year. The more I keep doing it, the better I get. I'm sure I can hear a collective "duh" from all of you reading this and, somewhere, Malcom Gladwell's ears are burning. I know it sounds silly, but it always catches me by surprise when I feel like I've actually gotten good at something. This weird little "Huh. When did that happen?" kind of thing.

This week, I finished up my final publicity report for Little Martyrs and I was incredibly pleased with the results:

  • Our Media Call was the highest attended for any Evolution Theatre production;
  • We had two television appearances, one of which was an interview;
  • We had two radio spots - one an interview and one a review;
  • We had FIVE print preview articles, including the cover of the Ottawa Citizen's Arts & Life section with two large photos and online video (and the Citizen never seems to do theatre previews anymore);
  • There were a total of 7 reviews of the production, which ranged from good to great for the production.
  • And this does not include such things as at least 3 weeks on PosterLoop, various community listings, posters and flyers, ect. All in all, I am incredibly proud of the work I did and consider this campaign to be a success!

    That said, if you build it, they... might not always come.

    Though I don't have any final numbers yet, attendance for the production was not what I would consider to be particularly good. It was, ok at best.

    So that makes me wonder, what more could I have done? What kept people away? Was it the themes of the play? The venue? The cost of tickets? The time of year? The fact that is was new work in a town that is always seeking a "sure thing" (and don't tell me that new work does well in town because of Fringe of Undercurrents - both of those festivals come with a certain pedigree)?


    Please feel free to discuss in the comment section below.

    The Greatest Review Evah

    In June of last year, I discovered THIS BLOG (or CHUD, if you prefer) when I was looking up the Ottawa Fringe and it made me laugh. Here was someone talking about my favourite things (theatre, Fringe) and his writing made me laugh. Like a lot. The more I read, the more I loved this neophyte's (a much cooler sounding word than "newbie" as I'm sure he would agree) approach to the theatre. His pilot light turned on and he just loved... everything. All of it. All theatre. It was so incredibly refreshing to my cold, grinchy heart now jaded from years of working in this field.

    I eventually met this mystery writer who somehow sees more theatre than I do (Really? WTF?) and he quickly became a pal, who is currently my cat's roommate throughout what I like to dub my "vagabond" year.

    And so I read his blog all the time now. It's funny and insightful and often reminds me why I love this art form so much.

    All that to say, yes, I am totally biased. And yes, I am aware that The Visitor is often very kind in his show reviews. That doesn't mean I don't find this to be a very well-written review of a show from a guy who just flat out got it.

    I highly encourage you to go and read the Little Martyrs review that includes gems like these:

    The set grabs you by the throat and just instantly starts twisting your brain in directions that haven’t even been invented yet. I don’t know what mad scientist’s lab Pierre Ducharme escaped from, but thank fuck his talents have been channelled to good use. The set is bafflingly cool in a way MC Escher only had nightmares about.

    ...this is the closest you’re coming to seeing a David Lynch movie live on stage in this town anytime soon.

    Shows like this don’t come along that often, folks. And like it, love it, flee screaming from it…you should see it. Yes. Yes, you should.

    And once you're done reading it, call this number - 613-564-7240 - and buy yourself a ticket to the show. There's only one week left to the run.

    Little Martyrs runs until February 19 in Arts Court Studio A, 2 Daly Ave.

    Little Martyrs

    Well, the time has finally arrived. About two years ago, Mishka Lavigne approached Evolution Theatre with an idea for a translation. Of all the plays she approached us with, La petite scrap by Dominick Parenteau-Lebeuf was the one that appealed to Chris Bedford, our Artistic Director, the most (and I'll let you read his program notes about that when you come and see the show). Mishka and Chris contacted the playwright and went to visit her in Montreal. Dominick was impressed with Chris’ vision for the show and readily agreed to the rights as long as the process would be supervised by Maureen Labonté, a well- known and critically acclaimed dramaturg in the Canadian theatre scene, since this was to be Mishka's first translation from French to English. After many revisions and workshops that were graciously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, the piece was almost ready for the stage.

    Chris would of course Direct and our company General Manager, Linda, would Stage Manage. I, of course, called dibs on the one female role that I could suitably play, but you can trust that Chris would never have agreed to that if he didn't think I could do it.

    On the design front, our long-time collaborator, Pierre Ducharme, would handle set & lights. From seeing his electronic maquette of the set at the first read to the 14 hour days he's been pulling off over the last two weeks, managing technical glitch after technical glitch beautifully and seamlessly, I knew we had the best guy for the job. For costumes, we courted the always incredible Sarah Waghorn who at first thought she might be too busy to take on the show. I can't tell you how thrilled we were when, not only did she realize she could do it, but she could also work within our budget! Finally, for sound, I'd been name dropping AL Connors at company meetings ever since I first saw A Company of Fools' A Mid-Winter's Dreamtale. Dude isn't just a great DJ, he is a fantastic sound designer too.

    And for the rest of the cast, well have you seen who we've got onboard? Jody Haucke, Brad Long, Margo MacDonald and Matt Miwa - an incredible ensemble of talent, courage, dedication and pure love of the work.

    We, at Evolution Theatre, have been incredibly blessed throughout the entire process of creation for this show and we are now ready to share all of it with you. We hope that you will be able to come out and join us at some point during the run.


    World English-language premiere of:

    Little Martyrs By Dominick Parenteau-Lebeuf Translated by Mishka Lavigne / Dramaturgy by Maureen Labonté

    February 9 to 19, 2011 Arts Court - Ottawa Dance Directive, Studio A, 2 Daly Ave Tuesday to Saturday - 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday - 2 p.m.

    Directed by Christopher Bedford

    Lighting and Set Design by Pierre Ducharme Costume & Properties Design by Sarah Waghorn Sound Design by AL Connors

    Featuring: Jody Haucke Nancy Kenny Brad Long Margo MacDonald Matt Miwa

    Story Synopsis: Directed by company Artistic Director, Christopher Bedford, Little Martyrs is a fictional account inspired by the real-life events that shocked the world in 1993 when two young boys kidnapped a toddler in Great Britain. Ten years after the sordid crime they committed when they were children, Jacob (Matt Miwa -recent member of the National Arts Centre’s Resident Acting Company) and Ludo (Brad Long - Les Prix Rideau Award, Emerging Artist Nominee) are released from prison. Each strives for redemption in a different way; Jacob finds himself on a higher path and Ludo discovers beauty through creation. The two young men meet again under new identities through Minnie (Nancy Kenny), a former runaway who rents Jacob her late newborn’s room. Searching for his partner in crime, Ludo sets up a studio next door. From this point on the story takes a more complex turn. Rounding out the cast are Margo MacDonald, fresh off her sold-out run of Shadows during the Great Canadian Theatre Company’s Undercurrents Festival, as Minnie’s mother and Jody Haucke as Minnie’s father.


    Tickets $25 / $20 students & seniors PWYC Matinee - Sunday, Feb 13 Box Office: 613-564-7240

    Artist and group rates available

    The Publicist's Dilemma (Part 4)

    Remember how back in Part 2 I briefly touched on the difficulties with being both an actor and a publicist for a show? (No? Well then go click on that link!) Well, recently, with Little Martyrs, I've discovered another issue: even though I am a performer in the show, I don't want to be interviewed about it. It's kind of weird, since I love talking about the show, but I feel that when I have my actor hat on, it takes away from my publicist abilities (and vice-versa) because, you know, I only have one head on which to rest my chapeau. So at the well-attended media call for Martyrs, I wanted to take care of the media folk - introduce them to cast and crew, set them up with interviews, make sure they have everything they need, stuff them with cookies, ect - but I had to do all this in an elaborate costume since I was involved in the scene we were presenting (an unavoidable fact as I am in almost every scene). I found it hard to then turn that switch off and be a good actor when what I really wanted to do at the time was make sure the lights were alright and that the cameras were getting all the good angles.

    Two days ago, another media outlet asked to "talk to one of the actors" - of course I could have done it myself, but I also had to think bigger - and so I submitted our most popular cast member, who recently sold out a run of her very own less than two weeks ago at the GCTC Undercurrents Festival and whose name would carry more weight than mine - as difficult as that might be to imagine ;)

    I'm very lucky this time around that I have four other actors, as well as a director whom I can send out in my place. I just wonder what it will be like when I'm the actor, producer & publicist for my own one woman show...

    Little Martyrs runs from Feb 9 to 19 in the Ottawa Dance Directive - Studio A

    The Joy of Indie Theatre

    Everything was going so well. We've been rehearsing Little Martyrs in the actual performance space for weeks. Set, costumes and props steadily being added every day as our performance work just kept getting stronger. We even got some beautiful publicity photos courtesy of the amazing Andrew Alexander.

    The problems started out small enough: a rented lighting board arrives with missing cables; lights magically turn themselves on without anyone touching anything (and gives me a spotlight during a pivotal speech, so you know, I'm not complaining). Then the lighting designer slips on some ice and sprains his knee. Call for volunteer technicians are put out. A rehearsal gets postponed while technical problems get fixed. Then we find out the entire dimmer system is out. The kind folks at Algonquin College step in with some equipment, but it turns out the power output isn't compatible with the space's outlets.

    Tomorrow's rehearsal gets canceled as more work needs to be done. A new solution is offered: we need to rent a slew of new equipment. We can't get it until Monday morning, but beauty of beauty, instead of enjoying a much needed rest and day off, the entire cast steps in with an offer to sweep and sew and chauffer people and things around. Everyone's pitching in and doing what they can. We're all in this together.

    This new equipment rental was not in our budget. We need an extra $600 to $750 to be able to pull this off, so I am asking all of you who read and enjoy this blog for one heck of a favour. Can you help us raise this money in the next few days? Every little bit helps, whether it's $5 or $500, whatever you can manage. You can make a contribution right now by CLICKING ON THIS LINK and hitting the donate now button. Evolution Theatre is a registered charity and you'll be able to print a tax receipt immediately. If you do it quickly enough, I may even be able to add your name to our list of donors in the program.

    Can't spare anything, can't even afford to see the show? We still need a few volunteers for the run (especially on both Wednesday night) to work box office and hand out programs. Volunteers get to see the show for free. Just send an email to volunteer at evolutiontheatre dot ca for details.

    Thank you for taking the time to listen - we open in T minus 4 days. Let's do it!

    The Dam Breaks

    If you knew that you would find a truth that brings up pain that can't be soothed, would you change? Would you change? - Tracy Chapman

    I had a good day today. The media call for Little Martyrs was well attended and I was proud of my work from a publicist's stand point.

    After our dinner break, we resumed rehearsal where we had left off the day before. For one particular scene, I had pretty much been doing the same thing over and over for the last week. The director flat out told me that it was boring and to do something else. I did. It didn't work. I tried again. Still nothing. I was getting frustrated. Finally, the director said "why don't you let us know what's going on." I froze, my brain desperately trying to figure out what that meant, so I did the first thing that came to my gut in order to shut it up: I screamed.

    That's when the dam broke and it all came rushing out. That's when I finally fell into the last half of the play. That's when I did the good work.

    By the end of it all, I felt incredibly raw and, yes, vulnerable. More than anything, I wanted to be able to go out for a drink. Or maybe smoke? The doctor didn't say not to smoke, right? Sigh. Perhaps sensing it, my stage dad came over and gave me a big hug, which I totally needed and appreciated. Still, I was itching for something, anything to drown out and/or numb all this... feeling.

    And that's when I heard that little voice, the good one, the true one, my inner artist's voice and it said: "Hey. How about we just sit in this for a while and see where that gets us?"

    So I took a breath and I said ok. I popped my headphones in and I let the music carry me down the mountain. I let myself be soothed and chill out. Tomorrow, we begin again.


    My Own Dam

    The minute I read this post by my dear friend, Kris Joseph, I wanted to comment on it. The part that struck me the most was this one:

    I’m not surprised that substance abuse is so prevalent in this line of work: this profession is bizarre. Our tools are our emotions; our product is catharsis (direct and indirect). Actors stir up mountainous levels of feeling as part of their daily work, and they have to climb off those mountains somehow. One terrific and easy way of making the descent every night is with a pint. And that’s what actors do.

    Climbing down the mountain! What a beautiful metaphor. For years, I've tried to explain it and it's all right there. That's exactly what it feels like. It's also typically why I drink so much more when I'm working on a show. Gosh, on tour it was pretty much: flyer, show, drink, repeat.

    But I held back from commenting because what I'd have to say would be so inherently personal, so confrontational of my own inner demons; who'd want to even read this shit? Well, seeing as how a cutesy post on my accidental dating life was the biggest draw of the past couple of months, apparently, many of you do. So that was the good, here is the ugly.

    To be honest, I've never considered myself an alcoholic. I've gotten stupid drunk (and by that I mean I've done stupid, unsafe things while drunk - most of which you know of MOM so stop worrying please, I love you kthxbai) a few times, but I'd like to think that I can handle myself well. I grew up in a family where a drink after work was the norm and social drinking at family occasions was always such fun (some of my favorite memories include going out with my cousins or drinking wine with my godmother). I come from the East Coast, which means I also know how to pound back my fair share, often more than the average man or woman before it really affects me. Then again, there was a bit running joke at the GCTC that you just had to stir some ice cubes and I would come running like Pavlov's Dog, so who knows what other's perception might be?

    All this to say, I love a good drink with friends as a way to unwind, and I'm not usually very discriminatory in my poison of choice.

    Funny word to use there: poison. Because that's pretty much what I've been told it was today by my doctor. I've had digestive issues for years and, after a while, you just start to believe that that is just the way it always will be. But a doctor did some tests and I've been told I need to cut out yeast, wheat and keep the glutten to a minimum. This means, no more booze. For three weeks. When I have a show opening in less than a week...

    I'm a grown-up and I know that I will be fine with this (especially since I was told that I would probably lose quite a bit of weight in the process, which let me tell you is an excellent motivator). Personally, I had already thought about cutting back for quite a few times now, but then someone would ask to go for drinks or offer me a beer or I'd have just a really hard day and my resolve went down with the cool crisp beverage that found its way into my hand. But I always wondered what I would do if I didn't have my "feel-good crutch" - how would I cope? You mean I'd just have to deal with my rage, my depression, my fears and, yes, even my joy without being able to numb any of it down? All on my own? Can I do that?

    Well, I guess I'm about to find out.

    Little Martyrs runs from February 9 to 19 at Arts Court - Ottawa Dance Directive, Studio A, 2 Daly Ave. Click here for more details.

    And Here's the Crash

    I haven't done a play since last summer and as soon as rehearsals started on Saturday, I felt that blissful high invade my body. If you are an artist, or perhaps and athlete, of any kind, you know what I am talking about. That incredible rush, a mixture of joy and adrenaline, that comes solely from doing what you love more than anything else in the world. We've had 4 incredibly amazing rehearsals for Little Martyrs where we've explored, tried new things, made discoveries, and, yes, played (there was even a Nancy-sandwich at one point, so you know, I'm not complaining). We've so far managed to work through every single scene in the play at least once and things are looking good.

    And tomorrow we get a day off.

    My body knows this and, like any good addict being separated from his or her junk, I'm crashing. Hard. Yup, rehearsal ended a few hours ago and the crash was almost instant. I'm feeling moody, experiencing body aches from moving into new physical areas, and then there's the pain.

    Yes, actual pain. Because this is more than some kind of show crash.

    You see, yesterday, I had minor surgery. Just a couple lumps that I had been on a waiting list to have removed. Seriously no big deal and I've had it done in the past without any trouble. Of course, me being who I am (which is totally crazy), after my surgery, I showed up for rehearsal.

    Yes, I showed up for rehearsal after being told to "take it easy" by the doctor (rehearsal is easy, right?), looking pale, queezy probably from the local anesthetic leaving my body, and with blood seeping through the bandages from where the stitches were placed... Cuz I'm a trouper (also RE: totally crazy). I was promptly forced home by the stage manager once the whole bloody bandages thing was discovered and we couldn't find any replacements in the building.

    Even showing up today probably wasn't the smartest move because of the awkward location of the stitches, but you know what adrenaline does? It blocks pain! Which is awesome! Until the adrenaline goes away. And you end up going home by yourself crying into a bottle of wine you just bought but realize you probably shouldn't drink because you're not sure how that would work with painkillers. Also, I really wish I had someone to tuck me in. Because when you're sick or you have a booboo, you immediately turn 5 again.

    So part of me is happy to have the break to rest and get better, but the other part of me really wishes that I could have more of those adrenaline rush rehearsal blockers because this ibuprofen is just NOT CUTING IT.