Shining City

2009 And We're Feeling Fine

It's so very easy to get stuck and lose perspective, especially in those doubt-filled moments where you think your life isn't going anywhere. It's therefore important for me to look back every once in a while and take stock of all the things I've accomplished and have going for me. What better time than the new year to do just that? So without further ado, here's a look back at 2009 (most of which you can review by going through my blog archives): I rang in the New Year in a new city, with new people. This was a sign of things to come because 2009 was definitely a year of travel (oddly enough, while looking up my old blog for past resolutions, I predicted 2008 would be the year of travel, which it definitely wasn't). All in all, I've spent time in London (ON), Kitchener-Waterloo, Montreal, Toronto & the GTA, Red Deer, Calgary, Winnipeg, Bathurst & the Acadian Peninsula, and Moncton. I also experienced my first overseas trip when I got to go to Beijing.

I am thrilled to note that most of this traveling was also for artistic/work purposes; either auditions, research or because I wrote something that was being staged in that city.

Speaking of writing, I wrote 3 plays in 2009, all of which have been produced, including one which I toured myself to Winnipeg after an enjoyable experience at the Ottawa Fringe Festival. Critically and financially my tour was a bust, but I learned so much from the experience and one day I will do it again. Also, after a great mentorship program through the GCTC on grant writing, both I and Evolution Theatre landed grants from the City of Ottawa (for me it was to write a show, for Evolution it was pool (no water)).

I took an incredible number of workshops related to acting in topics ranging from scene study to stage combat to physical theatre to clown work. I also completed a Certificate in Conventions and Meeting Management from Algonquin College. What I will do with it, I'm not quite sure, but I do know that I love learning and I am grateful for all the opportunities I had this past year.

2009 was also the first time I dedicated myself fully to being a professional artist and managed to do so without having a day job. In addition, I had an amazing opportunity to work with a theatre company and a director I had wanted to work with for a long time now.

Oh and at the 11th hour, my sister got married and announced that I would soon be an auntie!

It wasn't all sunshine and lollipops though. My grandma and a good friend passed away, I got my heart broken multiple times by the same person, people I trusted to always be there for me let me down in a big way, I struggled financially and creatively, but overall, I learned so much from everything that happened. It sounds corny, but I really feel like a different person from the one who began things in January 2009.

This past year was simply incredible. I am really looking forward to what's in store for me in 2010. Stay tuned for some of my upcoming New Year's Resolutions!

Boulevard of Broken Dreams

The dreams have started. Of course everyone dreams all the time, but I only seem to remember them when I'm involved in some big project, like a show. Last night was a blocking dream. I wonder if other actors experience them? I have the distinct impression I've spent all night running through my show blocking for Shining City. I woke up fairly exhausted still.

The last couple of nights, I've been dreaming about death. Cheerful, I know. My death, other people's deaths, people I know mostly, though it varies. The only constant seems to be that they or I can't move on until they've accomplished something or let go of something.

Gee, I wonder what my subconscious is trying to tell me?

Shining City Promo/Reviews

More links will be added as they come in. Did you miss the interview I did with Richard Gélinas on CHUO 89.1? Well you are in luck. Here it is in full with host Mitchell Caplan on Click Here. It even includes a segment from the show. Check it out here! (It may take a while to get the link and you may have to sift through some ads, but it was the best I could do in finding a free server host for the very large file. If anyone has a better idea, I'm all ears!)

If you'd prefer to see our faces, then go visit our friends at Ottawa Tonite (a great new resource on local arts and entertainment!) and check out the rehearsal footage video created by Cheryl Gain, which also includes an interview with director John P Kelly.

(Cult)ure Magazine and the EMC News also have some great preview articles. (Apparently the print version of the EMC runs for a page and a half, has three photos and is on the cover - if anyone could get me a print copy, that's be grand!)

As if that wasn't enough, (Cult)ure Magazine also has a lovely review of the piece, which you can find here.

I also highly recommend you check out the glowing review the show got from Patrick Langston and the Ottawa Citizen. You may do so here.

Shining City

You've probably noticed, if you are a regular to this site, that I haven't been up to my usual blogging vigor this month. That's because the majority of my month was spent in rehearsals (and public relations work) for Shining City by Conor McPherson, produced by SevenThirty Productions in Ottawa. Well, tonight, live from the Arts Court Theatre, is opening night.

I'm incredibly proud of the work that I and the rest of the cast and crew have been doing on this production. I'm just trying to see tonight as another part of the process of creation. This will be the first time we have an audience and I find that prospect kind of scary. (You mean I have to act in front of... PEOPLE?!?) I hope that throughout the two week run you will all be able to come out and see it.

Details for the production can be found below. If you come out tonight, we will be holding a small party in the theatre lobby with food, drinks, and Irish music. Please stick around after the show to say hi and share a bevy. See you at the theatre!

Shining City by Conor McPherson Directed by John P Kelly Featuring Richard Gélinas, Tom Charlebois, Nancy Kenny & Garrett Quirk

Arts Court Theatre – 2 Daly Avenue – Ottawa, ON

November 17 to 28, 2009 – 8 p.m. Sat/Sun matinees - 2:30 p.m. (No show on Sunday & Monday night)

Tickets: $25 - $20 students/seniors/underemployed Pay-What-You-Can Matinee on Sunday, November 22nd

Box Office: 613-564-7240

Keep the Halloween chills going with the perfect November play!

Set in present-day Dublin, Shining City takes place in the disheveled office of Ian, a former priest turned therapist. Ian's latest patient, John, is in trouble. His wife has just died tragically... and he is visited more than once by her ghost. John is now terrified to return home, but Ian has his own troubles, including a new baby and a crumbling relationship.

"Literally lifted the hairs on my scalp." - London's Evening Standard McPherson is "the finest dramatist of his generation..." - London's Daily Telegraph

Asking For Flowers

This is a Public Service Announcement for anyone out there who might find themselves in the position of dating an actress. May whatever deity you worship protect you. I consider myself a strong, independent single woman. The majority of the time, I am perfectly fine with being on my own. Every once in a while, however, my over-Disneyfied childhood education rears its ugly cartoon head and, gosh darnit, I wish I was a princess... with a tiara and everything.

Opening night for a show I'm performing is one of those blatantly Cinderella moments for me. On opening, after weeks of hard work, there's nothing I would love more than to have some pretty flowers sent to me backstage by my 'Man of Mans' (TM by The Adorkable Thespian). To know that the one special person in my life is out there and routing for me... well, that just sounds so heartwarming. I think most actors feel this way (though they may not want flowers, perhaps it's chocolates or banana bread or a combination of the two).

I was with an absolutely lovely man for a very long time and, though he did give me flowers throughout our relationship, I never got any for a show. His mother sometimes got me show flowers, but it just wasn't the same.

Of course, I could have just told him that's what I'd like, but isn't asking for flowers just like asking you to be nice? (And to be clear, none of my past relationships have been anything like the ones in that song, I just think it's a nice turn of phrase.)

Then again, maybe it's just not that obvious of a thing. So, to any future 'Man of Mans' (or 'Woman of Womans, who knows?) out there who might do some stalkerish research before dating me (or any other actor), I like flowers. Purple lilacs are a personal fave, but you know, it's really the thought that counts. ;)

I Was Meant For The Stage...

... but I sure do miss those film sets. The last time I actually performed on a film set (and not just background work) was in August of 2008 for Death Rally.

Recently, a friend asked me to appear in a short she'd written. It's an MIP (Member Initiated Project). This means it's a type of co-op production for ACTRA members. I won't get any money or union credits for the work I do, but I'll be toning my film acting muscles and I'll also be working with pals. Oh, and I actually get to perform in French for once! I don't see anything wrong with that.

There's a certain vibe on a film set that makes it different from a stage production. On sets, at least the ones I've worked on, I always find there's this kind of hive mind going on. Some kind of uber sense of teamwork that comes from knowing you have a very limited and often intensely condensed time frame to work with.

Not to say stage work isn't intense, it's just different, often a touch more relaxed. Today at rehearsal, I wasn't happy with the work I was doing. I was promptly told not to worry about it because we still had two weeks to work out the kinks. And it's true, I do have some time, but if this was film? Forget it! Make it work now or forever hold your peace (or you know, pray you have a good editor).

Oh and film sets often have food. I like food.

Sealing the Deal

As previously mentioned, I am doing double-duty of acting and publicity for the upcoming production of Shining City by Conor McPherson for SevenThirty Productions. After speaking with the director at a production meeting, he made it clear to me that as publicist my job is to "let people know about the show, not sell tickets." I have to say that this is a bit of a change from my current perspective on arts marketing, which is that it's my job to put bums in seats.

Now, a part of me would love to have this weight taken off my shoulders. I'd love to just sit back, write a press release, create a facebook event and then wash my hands of the whole thing as I focus on my lines and character development.

How many people here believe that's what I will actually do?

*Cue tumbleweed*

The workaholic in me won't let me do that. The control freak in me won't let me do that. The go-getter in me won't let me do that. The financially desperate in me won't let me do that. The artist in me won't let me do that. I can't sit back and do nothing when I know there is something I can do. And do well.

So, I'm looking at group sales and program advertisement. I'm attending events and talking up the show. I'm looking at potential cross-promotion opportunities. My time line is very tight with opening night on November 17, but everything is automatic and second-nature. And I even have help. Our assistant director has also taken up the call to arms and is going far above and beyond the call of duty. He's doing most of our design work and I think we'll be tackling a flyer distribution this weekend.

If I don't do this, then whose job is it?

There is also a major difference with this show from all the promo work I've done in the past. I am in it. Sure, I can invite people to anything I'm doing publicity for, but if I'm not directly involved in the creation and presentation of a piece, why would my non-theatre friends come and see it?

I have over 800 friends on facebook; 70% of which, I am sure, live in the Ottawa area. There is no reason I shouldn't be able to get the majority of these people to see me in a play. Right? You'll come see me in a play, right?

*Cue tumbleweed* ???

(Am I basically saying that if you cast me in your show I can probably get about 500 people to see it/me? ... Uh, maybe. I'll let you know how that worked out on November 29th.)

In the meantime, I'm going to go work on my lines now so that you may have sometime worth seeing.

No Absolutes - The Life of the Artist

I have some news. I've been avoiding posting this news because I didn't want to overshadow Evolution Theatre's production of Arabian Night. However, since that show is going into it's second week and the wonderful reviews are now pouring in (more on that soon!), I figured it might be a good time to make my announcement. I've finally been cast, after a year of nothing, in a professional theatrical production! Are you doing a happy dance for me? I know I did.

The play is called Shining City. It's directed by John P Kelly (who was just recently nominated for a Capital Critic's Circle Award) and will be taking place at the Arts Court Theatre from November 17 to 28.

On its own, this is a pretty big deal for me, but this is only a preface to what I want to talk about here.

You see, I was also asked by the production company to do the publicity work for the show (which reminds me, I should probably update the website...). Though I find the part I will be playing to be incredibly challenging, it is a relatively small role and I would therefore have the time to dedicate to this side venture. Besides, who would be better at promoting a show than someone who has a vested interest in it's success?

A while back, I had decided that I no longer wanted to handle marketing a show I was performing in. I found it to quite often be a headache and a hassle. I knew when reviewers were in the audience and, when ticket sales were low, I took it to mean I was not doing a good job. This in turn was awkward and affected my work as a performer.

Recently, however, I've come to realize that it's my own insecurity and not my ability to do my work that's the problem. I didn't believe in myself as an actor (and, in the case of Fringe, as a writer) enough. If I didn't fully believe that people should see me in a show, why should I be surprised when they don't?

It was also a form of laziness on my part or, better yet, a sense of entitlement; the 'I just want to be an actor' factor. To be perfectly honest, I don't want to 'just be an actor.' How boring is that? I want to be a creator, an innovator, an artist. I believe that a true artist is one who is well-rounded and well-versed in all aspects of his art. And yes, even the business side can be an art.

The best example I can think of involve the myriad of people I met on the Fringe Festival circuit. No one there does just one task. Everyone works their fingers to the absolute bone and then spends their nights chilling out, enjoying the fruits of their labour. It's beautiful. It's amazing. It's inspiring. It's exactly where I want to be.

My name is Nancy Kenny and I'm an artist.