Where To Get That Play

You're taking a scene study class and you need to find the play your scene is taken from.  The library doesn't seem to have it and neither does Chapters.  So what do you do? I've been collecting plays and building up my own personal library for years, ever since I took my first Theatre History course in University and had to purchase 10 different plays for class.   I truly believe it's important to build a good collection if you want to work in the theatre.  I regularly make the rounds of used bookstores and get what might be of interest to me.  Last year, season announcements were made all over Ottawa.  I went straight to my bookshelf and realized I was only missing a few texts.  This meant I could instantly consult the character breakdowns, see which shows I may be suitable for and send a message to the various artistic directors expressing my interest.  And the plays I didn't have?  I quickly ordered.

But what if it's a modern text or something a little more obscure?  What then?

You can always try Theatrebooks in Toronto or BizBooks in Vancouver.  They both offer an excellent selection and if they don't have the title you are looking for, they might be able to order it for you.

Unfortunately (and I hate to go all big business here), it can take forever to get something if they have to order it for you and, if you do a little price shopping, it's often cheaper to go through Chapters or Amazon for more common pieces.  Still, a great option.  I always make a stop at Theatrebooks when I'm in Toronto.

Which brings me to this little gem of advice: Skip the middle man and order the play yourself.

First, find out who the publisher is.  In most cases, it's probably Samuel French, the Dramatist Play Service, Pioneer Drama, or Broadway Publishing for most American titles.  It's fairly cheap too.  A play purchased through Samuel French will generally cost you about $7.50 US plus shipping.  Order multiple titles to save on shipping.

For Canadian works, try Playwrights Canada Press or Centre des auteurs dramatiques (for French work - though they might know where to find the published English translation).

If the text has yet to be published or is out of print (it can happen), then find out which theatre may have had the first official production or, better yet, contact the playwright or the playwright's agent directly.  (Yes, you CAN do that!)

If you have any other tips or suggestions on where to find a play, please feel free to mention it in the comments section.

Good luck and happy reading!

That's a First

If a blog post gets published on the internet and nobody is there to read it, did it really happen? You're reading this right? I mean, I know you're reading this because I've got those nifty little wordpress stats that tell me you are reading this. In fact, in the past two weeks, an extra 50% of you have been reading what I have to say (unless that just comes from the Adorkable Thespian getting an itchy mouse finger with no sexual outlet in sight...)

I'm grateful for that. I'm also grateful for the discussion my recent posts have been creating. You guys don't comment on my posts very often and so it's not hard to believe that what I say just goes out into some sort of void. Especially when I see my friend's blogs... Yup, I've got comment envy.

Anyway, most of you seem to have been really keen on my recent posts, especially the one on The Value of Me. Rebecca Coleman (her again?) sent me a really great post she wrote a few years ago on putting value on your work (originally for The Next Stage Magazine - another great blog you should be reading!), which I had completely forgotten about.

However, what really amazed me with that post was that another blogger actually picked it up and used it as inspiration for their own writing. Whoa. That's a first.

Michael Di Lauro uses words like "thought-provoking" and "evocatively," and said I speak "plainly and concisely."


That sounds so very very different from the stuff I heard about my writing at a certain Fringe Festival that shall remain nameless (though still linked for good measure).

I thought I was over that. I thought I was optimistically over that. But I haven't been. I've been very bad at working on a new script and I realize now that this was the main reason why. I've been letting the meanies, the bullies, the critics, and all the people who "mean well" win. And I convinced myself that that's all that was out there.

It didn't hit me until I read Michael's post how much I love writing and how I continued to do it from the safety mind zone of thinking no one was reading. Now that I know people are and I know that it actually inspires, entertains, heck maybe helps them in some way, well, I want to do it even more. Critics be damned!

So thank you, dear readers, I'm glad you are sticking around. Just don't be afraid to say "Hi!" every now and then, m'kay?

The Value of Me

There have been a lot of blog posts lately on working for free. A nice examination of what working for free can mean from the Mission Paradox and a fantastic call-to-arms on the Culture of Free by Suzemuse (it also introduced me to Feedly for which I am incredibly grateful - now if they only made an app...) and how it's got to change. This, combined with my boss asking me how much I would charge for my social media work, got me thinking: How much am I worth?

This is a very difficult question for me to answer because I love what I do so much and there's this false belief inside me that if I love my job and it's easy for me to do, then it's not work so how can I justify getting paid for it?

Crazy I know. This goes for both my acting work and my marketing work. For years I did community theatre, sometimes appearing in more than one play at the same time, because I love performing. I had to finally stop though. It no longer felt satisfying creatively, I didn't feel like I was gaining any sort of meaningful experience, and it was taking up an awful lot of my time for no compensation whatsoever.

Now, before anyone slams me, I'm not saying there is anything wrong with community theatre; it served as a valuable training ground in which to get my feet wet. I'm just saying that I was at the point where I had to take a stand. To continue on my path, I had to say "I am a professional artist. I have studied my craft for many years, I have a wealth of experience and knowledge, and, yes, I'm actually good at what I do. And that? Deserves compensation."

I don't know if you can understand how hard that was for me to do. By deciding to take that route, I ended up doing a lot less shows. I am constantly filled with doubt and fears along the lines of "what the hell do I know? Who am I to ask for more?" But I had to stand firm. I had to believe in myself. Now, the only way I would do a show for free would be if a) it's for some kind of fundraiser or cause I believe in, b) I was doing my own work (though that's in the hopes of eventually getting paid), or c) I was doing a friend a favour.

So, having said all that, why is it so hard for me to take the same stand in my marketing work?

I want money. Heck, I actually NEED money. But I am really uncomfortable around money. I don't like it and I wish I didn't need it. Unfortunately, I have a mortgage to pay and a cat to feed and those thing just don't take care of themselves (stupid cat should get a job already...).

For a while now, I've been trying to put myself out there as a marketing person for hire. That always gets me thinking of my favorite quote:


"Do. Or do not. There is no try."

So this "trying" thing wasn't exactly working out because I wasn't doing anything. The thing is, I didn't even know where to begin or how much I should charge for my services. Finally though, when asked by work to send them a list of responsibilities and a price quote, I had to do some research. I contacted the best arts marketing person I know and asked her advice.

To be perfectly frank, her response kind of floored me. You charge HOW MUCH? I got self-conscious. I can't actually be expected to ask people for that, can I? Just to set up a Twitter account, a Facebook page... I mean, it's so easy! It hardly seems fair.

However, then I started to put things into perspective. Just because it's easy for me, doesn't mean it comes easily for everyone else. I work in an office of maybe 25 people - about three quarters of those have no idea what to do with digital media and most would probably be more than happy to pay someone else to do something about it.

I also had to put myself into perspective. I have a lot of experience. I've been working in Marketing, Promotions and Event Planning for over seven years now (wow, SEVEN!). I've got two B.A.s and a college certificate. I'm always taking classes, reading books and staying up-to-date on the next best thing in the world of marketing. People who hire me are paying me for that knowledge and experience, for the fact that they didn't have to go and do all that research. On top of that, contract work does not come with health benefits and vacation pay, so it's also normal that you would request more money on that front.

All this to say, I'm going to start charging for my services. You can check out my professional work resume on my LinkedIn profile to give you an idea of what I can do for you. Please send an email to nancyjkenny at yahoo dot com if you would like to discuss how I can help market your business. You can also schedule a meeting by using Tungle and checking my availability. If you buy me lunch, the initial consultation will be free.

In the meantime, I leave you with this awesome video on not giving it all away for free:


Who Said That?

I debated writing about this, but then I figured I would be cheating myself and other struggling writers if I didn't. A few nights ago, I was writing a couple more pages of my Roller Derby script. It's a one woman show but with multiple characters and I was going over a bit of dialogue between my main character and her mother. At one point, my main character said something and the mother's response was blatantly, (how shall I put this? *stage whisper*) homophobic.

I froze.

Wait a minute, did I just type that? What the hell?

I paced around the bathroom, seriously bothered, wondering what was wrong with me. That came from me? How could I be so terrible? And it's a mother character - does this mean people will now think I'm talking about my mother?

And then it hit me:

Think of any movie or play you've ever watched or a story you've read where the character does something "bad". Do you ever stop and go "Oh my God, that writer is a terrible person for coming up with something like that! I'm going to stop watching/reading right now." No. You go "Yeah, I know someone like that," or "What an interesting and dynamic story." Or you know, something like that.

The weird thing is, once I realized I wasn't writing fluff that had no specific point of view or that didn't take any kind of stand, my writer's block magically disappeared and I finally figured out the ending of my show.

Whoa. The lesson I learned? Take a risk with your writing. Just let what comes out, come out and see where it takes you. Besides, this is still only a first draft.

Now I just need to worry about this middle part...

More on this story as it develops.

What's In A Name?

I've finally gotten back into writing. I know it seems kind of ridiculous to think that someone who blogs as frequently as I do could have any trouble writing, but it's true. A blog post is easy: random topic on my mind, spout off a few thoughts, proof read as best I can, bing bang boom, done! It's somewhat short and sweet and that is, as they say, that. Now I'm going to completely contradict myself here, but I've come to realize that writing a play, on the other hand, does in fact scare me. I haven't figured out yet what I'm so scared of, but I do know I put an awful lot of pressure on myself to "make it perfect" or to have it "be the one" - you know, "the show to end all shows". Because I've created this incredibly high and unattainable ideal in my head, the next logical step, of course, is to never get it done in the first place, right? It can't be done so why try for anything beneath that?

Jeebus, I am screwed up.

Anyway, I've started writing my Derby show again and it is going fairly well. I've been reading through all my old notes and I chuckle. I didn't realize I could be funny.

However, I keep getting stuck on really stupid points. Do you know what I believe to be the hardest part when it comes to writing any piece of literature? Names. I have the hardest f'n time coming up with names. For most of my short playwriting career I've managed to cheat my way out of it use the old Neil LaBute approach by going with Man, Woman, Man Two, Angel, Devil, Sweet, Sour, ect... But I'm at the point now where multiple characters are popping up and, gosh darn it, they need names!

I keep thinking I have to be smart and clever with the names. You know, like all those names in the Harry Potter series which have a double-meaning related to the character's personality. Or that I need to stay away from the names of people I know because they might think the story is about them when really they just happen to have a very common name or a neat unusual name or it was just the first name that came up when I scrolled through Facebook.

It gets even harder when you start thinking up Derby names because many of those might actually belong to a certain player and you may need to get permission before being able to use it. So it might be easier to make some up, but that's a chore in and of itself.

I know this is just another way for me to procrastinate on my writing, but I'm really curious to know how any other writers out there do it? How do you come up with your character names?

Goals for 2010

I don't like the term "Resolution". It sounds so final. I much prefer to go with goals. For some reason, I haven't really blogged about my yearly goals before (probably because I don't want to be reminded when I drop them sometime around February...) Here are a few things that I want to focus on throughout the year:

- Now some of you may already know this, but a few days before I left home for the holidays, my desktop computer had a minor explosion. After careful examination, I'm quite certain it's the power supply that blew, which is cool because it means my hard drives should be intact. Though at first I was pretty annoyed by this turn of events, I can't help but think it's really for the best. You see, my computer is in my room, facing my bed. It's always on and a constant source of background noise. Silence and stillness scare me. I think this may be a sign that I need to stop making so much noise and get used to sitting in the quiet for a little while. In addition, my second set of headphones has now died on me. I think I may take my time in replacing them, just so I pay more attention to the world around me when I'm out. (That said, if any computer people out there know if it's best to simply replace the power supply or get a new computer, please let me know! I will need to get this fixed eventually, just not right now.)

- I've also got my laptop. Unfortunately, I've gotten into a really nasty habit (even before my desktop broke down) of using my laptop on my bed. I'm finding it to be somewhat unhealthy. I'm on my computer all the time and yet I'm quite often distracted from my work by video games and online TV shows. I've decided that I won't be using my laptop in my room anymore and I'm reclaiming my dining room table (which will disappoint the cat, I'm sure). I'm also going to be scheduling specific time to work on stuff. It's time I stop multi-tasking and focus on just one thing at a time. If my trip to China taught me anything, it's that the world did not blow up when I was away from my computer for a week (not saying I'm going to be away from my computer for a week, but I'm going to be cutting back). My bed will now solely be used for sleeping, movie watching, and well, that other thing you do in bed... let's see if it's going to be a good year or not.

- Speaking of scheduling work time, I've decided to set aside three hours a week where I will do nothing but write plays. It's time I take responsibility for my writing and quit flaking out on it so much. Once I know my new work schedule (yes, I'm starting a new job this year, more on that in tomorrow's post!), my writing time will be fixed and nothing can interrupt it (except maybe an audition, in which case I must immediately reschedule said writing time).

- I'm going to complete a 5K race. I've been training for some time now and I am almost ready. If this goes well, I may upgrade to 10K before the year is over. I've also been looking into a Try a Tri (5K race, 10K bike ride, 200m swim) - this may or may not happen this year, but I'm working towards it. Note to self, get a bike.

- Oh and there's another kind of bike I really want to get my hands on. I'm being deliberately vague here because of certain people who might be reading. If you're curious, just ask me in private.

- I've got a new agent in Ottawa and I'm pretty thrilled about it. I'm hoping I know this is going to lead to bigger and better audition opportunities in 2010. That said, my agent handles Ottawa and Montreal so I'm still looking for someone to represent me in Toronto. My goal for 2010? Get a Toronto agent and be triple carded (ACTRA, Equity and UdA) by the end of the year.

- Keep taking classes and gain new skills. I love learning. I'm an eternal student and I don't plan on stopping this year. I'd like to pursue more classes in voice, movement, and clown this year, but I won't be limiting myself to just that. Perhaps some dancing might be in the cards?

- Travel more! Is it weird that I actually love living out of my suitcase and sleeping on other people's couches? I don't know if it's in the cards, but I'd love to do another big trip in 2010. I've got the bug! Perhaps this might finally be the year I visit Vancouver for the first time as well?

A couple goals I've had for years now but I've never truly acted on - we'll see if 2010 will be any different:

- I've had a violin for almost two years and I still don't know how to play it. This needs to change! If anyone has some links they could send me on learning the violin online (I know the NAC has something like that, but I can't seem to find it at the moment).

- Learn another language. My Spanish is very basic and I want it to get better.

- Get out of credit card debt. It's doable (and I'll talk about work a bit more tomorrow), but it just never seems to go away, does it?

I'm going to leave it at this for now. I'm curious to know what some of your goals might be for the New Year. Please feel free to post in the comment section and let me know!


I've never been a big fan of ultimatums. Not in relationships, in work or in life in general. They're just so... final. As you may know, I've been working on a one woman roller derby show that I would like to tour cross-country next year on the Canadian Fringe Festival Circuit. Applications to the majority of festivals is by lottery. To make touring a tad easier on the performer, an organization called the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals holds their own lottery every fall for the chance to participate in every festival of your choosing. You may or may not get in, but if you do, your entire touring schedule is now secured for the summer, months ahead of most local lottery deadlines.

The only hick? You need to have the cash for every single festival you want to apply to upfront. In my case, a potential 7 city tour, that comes up to almost $5000. Now, I don't know about you, but I don't have that kind of money lying around (and if you do have that kind of money lying around, we should talk!). If I did, I wouldn't have been emptying out my cupboards of all canned goods since I've come back from China because my bills need paying and groceries seem to be a luxury at the moment.

So, I did the only thing a starving artist can do: I called my mom.

My mom was somewhat open to the idea. After all, I did get a grant from the City of Ottawa to write this piece. I talked to her about the lottery and how if I did not get in there would be no charges on her part. I would then apply individually to the various festivals and try my luck there. And of course she would be getting her money back by the end of the summer once my tour is done. However, my mom may have misunderstood my initial request. She seemed to think all I needed for the tour was $5000. After reviewing my budget plan, which brings expenses closer to the $20,000 mark, she did what all good moms would do. She kinda freaked.

And that's when the ultimatum reared it's ugly head. I've got until March to make this work. March is approximately when you can drop out of most festivals without incurring too much of a penalty.

I'm waiting to hear if I've received some grants that I've already applied for in December and there are new deadlines for other funding opportunities as well, but I'm scared. There is so much in this that involves chance and I've never really been that lucky before. This project means so much to me, but will it sell? Audiences across Canada are fickle. If I knew what they wanted, I'd be the greatest publicist on earth. But I don't know. All I can do is go about on blind faith (with a strong dash of hard work) and pray that it all pays off. My mother does not doubt that a Fringe tour would be a wonderful, soul-fulfilling experience. She just does not want me to go into a 5-digit debt load to accomplish that.

I guess there's no use in worrying about this right now. With my lotto luck, I may not get into a single festival next summer.

Screw You Guys, I'm Going To China!

(ed. note - I hope no one thinks I'm being mean with this title, I'm just bastardizing a South Park quote because I think it's funny. It's funny, right? Right. Keep reading.) Va... ca... tion...?

What is this foreign work you speak of?

The last time I had a vacation, I was 16 years old and I went to Florida with my family (FYI Universal Studio kicked more ass than Disney, even though the Terminator ride broke down). Of course, you could claim that I went on a family vacation two years ago when my mom, my sister and I drove through the Rockies and ended up in lovely Nelson, BC, but that was more of a workaholic's vacation. I had my laptop with me and I distinctly remember spending an awful lot of time writing press releases for the Ottawa Fringe Festival and reworking drafts of a script. I also remember my mother often gently trying to persuade me (i.e. getting annoyed but trying not to show it in front of company) to get off the damn computer and come spend quality time outside, which I did... I sat on a deck with the Rocky Mountains rising above me and a lake spread out below me... and my laptop hugging my knees.

I'm sick. There is something definitely wrong with me. I'm addicted to work. Everything is work or becomes about work. Going to see a show is about work. Taking a new class to gain a new skill becomes "something I can put on a resume". About 95% of my friends are also my colleagues. I run Evolution Theatre with two such friends. We often say that we're just going to hang out, have lunch, watch a movie, or maybe plan a wedding... the discussion inevitably comes back to work.

Don't get me wrong. I love the work I do. I am blessed and grateful to be able to do what I do. But (and I can't believe I'm saying this) maybe I work too much? Is there such a thing? Yes, I guess there is.

I'm going on a trip tomorrow and, with lots of publicity work for Evolution Theatre's next show ahead of me, I started feeling massively guilty for doing anything that was for myself. Going to class or rehearsal, even eating and bathing were practically taking a back seat to what I so desperately thought "needed to be done". Like I said, I'm sick.

You know what, it did need to get done and, better yet, it did get done, but at what cost? My health? My sanity? My peace of mind? I learned a valuable lesson this week. I'm absolutely useless to anyone if I don't take care of myself first. I especially thank the folks in my Playback Theatre company for putting me back on the right track. Once I finally gave in to being at rehearsal, which was where I really wanted to be, and let go of the guilt, I suddenly got better. I was refreshed and recharged and that's why all my work got done this week.

So when my old roomate (and one of the 5% of my friends not involved in the arts - though Gruppo Rubato is trying to change that with Airport Security - check out a staged reading of it this weekend!), who is also a flight attendant, invited me to go with her to China of all places, I jumped at the chance. Yes, I really am going to China. Tomorrow. I leave tomorrow.

And I'm going to do something crazy... something drastic... something so beyond me...

I'm going to disconnect from the Matrix.

Yes, you read that right. No laptop, no iPhone, no Twitter, no Facebook, no email, no *gasp* flat iron. I'm leaving it all behind. It will just be me, my friend, and my poofy hair. As of tomorrow morning, I will be unreachable and not working... Ok, I'm going to cheat a wee bit because I'm going to be reading a book about Roller Derby but it's a NOVEL, so that's alright.

(And uh, BTW, if I'm not back in two weeks, could someone please call the Embassy in Beijing and make sure I'm not rotting in a Chinese prison somewhere... kthxbye!)

My guess is I'll be going into massive electronic withdrawal at some point over the Pacific Ocean. As long as I don't end up re-enacting the toilet scene from Trainspotting though, I should be ok.

So please go ahead and miss me. I know you will. But I'll be back refreshed, recharged and with plenty of photos to share on all sorts of new media outlets. And that? Is really, really nice.


Happy Anniversary

I've got a few milestones that I would like to celebrate with all of you. First of all, it has now been ten years almost to the day that I have been a resident of fair Ottawa, by way of New Brunswick. I arrived here, 18 years old, young and naive, heart filled with big dreams, love and hope for a bright future. I've mentioned before that I've often wondered why I was still here. Life just happened a few times while I was busy making other plans, or so they say. I'm still somewhat young, less often naive and my heart always bursts with big dreams, lost of love and hope for a bright future. But I've grown. I'm definitely not the same girl I used to be. Heck, I'm not a girl anymore.

My second milestone is that it has now been exactly one year since I quit my day job to dedicate myself fully to the arts. I am by no means the first person (nor is he, but he's the first I personally know of) to do this, nor will I be the last (this guy is the most recent, I think). However, a conversation with a good friend who has also taken the plunge made me wonder how long it can possibly last?

In the past year, I've worked on my first professional show (that I did not have a hand in self-producing), helped my theatre company gain registered charity status and become an absolute mainstay in the community (I still can't believe how far we've come in four years!), discovered that I am a writer (SIDE RANT: Odd that although I have been keeping a blog for *gasp* FIVE YEARS, I didn't consider myself a writer. It's kind of cute for me to go back and reread my old, somewhat juvenile shit. If you're up for a little light cyber-stalking, feel free to check my old blog out. I can't believe I thought I knew anything. I don't. I really don't.), wrote and produced my own show which I then took on tour, took an incredible amount of classes and workshops, had a hand in writing at least two successful grant applications, had a play I wrote get presented in Singapore, traveled for my art to exotic locales like Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, and Kitchener-Waterloo, and a whole bunch of other stuff, I'm sure, that I just can't think of right now.

These things would not have been accomplished if I had still been working at my day job.

After a year of all that, I know, deep in my soul, that I could not go back to the 9 to 5 grind. There's something I find comforting about having no idea what day of the week it is or not finding official "holidays" very relevant because I work when I want to (which, I have to admit, is all the time - just at weird hours).

It hasn't been easy. Money has been tighter than it's ever been and I haven't been hired for real acting work in about 10 months. Sometimes I wish I could just go to the mall and buy a dress or a flat screen TV, but frankly, I don't wear dresses that often (having no office job means I don't have to own fancy clothes) and I watch TV online now, so really what would be the point? Instead, I relish the fact that I can have a drink at 11 p.m. on a Tuesday or write a grant application at 2 a.m. because that's when I feel like doing it (I told you, weird hours).

I love my life right now and I believe it will last as long as I wanted it to last.

That said, seeing how it's a Tuesday (I think), anyone want to join me for a celebratory drink tonight at 11 p.m.?


Baby Steps - Free Association

You've got ideas, ideals, goals, and dreams. They're so much brighter, better, bigger, of course, than where you are right now. And you want to get there. Right now. Why wait? But first you have to take steps, little steps, baby steps to get you on your way. But you don't want to take the baby steps because, dammit, you're not a baby anymore, Mom! You're a big girl. And you want to take the big girl grownup steps. So you leap, you jump, you freaking fly over all the baby steps and you soar... but then you realize that you don't literally have wings and no one bothered to teach you how to land this thing so you crash and you burn and you scrape your knee and skin your elbow and break your arm and you cry. You cry big warm baby tears and you feel like such a big baby and you wonder, if I'm such a baby, why didn't I take the baby steps to begin with?

Letting Go To Be Good To Go

Ever since my first performance of No Exit Upstage, I knew there were some things that I still wanted to fine tune. Unfortunately, being so involved with the project, I couldn't grasp exactly what it was that I wanted to modify. Since I was in the middle of a run, I decided the best course of action was to, well, stay the current course and worry about it once the run was over. When the Ottawa Fringe Festival came to a close, inspiration still hadn't hit and so I decided to give it a few days. I am less then a week away from my trip to Winnipeg and I can feel that old panicky feeling rising up in my throat. I start feeling doubt and desperation and the pressure of my own high expectations. After all, since I don't believe I currently have a perfect product, so why should I take it off the shelf for all to see? On top of that, I am running out of time...

Today was an interesting day of discussion about the show. It's a hard lesson to learn, but sometimes you just have to let things go, let them breathe on their own and see where they might take you, instead of trying to force your vision upon them.

I consider myself a "do-er" and so I have trouble simply letting things rest. How will anything ever get done if you don't "do" anything about it? I guess we'll just have to see.

The Pitch

Our houses (or attendance) have been great for No Exit Upstage. According to the Ottawa Fringe Festival, we're well above average almost every night. As a local and somewhat well-connected performer, I've been blessed with a leg up on all the touring companies because I have the "friends and family" factor in my favour. That said, we have two shows to go and I really want to pack the place. This is where "The Pitch" comes in. Touring companies are experts in pitch. They have to be. Oftentimes they may be complete unknowns arriving in a city for the very first time. Since media coverage is somewhat lax here in Ottawa (and thanks to Jon P for making a little plea about this after his amazing performance of House last night), they almost solely rely on word of mouth. But how do you get word of mouth if no one is attending your show? Well, you bring a big stack of flyers and you find people at the beer tent, waiting in line to see a show, or coming out of one. And then you pitch. This will be an incredibly important activity once I hit the Winnipeg Fringe Festival in July.

I do consider myself and Arts Marketing person, so this should be a breeze, right? Unfortunately, I actually get a bit tongue-tied. It's much easier to promote someone else's show than my own. I've seen some awesome veteran fringers like Jem Rolls and Gemma Wilcox who have their pitches down to a science. I think Jem's is now down to something like "I'm British and say funny things that make you laugh." Brilliant. Short. Sweet. To the point.

What can I say?

"It's an absurd, existential and somewhat masturbatory comedy about two cohabitating Thespians trapped in their own private version of Sartrian Hell."

"Did you just say your show has masturbating lesbians?"

"... Maybe?"

Seriously though, I'm grateful for the feedback I've been getting from audience members about the show because it's given me the chance to see how others would view the piece. Lots of cool and catchy key words have come out of those discussions. My favorite so far has been "it's kinda like their in the Twilight zone."

If you see me around the Fringe today (and you will), stop and chat for a second. I'd love to test out my pitch on you.

****************************** No Exit Upstage - ONLY TWO PERFORMANCES LEFT! Directed by Ken Godmere Featuring Nancy Kenny & Natasha Jetté

The Ottawa Fringe Festival runs from June 18 to 28, 2009.

All No Exit Upstage performances take place in Venue #3 – Studio Leonard Beaulne Thursday June 18 – 9:30 PM (2 for 1 performance) Saturday June 20 – 11:00 PM Sunday June 21 – 2:00 PM Wednesday June 24 – 6:30 PM Saturday June 27 – 8:00 PM Sunday June 28 – 3:30 PM

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door. You also need the $2 Fringe Pin to get in to all performances. Advanced tickets and discounted multi-show Fringe passes are also available.

Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in...

I went to Toronto yesterday morning for an audition which meant that I would be missing all Fringe activities (and giving other people the chance to catch up to my record 19 shows + 3 performances - so technically 22) that night. "That's a good thing," I thought. I needed the break. I realized throughout my marathon viewing schedule that my attention span was waning. Unless an hour-long show was absolutely brilliant, I'd start to lose focus. This did not mean it was a bad show, it just meant I was tired. (Though I give incredibly high-praise to anyone whose shows come in just under the hour mark - Hey! This one does!)

*Side note - I find it interesting that I'm not the only blogger talking about time right now.

Anyway, so I arrive in Toronto at around 1:30pm and grab lunch at this great little sushi place I found on Queen Street W the last time I was in town. By 2:30pm, with 3 hours and 15 minutes to go until my audition, I decided to just find my way over to the venue, the Tarragon Theatre (Look at that, they are doing Scorched again. It's a good show.) Since I was ready to audition, I figured why not ask if I could be seen right away. You see, there's a 5:30pm train that could take me back to Ottawa that night. Since my audition was supposed to be at 5:45pm, I never would have made it, but...

The group from Theatre New Brunswick was wonderful. They squeezed me in early and I had an absolutely amazing audition that lasted about 5 minutes in length.

I headed strait to the Yonge Subway line, arrived at Union Station, exchanged my ticket, went to the LCBO, and boarded the train.

I arrived in Ottawa at about 10:30pm. Plenty of time to... head down to the Fringe tent... for karaoke... which I didn't get to participate in after all due to bylaw restrictions. Hell, if I was ambitious, I might have been able to catch something last night. But no, I needed the break.

I met my billets: two lovely gentlemen from Uncalled For and set them up in my condo.

Today, I get right back into the swing of things. No Exit Upstage is back on again at 6:30pm in the Studio Leonard Beaulne. As I mentioned in my previous post, the reviews have been fantastic. Then I will spend the evening catching up on shows.

See you on the Fringe!

No Exit Upstage Reviews

Well, after three solid performances, the reviews for No Exit Upstage have started pouring in and I'm thrilled to say they are all very positive! First up we have Patrick Langston from the Ottawa Citizen who calls it a "funny show" and "we find ourselves drawn to these two characters". You can read the whole review here.

Wayne Current at (Cult)ure magazine says it's a "solid script with many funny moments, has "compelling actors," and "Ken Godmere’s direction is also solid, especially his effective use of the stage. One scene in particular – where both characters are speaking in a simultaneous monologue – is quite powerful. It’s a beautiful piece of poetry inserted into the performance, and the play is worth seeing for that moment alone." You can read his entire review (which I am gleeful to note includes a link to my blog!) here.

There's also a charming review topically done through a split personality interview between Brian Carroll and himself on the Ottawa Fringe Festival website which includes this gem: "So why don’t more directors cast Nancy?" - His review can be seen here.

Finally, some Adorkable Thespian left a comment saying "It’s weird. It’s funny. It’s worth seeing." Thank you, whomever you are! You can read his (or her) comments here.

Only three more shows are left for No Exit Upstage! Our next performance is Wednesday, June 24 at 6:30 p.m.

******************************* I've been cleaning my apartment all day since my billets, the comedy group Uncalled For from Montreal, arrive tomorrow. Unfortunately I will not be around to great them since I will be in Toronto for an audition.

Can I just say how much I love my life right now?

Silencing the Inner Critic

I see a lot of theatre. Seriously, a ridiculous amount. I average about 4 shows a week. (The incredible thing about this news means that you CAN see 4 shows a week in Ottawa!) Like anything, these are not necessarily 4 good shows a week. In fact, most of the time, they're not. I hate a lot of the stuff I see. OK, maybe hate is a bit too strong a word... I'm disappointed by a lot of the stuff I see. You might be thinking then why keep going? Well, every once in a while I see something absolutely spectacular and/or moving. It kind of feels like meeting your soul mate, briefly, at a party and then spending the rest of your life looking for them again. You just know they're out there somewhere.

Anyway, all this to say I know what I think is good and I know what I think is shitty. Unfortunately, that (very loud) critic's voice inside my head often likes to come out to play when I'm creating a show. This is bad! Very bad! Because that critic likes to forget where I currently am at in my development as an artist (and I'd like to rephrase a previous post from the negative sounding I Have Limits to the much nicer Where I Am in my Development as an Artist). You see, it likes to tell me how great a show like Tempting Providence was without mentioning little unimportant details like it's been around for 7 years and played over 400 performances. Talk about putting too much pressure on yourself.

Last night we opened No Exit Upstage to a very full house and instead of feeling "Wow, I did it. I wrote a play, produced it, and presented it in front of a large audience. That is amazing! Way to go me!" I was thinking "Oh my God, I was shaking, I missed a blocking cue, wah wah wah! Nobody talk to me, I need a drink!"

And yet, when I stopped avoiding eye contact with everyone because "I suck so much", all I received were incredibly positive and glowing recommendations, including this very touching one this morning on Facebook from this guy, who I think is kind of a big deal and should know what he is talking about: "Pierre Brault was very impressed with Nancy Kenny's show, "No Exit Upstage" at the Ottawa fringe. Smartly written. Well performed. Go see it. More fringing tonight!"

I should really take the advice in this article more to heart.

So thank you everyone who came out to see the show. I can't believe 8 of you actually bought advanced tickets! I am grateful and truly blessed for your support and encouragement and I look forward to entertaining you throughout at least 5 more shows.

If you haven't seen No Exit Upstage yet, well what are you waiting for?

****************************** No Exit Upstage Directed by Ken Godmere Staring Nancy Kenny & Natasha Jetté

The Ottawa Fringe Festival runs from June 18 to 28, 2009.

All No Exit Upstage performances take place in Venue #3 – Studio Leonard Beaulne Thursday June 18 – 9:30 PM (2 for 1 performance) Saturday June 20 – 11:00 PM Sunday June 21 – 2:00 PM Wednesday June 24 – 6:30 PM Saturday June 27 – 8:00 PM Sunday June 28 – 3:30 PM

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door. You also need the $2 Fringe Pin to get in to all performances. Advanced tickets and discounted multi-show Fringe passes are also available.

Nancy's MUST SEE List at the Ottawa Fringe

Lots of lists are popping up all over the place on what you absolutely should see at the Ottawa Fringe Festival. Having been around the Fringe for a while now, I also know what I absolutely cannot miss. Since I expect to see approximately 40 shows this year (a new personal best, beating my lousy 21, albeit while performing in 12 shows, from last year), please don't be offended if you are not on my "Must See" list. Chances are I will probably be seeing your show, but I just don't have enough time to talk about them all. Well, first up, the cheap plug. You should definitely see No Exit Upstage. In fact, I suggest you see it twice. It's very layered so you're sure to discover something new each time ;)

Ok, on to the list. First up, the LOCALS. I always make it a habit each year to see as many local productions as I can. These are, after all, the people I will most likely be working with in the future (if I haven't already) and so it's good to know what they are doing.

OREO Nadine Thornhill is one of the smartest and funniest writers I know. Some kind of Norm Foster meets Gilmore Girls. She also won last year's Best in Venue award for her play The Wedding Night, so you know she can bring the goods.

...Comes Around An all-star team of Ottawa's best and brightest artists with more award wins and nominations among them than there are people in the cast. Plus, explicit sexuality! They have two 11 p.m. time slots for all us skeevy pervs in the audience. Guess when I'll be in attendance?

Une nuit arabe The only French play at the festival and one that Evolution Theatre will be mounting in October (in English). I am very curious to see how they will be doing it in the tiny and workout inducing Studio 311.

Inclement Weather and Country Shaped Like Stars At the very least see one of them, but preferably see both. Emily Pearlman and Nick Di Gaetano are hands-down the most interesting and creative artists working in Ottawa today. I am in absolute awe when in their presence and still find it incredible they let me hang around. Both these shows fall under their new !MI CASA! banner. I expect lots of amazing things in the future from them both so I figure it best to get in on the ground floor now. Oh and in my book, Miss Pearlman gets 5 stars for every show.

The Squatter Heart By Annie Lefebvre / Directed by Andy Massingham Her preview performance at the Festival Tent last night sold this one for me. A beautiful poetic movement piece. Annie was simply stunning. I can't wait to see more!

The Beer Tent It doesn't take place at the tent, but in the Royal Oak basement on Laurier. I think I get a shout-out in the show. I want to go check. I'm vain like that. We Never Clothed Boobies. Kate Smith. I think there's a musical number too. But mostly I'm going for the boobies.

Now, for the OUT OF TOWNERS!

Like a Virgin I saw Jimmy Hogg's show in London a few months ago and you can read the review here. It was great and I will be going back to see how it's come along since then.

On Second Thought Another performer I saw a few months ago and you can read my thoughts on him here. His festival preview last night included a strip tease to MmmmBop, just to give you an idea what you're in for.

Is Shakespeare's Dead? I am not proud to say that in the seven years I've been at the Ottawa Fringe Festival, and in the seven years he's been there, I have never seen a Keir Cutler show. I plan on fixing that this year. Grandpa Sol and Grandma Rosie Watch this video and tell me it does not make you want to see this show?

Ok, so I was trying to keep this list at 10, but Annie Lefebvre made it impossible to do so.

Happy Fringing!

Nancy Kenny's No Exit Upstage, opens with a 2-for-1 admission price Thursday, June 18 at 9:30 pm and plays in Venue #3 - Studio Leonard-Beaulne.

Why See No Exit Upstage?

Listen to this glowing recommendation from Brian Carroll, a man who knows his way around a Fringe Festival: No Exit Upstage

"Nancy Kenny flies under director's radar for reasons I don't understand. She won an Ottawa Fringe award for her performance in Tuesdays and Sundays. And she was in the sold out and remounted Evolution Theatre production of This is a Play. And try to tell me that that photo of her in a hair-pulling catfight with Natasha Jetté isn't hot! I'll try this one on spec."

Here's the picture he's talking about:

Natasha Jette and Nancy Kenny   Photo by Marcel Leger

We open tomorrow night and run throughout the entire festival!

No Exit Upstage Writer/Creator: Nancy Kenny Director: Ken Godmere

What’s worse than a job interview? Being stuck in the same room as the competition. Two roommates. One audition. Hell hath no catfight like an actress scorned.

A new comedy written and performed by Nancy Kenny (Best in Venue/Outstanding Performance Winner, Tuesdays & Sundays, and the sold-out run of Daniel MacIvor’s This Is A Play - Ottawa Fringe) Shows

* Show: No Exit Upstage * Date: Thursday, June 18th 2009 * Time: 9:30pm * City: in Ottawa, ON * Venue: Venue #3- Studio Leonard Beaulne * Address: 135 Séraphin-Marion * Country: CA * Admission: 10.00 * Age restrictions: PG13 * Buy tickets. * Notes: 2 for 1 opening night

Chill Out, Virginia, It Can Be This Easy

I woke up a little earlier than 5:00 a.m. with the sun barely creeping through my blinds. I was ok with that since I was going to head out for some early morning yoga, but I couldn't figure out if I had slept. If I did sleep, I spent the entire night dreaming about THE SHOW and my tossing and turning was based on all of my blocking, or I didn't sleep and I just thought about the show all night... Ah well, being up that early reminded me that I needed to do laundry, since my costume top was in the basket and we were teching at 9:30 a.m. I also filled out an application for what will surely be another cool festival for No Exit Upstage in September. Yes, the application deadline is way beyond past, but the fine folks in Kitchener-Waterloo have been kind enough to grant me one massive extension.

All in all, with the working out and an impromptu coffee meeting with theatre friends post-yoga, I had a very productive morning before heading out to our venue in Studio Leonard Beaulne on the University of Ottawa campus.

The reality of the situation finally hit me when I got there. We open in LESS THAN TWO DAYS! While on the bus my director/stage manager called to say his own bus hadn't shown up and he would be late. I arrived at the venue and couldn't find either the technician or my fellow actor. I wanted to panic! Where was the Fringe office phone number? Where was everyone? What the hell is going on!?!

Then I looked at my phone. It wasn't even 9:30 yet...

Needless to say, everyone arrived and things went as smoothly as they possibly could. I worried a bit, some more, that I wouldn't be able to get the timing for some of my cues, but we just kept working them until we got it right. I also had to keep telling myself that a cue-to-cue was not a place to be worried about character development. An excellent technical rehearsal later (Vincent is awesome!), we were having lunch on the grass before tidying up a few bits of the story arc. It was wonderful. Post-rehearsal I went to tape up posters around the venues.

Two days before opening and I am confident we have a solid show. It is an incredibly uplifting feeling to know that we won't simply be running on adrenaline to pull this all together. I can't thank the gang enough for making my life so incredibly easy. I sincerely hope to see you all out there throughout the run!

Nancy Kenny's No Exit Upstage, opens with a 2-for-1 admission price Thursday, June 18 at 9:30 pm and plays in Venue #3 - Studio Leonard-Beaulne.


As an added bonus, while we were finishing up our rehearsal, I received a call from Theatre New Brunswick. I guess I haven't simply been killing trees after all! I'll be heading to Toronto on June 23rd (a day we are not schedule to perform on - thank you Universe!) to audition for their TYA Touring Company.