Hair - It's for a Part

My last haircut was in July 2011. For the first 3 or 4 months, it was just unnecessary, then it was unaffordable (#hobokenny) and finally, I decided to make it work for me. The show I've got coming up with Evolution Theatre - Mary Magdalene and Adventures in Sobriety - is about a homeless woman who crashes into an AA meeting. At some point in December or January, re-reading the script, the theme of hair was coming up. At various points in the script, my Mary M mentions never getting gray hair, drying his darling feet with her hair, soaking up his blood with her hair...

(Luke 7.38  She waited behind him at his feet, weeping, and her tears began to fall on his feet. She dried them with her hair, kissed his feet, and anointed them with perfume.)

I had a chat with the director and said that chances are a homeless woman would not have nice hair and I would like to let mine grow out for the show. He agreed and now here I am with hair that probably hasn't been this long since my high school days. The ends are split and dry and, as I realized during roller derby tryouts yesterday afternoon, get caught in my armpits. And there is A LOT of it. I've always had really thick hair and these days it feels like I'm wearing a sweater on my head. A very shedd-y sweater.

So here I am, about a month and a half from showtime, with hair still growing, and having stopped plucking my eyebrows about a month ago.

Mary Magdalene or Cousin It? The things we do for Art.

In the meantime, I know I'm late on the bandwagon, but this one really made me laugh. Personal favorite: "It's for a part."



I'm Going to Need a New Dress

Last night, the nominees for the 5th Annual Les Prix Rideau Awards were announced and I couldn't be happier. My little Roller Derby Saved My Soul received FOUR nominations!  They are Outstanding Fringe Production, Outstanding New Creation, Emerging Artist for myself as playwright and Emerging Artist for my director, Tania Levy.  This is all for the production that took place at the Ottawa Fringe Festival this past June. I'm also really pleased that Evolution Theatre walked away with a whopping SEVEN nominations and that my director for the upcoming Mary Magdalene and Adventures in Sobriety, Andy Massingham is so well recognized.

To tell you the truth, I kind of expected the Fringe nod and I had hoped that Tania or I would get the Emerging artist nomination, but I never thought that both of us would, nor did I even expect the New Creation one.  I mean fer cryin out loud, I'm now nominated in the same category as PIERRE BRAULT. That, to me, is just unbelievable.

Maybe four or five years ago, I remember wanting to do a one-person show. I had a theme. Something about roller derby. That was about it.  I had no idea where to even begin, so I contacted the one person I knew who might.

"Hi Pierre, do you ever give workshops on creating a one-person show?"

"Not really, but if you have an idea you want to work on, we can meet for drinks and talk about it."

Now, at the time, I wasn't the NancyKennyRockStar you all know and love. More like NancyKennyRoadie. So contacting the man who created a show that blew me away so much I actually went back and paid for it twice was no small feat. And just like that we were going to have drinks? (Lesson learned: you can pretty much meet any local artist you want if you buy them drinks and maybe lunch... well, at least you can with me #hobokenny)

I still remember the very first thing he said to me when we met.

"Why? Why do you want to do this? Do you really feel the need to sleep on someone's couch in Saskatoon?"

Yes. Yes, I do.

We talked for about four pints and the rest, as they say, is history.


Pierre's advice was a big help in pushing me in the right direction for what was to become Roller Derby Saved My Soul so to even be nominated in this category with him? Whoa.

So much thanks to you, Pierre, my friend and colleague. As they say, it's an honour just to be nominated, but this one feels just a little bit sweeter.


Full list of nominees below:



For Immediate Release - Ottawa, February 27, 2012

Founded in 2006 to celebrate, encourage and promote French and English locally produced professional theatre work and its artists, the Prix Rideau Awards is proud to announce the nominees for 2011.  Artists and supporters gathered earlier at Le Petit Chicago, where the nominees for outstanding achievements in the year 2011 were unveiled.  During the 2011 calendar year, two teams of local arts professionals juried 36 English productions and 12 French productions. Nominations were submitted by secret ballot and tallied by independent accountants.

The Prix Rideau Awards will be handed out on Sunday, April 22, 2012, at the Shenkman Arts Centre, in Orleans.  Tickets are on sale now at


The nominees for English-language productions are:

Outstanding Production

Strawberries in January, Great Canadian Theatre Company

The 39 Steps, SevenThirty Productions

The Fan, Odyssey Theatre

Twelfth Night, St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival

Under Milk Wood, Ottawa Theatre School


Outstanding Direction

Joël Beddows, The Lavender Railroad, Evolution Theatre

David S. Craig, The Fan, Odyssey Theatre

Janet Irwin, Under Milk Wood, Ottawa Theatre School

Kevin Orr, Bifurcate Me, Theatre 4.669

Craig Walker, Twelfth Night, St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival


Outstanding Performance, Female

Mary Ellis, Dreams of Whales, New Theatre of Ottawa

Annie Lefebvre, Under Milk Wood, Ottawa Theatre School

Rose Napoli, The Fan, Odyssey Theatre

Kate Smith, The 39 Steps, SevenThirty Productions

Beverley Wolfe, The Lavender Railroad, Evolution Theatre


Outstanding Performance, Male

Richard Gélinas, The 39 Steps, SevenThirty Productions

Andy Massingham, Exit the King, Third Wall Theatre

Andy Massingham, The Fan, Odyssey Theatre

Andy Massingham, The Shadow Cutter, Great Canadian Theatre Company / Sleeping Dog Theatre

John Muggleton, Speed-the-Plow, Plosive Productions


Outstanding Design

Martin Conboy, Lighting Design, The Shadow Cutter, Great Canadian Theatre Company / Sleeping Dog Theatre

AL Connors, Sound Design, The Lavender Railroad, Evolution Theatre

Ivo Valentik, Set Design, Speed-the-Plow, Plosive Productions

Ivo Valentik, Set Design, A Midwinter’s Dream Tale, a Company of Fools

Sarah Waghorn, Set Design, Dreams of Whales, New Theatre of Ottawa


Outstanding New Creation

Tony Adams, Erin Lindsay and Cory Thibert, Sounds from the Turtle Shell, May Can Theatre

Lawrence Aronovitch, The Lavender Railroad, Evolution Theatre

Pierre Brault, The Shadow Cutter, Great Canadian Theatre Company / Sleeping Dog Theatre

Nancy Kenny, Roller Derby Saved My Soul, Broken Turtle Productions

Julie Le Gal, Andy Massingham and Kevin Orr, Bifurcate Me, Theatre 4.669


Outstanding Adaptation / Translation

A Company of Fools (Adaptation), A Midwinters’ Dream Tale, a Company of Fools

Henry Beissel (Adaptation), Antigone, Third Wall Theatre

David S. Craig (Adaptation), The Fan, Odyssey Theatre

Mishka Lavigne (Translation), Little Martyrs, Evolution Theatre

Charles McFarland (Adaptation), Hamlet 2011, Ottawa Shakespeare Company / Ottawa Theatre School


Outstanding Fringe Production

Glitch…, Ottawa Theatre School

Playing for Advantage, Black Sheep Theatre

Roller Derby Saved My Soul, Broken Turtle Productions

Sounds from the Turtle Shell, May Can Theatre

THE WALK, Moon Dog Theatre


Emerging Artist Award

Katie Bunting, Actor

Pierre Ducharme, Set Designer

Nancy Kenny, Playwright

Mishka Lavigne, Translator

Tania Levy, Director


The nominees for French-language productions are:

Production de l'année

Adieu Beauté, la comédie des horreurs, Théâtre Belvédère

Frères d’hiver, Théâtre la Catapulte

Les Étoiles d’Angus, Théâtre de l’Île

Taram, Théâtre du Trillium

Ti-Jean de partout, Cie Vox Théâtre


Mise en scène de l'année

Caroline Yergeau, Adieu Beauté, la comédie des horreurs, Théâtre Belvédère

Joël Beddows, Frères d’hiver, Théâtre la Catapulte

Isabelle Bélisle, Les Étoiles d’Angus, Théâtre de l’Île

Pierre Antoine Lafon Simard, Taram, Théâtre du Trillium

Pier Rodier, Ti-Jean de partout, Cie Vox Théâtre


Interprétation féminine de l'année

Geneviève Couture, Feu la mère de madame et Un bain de ménage,  Théâtre de l’Île

Jocelyne Zucco, Les Fridolinades, Théâtre la Catapulte /Théâtre français de Toronto

Lina Blais, Les Fridolinades, Théâtre la Catapulte / Théâtre français de Toronto

Marjolaine Beauchamp, Taram, Théâtre du Trillium

Micheline Marin, Taram, Théâtre du Trillium


Interprétation masculine de l'année

Nicolas Desfossés, Autopsies de biscuits chinois, Théâtre du Trillium / Théâtre Belvédère

Alain Doom, Frères d’hiver, Théâtre la Catapulte

Pierre Simpson, Frères d’hiver, Théâtre la Catapulte

Richard Bénard, Les Étoiles d’Angus, Théâtre de l’Île

John Doucet, Ti-Jean de partout, Cie Vox Théâtre


Conception de l'année

Geneviève Couture, costumes, Feu la mère de madame et Un bain de ménage, Théâtre de l’Île

Brian Smith, décor, Frères d’hiver, Théâtre la Catapulte

Guillaume Houët, éclairages, Frères d’hiver, Théâtre la Catapulte

Julie Giroux, décor, Les Papillons de nuit, Théâtre de l’Île

Pierre-Luc Clément et Olivier Fairfield, environnement sonore, Taram, Théâtre du Trillium


Nouvelle création de l'année

Annie Cloutier, Antoine Côté Legault, Marie-Pierre Proulx, Autopsies de biscuits chinois, Théâtre du Trillium / Théâtre Belvédère

Diane Bouchard, Dragon glouton, Gestes théâtre

Michel Ouellette, adapté par Joël Beddows et Marie Claude Dicaire, Frères d’hiver, Théâtre la Catapulte

Philippe Landry, Retour à Pripyat, Théâtre de Dehors

Marjolaine Beauchamp, Taram, Théâtre du Trillium


Prix artiste en émergence

Marjolaine Beauchamp, dramaturgie

Mary-Eve Fortier, interprétation

Lisa L’Heureux, direction de production

Frédérique Thérien, interpréation

Caroline Yergeau, mise en scène et interprétation


Derrière le Rideau Award

Mathieu Charette, régie, Feu la mère de madame et Un bain de ménage, Théâtre de l’Île

Julie Grethen, régie, Les Étoiles d’Angus, Théâtre de l’Île

Lisa L’Heureux, direction de production, Les Papillons de nuit, Théâtre de l’Île



For general information:               Source:

Les Prix Rideau Awards              Élise Gauthier, Communications Coordinator

C.P. 1087, Station B         

Ottawa (Ontario), K1P 5R1


Online Tools for Artists

Along with my semi-regular Cool People Doing Cool Things column, I'm now going to be adding one called Online Tools for Artists. Today's Tool: Pinterest

I'm a little embarrassed that as a social media practitioner, I hadn't heard of Pinterest until a few weeks ago.  And to be fair, even when I did find out about it, I didn't know how it could possibly be of interest to me. Pinterest is a "virtual pinboard" that lets you share any images you find on the Web.  A neat concept that can be used to help decorate your home, plan a wedding, put together fashion & beauty tips, or collect recipes to share with your friends.  This is all fine and good, but like I said I couldn't figure out how it could be of any real use to me in my everyday life.  Then I remembered a conversation I had with my director for my upcoming appearance in Mary Magdalene and Adventures in Sobriety (tickets currently available by phone).  He told me how when he worked with Peter Hinton as a director, the man would have an entire wall filled with images that inspired him in regards to the production he would be working on at the time.   That's when it hit me. I'm not much of one for using wall space or creating vision boards or things like that (being #hobokenny and not having walls for a while will do that to you), but virtual walls? Sign me up!

Recently, I've created two Boards on Pinterest: one for Mary M and one for Roller Derby Saved My Soul. I was even able to add the show info in the Board description. So far so good.  I've added some photos I've taken on my phone, as well as stuff I've found online by adding the Pin It button to my browser toolbar. I've also done a search for things like "roller derby" in Pinterest and found a few people with awesome photos that I've started following.

I'm not quite clear on the whole following aspect just yet. Following someone seems to mean that their Pins show up in your Home window when you log on. I had left a question for myself in one photo to find out who was it in and some strangers actually answered less than 5 minutes later which weirded me out a little bit.   However it doesn't give them access to any of my personal information so, so far, I'm cool with that.

Right now, I think I have found myself a great tool that let's me work through my own personal actor/writer creation process while letting in folks on my own personal practice.  As someone who readily advocates that theatre is about process and not product, I think Pinterest could be a very good step in that direction.

What do you think? Have you tried Pinterest? How has it been working for you?

HoboKenny Rides Again

You know, I have a great job. I really do. But this Blog is not called So You Want To  Be a Civil Servant, now is it? It is therefore with great pleasure and pride that I officially announce to you that I will once again be taking centre stage this coming April for Evolution Theatre in the one-woman show Mary Magdalene and Adventures in Sobriety. Yes, Ottawa, I'm coming home!

It's a beautiful, funny and touching script by Newfoundland playwright Berni Stapleton and will be directed by the hardest working man in Ottawa theatre, Andy Massingham.  The whole thing is part of a double-bill that includes [boxhead] by Darren O’Donnell, which will be directed by Alix Sideris and featuring Christopher Bedford and Stewart Matthews.

Check out the Evolution Theatre site for more details on that one and I will be sure to let you know right here when tickets go on sale.


In the meantime, check out this show synopsis and tell me it doesn't sound like the perfect thing for #HoboKenny (which, BTW, I plan on using as the #Hashtag for the show - so go ahead and follow me on Twitter to stay up to date).

Mary Magdalene and Adventures in Sobriety by Berni Stapleton Directed by Andy Massingham Featuring Nancy Kenny

Mary Magdalene has spent the past 2000 years in mourning. She’s wandered the earth, lost her jewels and maybe her marbles, and now sleeps on the streets in Toronto. She crashes (literally) into an AA meeting, where she finds the 12 steps to sobriety lead in divergent directions of spirituality, passion, and a really formidable mother-in-law. Mary Magdalene and Adventures in Sobriety, the perfect after Easter treat.

Arts Court Theatre 2 Daly Avenue, Ottawa, ON

April 18th to 28th, 2012 – 7:30 p.m. Pay What You Can Matinee: Sunday April 22nd – 2 p.m. (no show on Monday) Tickets $25, $20 for Students/Seniors Available by phone by calling Arts Court at 613-564-7240

Where Is the Love?

It's been months since I last performed, heck even worked on Roller Derby Saved My Soul. Some days it feels like this lovely adventure that happened to someone else, like memories of my high school graduation or my first grown up relationship. Did I really do that? Did it all really happen? A few days ago, feeling nostalgic, I watched some clips of Buffy the Vampire Slayer online, thinking yes, this is what I need to get back on track and... ZOMG! Was the acting ALWAYS this bad? It was painful. I had to stop watching. I can't poison my feeling for the show otherwise RDSmS just doesn't work. So I sat through my archival video instead in order to update my script and found myself scowling. Really? This is funny? Really?! this is what I want to take on tour across the country? Because I'm not seeing it anymore.

A couple of days ago, I brought my roller skates to acting class and used them in a scene. It felt great. Like slipping into a warm bath or a gentle hug only for your feet. I know, somewhere, deep down, the magic is still there, but I'm just not seeing it anymore. I don't feel like a creator, an artist, anymore. I feel like an office drone and I'm really not sure how to get out of it. I'm really not sure I even want to do RDSmS anymore...

I miss my team, but we're in different cities with different things on the go now. I wish I could get us all together for rehearsal. I wish I had a reason to put on the show again, one more time, just to know if I've still "got it".

So I'm asking all my fring-y artist friends who create, produce and perform their own work: does this ever happen to you? How do you deal with it?

Thank you, Mom

Yesterday, my Mom told me she was proud of me. I can count on one hand the number of times this has happened in my lifetime and here she was saying it multiple times in one phone conversation. At first I thought she was just proud because I have fulfilled some sort of lifelong dream that involves working two full-time jobs, but no, she's proud of me for going after my dream of being a professional actor. So thrown was I by this confession that I had to call her back after I hung up and make sure she wasn't dying (she's not, btw).

Without going into details, I only have my Mom and she's never been happy with my career choice. I'm sure there are a lot of you out there who can understand what that feels like. I've always been jealous of artists who have parental support. Sure, she wants me to be happy, but she knows how difficult an acting career can be and she doesn't want me to have to deal with that.

She basically told me the reason she never said it before was because she knew I would take it as a sign of encouragement and I would just run off, potentially slamming my face into the wall in the process. And she's right. But what she only seems to be realizing now is that it's MY face. And if I want to get a giant tattoo of a bird on there or slam it metaphorically into a wall, I'm going to do that, whether or not she likes it or approves of it. But it would be much nicer and easier for me if she did.

I'm a grown up, yes. I've been living on my own for over twelve years. I cook my own meals, good meals, and do my own laundry and cleaning. I own property, I work hard, and I've had some level of success doing what I do. I'm an actor, a writer, a producer and a marketing person. I dream of being an internationally recognized bilingual artist and just watch me because I will get there one day. I love to travel and learn and meet new people. I do not need anyone's approval or support. I fall down and fall often, but I always ALWAYS get back up. I can do anything that I put my mind to. I am a strong, ambitious and independent woman.

But just between you, me and the interwebs, deep down, what I've always wanted is my Mommy to be proud of me and know that I am only able to do even half the stuff I have accomplished in my life because of her. Because I've seen her be a strong, ambitious and independent woman, an entrepreneur who has raised two very strong and successful daughters by falling down a lot but always ALWAYS being crazy enough to just get back up again on her own terms. And that's the best example and the greatest gift I could have ever had.

I love you, Mom, and I'm proud of you too.

Running Away to Join the Circus

A few months ago, a friend of mine told me about these Vaudeville classes she was taking at "Circus School" - Centre of Gravity in Toronto.  My curiosity was piqued.  I've done clown work and stilt walking in the past, and I definitely want the roller skating I do in Roller Derby Saved my Soul to be very circus-like.  I checked out the website and found something that was perfect for me: Circus Conditioning and Flexibility Class.  Now, to be fair, my brain, the first time, totally read that as "Core" Conditioning and Flexibility Class (in fact, I didn't realize until right now when I looked it up for this blog that it was called something else)  and I jumped at the chance to get more ab work since I totally need it to get steadier on skates. The roommate and I signed up.  Turns out my roommate is a former gymnast (is there anything she can't do?) and she also wanted to get back into shape.

The class itself is really cool and the instructor is *sigh* very good.  We started out with some stretching, then some tumbling (where I swear the Mission Impossible theme was playing in my head the entire time), tried to balance some objects on our chins, got my first introduction to juggling, and then did a circuit that included balancing yourself on top of a ball as well climbing up silks and a low-hanging trapeze.

It was hard and I'm definitely feeling it today, but I'm proud that the roommate and I were able to keep up.  Not to mention some activities were a lot easier than I thought they would be like standing up tall on a big round ball.


This one made sense to me.  It's all core work and I've got a lot of experience there thanks to yoga and roller skating.  No, the one that did surprise me was the fact that I can juggle.  How that happened I really don't know, but it felt the exact same way it did the first time I put on roller skates.  Not easy, but with definite ease. Next up, juggling on roller skates?


The Stepford Phenomena

Commercial auditions are a weird thing.  I remember being told during the Sears and Switzer TV Commercial Weekend that these were the only auditions where a 20-year Startford veteran could be legitimately competing against the plumber from down the street (or was it a veterinarian?) First of all, leave the resume and headshot at home. You'll have to fill out a form and get your picture taken on location.

The less lines there are to learn, the more people you will find packed into what feels like a very tiny room.  There's a reason they call them "cattle-call" auditions and, the first time around, you will be struck by the fact that so many people in this town look JUST LIKE YOU.  I swear I didn't realize there were so many brunettes who like wearing skinny jeans inside their boots before... Remove any delusions you might have. You, my friend, are not special.

If you are a member of ACTRA, don't forget to sign in with your call time and audition number (meaning is this your first, second, third, ect audition with these people).  This is very important because commercial auditions are one of the few times you can get paid just for showing up.  You get $50 for a callback audition and, if they are running behind schedule, about $75 for every hour past your call time you have to wait.  But you have to sign it all in, otherwise you will not get your money!

Then there's the audition itself.  Every single one I've had so far has been different.  Many of them are in groups, lots seem to involve improv and miming of some sort, and I even had one where they just asked us to say a few words about ourselves.  Sometimes there's food, though not always the product food. One time I was supposed to be wolfing down a sandwich so they gave us plain ol' hamburger buns instead.  My roommate often jokes that they just want comedians for commercials and she's not quite wrong.  They don't usually want actors, they want "real people" (unless it's a beer commercial and then they want models).  And since most people watching TV or online ignore commercials, they usually want something funny that will be memorable and hold your attention.  So they want "real people" with "great comedic timing".

There will often just be one other person in the room, and that's typically the camera guy (or an associate casting person who is also happens to be the camera operator).  The casting director, the director and the "client" usually won't show up until a callback, unless there are no callbacks, in which case they will be there.  And if they are there, they will probably be talking to each other a lot and you will wonder why no one seems to notice you're standing RIGHT THERE.

Chances are you won't be in the room for more than a few minutes.  They will thank you. You will leave.

If you get a callback (Congratulations! Enjoy your $50!), just come back and do the exact same thing you did last time.  As a safety measure, just wear the same clothes too.  The client probably saw a lot of tapes and don't have too much imagination. If they brought you in, it's because they liked something you did the first time around.

Oh and I should have probably mentioned this before, but remember to have fun!

After that, well, I'm not sure what happens after that as I have yet to book a commercial, but I am told it is a very lucrative endeavor, albeit not a very artistically fulfilling one.

And there you have it.  That's the commercial process in a nutshell.  If I missed anything, feel free to add it in the comments section.

You Are At Work

Ok, this is that part about reviewing that I didn't care for...  Alright, I'm going to get this over as quickly as possible before moving on to me favorite topic ("ME!" she says, a false sens of pretension dripping in her voice.) Last night, I had the chance to see Living with Henry at the Next Stage Theatre Festival.  I was pretty keen to see this one since the subject matter appealed to me.  As the friend accompanying me pointed out, a few years ago there were so many movies and stories about people getting HIV/AIDS and dying from it that it's refreshing to see someone talk about it and where it's at today.  Because the disease isn't gone, but sometimes it seems a bit forgotten.  There are a lot of enjoyable moments in Living with Henry: the lead carries the show well; his Mom is a solid actor and I really enjoyed her singing voice; I love the way they portrayed HIV as a big, tough bald guy; there's an awesome tango number in a bathhouse and OHMYGODSOMUCHPRETTYTOLOOKAT... *ahem* - but as a whole, the show just didn't do it for me.  I think part of it is because the show tries to be too much at one time.  It wants to be funny and serious and musical and dance-y and it has so much potential material to pull from and gets tossed into so many directions that it just can't get really good at one thing.  Again, Living with Henry definitely has something to offer, I'm just not sure I was the right person to receive it.


Ok. Moving on. Yesterday, I also had the privilege of attending a general theatre audition for four different summer stock theatre's in the province.  I thought it was really great they got together for these auditions.  Some people might be intimidated by having more people in a room, but I thrive on it.  Not to mention it's a pretty big time-saver for me.  I was feeling pretty good about the audition and, yes, it did go very well, but that's not what stuck with me at the end of the day.  When I walked into the room, one artistic director apologized because they were ahead of schedule and they didn't want to rush me.  I said it was no problem, it would just get me back to work faster.  And that's when, with good humour, he replied:

"You are at work."

I don't get speechless very often, but that one threw me.  Of course I'm at work!  Auditions are just as much part of the job as the job itself.  Just because you are not getting paid for it, does not mean you don't have to work. These people don't know me. They've never seen me perform before.  I can't coast and save up all the "good stuff" for when they hire me.  No.  I have to prepare.  I go to class, I learn and rehearse a monologue, I print resumes and headshots (all of this on my own dime) so that I can walk into a room and comfortably, for lack of a better word, "work" it.

It's been a while, but I was grateful for the reminder.

Hulk *Smash!*

I'm an angry person. I'm angry about everything: the news, the weather, the way I look, the jobs I have, the jobs I don't have, my family, my lack of skills in certain areas, watching "bad" theatre when I know you can do so much better, money, power, men, women, my mattress, the languages I speak, the languages I don't speak, the city I'm in, the city I'm not in, selfish people,  people who get treated badly, cleaning, getting out of bed in the morning, feeling tired, sex, politics, debates, competition, people who hate everything, and, oh I don't know, let's say the Dutch.  Seriously though, the list doesn't end there. I am pissed off ALL. THE. TIME.

I never admitted it in public before. Ever.  And having to hide who I am all the time has made me an unhappy person.

Last night, I had my first acting class of the new year.  Our first day assignment: do something that reveals yourself.  It could be anything.  Some people danced, some read poetry, some just talked. Me? I smashed a whole bunch of stuff into itty bitty pieces on the floor.  And it felt AMAZING.  Having let that out, I feel more than ready to tackle the scene I was then assigned: Janice in John Patrick Shanley's Italian-American Reconciliation - probably the angriest woman written for the stage since Kate in Taming of the Shrew.

This realization also explains to me why I really love things like Roller Derby, Boxing, Wrestling and a healthy dose of Xena: Warrior Princess.  Now I understand why I love the sister character in my one-woman show so much and how easy it is for me to drop into her. She isn't just an alter-ego, she's me.

Don't get me wrong, just because I'm angry does not mean I'm unhappy or can't be happy or can't be a good person.  I know that, you know that, but I'm not too sure society knows that.  I've been hiding who I really am, making myself weak and small and victim-y because society has taught me that angry, strong women, with a few exceptions (What up, Lucy Lawless?) are "unattractive" and "bitches".

Well fuck you society, I'm done with that.


Throwing You A Bone

I go and see a lot of plays.  I need to.  It's part of my job.  I also read the program front to back (though a lot of times only after the show, as you will soon see).  I check out names and past projects.  After all, with directors and designers, I start to see a certain style.  For example, one of my favorite shows at the Canadian Stage was Studies in Motion, directed by Kim Collier.  It was one of the most visually appealing and stunning productions I had seen in years (the link I provided does include a promo video of the show, but it really doesn't do the play justice).  Then I went to see Red.  A few hours later, I was raving about CanStage to a friend, talking about how they have such visually appealing shows, like Studies in Motion and Red, without sacrificing story like some other theatre companies I know.  My friend kindly pointed out that it made sense since they were directed by the same person and I, uh, then read my program... Without realizing it, it seems I have gained a pretty substantial arts crush on Kim Collier, which is great because now I know that I really want to work with her.  I wouldn't have known that if I hadn't gone out to the theatre.

And if you are an actor you should be going to.  There is so much happening in Toronto right now all the time that it's really hard to keep up with everything.  I've already talked about Next Stage (and will again some more this week as I check out more shows), but I also wanted to let you know about another production that might be flying below your theatre-going radar.

The play is called Four Dogs and a Bone by John Patrick Shanley. It opens tomorrow (January 10th) night and runs until January 21st.

Four Dogs and a Bone is a comedy... scratch a little deeper and it's a tragedy. After John Patrick Shanley had his first taste of Hollywood with Moonstruck and Joe Vs. The Volcano he exposed the film industry for all its insanity, greed and dirty madness. There are four dogs and only one bone. Two ferocious actresses, a sleazy over-the-edge producer and a naive screenwriter from off-off Broadway all fight for control of a film. A sharp satirical tragic comedy that holds no prisoners in this dog-eat-dog world.

I love this play.  I love most of Shanley's work, but I really love this play in particular.  And if you are in anyway involved in the performing arts, you will love this play too.    It's produced by some brilliant artists who really embody what it means to be an actor - if you want to work, don't just wait for someone to hand it to you, go out there and do it yourself.  I highly encourage you to check them out.

See you at the theatre!

Patience, Grasshopper

Last night, I had coffee with a friend that really put things into perspective for me.  This friend is a working actor based in Los Angeles who was up visiting family for the Holidays.  He's appeared in many of those procedural shows you see on TV (the CSI's, the Cold Cases, ect.), as well as a regular guest sport on a popular HBO TV show.  If anything, this guy is living the dream, right?  But when he first started out, he was going to school full-time, working in a restaurant, and taking acting classes as much as possible.  Laying the groundwork for what was to come because it was never a matter of if, but when.  It wasn't that long ago that he was finally able to let go of the serving job, but these days he's wondered if he might have to go back. This got me thinking about another friend who's a Dora Award-winning actor.  After winning his award, he told me about how he was living in his parent's basement, working part-time as a janitor to make ends meat.  Another friend has been a regular company member of the National Arts Centre and a staple in the Ottawa theatre community, and we've worked together on a number of little promotion jobs in order to get by.  And another friend has been cleaning toilets for less than minimum wage and then stays up all night editing videos she's created.

And the list goes on...

Let's be perfectly honest here.  I have been bitter about having to take on a day-job recently to get by.  Even though it's a really great job, I'm learning a lot of new skills (looking forward to my HTML workshop in January!), and getting behind-the-scenes access to the Ontario Arts Council, part of me still felt like a failure because I didn't manage to "make it" work solely as an actor.   But having this coffee-talk with my friend made me realize/reminded me that this is part and parcel of the whole deal.   And if the job I'm doing is going to allow me to live comfortably while taking lots of acting classes, getting new headshots & checking out lots of great art where I can meet and network with some awesome people?  Then so be it.

Which is why I'm feeling much better about being able to say now that I am going to have a second job to help me achieve my goals and lay the groundwork for my acting career.  As of January 4th, you'll be looking at the new Community Manager for Via Rail - fancy title that says I'll be monitoring the company's Twitter account on evenings and weekends.

Those of you who enjoyed my #hoboKenny phase are probably wondering what took me so long to get a job with this company since I definitely took the train enough to warrant working there.  This job came about through Twitter.  I happened to be following the current Community Manager when I caught sight of  a Tweet: "Interested in Community Management? Drop me a line about an opportunity! It's going to happen quickly, so act now and tell your friends!"  I asked what it was about and the ball was quickly in motion after that.

It's the perfect job for me because I can work from home or on the road, needing only to check in periodically and answer any customer questions or concerns that may arise.   If everything works out, by the time my contract is done at the OAC, I may be in the best position to have an income coming in, along with access to a multitude of travel vouchers (drool), to support me in my primary career, without having to resort to getting a minimum wage job...

So, patience, grasshopper.  It's not a matter of if but when.


In the words of the immortal Krusty the Clown, "have a Merry Christmas, a Happy Chanukah, a Krazy Kwanzaa, a Tip-Top Tet, and a solemn and meaningful Ramadan. Now, over to my god, our sponsors."

Meaning if you would like to sponsor me for future runs of Roller Derby Saved My Soul, please do so by clicking the Paypal link on the right or email me directly at nancyjkenny at yahoo dot com for additional sponsorship package details.

Good cheers & love!


The Best Things in Life are Free...

... said the guy who probably never had to pay condo fees.  

After just over two months at "the job," my pay checks have finally started to fill up the large gaping hole of debt I've built for myself, but I remain cautiously optimistic.  I've built up a lot of debt over the past few years and it's going to take me a while to bring it all down.  To be honest, I'm actually seriously considering a second job in order to bring it down faster and still be able to afford my expensive acting habit.  But more on that later.  Right now, it just feels so surreal to look at my bank account. Like, "What do you mean I have more than $37.00 to my name?"  I know this is how "normal" probably people live, but to me it still feels odd and unaccustomed.

I  went out and bought my family some Christmas gifts, which I actually didn't think I'd be able to do.  I recently threw out my favorite pair of jeans and some boots because I had completely worn them out and, if I wanted to, I could go out today and buy some new ones.   But I'm not going to. Not yet.  Though I know I am signed on to work until November of next year, part of me is too worried that if I spend that money now, there might not be any more coming in and then I'd be really screwed.  And I still owe money to some very patient people, so it just doesn't feel right spending anything on myself just now.

Though I find it hard not to be involved in the arts as much as I would like to right now, I'm trying to be more focused with the ones I've got.  The first draft of my English to French play translation is almost done and I've got a dramaturge ready to look at it.  Just in time to apply for municipal project funding.

And hopefully I'll be able to pay off my debt in 2012 and save enough to rework and tour Roller Derby Saved My Soul across the country in 2013.

So, like I said, I'm cautiously optimistic.  Now if I could just find some patience to go along with that optimism, I'd be golden.

Back to Blog

I won't lie. I miss you blog. The Big Smoke has been good to me. I have an amazing roommate, a great apartment, a job in the arts, take classes like they are going out of style, and I'm auditioning. Mostly for student films, but there's been quite a few commercials (with some callbacks to boot) and even a feature. I've been auditioning so much that I made a chart. Ever since moving to Toronto, I've had 26 auditions and the year ain't over yet. Compare that to Ottawa where I would be lucky to get one audition a month... well, though I miss my friends, the move really seems like a good idea these days.

Acting classes have also been great. This is the first time in a very long time that I have been studying steadily and it feels good. This past week I made the discovery that I panic as soon as I start my work. Stage fright, for lack of a better word. Sure, I always got scared before going on stage, but I just assumed that it was a normal part of the process and I was pretty much fine by the time the lights hit me... But no. In reality, my hands start shaking and I feel like this engine inside me is revving up before I finally shift gears and blow out of the gate. Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to introduce you to my panic mode.

I realize now that the panic has always been there, the difference now is that I know how to identify it. First you out the problem, then you correct it.

Let's see how that works out, shall we?


Oh my poor neglected little blog. I'm afraid I'm going to have to neglect you for a bit longer. You see, here I am in Toronto and, after weeks of searching, I have found myself a job. You are looking at the new Interim Bilingual Online Communications Coordinator for the Ontario Arts Council. For the next 13 months, I will be back to the 9 to 5.

As you can possibly guess, I've been through a gamut of emotions about this ranging from joy at finally being able to pay off my credit card and learning about an important arts granting organization from the inside to sadness at the "does this mean I am no longer an actor" thoughts that keep running through my head.

Working for this organization means giving up on putting aside a lot of things for a year as I cannot directly be involved with groups who receive money from the OAC due to perceived conflicts of interest. That said, I've decided to take this year to study consistently (now that I will be able to afford classes), make connections in Toronto, and explore the film and television scene with more dept (like the student film I'm shooting this coming weekend). Oh and I will still be able to work on a play I have been dying to do since I first read the script in April 2012 in Ottawa since the project is not getting OAC funding.

It should also give me time to write a French translation of a play I would like to produce at some point in the next few years and polish things up on Roller Derby Saved My Soul.

But for now, I've decided to shut this blog down for a bit. Probably until the new year, maybe sooner, maybe later, I don't know... If I didn't need it for work and if it wasn't the only way for some people to reach me, I'd probably get rid of Facebook and Twitter too.

I just want a clean slate, you know? To start fresh and anonymously in a new city, to go out and do things for myself without the usual pressures I put on myself, to just live...

Until next time.

Goals - Small Steps

I've never been one to make To Do lists preferring the brilliant move of "I'm sure I won't forget THAT." And though I usually get through the stuff that involve other people that way, I realize that for my own projects it means I just keep putting it off to later. But when you write it down, when you have it in your face, I am so much more likely to deal with it. This past week, I had the pleasure I've being a guest speaker at the Ottawa Theatre School, talking about arts marketing with the third year graduating class. While there, the instructor had the students check-in by announcing their main artistic goal and telling us what they did yesterday to accomplish it and what they will do today.

This simple gesture resonated strongly with me and moved me like you would not believe. Here I was, wandering aimlessly, big projects in my head but mostly being lazy as to how to go about them, while these students where taking ACTION. And no, their goals would not be accomplished tomorrow, but they had broken it down and were taking the small steps needed to get there.

I felt humbled.

So this morning, I opened up a blank Word .doc and started writing down my goals. Then I wrote down everything that needed to be done to get there. I reviewed my list and started tackling the little things I could do right now. So far I've submitted a script to a play festival and I'm reworking bits of Roller Derby Saved My Soul, something that I wanted to get done right after the remount but never got around to doing.

And it feels good to scratch things off. It feels productive and gives me a little jolt inside my workaholic soul.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step...

The Death of HoboKenny?

Oh my poor neglected blog. Where have I been? All over it seems. After two weeks of moping (did I spell that right? I don't mean I spent two weeks cleaning floors), I got my batteries recharged through two intensive weeks of acting classes both in Montreal and Toronto. 5 days a week, 10 hours days of the kind of hard work that makes me happy to be alive. I learned a lot in those two weeks, much of which I'm still processing today.


And in between all that, I did media relations work for the Great Canadian Theatre Company (Amelia: The Girl Who Wants to Fly on now), kept looking for work, did some auditions and, oh yeah, moved.

Yes, after over a year of couch surfing, I've finally settled down in Toronto. I've got a beautiful place and a beautiful roommate. I couldn't ask for more even though change sometime feels like dying. Though I guess that's because it is.

Of course, that does not stop me from travelling, as the folks in Ottawa realized this past week. And I don't think I'd have it any other way. The hobo/gypsy/bohemian spirit is just too strong inside me. It's just nice to finally have a place to call my own, with a closet and a bookshelf and a couch that I can offer to other weary vagabonds like myself.

I don't know what tomorrow holds, but I do see multiple paths spreading out in front of me. Which one am I going to go down? Well, we'll see.

Down in the Dumps

I haven't written much lately because frankly there hasn't been much to write about. "Today I got up, made some oatmeal, cried a little, watched a few episodes of Fringe, sent out more resumes, cried some more, ect. Latter. Rinse. Repeat."

Fascinating stuff, I know.

Job hunting, pardon my French, sucks. I get why people who already have a job when they are looking for a new one have a better chance of success than those who are currently unemployed and looking because they are not as desperate. And boy oh boy have I been desperate these days. I reek of it. Money has been a huge stressor to the point where I just don't leave the apartment at all in order to avoid spending any of it. Of course, this leads to some pretty bad cabin fever, which couple that with some graphic Sci Fi television, and I'm having weird dreams all around.

I had saved up for this acting class over the summer that starts on Wednesday. I think working on a specific project will do me a lot of good, even if it's just to get out of the house.

Now that the show is over, I feel like I'm at this weird crossroad. I think the next couple of days will be critical in figuring out what the hell I'm doing with my life.

We'll see.

To Tell or Not To Tell...

That is the question. A few months ago, I was interviewed for the Canadian Actor's Equity Association quarterly newsletter on artists and social media (and if I ever manage to get an online copy, I'll be sure to post it here). I talked for almost an hour with the journalist about Twitter, Facebook, my blog and how it's helped promote myself to a larger audience. He then asked me if I would ever post any "bad news" online. Without hesitation, I said yes and directed him to one particular example, which was my experience at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival two years ago. He seemed surprised that I would be so forthcoming so publicly. I'm quoted in the article saying that I want people to know what it's like being an actor; the good and the bad.

The reason I'm mentioning this now? I'm going through one of those "bad" times again and I've been debating whether or not I should say something about it here. Of course, as I've taken all this time for a preamble, you've probably guessed that I will. And you'd be right.

For a while now I had been wondering why I wasn't getting many film auditions, except for the ones that I got for myself. Long story short, a few days ago, I was told by more than one person who is well placed in the business that I am a very good stage actor but that I'm not ready for film. And that since theatre has been so good to me lately, maybe I should rethink things...

This sounds kind of silly to me today, but I was absolutely devastated when I heard this piece of news. I tried not to cry but my entire body felt like it betrayed me. I didn't just cry, I wailed in big heaving sobs that just would not stop until I was perfectly dehydrated. I fell asleep and had delusions where I was like one of those bad American Idol contestants who is just OHMYGAWDSOBAD and how could they possibly not know they are this bad!?! At the time, it felt like my dreams had been crushed. Like my career, nay my life, was over.

But then bit by bit I picked myself up. I got a chance to chat with the director of a student film I shot last spring who, of course, thought all this was bullshit. I went to the gym. I had ice cream with peanut butter and chocolate in it. And I thought about that time in Winnipeg.

Because you know what happened after the crushfest that was Winnipeg? Bit by bit I picked myself up. I talked to supportive friends. I probably went to the gym and ate ice cream. And eventually, I went back to the drawing board and created this little thing called Roller Derby Saved My Soul. Maybe you've heard of it?

So here I am, going back to the beginning. My ego has been shot down for now and I am ready to work again. Because this is my dream and there is no right way to get there, only my way.

This is what it's like to be an actor.


Lisa: "Did you know the Chinese use the same word for 'crisis' as they do for 'opportunity'?" Homer: "Yes. Crisitunity." The summer run of Roller Derby Saved My Soul ended on Saturday night and I immediately became depressed less than a day later. It makes sense. I've worked on this show for about 3 years, on and off, now and here it was over for the foreseeable future.

I've spent the last two days pretty much bumbling around either mumbling "What now?" or crying "OMGIMADENOMONEYIHAVENOJOBMYLIFEISOVERWHYDIDIEVERTHINKICOULBEANACTOR." You know, the regular actor downward spiral that shows up after a show. We're a lot of fun at parties.

In order to get out of this funk, I really have to see the summer run of my show as a very successful workshopping and not a job per se. Why? Because I made no money. However, I did get a fun show on its feet, got some great reviews/credibility as an artist, won some awards, managed to tape a good archival of the show which will be used to create a promotional trailer, and got a lot of people to see me as an actor/writer in a new light. Way too much good came out of this run for me to focus on the bad. And since the bad is strictly from a personal financial stand-point (and even then, I lost nothing), I prefer to see it as a friend once said to me: "If your problem is about money, that's not a real problem."

I've got lots of goals and dreams for the future right now, some that include RDSMS and some that are brand spanking new. That's what I want to focus on now. That and finding a job...

Anybody want to hire me?