Thoughts on Success and Failure

Insomnia II - explored Julian Schüngel via Compfight

It's almost 2 a.m. and I can't sleep. Chalk it up to still being on Fringe time, or the post-show crash I feel urging me down into a pseudo-depression. Or perhaps it's the stress from producing the upcoming Roller Derby Saved My Soul at Zoofest in Montreal that's got my guts tied up in knots. Heck, it's probably a combination of all of the above.

I was going to write this post tomorrow once I had finalized my numbers for Dolores at the Ottawa Fringe, but the insomnia has me itching to write down all my thoughts now or never hold my peace.

Listen folks, for all intents and purposes, the premiere of Dolores at the Ottawa Fringe Festival was an incredible success. Things I have to be proud/happy about:

  • This was my first theatrical translation and all feedback indicates that it was a really good one.
  • This was my partner Martine's first professional theatrical performance and, night after night, she was absolutely phenomenal.
  • This play gave me the opportunity to work in French, something I have been dying to do for years now, and gather a few more UdA credits for both myself and Martine.
  • By staging the show in a real kitchen, I created a site-specific theatre experience that people aren't soon to forget.
  • Everyone who saw the show loved it. Including an anonymous patron who bought 11 tickets to one single performance. I cried when I heard that.
  • I got to work with Tania Levy again, helping her solidify her crown as a Fringe Festival directing queen. Tania is definitely an actor's director and I'm going to work with her every chance I get. You should too. And pay her lots of money to do so because she's worth it.
  • I have a new stage manager that I can call on now whenever I have a project on the go. Jess Clark is definitely the unsung hero of this show... I didn't mean to make that rhyme.
  • We got some great preview coverage in various media outlets.
  • We got some great reviews, including my first 5 stars ever.
  • Dolores won the award for Outstanding Drama at the end of the festival.
  • We raised $520 for two local women's shelters, L'autre chez-soi in Aylmer and the Interval House in Nepean.

Dolores director, Tania Levy & I with our Outstanding Drama Award

These are the things that I am desperately trying to hold onto at this late hour when the doubts come creeping in. Because here's the thing, even though Dolores was awesome and the buzz surrounding it was even better, I lost a lot of money on this production and my insecurities about myself as an actor reared their ugly head with a vengeance. I played to mostly empty houses (and in a venue that seats only 17 people, that's saying something), had to cancel one show because no one showed up, and closed the production with our strongest performance yet to an audience of three (three very appreciative people, but three nonetheless). And on days we did have a bit of an audience, most people didn't pay for a ticket since they were either media, volunteers, artists or VIPs. Definitely not complaining about having these wonderful souls in the audience, because as an actor this was, insecurities aside, the most creatively fulfilling thing I've done in a long time and I was thrilled to have anyone there, but as a producer I was tearing my hair out.

And yes, I understand that the odds were stacked against me: French play at an English festival, drama when folks prefer summer comedies, BYOV instead of mainstage, ect. It was an experiment that I undertook, perhaps naively thinking that my name and/or the site-specific nature of the piece would be enough of a draw for the English audiences and that the French audiences in Ottawa would be like the ones in Toronto who come out in droves to every improv show and community theatre production.

Could I have done more? Possibly. I could have flyered more, I'm sure. Many of the anglophones who came to see the show told me that they understood what was going on, even with the language barrier, so maybe I could have tried harder to convince more people of that. Maybe I could have called more people, asked for more help? Maybe. Hindsight meet 20/20.

Part of me likes to think that had I known my audiences would have been so small, I would have scheduled less performances, but I know that's not true. As hard as it was playing to 3-4 people at a time, it was such a joy to work with Martine and I grew so much as an actor in those 10 short days that, if anything, I'd want to do more. And we will. I don't know when or how yet, but Dolores will happen again. Maybe in Ottawa, but definitely in Montreal and Toronto.

I know how this game is played. Sometimes absolutely fucking brilliant shows don't get the audiences they deserve for a variety of reasons that are completely out of your control. As much as the Ottawa Fringe likes to toot the horn of "record-breaking year", I know plenty of people who had an experience very similar to mine. It happens. It sucks. And it can make you want to crawl into a hole with a pint of Haagen-Dazs, never to return to the light of day until you've burnt through six seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

If that's how you're feeling right now, I just want to say don't. Don't do it. Don't give up. Don't let it happen to you. I've been here before. For every Roller Derby Saved My Soul, there's a No Exit Upstage. That flop scared me from writing/producing for well over a year. And the silly thing is, that show wasn't even that bad, but I'd convinced myself that it was. Because if I created the worst play ever, then I can understand why it flopped, but if it was actually ok to pretty good, well then the world just doesn't make sense to me and that thought can be too scary to accept right now.

I'm not worried about the content of my shows. Dolores was amazing and Roller Derby is always a hit. But like I said, it's late and I'm alone in a damp basement apartment, sleeping on a mattress on the floor, wondering if I go into the bathroom, will it be the spider or the centipede today? That's when the doubts come in to get me and I start wondering why I quit my day job (again, some more), left my beautiful bed in Toronto, uprooted my entire life (again, some more) for one on the road...

I can't pinpoint exactly what it is that keeps me going like this. Good friends like the ones I find in my travelling circus of a Fringe family is one. Rethinking success is another. Perspective is everything. Every scar makes me stronger, every attempt makes me better, and I have a lot to be proud of. I'm doing this for me, but I'm also doing this for you who might be reading this right now.

Like I said to my mother once Dolores was all over, some people go on vacations, I put on plays.

2012 in Review

Oh 2012, we had some good times didn't we? I realized that I have a tendency to focus on what's missing in my life instead of focusing on what I've accomplished so end of the year introspectives are a great way for me to remember all those things I actually got done. And man, did I ever get shit done in 2012!

But other than regaining my financial independence, let's see what else was worth celebrating:


A lot of firsts this past year: first time to NYC, Vancouver and my first ever cruise, which coincided with my first ever visit to Bermuda. Oh and let's not forget my first trip to Swift Current & Saskatoon, SK. Travelled twice to Moncton, NB to visit family, which is once more than my annual Christmas visit and, of course, spent plenty of time on the train between Ottawa - Toronto - Montreal.


If someone had told me a few years ago that most of my income would come from Twitter, I... probably would have asked you what Twitter was. In all seriousness though, I'm really impressed at how quickly my skill set in web & social media grew this year. I learned how to use Dreamweaver and taught myself HTML. I got into podcasts and created a series for the Ontario Arts Council that is still up and running today. I currently produce, host and edit the whole thing from my laptop. I figured out crowdfunding and how to leverage my social media networks to make it successful. I also hired a great guy to create a website that really represents me and what I do. Because if you're going to work in social media, you damn well better have a web presence to back it up. Oh after a few years of knowing each other online, I finally met social media maven Rebecca Coleman in person and she let me speak to her class on my experience. That was pretty darn cool.


Well the year was off to a slow start, but by March I was present for the beginnings of Toronto's only French improv league, Les Improbables. The team has grown tremendously in the last few months from the cramped space on the third floor of the Fox & Fiddle, to bi-weekly sold out shows at the Supermarket in Kensington Market, to having our own professional style jerseys. If you haven't checked us out already, you really should!

In April, I got to perform in another one-women show, the terrific Mary Magdalene and Adventures in Sobriety, which got some lovely recognition over at The Visitorium's Big Stoopid End of the Year Post.

Still trying to turn this into a meme...

I got invited to perform Roller Derby Saved My Soul in Swift Current for the Summer Chautauqua Theatre Festival, which lead to a one-off performance in Ottawa that sold out. Oh and speaking of RDSMS, it was nominated for FOUR Les Prix Rideau Awards and actually won for Outstanding Fringe Performance. And there was the little Indiegogo Campaign That Could where I raised well over my $5000 goal. I learned a lot from this campaign and I look forward to a wonderful opportunity that's come up where I will get to share that knowledge with people. But more on that in an upcoming 2013 post.

I also booked three commercials: one for Manulife Financial and one for Comcast in English and one for the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities in French. In all of them, if you blink, you might miss me. The one for Comcast is below.

And there was also a a couple of cool little student film with some folks at Humber and also Niagara College that I'm looking forward to seeing.

In addition to all that, 2012 was a year of preparation in my acting career. I took plenty of classes, got some new headshots, put together a demo reel, set up this swanky new website and found myself a new agent. All things that make me feel like I will be hitting the ground running in 2013!

Oh and let's not forget the podcast interviews! One with 2AM Theatre and one with Off Stage; both of which I'm very proud of.


I completely gave up any semblance of working out around the time of Mary Mags because if you're going to play a homeless alcoholic, why bother going to the gym? A theory that totally bit me in the ass when I got asked to do RDSMS shortly thereafter. I was completely out of shape and I knew that could be very detrimental to my upcoming performance so I hired a personal trainer who really turned everything around. She challenged me in ways I didn't even know were possible.

I've come to the realization that working out is actually a lot of fun when you find what suits you and have goals. For me, it's fitness classes and Zumba in particular. I've enjoyed it so much that in November I got my Zumba teacher training certification and I am now working towards additional accreditation, as well as a CanFitPro Fitness Instructor Specialist Certification, which I will be completing in 2013.

Not only did it affect me physically, but mentally as well. It forced me to take a good long look at what I've come to realize are some pretty major self-image issues that have contributed to a lot of depression and anxiety in my life. (For a very insightful read of self-image issues, I highly recommend my pal Kris Joseph's blog post dealing with this very matter.) With the encouragement of my wonderful support network, I have now been seeking professional help for these issues and I am moving my life in a new direction.


Speaking of support networks, I may have hinted at it a few times in this blog, but I met someone this year. In these pages, he's known as the DB (for Dear Boyfriend though he recently pointed out that it could also stand for Douche Bag, which Oops!) He is handsome, funny, talented and incredibly kind. We communicate like grownups but play like little kids. He believes in me, supports me unconditionally and frequently reminds me that, in his own words, I am a "smoking hot babe."  Sometimes when I wonder how I got so lucky, he'll turn around and tell me that I deserve good things in life... Yeah, I'm not letting this one go anytime soon.

So, who's up for 2013?

How You Do The Things You Do

cup'a list ana campos via Compfight  

Do you make to-do lists? I never did. In fact, I never wrote anything down. True story. If I've got one task or another to accomplish, I just remember. It's all up in my head. Though I've tried to make to-do lists in the past, I've never managed to keep it up. It just seemed illogical to me to spend time writing what I had to do instead of, you know, just doing it.

That said, since becoming fully self-employed and working a variety of contracts in order to make ends meat, I've been finding it harder and harder to keep everything straight.

Recently, possibly after the billionth time I complained about feeling scattered and overwhelmed, my Dear Boyfriend (DB) suggested I make a to-do list. I wish I could say I was very gracious at the suggestion and gladly took to this task, but that would be a flat out lie. A big giant wall of resistance can up at the mere thought that my working methods could be wrong and I turned into a stubborn child about the whole thing. DB, somehow channeling the patience of a saint, put up with it all and encouraged me to try it anyway.

And you know what? It's really helped. Though it can feel like a lot to actually see everything you have to do in the coming week, there is something incredibly satisfying about crossing something out when you're done. Plus, I feel like my productivity level has gone up because my "work time" has become more focused and not bogged down "what should I do now... maybe just check Facebook real quick" type thoughts. It also allows my down time to be relaxing instead of stressed out about something else I think I should be doing right now.

I haven't perfected this system yet by any means, but I definitely feel like I'm on the right track. To all you multi-taskers out there, feel free to share your work methods in the comments below.

Write blog post.

Cool People Doing Cool Things

It's been a while since I've done one of these blog posts but I've definitely been inspired lately by the outpouring of Indiegogo campaigns that some very talented people I know have put together. From personal experience, I know how difficult raising funds can be even if you have the greatest project in the world. These projects are all pretty amazing in their own way and I hope that you will take a moment to click on the links, learn about them, and support them in any way you can. Because as my friend The Visitorium so eloquently put it: "Fuck that Tesla Museum bullshit." Here are some people who actually NEED your help! So without further ado, meet everyone:

Gruppo Rubato's 10th Anniversary Project: Snapshot I had the pleasure of participating in one of the first public reads of Snapshot by Karen Balcome and immediately fell in love with this story and you will too. This production is also Gruppo Rubato's 10th original theatre production, coinciding with the company's 10th anniversary. And they are just looking for $10 a person! Definitely worth supporting, especially if, like me, you can't make it to the performance happening later this week.

Day in the Life of Death Some of my very favorite up-and-coming filmmakers are putting together funds for a dark comedy web series. This is a super talented group of people who write and produce some top-notch, quality stuff. Just watch this trailer if you don't believe me:

Pornstar Another webseries, this one taking a behind the scenes look at the porn industry. This project comes from a bunch of uber-talented actresses I have the pleasure of calling friends. Plus, I just love this tag-line: Sabotage, hilarity, and skin abound as the girls compete to be the next porn superstar. Nuff said.

Second Skin Theatre Not an Indiegogo campaign, but I thought I might spread some love across the pond to my friend Jessica and her new theatre company. The money will actually help them renovate a space I hope I will one day get a chance to visit.

HOW IT WORKS: Free tickets for at-risk youth A thousand apologies to the gang at Plosive Productions! Unfortunately this blog post comes too late to be any good to their Indiegogo campaign. That said, it's a really good cause and I'm sure if you email them directly, they won't say no to an additional donation.

Click on all the title links to find out more about each individual campaign. If you don't the money to spare, don't worry! You can still help out just by spreading the word.

Happy crowdfunding everyone!

Cool People Doing Cool Things

Meet Jayson McDonald. I've mentioned him within these pages before, mostly as the producer of one of my very favorite little festivals - London's Big Comedy Go-To (coming up in an April near you!) But Jayson is also the creator of some of the most awesome Fringe shows I have ever seen (including one that I was so very proud to be a part of The Last Goddamned Performance Piece). The first McDonald show I saw was in Ottawa in 2008. It was called Boat Load and it just blew me away. In a previous post I said of it that "I never realized until then that one person could do so much on stage with so little and still tell a beautiful and compelling story."

I remember talking to everyone I knew at the Fringe Tent about Boat Load and how amazed I was by it, so much so that I think I saw it twice. The general response from people in the know was along the lines of "well of course it is, haven't you seen him in Robot?" Oh Giant Invisible Robot, how you have haunted me since then.

Giant Invisible Robot was Jayson McDonald's first solo Fringe show and it has always been an incredible success.  It had played at the Ottawa Fringe Festival the year prior and, somehow, I had missed it (if you can believe it, there was actually a time when I didn't see everything).  In 2009, I started my own touring adventures on the Fringe Circuit and Jayson became a good friend. He's produced Giant Invisible Robot multiple times to unbelievable success everywhere he's gone, but somehow I always missed it. I would never be in the same city at the same time. Robot became my Polkaroo. This went on for FOUR goddamn years. It got to the point where I was asking Jayson if I could just give him some money RIGHT NOW would he just do the show for me.

One person shows work that way, right? Unless they take place on roller skates, in which case I will tell you I am wearing the wrong pants and can't give you a personal performance of Roller Derby Saved My Soul.

I thought this trend was going to continue even after hearing that Giant Invisible Robot would be clearing a path of destruction all the way to the Gladstone Theatre in Ottawa, because, BLAST, I was going to be in Toronto. But then Fate intervened. It just so happened that I would have an audition in Ottawa on the very same day that Robot would be opening. Now, my plan was to attend the audition and then boogie back to TO in time to catch my roommate's opening night of Dying Hard because, I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but I love my uber talented roommate very much. When she caught wind of my plan and realized that I hadn't seen Robot yet ("What do you mean you still haven't seen it? How is that even possible?" - see my response above), she convinced me to stay in town to watch it. I'd be able to catch her show later on in the week anyway, but this could be my only chance to see Giant Invisible Robot. And, in her words, I just HAD to see this beautiful show.

And you know what? She was right. So right that I sent her flowers. The show is as worth it as everyone has told me it was.

Well, what are you waiting for Ottawa? I waited FOUR years to see Giant Invisible Robot, you shouldn't wait another minute. It's at the Gladstone Theatre until Saturday. And if you're feeling extra keen, stick around on Friday or Saturday night and catch another personal favorite of mine, Paul Hutcheson, in Third Time Lucky, right after Robot. That is one awesome night of theatre right there!

Cool People Doing Cool Things

Meet Mikaela Dyke. She is currently one of my absolutely favorite people in the whole wide world. And I just so happen to be lucky enough to get to live with her too.

She is funny, entertaining and quirky in all the right places. She's an independent artist who inspires me everyday because she is able to live fully doing what she loves best. She's really smart, a hard-worker and incredibly multi-talented. Not a single day goes by that I do not learn something new about her; whether it be the fact that she speaks Russian (among many other languages), used to do gymnastics for years, or can reprogram a computer just by looking at it.  She always knows the right thing to say when a boy breaks my heart ("Fuck that guy!") and makes sure I don't do things like burn down the apartment, which she tells me would be inconvenient.

And did I mention she's funny? If you live in the Greater GTA and you happened to laugh at something today, chances are Mikaela Dyke made it happen with her magic laughter creating powers.

But, if you live anywhere else in Canada. You also know that Mikaela Dyke is an incredibly gifted dramatic actress.

In 2009, in one of my annual "must-see" Fringe lists, I wrote the following about a play called Reflections on Giving Birth to a Squid:

I saw this show in Winnipeg on a whim without knowing anything about it or anyone in the cast and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. This was a very original show with an interesting concept that never got too hockey or sentimental. I believe this was due to some very strong acting from the lead actress whose name I have unfortunately forgotten. In the spirit of Fringe, take a chance on this show.

That actress who's name I unfortunately forgot? Yup. Mikaela Dyke. I'm not going to forget that name again (mostly because it would make things awkward at home), but you won't either Toronto, after you see what all the fuss is about in Dying Hard, next week at the Tarragon Extra Space.

I had the privilege of seeing this show in Ottawa, before the two of us had even entertained the notion of being roommates, and I was simply blown away. And I'm not the only one. Dying Hard has toured coast-to-coast, picking up awards and accolades in every. single. city. Seriously.  You can check it out below, along with all the proper show details.

I will be seeing this beautiful show next week. Of course, since I live with the lead actor and principal creator of this piece, I was offered a complimentary ticket, but I turned it down. Why? Because this one is worth paying for.

See you at the theatre!


The Theatre Elusive in co-production with A Vagrant presents:


"There's whole families here wiped out. It's time for someone to make a noise." ... One of the Calgary Herald's most memorable theatre moments of 2011.

Six true stories from a community struggling to survive the ravages of industrial carnage. Taken from archived interviews, Dying Hard reveals the strength and grace of Newfoundland fluorspar miners in spite of the extraordinary hardships they faced.

Based on interviews taken by Elliott Leyton in St. Lawrence, Newfoundland. Adapted for the stage by and featuring Mikaela Dyke Directed by Dahlia Katz

Dates: March 13th - March 17th, 2012 - 8pm March 17th - March 18th, 2012 - 2:30pm

Tickets $25, $20 for students/arts workers.

Box office: 416.531.1827 Online:

***Winner - Best in Fest - Halifax Fringe Festival 2010*** ***Winner - Best Performance - London Fringe Festival 2010*** ***Winner - Best Female Performance - The Beat Magazine 2010*** ***Winner - Outstanding Solo Performance - Ottawa Fringe Festival 2011*** ***Winner - Best Female Performance - CBC Winnipeg 2011***

"★★★★★ - Pure Storytelling Magic" - Calgary Herald "Larger than life... Strikes a chord of classical tragedy." - CBC Ottawa "Her performance is a wonder" - CBC Manitoba "Riveting." - Ottawa Citizen "Intense, if not stilling." - The Telegram, St. John's "I challenge you to see this show" - The Coast, Halifax

Cool People Doing Cool Things

Meet Kate Drummond. Kate is my beautiful, talented, funny and most athletic of all my friends. She's also pretty damn hilarious.  So what happens when you mix all those traits together and your throw them in the kitchen? Well, you get A Jock's Guide.

She's been getting a lot of awesome buzz so far with her short cooking episodes on Youtube and recently launched a pretty awesome looking site.

About A Jock's Guide:

We’ve all seen those cooking shows. You know, those ones. The shows that make us all feel incompetent in the kitchen and never seem to lead us to a creation that is as lovely or jaw-dropping as the one depicted.

A Jock’s Guide is the “most real” reality cooking show online!

It’s a one-woman show, from start to finish. It’s filmed and edited on a laptop, with no script or retakes and in whatever kitchen will have her! Really, it’s cooking in its rawest form, and even though the process may not be always pretty, the recipes are 100% crowd pleasers.

Here's the latest episode on making Beaver Tails:


I personally enjoy her discussion on Dutch Ovens and Boney M.

Plus, she's now teamed up with registered charity Kids Sport Ontario so donations to the site can go do a good cause.

I highly encourage you to check out all her episodes (there are 8 so far) and, if any of you have any connections to Wendel Clark whom Kate would love to get on her show (see Episode 6 for more), please let her know!  It's for the children after all. Won't somebody PLEASE think of the children? ... And you know, Kate's lifelong dream to meet Wendel Clark.

I am so proud of Kate for doing these videos. Do yourself a favour and check them out.

I'm a Person, Not an Afterthought

I spent the weekend in Ottawa this past weekend where I saw some delightful shows, including Cyrano de Bergerac and a slew of undercurrents offerings.  Trust me, everything was well-worth seeing but I'm going to opt-out of general reviewing to talk about something that really stuck with me: Carmen Aguirre's Blue Box. There isn't a huge age-gap between us, but when I grow up I want to be Carmen Aguirre.  She is a strong, beautiful, earthy and sexually charged individual who has been through a lot and knows how to laugh at herself. She is an incredible storyteller weaving together a tale of her revolutionary days in Chile with her encounters with a man simply dubbed the "Vision Man" (for reasons explained in the show) throughout the years.  It was this latter story that stayed with me the most.  At one point, after traveling from Vancouver to L.A. to be with this man, she is left waiting at the airport, promptly ignored, left alone with the man's roommate and sticks it out for a good 48hours before a girlfriend wisely informs her to immediately get her ass on a plane back to Canada.  By the time Vision Man calls her up to know where she went, she gives him the most beautiful put down I have ever heard.  From memory, it went something like, "Put your hand down between your legs because you will realize that you have no cojones. You are not a man. I know this because I am a Queen. And do you know what a real man does when a Queen takes time out of her busy schedule to come fuck him for a week straight? A real man shows up early at the airport with a bouquet of flowers in one hand and a box of chocolates in the other, he takes her into his arms and doesn't let her go. A real man takes responsibility."

There was more and it was brilliant, but I don't want to stray too far from her words and you probably get the point.

And this hit me because for as long as I can remember I have been dating these baby boys who pretend to men, who treat me as an afterthought and leave me feeling like something is wrong with me because I can't seem to be worthy enough to warrant their full attention.  They fuck around on me, ignore me in public, never even bother to spare a kind word my way and I act like I'm ok with that because I don't want to appear needy or clingy. Cowards who are so frightened by any sign of real emotion that I shut down, learn to love what they love without them making any effort to enjoy the things I do, make myself small, and pretend there is nothing wrong in order to appease them.

To them I say: Fuck you and fuck that shit.

You know what I realized this weekend? I am an awesome, smart, funny, ambitious, interesting person who looks better than she ever has. Any person I choose to spend my valuable time with should treat me like the catch I know I am.

Don't get me wrong, I am not looking for a long-term relationship or a marriage proposal or even a subservient to cater to my every whim. I am looking for an equal. Better yet, I am looking for respect. I think, however, that it is high time I take it back for myself instead of waiting for someone else to give it to me.

Little boys and cowards need not apply.

And that, is the power of the theatre.

Choice & Possibility

If I had to say I had a mantra this week, it would be "choice" and "possibility". Earlier in the week, I came to the stunning realization that I COULD quit my job tomorrow  if I wanted to, but I CHOOSE to go in everyday.  I'm not trapped, I'm not stuck, I go there because I have decided to go there.   I can't tell you how that little distinction really changed my perspective and made work so much more enjoyable.  Suddenly, everything looks different.  A bunch of my classmates are heading down to L.A. in a few weeks.  At first I felt depressed because I "couldn't" go because I have a job/not enough money/nowhere to stay, ect.  But by understanding that those are only excuses and by simply by rephrasing it to I choose not to go makes me feel so much better.

Because there is a reason I took on a full-time job when I did. I have certain goals that I want to accomplish. I want to get out of debt and, right now, that is the most important thing for me. Being in debt and homeless stresses me out. When I'm stressed out, I'm not working well as an artist, so I took a job (or two) in order to remove that stressful barrier from my life, get out of debt and save up money so I can afford the initial fees for a Fringe tour next year.

A friend mentioned to me how lucky I was to be going to New York. I told her luck had nothing to do with it. I chose to go.

And because I am making choices for myself suddenly everything feels possible.

Growing up as a chubby kid, I never would have imagined that I could be an athlete. And yet here I am today, in probably the best shape of my life doing things like swinging myself up onto a circus trapeze for the very first time.  It wasn't beautiful, it wasn't graceful (and I've always wondered who was the idiot that decided 'Nancy' means 'the graceful one'), but I did it on my own.  Let me tell you there is bigger rush (rush of blood to the head?) than realizing your abs actually work as you hang upside down and flip yourself up to grab the bar.  In that one little moment, I felt like a superhero and everything seemed possible.

I choose. It is possible.

I choose. It is possible.

I choose. It is possible.

Sometimes You Just Have to Say "Fuck It"

Fuck it. I'm going to New York. Exactly one year ago, I remember having a chat with a fellow almost 30-something friend.  She was telling me how she was going to go to New Orleans to celebrate her new decade in this world.  I thought that was a great idea! And I wanted to do something like that, but with New York.

Can you believe I have been involved in the Theatre industry for over half my life and yet I have never been to the mecca that is Broadway?  At the time of my birthday, I was working in Ottawa and didn't think I could get the time off work or find the money to go.  A few months later, a group of friends was driving down to see Jerusalem before it closed.  At this point, I was an out-of-work Fringe performer who had just dropped a lot of money on acting classes in Montreal & Toronto, so once again, I bailed.  Every single person that went said they were incredibly moved and inspired by the production and I regretted not having gone.  Today, I got another email informing me that friends would be making another trek down, this time to see Philip Seymour Hoffman in Death of a SalesmanI'm still broke, but money issues aren't as bad as they used to be.  I've got free train travel, so I can meet up with the group in Ottawa, have an awesome road trip down to New York, maybe catch The Book of Mormon (because "sold out" is just a suggestion when it comes to me), see Times Square for the very first time, and then see an actor that I admire very much in one of the first plays I ever studied in high school.

Why? For the same reason my roommate and I decided to go visit Niagara Falls one day - because I want to be able to say that I was there.  And I'll be doing it just before my next birthday too, so let's call this a late birthday present to me.


Fuck it. I'm going to New York.

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.

Cool People Doing Cool Things

I've decided since I like promoting other people's arts projects to start up a new semi-regular feature on my blog which I will call  Cool People Doing Cool Things.  Just to be clear, no one has asked me to do this, these are just things that I find interesting, fun, and basically, cool.  These are things that I am going to check out for myself and, since my "readership" has just boomed recently, I feel a certain amount of responsibility to let you know about it too. This is for your own good ;)

So, for my first CPDCT, meet Corin Raymond.

I met Corin last year at the Hamilton Fringe Festival when he absolutely wowed me with his solo storytelling epic, Bookworm.  That's when I also found out he was a musician, and a pretty damn good one at that.  Weeks ago, Corin found out that The Rogue Studio, where he got his last CD mixed and mastered and all that fancy musician lingo, has always accepted Canadian Tire money at par.  Since then, he's been a man on a mission.  His goal, to raise all the money needed to produce his next album.  The response has been pretty great so far, but on Monday, the dream got bigger.  Taken from his Facebook page:

I'm gonna take this thing all the way-- I'm gonna break the record for non-Canadian-Tire-affiliated-Canadian-citizen-gathered stash of CT bills. I'm going to set a record which has never been and will not be repeated in our lifetimes. I'm going to make TWO beautiful albums as a result and I'm going to spread the joy of the experience every which way, all the way, and keep you in smiles all year long. I don't even know what the record is, but I'll tell you this: it's not gonna be able to see me for dust.

His enthusiasm is crazy exciting and I want to do something to help.  Now, I've already mailed in the little bit of CT money I found in my wallet (and god damn I wish it was more!), and I want you to do the same.  Go to your wallet, your old receipt drawer, your family members' wallets and fish out those little Sandy McTire's you've been saving up.  Come on, the $2.45 you've been saving up isn't going to do you much good and you know it, but it could make a world of difference for my friend Corin.

Send your Canadian Tire money here:

Corin Raymond 39 Oxford St., Toronto, ON M5T 1N8

Or just give it to me. I've started a collection at work and I hope to drop it off next week when I attend  the live recording of the album on the 24th.  You can also  RSVP here and attend yourself on January 24 or 25 at the Tranzac.

Follow Corin's progress and read more about his story on his blog here.

I Can Cry If I Want To

Sometimes you just feel gross.  And by gross I mean that progressive fog that seems to envelop you at times making everything grey on the sunniest of days.  I've been feeling that way all weekend, all week actually.  And instead of getting better, it just kept getting progressively worse. I tried all sorts of things to shake myself out of it.  I did some yoga, went for a run, had some chocolate, drank more booze, drank less booze, drank some tea, drank some warm milk with honey to help me sleep, went for a walk in the sun, listened to music, watched a funny movie, saw some funny theatre, spent time with friends, spent time alone... nothing seemed to work.

Today, after my roommate went out, I just sat on my bed and cried.  Sometimes, that's all you need. with the New?

Gah! I looked up what I had written down as New Year's Resolutions from last year and I only accomplished one (ONE!) of them.  And by one, I mean I half-assed two of them to give me a grand total of one.  The two: 1) I did lose weight, though it wasn't through some exercise plan but through a wheat and yeast intolerance (and I'm reminded that I did not end up wearing a midriff in Roller Derby Saved My Soul - mostly because I had no costume budget and just used one of my t-shirts instead) and 2) I worked in front of cameras, but only on student films. I didn't get out of debt, in fact I got more into it. I stopped running. I stopped working out. I didn't work professionally in French, though I did finish a translation into French at the eleventh hour.  I didn't travel.  Oh alright, I did learn things, so make that two resolutions accomplished.

But damn...  Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans, I guess.

The sad things is, I don't even know what I would like to see happen in 2012. I have vague notions, but nothing concrete.  Then again, maybe that's a good thing? I seem to have trouble sticking to a plan.  I think I need to sit down with someone to help me outline what I would like to accomplish this year.  Someone who will force me to be more specific and break my goals down into small manageable portions.

Any takers?

Out with the Old...

Typically, I take the time between the end of December and the beginning of January to recap the past year and look forward to the one ahead.  I wasn't going to do that this time because I had told myself that 2011 was such a shitty year so why bother?  But when I actually started thinking about it, I realized that I, in fact, was the one who was full of shit.  After all, 2011 was the year of Roller Derby Saved My Soul (That was just a few months ago? It feels like ten years!) - when I finally completed my successful one-woman show to great critical and audience acclaim; the year of Little Martyrs - a show that was named by one illustrious blogger as his favorite of the year; the year of translating my first play into French; of being cast in 6 student films in two and a half months; of working at the Great Canadian Theatre Company; of lots of acting classes; of being home for a family reunion in June; oh and 2011 was also the year of my own Grand Dérangement to that Big Smoke south of Ottawa... waaaaaaaay south.  And that one came with a spunky Nfld roommate who could give Elaine Benes a run for her money with her kitchen dance moves. And yes, there was heartbreak and heartache and douchebags a plenty, but 2011 was not a shitty year by any stretch of the imagination, just a challenging one.  A great Christmas card I got reminded me that you have to pull out the old weeds to make room for new growth, so here's to 2012 - do you have your gardening hat on?

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.

The World Needs More Cheerleaders

Quite a few years ago now, I read the book the War of Art (not to be confused with the Art of War) by Steven Pressfield as required reading for one of my acting classes. The book is about Resistance. Resistance pops up whenever you're doing any kind of endeavour that means something to you - starting an exercise program, becoming an entrepreneur, writing a play...

As an actor, I experience resistance all the time: I don't want to go to class because I'm tired or not feeling 100% well; I put off learning my lines for an audition because I'm really good at memorizing so I can do it at the last minute; I don't practice in front of someone first because I don't want them to think I suck; I haven't seen person X in sooooooo long, I really should go out for a little bit and catch up; I can't focus on my work until my CD/DVDs are in alphabetical order... ect.

Resistance takes many forms and I've learned to notice it and push through it when I've got my actor hat on. But as a playwright? Resistance has shown up to my party and I didn't recognize it with its snazzy new Clark Kent glasses, so I let it in.

Panic, doubts, drama (Oh my Gawd! The DRAAAAAAAAAMA!) – Seriously, I have not experienced so much drama coming at me from all sides in a long time. And I am just eating it all up and rolling around in its miserable, unhealthy embrace instead of focusing on the work and what really matters to me: putting on a kick-ass show at the Ottawa Fringe Festival.

Fortunately, it turns out I have a secret weapon. So secret I only realized it was there today even though it’s been there all along:

Mother fucking CHEERLEADERS.

These cheerleaders are incredible! They provide snuggles and food. They give me stuffed animals. They offer comfort and encouragement. But most of all, they send me things like this:

Or better yet, this:

There are so many people in the world who will tell you you can't, including your own self. Make sure you keep around a hefty supply of cheerleaders for those times when the going gets particularly tough.

GoInG OfF tHe RaILs On ThIs CraZy TRaIn

Maybe it's the lack of sleep. Or the stretching myself out too thin (which I keep SAYING I won't do anymore). Or it's the overcaffeination and underhydration. Or maybe it's just all of the above. But for some reason, in the last week, I've got completely batshit insane. I seriously do not understand how I am still functioning as a human being and/or getting shit done (And shit? She is getting DoNe!) Time has pretty much lost all meaning. Everything seems both possible and impossible. My mood jumps from a state of tearstained panic to brilliant euphoria. I DON'T KNOW WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON!

And I'm too straight-edged these days to blame it on external substances. By which I mean drugs. Which I am not on (Mom).

If When I survive this weekend... well, it will be all worth it. I think.

In the meantime, isn't this a wicked guitar rift?


Meet Craig

Many years ago, after recently being elected as Vice-President, Student Affairs at the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa, I got a tour of the offices by the outgoing VP and met everyone who worked there. We ended the tour in my future office and my predecessor put on a song he said I absolutely had to listen to. He then asked me who I thought it was. I was floored. The music was folksy and the voice had a gorgeous quality to it that could just break your heart (or put it back together as his website bio indicates). I named off a few popular bands of the day, trying to guess and, when I finally gave up, was told that it was Craig Cardiff.

Craig? Wait a minute. Craig down the hall Craig? That unassuming guy behind the desk (who works in marketing, natch!) is the one who sounds like that?

Before my term was over I had the privilege of seeing Craig in concert many times and he even gave me a CD - Great White Trash American Novel, which has never left my playlist rotation since.

I've followed Craig's career over the years and picked up a few songs here and there when this one fell into my lap and expressed EVERYTHING that I have been feeling over the last few months as I continue on my hobotastic journey.

I felt like sharing.

You can go ahead and read the lyrics I copied out for yourself and when you're done, please check out his discography. Buy a few CDs even. I promise you won't regret it.

You can find Porchlight on the album "Songs for Lucy" which was recorded live at The Blacksheep Inn in Wakefield.


One month down, one more month in, I can't wait to see you again. I'm going to hold you so tight Until my heart's unbroken.

Some got lost, other's of us found ourselves Mortgage, cars and kids on the edge of town Come and tell me what happened to the fireworks? And the promises spoken?

And all my friends are someplace else I'm stuck here to better myself. Leave the porchlight on And your heart wide open.

And all my friends are someplace else I'm stuck here to better myself. Leave your porchlight on And your heart wide open.

I went for a walk where I grew up slow. I was hoping to see a face I used to know But I walked for hours And I did not see a soul.

I'm so sick of other people's bathrooms And other people's beds. Some of us stayed, most of us fled I'm tired of this life that leaves you bent and broken.

Well, I threw myself hard into the world Oh the world she received me Landing me safe and warm Safe into the rest of you.

And all my friends are someplace else I'm stuck here by myself. Leave your porchlight on And your heart wide open.

All my friends are someplace else I'm stuck here by myself. Leave your porchlight on And your heart wide open.

Mamma Mia

We have to believe she's the mother of a girl of 7 years. That's what the audition breakdown said. It always surprises me when I start to think about it, but had my life taken a very different turn, I could totally be the mother of a girl of 7 years. I'm not 20 anymore...

And yet, whenever I have to play a Mom, I always feel like a fraud. Like THEY'LL KNOW I have no idea what to do with a small child. (Isn't she the one who's in all those "dead baby" shows...) Then again, whenever I happen to be around small children, they seem to enjoy my presence. Probably because I prefer sitting on floors to chairs and love a good colouring session like nobody's business.

But back to the audition. It's for one of those typical commercials where the very happy family is enjoying a very happy time together, happy time that probably would not exist or be enjoyed without the help of *insert absolutely necessary product here*.

Though I'd heard about them before, this was the first such audition for me. You show up, they pair you off with a "Dad" and a "Kid" - in my case, since it was the end of the day, we got 2 kids. These child actors are, of course, absolutely adorable, precocious and possess a sense of maturity mixed with fun that I absolutely envy.

We all go into the audition room and we're told to just do things together: make some crafts, set the table, dance with the kids, snuggle up to "Dad".

It's important to remember in these audition situations that you are having THE GREATEST TIME IN THE WORLD! But, at the end of the day, they will cast the child first - the most adorable one who took direction the best - and then they will cast the "Parents" who look like them the most.

And although I was glad to send them home with their real parents, I still had fun with my pretend children. I guess I'm not such a fraud after all.