Friday, December 30, 2005

Emerging artists' scholarship

2005/06 Season

Under the auspices of The David Tuer Emerging Artist Scholarship Fund (Scholarship), Alberta Theatre Projects (ATP) provides a cash award from funds directed by the Board of Directors in respect and gratitude for the visionary leadership of Mr. David Tuer, past President and CEO of PanCanadian Energy, for his unparalleled commitment to nurturing the development of new Canadian plays and theatre artists.

1.00 Purpose of the Scholarship
The TWO THOUSAND DOLLAR ($2,000.00) Scholarship is awarded to an emerging dramaturgical theatre professional, or a theatre professional who has decided to pursue the development of dramaturgical skills. The funds are to be used for apprenticeship or mentorship in the field of dramaturgy.
The Scholarship may to be used for the purpose of covering related expenses such as travel costs, per diem, and accommodations.

2.00 Eligibility
2.01 Projects to fund living expenses or tuition while attending a post-secondary educational institution are ineligible.
2.02 Projects to fund the writing, work-shopping or production of a new play are ineligible.
2.03 Applicants must be citizens of Canada or landed immigrants.
2.04 While there is no age limitation the focus is on the emerging professional.

3.00 Assessment
Applications are assessed by a Jury on a competitive basis.
The general assessment criteria include:
• Educational merit of the Project;
• Applicant’s dedication and commitment to dramaturgy; and,
• Applicant’s strong work habits.

4.00 Terms and Conditions
4.01 The Recipient will be required to sign a Letter of Understanding that will detail the terms and conditions guiding the relationship between the Recipient and ATP, and the reporting requirements.
4.02 A Recipient who fails to meet the reporting requirements may forfeit the balance of the Scholarship until the reporting requirements have been met.
4.03 In the event a Recipient fails to meet the reporting requirements and makes little or no attempt at corrective actions the Recipient may be required to repay the funds already advanced.
4.04 The Recipient will receive 75% of the funds at the award announcement on Friday, March 3, 2006.
4.05 The remaining 25% will be provided to the Recipient upon conclusion of the Project and receipt of a Final Report.
4.06 The Recipient must complete the Project within TWO (2) years from March 3, 2006.

5.00 Application Criteria
Applications will be accepted from the general public.
5.01 Applicants are required to complete the Application Form provided with this Information Bulletin.
5.02 Applicants must provide a current resume/curriculum vitae.
5.03 Applicants are required to attach to the Application Form a simple budget outlining how the scholarship funds will be spent.
5.04 Applicants are required to attach to the Application Form a simple timeline for the project.
5.05 Applicants are required to attach to the Application Form letter(s) of confirmation from the mentor(s) or organization(s) involved in the professional development project.
5.06 Supporting materials submitted by the Applicant become the property of ATP.

6.00 Application Deadlines
Applications are due by 12:00 Noon Mountain Standard Time on Friday, January 20, 2006.
The Recipient will be announced on Friday, March 3, 2006, in the Martha Cohen Theatre following the performance of Hippies and Bolsheviks by Amiel Gladstone, which is the launch of Blitz Weekend of the 20th Annual Enbridge playRites Festival of New Canadian Plays.

7.00 Past Recipients
2005 – Marie-Leofeli R. Barlizo
2004 – Mitch Miyagawa
2003 – Daniel Arnold & Medina Hahn
2002 – Thelon Oeming

8.00 Alberta Theatre Projects

ATP is a registered charitable organization committed to developing and producing contemporary theatrical productions and an audience for them.
As Canada’s leading producer of contemporary Canadian theatre, ATP is financed by ticket sales and other earned income (37%), contributions from government (32%), and community support (31%) through foundation partnerships, corporate sponsorships, philanthropic gifts from corporations and individuals, and special events.
ATP’s strives to foster and promote a rich, vibrant urban culture by embracing three programming priorities, which are:
• To Celebrate Creation by producing an award-winning season of some of the finest contemporary theatre from across Canada and around the world.
• To Advance Innovation and artistic excellence by playing a national leadership role in fostering the development of new Canadian plays and playwrights through the Enbridge playRites Festival of New Canadian Plays.
• To Build Capacity by engaging in collaboration and mentorship with other artists, by offering new perspectives and a deeper appreciation to existing audiences, and by inviting, encouraging and educating new audiences though our various LEGACY (Lifelong Education and Growth for Artists, Community and Youth) Programs

For more information, please contact:
Mr. Greg Epton
Resource Development Director
Alberta Theatre Projects
220 9 Avenue SE
Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2G 5C4
Telephone: 403-294-7477
Facsimile: 403-294-7493

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Culture and institutions

Here's a fascinating article written by Marcus Youssef, Interim Artistic Director of our sister company NeWorld Theatre in Vancouver. Marcus is also the co-creator of The Adventures of Ali & Ali and the Axes of Evil.

In 2004/05, I spent a year teaching in the theatre department at Concordia. On several occasions I listened to students talk to each other about credits for Equity membership. These conversations were always driven by one student who had gotten or was about to get a credit for a co-op with established artists in the city. Their excitement was palpable; as was the fear and self-doubt of the students who were listening to the young actor explaining how Equity apprenticeship works.

They stuck with me, these very ordinary exchanges, essentially no different than those of artists of all kinds talking with each other about getting or not getting work. What intrigued me was how they didn't talk about the show they were working on (or the many other projects the other students had on the go, which, in the context of the one students' "professional" gig, became totally irrelevant). What was notable or important, and what carried all the status within the interaction was the perceived institutional legitimacy that the elusive Equity credit conferred.

I remember that feeling so well, as an actor just out of school, that desperate need to be legitimized, to be told, not by my friends but by an institution, that I was real, that I counted. And, 15 years later, listening to students in the same place, I felt compelled to challenge it. I told them about actor-creators I've gotten to know recently. They're highly successful, making a living and creating some of the most exciting work happening in Vancouver. They've also made the conscious decision NOT to join CAEA. Their reasons are fairly rational; as creators, they feel Equity membership actually creates barriers to their working (or layers of paperwork that there just isn't time to pay for); and because they are successful and confident artists, they are hired by PACT companies and are perfectly capable of negotiating their own contracts.

My Concordia students gave me quizzical looks when I told them this (which I ask you not to read as a big critique of Equity; the same questions can be asked, I think, about the challenges any large institutional structure faces in responding to individual circumstances. The large institution is, I think, a modernist idea. And, in many ways, I think the most efficient way to make our own things happen is in small, hybridized and fluid structures). But to 20 year olds facing the "what do I do when they take away school, where I've spent 80 percent of my life" question, the idea seemed, frankly, absurd.

And yet it's not a whole lot different, I don't think, than a bunch of questions we've been asking in our circle of friends/colleagues. We who work with small companies often ask if the Regional Theatre Model which recognizes one theatre in every major city as the standard-bearer of national culture (and rewards it with a commensurate amount of funding) really reflects the impact / reach / range of cultural activity in our cities. Within its relatively narrow context, I think the Canada Council Theatre's sections recent decision to create a program for on-going funding to companies without a significant administrative structure is an attempt to address this issue. Clearly we don't need more companies; what we need is for artists whose work is reaching people to be able to access funding with the least amount of hassle possible. And to jump around, make connections, switch directions; not to attempt to perpetuate an institution that conforms to an outdated and counterproductive model.

And lots of people could turn around and ask the same institutional question about our company (neworldtheatre which receives relatively small amounts of operating funding) as well. I worked on a project with young sex-trade workers a few years ago. They regularly met and performed truly out-there shows for each other, in unpublicized, word-of-mouth evenings. They were totally off the radar and outside the official-culture structure, but in some ways those events reflect, I think, a manifestation of culture true to a deeper sense of the word. Their shows were an enactment by and for a community ... and to hell with what anybody but they and their friends thought. Preaching to the converted? That was the point.

I also think the direction of more and more funding (at all levels) to community-based projects that involve collaborations between institutionally sanctioned professionals and so-called regular people is a reflection of an emerging or newly defined mistrust of the utility of institutionally driven art. I think this is at once a healthy anti-elitist impulse and simultaneously a potentially dangerous push to attempt to quantify art by a social impact we are increasingly called upon to measure. And there, for me, is the rub. There's nothing inherently better about work that is outside of traditional institutional structures. There are successful, innovative community-based projects; and there are community-based projects that are a sham and relevant to those elusive "real people" in Grant Speak only.

As always it seems to me like money and art are strange bedfellows, and that so much comes down to individual contexts and relationships; just the sort of thing institutional structures have a hard time figuring out.

This article first appeared in the Winter 2005 issue of The Works, a terrific publication from Playwrights' Workshop Montréal.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Plus la même chose

From US News Wire:

A new report issued today by the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition (APAMC) finds that the television networks' efforts to increase diversity among their talents over the last year has in some cases, not only stalled, but is deteriorating.

"Primetime television this season does not mirror the realities of the growing numbers of Asian Pacific Americans in the USA," said Karen K. Narasaki, president of the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC) and chair, Asian Pacific American Media Coalition (APAMC). "It is disappointing that five years into this effort, we don't have much greater progress."

The report, The 2005 Asian Pacific American Report Card on Television Diversity, is based on data provided by ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX. Since 2000, they have had agreements with APAMC and other coalitions to increase their diversity onscreen and behind the camera.

"The number of regular roles in primetime television for Asian Pacific American (APAs) actors increased by one since last year for a total of 17," said Narasaki. "However, not all of the regular roles held by them are truly quality roles. Moreover, the number of APA actors in recurring roles fell precipitously at three of the four networks: NBC, CBS and FOX."

According to the report, none of the networks earned more than a C+ for their overall grade. For the first time, ABC received the highest grade of the four networks. FOX and NBC dropped to a C, while CBS remains unchanged at C(minus).

Only ABC continues to consistently improve, earning the highest overall grade of C+. ABC is benefiting from the significant long-term investments it has made in pushing for more diversity in the network.

"We believe that their progress is dependent upon increasing the number of writers and show runners who feel comfortable writing and producing for Asian American talents," said Narasaki.

APAMC members include such organizations as the Asian American Justice Center, the Center for Asian American Media, East-West Players, the Japanese American Citizens League, Media Action Network for Asian Americans, the Organization of Chinese Americans, and Visual Communications.

The full report is available here.

The Asian American Justice Center, formerly known as NAPALC, is a national organization dedicated to defending and advancing the civil and human rights of Asian Americans.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

How to make a new play, Part 4

HAPPINESS!! We just picked up our Bombay Black posters and postcards. And by "we" I mean Kendra did all the heavy lifting. Hey, I'm an AD, I could get a paper cut or break a nail or something!

Maybe I'm not the most partial individual but I think they're pretty damn sexy. (Of course, it never hurts having Anita Majumdar on your poster.) Anyway, don't take my word for it, take a look at the poster at the bottom of this post. Thank you Blair Francey for the poster design and Paula Wilson for the arresting photograph.

On top of this, we've gone live with our new Bombay Black minisite. And by "we", here I mean playwright/actor/international fashion model David Yee who created the site. In the words of Fatboy Slim, "Check it out now" (I'm a funk soul brother).

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Don't miss these two articles on Harold Pinter.

When good things happen to good people

This morning I got my Equity News in the mail and there on the cover was long-time Cahoots friend Brenda Kamino. In October, Brenda received the Larry McNance Award which is presented to an Equity member who has a made an outstanding contribution to the Association. Well, Brenda's done that and much more.

When I first enter the biz (circa 1990, try to imagine a world devoid of blogs and Paris Hilton), Brenda was a real champion of inclusivity in theatre, film, and television. I remember her and Sandi Ross fearlessly taking on institutions that were almost exclusively white in their casting, programming, and outlook. Things have changed a lot since then. They're not perfect (I mean, get real) but they're better and Brenda's a big reason why.

These days, she's still out there on the front lines fighting the good fight. And we're all the richer for Brenda's passion and dedication. Thanks Brenda, and congratulations on a well deserved honour!

I'll leave the last word to CAEA Vice President Dawn Obokata who presented the award to Brenda:

... it takes an extraordinary amount of courage, fortitude, and vision to set out on the long road to change the world that you find wanting, and to make it a more equitable place for all who dream of a life in professional theatre.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Holy scrollers (or, How to make a new play, Part 3)

Producing independent theatre is a lot like trying to organize a really big party where you can't afford to pay for anything. So you end up calling everyone you know for favours. And when that doesn't pan out, you call people you don't know.

In our last installment of How to make a new play, we had a production meeting for Bombay Black. There, our lighting designer, Rebecca Picherack said she wanted to use scrollers in her design and they would cost more than we had initially allotted in our budget.

Okay, so I can fess up to y'all that I had no f***ing clue what a scroller was. It's not like I had a blog like this where I could click on the word scroller, you know. Turns out it has to do with stage lighting. But, in true AD fashion, I acted all "oh yeah, scrollers" at the table. In fact, I said I'd help Kendra try to find some for free. (Remember the part where I said independent theatre folk can't pay for anything?) I've no doubt, BTW, that Kendra knew what a scroller was. She's a stage manager and they know everything. It's really kind of irritating.

So that was yesterday morning. That afternoon, some frantic calling. First, the people I know. Next, the ones I don't. And today ... success! Thank you Paul Court and all the amazingly generous people at the Humber College Theatre Production Program.

Calling and begging 24/7 isn't all that fun. Fortunately, the Toronto theatre community (especially Humber!) is as about as generous as they come.

Suba's busy December

The sound for Cahoots' production of Bombay Black is being designed by none other than Autorickshaw's Suba Sankaran. She's also composing original music for the show though I'm not sure when she's going to find time because this is what she's doing this month.

- Jovanni

1. Retrocity in Concert

Friday Dec. 9th, Club 279

Here’s the 411:
WHO: Retrocity (rhymes with velocity)
WHAT: All a cappella. All mainstream 80’s. All the Time.
WHERE: Club 279 (at Yonge and Dundas, above the Hard Rock Café)
WHEN: Doors at 9pm, performance at 9:30pm
ADMISSION: cover $10

Check out our shiny, happy, new website for more info. Also, if you haven’t experienced it before, check out my Madonna alter ego at the show! A closet fetish come to life!
2. Worlds of Music Toronto (WOMT) presents:
Thursday, December 8th
8:30 - 11:00 pm
Arbor Room, Hart House, U of T, 7 Hart House Circle
Free admission - licensed

We invite you to join us for a special programme of music from around the
world, featuring WOMT's Autumn-2005 Workshop leaders and participants. Join
us for an evening of singing, drumming and dancing -- with performances by
participants in these workshops:

South Indian & Jazz Singing (from swaras to scat)
Georgian Singing (Polyphony from Sakartvelo)
Latin American Rhythms & Percussion
African Drumming, East & West
Afro-Cuban Jazz Ensemble
Chinese Music Ensemble
Canadian Fiddling


For more information on Worlds of Music Toronto, click here.
3. Echo Women’s Choir presents Songs of Resistance and Hope
Sunday, December 11th at the Church of the Holy Trinity (10 Trinity Square), 7:30pm
$12 (advance, $15 (door),$8 (un(der)waged)
416-588-9050 ex. 3 for more info

Guests: Suba Sankaran and Ed Hanley
4. Market Lane grade 5/6 students “The Castle” (a showcase of interdisciplinary art)
Monday, December 12, 2005 at 7 pm
Market Lane Public School
246 The Esplanade
Distillery Arts Outreach is an arts and learning partnership between Inner City
Angels, Prologue to the Performing Arts and Market Lane Public School, and is
generously funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Kiwanis Club of Toronto
and Toronto District School Board. Thanks also to the Ontario Arts Council and the
Toronto Arts Council.
Contributing artists include musicians Suba Sankaran and Mark Sepic visual artists Samina Mansuri and Marsha Stonehouse, dramaturge Jim Schaefer and others.
5. Orpheus Choir presents A Metro Christmas
Monday, December 20th, 7:30pm
Eglinton-St. George’s United Church (35 Lytton Blvd.)
$30, $25 (sr), $10 (st)
Guests: Suba Sankaran and Ed Hanley, and others...

Call for submissions

This comes from Vanessa Porteous at ATP:

Alberta Theatre Projects has expanded its Festival!

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the playRites Festival of New Canadian Plays we’re opening the doors to new kinds of work and artists.

In addition to premiering 3 new Canadian plays in the Martha Cohen Theatre, from now on we’re also seeking Canadian work and artists that don’t fit the model in the Martha Cohen. We’re particularly interested in creator-performers, work that has a heightened sense of theatricality, work that involves other disciplines and media, and/or work that is not based primarily on the written words of a playwright. Work that pushes the boundaries of theatre in some way.

Sound a bit vague? That’s because we won’t know what we want till we’ve found it. All we know is that we want to change things up a bit, respond to the new ways of making theatre that we see all around us, and invite the new creators who are making it to be part of the Festival. We want our Festival to usher in the next 20 years of new Canadian work.

So if you’re

- a company, group, ensemble, duo or individual who has created least 2 or 3 professional/paid shows
- whose work is theatrical, unusual, dynamic
- whose working method/aesthetic goes beyond the traditional in some way whatever that means
- and who has a project underway that you’d like to premiere with us here in Calgary

Tell us about it. We want to know.

The nitty-gritty:

- Our new second venue, the BD&P Stage 2, is a 181 seat proscenium/cabaret space with a small stage and no wing or fly space. It’s delightful but definitely on the small side.
- The Festival takes place in January/February.
- We make our programming decisions by March/April of the previous year
- This is not a competition. Programming decisions are made by the artistic leadership at ATP.
- We program 5 projects a year, 3 in the Martha Cohen Theatre using an ensemble company of actors and 2 in our new second venue.
- The size of the project, number of artists, and design needs should be smallish. At least until we take over the world!

If you’re intrigued, if you think we might not know you or if you think we know you but aren’t thinking of you in this context for some reason, and if you have a project that you think we should know about, tell us. Here’s how:

Check out our website to find out more about us.

Then send us a concise proposal, pitch or introduction to your work. One page should be enough to describe your project and your development/production plans for it. Please also include a brochure or one-page company description and history, no more than 2 pages of media response to your work, and no more than one page of biographical information. A page of production photos of your work would be great too.

(As always, we continue to be interested in receiving new plays or sample packages of any description for our consideration.)

Send it attention:

Vanessa Porteous, Festival Dramaturg
Alberta Theatre Projects
#220 - 9th Ave SE
Calgary AB T2G 5C4

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

How to make a new play, Part 2

9 in the morning is not generally the favourite time to meet for theatre folk. But because of many busy schedules, it was when we chose to have our first production meeting for Bombay Black.

But first, my tale of woe. I have an errand to run before 9 so I drive to the Distillery. I park my car on Mill Street and head up to the office with Timbits in tow.
Once I'm at the office, I realize I forgot my bag so I go back the car. There's a yellow ticket of hate on the windshield. Bastards! I was gone for five minutes and I got a parking ticket! Which, by the way, was entirely my fault; I misread the sign. Mea maxima culpa. I'm just astonished at how quickly "justice" was meted out. Was Ilsa the meter maid hiding behind a mailbox while I pulled up? If I want to renew my driver's license, that's an hour in line. For a passport, two hours. But park on the wrong part of Mill Street and they've got your ass within seconds.

So I head back to the meeting and ask Kendra whether my ticket goes against the costume budget or the lighting budget. Strangely, she said neither. Can you believe it? Thirty bucks, I've got to pay out of my own pocket. In theatre, that's like two days pay. I mean, what's the point of running a company if you can't flagrantly abuse power? Man, I should've gone for another job, like Minister of Public Works or something. That Kendra is no fun.

Anyway, it was a highly useful meeting. The old adage, Necessity is the mother of invention, never seems more true than in production meetings. The scarcity of time and money can often lead to some inspired problem-solving. Which is not to suggest that theatre's chronic underfunding is a good thing. It's both amazing and depressing to think how much easier life would be if we had just a few hundred bucks kicking around.

By 10:30, we're wrapping things up. Brian and Isaac are headed back to rehearsal. Brian is hosting a dinner for the cast and crew tomorrow (Indian food, appropriately enough). Kendra is bringing beer and wine. Okay, maybe she's a little bit fun ...

Farewell, Miyagi-san

When I was a kid (in the late 70s, if you must know), there weren't many many Asians on TV. David Suzuki, Jack Soo on Barney Miller, and the token-of-the-week on M*A*S*H or Hawaii-Five-O. And then there was Arnold. No, not the Governator. Arnold as in Richie, Potsie, and the Fonz.

Last week Pat Morita passed away. Here's a tribute from the New York Times.

- Jovanni

Goodbye to Pat Morita, Best Supporting Asian
by Lawrence Downes

Published in the New York Times: November 29, 2005

Pat Morita, the Japanese-American actor, died on Thanksgiving Day in Las Vegas. He was 73. News reports over the weekend were not specific about the cause of death or funeral details. Also not clear was what Hollywood would do now that Mr. Morita is gone.

The movie and TV industry has never had many roles for Asian-American men, and it seemed for a while that they all went to Mr. Morita. He made his debut as "Oriental No. 2" in "Thoroughly Modern Millie" in 1967 and never stopped working. He hit two peaks - as Arnold the diner owner on TV's "Happy Days" and the wise old Mr. Miyagi in the "Karate Kid" movies - and spent the rest of nearly 40 years roaming an endless forest of bit parts.

He was Mahi Mahi, the pidgin-talking cabby in "Honeymoon in Vegas," Lamont Sanford's friend Ah Chew in "Sanford and Son," Brian the waiter in "Spy Hard," Chin Li the Chinese herbalist in "The Karate Dog."

Whenever a script called for a little Asian guy to drive a taxi, serve drinks or utter wise aphorisms in amusingly broken English, you could count on Mr. Morita to be there.

Those who knew Mr. Morita say he was a man of uncommon decency and good humor. He fulfilled the actor's prime directive, to keep busy.

But it's distressing to think that the life's work of one of the best-known, hardest-working Asian-American actors is mostly a loose collection of servile supporting roles.

I know nothing about Mr. Morita's ambitions; if he had a longing to interpret Eugene O'Neill on Broadway, I have not heard of it. But actors generally have to work within the range of what's available. And with Asian-Americans, particularly men, what's available generally stinks.

Mr. Morita was one of the last survivors of a generation of Asian-American actors who toiled within a system that was interested only in the stock Asian. Harold Sakata played Oddjob in "Goldfinger" and was typecast as a mute brute forever after. Philip Ahn played houseboys and villains for decade upon decade.

Some actors - well, a couple - broke out, like George Takei, Mr. Sulu in "Star Trek," and Jack Soo on "Barney Miller." B. D. Wong's role on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" is a major improvement, but it will be a long, long time before we erase the memory of the bucktoothed, jabbering Mickey Rooney in "Breakfast at Tiffany's," or Sidney Toler as Charlie Chan.

Watch Rob Schneider play Ula, a leering Hawaiian in the Adam Sandler movie "50 First Dates," with a pidgin accent by way of Cheech and Chong, and you get the sense that Hollywood still believes that there is no ethnic caricature a white actor can't improve upon.

Mr. Morita, who was born Noriyuki Morita to migrant farmworkers in California and was sent to an internment camp in Arizona during World War II, never gave the sense of bearing a racial burden.

He had a comic's perspective and sense of humor, and would play his parts - Chinese, Japanese, Korean, whatever - with relaxed professionalism. As a standup comedian in the 1960's, he called himself "the Hip Nip," and he once told a group of Pearl Harbor survivors in a Waikiki nightclub that he was sorry about messing up their harbor.

Mr. Miyagi remains everybody's idea of a positive character. Who can forget "wax on, wax off," his wise counsel linking car care to karate? But still, it bother me Miyagi-san so wise, but find so hard use articles, pronouns when talk.

Mr. Morita's legacy may soon take a posthumous turn for the better. He has a role in an unreleased movie, "Only the Brave," about Japanese-American soldiers of the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team, one of the most decorated units in World War II. He plays a Buddhist priest who is imprisoned in Hawaii after Pearl Harbor.

Lane Nishikawa, who wrote, directed, produced and acted in the film, which is now making the rounds of festivals in search of a distributor, said it told its story from the Asian-American point of view - an unusual perspective, by past or current standards.

With its wide pool of Asian-American talent, including Mr. Morita, Tamlyn Tomita and Jason Scott Lee, the film promises to be at least different from the other movie about the 442nd.

That one -"Go for Broke!" - was made in 1951 and starred Van Johnson, with a large, and utterly forgotten, supporting cast.

Before I say another word ...

... I'd like to acknowledge the George Cedric Metcalf Charitable Foundation. About a year ago, Cahoots Theatre Projects successfully applied for a three-year Strategic Initiatives grant to implement a plan called Sharing the Vision. This plan was devised to improve Cahoots' ability to communicate with its public. We're proud of the plays we produce and develop. With Sharing the Vision, we'll be able to have our work engage a larger audience.

In the first year of Sharing the Vision, Kendra and I installed a new database system (we have a wonderful software program called SUMAC), updated our website, and became more active in organizations such as PACT. Now in year two, we've introduced this blog. More improvements are on the way, stay tuned.

Anyway, none of this would have possible without the support of the Strategic Initiatives program. Since this is my soapbox, I'm going to tell you why I absolutely love the Metcalf Foundation (and no, I'm not kissing up). With them, it's all about the plan, not the paperwork. There are other stabilization grants out there but I swear some of them require ludicrous amounts of bureaucratic nonsense. No kidding, you fill out some of these applications and it's like you've just done thirty year's worth of income tax forms. Yeesh. But the Metcalf folks just get it. If I had the staff to fill out a thirty-page application, I wouldn't need a frickin' grant.

Okay, rant mode off. This started off graciously, that's how it'll end. To Cathy Smalley, Sandy Houston, and all the folks at the Metcalf Foundation, thank you. Your support makes a world of difference.

How to make a new play, Part 1

Here at The Red Hut, we will follow the creation process of the world premiere of Bombay Black by Anosh Irani. This rehearsal blog is written with the non-professional in mind. So for you old theatre hands, a little patience may be required. And for those of you new to theatre, please feel free to ask any questions by clicking on the Comment link at the end of this post.

Number of days left until opening: 40

The first day of rehearsal often feels like the first day of school. The night before, sometimes you find yourself thinking, What do I wear tomorrow morning? What kind of impression do I want to make? When you walk into the rehearsal hall (Did you get there half an hour early or with sixty seconds to spare?), you scope out the room to see who you know and where you want to sit. Old acquaintances are renewed and new friendships struck. It's both exciting and nervewracking.

The first day of Bombay Black was more like a homecoming. More like the first day of high school where you know everyone from grades seven and eight. Our amazing cast—Deena Aziz, Anita Majumdar, and Sanjay Talwar—had already met in a previous workshop of the play. Back in September, our partner company, Nightswimming Theatre, held a four-day workshop for Bombay Black. It was an opportunity for the playwright, Anosh Irani, to hear the script read aloud. Until actors come into the mix, playwrights only hear their scripts in their head. (Although some writers like to act all the parts aloud by themselves. Depending on the playwright, this can either be delightful or painful.) Back in September, two things were obvious: that this was a wonderful script and that we were lucky to have the entire workshop cast returning for the production.

Joining our stellar cast this morning were other familiar faces: the design team of Camie Koo (sets and costumes), Rebecca Picherack (lighting), Suba Sankaran (sound and original music), and Nova Bhattacharya (choreography). Camie and Rebecca has collaborated on Dreary & Izzy, Tera Beagan's fantastic new play with Native Earth. Suba, a recent Juno-winner, had joined us in the September workshop. Nova was the new kid at school; before this morning, we had only corresponded by e-mail. I've had the pleasure, though, of watching her wonderful choreography. Leading the team are our amazing stage manager, Isaac Thomas, and director extraordinaire Brian Quirt.

So what happens on a first day of rehearsal? After some brief introductions, we jumped right in with a readthrough of the script. September's workshop led to some fine-tuning from Anosh. His small re-writes made a strong story even tighter. After the readthrough, Camie and Rebecca did a design show-and-tell. You could tell from the actors' reactions that they were excited about the world we're all about to inhabit. That was pretty much the first morning.

Kendra and I headed back to the office at lunch break confident that the show was in excellent hands. I volunteered to look up two things for Brian: what a champa flower looks like and the value of a rupee. I'll be back in the rehearsal occasionally and, of course, I'll fill you in on the show's progress from both the rehearsal hall and the production office.

The good news of the day? Anita just won an acting award in Singapore for her perfomance in Murder Unveiled which will air on CBC next spring. Congratulations, Anita! And with that, we end with this article.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Welcome to The Red Hut!

The Red Hut is a new blog from Cahoots Theatre Projects. As the subtitle says, this is "a meeting place to discuss art, culture, and diversity".

This space will be dedicated to promoting new plays and artists, bringing you the latest theatre news, and trying to find the ever elusive meaning of diversity. We'll feature reviews, promos, opinions, shameless plugs, rants, tirades, rumour, and gossip.

For those of you new to Cahoots, this article is a good introduction to our mandate and mission.

I was going to say "stay tuned" but really this space is as much for you as it is for us. So instead, welcome, make yourself at home, feel free to jump in to the conversation. I hope this is beginning of an interesting dialogue.

- Jovanni