2016: The Year in Review

2016: The Year in Review

It’s that time again… time to look back over the previous year and reflect on everything that has happened. 2016 has been a year of ups and downs, successes and challenges. I think we can all agree that it’s time to move ahead and focus on the good things to come. But for a short while, I’m looking back over the things that happened throughout the year. Thanks for sticking with me!

If you’re curious, check out my reviews of 20152014 and 2013.


January started with archery tag, recording a podcast, visiting Toronto and seeing Kinky Boots, and going to the Brickenden Awards.

February saw the start of Tarzan rehearsals (which basically consumed my life until May), celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Original Kids Theatre Company in the midst of a snowstorm, visiting the London RV show and dreaming of buying a trailer, enjoying my cousin Jacalyn’s baby shower, and celebrating my stepdad’s 60th birthday.

March was a busy month! I saw The Great All-American Musical Disaster at Lucas Secondary School, and then was off to New York City with the Original Kids (my third time with OKTC but my fifth time to the city). I saw nine shows (including Something Rotten twice!), met Christian Borle, Adam Pascal, and Tavi Gevinson, hung out backstage at the Slipper Room with the lovely Veronica Varlow, experienced the madness of Sleep No More, took a longsword class taught by my pal Jared Kirby, and overall had an amazing time. Ceris and I recorded another podcast, and created an Instagram challenge for April. I celebrated my 33rd birthday by winning tickets to see Metric in concert and enjoyed the show with my friend Kate. Shawn and I also squeezed in an impromptu roadtrip to Toronto.

2016: The Year in Review

In April, Brock and I taught a swordfighting combination to two grade six classes, I recorded a course for the Drama Teacher Academy, created violence for Musical Theatre Productions’ Heathers the Musical, started a five-week yoga course, and saw a Blue Jays game.

In May I got to host the 2016 OKTC Playfest Awards Ceremony, and my mom and I made enough mac & cheese to feed an army (the secret ingredient was cauliflower). The rest of the month was consumed by Tarzan, which sold out the entire run before it even opened. I also got a mole on my shoulder removed, which turned out to be a basal cell carcinoma. For the record, I am absolutely fine, the doctor got it all out, and my scar is healing really well. But PLEASE avoid tanning beds and always wear sunscreen! I will keep bugging everyone about that!!! I finished out the month celebrating at the OKTC Grad Gala, which is always a bit of a tearjerker.

2016: The Year in Review

June started out with me appearing on Xandra‘s Heroine Training webinar, which was a lot of fun! I also appeared in a one-night-only performance of Campus Martius with a bunch of fun theatre friends in the London Fringe Festival, and went to the Oxford Renaissance Festival with my friend Cole. Shawn and his cousin Justin also built me a garden in the backyard.

My mom, my aunt, and I flew out to Sault Ste. Marie over the Canada Day weekend in July to visit my cousin Jennifer, which was a lot of fun. We went shopping across the border, played Cards Against Humanity, and ate tons of delicious food! My friend Lizz introduced me to the fun of geocaching (we also had a lovely outdoor adventure with Nicole), and Shawn and I went to see a WWE house show at Budweiser Gardens.

2016: The Year in Review

August started out with a visit to Rib-fest (and the largest cherry lemonade I’ve ever experienced), and consisted of gardening, reading, and a visit to my in-laws’ trailer.

September also began with a visit to the in-laws’ trailer. I started teaching OKTC’s T.A.G. (The Actor Grows) classes again, as well as started rehearsals as fight director for OKTC’s production of She Kills Monsters. I appeared on Theatrefolk’s podcast, chatting about theatre etiquette. I went to the London Psychic Expo, which was very enlightening! I also went with my mom to see Macbeth at the Stratford Festival.

In October, I received my first introduction to Thirty-One Gifts with a party at Kendryth’s, and received first-aid training with the rest of the OKTC staff. Over Thanksgiving weekend, Shawn and I travelled with Justin and Amanda to Pittsburgh for the first time. They went to see the Pittsburgh Steelers and I saw The Toxic Avenger. We also visited the Andy Warhol Museum, went up the Monongahela Incline and gorged ourselves with amazing Mexican food. At the end of the month, Shawn and I saw I Mother Earth and Our Lady Peace in concert, and had fun at Justin’s Halloween party. I also started loom knitting! (I’m obsessed.)

2016: The Year in Review

In November, Shawn and I travelled to Toronto to see Pentatonix in concert (SO GOOD). Shawn also got to meet Wendel Clark (his favourite Toronto Maple Leaf player of all time). Both She Kills Monsters and the T.A.G. showcases had fabulous performances as well.

And it all comes back around to December. I started out the month hosting my own Thirty-One Gifts party (and my mom and I cooked our brains out). OKTC announced their Spring 2017 season lineup, including my two upcoming productions: Peter and the Starcatcher and Disney’s High School Musical 2 Jr.

2016: The Year in Review

It’s been a really busy year. You may have noticed that my blogging here has become fairly sporadic and for that, I apologize. I have been blogging for the past year for the Theatrefolk blog, which I am thrilled to continue to do in 2017. One of my 2017 goals is to get back to posting here more regularly, but it will be at a reduced rate. I have been working hard on balancing my time, and I think it has been working.

I am looking forward to a fresh start in 2017. I hope you’ll join me!


Favourite Posts of 2016

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5 Tips To Help Learn Names Quickly

5 Tips To Help Learn Names Quickly

As a director and teacher, one of my first priorities at the beginning of a new session or rehearsal process is to learn everyone’s names as quickly as possible. It makes young actors feel important and that they are a vital part of the team. Here are some tips that I use all the time to help me learn my actors’ names as fast as I can!

1. Take photos at auditions.

At auditions, either ask your actors to submit a photo of themselves, or even better, take photos of each actor holding up a card with their name written on it, police-lineup style. That way you can start putting names to faces.

2. Once your cast is set, study the cast list to familiarize yourself with the names themselves.

If you go into rehearsals knowing that you have, say, Jessica, Kyle, Mary and Stuart, it is less intimidating that trying to remember every name in existence. Granted, most casts have more actors than that, but even learning 30 names is less stressful than trying to recall hundreds of names.

3. At the first rehearsal, have actors introduce themselves, and then you repeat the names out loud.

Muscle memory! At your first rehearsal, have your actors sit in a circle and introduce themselves. Just a simple, “Hi, I’m Amanda,” is all that’s needed. Then you (the teacher/director) will repeat the name out loud to stick it into your brain. After a few people say their names, go back and repeat the names out loud, and then continue around the circle, going back every few actors and repeating the names. For a challenge, after everyone has introduced themselves, go back and try to say all the names in a row. For an even bigger challenge, close your eyes and have your actors change spots in the circle, and then go back and try to identify them again! Like learning lines, repetition is so helpful for memorization.

4. Repeat and use their names.

When answering questions or asking for thoughts, be sure to practice calling on people by name. If you forget their name, get them to say it out loud again before answering, and you repeat it. You could also have them say their name out loud before they answer during the first few classes/rehearsals.

5. Play name games.

Try the ABC Name Game or the Action Name Game, found on this page, or the Silent Line-Up Game, as follows: start by having actors line themselves up across the room WITHOUT SPEAKING from shortest to tallest. See if they can do it in 30 seconds or less. Then, have them repeat the exercise, only this time they must line themselves up in alphabetical order according to first name, again WITHOUT SPEAKING. Once everyone is in place, have each person say their name out loud to check and see if everyone is in the correct spot! Keep a tally between each class you’re teaching or show you’ve directed and see which group is the fastest!

If you forget someone’s name or feel embarrassed for mixing people up, ask the group to be gentle with you, and remind the group that there are ____ of them and only one of you and you’re trying your best! It happens to everyone. You will get there!

What are your best tips for learning names quickly?
Share them with me on Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments below!

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Tarzan Tickets On Sale Now!

Tarzan Tickets On Sale Now!

Tickets for OKTC’s Tarzan and all the amazing Spring 2016 season shows are on sale today… and the cast of Tarzan hasn’t even started rehearsals yet! (We start on Tuesday!)

You can buy tickets online, over the phone at 519-679-8989, or in person at the OKTC Box Office (130 King Street, second floor). Read on for all the details!

 

Tarzan

Rated PG | 2hrs

The Stage Musical Based on the Disney Film
Book by David Henry Hwang
Music and Lyrics by Phil Collins
Adapted from the story “Tarzan of the Apes” by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Originally Produced on Broadway by Disney Theatrical Productions
TARZAN ® owned by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.

Two worlds, one family. Based on Disney’s epic animated musical adventure and Edgar Rice Burrough’s Tarzan of the Apes, Tarzan features heart-pumping music by rock legend Phil Collins and a book by Tony Award-winning playwright, David Henry Hwang. Tarzan, the ape man, is raised by gorillas in the jungle. He meets Jane, a young English naturalist, and falls in love. High-flying excitement and hits like the Academy Award winning “You’ll Be in My Heart” as well as “Son of Man” and “Two Worlds” make Tarzan an unforgettable theatrical experience.

Thursday May 26, 7 pm
Friday May 27, 7 pm
Saturday May 28, 2 pm & 7 pm
Sunday May 29, 2 pm & 7 pm
All performances at the Spriet Family Theatre — 130 King Street, London Ontario!

Director Kerry Hishon, Musical Director Matthew Atkins, Choreographer Lindsey Runhart

Tarzan is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI. 421 West 54th Street New York, NY 10019. Phone: 212-541-4684; Fax: 212-397-4684 www.MTIShows.com

I’m SO excited… I hope to see you at the theatre! 🙂

Director’s Diary: Scanning the Script

Director's Diary: Scanning the Script

When I’m doing my initial preparations for a new show that I’m directing, the first thing I do is an initial scan of the script. This is a useful way to start getting your thoughts and plans in order. Get ready to start analyzing!

What you’ll need:

  • Your script
  • A notebook and a pencil (I specifically suggest a pencil because you’ll probably want to erase or change a note at some point!), or a word processing program on your computer
  • Various coloured highlighters (I like to colour-code)

Choose a fresh section in your notebook, or open a new document in your word processing program.

Create eight columns or pages:

  • Lights
  • Sound
  • Costumes / Hair / Makeup
  • Props
  • Set
  • Special Effects
  • Concerns (problems, potentially difficult scenes, aspects to assign to the musical director or choreographer, etc.)
  • Ideas (notes about creative solutions to problems, concept thoughts, and so on)

Start reading through your script, page by page, and noting anything that comes up relating to each section. I like to make notes and then colour-code lighting and sound notes right on the page of my script — usually lighting is in yellow, and sound in pink, but that’s just my preference. Include page numbers, as well as line numbers if you use them, so you can refer back to your notes later.

Look for obvious lighting and sound notations, but also less obvious ones. For example, consider the stage direction “Suddenly, a bolt of lightning splinters the ship and throws the humans overboard” (which is one of the first stage directions in my upcoming OKTC show, Tarzan!). That one sentence incorporates a whole bunch of stuff — a lightning effect (Lights), possibly thunder as well as the splintering ship (Sound), throwing the humans overboard (could be Set, Special Effects, Concerns, or Ideas, depending on your staging plan). Start writing that all down.

Note specific requirements for costumes and props. For example, “A Victorian Father and Mother cling to each other and their baby for safety.” Victorian refers to style of dress and hair, so that’s a specific hint as to what those actors might be wearing (suit and dress rather than sweatsuits or bathing suits). Is the baby an actual human baby actor or a prop? Most likely it will be a prop, so onto the props list it goes.

Concerns and Ideas are kind of your miscellaneous sections, but with a focus. Concerns are items that you’ll need to come back to later, or perhaps address with another member of the team. Ideas are just that — brilliant ideas on how you’ll stage something, or an aspect you’d like to include.

And so on! Go page by page through the script, making as many notes as you feel are useful. The more details you have, the easier it will be to organize your thoughts when working with your artistic team, actors, and design crew. If you’re writing by hand, you might want to leave space between your notes so you can make additions later. You might want to make copies of certain lists to give directly to your team members (for example, give the Props list to the props head, give the Set list to the set designer, and so on).

You’ll probably go through this process many times throughout the rehearsal process, but this is just the first step to get you started!

How do you approach your script for the first time?
What notes do you include?
Share them on Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments below!

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2015: The Year in Review!

2015: The Year in Review!

2015 was an insane year. Looking back on it, I can’t believe how much I squashed into it. It’s been wonderful to look back on it though, and recall all the awesomeness that happened this year! So read on to find out my highlights of 2015 — theatrically, professionally, and personally!

If you’re curious, check out my reviews of 2014 and 2013.

2015: The Year in Review!

January

I started off January with a wonderful new acquisition: my dad bought me a car! I used that car to meet up with my friends Lizz and Nicole in person for the first time. This was the first time I had ever met online friends “in real life” and I’m so glad that I’ve met these lovely ladies! (We’ll be getting together again on January 3 to celebrate our one-year “friend-iversary”!) I started rehearsals for Nancy Drew: Girl Detective. I finally got my play, Inspector Noble and the Figure in Black, edited and available to purchase! I got to substitute teach a musical theatre class at Dance Extreme, which was a super-fun experience.

One of the highlights of the month was winning a scholarship to join the Badass Babes Blog Club + Ecourse! I’ve admired Sarah Morgan for a long time and it has been an awesome opportunity to learn from her and the lovely ladies who are part of the club!

I attended the Brickenden Awards with my theatre peeps — didn’t win, but it was fun to dress up! I saw The Eyes of Heaven at the Palace Theatre, and wrapped up the month attending Art Fidler’s retirement party at OKTC, which was a gala to behold!

2015: The Year in Review!

February

February began with shadowing Brock while he taught stage combat for Lucas S.S.’s production of Macbeth (and taught some high school guys how to exit properly in a kilt!). I performed some scripts for the London Playwright’s Lab, and recorded TLTDay’s Podcast #17 with Ceris. Shawn and I celebrated our friend Andrew’s birthday at a “Halloween in February” party, which was lots of fun (even though Shawn dressed up in a couples’ costume with his friend Kody instead of me!).

I got the chance to choreograph violence for Disney’s Beauty & the Beast Jr. for the LYTE program, which was a lot of fun. Speaking of lots of fun, I took Shawn to see The Pretty Reckless and Nickelback in concert, and they played my favourite Foo Fighters song, Everlong, as an encore!

2015: The Year in Review!

March

To challenge ourselves, Ceris and I created the #Top10Challenge Instagram project! It was a lot of fun, and it was so great to see people’s interpretation of our prompts. I think we should bring this back in 2016!

March is my birthday month, and Shawn and I spent my 32nd birthday weekend roadtripping to Toronto (what better excuse to go on a roadtrip?), where we saw The Heart of Robin Hood (SO GOOD) and went to Medieval Times yet again. I will never get sick of going to Medieval Times! I love travelling so much!

2015: The Year in Review!

April

The birthday celebrations weren’t over though! In April, I had a triple-belated-birthday party with my Nan and stepbrother Derrick. Hooray for parties! I saw Jesus Christ Superstar at the McManus Theatre. I choreographed violence again, this time for Jane Eyre: The Musical for OKTC.

Nancy Drew: Girl Detective performed as part of OKTC’s annual PlayFest, and I operated the sound board for the first time in my life! It was terrifying, but I survived, and now I can add “sound operator” to my resume! Nancy Drew won a whole bunch of awards at the PlayFest Awards, including the Post-Curtain Award and Most Creative Use of a Blackbox Space!

Less than a week after Nancy Drew closed, we started rehearsals for The Big Bad Musical! (It never stops, right?) I also filmed a promotional video for Dixie Outlet Mall, where I got to chase a $20 bill down the street!

2015: The Year in Review!

May

In May, Shawn and I officially became homeowners! Much of May was spent learning about home ownership, being domestic, and seeing movies. I also had an adventure in Stratford with Nicole and Lizz where we shopped, pulled tarot cards, and saw the most adorable group of baby ducks at the Avon River!

2015: The Year in Review!

June

June brought lots of adventures! Shawn and I went to a stag & doe party for our friends Aaron and Amanda, where Shawn won his weight in booze and a Shop-Vac. June in London is the start of summer festival season, and I enjoyed the London Fringe Festival, the Dundas Street Festival, and Nuit Blanche! I also travelled to Toronto to see a Blue Jays game with Shawn, Kendryth and Andrew.

Guess what — more stage combat! I choreographed violence for American Idiot for OKTC Alumni (and drank a teeny-tiny Starbucks). I also started my interview column, Theatre Talk, on the blog!

I was really excited to attend the Oxford Renaissance Festival with Lizz and Nicole, and we had an absolute blast, despite the fact that it poured rain all day! I also attended Shawn’s cousin’s bridal shower with the Clark women, where I won more prizes (woohoo!), and then spent some much-needed relaxation time at Shawn’s parents’ trailer.

2015: The Year in Review!

July

One of my goals this year was to make more blogging connections, and in July I had a coaching call with the awesome Stephanie Shar. She’s super nice and motivated, and gave me tons of great advice! #bosslady (She also interviewed me on The Loudmouth Lifestyle!)

I had a fun time at the Home County Festival with my friends Kihanna and Mel, and ate an enormous burrito and cherry lemonade (and didn’t get sick!). Kihanna and I got beautiful necklaces with the moon phases of the dates we were born — a super cool souvenir of a great day!

On top of all that, The Big Bad Musical opened! (Also, this happened and I died a little. Of happiness, of course.)

2015: The Year in Review!

August

More adventures in August! Shawn and I went to another Blue Jays game, as well as two weddings in one weekend! Both brides were named Amanda. One wedding had a photobooth. (#weddinggoals — that’s my one regret from my own wedding, not having a photobooth.)

I saw Norm Foster’s Outlaw at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia with Brock, and then went to my friend Joe’s birthday party! Lizz, Nicole and I took to the road again for a fun day trip to Port Stanley to read tarot cards and start my Wreck This Journal. I also started rehearsals for The Conchologist, where I played one of my most challenging roles to date, “Monkey Sir the Orangutan.”

2015: The Year in Review!

September

September marked the beginning of OKTC’s 25th anniversary year celebration with The Great Kick-Off, where I met my 60 new The Actor Grows (T.A.G.) students. I started teaching T.A.G. classes later that month, which was a bit nerve-wracking at the beginning, since I hadn’t ran the program since 2012, but it quickly became old hat again. I also enjoyed sunshine and local artists at the #MyDundas street festival.

On the blog front, I had an awesome Skype chat with Lindsay, Craig and Ally from Theatrefolk! Theatrefolk is one of THE biggest theatre blogs going, and I was thrilled to get to chat with them — more to come about that very soon!

Apparently I wasn’t satisfied with just teaching and acting, so I added a third big project to my fall — I helped out at auditions and started rehearsals for The Trials of Robin Hood, where I was assistant fight director, and met my new minion, Dustin, who took over my previous role of fight captain.

2015: The Year in Review!

October

It’s official — I opened my Gumroad online store! I celebrated my grandparents‘ 60th wedding anniversary with my family, and enjoyed my one weekend off all fall (!!!) at my grandparents’ trailer.

After Thanksgiving, we performed The Conchologist at the ARTS Project, where I got my own rope swing! I voted in the federal election, and my mom decorated our house for Halloween.

2015: The Year in Review!

November

I’m an author! I published my ebook, The Ultimate Guide to Theatre Etiquette. Stage combat work in November included choreographing violence for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and teaching sword safety for The Tempest, both at OKTC, as well as choreographing a GIANT mêlée for TORH with what seemed like over half the cast. I also taught an improv workshop for United Way London & Middlesex. More blogging outreach came in the form of a phone chat with Jennifer from Theaterish.com!

I participated in the London Santa Claus Parade with the cast and crew of TORH (where we met a llama), and tried archery for the first time and quickly became obsessed. My mom and I made two kinds of muffins, two kinds of soup, and baked mac & cheese.

My second major accomplishment of November was participating in, and winning NaNoWriMo. I went slightly crazy in the process, and I’m not sure if I’ll do it again, but I’m so glad I did it this year.

2015: The Year in Review!

December

More stage combat? Of course! I advised on violence for Sweeney Todd: School Edition at OKTC. I also hosted the four T.A.G. showcases at OKTC (and received some lovely gifts). We announced the OKTC Spring 2016 season, and I announced my twelfth directing project at OKTC, Disney’s Tarzan.

The Trials of Robin Hood opened to much excitement! The cast and crew played archery tag for the first time and I quickly became obsessed. We had a mini 3M reunion. I also became a lady of the realm (for a second time… the first was back in 2014). What a great experience, with a great group of people.

2015: The Year in Review!

In 2015, I wrote 111 posts and I got over 110,000 hits on the site! I published a play and an ebook. I directed two shows, acted in a show and a commercial, did stage combat work for a whole bunch of shows and taught 60 new students! I made tons of new friends and made tons of new memories.

2015, you were an amazing year. 2016, I can’t wait to start fresh with you!


 

Photo Credit: Big Bad Musical photo – Kihanna Becke; all other photos – Kerry Hishon

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