Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Training dilemna...solved! For now....

For the last couple of months, I have been debating the direction that I want to go for some extra education. Do I focus on theatre, do I move towards some technical certifications, or do I just work towards a Bachelors degree slowly and painfully. All choices have their merits, just some involve a lot more time, money and patience than I usually have at any given time.
I don't make choices easily. I have a thousand ideas running through my head at any given time, all of which I'd love to do. But, I'm not some pseudopod amalgamation of Methuselah, Bill Gates and The Dalai Lama so I'm forced to focus on one thing at a time. But that's not easy for me...I'll start moving in one direction at mach speed and then abruptly veer off in another direction. Subtle events can cause this; a disagreement with my wife about money, frustration about my current job and the business world in general, even the occasional vivid dream that inspires a new direction. It's frustrating for me sometimes, and I know it can be very frustrating for my spouse.
So, when it came to focusing on courses, I started to break down the list to essentials. The latest choices are:
  • Acting Training

  • Programming diploma course - a "just in case" solution

  • Project Management courses - useful for the business and acting world

Then a couple interesting events occurred. I auditioned again for the Second City Conservatory, and was denied once again, even though I thought I had a good audition. Also, my current manager thought it quite unnecessary for me to work so hard to have a safety net in place. She feels I'm safe for as long as I want to stay there. If I want Project Management training, then they'll give it to me here. It's a good step.

Based on this, it freed me up to focus my education dollars on the acting world. Do I take more Second City courses? Do I take some more general scene study courses with Sears & Switzer? Or do I go bigger and take the Seneca or Humber Theater School certifications? What will help me more in the longrun?

My choice was made for me last night, in a surprise twist. Final answer? None of the above. I'm going to take a few months off from training courses, and do a show. I got the call I had been waiting for a few months for...Theatre on Main in Newmarket has asked me to play Sterling Mimm in Norm Foster's Jasper Station. It's a musical, and my character is spectacularly funny. Just what I need. Between that and a little theatresports troupe I hope to finalize tonight, I think I'll keep me acting juices flowing.

The timing of this entry is interesting. Tonight is my final Second City class for now. Ensemble was a fun time, and I met a lot more good people, and this time I've met people truly serious about getting out there to do shows. I've made the contact with Bad Dog Theatre about entering a team in the theatresports competitions, now all I need to do is get the bodies in line and get a team name. If we were to work together at least every couple of weeks, then that alone will keep up my improv training...so in all sorts of ways I still win.

So...now I just need to balance this with homelife and Melanie now being back at work. It's as easy as skipping on a tightrope over a pirhana tank, but all worth it in the end.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Take Two

Six classes down. Two to go. Continuing Improv - Ensemble has been an excellent experience for me. I've had a lot of fun, for the most part. This is a good class to see my own limitations up close and personal. With it being all new people and new dynamics, I have less of a safety net to fall on. It is sink or swim. I chose not to drown, but I do still take on too much water from time to time. I still crack up occasionally. My accent work needs help (if I lose concentration even for a second it tends to slip). I wait too long for the perfect moment when on a sideline. All things I recognize in myself that I wish to work on further. So, where to go from here?
I've met a few more people who I'd give anything to continue working with after this class is done. Jenn and Katie (incidentally the only girls in the class, but this is merely a coincidence I assure you) are absolutely wonderful to work with. I find my best work in this level has been when working with them. Dave and Dinesh are powerful ideas people...the most brilliant ideas seem to just roll from them...would love to do some shows with them. There's a couple more people too... Everybody gets busy though, and I have no idea if any of them have considerations of what they wish to do next themselves. Do more classes, or just jump, get some people together and actually do some shows. I plan to ask. Sadly, the extremely talented members of my A-E group, with the exeption of Rufus, apparently have scattered to the four winds. I've only heard from two of them since. All of our talking about forming a troupe was a waste of energy. So, time to shift focus...begin looking forward.
I have submitted my resume again for the Second City Conservatory programme, but part of me doesn't really care if I make it or not. If I do, great, they obviously saw something in me they can use. If not, then I'm going to grab a couple bodies and start going to some open shows at the Bad Dog Theatre, possibly even Theatresports. Time to get even more experience and knowledge, and I definately will get more of that working it out on stage and watching other improvisors in action then worrying about what programme will take me. It's gonna be a fun and scary ride, and I look forward to every minute of it.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Thankful for what we have

Things have been hectic in the household lately. The renovations on our bedroom is still in process. I found myself hanging a new chandelier, multiple hooks, and mapping out one of the walls using the equivalent of quantum theory for three picture frames. There are questions as to the placement of the fishtank, and do the fish match the curtains.
While in construction and/or purchasing mode, some conversations between my lovely spouse and myself would leave many people wandering away with a dazed expression on their faces. An example of one of these (I'll leave you to guess who is who, it isn't difficult) follows. This has been altered a bit for good reading and/or your sanity.

"What kind of shelving do you want?"
"Wait, I already told you the answer to that."
"Well, obviously I forgot, so indulge me."
"There's these box things I saw on a home improvement show. Well, not really a box, but boxish....kinda...sorta.."
"Oh. Well, that explains everything."
"Well, did you want something else?"
"No, I trust your opinion."
"Don't you have an idea?"
"It's your project, do whatever you like, dear."
"It's not my project, it's OUR project."
"No no, this project gives you pleasure, I insist you do whatever you like."
"But don't you want a say?"
"Babe, all I need is a bed and a floor to throw my clothes on and I'm happy."
"So you don't appreciate what I'm doing?"
"NO WAIT! NO no that's not what I meant....um...I meant...um...it was a joke! haha...get it? um..i'm sorry?

And so on and so on.
It is a lot of work ripping things out and starting afresh. Occasionally tempers run high. Unkind words can be heard. But then you look at all the problems that other people are going through. Somebody's cheating on their spouse. Somebody else fought tremendous hurdles to help somebody out, only to be victimized by that person in the end. Families torn apart by violence and betrayal.
Compared to that, we've been sweating the small stuff. At the end of the day, frustration and anxiety over something as small as a bedroom renovation should just be laughed at. We're learning to do just that, and it draws us even closer together as a family. The way it's meant to be.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

On my knees...?

Improv class was a lot of fun yesterday. For one, only six of us showed up for class. The rest either were sick or possibly had just plain forgotten that classes had resumed following the holiday break.
We spent the first half of the class warming up and performing two, three and four person scenes, with our instructor Sandy side-coaching. A lot of great choices were made and I was specifically proud of the two scenes I was in.
One was what we refer to as a fishing scene. Two people on stage doing an activity, but discussing something else. Jeff and I were playing snooker, but the scene itself was about my character trying to reconcile the fact that his wife was obviously leaving him (I threw the comical idea in that it was unspoken, but her belongings were slowly leaving the bedroom and ending up by the front door in boxes - this put the rest of the class in stitches). Jeff's character was on his third marriage by his own choices, and when he realized my character actually wanted his wife to stay he made the interesting choice of asking if my character and his wife were talking. I threw in immediately a yes, but then slowly backpeddled and admitted we actually hadn't really talked in over two years. The scene ended there.
The second scene I did was with Santino and Marlin. Santino and I played two collage buddies who ran into each other on the street. Santino was successful and married. My character lived on the street after suffering a bad reaction to drugs, though was now clean and going to AA and NA. His character invited mine to lunch (Marlin was the pushy waiter), where he mistakenly ordered beers and pasta with wine sauce for each of us. Marlin was the comic relief of this skit...he kept walking over and pushing us to order as we tried to talk. Sandy pushed us to create conflict in the scene, and I created the scenario that my character had been in love with Santino's wife before they were together, and that Santino had introduced the drug dealer to me who caused my life's problems.
It's interesting to see the perspective of others when they look at a scene from afar. When we discussed the scene, they thought it would have been a more interesting choice for me to not have been timid about Santino's wife with my love, but that I had actually been sleeping with her, which would have made for interesting dynamics. Hindsight is 20/20, so they say. I may actually script out a polished version, if I can keep it fresh in my head.
Following break, we ran a longform exercise for the rest of the class. A lot of fun scenes were created, though I made the choice to stay in secondary characters for the most part because I liked what people were running with. A recurring scene was a little girl (played by Jen) who's cats were constantly being killed off by somebody. I saw a need to have a cat in the scene, but I had not attempted to play a low to the ground character in ages because of my knees. So, I slapped my knees a few times, and when I didn't wince decided to give it a try...and I did fine. OK, my cat was stabbed about 40 seconds in, so I got to play dead cat with feet in the air for the rest of the scene, but it was the offer that made the difference...it helped wrap the scenario up.
Another scene was very Scottish. Jeff started the scene telling a sheep joke, and after two full minutes of this joke was cut off five seconds before the punchline which was hilarious (I thought Sandy was going to piss himself laughing). Chris and Marlin then made as Sheep Shearers complaining about bad Scottish jokes, so I popped in as a sheep with a few bleats to keep the gag in.
Afterwards, Jenn commented to me that I was brave to come onboard as a sheep during a Scottish scene...she thought they may do much worse then shearing. We shared a few laughs over that.
And that was class. I felt great afterwards. I was still cracking up in a few spots, which Sandy and I discussed a bit (I think it's because my brain considers it playtime, and my best stress relief is through laughter), but overall I think we all did very well.
My knees being that forgiving was a delight especially. The ability to kneel changes so many things. I can bathe Nathaniel in the tub now (and did so tonight, btw). Sandy made the best joke about kneeling at the start of level E. When I told him I couldn't kneel he asked with a straight face, "How do you get roles?".
Hmmm...Hollywood bound? Er...nah, don't need it that bad.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Working arrangements

With the coming of 2006, another big change is about to occur in our household. Melanie has decided to go back to work. As of this coming Monday, she will officially be back on the payroll at The March of Dimes, using up her 2005 vacation entitlement. Then the 23rd will see her returning to work.
This in itself is not that difficult to bear. She works overnight shifts, 3 nights one week, 4 nights the next, and she is able to sleep for much of the shift (onsite oncall). Nathaniel has always been a fantastic sleeper, so I personally have no concerns about sleepless nights destroying my ownbrain. What does need to change is my own morning routine. Melanie won't be off work until around 8am. So, I need to get Nathaniel up in the morning, have him fed and changed, and pretty much bolt out the door when Melanie pulls into the driveway so that I can be ontime for my own job.
I'm certainly not going to whine about this. A lot of families have schedules that are downright nasty in comparison to ours. People who have to work 2-3 jobs to make ends meet while raising a family earn my respect - I have no idea how they do it (my mother was one of those when I was but a pup). Melanie and I will still have a few nights of the week free to ourselves, and even those nights she does work she doesn't need to leave until after Nathaniel goes to bed...and I'm usually writing or something at that point anyway.
The only big concern I have is my Second City courses. I may need to look at doing an earlier class, say 5:30-8, so that we don't have to continually get a sitter, and to avoid the arguments that hints of dropping them altogether may cause. I need to get my resume in for the conservatory by Thursday the 12th, so I'll be able to look into when classes are after that.

btw...this entry was planned for last night, but I decided to tweak some storywriting instead. My resolutions are still on track

Sunday, January 01, 2006

A Farewell to 2005

Ought Five has now come and gone. For my household, the year was full of twists and turns that would make any roller-coaster aficionado jealous, and I for one am quite glad we can now put it behind us and start 2006 with a blank slate.
Biggest news of the year of course was the birth of our son Nathaniel in June. The currently happy and healthy little scamper was a week late on his delivery, and did give us a bit of a scare during his birth due to a tight umbilical cord. But the very talented doctor dealt with that quickly, and there have been no complications since thankfully.
Health wise, Melanie and I were on the opposite ends than we usually are. During the pregnancy she began to suffer from gall bladder attacks, and was hospitalized twice for it. On the second event, shortly after Nathaniel arrived, we decided to have the rather unsportsmanlike gall bladder itself evicted. No complications since. For myself, my body is in the best shape it's been in about four years. My gouty arthritis has been manageable, my shoulder is holding up, and I even find I can run up and down carpetted stairs without landing on my head.
Work wise, things were interesting. Melanie only worked the first four five months of 2005 before going on mat leave, so not much to report there. She likes her job, and because it's in health care there are plenty of confidential issues that it would be rude and even possibly illegal to blog about - so I won't. Myself....well, I lost a nice desk in the first week of January to be confined along with the rest of my new team in a training room. Promise given, one month. Well, the second week of December finally saw us moved out of that Orwellian habitat (I still look around frightened when I hear thought and police in the same sentence) and into nice new digs on the 5th floor with our own desks. Some people thought it would be nice as a team-building event to have us so close together. These same people say that we will miss being so close together now that we moved. These same people I hope choke on their Captain Crunch (it's the simple pleasures in life I look forward to). Almost a year hearing really shitty music from Top-40 stations and hearing WAY too much about certain peoples sexual habits and how many curses they can fit into a short sentence (I've been in seedy bars and have heard less foul language used). Honestly, I'm not the most professional driven guy in the world, but I have some standards...which were crossed daily.
Education wise, I signed up for a correspondance writers course, expecting to have enough time to work on it even when our child arrived. Totally fooled myself there. I have it on hiatus for now, but plan to make arrangements with Melanie for boundaries during certain days so I can start it up again. More on that later in this entry. Second City has been fantastic. I have now finished levels A-E, and am currently in the Continuing Improv - Ensemble course. I am right now debating auditioning for the conservatory again vs taking some time off to study other things or taking a different improv course. This is the week to decide, and I'll update on that once the decision is made.
Melanie had been taking Seneca courses, working towards a Social Services diploma, but is now on hiatus from that due to baby. Whether she starts up again this year is totally up to her. I support her no matter what.
In theatre...well, I did one show this year. The Man With The Plastic Sandwich was a personal triumph for me, and I even ended up winning a Best Actors award for the effort. I have worked on a few commercials and rock videos this year. Will 2006 see a return to stage for me? Read on.

My resolutions for this year. Feel free to smirk.

1/ Write something every single day. Whether it be a blog entry, a short story or even a one sentence edit on a story in progress. Doesn't matter. Proof may not even get online...this is a personal thing.
2/ Exercise a little bit, 2 or 3 times a week. I'm looking into getting my family out to swimming certain nights so that may cover that. I do have an exercycle in my living room though so that may help. And when it gets warmer I would like to start walking again. While my body is in better shape then it was, might as well take advantage of that and try to get healthy.
3/ Start working towards a diploma in something. I've been reading course calendars in Seneca and Humber, and hope to take the plunge soon. I have very little post seconday school education, and no diplomas or degrees, so all of my vast practical knowledge of computers comes to a moot point when a potential employer looks at my resume or tries giving me a detailed theory test. I want something to fall back on. Acting jobs are slim. And though my job is currently secure by the sounds of it, all it would take would be a quick decision to re-org and I could get screwed. Thinking about going back into hardware since I prefer it to software. Possibly get my A+ or MCSE. Maybe Networking. Big choices to be made. Once I have gotten started on my writing course again, I'll be able to judge how I handle the coursework along with my job and baby in house, and make further decisions from there.
4/ Time permitting, I'd like to get on stage at least once this year. I'm going to start watching for some good shows out there to audition for, and will probably only accept meaty roles as well. In the past I was always unselfish with my roles...I'd take on anything to help out. With my time being lesser though? I think I'm allowed to be the prick for once.

Well, that's it. Only a light skeletal outline of the year, but if I was to write about every single event that occured I'd need a publisher. Plus my memory isn't THAT good.
Here's wishing you all had a great start to 2006...I sure did. Let's see where the year takes us.

Ah, the great unknown. The mightiest challenge


You Are A: Duck!

duckFound in many lakes and ponds, ducks are a common site the world over. Known for their famous quack, ducks tend to congregate in flocks or go off on their own in pairs. As a duck, you may seem friendly at times but will not hesitate to bite if someone is bothering you. Your love for travel and your ability to swim are some reasons why you are a duck.

You were almost a: Bear Cub or a Monkey
You are least like a: Groundhog or a ChipmunkCute Animals Quiz

Found on Trying So Very Hard To Be Perfect

UPDATE: 11:12pm - MY wife took the survey...she came up with a Frog. "A FROG???", she exclaimed over and over again. God, the author of this survey's pretty lucky that I like frogs a lot and could talk her off the edge of our roof.
Wait a minute. Don't Ducks eat Frogs...er...uh...never mind.