“What’s more important than maintaining one’s capacity for enthusiasm?” – Mistakes Were Made

I have been on quite a journey, chomping off a show that was a bigger challenge than I ever anticipated – and even what I did anticipate was already going to be a bigger challenge than I felt I could face. Nine months of line memorization and character work came to an end when the smoke cleared on opening night of “Mistakes Were Made”. I was backstage, saying to myself, why am I doing this? I could be home relaxing. Doing nothing. And then my feet carried me onstage and the show started. It didn’t go perfectly, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

 

It’s the best mistake I’ve ever made.

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By pushing myself this hard, not only have I grown, I have built bonds with my team that are deeper than they can ever imagine. My directors will never know how seriously I took their notes, how much I respect their talent, vision and input. The people you don’t see, for taking care of the set every night, the lights, the outreach to the media – there are so many moving parts who don’t get to take a bow at the end of the show – and there work is just as valid, time consuming and incredible as anything I do. And I’ve had the luck and joy of having two incredible actors hide in the shadows to bring this show to life. It’s an insane dream that will have come to an end too early.

For the first time in my life, I’ve seen how being on stage can be work. It’s a good kind of work and anybody who should be so lucky as to entertain audiences for a living should recognize how lucky they are, but it is work none the less. Since opening it has never once been a case of me just enjoying my day, coasting in and doing a show. I make sure to monitor my energy and rest, run lines constantly and still have a lot to learn about how to give a consistent show every night. That’s been the gift of doing so many performances, in front of so many crowds.

Out of nowhere, I’m surprised that my favourite part of the show is the ending. It was the hardest thing to do, be vulnerable, emotional – not make people laugh but make them see something really different. I feel like I’ve shown a different side of what I can do, and I’m anxious to hopefully find new sides to explore in the future.

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To know that the show has been, for the most part, extremely well received is heart-warming and it’s a nice moment for me to feel like I did a good job. I always knew everybody else involved would do amazing, but they could do as much as they wanted and if I wasn’t good as Felix the show would fail. That was a tremendous amount of pressure, and it’s why I chose the show, I guess. I’m realizing that now. To test myself and see if I could do it. I’m lucky to be working with the best talent in this city, the best artists, the best visionaries.

 

After all, I want to work with artists – it’s what excites me.

 

But for now, some rest.

 

And then the revolution.

“I was going to get so many things done, so many wonderful things. I thought of life as an opportunity to make things happen.” – Mistakes Were Made

This article is part of an ongoing expose on “Mistakes Were Made” premiering August 20th at Mainline. Buy tickets here.

(Original Journal Entry from August 1st, 2014)

 

So the show is off-book now. I’ve memorized a fifty-page script. Not perfectly. I’d say I’m at about 96.7%. I thought there would be confetti canons and alcohol to celebrate the accomplishment but instead I’m a bit…exhausted? Confused?

I’ve realized that the monumental task of memorizing is less than half the battle. Finding the energy and focus to bring each sentence to life – consistently over the 75 minutes of the show is a challenge I’m not entirely sure I can overcome. It’s a hurdle I didn’t see coming. I always have stage energy, but this show is different. It’s a lot.
 
And if these two challenges weren’t enough (and make no mistake, Mistakes Were Made is the hardest thing I’ve ever done – though I may suck at it so badly once it goes on stage you’ll be like “Was it hard sucking that bad Donald?” And I will tell you yes.) I have the madness of producing this show and Contractions at the same time. I mean, Sherry is producing Contractions but I’m assisting and Nir is assisting me with Mistakes Were Made – but every piece of promotion that’s made it’s way out there, the pictures, the videos – organizing the schedules, the meetings with the theatre – answering endless questions about how we’re going to bring this show to life physically, while trying to shut my brain off in a rehearsal and just take notes so I can be a better actor…
 
I’ve realized (AGAIN – cuz I know I’ve said it before) but I am terrible at organizing my time. People confuse my drive and commitment for getting things done with talent at getting things done. That’s not the same thing. I communicate poorly to my team. Just getting everyone in the same spot to film the ‘Denise’ lip dub and surprise Sean for his birthday was a miracle of luck. And because I am bad at organizing my time, I end up on vacations responding to texts and being short with the people who matter most because I’m distracted.  I’m not even mentioning my job. My full-time job that pays the bills. That takes up time too.
 
So as I finished memorizing the text I felt empty – like I never properly enjoyed major moments of my life over the past few months because I was preoccupied with something that is not nearly as important as those moments with my family, Patrick, and his family. I haven’t been there for my close friends the way I should have been. 
 
Life is too short to not enjoy those moments. And life is also too short to not chase your dreams. It’s a conundrum for me because clearly I’m incapable (at this time) of balancing both. 
 
So what do I do?
 
I do the hard thing and try to bring balance back, because until I can balance both sides of my life I will never be happy and never be able to move forward in either direction.
 
I am stepping aside as a producer at Brave New Productions. It’s still a creative outlet for me, and I hope we are able to work with new producers to bring new projects to life. I have no doubt that the company will do great things, and I will be there to embody my role as creative director and company member but I also need to do great things myself both professionally and personally, and I will never be able to do that when I’m elbow deep in the day to day workings of my company. I hope to work with the team to find passionate people who will replace the aspects of my role I’ve been unable to fully commit to, and in my mind this can only make the company stronger.
 
I’ve worded that all in the least dramatic way possible. 
 
Because I hate drama. It has no place in theatre. 
 
I love my life, now I’d like to enjoy it for awhile. I don’t want to look back and wish I could have frozen time. Being stuck in a regret sounds terrible, feels terrible when I put myself in Felix Artifex’s shoes. It’s an infinite purgatory that I have a chance, now, to redirect my path away from.
 
And that’s the destination for all of this. That is what I’m saying with Mistakes Were Made. It’s a goodbye of sorts, to a big chapter of my life and work (I used to have hair btw). I’m saying Thank You for putting up with my plethora of Mistakes over the years. I’m saying look at Felix, digging his own grave. Don’t you wish you could stop him? Save him? Help him? 
 
But I’m not giving up on my dream. Not in the slightest.
 
To be honest, my dream happens every time Patrick and I drive somewhere and I reach across to hold his hand – I can’t do that if I’m always answering a phone.
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