NO PIKACHU FOR YOU! – POKEMON GO OR NO?

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The Pokemon Go phenomenon is very interesting. I’ve played the game and find it no more or less addictive than popular games that have come before it (Doodle Jump, Flight Control, Flappy Bird). I’ve also tried out plenty of geocaching apps that turn your neighborhoods into scavenger hunts. Neither type of app is new or revolutionary, though the combination of the two, with the Pokemon branding, make for a unique phenomenon. I consider myself well versed enough to form more than the general public’s blanket opinion of good or bad.

There are so many news articles right now. Bashing the game or declaring conspiracy theories is par for the course if something becomes popular. A lot of these articles sound sensationalist and are reaching to sell a story. In the end, Hollywood directors trying to sell tickets can try to create controversy by screaming invasion of privacy, but all I hear is fearmongering and an inability to understand and celebrate the potential for creativity using new technology. 
Let me be clear about one thing (and I’m wagging my finger at those of you who are trying to go hipster and cast judgement on anything popular) – I would never bash a product that encourages people to get out of their house and have fun. Even if they’re outside, moving about, while looking at their phone screens – I still find that better than hiding away at home, scared of the world – which seems to be the direction things have been heading in lately. In that respect, Pokemon Go is a sort of social magic.
I will, however, bash people who don’t know how to be responsible and differentiate a game from life. It seems like quite a few people are using the popularity of the game to act like a fool, and there’s really no reason for it. Only fools act like fools. Like that video of the girl texting and falling into the mall fountain, if you can’t manage your ability to multitask, you need to take a step back and take a good look at your limitations. If you’ve fallen off a cliff, traversed onto private property or blocked traffic while playing a game, you are not responsible enough to hold or have a phone, a car, or a credit card. 
I say this because there is absolutely nothing in the game that is encouraging the type of behavior we’ve read about in the news. Yes, you roam about trying to find checkpoints (which is very easy to do while honoring traffic laws and respecting private property) and when the elusive Pokemon do appear they are always in your immediate vicinity (and if they’re not you can still tap to collect them from where you are) – which means there’s absolutely no reason to cause pandemonium and potential distress for yourself or others. People who use the app to this excess are the same as people inciting violence at a peaceful protest – they are troublemakers looking for an excuse to act the fool and don’t speak for the majority, who are grown up and responsible enough to enjoy a fun game, no matter how addictive or intense it may be.
Just having casually played Pokemon Go, I have seen some truly wonderful social interactions that could only have happened by introduction of some sort of overhyped social experiment invading the public consciousness. It’s neat and fun to see so many people on the same page for something (though it would be nice to see as much enthusiasm for climate change or politics), though it’s telling that the poor behavior of the few tell as deep of a story about their limitations as the pleasure and happiness derived from the many.

Stories To Tell

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Wow. It’s hard to imagine but I have produced over 25 theatre projects, most having taken place in the last five years. That’s an insane number. While none of it has been single-handed, I take a tremendous amount of pride in the work in the work I’ve managed to create with my fellow artists.

It’s one thing to look at the numbers and it’s another thing to realize that,  as producer, I have dozens of stories from each production that I could be sharing, both as written entertainment and for my own egoistical stroll down memory lane. Nobody has interacted with each of these shows as much as me. Knows the hard work, the drama, the laughter and tears.

It’s time to share some of my stories.

The Spark and the Fool

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Working on “Sylvia” has refreshed my passion for acting. The process and the performances have reminded me of what I love about acting, what I’m capable of, and what makes a strong performance. A strong performance, I believe (and I could be wrong, I once destroyed a pot making Lipton instant noodle soup)  is many things – commitment to the text of the playwright, faith in your director and an indescribable  quality that is somewhere between gut and instinct.

It’s incredibly hard to pull off all of that – and I continue to be in awe when I get the privilege to work with performers who can make it happen. That’s magic. And magic is rare.

After two years helping out offstage, I’m now eager to get back into acting and working with like-minded individuals who help me grow and appreciate exactly what can be done on a bare stage.

More soon…

An Interview with The Real Emma McQueen, Director Of “Sylvia”

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I’m no stranger to Emma McQueen. She’s the Artistic Director for Brave New Productions and someone I’ve both directed and been directed by. She has a fierce eye for detail, a passionate knowledge of the stage, and a top secret family margarita recipe that I thoroughly enjoy – which is the main reason we continue to work together after so many years…

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I sat down with Emma for a no holds barred interview where I could ask the tough, burning questions that have been on everyone’s minds. And by that, I mean my mothers.

Donald: We’ve worked on how many shows together now? 4? 30?

Emma: Haha, it certainly seems like that many!

Donald: (It turns out, “Sylvia” will be the 15th production we’ve worked on together) Which one has been your favorite?

Emma: I think my favourite might be the first show that we did together, Being Earnest. I loved the updates we did to it, bringing it to the deep Saoouuth, and turning Cecily into Cecil. And of course, it’s a favourite because it was the show that brought us together as theatre-partners-in-crime.

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Donald: I think it might be my favorite too! Maybe it’s time for a remount. This is the first show in five years not to feature Sean Curley. How come? Was he not considered for the role of Sylvia?

Emma: Why didn’t I consider switching Sylvia to Sylvian?! That would have added an entirely different kind of complication to Greg’s and Kate’s marriage, haha. In all honesty, Sean is an amazing actor, and we can always count on him to turn in kick-ass performances. It’s too bad there isn’t a role for him in Sylvia, because I know he would have a fantastic time working with this cast. Sean’s such an important part of our company family, and although he may not be taking an active role in this show, he’s always supporting us behind the scenes.

Donald: Which brings us to Sylvia! Tell me about the show. What’s exciting about Sylvia?

Emma: I love this show because it’s quite different from anything we’ve ever done, and it has a tremendous amount of heart. It’s a small cast, so we really get to focus on building relationships and finding the details in the characters. This show is also exciting because for the very first time, we’re having a real live animal on stage! Yes, that’s right, a real human animal playing a dog animal! It’ll be like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Or may ever want to see again. JOKING! Haha…

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Donald: It’s very different from “33 Variations” in almost every way, but it does have a few things in common. Specifically, Stephanie McKenna appears in both shows and in both shows she pees in the floor. There’s also a sort of musical link between the two shows, isn’t there?

Emma: Yes! I have to mention the incredible original music written by Ian Baird especially for our production. We worked with Ian on our last show, 33 Variations, and had such a blast that we knew he’d be perfect to compose a few pieces that we envisioned for this show. I can’t wait to share his work with our audiences!

Donald: They are really special and there’s an album of music he created for the show being release digitally on May 6th. Now, everyone at BNP seems to wear different hats on different shows – do you prefer the directing or acting hat?

Emma: They really feed into each other for me. I think that being an actor helps me to be a better director, and being a director has definitely helped me as an actor. It would be very hard for me to choose between the two, because I love expressing myself in both ways. It’s funny, when I’m directing, I wouldn’t want to be an actor for the world – too many lines to learn! too much energy required! haha – but when I’m acting, I feel the exact same way about directing – why would I want to be responsible for the whole thing when I can just focus on learning my lines? Maybe I have a split personality!

Emma puts on make-up and gives you the finger.

Emma puts on make-up and gives you the finger (optical illusion).

Donald: What do you think is a directors most important job – aside from bringing margaritas for the cast during rehearsals?

Emma: Those “relaxed” rehearsals do seem to go a lot quicker, don’t they? wink emoticon Hey, I’ve gotta butter you up somehow, so that then I can crack the whip!
But really, being a storyteller is my most important job as a director. Taking the words from the page and turning them into a living story for the audience. Being a compass for the production, to keep everyone going in the same direction to tell that story together. So, I’m like an anthropomorphic compass that tells stories. Good luck not having nightmares about that tonight.

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Donald: Haha. Last question and it’s a toughie. Now, Emma, you strike me as more of a cat person. Am I right? Why are you more of a cat person? And does this affect the play?

Emma: I promise this DOES NOT AFFECT THE SHOW (!!!!), but I happen to have a little fluffy kitty cat that is the centre of my universe. He’s super sweet and adorable, and I don’t have to walk him, although admittedly I do still have to pick up his poop. I do like dogs, and maybe someday I’ll have one if I ever have a farm, but until then I’ll proudly wear the title ‘cat person’.

Brave New Productions Presents “Sylvia” by A.R. Gurney from May 4-14th at Mainline Theatre. More information about the show available at http://www.bravenewproductions.com

Happy Black Day!

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In my continued effort to celebrate obscure and unusual holidays and special days I am very excited to wish you a 

Happy Black Day!

Now, before you think this has anything to do with what to wear or race, lets refer to the absolutely-always-factually-correct Wikipedia to learn more about this truly special day!

Black Day (Korean: 블랙데이) is an unofficial holiday observed on April 14 each year. It is mostly observed in South Korea by singles.

The day is associated with Valentine’s Day and White Day as a holiday on the 14th day of the month. On this day, people who did not receive gifts on the previous two days gather and eat jajangmyeon. This day is specifically for single people.

  
First of all – how wonderful – if you’re going to be depressed, why not celebrate it? The irony will propel you through a confusing black hole of emotion and revert you back  to happiness.

Also, yum.

So to all of my singles in South Korea (I’m looking at you @VagabondHeels), wishing you the most Merry, joyful and blackest of days!

Romeo & Juliet -A Look Back!

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The time: 2000

How time flies – take a look at this segment I filmed for CBC’s “Street Cents” way back in the day! You have to Fast-Forward to the 2 minute mark for my incredible performance as Romeo (Leonardo DiCaprio – eat your heart out!).

If anything – it’s a great chance to remember how adorable and thin I T’was!

How far I’ve come – and how fun it is to play ridiculous characters. I think the most ridiculous and exciting thing I’ve done is just around the corner with “Sylvia” at MainLine Theatre this May 4-14 where I play 3 characters! While it’s all hard work – it’s also fun – and it’s great getting back to the fun of performing!