Eulalie Confronts Philip Kgosana

These promo photos for “Eulalie and the Great March,” by Flora Stohr-Danziger, were taken by Duncan McAllister.

I am directing the Saturday ‘Experiment,’ part of the New Ideas Festival 2007. For more information about my show on March 10, or on the other shows in this three week series, go to the website: New Ideas. You will find links to photos from all of the shows as well as ticket information.

New Ideas is a venue for new plays of all kinds. There is a mix of humour and drama. If you are a playwright, talented in penning short works, you might want to submit a script next year.

The Saturday experiment is unique, a staged reading done expressly for the purpose of inviting audience feedback. Our reading is not a static reading of lines but it is experimental. The artistic producers asked us to put on “Eulalie and the Great March” twice: once in monologue form as it was originally written, and once in dialogue form. Flora Stohr-Danziger did the rewrite and we consulted (and ate some lovely lunches together) before she left for South Africa.

Now listening to — Monologues

I haven’t been blogging lately due to computer problems. They are not completely fixed but I’m posting anyway.

I spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evening plus all day today casting a play.

I haven’t been reading much, but I did listen to over 85 prepared monologues plus another 80 or so cold readings. I’ve found myself thinking in monologues, while brushing my teeth, while taking the train… In fact, since I’m shamelessly writing about myself here, I guess you could call this a blog-o-logue.

My callbacks are Wednesday. Heck, I almost feel like a big shot director! 😉 Well, not really… but I’ve seen a lot of humblingly good talent. One of the highlights has been hearing different interpretations of the same pieces.

For the New Ideas Festival, directors choose their favorites from the open casting call and then arrange callbacks. There is no guarantee that the actor you like best will not choose a different show in the festival. The organizers have the final say, however, and they take great pains to keep it fair. So far I’ve been extremely impressed by the Alumni Theatre’s organization and welcoming attitude. I can’t commend these volunteers enough.

Happy reading!

Crispy, crunchy, wholesome: Cereal Girl

Alumni Theatre — New Ideas & Why I love Rabelais

I answered a call for directors for the New Ideas Festival at the Alumni Theatre in Toronto. There are three weeks of one-act plays plus longer “Saturday Experiments.” The process is intense.

Playwrights send their plays or works-in-progress to the Alum. Once the best are chosen, the theatre holds a ‘meet and greet,’ where playwrights get on stage and explain their concepts. After that, directors and playwrights drink a coffee and chat. Some exchange resumes and set up meetings right away. There is no guarantee that any particular director will get to direct one of the plays. The auditorium was pretty full and the number of plays are limited.

A few days after the meeting, directors receive email copies of the plays to read. We have until November 30 to network by phone etc. and submit a proposal for our two favorites. The choice will be based primarily on the preferences of the writers. Not bad. Maybe I should submit a short to them next year. Maybe you should too.

I have co-directed several times and I have directed my own school productions but this is different: adult actors and an adult audience; working with a script that isn’t my own; production in a recognized venue that is publicized and open to the public. Wow.

Of course we won’t get paid but many of the people involved will be ambitious, early in their careers and counting on a good show with reviews. I hope I can do the job they deserve and still have a good time. I’m very old-fashioned and still believe in doing “art for art’s sake.” That’s one reason I think some of the best writers have always had a day job, often one that was considered more important than their writing.

My favorite example is Francois Rabelais, doctor to the king, possible spy and Renaissance man. He claimed to write his political satires featuring giant kings during his meal breaks. I’m impressed he could eat considering how scatological some passages are… Of course it’s more about theories of education and politics than dirty jokes. He exhorts us to crack the bone that is this amusing book to get to it’s precious essence.

Interested? Read Pantagruel, Garantua and the Tiers Livre. It’s wonderful stuff and easily available in English or modern French translations.

I Prefer Rabelais: Oeuvres completes, L’integrale. Mine is dated 1973, by Editions du Seuil, Paris but it was purchased in Aix-en-Provence in the 1990’s. It’s sort of the French equivalent of the Riverside Chaucer in many ways with an added advantage: Each page is laid out so you can look at the middle French and modern French translation side by side. There are copious footnotes in the back to help with historical context and word nuance. It’s one of my prize possessions.