Category Archives: London

“LIVE LIGHT, TRAVEL LIGHT, SPREAD THE LIGHT, BE THE LIGHT.”

This blog post is brought to you in part by the wind-down from a seemingly productive Monday – a day that still allowed me time for reflection and enlightenment of the pen. In departure from my past couple of weeks – which were also characteristically reflective… in that funny way a mundane stream of thoughts surfaces and envelopes the skull during a routine morning city bus ride; or the way I occasionally indulge in an inconspicuous second glance at a unique New Yorker strolling about from a weekday’s point A, to point C, and X etc… All of this was supplemented by a nice little compilation of Crime and Detection plays from the New York Public Library that I’m making my way through. BTW – I totally suggest weaving in and out of crime and detection plays throughout the day – it has been doing something to my imagination – spurring attention to detail for no other reason than to satisfy the mind’s need to solve puzzles when it’s reading Sherlock Holmes or Elmer Rice and the like…

 

image1-1

 

This blog post is also brought to you by my Yogi Tea inspiration sipped while writing these reflections, which read: “Live light, travel light, spread the light, be the light.” I sought ‘light’ at two Broadway productions recently that became special experiences because I shared them with friendly-visiting-friends! First I made it to the musical, Waitress, in a house-right box with two life-long lady friends visiting from Vancouver, Canada. Both had never been to NYC before! Next I rushed tickets to The Encounter with a bestie, Melissa, from London, England! Speaking of lightening up… I have to say it was nice to escape the pre-election madness that I feel in the air (and have admittedly been following closely and caring about intensely) by stepping into theatres where the scary world tends to fade away and be processed in my psyche-safe-zone.

 

WAITRESS is a Broadway musical playing over at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre and it features lyrics and music by a singer/songwriter I adore named Sara Bareilles. It stars the soul-melting voice of of Jessie Mueller as Jenna. This waitress has made herself at home in a small café baking pies from recipes handed down by her mother and the new, elaborate pies that she creates. The stage is lined with actual pies and the theme is carried through to metaphor with different pies inspired by Jenna’s pleasures and perceived failures in her life and relationships. Following Jenna through a rocky relationship are her quirky friends/ coworkers and love interests. It feels like a romantic–comedy meets musical meets dramatic film featuring a strong female lead. All the actors of all the characters in this production made me laugh – so this was definitely a place where I got to ‘live light’ surrounded by supportive female friends. Disclaimer – I say ‘meets dramatic film’ because anyone with half a heart will cry at least once (I cried at least thrice as Jenna strives away from emotional abuse).

 

There was a place to write Thank You “Guest Checks”- so I did!

fullsizerender

 

THE ENCOUNTER, playing over at the Golden Theatre, was one of those theatre experiences that I didn’t quite know what to make of. It is inspired by a book called Amazon Beaming by Petru Popescu. It takes us from Conceiver/Director/Performer Simon McBurney telling us to turn off our mobile devices as he sends his daughter a picture to prove that he’s only away from her because he’s doing this show… towards his transformation into a deeper-voiced photojournalist on the prowl for a story and photographs.

 

I’m always curious about one-person shows in general because I can imagine it is probably quite difficult to generate all the energy required to make the audience believe that all other characters are in the room; as well as to push the narrative towards blackout or curtain call… ALONE ON STAGE! I always admire actors that achieve this feat and make it look fun – and secretly wish I could just jump into the scene with them as all the other characters! I was very struck by McBurney’s ability to do something that makes actors beautiful – to make molecules move out of thin air! In the program he wrote,

 

“Rehearsal derives from the word ‘hearse,’ which means to rake over, to prepare the ground. To prepare for The Encounter, we had to engage with the unfamiliar, ask questions about everyday life we take for granted. Such as… what is Time?” – Simon McBurney

 

What is time?

 

Sifting through the many definitions representing ‘time’ –  it’s hard not to acknowledge there is grey area we are encountering all the time. What we consistently are a part of, but don’t always acknowledge. A link that we have a measure & clock for, yet it doesn’t quite, fully contain an accurate link to what we experience as memory, dreams, envisions or the future we are creating. The Encounter didn’t feel like a sci-fi novel though – it felt more like a documentation of a man’s experience with grey areas in his mind and in the world. A photojournalist who can’t quite get life into focus as with a camera device that creates the illusion of ‘capturing a moment’.

 

To take the audience through time this production is uniquely aided by technological devices (the audience wore headphones the whole time so that sounds seemed to sweep up from behind us, or beside us and the noises were also regularly found on stage being funneled through several sources – including a standing mic located center stage shaped as a cranium). The effect was that we were unusually transported to the spaces that a National Geographic photojournalist travels to – including a Brazilian Amazon village with Mayoruna people. The heat of a community fire was felt, a really intriguing lighting effect expanded McBurney’s shadow into several shadows dancing around the fire so that he became a part of the village and we saw the village people through his shadow.

 

I was so struck by McBurney’s ability to use so many technological devices during the performance – I know I would have been like – can I just use the black box … do I really need another gadget or whatchyamacall-it?

 

McBurney passed along a message directly from the Mayoruna people that he actually met in researching this character. He carried forward the message that these Mayoruna people, although isolated geographically from the modern world, very much exist!

 

What a great experiment with integrating technology on stage – and very fitting in that the content of the play deals with communicating with remote Indigenous villages through old, intuitive (ESP-like) communication methods that surpass language barriers. The photojournalist that McBurney plays ‘captures’ and grasps at undiscovered moments because he wants to tell a story and show an indigenous way of life is being led. However, the more he journeys into the Mayoruna people’s time and space the more he seems to be able to engage in the ability to intuit and trust in the origin and motion of the universe without a need to lock anything, or anyone, in by photograph or any other limited man-made means.

 

I was definitely transported into a different space and mind-set (at least until Melissa and I bopped our way back to 45th Street to plot some theatre-making adventures of our own!

 

img_1651

(photo courtesy of Melissa Jean Woodside)

**

 

Advertisements

MELISSA JEAN WOODSIDE

BLOGMelissa02

 

www.mjwoodside.com

 

 

1. What kinds of things inspire you, as a Canadian actor living in London, U.K.?

I love the originality of work and the English film scene. I find that like any big city, it’s very metropolitan but at the same time, it doesn’t lose its essence of history and timelessness.

I can’t go a day without discovering something unique or walking past a beautiful old cinema or theatre (that to me is very much like a church). I’m performing next month at the Camden Head and other London theatres with a comedy sketch group “Fans of Comedy”. Just being in the old classical buildings lights me up straight away and I feel alive inside.

I know that the film industry is leading towards greatness in Canada, but there is something insatiable about the English film industry that keeps me here.

2. Where do you train as an actor? What is the importance of training to you?

I’m currently taking a variety of workshops at the Actors Centre. It is incredibly beneficial and I constantly chip away at my craft through their guidance.

I have to admit, however, that I find that I learn mostly “on the job”.

3. You have started up a comedy web series, Bertie & Gerdie, what inspired it? What is the series about? Where do you see this work leading?

Bertie and Gerdie was a satirical web series inspired by a bad breakup. Sounds cliché, but acting really helped me forget about the guy. A friend and I started making fun of failed relationships and I had a problem with Middle Class gold-digging women in particular that do nothing for society. Through this, I was able to create this strange relationship with the male character on screen that represents everything toxic in modern day marriage. It’s great because we take suggestions for writing, so if someone is going through a bad breakup or their spouse said something strange, we will consider it in our scripts!

Bertie and Gerdie was fun and has grown in terms of technical expertise more than anything.
 As you will see, the earlier episodes are on essentially a Sony Handicam. Over time we got the attention of a BBC Studio manager with a decent camera/team and even jingle on board!

In the long term this will die out as Bertie + Gerdie’s marriage is doomed, but there will be a second series and related sitcom style series coming up.

4. Any favorite performances while you’ve been in London?

YES! I love London for performances. I can’t walk around the West End enough!!

Recently I have noticed a surge in North American Historical performances. Last week I saw No One Loves Us Here by Ross Howard, a staged reading black comic portrait about a Native American dealing with love, obsession, the aspiration of youth and a crumbling white-collar class.

Next week I’m going to see a play called The Low Road by Bruce Norris about the slave trade.

Apart from that, I can’t get enough of catching more mainstream stuff with Q + A sessions attached to the end. I saw The Browning Version with Anna Chancellor, as well as a Keira Knightley performance this way.

5. When collaborating in creative endeavors what do you admire in your peers?

I admire actors and creative types with the ability to be down to earth, spaz out, and just have fun. Everyone has a different upbringing, a different story, and filmmaking is all about storytelling.
 There are too many actor types that take things too seriously and as a result I feel alienated.

Whilst it is a very serious industry, it is very much about having fun and doing something you enjoy!

When people let go like this and enjoy what they’re doing the quality and uniqueness of the work is far richer.

As a result I find myself working on multiple projects with writers and actors that I really admire.

**

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

JUNO WATT

Musician & Music Producer based out of West London, U.K. with Mi7 Records

Website: http://www.junowatt.com/

Mi7 Records: http://www.mi7records.com/

1. What inspired you to start making music?

I’ve always been obsessed with the world of sound and how we perceive it. I was first introduced to playing music in the form of Cello when I was 7. This progressed on to drums, synthesisers and twiddling with anything else I could get my hands on. I started coming up with my own stuff on my breaks at school where we had access to guitars and pianos. After coming up with a number of hooky riffs I followed in my peers footsteps and started a band. Realising that we were rubbish I jumped on the back of a prog rock band playing drums for some guys a few years above me. I got squeezed out eventually and replaced. I don’t think much happened to them. Producing came later when I was set loose on Cubase VST, a very basic piece of software that enabled me to produce basic beats. This is where I met the world of sequencing and have never looked back.

I guess a general love for music and sound got me into it.

2. What is the best part about what you do?

Every part is amazing. I guess variation keeps things exiting. It’s impossible to have two days the same when you’re making music every track I write is very individual.

Also working with like minded people and having flexibility is great. I get to be a geek playing with technology and a business head as the music industry acts as a pilot for loads of marketing techniques.

3. Who do you admire?

I think the question should be more what do I admire. Of course loved ones top the list but I have a great admiration for the world around us. I find life fascinating and have an admiration for nature. This doesn’t mean I’m a hippy, I just think a lot of human creations are a reinvention of something in nature.

4. You recently released a song, ‘No Chances’ with Mi7 Records in London, U.K.. What brought about this collaboration?

 It’s not really a collaboration. I wrote the tracks and produced them. Mi7 helped me with mixdowns and post production.

Mi7 are like minded renovators of the music industry and a close knit family.

Check out Juno Watt’s music Video for ‘No Chances’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8QFy2LO0MI

5. How do you generate themes for your music?

That’s not a question with a simple answer.

6. What kinds of work have you done with the band King Charles?

 King Charles is the lead singer. I’ve done remixes.

Check out King Charles: http://www.myspace.com/kingcharlesuk

7. What is it about remixes that compels you to make them so much?

Taking a story and writing it the way I want.

8. What do you respect most in a creative collaboration?

Being open and not letting ego get in the way of making something great.

9. Do you see yourself making music in countries other than the U.K.?

Yes

**

Tagged , , , ,