Wednesday, January 2, 2019

2018: Year In Review

I stared writing this blog entry just before Christmas 2018, and now I'm into day 2 of 2019, and back home in Vancouver after 2 months away. 

I'm in Saskatoon, into the home stretch of a two-month-long contract of Fiddler on the Roof, looking forward to being home with my love (and back in my cosy basement den), but sad to leave such a beautiful production behind. On Instagram I wrote that this show has given me the gift of helping me become more of who and what I am, and I think that's actually true of this whole year, now I think about it. In 2017 I started realizing that I could never step away from performing, and that teaching would always take a backseat to my being a musician and theatre artist. This year, I was able to realize those dreams; in large part due to a lucky, lucky fact: just as I'm stretching my wings as a performer, it is truly becoming the era of the Musician/Actor. More and more productions are abandoning expensive pit bands for shows where the actors also play all the instruments. As far as I'm concerned, long may this trend continue. Of course, going (mostly) back to contract work had its downsides too: I endured a nasty stretch of being super-broke this fall, and had to battle Imposter Syndrome with every contract. Being a performer also meant going where the work was, and this has meant around 4 months of being away from Vancouver in the last 12 months. Being away for a good third of the year has meant that my future as a teacher is less certain, and that I can't always be there for my friends, or my band. I am supremely lucky to have friends who understand, and a partner who is unfailingly not only supportive, but generously excited about every thing I do. It's been so wonderful to watch him stretching his wings this year too, taking on exciting new challenges as his marketing and design ventures begin to ramp up. We may not be the youngest power couple ever, but by god, we're going to be movers and shakers some day!
Here's how 2018 unfurled for me:

January: Halfway through the month I packed my bags and sailed for Vancouver Island to perform in a production of Once at Chemainus Theatre. It was strange and beautiful to be back in a place where I'd lived and performed multiple times over a decade before. Chemainus was in the thick of its quiet season when we began rehearsals, and the constant rain and shuttered businesses made me feel as if I was living in a ghost town. On the plus side, I was living in a house with a fireplace! Rehearsals were packed full of music, and soon, so were our brains.

February: Once opened, and Jay was able to come over from the mainland to take in opening night and explore the Cowichan Valley with me for a couple of nights.  The show was joyous, and in my down time I developed a passion for antiquing (especially for little silver items). My roomie and I enjoyed many nights of post-show fires and wine, but unfortunately the weeks of heavy rain took their toll, and quite a few people in the cast battled viruses. I battled insecurity: sometimes I'd feel on top of it all, and sometimes I'd feel as if I had no business being in a play at all.
Not the most flattering shot ever of me, but I've got a nice crew. 
March: Once closed fairly early in the month and I headed back to the mainland, and back to teaching. My calendar says that I taught some Spring Break classes at Arts Umbrella, but I have very little memory of this. I also celebrated one year of living in my delightful apartment. It took a good long while to lose the cough I got in Chemainus, and my memory is that I still had it in the spring.

April: This was a busy month. I started teaching at SoM again. I also began a theatre workshop called the Greek Play Project, which was a whirlwind of devising, Suzuki exercises, Viewpoints work, and songwriting on the fly. I went to a little event called BC Distilled- which was fun, by the way- got a little (ok, a lot) drunk, and quit drinking for 3 months. Started recording songs with the Rogue Crows, at wonderful Monarch Studios, an ongoing project that spanned the spring and summer months.

May: Another busy one, with lots of changes. The Greek Play Project continued and concluded. I finished teaching at SoM. Jay and I snatched a short but beautiful holiday on Saltspring at a converted aerial gym shaped like a church, with 40-foot ceilings and gorgeous acoustics. We ate, we drove, we jogged, we swam, and we recorded music together. It was a dream. And then we came home and I dove into rehearsals for my second production of Once. At the Arts Club. Another dream come true. A cast with some old friends, some new ones, and more laughs than I'd ever imagined. Still, I fought with shyness and imposter syndrome, but mostly I just had fun.

June: I settled into the pleasant routine of rehearsing, and then performing, a show. There are many reasons I love doing plays, but one of the big ones is having a stable schedule. Of course, the downside is that your evenings are all taken up for weeks at a time.

July: was more of the same. One of my great pleasures in doing this contract was my constant biking to and from Granville Island. A leisurely 30 minute trip either way, and mostly along the seawall. Between the biking and the fairly active show, I lost a bit of weight and felt healthier.

August: Once extended to the 5th, then closed. I immediately bought a new bike to counter the post-show blues, and enjoyed going on expeditions with "Livy" all over town.
True love.
Unfortunately, heavy smoke from BC forest fires meant that some longer excursions- like a trip to the Island- were curtailed. Jay and I saw Nathaniel Rateliff at the Burnaby Roots & Blues Festival. At the end of the month I took a short but super-fun trip to Toronto to see my friend Theresa and to run a 5k race with her on the lovely Toronto Islands.
I ran a (tiny) race!

Having fun with my new phone's camera in False Creek.
September: As I had decided to accept an offer to do a musical in Saskatoon in November/December, I was not able to return to Sarah M school to teach, as they didn't want me making a brief appearance and then having to leave again. So it was back to the world of freelancing, with all of its excitement and uncertainty. One of the gigs that got me through (and was really fun to do) was Secret City: Robson Square, for which I interviewed a dancer and turned the true story of how he met his now-wife into a song.

October: As I wasn't teaching, I went back to my favourite seasonal job: the Pumpkin Patch.
Typical Pumpkin Patch scene.
Sunny, dry weather made for fun shifts there, but the downside was that in my second month of freelancing, I was BROKE. It was sobering to have a bank account that was sometimes in single digits again, but luckily, money started to come in by the end of the month. I also got to be a part of a workshop of a new musical that told the true story of a labour dispute here in Vancouver. It was exciting to be part of something that was still early in its development phase. A quick drink with my love on Halloween Night, and it was off I went to the prairies in...

November: I flew to Saskatoon November 1st, and began rehearsals the next day for Persephone Theatre's production of Fiddler on the Roof. Our brains full from cramming sheet music into our memories, our bodies sore from holding instruments and from choreography, we struggled- as every production does- with getting it all done in time for opening. And we did. Jay was even able to fly out to cheer me on at opening night (and eat some Saskatoon Berry pie!).

What Saskatoon looked like for much of my stay.
December: Fiddler extended four times, taking our run almost to the end of the month. Having been scared that the cold would keep me inside and inactive, I was relieved to find it invigorating. It didn't hurt that it was relatively "warm" there too- never got colder than minus 21. I walked miles, I hung out with other cast mates, I read a lot of books and ate at many fine cafes. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were surprisingly magical, even though I was far away from loved ones. My mother joined me on Boxing Day, saw my show, and hung out with me for a final couple of days before we flew home together on December 30th.
No fun whatsoever.

This show made my heart grow at least 3 sizes. 
2018 felt like a year in which I got to spread my wings, with all the dangers and thrills that accompany flight. See you in 2019!

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