Tuesday, 27 November 2012

End of my season

I am so far behind my blogging. I don't have a computer of my own (first world problems) and I detest blogging when someone is awake. But, I'm afraid the month-gone visit to finish my season at Stratford will not have the exclamation point I was hoping it would.

Let me tell you about my friend, Mary. She and I, in the words of Anne of (won't you please call me Cordelia) Green Gables, is a bosom friend, in more than one sense. When we met, it was as if I had known her all my life. She just fit, you know what I mean? We met at the National Breastfeeding Conference in Toronto back in 2008 (hence, another meaning to 'bosom' friend, and I also spoke at that conference this year). We have been friends ever since. We are like 2 schoolgirls when we get together.

We don't see each other enough. Last year, the only time we saw each other was at - GASP - Camelot at Stratford, which just happened to be Cordelia's very first trip to Stratford. Otherwise, we have stolen a concert in Toronto together, gabbed away at other breastfeeding conferences, emailed, or texted.

Mary wrote her lactation consultant exam this summer, so she didn't have much time for relaxation while she was studying. I think I said something about needing a girl's day away as an award for finishing the exam. And, Stratford won our time away together.

But this day, it wasn't just the Festival we planned on enjoying - we intended to paint the town: find hidden bookshops, and resale stores...look for local stores which would steal our hearts...and eat.

These pursuits were accomplished and then some. We found gems everywhere we went - from the wonderful bookstores to quaint tea shops to a ... well, for lack of better word, a wiccan store (great place for Harry Potter type items), and inexpensive gifts for us and our children, an early start to Christmas shopping. shhhhh

Oh - the weather was sublime. Perfect. Late summer weather in October, but not too hot. We could not have scripted a more beautiful day away.

We, as human beings, need time away from everything. Women, especially, because we put ourselves on the bottom of life a lot of the time. We need time to charge our batteries, take stock in what happiness is to us and embrace it. It's healthy. We owe it to our families and ourselves to take that time just for us.

Our matinee was, "Much Ado About Nothing," which I was so happy I didn't miss (it closed just a couple of days later). It was so much fun. I adore Claire Lautier and Ben Carlson. It was a light play compared to Cymbeline and Henry V, but worth the wait. We had fun. [I actually had to check the birth day of Luke Humphrey because he, uh, knows how to dance, let's say. Eek. He's going to play Dartagnon next season (Three Muskateers). Hip hip hooray! That's a book I need to buy - next time I go to the Waterford Old Town Hall book sale.]

Miss Mary hadn't gotten her LC exam marks, as of that date. They came out earlier in the week. I tried to help her look it up during lunch, but we were missing the special code for her exam. She sent out some emails to people at work when the play started.

We sat in the very top row in the balcony and heard every word. It was a much quieter play than Henry - much less people walking in the background.

During intermission, out on the balcony with the sun streaming down on us, Mary received her code for the exam pass/fail. I knew how she felt - I was there last year...so many years of work, hours studying to write the exam, co-workers eager and hoping you passed...she was too nervous to check, so I did it for her.

I will never forget the ecstatic look on my dear friend's face when I told her she passed. Relief, happiness, peace, bliss...I'm so glad that I was a part of it. When I found out my marks, I was alone in my office and ran to the main midwives' office, jumping up and down to the point where my supervisor (whose office was directly above) came down to find out what the emergency was.  Yes, I know how Mary felt...

With the feeling of imminent "what if" removed from us, we thoroughly (even more so?) enjoyed the second half.

Claire L helped Braeden to have an extremely happy birthday back in September, so he made her a special gift as thanks, which I gave her after the show. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of his final project. What he did was write her favourite Sonnet in Elvish. It was beautiful! He's got talent.

We found a great tea shop, and an olive oil place (chocolate olive oil, ladies!) before we headed to Down the Street for dinner. We had packed lunch, so we splurged a bit on dinner because Mary passed! And, we deserved it. If you haven't eaten there, go. Their menu is wonderful!

We gabbed and reminisced throughout dinner. She and I have never run out of things to discuss. But, I bet even silence would be great with her. It's been a while since I've had a close friend like her. We don't seem to have them like we do when we are children, do we? Why is that? Why do we let life get in the way?

Our evening show was, "The Matchmaker." I could have seen this show a dozen more times and I would have laughed as hard each time. Poor Mary, I think she ran out of kleenex. Our abs were sore from laughing so ferociously. If you missed this show, you really missed out. Stellar cast, hilarious script, clockwork comical timing, gorgeous costumes, men singing...(had to slip that in there).  Oh - and I finally met the dashing Mike Shara. He was quite wonderful. He'll be a Muskateer, too (hint hint).

If anyone remembers, waaaay back in the summer, I wrote I felt badly about what I construed as laughing at Josh Epstein when he asked me if Boing Boing was my first play in New York. Anyone remember? I wrote that I'd make it up somehow. I let Braeden's talent make it for me (thank you, Braeden). He wrote, in Elvish, "Studio 58" "Hop the Twig" and "Wait for Rain" for him. That I have pictures of, but not here. I'll post them later. I'm glad I was able to give it to Josh after the show because I didn't know then that he wasn't going to come back the next season. Ack! Since I really 'got into' Stratford the past 2 seasons, Josh has been there in my most favourite shows (Titus, Cymbeline, Matchmaker).

I just didn't think about him not being here. And not only him, but others are gone, too - like Cara. Oh, Cordelia did NOT take that news well at all. Poor girl. I'm just going to have to bribe Miss Cara to come back and help Kids4Bard one day, when she's not busy. Her career is shooting straight up. We'll have to wait a bit. And Josh is back in BC, where Cordelia wants to be (she was born there and has a very deep yearning to see it, since we moved back to Ontario when she was 7 months).

I still have yet to hear about my other favourites...Sean and Claire mostly. I hate wait.

I think The Matchmaker is a show I will go to the archives to watch when I'm old., not just to laugh again, but to reminisce about the days when I saw it. The day with my lovely Cordelia, dressed up like a princess, being treated like a princess, meeting Sean, Cara, Marilou, wearing Peggy's head piece...a day of perfection for my daughter - watching her watch "We're in the Money," will be one of the highlights of my life.

Then, the heavenly day with my mom, which I thought I'd never feel again.  The magic of theatre enveloping us, protecting us, binding us together like The Force...laughing with Cara, talking with Josh - having the light bulb go on that if it wasn't for my mom, I wouldn't have been in Stratford, then and there. The ride home where anything and nothing and everything was talked about with no regrets, no disillusionment, no hiding...I'll never forget that day.

Then, this day with Mary: making us a priority, giggling without a care in the world, finding treasures and treasures we had forgotten we had lost (resale stores will do that)...seeing her face, giving her the biggest hug in the world when I told her she passed...talking about life, boys, theatre, blessings, regrets...the perfect weather...It was the perfect day to end my season at Stratford.

Where will I be when I see it in the archives? Will my children be grown? What will they be doing? Will I be a grandma? What will I be doing, other than breasfeeding and midwifing? Will I feel peace and happiness in every aspect of my life? Will there be a Cornelius Hackl to my Irene Milloy? Will my children's dreams be fulfilled? Will mine be realised?

All I believe is that whatever we are all doing, where ever we go, we will all look back at this 60th season in Stratford and be grateful for those we shared it with, those we met, those emotions we felt. We will realise that this summer changed us, permanently, for the better.

And with this, I say good night...nya:weh for sharing this with me, whoever you are that reads this. Write me a word or two...

I will be back soon with my autumn reading (which is the reason I started the blog in the first place - literature)....stay tuned. xoxo

Monday, 5 November 2012

60 Things I learned during Stratford's 60th Season

Here I am, in Montreal on my computer. We did a quick walk of Old Montreal and my heart longs to go back. That will be done tomorrow, after the Indspire Conference is completed. http://indspire.ca/soaring Anyone want to volunteer to be a tour guide?

I still need to write a blog about my final trip to Stratford, with my friend, Mary. It was a perfect day in many ways. I finally say Much Ado, then cracked ribs laughing at The Matchmaker again. Maybe I'll do it tomorrow...or on the train back home on Wednesday.

60 Things I Learned This Season, in no particular order:

1     Buy early - I would have missed A Word or Two
2     There's enough on Stratfest's website to keep one happy over the winter.
3     Yes, one musical can change a life (Cordelia & 42nd Street).
4     Stratford employs wonderful people, on and off the stage, who almost always go that extra mile
5     Actors can improve a show over a matter of even a couple of weeks
6     Not enough praise goes to the costume designers or set designers or lighting designers or...
7     The look of the play can change dramatically from the first press shots to final stage production (ie - pictures of Sean Arbuckle as Pirate King, and Kyle Blair, are nothing like what ended up in the show).
8     Pay grade: Christopher Plummer is up here - everyone else is down here (Q&A with Sean A after 42nd Street)
9     Kids get Shakespeare when they see it better than when they read it (Luke at Cymbeline - 1st Shakespeare and he loved the entire 3 hours. He was 10 at the time).
10   Dressing kids up to see a play does help them to behave better.
11   Actors/actresses love knowing children are getting into the arts and will help them as much as they can with encouragement or answering questions
12   Dakota is the most shy child I have - he wouldn't go on camera for the Kids REact video.
13   If you don't ask, the answer is always no. Just ask!
14   A man should love and honour his girlfriend/wife as Cornelius Hackl does of Ms. Milloy
15   A good sword can be used in multiple plays and have a grand effect
16   Cymbeline - I doubt another Shakespeare play will ever attain this level of perfection again - but it will be fun trying
17   Bring kids to a beautiful spot to tell them news that may change their life forever. In that way, they will have a peaceful spot to remember the news (see blog on Hirsch)
18   Actors have an inner strength I can't understand (see Hirsch, but also Claire Lautier as Tamora in Titus from last year)
18   Everyone who works at Stratford makes it a success
19   Henry V- I didn't know one could ever miss a play, like a friend who moves away
20   Artists on Broadway help younglings reach for bigger dreams
21   Security on the Armouries is TIGHT but necessary!!
22   Question and answer moments on Stratfest's facebook helped us to learn a LOT
23   The Q&A's helped me to come up with Kids4Bard
24   One can act a really good French accent
25   Christopher Plummer can act, and has the best command of the English language I've witnessed
26   Going to a play alone is sometimes a good thing, but talking about a play with a child or friend afterwards may be necessary
27   Seeing other people's struggles onstage helps to bring my own solutions into focus (Wanderlust)
28   Hobbies for actors include: sewing, horse racing, and making perfumes (among others)
29   Happiness is reconnecting with a parent you thought you wouldn't feel close to again, ever
30   Stage Door meet & greets are always better when I'm with a child or a friend (I doubt I'll ever do one by myself, even if it was told me to I should - I'm too shy and would feel like a stalker)
31   Men who sing are fantazmazing.
32   Even the simplest of plays can be transformative (Charlie Brown)
33   I am completely jealous of women who sing (Ms. Peacock and Ms. Hutton)
34   Actors think Elvish is cool (Braeden feels like he found soulmates)
35   A man should do what you ask if they want to feel worthy of you (see Cornelius and Barnaby in Matchmaker)
36   Everyone remembers Cordelia.
37   Shirtless Wonders is a list which should grow every year.
38   Cara Ricketts is a wonderful human being - Cordelia wants to adopt her as a big sister she will never have
39   Closing night performances rip your heart out
40   I don't have a before/after theatre in my life - it's just always been there (thanks for helping me realize that, Josh)
41   building up A word or two to grandiose heights - and what I got out of it most was memories of my dad, and feeling like I was wrapped up in my favourite blanket
42   Tom Patterson Theatre is my favourite theatre
43   Backstage crew work long hours, after actors leave for drinks
44   Even a chorus girl can be a star
45   Nell and Pistol will stay with me forever - best love story of the season for me
46   I need Wanderlust on my ipod
47   Stratford Exhibition is one of my favourite places in the entire world - one day I'm going to retire there to volunteer
48   In first seasons, actors would stay with local families while the plays were going on (Sir Alec Guiness included)
49   It took around 14 hours to get costumes repaired and ready for 42nd Street's next performance
50   That look I saw in Cara's and Steve Ross' eyes... I got a glimpse into their hearts (see previous blogs)
51   Actors need to project at all times in case their microphones stop working
52   My kids really do love the theatre
54   I want someone to treat me like Cornelius wants to treat Ms. Milloy - every woman deserves that
55   Words are spectacular beings in their own right - how they are said, and how you receive are 2 different animals - domesticated or wild
56   We all need an adventure in our lives (I need to find that last monologue from Matchmaker and memorize it)
57   Introspection is rarely unfelt pain, but necessary to feel to get to where you want to be, or be who you want to become
58   Theatre creates safe zones for people (friends, strangers, family) to share their most intimate emotions, without fear of retaliation or of not being heard
59   Festival Theatre backstage is huge
60   Theatre can make you laugh as much as it can make you cry, but only if you open yourself up to your own emotions

I thought 60 would be hard to come up with, but I found I deleted some to add others. I may still have another 60 in my head...