August 22, 2018
When it comes to making the River Clyde Pageant every summer, it often feels like we put our heads down and dive into creation work at the beginning of June and don’t come up for air until the end of July, when the first weekend of performances end.
There’s never enough time spent documenting the slow and complex magic of the process, simply because we can’t always remember to pull out our phones, nor is it very useful to extract ourselves from whatever project we’re working on, just to be the documenter.
But scattered in my phone are some real gems from the the making of this whale of a show. And since they don’t get much exposure beyond my iPhoto Library, I figured I could at least bring them into the world here. Click on through to see ’em up close.
July 13, 2018
Last weekend we got our lovely American and Canadian Pageant pals together for Backstabbers! An Evening of American/Canadian Reconciliation & Solidarity Salon at The Mill. Our countries can transcend trade wars and questionable government leaders, right?! All we need are some good tunes.
The event was organized by Marianne Rendon with Kathy Randels and Sean LaRocca, who had spent the past week with us leading The Singing River music workshop for The River Clyde Pageant. Lots of songs were shared over the two evenings, from Woody Guthrie to the McGarrigle Sisters, and there were some rousing group numbers too…a couple snippet-length videos to serve as evidence, below…
We had such a great time singing with our pals Kathy Randels, Sean LaRocca and Marianne Rendon at The Mill this past weekend. And we raised $1000 for the ACLU and RAICES Texas!
Posted by The River Clyde Pageant on Wednesday, July 11, 2018
Full Pageant jam from last night! Catch Backstabbers: An Evening of American & Canadian Folk Music again tonight at The Mill! 8-10pm, admission by donation and proceeds go to ACLU & RAICES.
Posted by The River Clyde Pageant on Saturday, July 7, 2018
March 15, 2018
Ten Thousand Wolves performed Decoy at the Fox Cabaret, amidst 72 bedazzled duck decoys and an audience of humans, at the end of February as part of the 2018 Chutzpah Festival.
Ashley Aron styled us into fabulous wood nymphs. Dan O’Shea created badass projections, and Barbara Adler brought us all together in the spirit of musical collaboration (while also sharing the trade secrets of duck decoys and the perplexing art of paper flower making).
Here we are with our best singing faces:
All photos by Shanna Erienne.
February 12, 2018
Here are a couple shots from The Future Show, performed on Tuesday, January 30th at the Gold Saucer. I had the pleasure of performing to a full house, with unexpected accompaniment from the rattling furnaces of the studio. The furnace rattle has become so rare on Sawdust Collector evenings that I actually cut a line in reference to it in the hours before I performed, thinking it probably wouldn’t happen. My predictions failed in that department!
I was especially excited to share the piece with Deborah Pearson, originator of The Future Show, who was in town for PuSh. She presented her piece History History History earlier that evening at the VanCity Theatre, and we were both able to attend each other’s shows, which was so great.
Hannah Hall and her band were the second act of the night, and as predicted, her casual charm and songs about being a motherfuckin’ woman won me over.
Photos by: Ash Tanasiychuk
The Future Show will have a second life at the end of May, in Charlottetown! I’m looking forward to performing it at The Vessel on May 25 and 26, 2018. More details on that later.
January 20, 2018
This month, a performance! A performance I have been thinking about and wanting to do for a long time is finally happening! I am writing it, I am performing it, and yes, I am nervous about it.
It’s called The Future Show, and it was created by Canadian/UK theatre artist Deborah Pearson. She toured internationally with this show from 2012-2015, rewriting the script for each performance. In 2015, she published three versions of the script and a score/structure for anyone crazy enough to undertake their own adaptation of The Future Show (of that task, she writes, “I imagine that it will only be the keenest of theatre students or the most challenge-oriented yet humble artist”) . I am one of those artists.
I’ve been writing and re-writing since late October and through the holidays, an emotionally tumultuous time that provoked a lot of anxiety about the future, and about the choices I was making. I’m uncertain if writing The Future Show through that period helped or not – there was definitely a series of re-writes that occurred as I went through a breakup, and that sucked. The writing draws my attention to how we play these games of prediction every single day of our lives…or at least, I do. How I imagine the places where my tiny and monumental choices may lead me. How those choices inform who I am, just as much as the paths I don’t choose to follow do. The Future Show forces its writer to take a good long look at themselves – what values might I hold closely as I age and what might I cast aside, what things have I invented to create a personal sense of security, what nervous tics pulse through my mind on a daily basis? And, the most daunting task…how do I imagine my death?
By now, the writing is mostly done and I am working with Julie Hammond, who is lending her dramaturgical and directorial eyes to rehearsals. On January 30th, you can come see it in Vancouver!
All the official details below…
The Future Show, presented at Sawdust Collector, Tuesday, Jan 30, 9pm
#211 – 207 West Hastings (Hastings & Cambie, above Nuba)
$5-10 sliding scale or PWYC
Text and performance by Megan Stewart
Direction and dramaturgy by Julie Hammond
October 11, 2017
A couple photos from last month, co-hosting the Underdog Instrument Grudge Match (and playing the role of snappy Accordion Publicist) with Barbara Adler for Accordion Noir 2017.
We gave scores on grassroots iPads, cheered for accordion supremacy, and were absolutely, totally not biased (we love you, team Musical Theatre!!!!!!!).
Photo credit: Roman Kralovic
April 9, 2017
I’m doing some fun projects this spring in Vancouver and Charlottetown before the wonderful madness of the River Clyde Pageant hits.
April 11 – New Works Residency at Sawdust Collector in Vancouver – I’ll be singing sparkly vocal harmonies with Ashley Aron & Shannon Scott for Barbara Adler & Ron Samworth’s third show as part of their New Works Residency. Beautiful songs that bring lichen-filled forests and lonely drop-in clinics to life, and might even bring a tear to your eye.
April 25 – Cicatrix at Sawdust Collector – I am co-directing a night of storytelling with Ker, focused on the scars, marks and traces we collect through our lives. We’re working with some local residents from the Downtown Eastside: Paul Decarie, Cori Kelly, and Mike McNeely, and together, we’ll share stories of the small and large events that have left marks on us.
May 13 – AfterImage at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery – I’m sewing up a storm in preparation for this. I’m making several garments for many people to wear at a time, drawing inspiration from artists such as Lygia Pape and James Lee Byars. Put on a hat for two, a cape for five, or a dress for ten, and dance the night away!
June, July, August is River Clyde Pageant time! Workshops begin in June, for stilt-walking and script-writing, followed by July music workshops with guest artists Kathy Randels & Maurice Turner, and puppet making with Ian McFarlane. We’re so excited to get to work with these folks, and with new and returning collaborators. The Pageant has five performances this year, over two weekends, running July 29-30 and August 4,5,6. Don’t miss it!
Springtime promo for Sawdust Collector, graphic by Barbara Adler
December 6, 2016
I’m leading a workshop this weekend with Ashley Aron, a fierce style queen & theatre maker, at the Cedar Cottage Neighbourhood house. This workshop is building on research I started while in residence at Elsewhere this past August, and eventually, it will inform a new performance that I’m starting to create. There will be clothing! crafts! storytelling! tea & cookies! polaroids! All the info is below, and the facebook event is here.
Drop in to the Cedar Cottage Neighbourhood House between 12:00-4:00 pm on Saturday, December 10th and take part in a fun, hands-on workshop that looks at memory & identity through the lens of clothing & style. Free & open to all ages.
Take part in the workshop and…
- Have your photo taken & tell us about your outfit. Don’t worry – every piece of clothing has a story, however small!
- Write or draw your personal clothing memories & add them to the Clotheslines archive
- Bring in an item (or items) of clothing to give away, and tag them with a story or memory. They’ll become part of the Community-sourced Closet & the clothing swap at the end of the day!
- Meet your neighbours!
This initiative is made possible by the Community Fund for Canada’s 150th, a collaboration between The Vancouver Foundation; Kiwassa, Cedar Cottage and Frog Hollow Neighbourhood Houses; the Government of Canada; and extraordinary leaders from coast to coast to coast.
August 13, 2016
I’ve just started a month-long residency at Elsewhere museum in Greensboro, North Carolina. I arrived on Thursday morning and have been silently and not-so-silently squealing with glee at every moment. Elsewhere is my kind of heaven. It’s an artist/community space housed in a former thrift store, and it is absolutely chock-a-block FULL with stuff – toys, clothing, fabric, books, dishes, paper, suitcases, furniture, wood scraps, every kind of paraphernalia you can imagine. Artists come in on a regular basis and create works within the museum, using objects from the collection. I kind of can’t believe I get to be here for four weeks.
Arriving here from PEI, right on the heels of the conclusion of the River Clyde Pageant, I was close to burnt out. However, since I’ve stepped into this place, my head is overflowing with ideas…the problem is narrowing them down. Today is our project proposal day, and my proposal is centred around the collection items that grabbed my attention the quickest (first thought best thought?): the collection of vintage clothing that fills two whole rooms, floor to ceiling. I’m still formulating ideas and questions, but the plan is to use the clothes as a prompt for conversations around clothing, memory and identity with Elsewhere folks and local residents, and then find a way to create an installation space for a select number of clothing items and gathered stories and images.
It’s basically an excuse to play an elaborate game of dress up for a month.
May 2, 2016
Lots going on this spring…first off, the River Clyde Pageant received the good news that our application to the Canada Council’s Artists & Community Collaboration grant was successful, and that yes! we get to spend this summer on PEI making magical, collaborative, outdoor theatre. There will be blue herons on stilts, giant luminous jellyfish, trolls under the bridge, raft performances and much more coming to life in June and July as we lead the Pageant creation process. The two free performances will take place on July 30 & 31 in New Glasgow, followed by a free community supper for audiences and artists. We have a fancy new website, where you can see some of the amazing people working on the project, and sign up to get involved (if you’re on PEI this summer, you really should). Ker and I are heading to PEI at the end of May, and will be hosting two community meetings for anyone who wants to be involved. These meetings will outline the process, rehearsal and workshop schedule, and the various opportunities for involvement. First meeting is happening in Charlottetown on May 29, from 2 to 4pm, at the Art Bunker at Confederation Centre. Second meeting is happening in New Glasgow on June 5, from 2 to 4pm at The Mill.
In the meantime, I’m working with my favourite Vancouver collaborators (Barbara Adler, Kyla Gardiner, Rob Leveroos) to create an installation in Pandora Park, called Signals From the Mountain, which will playfully re-imagine the 2014 Burnaby Mountain pipeline protests through songs, objects and ephemera. We’re staging the installation at the Pandora Park Field House, in collaboration with friends from Vancouver’s Dance Troupe Practice. This is happening May 20-21 as part of a larger event called “Stories, Sounds and Supper” and has been funded through the Vancouver Foundation’s Neighbourhood Small Grants Program.
January 25, 2016
It’s January – beginning of a new year and the beginning of my re-entry into the world of non-student life, because my MFA is totally done; thesis submitted, approved, now living within the vast catalogues of the SFU library. (And all I got was a two sentence form-letter congratulations. sigh.)
Things are at a slightly different pace now that I’m not worrying about pulling together a defense presentation or an artist statement or marking 50 essays on performance studies – but I still have lots to occupy me this month.
For starters – I am doing PR work and making old phones talk for a sparkly and squishy new show created by my friends from The Party, XXXX TOPOGRAPHY, which runs January 29-30 at Studio T at SFU Woodwards. Go, and be romanced by talking telephones, vibrating things, pillows that pillow-talk. There’s even a bar!
Other things I’m up to include…
Learning Arduino, with the idea that eventually I’ll be able to make old phones talk better, and become more interactive. So far, I’ve made a robot-fan that turns on and off. Small steps…
Reading and being generally inspired by Deborah Pearson’s excellent performance script, The Future Show, which also includes structural guide for writing your own version, should you be so inclined. I might be so inclined.
Planning a month-long trip to Copenhagen, the Faroe Islands and Iceland, for a sweet, sweet friend-vacation with team Sappy. The fun starts February 2. Fingers crossed I meet some sheep.
October 29, 2015
Since August, I’ve been in rehearsals for Klasika, a new musical by my friend and fellow MFA colleague Barbara Adler. But Klasika is more than just a musical. It’s been a year-long project of Barbara’s, which has included trips to the Czech Republic (to research tramping and then accidentally fall into a role in an HBO Europe staged-documentary called Amerika); collecting bandannas and cowboy-inspired clothing items from local thrift stores; and Czech-inspired vandrs in BC’s rural and urban landscape. Consequently, the process of building Klasika has felt less like a traditional rehearsal process and more like a long-term collaborative effort between friends, a series of small acts of editing this strange Czech subculture to see how it might fit into our lives, and how we can find the same feelings of freedom and community in the city of Vancouver. There have been vandrs along the seawall in search of wilderness and plywood; a community event in Pandora Park featuring denim-crafting, sharing songs, and watching a movie on a screen made of grass. There have also been many efforts that are less publicized, like sitting around a table sewing costumes and drinking whiskey while listening to CBC radio announce the election results, or driving to Surrey to pick up an acoustic guitar from Craigslist or a load of wooden logs. And that’s just scratching the surface of this massive, collective effort that is bringing Klasika to life.
I’ve been traipsing around the city in Western-themed outfits for the past two months, in my own personal research/preparation process for playing the role of Bára, Barbara’s fictionalized alter-ego in the show. My cowboy boots are looking well-loved, and my ankles are a bit stiffer than usual these days. It’s been well-worth it, and tonight I get to stride onstage in bright red cowboy boots for the opening of the show. The cast and production team have been going all out for the past few weeks, and, to reference Barb the Boot Fitter, “it’s the final moments of the rodeo”. So get your tickets, get your cowboy duds on, and come on down to SFU Woodwards for this gem of a show, this mountain of a collaborative, MFA musical. We’re all pretty proud of what we’ve made.
Here we go…Klasika!
all photos by Paula Viitanen
September 6, 2015
Less than a week away from the opening of The Builders! The past month has brought many exciting changes and improvements to the show. We switched our venue from a standard black box theatre into the visual arts studio in the basement of Woodwards; a rougher, rawer space that gave us the ability to work and transform the space in an expansive, long-term way. Once we were given the go-ahead that we could perform in the Vis Arts Studio, the creative process changed dramatically. With basically a blank canvas in front of us, the final month of rehearsals became a game. The rules were simple – you had to claim your space by altering or transforming it with your materials, you could claim as much space as you wanted through these alterations, and you could work at any time and could expand in any direction, and the person who claimed the most space would win a substantial prize (the winner has yet to be named – I’ll wait until after the run). And since those new rules were laid out, the Visual Arts Studio has been completely transformed…
Along with this shift of turning the process into a game, the structure of the piece also got a major re-draft. The builders as a collective group were killed (though their scenes did make an appearance during our Vines Festival performance) in favour of returning the focus to the individual ensemble members and their respective creative endeavours that they had been developing since the beginning of this process. More attention was given to each person’s efforts of transforming their territory, allowing these various processes to take up more space within the performance. Yet, I did not want to lose the narratives that each ensemble member had crafted alongside their spatial transformations. These narrative moments were worked into a continuous structure of building, so that amid this work, the audience receives brief revelations into the builders’ worlds – their dreams, desires, and personal mythologies.
In our new space, the audience is able to move around and experience the environments as they are worked on by the four builders, observing them from different vantage points, both up close and at a distance.
The Builders has also gotten some great press in the past few days! This morning we were featured on North by Northwest, in a 15-minute interview with Robert and I. You can listen to it on the podcast from Sunday, Sept 5 (we’re at the 27 minute mark).
Want to buy tickets for the show? (You probably should, cause our audience capacity is small and the shows are on the verge of selling out.) Click here: bit.ly/1PJhokz
July 31, 2015
I spent four weeks on PEI from mid-June to mid-July, a slight summer vacation in semi-warm weather. I only made it to the beach twice (in layers the first time) but I did take a couple day-long road trips up West, in search of Island art environments, continuing my research for The Builders. I don’t remember the last time I drove to places like Alberton, Tignish and North Cape, and I’d never done the coastal drives on that end of the Island either (at least not since I’ve been driving on my own). But, I had vague memories of visiting the Bottle Houses in Cap-Egmont as a kid, and the site had lodged itself into my consciousness when I first began to research art environments as a larger phenomenon in 2011. I’d also heard about Kerras Jeffrey’s Backroad Folk Art in Alma, since he had done design work for Young Folk and Row 142 a couple years ago. So with a car, a camera, lots of snacks and two days of clear skies, I set out on a PEI road trip with my mom, in search of art environments.
June 17, 2015
So I’m sitting in the Toronto airport, awaiting a connection back to Charlottetown. Magic hour has just ended and I had a seat at the bar to watch its final moments. It was a good time to land at the terminal, everything glowing amber and sending sunbeams of assurance that summertime has arrived here too.
We ended our 30th devising session for The Builders last night, concluding part one of our creation process. We’re taking a one-month break, and I’m confident in the place where we’ve arrived. We have a slew of material and a few different dramaturgical arcs that are starting to materialize. Members of the production team are now appearing at the sessions, including set designer Amanda Larder, musician David Cowling, and Dan O’Shea, who is our dramaturg. It’s exciting having these people in the room and witnessing their contributions to the process. Having live music accompany our improvisations and group compositions has really helped to fill in the sound world of this piece, adding an additional layer to all the elements at play within the work. Just last night, David started to learn Glen Campbell’s “Rhinestone Cowboy”, in connection to research Keely is doing on Loy Allen Bowlin, the ‘Original Rhinestone Cowboy’, an outsider artist from Mississippi. Hearing those lyrics drift down the hallway as he practiced and we worked on solo etudes was thrilling.
There have been some great developments with regard to the installation/spatial intervention projects that I assigned everyone to do somewhere in the Woodwards building or in the neighbourhood. We started quite small and local, with Robert doing a mini intervention with string and pushpins on a 4th floor bulletin board, and me hanging pinecones from the interior of a Woodwards architectural crawlspace on the 4th floor.
A few weeks later, Eveleen blew us all out of the water with a banner she installed at 4am underneath some scaffolding around the construction site beside Woodwards.
A week after its installation, I’m amazed to report that the banner is mostly still intact. These photos below are from this Monday. The photo at the top of this post is from the day of installation.
And I can’t conclude this post without mentioning the wonderful serendipity that resulted in Amanda and I finding the exact set design material we had been hunting for, coming to us via a treasure chest in Ladner, BC. On Monday of last week, I’d mentioned that I’m interested in working with netting as a material with which to create an immersive set design in Studio T. Neither of us had much idea of where to acquire such a material, but I left her to the task. By Thursday, she had found a craigslist free ad listing a trunk full of green garden netting. The next morning we were driving to Ladner in her station wagon, nervous and full of anticipation. We arrived at the home of a fellow named Russ, who was getting rid of the netting and the chest. Apparently it was given to him years ago, and he didn’t even want it, and it collected dust in his garage until he decided to get rid of it. The ad had been up for six weeks! We loaded the beautiful tin and wood chest into the trunk of the car, marveling at the score we’d landed. Later, Amanda unraveled it at the Douglas College scene shop where she works, and discovered that there was 500 feet in length of the stuff, and it was about 17 feet in width! We had found a significant amount of the exact thing we needed, for free! So far, my plan to use mostly recycled and found materials to create this set is working. The amazing circumstances that led to us finding exactly what we wanted reminded me so much of last year’s hunt for a red rotary dial phone, which led me to Dave Hunter and the PEI Telephone Museum. I love when this kind of thing happens.
So by now, I’m on the plane to Charlottetown, where I’ll spend three and a half weeks writing draft one of my defense statement, playing the fun game of writing the show, going to the beach (fingers crossed for warm weather), and starting the planning phase for The River Clyde Pageant, my next theatre project which comes to life next summer. More on that later.