As the showcase draws near, it’s time to reflect on what has come to pass in these past few months. What I have learned. How I have grown. What changes I have witnessed in other people.
4 months ago I faced the disappointment of not being casted in what I thought was to be my last show in Fort Mcmurray.
4 months and a few days later I received a message – well messages – from my friend Jennifer Townsend, asking me to take a role in the play Sure Thing by David Ives. This will be her debut as a first time director, so it’s a big dill for all of us. Thus began a sequence of events that made my last few months living in this community, that has been my home for the past 6 years, incredible.
The cast consists of Chris Bowers (as Bill) , Borna Teymouri (as B*&#%^BoBo), and myself (as Betty), with Natalie Farahani as the stage manager and Jennifer Townsend as the director. For the past 3 months, we have met 2 times a week in a little classroom, provided to us by the Suncor Energy For the Performing Arts (Get your $10 tickets here!). We have spent the beginning and end of every rehearsal moving school desks back and forth into terrible formations in which we believe the teachers must hate us for. We apologize for this.
Nearly every rehearsal we all fight to deny our tardiness and eventually we always get caught, because someone (namely Natalie) is always there first and she knows… everything.
Sometimes, due to the nature of the script, we consume copious amounts of donairs. Some call this method acting. For those of you who do not know what a donair is, it’s a Canadian comfort food, created in Halifax, NS. It consists of perfectly seasoned ground meat (garlic, onion power, oregano, chilli powder, salt and pepper) that’s been roasted in the oven and then placed on a spit to be browned and shaved layered in a soft pit drizzled in a sweet garlic cream sauce , dressed with onions and tomatoes and sometimes lettuce. This is important to know to understand this entire rehearsal process.
Bill and Betty are bound by unique interests that only surface at the end of the play. They spend most of the play trying to get the timing right in their words and actions so that they can finally synchronize their feelings. This one time, a couple weeks ago, Borna tentatively raises his hand – as if knowing what he is about say is going to be completely inappropriate – and he says “Just one question… what is a donair?”
I actually don’t really remember what happened next, I think Jen collapsed on the ground, Chris exclaimed something, Natalie was in disbelief and I momentarily blacked out with the overload of information. This had to be fixed immediately! So at the end of rehearsals, Borna and I had headed to Jomaa’s and for the first time, his lips touched the succulent layers of juicy shaved meat and tangy sweet sauce. He literally inhaled it. And by next rehearsal (two days later) Borna had already consumed two more donairs.
Now. We were finally a cohesive cast. And the magic really began from here.
It has been such an experience working with these people. So much so that I really need to take a moment and tell you little about each one and what I think of them.
Borna Teymouri. A sparkle. This is the best way to describe this magnificent human being. He is a sparkle. The thing that twinkles in the corner of your eye and makes you do a double take. However unlike a sparkle, where it usually is gone when you try to find it, Borna is still there.
You’ll often catch him wiggling away in the corner of the room, swaying his hips, shimmying his shoulders or singing a tune. Most people, especially young adults, would freeze and blush the moment you caught them doing any one of those things. This one… however, just sparkles and isn’t ashamed of being “caught in the act.”
Borna. Thank you for giving it your all and showing us how confident you can be even when we ask you to go beyond your comfort zone. Thank you for knowing your cues and dinging that bell like a champ. Lastly, thank you… for learning how to cartwheel.
See you soon.
The Stage Manager.
Natalie Farahani was first made known to me in 2012, when her mom (my coworker) Colette introduced us at the dental clinic. She was eleven at the time and shorter than me. Natalie was a quite girl and really didn’t seem like she wanted to be paraded around her moms place of work. The next day Colette told me that Natalie really liked me, because I was the only one that actually talked to her. Awwww I know right??? Then that same year when I started rehearsals for HomeTown the Musical, lo and behold little Natalie was casted in the same production.
Since then she has gone head first into immersing herself in community theatre. Not as an actress but as a tech assistant, assistant stage manager and even stage manager. For those of you who are aware of the industry, being a stage manager is no easy task and not very often do you meet a 12 year old assistant stage managing making stage productions. Natalie, just turned 15 today and she is currently the stage manager for two shows. I think this girl has more experience than post secondary students pursuing the profession.
I love Natalie. I’m just going to put that out there. She’s now much taller than me, much wiser and definitely much more beautiful. She’s genuine and organized and devoted to the theatre. When you first meet Natalie you would never guess the insurmountable list of accomplishments and achievements she has under her belt. It’s because she’s also humble and doesn’t require other people to praise and validate her, unlike us diva types that constantly need people tell us “pretty bird.”
I just wanted to insert one more thing. Natalie, remember that time Mr.D came to Keyano theatre and he’s like “omg I can’t believe there’s kids in the audience, like what are you 13?” and you said “Twelve…” and I said “NATALIE??!!”.And we both wore our cowboy boots that day? Yeah. That was awesome.
Thank you Natalie, for inspiring me to be true to myself and follow my passion. You are so amazing and I love you so much. We’re going to be friends forever because I’m going to stalk you when you become a famous stage manager.
My co-lead. My counter part. My Chris Bowers. When did I first meet Chris? Three years ago… ish when we were in the show Les Miserables. I remember getting to know his wife in the seedy corners of the set but at the time I didn’t really get to KNOW Chris. Just enough to rip off his snap shirt every other day. I always knew he was funny, kind and easy going. I just never knew that he was epic, hilarious and brilliant.
Working with Chris I guess, I take for granted how much he’s grown. In my eyes at least. I think because I run lines with him four to six hours a week I don’t always recognize the leaps and bounds. That’s why I take the time to reflect. To reevaluate where I was, where I am now and where I’m going to be. When I reflect on Chris, I think “fucking eh.”
I think “seriously?”. I think “awesome.” These are the words that pass through my mind whenever Chris says or does something that just blows me away. For instance, as we started to really get into the rehearsal process, Jen asked us to be bigger, and Chris, went big. We didn’t expect it, because a lot of times with community theatre actors when directors tell you to go bigger, we take baby steps. Then there’s Chris. He just brings it. his facial expressions, his voice, and his movements. From someone I once thought kind, quiet and easygoing I discovered a human committed to life and taking risks.
That’s one of the greatest things a human can give you. Commitment to go big or go home. I have been so lucky to find this kind of human in Chris, a human that faces his vulnerability and says “RAWR.”
Many of you know speaking in front of people is not an easy skill. Many people suffer from stage fright and glossophobia – the fear of public speaking, so for those who can overcome this fear deserves quite the pat on the back. I don’t know if Chris had this problem in the past but I used to get the impression that maybe it was harder for him than some and easier for him than others, to get out and speak up. In these past months, if I was to step back and see Chris for the first time, I never would have guessed he was that same quiet, kind, easy going guy I first met a few years ago.
Chris, to me, has emerged as this powerful and bold artist that takes risk. He challenges those around him to follow suit and step outside of the box. He makes us laugh with his incredibly articulate eyebrows and he surprises me with his ability to grow.
Thank you Chris for this amazing adventure and roller coaster we have been on these past few months. You make rehearsals the highlight of my week. I love trying to stump you and throw you off and then see how gracefully and seamlessly you fix my falterings. Thanks for being awesome.
Tomorrow we shall entertain them all!
To read about Chris’ blog check out CJBuzz.com
I actually had the pleasure of knowing Jennifer’s mouth first before I actually knew “Jen.” Not in the way that you may think, but as her hygienist. She first sat in my chair 5 years ago and I became her dental hygienist. Then as the months and years wore on we found ourselves appearing in the same social circles and in shows and THEA- TAH! And through these months and years I’ve been graced with her presence.
Those of you who know Jen know that I am not exaggerating when I say Jen has PRESENCE. She’s witty, gorgeous and loving. She manages a clothing store called Volcom and she’s dynamite on stage. I’ve had the pleasure to see her in shows, in auditions and now as a director. The crazy thing is. Jen is only in her early twenties.
DAYAMN! She’s just incredible. She’s so positive and encouraging it only makes you want to be better, act better and push your boundaries. She brings out the best in us and she’s somehow able to amplify the things that make us okay and turn them into something remarkable. She’s open to ideas and suggestions which makes her such a dynamic director, and yet she knows when she likes something and what she wants. Best of both worlds.
Madame director thank you for your hard work and believing in us, and giving us this opportunity. And now if you’ll excuse me, I leave you with the great words of Jennifer Townsend.
“Noooowwww …. Entertain me!”
Come support your local community theatre members and get your tickets NOW!