Aaaaaand we’re off! It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged, not because I haven’t had anything to write about, but more so because 2015 (and the tip of 2016) was a very very busy period of time which has lead to the biggest decision I have made in my life. To move to Canada. Before we make this huge change though we’re crossing the USA to see a few places that we likely wont have much money to see after. Our plan is to spend 3 days in Anaheim, fly and spend 3 days in Las Vegas, fly and spend 5 days in New Orleans. Then things change a bit as we hire a car and drive across to Orlando (funnily enough I’ve heard that this is one of the most boring road trips you can do, so please, if you have any suggestions let me know). After spending time at Disney World and Harry Potter World we then hire a Mustang and drive all the way to the tip of Florida to Key West. Then fly to the Cayman Islands to visit two dear friends, Scott and Michael. Finally, to New York for a week and finishing in Toronto.
How did we get here? A huge trip followed by a huge move. Well let me give you a quick rundown of my past 14 months…
Usually I am only involved with one production at a time, because anyone who has done a show before is aware of how your life can become consumed by a production, especially around tech week and performances. So in 2015 (and the tip of 2016) the word “no” didn’t really exist and I ended up working on 7 shows over 14 months while teaching full-time and I learnt something different from every production.
2015 started with working on crew for Packemin Productions’ Phantom of the Opera which is the hardest show I have ever worked on backstage crew. The set pieces were huge, every single scene change had someone moving a set piece on and off and the timing of set changes had to be perfect. It was definitely a show that showed me how important having a good stage manager is, nice work Neil Shotter.
Then March came around and I directed Pennant Hills High School’s production of Annie (I’ve blogged about before here). Annie was my fourth and last production at Pennant Hills High and one of the most memorable. So many positives came out of this production that it just drove home the importance of performance opportunities for kids at school.
During production week of Annie I receive a phone call from Neil Gooding and was offered the opportunity to be Assistant Director of Packemin Productions’ Mary Poppins. This was the first time that I had ever been Assistant Director on a show before. I found this challenging at first because it is hard to block a scene with the same vision as another Drector. But, I learnt the importance of initiative and how important it is to trust your judgment creatively. Changes may be made to what you have done, but if you’re working with a director who respects the process it does become more of a collaboration not a “my way I better than yours” situation and that’s what I got with this experience.
Following that, I was fortunate enough to be able to be offered a role in Chester Street’s production of Nick Enright’s Summer Rain. It had been a while since I had a chance to be on stage and I forget how much I always gain personally from performance. I find it very therapeutic and as wankie as it sounds, it’s great to be put on stage and forced to feel things. It’s also fun to experiment with the dynamics of words and how they change when you tweak the intention behind them. I’m not a musician, I can’t read music, I’m not the best singer so it was challenging and interesting to work on a musical without having the luxury of having a recording of the music.
While all of this was happening rehearsals and preparation were well underway, for I was Directing Legally Blonde at Willoughby Theatre Company. This was very exciting and I learnt a lot from this production. I learnt the importance of surrounding yourself with people who are on the same wave length as you. This was one of the most supportive and professional casts I have ever worked with. I mean, it’s not every show that the fly system stuffs up opening night and you’re forced to cancel an show and then add another show during a run and you get every single cast member cancel their plans and perform on an extra night. I am very thankful for this cast, rarely in community theatre do you get performers who use the direction you’ve given them to make choices which benefit the show.
So, while that was happening I kept up my Assistant Directing work with two Packemin productions; Back to the 80s and West Side Story. Granted I was spread a bit thin during the initial stages of these shows, thanks to Legally Blonde, I ended up really enjoying my experiences with these productions. Both Jordan Vassallo and Craig Stewart are Directors that I would love to work with again at some stage. They both know what they want to achieve from the beginning, they do the work and commit, commit, commit until they get it to where they want to be. They showed me how important it is to be adaptive when technical aspects of the show aren’t always what you expect. Be adaptive, but still be able to craft your vision. Thank you both!
And now I find myself without a show to work on and wanting more. This is why I’m sitting at the airport ready to move to Toronto and start a new life. I’m hungry for more work in a different environment in a bigger entertainment industry on screen and stage and my partner Laura is too.
Ideally we would love to move to America, to Broadway and have a crack there, but if you ask anybody who has tried, getting a green card without having any work here already is near impossible, so we’re going to the next best place, Toronto. It is only an hour flight away from New York. It has a theatre industry which rivals London. It also has a huge film industry as often American productions will cross the border as the exchange rate is much better.
It will be challenging, it will be exciting and yes we know it will be cold.