archive for February 2006

the month of me: all the world’s a zombie tuesday and all the men and women merely players

This being the first Month of Me Zombie Tuesday… I figured I would cut this down to its essence.

Zombies are about scaring people.

Well… and making a statement on modern society. And kickin’ it old school.

But mainly about scaring people.

So. In the spirit of that essence, while staying true to the boundaries and proscriptions of the Month of Me, I am about to present… a picture of me that scares the bejeezus out of me.

(I must warn you. Genitals have been known to retract in reaction to this photo. At least mine do.)

The image in question dates back to the spring of 1992. I was finishing my second year of theatre school. And we were presenting the final production of the year, the musical Working, by Studs Terkel.

Let’s let that sink in for a moment. Me. In a musical.

(My Lovely Wife, at this moment working several miles away, has just shuddered, as though someone walked on her grave. Or as though she had just heard me sing.)

One evening, during intermission, we decided we needed a picture of the boys — nay, the men — of the cast. We needed to get all that surging testosterone in a controlled space and capture a record of it for the ages. So we all hustled out to the loading dock (where the cool kids smoked… and trucks were loaded) and we posed like we were the Titans of myth. Oh, we were badass. We were kings of the world. We were the coolest shit this side of death, and we knew it.

And yet… somehow… that didn’t quite come across in the photo:

the oh-so butch men of dal theatre 1992

If you looked up “butch” in your thesaurus, and then decided to look up its antonym, and if your thesaurus was published by a publishing house with a cruel yet obscure sense of humour… this would be the photo they would show.

I can’t look again. I feel emasculated just thinking about it.

So there you go. No zombies. But the zombie essence… of fear.

Hell, I’d eat brains to avoid looking at that again.

the month of me: jason’s no-fun monkey/cat/zombie-free studying post

I’m studying for a midterm right now. My brain is sizzling at the rate I’m cramming relational database theory into my pea-sized, monkey-obsessed brain.

So unless you want to hear about how to decompose a relation into Boyce-Codd Normal Form, or how to determine the closure on a set of functional dependencies… just walk away.

WAIT! I do have one important tip for the throngs and masses reading this…

Jalapenos taste very good in omelettes.

However… they are not very good to you the rest of the day.

Or weekend.

I speak from recent, disquieting experience.

I think I’ve said too much.

the month of me: my lovely wife gives me a treat

I picked up My Lovely Wife from work. As we were driving away, I asked how her day was. She said it was depressing, because she had to go to a funeral at lunch-time.

Suddenly she perked up and said, “Wait a minute! I have something for you!”

She dug around in her purse for a moment and then pulled out something wrapped in a napkin. She unwrapped the napkin and said, “Look! I got you a funeral cookie!”

I took the dark double chocolate cookie from her hands and took a bite. Without thinking, I said, “Mmmmm… mournfully delicious!”

She looked at me, shocked. And then laughed.

I felt bad for a moment, but then I realised… it really was mournfully delicious.

the month of me: not the obligatory friday cat you expected


Before the Large One and the Small One, there was the First One.

When I used to come home after being away, he used to stick his head inside my shoe… and fall asleep.

He was my guy.

I miss him.

the month of me: romeo & rosaline and my life in the theatre

publicity still from romeo & rosaline (I'm the dork with the gummy smile)

In 1993, I was a young and very cocky theatre grad and also a new arrival in Toronto. I assumed that it might take me a few weeks, but I was certain that the parts would shortly begin to roll in and away my career would go!

Reality, she be a nasty bitch.

After months of horrendous struggling to find auditions, and even more horrendous struggling to try and make any impression at all at the auditions I did get, my confidence was getting a wee bit battered. And then I heard of auditions for the New Ideas Festival at the Alumnae Theatre.

The New Ideas Festival is basically a place where new playwrights got a chance to have their work produced. It went on for several weeks, each week having a different line-up of one-act plays. For the actors, it was unpaid, and not the highest profile gig, but it was acting. And at that point, I needed to do something. Other than serve bagels all day and go to bed in the third grungiest apartment I have ever stayed in. (Second grungiest? The apartment I lived in off the Danforth for all of two months in the summer of 1994, before I managed to escape to College Street. And the first grungiest? The boarding house room on Bathurst occupied by My Lovely Wife (To Be) when we first met.)

The audition process consisted of all of the playwrights and all of their directors gathered in the Alumnae Theatre loft space and seeing each actor one at a time. I think it was the size of the group that made this audition different for me — rather than playing to one or two people, and worrying if I was impressing those one or two people (which kills your performance deader that dead), I had a crowd. I had an actual audience. There being too many people to focus on individually, I didn’t worry about having to impress any one person — I got to just act.

I did my monologue and then a few of the directors asked me to do some readings from their pieces. One of them was for Romeo in Romeo & Rosaline.

Romeo & Rosaline (written by Andy Batten, the nicest guy in the world) was a verse comedy based on Romeo & Juliet, where the main dramatic leads were actually Benvolio and Rosaline, while Romeo and Juliet were comedic parts. Very comedic. Some scenes were new, while others were straight from the original Shakespeare. The balcony scene was verbatim… but with a wildly different slant, as this Romeo and Juliet were two raging hormones, each of them a couple of acts short of a play. Basically, they were teenagers. Horny, horny… horny teenagers.

I had a lot of fun doing the reading, just throwing myself into it whole hog. (The trick to remember with comedy is that to the character, it isn’t comedy — it’s deadly serious. Wit, on the other hand, is even harder.)

I left the audition feeling great. And then, a few days later I got a call-back for Romeo. And then I got the part.

And that part would basically set the path for the rest of my theatre career in Toronto.

We did the first act of the play in the New Ideas Festival in the winter of 1994. Then, later that winter we did Act II at the second part of the New Ideas Festival.

Then we performed the first act at the Toronto Fringe Festival in 1994.

Then we produced a full production of the play at the Tarragon Extra Space in September of 1995.

From that part, I got an agent. From that part, I directly got 3 jobs from other directors who had seen the play, one which made me an Equity actor and paid my rent for a year and a half. Indirectly, almost every other part I received was then based on this one play, as the other parts I received were either through my agent or based on relationships I had made from the parts I did get directly from Romeo & Rosaline.

From that part, I took the leap of submitting a one-man play I had written into the New Ideas Festival in 1996, seeing that play workshopped, and then performing it myself at the 1996 Atlantic Fringe Festival. (And unfortunately having to miss an audition for the Stratford Festival, which killed me, as they actually called me for the interview. Which is cool, in and of itself.)

From that one part, my life as a working actor started.

That’s the funny thing about opportunities. Some will simply be an experience, a memory, a part of your past. Others will set you on a path. They will help determine your future.

And you will never know which ones will be which.