Saturday, February 28, 2015

Stunning Saturday

This dreadful selfie was taken this morning
when I completed the costume. But I was
happy to complete it.
This selfie was about two-and-a-half hours
later near Queen Elizabeth Park. I walked
for three hours in glorious sunshine and
wearing only a t-shirt!!

The Next Four Months

I pulled this costume from the brink of disaster. It's only onstage for 30 seconds, so it is not an important costume, but it was a blast to do. It is one piece; it seals with velcro and I put this on and took it off by myself (but I will have a dresser). I have the head piece to do yet.

This is my immediate future:
  • 2nd week of March: Workshop of Trudeau.
  • 3rd week of March: Re-writing/re-working bits of Trudeau.
  • 4th week of March: Costume fitting and wig fitting of Vivicean.
  • 1st week of April: Costume fitting and wig fitting of Basil.
  • 2nd week of April: Vivicean’s wig.
  • 3rd week of April: Basil’s wig.
  • 4th week of April: Memorizing lines for scenes 1 & 2 of Trudeau.
  • 1st week of May: Memorizing lines for scenes 3 & 4 of Trudeau.
  • 2nd week of May: Memorizing lines for scenes 5 & 6 of Trudeau.
  • 3rd week of May: First week of rehearsals
  • 4th week of May: Second week of rehearsals
  • 1st week of June: Opening week.
  • 2nd week of June: Closing week (10 shows)!!
  • 3rd week of June: The Beach.

Friday, February 27, 2015

What to do on Friday

My "James Brown" experience happens at the curtain call.
Today is Cape Day. My plan is to finish the cape for The Great Lorangini. I love even writing that name. I love the thought of who The Great Lorangini is. Maybe there is a play in that character. Maybe there's a play with lots of other absurd characters in it that I can write and make the costumes for.

That is one thing I feel and feel very good about: my future. It will be what I make of it. Trudeau, the movie* and Monkey (the play) are all the result of people coming to me. I am unspeakably grateful to them, but I wonder what I want to do. Whatever it is, I can do it.

If I can write it, it will get produced. That is the wonderful feeling I have. I have confidence that I never had before. If I develop something of my own, something imagined and not drawn from my life, I am certain I can get it produced given my recent record.

* Everyone loved the title, Uncle Gus' Monkey. Producers always said: "Great title!" It was Warren's title. But Brad doesn't like it. He wants something more informative so I sent him three ideas: My Missing Mother, Finding Mother and The French Whisperer. I like the last one.
I got an email from someone on a dating website. I forgot I had a profile up on one. A friend to whom I whined about being single got me to do it. That was last September. Yesterday, someone wrote and we have been writing back and forth. This is new. I'm highly attracted to all I read and see. Anything could happen…. or not.

Thursday, February 26, 2015


I spent all day sewing The Great Lorangini's costume. I am happy with the progress and have learned a lot—so much, I am going to revisit Basil's costume and re-build it. I cannot bear the paint coverall approach. I knew it would be hard, but it is impossible. A gentleman's top has to go on like a coat—back first. Now, Robin is coming over for champagne and I am having only that for dinner.

Pondering the Movie & "Trudeau"

This is the paper vest and (real old) shirt of 
The Great Lorangini, a sleight-of-hand artiste.
It is entirely held together with pins at this stage 
and far, far from complete. One has to share.
Voilà, his cape. That's his name in is on his cape.
Yours truly glued each sequin on, one at a time. 
Do you know how long sequins go back in history?
Des détails and an unfinished edge. The cape 
is a long way from done. I make the cards on 
the computer and print them on bond paper 
and sew them on. I may glue the rest.
His gloves are under Lady Ferret's parasol.
They are disposable reinforced paper
painters' gloves.
Why am I enjoying pursuing the movie deal? Why is the story of my screenplay so interesting to others? I think friends are as excited about my movie experience as they were when I built the theatre at Presentation House. Friends are also pretty positive and encouraging to my face as they must be. 

What is so ridiculously interesting about movies to everyone? Perhaps it is because they are cultural keystones.

When I was a kid in high school, The Ed Sullivan Show, Life Magazine and National Geographic were the central cultural keystones of my peers of the post-war generation. And for us, The Ed Sullivan Show was supreme. We would assemble Monday morning to discuss our universal Sunday night experience—seeing The Beatles or The Mamas and Papas on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Now the broadcast world is fractionalized; now movies give us our more universal experiences—the blockbuster. My interest in seeing my screenplay become a (teenie weenie) movie right now is largely for the experience of learning the writer’s role. It’s also fun to have something interesting to say when friends ask, “What are you up to?” to be honest. 

I’m going to say that again: My interest in seeing my screenplay become a movie right now is largely for the experience of learning the writer’s role. Why? It’s because I am the writer that I am “at the table” having my experience. And it is the only reason; the fact that the movie is about me is irrelevant. If I’d written a movie about your life, I’d still be at the table, not you.
Say the word “June” and only lovely images come to mind: sunshine and brightness, colour and warmth, happiness and long days. “The lazy, hazy crazy days of summer,” is what the song said. It’s a great phrase. So June is a great time for me to be doing my Trudeau show at Presentation House. I love the thought of walking the long way over the bridge to work some days and coming out in that wonderful warm solstice crepuscule so late in our day at 49° north latitude.

I am going to love being warm in rehearsal and through the run of the show. And I think my audiences will, like me, be feeling that lazy, hazy crazy wonderfulness of summer. I think there are going to be costume problems I will somehow solve—especially if we sweat. But we’ll spritz them with water and vinegar each night. And there will be other challenges, but we'll be good. I am confident.

Two weeks of rehearsals, then two weeks of performances and only the briefest of moments for technical rehearsals before the only preview audience. I can do this. The weirdest thing is going to be going home at nights on the Seabus/bus. It’s just a weird nightly anti-climax, but some nights I will be able to get rides home. My nightmare: going home one night on the Seabus and there being someone on it who saw the show who wants to talk.

Mind the Gap

"Mind the gap." It's a warning all over the London tubes. The gap in my blogging is due to a decision I took to make myself a costume—one that I will use for a scene that is, perhaps, less than a minute long: my curtain call. It may or may not be used, but it is fun to make and I think Kim will want me to use it when he sees it.

The good thing is, I got some experience with a man's costume because I have to re-think the Basic Follycroft-Proud costume I have made. My friend Ross is coming over for dinner next week so I  may get him to try it on to see how things go.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Steve, My Fabulous "Ex"

The boy loves his costumes, just like me. But he likes to wear them; I like to make them.

The Great Lorangini

Who reads this I wonder. Anyone? Anyone any more? I know of a couple of close friends who read this blog and so I have decided (so far) to keep aspects of this costume secret so that there remains some surprise for you when you come to my show—assuming you will.  But I will show you bits because this blog is really for me. When I teach artists at ECU, I teach them to to record key decisions and aspects of their process on a blog so as to have the archive.

The character for whom this costume is being made is a magician: A slight-f-hand artist called The Great Lorangini. And you can see the string of sequins I bought. That enables the process to go extra slowly and more difficultly and that seems to be the way I like to do things.

With cooking I like complicated time-consuming recipes and I sew by hand expressly so that the process takes a long time. I have oodles of it. And to make this piece of the costume slowly, bit by bit by hand is very satisfying with diet coke, a joint, a good movie on TV, sunshine streaming in the windows and pastries—one or all of these factors at hand.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

What if…?

Marvel at the story in the posture of those hands.
I've always loved that song by Joan Osborn's song, What if God Was One of Us? [even though there is a horrid grammatical fault in that title].) What if there is karma, or God or some such moral force at work in the universe? What if that were true?

 PAL Vancouver is a residence for retired performing arts professionals needing housing assistance. A bunch of compassionate members of the performing arts community united to build it and when the thoroughly delightful Richard Thomas of The Waltons offered to perform his one-man show as a PAL fundraiser, PAL needed a volunteer producer so I stepped in.

There followed: A huge benefit show, a dance party to celebrate the completion of the shell of the building during construction, and then a series of four dinners featuring "star" guest performers. After that I decided to walk 1,200 kilometres and asked my friends to sponsor me. The walk netted $17,000 for PAL and brought my total funds raised for them to just under ninety grand.

That had me decide to bring my total to an even hundred grand. PAL has a theatre, so I though I should use it to raise funds and bring people into the building. But to do what? It was my dear friend Dwight who pushed me to tell my life story so I produced Knock Knock—a play about my life. It cost me 20 grand to produce but I gave PAL 100% of the box office and reached the hundred grand total.

I was the ideal board member I set out to be. Having had board members as bosses much of my professional life, I decided to live the role for PAL that I had always wanted from my own board members.

And what happens when it is all over? That script earned me Warren, a writing partner. And he got me to turn Knock Knock into a screenplay that gets optioned to become a movie. Then Presentation House invites me to write and perform a show (Trudeau) there. And then hero/mentor, Bill Millerd at the Arts Club invites me to submit (the re-written) Knock Knock script to them.

Has risk merely been appropriately rewarded. Or is there a moral force at work in the universe? Why not believe there is a loving, compassionate, God. Who gets hurt if you do?

Friday, February 20, 2015


I woke excited that it was Meeting Day for our screenplay. I jumped at the chance to walk the seawall for good karma, and it was a great way to start the day because (as you can see below) there was no one on the wall today; Fridays are consistently the least busy days on the wall.

Outside Brad's office was a gorgeous Magnolia in bloom. Another good omen. And the meeting was fabulous.  I liked Brad a lot. I found him open and he seems very honest. He is sending us an option agreement to sign next week. And once we sign, we will meet every two months to be updated. 

This is his plan:
  • Secure a Canadian partner and he has a specific woman in mind from Quebec with whom he has worked before.
  • Apply to Telefilm which he has never done before. He feels our script is the right one to open those doors with.
  • In the Fall, he goes to France  to secure a French partner. He has two people in mind.
  • Produce in 2016.
  • Change the title. He wants a title that suggests a journey.
I know, I know... there are many hurdles to overcome. But we have already overcome many.
Regardless of the ultimate outcome, I am thrilled and proud to have come this far.
Warren and I are going out to Hawksworth to celebrate signing our deal.

Not a footprint.

A waitress at lunch has a beautifully fitting dress on for Chinese New Year.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Meeting in On

Our meeting with the producer (Brad) is on! Warren and I are to be at his office at 3:00 pm tomorrow (Friday) with our list of expectations for the rights to our screenplay.

Oliver Sacks

A hero of mine, author and neurologist Oliver Sacks, has been diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. I have read everything he has published, I think, except one book. I have even read his text books. Uncle Tungsten was a favourite in which he eulogized his teachers.

He wrote an op-ed in the New York Times today expressing how he plans to spend the last months of his life: deepening friendships, saying goodbye, writing, and traveling. “I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude…

“I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers

“Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.”

Sad. Sad. Sad.


Today has started early. I was up dressed and out the door at 3:30 am. I came back quickly, but the day smells great and I am keen to walk. But first, some New Yorker reading, kitty time and a bath.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Wednesday: A Walk to West Van

Walking through Stanley Park on a glorious day, I passed this stump. It looks like a miniature planted garden. The red flowers are teeny weenie little blooms. You could barely see them; they are the size of pin heads. And they say, "Stop and smell the roses." I excel at that.

Click on the photos to view them better. 


Vancouver's new bike racks.
Yesterday I walked the seawall and it was spectacular because there was no one on it whereas on Sunday it felt like the entire population of the city was on the wall. I am far happier when there are fewer people. And then I met Bruce and Annabel for lunch.

After walking 24K on Sunday, I was quite tired and my Monday walk felt laboured so feeling back in full form yesterday was a relief. The mildness of this winter has meant I have not lost strength in my legs from last year's many walks.

It's Wednesday morning and I still do not have a confirmed time and place for the meeting with Brad's production team that was rumoured for Friday.
I am executor of Rita Ferguson's estate. In early January, my lawyer requested that VanCity close Rita's bank account and forward the money to them. The bank said I needed to have the beneficiaries sign a notarized form so I sent the form first to Oklahoma and then to Oliver, BC so that Rita's children could sign it. On February 3rd, I took the signed form to VanCity so that they could release the funds.

Yesterday it was February 17th and I discovered that the woman at the bank had done nothing since I delivered the forms. I was incredulous and so she did it yesterday, but fuck, what has happened to the world?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Reasons to Be Happy Today

  • The re-drafting of the script of Uncle Gus' Monkey is finished. This is a hybrid of Knock Knock and the screenplay of Monkey and has been developed for submission to The Arts Club. (and other theatres if they pass). Warren will want changes; that is next.
  • Friday, Warren and I have a meeting with the production team about the Monkey screenplay. I expect to come out of the meeting with a status. I want an "official status" so that I can announce it in my newsletter.
  • I have finished my newsletter that will announce Trudeau to my mailing list. It is important because I hope to raise $3,000 for the set construction from it. Presentation House allotted all their production money to the plays of their season before they chose to do my play so there is no money for the set.
  • It is sunny and I am about to walk the seawall for the fourth time in three days.
  • I am completely up to date with Trudeau, the Felons & Me.
  • Since the last century and until September of 2014, I weighted 180 or more, but I have kept my weight at 160 pounds for three months now and today I get all my pants back from the tailors with 2" taken out of the waists. Now I have many pants that fit instead of two.
  • Readership of this blog has suddenly spiked: For some reason, for some reason (probably one post) this blog is very popular in Romania.
  • The "In" box of my emails is empty. I am completely caught up on my correspondence.
  • I am not teaching this term.
  • Spring and summer are coming.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Good News on Monday

We (Warren and I) appear to be headed into a meeting with the production team that likes our screenplay—the whole team. Their organizing this meeting suggests to me that although the production has hit a bit of a bump with the cost of the period nature of the screenplay, they remain interested. I have proposed moving the whole story into the present to save costs but Warren has not shared that idea. He wants to bring it up at the meeting, so here we go….. Stay tuned.

Sunday Walk

After so many days of sewing and writing and endless rain, the incredible clarity of clean winter air on a spectacularly sunny day drew me out for a long walk. I walked 24 kilometres along the seawall ending up at the Granville Island market where I bought some of the finest ahi tuna imaginable to eat for dinner. I am hooked on spicy tuna.

The low point of the day was walking into a branch of a tree.I did not see it coming and I walked right into it, banging my head and knocking myself to the ground. Senior down, and not a single person came to my aid. All is fine, though. Just a big ugly scab on my head.

Moss on an unused sidewalk at the entrance
to Stanley Park.
Like the tuxedo shirt?

Fragrant as heaven.

Another variety of the fragrant plant pictured
above. I am seeing them everywhere.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Money Problems

It has been interesting thinking about Brad the producer’s email and "the money problem." For me, it was a lovely email with its comments about the writing. Monkey's success with every professional reader allows me to believe in myself as a writer of dialogue and dramatic structure. I valued reading that Brad's “whole team” was enthusiastic about it.

Also, it has been gratifying to discover that Brad is "driving" our development. I thought it was Warren  but yesterday I found out Warren hasn’t been in touch with Brad since the initial meeting. So a lot of what I have been hearing from Warren has been instigated by Brad and that gives me a sense of the strength of his interest.

But the financial problem is a considerable hurdle. We talked about cutting the France scenes, but it is not France that is the problem, it’s the period nature of the early scenes that present the challenge and there is no way to get around the period nature of the piece.

Last night I went to bed thinking about the problem. All my life I have been solving problems, but this is the first one that seems too big for me to solve. My understanding has been that Brad’s company planned on investing $1 million and they would seek another million from a partner. Now they/we face raising more—but how much more is not clear. One million? Two million? (Note: Writers earn $30,000 per million budgeted dollars.)

Our story requires three decades to tell. Ours uses the 50s, 60s and 70s and that is the problem. So this morning I have written to Warren to ask him what he would think if our story was set, instead, in the 90s, 00s and now. Maybe I can solve this money problem with these dialogue writing little fingers after all.