Playwright’s Log – Opening Night

Opening night – an exciting, anxiety-ridden and thrilling experience for a playwright. Sometimes I think we must be masochists. It is a nerve-wracking experience watching your play performed on opening night. After years of work, hours and hours of laboring over the script, several readings and workshops… you finally find out if it works when it is before a live audience. You put it out there, your creation, for the world to judge.

Being the artistic director of the company as well as the playwright meant I had plenty of distractions the day of opening – dealing with the reception and final marketing. It also means I’ve had to wear two hats during the process and ultimately worry about both the script and the production as a whole. Lots of support from our great team though!

EDEN nightmare footage by Jordan Popowich

We certainly had a great audience to kick off the run! A full house with several of the company’s supporters and friends willing us to do well. The actors really shone and were able to feed off of that positive energy. The technical elements ran smoothly, despite the fact that the video had randomly decided to stop working mere moments before show time. Our tech genius, Chris Coyne, trouble-shot once again all the while remaining calm. It was up and running for performance. It’s amazing what he has been able to pull off in terms of video sequencing with the footage our video designer Jordan Popowich has provided.

Chris, along with myself and the director, chose to watch from the balcony. Removed from the audience so we wouldn’t need to expose everyone to our nervous energy. We all breathed a sigh of relief when it ran smoothly. Now just the rest of the run to go!

It felt great to see the play out there and all the components together. It’s thrilling, but you still second guess and see things that you may want to tweak down the road. What a crazy business this is! I can’t wait to see how the rest of the audiences respond.

EDEN Log – Week 3

EDEN Playwright’s Log – Hope McIntyre

Yesterday we moved out of the rehearsal hall! Monday we load in to the theatre and we open on Friday. Hard to believe how quickly the time is going. We have an intensive four days of tech coming up but it is exciting to see it take shape. Tracy Penner, our fabulous Delilah in the play, said to me yesterday “your baby is almost done.” After so many years of working on the piece it does feel very much like I’ve created something very personal, although I can’t compare it to a human child, it will be a very special thing to share it with the world as well as being extremely nerve-wracking. At the same time it won’t ever feel like it is complete. I’m sure there will be adjustments after seeing it before an audience and hopefully with publication and second production…

Andrea del Campo and Tracy Penner in EDEN; photo by Janet Shum

This week was a mix of run-throughs of the play, working sections that needed cleaning up, costume fittings and final videotaping. The actors have made huge leaps thanks to director Sharon Bajer. It was great to have Wab Kinew take on the role of Eduardo, a character who appears on video at a key moment in the play. Our tech genius, Chris Coyne, also brought cameras in so the actors could start playing around with the live video feed. It looks really cool and really helps capture the world of the play. A key idea in the play is the power that comes with the control of the air waves.

Music was also starting to be integrated by yesterday and it adds a whole other element to the play. It will be amazing to see it on stage and the lighting design by Dean Cowieson will certainly add a great deal to Kim Griffin’s stark set design. After seeing what great work Jordan Popowich did with the promo video, I can’t wait to see the video sequences he has created for the play. There are some pretty crazy dream sequences that I haven’t seen yet!

It’s also really neat to see how Ali Fulmyk, our props coordinator extraordinaire has dealt with some of the challenges like a video camera that gets smashed to the ground in every performance. Not to mention military uniforms, quick changes and an array of dirtied-up clothes that our costume designer, Kelsey Noren, has had to deal with.

Of course the week before opening also means ramping up with media coverage and promotions. Our administrator, Robyn Pooley, has been very busy in the office working on all of this. Actor Andrea del Campo was on both CKUW’s Say It Sista and Eat Your Arts and Vegetables last Thursday. Marsha Knight will be on the NCI morning show on Tuesday and we hope to have a wide array of media out to our media call on April 25th.

Marsha Knight and Ti Hallas in EDEN; photo by Janet Shum

I’m starting to feel like the host of a party, hoping lots of people will show up. Winnipeg is so great, but there is always lots going on. I can’t wait to share the play and mostly the great work all of these artists have been doing. Hopefully everyone can make it out!

For performance dates and tickets check out the EDEN web page.

EDEN Promo Video Just Released

We are extremely excited to share our new promo video for the world premiere of EDEN by Hope McIntyre, April 27 to May 13. It’s a great sneak peek and beautifully shot by Jordan Popowich.

For full info on the play and to book tickets go to the EDEN webpage.

EDEN Rehearsal Blog – Hope McIntyre

First week of rehearsals are complete! It’s been an amazing start to the process. At the meet and greet the rehearsal hall was full, several tables surrounded by actors, designers and production team members. It is both rewarding and scary to think all these people are here because I wrote a play.

After a week workshop in January, I’ve been rewriting in whatever spare time I had with the excellent guidance of dramaturg Rick Chafe. His attention to detail is amazing, but he’s also been a great cheerleader – giving encouragement to keep me from feeling overwhelmed. Terrence McNally once said that writing is a supreme act of self-confidence. It does certainly take a lot of guts, particularly to keep working through the fog hoping that in the end things will be clear. Since November, the entire structure of the play has changed. It took a lot to let go of the former skin of the play. To find that balance between letting go of what is not working but to hold on to what I know deep down is vital to the story. Then at the reading on Tuesday to hear yet another completely reworked version and to hope that it works. You think it does but you listen to each word watching for reactions, hoping you’ve made it better not worse. The laughter, at the right spots, are so comforting. Then afterwards just a couple of script notes from Rick and director Sharon Bajer – much better than the pages and pages of notes from the previous months!

Terrence McNally also said you have to love your collaborators. What’s not to love about the great group we have! Not only are they talented artists but they care enough to really think about the piece, provide insights and ask really great questions. Plus they’re fun to be around! Even rehearsing over Easter weekend was made less of a chore when Andrea del Campo, who plays Evelyn, decided to organize an Easter egg hunt over lunch.

Director Sharon Bajer and actor Tracy Penner on lunch break

As a playwright watching director Sharon Bajer clarify each moment with the actors is so valuable. Her experience as an actor and playwright really feeds into her work as a director. She’s not even overwhelmed by the fact we have a lot of video to shoot for the play, Cree translation, technical challenges and a tight rehearsal schedule.

Paula Vogel recommends that the playwright not answer questions directly in the workshop and rehearsal process. Of course the actors keep asking them though. I work hard to listen and observe, to see what they get from the script before explaining anything. I’m much more interested in their choices and discoveries than in telling them what I intended. It’s the only way to find out if the script is off the mark.

Okay, yes, it has been an exhausting week with some final script massaging and tweaking. It meant having to ignore everything else for a while, but it is so exciting to see it coming to life! It is a joy to see the work of our amazing design team, to see the actors finding a way to deliver each moment so effectively and to also continue the investigation of the themes that propelled me to spend seven years working on this piece.

Check out the EDEN webpage for tickets and info.

Kevin Anderson as Ophidian in video by Jordan Popowich