Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Sometimes Coffee Ain't Enough

Which is blasphemous for me to say, with my deeply expressed love for coffee well known; but it's true. I'm so tired! Late nights on a movie location wears me out! But, as I read that over, I am reminded of all the times I'd read that in interviews with celebrities (which I am NOT) and thought, "Oh, shut up!" Complaining that the awesome thing has less than awesome parts to it seems totally douchey. So I'll stop the bitching right here.

In driving to and from the locations, I'm spending a lot of quality time listening to the "original cast recording"* of The Mystery of Edwin Drood; and I really love it. Great songs and some unbelievable singers. Our cast is going to be using the tough, super fast part of "Both Sides of the Coin" for a diction exercise (tough as HELL, I tell you); and I want to learn it, too. Solidarity, you know? It's a way for me to feel more a part of things, without the embarrassment of the others hearing me fail! Brilliant! 

*not to be confused with a "soundtrack" for movies and TV and whatnot, from what I hear.

Here it is, so you can listen, too! far, I have the "la...lalalalala....lala...lala LALA!" part down pat. Yay me!

Friday, 24 July 2015

Thank You

After my meltdown, a number of wonderful people reached out to me to show support and caring. I feel like there is no way to really thank people appropriately; but you know who you are, and I hope the squishy Shan hugs showed my appreciation. 

What they also showed me is how differently reality can be from what is going on in my head during the ANXIETY and PANIC. In this situation, again, my perception of what was happening was way off. Hopefully, I can remember that during the next "moment". Everyone liked the direction I have for the Drood makeup, so "Off to the races, we go!"

Oh, and the movie? It's going really well! I've met some great people, too! Really good acting from local talent like Sally Cacic, Sarah Troyer; and a guy who had an explosively fantastic scene yesterday, Mike Burritt. Thank you again to my buddy, Kris Mish, for giving me this chance. In the end, I really think my heart is in that crazy musical theatre, though. I miss the songs! I miss the dance! I miss the sewing!

More movie adventures this weekend. I'm going to need a few solid days of sleep after this is through!

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Bad Timing, that's all

The ANXIETY and self-loathing had me tight in it's grip tonight. Remember that part in the Lord Of The Rings movies*, where Gollum says to himself, "Nobody likes you. You don't HAVE any friends!" That's what it was like in my head tonight. It was the read through of the new show I'm doing makeup for, and I was so excited to be able to make it (I was supposed to be on the movie set--another place I don't feel good enough to be). But, we wrapped early (ooooo, look at me, using the correct terminology and all that). So, I got there on time. 

From the second I walked in the door, the hateful diatribe began in my head. No one likes you, no one wants you here. You're not good at anything and they are going to hate what you show them. But, guess what? I can cry AND drive at the same time and not get in an accident. Ugh. 

As the late, great, Freddie Mercury once sang, "The show must go on!", and so must I. I hate you as much as you hate me, ANXIETY.

*If you don't remember or don't like the LOTR movies, I would say we can't be friends. But I need the friends, so, I forgive you.

Saturday, 18 July 2015


Day 1 of the movie was great. It's a dream come true! I feel like this is a second half of life, one where I can take some chances. I'm finally at an age where I can benefit from some maturity and experience, so I am more willing to "put myself out there." I was so glad to help, and I felt like a little kid! Kris handed me a radio, and I squealed with glee. He had me sign my contract, and I squealed with glee. He told me I'd get an actual CREDIT, and...well, you get it. Buddy had to deal with a whole lotta squealing and hugging. Good thing he's a patient guy. 

I didn't understand most of the technical jargon, but thankfully, Mr. 16 is a movie buff. He keeps giving me tips and condensed explanations so I don't look like too much of a noob. Until I squeal over something else...

Word to my theatrical friends: All of this is totally new, exciting, and wonderful for me. Thanks to THE ANXIETY, I spent the first half of my life too afraid to follow these passions of mine. Then I turned 40, and everything changed. So, I'm just hoping my enthusiasm is more refreshing than annoying, m'kay?

Radio! I got a radio!!! COPY THAT!!!

Thursday, 16 July 2015


Today is the first day that I will be on set for Kris' movie. THE ANXIETY is at a fever pitch! 


- I'm not good enough 
- They don't like me
- I get lost on the way
- I don't have everything I need
- and a million other fears come true???

Google Maps checked and printed ✔️
List for wardrobe kit made ✔️
Trip to sewing store for odds and ends planned ✔️
Call Sheet printed ✔️

I'm so nervous!!! Wish me luck, and any prayers/good vibes you send my way will be much appreciated!

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Tips for Successful Volunteering!

It's damn scary to walk into a totally new environment, knowing not a single person. But, when you really want to be a part of something, you have to swallow that GIANT BALL OF FEAR (or whatever size yours is) and give it a try. Once you're there? Here are my newbie tips for having a great time and being a big help to the team :

1. Leave your Ego at Home

To really add to a team and get the most out of your experience, you have to accept that you are the newb. There is so much to learn; and so much fun to be had, when you are willing to dive in and help, no matter what the task. In every volunteer-run organization, there is a metric buttload of things to get done. Some of them are more "sexy" than others, with more excitement and flash; but every task is important, no matter how small. The great part is that, if you have volunteered for something you love, even the small, unsexy tasks become part of the fun. 

2.  Be nice.

Nobody is expecting you to kiss butts, but do remember to be polite and friendly. Like my Mom always says, "Put on your party manners." Everyone is there to reach the same goal. You don't have to love everyone, nor will they all love you (even though they should, because you're AWESOME), but being polite and friendly makes everything better. The theatre is a happy place for me, something I do for fun. If there is drama, I leave it for the stage.

3. Always ask if there is something you can do to help!

Shit gets BUSY in any VRO (my new, made up acronym for "volunteer run organization"). People get very busy and focused on what they are doing, so they might forget about you. The onus is on you to ask where you can help and what you can do. Just ask! I know you're nervous! I know you're new! But soon, you won't be the new person. You'll be the person who always looks for someone to help and something to do. Helpers rule!

4. Learn!

You will be dealing with a lot of people who are very experienced in doing things you love (that's why you showed up, right?). Suck up all of the knowledge you can like the sponge you are! Whatever it is you are into, VROs are filled with enthusiastic people who are happy to share what they know. You get a master class you only have to pay for with your time! 

Those are the biggies. Pick a VRO doing something you are passionate about and get in there! They need you and you need them. It's a cliche because it's true--I've gotten far more out of my experience than I have given. 

Monday, 13 July 2015

A brief pause for a freak out!

Sometimes you just need to pause and thank the Maker for the good things coming your way, which is hard to do when you are otherwise occupied with the ANXIETY. And sometimes you need to be grateful that you were raised to be a nice, hard-working person. Because sometimes great things happen when you least expect them to.

Like a great guy you met during your new theatre adventures, who then asks you if you'd like to help with wardrobe ON HIS MOVIE!!!! And you think, who, me? The suburban, stay-at-home mom? The woman who is still kind of afraid of her own shadow (bitch'll sneak up on you)?

Thank you, Kris. Thank you so much.

Also, are we noticing a running theme of cool people named Kris or Chris in my life? There are two more, by the way. A dear friend back home in Edmonton, and my first friend--my brother!

It's a good day to be Shan.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Why 16?

I haven't explained the name yet! Front Row Centre does 16 showings during a production's run, that's why. Every theatre company seems to have different run lengths, and this is it for FRC. You know what? It's not long enough for me. I miss each show when it ends (which is apparently a thing. Post show funk.) As I sit here on my sofa, I miss the people, the music, the excitement. So, what happens? You (or me, in this case) volunteer for ALL THE SHOWS!! I would do any (legal) job, help with any task, to be a part of it. Thankfully, Mr. 16 is a loving, supportive partner, so he pulls the parenting load for the time I'm away. Also thankfully, Little 16 has always been an "early to bed and (not as great) early to rise" kind of kid. 

So, that's all there is to it...sorry it's not a more mysterious story behind the name. Next time, we enter real mystery! The next show I have the pleasure to help with? 

The Mystery of Edwin Drood! 


Thursday, 9 July 2015

And then there's Magz

This is a gush post, so, git ready, ladies and gents...

During a final blitz of costume sewing before JCS opened, Christine with a C introduced me to a woman who would quickly become my mentor and beloved friend, my "brother from another mother"'s mother, Magz Ross. Now, I was decidedly Team Eastgaard-Ross already (love you, J & S); but with Magz, I fell madly in platonic love! This woman has forgotten more about sewing than I could ever know, but she kindly and deftly took me under her wing. She knows what to give me that tests and challenges me, without leaving me in a sobbing pile on the floor. She befriended me and made me cut myself some all important slack when it came to my (many) mistakes. Many new mottos have become a part of how I do business, but here's LIFE SEWING LESSON #1:

Meme truth is true! Also included in meme is a dress I sewed for the next FRC production I begged to work on: the JER directed, Kristine with a K produced, ANYTHING GOES! I jumped into costume sewing with both feet for this show; and I loved every pin-pricked, hunched over, machine whirring minute! (FUN FACT: I keep track of how much time I take to make things, in my sewing journal. Total time on AG costumes? 108 hours!). I am grateful to you and love you, Magz! 

Costume design for a show is a full time job, and both Christine with a C and Magz busted their asses on their shows. The talent, effort, and skill it takes cannot be understated or underestimated. I am so grateful that they let a grade 9 Home Ec hack like myself touch the pretties! I met and learned from so many talented sewers (Kim, Darcie, Lou, Sandy, Frank, Phaedra). I hope to be sewing my fingers off for all of them as the years go on! Thank you for being great and helpful friends!

Also, if you missed out on seeing Anything Goes, I feel bad. It was fantastic! The cast sang and danced their beautifully clothed tails off! And special love goes to Megan, who actually BOUGHT the coat (which was supposed to be a jacket, but I cut the bottom part wrong) I made for her to wear in the show:
Meg and my Magz, fitting the coat!

See you next time!


Wednesday, 8 July 2015

When the "Makeup Artist" meets the Costumers

I love makeup. I am usually far too tired or lazy to wear it myself, but I love painting on people. I love learning how to do special effects makeup--it's exhilarating to create something with creams and colour that takes actor to character. Wanna know what else is just as fabulous? COSTUMING!!! 

I have loved to sew since I was a kid in Home Economics. Having my daughter reignited my love, since I could whip up gorgeous, frilly little dresses to my heart's content. So, when I joined the JCS production team, I introduced myself to the costume designer (the lovely Christine with a C Brown, who also design clothes for gee own label, Gaia Chan, whose link I will also put up as soon as I learn how!). Since community theatre is all about helping out wherever you can with whatever you can, it brings a better show to the people if you roll up your sleeves and pitch in. Lovely Christine let me help her; and thanks to her, I got to sew tear away trousers for the handsome DS! Together, she and I created a damn hot looking cast, if I must say so myself! I do believe I have a real future in stripper clothing, too, so a real career booster.

What I found in helping sew costumes was:

1) I know nothing about sewing, compared to Costumers, and,
2) I will sew until I am the Hunchback of Calgary if given the chance.

So, my theatre life is full of fun, new experiences, and a metric tonne of learning. I don't care that I KNOW NOTHING. I feel like a sponge, happy to sop up all the knowledge I can from these incredibly talented folks. I hope everyone finds something to do that they love as much. It has made me a happier person, and a better wife and mother. The thing is, we've created an impossible standard for parents to live up to, and so are ending up with exhausted, frustrated people with nothing they do "just for themselves." I don't want my daughter to learn that example. I want her to live life; and participate in all the activities she can, including parenthood, if she chooses it. We're only here once, as they say.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

JE-sus Christ, SU-per Star!

Now, when I say I had been to theatrical productions, and that I had volunteered at community theatre shows; you might get the impression that I KNOW SOMETHING. You couldn't be more wrong. Like our poor, brutalized Jon Snow (who I will never believe is dead, so suck on that, show creators), I KNOW NOTHING. There are approximately Eleventy billion musical theatre productions that could be on stage at any given time (I rounded up). Of those, I have seen/been a part of 10. 


So, that makes me the new kid on the block, the one who's eyes light up when she is allowed to go backstage, the one who grins like a goof through entire performances. So, when I contacted Front Row Centre (heretofore known in this blog as FRC, because that's what they call themselves, and I am lazy) to ask if I could help out; my new buddy, Kristine with a K (because there is a Christine with a C who does Costumes) asked if I wanted to be a part of the next show, Jesus Christ Superstar.

YES, I DO/DID! So, I swallowed the ANXIETY and got Mr. 16 and Little 16 to drive me to the Beddington Community Arts Centre (because we're new to this sprawling city and I was nervous as hell). Everyone was welcoming and excited about this show, and I muddled my way through. What? You want this show to have a dirty/rock and roll vibe? I got your guy-liner right here. SPECIAL EFFECTS MAKEUP??? I'll figure out how The Lord's back will look after 39 whacks with a police baton. 

And after many sleepless nights and much stress put upon myself by myself, I DID figure it out. Then he put on his shirt and ruined all my work. EVERY NIGHT. Thanks, MB. 

I hate to rush through the description of my experiences on this show (makeup, helping with costumes because SEWING) because it makes it seem like this show was small. IT WAS NOT. I had such an amazing time, met such unbelievably great people; and I felt the true, unadulterated joy that comes from seeing your ideas come to life on the stage. I can not and could not thank everyone enough (and believe me, I tried) for letting me be a part of this little bit of heaven. But they know. AND NOW FOR PICTURES!

Where JER (my brother from another mother) and I work together to make King Herod FABULOUS! If I wasn't Unitarian, I'd be sure I was going to Hell now. 

And so it began...join us next time for more adventures!


Saturday, 4 July 2015

Opening Post!

Welcome to 16 Shows! My little diary of my adventures in Calgary community theatre!

I've always loved theatre. I wanted to be a singer/dancer/actress from oh, I don't know, toddler-dom? Sure, that sounds about right. What got in the way, you wonder? (Or maybe you don't, because you know me and are aware of my "quirks"). ANXIETY. Big, stinking, gut-wrenching ANXIETY.  The Beast of anxiety has been my oldest frienemy, my life long companion. So, instead of the aforementioned singer/dancer/actress, I became a secretary and then stay at home mom.

But I did get a toe in the water, taking a makeup artistry class at the local college, and then I found my way to the Walterdale theatre in my home city, thanks to a lovely family friend. I had the thrill of volunteering backstage for three productions before I had my daughter. I was totally in love with it, but a new baby and no driver's license* (see Anxiety) meant an end to my days in the green room. (Once I figure out how, I'll put up a link to theatre terms for other newbies like me.)

After more life happenings, we decided to move to Calgary. Sometimes you just need a life reboot, you know? And I thought, Self, let's see if there is another theatre we could volunteer for. My friend and yours, Google, brought me to Front Row Centre Players; and thus, 16 Shows was born. I'll also link to their site once I figure out how. Not only do I know a shit ton less about the theatre than I thought, but my technical skills are also sadly not up to blogging par.

So, that's the nuts and bolts of it. Stay tuned for my screw ups and successes, and I promise not to lock the doors if you have to leave for a minute.