Tag Archives: Theatre

Thanksgiving

It’s always kind of weird to come back to where I grew up. I’ve been back in S. Park the past few days for a mini vacation due to Thanksgiving, and sitting here in my childhood bedroom, I’m struck by how many memories this one room holds for me. The walls are bright blue and green, a testament to my teenage taste and personality, the furniture maple-toned, matching the hardwood floor that runs throughout the house. It isn’t a large room, but yet the furniture fits comfortably, the single bed marking that period in my life where I wanted as much floor space as possible so I could stretch undisturbed (though how often I actually did that is debatable). If I think about the walls and furniture, though, I must remember that they weren’t always that way, not when I was in my prima ballerina faze and white furniture handed down from my mother stood in the room, softer pinks, blues and greens dominating my décor. Yet even before then, as a small child, primary colours chosen by my mother were all the rage, stuffed animals my most intimate friends and devoted company.

I look back at the walls and notice that though the colour is bright it sometimes is hard to make out due to how many objects cover them, from ceiling to floor. The objects on the wall document everything from festivals and performances I participated in, to past travels, accomplishments, birthday parties, and art projects. They range in age, some dating back to the last few months of the 80s, others to just a few years ago, a timeline of the most important events within my past 26 years: a photo of my first Christmas, a poster of my first semi-professional Ukrainian dance tour, spoons from various places I’ve traveled, my university degree. Every object tells a story, hearkens back to the fleshed-out moment it now symbolizes.

The books do the same. Stacks upon stacks of books are piled into every nook and cranny, books I haven’t finished, books I’ve read once or twice, and books that have been supremely loved over the years. Each book, each photo album, each journal and notebook represents a part of me, my interests (whether they remain the same or have changed), my story, another timeline. The old school binders tell an even more specific story as they showcase the work I actually did, the subjects I excelled in and those that provided an intellectual struggle (whether I wanted to admit it or not).

Most important, though, of all these things I find in my room are the little secret things hidden in cracks and at the back of drawers, the sneakiest places in the closet. The paper notes my friends and I passed in class (before anyone had a cellphone); the ticket stubs of movies and shows I’d seen; the paint chips I saved in anticipation of having my own house; the musings I wrote down before I started a blog. When I read those notes and take out the ticket stubs and paint chips and travel back to each moment in time, I can see that I truly have lived. I had opinions and feelings in each of those moments, and those opinions and feelings motivated me to write that note or see that film or dream about what was yet to come and put those thoughts on paper. And looking back to then from now, I can see how this girl who is myself has grown from the person I was to the person I am, never changing completely, but rather becoming more and more me as each day passes.

You may be wondering what the point of this post is. I’m not sure I truly know myself. All I know is that for the past hour or so I’ve sat here in silence, taking the time to appreciate the experiences I’ve had while anticipating those to come, something I hardly ever do.

I think I’ve just had Thanksgiving.

Joyanne 😀

 

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“Aha!” You want me to do what?!

I really appreciate when I have an “Aha!” moment. You know the one: a sudden realization that helps you understand in the split second of a moment all that has past and all that must come forth as a result. I like to think of it as giving Homer Simpson’s “D’oh!” a positive spin.

If I look back carefully over my life thus far, I see a series of “Aha!” moments, all connected to one another and leading to the next one. The “Aha!” moment when I knew I liked dance better than sports. The “Aha!” moment when the joy of singing became bigger than my fear of singing publicly. The “Aha!” moment when I knew I needed to move out halfway across the world. The “Aha!” moment that sent me yearning to learn more about my faith and the subsequent “Aha!” moment when I knew I couldn’t continue studying it academically. All of those moments, big and small (including the “Aha!” moment when I knew an apple would satisfy me more than a banana would that one time) all culminate into the groundwork for decisions we make about where our life will go next. I took tap and jazz instead of playing soccer. I burst out in song at karaoke. I moved to Ireland, I studied theology in Ottawa, I decided to be the actor I already was.

You see, all of those “Aha!” moments are actually more than just groundwork: they are like little inner compasses that direct you towards where your heart truly lies, and a mighty big one hit me yesterday. I was covering a shift for one of my coworkers because she needed some extra time to study for an upcoming exam. It had been a while since I worked an 8 hour shift because the past few weeks had been spent intensely rehearsing and performing Orpheus Musical Theatre Society‘s production of Hairspray, so I was pretty tired and cranky by the time 10pm rolled around. I came home disenchanted and gruff, and found myself thinking back to the run of Hairspray. I always have to laugh at first because some of my family members seem to think that being an actor is very glamourous. Well, who can blame them, really, with all the press Hollywood gets for their award shows and galas. Life seems like one hell of a party if you’re an actor. Playing Tracy Turnblad in Orpheus’ production of Hairspray, however, was no picnic, let me tell you. Imagine having to don a fat suit every performance that makes you look about 50 pounds heavier. I have one word for you: sweat. And that’s without the clothes and wig on! Add clothes, a wig, the makeup, plus all the dancing and moving around for almost 2.5 straight hours (Tracy Turnblad is basically on stage the entire time) and I can tell you exactly what you’d be thinking if you were in my shoes: I really hope I don’t have to pee during the first act! Also, could someone please hand me a towel? It was work, real work to get through the performances each night, so much so that I needed my day free before I went to the theatre to make sure that I was getting enough sleep so my voice would hold out for our final performances (folks, I tell you, I cut it close!). I was tired, I was antisocial, I was absolutely, positively pooped. But, as I was reminiscing I thought to myself, I’d sure as heck rather be pooped singing and dancing than sitting at a desk.

AHA! Cue the moment where in a split second I could see where I needed to go and no amount of fear could hold me back. No matter how much I could try to convince myself that I would be happy doing something other than performing, that I’d hate a big city like Toronto or New York, that I’d never get married or have a family if I chose this path, that “Aha!” moment was strong enough to squash all those doubts and fears by the simple fact of bringing to light all that I have known in the deepest parts of my soul about where my heart truly lies (indeed, you just have to look through some of my past blog posts to see the thread of light shining through every once in a while). Tada!

And what will I do with this new-but-in-all-actuality-not-so-new information? What any rational person would do:

“You want me to do what?!”

Hey, if your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough!

Joyanne 😀

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From Death to New Life

Tomorrow is Good Friday and I’m not going to church. I won’t partake in the procession around the church, I won’t kiss the shroud, I won’t travel to various churches throughout the day to venerate different shrouds and pray. I won’t participate in Jerusalem Matins, I won’t listen to any sermons, I won’t feel the peace I usually do on this holy day.

Where will I be, you ask? At the theatre. It’s interesting how theatre used to be my life. It was the focus of my degree, my passion, the thing that set me apart from my friends growing up. I was the crazy one who went to theatre school, who believed that I would make my living by becoming different people onstage.

My, how things have changed. No longer do I strive to become different people. Instead, I simply want to be myself, to find my way in the world by being me. And one of the things I’m learning about myself is how much I rely on my faith, my church. Oh, sure, my faith could be a lot stronger and more consistent, but my need for church, for taking that time each week to just gather with like-minded people and pray, has become so necessary that I’m really feeling the grief of not being able to participate in tomorrow’s Good Friday services.

I know it’s totally my fault. I completely dropped the ball on getting the time off because I simply forgot that since we have shows running at the theatre tomorrow, of course we’re open. Honestly, when I got the schedule and realized my blunder, I cried. And then I called my mom, who wasn’t home, so then proceeded to chat with my brother. He laughed at me and said this wasn’t such a big deal. And maybe it isn’t in the grand scheme of things, but it still hurts my heart to know that I can’t be where I want to be tomorrow because of my commitment to the theatre, my commitment to something that used to envelop my body and soul.

Isn’t it sad when we realize that something we had previously dedicated our lives to and fought for time and time again suddenly isn’t as important to us as we thought? I know it may sound silly, but it almost feels like a death, like a part of me has vanished. And yet, this same death helps me move into the next stage of my life, closing a chapter and starting fresh, so to speak. The challenge is accepting that this change is okay, that it’s okay not to be in love with theatre anymore. I will always appreciate everything that I have learned about life through my studies in theatre and no doubt  that knowledge will inform whatever I choose to do next. But I have begun to realize that theatre is not my focus anymore. Faith is.

Well, looks like I’m still the crazy one, but this time I’m the crazy one who has decided to go to church school. God bless my friends.

Have a blessed Good Friday and wonderful Easter! Christ is (almost) risen! Христос (майже) Воскрес!

Joyanne ❤

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Surprise!

I enter the theatre. There are many people milling around, getting drinks, chatting, and drifting into the theatre proper. I hand my ticket to the usher. She tears off the end with a kkkkkrrrrrrrrrrppppppp and hands it back to me. I walk in and immediately look towards the stage. If the set is visible, I marvel at the aesthetic and imagine the designer creating a world that must transfer from mind to paper to model to the reality before me. I wonder how many people worked on it and how many hours it took to build, to paint, to furnish. If the curtain shields the set, however, I wonder what it will look like and prepare to be surprised. I then look for my seat and sit down. I watch as the theatre fills up with other audience members, most still gabbing away. But I sit quietly and watch them, watch these people who I will soon become one with. Suddenly, a bell signals the play will start in five minutes’ time. The people stream in faster now, everyone searching for his or her seat. Finally, the doors close, but no one ceases their conversation until at last, the lights begin to dim. Silence. This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for: the moment of anticipation where we all as one collective audience wait to be enchanted, pushed and pulled in every direction, and turned upside down. And we do. For as the play begins, we are pulled into a world that isn’t our own. Or maybe it is exactly our own and we relish in recognizing our world. The action happens right before us in our own time and space and propels us to laugh and cry, gasp and wring our hands, sigh like a babe full of sleep, cheer when at last the conflicts are resolved. And then, it is over. And it is revealed to be a game, this play, a game to tickle our fancy and even challenge and educate. And we, the collective audience, stand and applaud the efforts of these players, those that took us on a journey unlike any other because we were right there when it happened before us. We appreciate the sacrifice and struggle of those on stage because they seek to help us become better people. It does not matter whether what is shown on stage is in line with your morality. What matters is what you do with the information given to you. Many people live on this earth and everyone deserves to tell their story. Listen. Watch. And allow yourself to be surprised.

Joyanne 😀

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