Friday, 31 December 2010

From David Plante's "The Pure Lover"


Calmly, you said, “I wish I could go home.”
“But we are at home. You don’t think we are?”
“Not quite.”
“Where is home then?”
“In London,” you said, and then, “This is London.”
“It is, and we’re at home here.”
“Not quite,” you said again.
“Is Greece home?”
“No, no quite.” You were silent, trying to think, then you said, “Home has many meanings.”

Tuesday, 21 December 2010


I've also decided that my next official project should be to write a Christmas hit. This could both be a piece of conceptual what-have-you about familiarity and popular culture and ritual, and a brilliant moneymaking scheme. I'm from Canada. We have snow. We have Canadian content laws. I'll get it on the radio and become a big big super big star. It will be nearly as great as this:

Christmas never gets old.

What is this time of year that is so clichéd it can never become clichéd. Rather than cringe at the same old familiar songs and food and people, familiarity touches us with the warmth of sitting next to a fire.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Everything you may have wanted to know about Debbie but forgot to ask

This video was taken as part of non-zero-one's "Hold Hands Lock Horns" series during the Edinburgh Festival in August. Enjoy, my 4 friends, enjoy!

#06 debbie from non zero one on Vimeo.

Monday, 15 November 2010

For Goodness Sakes Post Something

Oh Man Interweb. When I don't spend time with you for a while I get so afraid to write to you. Like a clingy friend who gets progressively angrier every day I don't call, and so you know, I just keep not calling. Out of fear, I guess. But what a ridiculous comparison, you are the interweb. You have so many friends. You just keep on chugging along regardless of how much attention I pay you, you keep writing equal parts disgusting/witty/politically worrying/defeatist/hopeful comments on blogs all over the place, and whether or not I'm contributing makes little impact. Nonetheless, the blogging party is one I always enjoy attending, and when I fall out of your loop I do often regret it. So it's nice to be back and rambling to you.

This month has been a relatively busy one in the life of myself. I recently completed a residency at the BAC where I attempted to learn all the lyrics to this song. Easier said than done, chickadees, easier said than done.

I was also redrafting my play "The Great Asker" for the reading I have coming up at the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto on November 24th, (did you check that plug, was the precise date making it too obvious? Should I just have linked it instead?) and I think all of the exposure to my lack of linguistic powers in magyar (That's Hungarian for Hungarian) did me some good.

I was lucky enough to undertake two workshops with the Artist Teacher Exchange at BAC, one with two remarkable and very inspiring Education dudes who wore vests and played African instruments with the best of 'em, and one with Frantic Assembly, a theatre company whose show Peep Show blew my little 19 year old mind when I saw it back in 2002. So I feel all in all like it's been a fortunate month for learning.

One less fortunate piece of news is that the Edinburgh University Settlement had to dissolve due to increased financial pressure from the economic crisis, which means Bristo Hall is up for sale and Forest Cafe is in jeopardy. I believe in this community, in its importance, impact, ripples, and I think it will pull through. Hey - if you like me and like my blog, I suggest you think the same and head on over to their tumblr to donate.

Just click here. On these words, right here.

It's fast and easy and will make you feel good. I guarantee it. Because you'll be part of keeping at least one breath of independent and co-operative artistic business alive somewhere in the world. (In Edinburgh!) And you'll be supporting an organisation that has touched my life and the lives of countless theatre companies, bands, visual artists, writers, masseuses, aspiring chefs and hair stylists over the last ten years. Businesses like Forest don't stay open if we take them for granted - in Edinburgh, glossy soulless coffee shops will always be the default unless we fight for the places that matter. And to quote from a source I can't quite place, everything beautiful is as difficult as it is rare. Organisations like this one don't stay alive without a fight. And it's not someone else's job to put up their dukes. It's our job. And together we can do it. That's the good news.

The Edinburgh University Settlement situation has thrown up a lot of questions for Andy and I about the future of Forest Fringe - so allow me to say publicly to the four friends of mine who read this - Don't worry. We'll be fine. We are survivors. Just like Cher and her cronies, and with much less plastic surgery to boot. However, we have been rethinking our model lately. You can read about it in an open letter that we posted on our blog. Click on Forest Fringe on my blogroll for details...

And finally, my website has launched, but is really very far from complete. The skeleton structure is there, but it's crying out for more details, photographs, media, up-to-date press and more. Soooo... I'm not going to tell you what the website is, because I don't think you should go yet. But let's just say this - the address is really. really. obvious. Like it couldn't be more obvious if I tried. So if you really want to look at a half finished thing, it shouldn't be too difficult. But, four friends, if you want to stay impressed with me, I wouldn't recommend it yet.

(Hear that, Mom?)

It's nice to be back with you Bloggy. Let's never fight again.


Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Music's Been Ruined By Dating 10 Step Handbook

This is long overdue...

In 2008 and 2009 a few of you may remember that I did a performance called "Music's Been Ruined by Dating". It consisted of inviting 4 audience members into a tent made of bedsheets, where we proceeded to session the songs that were ruined by my four most significant ex boyfriends. Writing it down now it all sounds very high fidelity. Well, all those years ago, I Also made a 10 step handbook to help others follow in my footsteps. Having a few friends who are recently single, it seemed like an appropriate time to publish the ole' thing, in hopes that we can all continue to enjoy music without those pesky emotions to drown out the sounds.

Ever wanted to reclaim the music that was ruined by your string of failed relationships?
Are you avoiding your favourite Prince album like it was the plague because it reminds you of the time he told you he cheated on with a girl who wore a raspberry beret?

Does everything on your playlist, even if it’s not supposed to, scream “Heartbreak”?

Well suffer no more… You can chase those musical demons away with the Music’s Been Ruined by Dating 10 Step Handbook.
Listen to “your song” without batting an eyelid! Dance to the ditty she broke up with you to! Never feel anything when you listen to music again! All with the Music’s Been Ruined by Dating 10 Step Handbook!

Step 1:
Make a list of all of your relationships that have ruined music. Not ALL of your relationships – if you went out with someone who was deaf or didn't like music, you’re probably okay – only relationships that took a song, took everything that was great about it, and made the song one big stupid memory that hurts every time you hear it. This is a ruined song.

Step 2:
Put down dates for all of these relationships. For example, if you went out with Jo from October 30th 2005 to November 11th 2006, write Jo, October 2005 – November 2006. Leave out precise dates, because the fact that you remember those will make you feel, well, a bit pathetic.

Step 3:
Now go through an approximate list of all of the music that reminds you of that relationship. Don’t press yourself to be too specific, the internet will help you sort that out later. If the relationship ruined an entire musical artist for you, for example, Bjork, try to pick the most famous and often played Bjork song. This is the song that will exorcise the demons of your past first and most effectively.

Step 4:
Try to group the songs in memorical order (the order that you remember the relationship in, see Annie Hall for guidance) for when exactly in the relationship they were relevant. I recommend putting the songs that remind you of breaking up, or having mistimed sex after breaking up, last. But you need to relive the relationship through the music in an order that makes sense to you.

Step 5:
Get access to a computer with the internet, a cd burner and a downloading engine. I suggest Acquisition. If you do not remember the precise artist of a song but only a line or two, use Google to help answer your questions. These are the songs that have been so ruined you have attempted to block them out completely, but these are also the songs that are the most worth saving. Now Download, download, download!

Step 6:
Play some of the song to yourself on your playlist to make sure it is the right song. DO NOT listen to the song in its entirely, or the exercise will not work as well. You may also notice, at this stage, that some of the music that you believed was “ruined by dating” was actually ruined simply because it is not very good music. Do not worry too much about this – it is important to reclaim all the music and your ability to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Step 7:
Religiously follow your pre-prepared playlist and burn the cd. Do not worry if you were not able to find every song on the internet. In fact, this is a sign that your relationship was more special because your musical taste was more obscure. (ha.) If a song was particularly important to you and you could not find it on the internet, delay your project a day and keep searching. Sometimes that one song really does make or break your playlist.

Step 8:
Listen to the cd. The first time you do this you will find it difficult. This is to be expected. Listen to it all the way through and try to do an activity while listening, like reading or surfing the internet. It is important not to focus too much on the music unless you are particularly moved to.

Step 9:
Listen to the cd again, but this time in a situation where you are sure to ignore it, like at work or at a party. Do not let yourself get sucked into the tunes, but instead enjoy them for their ocular qualities.

Step 10:
You can post your playlist somewhere on the internet if you like. Or make it a mixed cd for a friend. The moral of the story is, we’ve all been there. I can’t listen to “Raspberry Beret” anymore either.

Warning: Do not use an ipod instead of a cd. Your relationship may have ruined music for you, but ipods have ruined music for everyone.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Canadian content blowing my mind

Courtesy of the amazing Magda. Check out her blog here.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

One Minute Manifesto

At Forest Fringe this summer the lovely and quite brilliant Lucy Ellinson did a project called "One Minute Manifestos." We had a minute to read out a manifesto before a buzzer went off. We had a minute to step forward and say what we believed.

On the second night, I was asked to do one, and I'll admit I had quite a hard time asserting what I believed. Maybe I was just feeling particularly cynical that day, but it seemed for that moment that I huddled over my laptop, which was perched on the side of a table I was sharing with loud, chatty punters, overtired from a 16 hour day that was only 3/4 of the way over, I didn't believe in much of anything. And when I did start believing in things, they all came out as being much less positive than my usually sunny disposition would suggest. And yet - the longer I wrote the better I felt. Until finally, the milk of human kindness became my main subject. Sadly, when I read it out, I think the minute was up in the middle of me complaining about the conspiracy of the media.

Well, you got to point out the problems before you can solve them, and sadly, there are too many problems to sum up in a minute. So where do we go from there?

For the curious ones out there... My one minute manifesto. Read out (or at least most of it read out) before Kieran Hurley's wonderful (and refreshingly optimistic) show Hitch on the 12th of August.

I believe that the world is fundamentally corrupt. And when I say the world I don’t mean our communities. When I say the world I mean institutions – any institution – because I believe that the moment that people and lives are made into something that can easily be filed away onto a piece of paper they are not people, they are pieces of paper, and pieces of paper are easy to dispose of, to disappoint, to misfile.

I believe that the only truly beautiful things I own are gifts. I do not believe in buying gifts for myself. But I do believe in ensuring my own survival.

I believe that advertising makes it virtually impossible to be a good person or to do the right thing – I believe we are being constantly exposed to easy options, that we are trapped in a system that does not serve human beings – not good human beings, not bad human beings, in truth it serves no one. And I believe that the people who argue that this is incorrect know that they are lying to themselves. And are not truly happy with what is easy.

I believe that anything worthwhile is as difficult as it is valuable. But that this rule should not apply to the default setting of a relationship.

I believe that we live in a society that is unsustainable, and that change is coming and it won’t be easy.

And I believe that in light of this, nothing is more important than kindness. You will only meet so many people in your life, even if you are aware of these very big, very confusing things. I believe in caring about each other.

I believe we are all at bottom compassionate people who want to build together, who want to work together, who want to care together.

There is a very annoying man next to me who is challenging this belief. But I’m doing my best. I believe in doing your best. He just apologized. I believe he meant it.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

(Re) Accustomed to your ways

Oh boy. It has been a while since we've hung out, hasn't it blogo? I'm sorry. I've been trying to think of something great to say, and yet nothing feels quite right to put out there to the public. I mean, I could tell you about how I actually went to see Les Mis last week at the Barbican and had an inordinately good time, but considering I already mentioned The Counting Crows, who on principle I hate, and kept that mention up on the blog all month, I think we've been through about as much embarassment as this tiny corner of the internet will stand for. I could also tell you, I suppose, about the William Shatner Karaoke Booth I set up at Live Art Speed Dating with Fierce in Birmingham this weekend, but then I'd have to publish the video of my rendition of Blur's "Countryhouse" and that's not merely embarassing, but somewhat painful. I could tell you about how my lovely friend Buchan Bronco and I just spent two hours watching clips of Audrey Hepburn online, or how much trouble I've had giving up facebook, or how I started Anna Karenina and am now at a predictable stand still, but none of this is quite interesting enough, is it?

I wish I had something really profound, or creative, or bold to publish. And yet, we've fallen out of touch, haven't we? Out of habit, and when that happens inevitably the dialogue becomes more stilted, less easy. You need to catch up with each other before you can discuss the real stuff. The stuff that matters. You need to re-accustom yourselves to each other's language, mannerisms, interests. And then the real stuff comes out. It always does. So. So. So...

What have you been up to lately, anyway?

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Edinburgh and everything after

Oh wow. Did I really just reference a Counting Crows album that I mostly try to either pretend I didn't like or forget I did like in the title to this blog posting? Why yes, I certainly did, ladies and germs! There's a little bit of music shame in all of us, and sometimes we're not even sure why.

(Guilty pleasures were pleasing, after all. Hence, the name.)

Sooooo, as the post suggests, every festival I seem to pretty much post quite a lot about Edinburgh in the lead up, then not post at all during the festival itself, then try to sum it up in this kind of a post - usually by saying something like, "It was amazing and impossible to write about all in one go, so no doubt I'll blog about it again in the future." And then I don't really blog about it again in the future and everyone feels a little bit disappointed with my lack of follow through. So this time Kids, I am just going to be straight and say that this post will most likely be my only direct post about Forest Fringe in Edinburgh in 2010. And because I am loathe to summarize wonderful and complicated and tiring things, it will not do anything much justice, but a future promise to blog about it won't do much justice either, so there.

So while we're starting and ending things all in one post, I suppose I should start and end with my personal favourites of the festival. Somehow, amidst all the running around and work and even doing my own show, I managed to have some moments that really inspired me and stuck out to me as a spectator, and those are really the thing that make the whole fringey enterprise worthwhile in the first place. So here's a little run down, in no particular order.

James Baker/Bootworks piece - 30 Days to Space. Also known to locals as "The Spaceman on the Ladder." What was the spaceman doing? Well, James, having reached 24, had to deal with the fact that he would never reach his lifelong goal of being an astronaut. And so he calculated that the distance to Space was approximately 43,700 climbs up one particular ladder, and so he was going to climb this ladder every day for eight hours a day for 30 days over the course of the festival, chalking a star on the wall at the top of every climb. By the end of the festival the foyer of Forest Fringe was covered in thousands of stars, and to think that each of those twinkly scribbles was a climb was nearly as inconceivable as the real space. He reached the summit yesterday, to a resounding applause, a smoke machine, two bottles of champagne, and about 30 people cheering him for the last ten climbs. I've never seen anything like it. It was an event. It started as cute and somewhere in the middle it became heartbreaking then climbed its way to triumphant and beautiful. This is definitely the highlight of my and I think many other people's festivals. Not for the actual performance or spectacle of it, but for the beauty of seeing a modern human try for something important and futile. Nobody spends a lifetime on one corner of a cathedral anymore. But somebody climbs to space on a ladder.

Daniel Kitson's show - It's Always Now Until It's Later. Of course I liked this. It was like the War and Peace of theatre, which is an amusing was to describe anything, but heck, that's how it made me feel. The story was beautiful and the writing was poignant and small and considered as always, but the piece's relationship to its set is what has stayed with me. If you find a way to go see it, I recommend that you do. I like the fact that two of my most vivid Fringe memories involve looking at a man standing in a sea of stars. Of course they bloody do.

And I guess the other two pieces I saw that really knocked my socks off were Littlebulb's show Operation Greenfield, and 2B Theatre's one man monologue (Yes, I said it, a frickin' awesome One Man Monologue) Invisible Atom. For different reasons, I suppose, although it seems that everything I loved this festival dealt in some way with the infinite - with how we can conceive of ourselves on the planet - you know, kind of with faith? It was a good year for big ideas. My favourite kind.

On a personal level, I should probably mention that my show won a Herald Angel and was shortlisted for the Arches Brick Award and a Total Theatre Award for Innovation. But in a lovely turn of fate, I lost both of those awards to Forest Fringe contenders - an incredibly beautiful show called Me and the Machine in which you dance with a woman while wearing virtual reality glasses won the Brick Award, (It was the kind of show that sent you beaming back into the world), and our very own Spaceman won the Total Theatre Award for Innovation, along with some guy named Tim Crouch and a show called Roadkill at some venue named the Traverse. I heard they were both pretty good. (I saw the Author. It is awesome.) So for once in my life I can actually say "It's an honour just being nominated" and mean it! Alone. In my room. Where I sleep with my Herald Angel. It leaves a dent in my cheek when I wake up. Oh how I love that dent.

So all in all a really inspiring and manic and unique and meaningful festival. Impossible to do justice to in one blog post or many. So thank goodness for both of us that I'm sticking to one.

But in all seriousness, if you are reading and you were involved in any way with Forest Fringe as an artist, a volunteer, a supporter, a punter, somebody cheering James up and down the ladder, Thank You. The thing that always inspires me the most about Edinburgh is the boundless generosity of spirit I encounter in one building. That's what makes it my favourite time of year - it's the one time that I know we will all come together and do our best to build something valuable. We work very hard, and then the two weeks are over, and then it's almost as though it never happened. But of course, it did. Just look at all those chalky stars...

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

E-Flyer Fun

I love free trials of Photoshop.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Edinburgh on the horizon- Like You Will Be Soon

Well hello there Blog of yore!

It's been a busy month, and it will no doubt get even busier in less than a week's time when I head up to Edinburgh for Forest Fringey times. I look forward to that kind of busy every year, in kind of a terrified way, the way you might look forward to an exercise class you always just make it through, I know it's good for me, I know I'll have to keep my endurance up, I hope I can keep up with the moves, if I do I'll feel pretty good about myself.

You might be interested in what precisely Forest Fringe and moi have on the go, so I'll run you through it briefly. Okay, well Forest Fringe has been brilliantly programmed this year by the dear Andy with some contributions from myself - if you want to know everything click on the Forest Fringe link on the side of the blog to check out our thinking behind this year's festival. Possibly foolishly, we're aiming for the nearly impossible feat of a more relaxed festival this year, a year that will create a warm, comforting, relaxing space in the midst of the chaos, while also throwing some incredibly exciting pieces of work in, just to keep things interesting. I'm excited about basically everything, so I'm not going to choose favourites. Come to the venue any time if you're in Edinburgh and I can pretty much promise something to delight and confuse you.

And of course, I'm going to be remounting "Like You Were Before" in Alphabet Video, at the other side of Marchmont. I'm excited, I'm nervous, I'm trying to rehearse so that it will be good, oh, I did mention I'm excited and nervous, didn't I? Tomorrow I may even go crazy and get some flyers made, even though I hate flyers. Oh, maybe I'll just scratch that. I was going to get a stamp made and then just make anything close by into a flyer off the cuff. I wonder if it's too late for that? Well, eitherway, if you haven't seen it before you should come see it now, if only because Alphabet Video is a totally amazing, genuine article independent video store, and if you're anything like me, genuine article stores of all kinds sort of make life worth living. Why not stage a show in one?

If you're into that you can book online to see it by clicking on these words. And although artist Debbie would love to take your money, producer Debbie refuses to let her do so, as all events at Forest Fringe are free like the birds who are free. (Because not all birds are free.)

Monday, 5 July 2010

Send a letter to your MP if you mean it

Dear Ms. Bennett,

I voted for you in the last election and it is with the faith that I placed in you to represent me then that I am writing to you now.

You must be aware of the damage and, I wish there were a less extreme way of putting this, police brutality during the G20 summit. Toronto’s mayor and other political representatives have been brushing it off as necessary in exceptional circumstances, but the plethora of videos online, not of a single incident but several assaults all over the city, make it difficult to understand this dismissive attitude towards the treatment of Toronto citizens.

If by any chance you haven’t seen the footage or heard the reports, I encourage you to take some time to watch any of these videos or slideshows:

Of course any media reporting could be subject to selective editing, but the sheer variety of clips available, and the shocking footage (even if it were selectively edited) makes it difficult to deny that in many cases police were severely breaching citizens and media’s rights. From the bullying snatch away of a microphone, to beating Guardian blogger Jesse Rosenfeld, Torontonians feel ashamed of this public show of an attack on Freedom of Speech, and urgently need for the opposition party to recognize this and bring the Conservatives to task.

Perhaps most disturbing are the reports of up to 930 million of the tax payers dollars that are still unaccounted for in the G20 spending. The Liberal sponsorship scandal that prompted a no confidence vote in Parliament was to the tune of $100 million. Now under the veil of transparency the Conservatives need to answer for nine times as much, and the Liberal government has yet to make a statement questioning the most undemocratic spending move in Canadian history. (Not to mention the fact that this spending overshadows the Vancouver Olympics, and where that event brought economic growth and profile to its city, the G20 brought Torontonians property damage, loss of earnings for the weekend, mass unwarranted arrests of its citizens, and shame.)

There are nearly 50,000 members of a Facebook group calling for a public inquiry into the G20 and the numbers are growing. If Canadians have ever needed the opposition party to act swiftly and deliberately in their interests that time is now. As an MP for the city of Toronto please assure us that our outcries are being heard. Do not let our country become known internationally as a “police state”, as so many have called it. Actively challenge claims like those of the recent MacLean’s blogger Paul Wells who wrote that the Liberal party was in coalition with the Conservatives.

As a Liberal voter, I want to believe that yours is a party that is not afraid to hold the Conservatives to task over this, the worst kind of scandal, one done completely out in the open, but in a way that citizens feel they have no power to change or argue with it. You have that power. You represent my constituency. I urge you to use that power and do the right thing.

Yours faithfully,

Deborah Pearson
(My Address here)

PS: I will be posting this letter on my blog and facebook to encourage others to write to their representatives and show their concern.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Simon Borer's letter to Toronto's Mayor

To my Mayor David Miller and my Member of Parliament Olivia Chow,

Hello. I am writing to you today because I believe you are decent and principled people who feel as strongly towards our city, country, and democracy as I do. I wish to communicate to you my hope that you will call for a transparent review of the G20's finances and any possible human rights violations that occurred over this past weekend.

I believe that our nation is only as strong as the rights and freedoms that we as citizens demand be upheld. When a small minority of violent individuals were allowed to run amok without police intervention, every taxpayer in Canada thought the same thing - where has our money gone? The costs to us eclipsed both recent summits and the Vancouver Olympics by orders of magnitude, only for small business owners to be targeted by hooligans without recourse? I hope that you can help protect the rights of the taxpayers and our free & open society by calling for a full audit of the G20 security expenditures.

The following day, we saw the situation reversed. Innocent people were arrested, or worse - trapped in a punishing thunderstorm for three hours, surrounded by a wall of riot police, many unaware of the situation they had stumbled into. There are reports of violence against journalists, always a chilling moment for those of us who believe in democracy. We also have the shameful Ontario Regulation 233/10, the so called "Fence Law", to demand answers for - a law rushed through at the last minute before it could crumble before a constitutional challenge. The list continues, at great length, so it is my hope that you will join with Amnesty International and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, along with so many ordinary citizens, in calling for a full review of any possible human rights violations that may have happened this past weekend.

It is clear to me that mistakes were made. This is understandable - there is a pervasive climate of fear among our leaders today. We have for the last decade allowed them to govern us in a state of exception, sidestepping democratic principles and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Our responsibility now is to demand transparency and accountability from those in power.

I have great faith in both of you. I have followed your careers closely, and truly believe that you are good people, and I believe that both of you, without my encouragement, will be calling for a full independent audit and human rights review of the G20 security. I just wanted to say, preemptively, I knew you'd do the right thing.


Simon Borer
150 Bellwoods Ave
Toronto, ON

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Turns out I like So many youtube videos!

So I'm in Toronto this weekend leading a workshop for Volcano and the U of T Centre for Ethics called "InFORMING Content" which examines the relationship between experimental theatre and ethics. Ethicists give lectures and the workshop participants, all theatremakers, respond to the talks with formally inventive theatre. Today was really invigorating. I'm very excited to see what the results of the experiments are tomorrow evening.

As part of my talk I decided to show a few examples of work that gets me going in the UK and Europe, and as a result quite a few youtube videos came about. I thought for the interested blog-readers I might share/embed some of those here. A few of these people have worked with Forest Fringe, a few of them haven't, but they all make work that is innovative enough that it can freak out and excite a room of drama students in Canada:

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Mountains and getting started

Hello Bloggy Friends!

So it is the first day of this wonderful month and this internet thing of mine is obviously very much on my mind. I am currently in Banff, at the Banff Centre doing a programme called the "Playwrights Colony." The idea of living in a colony is both terrifying and very sweet, and the reality of it is neither, really. Well it is sweet if we're to take the 90s slang use of the word: Super Sweet. But it certainly feels as though I'm here to do something, even if I'm having a hard time getting around to the thing that it is I'm supposed to be doing. Writing a Play. There are plenty of other things to focus on in the meantime. I have been swimming in the pool once, done a yoga class (the fact that procrastination could actually push me towards a fitness regime, even such a half *ssed one is incredible) I've watched four movies, including Pretty Woman in French on television. (Une Jolie Femme. Which is much improved by replacing Julia Roberts' voice with an elegant french woman's.) I've been in a fellow playwrights reading, started strategically planning my meal plans to get the most out of the allotted amount of money we're given each day, spoken on skype several times with my partner in crime and crime fighting - AND, had a dream that this very blog was turned into a porn site, which horribly became much more popular than it currently is. (Which makes sense.)

Basically what I'm saying here is that I've been here for four days and I've accomplished a whole lot that isn't writing.

But this isn't to say that I'm not preparing to write. I think I may be. I think at this point I've had to accept that procrastinating is part of my process. And in this case it doesn't feel as much like procrastinating as it feels like - getting ready.

I've got two weeks left here and I've got to say that this is the kind of place that is obviously geared towards that moment when you drop everything and stop living so that you can be writing. Maybe that intimidates me a little. Okay, replace maybe for probably, and replace probably for "of course it does." BUT I also feel that there is an energy here that I need to pause, rest, stop to catch - like a radio frequency - I know it's here, I'm just trying to tune into it.

In the meanwhile I have (surprisingly) been spending less time on the internet than I usually do, even though it's always here, waiting for me in my room at the end of a long day. I've also been sleeping less than I'd expect. And My Gawd, I've actually been using my gym membership. I think that all of these facts can only foreshadow positive things. A kind of living for the present that brings writing into it somehow. Not unlike how things were in Greece - but much quieter, more introverted, and geared towards that.

I'm excited to start. I'll let you know when I do.

In the meantime, I just saw the Shop Around The Corner and it blew my little mind.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Little Things

So the blog has been real heavy on the work related chat lately, hasn't it? Allow me for a moment to pull back on that and just get into the little things - the things that make life worthwhile. (Doesn't BAC have a festival called "52 reasons for living?" Oh MAn. You promised NOT to chat about work.) Anyway here are a few things that made me happy this week.

1) When I saw two dogs wrestling by Columbia Road market. One was very very big and the other was very little. (Yes, they were wrestling. Not sexy wrestling. Just the regular kind. A group of people gathered to watch. They'll attest to it.)

2) When the boy I tutor wanted to take a five minute break to read me the short story he wrote in class. And the writing was good. Like really good.

3) When my friend Al and I drunkenly discussed breasts at 4am.

4) When my friend Nils and I went for curry and he said: "I bet they serve curry in heaven." Twice.

5) When my friend Daniel left a message on my voice mail in a very professional tone of voice, reminding me that he recently beat me at chess. I laughed out loud on the street and a man in a suit stared at me.

6) This:

7) Enthusiasm. In general. Zealousness. I just wanted to write the word Zealous. I know it was quite unnecessary after writing "enthusiasm", but have you ever typed out Zealous? Try it. It's awesome.

It's the little things that get you.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Safety Dance

Just so you know, on the well meaning advice of mr. Ed Rapley and Littlebulb, both who saw a rehearsal of the show last night and gave me some feedback - there is now...

A Dance.

There used to be this very Live Arty meets Bob Dylan sequence where I held up a series of Flashcards that described a dance, because, you know, it's way better to describe a dance than to actually see it. But the friends complained that this was too cliched, and so now I attempt to do what the flashcards describe.

I'll say no more. If you're coming you'll see it. If not, you can pretend you saw it by reading these flashcards:

To the song "Pictures" by Galaxie 500:

Sign: This isn’t the end of the show.

Sign: I just felt like you guys needed to see something a bit different in this part.

Sign: If I were a dancer I’d be doing a dance right now.

Sign: if you can pretend that I’m doing a dance right now I’d really appreciate it.

Sign: I only usually dance when I’m alone or really drunk.

Sign: First I’d be Doing some sort of physical gesture that seemed appropriate to the subject matter of the show.

Sign: I’d want it to be subtle though, so that you might even be like, is she really dancing?

Sign: Maybe I’m just imagining it?

Sign: Then I’d kind of do something bigger, only slightly bigger, but not as subtle as the first dance step.

Sign: So you’d know you definitely weren’t imagining it.

Sign: And now is when I’d really bring it full throttle and do something big and grand and beautiful.

Sign: So right now you’d be feeling really inspired and excited for me to keep going.

Sign: You might even be crying.

Sign: If you could pretend that’s what I’m doing right now I’d really appreciate it.

Sign: That was a dance interlude.

Sign: In case you were wondering what that was.

See? That's exactly what I will *actually* do. AND I'm gonna get drunk on stage right before I do it. Can't wait.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

People being nice...

Hi there Bloggy friends!

So you may have noticed a dirth of posts lately. Apologies on that front. I've been real busy. Last week was the Forest Fringe Microfestival at the Arches where I did the first showing of the beginnings of "Like You Were Before." Responses have all been really positive. I'm working on something that I'm excited to keep going with. Here are my two favourite bits of chat. I really loved this response from Mary Brennan of The Herald:

"Deborah Pearson’s Like You Were Before is about her own past – it features video of her last day before leaving Canada for the UK – but the footage of her friends, her voicing-over her previous words, as if trying to re-enter the frame, her asides about the background to people and places all have a tremendously moving universality. The camaraderie, the farewells; the bright-eyed, youthful faces: Pearson’s camera catches it, holds it. We all share the bittersweet ache that stirs with recollections of moments we’ll never have again."

And this from a Glasgow Art Blog called "Central Station":

"Using video and live performance she took us on a trip back into her past but articulated a something about us all, moments lost, people we were and how we sometimes forget the transition from young adult into full fledge … Adult

Introduced as a work in progress, I enjoyed the subtle and difficult thing she was taking on. Maybe slightly long but it made my friend sitting next to me, laugh and cry…I think that qualifies as success."

Okay, one more bit of someone saying something nice, just while I'm on the topic. (And I so rarely indulge in this kind of shameless behaviour, I feel like I've nearly earned it!)

I found this really lovely post on "Something Very Quiet is About To Happen" which was on in March at the Battersea Library with BAC. There's nothing like reading somebody whispering on the internet about your work, especially when the whisper takes the piece and reflects it back to you. This girl didn't only "get it", she got things I wasn't even aware of. Really lovely.

Click on this to read it.

Nice people and constructive feedback. This isn't the only thing that makes you keep going, but it certainly helps.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Waiting for Elmo

A play so wonderful and so stunning that it makes absolutely no sense.
I wish I could put that on my next flyer.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Rewinding and fast forwarding a memory

So allow me to declare for the first time here on the blog that in about two and a half weeks I will be presenting my first scratch at the Arches of a piece I will also be presenting at the BAC upcoming Scratch Festival - called "Like You Were Before."

"Like You Were Before" is, at the moment, just about as "in progress" as a thing gets - I'm still working, I'm still writing, and I'm trying to do something difficult. I want to make a show about the fact that time - um - keeps going. Which is no doubt something we all know anyway, and probably something we all also do our best to either forget or deal with. By taking a piece of video and dissecting and contrasting it as record and a memory, well, I'm hoping to get at something. Something frickin' profound. Yes, that's right. In my next piece I am hoping to illuminate the mysteries of time and space and everything else! But for now I'm just trying to get the script done.

Come and see it if you're in Glasgow for the Forest Fringe Microfestival, or if you're in London May 5th, 6th or 7th. I'm going to, like, memorize stuff and talk to an audience and stuff, which is weird for me, but also exciting. You might want to be there.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Early Morning Blog Post

The sun floods in through the windows by my bed, and seems to ask that I write some sort of manifesto for the day. Surely this moment before you've really done anything in your day is the most important time to remind yourself of what you intend to do every day, what you chip away bit by bit in increments.


Hello March 23rd, 2010. We've never met before. And we never will again. So let's make the most of this whirlwind thing we have ahead of us. Let's do our best to make each other proud. Here are my expectations of you:

1. That I do some more work on my Arches/BAC piece - good work, not the bad kind. That's no good for anyone.

2. That I do a little bit of reading. Alexandria Quartet, here I come! (We're through with War and Peace now. Reading it is probably in the top ten things I've ever done. It was like visiting a cathedral or I imagine like seeing the pyramids. This is what human beings can do, this is how far we can go.)

3. That I take a risk. I'm not a risky person in general, and without a bit of risk, where does the life part come in?

4. That I get to my job interview on time.

5. That I go to the theatre tonight with an open perspective, but as Tassos Stevens once wisely advised me, expecting it to disappoint me, so that maybe then it can surprise me.

6. Okay, here's the last one. That I do something good for somebody. (At least one thing.)

Do listing these things make them more or less likely to happen? That really seemed more like a to-do list than a manifesto for the day.

Okay Day Manifesto part deux: Smile, Laugh, Laugh at yourself, Laugh with others, Reach out to people, Embrace when they reach out to you, Try being honest about good things, things that embarass you, Embrace the unexpected, Be ready to throw plans out the window, and Do the Day Proud.

Oh what a cringey blog post. I think I'll publish it anyway. Yeah, that's right March 23rd. Today I commit to the cringe, for better or for worse. I assume that's what you meant by risky.

Monday, 22 March 2010

A friend of mine called up to say he'd found something wonderful online...

This is what he'd found:

Apparently it was done in one take and it took nearly eighty tries to get it right. If you look carefully you can see the broken extras from times they tried before.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

So Sentimental

This clip is so two weeks ago, you might say.

You're a jerk, I might say. Kids singing with hand motions is timeless.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

To all my Live Art Speed Dates on Saturday...

If you've happened upon this website through the STK International website after Saturday, I just wanted to let you know that I meant every word, and I've even made you a picture to show you how much I meant it.

Now let's never meet.

Today's hilariously accurate overheard remark...

A short man's reply to a tall man outside of a terrible looking club on Old street:

"But we're in Shoreditch, mate. Nothing's right in Shoreditch."

(I attach a picture of an art gallery in Shoreditch to demonstrate how truly right this man is.)

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Everybody knows.

I wonder if somewhere, deep down, we all know how to be our best selves - the selves we'd like to be. We just forget so often, and the only way to make us remember is to rephrase it in grand, bright, sweeping, but new language, language we haven't heard before. This is when language ignites us - when it reminds us of something in a way that feels new. (Sometimes, refer to the image above, we are asked to remember something obvious, ancient and precious, but something that for some reason many people have decided not to remember in a long time, maybe ever, and that, if you let them turn their back on it, they will decide to try to forget again.) Words that ignite are usually best when phrased in language that leaves no room for doubt, no room for hesitation - but tells us, in the imperative, a simple truth. This is how to live life properly, you know it, you've always known it, it's obvious, I've just reminded you - so now Go. Live it.

Well here's what I've found about performance that reminded me and made me new:

The following essay contains Magic. It may even contain the power to change you, to inspire you, to remind you of something and to make you see or feel or approach something differently. Proceed with eyes full of caution and wonder.

How to speak poetry
by Leonard Cohen

Take the word butterly. To use this word it is not necessary to make the voice weigh less than an ounce or equip it with small dusty wings. It is not necessary to invent a sunny day or a field of daffodils. It is not necessary to be in love, or to be in love with butterflies. The word butterfly is not a real butterfly. If you confuse these two items people have the right to laugh at you. Do not make so much of the word. Are you trying to suggest that you love butterflies more perfectly than anyone else, or really understand their nature? The word butterfly is merely data. It is not an opportunity for you to hover, soar, befriend flowers, symbolize beauty and frailty, or in any way impersonate a butterfly. Do not act out words. Never act out words. Never try to leave the floor when you talk about flying. Never close your eyes and jerk you head to one side when you talk about death. Do not fix your burning eyes on me when you speak about love. If you want to impress me when you speak about love put your hand in your pocket or under your dress and play with yourself. If ambition and the hunger for applause have driven you to speak about love you should learn how do it without disgracing yourself or the material.

What is the expression which the age demands? The age demands no expression wathever. We have seen photographs of bereaved Asian mothers. We are not interested in the agony of your fumbled organs. There is nothing you can show on your face that can match the horror of this time. Do not even try. You will only hold yourself up to the scorn of those who have felt things deeply. We have seen newsreels of humans in the extremities of pain and dislocation. Everyone knows you are eating well and are even being paid to stand up there. You are playing to people who have experienced a catastrophe. This should make you very quiet. Speak the words, convey the data, step aside. Everyone knows you are in pain. You cannot tell the audience everything you know about love in every line of love you speak. Step aside and they will know what you know because they know it already. You have nothing to teach them. You are not more beautiful than they are. You are not wiser. Do not shout at them. Do not force a dry entry. That is bad sex. If you show the lines of your genitals, then deliver what you promise. And remember that people do not really want an acrobat in bed. What is our need? To be close to the natural man, to be close to the natural woman. Do not pretend that you are a beloved singer with a vast loyal audience which has followed the ups and downs of your life to this very moment. The bombs, flame-throwers, and all the shit have destroyed more than just the trees and villages. They have also destroyed the stage. Did you think that your profession would escape the general destruction? There is no more stage. There are no more footlights. You are among the people. Then be modest. Speak the words, convey the data, step aside. Be by yourself. Be in your own room. Do not put yourself on.

This is an interior landscape. It is inside. It is private. Respect the privacy of the material. These pieces were written in silence. The courage of the play is to speak them. The discipline of the play is not to violate them. Let the audience feel your love of privacy even though there is no privacy. Be good whores. The poem is not a slogan. It cannot advertise you. It cannot promote your reputation for sensitivity. You are not a stud. You are not a killer lady. All this junk about the gangsters of love. You are students of discipline. Do not act out the words. The words die when you act them out, they wither, and we are left with nothing but your ambition.

Speak the words with the exact precision with which you would check out a laundry list. Do not become emotional about the lace blouse. Do not get a hard-on when you say panties. Do not get all shivery just because of the towel. The sheets should not provoke a dreamy expression about the eyes. There is no need to weep into the handkerchief. The socks are not there to remind you of strange and distant voyages. It is just your laundry. It is just your clothes. Don't peep through them. Just wear them.

The poem is nothing but information. It is the Constitution of the inner country. If you declaim it and blow it up with noble intentions then you are no better than the politicians whom you despise. You are just someone waving a flag and making the cheapest appeal to a kind of emotional patriotism. Think of the words as science, not as art. They are a report. You are speaking before a meeting of the Explorers' Club or the National Geographic Society. These people know all the risks of mountain climbing. They honour you by taking this for granted. If you rub their faces in it that is an insult to their hospitality. Tell them about the height of the mountain, the equipment you used, be specific about the surfaces and the time it took to scale it. Do not work the audience for gasps and sighs. If you are worthy of gasps and sighs it will not be from your appreciation of the event, but from theirs. It will be in the statistics and not the trembling of the voice or the cutting of the air with your hands. It will be in the data and the quiet organization of your presence.

Avoid the flourish. Do not be afraid to be weak. Do not be ashamed to be tired. You look good when you're tired. You look like you could go on forever. Now come into my arms. You are the image of my beauty.

Coming Up - Something Very Quiet is About to Happen

March 2nd, 3rd and 4th at the Battersea Library for the BAC at 6pm and 7pm. Here's a sneaky preview...

Found in a reference book from the 1980s or earlier. Something like “A Guide to the Scottish Highlands.”

Hello! It’s been a long time I’ve been staying quiet. There have been scratchy hands, soft hands, delicate hands, indifferent hands, now your hands, which aren’t much different from all the others, if we’re being honest. If we’re being honest, yours are nearly indecipherable from all the others. They do seem to be in a bit of a hurry. Like all the other hands. I’ve tried to get used to that. I’ve had a lot of people hold me with hurried hands. People who have underlined, then erased me. They’re not the worst of course. The worst would have to be the last few people – most everyone I’ve met in the last ten years. I’ve moved around a lot lately, you see, and I mostly end up sitting on someone’s shelf because I’m illustrated, gathering dust. Never getting touched. Never getting used. I was even in a box full of other books just like me owned by an interior decorator for a while, and she’d put me up on shelves lined with others, like me but different, and take pictures of us together in odd places in rooms. It was very embarrassing. A lot of words would go around at times like that, a lot of hands shifting and reshifting me, never opening me, no no no, just touching me, reshuffling me, in too much of a hurry. It’s been a long time, you see, since I’ve been held.

And believe it or not, I’ve only twice been read from cover to cover. Once it was by a young woman, I thought she was one of those decorators, buying me to fill her shelves, because of the picture on my cover. And then one day, out of nowhere, she picked me up in a way that felt very determined, and she opened me up at the very first page, the very first page, she read the introduction, the thankyous, everything, and every few days for about three months she read me. She was quite slow, but I didn’t mind that. In fact, I quite liked it. Sometimes she would even stop reading, hold me in her lap, and just look up and think. I liked that part very much. I could always tell when she was going through the motions, when she wasn’t really interested, when she wasn’t paying attention. I learned her movements well. Her hands would go limp and indifferent, and sometimes she’d nod into me, but I didn’t mind that either, because she would always flip me back a few pages and go much slower than before. She was determined to know everything I had to offer, and I liked that. I especially liked it because she took me to India, and to her friend’s cottage by the lake where I was nearly dropped in the water, but saved in the nick of time by a little boy in a red cap. And she would often fall asleep reading me in bed, where I’d rest beneath her pillow. This is probably regular fare for the other books. The fiction, those smug bastards on those shelves over there. But for me, this kind of attention was very special. An older academic who referred to me often also read me from cover to cover, lovingly, well held, but he was used to that kind of thing. He had me and many others like me, and he pored over all of us, equally. But this young woman, it was something about her determination and the surprise of her attention that charmed me. When I would get lost beneath her pillow and feel the fabric gently shifting up and down on top of me I felt whole and right and purposeful. I have to admit, and perhaps it is embarrassing, but I have to admit that now, every time I am picked up, browsed through, which isn’t very often in this endless, dusty place, I find it very hard not to harbour a kind of hope – a kind of impossible hope – that maybe this person, maybe this hand, maybe they will hold me again and decide to know me for everything I have to offer. You see, it’s sad, but I don’t think I deal very well with these sorts of casual encounters.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

The Controversy of reading War and Peace when you're under employed

I've been getting major guff lately for reading War and Peace, I suppose because I'm freelance and really need to be looking for work rather than hanging out with the Rostovs. But Come On! I only live once, and War and Peace is on countless top ten lists as being one of the best novels ever written. I'm half way through now and constantly terrified that there may be a nuclear holocaust or that I may get into a terrible accident before I finish it. I've thought about making a piece of performance art about reading War and Peace, it has started to feel so odd and subversive. The crux of the show would be this:

The first half took a long time. I have a feeling the second half won't. I know all the main characters now. I know what I'm doing. It'll fly by. And this, my friends, in every way, mirrors our lifespans in the most terrifying way.

(My friend Rose suggested moving to Chile for 3 months to slow life down. The equivalent of reading a short story by a different author in a different language. But War and Peace will sneak back in. Nobody leaves that kind of book after 700 pages, no matter how terrified they are that it might end.)

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Welcome back to 2010

Okay, okay, so here's your probable question - "Miss Pearson - Where the *heck* were you?" (I'm doing you now. Excuse the funny accent.) "I only read this blog because you post relatively often, it's not for the quality, oh no, it's for the consistency, because obviously you prioritize one over the other - and suddenly you swan off like it ain't even a deal, and you just stop posting for a month. So you know what I did? I walked out on you. In fact. I'm not even reading you now. I'm not. This is just you typing imagining what I would say because I, seriously, seriously, stopped reading when you stopped posting. How do you like that? Just a voice in your head from now on. That's all you can expect from me." Oh boy, that's horrifying. Can you stop now?

Right, basically for those of you who don't know me personally and therefore reasonably wondered what was up, I went on a break from what I (briefly - thank goodness) termed the leisurenet. Which means any use of the internet that is primarily with the objective of wasting time - which I counted as facebook, wikipedia trolling, twitter, but not email, because I use that for work. What was odd is that I had to ask myself whether this blog counted as work or leisure - and I think nicely for both of us, it's leisure. So no fun until now, dear friends. But now I'm back and ready to rock.

So - let's start with what I've seen since 2010 - Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Novello, and Innocence at the Arcola.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - let's put it this way, on the scale from awesome to not awesome, the rating for this one is definitely not awesome. NA. The set was distracting, the acting was poorly directed (I often felt that the actors were saying lines without exploring the meaning behind those lines. I hate to be a stickler for actioning - which means assigning every line an actionin the rehearsal room, but in a pressure cooker play I'm convinced it is essential that the audience feels a conversation has directive, and when a director doesn't use actioning it's always more obvious than when they do) and the space, a gilt proscenium arch, made the play itself feel tired, which is unfortunate, because Streetcar Named Desire at the Donmar showed me that a revival could be absolutely fresh. Not so with Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - it was stale as your grandmother's attic. Everything interesting was hidden in a corner somewhere or covered in dust.

One fun thing that did come out of the experience was based on a suggestion of Andy Field's - making a piece based on a classic you haven't seen about what you think probably happens in the play. My version of the play was not unlike Hedda Gabler - expect it in the next post.

Now on to Innocence - which does rate as Awesome. Why is it that Germans and Americans are much more consistently playful with form in text based shows? With the exception of Martin Crimp, Tim Crouch and Anthony Nielsen, I just feel like I want to see plays in the UK give the audience more credit in terms of how far we are willing to follow a story, and how absurd we are willing to let it get. I think that contemporary audiences are craving more play in their plays. The excitement in the crowd when the characters in Innocence started narrating each other's thoughts was palpable. We were confused - yes - a little confused - but we were engaged, having fun, and always confident that the piece would reach a satisfying conclusion, which it definitely did. I would highly recommend both my writerly and non-writerly friends go see this as an example of how well risks can pay off in a piece of writing. I'm just so tired of realism I'm practically unconscious. Innocence sounded alarm bells. Thank goodness.

Okay those are my theatre thoughts for 2010 so far. I still maintain that I don't really blog about theatre, except in 2010, when I sometimes I do.

A scene in which I nearly commit to New York

With the Under the Radar festival at the Public Theatre in full swing it seemed particularly apt that I post this little nugget on the blog as the first offering of 2010. I wrote this just before leaving New York city after a week's stay at the end of November last year.

New York and I are walking hand in hand. We come upon Penn Station.

Me: So. This is my stop.

NY: Sorry?

Me: I’ve got to go home. I’ve got a bus to catch.

NY: Waitaminute, you’re going?

Me: Well, yeah. I told you I was only here for a few –

NY: You’re not staying?

Me: No, I mean, I’ve got a bus to –

NY: I know all about your bus.

Me: So?

NY: It’s just – like – I was so nice to you.

Me: Well, yeah. We had a great time.

NY: I mean, I’m usually a real bitch to people, did you know that?

Me: I – I’ve heard, but - It’s just, this was never meant to be a permanent - I always told you I lived somewhere else

NY: Yeah that bitch London.

Me: She’s not that bitch, she’s my bitch.

NY: She’s emotionally abusing you. It’s such a joke. You can’t even see it.

Me: That may be true, but –

NY: You never stop complaining about her. How do you think she’d like it if she knew all the horrible things you say about her when she’s not around?

Me: She does know. She’s okay with it. That’s sort of the way we roll.

NY: And besides, everybody likes me better.

Me: Well, I’m not everybody.

(Pause. NY takes this in.) Whatever. Do you really think I need you? I’ve got the most famous and powerful people in the world at my beck and call.

Me: I know.

NY: So I don’t need you.

Me: I know.

NY: And I’m usually a real bitch, did you know that? You should be kissing my feet for showing you such a good time.

Me: You said that.

NY: Bowing down and kissing them.

I kiss NY’s hand.

NY: But… you said you loved me?

I do. And I’ll miss you. Thank you for this.

NY: Well that’s fine cause I’ll forget all about you.

Me: I know you will. But thanks all the same.