Our contributors have done incredible work this year. Below are the ten most popular Intermission articles of 2017, plus ten other great pieces we think you should check out.
The 10 Most Popular Articles of 2017
“I began working on another scene where I played a scorned girlfriend. At one point, after watching the scene, my acting teacher sat quietly before offering advice along the lines of: “We want to love you.” I nodded obediently as I tried to understand. He continued, “When you play Juliet, the audience wants to love you, we want to feel for you. We want to see you cry.” This is how I remember him speaking. He tried to get me to find the vulnerabilities of my character. What I heard was, “We want to see women cry.” I started to wonder if I was loveable enough to be playing a lover, and it became the role I chased, the one I romanticized. As other girls stepped into the role of Miss Julie or performed wild monologues from The Skriker, I could not shake the simple need to be desired.”
“Acting is more than just speaking lines while moving feet; it’s an emotional and energetic experience. As actors, we are asked to dive inside the minds and hearts of our characters, live their lives and feel their feelings. Often, we meet these characters at intense moments in their stories, when they are changing or struggling in some way, and then we live with them in this state. Over and over, throughout rehearsals and the run of the show, we revisit their emotional arc.
It’s hard for our characters’ emotions to not permeate our own minds. And it can be hard for us to leave those feelings behind when we walk off stage. The problem is that if we don’t, they will follow us back into our everyday lives.”
“We expected that the likely box office result would be somewhere in the middle, with most people opting for the $25 and $5 prices but enough people choosing the higher-priced options, bumping up the average price to a number that would make the pricing structure work.
So how did we do? Before we get into the nitty gritty of the numbers, I should say that this level of public sharing of financial or statistical info is rare and comes with the same icky feeling as when telling strangers your salary. That said, our ultimate goal with the model, and with sharing this data, is to increase accessibility in the theatre, and we hope that others will follow suit.”
“I take my marker and go searching for the ever-dreaded and seemingly inevitable stage direction SHE CRIES.
Or… SHE WEEPS.
Or better yet… SHE SOBS UNCONTROLLABLY.
Crossing out those stage directions has become a necessity. Not because I can’t relate to them: I cry, I weep, and on occasion I do sob uncontrollably. I’m not implying women don’t or shouldn’t. But I grow tired of reading scripts that suggest all women react to conflict or turmoil in the same way.”
5. Jesse LaVercombe, “Life’s Too Short to Be a Douchenozzle: Ten Ways to (Not) Alienate Other Actors”
“If you’re on a group chat about an event or get-together and you can’t make it because you’re on set, don’t say it’s because you’re on set.
“Hey guuuuys, I’d LOVE to be there, but I’m just on set that day… soooo I’m not sure when I’ll be free. MAJOR #fomo if I can’t make it. Kisses.”
You have the subtlety of a bulldozer. Thank them for the invite, say you’re busy, and wish your acquaintances (who aren’t making $1300 that day) the best.”
“For the next three years, Jon rounded out his work with freelance editing projects and part-time teaching at York. But as NOW grew, he found himself spending less time teaching and freelancing and more time at the magazine. Eventually, it turned into a full-time job where he could make money, take care of himself, and indulge his passion for theatre.
‘Part of me is this passionate person who would go to the theatre even if it wasn’t a job,’ Jon says. Theatre tells him more about himself than any other art form; it shows him things he might have known but had forgotten and introduces him to new ways of looking at the world.‘Theatre is something that touches my soul and helps me grow. I want to feel something. If I don’t, then theatre isn’t working for me.’”
“I am Black and I am exhausted. Exhausted of feeling like an inconvenience for casting. Exhausted of being treated like an exotic animal in a zoo. I applied to theatre school to train as an actor and yet every day feels more like training to be a civil rights activist.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion: three words that should mean so much to me as a Black woman pursuing a career in theatre. But, frankly, I am not sure I know what they mean anymore. I have heard them so many times that their true definitions are slowly beginning to fade.”
“I would find the walls inside my apartment moving, which a logical brain knows never happens. Your walls don’t move. But literally, literally, walls were moving towards me. I was standing outside of my body. I could see myself from above the ceiling. I was in a state of such pure shock.
As I’m telling you this, it makes no sense. I’m aware of that. If somebody who’s mentally healthy hears what I’m saying, it makes no sense. If you say to somebody, I am outside of my body watching myself, it makes no sense. But that’s just the reality of the brain. I could actually zoom out of my own body and watch it.”
“Audiences still come to Shakespeare for a reason. The poetry, the imagery of that still brings audiences. I wouldn’t want to translate it into everyday ASL. People are going to buy tickets. They want to see the real thing. They want to be inspired and immersed in that world. And so I need to really perfect the visual musicality of those translations.”
“I have to assume that I am not the only actor to consider Tom Rooney their favourite. He’s exceptionally skilled, of course, but he is also exceptionally present. He is exceptionally alive. Being on stage with Tom doesn’t feel like being on stage with anybody else. He cares so deeply about the play. He cares so deeply about the story.
I’d never spent as much time, through the course of a run, in such continuous dialogue with another actor about what we were doing up there. Is this moment still working? Is it clear? Should it be this instead? What if we try this? I felt like we were actively working together, every show, to further hone our scenes, our relationship. I can be fairly rigourous in my own work by myself, but I don’t think I’d ever felt such rigour in partnership with another actor before. It was thrilling and I savoured every second of it. I loved two-show days because it meant more of that. It meant more time on stage with Tom.”
10 More Articles You Should Check Out
We published so much we’re proud of this year, and highlighting only ten articles feels like we’re not doing justice to all the creative people and great writing that’s been published in 2017. Here are some other favourites from this year.
“Far from heroes, these are women who experience patriarchy as their drug, and whose actions seductively reveal how brutal patriarchy’s endgames can be for people of all genders. (They are the women who voted for Trump, says cast member Laura Condlln. They are the women who join ISIS, counters cast member Jasmine Chen.)”
“Hamilton is going through a renaissance. We’re not ‘Steel Town’ anymore. This little big city is a forty-five-minute drive down the 403 from Toronto; take that car another ten minutes off the highway and up James Street North, and a loud phrase painted across a stretch of sidewalk says it all: ‘Art is the new steel.’”
“In those early days, I couldn’t feel any rage, much less express it. I would just work out a lot, dance a lot, write a lot, walk a lot. I’m a pretty fast walker; walking fast helps me untangle the mess in my head. Late at night, I would walk up and down Harbourfront—the water reminded me of being near the Burrard Inlet back in my hometown of Port Moody, B.C.—trying to fast-walk away the deep, lurking ache in my chest.
Some nights I would take the subway from end to end—Downsview to Finch—just to have the impression I was moving away from the feeling that followed me everywhere.”
“A visible disability is likely the first thing people see and the first thing they ask about. Nearly every director I have worked with has asked me questions like, ‘Can you jump?’ and ‘How about run?’ Every time, I have responded with, ‘Tell me what you need me to do. Direct me. If I can’t do what you want I’ll tell you and then we can figure it out.’ (Also: I can run and jump, yes.)”
“There’s a psychological component to the job when it comes to managing your expectations. You hope to get onstage so that the work you’ve done can be seen and appreciated. But you don’t want to go on if it means some disaster befalling the actor you’re covering. Bad karma. Bad actor-karma. And then there’s the possibility of that last-minute call telling you the actor is stuck in traffic at the airport… or whatever… and you’re on in 90 minutes. Honestly, my greatest concern was that I wouldn’t have time to blow dry my hair or shave my legs. I could imagine no greater horror than Clive Owen running his hands over my unshaved leg. That was a recurring nightmare.”
“I fall squarely in the age demographic that both religious institutions and the theatre need to attract. I’m an atheist theatre school graduate, raised by secular Jewish theatre artists, so my perspective on this issue is certainly skewed in one direction. However, like many atheists, I am fascinated by religion and its influence on both society and individuals. And I have a lifelong love-hate relationship with Toronto theatre. Having recently returned from a long acting hiatus and a brief foray into the corporate world in China, these thoughts and questions were inspired by the arrival of a new church in my neighbourhood of Kensington Market.”
“In a fog, I make my way to the office where Vikki is holding our hostage: the young man who rented the theatre last night to host an ‘emerging artist showcase’ event. A showcase for teen and preteen musicians, with no alcohol allowed, the contract had specified. In a final act of poor judgement, he had returned this morning to retrieve a sweater he’d left behind. Vikki dials the number for his parents as I hold up the condom I peeled off the bottom of my shoe.
I look him in the eyes.
‘I’m just… disappointed,’ I say.”
“Weyni directed me in 2010 in my first stage play, a remount of her award-winning production of A Raisin in the Sun at Soulpepper, and, to this day, no director has ever been tougher. I knew she was taking a chance on a ‘green’ newcomer like me, so I was off-book before rehearsals began (at her recommendation), would sit through everyone’s rehearsals, memorized the entire play, and still the notes were relentless in both their consistency and precision. At the time, I didn’t understand why she was being so hard on me in particular but, in retrospect, I think she was preparing me for the world of theatre much like my mother prepared me for the world at large, within the reality all people of colour know well: that if you want to make it, you’re going to have to work twice as hard. On opening night, both in our dresses and heels, I remember her taking my hand and looking into my eyes. ‘That’s it. You did it.’ And I knew she meant it.”
“We don’t have a theatrical scene in Canada that actually looks like Canada, yet. Everyone’s working to make that happen, I think. And there’s been a lot more push to include Indigenous voices and Indigenous stories, but what that creates is also the idea that people are trying to appropriate our stories… again.”
10. Danny Ghantous, “Masculinity and Shakespearean Fuckboys”
“Demetrius is the epitome of how we teach young men to love. He takes advantage of the male-dominated society in which he lives, and, in the end, he wins.
This is not a story we need to tell in 2017. This is not the type of man that young boys should aspire to be, or that young girls should be willing to withstand.
I sought to justify the actions of my character. For myself. For the production. For my audience.”