The Prairie Perspective #3 — Learn

Dear friends,

This past week has been quite an adventure for me, and I want to share my struggles and triumphs with you.

In every new city one encounters that there are unspoken rules, local ways of doing things that you can only become familiar with in time. There are also natural rules that change drastically from west to prairie to east coast. These rules, I assure you, are tried and true.
Here are some of those rules in random order of importance:

1. Never travel to a city located beside a body of water without an an umbrella. You will get caught in a torrential downpour and the rain will wash all of your mascara down your face, making you look slightly more “Dark Knight” than is socially acceptable. Every time.
2. In Halifax, cars will stop for you at a cross-walk no matter how fast they are going, how far away they are. J-walking is unnecessary and if attempted you will be honked at and nearly hit by the one and only mean driver in Halifax in the shiny blue Toyota Corolla. Fact.
3. It is a habit of mine to take a new route to a recurring destination each time I go. You never know what cool gems (stores, historic sites, landmarks, friends) you will find on the way. When attempting this the first couple of times, be sure one’s phone is charged and GoogleMaps is accessible, for indeed you may find far more gems and spend far more time with them than you expected.
4. As a general rule, wait no less than one hour to decide that you are hungry after eating again and ordering a giant poutine from Smoke’s. You will not finish that poutine, and you will figure out it was probably a bad idea.
5. The McLobster is not a myth. It exists. It is a real thing.
6. Always go to used bookstores first, when looking for a specific book. For in sooth, after four new bookstores and a new book later, you will walk into Coburg Coffee and see the book you wanted on the “book exchange” shelf.
7. The Universe has a good sense of humor. Laugh with it when things like the aforementioned events happen to you! But maybe not when they happen to other people. Be a bit more sensitive in those situations…

Random life lessons are not the only things I have learned this past week. I was fortunate enough to participate in a masterclass with the wonderful Lorna MacDonald a couple of days ago, and was blessed with the insight and observations of this very smart woman. I think I was most inspired by her constant focus on the positive. She would only mention a bad habit or something that wasn’t quite working for me and the other participants, after we had felt what it was like to be on the other side of it. It was never “you need a brighter sound” or “your breath should be deeper.” It was “this is where you are right now, and that’s totally fine! Let’s see if we can make it even better and explore some things to see what those feel like.” In the same way as you find out eating poutine is a bad idea an hour after brunch, you wonder why you are struggling to sing one way after you feel how good it feels to not eat poutine with a full stomach…I mean after you have experienced an easier way of singing… I feel blessed to have worked with Lorna and see the processes she took the other participants through as well.

Finally, I have fallen in love. With Shakespeare and Britten. The Port cast dress rehearsal forDream is today, and I couldn’t be more excited. This is truly a special work of art, both in dramatic and operatic literature. The music of Britten brings to life the brilliant words of Shakespeare and I don’t know how he did it, but the magical and mystical quality of work springs to life. The lighting, costumes and casts of this show makes it something to revel in. Watching the cue-to-cues was like being inside the most beautiful otherworldly place imaginable, and I was only in the audience! When you see the product of the hard work put into this show, it’s like having a secret gem tucked away in your mind. You want to share it, but also keep it for yourself. That is what I love about live theater. You can share it, but there are always the scenes, arias, monologues, ironies, etc, that you can keep hidden in your mind and recall when you want to be translated back to another time.

As the Beatles say, “And our friends are all aboard, many more of them live next door and the band begins to play, we all live in a yellow submarine…”

Although we don’t all live in a yellow submarine, literally, (or figuratively really…) My fairy friends are currently at the theater now, getting into costume. Greg Myra, I’m sure, is ready to be our band at the piano, and the Starboard cast is getting ready to support us and watch our dress rehearsal, just as we will do for them tomorrow! If theater is an ocean, and Shakespeare is a submarine…I suppose Britten’s opera would be the…yellow one…? Aaaaannnnddd Epic Fail to assimilate the Beatles, Shakespeare and Britten. But they’re all British!! Ahhh TRIBOND! (did anyone play the board game?) Ok, I’m rambling. I’m just way too excited to start getting into make-up and costume!



The Prairie Perspective #2 — Wander

Dear friends,

It’s been only been a week and already I’m a year older! For real though, I was fortunate enough to spend my birthday (last Thursday) here, in Halifax. And amazingly enough, they were blocking the scenes I’m not in that day! So, I was able to start my birthday with yoga and an acting class with the wonderful Steven Bourque (Puck in my cast of A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and finish it with a fantastic masterclass run by the amazing Nina Scott-Stoddard (one of the directors for Dream, and mastermind behind this program!) In the masterclass I saw some of the most open and genuine singing from some of my colleagues. And let me tell you, it’s a hard thing to get up and sing in front of 70 musical peers… that’s what I love about it here though. The openness, support and honesty from the participants and faculty. I would say it was a pretty splendid beginning and end to a birthday.

For the in-between time, I sought out seafood (of course) with new friends! What came about was some trusty Halifax fish ‘n chips and after some wandering down to the harbor, the Tall Ships Festival! There sure are some tall ships there. Coming from a place where the largest body of water can be swam across in half an hour, there was a little confusion on my end of the “tall-ships-comprehension,” if you will. Allow me to let you in on my first thoughts…

“So, these are really big ships…ok, not for fishing…not army ships…oooh! Captain Jack Sparrow!!”
All this leading me to think that they were clearly all pirate ships. This matter was soon cleared up with the help of some East Coast friends. Ah yes, trading and leisure. OF course.

It was spectacular.

One thing I love about singing in this program, if you can’t tell already, is this city. Because the weather has been so great lately, it’s been hard to force myself into the practice room…all musicians know this feeling. Being a singer has its perks and I decided I would learn some new music, review some stagings and refresh some tricky Britten rhythms at the Public Gardens. Seriously, tell me straight out if you are not inspired by these surroundings.

We had yesterday off, and it’s a good thing, too. Because we all needed to recover from the busy week, let the all the blocking soak in and meet each other in a relaxed setting! (That’s what Saturday nights are for, right?!) Sunday I found my way to Point Pleasant Park, and for lack of a better description, it was pointedly pleasant. There was something prepossessing about it. Perhaps it was the forests and paths that wound through it. Or maybe the fact that one moment you could be in the middle of an Ent-like woodland (reminding me of the setting of Dream) and the next you were on Blackrock Beach. We spent most of our time on this beach, bathing like sea-lions on the hot rocks and let the sound of the harbor waves rolling onto the shore soothe our sleepy eyes and ears to sweet slumber.

Ah, “yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away,” and today we are back to real life: stagecraft and singing…but I know anyone here will tell you that we wouldn’t have it any other way!

P.s. I would like to apologize for spelling the Beatles wrong in my last post. SO embarrassing.



The Prairie Perspective #1 — Say hello

Hello my new friends,

My name is Chelsea, and because you are reading this, we are pretty much friends now…so you can call me Chels! The folks here at HSOW had this amazing idea to get guest bloggers from the program to share their experiences with the all-encompassing internet, and I am one such blogger.

I thought I’d tell you a bit about myself to ease you in. Maybe a dash about why I’m here, a pinch about why I’m excited, and a splash about my first couple days in Halifax.

Hailing from the Prairie city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, I have heard nothing but good things and praise for HSOW. Things like “the friendliest environment; a safe space in which to be creative and learn a role; a great faculty; and a beautiful city.” Today was my first day of the workshop and my third day in Halifax, and I can give you my Prairie word, it’s all true! And that right there, my friends, is why I’m excited.

I arrived on a balmy Saturday afternoon to smiling faces. I believe you can always tell the character of a city by the airport that serves it. I smiled right back feeling like all these strangers could be my friends if I just said hello. And say hello, I did! ….later that night, anyway…
After arriving at my hospitable accommodations, I did what any Prairie born girl would do on the coast: go looking for seafood. What I got was the best of both worlds: an all-day breakfast diner with local, fresh seafood. What more could I ask for?! A nap and some Haddock later, I waltzed over to the Waterfront and followed my ears to the last night of the Halifax Jazz Festival. People swaying to the Latin rhythms and enjoying locally brewed beverages made me want to join in. So I did, and man was it some good music!

After my long walk home, still giddy with Latin Jazz buzzing in my ears, I saw four of my neighbors enjoying some drinks on this sultry evening surrounded by candlelight on their porch. Because this is something I don’t see too often, I did it! I said hello. Well, a couple hours and some great conversations later, I made some new friends.

Because I said hello, they showed me the town the next day: local-style. Surfing, canoeing and eating like a local gave me the perfect introduction to my time at HSOW.

After saying hello to the whole group today and our first music rehearsals (which humbled me to my core to see what kind of talent I get to sing with), I know this is going to be an amazing month. I already enjoy the smiling faces from future friends, colleagues and strangers alike here in Halifax. All I can say is that I’m blessed to be here and can’t wait to see how this month unfolds!

For the sake of my blog theme today and because I love the Beetles… I don’t know why I’d say goodbye, so I’ll say hello:
Welcome to HSOW 2012!!!!