The Six Stories, Told at Night showcase/party is distressingly close. Blythe and I have been racing about, organizing things and booking things…and going to other people’s events.
It has been a bad week for social anxiety, as I feel terribly out of my element. In many ways, indie theatre is a lot like the SFF world. It’s small. Most people know each other. Different theatres have their niches. There is a whole web of social connexions and unwritten social codes that I can’t see, because I’m not aware of them. Going to the Word on the Street book/magazine festival yesterday felt like heaving myself onto a life raft.
Writers! Editors! Readers! Book people! I know how to do this! I have friends here! I feel safe!
And then back to feeling generally useless.
So what does it feel like, when the anxiety starts kicking in?
Imagine, dear reader, a dimly-lit bar with lots of loud conversations and lots of people clustered in groups. But it’s not a background hum of noise. Oh, no. You’re getting ten different conversations piped directly into your ears—and your brain treats them all as equally important.
It’s a bit like having pop-ups that can’t be turned off. You’re just trying to surf the web, but you can’t get very far before something fills the screen demanding all the attention, right now. My brain’s trying to navigate a situation that it’s fairly sure might kill us, but half of it’s stuck processing incoming sound.
Sensory issues make me good at podcasting, and bad at crowds.
Anyway, they’re all having conversations. Great. So – who has two thumbs and gets intimidated by groups?
Except at cons, weirdly. But then, I know con etiquette better. Loose circle of people drift into the hallway after that panel you all saw? It’s probably okay to introduce yourself and have a brief chat. Two people in a deep conversation, by themselves, in a withdrawn corner of the bar? Keep walking.
Anyway, it’s that classic social anxiety thing of being the weird kid standing along the playground fence.
And we can throw in some general competency-based anxiety, just for fun.
My chest tightens. My thoughts race. My hands shake. Really, my brain is trying to be helpful. It’s CERTAIN that danger’s lurking RIGHT HERE, and by George, it’s going to let me know.
But—I’ve been trying to remind myself that SFF has only started feeling comfortable over the last few years. And it’s only been really comfortable for…I don’t know, maybe the last two? Whenever I started going to Can-Con, I suppose.
What made the difference?
Some of it was time, of course. It takes a lot of form rejections, awkward cover letters, and nervous pitches to learn the rhythms of publishing. It also takes time to nurture relationships.
And I started going to stuff. That made the biggest difference. Take ChiZine’s reading series. I made myself go month after month. Sometimes, I had to literally force myself up the stairs. I still went. Every month. Hard rule.
And now…man, I love ChiSeries.
But the point is that it was a conscious decision to force myself over the hump. Going to new cons is a conscious decision. I can do it. I’ve proved it to myself.
I just need to trust that theatre works the same way.
Reminder that you can purchase your tickets for Six Stories, Told Again right here. And join us at Theatre Passe Muraille for the after-party! The Seventh Story will drop there, that night, and in the podcast feed the next day!
What I’m Listening to this Week
More Emilie Autumn, a take on “The Lady of Shalott” this time. I’ve been thinking about that poem a lot this year…
It’s one of those weeks where I feel like I haven’t anything insightful or interesting to say. Mostly, it’s just been a lot of hard work. But I figured that it’s probably prudent to give updates on a few things…
Yes, it’s true! My interactive fiction novel with Choice of Games released last week. It’s a sword-and-sorcery epic…with dinosaurs! Choose your prehistoric pal, fight in duels, learn magic, and get involved in various schemes!
Six Stories, A Surprise at Night!
After a thrilling run at the Toronto Fringe, we have more plans for Six Stories…
…which we’ll announce very soon!
Super Secret Seventh Story
I need to edit the audio. We also want to time its release to coincide with our surprise, so mark your calendars for early October! It’ll drop into the same Six Stories feed!
Return to Coxwood
Yes, yes, yes, it’s happening!!!
Believe me, ideas are percolating. I’ve got a general thrust of plot, along with a list of actors I’m keen to worth with. Currently, I’m looking at an early 2019 release. Again, mark those calendars!
This novel is so entirely my heart: queer ladies making magic beer across alternate versions of Toronto. I’m well into my own edits on it, and I’ll be looking for betas around early-mid September. If you’re keen, hit me up!
…is that it for now? I feel like that might be it for now.
OH, NO, WAIT.
The story of The Nutcracker, told through the music of Handel’s Messiah. (Albeit with some tweaks to the libretto!) Somehow, incredibly, this appears to actually be happening on November 14th. In addition to being a hilarious mash-up of Toronto’s two favourite holiday traditions, it’s also a fundraiser for Gangway! Theatre Co!
We’ve got a venue and roughly half our artists booked. Again…mark those calendars, it’ll be a party!
Okay. I think that’s it for now.
What I’m Listening to this Week
Lots of fugues, lots of J.S. Bach. In my endless spare time, I’m also doodling with some short story ideas…and I’m trying to figure out how to steal the fugue’s structure. I love the idea of starting simply, with one voice, and getting steadily more complex before simplifying again and resolving at the end.
But we shall see.
Yes, this post is late. I got back from Readercon on Saturday night, and proceeded straight from the airport to Postscript, the Toronto Fringe patio/general hangout area. Then we had our final show Sunday afternoon, followed by one last night of Fringing.
Monday was mostly naps and lounging, to be honest.
But here we are! Fringe and Readercon both behind us! It’s an awful lot of emotion for any one blog post, but I do want to say this:
I am so very, very lucky in my friends and communities.
Fringe first: I couldn’t believe the support given to Six Stories, Told at Night. From the GoFundMe to the general logistical assistance, from everyone who came out to see the show (and some of you travelled a long way, I know!) and everyone who held our hands and told us that everything would be Okay—we’ve been overwhelmed with your kindness.
So thank you. Truly, sincerely, deeply—thank you.
And then I went to Readercon, where I caught up with wonderful old friends, met amazing new ones, and plunged headfirst into insightful, well-organized programming. Again, I felt swaddled with kindness and care. The writing and theatre communities share a lot of similarities ; this support is certainly one of them.
You’re all awesome. That’s my point here.
Now, more general updates: there are still some GoFundMe rewards to deliver! Specifically, the Super Secret Magic Seventh Story and Coxwood 2.0. What’s going on there?
The seventh story is mostly figured out (in my head, at least). We have a plan for recording it. I just need to write it. Because my 2018 is ridiculous, I have a major deadline on August 1st. I’m trying to write this story alongside that work, but it may need to wait just a few more weeks. But it is definitely on my radar.
Coxwood 2.0 is also on my radar, never fear! It’s going to be later in the year, though. Once the ridiculousness of summer dies down, I’ll be reaching out to actors and seeing what sort of cast we can put together. A gentle reminder that it won’t be as long as Season One…but I have some ideas percolating. It’s gonna happen. Don’t fret.
That’s it for now, I think. Blythe and I have some loose ends to tie up and some plans to bash out. No rest for the wicked, after all.
But we are really, really happy. That’s my other point. The Toronto Fringe has been the most challenging experience of my creative life—but also the most rewarding. I am so incredibly proud of our scrappy underdog play. The reviews speak for themselves!
Originally a podcast drama, this adaptation makes rollicking, enjoyable show…it’s clear that Bryski is a storyteller to watch. (NOW Magazine, NNNN review)
A love letter to broken hearts and letting go, to ambiguity and formation, this is a rich, complex play that had many an audience member discretely dabbing at tears. (Mooney on Theatre, “Rave Review”)
The folding paths through which the play presents itself are prevented from getting too murky or confusing through the anchor of the intensely realized, warts and all friendship portrayed by the leads, Blythe Haynes and Alexandra Milne. The heart of an almost delicately intricate, multi-narrative sequence remains throughout the emotional ties between two young women… (My Entertainment World)
Of course, none of that would be possible without amazing people. In addition to the love from our community, we are so grateful for the hard work, dedication, and professionalism shown by staff and volunteers at the Toronto Fringe and Theatre Passe Muraille. We literally couldn’t do it without you!
And there’s our creative team: cast, crew, and everyone who helped along the way. You gave your hearts and souls to this story, and we couldn’t be more thankful.
And of course, my creative partner-in-crime, who’s been with Six Stories from the beginning.
In my head, I see Six Stories as a scruffy little waif who runs around punching things. We can’t wait to see where the journey takes us next.
What I’m Listening To This Week
A little Lord of the Rings music. I’ll be moving to a hobbit hole soon, so it only seems fitting!
Whooo! Toronto Fringe Festival! We’re well underway with performances of SIX STORIES, TOLD AT NIGHT. Reactions thus far have been great—and it’s such a treat to see these characters and this Otherworld come to life onstage. And of course, there are ~150 shows all across the city to check out. The sheer amount of talent staggers me.
Seriously, there’s a lot of emotion here. We’ll have a good chat when Fringe finishes next week.
I’m ducking out of Fringe to attend ReaderCon!
I’m so excited; I really wanted to go last year, but scheduling didn’t permit. When I realized that it overlaps with Fringe, I thought, “Well, of course it does.” Then I figured I’d just find a way to make both work. Because why not?
So I’m not staying through the whole convention. The plan is to fly in Thursday, spend all of Friday, and then fly home Saturday evening, in order to close out our last show on Sunday afternoon.
No big deal.
And I have my schedule!
Friday (12:00 pm)—Consent Culture in Fiction
Me, Teri Clarke, Maria Dahvana Headley, Hillary Monahan, Victoria Sandbrook
Friday (6:00 pm)—Stonecoast MFA Readings
Peter Adrian Behravesh, Me, JR Dawson, Julie C. Day, Emlyn Dornemann, James Patrick Kelly, Erin Roberts
Saturday (2:00 pm)—Alternatives to Romance
Me, Elaine Isaak, Nicole Kornher-Stace, John P. Murphy, Patty Templeton
It all sounds very exciting! And it’ll be great to dive back into writers and prose after a week of theatre. If you’re around, do come say hello. Looking forward to this con, shortened though it must be!
What I’m Listening to This Week
First, I absolutely love referring to the day of resurrection as “That Great Getting’-Up Morning.” It’s also got that emotional, rhythmic style spirituals revel in. And I think it might’ve sparked a story idea.
SIX STORIES, TOLD AT NIGHT opens this Thursday. That doesn’t seem entirely real.
But the show’s in great shape. Right now, it sits at a comfortable eight minutes below the time cut-off. The costumes look amazing. The set’s built. We’ve found all the props. We’ve run the sound/lighting cues at Theatre Passe Muraille – and the venue managers have greenlighted all of our fight scenes and intimacy choreography.
And ohhhhh, my friends. That moment. That moment, when the theatre was still in blackout, and everything was still—that moment when the first notes of the Six Stories theme played over TPM’s sound system—
It was freaking awesome.
So what I’m saying is, we’re ready. We’re so ready.
Why am I nervous?
Because it feels like stepping off a cliff, I guess. It’s here, it’s really happening, people are really coming to see our show. This one story made of many stories that grew from scratches in a notebook to…all of this.
But anyway. There’s a podcast coming on Wednesday, so I don’t want to repeat myself too much. For now…
Here’s the link for tickets. And also, our schedule:
Thanks, everyone. Your support means the world to us.
What I’m Listening to this Week
The Ralph Vaughan Williams streak continues, this time with “Five Variants of ‘Dives and Lazarus.’” I love the richly bowing strings, the way it sometimes feels nearly like Elgar…
Whoa! Here we are, back on the blog! It’s not Monday—what gives?
Our GoFundMe campaign for Six Stories, Told at Night wrapped at midnight, and a Facebook post wasn’t going to cut it!
When last we saw our plucky co-producers, they had tweaked the campaign after blowing past the initial goal on the first day.
“Well, we were going to offer a vlog,” quoth I. “And I can write a seventh story; I’ve got some ideas. And…oh man, okay. What about…Coxwood Season Two?”
“Are you sure?”
“We’ll set a ridiculous target,” I said, all confidence. “We’ll never make it.”
And so the campaign trucked along. It was wonderful! Blythe and I spent a very pleasant week feeling warm fuzzies, writing limericks, and recording messages for donors (if anyone out there is Fringing It Up, drop me a line when you’ve decided what you’d like Blythe to record for you!).
We closed Monday at $730. “Cool, cool,” I said, “we’ll see how far we can get by Wednesday night.”
Tuesday passed. We had enough to cover the admin/festival expenses, plus a chunk of production.
“What if you make it to $1500?” a friend asked.
“We won’t,” I replied.
“I think we’ll hit $1000,” I said, coming home on the subway. “I’ve got a good feeling.”.
On arriving home, I made our final “ZOMG last few hours!!!” post. Then I sat back, ready to relax into a job well done. The box office would probably still take a hit, but not a huge one. If we were careful, we could probably manage pretty good shares when it came time to divvy up the takings…
Incredibly, you guys carried us to our ultimate goal.
We got very excited:
And then the lurking migraine I’d been fighting burst forth, I threw up, and we called it a night.
But now it is morning! So—we made our ultimate stretch goal. What does this mean?
For SIX STORIES:
We can have a kickass show. There are festival/administrative expenses associated with the Fringe. Those are covered. Set, design elements, costumes, signage, programs, handbills/buttons…all that just got so much easier. We’re entering Fringe from a strong position. A lot more is within our grasp!
And of course, compensating our cast and crew is a massive priority. This is why this campaign has meant so much to us—we wanted to give as much box office to them as possible. From the entire “Six Stories” team, THANK YOU.
You’ve unlocked everything, you wonderful people!
ROAD TO THE FRINGE PODCAST!
Once this blog posts, I’m pulling out the calendar to figure out a release schedule. Get ready for interviews, chatter, shenanigans, and rehearsal snippets!
Can’t make it to Toronto? We’ve got you covered! Meet our fab cast and crew, see bits of rehearsals and design elements, and make the leap with us from pure audio to live theatre!
I’ve been noodling some ideas. I definitely know the direction I want to go in. And oh…oh, I think it’ll be so cool. For this, I’ve got to consult with the team a little. I’ll keep you all posted.
COXWOOD SEASON TWO!
I’m gonna admit, I didn’t expect to make it to the ultimate goal. But we did! So—back to Coxwood for a second mini-season! I’m not entirely sure how many episodes it will be, but I’ll be taking a look at this after Fringe finishes in mid-July.
If we can release it by the end of 2018, amazing! As always, I’ll keep you posted.
Thank you, everyone. Seriously, from both of us—thank you, thank you, thank you. We are stunned that you believe in our show like this. We’ve spent the last fortnight feeling incredibly humbled and loved.
And now the work and fun begins! Our first production meeting and rehearsal is Friday. We can’t wait to get started!
KT and Blythe
What I’m Listening To Today
It’s been a little while, hasn’t it? Last week was March Break, which meant that I spent daytimes performing in an interactive mystery…and my nights madly writing something on deadline.
I got a wee bit tired.
But hey, we’re here. It’s done. This interactive mystery has really been a story that’s taken five years to tell, as subplots from different years built upon each other. It’s been an incredible experience and unlike any storytelling/scripting I’ve done before.
It’s also time to say goodbye to this arc. And goodbye to actually performing in it.
I have mixed feelings.
On the one hand—oh my goodness, it was so much fun. It was improv and it was playwriting. In a funny way, it was chaos theory. Mostly, it was playing with the visitors and with each other. Our main (anti)heroine—Miss Moriarty, sister to the nefarious professor—is a wonderful example of Blythe and I riffing off each other. Like light reflected in doubled mirrors, the character passed back and forth so that she truly is a joint creation.
Other characters kind of emerged from nowhere and never left, and we grew to love them, too. A whole cast and world emerged. How incredible is that?
There’s something on the wind. It’s time to move on. This fits with the general rhythms of this year so far. Things are starting to happen; my energies are flowing in new places. Six Stories, the Prophecy Foretold and A Canticle of Light go up within six weeks of each other. Other theatre shenanigans wait in the wings. (See what I did there?)
It’s scary, of course. In any field, it’s so easy to stay in the shallows. It’s comforting there. You know the pond; you know the fish.
But eventually, that starts to become the problem.
It makes me think about why we say, break out of our comfort zone. It’s never ease out, withdraw from, slip gently through. It’s always break out, or step out—purposeful, definitive actions. They’re actions that you have to mean. You can’t do them by accident.
What else can I do? Where’s the next blank space on the map? What’s the next dragon?
I’m not entirely sure. That’s the scary thing, in all this. But I just think—if we don’t try—if we don’t stretch our fingertips to their utmost—if we stay at the surface and ignore the deeper water—
What are we missing? What parts of ourselves we will skim right over? What could have been? For me, that’s all scarier than taking a leap of faith. If you don’t try, you’ll never know, right?
Besides, I remain a steadfast optimist. When you leap, the universe tends to leap with you.
What I’m Listening To This Week
“Dinogad’s Smock” is a very, very old melody. The first two minutes are a lovely lullaby—the counting and spoken sections after 2:15 twig something in me. It’s a little uncanny, and incredibly beautiful.
Alas, I think this is a state of being that’s likely to continue until at least the end of February. My secret is that I’m actually TERRIBLE at multitasking. However, I am excellent at pulling ridiculously long hours to get something done in three days, so that I can move along to the next task.
It’s not really cramming, because every project gets a very carefully appointed spot on the calendar. More like strategic slogging, I suppose. This month has mostly been eaten by the interactive fiction game, another Ontario Arts Council grant application, and the Six Stories, Told at Night stage adaptation (with some Apex Magazine podcastery thrown in there). Amidst all this, I keep poking at the novel because the constantly-breaking momentum is wrong-footing me.
This isn’t how I like to write novels. I like to write them over intense bursts that last four-to-eight weeks. Back in December, I was hoping to finish Beer Magic by the end of January, but it looks like I may finish it during my February writers’ retreat.
Such is the writing game, sometimes. As they say, “You can’t always get what you want.”
So what do you do, in these cases?
Honestly, I think there’s only one thing to do. You take a straw, and you suck it up. As I’ve always said, paying work and contracted work gets done first, work with hard deadlines comes next, and then you figure out the rest.
(Excuse me whilst I balefully poke at the novel a little more.)
But paradoxically, sometimes when I’m overwhelmed the best thing I can do for myself is…not write sometimes. Otherwise, I can drive myself into a tizzy. So…reading. Baking. Drinking adult-type beverages with friends. Going to choir and post-choir hangouts. (Honestly, I think choir is the thing that keeps me the most grounded.)
That sounds like a contradiction. Suck it up—but also don’t worry, go have fun!
Okay. Sometimes, yes, you have to be a writer first. Strap on your Grown-Up Boots and stomp through the swamp of unwritten words. But we’re also humans, and if we neglect that side of ourselves, what will we be good for writing, anyway?
I firmly believe it all comes down to scheduling. Everybody has twenty-four hours in the day. It’s up to you to decide how those hours get filled.
The swamp is good, in the end. It means there’s a lot of really cool stuff on one’s plate. And besides, it’s excellent practice. Writing is hard, after all. Theatre is also hard. Doing both?
Anyway. I hope you have an excellent week. Carry on!
What I’m Listening to This Week
I’ve been listening to this piece, but I’m not sure how I feel about it. Byron’s “She walks in beauty” is one of my favourite poems, and this choir is lovely, but I feel like I wanted more melody to match the metre, less preoccupation with moving chords.
Still listening while I figure my opinion out.
It’s well into April, which means that the off-season is rapidly drawing to a close. In a few short weeks, I’ll be back at the museum, giving brewery tours and teaching people about history through theatre. I can tell we’re getting close, because a reptilian part of my brain is stirring.
“Hey,” it whispers. “Hey, you know what’s cool? Theories of theatre in education. Knowledge is power. Let’s learn some theories now. Let’s get ready to test them.”
Which explains the following stack of books:
And you know what? I love it. I know the season doesn’t start for a few weeks, but I love sitting in my garret, absorbing all of these theories. It reminds me of the year spent trying to get this drama program launched in the first place. Because the brewery is totally my supervillain lair, I spent hours on my barstool stomping terms and discourse and case studies and arguments into my brain.
It’s another side of my creative life. And what I’ve learned over the last few years is this: I’m not just keen on museum theatre because it’s theatre. I’m keen on it because it’s museum theatre. Shockingly, I like teaching in non-traditional settings. The particular challenge of museum theatre is that it has to be good history, it has to teach effectively, and it still has to work as a piece of art in itself.
Or, as I eventually summarized for myself:
- Sound pedagogy
- Responsible history
- Artistic merit
That’s a lot of points to hit. Sometimes it’s tricky to manage them all. But it’s precisely that paradox and challenge that keeps me engaged.
And I know, I know. My unabashed enthusiasm and general nerdiness about the whole thing leads to a lot of rolled eyes. Not everyone wants to hear about how the actor-teacher is really a hybrid role—or how Theatre in Education isn’t just “didactic theatre” or “education with tinsel,” it’s really an altogether different form of stagecraft—and Freeman Tilden’s Six Principles of Interpretation totally apply to museum theatre—and oh man, when you take evolving technologies into account, especially social media, the opportunities for what you can do just explode, and—
See? Rolled eyes.
But I think two things:
- This is an evolving art form. Who wouldn’t want to explore uncharted territory?
- It’s a way to genuinely reach people, to help them learn about history. I think that’s important.
I guess that’s another thing that fascinates me about museum theatre: the sense that it’s doing real, important work. It’s not just doing the same old, same old. It’s learning about what other people have done, synthesizing all that into theories, and then testing those theories over and over again. It’s developing new theories. It’s carving out a new spot in the scholarship.
That’s all well and good. It’s nice to feel like a trailblazer. But for me—the compulsive drive comes from why we do this. I see no reason why theatre and museums should be odd bedfellows. In the end, they seek to forge connections between people. They foster understanding; they encourage empathy. They ask you to step beyond yourself, to take on the role, perspectives, shoes of another. Done well, they offer multiple meanings, multiple voices, create a safe place for debate and conflict.
Done well, both museums and theatre remind us what it means to be human, and to share human experiences.
Naïveté? Maybe. Youthful idealism? Perhaps.
Nerdy? Of course.
But this is my other love. This is my passion, alongside writing about dark fairy tales and magic worlds and cannibal ice zombies. So I go back to my books, back to my theories and thoughts—and I wait for the audiences and the testing and the warm summer sun.
Excitement and joy and love. Sure, it may be nerdy, but you take these things where you can find them, don’t you? 😉
What I’m Listening to This Week
Apparently I wasn’t doing enough this year. A new novel is whispering to me. And I know it’s serious, because it has a theme song. All my novels have theme songs—all the ones that survive, anyway. Hapax had “I am the Day,” Heartstealer had “Mari’s Wedding,” and Sing to the Bones has “Lord of the Dance.”
This novel is too new and delicate to discuss much right now. Instead, here’s the song that’s driving it: