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The Porcupette’s Log, Being an Account of the Fabulous Fictions Workshop by Porcupette and Girl of All Work Stephanie

Porcupette’s Log: 5 May 2015

Day starts 4:00 a.m.—frick early, basically. Can barely peel my eyes open or utter more than a series of cave man-esque grunts, but somehow manage to get myself in gear, gather my bags and get to the train station.

Remind me why I booked the 5:30 a.m. train?

Dozed a bit on the way, but can’t seem to totally shake my inability to sleep in moving vehicles. Curses.

Arrive in Toronto a little after 10:00 am. Drop off my bags, and make my way over to Bloor and Bathurst via subway. So ridiculously glad it is not 8:30 a.m., when the phrase “nuts to butts” best describes the TTC experience. Short walk to the Centre for Social Innovation lugging heavy laptop bag—then climbing four flights of stairs to the Blake Thorne Studio.

Note to self: for the love of God, Steph, work out more.

In the studio are David Ferry, Tim Inkster, Chandra Wohleber, Leon Rooke and Tony Calzetta. An all-star cast, really. I’m greeted with scripts and a copy of DA 76, hot off the press. Love bookish presents!

Chandra Wohleber, Leone Rooke and Tony Calzetta study the script on the first day of the workshop.

Chandra Wohleber, Leone Rooke and Tony Calzetta study the script on the first day of the workshop.

On tap for the day: lots of reading from the main script, discussion of what might work for the larger production, and beginning to talk about the mechanics of the cabaret. I soak it in, but by 5:00 p.m., I’m ready for bed. Tony probably is, too—he’s dealing with a bad cold.

Oh, to be 21 again…

 

Porcupette’s Log: 6 May 2015

10:00 a.m., back at the Blake Thorne studio. Tim is busy printing Fabulous Peculiarities in Erin, and Chandra had to duck out as well, so it’s just me and the guys.

Start the day with a couple of new additions: Jonas Crawley came in to interview us and record our session on video. So wish Tim was there to talk on behalf of the publisher, but I will have to do. Wonder if the cold sweat of fear shows up on camera.

Also in the room is Richard Whiteman, a kick-ass musician who will be working with students to add ambiance to our little cabaret.

Richard Whiteman, behind the piano making magic.

Richard Whiteman, behind the piano making magic.

We all make a go at reading aloud again. It is clear that some of us (everyone, really) are better at it than others (me). I get a bit confused as to what’s being used for the workshop and what is future-talk, but something appears to be taking shape.

 

Porcupette’s Log: 7 May 2015

Today we start in the Neville Austen studio at CSI. A bigger space, and thank goodness as the props arrived today!

Hauled props and inflatables up to the forth floor from Tony’s rental van. So many trips up that rickety elevator. I gave 50/50 odds the thing would crap out with us inside.

Once all was moved in, naturally we had to see the inflatables blown up.

So. Freaking. Cool.

Tony Calzetta carefully holds the tree-shaped inflatable sculpture as it inflates.

Tony Calzetta carefully holds the tree-shaped inflatable sculpture as it inflates.

After that, the name of the game was fetch. Spent the afternoon picking up materials, props and so on in the shops on Bloor. Even made it out to Long & McQuade to rent a mic for rehearsals. After promising the L&McQ people a kidney and my first born child in exchange for a $6.78 mic rental, it was back to the studio to do some computer work. Tired feet appreciated the break.

At 7:00 p.m., back in the Blake Thorne studio to meet the cast—16 students from the Randolph Academy for the performing arts.

First rehearsal with the cast at the Blake Thorne Studio. Had to show off those inflatables!

First rehearsal with the cast at the Blake Thorne Studio. Had to show off those inflatables!

Holy crap these kids are talented. Not only fearless when it comes to some of David Ferry’s acting exercises (one of them even made me uncomfortable, and I wasn’t participating!) they had short art lessons with Tony Calzetta, and music lessons with Richard Whiteman.

Their reading skills made me realize just how sorry our own efforts at table reading had been.

 

Porcupette’s Log: 8 May 2015

Not to whine but OH MY GOD I’M DYING. My poor feet, used to sedentary life, are crying at the amount of pavement they pounded today. Bought ingredients for fake blood and edible dirt, which probably made the cashier at Metro eye me askance. David whipped up the blood and creepily licked it from his fingers as per spec.

Side note: Edible dirt smells amazing. Like brownies, only made out of couscous…

More shopping today included, drop cloths, bowls, primer and $130 worth of acrylic paint pens. Tony says art is hell. It is also very expensive.

Speaking of hell, moving the props from the CSI building to the Randolph Theatre next door is a crazy undertaking. We all feel like the drummer in a band, always schlepping for the next gig.

Builds character. Probably.

Second rehearsal with the cast and things are really shaping up. David’s vision for the cabaret performance is huge, and the cast meets—exceeds!—all expectations. Yesterday’s instruction to “go make up a tap dance” to two cast members yesterday results in a brilliant and theatrical dance number.

My feet twinge in sympathy.

All that movement, not to mention an extremely hot day and no air conditioning, makes for some, shall we say swampy, conditions. Walking into it is like walking into a wall of heat. Basically, the room smells like feet.

Many people. Small room. 'Nuff said.

Many people. Small room. ‘Nuff said.

But everyone is too professional to complain. (Except me, in my head.) After all, in 24 hours, they’ll be doing the real thing.

 

Porcupette’s Log: 9 May 2015

First rehearsal on stage is pretty epic. Can finally see what it looks like with all the parts pulled together. Pretty much decide this will be the highlight of the cabaret.

First run through on the stage at the Randolph Theatre. Who knew light cues could be so fascinating?

First run through on the stage at the Randolph Theatre. Who knew light cues could be so fascinating?

Some more last-minute running around for little props, and returning the all-important microphone. Probably made the short trip between Randolph and CSI about twenty times. Exercise, baby.

Couple more run throughs back in CSI and the cast is polished and ready. By 8:00 p.m., everyone is ready for the show to start. Nothing to do but sit in the theatre seats with Tim to start the process of “hurry up and wait”. I see familiar faces in the crowd—Tom Smart, Chandra Wohleber, and Alec Dempster (also performing). Tim points out a few more fine literary folk. At 9:00 the show is on.

Sat through the entire thing, and damn, did Fabulous Fictions ever steal the show! Music, song, dance and youthful exuberance, not to mention gorgeous artwork and creative directing, really have no competition.

It was a fabulous ride, and hopefully just a taste of what’s to come.

 

portraitThanks for reading. If you managed to see Fabulous Fictions during the Cabaret of Wild Culture, or wish you had–tell us about it in the comments below, or send us an email. We’d love to hear what you think!

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One Response to The Porcupette’s Log, Being an Account of the Fabulous Fictions Workshop by Porcupette and Girl of All Work Stephanie

  1. Sounds like fun, Steph. And a lot of work to make it that way. Sorry I missed it. Just got back from a two-week trip. Bruce

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The Porcupine's Quill would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. The financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) is also gratefully acknowledged.