Tuesday, 25 December 2012

A Christmas Pilgrimage

The drive from Rosebud to Breton, Alberta seemed to go on forever. Darkness descends much too early in the dead of winter, so the reward of seeing countryside one hasn’t seen before was diminished, left mostly to imagination as I passed through a few lit villages on the way. It was our second last show in a little tour that started out as a whim - spurred on by an unction to share story and song with whoever wanted to engage us in the Advent Season leading up to Christmas. This was presentation number 14 out of 15, at the end of a long drive on a wintry Tuesday night. It’s not hard to find the church in these little towns. It’s the one with all the lights on, anticipating our arrival. I pulled into the parking lot to find that Cassia Schramm, my story-telling partner in this little adventure, had already arrived, her tire tracks the first to break the newly-fallen snow. Well not the first. She had startled a deer when she pulled in. She pointed out it’s tracks leading into the stand of trees by the parking lot. We were welcomed by the youth pastor - a warm young man with a young family who had been at the church for a number of years. He didn’t know how many people would be coming, optimistically helping us set up the bit of amplification we needed to tell our simple story. He wasn’t a technician, but helped as best he could. People started filing in, including someone who understood how to make the guitar amplification work, so we stepped up to the microphones to do a sound test with a bit of song and story. And the place fell silent with anticipation. As we sat down to wait for the evening to start, we were warmly welcomed by individuals expressing their gratitude for our coming to share in the life of their church in this special season. Some of them drew connections to family that we might know about. And like virtually every community we have shared with, there were family and friendship connections that spanned generations. 
We finally spun our simple script-in-hand staging of Above Bethlehem, some people shuffling restless children from the room, others closing their eyes to listen to language that transported them somewhere, then opening eyes again as ears heard Cassia’s crystalline voice fill the little church with music. An hour passed surprisingly quickly and we were finished.  
Tear-filled conversations with individuals after the presentation revealed open, seeking, grateful hearts. The last people to leave the church - helping me pack a few music stands into the car - were an elderly retired gentleman who used to run a farm implement dealership and his aging mother. She thanked me again for telling a story that was “different” but full of the Gospel. I acknowledged her thanks by saying that it was an honor to receive such words from a saint. I truly meant it, and she knew it.

I think we live in one of the most beautiful, open and loving provinces in the country. This little Advent tour of Alberta communities has shown people of different denominations, in different parts of the province - both urban and rural, to be soul-seekers. We are a people hungry for story and song that reveal the softness of the human heart, teasing out the mysteries we wonder about late at night and early in the morning. We are a people who understand that these mysteries - the things we talk about that bring tears or a quickening of our heartbeat - inevitably bind us one to another in some way. 
As I drove the much shorter distance from Breton back to Millet, I passed through towns I had visited as a child, riding with my Dad to auctions and sales. He too was one of those Albertans whose heart quickened to significant story and song shared. We’re all the same, really - whether we’re farmers, academics, business folk, moms and dads, teenagers, pastors or artists. We crave spiritual story and song.

I passed farmyards lit up with hundreds of Christmas lights - barns and sheds with giant signs declaring “Peace on Earth”, “Joy To The World”, like sentinels in the darkness along the road. Some of them had stars that crowned the highest building on the yard. In one lit-up 1960s farm-house picture window, a young man stood on tip-toes to place a light on the point of a Christmas tree - reaching. I don’t know if he realized in that moment that to my eyes, he was a living art installation reflecting a deep spiritual poetry. He certainly couldn’t know that a pilgrim in one of the cars passing his farmhouse on an evening before Christmas would see him as a sacred sentinel to faith and family, stretching his arms upward in a gesture that to me was as sacred as any Priests’.   
As my car headlights cut bright light into the curves and bends of the road, snow filtering down and through the cones of light, I felt like I was returning home from a pilgrimage to holy places in Alberta. I wondered if this was how the Wise Men felt on their way home from a tiny out-of-the-way Bethlehem, their eyes having been opened to the inherent goodness in shepherds gathered around a husband and wife with a Holy Baby. I wonder if like I, they encountered families and communities with meaningful expressions of heart made visible in small rituals, the ancient equivalent of the man stringing lights on his Christmas tree; barns lit up with bright statements of hope; or an elderly Breton Alberta Saint whose words were prophetic because I suspect she was well practiced in the art of blessing.
And as I reflect on the closing of Above Bethlehem and May and Joe, I realize that we folk in Rosebud have been visited by and indeed have had the privilege to visit wise men and shepherds and angels ... priests and saints. I realize that this province is full of such people, searching to uncover the mysteries of the human heart and it’s significance within the sacrament of their everyday lives - the words “Merry Christmas” words of blessing made even more sacred by people that actually believe what they say. 

So, to all of you wise persons, shepherds, angels, priests and saints on this Christmas Day, “Merry Christmas” from this Rosebud pilgrim.

Morris Ertman  

Thursday, 6 December 2012

"Rosebud Winter Nights", Christmas In Alberta

Rosebud Winter Nights
from Christmas In Alberta 2012

We’re obsessed with flying in Rosebud these days. Flying angels, flying trucks, flying marriage ceremonies, flying home for Christmas. All the best things come out of the sky: birds, swirling snow at Christmas, rain in the spring. Some of the best stuff just stays up there, like rainbows, fluffed white clouds, stars, the moon, the sun. Sometimes on a crisp clear blue-sky day,there’ll be a trace of white moving across the sky like a giant chalk line, the front of it looking like a silver arrow. And at Christmas, those little arrows carry Moms and Dads, Sons and Daughters, Grandpas and Grandmas, friends and relatives, flying home for Christmas - making a pilgrimage to the places where they will always belong, leaving white streaks of light behind that trace their journey for a time, then fluff away into white wisps. And on a clear night above the hills around Rosebud, sometimes you can see other white streaks piercing across the sky - shooting stars, lasting just long enough to catch a frosty gasp from those watching. Sometimes the night sky collects light into dancing streaks, and when that happens, everyone comes out of their houses to gaze at the heavens, gathering in groups of neighbors, huddling against the cold, faces illuminated by dancing light. And if the celestial entertainment lasts long enough, someone will come outside with mugs of hot chocolate for everyone, and those with mitts on will pull them off so the warmth from the mug can radiate into their hands. The ones who didn’t bring mitts don’t have to worry about negotiating hot chocolate and finding a pocket for mitts. I guess they’re the smartest - they who come out of houses on a cold winter night without mitts because they have faith to believe in generous souls who always make hot chocolate when the night sky is full of dancing light. Maybe they know because they’ve been here the longest - elders, or old souls in young bodies. Some of the people without mitts are holding hands. They say “no thanks” to the offer of hot chocolate. They don’t need it to keep warm. Maybe they’re the smartest, or maybe just the luckiest. Some of the others who hold hot chocolate think maybe they are. ... So they stop looking at the sky to look across at a particular face pointed heavenward, and they wonder if that particular face would turn his or her particular gaze towards them. And sometimes it happens, and there’s a double gasp like the one that happened when the shooting star streaked toward the horizon moments earlier. And maybe the gasp that accompanied the shooting star was the first wish placed into the air by both those faces. Maybe it’s their gasps that gather into ice crystals that fall out of the sky on this particular night where there are no clouds, a night where lights dance in random sky-patterns. And maybe this night was made for these two people gazing heavenward, looking for an excuse to fill the gap between them. So, they adjust their star-gazing positions toward one another. And in their journey, eyes occasionally gazing upward so they don’t look too interested, they bump into other night-sky gazers, sloshing hot chocolate onto the snow at their feet, saying “sorry” to the others who have seen this romantic pilgrimage coming for some time now. ... It’s a small town, after all. 
And everybody is warmed by the thought that love could waken on a winter night at Christmas, because that’s what Christmas is all about. Shepherds and Wise Men looking up at a sky where angels dance in sky patterns of light accompanied by voices singing. A young couple holding a baby in a fixer-upper cattle shed, a baby that isn’t the husband’s, but he’s OK with that. He’d had a visit from an angel telling him it was OK. So something that shouldn’t be OK is made into the most miraculous moment in the world, a moment that’s still celebrated 2012 years later. 

It’s getting late in Rosebud, and you can’t watch the sky all night, not if you have to get your rest for a Saturday double show day. The hot chocolate is finished, and people drift inside, leaving the couple now holding hands for the very first time. The couple doesn’t want the evening to end, so they go inside to help wash hot chocolate mugs, and when they’ve done that, they still don’t want the evening to end, so wind up digging out one of those movies - you know the ones where a pilot takes a girl up in a biplane to show her geese or the setting sun, or some such excuse just to show off a bit. And as they look through the collection of DVDs in the house on the hill where everyone eventually gathers outside at night to watch shooting stars and northern lights, then wash mugs after going inside, they come across A Christmas Carol, and because it’s Christmas, they put it into the DVD player instead of the movie about the guy who takes the girl for a ride in his biplane to watch geese flying as the sun sets. And they watch a classic Dickens Christmas story about a guy visited by three flying spirits. And when they get to the end, to the part where the crazy old guy opens his window to a frosty London morning to shout at a kid down in the street to get the biggest turkey he can and deliver it to the Cratchet house, the young couple curled up in the living room of the hot chocolate maker and her husband - the young couple who wished upon a star and found each other while dodging the other star gazers - feel like flying because the story in the movie makes them feel like flying, and their closeness to one another makes them feel like maybe they’ll take flight into some more of their life together, like the older couple curled up in the living room with them. And even though it’s late, they’re not worried about the double show day any more. They think maybe their show will have more magic because they’ve found a new magic they’ve never felt before, the magic of belonging to someone, the same magic that’ll bring all of those people to the show tomorrow, some of them having flown home in one of those silver arrows streaking chalk lines to join friends and relatives in a village called Rosebud to watch a story that happens to be about angels and flying and forgiveness and love and transformation and hope and miracles and new life and all kinds of other good stuff  - and Pat Murphy’s stuffing that they’ll bring back to the dressing room after singing around dining room tables because it’s Christmas and everyone deserves to feel like their spirits are flying with people they love at tables filled with good food, like at the Cratchet house after the wispy white-haired guy in the movie discovered he was light as a feather. 


So the next day, the brand new couple who aren’t tired at all, don their angel costumes, wait for the light to come up on a stage filled with glittering bobbles that hang like stars in the heavens, waiting for the song that cues them onto the stage ... flying! 
Morris Ertman

Thursday, 18 October 2012

2012 Donor Appreciation Speech

This past weekend in Rosebud we held our annual Donor Appreciation Gala. It was a beautiful evening to celebrate and thank all of you who have generously given to Rosebud Centre of the Arts over the years. As part of the event, we asked a few members of our organization to speak about the importance of Rosebud and why our donor's support is so very essential.
Here is what Rosebud School of the Arts Mentorship Acting student, Amy Burks, had to share with everyone that night:
Amy Burks
Why is Rosebud important, impactful to me?
First off I’d like to think that I am not your typical breed of actor/artist. If there is a typical breed at all- we’re all a little crazy in our own way!

I don’t come from an artistic background or even a background that had an appreciation for the arts. I remember however, the excitement I got from creating, from telling stories, from sharing my ideas about the world.
My father is a farmer, has been his whole life and the poor man was a bit taken aback by his daughter who was so interested in a world he could not understand,  one he had never engaged. But as he watched me pursue this career he said something to me that I will never forget. It was along the lines of, “This is too coincidental to be coincidence.”
I travelled before I landed in Rosebud, I’ve studied in all over Britain and have worked in ON, my home province. I’ve had the privilege of working with incredibly accomplished artists from all over the world.
But I have never encountered another place like Rosebud.
Before I came here I panicked- most of us who grow to love this place do, it’s as if we have an innate sense that it’s going to affect us. I was terrified when I arrived. There was one stop sign. ONE. As if to say, “this it is, the end of the line, you ain’t going nowhere.”  Well that stop sign was right. Rosebud sucked me in and tore me apart. That’s not what most people are expecting to hear.
This is what Rosebud does, it cradles you in this valley and it takes away all your protection and it finds the seed inside of you, the seed we all have that has the potential for incredible growth. I found a place full of people who love earth as much as I do, who love theatre and creation, who strive not only to run a business, but to say something meaningful, something akin to their fellow humans.
I work with some of the best artists in Canada. They will never force this on anyone, many students come through this town, some leave working in theatre, some do not, but what happened to those students here, to get them where they are now, is absolutely vital.
I have thought long and hard about the value of what we do here. Sometimes it can seem overwhelming. What are we doing? We are choosing to stand up in front of our fellow human beings and tell the truth. And if I can tell the truth to one person- then I’ve done my job. If there is anything I have learned in my time here it’s this- Dig deeper in with curiosity and reach further out with generosity.
You have done just that! You have given of your resources to help continue the work that is done in this beautiful valley. Thank-you. Your contribution not only impacts this community but it also provides an opportunity for students and artists to impact the world.
My dear father, who never watched theatre before, now goes on his own and he enjoys watching it. I already  see the difference I’m able to make.
Acting has taught me something about life. The best of us, are selfless. That is what I am striving for in my work, selflessness, digging in here and reaching out there.  Thank-you for your selflessness.
Let’s all keep giving, with whatever resources we have.
Amy Burks

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

2012 RSA Rosas Address

At the end of the first act of Thornton Wilders’ Our Town, Rebecca makes the wisest observation a person can make about one’s place in the world: 

REBECCA. I never told you about that letter Jane Crofut got from her minister when she was sick. He wrote Jane a letter and on the envelope the address was like this: “Jane Crofut; The Crofut Farm, Grover’s Corners, Sutton County, New Hampshire, United States Of America.”

What’s funny about that?, says George.

REBECCA. But listen, it’s not finished: The United States Of America, Continent of North America, Western Hemisphere, The Earth, The Solar System, The Universe, The Mind of God, - that’s what it said on the envelope.

GEORGE. What do you know!

REBECCA. Yep. and the postman brought it just the same.

There’s a wide-eyed wonder in Rebecca at the end of the first act of Our Town. The simplicity of her spirit reflects Jesus’ words when he said that unless we become like little children, we cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven. And what is that spirit? It’s the wonder at the place of an ordinary person within the context of something so large it is impossible to comprehend. It’s the awareness of our context within an ever widening circle that goes on and on, traveling outward with Einstein’s ever-expanding universe of light, joining the chorus of humanity long since gone - the chorus that includes Thornton Wilder, Shakespeare, C.S. Lewis, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, all those voices who finally found their words written down in the book of Genesis, the voices of our grandparents and great grandparents whose stories drift down through memories spoken aloud at Christmas and other family meals - the great bright light of human beings who shared their love, paying it forward into the next generation of souls, aware of their limited time with one another. It is the spirit that the theatre at it’s best tries to emulate in story. It is what inspires us to entertain, to share, to find metaphor and more that celebrates our humanity, knowing that the good and the bad are somehow held in it all - the profane making us aware of our need for that which is sacred. And somehow, all of that humanity finds itself swirling in God’s manifest grace, his massive spirit of love. It is this spirit that informs the best of what we do - the notion that at the core of our humanity is something good, something worth sharing with one another. 

But something happens to us when we lose sight of the fact that we were formed in the mind of God, created in his image - and like children whose innocence we crave, naively wise and good. We can start to believe that there is no sacred, only profane. We can become so convinced of the overwhelming presence of darkness that we no longer believe there is light. Our expressions can become cynical and desperate, our gifts the wares we trade for some kind of meagre living we cling to, an identity of professionalism that distorts the love of humanities brightest myths that brought us to be storytellers in the first place. I’ve worked in the theatre my whole life, and have witnessed the tragedy of cynicism that robs artists of belief. I’ve sat across the table from a playwright whose work denied any possibility of light and life, and I have grieved the tragedy of the enveloping darkness that blinded him to light and love - the blindfold he willingly wore for fear of looking into the possibility of a light so bright it might expose him. I’ve looked into the eyes of actors afraid to immerse themselves in the story they are telling for fear it will not out not to be true. I grieve such loss, and in many ways this address is a prayer against such a thing ever happening to any of you. 

There’s a lyric in one of Bruce Cockburn's’ songs that reads “another step closer, into darkness, closer to the light.” There is no denying the fact that we storytellers will engage darkness, but darkness is not where we dwell. It is the place we walk through as we seek out the mystery of grace in our world. We have been created for light. Our bodies require sun-light sourced vitamin D, our pupils dilate in order to take in light. Audience’s eyes are drawn to the brightest place on stage. We seek out bright faces, hopeful ideas, wide-eyed innocences, like Rebecca’s in Our Town. At the end of the 1st Act she is sitting at her window looking out at pin-points of light that can only be seen when it is dark - a little girl, framed in the window of a house in a cosmos so vast it points  her right back to the centre of her own heart, giving her significance - her spirit created by the Maker of the Universe, her DNA, personality, hopes and dreams held in the mind of God. And she speaks her words to her brother George, openly and without fear, the permission for expressing such a massive, vulnerable idea granted by the love between brother and sister.

A dear friend sent a quote to me in an email last week. It’s from Led By Faith written by Immaculee Ilibagiza, an inspired survivor of the Rwandan genocide:
"Our desire to love is stamped on our hearts before we are born. You must not let life erase it! God knew you in the womb, and He planted your ability to love in your soul before you drew your first breath. You must nurture that seed, allowing it to grow strong within you .You must love your family and love your neighbors; above all, you must love God. God doesn't just want you to love; He commands it. He commands it!"

Our venerable David Snider once met with St. Cockburn in his dressing room after a concert and asked him what his maxim for life was. How does he make the choices he makes as an artist? Cockburn’s response - “whatever love dictates”. Cockburn’s idealism is important. He is an artist who has raged against injustice, gone through deep personal failure and loss - a man well acquainted with darkness. Wasn’t it said about Jesus that he was a man well acquainted with suffering? And this iconic Canadian Christian artist seeks to govern his life by love - regardless of how much dark he encounters. The persevering action is love - it’s language so universal it crosses religious, cultural, ethnic boundaries, uniting everyone who dares to open their heart to it. 

In “Our Town” called Rosebud, you handful of grads have been held by such a love, and held others in it. It is a love that is aware of how deeply dark life can become, embracing us in the moments when that darkness seems overwhelming. This place is like Avalon of the Heart - the island in England where folklore says some of the followers of Jesus - Lazarus, Joseph of Arimathea, Mary Magdalene, and others - mentored others in the practice of grace and love in a deeply troubled time, then sent them out into the world with their spiritual lanterns trimmed and ready to engage for the sake of love. You are a rag-tag company of minstrels, practiced in creative processes that have been cradled in grace. And when the darkness threatens to overwhelm you, remember where you came from. “Our Town” our “Rosebud of the Heart” is a mystical miracle, born of collective compassion, tenacity and creativity. The communal experience of Rosebud is the sunlit hothouse within which you were nurtured, and its’ experience is trustworthy and true. You are the fruit. Don’t forget that. 

Be faithful lovers, protectors of innocence, restorers of that which is broken, and above all - lovers of God. Speak stories, dance moments and sing songs that waken us to light and life, no matter how dark and broken the context. And this is our promise to you, contained in another Cockburn lyric sent to me by a student in a moment of darkness.

I've been scraping little shavings off my ration of light
And I've formed it into a ball, and each time I pack a bit more onto it
I make a bowl of my hands and I scoop it from its secret cache
Under a loose board in the floor
And I blow across it and I send it to you
Against those moments when
The darkness blows under your door

What would happen if we spent the whole of our creative life doing exactly that for the world of souls in which we live?

I’d like to close with a quote from a letter written some 2000 or so years ago by the Apostle Paul, forwarded from the Corinthian Church to the Graduates of Rosebud School of the Arts, Rosebud, Alberta, Canada, Continent of North America, Western Hemisphere, The Earth, The Solar System, The Universe, The Mind of God:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. 

The love you have discovered in this valley will never end. Store it. Share it. It is sourced in the mind and heart of God.

Morris Ertman

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Real Life Morries: Your Personal Tributes

Do you have an important mentor in your life? In honour of our current production of Mitch Albom's Tuesdays with Morrie we want to celebrate those influential people whose wisdom and guidance have often shaped the lives of those around them. We're inviting you to write about your mentor in the comments section of this blog post. All submissions will be entered into a draw for The Time Keeper.  The winner will be announced  on October 20th on our blog and on our facebook page.

To kick things off, here is a submission from Rosebud Theatre Resident Actor, David Snider, who plays Mitch in the show:

I am blessed to have had a number of “Morries” in my life. Morris Ertman is definitely one both as a mentor and dear friend. Much of what we share on stage is born from our relationship. 

Another mentor who has been on my mind recently I met my senior year in high school. I had a choir teacher named David Pool, known by his students as just “Pool”.  He inspired us to recognize our value and responsibility as a part of a greater whole when making music.  He required us to communicate the humanity in the songs. He was frank about life’s difficulty, and treated each of us as capable to live bravely, responsibly, and with joy.  His lessons and conducting were shot-through with wry humor and wit. A famous phrase from him was “I hate you all equally”, which we received as high praise indeed.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Tuesdays With Morrie First Read

It's the end of the first week of rehearsals for Tuesdays With Morrie. I received an email from Sheila Graham, our Finance Manager at Rosebud Centre of the Arts. Here are her observations about the first read. They're worth sharing. 

"I recently attended the first read of our upcoming fall show, Tuesdays with Morrie.  It was a tingles-up-my-spine experience!

I have the luxury and privilege in my position with Rosebud to get a little glimpse into the creative spirit that brings this thing called live theatre together.  It feels to me like stealing time away from counting, adding and subtracting, to peak through a keyhole in a door into a mysterious and often magical world.

The read for Morrie was exactly like that.  I know the power Dave Snider commands on stage.  I have been awed by it on many occasions.  To watch Morris Ertman take on a different challenge in the process was very cool.  He met Dave’s power with such an open heart it seared right through to my heart.  I don’t know how he accomplished that, but it seems magical to me!  These two powerful and gifted men took hold of the people and relationships in this story and, through my keyhole, time melted away.  And this was just the read!  I am so excited to witness the journey this story takes under the love and care of Rosebud!"

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Anne of Green Gables: A Personal Tribute

Rosebud Theatre is a place where performers bring the pathos of everyday life to our stories on stage. Cassia Schramm plays the beloved Anne of Green Gables on our stage this summer. Her performance will be fuelled not only by her personal love of the story, but by an understanding of the significance of Anne in the life of a dear friend of the family. 

"I am thrilled to have the opportunity to play Anne Shirley this summer. It is a teenage dream-role! Who doesn’t want to relish words like “excruciatingly” or affectionately endow a tree with the name “Snow Queen”? Who doesn't long for kindred spirits like Diana, Matthew and Marilla? And, of course, who doesn’t want to crack a slate over Gilbert Blythe’s head?! I have always had a special place in my heart for Anne and the people in her story. This past year has given me yet another reason to fall in love with her.

A question in my mind, is how many times should we pay tribute to a lost loved one? Is it possible to spend too much time in grief and tribute that we forget to move on? Last summer a dear friend of my mother was killed in a motorcycle accident. Fern Corsiatto’s mantra was, “I will not live an unlived life!” Even her death seemed to exude this statement; she was riding through the mountains, clinging to the man she loved on the back of a motorcycle. Her death has left a huge hole in our family and community.  She did not live and unlived life, and we miss her immensely. She had a laugh that filled a room, and a presence that commanded it. She was a legendary karaoke performer of “Delta Dawn.” She wore pink. She was an artist and a teacher. She drove a Harley. She grew tomatoes. Her most prominent mark was her gigantic love! She loved her family, her children, her grandchildren, and fiercely loved her friends. She called her friends her “bosom friends” and greeted them with a kiss on the mouth. She liked to cause a stir, but more importantly she wanted people to know she loved them. The church was crammed full at her funeral, and every person there 
believed in their heart that she loved them the most.  She loved in a way that made you feel 
like you were the most important person in the world.

Fern loved Anne of Green Gables! I think in her heart she believed, like many Canadian girls, that she was Anne. A friend of hers told me the story of their trip to Prince Edward Island, which included a tour of Anne Shirley’s house. When Fern walked into the house she was overwhelmed and started crying. Her friend, in her delightful practicality said, “I don’t know why she was crying. Anne wasn’t even a real person!” 
Anne’s story was so precious to Fern that she became real. That’s the beauty of stories. 
They tell the truth, and sometimes they use facts.

How many tributes does a person get? Fern’s friends were songwriters, they wrote songs for her. The women of Fern’s family each wear a new fern tattoo. “Delta Dawn” will be forever devoted to her. Her friends now greet each other with a kiss on the mouth, so that she is always included. And as I stand on 

Rosebud Theatre's Opera House stage this summer, 
I will offer Anne as another tribute to her."

Cassia Schramm

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Rosebud Theatre company member, Jeany Van Meltebeke, who plays the hilarious and headstrong Esther in Rosebud's upcoming production, $38,000 For a Friendly Face, shares her thoughts about the show:

I have one of the best jobs in the world. Inside the theatre, I get to be in glowing light and participate in a story called $38,000 For a Friendly Face - a story about women doing their best on a difficult day for a lovable funeral director whoʼs struggling to manage a meaningful service for a woman nobody liked. At the end of rehearsal, I trudge through white snow to my home, about 200 steps away, where I get to share my meals with my husband, and then greet my kids when they get off the bus from school.

Acting is fun. Yes, itʼs just like playing pretend, but more than that--itʼs about stumbling onto truth in various ways. Itʼs about seeing someone opposite you in a new light, and itʼs about allowing yourself to truthfully respond with words that are prescribed. I know that part may sound unnatural to the non-actor, but think of it as learning to drive. After a bit of practice, you no longer think about the mechanics, but simply pay attention and respond instinctively.

One of my favorite moments is watching Kelsey Krogman lead a rebellion against cutting the crusts off sandwiches. Her character Marge has had enough of cutting the ugly out of truth and she is ready to fight for the right to have it all: the good, the bad, and the ugly! Sheʼs so fierce and committed, itʼs a pleasure to behold.

I also get to stand opposite my good friend Nathan Schmidt. Now Nathan often has a twinkle in his eye which can then lead to a smirk, which can then lead to a snigger, and then downright laughter! So early in rehearsal my natural responsive instinct was in conflict with the governor in my head to stay in character while this mirthful man was indulging his delight. I did not last. I too was overcome with an incredible urge to laugh and try as I could, through various tactics of avoidance, scolding, and tossing off the lines... it was hopeless and I experienced a kind of wonderful agony in trying to keep focused on the scene and stay present.

As I glance down at my hands, I see the pink glitter nail polish I have on for my character Esther. In the play Esther has done everything possible to look like spring. Her dress, makeup and nails are all pink, and her hair is carefully and abundantly curled. I smile because I would have never thought take time for this particular indulgence nor ever choose this particular color. But this small layer I take on to my own self helps me have a bit of sympathy for my character. In this way acting can be a very charitable endeavour as it allows me to expand my understanding of what it means to be human and hopefully helps me be more gracious to people unlike me. Even those who may not be so free...

Theatre thrives on conflict. Good stories do not dwell solely on the good, but they respect the beauty of it by earning it through trial, through messy circumstances and failure. And that, as Kelseyʼs character Marge would say, is the whole truth: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Sacred and profane, pink and black, sandwiches with their crusts left on and sandwiches with their crusts cut off - they all have a place because piece by piece, they help me put together a greater picture of life which is broadening the older I get. What more could I wish for?

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Kristin Shepherd on $38,000 For A Friendly Face

I’ve been in conversations with Kristin Shepherd about her play, $38,000 For A Friendly Face. We’re starting rehearsals next week on this show that reveals the eccentricities of a host of characters gathering for one reason or another around what should be a "Celebration of Life" at a funeral home run by an awkward, middle-aged man who is absolutely new to running funeral homes. Funny as the story is, it is rooted in an unusual grace. The playwright says the following about why she wrote the play. I thought it was worth sharing. It resonates very much with why we produce the kinds of plays we do here in Rosebud.

“I'm interested in kindness in difficult situations and with difficult people. Someone says a friendly word at the drive-through at Tim Hortons and your life changes for a while. Someone makes sandwiches when your mother dies even if your mother was a difficult woman to like. A husband invites his wife out for coffee days after she leaves the marriage. Something about the simplicity of these acts of love and kindness knocks me over. I thought these things deserved to be on stage.”

Kristin Shepherd

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The Little Town with a Website

Rosebud's got a new internet presence... information on all the "other" things going on in town, as well as info on our shows.

Check it out!