I'm allergic to cats. I always have been. But just this one time I thought, "Maybe not. Maybe this time I won't be." So I pet him. Of course I was. But it made me realize, this was the true meaning of HOPE.
A few months ago, a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to be a part of a new improvised musical workshop. I was honored and terrified. As usual, my instinct was to say no, but, against my natural reflex, I said yes. In some unspoken way, I made a choice for myself a few years ago that I would always say yes to a good opportunity, especially the scary ones. Since that choice, I have skydived Fox Glacier, scuba dived the Great Barrier Reef, jumped from worn ropes into unknown murky waters in Laos, walked through the haunted house at Universal Studios (I regret that one), stage managed shows with no experience, and treaded ice cold water in the Rocky Mountains… nude.
Improvisation may not seem as scary as these things, but my mind was filled with doubts and the heightened expectations I’d be under. I pictured an audience of people, watching me as they waited for a full solo number that was funny and impressive. But I said yes already. I had to go.
My assumptions couldn’t have been more wrong. I showed up to the Varscona Theatre and was met by my friends and peers, all with the same excitement and slight fear in their eyes. My friend, Byron Martin, who put it all together calmed our worries right away. No expectations. No judgments. Improv shouldn’t be scary and he was right. We just began to play, something I haven’t done in a very long time. We played games, laughed A LOT, and even tried singing some songs accompanied by the extremely talented Erik Mortimer on the keys. And that is what we’ve been doing every week for the past few months. I’ve met amazing new people, surprised myself with what lyrics come out of my mouth when my brain has no time to prepare, but most of all I’ve had fun. I always leave with a smile on my face that has been stuck there for the past 2 hours of rehearsal. I am in awe of the local artists that come to rehearsal and blow me away with their talent and quick wit. I am proud to be on stage with these people. And as far as the ‘rules’ of improv go, my practice of always saying yes has come to good use.
So come and see the “11 O'Clock Number” at the Varscona Theatre. Our first show is this Friday, January 11th at 11pm. We will perform a fully improvised, two-act musical on the spot based on suggestions from the audience. Produced by Grindstone Theatre, directed by Byron Martin, with pianist Erik Mortimer, and starring tons of local Edmonton artists. The show gives you a chance to get out on a Friday night and laugh, or cry, or be angry… because who knows what show we’ll come up with.
Find the event on Facebook here.
Buy tickets now here!
"The 11 O'Clock Number" plays every second Friday evening at 11pm at the Varscona Theatre starting January 11th until April 20th.
Block 1912, a cafe full of like-minded people, an aroma of chai lattes and steeping teas, and couches who’s overuse and gratitude engulfed their guests. We sat. Four girls ripe out of college with dreams and goals and no doubts or fears, not yet tainted by the failures and lessons life kindly hands over when you go for something big.
We needed a name. As so many theatre companies that have come before us and the endless amount that will be born after. We started with a need, a great desire to create but most of all, create together. It isn’t everyday you find a group of people with the same amount of passion for a singular thing, each bringing their own special gifts. We shared a need to work in theatre, and if the roles we were itching to play didn’t exist, we’d create them ourselves. How hard could writing a show be?
But we still needed a name. As we sat in the cafe, we discussed every possible company name that came to mind. Inside jokes, popular titles, funny words, sappy and heartfelt labels. What would describe who we are and still be pleasant to a stranger’s ear? Melissa sat in her large, tufted chair as we debated, looking through a book she happened to have with her at the time. And she found it. Poiema. Google came in handy as we searched it’s exact meaning and context.
Poiema (noun) po-ay-mah. A hebrew word meaning masterpiece and workmanship. The words were epic, meaningful… and a bit dramatic for our small theatre company. But we knew we were beginning something great and lasting, and having a powerful name to live up to was the perfect way to set our goals high and have a constant reminder of where we started and the passion that brought us together.
It hasn’t been easy. We have failed, succeeded, fought, cried, laughed, argued and lost sight of goals. But, as Sara so importantly wrote in our blog two weeks ago, we’ve always tried to enjoy the process. The workmanship. What is the point of having a great show if you hated the year leading up to it? If you lost friends in the process? If you became unhealthy due to stress? To us, there is nothing more important than spending time together creating in a positive and healthy way and learning as much as we can in the process.
As an avid 'diy'-er (of clothing), I found a great craft of writing on fabric with bleach to create a design. As all the Poiema Gals (except for me) have birthdays in October and November, I thought it would be a great present. I made us all “I am Poiema” shirts and it occurred to me what that means. I am hardworking, I am a masterpiece, I have big dreams, and I do my best to enjoy life as it comes without constantly pushing myself for a final result. It makes me wonder: Are you Poiema?
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