Thursday, 24 January 2013

A Reflection: Madame Bovary

At first, when faced with reading this novel, I was excited-- I mean, a novel written in 1856 about an adulterous woman is very scandalous and I was sure that it would be fun and entertaining. I had high expectations for the main character, Emma.  I figured Emma was to be this strong, take-charge woman who had men falling at her feet, and used this as power. I should have known better. Let's face it, no novel in 1850 is going to allow adultery to be thought of as a powerful thing. (Not that I think women should commit adultery to be powerful... I just mean that it would be exciting to read about a liberated woman who takes charge of her own boring life).


I was right about the beginning, we are introduced to Charles, Emma's soon-to-be husband who happens to be fairly dull and who the readers are naturally not very fond of (due to Flaubert’s I suspect ;)) However, other than the fact that Charles had to take his medical exams twice, he is not unlikable-- just simply uninspiring and lacks passion. Emma is your typical small town woman who dreams of passions that are beyond what her life holds. Before I complain about what I did not like in this novel I have to recognize the fact that this was written in a different era for different reasons. Nonetheless, I found Emma irritating. Her adulterous nature leads her to be heart-struck, ill, near death, whiny, and lacking strength. She never finds fulfillment in her own choices which leads to her **SPOILER ALERT** downward spiral of impeding dept, and of course tragic suicide (which was not very tragic). Yes, it teaches us women a lesson-- cheating is wrong and will lead you to great unhappiness....tragedy and death. (You will also become an increasingly irritating character who the readers (perhaps just me?) care little about!). I am being brief and there are wonderful things about the writing of this novel so...  Read it yourself...although it is rather long and sometimes tedious-- maybe you will not find Emma so irritating...

Up Next: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Monday, 21 January 2013

The Balancing Act

An Actors To Do List:

Take a dance class $
Get an agent
Take a film class $$
Take a theatre class $$
Take a vocal class $$
Get new Headshots $$$
Take a casting directors workshop. $$
Take an improv class $$
Take another Dance class $

Balancing Act: Fret Less, Smile More

So, I was visiting my fathers house and had the pleasure of having a disgussion with my younger brother who was trying to figure out what courses to take in his grade 12 year. You see, the problem is he wants to keep his options open. This seems like a reasonable dellema, as I too went through the same confusion during my final year and made the fatal mistake of taking Grade 12 chemestry because clearly that would help me in my theatre life. What I have now learned is that sometimes, by trying to keep yourself unlimited, you limit yourself. Or, if not necessarily limiting, life becomes unnecessarily stressful. In the discussion with my brother we spoke about the option of taking a class in summer school. This would not be taken to lighten his load in his final year, but instead, to make space in his time table to take another class. In fact, he has made up his mind that he is not taking a single spare, meaning that he will graduate with an extra 2 credits that he doesn't need-- all in attempt to keep his options open for university.

I don't know if I was that big of a help. I can tell him my opinions, but ultimately his choices and future are (and should be) his own. But as I started thinking about his delimma, I started to realize that this balancing act does not really dissapear. How do you keep being a triple threat performer while trying to make a living? One rich. Obviously this is not an option for many of us but ultimately it would solve most of our problems. However, for those of us who are determined to do this despite the general lack of funds, we fight through balancing well...a lot! Not only do we have to work our Joe-job that sustains us and allows us to eat something once in a while, we are also trying to take dance classes, voice/singing classes, film classes, improv classes, going to shows, beinging in (mostly non-paying) shows, auditioning, picking up extra shifts/jobs, workshops and then having somewhat of a social life so that we can keep our connections/friends.  So maybe there is time in a week for the majority of the things listed but there sure isn't the money to keep up all of that. It's like my brother can only take 8 classes per year so which out of the 12 do you leave out -- well I only have enough money to do one class at a time so which needs the most work?

Of course seeking councelling is not always an option for either high school students trying to choose which path to take, or artists trying to choose which class to invest their time and money in. Everyone will have their opinions on what you should do and what you should become-- parents telling you to take an extra year in high school to "make up your mind" (secretly planning to keep you at home for the rest of your life), or other artists helping you by telling you which teacher is the best in the city (because they took from them and they are just trying to confirm that they too made the right choice). We are all just trying to remain on the balance beam and not fall. So instead of falling... I say jump. Follow your heart, your dreams, and your ambitions. Because, sometimes they are trying to tell you something but you are making too much noise trying to work out your life. Yes, you may have to close a few doors-- but in the mean time, you will open many more windows and meet many more fabulous people.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Bill 115

It's hard for me to sit by and listen to all that is being said about elementary school teachers and bill 115 that has recently been pushed upon them. It is "a collective agreement that was not collectively agreed upon."(Professor Marvin Rider, Ontario Today) I think when the general public gets a hold of situations such as this one we let our emotions takeover; emotions that blind us and make us argue with an uneducated, irrational opinion, especially because it is the children who take the brunt of the inconveniences when there is a strike involving teachers.

I am biased as I do have family members and friends who are teachers, fighting for their rights to collectively bargain. I also have family members and friends who I have had countless arguments with regarding what the teachers are fighting for. It is for both sides of my family that I write this-- to the family and friends fighting: stand up for what is right and what you believe in, I support you and your cause. And to the family and friends who fail to see the importance of the teachers plight: please consider what follows.

Countless articles, reports and discussions focus and revolve around the wage freeze that the government is implementing on the teachers. Yes, Bill 115 implements a salary freeze, 3 unpaid P.A days (where the teachers are still working), a cutback of annual sick days from 20 down to 10, and a losing of all banked sick days teachers previously acquired. However, for the majority of teachers the most important issue with this Bill 115 does not concern the above impositions. The majority of teachers are fighting against the part of the bill that allows the cabinet to intervene and prevent any strike either before or after it begins-- an infringement on the already established collective bargaining practice. In other words, taking away the unions rights to collectively bargain. Regardless of the money or the sick days, I ask you: is it a crime for teachers to stand up for their rights? Because tomorrow, the government may say that it is.

Yes, I realize at the end of the day it is always about money. Even if the teachers agree to the wage freeze for now, the collective bargaining rights that they are fighting for allow them to negotiate wages. But if you were in their position, wouldn't you want this right? The teachers are not getting paid while walking out and protesting against this bill so it can't just be about money. Furthermore, they are not just fighting for their own collective bargaining rights, but for union rights in general. If the provincial government is able to pass this bill it will set a dangerous precedent for all future union-labour negotiations.

And yes, perhaps the teachers should be happy with what they already have, the perks of being a teacher are numerous; there are the benefits, the pension plan, the steady salary and of course the vacation time (two weeks in the winter and two months in the summer)-- but how is this an argument when you, too, could have chosen to be an elementary teacher-- it's not like these perks are hidden away and kept secret from the general public. The fact is this job is not for everyone. They are sometimes treated like glorified baby sitters, and often deal with things that are not listed in the job description. They volunteer their time to coach a sport or run a team. Do you really think the teachers are happy about the "Work to Rule", where because of the actions by the provincial government they can't run the homework club, or the school play or the basketball team. The majority of teachers are just as frustrated with this situation as you are. As for the sick days, working with kids all day has got to get a bit “germy”, so frankly I wouldn't be surprised if the average teacher is more likely to catch a flu or cold than the average office worker. They need those sick days.

Unfortunately, when the teachers fight for their rights, the kids are the ones who suffer-- so if you are frustrated by this GOOD (that’s the point!), get educated and educate your kids about what the teachers are fighting for. These are jobs and unions that those kids may one day join. The teachers are not asking the kids to take sides, but they are asking for awareness and for people to understand why they must sometimes strike. And if you agree, they could use your support. Yes, it is inconvenient and frustrating and this recent skirmish has gone on far too long; teachers agree with that!

So remember tomorrow that if the teachers walk out, illegally or not, it is not because they want to. Most of them would much rather be in the classroom teaching and doing what they love. But instead, they are fighting for their rights, for what is right, and hopefully teaching the children this important lesson while they try and pave the way for union rights.

Goodbye Twelve, Hello Thirteen, Love Love Love

Bring it on. That's what I say to you 2013 (who was pointed out to me as an ominous sounding year). Ominous or not, I choose to conquer thee with lots of love, happiness and determination as I set new year goals that are, more than likely, overly ambitious and were probably my goals in 2012 and will be again in 2014. What I won't do, however, is tell you what said goals are because in all honesty...I don't want or need you to judge whether or not my year as an artist or as a person is or was a success. Setting unrealistic goals and not reaching them is not failure IF you tried. Maybe all of our goals should be unattainable; this way we never stop trying. I don't want to sit down at the end of the day and say that all my goals in life are complete. If all your dreams came true, what would you dream about? Most (all?) artists are dreamers; it's what allows us to always be working on bettering ourselves.

In the mean time, some things I dug into over the holiday season:

Les Miserables

I have read numerous people’s feelings/opinions/reviews on this film, some raving and generous, some hateful an uneducated and some straight down the line. I enjoyed it. I am not going to sit here and pick out the flaws that are obvious to some and not to others. But if you are curious-- go see it and make your own opinions. I for one can't wait to read the book after seeing this, I think it will shed new light on the performers choices, and the composers creativity.

Gone Girl

I heard about this novel from a store clerk in Coles who raved about it. After reading it, I am not sure how I feel about this novel. While many people believe it to be one of the best novels they read in 2012, I cannot attest to that. This is a mystery/thriller novel that has chapters that alternate between the husband and wife's voice. It is about a relationship and a wife that goes missing. I can't tell you more because it pretty much would give the whole thing away. This novel is a good novel but I am not sure if I liked it. The characters are difficult to love and for this reason I give Flynn props for being able to create characters that are not always likeable, and yet you want to continue with the novel none-the-less.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

This is a gem of a film. Who doesn't like Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. This film hit a sweet spot for me as the acting was wonderful, the story was charming and of course the backdrop of India is irresistible to someone who clings to the memories of a trip that seems so long ago. No wonder it has a few Golden Globe nominations!

Life of Pi

The more I think about this film, the more I like it. My first reaction was that the story makes for a better book than movie, but ironically this is exactly what the movie wants you to think about -- story telling. I do not think you can realize how clever this film is without having read the book first. The storybook frame, and postmodern twists are what make this film smart but I must tip my hat off to Ang Lee for making this film stunning. Yes, at times I felt that it was a more humorous take on the infamous Cast Away, and natural animal behavior is sometimes difficult to watch, but overall a stunning and clever film.

So, 2013, we are off with a few new projects to look forward to doing (A Chorus Line, Lovelash, Auditions...etc) and a lot more story's, be it books or movies, to dig I can't complain!