Another Blog in the Machine (#1)

Welcome to my new website and my very first blog. I decided to start Cece Blogging to express my thoughts and ideas on writing, acting and producing theatre, and on life and purpose. My love of film, music, dance, literature and art will inform these thoughts and ideas. As will any feedback I receive from you.

I just finished building this website. The first site I had, from 2010 until earlier this year, I built at the Toronto Reference Library, with a lot of help from a computer specialist named Greg. This new site I built all by my lonesome – with a lot of trial and error, and by watching YouTube tutorials. WordPress, plugins, typeface, design – I loved the whole process. I also love the process of making theatre…

 

 

I’m right at the beginning of trying to produce a play that I wrote, and I thought it might be interesting to share this journey. I say “trying to produce” because money has to be raised. Whenever money has to be raised, there are no guarantees. However, I produced another one of my plays in 2011, and I’m determined to do it again. I’m also currently working on a documentary film – which I may talk about from time to time.

Since you’re reading this, maybe you want to know a little bit about me. The path, in the pictures above and  below, is to the home where I grew up in a suburb of Montreal. My mom still lives there. When I go home to visit her, and I walk through that path, so many memories of my life come flooding back to me…

Where it all began…I got involved in theatre when I was a kid. I took various forms of dance (ballet, jazz, modern, tap). Piano lessons for about four years. I was in a community dance/theatre troupe from the age of 11 to 19. Did musicals in high school. I even had a garage band for a couple of years. I read a lot. And I made short films in university. I cherish all of those experiences. They inform my creativity.

After university I fulfilled a dream by going to New York City to study acting. While living in Harlem, I worked with a local theatre company, the Hadley Players, landing the role of “Beneatha” in a production of A Raisin in the Sun. It was basically against the rules of my acting school to do outside work, but being young, and something of a rebel, I decided to do it anyway.

"Dream as if you'll live forever.

Live as if you'll die today."

- James Dean

I don’t regret it. It afforded me the opportunity to work with a great lady of the theatre, Gertrude Jeannette. Miss Jeannette just died this past April at the age of 103! She was tough, but I learnt so much from her. She had worked on Broadway and knew everyone. When we did the production of A Raisin in the Sun, among many others, Esther Rolle came to see it, as did Lorraine Hansberry’s husband, Robert Nemiroff. He told me that Lorraine would have loved me. I was a bit overwhelmed, and also slightly bemused because he was accompanied by a woman who looked a lot like Ms. Hansberry. But when I read in the New York Times, less than a year later, that he’d died, I was happy that I got to meet him.

I did some other acting work in New York, and also followed up on an invitation from a guest director at my acting school to audition for her touring company after graduation. This lead to an amazing 60 city tour of a bilingual (French/English) production of The Little Prince, travelling by van across the US, from New York to California.

After the tour, I decided to return to Canada because I wanted to create work at home. Since arriving here in the 1990’s, I’ve worked in theatre, film, tv etc. But I’ve always felt that Canada needs more homegrown work. It’s fine to do productions of English and American plays, and to be in their tv shows and films, but the only way to create our own culture is for Canadian artists to make our own collective body of work – something that future generations can build on.

"Nothing will work unless you do."

– Maya Angelou

Working in the theatre has been exciting, frustrating, life affirming, and worth it. At times I’ve succeeded and felt momentarily elated. At other times I’ve missed the mark and garnered great life lessons. Or at the very least, learned what not to do. I’ve dropped out at times. Almost lost my mind working “job jobs” for periods of time. But I always return to making theatre.

I met up last week, at the Beanery in Toronto, with Threshold Theatre’s Mark Cassidy and Suzanne Hersh. They had staged a reading of my play, Stormbound (Crystal Ice Reflections) in March. At the Beanery, we discussed producing it. In 2007, I formed El Destino Productions, and our first producing venture – of my play, Swan Song of Maria (A Tragic Fairy Tale) – was with Threshold Theatre. We’ll be working together on the Stormbound production as well.

I wrote Stormbound after living through the 1998 ice storm in Montreal. The play had staged readings as part of various festivals, and I later adapted it to a radio drama. The CBC produced it. It won them an award in New York. They produced it again. Then I put it aside to work on other things. I picked it up again recently…I’m excited. Doing rewrites. Preparing to write grants and raise funds. Assembling our team. I’ll keep you informed.

My goal, to begin with, is to post a blog every other Wednesday from now until the end of 2018. We’ll see how that goes, and I’ll determine how to continue blogging going forward.

I hope you find Cece Blogging interesting, and that you’ll share your thoughts with me.

Thanks for reading…

Peace

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