Friday, November 28, 2008

There are no happy endings.

I dreamed of a journey, but now that dream is done.

I dreamed of mountains of grey rock and green trees, of lakes made of glass and seas made of foam. I dreamed i was aboard a ship with wheels, as a black sea raced by beneath me. I dreamed of tiny, unheard-of paradises on the edges of oceans, where the sun sets behind gods made of stone and the people remember the names of their great-great-grandparents. I dreamed of rolling green hills and soil the colour of rust. I dreamed of one long, twisting road and an endless chain of unfamiliar beds and stages.

And i dreamed of being someone else, a different person with dreams of his own, for an hour or so every day. That hour was always the same, and always a little different.

It was a good dream. But now that dream is done. I've awakened to find myself in a tower, in a half-familiar city, both far from home and close to home. "Home," as a concept, is more complicated than you'd think.

My companions have all departed, each gone their own way, to their own idea of home. Tomorrow i'll be gone, too.

There are no happy endings, because nothing ever ends. The journey's not over, just the job. I don't know what comes next, but then, i never do. I just know, more and more, that all i want to do is tell stories for the rest of my life. For a few weeks, i got to do that. That's why it was a good dream.

If i ever have another one like it, i'll try to remember to tell you about it.

Til then, so long.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Carbonear, Pt.2: The Sound of Diamonds

Geologists, biologists, and chemists will all tell us that long, long after humans have left this world, the oceans will remember us. But really, that would be obvious to anyone who's ever been on a beach, where alongside the countless rocks and twisted bits of driftwood lay our every fingerprint: rusted steel, broken glass worn smooth by water, and of course, plastic, as ageless and unkillable as the stones themselves. It says something about this place that even with the litter, it's still so beautiful.

Just a tiny piece of beach here in what is basically our back yard, looking out onto what i'm told is Carbonear island. Many of the stones on this beach are too square and regular to be natural, as if they were once shaped into bricks for some stone building, long since crumbled.

For a small place, though, they've got a heck of a lot of young folks. The crowd here was the biggest yet, around 500 students, and they were terrific. We're now five shows in, with something like twenty still to go.

I fear it'll all go by too fast.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Carbonear, Pt. 1: The Sound of Coal

Carbonear is a real place, and on a foggy night it feels like what i imagine being a ghost must feel like.

Everything is far away, hazy. The sound of small waves breaking on rocks could be right at your feet, or a mile away, but even if the water is close enough to get your boots wet, it looks like a blurry photograph, taken a long time ago. There is no horizon, just a flat grey progression from water to sky. You could be standing at the shore of a tiny lake, or the edge of an endless ocean.

I was about to say it was a haunted feeling, but as day turned into night here and i tried to notice, it felt more like i was the one doing the haunting.

Tomorrow is more kids, more driving, another strange place. In the meantime it's time to see what dreams those fog-shaped waters bring.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

obligatory overdue update

Wow, so that was three weeks.

I can't remember if this got mentioned already or not, but our three-week rehearsal period was cut a little short when we left St. John's on Wednesday for a quick jaunt to a place called Churchill Falls, Labrador.

Let me tell you a little about Churchill Falls, population 700. It's only existed since the early 70's, when a massive underground power plant was built there. Virtually everything in the town belongs to the hydro-power corporation that runs the plant, and virtually everyone in the town works there. It is the very definition of a Company town. One school. One hotel. One pub. No streetlights. No cabs (which made getting from the airport to that one hotel kind of a challenge). And one very appreciative graduating class of about 30 making up the first audience of this tour.

Thursday night, after the show, we got a free guided tour of the power plant, which is about 91 stories underground, cut into solid granite. I tried to remember all the details of just how massively big everything in the place was, but after a while all the stats about millions of litres per minute and thousands of megawatts a day and hundreds of tons per what-have-you, started to run together. In layperson's terms: It's really big, and it's really far underground. There's something to do with water, and it makes a big pile of electricity, most of which goes to Québec.

So that was Thursday. Friday we flew back to St. John's, where we spent this weekend making sure everything's ready for when we hit the road. Tomorrow we blow the minds of a few hundred St. John's area teens, and the day after that, we set sail for parts unknown. Well, unknown by me. I rarely pay attention to our travel schedule. I like to be surprised. Hey, is Carbonear a real place? That sounds made-up to me.

Hey, i should really get to bed. We have an early morning (which, by my standards, is any morning that starts, well, before the afternoon), and we've been told that the media and/or the Money People will probably be in attendance for at least one of tomorrow's two shows.

So, here we go.
I'll see you on the road.

On the left: a row of eleven 50' transformers, each weighing about 250 tonnes.
On the right:a wall of solid, 3 billion-year-old granite.
Yeah. Human hands built this place.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Keep reading. It gets interesting.

Good Sunday afternoon, dear reader. It's been too long. How've you been? You look terrific. Me? Oh, pretty good...

We're now two weeks into our rehearsal period, which in fact means that we're just about to hit the road. A little problem involving our schedulers apparently not knowing the size or shape of Labrador has resulted in a minor change of plans: instead of leaving St. John's at the end of next week, we'll be hopping on a plane on Wednesday to do a show for 30 kids on Thursday. Or something like that. I can never keep the schedule straight for more than a couple of days in advance. The long and the short of it is that we pretty much have to be stage-ready now, almost a week early, despite not having practiced with our sound equipment or rehearsed our French script. Which is okay. Because we're that awesome.

Anyway, i don't really want to talk about all that right now.

The past two weeks have been pretty standard; everyone getting to know each other (everyone's really nice and we're all getting along fabulously), rehearsals, shopping trips to acquire the needed wardrobe and props (yay to free clothes that i get to keep after the show's done!), as well as a brand-new keyboard.

Yes, a keyboard. See, depite the fact that i'm playing the same character in the same show as last year, a few small changes have been made to the script, so now i'm singing and playing a song. In front of people. Hmm. I really must get around to freaking out about that some time soon. No, no, i'm cool. I've played piano and sung in front of crowds before. Sort of. I can handle this. I'm almost sure i can handle this.

Anyway, i don't really want to talk about that either.

What i feel i should tell you about right now is how i came to find myself running half-naked through the halls of a large hotel in St. John's this past Thursday.

Now, the first thing you need to know is that the Battery Hotel, where we're staying, is on Signal Hill, which, if you've never been to St. John's, is, like, this really big hill. The second thing you need to know is that it's actually been quite sunny and warm most of the time we've been here. Warm weather, plus steep hill, plus being dressed more warmly than necessary, equals being kinda sweaty.

So, here i am, Thursday afternoon, the day's errands run and rehearsals done, having walked back up to the hotel, gotten into my room, and hung my room-key on the doorknob, to prevent me from leaving the room without it. These things done, my next step, being, as i mentioned, a little sweaty, was to take my shirt off, with the intention of replacing it with a fresh one. Before i proceeded to that step, however, i noticed my breakfast dishes from that morning were still in my room, so i decided to pop them out into the hall for collection by housekeeping.

Looking back, this may have been where things started to go wrong. I wasn't going far. Just going to reach out into the hall and set the breakfast-tray down. It was so simple. So innocent.

So i step out into the hall, set down the tray, turn back to the door.



...Oh, damn.

I look at the door. Look at my skinny, pale, shirtless chest. Look down at the doorknob, on the other side of which hangs the key to my salvation. Cast an accusing eye down at the breakfast dishes. They stare back, indifferent to my plight.

Look back at the door. Still closed. Try, by the sheer force of my will, to summon the key through the door and into my hand. No luck.

The thermostat in the hall was set to 15ºc. Despite this, i found i was starting to get sweaty again.

Look left. Look right. Nobody in the hall. Thank goodness for small favours. Can't remember the room number of my male castmate, so i can't go ask to borrow a shirt. No phones in sight, so can't call front desk and beg them to come let me in. Don't panic. Think, man.

Okay, there's a small gym up two staircases and down three hallways (this hotel has a really weird shape). There must be a phone there. If i can get there, i can call the front desk for help, or something.

And i'm off, sprinting as quietly as i can down endless corridors, peering around corners like an underdressed secret agent on the run from beshirted assassins. I get to the gym unseen, look around, find no phone. Look around again. Still no phone. There are, however, some clean towels stacked in one corner. So, draping one over my shoulders, i sigh and make for the lobby.

The biggest, most densely populated lobby in hotel history. Or, so it seems as i walk across to the front desk, trying with all my might to behave as though i'm not clutching a small towel to my chest. Relax. Just act casual. Casually, i ask the front-desk person if i might please have a spare key for room 206. Casually, i take it from her, casually thanking her before i casually walk back to my room, where i casually put on a shirt, and take a moment to laugh hysterically at myself. Casually.

Anyway, since then, it's been largely uneventful. I avoid eye contact with the front desk people whenever possible, although that's difficult at the moment as i'm writing this on a public-use computer in the lobby. That's the other bad news: i'm going to do my best, but updates on my current location and/or state of undress might be hard to come by in the coming weeks; you see, my poor old laptop appears to have bitten the proverbial Big One. It's been acting up for days, and today it decided it just wasn't going to start up at all. I fear i may be without it until i can get it sent away for repair.

But i don't really want to talk about that right now.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

bus. train. train. bus. bus. plane. plane. cab. bed.

Hey, the bus thing worked! So well, in fact, that i got to the airport a good two and a half hours before boarding started for my flight. Basically, it was smooth sailing the whole way here; after fifteen-minute connection in Toronto and an arrival in St. John's an hour later than expected, i'm here at the Battery Inn on Signal Hill. It was this same building where our journey ended the year before last, and it's here that i'll be living for the next three weeks.

And for the first two weeks of that, give or take, i'll have a whole suite to myself. Over the past two tours there have been many instances of us having larger and more luxurious accomodations than we would have expected (like the time two of us had a whole house to ourselves in PEI two years ago), and so far the pattern seems to be holding. I've got a bedroom and living room, separate dining area, two TVs, and a full kitchen (sink/fridge/microwave). I don't wanna say this is nicer than my apartment...well, anyway.

The other great thing about this place is that every room has a Newfoundland place-name painted on the door. Just in this hallway there's Lark Harbour, Capahayden, Winterland, and Open Hall. And, of course, my room:

I haven't gone exploring the other floors yet. I wonder if it's too much to hope that there's a Dildo Room.

And with the obligatory "Dildo, Nfld" reference out of the way, i'm going to bed. Tomorrow morning, cast-members old and new will meet and get to work. Til then, i leave you with a commercial for the Discovery Channel, for no other reason than that i really like it...

Monday, October 06, 2008

It's a gamble.

This is just a quick one to let you know i'm about to leave my house. I've discovered there is actually public transit service right to the airport, a much cheaper alternative to the $20 shuttle service which i had thought was my only option. The drawback being, of course, that i might get on the wrong bus, miss my flight, get lost in Montréal-ouest, and never be seen or heard from again. Hey, everything in life is a trade-off.

Wish me luck. See you in St. John's...i hope...