Phil Rickaby’s weekly podcast All the World’s a Podcast features Canadian Theatre professionals. We sat down together and gabbed about theatre, performing, A Depper Kind Of Love, Katbaret and other riveting subjects. (Thanks, Phil!) If you put it on in the background as you go about your day, you can imagine being in the room with us eavesdropping!
My episode is lucky #52 and you can listen here.
Find out more about the podcast and eavesdrop on 51 more artists (and counting) here!
If you’re in the theatre realm, give Phil a ping! (Did you know “ping” is an electronic form of contacting? It’s true!) Maybe you can gab with him too!
If all the world is a podcast, what are YOU saying?
It doesn’t matter what shenanigans I get up to while visiting LA– seeing Ayumi Iizuka and Doug Morency is always a Hollywood-heavy highlight!
This LA trip I was thrilled to be seeing Ayu and Doug perform as part of the Canadian improv group The EH Team at Second City LA. And, as always, Ayumi and Doug upped the thrillometer by generously inviting me onstage to perform alongside them and their group mate Marc. Oh, what fun! It was a thrill to be onstage with them again!
Me with Ayumi Iizuka and Marc Hickox of The EH Team, Second City, LA!
I’ve always admired these bright stars, and back in 2008 I featured both Ayumi and Doug in my column East End Artists in the late local newspaper etc… news. See my earlier blog for Ayumi’s feature here. As for Doug’s, eyeball this!
To meet Doug Morency offstage you may find him generally quiet and unassuming. To see Doug onstage is to witness a one-man storm, a tremendously talented, spontaneous, smart and generous performer and one of the best improvisers… ever! Doug is an improviser, actor and director. In Toronto he spent three years as part of the Second City Toronto mainstage cast and followed that by directing for the mainstage as well as the National Touring Company. He was part of the hugely successful award-winning Drowsy Chaperone, An Inconvenient Musical and SARSical. He also created the much-adored duo The Williamson Playboys with Paul Bates as well as the tongue-in-cheek religious duo The Kupps with Ayumi Iizuka. Doug has been involved with a dozen shows that have won Canadian Comedy Awards, and won two individually for Best Male Improviser.
Since my initial interview with Doug in 2008, he has moved to LA, bought a house, and taken up ownership of Connect Studios LA, casting director workshops studios, while he continues to act, write and improvise. Some of his recent LA highlights include: a role on Criminal Minds, multiple performances on Jimmy Kimmel Live, a role on a cartoon network show called You’re Whole, teaching at the Second City LA, directing, performing in a showcase called Google My Tweet, won Best of Fest and Best Troupe at the LA Comedy Fest with The EH Team, started musical sketch duo Morezuka with Ayumi Iizuka.
And now, Doug’s East End Artist interview which I conducted with him way back in 2008:
KAT: What are some challenges and rewards of your career?
DOUG: There is no bigger thrill than stepping onstage and not knowing what is going to happen when you are out there. To me, it is one of the purest art forms. At its best, improv spontaneously combines the emotional work an actor does to be real in the moment with the technical knowledge of story structure and imagination that a writer utilizes.
KAT: What aspects of your career cause you fear? Elation?
DOUG: I am a little fearful every time I step on the stage to improvise. That fear is a great motivator. I feel elation on those occasions when it seems that you have tapped in to a collective consciousness of the actors you are performing with, and the audience, to produce a scene that feels like it has been channelled through you from someplace else– not controlling the scene but running like hell to keep up with where the scene is taking you.
KAT: What are your words of advice to someome embarking on this career?
DOUG: Always strive to get better! And get your ass onstage wherever and whenever you can.
KAT: Is there any other type of artist you would like to be?
DOUG: I like singing and do it often when I improvise. That would be fun.
KAT: What would you be doing if not in this line of career?
DOUG: I dunno, maybe a carpenter. I’ve always enjoyed woodworking.
KAT: In your opinion, what makes a person an artist?
DOUG: Observation and voice– whether that voice is a canvas, a poem, a song, a film, or whatever creative vehicle you choose. Observe the world to better understand it and use your voice to make it a little better for everyone.
Doug Morency is a rare and multi-faceted gem. He has many talents and he uses them brillliantly. Armed with wit and charm, he is instantly and lastingly likeable onstage and off. If you EVER are blessed with an opportunity to see Doug perform, don’t eff it up! See him! The joy from the experience will vibrate in your system for a very good long time and will make you a healthier person forevermore. For more on Doug and even some video snippets, visit: www.DougMorency.com!
Life With More Cowbell interviews Lisa Anita Wegner, an amazingly stunning woman who credits art for saving her life after a brain injury! She shares her story during Wonder Fest Wednesday March 6th 7pm-8:30pm at The Fringe Creation Lab. Details here: http://wonderwomenworld.tumblr.com/WorkshopDetails
“Figure out what it is you love doing and never stop… Everyone can do this, and I encourage everyone to find what it is for them and go after it with gusto. Pierce the mundane to find the marvelous inside you. You are worth it!” Lisa Anita Wegner.
Do yourself a favour and check Lisa out! For serious, yo! love KAT xoxox
When Kat Leonard introduced me to multi-talented, muti-faceted, multi-media working artist Lisa Anita Wegner, what struck me the most was that Lisa credits art with saving her life. You can read her story here. And when I visited her blog site, I was blown away by the imagery in her pixel paintings.
I had a chance to interview Lisa over email – here’s what she had to say:
LWMC: Hi, Lisa. I was looking at your WordPress blog site and the Mighty Brave Productions site to get a sense of the work you do – and was amazed at the multi-faceted aspect of your work overall, and how it all boils down to authentic storytelling, and using story to make interior and exterior connections. You’ve worked as an actor, producer, writer, filmmaker and visual artist. What else? What came first for you and how did the media you work…
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A series of Artist Features
In an effort to recommence my series of feature artists, I begin by highlighting artists I featured in my column East End Artists that existed in the late local paper etc… news.
(Actor, improviser, businesswoman)
Ayumi Iizuka is a magnetic personality as she engages with a stunning smile and electrifying twinkle of the eye. She’s smart, funny, multi-talented and extremely generous in laughter and spirit. In addition to a busy career in the arts, Ayumi also opens her heart and home to dogs waiting for adoption, through a dog-fostering program. She is a true lover of life and an active dream chaser.
She has an Honours Joint Specialist Degree in Political Science and Philosophy, and also a diploma in Computer Graphics. She worked as a 3D computer animator doing special effects for commercials and movies but knew the entire time that she belonged on the other side of the camera.
Since my initial interview with Ayumi in 2008, Ayumi has moved to LA, bought a house, and taken up ownership of Connect Studios LA, casting director workshops studios, while she continues to act, write, improvise and foster dogs.
Live show highlights:
-Second City National Touring Company, Canada
-Teaching at The Second City Toronto and Hollywood
-Topological Theatre and Kageboushi Theatre of Japan’s touring co- production of Lulie The Iceberg
–Inconvenient Musical and SARSical by the Rumoli Brothers
-Numerous nominations and wins for Canadian Comedy Awards
-Winning ‘Best of the Fest’ at the LA Comedy Fest with the Canadian Second City alumni improv troupe ‘The Eh Team’
Toronto: Ken Finkelman’s Foreign Objects, Sue Thomas FBEye, Earth Final Conflict, Degrassi TNG, Hollywoodland
LA: 90210, Parenthood, Ben and Kate, Harry’s Law, The Middle, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Mobbed, Destination Fear, Scare Tactics, Extreme Focus (CBC pilot), Office Ninja (feature film), SOLO – web series
Ayumi’s early interview:
KAT: What are some high points in your career?
AYUMI: Playing Bob Hoskins’ mistress in Hollywoodland. The role was small but it was exciting to sit at a table with Bob Hoskins, Ben Affleck and Diane Lane.
KAT: Challenges and rewards of your career?
AYUMI: Rejection and money come to mind immediately to answer the first part of the question. Rejection and money come to mind for the second part of the question.
KAT: Any words of advice to someone embarking on same career?
AYUMI: As everyone in the business told me when I decided to get into it, “If there’s something else you would be just as happy doing, do that instead.” I think that once you decide to do it, though, it’s important to persevere. Stay busy and create your own opportunities if they aren’t finding you.
KAT: In your opinion, what makes a person an artist?
AYUMI: Parental condemnation and a burning desire to do what you want in spite of the odds of success.
KAT: What is your favourite quote?
AYUMI: “What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?”
KAT: What amuses you?
AYUMI: Guitar Hero 3 and cuteoverload.com
KAT: What makes you laugh hysterically?
AYUMI: Doug Morency (Stay tuned for East End Artist Doug Morency edition!)
KAT: What makes you sad?
AYUMI: Homeless or abused animals… actually, that makes me angry. I care about homeless and abused people too, but aren’t we all animals?
KAT: What makes you worry?
AYUMI: The overall state of the planet and the people who are in charge.
KAT: What is your most simple delight?
AYUMI: Hanging out with my man and my dogs.
KAT: What are your pet peeves?
AYUMI: Zero tolerance, tyranny of the majority, and people who don’t signal.
KAT: Would you rather: be too hot or too cold? AYUMI: Too HOT! KAT: Be thirsty or hungry? AYUMI: Thirsty. KAT: Be hungry or stuffed? AYUMI: Stuffed, any day! KAT: Live hectic or bored? AYUMI: That’s a toughy! Probably hectic. KAT: Read or write? AYUMI: This writer says read. KAT: Make dinner or clean up after? AYUMI: Make dinner. KAT: Eat sweet or savoury? AYUMI: Can’t the world have both at once? KAT: Watch sunset or sunrise? AYUMI: Sunset. Do you know what ungodly hour the sunrise happens?! How can you enjoy it if you’re still asleep or still pissed off at someone for making you wake up so early?!
It is a true pleasure to be in the company of Ayumi Iizuka, a successful and enthusiastic artist who is also a big-hearted and inspired person. You can find out more about Ayumi on her website: www.aiizuka.com
As Artistic Director of LMG Productions and the Wonder Women series, I am pleased as sangria punch with big chunks of saturated fruit in it to announce the first-ever week-long Wonder Women Festival happening during International Women’s Week March 4-8, 2013!
As always, the aim of Wonder Women is to help spread empowerment through workshops and performance in order to share talent, ideas and encouragement through art– music, dance, comedy, spoken word, visual art, etc, etc, and art as yet to be invented.
For Wonder Women blurb and photos from the most recent event, Wonder Women V, visit my page dedicated to it: katleonard.com/wonderwomen
If you know of any wonder women, or are one yourself, interested in being involved with the Wonder Women series, please contact us at ImWorthItInfo@yahoo.ca. We ask that submissions to be considered for the March 2013 Wonder Women VI event be received no later than September 30,2012.
I’m really, really, really looking forward to WWVI so much that I may get a tattoo to commemorate it! Or finish another bag of Doritos.
And just because this post is so woman-centric, I leave you with a nice chunk of man to muse over.
Ah, Fringe!!! The Toronto Fringe Festival is an annual festival for which companies are chosen by lottery to produce a show. Touted as the fringe of the theatre community, it is considered by many to be an arena to create and play and learn and dance at the Fringe Tent. It is a fun-filled community of adventure and edification for all involved– participants, volunteers and audience alike. It’s like being away at a camp ripe with fun and games, friendship and love, beer and festival food. The adventure is extended and amplified if you’re involved in the national and/or international Fringe Festival circuit which includes Edmonton, Regina, Vancouver, Ottawa, London… on and on… and then you’ve got outside Canada too… USA, UK, Downunder… There are some who are able to eke out a living doing these festivals. What a thrill it could be! For info on Canadian Fringes you can start here: canadianfringefestivals
I was chosen by lottery last year for Toronto Fringe 2011. Amazing! The first time I had submitted and I was chosen. As fellow Fringers know, that’s rare. Many would-be participants are still entering year after year and waiting for their moment to Fringe. Of course, one can always participate in Fringe by being brought onboard by a company who was chosen, or by volunteering, but it’s a whole new Fringe-game when you’re the production company.
I feel my being chosen happened for a reason—for all the trials, tribulations and triumphs, it caused me to stretch and discipline myself as an artist, writer, songwriter, singer, dancer and producer. In a personal artistic time of wavering between acting and singing, between being comical and respectable, I discovered I am at my best when I allow all that I am to bond together. With encouragement and input from my beloved friends and band mates Gene Abella and Eden Letrondo, the one-woman show A Depper Kind Of Love was born. I hunkered down and within 6 months had written and recorded 10 original songs, produced and released my debut CD, A Depper Kind Of Love, and written a 52-minute one-woman show with a 52-minute video to accompany it. But more than that, I was able to discover what great capacity and possibility I have as an artist if I allow myself to let it flow and spillover instead of trying to compartmentalize my talents and skills. It truly is amazing and I will never return to the old. Director Christopher Sawchyn, SM Skye Regan and TP Rod Pizarro came onboard and helped bring Depper Love to life and stage and also made Fringe 2011 the best Fringe I’d ever experienced despite its challenges. The copious time spent with them creating, planning, laughing and dining are some of the most electric and joyful of my life. Incidentally, Skye and Rod are seen on this year’s Fringe homepage in the picture of the great poster sprint of Fringe 2011. It was a mad rush to poster the Fringe Tent poster wall. It was utter madness. My injured hamstring twitches at the thought of it. The “Fringe-ury” that keeps on giving!
You can read more about my journey in my guest blog for the Songwriters Association of Canada.www.ItAllStartsWithASong.com But enough about me.
It’s time to celebrate Toronto Fringe 2012!
I have two pairs of tickets to give away for Thick and Thin Productions’ show Life in the Raw. I so admire the people of Thick And Thin. They are theatre veterans talented in all aspects of theatre and music from writing, performance and production. I just know it’s going to be a great show, and I think you should go! Comment below or message me to enter the giveaway for the July 5/July 7 shows!
What is Life In The Raw?
Theatre director Barbara Larose working with playwright and composer Rick Jones has created a series of dramatic scenes punctuated with musical “arias”, monologues set to music. A cast of 5 portrays the poor but proud Whitaker family struggling to survive in 1930s Montreal. “So many life lessons handed down, but also great stories that had us in laughter and tears,” explains Larose. www.thickandthintheatreproductions.com
Where is Life In The Raw?
George Ignatieff Theatre-15 Devonshire Place
South of Varsity Arena near St. George subway
When Is Life In The Raw?
The full schedule is in the poster above, but the ticket giveaways are for Thursday July 5 at 10:30pm and Sat July 7 at 12:30pm
*leave a comment here or message me for your chance to win!*
Other shows to see:
One Night– By Brandon Pitts and Angela Brown- 32-year-old Penny has had enough of being a virgin and all the labels and baggage that comes with it.
The Shape Of Things– Neil Labute’s unblinking stare into the blood, guts and gristle of modern relationships.
Then He Wakes Up– by Matthew Sarookanian-Today Felix needs something to change.
Transit Diaries-by Meesha Albano- Love and relationships are explored on the seats of the TTC as each character faces choices to be made while in transition.
Fake News Fan Girl-by Sharilyn Johnson-Absolutely true story of one woman’s descent into fandom, and suddenly getting closer to her idols than she ever intended (or wanted).
*I saw this show when Depper Love was part of the Love & Obsession Festival last year. It is really, really, really good! I watched it twice.
Piecing Together Pauline -By Chris Coculuzzi and Roxanne Deans, a historical drama about 19th century opera singer Pauline Garcia Viardot.
If you have any Fringe 2012 suggestions, please share! I’m in the preliminaries of my schedule! Let’s get out there and enjoy supporting theatre! Ya! At Fringe, there is more than just something for everyone! Maybe I’ll catch you at the Fringe Tent!
For a list of plays and venues and more info on how to get the best out of Toronto Fringe: www.fringetoronto.com
Happy Fringing, everybuddy!
PS If you’re looking for still shots of your Fringe show, I know a Fringe fan photographer who will do it for a mucho reasonable price!