Playwriting Right with Playwright Evie Jones

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-5ywbi-121430e

All wordplay aside, this is a delightful and informative episode featuring Genevieve (Evie) Jones, playwright, actor, director and mom of Daphne. Evie’s located in the Niagara Region, and chats with Nick and Brie about starting out her artistic career in Niagara, spreading her wings beyond the peninsula and her parents, and the reason for her epic return.

Evie provides us with some deep insight into how the pandemic has been helpful to herself and many artists in finding focus, and the now existing struggle to maintain that focus as the world opens back up. 

Writers will appreciate learning more about the process of writing and producing live plays in Canada and the evolution of the artist in motherhood. 

 

Your Key Creative Tips:

Writing, Playwriting, Parenting, Theatre, Acting, Directing, Performing Arts in Niagara and Halifax. 

 

Nick’s Update: 

  • Editing
  • Back pain.

Brie’s Update:

RESOURCES:

 

More from Evie Jones

Website: https://genevievejoneswrites.com/ 

Linktree: https://linktr.ee/EvieJones11 

 

Thinking about starting your own podcast? Click HERE to get one free month of hosting.

#StruggleOn

Never Arrive Early

Today was a WEIRD DAY. I drove to Toronto in what was the most smooth drive to Toronto ever. I’m talking better than a Sunday good. Better than first Lockdown good. Got off on my exit, no problems. I left my place early, (as I normally do because traffic is so unpredictable) and got to the Distillery District for a wardrobe fitting with 45 minutes to spare! AND I found AMAZING parking!

I did the things you do when you have to kill time, but it’s Covid so you can’t go to a coffee shop and it’s Winter so I didn’t really feel like walking around outside. I sat in my car, checked some emails, set up my parking payment by re-installing the Green P app. (It’s been so long since I’ve used it, I deleted it from my phone!)

Nature called and I debated going to my fitting early to use the facilities, then I saw on Google maps that there was a public restroom (because it’s is the Distillery District and people drink lots of mulled wine,) so I grabbed my purse, my keys, my tuque, not my big winter jacket, I wasn’t going that far, and while opening the door, my finger slipped on the lock, locking the door. 

I thought to myself, “this is not a problem!” because I had put my keys in my purse when filling it up with with all those loose car-things that become purse-things when one exits their car. 

I got out of the car, the door slammed shut, and I thought, you know, maybe I should at least grab my scarf, it is a bit nippy. (The scarf is basically the size of a blanket.) 

I go to open the door. It’s locked. Right. I remember locking it. The locks work great!

I check my purse for my keys, find my key ring, but on it, there is no car key! There is every other key, but no car key. Where the heck is my car key?

I look around my purse, it’s not in there. I bend down to see if maybe it fell under the car. Nope. 

At this point a car pulls in directly beside me in the parking lot. (There are like TONNES of spots around the lot, why park RIGHT BESIDE ME, DUDE!?) It’s akin to the person sitting right next to you on the subway, but not because he just stood outside his car lurking (ie. probably waiting for people, whatever, I’m calling it lurking,) while I was crouched down on my hands and knees trying to find my key.

With 15 minutes left before my call time, I call my husband. He reminds me we no longer have roadside assistance because it’s the pandemic and we never drive anywhere any more. So we call CAA, and have to re-set up an account, re-set up payment, get transferred to the Toronto district office, schedule a truck to come break into my car so I can find my key. 

  • SIDE RANT! HEY! CAA, just saying here, you think you could call the guy, and get him to come over, because while you’re going through a million systems, some of which, oops just froze and we’ll have to try again, and speaking of freezing, I’m standing in -4 degree weather without a coat, (I mean, luckily I had a tuque and mitts – I’m not a complete amateur,) we could be getting something done here!

Like, get the guy to come fix my car, and while he’s on the way, we can set up the payment details and all that. Wouldn’t that make sense? So I’m not stranded outside my car in the cold for longer than I need to be? It’s bad enough I feel like an idiot, do we have to prolong the car-lean-of-shame any longer?

Anyway, the CAA guy came with in 5 minutes of the phone call so I was barely late for my call time, and the situation was resolved relatively easy. I do require his eyes to find the key because I couldn’t see it anywhere in the car. He found it UNDER THE PASSENGER SEAT! (How did it get there? It was in the ignition like two seconds before I got out of the car! What’s happening???)

Overall, it could have gone much worse. But sheesh. I don’t think I’m ever going to trust that easy of a drive into the city again. 

Breaking the Habit

Today is Day 1 off pop.

Coke, more specifically, but like, all pop would be ideal.

The book I’m reading says step 1 is to stop identifying with the habit. So, I can’t go around telling everyone how much I love Coke all the time anymore. (No not that coke.)

“I do not drink Coke.” – Me. Maybe if I write it down a bunch like the Shining it will become a reality.

Dan went to Walmart today and picked up two bottles of the stuff and I figure he’s trying to kill me. He also got a thing of Diet Coke because he thought a friend was coming over, but she’s not, so now I have to decide if it’s worth drinking Diet Coke or not, and frankly I don’t think it is.

Only Coca-Cola classic is truly worthy.

I mean, no it isn’t. Fuck Coke. Fuck it forever.

Habits are hard.

Send Later

I think the best e-invention of modern time has to be the “Schedule Send” function in an inbox. I’m fairly certain Boomerang spearheaded its implementation, and gmail now has it built into its every day functionality, but seriously. It saves my butt so many times when I write an email at an ungodly hour and want to:

a) send it in a timely fashion but;

b) not wake up anyone who might still have email notifications on their phone while they’re trying to sleep.

I guess at that point, it’s on them for not having turned off their notifications, but BOY does it make me feel like a more functional adult human.

“Oh! Brie’s up bright and early and sending me this e-mail. Way to go!”

WRONG. I sent it at 2am and I am happily still asleep even if you’re practically on your lunch hour.

Either way, the job gets done and I don’t have to worry about feeling like a weird administrative vampire. Hmm, I think I just found another job title for my LinkedIn account.

In other news…

Today, I’m happily (see: frustratingly) working away at figuring out better functionality for woocommerce and WordPress. I’m starting to think Humber should have had a class in web design for us comedy students who didn’t realize the importance of SEO when we were we babies practicing our craft.

I went to the gym for the first time in a while. I’d only been once since things opened back up in Ontario. I wish I could tell you I went because I was so incredibly motivated to work out, but I actually just updated my bank account, and I really want to cancel the old account, and they’re the only company still regularly taking money out of my old account, so yeah. Got that taken care of and managed a sweet push day while I was at it. Also helpful because my elbow has been twitching unexpectedly lately.

I know it’s late-ish to be blogging, and I’m choosing not to send later, but I feel really good knowing the option is there for me when I need it.

E73 – Gary Rideout Jr.‘s Habitat for Comedy

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-dkzh8-10f1a98

Chances are if you’ve performed comedy in Toronto, you’re likely one degree of separation from this episode’s guest; Gary 

Rideout Jr., owner of Toronto’s famous Comedy Bar & Director of Business Development at The Second City in Toronto. This episode dives into Gary’s timeline as a budding comedian-turned-business owner and  tracks the many successes he’s had along the way, the struggles that come with taking risks and putting yourself out there, as well as some truly great lessons learned along the way.

With the recent tease on social media announcing the opening of a second Comedy Bar location, on the Danforth, we’re thrilled to get to chat with Gary about his journey in Toronto comedy and his excitement for all that’s to come. 

This is an episode for comedians and for fans of comedy. You’ll see what it takes to create a space for an entire community of comedy artists; how to foster that community and the heights where it can lead. 

KEY CREATIVE TIPS:

Comedy, Writing, Performance, Touring, Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Accessibility.

 

Nick’s Update:

Editing again, and prepping for NaNoWriMo

Brie’s Update:

Niagara Falls Night of Art, Improv Fallout back at Mahtay Café, Writing Accountability Partner

 

RESOURCES

Comedy Bar

The Second City

 

Thinking about starting your own podcast? Click HERE to get one free month of hosting.

#StruggleOn

A little support

The Ask

The federal election campaigns are now in full swing here in Canada, and I’m proud to say the this year is the first time I’ve ever both requested AND received a sign from the candidate for whom I intend to vote.

Although I must admit receiving the sign didn’t go down exactly as I would have imagined.

In my head, I pictured the candidate coming down, shaking my hand, celebrating my public announcement that I intend to vote. Making the neighbours uncomfortable with my oh so visual opinions, on display for all to see. A photo op maybe? The leader of the party even shows up on my doorstep and we play a game of “Questions Only” together because I’ve told him I run an improv company, and he cares about small businesses and the arts! (Swoon!)

Now, it’s been incredibly hot in Ontario the past few weeks and so stupidly humid. Also, I work from home, and when I don’t have to be on Zoom, then comfortable, breezy attire is the way to go for me.

I was working in the garden one day for a little bit – not too long, because it was so dang hot, watering some plants. (BTW I’m growing tomatoes for the first time ever, and it’s very satisfying. They’re turning out great, so if you want some tomatoes, let me know, because I don’t actually like to eat tomatoes.)

I went to return the hose and noticed a car pulling up in the driveway.

The Delivery

Now let’s be honest, this is not a common thing anymore. Since the pandemic started, it’s rare strangers just show up on your driveway, unless it’s to drop off the SkipTheDishes you ordered when you get too overwhelmed to go to the grocery store.

I was in a good “no ordering food online” place, so I was confused. Who was this stranger?

A middle-aged man steps out of the car and asks, “Did you order a sign?” (I do feel it’s important to mention his age and gender.)

Ah yes, this makes sense. He’s here to drop off my sign! I’m actually getting a sign!

I approach him, he asks where I would like it, I indicate. The whole time he looks me up and down very strangely. I attribute it to the pandemic regressing everyone’s social skills. I try to continue with pre-pandemic social pleasantries and carry on with exceptional politeness.

I ask him if he’d like a glass of water. (Again, because it’s friggin’ stupid hot out – he’s even commented on the heat by this point.

He looks terrified I’ve asked him this. He says “No thanks,” and basically runs back to his vehicle as quickly as possible. I wonder what I could have possibly done to scare this adult man. He then stays in the driveway for what I would describe as way too long, and eventually drives off. (Side note — if you turn down a drink of water and run away from a person, you probably shouldn’t linger in the driveway. It’s very off-putting.)

Just then, I realize I’m still in my gardening clothes. I’m wearing a shirt I’ve had for at least ten years. It has holes everywhere, namely a big one right above my nipple. Granted, I was wearing a bra, however the bra was skin-coloured, and may easily have been mistaken as my actual boob skin.

The Outcome

He caught me in garden-mode! I didn’t have time to change! I keep to the backyard! I certainly didn’t expect anyone to come to the door!

But NOW… this random NDP volunteer thinks I’m some disheveled boob-exhibitionist trying to lure him into my house with promises of water and who knows what other inappropriate propositions.

TBH, at 20% in the polls right now, they should really take all the support they can get. Boobs out and all.

A photo of the Welland Canal with the title Mindful Running in Yellow lettering.

Mindful Running

Where have you been all my life?

OK get ready to have a comedian talk about sports and athleticism.

I’ve never been a good runner. I was diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma when I was a teen, which never stopped me from physical activity per se, but more often than not the condition would surface when I was running. Not so much when I was playing sports like volleyball or tennis, it wasn’t even that bad when I played soccer, which it turns out, is a very runny sport.

History of Bad Runs

I was an army cadet for six years when I was a teen, and running was always the greatest challenge there too. Shooting rifles, I could handle. I wish we could have done more of that and less PT, but it turns out people in the army LOVE running!

In every circumstance, running was something that had to be done either in competition with others, or in unison as a group. There was always a very high expectation to run at a certain speed, which can be incredibly difficult when your bronchial tubes close up and leave you gasping for your life source.

Sometimes I’d fall behind, no longer being able to take in enough oxygen. The feelings of shame and inadequacy mounted. I’d never get this badge, or make this rank, or join this team because I couldn’t run for damn shit.

Surprisingly, I developed a negative association with running!

Running Anxiety

Digging deeper, it’s become so obvious anxiety has a big role to play when it comes to my running history. The more I felt the expectation to run a certain speed or pace, the more I wasn’t able to do that, I would inevitably psych myself out throughout a run and talk myself out of future runs. Even within a run, if I started running out of breath, the voice of anxiety would have me thinking all kinds of anxious thoughts (what if you faint right here in the park and wake us in a crackhouse?) and instead of slowing down, I’d just stop the run and go back home with my anxiety-ridden tail between my legs.

Why would anyone run when the whole time you’re thinking “I suck at this, I can’t do this”?

That being said, there were a few times in my life when I have tried to get back on the running train because I know it has so many benefits for physical and mental wellbeing. I also love the idea of going out and running on my own, knowing it’s an easy way to take care of my own fitness inexpensively, and without depending on anyone else to get it done.

Mindful Running

It wasn’t until just recently, I discovered on my Headspace meditation app, a collaboration between Headspace and the Nike Run Club, where they offer guided runs – similar to the guided meditations I practice for mindfulness. Only this time, you add in the running element of it and badda-bing, badda boom, you get mindful running.

I don’t mean for this to feel like an ad, but hot diggity dog is it a game-changer!

OMG Maybe I should make an app like this for someone’s first improv class. OK I digress…

Suddenly I have permission to run at my own pace, I give myself some grace for having difficult thoughts, and I’m encouraged to keep going instead of being shamed – as a result, I’m running further distances, challenging myself and more importantly, actually enjoying the activity and wanting to do it more.

It feels good not to feel bad going for a run!

In the Niagara Region, we have this gorgeous path all along the Welland canal, providing excellent views, friendly passers-by, and an overall quiet and peaceful setting for a great run. And now that gyms are open again, when the weather is too wet or chills down in these parts, it’ll be that much easier to get on a treadmill without fearing it – you know, kind of like Kevin and the furnace in his basement when he realizes it won’t hurt him.

It feels so stupid to write an entire post about one of the most common forms of exercise in humanity, but like anything in life, if we develop unhealthy relationships to things, even beneficial ones, it takes some work to get to a place where we can be present with it and accept it in a light that works for us.

So I’m happy to say I started running again. Not well, and not often, but I started nevertheless. And I am actually really, really enjoying it.

Fight or Flight

I suppose it had been too long since I last fainted. Big thanks to my nervous system for always doing its job. Probably a little too effectively, I’d say.

I didn’t faint when I got my first dose. I figured I’d be in the clear. Everyone mentioning the second dose said it was worse than the first, but only in terms of side effects, not in terms of losing-consciousness-in-the-car-and-thank-goodness-I-wasn’t-the-one-driving-or-I-would-have-murdered-a-bunch-of-people-and-maybe-myself-but-hey-they-would-at-least-have-had-a-chance-because-we-were-relatively-close-to-the-hospital-to-get-the-care-they-required-to-make-it-out-alive.

Yup. I’m a fainter.

Do you have a History of Fainting?

Last time I talked about it live, someone in the audience also fainted, so content warning, I guess?

I do it a lot. The most critical time it happened was on an airplane. Shortly after, the sensations I get when I know I’m about to pass out decided to lend themselves out to general life situations that were a little higher stress than everyday life. Like that time I had to get scalped tickets for a Coldplay concert, and was afraid to get found out by the French police. (As if they give a shit, they’re way too busy being generally racist.) Or that time I was on the island making my way back from Osheaga and it took forever to get onto the metro back to the apartment where we were staying in Montreal. Wait. Why do so many of these panicked situations happen at / around rock concerts? I also fainted at a QOTSA concert. Wait. I’m sensing a pattern.

But hey. Vaccines are no rock concert.

Basically, when I finally had my anxiety disorder labeled, the symptoms matched up with the responses I feel when I’m about to faint. In my late twenties, they began to appear much more often than they should. When I was riding my bike, or sitting on a bus, or riding in a friend’s car or… yeah, you guessed it, at a dang music festival.

I went to a doctor and was officially diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, and prescribed medication. They’ve helped tremendously. I’m still an anxious person, but at least I don’t feel like I’m going to faint when I’m driving my vehicle anymore. (That was a scary time to be on a 400-series highway.)

Unfortunately the drugs apparently still can’t seem to calm my nervous system down when I get a fucking needle.

Second Verse, Not the Same as the First

What happened? Why was #2 so much worse than the first?

The first time, a nurse gave my my shot. She asked me if I ever fainted. I said yes. She said not to worry because we were surrounded by paramedics, firefighters, nurses and doctors. This put my mind at ease, I sat in the waiting area and went along my merry way afterwards. I felt a bit of anxiety, because I’m still not a huge fan of needles, (understatement.)

The second time, a doctor gave me my shot. He didn’t ask if I had a tendency to faint. He made some weird comment that when couples come up to him to get their shots, the wife always goes first, and why is that? Maybe it was an attempt at humour to put my mind at ease. Or maybe it was an offhand sexist remark. Anyway, the shot went in, quick and easy just like the first time. I went to sit down in the waiting area once again, and nothing. I felt fine. We left after the allocated waiting period, and I thought I was home free.

My husband and I checked in on each other. How were we feeling? I said just a bit anxious, like last time. He mentioned this time it felt like if he’d smoked a big cigar last night. (Whatever that means.) We were driving with the windows down and it was quite hot and muggy out.

And then it hit me.

I did NOT feel well. I asked Dan to turn the air conditioning on because it felt like there was no air circulation. He turned the air on, and I was like: NOT ENOUGH and pumped the AC to max. Still I was seating like a madman. I told him I was going to faint. I can feel it coming after thirty some odd years. He said I wouldn’t faint. And even if it did, it didn’t matter because I was laying down in the truck so it’s not like I’d hurt myself. Ever cool in a stressful situation, he is.

Then I went. I was gone. I never know for how long. It’s usually a few seconds. Oddly enough, it’s long enough to dream.

I came to and could hear how high the air conditioning was blowing, Dan had begun driving back towards the arena to get help. (I thought you said I’d be fine, Dan!) (He later told me if I hadn’t woken, he was going to head to the entrance of the arena and honk his horn until people came out to his truck to help. I’m not sure how effective that strategy would have been, but I do like knowing he’s a man of action.)

Apparently when I was unconscious, I shot my arms up in the air. I think maybe I was unconsciously trying to shoot the vaccine back out of my body via my fingers.

It didn’t work.

Everything ached, my muscles were all clenched. Slowly they relaxed, sometime on the way back home.

After that, it was just the normal side effects everybody else shared who got their second dose. Muscle and joint aches, drowsiness, and the sigh of relief that thank goodness I didn’t drive myself and end up engulfed in flames in a ditch somewhere in the back roads of Niagara.

TDLR: Get the fucking vaccine.

Taking Vacation Post-Covid: Some Thoughts

I went on vacation this week. I almost asked to reschedule because I Think You Should Leave – Season 2 came out in the middle of my time off. Seriously. I thought about staying home when I found out the release date.

Not a surprise to anyone who met me in the hotmail days of tv_addict1@hotmail.com – (honestly, that email address might still work, I should really check it out and see if I’ve missed anything over the past decade.)

I did go. I was fully prepared to activate my delayed gratification function for the absurd sketch show until we got home. There wasn’t supposed to be any wifi at the cottage. It was supposed to be a tech-less paradise. That’s why I didn’t bring a laptop. I would have used it. For Netflix. And work. Not vacation stuff.

Given the past year and a half, I honestly think my Netflix needs a vacation more than I do.

That’s not true. I need one. Needed one. Took one, regardless of making Tim Robinson wait til I got home, like the cat — and stupidly like the cat, I checked in on Tim. We tried to stream episodes of ITYSL on a tiny iPhone screen. I think 75% of that show’s comedy is in Tim Robinson’s face and teeth, so we missed a lot of it being on a teeny tiny screen. Why couldn’t I just have let it go? Because most everyone went to bed and those of us still up were drunk and high, that’s why.

The weather was less than ideal for vacationing. Except that one day where the outside was nice but Lake Ontario is always fucking freezing. Luckily laughter is a good substitute for sunshine and we had it in abundance.

Every cottage needs a cheese grater. FACT.

It’s a weird thing being on vacation with people a generation younger than you. Why is the music so uggggh jeeez?

The extravert that had been suppressed during lockdown reemerged AT THE COTTAGE. It’s so nice to feel the buzz of being around people once again.

It’s also nice to be home now. There’s still no place like it.

When Anxiety Meds Work Too Well

Anxiety is weird and sometimes I think my SSRIs are even weirder.

Follow the Path

I’ve recently rediscovered a love affair with hiking. I live near the Short Hills Provincial Park, and over the past year I’ve spent a lot of time getting reacquainted with nature trails, steep climbs and butterfly cocoons. It’s also a great way to get my rings closed (amirite?)

I’ve got pretty comfortable with one trail in particular. It takes just over an hour to hike the whole thing and there’s a lovely waterfall along the way. Delightful.

But every once in a while, I don’t want to take the comfortable trail. It’s human nature to explore, so I seek out new paths.

Earlier this week, I went off and followed a different path than usual. One that indicated at the beginning that no horses were allowed. It started very tame, but after a while yeah, I get why you wouldn’t want to bring a horse along with ya. I eventually started to realize I had no idea where I was in relation to where my car was parked. I considered returning in the same direction from where I came, but felt like I was already too far gone to go back. And anyway, I think I’d jumped onto a completely different path along the way, so I’m not even sure I would have been able to find my way back!

I take my phone with me when I go hiking because I’m not an idiot. There’s still a fair amount of cellphone reception in the Short Hills that I could find where I was on Google Maps and try to connect up with some of the main paths outlined in the GPS. Except that my iPhone 7’s battery ain’t what she used to be, and the power quickly began to drain from 30% to 20% and uh-oh now the bar’s gone red I should probably turn it off and hope for the best.

An open field amongst the woods with a beautiful blue sky.
Conversation with myself: “Hey jerk, maybe you shouldn’t be taking pictures when your phone’s about to die?” “But look how majestic this open field looks now that I’ve escaped one heavily wooded area and am en route to another?”

Thought Process Pre & Post Meds

This is where pre-medicated Brie would have started to freak out. I even felt the urge a few times too. Thoughts came up like “maybe now’s a good time to cry super loud or just sit down and bash your fist against the ground? Maybe that’ll be helpful!”

And just as quick as those thoughts occurred, I could feel ol’ SSRI stepping up to the bat:

“No need to cry Brie – just keep walking, you’ll connect with the right way back anytime now! Trust your cadet training and outdoor prowess” and;

“Keep going. 5% is more than enough juice to call someone!”

It did go a little far when I recall myself thinking:

“Don’t worry Brie, I’m sure if your phone dies, you can sleep in the woods overnight and find your way back tomorrow! It’s totally cool out here, you’ll love it! Curl up to a cuddly critter for warmth!”

Very shortly after that, I did reconnect with the main path easily made my way back to the parking lot.

However, it did make me wonder if sometimes my medication might work too well.

Fuck it. Who wants to go play in the woods?