Cliffside

Here’s a thing I wrote.  More are here:

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Kerry and I are sitting with our bare feet hanging over the edge of the cliff, watching the sun sink into the sea.  We are so high up that the kids walking along the beach don’t notice us as they start trundling along below us.  I figure they are about twelve or thirteen, but it’s a bit hard to tell from this distance.

Slowly they walk along, making a concerted effort not to really look at each other.  She keeps watching the waves churn onto the sand.  He is mostly watching the ground in front of them.  They are obviously having the sort of earth rending conversations that only teenagers can manage, and the drifting murmur of their voices is scattered across long pauses and evening winds.

She is very deliberately swinging her arms.  The boy steps with each swing, like it’s a metronome.  His right hand clenches into a fist, and then stretches wide and starts to move out toward her pendulum fingers.  Just before they touch, he draws back.

Kerry confirms my suspicion that the girl knows.  She is waiting for him to stop her overly exaggerated swing, but he is not brave enough or wise enough to read the signals.

I agonize for him.  I was twelve the first time I fell in love.  He can’t stop thinking about her and he doesn’t know what to say to her.  She is waiting for him, and in his head, he knows it must be true.  Every time he reaches to her though, the intensity of first love, the all-consuming, entirely confusing need he feels for her is too much.  There is no way she could want him to hold her hand as much as he wants to hold hers.  It is entirely impossible, and when their skin meets, he now knows she will recoil.  He has to pull back, so he can hold on to hope for a moment longer.

All the while, she keeps waiting, as consumed and confused as he is, wanting and waiting.  He never comes right out and says he loves her, never touches her except by accident, leaving her certain that she is imagining all the times it almost happens.

When I was twelve, I pulled back one time to many, and my first love moved away.

I reach out and squeeze Kerry’s hand, for the boy I was, for the boy below, and hope he is a braver child than I.

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Published in: on January 1, 2013 at 10:30 pm  Comments (4)  
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Happy Wackin’ Jim McCrackin

This time, I’m not even going to pretend this is a review.  This is a straight out plug for Happy Wackin’ Jim McCrackin, a show being put on by a theatre company my sister Kim is involved in called Accidental Humour.  Remember, kids, humour has two “u”s.  

Kim is, as I understand it, one of the founding members.  Based on a long phone conversation we had in January, their basic mandate seems to be to question what is currently considered Canadian theatre.  Basically, to carry the label, a play generally needs to be about what it means to be different in Canada, and how individuals suffer for it.  It’s about what it’s like to be a hyphen Canadian, like an Asian-Canadian, or a First Nations-Canadian, or a Fill in the Blank-Canadian.  Our theatre is about guilt for how the European-Canadians have treated all the other hyphens, and how we should feel guilty about it.  

Which isn’t necessarily untrue.  I love Sharon Pollock’s  plays, which are very specifically exposures of the revisionist tendencies in Canadian history to match our perceived national identity.  If you want that translated out of “Joey is a prick with a degree”, it means she shows us we aren’t who we think we are, and Canadians have really been jerks.  Sometimes that needs brought up, but if you are a European-Canadian, and not one of the oppressed ones from Eastern European or Ireland, Canadian plays are telling you about how badly your people treated the other hyphens.

As the descendants of the British and the Swiss, it can get to be a heavy load of guilt, and it’s easier to go to Shakespeare or Improv where no one expects an apology because of something our ancestors may have been involved in.  There’s nothing wrong with telling these stories, but maybe, every once in a while, we could have a Canadian play that’s main theme isn’t about what makes us different. 

Maybe it should be about things we enjoy.  We’re Canadians, and the things we like should entertain other Canadians.  It shouldn’t be about some bigger cultural mosaic issue.  Sometimes, Canadian plays can be about Canada today, not what someone’s grandpa did to your grandpa or how it was hard to look different from the other kids growing up.  I’m as white as they come, but no one wants to watch my play about how hard it was growing up as a Geek-Canadian, with pants that were too short and an interest in science fiction and fantasy.

Accidental Humours other mandate is to include multi media in their productions.  This isn’t used in a Brechtian sense, to remind the audience that what they’re seeing isn’t real.  It’s used to show parts of the story that are difficult to put on stage or to cover up the time it takes to change sets or costumes, or other … theatre things.  I saw it in their last play, For Love of a Zombie.

It’s more like watching a movie.  Normally, when the technical demands of theatre would put a pause in the action, you’re watching more story on the screen.  It shortens the run time, packs in more of a punch, and often has really interesting transitions.

And unless you were involved in zombie romance, you weren’t asked to feel guilty.  If you were involved in a zombie romance, you should feel guilty, and ewwwww.

While I haven’t seen Happy Wackin’ Jim McCrackin, I heard a lot of the early stages.  Amos wrote it in our apartment, and it was good when the workshopping started.  It’s the story of a professional hitman on his last job, and some of the problems that arise out of it.  There was a gay cat at one point, but I think that might be gone now.  Still, it was really funny when I heard the start, and had some awesome action sequences.  It’ll be even better now, as it’ll be further down the line, with more minds increasing its brilliance.  It’s theatre for the masses, and you don’t need to know words like Brechtian to enjoy it.  If you do, you’ll enjoy it too.  It’s a smart action play. 

As opposed to all those mindless action plays….

I wish I had a chance to see it when it all came together, but I’ll be in England, and I can’t say that I’m really feeling the European guilt that leads to an apology on that.  If I wasn’t travelling intercontinentally, I’d definitely be seeing this show, and if you’re going to be at the Edmonton Fringe you should definitely check it out. 

If you’re not going to the Edmonton Fringe you should reconsider, because it’s awesome.

Unless you’re in England.  Then you get a pass.

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“Happy Whackin’ Jim McCrackin,” at the Fringe!  Venue #5 – King Edward School, 8530 101 Street
Show times:
August 13 @ 12:15 pm
August 14 @ 6:30 pm
August 15 @ 9:15 pm
August 20 @ 2:15 pm
August 21 @ 11:00 pm
August 22 @ 4:00 pm

If you’re there, be sure to check out to check out An Informative Guide on How to Climb the Corporate Ladder as well.