Category Archives: Winnipeg

One hundred posts, silk underwear, and a thespian festival


According to the good people down at the WordPress blog factory, this will be the one hundredth post here at the Bentouttashape offices… and by offices I mean me and my iPad in a Starbucks, or a bar, or a park bench.

This is also the time of the year where I switch over to my other blog Diary of a Fringe Tech and tell stories about the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival for the next seventeen days. The first post is already up and Day One is tomorrow on Saturday July 12th. This year, the Fringes’ branding is “We like it when you watch” which ties in the exhibitionist nature of performance.

But having my one hundredth post simply be a “Hey, go check out my other thing that I write about once a year” pointer, seems like a bit of a cheat. So I thought I would add a little story from the backstage of the theatre I used to work at in Calgary, that has a bit of that exhibitionist theme.

During my first year at Alberta Theatre Projects, sometime around the time that fire was invented, I was participating in a production internship through the University of Calgary Drama Department and was really really keen. We were just about to open the first production of ATP’s season, my first professional production, and I decided to dress to the nines for opening night; tuxedo with tails, the works.

Of course, nobody else dressed up at all for opening. Oh sure, there was the odd sports jacket and nice skirt, but no 3 breasted suits, ball gowns, or top hats. Mostly just sweater vests and jeans. It was kind of disappointing. When I asked one of the veteran crew members why nobody was dressed up, the reply was “Honey, we gotta go to fourteen of these things this year, I ain’t putting on a dress fourteen times in one year!”

I felt like a complete idiot, over dressed and new, wandering around the opening night party in the theatre, sticking out like a sore thumb.

I ended up making my way into the carpentry shop, and low and behold, the new scenic carpenter, the late great Gerry Gerlinsky, was standing at one of the shop tables in a brand new suit with tie.

“Come on in young intern, I see that you missed the memo about not dressing up as well.”

“Why are you hanging out in the shop while everyone is out in the lobby at the party?”

“Because I feel like a tool…. and tools belong in the shop.”

Gerly (which was Gerry’s nickname) then offered me a beer and we talked about our experiences on being new employees at A.T.P.

After a while, the conversation came back to our opening night attire.

“I can’t believe nobody dressed up for opening night! I’ve been working in Edmonton and everybody dresses up. I can’t believe I spent the money on this suit!”

“Ya, well at least you don’t look like you’re going to a prom. I’m in a frickin Tuxedo!”

“I bought a silk tie!”

“I bought silk boxers!”

“What? Really? So did I!”

“I bet yours don’t have the comedy and tragedy masks all over them.”

“Hammers, screwdrivers and saws.”

“No way!”

“Yes way, look!”

“Oh wow! I think we went to the same store, see?”

“I think you’re right!”

Just then, the door to the shop opened, and our producing artistic director Michael Dobbin walked in. Behind him were a group of donors, potential donors, and other important money givers…

Gerly and I just stood there with our mouths open, and our trousers around our knees.

“This is the Calgary Centre for Performing Arts’ carpentry and scenic shop, which we share with Theatre Calgary, and where all of our sets, including the one from tonight’s show, are made. These two gentlemen are part of our team of highly skilled technicians and crafts people who had a large part of the construction of the show you saw tonight, and will be in my office tomorrow morning at 8 am sharp. Up next on our tour will be the costume shop and storage, where I’m sure we will be able to procure a pair of belts to send back down to the carpentry shop for these two gentlemen.”

I thought I was out of a job, but we only got a lecture about choosing better venues for underwear comparison.

The really funny thing was, that a couple of years later, the same thing happened to a different bunch of guys and I was there to witness it… but that time, I was smart enough to keep my pants on.

So here’s to a hundred posts. Thanks for reading, and come on over to my Fringe Fest blog where I’ll be telling more stories of theatre exhibitionism.

I’ll be back after the festival is done…

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Just add water…


During the course of our hustle and bustle daily lives, it can be very difficult to eat properly. Time constraints make it nearly impossible to prepare a full set of meals that not only nourish us, but are tasty and fulfilling enough to make us want to sit down and eat them. Instead of a breakfast we often opt for an extra hour of sleep, or instead of lunch, we take a nap at our workplace. In general, we tend to substitute mealtimes with sleep. This can be especially disconcerting if your job is a bus driver, a competitive eater, or airline pilot. We need a variety of foodstuffs that will fill us up… and keep our airplanes in the sky. Fortunately there are many companies, who have our best interests in mind, that are here to help us with this daily dilemma. When I walk around my local grocery store these days, I am amazed at the variety of food options that we have. Aisles and aisles of choices that come in brightly coloured packages to fill our bellies and tantalise our taste buds. Today’s food production is certainly a marvel, and it makes it very easy to plan one’s meals so we can stay awake and not give our face that indented sleep pattern, that comes from snoozing on our keyboards. According to the advertising, everything that you need for a day of easy to prepare, satisfying, uplifting, and fun meals, is readily available at a very moderate cost. So let’s look at the meal suggestions that the mega-conglomerate foodstuff companies suggest we consume to keep us awake at the wheel.

Breakfast

There’s nothing like starting your day with a hearty breakfast. Deep rich Columbian coffee is a must, with a plate of scrambled eggs, fluffy pancakes drenched in syrup and a big ‘ol glass of orange juice to wash it down. After this, you will really be ready to tackle your daily job.

Powdered Breakfast

Lunch

Our mid-day meal is a constant source of consternation, but there are ways to keep it creative and pleasant to eat. A nice steaming bowl of soup to start, followed by some pasta, which is smothered in a cheese sauce, along with a big glass of milk. Follow it up with a chocolate pudding for dessert. Yum!

Powdered Lunch

Afternoon Tea

I think the Europeans may be on to something, and it’s nice to have a mid-afternoon cup of tea. Maybe with a biscuit on the side for dipping. Very relaxing.

Powdered Tea

Dinner

The major meal of the day needs to be something interesting, and probably multiple courses, to keep us fulfilled. Start with a creamy pasta, maybe a fettuccine alfredo, and follow it with something hearty like jambalaya. Don’t forget to add a vegetable on the side, maybe in some sort of sauce, and a refreshing drink.  Ending the meal with something light and fruity will make everything very satisfying.

Powdered Dinner

Midnight Snack

Of course we get hungry later in the night, and there is nothing wrong with something tasty just before bed. Maybe a slice of something sweet.

Powdered Snack

If we keep our portions on the modest side, and enjoy these foods in moderation, we can get lots of nutrition, according to the charts that are posted on the backs of the packaging, which none of us looks at… or understands. If we add up all of the “suggested” servings (which, let’s face it, is an incredibly small serving), it looks like this:

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Nothing like almost a kilo of powder to help us along in our daily lives.

And there is no reason that we shouldn’t lead productive lives, well into our twenties, before our hearts explode. Or, we can skip these delicacies offered by the mega-food companies, get more sleep, eat a boring salad every once and a while, and live to be seventy. *yawn*

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