Sunday, January 31, 2010

Living in the residence hall

Finally - a couple of photos of Greg's little apartment in the residence hall at Cirque headquarters. He says it's a little better than a dorm room, not as nice as a hotel room. There's no maid service (alas!)

He's driving back to Montreal today with a companion - Joe, one of the characters in the show, lives in New York, so he's tagged along with Greg for the drive. Company makes the trip go by much faster and easier.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Date night

Greg's home for the weekend and tonight we went to the movies! A rare occurrence - especially rare if there's something we both want to see. Avatar fit the bill...

We both enjoyed it a lot. Rich, exciting, beautiful. Although we also agreed, the plot was pretty thin. Very stock action-adventure. Fortunately, enough gorgeous visuals that it didn't matter...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Under pressure

It's been a challenging week in Montreal. Today they were finally presenting the Cirque 2010 show, in full, to Cirque du Soleil's CEO. The director, artists, and technicians were all on edge. According to Greg, Tuesday's staging was rough. They made all kinds of last-minute changes to his costume, lighting and cone set-up, and he had an extremely droppy, nervous performance. He had a hard time sleeping last night. But today, the run-through went off fairly smoothly, and the VIPs were all happy. Greg is tremendously relieved.

Friday, January 22, 2010

January happenings

Greg finally decided to do a long-term car rental. So, for at least the next couple of months, he should have an easier time commuting back and forth from Montreal. He can come down any weekend that he's not working Saturdays. Officially, on the schedule, they're on-call as late as 10pm Mondays-Fridays and half-day on Saturday. He's not always needed for these hours, however.

This month the director of the show, Robert Lepage, is doing all of the "staging" - designing all of the action that's happening during the show. During February he won't be there, so they will presumably focus on rehearsing everything that was created. There are many times during "staging" that Greg is there for someone else's act, but doing very little - observing the scene, or moving stage pieces around, or interacting with other characters.

...I had a very Proustian moment this morning while dropping the kids off at school and childcare... a certain traffic pattern just sent a wash of memories over me, of England. I could feel myself there. And for the first time, I think, I had a little rush of sudden joy, realizing that I'll be there again soon. By the end of this year I'll be in London. And not for a whirlwind tour... I'll be there for weeks, long enough to really breathe it all in. And for me, walking the streets of a European city is the most soothing sense of peace-with-the-world that I know.

In the meantime, in Philadelphia, the kids and I have been doing our regular things, and keeping busy. I thought I would post this 1.5-minute video here today, to show you some of their extracurricular activities!


Friday, January 8, 2010

Cirque progress

Greg reports that the time demands of rehearsals have been stepped up in Montreal. They're still not working Saturdays - but weekday hours have been extended from 9am-10pm. This doesn't mean he's working the entire time - but he can be called on the schedule for staging, meetings or coaching any time during those hours.

Lately he's been putting in a lot of time staging for other people's acts - scenes where he is supposed to be an extra, or an observer, and they're setting that up now. He has fun stories about equipment malfunctions, and today he and another artist were assigned the task of carrying a 150-lb. prop onto the stage for another person's act. He's not happy about this, and complains to the director - he says it's do-able to carry it, but how is it going to feel when they're doing 10 shows a week, 350 shows a year?

He's most happy that they've started serving dinner at headquarters, now that the Cirque 2010 staff are staying later. Apparently the quality and variety of the food is quite good, and pretty affordable. (his meals are not paid for right now, during the rehearsal period.)

And now it's the weekend. He will have nothing much to do all day Saturday and Sunday in his room... headquarters is firmly closed, and the Arctic weather will keep him from venturing out any further than the grocery store.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Greg has been home on holiday break (Dec. 19 - Jan. 3) for nearly two weeks now. Getting here was not easy - he left Montreal just as a blizzard was hitting us here in Philadelphia, and he ended up stranded overnight in Chicago. But he finally did arrive in Philly, and we've spent the last two weeks immersed in holiday preparations, family get-togethers, and studio improvement projects.

Santa Claus, and our gift-giving family members, were kind to us this year. Baz's big gifts were a Light Saber, a Darth Vader Lego ship, and a "Dig for Dinosaurs" science kit. Ayla was delighted to receive her singing Cinderella doll, a full-sized pink guitar, and a new set of costume fairy wings. And Isa got the small stuffed reindeer she asked for, an ABC electronic game, and a much-beloved Pinocchio doll and story book.

And it was the year for cameras! Grandma Terry gave Baz and Ayla real, "kid tough" Fisher Price digital cameras. The photos in this post are taken by Ayla, who has turned out to have a good eye for photography! ... and Greg got me one of the tiny point-and-shoot digital cameras I've been wanting for a while. It's 12.1 megapixels - my old digital camera, bought many many years ago, can't be more than 5. Plus this new one shoots video! So I can finally drop simple footage easily onto the Internet. Here is my first experiment.


Our family visits took us out to Egg Harbor City, NJ, (for Christmas Eve with the Kennedys) and to Plattsburgh, New York (for Christmas night with the Millers). Some car trouble in Plattsburgh made the trip a little less fun than planned, but we made it out of there safely and down to Villa Roma resort, where Greg did a show on Sunday Dec. 27th. I let the kids stay up late for the umpteenth night in a row, this time to see Daddy's show... Baz and Ayla are starting to get some of Greg's comedy, and they were rolling in the aisles.

We made it to New Year's Eve. Traditionally, New Year's Eve has been an important holiday for me and Greg - we have spent all 16 of them together, and each time in a different city. Sometimes this gets challenging - for three years in a row he booked shows in Binghamton, NY, necessitating an 11:30pm mad drive out of town to the next neighboring municipality for the stroke of midnight. I swore I was done with Binghamton.

But they asked him again this year. Fortunately, his shows were early - ending by 8pm - so it really was possible for us to be far from Binghamton by midnight.

I drove to Binghamton with Felicia - she is the girlfriend of Steve, Greg's tech guy. It was supposed to be a 3-hr trip - but between dropping Baz and Ayla off at their Aunt Becky's for a sleepover, and then an accident shutting down 476 for an hour - it ended up being 5 hours. We missed Greg's shows entirely. But Greg and I still got out of there, drove out of Binghamton and down to Bethelehem, PA, to celebrate First Night.

Little did we know that Bethelehem is the Peeps capital of the world, and First Night in Bethlehem is also Peeps Fest. Peeps ice sculptures; themed performances; decked-out cars. And a gigantic crane holds a huge, multicolored glowing Peep, which drops at the stroke of midnight. One of the crazier New Year's traditions we've observed!

Happy 2010 everyone....