A dear friend recently asked me what I miss most about having my own place. It's a question I get quite often as I've been on the road for the past five and a half years... living out of a backpack... subletting around the country....essentially homeless.
I've thought about it a lot, and my pat answer is usually "nothing, really".
However, this time I sat with her question for a moment before giving my standard answer and a new reply came to me, which came as something of a surprise.
What I miss?
I dearly miss having a place that I can invite friends to,,,, to entertain them and treat them well. To create some memories and good times. I do miss that. It's much easier to do in a place which is your own.
Today, I had the joy of finding that feeling of being a Host again.
I've been working on a show called "Legend Has It" for Alberta Theatre Projects here in Calgary. Basically, it's a show where we take a member of the audience on a Fantasy-Adventure where they are the hero. "We" are a group of improvisers who are tasked with creating a fantasy world that responds to the whims and desires of our guest. They get to be the "hero" and defeat the Evil Lord Haldor who rules over the land of Jaro.
It's every nerd's dream. It's certainly mine....
It's a common occurrence in Improv shows for an audience member to get "dragged" on to the stage and made to be the butt of a bunch of jokes. It's why when I describe this show to people, they often cringe and say things like "Oh - I would hate that", and "I hope I don't get picked".
This show attempts to do the opposite. We ask our guests to join us. They can say no... we respect that. We put them first and honour them. We strive to make them look good and have a good time. We put our egos aside... and boy... is that a challenge.
This show has been brewing for a few years now - from an idea that the inimitable Rebecca Northan (creator of Blind Date) had, to a couple of workshops at Loose Moose Theatre, to a run at the Playrites Festival at Alberta Theatre Projects a couple of years ago, to our upcoming run here for the holiday season. We have built it up, torn it down, and built it up again so many times I have a hard time keeping track..... Every time we run it we seem to learn a million lessons, and it's never the same thing twice.
A few things I LOVE about this show:
We are always learning. No two guests are the same. We have to SLOW DOWN. We have to listen. We have to get out of our "comedy brains" and put the audience member first. It's funny. Heartwarming. Honest. Beautiful. Joyous and joy-filled.
A BIG ONE for me today: We no longer refer to our audience member as the "hero" - they are our guest. And on that note... I feel like a host again. To invite someone into our world and play with them and show them a good time. It feels like an honour and privilege.
I finish the day of rehearsals exhilarated and exhausted... and really looking forward to MORE!
What a marvellous challenge, and I'm immensely grateful to Rebecca for having me along on the ride, to Alberta Theatre Projects for bringing us back, to my cohorts who are taking this leap with me, and to all of our guests....past, present, and future.
I find such joy in being a host. And now - I have an entire world to play host in!
Be my guest....