by Johanna Nutter
[ED: This article is a reprint from Ms Nutter's blog. You can follow the entire saga of My Pregnant Brother at the company website mypregnantbrother.com]
Strangely appropriate advice. See, I was on my way to the theatre for our tech meeting, the day before opening My Pregnant Brother at the SummerWorks festival here in Toronto. This is usually a really fun exercise in simplicity and Jeremy and I get a kick out of watching the faces of the house staff relax as they realize just how easy our show is to assemble and execute. It’s just a chair and some chalk. What?! CHALK you say? We’ll have none of that! Yep. Passe Muraille has a strict NO CHALK policy. Lucky for us, the SummerWorks staff was already hard at work fixing the problem; they’d built a back wall and sheets of Masonite were on order for the floor. The folks at TPMB are super-efficient and we had a good time getting to know our new space.
For example: Cory. I could happily write her life story. She’s one of my dearest friends. We met in grade 10, when my mother moved us out to Victoria, BC. We were staying with my half sister’s half sister and her family in Oak Bay while we searched for our own place, and so that’s where I went to sign up for school. Leaving the office, I looked around at the students and whispered to Mum that if she could spare any money at all, we should head over to Eaton’s and get me some new clothes or these kids would eat me alive. So, we spent the family allowance cheque on a Polo shirt and a college cardigan with two white stripes around one arm, and off I went, armed to the teeth in respectability. Of course, I discovered a whole group of people who went to Oak Bay High School who didn’t get BMWs for their birthdays, including Cory, who sometimes drove a Bentley. This was because one of her father’s crazy schemes--and he had many—was dealing antique cars. He also ended up marrying one of our classmates, but that’s another story. Basically, Cory and I belonged to a select few who had fulltime jobs through school and I still feel safe knowing she’s around to give me her pithy advice when I need it. She was the one who told me, way back in grade 10, Johanna, after yourself everyone else comes first.
The next day, show day, I moved to a very different part of town. Chinatown East is where Joanne lives. A couple of years ago, Montreal company Tableau d’Hôte put on the whole Suburban Motel cycle by George F. Walker, and Jo played my daughter in Risk Everything. I gave her a really hard time. I don’t think I was ready to have an adult daughter. It’s a tribute to the mettle she’s made of that she didn’t quit and in the end, we became great friends and would work together again in a heartbeat. I hauled my suitcase up her stairs and was planning to spend the day postering when I got a call from Stefan, the head tech at SummerWorks. The masonite had arrived, but they had cut the sheets in half, and would I be able to come to the studio and paint them, as he had many other things he had to take care of. In half? Passe Muraille had also forbidden any screws in the floor so we were going to have to tape the sheets to the floor, and now we were going to have to tape them back together, too…that’s a lot of tape. Of course! I told Stefan. The studio wasn’t far from Joanne’s so I walked over there as fast as I could. When I got there, the sheets, paint, and rollers were lying on the floor waiting for me. I set them up and started painting. During this process I had a bit of a meltdown. I was mostly just stressed about the opening and the fact that the antibiotics for the walking pneumonia my doctor had suspected me of having didn’t seem to be working. And now here I was, breathless and alone, only a few hours from show time, doing something that a small part of me felt shouldn’t have been necessary in the first place. When I realized that I was crying into the paint, I told myself is was time to stop feeling sorry for myself and get back to the task at hand. And you know, painting can be fun.
I had a great time getting over to Insomnia, where Joanne works and I was meeting Jeremy. It made me wish, probably for the thousandth time, that I had a camera in my eyes and I could take a picture just by blinking. There was a guy who had a face like Orson Welles, wearing his hair in a side ponytail and sporting a tube top and very short shorts. There was a teenage girl wearing mouse ears and a shirt with a big heart around the words “I’m a Keeper”, carrying a sock monkey. There was a young man with a pencil mustache in a sky-blue vest, purple shirt, and lavender bowtie. There was about a hundred people doing tai chi in front of Dundas station, and as I went down the stairs, a man in a big beard and an Iron Maiden shirt came storming up them saying, I’m not coming back down here, it’s ridiculous. On the train, there was a young man in skin tight jeans and cowboy boots, rolling and unrolling the sleeves of his checkered shirt and admiring the reflected result in the doors of the subway train while an escapee from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest looked on, sporting a lumberjack jacket and a white t-shirt with the words FOREVER FOREVER. And all around them, people trying very hard to look as normal as possible. The only ones I felt safe photographing were the tai-chiers…
With the show officially open, after all the real-life drama of building a theatre within a theatre, we felt we deserved a party. And we gave ourselves one. The rest of the evening was a whirlwind of pints at the paddock, adventures in alleyways, opening party at the great hall where we hooked up with the gang from our sister show, Big Plans, karaoke at the savoy, a lost and found camera, and a bench in Trinity Park.
At the end of a long night, I caught some of the Olympics in a Chinese restaurant and I thought, I know just how they feel.