The Most Interesting Person in the World

Archive for February 2011

Hello, come on in! Take your boots off, there are slippers upstairs.

Thanks for coming to my party. 12 women have taken over 12 walls in my apartment for 12 hours. Come into the kitchen for coffee, tea, wine, beer, pop, chips, cookies, chocolate, and soup home-made by Michelle with veggies and quinoa.

Aisha Khan's Art

But first, you’ll notice to the right of you a few paintings by the amazing Kimberley Dawkins, who also has a mannequin named Alice wearing a dress she made and her jewellery. Later she’ll be reading some of her poetry and selling her book, which she is stitching together right now. Go into the little room (where my temporary roommate usually sleeps) and it has been transformed by Rebecca Houston into an installation with two canoes hanging from the ceiling, lichen growing on the walls, with paintings of birds on the wall, artifacts from Canoe Lake in frames and on lichen, and more sculptures on books on shelves. In my kitchen the walls are alive with the bright paintings of Aisha Khan, in from Bombay with her skyline of Toronto, streetscape of New York, and 9 other unbelievable oil and acrylics.

On the way back, you’ll notice the panels on the wall of stunning jewellery hand-made by Irina Pertseva. Past that are three works on Zen themes by Caro Cloutier.

Clothing and Jewellery by Kimberley Dawkins; wood-working by Paula Coop

Clothing and Jewellery by Kimberley Dawkins; wood-working by Paula Coop

Here, in the big room (my workshop studio), Marissa O’Neil is standing beside her table of amazing Sea Flower Studio jewellery. A lot of it is inspired by nature, like this leaf-charm bracelet, or the nest-and-eggs necklace that got sold just before you got here. To the left of her table are the wood-workings made by Paula Coop–watch out, that one has a mouse trap on it! On the shelf  against that wall is a triptych and single of wood-burnings by Jen Leis, taken from black-and-white newspaper images of Britney Spears. Very Andy Warhol.

Michelle Chermaine's Art

And here — on the big wall facing the windows — are fantasty-inspired paintings by Michelle Ramos. I just love the bright, colourful, swirling backgrounds. She’s also a writer and has a lot to say about each of her works, so stick around and talk to her about it.

These earrings are made by Janet Cordahi, the queen of motion graphics, out of origami stars she created. Aren’t they cute? And Amanda Warren made these feather-adorned jewellery. Oh, and here are markers and pens, please write all over my wall!

Jewelry by Irina Pertseva

And you must stick around for the performances! I already put on my one-woman show, The Laurentina Show, where I slept in an igloo and brought my daughter to work at the Improv Factory, and later I’ll be leading some improv exercises, where everyone asks the question, “Where have my fingers been?” Shlomit Kriger is reading her own poetry, as well as reading from her compilation Marking Humanity: Stories, Poems & Essays by Holocaust Survivors, and discussing the process of making the book. Her books are for sale as well.

Rebecca Houston bringing nature indoors

The night-time performances were out of this world. Virpi Kettu and Willow Rutherford played violin and accordian, respectively, to their original songs (“Worm in an Apple” is still in my head). Virpi screened some of her work, including animation she made for a music video. I loved the one about a broken heart that she and Willow improvised music to. And just to oblige her demanding crowd, she showed us the Radiohead music video she created for “There There.” It’s so amazing that she lives in my neighbourhood.

Then Janet screened some of my videos, including a pre-screening of “Coming Out,” which is only now online (and my parents haven’t seen yet.) Then she showed us some of her motion graphics creations, including the opening sequence to the imaginary film “Tangible Reverie,” and the CMYK short that elicited cries of, “Again! Again!”

Finally, Cassandra Witteman, the performance artist, bared her soul (and her body) to the accompaniment of a zither, soundboard, and bowl and pestle. The improvised piece was a captivating, vulnerable, and haunting representation of life and drowning. Cassandra graciously took questions after the performance.

One of my favourite comments of the day:

Animator and Performer Virpi Kettu

“I’m at an art opening, carrying my glass of wine, wearing my nicest jacket… and yet I’m in my socks. I love it.”

I’m so glad you could come! I hope you return for my next party. March 13 I’m hosting a fund-raising concert for Sketch called Sketchfest, followed by Theatre for Change with Naomi Tessler. To find out about that, my weekly improv classes, my bi-weekly variety shows, and other news, events, and online videos, sign up for my e-newsletter!

See you again soon!

Dear Improv lady,

Can improv help with your love life?


Dear Asterisk,

Yes, improv can help, in every stage of your love life.

Let’s start with singlehood. Statistics show that the number one characteristic that women are attracted to in a man is his sense of humour. So, men: develop this! Another attractive quality: confidence. Whatever your gender or orientation, you will attract more people if you are a confident, funny, spontaneous, interesting person… and improv workshops, as well as being able to say that you’re the kind of person who takes improv classes, will improve all of these.

As you are becoming an overall better person, an improv class is a great place to meet someone, because you know that he or she is also developing their funny and has at least one interesting hobby. An improv class is a great place to see if you are compatible with someone too, cause in the span of two hours you can see that person not just when they’re trying to charm you, but when feeling sad, angry, when trying to problem-solve, dealing with a group situation… all in the safety of knowing they’re not taking out their frustrations on you.

Improv not only develops skills that make you more attractive, but also that make you a better lover. Being a good communicator is a huge asset in a relationship, and improv hones your abilities to listen, pick up on someone’s cues, and respond in a supportive way. Improv broadens your perspective, the “yes, and” philosophy is essential when dealing with others, and the ways you support your scene partner is exactly how you should be with a life partner… not to mention co-worker, family member, friend, or anyone in your life!

Do you think conflicts never arise in a relationship? Outside of therapy, there are very few ways to better your conflict resolution skills that don’t involve being under fire. So don’t wait until you have a toilet-seat-left-up explosion. Come to a workshop and learn how to effectively say, “Yes, I love living with you, and…”

Improv makes you better at adapting to any situation. And there’s no area of life that requires adaptability more than relationships, especially relationships of the romantic kind. They are full of transitions. Even when a relationship doesn’t end up where you want, and you suffer a break-up, an improv class is a great place to find comfort, find your humour again, build up your self-esteem, meet new people and expand your horizons once again.

And if the relationship does end up where you want it to… the couple that plays together stays together! It’s true, improv couples make the best couples. Get to know each other better, spend quality time laughing together, even make fun of your own conflicts if you have any. What better way to learn strategies for getting along than laughing through your issue?

So in short, yes, improv will improve you love life. Play hard, play often, and play with your heart and soul.

The Improv Lady

How often do you walk into a party saying, “I only want to see what it’s like”… and you’re still there five hours later? This happened several times last Sunday, especially considering nobody knew what to expect. Even I didn’t know what to expect! We all were blown away — by the food (endless platters of falafel, spinach salad, jasmine rice, vegan pizzas, baklava, etc. etc. generously donated by Akram’s Shoppe), by the music (live performances for hours on end, from Bones, Alicia, Chelsee and Gabriel, Ras Haile, and impromptu singing from Lena, among others), the five notebooks that people wrote and created art in (including “What advice will you give your grandchildren?”, “If you become famous for just one artistic masterpiece… what will it be?”, and “What creatively inspires you?”, which sparked discussion from the response, “Good deeds done anonymously”).

Even those with the best of intentions couldn’t leave, including Tammy, who inspired conversations about the quadratic equation by doing her teacher prep in the kitchen–correction, *trying* to do prep work, but work is not something that gets done at a 12-hour Laurentina-hosted Sketch It Up! party. The only work that got done was the stated goal: Raising awareness for Sketch, and having a great party, where close to 60 people mingled, ate, cleaned dishes (you totally didn’t have to, but thank you so much!), and connections were made — a record deal may be struck up, art might be commissioned for a fancy watch store, and at least one new couple may form. Not to mention the amazing art on display and store full of goodies created by the talented Sketch artists, which raised close to $250 for Sketch, as well as $70 that went directly to Sketch artists.

And speaking of awareness… what is this non-profit I keep mentioning? Sketch is dedicated to the working arts of street-involved and homeless youth. They have a 6000-square-foot studio on the north side of King Street between Bathurst and Spadina, with a recording studio, wood-working shop, kitchen, movement studio, and 3 community gardens. A few times a week they host drop-in art workshops. I particularly love their philosophy of using the arts for expression, de-stressing, and even financial independence, because some of their participants are very talented. I wish much luck and success to this organization for all its future endeavours!