Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Recharging (& Cold Read Weekend)

I don't know that I truly successfully recharged this weekend, but I did get some rest.  I decided fairly early on that I was going to skip Nuit Blanche, as I just haven't been that interested in the art since the first one I saw a few years back.  I may still end up taking my son along for a few hours either next year or the one after, but I just wasn't feeling it this time around.

I actually had a few tedious chores this weekend, including trying to change the bulb on an obsolete ceiling light/fan.  I finally managed it, though I needed the internet to step in where the original company failed me.  I also had to dispose of a dead bird on my sidewalk.  Blech.

Anyway, Sunday was the first night of the restarted Toronto Cold Reads series.  Turnout was surprisingly low (and the main hosts weren't even in attendance).  Ultimately, I was gang-pressed into taking a part, which I don't normally do.  The main reason to go was 3Fest, where they did 3 of the plays (each written by 3 authors).  I suspect mine will be up in 3 weeks' time, so I'll have to block out that spot on the calendar.

Another neat feature of Toronto Cold Reads is that they have added a musical guest each time around, and they have been quite amazing.  This time it was Sabrina Soares, an Australian who has picked up and moved to Toronto, trying to make it into the entertainment business.  She has a lovely voice and pretty good stage presence for someone so young, so I suspect she'll do well.

My favorite musicians from last season were Skye Wallace (and sadly her Toronto stop on her current tour competes with another TCR reading, so I'll have to skip that) and Abigail Lapell, but all of them were very entertaining.

While Monday evening isn't technically part of the weekend, in my mind it all sort of flowed together.  I knew that they were going to put on Night Out, which was a short piece about modern cell phone usage.  It's a bit of a cliche to moan about jerks on cell phones in restaurants, but I tried to mix it up a bit and to keep the piece very short (it runs 5 minutes or so).  It went over really well.

I had been asked to submit another piece and I just finished up Mascots in time, but I never heard whether it was going to be on the line-up.  I might have tried a bit harder to get people to turn out had I known it was on the line-up.  At any event, I turned up and it had been added, which was super cool.  The actors really sold the piece, even some of the corny jokes.  So it was a pretty awesome evening to get two pieces on the line-up (plus there was some cake, since this was the 10th anniversary of the SFYS concept).  The crowd slowly trickled in, though we still seem down from the glory days over at Storefront.

While SFYS doesn't have musical guests, they do have a mentalist who turns up.  He's quite good, and this time around was particularly mind-blowing.  He had these big books, and the audience wrote down numbers and put them in a box.  Then there was some back and forth, shuffling the books.  Then a volunteer wrote down a number from 1 to 4, which then selected one of the books.  And the volunteer chose a number from the box, and opened the book to that page.  It had been torn out, and then ended up in the hat he was wearing.  This was perhaps the most impressive stunt yet, so I started to think how the mentalist could do it.

These are more theoretical SPOILERS than anything, but don't read if you don't want to ruin the magic.

I'm fairly sure that when drawing the number, it is fairly easy for a trained mentalist to distinguish a number between 1 through 4 that the volunteer/mark draws.  Similarly, the mentalist can just keep going with the shuffling of the books (and subtly urge the audience to pick the numbers that bring the book into the correct position).  So it shouldn't be that hard to pick the correct book.  Getting the correct page number is much harder.  Obviously, the single simplest way is to corrupt the mark and tell him or her which number to read.  But assuming that isn't what happened, the second simplest way to rig the game is to mess with the box so that every slip of paper in there had the correct page number.  (Generally, most of these mentalist things are a bit of misdirection, and no one really was paying any attention to the box of slips at that point.)  I don't think the mentalist touched the slips after handing over the box (so the tampering would have happened earlier), but sometimes there is a bit of sleight-of-hand where the mentalist intercepts the random slip that the volunteer picked and substituted the correct slip before it gets opened.  As I said, I'm fairly sure that didn't happen in this case.  If it isn't one of those three options, then I admit I am baffled.  At any rate, it was an impressive feat last night, and overall one of the more amusing SFYS I have attended.

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