Your Compliments are my Curse Words – Pre-Production Memories

On October 15, 2022, Velvet Duke Productions produced a free workshop performance of “Your Compliments are my Curse Words” at the Richcraft Theatre (Shenkman Arts Centre, Orleans).

The following information was shared publicly before the performance:

In this blue themed image, Velvet is at the center, shining in a teal shirt, despite being surrounded by speech bubbles of varying intensity. Four speech bubbles are prominent in a white background and red themed: heart, star, megaphone, applause. Velvet looks up toward the light with a close lipped smile, but they are thinking a strong curse word. "Your Compliments are My Curse Words" October 15, 2022 Workshop performance at Shenkman Arts Centre / Centre des arts Shenkman Photo: Curtis Perry
Photo of Velvet Wells: Curtis Perry

Sometimes taking a compliment is asking too much!

In this workshop performance, comedian Velvet Wells explores seven “compliments” (emphatic air quotes intended) through personal stories, poetry and silly songs.

Timing: Approximately 50 minutes, including an audience talkback

Richcraft Theatre – Shenkman Arts Centre
245 Centrum Blvd, Orléans (map)
Official venue event page
Doors open at 7pm
COVID-19 mask mandates are in effect in the Shenkman Arts Centre

Cast and Crew

Velvet Wells – Creator and performer
Troy Arsenian – Stage Manager
Rose-Ingrid Benjamin – Body Double (pre-production)
Curtis Perry – Event Photography
& Thanks to Darryl and Eric, Production Coordinators for Shenkman Arts Centre

Development Timeline

This information was originally documented on the show page.

Grant pitch: Velvet Wells (they/them) explores seven hyperbolic “compliments”; emphatic air quotes intended. As a musical comedian from multiple marginalized communities, Velvet will explore how societal and personal history makes it difficult to accept the charged words and phrases at face value.

The Creation and Development stages for this project (in order): Drafting, Research, Cohesive Writing, Discovery, Reflecting, Revision, Writing

August 2022: Preliminary researching and drafting of a “written rant” format that will appear at the beginning of the show and will inform the direction of the exploration of stage content during the rehearsal period

September 2022: ASL Interpreter, Stage Manager, and virtual Body Double hired! Projection design photography booked! Writing: Organized.

The show included survey results, from Black, Autistic, Queer, Disabled communities, around accepting compliments.

Contract – Body Double (virtual, 2.5hours)

To facilitate my creation phase, I’m seeking a body double to overcome Executive Dysfunction. Through a weekly recorded* Zoom call, the body double will lead a virtual 15-30 minute check-in. The sessions will focus on checklist updates and being present as a concept sounding board. The budget is $150 for (a maximum of) 2.5 hours over (a maximum of) 4 sessions. * The recordings will be temporary, only serving as further doubling for Velvet if needed.

October 2022: Continuing to write the content segments and roadmap the narrative, to better discover/edit within the Richcraft Theatre as a rehearsal space.

October 2: A photoshoot with Curtis Perry. Capturing expressions as part of the project design elements and promotional materials

October 11-15: My reflections during the five day Discovery period. These were full day rehearsals in the Richcraft Theatre (Shenkman Arts Centre)

  • Day One — After a purposely roughshod run of the show concept, including known placeholders, Velvet transformed the show as a direct-at-audience rant format into a more theatrical piece. This narrative gives the audience a bit more psychic space toward the call-in nature of the content. Capturing video of the rehearsal helped Velvet with the take away work of honing the concepts further.
  • Day Two — Puppets were written into the piece, initially, as foils to the rant. However, that wasn’t feeling cohesive. Instead, they became part of the solution, joining Velvet on the side of disliking the compliments
  • Day Three — Troy joined today and is working the teleprompter as well as cue-calling. I’m glad he was available! The teleprompter is a great accessibility tool for me — confidence building, memory, and a focal point since I won’t be able to see audience faces for this show — the light design is so pretty!
  • Day Four — I reworked the transitions, especially from the definition to the emotional reason we needed the testimonials. Darryl was instrumental in helping me add internal reactive space to my pacing. Unfortunately, the ASL Interpreter had a medical emergency.
  • Day Five — SHOW DAY We’re looking at the livestream camera positions, the transitions, songs and poem.

October 15, 7:30pm EST: A free staged workshop and talkback session; livestream will be available.

Logo: articipate articipez

A recipient of the ARTicipate development grant, sponsored by the Shenkman Arts Centre

Published by thedukers

Velvet Duke is a Black autistic queer entertainer from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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