#17 – Alison MacDonald

Alison MacDonald is a Jessie Award winning performer who has worked across Canada as a singer, actor, teacher, and producer. Recently, she made an album of 1950s/60s tunes and coming up, she will be reprising one of her favourite roles ever – “Patsy Cline” in A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline at Thousand Islands Playhouse.

@thisisalimac
www.alisonmacdonald.ca

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Transcript

Transcript auto generated. 

Phil Rickaby
Welcome to Stageworthy. I’m your host Rickaby on Stageworthy interview people who need theatre actors, directors, playwrights, and more and talk to them about everything from why they chose the theatre to their work process. And anything in between. This is episode 17. And my guest is just the award winning singer, actor, teacher and producer Alison MacDonald. You can find stage really on Facebook and Twitter stayed with the pod. And you can find the website at stage where the podcast.com If you like what you hear, I hope you’ll subscribe on iTunes or Google music or whatever podcast app to use and consider leaving a comment or reading.

All right, and let’s just jump in. Okay. So here’s the here’s a question that I didn’t ask you. And that’s why why theatre for you?

Alison MacDonald
Why theatre? Ah, that’s a big question. I think I think I’ve always, like when I was a kid, I was that kid who would just always be acting things out and doing little song and dance numbers. And like in high school, I didn’t think I could do it as a career until grade 12. And then I had a really great drama teacher and I just said something that you love to do so much. I was like, I might as well give it a shot. I just had good people in my life in my teen years that really supported me and guided me in this direction, I think. And then it’s the thing once you start doing it, it’s like you can’t get away from it.

Phil Rickaby
Did so you were always putting on chosen things. But did when did you discover what, you know? What theatre was like? Did you always just sort of you always wanted to put on a show or

Alison MacDonald
I think I started like I started with music and singing. And then it was grade. Let me think grade five, grade five. I had this just our regular teacher like she you know, in grade five, they teach you everything. And she brought drama into our classroom and we put on plays and I I remember everyone there was about five plays. And so everyone got cast in in the shows and the part that she cast me in was this damsel in distress and I remember I remember telling her I don’t want to play this damsel in distress. I want like a strong character. So then I ended up getting cast in another play where I played this evil innkeeper and I wore my dad’s my dad’s suit and I wore like a fake moustache and that might be my first like actual recollection of theatre.

Phil Rickaby
Had you seen any plays or anything like that before that or was it just like it came into the classroom?

Alison MacDonald
I I don’t remember. A lot of plays when I was a kid like in elementary school. I remember one there was the one Yeah, one show I remember that came to our school it was it was like anti smoking show and they did stuff with black lights and puppets. I remember thinking, wow, this is the coolest, but as an adult I can’t like I just remember the visuals of it and being like this is yeah, this is pretty. This is pretty awesome that these people are you doing this at our school?

Phil Rickaby
Did Did did. Music was was was the entry point for you?

Alison MacDonald
Yeah, like, I mean, I remember doing that show in grade five in my classroom, but I was always singing and wanting to take voice lessons. So I think that’s where I realised how much I like enjoyed connecting to music and like the stories in a song. I mean, I guess I did. Yeah, I did more plays in junior high and stuff, but it was really the music that captivated me. Okay, just, I would save all the time around my house constantly. So, ma’am.

Phil Rickaby
Do you know when the two sort of came together for you?

Alison MacDonald
Um, probably it would have been in junior high. Yeah. Cuz our again in school just like the nice the cool drama teachers we had they put on musicals. And so I I just remember we did a production of The Little Mermaid. I don’t think it was licenced or authorised at the time. But But yeah, the idea of of getting to act and sing at the same time was it was just so cool. Getting to connect to a character that way and having something behind the music and the melody that you make Maybe singing

Phil Rickaby
you were saying that, that you had people who, who sort of like, convinced you or taught you that, that you could make a career out of this. And that was when when when you started to realise that, did you decide were you like, I’m just gonna go ahead and make it or did you think about or do people guide you towards a theatre school or anything like that?

Alison MacDonald
I’m trying to think, well, nobody, I have to say like, when I went to theatre school, like I went to, I grew up in central Alberta for the most part, so I went to high school and red deer. And I had done like a youth summer theatre camp after grade 10. And the guy who ran that used to run the the theatre programme at the college. So I remember he called me up and was like, when I was in grade 12. Like, basically saying, just checking to make sure you’re auditioning for the programme. And I remember, I remember getting that phone call, just being like, oh, maybe, maybe I should do this. Like, I didn’t like because I always really liked math and sciences. And. And I, like I was thinking about auditioning for the programme. But you know, the little Gremlins in your voice are always like, Oh, you’re not good enough. You can’t do it. Like now those, those things always seem to be louder than your champions outside of your head. But I remember getting that phone call. And I was like, Yeah, I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna do this audition. And then it made sense, because the school was it was a great programme. And it was where I was living at the time. So I could live at home and do that drama programme. And yeah, I think even after finishing read your college, I still wasn’t like, I could do this for a living, I was still just like, I really enjoy it. And I’m young, so I’ll keep keep trying at it. And then I went to CCPA in Victoria. Which Canadian College College of Performing Arts and did training there. And still, my brain was like, Well, I can’t make a living at this. That’s crazy. And then it just kind of like little little projects just kept coming. Or shortly a few years after I went to CCPA went to shamaness Theatre Festival they used to do this year long apprenticeship programme, where you’d work in the offices and then you’d you’d work up in the dining room, and then you’d be in their shows. And so you’d be an actor, but then also be doing a whole bunch of other jobs around the theatre. And I remember our stage manager, the first show I was doing, she she was talking to me, and then she’s like, well, when you become equity, I remember being like, What are you talking about? I can’t do this for a living. What do you mean when I become equity? Like it was still, it was still such a foreign idea to be doing it as a career. Even though I loved it. I was still like, oh, how, how, how do I do this? And I have to I think it was apprenticing in Jamaica is that, because we were like I was in my early 20s. And working with people in their, you know, anywhere from their 30s to their 50s or 60s and seeing that people do do it and and still have the love for it when they are in their 70s. You know.

Phil Rickaby
So it’s interesting how you’re, you’ve spent so long and almost from the start, it seems like telling us what you think I’m going to do because it’s fun. And you had that voice that was like, I’m not good enough to do this for a living. Yeah. It’s funny how how I mean, you know what, I think that that everybody who does theatre combats that in some way for sure. In a way, we’re all I mean, it’s crazy that we would think that we would do this for a living. Yeah, right. Yeah. I mean, if we were if we were completely sane for one of a better word, we would, our parents told us and, you know, learn about computer programming or learn I like do a thing, and sit and get a job attorney to do that little theatre thing that you’d like to do on the side, but we were driven to do it. And you I mean, and you’ve kind of been going like, almost nonstop from project to project. Isn’t that right?

Alison MacDonald
Yeah, some some years are. There’s there’s less stops, it’s some years and then other years, there’s there’s longer pauses, but yeah, it seems to be I feel like I mean, those little voices always come in your head come back being like, I can’t do this. What do you do? Are they doing and I feel like whenever that voice comes back, the passion and the joy for theatre is always stronger than than the voice you know, it always. It’s like, everyone calls it the theatre bug, right. It’s just like you’ve been bitten. You’re, you’re you’re stuck with this lot. Thankfully, you know.

Phil Rickaby
Yeah. So you went from from from Red Deer to the, to the West Coast. Yeah. And then what What was your journey to get to Toronto?

Alison MacDonald
How? Well okay, she like I’ve just lived everywhere. So I yeah, I was in Red Deer and then I went to school in Victoria. And then I actually moved back to Alberta for a little bit. And then I did a little dinner theatre tour, it was in Winnipeg and Edmonton. And then I was back on the West Coast. And that’s when I wasn’t sure Manus and did an apprenticeship. And I ended up I always had the intention of moving back to Alberta. And then, you know, I just met people in a show, I was doing this like, Heck, I’m gonna, I’m gonna move to Vancouver. That seems like a smart thing to do. So I moved to Vancouver and ended up working at with some lovely people and great companies and doing great projects there and was there for about seven years. And then I always I always kind of blame my parents for this. My dad was in the military. So we moved around a lot like every three or four years blame slash thank them for it. So it’s, if I’m, if I’m in a place longer than four years, I start to get antsy, just because that’s how I like we I just moved around so much growing up. So at the seven year mark in Vancouver, I was like, Oh, my goodness, I’ve lived here longer than I’ve lived anywhere in my entire life. I gotta, I gotta shake it up. So just made sense. Like the next like, while the the big Theatre Centre of Canada’s Toronto, so a good friend of mine and myself, we, we decided, we’re like, let’s just do it. So we moved up to Toronto, and I remember thinking, Okay, I, there’s a good shot, I will never work again by, again, the little voice in your head being like, you are good enough for the West Coast. But will you be good enough for Ontario? Yeah, so I moved there and did auditions and ended up getting a job out in Ghana and aqui at 1000 islands Playhouse and yeah, stayed in Toronto for five years. And then the little, the little like, moving, it just kind of came back and decided to track it back to Alberta and just be close to my folks for a little bit.

Phil Rickaby
It’s funny the moving it, I used to have the same thing, just in terms of like the apartment that I would live in. After like, a year, two years in an apartment, I sort of started like going like apartment hunting for no particular reason. So I started to get like how you get you get into that habit of like or that need to move. It sounds like for the last couple of places, you’ve been there longer than three years, he’s sort of getting used to at least settling down for a short while.

Alison MacDonald
And it’s not that I like don’t like or haven’t enjoyed any of the cities I’ve lived in. It’s just, I guess I do like change, like I I battled change, but then I also like the challenge of it, if that makes sense. Because I find you you end up seeing parts of yourself that that you may not have noticed, like when you when you shake things up quite a bit, you know

Phil Rickaby
what I mean? If you go when you go to a new place, you’re, you know, you’re leaving exam, like everything that you know, so you are literally out of your comfort zone, you’re about as far from your comfort zone as you can get because you have to go from knowing the people that you know, and knowing the place that you’re in to knowing nothing about a place.

Alison MacDonald
And then you just kind of rely on like the small connections you’ve may have made before you got there. And the great thing is, is now I feel like I’ve got connections and really good friends and companies that I’ve worked for all across Canada now. And like I feel if I you know, when I go to Toronto, there’s folks I can see and like little projects that I can work on while I’m there even if it’s a vacation or same with Vancouver and like going back there as always going to any of the places that I’ve lived now feels like coming home in a bit in a sense.

Phil Rickaby
You’ve had you know, since you since you left Toronto, you’ve you’ve you’ve had one of those non stop working years from what I can tell where so you went you the we did. You and I work together with Keystone theatre doing Springworks we’re doing the last man on earth in in, in Springworks in Stratford, Ontario, and basically when we finished you basically were like leaving.

Alison MacDonald
It was a bit it was a bit crazy. I remember Yeah, we finished and then I was packing up my apartment. And then I went yeah, I went to Ghana and aqui and did a production of Pirates of Penzance for a chunk of the summer and sang some crazy Sopranos. stuff, which was awesome. And then I went down actually went, I went down to Texas, I have a friend who lives down there. And I took this music course, music together. It’s about teaching music to young kids zero to five years old. So I went down and took that for a couple of weeks and then came back up to Canada. Started. But it’s funny because I think in my head, I’m like, gosh, I haven’t done anything this year. And then when I say it out loud, I’m like, oh, yeah, I’ve done some. I’ve been busy, right? It’s funny how our brain plays tricks on us. No, it’s true. Yeah, it’s funny. It’s making me giggle a little bit. Yeah, so when I came back up to Canada, to Alberta, I started working on a CD of 1950s and 60 songs with a friend just cover cover songs and worked on that. And then I went to Seamus Szymanski Theatre Festival and did a production of elf the musical where I played Jovi, which was very fun. I got to play an elf to I played Shawanda Shawanda the elf

Phil Rickaby
I’m not familiar with with Wanda.

Alison MacDonald
No, she wasn’t she was just she’s just an elf who? She’s just a funny elf. And her name was Shawanda

Phil Rickaby
I mean, you I mean, I knew that there’s there’s a musical called elf like I saw. I think I saw it on like, an advertisement for it online or something. Yeah, but it’s certainly not well known. Did you have any expectation going into that?

Alison MacDonald
Well, I like I it’s it’s a fairly new musical. And I listened like I was familiar with some of the songs I was familiar with, like the songs that Jovi saying, But funny enough, I’d never seen this terrible, but I’d never seen the movie all the way through. Like, I’d watched clips of it, but I’d never watched it from beginning to end. So then when I was

Phil Rickaby
I’m gonna let you off the hook there. Because up until like, three years ago, I had not seen it.

Alison MacDonald
Okay, I don’t feel so bad. Don’t feel bad. Don’t feel bad. So yeah. And then it was a matter of like, when I got cast, I was like, Well, I’m not going to watch the movie because then I’ll just see Zoey Deschanel in my head. And, but so like, I just, I was familiar. Not even super familiar, but I knew some of the songs and I knew they were catchy tunes. But then actually working on the show, it was so great. And it’s, I mean, and then I finally watched the movie, and it’s just such a charming story. And yeah, it’s very, it’s diff very quite different from the movie, but you still get the essence of this giant elf, discovering who he is and trying to find a home in the real world. And yeah, it’s pretty great.

Phil Rickaby
How long how long did that run for?

Alison MacDonald
It? We started rehearsals. I feel like I celebrated Christmas for like three months. We started rehearsals. Seriously? We started October 26. And then we closed December 31. And then yeah, and then I ended up celebrating Christmas with my family after after the contract so I was like, gosh, it’s Christmas all the time.

Phil Rickaby
It’s fun. We’re after after l

Alison MacDonald
sorry, after elf I came back to Alberta and then finished finished stuff on them the CD with my friend just doing like mixing and getting it sent out to get mastered and a whole bunch of stuff I had like I just had I don’t know I think I had a little clue but I really didn’t have a clue how much work goes into putting a project like that together. So it was a huge huge learning curve and I’m sure well there were there were tears stress tears, numerous stress tears were had that done and then I started in Kamloops at Western Canada theatre. A production of a closer walk with Patsy Cline where I played Patsy Cline.

Phil Rickaby
Yes. For your CD, is there any particular like you know you were doing these these 50 songs did you were they did you choose them for any particular?

Alison MacDonald
Yeah, well, originally it was. It’s I’ve always I just thought I thought it would be fun to make an album and I’m always like, I’ll write some songs and then I never get like, I just haven’t had the creative juices flowing to write songs. So I was like, Alright, well let’s what kind of music do I like and I’ve always liked 1950s and 60s songs. And when I got cast in a closer walk with Patsy Cline I was like this might be maybe it’d be smart to sell CDs in the lobby afterwards just I don’t know give myself a challenge a project and then something to show for it afterwards. Um, so I Yeah, it’s um, I put a number of Patsy Cline songs on there. Because I’d be selling them after the show. And then I’ve I’ve done other jukebox musicals that have 1950s and 60 songs. So when I put one fine day on the album, because I, it used to be my go to like 1950s pop song audition song sounds like my like the song, let’s stick it on. And it’s been good luck. So another song, a good friend of mine, she sang it in a show. And I always loved her rendition of it. And so it was kind of like a little tribute to her was where were the boys are and another Yeah, they all have like, like, there’s a song. If I give my heart to you, I did a show about Lucille Starr, who was a Canadian country singer in the 50s and 60s, and that was one of the songs in the show. So each of the songs on the CD have like a have a connection to it in some way. Most people haven’t really asked that though.

Phil Rickaby
Well, I mean, if you’re if you’re putting together an album, like a CD, and I, you obviously you’re like you haven’t done that before. No. There you’re at you, you must choose the songs for a reason. And at what was like, how long did it take you to record it, as opposed to just like the master? Like, how long did you? Did you? Were you in the studio itself?

Alison MacDonald
Well, not like we were, like we were we we had limited time. Like it was always like my friend had, you know, three hours one night when I could come over. So I mean, recording. Hmm. And we like we recorded the vocal track. And then and then we, you know, spiced up the the back of the backings. But ah, I don’t know, maybe 10 to 1010 hours of just recording and but then within that we were also mixing at the same time, but I mean, studio time with everything, maybe 20 hours with the mixing and musicians coming in. But it was a it was definitely spaced out over like, a couple of months of like this weekend, I’ll come over this weekend, we’ll do it. So I didn’t track it necessarily, but I don’t think it was my friend may beg to differ. He probably spent way more time after I left fixing things. You probably be like Allison, it was 40 hours. What are you talking about? 20.

Phil Rickaby
Yeah, and now we’ve talked a lot about about about your singing your acting and, and things like that. But like I like I mentioned when when we met you were doing you joined us to do the last man on earth, which is a play in this style of silent film, which has no spoken word. Yes. So how did it how I don’t actually know the backstory for how you came to join us and even how you felt about doing a show where this tool that you’ve used for so many years you didn’t get to use?

Alison MacDonald
Yeah. So what’s the question? Sorry.

Phil Rickaby
So how, okay, first off, what’s the story behind how you came to join us?

Alison MacDonald
Oh, so I, the one of Jeanette, who was the director and like CO creator of the show, I had, I had auditioned for her for a few months prior to that and had worked with her. After auditioning for her. I’ve worked with her a few times and did some workshops and and then we ended up having like a jam, like four of us who would get together and we would jam in in a rehearsal space and just improv stuff and each bring in different ideas. And a lot of it there was there was a lot of physical theatre aspect of it. And so I think it was just working with with Jeanette in that capacity. And then Dana wasn’t able to reprise her her role at Spring work. So then Jeanette was like, just called me up and check to see if I was available. And if I was interested, and I definitely was. So that’s how how I came to be a part of the show. I do. Yeah. Because most of my experience has been in singing and, and talking. My family would definitely be like all you do is talk Allison. But yeah, the last like my last year in Toronto, when I was working with Jeanette and a few of the smaller projects was a bit more physical theatre, and I really enjoyed it. And I like I grew up figure skating too. So I felt like in a sense, it was kind of connecting back to Ooh, storytelling that I would do in skating, right, like you express through using your body. And, like, essentially, we’re all telling stories, right? It’s just finding the different way of getting the message across. So I yeah, I was always very appreciative and thankful that Jeanette kind of guided me in that direction or saw, like, hey, you’ve got a good feel for this. So it was nice being able to explore that and, and come on to the show and be a part of the team.

Phil Rickaby
Did you find it find it difficult to sort of, like, drop the, you know, be unable to speak and still tell the story to do? Did you struggle with that

Alison MacDonald
I struggled when it was not. Like not being able to speak was okay. But sound effects actually, because I like in. In light, I make a lot of sound effects. And I mean, a lot of training and voice work. It’s all like saying how connected the voice is to your intention and and the movement. And so I would find myself, like, almost making a sound effect can be like, No, it’s a silent. It’s silent. Allison, so. So but I remember Jenna, talking in rehearsal about how you can use the breath. And that really helped because I think there was a point where I like the silence, I tried to just like stop breathing, which is not good. In any situation. So yeah, it was it was like, it wasn’t, it wasn’t frustrating, but it was interesting. just experiencing it being like, Okay, how do I channel? How do I, how do I reach channel, this vocalisation that I want to create? And I mean, I don’t think I actually thought about it at the time. It’s, it wasn’t my brain being like, Oh, how do I not talk now with But thinking back on it. That is that is kind of what was happening of how you keep all the energy that you have, but just just place it in a different a different way.

Phil Rickaby
And so you I mean, as somebody who had not like we, as people who had worked in that style for a while we all they come into it and sort of just just know it. Aside from just the nonce, they’re not speaking was it was a difficult to sort of come across in like, do the silent, quote unquote, silent film thing. Just sort of like its own thing.

Alison MacDonald
It was, I think, like, honestly, it was most of it. Like it was just more fun than anything. Like it felt like I was getting to go out on the playground and play with everyone. And I mean, there was moments where, because because I was the one who didn’t necessarily know what was supposed to be happening in some moments. Like, I would get frustrated, because I’m like, I don’t know how to do what I’m supposed to do right now. Because you’re stepping in to someone else’s role. Yeah. So you’re you want to be truthful to to what they’ve created. Because that’s how the show exist is with is with that the character that the original person created, so you want to fit into that, but then also understanding that we are different people and trying to find the balance within that and set I think there was, you know, some days are easier than others and some moments are easier than others. Yeah, I think it was, it was a good lesson for me, of just being kind to yourself and not letting the little gremlin in your head and be like, you’re not good enough. Because, I mean, we’re all there to to have a good time and do the work and tell the story and you know,

Phil Rickaby
yeah. So, right now, are you see you’re still in Alberta. Are you in Red Deer? Are you in Edmonton? Calgary, where are you?

Alison MacDonald
Right now I’m in Edmonton, but I’m going to be in Red Deer tonight and then Calgary tomorrow. Well, okay, what are you doing? Well, this these aren’t interesting things right now. I’m going to be it’s just like Joe job kind of stuff. So I’m kind of going back and forth and but what am i What’s interesting, I’m going to be going to Kamloops and a flute a few weeks trying to put together a little a little demo for singing at wineries in the Okanagan for the summer.

Phil Rickaby
Okay, okay. So, tell me about that.

Alison MacDonald
You’re like, that’s out of left field.

Phil Rickaby
Sure. What’s what’s going on? With God,

Alison MacDonald
it’s um so when I was working on Patsy Cline in Kamloops basically like they had a band from Kamloops, who was the band for the show. And I was just it was just pretty awesome. I felt like I was like, Wow, I’m actually a singer in a band. This is awesome. So I was chatting with some of the musicians and I have a friend who lives up in the Okanagan, we’re just talking about wineries and they have all these bistros and a lot of live music in the summertime. So one of the musicians and I are gonna, like form like a little duo, or just at least try and get some summer gigs and drink wine. Play music. Oh. Well, sure,

Phil Rickaby
why not? Ma’am. Is that is that is that your summer plan? Do you have any shows lined up? Or is that is just whatever comes your way sort of thing.

Alison MacDonald
The summer I’m gonna be back in the Patsy Cline show goes to Ghana and awkward, so I’ll be there. May mid May to mid June. And then I’ll be I’ll be in Toronto after doing a kid’s friend and show. There. Yeah. And then. So this is just the winery. I was like, Maybe it’d be great to this is a pipe dream right now. Just so you know. The Wiener is like hopefully, maybe I could get some gigs, July and August. Man,

Phil Rickaby
I was actually thinking earlier about how your experience when you were younger. In a military family moving from place to place sort of prepared you for the the nomadic life that that a an actor’s life can be, you seem to be very, very at home with like picking up and moving from one place to another.

Alison MacDonald
I go through phases of being okay with it sometimes. I think I sound cool, but I’m really not this cool. But yeah, I mean, you get you get used to, I think there’s there’s a comfort in in the moving around. Like once that becomes the norm like it starts to feel a bit stable because you’re like, Oh, this is what I’m used to. I’m used to moving around. And right now I think I’m in that place where I’m like, Oh, I’m I’m used to having my suitcase and being able to pack for a week at a time and move go from here to here to here. And I mean, I don’t know how, how long that can last? I think I think people I think I would burn out doing that all the time. But right now it’s exciting. I like it. And you get to see so many places and visit so many great people and artists and reconnect with people that I haven’t seen in a chunk of time. So but it definitely I go through phases of sometimes I’m like, this is the best and other times I’m like, What the heck am I doing? But you just yeah, you ride the ride, right?

Phil Rickaby
Yeah, you have to you have to just go. You have to roll with it as best you can.

Alison MacDonald
And I think as long as it’s like you trust your gut, like this feels good right now, and I am enjoying it. And I think as soon as I mean with anything, as soon as you stop enjoying it, then then stop. Like find a way to to enjoy it again, you know?

Phil Rickaby
Well, that is I mean, burnout is a real danger for for people who spend, in some cases, every waking hour doing this, this thing like going from like this, this little gate to this little gate to this little gig to you know, and they just keep going and going and that in burnout is a very real thing. And it can really, you know, it can it can ruin you on on on the performing arts.

Alison MacDonald
And I think that oh, sorry. Yeah, go ahead. No, go ahead. I was just gonna say, like, moving back to Alberta. I think it was a bit of a burnout. I’m like, starting to feel that that coming on. Because a lot of times, if I would have time off, I would be like, oh, I want to go home and visit my family. And that’s where I was wanting to spend my downtime was back here and visiting my folks and my sister and then my brain was kind of like, wait a second, maybe. Maybe if that’s where you want your downtime to be. You should you should be close make that happen. Right. So

Phil Rickaby
yeah. You were talking earlier about, you know, how you you thought that you would write music for your album when you finally did it? Is writing a thing that you do or that you want to do?

Alison MacDonald
I do want to do it? Yeah, I’m more just kind of journaling now and I’m really interested in T ya and like Theatre for Young People and stories for children. Yeah, I think with like with the album just getting it done. I was like sometimes. I don’t know if you feel this way. So has just like you just got to do it and like I was like, Okay, if I just do this if I know I can get it done without writing music, then I know if I wrote music then I could also create create an album. So I do have a friend. We both have talked about children’s music and creating, like a children’s album at some at some point. So that’s definitely on on a little backburner. And yeah, creating. Like one person cabaret shows I’m always interested in like, maybe not necessarily writing the music for them, but creating a through line and the story and picking the songs that that fit. Fit the theme and the message you’re trying to get across always interests me, just finding the time.

Phil Rickaby
Is it something like a cabaret? Is that something you’ve done before? It’s something that you want to do.

Alison MacDonald
I’ve done I’ve done I’ve done small capillaries. They haven’t been like they’re cabarets. But I haven’t like super. This isn’t a great sentence super stuck to a theme. Yeah, I want to write. But I would love to actually pick a theme and create like a nice through line for a cabaret where yeah, I’ve done a lot more casual style cabarets that feel more like a concert, but I’d like to have one that just had, it’s just more solid. And it’s it’s story and theme.

Phil Rickaby
Yeah, no, I mean, it’s funny cuz you were talking about just just doing it. I kind of feel like, like, sometimes you just have to put yourself in a position where you have to do the thing. Yes. Yeah. No, like I’m doing I’m doing a one a one man show in, in Hamilton fringe this year. And like, I got myself, I decided that I was going to do it because I had to do it. Like I’ve had this thing on the backburner for almost 10 years. Yeah. And it was like, if I don’t put myself in a position to do this, I’m just never going to do it.

Alison MacDonald
Yeah, yeah. You just have to buckle down and get, I also think it’s helpful to have like people around who you’re you’re accountable to so it’s like, you’ve told someone, you’re gonna do it. And then they’re like, all right, I’m gonna, like, either help you or make sure you do it.

Phil Rickaby
Like, or they ask you about it later. So that thing that you mentioned that you were gonna do, how’s that? How’s that going?

Alison MacDonald
Yeah. Can you like it’s going great. Or? Oh, no.

Phil Rickaby
Oh, I mean, that thing that I did? Yeah. Is there do? Like, do you have ideas for what you want to do? Is it like your through line, cabaret? Or are you just sort of like, it’s a thing that you want to do one day,

Alison MacDonald
for the cabaret? I mean, there’s like, always, I guess I just sometimes I just have too high of too many ideas. That sounds ridiculous.

Phil Rickaby
No, it does not sound ridiculous, because I know, lots of people. And it’s it’s sort of like a thing that I do. And that I know, a lot of people do is I have like an idea of file, yes, put something away in the idea of file. When you when you know, you have some time to go to it, you can pull it out of the idea file and say, can I make something out of this? Or? Or do I need to just put it back? And it can be good to have too many ideas?

Alison MacDonald
Yeah, I think yeah. Why not? Like one main theme is, is the idea of coming home. And I guess just because that’s also close to me right now and just went home and family and, and history within your family, what that all means and how it creates the person that you are right, or what, how much of it creates the person that you are and how much of it is how much of you is you know, past your family or past your history or your, your where you came from? Do you not? I mean, I do I do. So yeah, that’s kind of a theme that’s been sticking with me. And, you know, whenever I have, like, if I’m at a concert and I’m hearing a song or a different moments that I’ve experienced lately, I’m always like, I kind of like clock it in my brain or put it in my my little IDL file on my phone, where I’m like, Oh, this would be good for this. This cabaret or theme or you know, story night, whatever you want to whatever, you can label it. It seems weird labelling it, but

Phil Rickaby
you have to you have to call it something. Yeah. When you when did you sort of sit back and sort of think about what you thought this journey would be? When you were younger? And again, sort of like thinking about doing it and what you’ve made it into now.

Alison MacDonald
Yeah, I mean, I, I often think back to that, like, the little story of like being in chumminess and the person being like, well, when your equity and like, wasn’t just the equity thing that I was like, that’s crazy. Like, I really did think oh, I’m just gonna I’m just I’m just doing this right now just for a little bit. And it’s not because I wasn’t passionate about it, but yeah, just that I um, yeah, I didn’t think he didn’t believe that. Yeah, that I could do it right. And yeah, It’s interesting to think back of like, the experiences and, you know, the shows and the stories you’ve told, and the people that I’ve met and and that, I think through, like, it’s interesting to, to see what, what I’ve learned, or you know what I love, and it’s neat to look back and like, the stuff that I really love is like working with good people. And that’s what keeps you going. It’s like, yeah, I feel like anytime that, you know, burnout kicks in, or you’re like, What am I doing, it’s usually a contract, where you’re working with, like, super people that. Like, the work is great, but it’s also like, just being with good artists is so yeah, so rewarding. And, and also, I think back to, you know, when I was in my early 20s, and how, like, how afraid I was of messing up and making mistakes and not getting it right. And, I mean, that still plays a part in my, you know, in my process in my brain, but like, I’m able to, to see it a lot more now. Like when it when it starts to come in to go wait a second, that’s not helpful. Like, if you’re terrible, You’re terrible. If you’re terrible, You’re terrible. Like, all you could do is your best and like put the work in. And that’s a Yeah, it’s interesting for me to think back over to like, the 15 years and go, Oh, that’s, you know, to be in my 30s to me, like, that’s what I’ve learned. Don’t be afraid if you’re terrible, you’re terrible, but it’s really freeing. It’s incredibly freeing to be like, well, it’s no one’s gonna die if you hit a bad note onstage or, like, doesn’t make me a terrible person. If, if I’m not the best at this scene. But it feels it feels terrible to not give it your all right, so it’s better to give it your all and fall on your face then. Yeah, no shy away from it.

Phil Rickaby
So you’ve got your equity card on my equity

Alison MacDonald
card. What did I get? Remember? It would, uh, ah, trying to think it would have been, I think it was suds, I was doing this, this touring production of suds, the rockin 1960s soap opera musical.

Phil Rickaby
I just have to say the fact that you had to, you had to sit back and think, what was that the way that I got that? It sort of just says that you probably work a lot more than you you think you have and look back at?

Alison MacDonald
I guess, hey, I Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I feel like I’ve had some really great, great experiences and great contracts. And, man.

Phil Rickaby
I think, you know, I was thinking about what you were saying about about surrounding yourself with good people. And I think that, that as artists, it’s so important for us to make sure that we have other creative people around us, not necessarily all of them actors, but just to keep the creative people around because we challenge each other. Sort of like, being around creative people makes you creative.

Alison MacDonald
Yes, yes. And I think I was talking about this with my friend the other day about like, keeping the creative people close to you and also like the champions of your work close to you. Because and then she said something about the crazies, like, keep the crazies away and, and by crazy is like, she meant like, the, like, the naysayers and the negative, the negative nancies who are like you can’t do that and and how I think it is important to like, keep your your creative bubble, it’s a sacred space. And as soon as like, somebody comes in, like tapping on it being like trying to pop it like, You got to, you got to make sure they like you, you you make sure they stay away, because I feel like we do it enough to ourselves being like, this isn’t going to work. So you don’t need an outside person. In your creative circle being that that voice as well. So,

Phil Rickaby
no, absolutely, absolutely. Um, where can people find you online? Are you on Twitter? Do you have a website?

Alison MacDonald
i Yes. My Yes, Phil. I do. My website is Alison macdonald.ca. It’s kind of a work in progress right now. But I am I am out there. And then on Twitter. I am What am I this? This is Ali Mac. That’s where I am at. This is Ali Mac. I’m new to I’m new to Twitter. So

Phil Rickaby
oh, how new to Twitter. Are you? Um, it sounds

Alison MacDonald
like a joke. How new to Twitter. Are you? Yeah, no. Pretty. I feel like I had a Twitter account that I cancelled it and then I just got another one like, like a year ago, six months ago, something like that.

Phil Rickaby
Okay, well, all right. No, that’s that’s that’s pretty new. Yeah. Do you do use it regularly or is it still like one of those like, I don’t know what I’m,

Alison MacDonald
well, I post some things but I don’t really use it much. I’m like If the show was closing, here’s a picture.

Phil Rickaby
It’s a start, right? It’s I think that a lot of actors haven’t figured out how to how to social media. You know, like, what are what are you supposed to do? What did you like? What do you what’s it for? As an actor? Yeah.

Alison MacDonald
Well, it feels like, every time I put something on Facebook or you know, say something about a show closing i It feels. I mean, I guess it it’s a marketing tool, but it also feels, it just feels weird to me. But I get that it’s,

Phil Rickaby
you’re still you’re still in that it feels like I’m bragging when I post something is that is that sort of like the saying, Look at me. I’m doing awesome thing.

Alison MacDonald
Yes, it’s kind of Yeah. And then I think like, well, and I have friends who post things. I’m like, Oh, great. I want to know what they’re up to. Yeah, I go through phases with Facebook. Sometimes I’m like, oh, yeah, let’s put stuff and then other times. I’m like, no, no, but it’s, it is a marketing tool. But then it’s also

Phil Rickaby
I feel like you have to look at it in that sort of like I’m sharing with my friends thing. And I think you have to do that with Facebook and with Twitter. Yeah. I mean, treat it like, you know, you’re sharing stuff. You’re sharing what you’re doing with your friends. Yeah. Even if you don’t know any of the people who are following you on Twitter. I think it’s a good idea to like, talk as though they’re your people. Yeah. I mean, they’re following you for a reason even if they might be spammers, or like whatever but they’re following you. The majority aren’t there they’re they want to hear what you have to say.

Alison MacDonald
Yeah. Well,

Phil Rickaby
maybe when people buy your your CD online,

Alison MacDonald
I don’t have you think they can order it and I can mail them a CD. I’m very old school like that right now. I’m, I’m looking into getting it uploaded onto iTunes. And but yeah, there’s information on my on my website about ordering it, and then getting an actual old school CD in the mail.

Phil Rickaby
Sweet. Yeah, that’s great. All right. Well, we’re kind of out of time here. So I want to thank you for for joining me today and thanks for the conversation. Yeah,

Alison MacDonald
thank you for asking me this was this is fun. My brain was like, Oh, yeah. I get to, I don’t know. Talk about my hopes and dreams.

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