The Canadian Theatre Podcast Stageworthy Will End After 400 Episodes

After careful consideration, I have made the difficult decision to end Stageworthy after episode 400. Before I get into the why, I want to take a moment to celebrate the fact that by the time I hit 400 episodes, over the eight years of the podcast, I will have spoken to 859 Canadian theatre artists (give or take some repeat guests), sometimes one on one, sometimes in groups, but that’s an impressive number of people (if I do say so myself). 

When I started Stageworthy in 2016, I was inspired by theatre podcasts I had heard that covered the US theatre scene, and I wasn’t seeing much of that in Canada. There was also the sad fact that there wasn’t a lot of theatre coverage here, and Canadian theatre artists rarely got to be interviewed in any media. My goal with Stageworthy was to elevate the voices of Canadian theatre makers, to give theatre lovers a chance to hear from the artists they see on stage, and to help the artists get heard by their fellow creators across Canada. I wanted to share the talented artists we have in this country with the country.

I made a commitment when I started to put out an episode every week. And with the exception of a couple of times when I put the podcast on hiatus, I did that, as challenging as it sometimes was. And by February 13th, I will have done it four hundred times.

So why am I choosing to stop now? There are several reasons. For one thing, I’m tired. Eight years is a long time, and four hundred episodes is a lot. All while balancing a demanding full time job, my own writing and performing, as well as a personal life. I wanted Stageworthy to be as low impact as possible, so I rarely edit the conversations, and just tag on an intro and an outro. But even with that, there’s the time finding guests, booking the time with them, and doing the interview. That’s still a lot of time that I’m not getting paid for. And, while I am putting this effort into Stageworthy, I’m cutting into the time I could be spending working on my own projects. Also, over the eight years of doing the podcast, I was never able to fully cover the costs of the podcast, let alone pay myself for my time. And I can’t keep doing that.

There are things I did want to do with Stageworthy. I would love to have been able to explore theatre scenes across the country: to actually go and experience theatre around Canada, and talk to as many of the people who make it as I can. I thought of doing a series on the history of theatre in Canada, a look back to understand the present. There were other ideas too. But each of my ideas for special episodes or projects would take more time than I can give, and would require more money to do well.

So, I’m going to say goodbye to Stageworthy so that I can concentrate on my own creative work. I have loved getting to meet all the artists I have interviewed. Every one of them is an incredible artist, and I encourage you to go into the past episodes and get to know an artist whose name you don’t know. The archive will remain on the Stageworthy website, and on all the platforms you currently listen on.

Perhaps there will be an opportunity to do something with Stageworthy later on. Perhaps a pop-up podcast now and then. But this is the end of Stageworthy as a regular podcast.

If you have been a listener of Stageworthy, whether a regular listener or an occasional one, thank you from the bottom of my heart. It has been my genuine pleasure to present this podcast. Thank you for listening. And to each and every one of my guests, thank you for making the podcast something worth listening to.

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I started out wanting to podcast because I liked the idea of podcasting

I currently have two podcasts, one weekly podcast about Canadian theatre (Stageworthy) and one  for introverts called The Introvert’s Guide To… which  I co-created and co-host, that comes out every  two weeks.

I remember the first time I heard about podcasting: I read about Adam Curry and podcasting, and was really excited about the idea of how it was suddenly possible to host an internet radio show, without a studio or the need to have a broadcast license. I listened to some early podcasts, even before Apple had introduced podcasts on iTunes. I even tried it out a bit, but this was long before there were the kind of services that’s exist now. I learned to create my own RSS feed to deliver the podcast (which thankfully, I don’t have to do anymore), but that was a lot of work, and I gave that initial project up, becasue I didn’t yet have a real idea of what I wanted to do with a podcast.

Years later, I was an avid listener of podcasts, and was listening to the American Theatre Wing’s Downstage Center podcast, hosted at the time by ATW Director, Howard Sherman. On one episode, the guest was Stephen Ouimette who was in New York performing performing a show, and I  realized that this was the first time I had heard a Canadian on the podcast. Were there any Canadian theatre podcasts? I looked around and at that time I couldn’t find any, so I started thinking about how I might create one of my own. 

I also thought it was a great way to challenge my introverted self and to force myself to talk to new people each week (I was right, BTW).

My first theatre podcast, called Offstage, ran for a couple of years, but I was recording episodes and releasing them the same week I recorded, and that was an exhausting schedule and became too much to sustain.

A few years later, missing the podcast, and after figuring out how to make doing a weekly podcast easier to manage (record a bunch of episodes in advance and bank episodes) I started Stageworthy, which is now 7 years old, and a couple of years after that, came The Introvert’s Guide To…which I created with my friend Jess Gorman.

One of the things I’ve learned over the years of podcasting, is to be a bit more relaxed. I used to worry a lot about not having an interview ready to go every week with Stageworthy. Its a lot of pressure to do a weekly podcast for seven years, and in the past when I have started to run out the bank of episodes I’ve recorded, I would get a little anxious. That anxiety came from the self-imposed need to produce the podcast every week, and not from any other obligation. But the only obligations that exist are to myself and to the guest, and of course the audience to whom I commit to provide episodes. But there’s no financial obligation. I don’t make anything from either podcast, but it does cost money to put them out, from hosting to website costs, to editing, and other promotional tools. So, i do both podcasts for the love of it, and not for any other reason.

But what is it that I like about podcasting? Its some of what I initially thought about podcasting: how it doesn’t take an elaborate setup, or equipment. But also, how easy and inexpensive it is. Now, there can be costs. While there are free tools to get started (like places to host the audio files), with 350+ episodes of Stageworthy, I have long exceeded the threshold for free. But compared to radio, the overhead is low. And I like how its a great way to connect with people. I have had people as guests on Stageworthy who have become friends. And I didn’t know Jess very well before we started co-hosting together, but can now count her as a good friend. But most of all, what I like best, is that with both podcasts, I contribute to a community, that in some way, I’m doing some good for those  communities. And what could be better than that?

Annual Navel Gaze 2018

As I say every year, I don’t do New Years resolutions. Instead, I take a look back at the past year and take stock of the things that happened, the things I accomplished, and then look a head to the new year and see what I want to accomplish.

Here’s a look back at things I accomplished in the past year.

  • I launched a podcast for introverts with my friend Jess McAuley. After attending a friend’s birthday and feeling awkward and foolish at not knowing how to interact with people, I spoke to fellow my introvert, Jess and together we launched “The Introvert’s Guide To…” in which we try and tackle a new issue each week and figure out how to navigate what seems like an introverts world.
  • I performed The Commandment at the Fundy and Halifax Fringe Festivals, received rave reviews, and was named Outstanding Solo Show at the Fundy Fringe.
  • My Theatre podcast Stageworthy crossed the 150 episode threshold.
  • I think I finally figured out how to finish the Christmas solo play (as yet untitled) that I’ve been working on for about three years.
  • I moved again (which I wasn’t happy about, but it worked out). My landlord sold the building, and I got one of those notices that says the new owner is moving into my apartment, so out I went. Apartment hunting in Toronto is a terrible experience, full of scammers and people over charging for closets. I hope I don’t have to do it again for a very long time. But I do have a bigger apartment, in a nicer neighbourhood, so I guess that’s a win.

On the other hand, while I’m super happy about this stuff, I have to admit that there’s some other stuff I’m not so happy about.

  • While I’m generally pretty content being an introvert, and staying home, I do feel like I’ve been isolating myself a bit. It’s all well and good to be a homebody, but not at the expense of close friendships.
  • I’ve also come to the realization that I have not been kind to myself this year. I have avoided a number of social engagements because “no one really likes me”, which is something I chalked up to introversion, but I have come to realize instead is a self-esteem thing (and I haven’t thought about self-esteem being an issue for me in a long time). So, I need to find ways to combat what my brain tells me, so that I isolate myself a little less.
  • I’m also not good at forgiving myself. An important step in recovering from a fuck up, is to be able to forgive yourself for making it. Which I have not been particularly awesome at.

So that’s the year that was. Now let’s talk the year ahead.

  • As I said last year, I want to find more performance opportunities for The Commandment. I did that this year, let’s see what can be done this year.
  • Finish the (as yet untitled) Christmas play (which I describe as a Christmas play for grownups that like a little horror in their holiday), and perform it. Which means I’m in the market for performance space. Ultimately, my ideal situation I would love to be able to perform The Commandment in the summer, and this new piece in Nov/Dec.
  • Write more. I have this new apartment where I’ve created this working space. I should use it. I always said I wanted a work space and that if I had one, I’d be able to write more. So now, it’s time to prove that true.
  • Keep Stageworthy growing. The podcast turns three years old at the beginning of January, and so I want to expand its reach. Interview some bigger names more regularly, get a little more out of the Toronto theatre bubble and talk to more people in other places, and generally grow the audience.
  • Get more traction with The Introvert’s Guide To…. We had a good start, but then needed to take a bit of a hiatus. The goal is to continue consistent podcast production, and to engage with the community a bit more to try and find out what they want, and what questions they want us to tackle. So far, Jess and I have been able to come up with some good topics, but there are times we struggle, so hopefully, by connecting with other introverts, we’re able to get a larger pool of topics than we’re able to come up with on our own.
  • Be kinder to myself:
    • Recognize that my tendency to believe that people don’t actually like me is not a part of being an introvert, and is just a story I tell myself, which means it’s something I can unlearn.
    • Say yes to more social engagements, and don’t talk myself out of actually going.
    • Do more things with friends. Yes, being a homebody is nice, but you have to go out sometimes. It’s better to connect with people in person, than digital.

How was this year for you? What are you most proud of? What are you looking forward to next year?

This is a thing: 22 June 2015

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Shiny thing part 2. So, it happened. I said I was only going to have three projects on the go, but I started a fourth this weekend. Its like I’m cheating on my other writing projects.