I’m SPELEERS’ING the Beans about Outlandish Vancouver and why it changed my life.

I will open this blog with a warning – first- my somewhat warped humour is attached to some sensitive subjects. If you feel you MAY be offended – go now or forever hold your tongue (and your tappity tap fingers in rage mode afterward) because I warned you and will not entertain you with debate or take your interweb spankings later.

The next warning is a trigger warning. I will be discussing childhood trauma and rape in this blog.
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I’m saying this as nice as I can. (Source)

You might remember my sunnuvaBonnot blog, if not, feel free to refresh your memory by clicking here. there I spoke about my deep angst re: Stephen Bonnet. You don’t have to read it but it’s there for clarity.

I also wrote about my experiences at the Outlander Vancouver weekend and how much I enjoyed all the things. In said blog, I eluded to my moments with Ed Speleers. I’m not being dramatic when I say they were transformative.

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Just like that (source)

Let’s rewind. Around 23 years ago – while reading Drums of Autumn, one Stephen Bonnet was introduced. This villain struck me as particularly abhorrent.  He had this devious charm, disarming good looks that seemed to allow him to lure and get away with preying on his victims.  This type of person has always set my teeth on edge and ignited a rage inside me that I had difficulty expressing precisely why.

Fast forward to Outlander the TV show, season 4. Ed Speleers comes to inhabit the body of the villain that lives in my guts. I wondered if I would feel the same about this character visually as I did about the book character. I did. Steven Bonnet, in both forms, were devastatingly like, what I now call, my internal ghost. Every time his character appeared on the page, every time his face showed on the screen- there was this physical reaction my brain fired against.

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Wait, I probably can. I have. Never mind. (Source)

I knew Ed Speleers, was going to be at the Outlandish Vancouver event. I know damned well Ed is not Stephen Bonnet, I happen to pride myself on not being a complete fricken idiot. I know this man is not the character he plays. Let’s also say it out loud for the people in the back, I know Stephen Bonnet is a fictional character. I KNOW THIS.

There is this thing about trauma though. There is a brain/gut/heart connection that sometimes happens without our consciousness being on board for the ride.

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No idea where it is, what it’s doing. (Source)

As the cast was introduced into the Meet and Greet on Friday night, the excitement in the room was palpable. People clapping, laughing and cheering as each cast member entered the room. Everything stopped for me when I saw Ed. Not out of awe, excitement or fear. It was reality. It slapped me in the face like 35 yrs of silence might. Seeing him no more than 25 feet away unlocked something and I finally had all the pieces of the puzzle. This puzzle was one of those hideous 3D ones and at that moment, I only wanted to dump it back into the box to deal with it later.  You see, it was that moment, as I stood in the same room with the embodiment of this “villain” that reached deep inside me and caused such a visceral reaction was because that type of guy, was MY villain.

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This is big. Too big. (Source)

This is where I get real honest with you. I was an 11 ½-year-old girl, when the 18 yr old, hot dance troop guy, who all the girls wanted to “get with” took me behind the curtain backstage. I let him because he said nice things to me. I must be 13, right? I was so pretty, wasn’t I? It was exciting – until it was terrifying. I wanted him to stop- but he didn’t. I wasn’t his only victim and he got away with it time and time again because look at him. Shouldn’t I consider myself lucky?  Thinking back, finally, clearly, it was all of those things a predator and a broken child say to themselves to make sense of the insane things going on.  Brain/gut/heart connection doing what it can to cope. Shove. It. Down.

I know now, the part of me that refused to be a victim as an adult was always afraid for and protecting that little girl that was violated so many years ago. Literally, the ONLY person that could hurt her was a man like HIM.  Reading about that buried reality was one thing – seeing the character come to life was another. Obviously, my eyes were wide open to the why of it all now.  It really wasn’t comfortable. Let’s call it an emotional wedgie.

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Just can’t fix it in public no matter how subtle you are. (Source)

So, how does this go down at this lovely Outlandish Vancouver Meet and Greet? I’m having this brain/gut/heart arrhythmia that I’m not about to dial 911 for because that’s no one’s business and I am trying to process it. I’m not 100% confident about being face to face with Ed Speleers bc look wtf happened with him across the damn room from me!

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On the inside – tornado – On the outside – try and move me (Source)

Eventually, Mr. Speleers wanders over to our table.  Am I going to be a total tool?  Yup. Tool alert.🤦‍♀️  The hairs on the back of my neck go up. I think to myself, “You are being a complete boob! This guy is a few glasses in and having a great time…pull your head outta your ass.”  If you haven’t gathered by now, I’m a shit listener. I decided to step back and take a seat, figuring avoiding him altogether might be best. Nope. That didn’t work! He made eye contact with me and I quickly glanced away. Not something I think is normal in these situations. Generally, if their eye is caught by someone, they are drawn into conversation pretty quickly. I didn’t want to be a jackass but I honestly didn’t know what to say and not be like “Your appearance triggered me and now I’m trippin’ balls.” That’s hardly fair.

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I can be an arsehole but I’m not horrible. (Source)

I take some deep breaths. Center my thoughts on the energy of the room and away from my own. I focus and then, Ed and I  made eye contact again. This time Ed’s eyes dropped down to look at my t-shirt…where our ABOotlander mascot Toger, was proudly displayed. (Thanks Lee for doing that!)

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Here is TOGER! Our fierce Canadian beaver.

There was my opening, it was time for me to break the ice. The only way I know how –  SherryStyle.

Me- *throw a look of disgust at Mr. Speleers and gasp* “Did you just look at my BEAVER?”

Ed- *sputter – eyes bulge* “Huh? What..No! I didn’t look at your beaver.

Me- “Yes…you did! You just did it again.”

Ed- “NO! You made me look at your beaver by talking about your beaver”

Me- “Mmmmmmhmmmm, there you go again.”

Laughter ensues and more “yes you did, no I didn’t”, winks and smiles (as much as my palsied face CAN smile anyway).

As strange as it sounds…my beaver…TOGER became a running joke over the weekend. The fact that we named our beaver Toger in the first place – everyone knew we were playing with a filthy deck.  The next morning, I brought Toger for my photo op. I suggested John and Kikki help protect Toger and me from Ed. Well, as you can see, Kikki was having too much fun fondling Toger to protect him. As for Ed, he was poking away at Toger.

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The commentary got VERRA BLUE between the 4 of us. John Bell took his role very seriously but had quite enough and nearly fired all of us. My poor palsied face almost froze in a fit of laughter. I tell ya, that ain’t pretty.

Regressing a bit – Get this. I purchased a little token of Canadian goodness to give to the UK actors before ANY of the Toger/beaver jokes even started. A tiny little beaver with a Canadian flag painted on it, to remember their trip to #OV2019. Little did I know what this gift from me to them, would come to symbolize.

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How cute! Oh – look…the beaver has a pole…or its chewing on some wood…either way, it adds another layer of dirt.

So, I attended a suite party. Things that happen at the suite parties are supposed to stay at the suite parties but this is something I am going to share because it’s a me thing. Ed and I were chatting and naturally, there were jokes. That damned beaver, always getting into trouble. Laughing and carrying on, we had a moment where he looked at me in the eye, hand on mine and completely jokingly said: “You’ve violated me! I feel so violated”  I am laughing with him, yet I feel this shudder inside my chest.  I’m not sure exactly what it is. We are laughing harder…and then two more times…”You’ve violated me” his hand firm on mine.  I took a huge deep breath and felt something let go. “You do NOT know what you just did for me,” I said to him.  Puzzled, he made sure I knew he was kidding around, “I was jokin’, you know that.” Of course! Of course, I knew. This weird twisted humour became the perfect vehicle. He didn’t know what he had just done and until I sat with it, I didn’t know the full extent either.

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Ok, it was wrinkled before but you get my meaning. (Source)

I am telling this to you because with all the laughter and silliness floating around us there was something in those words that became a balm to me. Something in those words that I never once had the chance to say to the person that violated me. As they were being said to me, by the person who held that brain/gut/heart connection to my villain – it healed a broken part of me. That shudder – was energy, that deep breath was to a space in me that hadn’t breathed in 37 yrs.

I felt it at that moment and as I laid in bed that night. I replayed that moment over in my head, as I did, something changed inside me. I was having trouble describing it but I could feel it.

Did you know I was raped when I was just a kid? Did you know it wasn’t my fault? Did you know I locked that up inside me for so fuckin long that it burned a hole inside of me that became a part of who I was? That hole made me rage about men who are handsome, charming and devious? I know you know because I finally said it out loud and I feel zero shame, humiliation or apprehension in doing so.

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Deep breath. Moving forward. (source)

On the last night of Outlandish Vancouver, we were on the final voyage and I was hoping for a moment with Ed, so I could thank him. Imagine, thanking a man that plays a rapist on TV for giving me back that last grain of power I allowed my rapist to have. Koko sent Ed my way and trying not to sound insane or wishy-washy AF with my palsied face on the verge of tears, I shared with him, much of what I have shared with you.  I can’t say exactly what the exchange was because our words during that last interaction were more than kindness, I hold them close to my heart, in confidence. Ed Speleers, as funny as he is, he also is incredibly gracious.

I believe it more now than I did before. No matter where we are in this universe – people are put in our path for a reason. Many things happen the way they do because they are meant to. Had someone said that making an inappropriate beaver joke at Ed Speleers would lead to my healing a piece of my soul I forgot was broken…well, that just sounds full-on bat shit crazy, doesn’t it?

As others converged on our one on one, Ed gave me a huge hug, reached into his pocket and with a smile, pulled out the l’il wooden Canadian beaver I had given to him.

We will always have that.

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All the shiggles.

ABOotlander rebuilt, Sherry

#WorldOutlanderDay Feels

It doesn’t show up on your google calendar but it sure is showing up in timelines on all of your social media accounts today. Repeatedly.

The idea/concept of  #WorldOutlanderDay was brought to us by Conny at Highland Saga in 2014. The fandom caught hold of it and kinda like the innocent term ‘droughtlander’, it has taken off and now, belongs to the fandom.

June 1st has meaning, it is the day Outlander was first published 28 yrs ago.  Seems wild for those reading since the beginning. It certainly has been a helluva ride. An evolution.

I have had both the delight and distress of going through the transformation from book fan to show fan. I STILL do love the books.  I love the show for different reasons and in a different way.  I digest the two mediums differently so I see them separately.  For years I introduced the books to friends and family. Most took to them and devoured them – those who loved them, I had an inner satisfaction that we understood each other. Those who didn’t, I questioned a part of them. I know not everyone likes the same things and that’s cool…but still…

My sister, Phyl, was one of these people, she just couldn’t get into the books. Fast forward 20 plus years and Outlander the TV show came along.  Since she couldn’t get into the book, why would she like the TV show? UGH!  Then, Phyl came to visit and I said: “Watch one episode.”  One episode turned into 3. She then devoured 4 seasons, 2ce in a couple of weeks. She is now reading the books.  IT GOT HER!

If you search #WorldOutlanderDay on your social media platforms you are going to see stories of friendship formed over this thing people have in common. You will see ‘discussions’ taking place btwn segments of the fandom over who is better and who they love more and why their favourites deserve all the awards. You will see praise of Diana Gabaldon and thanks to her for creating this universe we choose to escape into. There will be people giving their input on what the show should be doing, what they have done to ruin the books. Of course, there will be those defending it.

What you will see today is what the Outlander fandom is all about. Passionate people who feel these books or this show…or both…deeply.  When we feel things deeply that comes out in all the ways I have mentioned.

When we love something we defend it, we want to see it do better, we try and fix it, we give it praise, we feel confident criticizing it, we have favourites, we look for weaknesses so we can fill them with what we see as own strengths, we accept the flaws and love them anyway.  You see, it isn’t always about Outlander itself, it’s about us. How we love. How we see things and we pass that on to this thing we love so much.

Everything Outlander is amplified on #WorldOutlanderDay. You get to sit where you want, with those you want and enjoy the things you love best.

Are you doing something special to celebrate? Me… I am taking today to be thankful for the people Outlander has brought into my bubble.  Yes, I had a handful of people the books connected me to but the show – gave me the ABOotlanders. The ABOotlanders gave me the live tweeting during the episodes and these blogs.  The live tweeting and blogs introduced me to people that I am forever changed for knowing. It allowed me to interview some of the cast members and some of those cast members have impacted me in a way that isn’t about ‘stardom’.  This is a part of my life I couldn’t have scripted and I am forever grateful for.

Yup, it’s cheesy AF but it is true. Thank you for being a part of my #WorldOutlanderDay experience.

Sher – ABOotlander Founder

Talking to Sera-Lys McArthur about Johiehon, Outlander and MUCH more…

Providence, episode 12 of #Outlander is receiving praise across the fandom. Sera-Lys is the extraordinarily talented and beautiful First Nations actress who played Johiehon, the Mohawk woman who fell in love with and had a child with the priest, Father Alexandre Ferigault.  I spoke to many people about Sera-Lys‘s performance and each one was impacted in some way by her portrayal.  It made me want to know more.

 

We all know I’m a Canadian, I talk about that on the regular. The actor’s Outlander auditioned for the Mohawk and Cherokee this season were chosen from First Nation actors in Canada. I found many have familiar faces from our television landscape.  When Sera-Lys popped up on the screen I had a “Hey! I know her moment!”  Only because I had watched her on a show called Arctic Air. Not because I actually ‘know’ her. Since we are both Canadian, I felt confident enough to reach out to her.

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It probably shouldn’t, but this is me. (source)

It is with no surprise that I can share with you, she is 100% delightful, 110% smarter than I am and yes, I think we are best friends (don’t tell her, she may not answer any more of my DM’s)

So without further Sherry babbling, please enjoy my “Interview with Sera-Lys”

I understand you grew up in Saskatchewan and were fairly young when you started acting. Now, many reading this might not understand my asking but how did that happen for you? (Saskatchewan isn’t really known as Canada’s Hollywood)  Haha, oh thank-you! Arctic Air was a big breakout role for me in terms of my Canadian career, it’s nice that people still remember that show. And you’re right, getting a start in acting from Saskatchewan is uncommon. I didn’t ever think that a person could even pursue acting as a career. My neighbour signed up for modelling classes when we were 11, and I wanted to join her. I really enjoyed it, so my mom supported me in signing up with a local agency in Regina. A couple of years later, when I was 13, there was a CBC miniseries coming to town called “Revenge of the Land,” directed by John N. Smith (Dangerous Minds, The Boys of St. Vincent). They were casting the role of a young Metis girl (a word that describes a mixed-blood Indigenous person) and had already cast actress Carmen Moore (She is in Outlander also, her role was introduced this week and continues in next week’s finale) to play the character’s mom. I went to the audition and the director and casting director were instantly impressed at our resemblance. Then they said, “But wait, can she act?” and I did my audition. It was my second audition in my life. I guess I didn’t suck, and they asked me if I had ever acted before. I said I was signed up for a workshop ‘next week.’ They smiled and told me to take the workshop. When I was at the workshop, they called my acting teacher and I was informed that I had got the role. It was very surreal! Needless to say, I loved the experience and was “bitten,” as they say. I continued to study Musical Theatre and Acting and audition throughout high school and later, in post-secondary education.

Where is home for you now? As a First Nations person and actor, I have the ability to “live, work and cross the border freely as [I] choose” thanks to the “J Treaty.” I really see Acting as my home, and wherever it leads me. I will always have roots in Saskatchewan and that is still where my family lives. Lately, I split my time between New York City and Toronto.

As a young Canadian woman, what would you say has been the biggest challenge in your career thus far? Historically, there are not a lot of substantial roles for women in general, less for women of Colour, even less for Indigenous women, and even then, we often lose these roles to non-Indigenous actors. This is because it’s a catch 22 in the industry: An actor has to have proven their ability to green light an X-million dollar production, but no Indigenous actors have ever done this, so investors find us to be too risky to cast. Sometimes they rewrite Indigenous roles and change their ethnicity to suit an A-lister that will attract more investors. It can be very frustrating. But I am happy to confirm reports that this is finally changing in our industry. The amount of opportunities for everyone seems to be growing, and so those of us who have been waiting and working on our skills all these years are finally getting a chance to show what we can do. Outlander 412 “Providence” was definitely one of those opportunities!

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Sera-Lys on the Outlander set with her costars

I see you have worked on a few projects with women at the helm, as we are in a (much needed) time of change in the industry, how do you find this is impacting you? For one thing, it has been the status quo for so long, that it was an important dynamic for me to learn how to negotiate. I get along with most men, I have many platonic male friends. I choose to connect with human beings, not genders. Now, of course, I have noticed an inequity and it does bother me. But it is important to create allies, not otherness. I have had excellent experiences working with male directors, and equally as wonderful experiences with female directors. I feel blessed to be able to collaborate with all of them and I am hopeful that more and more women and minorities will be given a chance to helm large-scale projects. 

Did you audition for the role of Johiehon specifically and what was the process like for you?  Yes, I did audition for her specifically. I knew the character was supposed to speak Mohawk and French, but the sides were given in English. Like most Canadians, I studied French in school growing up, so that was the easier part. Mohawk is another story! There’s no google translate option for Mohawk! While the casting director said that it wasn’t necessary to translate for the audition, I know from experience that producers almost never cast Indigenous actors for period-dramas from a tape where they speak English. They want to cast someone they know can handle the language challenges that the role demands. So I reached out to my friend Devery Jacobs (Sam in STARZ’s American Gods) who is Mohawk and also was auditioning for the role. She passed along recordings, translations & phonetic transcriptions of the Mohawk lines. I went in for my audition a few days later, and I guess I kinda “nailed it:” one take and done. Then I was “On hold” for over a month. During this time I auditioned for another role on Outlander, the Cherokee translator played by Crystle Lightning. When I got the call from my agent that I had booked Outlander, I had to ask, “which one?” 

I am very grateful to belong to a community of supportive First Nations actors. It’s a rarity in this industry and even this day and age that someone would aid their “competitor.” But I would have done the same. We really want each other to succeed, and we know the best way for us all to experience success is to support one another. 

I know I shouldn’t feel personal pride in the fact the First Nations actors from my home country behave in this manner as the only real thing we have in common is we are from the same country, but damn, this makes me proud.  To know there is such a cohesive unit of actors, working with one another to assure each other’s success knowing it will make the whole stronger in the end.  That’s probably the most empowering thing I have heard in a long time. It makes this screenshot mean a lot more to me.screenshot (2083) (1)

How did you find out you earned the role of Johiehon? My agent Rich Caplan called me while I was on a lunch break from a theatre workshop I was doing with Oregon Shakespeare Festival (in Manhattan). He had called me earlier that day to say that I had booked a role in a Canadian independent feature called Robbery, which is currently doing the festival circuit. It was a pretty awesome day!!

When you read the script for Johiehon’s introduction and demise, what were your thoughts? The introduction I knew from the audition, but the demise was a big surprise! They kept it under wraps from even me until about 2 weeks before my contract in Scotland began. She had a different name than in the books. It definitely explained why it was only a one-episode contract! I was shocked and excited. The second-to-last episode is often the climax of the season in today’s television market. A big fiery, epic ending in this episode was very exciting! I actually portrayed a young Nakota woman who died by fire in another CBC miniseries called The Englishman’s Boy about 11 years ago. So I knew I could perform it well. Still, I had never seen anything quite like the fire and stunt work that I witnessed on Outlander. It was truly amazing!

Truthfully, you had such a little amount of time to endear yourself to the audience, allowing us to feel you had this deep love with Father Alexandre and that Kaheroton was deeply in love with you, and…you did it. More than did it. I was sobbing when you (well, your stunt double) walked into the flames.  What was your reaction when you saw it all put together for the first time? Honestly, I cried too! It was so beautiful. It was so sad and visually stunning. Mairzee Almas, the director, did an amazing job with this scene and episode. It was her idea to put the Adagio For Strings music over the silent slow-motion sequence. In my mind, I compared the epic, emotional moment to The Last of the Mohicans, and it definitely delivered. In today’s industry, an actor rarely gets the opportunity to act in something this grandiose! I feel truly blessed to have been a part of it. I am proud of my work and of the entire team. It’s tremendous.

I have to admit, Providence stands in my top 3 episodes of the whole Series thus far. From start to finish, every extra and every effect, every performance held my attention. 

Richard Rankin is the regular cast member you had scenes with.  He is known as being a very light-hearted guy. How was working with him? It was great! He is very friendly and easy to be around and work with. Poor guy had to be in constant “pain” during our scenes. It also was a very demanding season for him, so I am very impressed with his stamina and commitment. His scenes with Father Alexandre in the “Idiot hut” are truly remarkable and were rewritten right up until filming. He brings an amazing sense of humour to his portrayal. A true professional and a warm-hearted person. I feel lucky to have worked with him. 

I often worry about the portrayal of first nations and indigenous peoples in television and movies. We want the portrayal to be true, respectful and not a caricature. I understand you are a modern woman, not a historian but am interested in knowing, how do you feel Outlander did, as a whole, in regards to portraying the Mohawk/Native culture? They really did a very good job. They went all out in their research. The costumes, hair, make-up and wardrobe were all very specific. And that set! It really transported us there in our minds. They worked with two Mohawk elders from Akwesasne and had them answer questions and do translations and coachings with us. They also gave us a document about Mohawk customs and culture, especially pertaining to what was happening in the scene. For me, the biggest departure from reality is that a Mohawk woman would ever abandon her child and commit suicide to be with her loved one. But it is a fantasy after all. It’s a beautiful story.

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Sera-Lys McArthur with director Mairzee Almas and costars BTS

 It was most certainly a part of the story I always struggled with, but yes, fantasy, love stories, tragedy. They tend to go hand in hand. Speaking of fantasy – I am envious you travelled to Scotland. How long were you there? Tell us a bit about your experiences if you could. I was there for 3 weeks. I was happily able to explore quite a bit. I went to Edinburgh, stayed in Glasgow and near Pitlochry. I went with fellow actress and friend Carmen Moore to Loch Lomond. That was a special experience. After my role was completed, I went on a horse ride in the countryside or a “hack,” as they say in Scotland, with Tannoch Stables. We stayed in a beautiful castle hotel during filming. It was breathtaking. Scottish people, on the whole, are lovely, friendly and have a great sense of humour. I highly recommend going and I hope to return someday soon!

You were surrounded by many other Canadian actors/esses while on set, which must have been interesting. Being in another country but still with people from home. What was that like? It was a surreal and pride-filled experience. There were other people from the Prairies and even an elder who spoke Nakota (my Native ancestral dialect). There were multiple other actors that I had worked with before who reunited there for this production. One of them, Gregory Odjig, looked at me at one moment and said, “We’re at work right now. Halfway around the world, in Scotland. That’s friggin awesome!” And I couldn’t have agreed with the sentiment more. Very special and unique.

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Sera-Lys  with costars and friends Carmen Moore and Tom Jackson Fonab Castle Hotel

What was your biggest take away from your time with the Outlander production?That all the years of struggling and career ups-and-downs were worth it so that I could experience something this amazing. 

I see you have some projects that include writing and producing. Besides acting, what field do you see yourself pursuing more in the future? Acting is my true love. But acting leads me to producing and writing. I want to do them all, but most of the behind-the-scenes work I do is so that I can act in the production myself. I am sure this will continue to evolve. Acting and storytelling are my “Buffalo,” they provide my soul with sustenance, similar to the traditional life of my ancestors when they followed the herds of bison. I will follow them wherever they lead me. 

That is so beautiful. Our First Nation culture carries with it such a powerful spirit. We have so much we can learn.

The issue of MMIWG (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls) in our country is one that was long ignored. The more the loudest voices speak, the more the silenced can be heard.  Can you please tell me more about the project ‘In Spirit’?In Spirit is a very special project. It was written and directed by Tara Beagan and designed by Andy Moro. While we changed the character to a fictitious girl, the original play was based on the murder of Monica Jack. You can look up all of the details available on CBC’s website. 40 years later, they have finally arrested, tried and found a man guilty of kidnapping, assaulting and violently killing this young girl who was days away from celebrating her 13th birthday. It is very emotional and speaks to the core of our community. It illuminates the bigger problem with our society today. I hope we remount it and many more will get to see it. It’s truly riveting. I hope that the conversation continues and we work together to stop this senseless violence. Native women have been too easy to prey upon. Native people are victim to systemic violence, racism and erasure by historical and modern society. This has to change. We have to talk about it more and more. And if we could please stop objectifying our women in so-called “sexy Indian” costumes, that would be a great place to start.

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If there was a mic- I’d get her to drop it (source)

Do you have any other upcoming projects that you are excited about that we can watch for?  You can currently catch me in Season 2 episode 3 of Friends From College, I have a really fun soccer scene about 8 minutes in. I will be doing a play at Portland Center Stage in Oregon called Crossing Mnisose by Cherokee playwright Mary Kathryn Nagle. That opens in April. Other than that, stay tuned to my social media @seralysmcarthur for announcements.

Once again, your performance in Providence was captivating.  You managed to create a heartbreaking love story within an episode of television that left a fandom bereft. If there is anything else about your experience with this role you would like to share, we would love to hear it. Well, while Yan Tual and I were busy working and dying on pyres and crying for literally days, the other actors and supporting artists were often on break, if it was only filming our close-ups. As I mentioned, the set was impeccable and while much of it was natural, we would randomly find “set dec” hidden amongst the natural world: fake rocks, sticks, mounds, grass, etc.

Richard Rankin, Carmen Moore, Greg Odjig and some of the Mohawk warriors/ stunt actors made hilarious behind-the-scenes videos of knocking Greg over the head and body with these set pieces. The resulting videos were HILARIOUS!! What a fun group of people to work with!

Outlander BTS video Credit goes to Gregory Odjig

Thank you so much for sharing that hilarity with us. It is the perfect way to lead into my the typical ABOotlander closing question for our guests – since you are Canadian, you have an advantage.  The ABOotlanders have invited you to dinner and being the guest of honour, you get to choose the main course, tell us which one catches your fancy?
A)Moose Droppings B) Beaver Tails C) Prairie Oysters D) Taber Corn

Prairie Oysters. I def gotta try one someday to be truly Canadian! (I do know what they are, lol!)

It truly was a pleasure to have Sera-Lys take the time to invite us into a few corners of her world.  I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed putting it together for you because I enjoyed it A LOT!

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Sera-Lys ROCKS (source)

Sher (Founder of the ABOotlanders) 

Be sure to live tweet the Finale of Outlander with us while watching on W Network on Jan 27th.

 

 

 

Safety is key. Unlocking my Ep10 thoughts. #Outlander

We experienced yet another powerful episode with The Deep Heart’s Core.  Season 4 just keeps my brain in gear which I am not sure is such a great thing cuz I think it might be getting warped from overuse. It certainly has refreshed all those years of human behaviour seminars I took back in the day.

I don’t exactly do recaps with my blog this season, I kind of pick something that stands out to me. You might be on the same wavelength I am (if that is the case, you may want to seek help because I am not sure that’s altogether healthy) and you will think to yourself…well OBVIOUSLY…in that case, I suppose I’m not as unique as my mother told me I was.

This episode was not a comfortable one. I don’t think it was written to be. In fact, I think it was meant to give you that feeling of discomfort. Of being unsettled and not feeling right in your own skin, like things were ready to fall apart at any time.

Let’s open with the conversation Bree had with her bio-Da about her rape.  That in itself shows us that Brianna feels a certain level of trust with Jamie now. She is asking for his help in processing the trauma she has experienced. She doesn’t need to give him names, dates or details to share her pain. Most victims can tell you that isn’t how it works. The things they need to let go of first are the could haves, would haves, should haves.  Shedding the blame, guilt and shame are critical to recovery. Survivors do this with people they feel safe with.

Jamie experienced these things himself.  He knows the process she has to go through. Claire took him through it.  He put himself in front of his daughter, angered her and brought forth her rage (as Claire had) in order to show her that no matter how hard she fought that sunnuvabitch Bonnet, he would have taken from her what he did and likely, she would have gotten herself killed in the process.  In the end, Bree wasn’t angry with Jamie for overpowering her, saying cruel and hurtful things to her – once she realized why he had done it. In fact, she felt safer with him. So safe that she reached further inside his heart and questioned him about his own experience with rape.

Jamie was raped by Jack Randall.  He didn’t fight either.  He didn’t fight because he gave his word in return for Claire’s life – which means at its core it was out of fear.  Fear for her.  That Jamie was able to share the truth of this with his daughter opened up a door to their relationship – in which Bree stormed through later on in the episode.

Let’s talk about that door now, why wait?  Bree found out Roger made his way to the ridge and subsequently, what happened to him. The Fraser Fury was unleashed like…well…a Fraser unleashes their fury.  There were a lot of words, a lot of confusion and amoung that,  Jamie misunderstood what Bree was saying and heard her say that she had sex with Roger then fought with him- he mistook those words and thought Brianna claimed she was raped by him in anger. Jamie’s Fraser Fury mixed with Brianna’s – as you can imagine, that went up like a bomb.

Bree lashed out, slapping him. Hard. He let her. Why do I believe he let her?  Jamie showed us earlier in the episode that he could stop her from hitting him if he chose to.  Do Bree’s words hurt Jamie? Of course they do but does he know they help her more by her saying them? Yes. Jamie opened that door to his daughter earlier in the episode. That she would feel safe enough to say or do anything to him and know that he would be there to love and care for her no matter what. It is also why he said nothing when she yelled at him that he wasn’t allowed to be angrier than she was.  Jamie heard her words and accepted them.  It is something many of us don’t do when we are angry because we are too busy giving that anger to others in the form of hurting them back.  Jamie had helped create that safe space for Brianna earlier in the episode, even though he screwed up when he lashed out with his words, he backed up and gave that safety net back to her instead of closing it off again.

Bree knows that Jamie loves her. She does love Jamie, otherwise, she wouldn’t even care enough to try to hurt him. She wouldn’t pull out the Frank card to make him hurt like she is hurting.  That is what many of us are guilty of, isn’t it?  When we are in so much pain that we want that person to feel it too? We try and cut them that deep. We go for the one thing we know will get them?  She points out Frank would never have said the things Jamie just said to her. Her statement is not baseless, Jamie did just accuse her of lying about being raped, it was ugly and it was hurtful.  She lashed out in her own ugly and hurtful way.  I am not saying this is the right way to fight with family, however, I see that it is the way a lot of families fight. Good, bad or ugly we can say and do things within those walls and know forgiveness is available to us.

Jamie is being a father more than ever at this moment by letting his daughter feel, process and allowing her to use him to do it. He knows what he did and what he said was hurtful. He is attempting to move forward and doing what he can to make it right. Like at the beginning of the episode, he knows it isn’t about his words, but his actions.  He isn’t begging her to forgive him because he knows forgiveness needs to be earned and she must go through the steps to get there.  All he can do is what he has promised and allow Brianna the time to meet him in the middle.

Plus, Brianna is pregnant. Here I am remembering what a shit show of emotions that was like WITHOUT adding in all of this craziness and confusion to it. My heart ached for her this episode. Stepping back and seeing it all from where she stands. Taking away all of the confusion and miscommunication and blame we can lay down. Purely the circumstance of what can be lost – Brianna – that she is still upright, is impressive.

I think the previous commentary answers the why of Brianna not telling Lizzie about that sunnuvabitch Bonnet and the rape. Why Brianna didn’t subsequently hold Lizzie responsible for Roger’s current circumstances.  Brianna feels like she is the one protecting Lizzie so it doesn’t occur to her to share that kind of pain with her.  Brianna wouldn’t feel confident Lizzie could handle that level of anger from her without it completely damaging the relationship they have.  Brianna doesn’t have the kind of relationship with Lizzie that screams: “I feel safe with you, I can be vulnerable with you.” We won’t expose our innermost thoughts to those people in our lives, we don’t see that it serves a purpose. Of course…hindsight…

The relationship between Jamie and Claire right now is something so quiet and reserved that I know I see it differently than many. I see it sitting in the “safe zone”.  Claire is being fiercely protective of Brianna in this episode which I completely understand.  She made the choice to come back to Jamie and in that, leaving her daughter. We have seen her struggle with that choice repeatedly over the last 2 seasons.  With Bree now in the past with them, Claire has been so intuned with her daughter, grief-stricken by her pain and riddled with guilt over Bree’s rape.

She and Jamie are becoming parents together for the first time. They are parenting an adult daughter that is dealing with some pretty heavy shit.  This is not a rainbows and unicorn little house on the prairie universe.  When the Fraser fury is released Claire goes to the Fraser that needs her comfort the most. Their daughter. Jamie knows it, Claire knows it.

Claire has a whole lot going on in the episode, yet she is pretty quiet. She is angry with the whole situation, you can see she is upset with herself for not telling Jamie about that sunnuvabitch Bonnet. The resignation when she places the ring on the table becomes a quiet communication between them. Jamie and Claire have been through many storms, arguments and this is yet another bump in their road. Like most committed couples, they will learn from one another and whatever circumstance they have created for themselves.  I was relieved to see Claire being fiercely protective of Brianna. This wasn’t against anyone, it was for her child. I think we can forget that sometimes, that we can be in someone’s corner and stand up for them but that doesn’t mean we are fighting or belittling others in order to do it.  The relationship Jamie and Claire have is one of mutual respect and love.  That is security, it means they have the ability to get angry, disagree and fight. All the while knowing they will come back to one another because their love and respect for one another are bigger than all the other stuff happening around them.

Roger Roger Roger.  I can’t let this one go without talking about Roger. Of course he doesn’t feel safe! Who the hell are we kidding?  The #PoorRoger hashtag is getting out of control. This guy is becoming the energizer bunny of Outlander, the punishment gets handed over to him…he takes it…puts it in his pocket…gives it a tap and says “All safe with me” and then extends his hand and says “Got anymore where that came from?”

#PoorRoger. See?  He is getting dragged around like a goat on a rope from the top of the episode. He has company though and shares a kinship with this fella, safety in companionship I suppose. He chats with him along the way, is his motivational coach and one morning, his companion – dead.  That’s uplifting.  Sure to bring Roger the glimmer of hope and keep him looking forward?

Not really but Roger brings us to the end of the episode facing the one thing that is absolutely certain to bring him back to safety. He can have a warm bath, a sane Scottish lass (I will hop on the #FIOGER ship) and you know, not getting recaptured by the Mohawk…all with one touch.

The question is will Roger feel safer in the future or in the arms of Brianna? I know what I want him to do! I guess his safety isn’t my first thought, does that make me a horrible person?

Thanks for reading, if you made it this far.

Sher ( founder of the ABOotlanders)

Please join us for our Live Tweeting as we watch on W Network at 8pm MST Sunday nights, using the hashtag #OutlanderCAN

 

 

Serendipity. In this #Outlander world.

Today it was announced that Caitriona Balfe was once again nominated for a Golden Globe for her stellar performance of Claire Fraser.  This got me thinking of how lucky we are to have her in this role. My thoughts quickly turned into how all the pieces of this production have fallen into place at the perfect time for it to become what it is.

As far back as the ’90s, I recall talking to a friend about the idea of the Outlander book series being made into a television show. That was when there were only 3 or 4 books on the shelves.  Caitriona and Sam would have been teenagers around then, Ron D. Moore was in his Star Trek phase of life.

Diana Gabaldon, the creator of this universe we so happily devour, has spoken of the many times the books had been optioned but those offers never came to fruition.  In the end, Jim Kohlberg had the rights for over five years. It wasn’t until Ron D. Moore and his producing partner Maril Davis approached him with the idea of an epic TV drama, which started the ball rolling.  Both Ron and Maril visited Diana personally with their vision and let’s just say, the rest is now on TV screens around the globe for our viewing pleasure.

Imagine these pieces, all falling into place at the right time. Individual choices that happened to intersect by chance.

I sit back and think about this puzzle. I have a hard time wiggling my brain into believing they could have found a Tobias, Sophie, Caitriona, Sam, Richard, Duncan, Lotte, Nell, John, Graham, Cesar, Roman, Lauren…the list just goes on and on., at any other juncture at any other time. The secondary characters have also been absolute magic and it seems if one were off – the show may have tumbled like a Jenga tower. (Or more likely it would look absolutely nothing like it looks like now and maybe I have a pathetic imagination but I simply can’t picture it looking any better.) 

The writers, crew, sets, costumes and all of those involved in this production seem to have such a passion for this project it shows deep into the guts of it. When viewing the behind the scenes photos or videos, even when they are standing in the cold and gloom, there are smiles and laughter. The crew and production staff that take part in online chatter with fans do so with such a joyful heart, it is a nice reminder that when those creating something enjoy doing it, it makes it a worthwhile thing.dkrccftvaaavlpo

The cast seems to genuinely enjoy one another’s company. They do a lot of press, conventions, interviews and interactions on social media.  The truth is, they don’t have to.  Some media is expected from the studio, sure, authentic interaction is an entirely different thing. We have all seen cardboard interviews between costars before and the cast of Outlander is so far outside of that sphere. They truly make it fun to watch them together. The trust they have for one another is a pleasure to see.                                                      2b42001989373025b267d9028377fe12 tumblr_nb8ocdzp8p1tj014jo1_500

I mean, really…think about it. If Caitriona hadn’t decided she had her run with modelling and not gone back to her first love of acting, we wouldn’t have our Claire. How could that be a thing? Had Sam gotten any of those Game of Thrones roles he had tried for…he wouldn’t be our Jamie Fraser. It doesn’t make sense to me how we could have anyone else in these parts now.

It all leads to that one, beautiful thing my friends…serendipity.

May we have the honour of enjoying it for many more years.

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Sherry (ABOotlander Founder)

 

 

 

 

More than meets the eye. My takeaway from Ep4 of Outlander, Common Ground.

Here I am again, trying to not just pick through the obvious or delve into the dramedy of the week for each episode of Outlander.

Truth be told,  I am doing it more to challenge myself, tear off a couple of layers and see something a bit different. It helps me stretch my brain basket out.

 

The plentiful nuggets of common ground between characters and the land are both unmistakable and subtlely scattered throughout the episode. It gives the title of the episode a lot of meaning.  I am going to nudge that aside so we can experience the remnants of all the things that aren’t and how they showed up numerous times in Common Ground.

We all do it.  Take one glance at someone or thing, get our first impression, assume we know the story and continue on with that notion in our head. We may tend to block all the other stuff out because it doesn’t suit what we have already convinced ourselves is real.

Starting instantly with the Governor Tryon scene. This guy. Him and his “I want the best people to settle the land” and “I’m noble and wonderful and everything good about the British.”

We know that there is a dash of dastardly tucked underneath that powdered wig and tighty whities (stockings) of his.  Certainly not all noble nor wonderful. In fact, here we have a couple of duplicitous characters.  Jamie has been a traitor before. That is where I was going with the “not everything is what it seems” with this particular scene. I believe Jamie eluded to this in his comments to Claire about making this a great country for Brianna earlier in the season.  It certainly isn’t just in building Fraser’s Ridge but the impact he might have in the coming revolution.

Oh, then we have Marsali.  Remember when we first met her? Our initial impression? Wow. What a snide wee thing she was.

But why? Outwardly, she most certainly hated Claire and wasn’t afraid to show it. In return, many instantly thought her a mean-spirited brat.  Marsali, let us not forget, is a teenager. Her only knowledge of this Claire woman is the image she had painted by her very bitter mother (whom she loves dearly, she should, she IS her mom).  Any daughter would take her mother’s side and react accordingly. Claire, being the adult, totally understood this and didn’t take it personally. She let it ride.

What we saw at the beginning of the episode is the growth of both of these characters. How many stepdaughter/mother relationships never heal?  You can have two fantastic human beings who will hate one another forever because of the completely separate relationship of two other people they both love. It is a real head-scratcher. ( Yes I know…some people ARE just horrible, I’m not talking about them😉) Marsali and Claire have chosen to look at one another as individuals. Apart from those relationships and are better for it. Imagine both of them taking their first impressions and holding onto them?  How ugly would that be to watch, week after week?

Leaving Marsali and Fergus, of course, reminds Claire of leaving Brianna. Jamie opens his mouth and the word version of cotton candy, unicorns, rainbows and butterflies escape his lips. It seems such a special moment, between Jamie and Claire.  If we were to step upon that moment we would see the love and the connection.

What we wouldn’t see is the pain. Claire being torn up on the inside. How many times has this happened to us? In public, surrounded by people and able to look to the person in front of us and manage a grin – all the while, inside, we’re screaming in pain?  Yet, there we were, fooling nearly every person in the room because they only see what we allow them to.

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My own socks tell us this story. 

It doesn’t always have to be people, it can be nature.  It was present throughout this episode.  Frasers Ridge itself, visually captivating, has a dream-like quality to it.  When that happens, the brain does funny things. When we think something is beautiful, we tend to feel better when we are around it, when we feel better, we feel safer, when we feel safer, we may let our guard down.  Letting our guard down isn’t always a horrible thing but when there is something else out there that is looking to harm us, it uses that vulnerability to its advantage.  Nature itself is like this, whether it be the creatures that make it their home or the weather itself.  Both of these can dispell the wonderful first impression of beauty such places give. It reminds us just because it’s pretty, doesn’t mean it’s kind.

Let’s get comfy and talk about Roger and Bree. After last weeks dumpster fire of miscommunication, what do we have to look forward to? By all appearances, not a fricken thing.  After Brianna left Roger at the festival to find a TapCar back to Boston we don’t have much hope.

Roger has returned to his various shades of brown existence at Oxford.  He seems to be going by exactly what Brianna has given him during his call to her and vice-versa.  There are no questioning things deeper on either part and yet, if one of them had, so much of the miscommunication could have been remedied at least a little bit.  Settling for what is on the surface can sometimes be our way of taking the easy way out. Let’s face it if we simply take the generic “I have to go grade papers”, it excuses us from taking a chance and asking “Do you miss me?” Sure, we avoid the possibility of them saying the very thing we fear but it also prevents them from saying the one thing we hope they would.

Fiona looks quiet and innocent but that girl has got all the people figured out and just so happens, she serves it with grace.  Everyone should have a girlfriend like her.  The kind that people sadly mistake for a piece of the furniture. She sees and hears everything. They are the ones that will be able to tell you what’s what and where you can find it.  We would be better humans if we paid more attention to what women like Fiona have to say instead of keeping them a silent witness to everything around us. I bet if we all thought about it, we could think of a few of those women throughout our lives and be surprised at how we allowed them to stay in the shadows. How we still utilized their gifts and input when they shared them but rarely asked them for it. Hell, you may be one of those people yourself.  So let me just say…you are valued…in case you haven’t heard it lately.

Now, to the glaringly obvious “it is not what it appears to be” is our bear.  First, the menace and destruction were thought to be the Cherokee neighbours. Then, the monster bear. There were pretty clear signs pointing toward that. It likes meat, pooped like nobodies business, left a pretty serious claw slashing down the shoulder of Findlay, Fraser’s trusty steed. Had the Fraser’s been aware of the Cherokee’s dealings with the cracked but not broken bear-man, they would have known what they were truly dealing with, rather than go by what their eyes were telling them.  This just proves the whole “working together” gets better results theory. Pretty simple stuff, this one.

I must mention the fact that Brianna went to Scotland WEEKS ago to visit her MOTHER! I don’t think this was a simple case of Brianna just missing her Momma.  Roger thinking Brianna would only know the information he was giving her, seems to have been a case of underestimation. This is something many of us do as well, which is why I love how these characters are written. They are relatable.  We often predict what others will do based on what we would do. We interpret others actions as a reflection of our own intent. Sometimes we are accurate but not always and it is the ‘not always’ that tends to cause us to stumble.  It pays to look deeper, or step back to see the big picture. It may be uncomfortable but the outcome will often be a positive one.

First impressions should be just that. An impression. They are developed in an instant but given time, they can be remoulded, reshaped and in some cases, shattered and recreated. The more we discuss, observe and listen, the better we get at understanding the whole picture.  The whole picture tells a story one word never could.

RTs would be cool if you feel others might enjoy a piece of this. Come live tweet with us Canadian folk, we watch Outlander on W Network  at 8 PM MST Sundays. We use the hashtag #OutlanderCAN to keep track of one another and help others gauge where the commercials are. Yeah…we have phones with cords AND commercials.  It’s ok though. We are a hearty people.

Until next time…and I already CAN. NOT. WAIT!

Sher (ABOotlander founder)

 

 

 

 

My take on Outlander’s E02, Do No Harm. The lies we tell ourselves.

There are many conversations that can and surely will be taking place about this powerful episode.  I thought, and probably over thought the direction, I would go in my take away.

What I kept coming back to was the self-talk of the characters in our story.  As in life, we tell ourselves lies in order to live with our actions, the situations we create and the circumstances we find ourselves in.  Sometimes those lies are harmless small ones, intended to take the sting away and sometimes they are brutally large because facing the truth would be admitting how incredibly horrible we truly can be.

When people hear the word LIE, they think ‘bad’. They think ‘evil’. That isn’t quite what I mean here. Yes, a lie is an intended falsehood, however, when we are telling those lies to ourselves to help cope with something ~ that becomes the crux of the situation.

We start with that, Jamie and Claire. He is beating himself up over helping Bonnet escape. Claire turns to him and explains he shouldn’t take the blame for the robbery and Lesley’s death, it’s not his fault, they both trusted the bastard.  Truth is, had they given him up to the authorities, they would have made it safely to River Run, gemstones in hand and their friend alive. This is a way to help them cope with their loss.  Of course, we don’t want them to blame themselves. In fact, if someone we loved were in a similar position, we would tell them the same in order to make them feel better.  I ask myself sometimes – Do I want the truth or a comforting lie? Lots of the time…a comforting lie hits the spot quite nicely, thanks.

Now, those fools at the dinner party! Believing if it wasn’t for them coming to America and making it a ‘civilized’ world it would be nothing but a wasteland. This a perfect example of lies we tell ourselves to justify our uninvited and or all around crappy behaviours. Not bothering to see there could be another way, ignoring the logic around us. Even when it is clearly pointed out.  Ian took a moment to do that and was met with a condescending reply. Those reactions are often the biggest clue that we know we are full of rocks and bananas.

Jocasta shared with Jamie and Claire how she saw some of her slaves as friends.  This is a deeply seeded version of the example I just gave. Though there may be hints of truth in her statement, the reality is, the slaves are not her friends, she will not truly treat them as such because it would harm her place in society.  She spoke of her struggle as a woman, not being able to speak her mind or run her business with men as an equal. If she was to open her mind, just a little further, including others being treated even worse than that, by her…that is where change can start, no? Simply with the acknowledgment.

Then, you know, Jocasta outright lies. In the sense that she would rather ask forgiveness than permission.  She knew damn well that she was going to make Jamie heir of River Run. It was the main purpose for her party, “introducing you to society” was a ruse created to foist this grand plan upon him.  It sure makes it hard to say “HELL NO!” In front of people congratulating you eh?

Now keep in mind, lying to oneself is also a means of self-preservation in difficult circumstances. This is Claire’s running commentary throughout the episode.  There is not one moment that she relaxes. She is in obvious perma-clench mode. For good reason.  She is having a visceral reaction to slavery and not only being surrounded by it, but by it being forced upon her. It certainly is easy, from the relative comfort of our living rooms to tell her to smarten the hell up because ultimately she IS making shit WAY more difficult. However, Claire…part of what makes her Claire is she feels before she thinks. In this case, it’s not only her “do no harm” oath, but it is also her hate of a system that she KNOWS is wrong on every level of wrongness that was ever created, and being a part of that in any way, makes her wrong too. So, she lies to herself.  Tells herself, because of her interference, she can help Rufus. There will be something she can do to make sure he lives. When the real truth is…there is nothing.  Deep down, she knows it…and that only infuriates her further.

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We now have Rufus (played impeccably by Jerome Holder). Imagine, putting one foot in front of another, day after day having been taken from the life he knew and loved, forced into this, of all lives?  You would most certainly have to lie to yourself. He was telling himself, one day…one day I might see those I love again.  There has been nothing to show him this might happen, to give him this hope. Yet, he tells himself so he may have the strength to see another day.  We have the power to convince ourselves because we have no other choice…we need to hold onto something in order to survive.

If we sat and examined the stories we tell ourselves on the daily, we would see the lies, the half-truths for what they are.  Coping mechanisms…both good and bad. Human and inhumane. They often define our character.  If we find ourselves angry when someone points them out to us, that may be an indication we need to take a self-appointed time out and do some critical thinking.  It is most definitely not a painless process. That is how change happens.

It’s tough, but someone’s gotta do it!

Thanks for stopping by and if you like what you read, or even thought it was kinda o.k., please give it a share, leave a comment or send me cuddles (pickles and cheese knows I can use ’em after THAT episode!)  We livetweet with the W Networks airing of Outlander in Canada, every Sunday, using the hashtag #OutlanderCAN. We look forward to all of our Outlander friends joining us!

For a more in-depth conversation about Do No Harm and the way the show handled the aspects of slavery and the continued effects it has on today’s society, I suggest you hop on over to our friends at Blacklanderz. Their twitter feed has a great deal of the discussions we need to be having.

Until next time,

Sher                                                                                                                                                          Founder of the ABOotlanders