Paradise Garden by Lucia Frangione
Directed by Morris Ertman
Arts Club Theatre Company
Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage
March 11- April 11, 2010
Vancouver, BC: Over our pre-show dinner at Yuji's Japanese Tapas restaurant, we discussed the phenomenon that my companion called "the bum factor" but which I prefer to think of as "the watch factor". Simply put, it is the thing that happens when a certain restlessness develops as one is watching a show - either because something is dragging on too long or because it just fails to grip one's attention. He gets antsy and wriggles in his seat while I get an irresistible urge to check the time - saved only by the fact that I cant see the dial in the dark.
SPINE, by Kevin Kerr
Directed by Bob Frazer
A Realwheels and University of Alberta co-production
Experimental Theatre, SFU Woodwards
March 10 to 20, 2010
Spine originated as a follow-up to Skydive, seen two years ago. James Sanders, wheelchair-bound, sought another part; Kevin Kerr would write again and Bob Frazer would switch from actor to director. Twelve members of the University of Alberta graduating acting class would take part. No less than 34 more are credited with 'production,' from 'dialect coach' to 'audio supervisor.' Cultural Olympiad money came in.
Kerr and Frazer, as they record in the program, look for inspiration to Prometheus, Frankenstein, Cyrano de Bergerac and Midsummer Night's Dream! Kerr demonstrated what he could do with conventional theatre in 'Unity, 1918' ; here he writes an intelligent collection of fragments.
The Greatest Cities of the World
Creative Team: James Long, Maiko Bae Yamamoto (directors); Nneka Croal, Ruben Castelblanco, Susan Elliott, Young-Hee Kim, Andrew Laurenson, Michael Rinaldi, Tanya Podlozniuk (performers)
Vancouver East Cultural Centre 13-17 March, 2010 Vancouver, BC: The Theatre Replacement company have a reputation for being at the cutting-edge, part of a movement in Vancouver which is 'pushing the envelope': with Electric Company, Boca del Lupo, Radix, The Only Animal and Leaky Heaven Circus. This year Theatre Replacement won the big Alcan Rio Tinto award.
Their idea was to go to the small towns of Tennessee which have the names of great European cities, Paris, London, Athens and Moscow. They taped interviews, while staying sensitive to themselves as outsiders. They must have hoped that this fieldwork would provide a subject - it hasn't. Though staying close to verbatim theatre, they evidently ignored 'The Farm Show' and 'Laramie Project' as models.
The Vic by Leanna Brodie
Directed by Sarah Szloboda
A Terminal Theatre production
Jericho Arts Centre
Feb 16 th to 21 st, 2010
Vancouver, BC: This production of The Vic is an ambitious undertaking by the young Terminal Theatre company which staged its first production in the summer of 2009. For this, their third production, they might have been better served had they chosen a less convoluted play.
The Vic features 8 female characters - described as part victim, part victimisers - in four disparate story lines which finally come together - sort of. I found the continuity of this play hard to follow so without having read the script, here is what I gathered from the show.
The set is dominated by a giant screen on which brief film clips show at different points between the other scenes. This as we discover is the thread that draws the four stories together.
The play opens with women entering the darkened space, each carrying a light, the Spanish singing evoking the "desaparecidos" or "the disappeared" of Latin America. Then we see four local women searching for a missing woman, Cara (April Cameron) whose inner thoughts are revealed through her "diary" shown in the film clips. Cameron's naively wistful, young girl provides the only really sympathetic character in the story.
Dance Marathon at The Roundhouse Community Centre
bluemouth Inc. and Boca del Lupo
February 12 th, 2010
Vancouver, BC: I was having a blast at the Dance Marathon until I got eliminated in The Derby - how lame, so to speak! That was when I realized that my competitive streak is as strong as it ever was - because I was not ready to go and I was MAD.
The Dance Marathon is a greatly truncated version of the 1920s and 1930s endurance contests as depicted in the film They Shoot Horses, Don't They. Originally commissioned for Toronto's Harbourfront Centre, Vancouver's Dance Marathon is part of the exciting Cultural Olympiad that has been entertaining us with an incredible variety of art, theatre, music and dance.
As an Olympic volunteer I was able to to see the Opening Ceremonies dress rehearsal on Wednesday night and was really impressed but last night, watching the show on television, I realized what an amazing show Vanoc had put together. As the final speeches were taking place I made my way along Pacific Boulevard to the Roundhouse in time to see on the television there, the two cauldrons being lit.
The Passion Project Director/Creator Reid Farrington
Pacific Theatre and the PuSh Festival
an 27 to Feb 6, 2010
Vancouver, BC: When I initially read the description of The Passion Project as "video art installation- meets theatre" I wasn't sure what to think about it other than that it would be novel and different. After seeing it, I concluded that think is the wrong word. It is more a sensory experience than a cognitive experience. And what on earth do I mean by that? Let me try and articulate my experience.
Arriving somewhat early, as usual, I await the start of the show in the lobby of the theatre. A suggestion of what is to come is shown by three sets of grainy black and white images projected onto a sackcloth screen. As more people arrive we are taken round to the back entrance of the theatre and told that we should wander around during the performance for an interactive experience.
Ivanov by Anton Chekhov
A new version by Tom Stoppard
Directed by Victor Vasuta
United Players of Vancouver
Jericho Arts Centre
Jan 22 to Feb 14, 2010
Vancouver, BC: I really enjoyed United Player's production of Anton Chekhov's Ivanov, although I did find myself wanting to hand Nickolay Ivanov a strong dose of some psychotropic medication and a referral to a psychotherapist. But that's the infuriatingly hapless self-absorbed character that Chekhov created.
In the title role, Noel Johansen showed us a man who has lost his way in every aspect of his world - his marriage, his work and his finances. Married to the ailing Anna (Tamara McCarthy), whose wealthy parents disowned her when she converted from Judaism to marry him, Ivanov has "fallen out of love" with Anna. He leaves her at home each evening while he goes to visit the Lebedevs, the affable Pavel (Dave Campbell) and his wife Zinaida (Christine Ianetta). Zinaida is a wealthy moneylender to whom Ivanov is severely in debt. And then there is Sasha.
SFU Woodwards and The Dance Centre
Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre at SFU
Jan 20 to 23rd, 2010
I was especially looking forward to going to see this show because I anticipated that for several reasons it would be a bit of an adventure . Firstly this would be the first production I would see in the new Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre in the Simon Fraser University complex, newly built on the old Woodwards site. As it turned out it is still so new that I was directed by a security man to an entrance to the theatre complex through a gap in the construction fencing that still surrounds much of the area.
The second reason was that instead of driving my car I planned to take the Canada Line up to Waterfront and walk along West Hastings to the theatre, checking out a Salsa Studio on the way. I can just hear the groans of "what's the big deal, taking transit" but I was going by myself to this show, and for me, walking alone late at night in what is not as yet a very desirable part of the city, constitutes an adventure.
The Edward Curtis Project by Marie Clements
Directed by Marie Clements and Brenda Leadlay
Presentation House Theatre
Jan 21 to 31, 2010
Photograph Credits: Tim Matheson
Vancouver, BC: "Obsession and appropriation."
In a unique and rare conjunction, within a four day period, I saw two newly created theatrical works, dealing with similar themes but approached very differently - Beyond Eden and The Edward Curtis Project. After seeing The Edward Curtis Project, I stayed to hear the talk back session in which members of the cast succinctly summed up the common themes of these plays as "obsession and appropriation".