Shows to See

2012 in Review: Shows That Made My Heart Beat Faster

I cannot write a top five or top ten list when it comes to theatre in a year. How do I decide to include such an arbitrary number!? Instead, here are the shows I saw this year that made my heart beat faster, that moved me to action, that left me gasping, that pushed me to keep doing what I do, and that have stuck with me at the end of the year.

In no particular order.

Jonathon Young and Meg Rowe in All the Way Home

Jonathon Young and Meg Rowe in All the Way Home

All The Way Home (Electric Company) website
I had a hard time picking between All The Way Home and Initiation Trilogy, both from the Electric Company, when i was beginning to compile this list. I chose All the Way Home because it was one of those productions where not only was it excellent, but EVERYTHING about it was excellent. The cast, the design, the direction, and the implementation in it’s unique set up on the stage of the QE all worked extraordinarily well. I was moved to tears by this production and in it’s final beautiful moments I sat wanting to bathe in that beauty and not let it leave. Though that transience is part of what made it so special.

Tempting Providence (Theate Newfoundland Labrador at Gateway Theatre) website
I had been hearing one of my mentors sing the praise of this show for at least four years before I finally got my chance to see it live up to all the praise she had heaped on it. It is a play that is beautiful in its simplicity and specificity, with each movement, prop, and set piece carefully chosen to serve multiple purposes, but above all to serve the story. I saw this show shortly after a friend accused me of only liking big shows with spectacle to which I had responded that what I was most interested in was shows that work as a whole and make big choices – something this show did so beautifully. I searched for a photo from the production to include in this post, but the photos I found came no where near capturing the show’s simple beauty, so I decided against including one.

Stationary

Stationary

Stationary (Delinquent Theatre at Neanderthal) website
I had seen this show back when it was Parked! at Bridge Mix in 2011 and was so excited to see a longer version. By the time I was able to attend the show had been running for a few days and the festival was abuzz with delight at the talent of this young company. I was definitely not disappointed – even with high expectations – and have since purchased the soundtrack which I listen to frequently and continue to hope that I will get to see this show again. I saw the lives my friends are living on that stage – bachelors degrees, dead end jobs, and a desire for something more.  I also saw an incredibly talented group of performers who showed themselves to be more than triple threats, adding multiple musical instruments to their repertoire. Is the show perfect? No. Not yet at least. But it is absolutely wonderful and from the look of things, the show is moving forward as a run in April 2013 at Presentation House has already been announced. As Delinquent Theatre says, “Real life is disappointing.  Singing about it definitely takes the edge off.”


The God that Comes (2b Theatre & Hawksley Workman at SummerWorks) website
The night of debauchery that was The God That Comes was one of my favourite nights of the year. Everything about the experience – from the time the door opened – was created to enhance the spectator’s understanding and enjoyment of the evening. I went with my new SummerWorks friends at the last minute, paying for tickets since it wasn’t included in our program and we were so glad we went. We were greeted by attractive young men and women who fed us grapes (or decorated our bodies with grapes) and wine. We drank wine straight out of the bottle as we were encouraged to do as the incredibly talented Hawksley Workman told the story of Bacchus using The Bacchae as the primary source. It was part cabaret, part concert, and wholly theatrical. There is a moment near the end where Workman has a tall staff in one hand that he beats against the floor in time to the music, and as the lights changed with it I think my heart beat shifted to beat in time with the music. It’s playing at Club PuSh in a couple of weeks and I’m terribly upset that I will be unable to see it again. But rumor has it a concept album will be released and I will be buying that as soon as it is.

Rebecca Northan as Mimi

Rebecca Northan as Mimi

Blind Date (Rebecca Northan at the Cultch) website
This was a Blind Date that I returned to four times during its run in Vancouver for the simple reason that it had a great mix of heart and humor. While Mimi the Parisian Clown teased her various dates and pushed them out of their comfort zone, the level of care that Northan offered them during the performance was outstanding. It was also outstandingly funny. After my first night in attendance my face hurt from smiling and laughing so hard – an experience that I rarely have at the theatre.  Northan is an expert improvisor who carefully shapes the path she wants the evening to take, guiding the men with an almost invisible hand until you return a few times and see the small ways in which she is able to guide the story to its intended conclusion.

Matilda the Musical (RSC @ Westend London) website
This was perhaps the show that I was most looking forward to this year. I have been a fan of the source material – Roald Dahl’s Matilda – since I was an eight year old bookworm. I was not a fan of the film version, but found that the play had the same heart as the book while adapting itself enough to make for a great musical. I knew all the songs going in, but found the staging to be breathtaking and ever so imaginative – which it had to be since the imagination as at the heart of the book. The cast were really outstanding and I found myself grinning for the rest of the night. Indeed, I find myself grinning as I sit here writing about how much I enjoyed the show.

I also want to mention the following shows that stuck out to me during the year:

Red (Vancouver Playhouse/CanStage), Hunchback (Catalyst Theatre presented by The Cultch & Vancouver Playhouse), Craigslist Cantata (Arts Club/PuSh Festival), Goodness (Volcano Theatre at Firehall Arts Centre), King Lear (Honest Fishmongers Equity Co-op), The Exquisite Hour (Relephant Theatre at the Arts Club), Mary Poppins (Broadway Across Canada), God is a Scottish Drag Queen (Delcon Entertainment at Neanderthal Arts Festival & Vancouver Fringe), When it Rains (2b Theatre at SummerWorks), Bookworm (Corin Raymond at the Vancouver Fringe), Twelfth Night (Shakespeare’s Globe), and La Cenerentola  (National Opera of Paris).

obstructions-logoFinally, the theatrical endeavour which has been the most rewarding, encouraging, and mind-bending for me in 2012 has been the Obstructions series. For those of you unfamiliar, the companies who make up Progress Lab (Boca del LupoElectric Company TheatreFelix CulpaLeaky Heaven CircusNeworld TheatreThe Only AnimalPi TheatreRadix TheatreRumble ProductionsTheatre Conspiracy, and Theatre Replacement) have been challenging each other to up their game and re-examine their company aesthetics by testing the idea that creativity feeds on limits. Inspired in part by The Five Obstructions by Jørgen Leth and Lars Von Trier, the core artists of each participating company  submit, a few at a time and under a cold spotlight, to a list of obstructions delivered by a shadowy emcee. The companies are then commanded to create their next production around those limitations. The obstructions for each company are developed in secret by their peers – a custom-designed set of obstacles that will prompt each artist to adapt to a new approach to making theatre. Their individual tendencies toward form, place, style, theme, design, period, story are exposed and obstructed, spilling the artist’s bag of tricks all over the stage and out of reach.

The performances that have been spawned by the challenges which take place approximately once a month are a huge highlight for me, as the theatre community gathers together with our patrons and pushes what we are capable of while creating some beautiful theatre. I missed the Pi Theatre and Theatre Conspiracy performances while I was in Europe, but attended the Boca del Lupo, Felix Culpa, and Radix Theatre performances. This series continues into 2013 and I can’t wait to catch more of the performances when I am in town. Because a show done on a set built entirely of carrots likely never would have happened without a challenge like this.

Fringe is Coming!

Last week the 2011 Vancouver Fringe program guide came out, listing all the shows that will be  part of this year’s festival and this morning the tickets went on sale. You can buy them online HERE.

Currently, I think I am going to be able to see FORTY shows during the festival.  Here’s the list I’m working with right now, in terms of what I will be able to see:

*The Selkie Wife
*Finding Beauty Here
^Trouble in Tahiti: A One Act Opera
^Archy & Mehitabel
^Screaming Silently
*wreckage
Like Father, Like Son? Sorry.
This is Cancer
Jesus in Montana
^Short & Sweet
The Progressive Polygamists
The Animal Show
Arnie the Carnie’s House of Fun
Fruitcake
*Stay Away from my Boat, @$$hole
Mana
^Every Story Ever Told
*Lost in Place
*Duck Off
^Peter & Chris and the Mystery of the Hungry Heart Hotel
^Smile
^Tinfoil Dinosaur
*The Other Side
Houdini’s Last Escape
^Siddhartha
Whisky Bars
*Goblin Market
^Sally Lives Here
Acrobatic Daredevils
^Oh my God
Fortunate Son
Burning Brothels
*Willow’s Walk; Ripples in Time
Oh, That Wiley Snake
^Jigsaw
Sparrow and the Mouse
Phone Whore
*Yum/Yuck
*Rove: The Legend of Rusty Point

PLUS all of the Fringe special events: Opening Night, Fringe-for-all, Mr. Kinski’s Cabaret of Bullshit, Awards Night and a number of the bands & workshops.

* = shows that are a part of the Fringe Onsite program that I’ve been running since April
^ = shows that are BYOVs at the Fringe, which I am also responsible for coordinating

Which shows are you most excited about seeing?

10 Reasons to go see Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train

This is the part where I am telling you what to do. If you are in or near Vancouver, go see Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train at Pacific Theatre. It runs from tonight until April 2nd. You can book your tickets online here. I can wait.

Now, maybe you are asking yourself why you should see this show. Well I will tell you. I will, in fact, give you TEN REASONS.  But first, I must confess two things to you: first of all, it is produced by Glass City Theatre, the company that I co-founded (but am no longer with) and secondly, I’ve spent the last week in the theatre with them assisting with sound.

Here are the reasons you should see the show:

#1 – Stephen Adly Guirgis, playwright.  This man is brilliant.  I loved The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, and I love the script of ‘A’ Train as well.

#2 – Angela Konrad, director.  If you saw Grace at Pacific Theatre a couple of seasons back, she won the Jessie for directing that, and this is of that same calibre.

#3 – Itai Erdal, Set & Lighting designer.  There’s a reason Itai has a reputation as one of the best designers in town, and this show is no exception.  It is stunning to look at.

#4 – Sabrina Evertt, Costume designer.  More likely you know Sabrina as the artistic director of 20 Something Theatre, but she is also an incredibly talented costume designer.  This show just proves it.

Rob Olguin as Angel Cruz. Photo by Itai Erdal.

#5 – #9 – Rob Olguin, Andrew McNee, Carl Kennedy, Kerri Norris, & Evan Frayne: The Cast.  I have watched this show approximately 10 times in the past week.  And last night at the preview I was floored once again by this cast.  They are talented, they are smart, and they give such life to their characters.

#10 – I’m not the only one who thinks it’s fantastic.  Check out what people are saying about the show:

“Jesus Hopped the A Train” and so should you. An amazing show from @PacificTheatre featuring a sublimely talented cast. Go see it. – @tarakjpratt on twitter

GREAT SHOW!!! – Stefano Giulianetti on Facebook

“Ok – honestly – I’ve been waiting all season for the opening of Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train and after just sitting on the dress rehearsal I’m just that much more excited for Friday. I don’t know if I’ve ever been this proud to work for Pacific Theatre!” – Alison Chisholm on Facebook

“I saw the production ‘Jesus Hopped the A Train’ last night at Pacific Theatre. It was one of the most powerful pieces of theatre I have seen in this city in quite some time. Thought provoking and packed full of talent. Sound, Lights, everything came together to make this a fantastic production. Thank you!!” – Susan Currie on www.glasscitytheatre.com

“This is a great show. Script. Acting. Directing. Thought provoking. Gut wrenching. Vancouver is on a good run of theatre lately.” – Mike Wasko on Facebook

“Just saw Jesus Hopped The A Train …… Fuckin’ A! Go see it. Crime, crack, redemption(?), and multiple murder…. What’s not to love.” – Maria Denholm on Facebook

“amazing show. one of the best I’ve seen.” – Glynis Thorp on Facebook

“Hop on. Right now because you only have until April 2. And yes, they swear. Get over it; if it was a movie you would.  What do I need to understand about a convicted murderer, prison and despair? That is not remotely relevant to my life. But then again, we’re all made of the same human stuff, aren’t we?” – Kimberly Dawn on facebook

“This production of Jesus Hopped the “A” Train contains some of the most exquisite acting you’re ever going to see….Robert Olguin plays Angel with the subtlety and authenticity of a gifted screen performer; not to get hyperbolic or anything, but watching him is a bit like watching Al Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon. Olguin’s performance never shows off or explains; his character simply reacts in the ways he does because of who he is and what’s happening to him.  And Carl Kennedy’s Lucius is a mind-blower: witty, savvy, terrified, charming…As written, Valdez is a bit of a cartoon, but actor Andrew McNee shades it in with gleeful menace. Kerri Norris’s Mary Jane is a persuasive combination of competence and disintegration. And Evan Frayne nails the smallest role in the play, a guard named D’Amico, providing some of the most moving moments of the evening. Itai Erdal provides subtle lighting as well as a stunner of a minimalist set. The excellent, grinding sound design is by Joel Stephanson.  Director Angela Konrad is the woman who pulled it all together. And this production marks the mainstage debut of Glass City Theatre. Now there’s an entrance.” – Colin Thomas, Georgia Straight

“For a thought provoking, gut wrenching, tear inducing drama that has plenty of laughs check out this new company and revel in the talent and be carried away by the story of Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train.” – David C. Jones, OutTV

“Both Kennedy and Olguin are spectacular here although I was simply mesmerized by Olguin’s portrayal of the street-wise Latino.  From the opening scene where Angel struggles to remember the Lord’s Prayer, to his attempt at the end with Hail Mary, Olguin hits each note of his character with such precision, that by the end of the show I too was in tears….Director Angela Konrad has orchestrated a cast and technical crew for a show that is near perfect.  Gritty, raw and thought-provoking, Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train is why I go to the theatre. If you see only one show this year, this should be it.” – Mark Robins, GayVancouver.net

The Pillowman Audience & Critical Responses

Aaron Hursh & Mike Wasko in The Pillowman. Photo by Michael Sider.

The Pillowman opened two weeks ago at the Jericho Arts Center, and the feedback has been great.  This post is being updated daily with new feedback. Here’s just some of what people are saying:

THE GOOD:

#JerichoArtsCentre to the cast of Pillowman thank you for a deeply disturbing evening.” – @Urbanpienews on Twitter

“I must admit I loved @ryanbeil in The Pillowman last night at the Jericho Arts Centre in #Vancouver. Go see it! Note, disturbing content…” – @CynnamonS on Twitter

“Amazing production of The Pillowman at Jericho Arts Center starring @ryanbeil, it’s running until the 6th, go check it out” – @SheilaMEdmonds on Twitter

“Saskatchewan’s loss is Vancouver’s gain as Aaron Hursh gives a superb performance in the Wild Geese Equity Coop production of The Pillowman.” – @GayVancouver on Twitter

“Fantastic show! Can’t stop thinking about it, actually…” – Lisa Oppenheim on Facebook

“Just saw THE PILLOWMAN by Martin McDonagh – Presented by Wild Geese Equity Co-Op – If you want good theatre that gives you ‘bang’ for your buck (tee hee), go see it. Wonderful performances and realization of a disturbingly engaging play. Have a fantastic opening!” – Daniel Deorksen on Facebook

“Both Hursh and Biel provide powerful performances with a palpable connection as siblings that have endured so much.  Hursh was mesmerizing and I found myself on the edge of my seat a number of times especially in his scenes reading Katurian’s stories.  Biel’s characterization of the challenged brother is done without affectation that could so easily have drifted in for someone playing a mentally challenged character; it is played simply, straightforward and with an intense innocence that I found it as frightening as any axe wielding murderer.  Ashley O’Connell was particularly successful in taking his role of good cop Tupolski beyond a simple stereotype and while Mike Wasko as his sidekick seemed to struggle a little, they both worked well as a team….Set designer Naomi Sider works in perfect tandem with lighting designer Darren Boquist bringing a childlike nightmarish quality to Katurian’s horrid tales and to the stark realities of the regime’s interrogation room, complete with dried blood on the floors.” – Mark Robins, GayVancouver.net (Read the whole review!)

“Just saw “Pillowman” at Jericho Arts Centre. Very funny, very dark comedy. Really very dark comedy.” – @VanRealDeal on Twitter

“The scenes of Katurian interacting with his brother  were beautifully performed. Beil captured the innocence of a tortured soul who did not understand the reality of what he was doing.  Hursh succeeded in portraying the anguished conflict between  his love for his brother  and his horror of what transpired, all the while questioning his own culpability in the horrific events…. This is a dark and complex play but  the team at Wild Geese Equity Co-op did credit to McDonagh’s text. It is well worth seeing.” – Gillian Lockitch, Review from the House (read the whole review!)

“There is real chemistry between Ryan Beil and Aaron Hursh. Their comic timing and dramatic intensity are alone enough to make this a compelling play to see. The audience on opening night shared uncomfortable laughter and uneasy tension as these two strong actors brought an almost effortless virtuosity to their roles. The acting of both pairs of male leads is superb, and the others are capable in their rather limited roles. What lies beneath this is the strong script, with its underlying theme of purposeless narrative. ” – Roger Wayne Eberle, Review Vancouver (read the whole review!)

“Really enjoyed the Pillowman at JAC last nite. Good good good theatre.” – @courtneyvl on twitter

“Has a new script to add to her favourites. Please go see THE PILLOWMAN by Martin McDonagh – Presented by Wild Geese Equity Co-Op! Such a good show.” – Alison Chisholm on Facebook

“The Pillowman is a jagged, funny, scary play, and Stephen Drover, directing for Wild Geese Equity Co-op, mines it for all its black comedy creepiness, mingling murder and torture with mirth….O’Connell and Wasko—the good cop, bad cop combo—evoke many similar TV scenes featuring a twisted, unpredictable duo. Wasko is big, tall and intimidating; O’Connell, despite the delightful Irish accent, is an even nastier piece of work with tightly controlled menace lurking under a jocular façade.” – Jo Leddingham, Vancouver Courier (Read the whole review, but beware spoilers!)

“Director Stephen Drover knows exactly how to pace his show. An absolute blur of words demands absolute attention from the cast, and the blistering pace of this production is as exciting as the wonderful weirdness of its text…Hursh has to carry the whole show and does so beautifully, by never faltering from a clear understanding of his character’s Kafkaesque confusion and hilariously overblown sense of self. Add in Ryan Beil as the brother and we’re given scenes so beautifully timed that the laughs keep coming even as we wince at the gory stories on offer.  The cops are played by Ashley O’Connell (good) and Mike Wasko (bad) — with Wasko good and O’Connell great at finding the same vicious comedic magic as Hursh and Beil. Born in Dublin, O’Connell keeps his Irish accent in check but gives full flower to an understanding of McDonagh’s absurdist intent, making his detective a dangerous stew of dysfunction.” – Peter Birnie, Vancouver Sun (Read the whole thing!)

“Hursh, an attractive and sometimes powerful young actor new to Vancouver, carries much of the play as Katurian. He’s very good, especially in one terrific scene with Michael, where the brilliant Ryan Beil walks a fine line between totally creepy and hilarious….This is a provocative, entertaining and well executed show but it doesn’t convince me that The Pillowman is McDonagh’s best or most profound work.” – Jerry Wasserman, Vancouverplays.com (read it all!)

“The Pillowman was awesome!! Oh wow. And the cast was really funny! Love #VancouverTheatre :)” – @Keslergirl on Twitter

“You must see The Pillowman at The Jericho Arts Centre, this is their last week. Riveting performances from all players. Difficult subject matter tastefully explored to provoke necessary continuous dialogue on the question of responsibility, legality and compassion.” – Tom Picket on Facebook

THE NOT-SO-GOOD:

“Under Stephen Drover’s direction, the opening exchanges between Katurian (Aaron Hursh), good cop Tupolski (Ashley O’Connell), and bad cop Ariel (Mike Wasko) are delivered at such an artificially furious pace that they devolve into a stylistic exercise and lose all meaning. Hursh’s Katurian is bland, and Wasko’s Ariel is one-note loud in the early going. By far the best performance of the evening belongs to Ryan Beil, who plays Michal with his trademark sincerity and eccentric comic rhythms.  Darren Boquist’s lighting is sculptural. It’s gorgeous.  In some ways, the surfaces of this evening are glossy, but its interior is dull. I wasn’t outraged by The Pillowman; I was put off—and bored.” – Colin Thomas, The Georgia Straight (Go ahead, read the whole thing!)

 

The Pillowman Opens on Saturday!


About a week and a half ago I jumped on board with a co-op production of Martin McDonagh’s “The Pillowman.”  We start previews tonight and then open on Saturday at the Jericho Arts Centre here in Vancouver.  Last night we had our dress rehearsal and it was so great to see the show with all of the elements.  This show is dark, it’s funny, and the team that I’ve been working with are all really phenomenal.

Here are the show details:

The Pillowman by Marin McDonagh

Directed by Stephen Drover
Cast: Aaron Hursh, Mike Wasko, Ashley O’Connell, Ryan Beil, Bonnie Panych, Dave Campbell & Jeanna Haddow
Set Design: Naomi Sider – Lighting Design: Darren Boquist – Costume Design: Kate Rittenhouse

WHEN?

February 17th – March 6th, 2011 (Wednesday – Sunday) at 8pm

Pay-What-You-Can Nights with a Talkback to follow:
Wednesday, February 23rd
Wednesday, March 2nd

WHERE?

The Jericho Arts Centre
1675 Discovery St., Vancouver, BC

Click here to see their website.
View Large Map

HOW MUCH ARE TICKETS AND HOW DO I GET THEM?

Adults – $20
Students/Seniors – $14
CAEA/UBCP/ACTRA – $18
Previews (Feb. 17 & 18) – $12

To Reserve:
Call: 604-224-8007 (Extension 3)
Online: www.jerichoartscentre.com

Three to See :: April 2010

We’re already almost a week  into April & I am in the midst of tech for Pacific Theatre‘s Refuge of Lies (which opens this Friday and you should definitely check out). All of the Ccultural Olympiad events are over now and April is a little bit slower as the city gears up for the spring/summer.

Here are the three April shows I’m most excited to see:

1. Bat Boy: The Musical (Patrick Street Productions)

At the Norman Rothstein Theatre

April 8 – 18
Tickets available at 604-684-2787 or online through Tickets Tonight.

According to the Patrick Street Productions website, the script is both farce & tragedy and deals with everything from hypocrisy & acceptance to forgiveness, racism, & revenge. But in the midst of all that, it promises slapstick, surrealism & lots of irony.  PSP has a three year history of producing fantastic musicals (Two years ago it was Into the Woods and last year’s The Full Monty).  I am excited to see what they do with Bat Boy!

2. Ali & Ali 7: Hey Brother (or Sister) Can You Spare Some Hope or Change?  (Presented by Neworld)

The Historic Theatre at The Cultch.
Apr 14–24 @ 8 PM
PREVIEW: April 13, 8 PM
Matinees: Apr 17 & 24 @ 2 PM
Tickets available online.

From the neworld website:

Worried about H1N1? Lose your shirt in the economic meltdown? No-one sublet your apartment for the Olympics? Boyfriend tell you he’s polyamorous?

Relax: Ali and Ali are back – and they’re way worse off than you. Brand New Show!

Ali & Ali 7 is the follow up to 2005′s Ali and Ali and the aXes of Evil is also created by Camyar Chai, Guillermo Verdecchia and Marcus Youssef where they once more take on foreign policy with a laugh. Besides, their website promises “Come early, get a FREE TASER™.”

3. A Year with Frog & Toad (Presented by Carousel Theatre)

APRIL 17 – MAY 8, 2010
The Waterfront Theatre
1412 Cartwright Street, on Granville Island

For Ages 2 +

TICKETS 604.685.6217 or click here to buy online

From the Carousel Theatre website:
A YEAR WITH FROG AND TOAD follows best friends Frog and Toad on their adventures through four fun?filled seasons. Cheerful Frog and Grumpy Toad leap to life, along with the rest of their animal friends, for kite?flying, sled?racing and cookie?munching.
Waking from hibernation in the spring, these two great friends proceed to plant gardens, swim in the summer, rake leaves in
the fall, and learn life lessons along the way, including a most important one about friendship and rejoicing in the attributes that make each of us different and special.

Did I miss any shows that top your list for April? Let me know in the comments.

What the critics are saying: House/Home (Hive3)

Pi Theatre’s House/Home is a terrific mix of movement, music and a short story both sweet and sad. As an audience of about a dozen stands at the foot of a staircase, we don headphones to watch as a husband (Todd Thomson) and wife (Sasa Brown) try to engage in marriage. The set by Roxana Chapela is a slice of an up-and-down duplex, and director Richard Wolfe weaves Chris Hind’s sound design into something made more interesting by the clever use of dancer-singer Jacqueline Breakwell as a kind of burlesque muse.

- Peter Birnie, Vancouver Sun.

House/Home goes beyond its clichés when it peeks into the characters’ interior thoughts, which we hear in voice-over.

- Colin Thomas, Georgia Straight

Ah, love. Ah, domestic bliss. What becomes of it? In this dark, musical look at marriage in its not-so-early stages, a husband (Todd Thomson) and wife (Sasa Brown) perform a dance of dissatisfaction, up and down stairs, through windows, and in bathroom and tool-shed sanctuaries. He’s the coolest guy in the office and she comes up with three different meals every day, but lying in bed at night, they are both tortured. “Do we have to do this for the rest of our lives?” she wonders. They are serenaded by a manly/womanly Jacqueline Breakwell and by the end of this show, they will each bare all in different ways.

- Marsha Lederman, Globe & Mail

I also liked Pi Theatre’s “House/Home”, which was kind of a burlesque pop-up book of a playlet.

- Darren Barefoot

House/Home is Pi Theatre’s contribution to Hive 3 which runs until March 20th at Great Northern Way.  Tickets are selling fast so get yours now at www.vancouvertix.com.

“Thanks to a silver key I acquired earlier in the evening I was able to gain access to Pi Theatre‘sHouse/Home. … A inventive set design, great performances, and nuanced yet universal content add up to a great show…HIVE 3 is the best bang for your buck Vancouver has to offer. The alternative theatre scene is a great shape as long as events like this continue to grow and prosper.”

-Sebastien Archibald, Plank Magazine

“Pi Theatre accomplishes something incredible, crafting one of the rawest, most compellingly emotional pieces of theatre to grace any Vancouver stage this year. That it lasts a mere 10 minutes, at most, is the icing on the cake.”

- Andrea Warner, The Westender

(Last updates March 19, 2:37am)

Hive 3

It’s opening night for Hive 3. I’m sitting in the warehouse at Great Northern Way right now typing this as I wait for the rest of our crew to arrive for the final preparations. Other companies are lounging on couches or huddled in their rooms. There is music playing. The party atmosphere is already apparent. And if last night’s invited dress rehearsal is any indication, its going to be fantastic.  All this is to encourage you to head over to www.buzzbuzzbuzz.ca for more information and to buy your tickets.  This is one Vancouver theatre event you DO NOT want to miss.

Three to See :: March 2010

The Olympics may have ended last night (or early this morning depending on which party you were at), but the Paralympics are less than two weeks away and the Cultural Olympiad is still out in full force.  Add to that, all the companies that were reluctant to run shows during the Olympics have shows opening soon.  What that leaves is one very busy month of theatre.  These are the three that top my list as “must sees” for March.

1. Hive 3  (Presented by Theatre Conspiracy, The Only Animal, Radix Theatre, The Electric Company, Boca Del Lupo, Rumble Productions, Theatre Replacement, neworld theatre, leaky heaven circus, theatre skam, pi theatre & Felix Culpa)

The Centre for Digital Media
577 Great Northern Way, Vancouver

MARCH 11-14, 17-20: 7pm-Late
Tickets available at 604-629-VTIX or www.vancouvertix.com

Hive (in all its incarnations) has been one of those events that you have to attend to really understand.  It is hard to put into words.  It is 12 plays by 12 companies in one giant warehouse.  It is a giant party.  It is concerts by bands from across the country.  It is impossible to take it all in on a single night – the 12 plays occurs simultaneously throughout the warehouse – each in a different corner for a different sized audience (usually ranging from 1 – 15).  Most of these shows are devised specifically for this event.  It’s the kind of night out that fits with the conversations that took place at the #Newplay Devised Work Convening.

Author’s note: I am working with pi theatre on this project as an ASM.  But even if I weren’t taking part in it, I would still be telling you to go see it.  It’s that kind of event.

2. Spine (Presented by Realwheels)

Fei & Milton Wong Experimental Theatre at SFU/ Woodwards.
March 10-20, 2010: 8pm
Tickets available online.

From the SFU Woodwards website:

While traveling the universe of avatars, inhabiting online realities and identities, a man discovers the intriguing possibility of reinventing his physical body through a blend of ambitious, cutting-edge technologies and ethically questionable experiments. It’s a thrilling hunt for the body that will best define us, in a world where the virtual can be more real than the real itself.

Written by Kevin Kerr (Unity:1918, Skydive, & Studies in Motion) & directed by Bob Frazer.

3. Paradise Garden (Presented by The Arts Club)

March 11–April 11, 2010 |  Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage

The Blurb:

Local boy Day, a free spirit, lives next door to worldly Layla, a career-driven intellectual. The two have nothing in common. Or do they? Over time these divergent souls come to understand each other in a way neither thought possible. A contemporary tale of romance and cultural divides so engaging it will change the way you see the girl (or boy) next door!

Written by Lucia Frangione (Holy Mo, Espresso, Cariboo Magi & more), this play is receiving its world premiere as a part of the Cultural Olympiad.  Lucia’s writing is smart, honest, funny & often heart-wrenching.  My friends and I are already planning a group outing to see this show.

Did I miss any shows that top your list for March? Let me know in the comments.

Three to See: February 2010

February 2010 will forever be known as the month the Olympics came to Vancouver.  With that in mind it is no surprise that there are a number of “big” shows in town while many of the smaller companies have gone dark for the month.  But in the midst of the sport frenzy be sure to check out the following shows:

1. Anything at the PuSh Festival.

It wraps up at the end of this week, but there are still a number of great shows happening: Nevermore, Best Before, Kamp, The Passion Project, & China.  These shows have come to Vancouver from all over the globe (Edmonton, Germany, Netherlands, New York, & Australia) & are well worth checking out. For more information on all the shows, click on over to www.pushfestival.ca.

2. Robert Lepage’s The Blue Dragon at SFU Woodwards.

It’s not that often that Robert Lepage brings one of his highly technological and stunningly visual pieces to Vancouver, so this piece, presented as part of the cultural Olympiad is definitely worth attending.  Tickets are not cheap, but from every indication will be well worth the price.

3.  Bash’d: The Gay Rap Opera at The Cultch (Feb 16-20)

Bash’d is the story of two gay men who fall in love, get married, and then one of them gets gay bashed.  But don’t listen to me tell you about it – watch the youtube video embedded above – that’ll give you all the info you need to know about why Bash’d is on the list of shows to see this February.