Tag Archive: Electric Company

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.

2012 in Review: Shows I Saw

For the last four years I’ve been keeping track of what I see, and each year the number has been growing. This year I saw a staggering 174 different productions (some of them more than once) spanning the performance art disciplines in 10 cities and five countries. I saw a high school production and a West End Musical. I went to the Vancouver Fringe and the Paris National Opera. I saw magicians, musicals, and modern dance; ballet, busking, and butoh; Shakespeare, site-specific, and SummerWorks.

As with every year there are shows I regret missing, but there are way less this year. There were things I wanted to see in London that I didn’t make it to. I couldn’t see every show at PuSh. I missed Terminus at SummerWorks.But overall, I saw more great theatre this year. Of course, I also walked out of two shows this year (something I rarely do) and wanted to walk out of at least three others that I couldn’t walk out of due to political reasons or logistics.

Here they are, the 174 shows I saw in 2012 in something close to chronological order:

  1. Waiting for Godot (Blackbird Theatre at the Cultch)
  2. Never Swim Alone (TWU)
  3. All The Way Home (Electric Company)
  4. Red (Vancouver Playhouse)
  5. The Idiot (Neworld/UBC at PuSh)
  6. Amarillo (Teatro Linea de Sombra at PuSh)
  7. Glory Days (The Boys Upstairs Equity Co-op)
  8. Hot Pepper, Air Conditioner (Chelfitsch Theater at PuSh)
  9. Gunmetal Blues (Playhouse)
  10. El Pasado un animal grotesco (Grupo Marea at PuSh)
  11. Craigslist Cantata (Arts Club Theatre at PuSh)
  12. Almighty Voice and his Wife (Native Earth Performing Arts/Touchstone Theatre at PuSh)
  13. Calendar Girls (Arts Club)
  14. No. 2 (Silo Theatre at PuSh)
  15. Danny and the Deep Blue Sea (Pacific Theatre)
  16. Bride on Credit (TWU)
  17. Tempting Providence (Gateway Theatre)
  18. Problem Child & The End of Civilization (Theatre at UBC)
  19. I Love You Because (Intimate Productions)
  20. Intimate Apparel (Arts Club Theatre)
  21. The Silicone Diaries (Nina Arsenault at The Cultch)
  22. Hunchback (Catalyst Theatre at The Vancouver Playhouse)
  23. All Shook Up (Chemainus Theatre Festival & Gateway Co-pro)
  24. Ignorance (Old Trout Puppet WorkShop at The Cultch)
  25. Doubt (Pacific Theatre)
  26. Goodness (Volcano theatre at the Firehall)
  27. King Lear (Honest Fishmongers)
  28. Kismet 1 to 100 (The Chop at Gateway)
  29. A Vessel of Ruins (Taketeru Kudo – Tokyo)
  30. Barber of Seville (Vancouver Opera)
  31. Importance of Being Earnest (Arts Club)
  32. Importance of Being Earnest (Gallery 7)
  33. Flop (Delinquent Theatre)
  34. Snooker (Camillo the Magician)
  35. Fresco (BellaLuna Productions)
  36. The Bombitty of Errors (20-Something)
  37. Scar Tissue (Arts Club)
  38. Henry & Alice: Into the Wild (Arts Club)
  39. EndGame (Main Street Theatre)
  40. A Last Resort (Rough House Productions)
  41. Trial by Jury (VSO & Vancouver Opera Ensemble)
  42. Aida (Vancouver Opera)
  43. The Exquisite Hour (Relephant Theatre)
  44. 100 Saints You Should Know (Pacific Theatre)
  45. Blue Box (Neworld Theatre)
  46. Bliss (Ballet BC)
  47. High Society (Arts Club)
  48. Godspell (Christ Church Cathedral)
  49. Obstructions – Boca Del Lupo
  50. Shelter from the Storm (Touchstone/Firehall)
  51. Fantasticks (Gallery 7)
  52. MacBeth (Bard on the Beach)
  53. Wolf at the Door (Pacific Theatre)
  54. Not Everything You Are (Stones Throw)
  55. Obstructions – Felix Culpa
  56. UnBoxed (Scarlet Satin)
  57. Reasons to be Pretty (Matchbox Theatre)
  58. The Alchemist
  59. Xanadu (Arts Club)
  60. Titanic (TUTS)
  61. The Music Man (TUTS)
  62. King John (Bard on the Beach)
  63. Merry Wives of Windsor (Bard on the Beach)
  64. Alter Boyz (Arts Club)
  65. Armed (Xua Xua)
  66. Mary Poppins (Broadway Across Canada)
  67. Stationary (Delinquent Theatre at Neanderthal)
  68. Coercion (Hardline at Neanderthal)
  69. God is a Scottish Drag Queen (Delcon Entertainment.at Neanderthal)
  70. The List (Bouchewhacked! at Neanderthal)
  71. Tyumen, Then (Groundwater Productions at Neanderthal)
  72. House of X (Wild Excursions at Neanderthal)
  73. The Taming of the Shrew (Bard on the Beach)
  74. Obstructions – Beautiful Karrats (Radix)
  75. Sunday Service (Neanderthal)
  76. Exhibit A (411 Dramaturgy at Neanderthal)
  77. The Marraige of Figaro (Summer Opera Lyric Theatre)
  78. My Pregnant Brother (Freestanding Productions at SummerWorks)
  79. France or the Niquab (Old Pirate at SummerWorks)
  80. Haunted (The Haunted Group at SummerWorks)
  81. Artaud: un Portrait en Decomposition (TheatreRUN at SummerWorks))
  82. Medicine Boy (Native Earth at SummerWorks)
  83. Purge (Brian Lobel at SummerWorks)
  84. One/Un (Orange Noyée at SummerWorks)
  85. The God that Comes (2b Theatre at SummerWorks)
  86. When it Rains (2b Theatre at SummerWorks)
  87. Petrichor (Kitchenband at SummerWorks)
  88. Barrel Crank (Suitcase in Point at SummerWorks)
  89. Extinction Song (Voodoo Theatre at SummerWorks)
  90. Dutchman (lemonTree Creations)
  91. Wondermart (Rotozaza at SummerWorks)
  92. Marine Life (Theatre Crisis and Aluna Theatre at SummerWorks)
  93. Captain Ron’s Ship of Friendship/Atomic Vaudeville Cabaret (Atomic Vaudeville at SummerWorks)
  94. The Frenzy of Queen Maeve  (Live Lobster Theatre at SummerWorks)
  95. Breath in Between (Breath Collective in Association with Crow’s Theatre at SummerWorks)
  96. 40 Days and 40 Nights (Nina Arsenault at Summerworks)
  97. Your Side, My Side and the Truth (Compass and Trying Science Co-Production at SummerWorks)
  98. Peachy Coochy (Summerworks)
  99. We Will WeeTube (An Experiment with Theatre Replacement’s WeeTube at SummerWorks)
  100. Iceland (The Iceland Collective at Summerworks)
  101. Speed the Plow (SoulPepper)
  102. Motor Vehicle Sundown (Andy Field at SummerWorks)
  103. Midsummer Night’s Dream (CanStage)
  104. Mojo (ItsaZoo)
  105. Eurosmash! (Die Rotten Punkte at The Cultch)
  106. My Marvellous Melcher Machine (James Melcher)
  107. Pirates? (Quimera Collective)
  108. Just Bust a Move (Nathaniel Roy)
  109. Home Free (Staircase XI)
  110. Riverview High: The Musical (Entrance Theatre)
  111. In the Time of the Dream Warrior (Golgonooza)
  112. The 1812 Event (Just Push Play)
  113. Romance (Queer Arts Society)
  114. Adult Entertainment (Squidamisu Theatre)
  115. ReLapse (And the Other Leg)
  116. Miss Cosmos (Bright Young Theatre)
  117. Felony (Dreams Beyond 30)
  118. First Day Back (10 Foot Pole)
  119. Alpha (Compassionate Bone)
  120. Three More Sleepless Nights (o.o.o.o.)
  121. Weaksauce (Sam Mullins)
  122. You Are Here (Allentina Francesca)
  123. Hip Hop Shakespeare Live Music Videos (411 Dramaturgy)
  124. Tales Told by Idiots (Not The Mermaid)
  125. Lost in Twine (Looking for 143 Productions)
  126. Underbelly (Jayson MacDonald)
  127. Zanna, Don’t (Awkward Stage)
  128. Psychopomp (Psyche Theatre)
  129. Smudge (Two Wrongs That Write)
  130. God is a Scottish Drag Queen (Delcon Entertainment)
  131. Peter ‘n’ Chris Explore Their Bodies (Peter ‘n’ Chris)
  132. Loon (Wonderheads)
  133. Gadfly (Theatre of the Beat)
  134. Guernica (Hidden Harlequin Theatre)
  135. Fishbowl (Mark Shyzer)
  136. How to Love (Idea Factory Entertainment)
  137. Welcome to my Wake (INC – Ingrid Nilson Collective)
  138. Little Lady (Sandrine Lanford)
  139. The Histories AKA Will Shakespeare’s ImproMusical (GrinkeInk)
  140. Riot (Carson Graham Secondary)
  141. The Missing Piece (Theresa Hamilton)
  142. The Best, Man (Urban Rogues)
  143. Risk Everything (Squidamisu Theatre)
  144. No Tweed to Tight (Ryan Gladstone)
  145. Vincent (Spitfire Productions)
  146. Bookworm (Corin Raymond)
  147. Blind Date (Rebecca Northan at the Cultch)
  148. Post Secret: The Play (TJ Dawe, Kahlil Ashanti & Frank Warren)
  149. The Spitfire Grill (Midnight Theatre Collective at Pacific Theatre)
  150. Capslock: The Musical (Pipedream Productions)
  151. Master Class (Arts Club)
  152. White Rabbit, Red Rabbit (Elbow Theatre at The Cultch)
  153. A Beautiful View (Ruby Slippers)
  154. Zombie Syndrome (Virtual Stage)
  155. The Unplugging (Arts Club)
  156. Initiation Trilogy (Electric Company/Boca del Lupo/Writers Fest)
  157. Debts (ItsaZoo)
  158. La Boheme (Vancouver Opera)
  159. Dancing at Lughnassa (Capilano University)
  160. Chelsea Hotel (Firehall)
  161. Cozy Catastrophe (theatre Melee with Rumble and the Cultch)
  162. Gold Mountain (Les Deux Mondes & unity theatre at The Cultch)
  163. Dickens’ Women (Miriam Margoyles at The Cultch)
  164. Go Back for Murder (SAMC Theatre @TWU)
  165. Tomb with a View (Genus/Up in the Air)
  166. Far Side of the Moon (Ex Machina @ SFU)
  167. Matilda the Musical (Royal Shakespeare Company in the Westend)
  168. Twelfth Night (The Globe)
  169. NSFW (Royal Court)
  170. The Effect (National Theatre)
  171. Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Zurich Opera House)
  172. Jultrad-i-tion (Gotenburg Opera)
  173. Don Quixote (Ballet of the National Opera of Paris)
  174. Le Retour (Odeon Theatre of Europe)
  175. La Cenerentola (National Opera of Paris)

Theatrical Excellence in 2010

I saw some truly great theatre in 2010. I also saw some good, some mediocre, and a few shows that were just plain bad.  I’m not here to critique but rather to celebrate the excellence I saw in the theatre in 2010. Some of it was flashy and full of spectacle, but more often than not, it was an innovative but simple approach to a fantastic story.

Meg Rowe, Craig Erickson, Gabrielle Rose & Kevin McNulty in Blackbird Theatre's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

The very first show I saw in 2010 still remains with me. I was excited about Blackbird Theatre‘s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? As soon as I heard the cast list. Gabrielle Rose. Kevin McNulty. Craig Erickson. Meg Rowe. I went in with high expectations. And I wasn’t disappointed. They brought so many nuances to the play, making it feel so real that there were moments I felt embarrassed to be watching these private moments, even knowing they were being staged for me to see. I leapt to my feet at the end of the show, and can’t wait to see it in its remount at the Arts Club in the coming months.

My second standing ovation of 2010 didn’t come until five months later when I was on vacation in Toronto and I took my host for the week, the lovely Amanda Ballard, to go see Catalyst Theatre’s Frankenstein at CanStage. I had heard so many great things about the show after its run in Vancouver in 2008 (which I missed), and once more my expectations were high. Did I have dramaturgical issues with the show? Yes. I thought it could stand to cut about 20 minutes (15 from Act 1, 5 from Act 2) to keep the story tighter and more focused, but that was my only issue with the show. The designs were stunning, the music haunting, the performances so physically distinct and the images created by the combination of all of those elements still stick with me. I can’t wait to see more work from Catalyst theatre.

Tarragon Theatre's If We Were Birds

I also saw If We Were Birds at Tarragon Theatre while I was visiting Toronto. I knew very little about the show before going to see it. I knew it was a retelling of a greek myth, but it wasn’t one that I was familiar with, and I knew that I wanted to see something at Tarragon because so many shows i have worked on over the years have had their premieres there. What I did not expect was a production so haunting I couldn’t bring myself to fully clap at the end, let alone stand as I wanted. Complete with a chorus, this production used incredible simplicity to create images that haunt me still. Blood dripping from the corner of a young woman’s mouth. A disturbing shadow play. Choral voices that echo in my head. Stunning.

The fourth excellent show I saw this year, was something I saw by accident. I was in town from Chemainus for only a couple of days, popping into town to see friends and one of them said to me, “Have you seen anything at the Neanderthal Festival yet?” I hadn’t, and soon I was on a bus heading to see a show I knew nothing about. It took only seconds of arriving at the theatre and getting the program for the show to start seeing names I recognized. Countries Shaped Like Stars (Mi Casa Theatre) was directed by Pat Gauthier who I was acquainted with from the 2008 Vancouver Fringe, but knew better through twitter. I then spent an hour being transported by Gwendolyn Magnificent and Bartholomew Spectacular from islands to constellations as they sang, danced, and played their way through the story. Technologically speaking, it was utterly simple (in fact, they advertise it as available to tour to living rooms!) but each spoon, jar, mandolin, ladder, balloon, lamp, etc was a part of the journey, usually when I least expected. I still hear the songs in my head sometimes. It was a perfect excursion with my imagination. You can check out the Countries Shaped Like Stars trailer on YouTube

Josue Laboucane & Nevada Robert Yates in The Exquisite Hour

The fringe festival is always a bit of an adventure – there will be some awful shows and some good shows, but I think I somewhat discounted the ability of the fringe to present a show that would stand with the most excellent things I saw all year. I was wrong. Relephant Theatre‘s The Exquisite Hour lived fully up to its name. When I arrived at the venue I was greeted with a mason jar of lemonade and then experienced a beautiful story. It was an absolute gem of a show, and one of the few fringe shows that really felt fully realized. I smiled, I laughed, and I cared so greatly for the characters by the end of the hour.

After three years of trying, I finally saw the Electric Company’s Studies in Motion in Edmonton at the Citadel. The projection design for this show, combined with its choreography is what makes it so phenomenal. An exploration of movement and the human body, it’s the images from this play that stick with me rather than the story. And I’m so completely okay with that. As the female performers ran across the stage with white fabric flowing behind them or the men hopped with their briefcases or a naked figure simply walked from one side to the other, there was such beauty.

Vancouver Opera's Lucia di Lammermoor.

On a completely different side of the art form, Vancouver Opera‘s Lucia di Lammermoor earned my third standing ovation of the year. I am by no means an opera buff, but that doesn’t stop me from appreciating a beautifully sung aria, an elegant staging that played so forcefully with perspective, or a love story that brought me to tears. I highly doubt this is the last we’ll hear of Michael Fabiano, and I hope Vancouver Opera will be bringing back Eglise Gutierrez (who i first saw in 2009 in Rigoletto).

Honorable mentions:
– Dancing the night away at Dance Marathon (Bluemouth Inc/Boca Del Lupo) wasn’t something I expected to enjoy, in fact I went in as a grouch, but came out with a new spring in my step.
– Carousel Theatre’s A Year with Frog & Toad was an absolute joy to experience, especially alongside a room full of five year olds who were seeing their literary heros come to life.
– I’m still trying to wrap my head around Tear the Curtain! (Arts Club/Electric Company), but I think that was the point. One of the best uses of technology in the theatre that I have ever seen, not just in 2010.
– I’m curious to see The Trespassers again when it opens at the Vancouver Playhouse, because one of the things I loved about the production at the Belfry in Victoria was the intimacy afforded by the smaller space. Amitai Marmorstein is fantastic in this show.
– The co-op production of Marsha Norman’s ‘Night, Mother was absolutely heartbreaking. I just wish more people had seen it.

“The Poetry & Magic of ‘Calling'”

Recently Vancouver’s Kim Collier, Co-Artistic Director of the Electric Company, won Canada’s most prestigious award in theatre for her work in directing (the Siminovitch Prize).  You can read Kim’s entire acceptance speech online here.  But I’d like to highlight for you a section of her speech entitled “Ode to Jan.  The Poetry & Magic of ‘Calling'”

The Stage Manager is the maestro at centre of a piece of live theatre, sitting at the helm of a play conducting the machinations of the stage into living stories, illusions, and dreams. A Stage Manager breathes with the audience, sensing with actors the shape of a show, bringing it to life night after night. I love that in the year 2010 when so much around us has become automated, in the theatre, no matter how high tech, there is always a live person calling the show. That beautifully old-fashioned term “calling”. A simple whispered code of ‘standbys’ and ‘goes’ forming a person to person chain of imperceptible physical actions: heaving on ropes, drawing curtains, changing clothes; objects passed from hand to hand, bodies moving in darkness and silence, and all with the threat of detection, of crashing together and grinding to a halt. And then? The stage manager must step up, think fast, and save the day.

I’ve had the immense good fortune to work most of my career with one remarkable Stage Manager who I’d like to celebrate tonight for her phenomenal and superhuman ability to ‘call’ a show and manage a creative process. The beautiful and talented Jan Hodgson. I have so often fallen to my knees in appreciation of her wizardry. She has an artist’s intuition and without it the projects we have created together would be bereft of her grace and timing and style. Love you Jan – see you tomorrow back in tech.

What a lovely tribute to a job that is so often unseen.  I can only dream that one day someone speaks of what I do with such love and adoration.

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.

How Many are Too Few?

I was incredibly disappointed this afternoon to receive a phone call from the Vancouver Playhouse informing me that the performance of Studies in Motion to which I had booked tickets was being canceled due to lack of attendance.
The performance was scheduled for next Thursday afternoon and for me, a week day matinee is the ideal time to see a show. If I am in performances, I have my day times free and this coming week when I am off work I have booked in evening performances most nights of the week and squeeze in a matinee as well (of course they also tend to be more affordable – in this case a difference of about $15). At this point the Playhouse has refunded my ticket without any problem, but I am uncertain if I will be able to see the show now despite really wanting to. Am I willing to shell out the additional money to go to an evening show? Do I have an evening free to go? What about the closing Saturday matinee?
So I’m curious: how many people are too few to do a show for?
I can understand the need to have enough people to cover costs, but for any union house, you wouldn’t be paying performers & stage management extra per show – 8 shows per week are written into the Equity contract. The only additional fees that would exist would be technicians who are paid hourly & any additional front of house and bar staff. There really must not have been many of us booked in for that matinee.
In a smaller theatre where there is no hourly staff, I’ve done shows for as few as four people. In a Fringe situation I can remember doing shows for two. Friends tell stories of doing a production of “Jack, or the Submission” for one elderly woman who at the end, when asked how the production was, said, “That was exhausting!” Reality is, in smaller theatres we can make those decisions and go on with the show.
Backstage during co-ops there are always the whispers of “if the house is smaller than the size of the cast we can cancel” but each time I’ve been in that situation, the cast has chosen to go on with the show: they’ve come this far, they don’t want to turn back now. And I’ve had positive experiences in doing those smaller audience shows. There are people who have come up to the performers afterward talking about how touched they were by the show. And we’ve been glad that we haven’t canceled.
What would it take for you to cancel a performance?