Tag Archive: Vancouver

No Smoking in Vancouver – Not Even E-cigs

Local actress Lucia Frangione smoking an e-cig in Pacific Theatre's Espresso, producer prior to the bylaw amendment.

Local actress Lucia Frangione smoking an e-cig in Pacific Theatre’s Espresso, produced prior to the bylaw amendment.

On Tuesday, September 30th, Vancouver City Council (acting on a recommendation from staff), amended the Vancouver smoking bylaw in a unanimous vote, to read:

Health Bylaw 9535 (with amendment 11076)

2.2 A person must not smoke or vapourize:
(a) in a building, except in:
(i) a dwelling unit or sleeping unit defined under the Zoning and Development By-law including a dwelling unit in which an owner or occupier also carries on a business,
(ii) a hotel or motel room or suite designated for smoking by a responsible person, or
(iii) enclosed premises:
(A) that are not open to the public,
(B) that are not private clubs or smoking clubs, a purpose of which is to allow patrons, customers, or other persons to smoke, and
(C) where the only occupants are the owner or owners of the business carried on in the premises;
(b) in a vehicle for hire;
(c) on public transit including a school bus, passenger bus, ferry, or rapid transit;
(d) in an enclosed or partially enclosed shelter where people wait to board a vehicle for hire or public transit;
(e) within six metres measured on the ground from a point directly below any point of any opening into any building including any door or window that opens or any air intake;
(f) in a customer service area; or
(g) within six metres of the perimeter of a customer service area.

You can read the whole city report here or read the Vancouver Sun article here.

The new bylaw came into effect immediately.

This means it’s time to find a new alternative way to portray smoking on stage. The options were already pretty limited as this same  bylaw;s definitions mean that “smoking includes burning a cigarette or cigar, or burning any substance
using a pipe, hookah pipe, lighted smoking device or electronic smoking device” – and that definition includes herbal cigarettes (which, let’s be honest, smell worse than regular cigarettes).

The only options I have seen used are real cigarettes that are never lit and “puff-puff” cigarettes from joke shops.

I reached out to Actsafe on twitter and they said:

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 10.00.30 AM


While Vancouver is the first large city in Canada to regulate e-cigs in this way (and only the fourth municipality following Red Deer, Alberta;  Innisfil, Ontario; and, Hantsport, Nova Scotia) it is likely that other large Canadian centres won’t be far behind. it’s time to find some better alternatives for smoking on-stage. Have you tried anything that has worked well? Share it in the comments below.

Update #1: When I posted this blog on twitter, the wonderful Matt Frankish (local TD, PM & LD) had a great response that he said was alright to share here:

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 10.37.13 AMAnd he’s right – we would never actually require an actor to stick a needle into themselves – we spend time engineering retractable needles and using sleight of hand to hide what we are doing. There must be options like that for smoking too.

Update #2 – Matt also reminded me that among the violations of the bylaw, a person who ” allows any other person to do any act or thing which violates any provision of this By-law” is also seen  as a violation and can be fined anywhere from $250-$10,000. So SMs & TDs & PMs & Directors risk being fined themselves if they allow smoking or vapourizing to occur.  (section 3.3/3.4)

Note: I also have an email in to one of the city councillors asking if they have any clarifications in regard to live performances, and have received a response saying that she’s looking into it and will get back to me.

#TheSummit: Vancouver Stats

For the past week my twitter feed and blogroll have been full of responses to  The Summit, a series of discussions led by Washington Post reviewer Peter Marks and hosted by Arena Stage in DC this week. The Summit put the AD’s of five of DC’s largest theatres on a stage together for a candid conversation about the state of theatre. For a great summary of the event, check out this article from DCTheatreScene.com or this response from 2amTheatre.

They  discussed many subjects that evening including attendance figures, ticket prices, season programming & subscribers, and many other relevant topics, but the one that sparked a fire was when they discussed including female playwrights.  Twitter exploded on #TheSummit when one of the AD’s in attendance made comments that there are not enough plays by females produced in New York or London and that as AD’s they needed the name recognition in order to sell a show. Other ADs made comments about there not being female-penned classics and about how many “feminist” plays are now too dated to produce.

Out of this has come a new twitter/tumblr account called LadyPlaywrights which introduces a handful of, you guessed it, Lady Playwrights every day because ignorance is not an excuse.

Nothing But Sky, written and directed by Kendra Fanconi, opens tomorrow (Friday, February 21st) at The Dance Centre.

Nothing But Sky, written and directed by Kendra Fanconi, opens tomorrow (Friday, February 21st) at The Dance Centre.

But all of this conversation on my timeline and blog reading got me thinking: How does Vancouver measure up? DC stats show that females make up  27% of playwrights on DC stages and 33% of directors. I was certain that our stats were better than that. I mean, we have wonderful playwrights like Lucia Frangione, Michelle Riml, Lisa Ravensbergen, and Deb Williams. We have directors like Sarah Rodgers, Mindy Parfitt, Kim Collier, Anita Rochon, Carole Higgins, Chelsea Haberlin, Angela Konrad, Genevieve Flemming, Rachel Peake, Renee Iaci, Katrina Dunn, Rachel Ditor, and Lois Anderson. Surely our numbers would be higher than DC’s.

I decided to do some quick research. I looked at the 2014/2015 Season so far (beginning May 1) for all Jessie registered shows.

Here are the Vancouver stats:

35% of directors are female
24% of playwrights are female
22% of plays produced are new plays and of those only 25% are written by women

Comparatively, we have even less female playwrights and barely more female directors being produced in our city. I perceived Vancouver to have a wealth of female talent – which I still believe it does – but the numbers suggest that equal representation is still a long way off. In DC they are tackling this head on: in fall of 2015 49 companies will participate in the first ever Women’s Voices Festival. Maybe Vancouver needs to follow suit?

2013: Shows I Saw

It’s that time again – time for the official list of all the shows I saw over the past year. I had to wait until today as I had one last show to see yesterday and I wouldn’t want to miss them from the overall list.

The numbers, you’ll notice, are down this year. And not just by a little bit. It’s over half fewer than last year. And I’m actually really happy about that. If you recall, I’ve suggested that I need to spend less time in the theatre so that I don’t burn out on it, and I think this year helped with it.

Also of note: 25/80 shows I saw were at a Fringe Festival in either Vancouver or Toronto.  That’s huge!  Thank you Fringe’s of Canada for making affordable opportunities for great talent to visit our cities.

2013 Shows Seen List

1. CÉDRIC ANDRIEUX (Jérôme Bel at the PuSh Festival)
2. Winning (Cerca Irish Theater Festival, Edmonton)
3. The Kite Runner (Theatre Calgary/Citadel Theatre)
4. Romeo & Juliet (National Ballet of Canada)
5. Ching Chong Chinaman (Fu-Gen)
6. The Seagull (Upstart Theatre)
7. Medieval Times Toronto
8. My Best Friend’s Boyfriend (New Ideas Festival)
9. Bashir Lazhar (Theatre Projects Manitoba)
10. Daddy Long Legs (Manitoba Theatre Centre)
11. Sexy Laundry (Persephone Theatre)
12. Nanaimo Burlesque
13. Tea: Mirror of Soul (Vancouver Opera)
14. El Jinete (Puente Theatre)
15. Vincent Transitional (Stacy Sherlock at rEvolver)
16. Craigslist Cantata (Arts Club)
17. Sea of Green (at rEvolver)
18. How to Write a New Book for the Bible (PT)
19. Chernobyl: the Opera
20. Dissolve (Shameless Hussy Productions)
21. Kayak (Alley Theatre at rEvolver)
22. Brief Encounters Revisited (at rEvolver)
23. Mump and Smoot in “Something” (Mump & Smoot at The Cultch)
24. Obstructions: Don’t Do Dick (Rumble)
25. You Are Very Star (The Electric Company)
26. Hamlet (Bard on the Beach)
27. Passion Play (Convergence/Outside the March/Sheep No Wool)
28. Genesis & Other Stories (Aim for the Tangent at FringeTo)
29. Polly Polly (Jessica Moss at FringeTo)
30. We Are the Bomb (Theatre Brouhaha at FringeTo)
31. Big Metal Box (at FringeTo)
32. Bad Guys Finish First (at FringeTo)
33. The Truth About Comets (at FringeTo)
34. Jacquieries
35. The Light in the Piazza (Shaw Festival)
36. Merry Wives of Windsor (A Company of Fools)
37. Waiting for Godot (Stratford)
38. Tommy (Stratford)
39. How to Disappear Completely (Elbow Theatre)
40. Seven Important Things (at SummerWorks)
41. The End is Pie (at VideoFag)
42. Miss Shakespeare (MusicalWorks in Concert)
43. Avenue Q (Arts Club Theatre)
44. Hockey Night at the puck & Pickle Pub (Monster Theatre)
45. Dear Life (at VanFringe)
46. Radio: 30 (at VanFringe)
47. My Hole Life (at VanFringe)
48. This is not a Porno (at VanFringe)
49. Meanwhile (at VanFringe)
50. The Troll and the Three Lesbians Gruff (at VanFringe)
51. The Adversary (Andrew Bailey at VanFringe)
52. Ca.Sandbar (at VanFringe)
53. Little Pussy (John Grady at VanFringe)
54. Dirk Darrow: NCSSI (at VanFringe)
55. Threads (at VanFringe)
56. Unpossible (Travis Bernhardt at VanFringe)
57. Kitt & Jane (SNAFU at VanFringe)
58. This is my Room (at VanFringe)
59. Strapless (at VanFringe)
60. Butt Kapinski (at VanFringe)
61. Innocent When You Dream (at VanFringe)
62. Searching for Dick (Tara Travis at VanFringe)
63. 6 Guitars (at VanFringe)
64. The Foreigner (Pacific Theatre)
65. Armstrong’s War (Arts Club)
66. Obstructions: A Certain Kind of Darkness (Theatre Replacement)
67. Of Mice & Men (Hardline Productions)
68. Bulletins from Immortality (Margie Gillis Dance at The Cultch)
69. Communion (Ruby Slippers at PT)
70. Tosca (Vancouver Opera)
71. The Rap Guide to Evolution (at The Cultch)
72. People Like Us (Firehall)
73. Relatively Speaking (Western Gold)
74. The God that Comes (2b Theatre at The Cultch)
75. Cool Beans (Solo Collective)
76. It’s Snowing on Salt Spring (Arts Club Theatre Company)
77. The Daisy Theatre (Ronnie Burkett at The Cultch)
78. Jack & The Bean Stalk: East Van Panto (Theatre Replacement/The Cultch)
79. Little Brother, Little Sister (Caravan Farm Theatre)
80. Uncle Vanya (Blackbird Theatre)

Ride the Cyclone Tour Stop #1 – Calgary

All of our travel items have the Cyclone logo spray painted onto them

All of our travel items have the Cyclone logo spray painted onto them

I’ve been in Calgary for four very busy days now and am having a hard time believing that my first week of Ride the Cyclone is coming to an end. It feels like we’ve been in Calgary both longer and shorter than we have. Because our appearance in Calgary is part of a festival, our load-in/tech time was limited and so there was no time to go through and Q2Q the show here. Instead, I got my first chance to ever see the lighting cues, costumes and props in a dress rehearsal as I called the show for the first time on the afternoon of opening. I was nervous and I was stressed about it.

That was Wednesday. Now it’s Friday (well, Saturday really….) and I have three performances under my belt and I’m starting to feel like I’ve got a handle on what is going on. Which of course means that it must be almost time to head to the next city and start over. But there’s also something exciting about that, especially this time because we have things technically that we just didn’t have time to really look at here in Calgary that I know we want to fix in Vancouver.

All bundled up for the cold Calgary nights.

All bundled up for the cold Calgary nights.

Calgary has been really beautiful and really cold while we’ve been here.  Today was down around -20 for a good portion of the day, and while my prairie relatives would think I’m weak for being cold in that, this Vancouverite is finding the cold to take some getting used to.  I am getting good use out of the winter hat I picked up in Zurich and have good memories of exploring the city in search of something to keep my head warm! Sadly the picture on the right is a bit grainy from my iPhone camera so you can’t tell that I am covered in snow in it.When I snapped the photo yesterday it was snowing quite hard outside.

In addition to the cold we’ve been battling the dry air, higher altitude, and a nasty cold that has hit many of us working on the show – myself included. For me this is a show where I barely stop talking for an hour and a half, and I’m definitely not used to being the one worried about my voice, but Thursday night I nearly lost my voice and ever since I’ve been following all the advice the singers want to give me about keeping my voice healthy.

Rielle & Sarah with the Amazing Karnak in the background

Rielle & Sarah with the Amazing Karnak in the background

The show itself continues to be wonderful. It’s a great joy to get to listen to a new audience discover it every night. Tonight someone snuck a photo during the show on their iPhone and then tweeted it. I figure that makes it fair game, so the first production still of the 2013 tour is to the left of this text.

Tomorrow my parents are coming to see the show since they are in Calgary on their way to vacation and then Sunday we head to Vancouver where our lighting designer is already busy supervising the lighting install and getting ready for our arrival. Vancouver is the only city on the tour that has seen a previous version of the show. I can’t wait to see how they respond to the new and improved version!

I mean, the Calgary Herald really liked it. They called it “an exhilarating blast of theatre with bite” and ” a wild ride, offering everything from emotional resonance to laugh-out-loud moments to hummable tunes that will have you singing the raunchy lyrics the next day.”

Wrecking Ball Cabaret: Vancouver Civic Election Edition – Nov 6, 2011

I have enjoyed Vancouver’s Wrecking Ball events as an audience member since they started at the Stanley Theatre with the federal election a couple of years back. This year I’ve joined the team and will be hiding in the tech balcony helping to make things go.  But I hope that you’ll come join us and put the politics back into your theatre. To click “attending” on facebook, check out our event HERE.

TWB is an attempt to bring the headlines to the theatre. We ask acclaimed Canadian and international playwrights to dramatize the world we find ourselves in today … right here … right now.

There is no question that theatre exists in our news—the performances have all been top rate, but the question is: where is the news in our theatre?

Each writer has only a few days to write a short play with overtly political themes – each individual writer can decide what that means to him or her (and given these particular writers, that could mean a lot). The plays are given short rehearsals in advance of staged readings. Add music, a hundred or so people hungry for meaningful theatre and, voila, you have a Wrecking Ball.

The Wrecking Ball is an ad hoc group of artists and cultural workers promoting engagement with politics through arts and culture.

A diverse and unique lineup of artists has been announced for the November 6th edition of the Wrecking Ball. The writing of John Murphy, Martin Gover and Jessica Hill will be performed by Ryan Beil, Nneka Kidada Croal, Kerry Davidson, Josh Drebit, Anthony F. Ingram and Khayvon Khoshkam. Also featured are composer/performer Patrick Pennefather and poet/spoken word artist Hari Malagayo Alluri. Video by Joel Grinke. Your Master of Ceremonies is David Bloom.

Sunday, November 6, 2011
Progress Lab, 1422 William Street, Vancouver
7pm Doors
ADMISSION: By Donation (All funds will be donated to InSite – Supervised Injection Site)

Through Different Eyes

Adri and I at Queen Elizabeth Park the day she arrived in town. Clearly we were enjoying each other's company.

Last week I had the pleasure of having the lovely Adrianna Prosser visit from Toronto.  I first met Adri a year and a half ago when I was in Toronto. One night my host had to work, so I tweeted that I was looking for a show to see and people to hang out with and Adri replied that she was going to a show and I was welcome to join. Well that show was so awful that we walked out at intermission, but we bonded over how bad it was at a Starbucks and have been friends ever since. So when she got a couple of auditions in town, it only made sense for her to stay on my futon.

The thing that I found most interesting was what it was like to see Vancouver through her eyes. I’m pretty spoiled – I grew up in the Okanagan where it’s a 25 minute drive from some of the best skiing in the country to beautiful lakes with sandy beaches.  Adri is an Ontarian through and through and there were times where I watched her react to what she was seeing and it was so fresh.  The day she arrived we walked up to the Queen Elizabeth Park and walked through the gardens before sitting down under a tree and reading and giggling.

Adri & I at Bard!

We went to Bard twice while Adri was here, seeing shows on both the studio stage and the mainstage (Richard III and As You Like It), and while I’ve always appreciated the view out the back of the tent (including the kids with kites), I feel like I saw it in a whole new way this time. And while my views of performances are colored by having seen these performers in multiple shows both at Bard and elsewhere, it was refreshing to discuss it with someone who isn’t accustomed to seeing these people on stage. This new view of the city is also why there are photos – there’s something about being on vacation that encourages people to take pictures, but I feel like I’m reaping the benefits of that by actually having photos of my summer!

In addition to Bard, I took Adri out to see The Only Animal‘s new show Sea of Sand out at Spanish Banks.  We were talking about it and she informed me that in Toronto there simply isn’t site specific theatre like that – what there is are shows in parking lots behind malls.  When the sun began to set at Spanish Banks, Adri started to cry because of the beauty of it all.  I can’t think of the last time a sunset hit me like that – it’s an every day thing to see the sun set behind a mountain and to have ocean around.  I forget the amazing things because I see them so often.

Adri taking in the view from the Sea Wall in Stanley Park

It was the same when we went to Stanley Park – we saw otters swimming as we walked the sea wall and we braved the cold water to go for a swim ourselves.  We had a picnic. We laughed in the sun. We got sunburned and dehydrated. We smushed our toes down in the hot hot sand. We read smutty passages from romance novels. It was a perfect summer day and something that I so easily take for granted.

We did all those Vancouver summer things that I never do by myself.  We even went down to Robson Square and watched The Muppet Movie on the blow up screen outside.  We shopped both main street and down town.  We people watched in English Bay.  We played Cards Against Humanity. We ate way too much. We made a podcast. 

But at the end of the day, what I have taken away from her visit (besides an awesome friend!) is that sometimes its worth looking at everything through a fresh pair of eyes.  For 10 days I saw my city and my theatre through a different set of eyes and it made me think about how I talk about both of them and how I experience both of them.  Adri left yesterday and I miss her already, but I hope that I can maintain some of the sense of newness as I approach what I see in the weeks to come.








10 Awesome Things (July 28)

(It has been pointed out to me by a couple of friends that I’ve been a little negative of late and should try focusing on the positive.  Here it goes.)

I love you @BFG85 which is why your textured fish is still on my fridge a year and a half later!

1. Vancouver on a sunny day.  I’m pretty sure there’s nothing better.

2. Riding my bike to and from work.  On the seawall.  On a sunny day.  (See above)

3. The Neanderthal Arts Festival.  After tonight I will have seen every piece being presented in the festival. Some pieces are more successful than others, but having a local focused, new works festival is awesome.

4. Wonderfalls.  I always forget how much I love that show, and then I watch it and am reminded that it is brilliant.

5. Ordering pizza and therefore not having to cook dinner.  (Also: Provolone, cheddar, mozzeralla pizza with garlic = AWESOME)

6. Financial independence.  Especially on the day you pay off one of your credit cards.

7. French vanilla ice cream with butter ripple schnapps.

8. Original art work on your fridge, which even if not very good reminds you of friends who are not nearby.

9. Random job offers for one day gigs that don’t effect the day job.

10. Icing cupcakes.  Because I can’t NOT be happy while icing a cupcake.

Job Posting: Stage Manager for Site Specific Fringe Show

I got the following email from Nita Bowerman, one of my Onsite artists, today looking for a stage manager for her show, wreckage.

I’m doing a Fringe show under a wharf on Granville Island.  I’m making a homemade raft to float on the water and I’ve begun a conversation with a diver who may be interested in coming on board to animate the water for the show.  Regardless of how that develops it is time for me to bring a stage manager into the fold.  I’m looking for someone reliable and hearty.  It’s a 50 minute show, but I will need assistance with set up and strike every night (I’m cognizant about keeping it as minimal as possible).  Dates of engagement would be possibly late August and definitely early September through the run which is from Sept 8-18.  The show is at 9pm.

I’m offering a 33% split of the box with a minimum guarantee of $500.  It is the same offer I am extending to the diver.  The remaining 33% goes toward paying down the production costs and any other contingencies (like an audience shepherd or other crew).  The Stage Manager will be responsible for audience safety (required to be ready with a life preserver as they will be on a floating dock) and will run minimal lights and probably some sound.  If all goes well I can also extend the offer that should the production be remounted with a bigger budget, I will the ask the SM to do the remount with a properly paid salary.

Interested? Email me at Lois@LoisBackstage.com and I will put you in touch.

What Can We Learn from the Canucks Crazyness?

Here in Vancouver we are in the midst of the Stanley Cup Finals and the city has gone Canucks crazy. 

Even I can be spotted cheering for the home team, in a way I haven’t since I was 8 years old. (Imagine a photo here of an 8 year old girl and 6 year old boy, each wearing black and orange to match the team logo at the time holding pom-poms constructed of construction paper and chopsticks and balloons.  I wanted to scan and post it, but wouldn’t you know that I can’t find it anywhere now that I’m looking for it.) Everyone in the office packs up early to go watch the game and arts organizations all over the city are trying to find ways to work with the playoffs rather than compete against them. Streets downtown are being closed from 2pm – 10pm to set up giant screens in multiple location so that fans can flock to the streets.  According to the Vancouver Police Department there were approximately 70,000 people outside during game 2.  It reminds me a lot of the Olympics with all of the street parties, random high fives in the streets, and number of air horns going off at all hours.

For this round, the final round, Rogers Arena is being opened up for away games and for $10 you can watch the game on the TVs at the arena.  It’s not really a great deal, but they are betting on the fact that people with a large group of people cheering for the same team is worth it.  I went tonight with a few theatre-type friends, who also happen to be hardcore hockey fans.  And I was impressed at the effort put in to making it something more than just watching a game on TV – the things that really made it feel like an event.

To begin with, there was an official playoffs towel (price: $4.99 in the team store) on the back of each seat for you to cheer with.  Second, there was a live band (The Odds) playing the pre-show and both intermissions.  Thirdly, there was a kids hockey game during both intermissions – the mini minor (for the record, we cheered the most during the kids’ game – they had more goals.  Congrats to the Jr. Flames on their 2-1 win tonight!). Fourth, they had face painting, cartoon artists and contests. Fifth, there was lots of food available.  And beer.  And finally, there was a host for the night.  And all of these elements combined together made the whole thing that much more exciting than simply gathering around the TV.

My question is, what can we, in the arts, learn from it?

I think we have to start finding those additional ways to add value. I don’t know what that looks like, and I don’t really want to re-open the debate on allowing food and drink into the theatre.  We’ve beaten that horse far too many times. But I think that we are missing opportunities to engage with people and give them an evening to remember.  Is there a (small, free) memento that they could take home with them at the end of the night and collect for the future? Can you imagine a theatre performance where at intermission a group of kids came out and did a scene? What about live music pre & post show? Or someone who’s there every night to be the face of the event?

Why do you leave the comfort of your house where you can get your entertainment delivered to you via cables and screens and go elsewhere for essentially the same thing? What did you see in the past week? Did it feel like an event or something a little more routine? Was there a way they could have added value to it for you?


10 Awesome Things (May 18, 2011)

1. The incredible ideas and energy of the folks in the Fringe Onsite program.  They have beautiful minds and creative spirits.  It makes doing my job a joy.

2. Making new friends over Canucks games and seeing the home team go for the Cup.  Things are looking good! (Main street is buzzing with car horns honking, airhorns ringing, people cheering, etc.  Feels like the Olympics)

3. Sunny days in Vancouver. There is nothing so wonderful as riding my bike along the seawall in the sunshine.  I might have a minor sunburn tomorrow and I am totally okay with that.

4. Aroma therapy bubble baths. I got some new Vanilla-Lavendar aroma therapy bubble bath from Bath & Body Works and I can’t wait to test it out tonight.

5. Getting packages in the mail.  Ones you expect are great, but ones you don’t expect are such a treat! Also, ones with new cake pans!

6. The small child getting his first ride on a motorcycle in front of my apartment.  His grin and laughter made me smile so wide.

7. Lunch with friends. Even better when lunch is tasty grilled cheese sandwiches, french fries & yam fries.

8. Discovering a new TV series and then finding all of its seasons on sale for $15 each.  Hello Friday Night Lights.  Let’s be good friends now, ok? (Bonus points: I loved the music for it and then realized the same guy did The West Wing,  The Book of Daniel, Cupid AND My So-Called Life.)

9. The blog of Andrea Loewen. Every time she posts something new I can stop grinning while I read it.  Her recent post about the upcoming rapture had me chuckling in the office and needing to explain myself.

10. A (too-short) visit from my brother and his girlfriend.