One… for World Theatre Day

One…at The Shadbolt

World Theatre Day, still, in my late evening world. And, I just saw a play – a performance piece of moving, dancing, contorting story telling consisting of worlds beyond time, space, and dimension. But, this abstract dimension carried an age old dilemma of lost love.

Traveling “Ghost River Theatre” from Calgary, Alberta presents “One” at the Shadbolt Centre for The Arts from tonight until only Saturday night, March 30. It’s a visual treat originally created by the performers as a 20 minute piece, now a full hour presentation. Director Eric Rose and Creator Jason Carnew take us on a foggy, time-warped, mythological, antique ride that has us squirming with discomfort. Read more

Theatre: Sly Fox and a little Spring Awakening…

Ahhhh… the energy of youth: impassioned performances, physical leaps and bounds, bodily contortions, abrupt turns, dance numbers and simultaneous songs, sexuality bursting at the seams, the promise of more, feet that whisk off and on the fiery energetic stage, and ….yes, more.

That’s what “Sly Fox” at The North Shore Credit Union Centre for Performing Arts (Capilano University) and “Spring Awakening” at Studio 58 (Langara College) have in common. Large impressive casts that seize the stage with vim and vigour explore each side of the theatre mask.

Drama and comedy.

“Sly Fox” is a wild comedic romp directed by well-known casting director Stuart Aikens who chose to colour this production originally set in San Francisco in the 1800’s to an 1850’s Western caper. Larry Gelbart’s play adapted to this genre perfectly.

With the theme of greed dripping and oozing everywhere, the main characters had their objectives clear. Get the gold. At whatever cost. Read more

“Loon” and “The Ballad of Herbie Cox”

La Lune. L’amour de la lune. “Loon”… I am presuming, fairly safely I think, comes from “lune”. Quelle image. What a beautiful image.

Loon is simple. Stunning. Moving. Heart-breaking. Humorous. Loon is also complex. The first 30 seconds of the show brought tears to my eyes. An hour later, I didn’t notice it was an hour later. The man AND the moon. Love in the most unusual, believable way.

I will carry “Loon” with me for a long, long time. Thank you WonderHeads from Portland, USA.

And, in the spirit of their simplicity, that’s all I will say. See it.

I floated to my next show. Read more

Some musical Fringe: “Hard Times” and “The Water Is Wide”

Best laid plans… I didn’t make it to “Lost In Twine” on Monday evening. I was too lackadaisical, thinking there would be tickets available on the spot. Boy, was I wrong. I am now scrambling to make sure I see this selling out show! Good for them! Have you seen it?

In the true Fringe spirit, I promptly perused my schedule and bolted to the nearest show, which happened to be “The Water is Wide” by singer/song-writer/performer Randy Rutherford. I had no idea what to expect. A small but eager audience was present at the WaterFront Theatre. When Randy came on stage, and began talking, I was a little worried. My last image in my mind’s eye on this stage was “My Bike Trip”, a frenetic, hilarious LSD themed trip. This alternate energy seemed more like a greener, organic high. I slowed down my breathing (in all fairness, I was a bit wired from running) and settled in.

It was a love story. A gentle, touching tale that had us chuckling, and relating. Rutherford sang, played his guitar, became several characters, and tenderly (mostly) gave us his true story. Rutherford has progressive hearing loss, revealed in the storyline, but it becomes the last characteristic I think about as he recounts playfully without much sign of his auditory obstacle.

My next planned piece, “Hard Times” still had tickets. Whew! This time, I knew of the subject matter, the closing of a vaudeville theatre. A friend of mine is doing some extensive research into Vancouver’s vaudeville past so I was curious to see this show. Actor/singer Bremner Duthie, created “Hard Times” with Lisa Pasold, is also performing another original musical piece at the Fringe, “Ne Me Quitte Pas: Piaf and Brel, The Impossible Concert”, which I have yet to see.

In “Hard Times” Duthie plays a passionate host to the last night in his cherished theatre. It’s a sad tale as he digs in his heels and refuses to leave until he has made a night to remember. “I’ll die if I go out there.” He’s terrified of “being alive but not really living”. His place is in the theatre. Through songs of the 30’s, stories of his past stage partner, prop puppetry, brief moments of hope with his stage manager, and a dance with death, Duthie defends his place in this dramatic world. It’s a sweaty high energy piece.

A welcomed breath came during an intimate moment with a gramophone and his old stage partner’s music. He quotes her song, “As long as you live, you’ll be dead if you die.” Duthie’s voice is strong and his commitment, intense.

A few years ago, The Pantages Theatre on Hastings Street had an injection of hope to be resurrected. Sadly, as hard as the community fought to reverse the decision, the theatre was torn down. As I watched this show, flashes of The Pantages’ interior kept pushing its way forward in my mind. I wondered where all those performing ghosts went.

Once again, being at the Fringe, watching live theatre and original productions gets you thinking, dreaming. And, even if there are elements of a show I might not like, I always find something with which to walk away.

Only a few more days left, 3 actually, at The Vancouver International Fringe Festival. Off you go!

Vive le theatre!

By Trilby Jeeves for Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance

Bold at The Fringe…

Sunday was one of the first rainy, cold days we have had in a long time, and it was way too easy to stay home curled up with a book and a cozy blanket. I tend to not do “easy”, so pulled up my socks (actually that is a lie as I tried one more time to go sockless) and got myself to the CBC Fringe venue to see two shows.

The first one by well-established playwright David Mamet, “Romance” starts and finishes with punchy energy. An all-male cast of seven makes for a lot of testosterone to observe but there are a many surprises that also contain touches of estrogen. This Canadian West Coast premiere produced by Queer Arts Society is not for the easily offended person. I liked that! It seemed that as long as we all agreed that what was being explored was far from politically it was a relief to just let go! (remember “All In The Family”?)

And, let go is what THEY did. The scene starts as a slightly confused court appearance, and rapidly deteriorates, guided brilliantly and boldly with the Judge at the helm. I had flashes of films – Network (David C. Jones’ speech rehearsal moment had a taste of Ned Beatty, and the Judge reminded me of Peter Finch, several times), and 12 Angry Men (with a twist).

“Why did you go to law school if you didn’t want to lie?” “How can you have peace in the Middle East if you can’t have peace at home?!” “ I’m a homosexual.” “What is it you guys actually do?”

Directed by Adam Henderson, the actors, Brian Hinson (the Judge), David C. Jones (Prosecutor), Chris Robson (Defense Attorney), Bert Steinmanis (Defendant), Robin Jung (Doctor), Wolfgang Schmidt (Bernard), have many great zingers to deliver. And, many themes to juggle. Not an easy feat, but one they pull off.

A brief break to absorb the crazy exploration of truth in “Romance”, and then back to the same venue for another bold gesture with a completely different taste of truth seeking: “No Tweed Too Tight: Another Grant Canyon Mystery” by Ryan Gladstone and Bruce Horak. This one man show is alternately played by both actors. Sunday evening saw Bruce Horak play the superhero-ish, swaggering hipster insurance investigator. Oh yeahhh. HIS rollicking journey took him through a mysterious adventure that had him waking up over and over again in strange startling places and situations. “Where am I?”

Lines such as “his head exploded like a pumpkin on Easter” or “his head exploded like a boat in Halifax Harbour” or “Shut up… I’m thirsty and your story is too dry” gave a 40’s taste to his delivery. It wasn’t a story to take seriously. Guffaws came forth!

“Romance” and “No Tweed..” certainly made for contrasting outings. I’d say this Fringe evening, for me, was about language and bold statements.

The Vancouver International Fringe Festival continues on to late Sunday evening, September 16. Join the fun, thoughtfulness, and get your imagination rolling. Exercise some laugh muscles, too. Don’t miss it.

(By the way… if you saw these shows, would love your feedback!)

Vive le theatre!

By Trilby Jeeves (writing for the Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance)

Fringe Beginnings…

As some of you know, I have a soft spot for the world of bouffon, bouffonerie, buffoonery, so my first Fringe choice on the advice of my friends in the know was “Little Lady” by Sandrine Lafond. Ohhhh…. sweet bliss. She is lovely, tormented, sugary, ugly, bumpy, ritualistic, and absolutely compelling to spy on.

Little Lady

Lafond, who comes from a background of Cirque Du Soleil and dancing for Celine Dion, has produced a dark piece that amongst other observations of life loves to mock our obsession with looks. Her mix of clown and bouffon was divinely scrumptious, and very edible. As Lafond squirms and worms her way around in a trapped space, she isolates her feet, her hands, her legs, her toes, and her shoulders making me reexamine my own feet that night in bed. Her feet seemed to have a brain their own.

“Little Lady” is a multi-media show that keeps its message clear, without any dialogue, and has just enough interaction with the audience to not get us nervous. This show is your dark glee in between other shows.

The Bike Trip” was the perfect opposing piece. Like sweet and sour, like the turtle and the hare, like hot and windy, like acid and pot… Okay, I’ll stop there. Although, actor/creator Martin Dockery, I think, would approve of my going off on a tangent. Unlike “Little Lady”, Dockery is all about words, and storytelling, and tangents! He recounts his travelling tales with such a passionate commitment that you cannot NOT be drawn in.

The Bike Trip

The show is about his quest to create a piece (for the theatre he pre-booked!) about the first historical LSD experience via a journey through San Francisco, India, and Switzerland. And, he did it. Dockery is full of surprises as a performer and a writer, keeping us on our toes. The only problem I can attest to is laughing so hard at one section, you might miss the next gem. It’s a great excuse to go see the show again.

You are not only laughing and spinning around on this verbal LSD trip. Dockery in his equally skilled writing and performing also deals out a breath catching button at the end of each big segment. Thankfully he allows us a few seconds to absorb it before launching into the next tornado.

And, you know, I think Dockery should get some funding from science. He puts out a good case for LSD!

For my first Fringe outing I was inspired, and wired (in a good way). I congratulate both shows for fulfilling their quests of writing and performing and giving us the gift of their storytelling.

I look forward to more of the Vancouver International Fringe Festival 2012 from September 6-16, 2012.

Vive le theatre!

By Trilby Jeeves writing for The Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance

Fringe Onsite

A bridge, a grassy knoll, a big pond, trees, stumps with blankets, odd bits and pieces not normally found in this context, a curiosity, and a sense of mystery all added up to a rehearsal I witnessed two days prior to the opening of site specific show “Relapse” by And The Other Leg Theatre of Vancouver.

The Site of “Relapse”…. Fringe Onsite show

It is one of many onsite shows inspired by all the nooks and crannies of Granville Island, mentored by Kendra Fanconi, the Producing Artistic Director of the Only Animal, and the Fringe’s Executive Director, David Jordan. In 2011, the Only Animal began its exploration of onsite creations and for this year’s Fringe has collaborated with 14 companies to produce the onsite line-up. Each company began their journey into the unknown by attending workshops April.

It’s now opening time, and so far we are blessed with the promise of good weather. After seeing photographer/actor/creator Chara Berk  and clown/actor/creator Kaeridwyn Newman’s gritty piece the other evening, I will pray for warm weather until closing night. And, that’s all I’m saying! See it…

Years ago, I recall the mysterious, titillating, almost religious sensation after I rose at 4:00 a.m. to drive to Two Jack Lake near Banff, Alberta to see the site specific piece “Princess of the Stars”. It was 1985 and I was working at the Banff Centre in costumes. People shook their heads at this “crazy” outdoor project based on Native myths that would commence with the dawn.

Well… it was a beautifully haunting experience that has remained with me: musical instruments and voices singing from across the lake, the respectful silence as we were ushered in the dark to our spots on the grass, winged creatures being canoed through the mist, and the big wolf.

The “crazy” idea was met with mixed feelings, but I can attest that being on location while creations simultaneously unfold can be very exciting. How will nature and man interfere and create an extra dimension. What gems may appear? The expected unexpected will occur keeping us on our toes.

Knowing that, I encourage you to take in some of the Fringe Onsite, and maybe even the same show more than once. Challenge yourself to see what will happen to you. What reactions you might have.

I mean, isn’t that why we go to theatre?

Break legENDS everyone at the Vancouver International Fringe Festival from September 6-16. See you out there!

Vive le theatre!

(Also writing for Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance)

Buffoonery Workshops and Philippe Gaulier…

Postscript:

The Bouffon Workshop in Chicago has been postponed to April, 2013. The following story stays the same, just further on in time. Thank you to the campaign donors for continuing to support me!

Original Post:

Last week I found myself expressing, aloud how rich it would be to someday extend my bouffon training by studying under the Master Bouffon, Philippe Gaulier from France.

Be careful what you wish for. Read more

Traces… Their Truth?

I’ve been writing for the Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance lately and would like to share a couple of my recent articles. After seeing the play “Traces” by Theatre La Seizieme in Vancouver, here were some of my thoughts:

“Brush strokes, tattoos, video testimonials, life scars, legacies….. These are a few of the traces I pondered after watching Théâtre la Seizième’s original production “Traces”, directed (& created by) Craig Holzschuh and Anita Rochon, with collaboration by Gilles Poulin-Denis, (stage manager, Noa Anatot; set design: Julie Marten; lighting: Jeremy Baxter; music, Steve Charles; video, Corwin Ferguson) recently on at Studio 16 in Vancouver.

Coming from a family of artists – father, painter & potter – mother, fibre artist, I was always aware of the marks they were leaving in the world. I was in admiration of their visual contribution that will remain long after they are gone. It made me wonder about my contribution.”

Please read the rest of the article on GVPTA’s blog

A taste of the stage for “Traces”