Archive for March, 2011|Monthly archive page

Ninth Class, Level 2 – Sex on the Beach

In OSSD Acting Class on March 31, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Spent a fairly calm and relaxed day off yester, enjoying some much-needed sunshine, getting a delicious Ada’s breakfast into my battered frame, and of course, reading some comix.  I may or may not have had a lingering, day-long headache from some overindulgence after a long week of drudgery the previous evening, but that’s neither here nor there (nor, again, here).  No, what’s here is that, being Wednesday, it was time yet again for my level 2 acting class at the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama, and as you can see, this time I wasn’t going to wait the better part of a week to actually write the post.

Got there foolish early as is my wont, ran into my previous coach Barry Karp, and took the opportunity to press him for tips on my upcoming audition with the talented, intelligent and stunningly beautiful Nadine Thornhill (hell no, I ain’t above sucking up!  I’m terrible, and need all the help I can get).  The Boss gave me a good pointer or two before it was time to head off to what would be the penultimate class of our second level, with big cheese Brie Barker.  Continuing his full-on dressup antics, Brie came in cowboy regalia and grilled us on why we would make good cowhands.  It turns out that many of us would not.

A distressingly small-ish class today (Stefan! Vanessa! Rachel!  Wherefore wert thou?), but we managed. warming up with a few rounds of keep-the ball(s)-in-the-air, before moving straight on in to our now-familiar digs at Picton Place.  Aside from myself, there was Sasha, Catherine, Daria and Julie.  And, in keeping with the last post, I’ll let head bartender Peter Crowley fill you in on what happened next:

-Interesting night.  Slow all evening, and then right before I was going to close Dahlia, a particularly easygoing resident, stopped by for a drink.  Then, and this surprised me, Carol showed up and joined her.  It was rather nice seeing Carol relax for once…except that then I had to practically shove them out the door later on.  Had a certain rendezvous that I very much needed to hit across town.  I think Carol understood, and Dahlia was almost asleep.  It all worked out.   Good times.

– Having agreed to do some modelling for Dahlia, I met her the next day in the hobby room (my first time there…very cute) and made myself available for…well, whatever she had planned.  Emma offered some tips, and we ended up going with a sort of saucy, yoga-themed pose.  Carol poked her head in and looked amusingly flustered (and pretty green…I may have made those drinks a little strong for her the night before) before continuing on her rounds.

– So THAT’S Trudy.  I’ve been hearing so much, and now I’ve had a faceful of her  Yikes.  Dahlia finished her painting (VERY nice work), and asked if she could hang it behind the bar.   Debra’s away for the week having some procedure done, so I made the call.  All the questionable bits ARE covered, after all.  But then this lady Trudy strolled in like she owned the place and acted like she’d seen a ghost.  Demanded I take it down, etc.  I did, at least for the duration of her visit.  Which, it turns out, was an attempt on her part to ‘borrow’ a few bottles of Chardonnay for her dinner party.  I explained very calmly that that would violate our liquor licence, but she was having none of it.  Finally stormed out in a huff…I get the impression she’s a lady who’s used to getting her way.  Well, not today.

– Hoo boy.  That was unpleasant.  Just got royally reamed out by Doug, the owner of Picton Place.  Seems miss Trudy has some bucks floating around, and Doug makes a very efficient attack dog when she doth command it.  He laid into myself AND Carol, who Trudy got into shit by claiming she was drunk on the job. Complete BS, but we both sat there and took it.  This sucks.

– Shaking right now. As if Doug’s faux-tough guy routine wasn’t enough, NOW I’m getting attitude from Dahlia.  I get ordered to take the painting down or lose my job, and apparently that makes ME the bad guy in her eyes.  She starts spouting off about what a powerful gallery owner she is, how it’s really HER who pays my salary, and I’d better put that painting back up right now or else.  Like she’s going to give me a new job if Doug fires me over this?  Right.  Good gig or no, I’m not putting up with treatment like this for much longer.  Fuck this shit.

Ow!  Peter, chill the fuck out, all right, you’re only an imaginary construct!  Geez.  But you’ll definitely wanna be here for the climactic finale next week, and that goes double for our missing classmates this week!  Here’s some important info for you kids…Brie has challenged us (and I TOTALLY called this!) to come to the final class dressed AS our character.  Hair, clothes, whatever, go nuts!  Don’t make me be the only one, right? Also, those of us who are planning on re-upping for level 3 should do so ASAP…they need at least 6 of us to give it a go, and there’s literally no break between the end of 2 and the start of 3 thanks to our 2 weeks off.  And remember, drinks after class next week.  Don’t even TRY and weasel out of it.

That’s it for this week…I’m off for pancakes with the gorgeous and brilliant Queen Nadine (I’m serious, I have no shame), then maybe another shot of UNDER MILK WOOD tonite out at Shenkman.  If you haven’t gone already, GO.  It’s one of my fav’rits so far this year.  Tomorrow nite I’ll be doing THE MIDDLE PLACE at GCTC, and then…shit, I don’t know.  Gotta check me schedule!  So much stuff, so little life.  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

Dirty Birds and Good Company

In Theatre on March 29, 2011 at 2:40 am

I always feel bad about seeing a show on closing night.  Not that the show won’t be as great, but just that my blog, wee and feeble as it already is, turns completely powerless in the process.  Kind of hard to convince someone to go see a show if the show’s already closed, yeah?  Actually, HAS this blog ever convinced someone to go see a show?  Pipe up if it has, I’m curious.

That all being whined about, yesterday I did exactly that, and saw the final night of a local production, specifically Doug Phillips’ DIRTY BIRD from the New Ottawa Repertory Theatre company.  They’d previously impressed me with SINS OF THE MOTHER, so I was looking forward.  And I actually WOULD have seen it earlier, but a strange thing happened.  Someone actually wanted to see it with me, on THIS nite.  And not just any someone, oh no, but the someone of someones, FamousActressNancyKenny herself!  And while I still can’t fathom why one of the purtiest gals in Ottawa would want to slum it with the likes of me, I wasn’t about to argue.

Met the Nancy at the GCTC, where I bumped into the deeliteful Emily Pearlman and Anna Chambers (Emily previously won the Prix Rideau Award for Emerging artist…this year, Anna’s nominated.  An omen??).  Then me and Nancy headed off in our stretch limo, courtesy of OC Transpo, to a fashionable local eatery for dinner, where we also produced great works of art.

Hers is better, but then again, she IS Nancy Kenny.

We soberly discussed the important events of the day, waxed philosophical on all manner of erudite subjects, and were just generally marvellous.  You should have been there, but then again, you probably weren’t cool enough.  So it’s just as well.

Afterwards, we picked up some caffeine to go and wended our way to the Natalie Stern at OSSD for the show, a new one from NORT and Doug Phillips.  The story, set in the buildup to the Royal wedding of Charles and Di back in the day,  centered around a group of British drunks of varying social classes who find themselves falling in together after an AA meeting.  For one reason or another, they eventually decide that a good way to make some quick cash would be to knock over the local KFC.  It’s a hilarious show, and the main trio of Doug Phillips, Adam Skanks and Garret Quirk are fucking gold to behold.  There’s great supporting work too from Kate Charles, Enya Phillips (Daughter of playwright Doug), Esme Dervis (Daughter of Director Paul…DIRTY BIRD really keeps it in the family), and especially Rachelle Casseus as Denise.  Kudos all around for a mighty fine outing.

Afterwards Nancy and I got to hang out for a bit with the cast and crew, heading out to Whispers for post-play palaver.  Turns out Garret Quirk works right across the street from me in his secret identity.  He’s also a complete madman to go out drinking with, and operates at a higher speed setting than most of us humans.  It’s almost dizzying to witness.  Also had a chance meeting with Henry Austin Shikongo from the awesome UNDER MILK WOOD (which you should all see while you have the chance).  And…good heavens.  Henry Shikongo is, as far as I can tell, the most polite, pleasant-spirited gent I’ve ever met.  You can’t help but feel like an uncultured brute when he’s around, but in a good way.   It was a lovely encounter.  And a great nite out.  I even left the bar at the EXACTLY correct time to catch my last bus.  Nice when things work out like that.

Right, that about wraps it up for me for a day or so…all caught up!  Now I have an audition to prep for (however you do THAT), some story-ish things to brainstorm about, and a good time to reflect upon.  Nice to keep busy.  Keep well yourselves, kids, and watch out for the penguin.   Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

Eighth Class, Level 2 – In Peter’s Words

In OSSD Acting Class on March 29, 2011 at 12:34 am

Right, right, I haven’t done the class post yet.  I know, it’s been DAYS.   We’re almost at the NEXT class, and I have no particularly good excuse.  The dog ate my homework..?
I was having one of my moods that last wednesday, I have to say.  I was downright motherfucking GRIM all day.  to the extent that, honestly, I was thinking of skipping.  Seriously.  And there was no good reason for this mood, it was just there.  Like the American Embassy in the Market, looming like a great iron and concrete gaol over all the goodness in the world.  I had a mood like shitty architecture.

Somehow, I hauled my ass out to the OSSD, hoping that maybe my beloved class could rouse me out of my terrible funk.  Especially since my #1 galpal Catherine would be back from her vacation this time ’round.  So I went.  and I hoped.

And of course I was right.

Seeing my coaches Brie Barker and Barry Karp ALWAYS brings some joy to my heart, and when the gang started pouring in, all felt well again.  Sure, Stefan and Julie were missing this time ’round, and we’re sadly not going to have Andrea and her powerful presence anymore due to a scheduling conflict (all the best, Andrea!  You wuz awesome!), but it was still my peeps.  We all took our seats, and big cheese Brie took roll via the persona of a Rogers tech support operator, requiring a bit of improvising to get thru.  It was his way of working out the frustration of a day spent ON tech support, with his problem yet unresolved.  Suddenly my own problems didn’t seem too bad.

With our tech-roll completed, we warmed up briefly with a quick game of on-the-spot scenes, wandering thru the space as Brie would shout out locations, and we had to fill them with the sorts who might logically be there.  And as he rightly pointed out afterwards, the scenes always seemed to even themselves out.  Like, when he shouted ‘Bank’, we didn’t all become tellers, it was spaced nicely.  A couple tellers, a manager, some customers.  We found our balance.  It’s the plate game from level one in a different costume.

After that, we jumped right back into Picton Place.  The fictional locale where all our constructed character’s adventures take place, and where my own lovely lad, Peter Crowley, is head bartender at rooftop bar The Perch.  I’d love to tell you all about Trudy, the new tenant who’s causing no end of ruffled feathers (played with characteristic brilliance by Catherine Mills, yo), but Peter sadly did not meet her, and  feel obliged to constrict myself to the information HE acquired, in keeping with the spirit of the thing.  So what’s new with Peter?  Let’s check out a few of his own blog entries:

– Interesting day at work. Started off well enough, lovely Emma stopped by for her usual glass of red wine, when Debra sideswiped me.  She said someone was complaining that I’d been keeping a dirty bar?  Which, aside from being horseshit, is a problem with understaffing on busy nights if anything.  I hate gossipy nonsense like that.  I’m keeping my ears open, for sure.

– Just back from a meeting with Debra.  Myself and Carol formed something of a united front, presenting our case for being allowed to use the Picton facilities in our spare time (I have my eye on the gym, Carol seems keen on the hobby room).  Deb seemed open to it, and promised to raise it at the next tenant’s meeting.  Fingers crossed.

– Success!  Just had a chat with Emma and Annabelle (I’m getting very good at making her drink now…I’ve officially named it ‘The Anna Bella’), and they told me that Deb had okayed our request to use the house facilities.  As if that wasn’t good enough news, Emma mentioned that she was opening up a yoga facility down the road.  When I told her about my experience teaching yoga in the past, she all but offered me a job!  The money at the Perch is good, but this might be more up my alley.  VERY interesting.

– Just bumped into Carol on the way in to work.  She hadn’t heard about our request getting the thumbs up, so I enlightened her.  She was pleased, but pointed out a new notice to me about ‘public drunkenness’ by tenants.  I immediately thought if I had overserved anyone at the Perch, and I’m sure I haven’t.  Wonder if it’s the same little tale-telling gossip from before..?  We’ll see.  I wondered if it was that John character, who seemed a little off.  Carol then told me he’d threatened to SUE her for something!  I had to run, but I have GOT to hear the rest of that story.  Too crazy.

…Thanks, Peter.  I was getting tired of writing this shit.  And looking forward to what goes on with you (and the rest of the gang) next time out.  And SO jazzed to hear that almost all of us are planning on re-upping for level 3 (once again taught by gentleman Brie Barker, yay!).  So thanks, class, for raising my flagging spirits.  I’ll never doubt you again.  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

Antigone for you and me

In Theatre on March 28, 2011 at 11:38 pm

Pardon me while I try and organize my even-for-me disparate thoughts.  I’m a few days behind on posting,  have 3 of these to write tonite, and I’m trying to remember what happened when.  Not, as some of you have noticed by now, my strong suit. It’s times like this I think that maybe it’s for the best that I never started taking acid.

But I’ll give it the old college try, and focus my perceptions backwards to Saturday nite, when I had my volunteer shift at the Oiving Greenboig theatre (actually, the upstairs studio space, but whatevah) for Third Wall Theatre‘s production of Sophocles’ ANTIGONE, happily translated by messr. Henry Beissel, because my Ancient Greek is pretty rusty.  I arrived a touch early as usual, which turned out well because I got to chat a few minutes with gentleman Simon Bradshaw, actor extraordinaire and one of the stars of the show.    We caught up for a spell, I blathered for a few minutes on the fact that I’ve BOOKED MY FIRST EVER AUDITION (feel free to comment something supportive, you right bastards), and had a generally nice time.  A moment later I had maybe my geek highlight of the day when another one of the stars, John ‘Killer’ Koensgen himself, took a moment to shout out that he actually reads and enjoys this site!  We bonded over Denis Armstrong-bashing (the craze that’s sweeping the nation!  Join in!), and I felt like a right big shot.

A good spirit, I thought, to enter the show with, and after a bit of bother at the door about reserved seating (it was rather amusing, I thought my fellow volunteer was gonna cuff somebody she was getting so worked up over it) I took my assigned seat.  We had a moment of blackout in symbolic support of Earth Hour (shutting down the entire production for 60 minutes, it was decided, MIGHT tick off some of the paying customers, eco-friendly or not), intro’s by 3rd Wall artistic director (and show director) James Richardson, and then the show was on!

The production was set up in-the-round stylee, with audiences on all four walls facing a central, minimally dressed stage.    The actors, in various guises, would enter and leave via the main and back doors.  It was all rather cool. The story centered around some typical Greek sturm-und-drang bit of business concerning a war in Thebes, the cursed clan of unfortunate old Oedipus, and the clash between justice and the law.  In this case, new king Creon (played with some glorious gusto by Koensgen, digging right into it) passes a decree about the burial of one of the sons of Oedipus…namely, that he ain’t getting one.  Which sits none too sweetly with our titular heroine Antigone, played by Kristina Watt.  It’s the sort of role she seems almost perfectly suited for…strong, willful, and just a little extreme.  And, as in BLACKBIRD, it’s lovely watching her and John Koensgen square off.

Great actors and performances abound in this show, tho.  Simon Bradshaw has a dandy scene as Creon’s son that turns from friendly to downright frightening on a dime.  Emily Pearlman, though a bit underused in this show for my tastes, still shines as Antigone’s less-brash sister Ismene.  And Richard Gelinas has some flat-out scene stealing as the blind seer Tiresias, and a comically anxious soldier.  Also, everyone takes their turn as part of the chorus…sort of oracles/advisors to the king.  As for the show on the whole, well, without giving away specifics, let’s face facts.  This is Greek work, and the ancient Greeks had some pretty specific ideas about how the Gods dealt with the transgressions of us mere mortals.

...and let that be a lesson to you.

I enjoyed the show for sure, although at times it IS rather hard to relate to a show written back in the XENA days.  I liked how they updated most of the costumes, and occasionally wondered if maybe they couldn’t update some of the names as well (Polyneices?  Really??).   A friend of mine also remarked how a chorus of no more than two at a time seems somewhat small…which I suppose is true, although to be fair, after ST.CARMEN OF THE MAIN, any chorus you could squeeze into the GCTC studio is going to look wee.  And I loved the robed figures, Bradshaw being my fav’rit in the role.  He just has the voice for it.

The in-the-round setup was cool too, although if you sit in a corner like I was, you’re going to spend some noticeable time peering around figures planted in front of you.  But I very much dug the lighting, and the occasionally bombastic music, and especially the performances.  A very cool, classical night of theatre.  The show runs ’til April 2nd, and yeah, you should get out there and see it.  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

A Lovely Day in Llareggub

In Theatre on March 25, 2011 at 4:59 am

Okay, I know I KNOW I’m behind on getting my class post up for this week.  Things are a little hectic here at the Visitorium…I’ve already written two posts today and here comes the third!  I’m looking into getting a couple of guest-writers in the near future.  I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, here’s how good a day today was.  After Winston very kindly refused to let me sleep in past seven AM on my day off (a wise kitty, I’m certain he had his reasons), I wandered a spell and shopped rather fruitlessly, before  heading out to Wellington for a coffee date with pretty lady/human dynamo Natalie Joy Quesnel.  And one does not spend time with the Great Duchess of Fringe and not wear a glow for the rest of the day.  It’s like Theatre itself blessed my travels, and that blessing would maintain, dear readers, oh yes.

Later on that day, and I made my long, long way out to Orleans, which I think is a country or something, to their fabled Centre of Shenk-Man.  Had me a ticket for tonite’s debut performance of Dylan Thomas’ UNDER MILK WOOD, performed by the graduating class at the Ottawa Theatre School.  You may recall we last saw the OTS gang at their successful production of TWELFTH NIGHT, which kicked all sorts of ass.  So I was pretty hopeful for this one, directed by Deluxe Hot Saucie Janet Irwin herself.  After spending a few baffled minutes exploring the cavernous interior of the Shenk-Man, I found the venue.  Also found cool dude Brad Long, recently of Evolution Theatre’s fantastic LITTLE MARTYRS, along with her worship the Lady Alix Sideris, so that made me happy, because I didn’t want to be lost in the wicked kingdom of Orleans all by my lonesome.  More good omens!

The venue, the Richcraft Studio, was a high-ceilinged beauty of a space, set up COUNTRIES SHAPED LIKE STARS-stylee with audience on either side of the narrow set (There’s even a ladder!).   And the cast (featuring Annie Lefebvre and Todd Duckworth joining the OTS gang) marched out single file as the show began, filling the space neatly.  And then the fun got underway.

It’s a little hard to describe UMW, embracing so many characters and situations as it does, but know that it takes place over the course of one special and ordinary, music and love-filled day in a small Welsh village.  Know that it is told in beautiful poetic prose, with characters who are unique, beautiful, tragic, glorious and hilarious alternately.  And know, and I mean KNOW, that these folks pull it all off like nobody’s business.  Janet Irwin’s direction is bloody brilliant to see, and the performances…God Damn.  Somebody graduate these kids, stat.  The notion that the actors I saw tonite are merely ‘students’ is like saying Batman is only a hall monitor.

"Those without hall passes are a cowardly, superstitious lot..."

Everyone impressed, and in multiple roles to boot.  Obviously the pros Annie and Todd are wonderful…his blind Captain Cat is a centerpiece of the production, and Annie’s songs of lamentation as poor Polly Garter are wondrous to the ear.  But the others, the lot of them, are stunning revelations, easily matching Anni and Todd, and surpassing their previous work in TWELFTH NIGHT (which was already fantastic).  Diego Arvelo.   Kyla Gray.  Kaitlin Miller.  Jodi Morden.  Greg Shand.  Henry Austin Shikongo.  Might as well remember the names now, folks, because you’ll be hearing them a lot more as time goes by.  They were smart, funny, sexy, and had timing you don’t find usually outside of your average Tardis.  This is, flat out, an amazing show, and you should run and see it.  Now.  Run like Charlie Sheen was chasing you.

I love getting on a post-show high like this, and I’m still on it hours later.  Had a chance meeting with yet another of the pretty girls I’m lucky enough to know after the show (I’m sworn to secrecy as to just why she was there, but I’m glad she was), and the supercool Brad Long was kind enough to give us both a ride back into civilization.  Now, a few hours later, after some impromptu Twitter-Youtube sparring with Natalie Joy and Tweedy old Snowdon, I’m finally about done with this post.  So just to reiterate…UNDER MILK WOOD.  One of the most surefire good times at the theatre so far this year.  I may go again.  See it.  Go.

Even if it IS in Orleans.

Peace, love and soul to you all,

the Visitor (and Winston)

Sweet Tarts Takeaway: Fantastic (episode) 4

In Theatre on March 24, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Ah!   It’s been too long, dear friends, since I had an excuse to listen to that theme music again, and now it’s bumping merrily along in my brainpan  Yes and yay, another episode of SWEET TARTS TAKEAWAY for some good eatin’:

It’s a short eppy even by Sweet-Tarty standards, but very much a gooder.  Even IF lovely Kel Parsons is only in it for a short stint (a little of the divine Miss Kel goes a long way).  Following on the heels of last ep’s sex-shop adventure, our heroines have to stash their repo’d toys somewhere when Bob (Riley Stewart) is nowhere to be found.  Sue (Kate Drummond) agrees to keep the goods at her place, when of course her ex Dan (Jerome Bourgault) makes a surprise appearance.

Kate and Jerome have a lovely scene together, and bring the series nicely down to Earth after last ep’s shenanigans (not that I don’t love shenanigans, but the balance is very nice is all).  Their relationship is quite delightful to watch, in all its strained and awkward glory.  Once again, plenty of fodder for the future is being laid out in tasty little morsels.  Will Sue go see the Wayward Moose gig?  Will Dan be able to wrap his head around the staggering amount of vibrators now in Sue’s possession?  And will Janis investigate the notion of ‘unrealistically large’ further?  Stay tuned!

Peace, love and soul, Sweet Tarts,

the Visitor (and Winston)

The Proud Sons of Ulster

In Theatre on March 24, 2011 at 1:09 pm

How do I get three posts behind without even noticing it?  Is it something to do with my laziness?  It is, isn’t it?  Because, like, that’s totally not fair.  But fairness being what it is (ie: nonexistent), let’s start with the start.  Which in this case would be Tuesday.

Booked off of drudgery and hung about downtown for some much needed playtime that day.  I’ve really been slacking off on my plays this month, and I DO feel like a bag of crap for it.  JEW OF MALTA, ROMEO AND JULIET, OPEN RELATIONSHIP…missed ’em all.  Sorry folks, you deserved better, and I hope you had smashing runs.  But no time to wallow, there’s still stuff out there!  In tonight’s instance, down at the venerable Ottawa Little Theatre, as they team up with the Tara Players for a WWI ditty called OBSERVE THE SONS OF ULSTER MARCHING TOWARDS THE SOMME.  I was right looking forward to this one, after having my historical-wartime-theatre appetite whetted with some multiple VIMY viewings a few months back.   And this time, I finally got myself a front row seat!  So far in the OLT I’ve been much further back, so this was a pleasant treat.  Those who know me know…I likes me some front seatiness.

The play, by one Frank McGuinness and directed by Tara Players vet Tom Taylor, concerns a squad of 8 Irish WWI volunteers (Irish PROTESTANTS, mind you, none of that ‘Catholic’ nonsense for these strapping lads) from Ulster province.  The story centers chiefly on the enigmatic Kenneth Pyper (played well by both Orrin Kerr and Jamie Kohlmeier), a smart-talking rogue who wears his deathwish on his sleeve.  His loud personality quickly disturbs the barracks, making friends or causing fights as he goes.

Split into three main scenes (a first day intro, leave back home, and a final bloody assault at the Somme), the Ulster brigade pairs off as we delve into each of their prides and failings.  Pyper befriends soft-spoken David Craig (Tim Ginley), while faith-stricken Roulston (Ian Stauffer) argues his lack of belief with Crawford (Cameron Preyde).  Longtime friends William Moore and John Millen (Brett Willis and Dominic Gamble) struggle to find their courage, while brash Belfast lads Anderson and McIlwaine (Andy Moggridge and Alex Zacehrnuk)  try and find a way to keep their OWN bellies full of fire.  Everyone turns in a solid performance, with Brett Willis and Alex Zachernuk being standouts for me.  Tom Taylor makes full use of the big, wide OLT stage, and Robin Riddihough’s set design (which I only just got done admiring in ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN at Algonquin) does a lot with a little, and very much impresses with a great final shot.

There was a bit of a technical glitch going on with the sound that evening, but didn’t prove much of a distraction.  More of a distraction were my surprisingly rude fellow audience members, who were CONSTANTLY talking, coughing, or trying to see who could yawn the fucking loudest.  Note: Staying home IS an option, jackasses.  Go watch DANCING WITH THE STARS or something.  You’re harshing my theatre mellow.

Overall, I had me a good time at ULSTER, and the lads turned in a rousing show.  LOVED the kettle drum.    Good on ya, Tara Players, and I look forward to your next collaboration with the OLT.  Peace, Love and Soul,

the Visitor (and Winston)

Ottawa Improv Fest ’11 – A hazy look back

In Improv on March 22, 2011 at 12:41 am

It’s been a pretty fantastic weekend here at the Visitorium…and I’m not only talking about the last post I made, that somehow drew more than 200 hits to the page yesterday.  Thanks for that, and hey, some of you folks reposting that page on Facebook..?  Friend me, so I can read what people are saying!  I’m a compete attention whore like that.

But there’s more, and it’s the kind of ‘more’ that means I don’t exactly remember how I got home on Saturday nite.  yes, that’s right, it was the OTTAWA IMPROV FESTIVAL this past week, and as far as I could tell it was a smashing success.  I only made it out to three events, but I still feel like that might be enough to make me need rehab.

My first night (of two) was on Thursday, when I darted there after the preview performance of ST.CARMEN OF THE MAIN at the NAC (about which I’ve already blathered).  I hustled on up to Arts Court Studio for a familiar scene…CRUSH IMPROV and their ‘BOUT TIME setup, although now afar from the usual Elmdale Tavern digs.  Not to fear, tho, the Beau’s was flowing on makeshift taps and I, patron of the Arts that I am, donated generously.  Which may be why I don’t exactly recall the name of the team squaring off against standing champeens THE NEIGHBOURHOOD (although I can tell you they were Mike Kosowan, Joel Garrow and Jim Davies, battling Ken Godmere, Cari Leslie and Tim Anderson).  Each team was dandy as per usual, occasionally receiving a guest-assist from UNCALLED FOR‘s Anders Yates.  Smokes were bartered for, Perogies were used as weapons of conquest, and by the end of it, the Neighbourhood stood tall yet again, , keeping their winning streak unbroken.  Myself, I enjoyed some after-palaver with Heather Marie and Al Connors, among several illustrious others (I TOTALLY got a ‘The Neighbourhood’ hat-trick on my Facebook the next day!).  A good day.

But the NEXT show I saw, this time on the Saturday…yow.  I made it for both timeslots this day, settling in to deep, dank SAW Gallery for the first half of festivities.  Saw Heather and Al again, yay, as well as Tim Anderson and man-about-town Sterling Lynch.  There was a French show on upstairs with troupes LA LIEU and L’ACRONYME, but down in the SAW it was time for MONTREAL IMPROV and SEX T-REX to shine.  There may have been a guest-performer or two in thereabouts, forgive me if I’m remembering incorrectly.  I don’t take notes, and did I mention about the beer flowing?  That’ll be important later.

The troupes were sweet to behold…a bit to start off about  a young fan meeting his shotput hurling idol in a grudge match of Guess Who? entertained, and Sex T-Rex floored the joint with their tale of Justin Bieber, Usher, and the importance of flossing.  A great show (although as Heather rightly noted, too short!), and quickly we all filed upstairs for part two, with EDGEWATER HOTEL getting things underway with what they say is their farewell performance.  Too bad, ’cause there was some talent up there on that stage in a show mostly about pretending to own things (and why not?).  Then the rather amazing STANDARDS AND PRACTICES took over, and damn, but that’s a solid bunch of weirdos right there!  A pretty incredible improv show that bust many guts.

As someone who hasn’t really seen much improv besides CRUSH, it was great to get to this festival and see some of the other talents out there.  I missed too many…INSENSITIVITY TRAINING, GRIMPROV, CRYSTAL BASEMENT, GENTLEMAN’S CLUB…but maybe I’ll do better next year.  Anyhoo, after the S&P lads finished up, it was right back to the hardcore drinking.  And chatting.  And…what’s the word..?  ‘Social…izing’?  Is that right?  Is that a word?  Is it anything like hanging out on the steps, listening to Heather Marie and Nick diGaetano have a heated discussion about theatre?  Or Brad MacNeil being true to his word and giving me a crash course in Questions (which I’m totally going to OWN next time we do it in class!)?  Whatever it was, it felt real good, and so, after all the beer was drunk and we’d made a solid dent in the Rye and Tequila rations, the mob of us headed out to the Red Room for more afterfun.  I got to finally say hi to Mike Kosowan (Red Noses, yo!), and…

…and, well, it gets pretty blurry after that.  I kinda ‘member Cari Leslie dancing, and me chatting with Chantal from GCTC, and precious little else.  Somehow I managed to pay the cabbie to take me home, and thank God Winston yelled at me in the morning, because I forgot to set my alarm.  Did I mention I worked at 8 the next day..?
I would have headed out to the final day, but I was just too wiped (I am kinda sorta getting older, it turns out), especially as it was a rather unforgivingly brutal brunch shift at work.  And yes, your Visitor was hurting.  But the good kind of hurt…well earned.  Thanks be to the organizers of this highly entertaining little festival, and I sure as shit hope there’s another one like it this time in 2012.  Not 2013, obviously, as time is slated to END in 2012, but hey, at least we get one more year, right?

Fucking Mayans.

Peace, love and soul, Improv fans,

The Visitor (and Winston)

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Awesome

In Theatre on March 19, 2011 at 3:22 am

Another hurried post, no time to lose…is blogging a speed sport?  I seem to be going for some kind of record, but what the Hell, that’s what I have a record player for, right?  Zing!

What ho, spirited wordplay?  Yes, it can only mean one thing…I’ve just come from ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD, courtesy of the good kids at Algonquin Theatre Arts.   And I hope the gang can forgive me some trepidation going into this one…Tom Stoppard’s classic comic take on Hamlet is an awfully wordy and ambitious piece to choose for a student production, and pulling it off would be no small cheese.  Thankfully, Ottawa Theatre Queen Mary Ellis was at the helm for this one, and I can safely say she’s steered her ship true.

The story fleshes out two minor characters, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern by unlikely names,  from Shakespeare’s HAMLET, making them the stars as they lurch somewhat uncomfortably along, swept up by fate towards a destiny they want no part of, and a seemingly predestined end that they don’t really seem to deserve.  Along they way, they contemplate words, time, direction, luck, questions…

Questions!  Oh, cruel fate!  Must you mock me so?  Must you constantly REMIND me of my FAILURE, and…and…

…sorry, that was a personal thing.  Where was I..?  Oh yes.  Questions…and death.  Their only friends (since their childhood chum Prince Hamlet is having a wee case of the crazies just now), such as they are, are a group of travelling tragedians who seem to only remind them of how helpless they are throughout.  If I’m making this sound heavy, it’s only my underlying pretentiousness seeping through.  It’s mostly hilarious.  Just very smart hilarious (usually the best kind).

The difficult central roles of R&G themselves are played by Jake William Smith  and Christine Hecker, and…and well, fuck it, just WOW.  Smith already impressed me mightily last year in May Can Theatre’s YOU ARE HERE, and he’s pretty much flawless here as the dim but amiable Rosencrantz (or is it..?)  And this is my first time seeing the lovely Ms.Hecker, and I hope it’s not the last.  Her Guildenstern (Rosencrantz?) never misses a comic beat, and makes a magnificent straight man to Smith.

Other good performances abound…Grant Hutchings and Hillary Downey impress in their short times onstage as Hamlet and Ophelia, and Jeremy Jones as the Player/troupe leader has great presence.  Ross Tundo’s Polonius, too, manages some very nifty scene-stealing.  Kudos to the whole gang.

The set is simple, and quite striking, and Mary Ellis’ directions seems as spot-on as you could ask for.  The final shot of the play is a thing of beauty, and no fooling.  I seriously had SUCH a good time at this show.  Tomorrow is the LAST day, and I want that place packed, see?  So read this, go see it, and then love it to pieces.  And then help me decide what I’m seeing tomorrow myself, because I have three things to pick between and I’m fucking torn.  But there ARE worse problems to have.  Peace, love and soul, Ottawa,

The Visitor (and Winston)

A Red Sun Rises on the Main

In Theatre on March 18, 2011 at 8:52 pm

Gonna have to try and speed this one along here, folks, I’m writing it on the work computer in between a shift and a show.  So forgive me if it seems a little breezy…I’m really not sure what the protocol is for me using this thing, but I’d just as soon not get in dutch for it.  Thing is, if I DON’T write this post now, then later tonight I’ll be, like, 2 or 3 posts behind.  And how the Hell did THAT happen?  When did I suddenly get assailed by looming deadlines?   Who the Hell do I think I am, Pat Gauthier?

Now THERE’S an in-joke…wasn’t I supposed to be making this chud accessible to people?  Well, whatever, I was also supposed to be in a hurry.  So let me tell ya all about how I completely didn’t care about St.Patrick’s Day last nite (that’s EVERY day here at the Visitorium, FYI) and instead lined up at the swanky NAC for the preview performance of Michel Tremblay’s ST.CARMEN OF THE MAIN, translated here by one Linda Gaboriau.  I like Preview shows at the NAC, because it means I get to steal the front and centre seats without paying those front and centre seat bucks.  So up I went, settled in, had a kind word or two with director Peter Hinton as he arrived for his pre-show speech (which I’m getting to know pretty well by this point), and waited for the curtain to rise.  And oh, when it rose…

We were all greeted by easily the most gaudy and marvellous collection of high-heeled pumps (all red) all in a row,worn by some of the most spectacularly attired pimps and pros (ALSO all in red) you could ever hope to see in one place at one time.  And can I just say, the sight of the entire cast of VIMY (among others) clad entirely in crimson drag was something that did not get old for me for one second that fine evening. (I found John Doucet the hardest to pick out, personally).

Our red-robed rogues formed a kind of street-style Greek chorus, led by the rather fantastic Robert Persichini and Karen Robinson as Sandra and Rose Beef, respectively.  The chorus informs us that something wonderful is happening down on the main drag in Montreal…after six months in the US of A, their beloved Carmen, a country-styled chanteuse, is returning to them.  Carmen, aka Laara Sadiq who inhabits the role with some mighty gusto indeed, had supposedly been training in Nashville to polish up her yodelling skills.

But the sparkling Carmen has some other ideas brewing, a virtual firestorm of hope and inspiration that quickly sets her at odds with a host of gloriously shady characters:  There’s Gloria, the elder music Queen of the Main who looks down her nose at the young upstart she claims credit for creating (Jackie Richardson, positively stealing half the show in one mighty monologue); Toothpick, a low-rent thug with a personal grudge against Carmen (played by Joey Tremblay with a wonderful sleazy sheen); and cruel manager Maurice, whose views on music, the Main, and just about everything are diametrically opposed to Carmen’s.  Jean LeClerc as Maurice is a walking, talking atom-bomb of greasy swagger, who seems to naturally dominate everyone around him.  When Carmen squares off against him, it really does feel like David v.Goliath.

ST.CARMEN has an intentionally mythic feel to it, and ya know I loves me a Greek Chorus.  Carmen’s backstory is told in whispered fragments and legends by her dresser, the faithful Harelip played with stoic grace by Diane D’Aquila.  It’s a tragic story, and it seems Carmen’s efforts to save the poor wretches of the Main is no less an attempt to save herself. I’ll let you find out for yourself how successful she is (or not).

The production is gorgeous to watch, and the actors are pretty much top of the notch.  I could have maybe done with a little more music in a play ABOUT a musician, but that’s neither here nor there.  Compliments to the NAC gang, it was indeed a fine time on the main drag.  And I’d maybe say more, but now I gotta run…off to Algonquin tonite, and maybe I’ll see some of you there.  Or you could check out the OTTAWA IMPROV FESTIVAL at Arts Court, too.  I caught that after the play last night, and I’ll maybe have something to say about THAT in a bit, too.  If I can find the goddamned time, that is.  Sheesh.  Someone could offer to pay me for this shit ANY old time now…

Peace, Love and Soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)