Archive for February, 2012|Monthly archive page

Rideau 2012 – The Noms!

In Theatre on February 28, 2012 at 4:22 pm

So, I had this WHOLE post ready to go?  Foofarah-stylee, about the PRIX RIDEAU AWARDS nominations just announced?  And I even had it posted and up, for about 30 seconds, until I saw that the formatting wasn’t working, stuff I’d embedded wasn’t showing up, and to be honest it made me feel rather stoopid and self-conscious, so I just up and deleted the whole damned thing.  I’m…not having the most startlingly rational responses to things these days, I’ll be honest.

But try, try again! It’s too late to Foofarah (on a Tuesday?  Be serious.), but I still have a few words I’d like to get in edgewise about the noms themselves.  I won’t bother putting the list of honorees here…but feel free to check’em out (if you haven’t already) on some other site, and then race back here.  All set?  Let’s get with the witty remarks and pithy commentary already:

OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION:  Damn you, Rideau Awards, for nominating a show I managed not to see last year (the St.Lawrence production of TWELFTH NIGHT, to be specific).  Don’t I feel inadequate enough?  But still, good list, and I’m kinda rooting for my beloved UNDER MILK WOOD here.

OUTSTANDING DIRECTION: …and there’s the St.Lawrence show again!  I GET it, Rideau Awards, I missed a great show!  STOP RUBBING IT IN!!  *sigh*  It’s SIX: AT HOME all over again. But great nominees again, and always nice to see Joel’s name in lights.

OUTSTANDING GIRL PERFORMANCE: Yes, I tweaked the name, I like mine better.  And YAY, Annie Lefebvre!  Double-YAY Kate Smith!!  And another nom for LAVENDER RAILROAD?  I like these lists so far, gang.

OUTSTANDING ANDY MASSINGHAM PERFORMANCE: Seriously, how did Gelinas and Muggleton make it in here?  THEY’RE not Andy Massingham!  Not even a little bit…like, what the HELL, man…

Andy will also be presenting the award, running the sound board, and doubling as the entire audience. It should be a gas.

OUTSTANDING DESIGN: And okay, it’s a little wonky that all aspects of design are lumped into one category like this, but I figger the Awards are still growing, and these things take time.  And tho I’m sad to not see Pierre Ducharme nommed for his LITTLE MARTYRS set, Al ‘Cars’ Connors getting the sound nod for that great show makes up for it a little (EDIT: Sorry, Al got the nod for Evolution’s LAVENDER RAILROAD, not MARTYRS.  Still cool.).

OUTSTANDING NEW CREATION: How much am I in fucking love with this list?  Haven’t I been telling you people about MAY CAN THEATRE for ages now?  And LAVENDER RAILROAD…hey, I did front of house for that show, so can I technically say I’VE been nominated along with it?  Because I’m totally saying that from now on.  And as for Nancy and the little Roller Derby show that could…okay, I couldn’t be prouder.  So very well done, PH.

OUTSTANDING ADAPTATION/TRANSLATION: More of some of my fav’rits of last year, huzzah!  More LITTLE MARTYRS love (I told you all you should’a seen that show, right?), and MIDWINTERS DREAM TALE making the scene! Third Wall, Odyssey and OSC round out a pretty sweet list.

OUTSTANDING FRINGE PRODUCTION: Ya know I love me some Fringe, and I’m REALLY excited to see my OTS gangsters represented for the underrated GLITCH.  And May Can and Nancy K again..?  Bloody great news.  Kudos to Black Sheep and The Walk for making the short list as well.

OUTSTANDING AWESOME PERSON: Yes, I have improved on the title EMERGING ARTIST.  You’re welcome.  And YAY Katie Bunting!  Double YAY more Roller Derby/Little Martyrs luv! And Nancy, for making the hat trick of nominations…we’re playing your song:

THE FRENCH NOMINATIONS:  I won’t go too much into these, except to say how giddy I am that two shows I saw and loved TARAM and FRERES D’HIVER, racked up the nods.  And way to go  Joel Beddows for getting tagged as Director in both languages!

ROUNDING UP:  I’m pretty dee-lited witht he list of nominees this year, if ya couldn’t tell.  And I’m extra-glad that LITTLE MARTYRS is getting some well-deserved recognition (actually at least 2 nominations fewer than I would have enjoyed, but it’s a start), as well as UNDER MILK WOOD.  Although, as has been pointed out, it’s more than a little shameful that the ‘Behind the Rideau’ category designed to honour Stage Managers, techs, publicists and many other less-visible contributors to the theatre, had to be dropped from the English nominations due to a lack of submissions.  Bad karma, English Theatre.  Your unsung heroes deserve WAY more love than THAT.  Do better next year, and that IS an order.

And yes, I’m really thrilled that some close pals got the love they very much deserved as well.  Tony, Cory and Erin at MAY CAN THEATRE, ya done SO good.  I expect top hats and tails at the gala!  And as for ROLLER DERBY SAVED MY SOUL, I know how hard Nancy, Tania and Nick worked to make that show the winner it was, and I couldn’t be happier that it’s getting recognized.  And yes, ALL the nominees get a round of applause for jobs well done.  Time will tell who the winners end up being, but honestly, I’m not even that interested in THAT part.  Art being subjective at all.

Still…it should be a helluva party.  April 22, Shenkman Centre.  Maybe I’ll see you there.  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

The Coochi-Snorcher Monologues

In Theatre on February 25, 2012 at 12:07 am


Yeah, I get to say that word a lot this post, and you bet I’m taking advantage of it.  And it’s all thanks to this war crimes lawyer I went to school with!

Lemme ‘splain.  Last year I had a series of acting classes at the OSSD under the instruction of big cheese Brie Barker (sorry I missed you in THE WALK, coach!  Hope you busted some legs!), and one of my fellow students was the loverly Julie Greenspoon, a sometime actor at the Ottawa Little Theatre who in her spare time travels the world busting war criminals, because that’s how she rolls, dig?  Anyhow, I heard from Ms G recently that she’d gotten cast in an upcoming production of THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES, Eve Ensler’s phenomenon play of Vaginal empowerment, and ya know I was good and ready to check it out.  As a typical dopey male, I had never ever seen the Vaginalogues, and this seemed like the perfect excuse to correct that mistake.  So, in spite of Winter’s high-spirited efforts at a late-in-the-game comeback, I trudged thru the snowy streets to the Bronson Centre (hadn’t set foot there since Henry Rollins last hit town…good times), where the event was taking place.

The performance would double as a fundraising show to benefit The Sexual Assault Support Centre of Ottawa (SASC) and the Minwaashin Lodge Aboriginal Woman’s Support Centre, two rocking good causes if ever I’ve heard of ’em, and featured a large and enthusiastic cast of wimmin from all walks, dispositions, and varieties of life.  And I’m happy to say, now that the show is over, that it turns out I’m a pretty big fan of Vaginal monologizing!

Based on hundreds of Vagina-centric interviews Ensler conducted, the play is broken down into a dozen or so pieces (and even tho they’re called monologues, the scenes are frequently shared by two or more performers, which is just fine) ranging from the adorable (like Stephanie Monette as a 6-year old interviewee) to the horrific (as in Nasim Mahin’s  heartbreaking retelling of a brutal wartime rape).  And okay, many of the ladies on stage are NOT professional actors, as the message and the cause are really the stars of this ‘V-Day’ enterprise.  But that just makes some of the wonderful work on stage that much more exciting, for me anyhow.  Aside from the wonderful Julie Greenspoon’s short’n’sweet love affair with the much maligned C-word (and okay, I’m biased.  Whatever, she ROCKED.), a few other standouts were: Yamikani Msosa’s powerful WHAT IF I TOLD YOU I DON’T HAVE A VAGINA; Reem Girgrah and Kimberly Lovell, bringing the house down with live renditions of every moan ever moaned; Hazel Hutton and Julie Cameron making some positively outstanding theatrical magic in THE VAGINA WORKSHOP; Stephanie Marhue’s well-reasoned argument in favour of a little hair down there; Kristan Miller and the sad then sexy tale of the Coochi Snorcher…I could go on.  I probably SHOULD go on…the gals killed it, and no fooling.

But, even I gotta sleep sometime.  THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES plays again at 8pm tomorrow night at Bronson Centre, and they damn near packed the house tonight.  If you want to go (you do), I’d start planning for it NOW.  It’s a great cause, and a great show to go with it.  Peace, love and soul, ladies,

The Visitor (and Winston)

Thirty Three

In Theatre on February 24, 2012 at 12:55 am

Aha!  What a night.  Bear with me folks, I think this…this one may not make a lot of sense.  I’m hungry, and have had a few too many to drink, and what the Heck, do I get paid for this or something? In fact, I’m REALLY hungry, and all my bread has gone as green as the Hulk (no, obviously NOT the Hulk when he was grey you NERDS..!), so all I have in my house to eat is MORE BEER.  This could get ugly.

But let’s back up, back to a silly day of drudgery at the salt mines that ended with a rather foolishly rapid consumption of a pulled pork sandwich, followed rapidly by an apple turnover, followed rapidly by OH GOD WHY DID I EAT SO MUCH???  I bussed home and tried to nap it off, convinced I would never eat again, before I eventually had to hop right back on the transpo to head down to the Gladstone for the night’s festivities.  Naturally, right about the time I jumped OFF the bus, my tummy started growling.  Ah, well. Who needs to eat when you’ve got theatre, right?

Stumbled into the Gladstone, past the ubiquitous Tess McManus at the box office (And I was totally going to do a bit just now on how I keep meeting her but she doesn’t recognize me?  Like at the GCTC a few weeks ago?  But she just figgered it out and Facebooked me, so…well, there’s THAT bit spoiled. Way to kill the joke, McManus!)

…you know what would be a great name for a 70’s cop show..? ‘ McManus‘.  Someone should invent time-travel and get on that.  Where was I..?

Right, the Gladstone!  Venerable Ottawa Theatre cats Black Sheep have gotten on board the Gladstone train, and made their debut with ’33 – A KABARETT, written by and starring the bloody amazing Bremner Duthie, and directed by local hero Dave Dawson.  Having seen two of his shows previously, THE PIG OF HAPPINESS and WHISKEY BARS, I already knew that Bremner had a major Love Jones for the Weimar era of German music, specifically Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill.  And this beautiful piece, set in a ruined theatre during the rise of the Nazi regime, acts as an almost-sequel to WHISKEY BARS, which featured a Cabaret singer prepping backstage for his comeback.  In ’33, we begin with a performer emerging onto the stage in darkness, shaking, terrified, scanning the remnants of his stage with a flashlight, and surprised to discover an audience, waiting for a show.  And what a show we do get, based loosely on the real-life fate of the ElDorado Theatre.

Torn between an urgent desire to flee and the ‘show must go on’ impulse, Bremner’s emcee character reluctantly tells us the story of his Kabarett’s fall at the hands of authoritarianism, through song, dance, and a little more song.  And the songs…folks, you have not LIVED until you’ve heard Bremner Fletcher Duthie sing ‘Mack the Knife’ to you.  He has a gift for taking these classics and weaving them beautifully into his plays, and he’s getting better and better at it, from what I can tell.  With a few costume changes, musings on the nature of art vs. the state, and a goddamn gorgeous voice, Bremner guides us through despair and terror, oppression and hopelessness, and into something else entirely…it’s all really quite beautiful to behold.  Shows like this don’t happen very often, folks.

The show, one Bremner Duthie has toured on the Fringe circuit already, is being partially double-billed with another Dawson directed show, Jayson MacDonald’s THE LAST GODDAMNED PERFORMANCE PIECE as part of Black Sheep Theatre’s BLACK BOX series.  Starring Ben Meuser and Celine Fillion, who performed the same show in the 2010 Ottawa Fringe festival, I can promise ya it’s worth sticking around for (I’ll be back next week to see it again, because…why the Heck not?).  And more on the rest of the amazing Black Box lineup later, which I’ll be there for every minute of…for now, just get yourself to the Gladstone to catch ’33, because you’ll be mighty glad you did (and you can even pick up a CD afterwards!).  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

Monday Foofarah!

In Just me doing stuff on February 20, 2012 at 9:27 pm

What’s up, whoever reads this?  Stuff?  I bet you’ve got stuff going on.  Awesome.  Awesome.  Stuff.  Well, I won’t waste any more time, let’s get to it!

FIRST AND LAST CHANCE TO SEE:  Mister Bremner Duthie hisself returns to Ottawa with his cabaret one-manner ’33 at the Gladstone starting this week, and ya know you can’t miss that.  Third Wall continues its Empty Space series with readings from the works of Vaclav Havel this Wednesday in the Glebe (not last week, like I overexcitedly posted in the last Foofarah…ooops), while over at the Bronson Center this Friday and Saturday you can catch yourself come VAGINA MONOLOGUES, because a) my old scene partner Julie is in it, and b) what’s better than Vaginas?  Nothing, that’s what, so go.

NONCOMMITTAL CHANCE TO SEE:  TRANSLATIONS at the OLT, which continues thru to next week.

So, what else has been going on?  Been having some theatre downtime since the Undercurrents festival ended.  And as we all know, there’s NOTHING WORSE than theatre downtime.  And so, predictably, your poor Visitor has been having some ups and downs…a treacherous assault by the twin Demon-Nuns of Chapel Perilous this weekend set me back some, it’s true…in fact, my life may never be the same!  But oh well, I have my new power-totem, a cat in my lap, and enough Whiskey to get me through the night.  And now, according to Twitter, here’s the trailer for the movie Mikaela Dyke is watching RIGHT NOW!!

COMIX: Well, my plans to sit and read some old comix got kiboshed today (go FUCK yourself, ‘Family Day’!), which kinda ticked me off.  I was JUST about to hit the transition point where Steve Ditko gave up the drawing chores on AMAZING SPIDER-MAN to John Romita…a pivotal moment in comic history, I’m sure you’ll agree.  But I’ll have to get to that tomorrow, sigh.  I DID manage to watch X-MEN: FIRST CLASS this week, and that was kinda pretty fun.  Shame they actually went to the trouble of creating a black character JUST to have him die right away (and the other black character turned traitor, like, INSTANTLY).  Even bigger shame about how shitty an actress White Queen chick was (note: I did research, and it was January Jones, who is on some big-deal show called MAD MEN.  Which I’m now in even less of a hurry to check out.  Still, cool name, tho. ‘January Jones’.)

And now, the anthem of my life, courtesy of the Buzzcocks:

FRINGE: Only four months now until Fringe here in Ottawa, and I’m starting to get ‘cited.  Also trying to decide if I’m gonna go for another Fringe road trip, ala Victoria last year…suppose I’ll wait and see how much I get back from the taxman and all.  I do know there’ll some cool beans shows coming here this year, and I just got word that an ULTRA-MEGA-AMAZING show might be wending its way here, if the right venue can be found, which I will dutifully do my part to do. Ottawa, you WILL thank me if this comes off.  And, y’know, the people who actually DO the show. Thank them more.

Not much else to blather about, without getting all emo about shit…I would like to make a last gratitudinal shoutout to UNDERCURRENTS for a fine fest (especial thanks to birthday boy and Fest Producer Pat Gauthier!).  I caught ’em all, and had a blast all around.  Gotta say, WEETUBE 5400, while hardly your traditional ‘theatre’ (one savvy fellow the other night called it ‘punk’, and he was SO right on with that comment), was a big fav’rit of mine, and not just for the drinking and cookies.  And here, as we close, because Nadine missed it when she saw the show…give it up for some Big Booty Bitches.  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

Die Vampire Die!

In Theatre on February 17, 2012 at 12:11 am

So now that I am personally finished with this year’s UNDERCURRENTS festival (but there’s still plenty of time left to catch the remaining 4 awesome shows, so no excuses from YOU lot!), I suppose there’s not a lot left for me to do this week.  I’ll be able to kick back a spell, read some comix, and watch old episodes of MAN ABOUT THE HOUSE with Winston the Cat.  I suppose I’d been needing a break after…

…aaaand, nope, it’s right back into the theatre for me,  because it’s February.  And February is, for whatever glorious reason, fucking PACKED with shows (wait ’til you see March..!).  So, fresh off of two straight days at the GCTC, it was off to Ottawa U and lovable old Academic Hall for a little something from the student musical society Broadway off Broadway, namely their spankin’ new production of [title of show].  Which is perfect, because I missed that show at the Victoria Fringe last year, so now I can make up for it!  Nice one, U of O.

An actual, honest-to-gosh Broadway musical (if that matters to you…personally, I’ve never even been there), TITLE is a musical from Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell, who are also the main characters in the play, which is about Jeff and Hunter writing a musical called [title of show].  Yeah, it gets pretty meta.  I’ll warn you up front.  But regardless, the onstage Jeff and Hunter, here brought to life by Morgan Briault and Noel Guscott, enlist their actor buddies Heidi (Hilary Peck) and Susan (Meagan LaGrandeur) to fill out their dream show.  Along they way, they jam in a silly fun 90 minutes of tunes, ranging from the jazzed-up drudgery of ‘Filling out the Form‘ to inspired lunacy like ‘Monkeys and Playbills’.  Most of the songs were pretty damn fun, and the onstage gang got them some pipes, even if the audio tech did hit a few wonky spots on opening night (when does that NOT happen, really?).  Along with scene-stealing musical accompanist Nick Amott, the TITLE gang belted that shit out with lungpower to spare…special kudos to Hilary Peck for hitting a spectacular note in ‘A Way Back to Then’ that damn near blew the roof off the joint.  NICE one…I is impressed.

Sometimes I hear people complain that, in musical theatre, the acting tends to suffer.  But to be honest, I was pleased as punch with the performances all ’round.  Morgan Briault was spot-on as the drily hilarious Jeff, and played nicely off his booming co-star Noel Guscott, who proved he can masturbate onstage with the best of them.  Hilary Peck was a hoot (oh yes…I called her a ‘hoot’) as professional understudy Heidi, and Meaghan LaGrandeur was flat-out fucking hysterical as the batshit-insane Susan, often grabbing laughs with nothing more than a well-placed roll of the eyes (okay, she got lots of killer lines as well…you’ll never look at a 2-litre Pepsi the same way again).

But as funny as the show was, it actually turned out to be, at least for me, oddly inspirational as well.  A particular fav’rit tune (and my post-title, ‘Die Vampire Die’), struck some very few honest chords with me, as did many other moments in the production.  And while theatre about theatre is getting a little worn (if the Lab results from AND THEN IT HAPPENS were any indication), there’s more than enough heart in this hi-octane musical to forgive a little self-indulgence on the creators’ part.  Props to first-time director Cody Zulinski, fresh off a killer stint in THE PRETENTIOUS YOUNG LADIES last year that rocked my world.  And yay for Broadway Off-Broadway, who as I understand it were making their first ever full-production staged debut with this show (correct me if I’m wrong, I often am).  At any rate, I hope it won’t be the last.  TITLE OF SHOW is a dandy good time, and if you’re done with Undercurrents and need a little more funtimes at the theatre (for a can’t miss price), head out to the Ottawa U. campus tomorrow or Saturday night, and tell’em the Visitor sent ya.  Peace, love and soul, folks,

The Visitor (and Winston)

UNDERCURRENTS 2012 – Highway 5400: the Fort WeeTube Story

In Undercurrents on February 16, 2012 at 1:48 am

It’s late, and I’m fading fast as I sit down to pound out this, my final Undercurrents 2012 post.  I have my Jamesons and some tater chips to fuel me as I go, so here’s hoping I stay awake for the entire post.  If not, don’t worry, I’m fairly certain it won’t impair the quality in any way.

Anyhoo, tonite was my final night of UnderCurrenting for the year and, sad occasion tho that is, I’m happy to say I went out on a high note.  There was a good crowd around for the evening shows, including my acting coach Barry Karp, glamorous Kate Smith, the amazing Tania Levy, even FALLING OPEN’s Luna Allison herself!  Oh, and my de-lovely date for the evening, Adorkable ™ Nadine Thornhill.

Reunited! Sorry, universe, I win AGAIN.

Me and the other, much more beautiful people headed on in for the first show of the eve, Architect Theatre’s HIGHWAY 63: THE FORT MAC SHOW.   A show that, as far as I can tell, is part verbatim/part original (unless they were positive fucking WIZARDS at getting interviews), and centered around the oil/tar/whatever sands project going on in Alberta.  Interspersed with actual commentary from residents is an ongoing storyline about the relationship between Newfie labourer Chad (Brendan McMurtry-Howlett), Engineer Steve (Jonathan Seinen), and Sands tour guide Mary (Georgina Beaty).  The show addresses the conflict brewing between environmentalists and industry brewing over in them that sands, as well as the enormous impact the project is having on the local populace, for good or ill.

The Architect gang is tight as a hangman’s noose in their transitions and performances, and from the opening, high-octane moments the show is sheer joy to watch.  Their original storyline is scripted with so much natural ease that it took me a LONG time to figure out it wasn’t one of the verbatim parts (unless it was..?), and once again, the performances are extraordinary.  Brendan’s bombastic Chad is dynamite onstage, and a perfect counterpoint to Jon Seinen’s awkward Steve (he also excels as a hyperactive theatre student in a great verbatim moment).  And Georgina Beaty shines as Mary, and in a variety of other roles (her 70+ Grandmother, doing a slow shuffle down the steps as she told us the tale of her life, was just wonderful).  FORT MAC is a beautiful and brilliant show that I’m sorely tempted to come back and try to see again before it’s gone.

A brief break followed, and then it was back for what was actually a repeat performance for me, of the giddily insane WEETUBE 5400 from Theatre Replacement (aka Maiko Bae Yamamoto and James Long).  I caught it last night in volunteer mode, but figgered I’d wait til now to give it the full review. And why not?  Depending on the whim of the crowd, it’s a diff’rent show every time!

Here’s the angle: James and Maiko offer us a variety of spaced-out YouTube clips to watch, everything from a primer on how to massage your cat to the primal musical truths of ‘Big Booty Bitches‘.  Then, with the aid of Ipod technology, the talented pair perform aloud the first few minutes of the comment threads ensuing from each vid…and it turns out, the comment thread on YouTube is a bizarre fantasy-land in which the normal human rules of decorum and sanity do not apply, and in which the concept of a non-sequitur has yet to be invented.

The Replacements go out of their way to make this show as fun as humanly possible for the audience…patrons are encouraged to feel free to duck out and replenish their drinks at the bar, even as James and Maiko themselves ingest impressive quantities of booze themselves during the course of the show.  Cookies and popcorn are not uncommon, as they switch from one dramatic setting to another to try and humanize the utter batshit madness that flies out of people’s keyboards when commenting on, say a video of a baby Panda bear sneezing.  Somehow, even THAT manages to get nasty.  It’s a silly, goofy, LOL time at the theatre, and may even push the word ‘Theatre’ to it’s breaking point, but god damn, do they have a blast doing it.  I can’t pimp this show enough…and you’re fucking right I’d see it again.

What’d I tell ya?  High note.  UNDERCURRENTS, you’re two for two, and I’m already looking forward to next year’s festival.  Let’s make it longer next time, eh?  Maybe 8 shows.  Just a thought.  Just a thought.  Peace, love and soul, Underlings (my new name for Undercurrent attendees),

The Visitor (and Winston)

UNDERCURRENTS 2012 *** Bonus Valentine’s Post ***

In Undercurrents on February 15, 2012 at 1:12 am

Saw a couple of shows at the GCTC tonite, but in a rather relaxing twist, I won’t be reviewing them just now.  Granted, one of them was LIVE FROM THE BELLY OF A WHALE, which I saw and wrote about last week.  And the other was WEETUBE 5400, which premiered at the festival tonite, and while I’ll urge to you to OMG SEE IT IF AT ALL POSSIBLE, I still won’t be writing in depth about it just now.  Because tonite was V-day.  DOUBLE V-day really…not only was it Valentine’s Day, it was also my volunteer shift for the festival.  And while I totally used to do reviews based on my volunteer viewings, I don’t feel that cool doing it anymore.

So why the post?  Because it was Valentine’s Day, obviously!  And even tho it’s darn near 1 in the morning as I write this, I STILL haven’t hit the whiskey.  In fact, I’m calling today the 2nd best Valentine’s EVER for me.  Started off with a trip to the Ottawa Fringe offices to visit the de-lovely Natalie Joy Quesnel, as she went about her business of bringing us that summer theatre festival which, you know, kind of defines my existence these days.  We chatted, I peeked at spoiler info for the upcoming Fringe, it was a time.  Later, after an emergency homemade hamburger steak (I forgot to buy buns), I headed out to the GCTC to do my civic duty and man the front door.  On the way I picked up some cupcakes for the wicked cool gals of the box office (this night including Chantal, Anna, and darlin’ Stefani Joy), because I’d promised them treats in my last post.

Traded up duties over the course of the evening with my volunteer pardner, handing out programs and/or tearing tickets for the illustrious likes of Margo MacDonald, Rich Hemphill, Will LaFrance, Wayne C, even tweedy old Snowdon.  It was a grand night, loved WEETUBE, loved BELLY the second time around, and apparently the gals loved the cupcakes.

So why am I writing this thing?  Not sure…I just had the thought that I should write it.  Valentine’s Day and all…or, according to the more reliable Church of the SubGenius, the day of St.Seka.  And as readers of the blog will know, I am a more or less reluctant bachelor these days.  I’ve been single for about a year and a half now, and am not always happy about that fact.  Most of the cool, single girls I know are either really, really young, or really, really in Toronto, which doesn’t help my bachelor self very much.  And today, oddly enough, I’m kind of okay with that. I’ve got some work to do, here in the scrapyard I call my life, and it’s probably for the best that I’m working alone.  But I’m  having a good time of it just now, just this minute.  Maybe not tomorrow, or next week.  But right now?  I’m a happy Visitor.

So Happy St.Seka’s Day, everyone!  Fuck somebody you love (or masturbate to your fav’rit stimulus)!  And I’ll be back tomorrow night, hopefully, with my final proper UNDERCURRENTS post of 2012.  Peace, love, soul, and a little more love than usual,

The Visitor (and Winston)


Monday Foofarah!

In Just me doing stuff on February 13, 2012 at 9:38 pm

What’s that?  There was no FOOFARAH last week and you’re losing the will to live?  Well, me too, so let’s get things back on track with a double-dose of Foof this week…or at least, until I run out of Jameson’s.  First, tho, I have to remember how I even do these things…wait, I got it…

FIRST AND LAST CHANCE TO SEE:  The UNDERCURRENTS festival plows through it’s second and final week, and while Carmen Aguirre’s BLUE BOX has already wrapped, you still have time to see LIVE FROM THE BELLY OF A WHALE, WEETUBE 5400, HIGHWAY 63: THE FORT MAC SHOW, FALLING OPEN and AND THEN IT HAPPENS.  Naturally, you will see all of them.  Don’t argue!

Over at OLT, TRANSLATIONS opens up for bizness, while PACK OF LIES rounds out it’s run at the Ron Maslin in Kanata.  And on the 22nd, Third Wall’s EMPTY SPACE series continues, this time with readings from Vaclav Havel.  Who as I now understand is NOT, in fact, a hockey player.  Plus the debut of [title of show] on the 16th over at Academic Hall, from Broadway Off-Broadway.  Don’t miss it!

So, apologies for missing last monday’s edition, what can I say? I’m just not getting enough Vitamin D over here.  I guess I could use some more sun…take it away, Stranglers!

Aside from that goodie, I’ll be listening to some new vinyl whilst scratching away at the Foofarah this evening…the WHITE WIRES’ second lp, and a collection of Japanese Psych rock, both courtesy of your friendly neighbourhood Birdman Sound, who you should totally go and buy some wicked tunes from soon.  A bunch of other folks did recently, and it was awesome.  You should be awesome too.  And speaking of Friendly Neighbourhood thingamajigs…

COMIX:  I’m still on my epic old-school comic binge, having just wrapped up the first 50 issues of FANTASTIC FOUR (still only halfway thru Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s legendary run together on the book) and closing in on the first 30 of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN.   It’s easy to see why they grabbed the youth of the day…nothing like their adventures had ever been seen on the racks.  Just finished an issue where Peter Parker’s Aunt May threw away Spidey’s uniform, so he had to buy a cheap knockoff from a costume shop.  It didn’t fit right, and he had to keep using his webbing to make it stay on.  When he got it wet, it started to shrink on him.  Now, I love Superman, and I’m wearing his symbol on my tee-shirt right now, but you bet your sweet Aunt Petunia he never had to deal with bullshit like THAT.  So let’s hear it for classic Marvel, gang, with some help from Joey and my fav’rit rock’n’roll super-team:

AUDITONIZING:  While I’ve been pretty idle actor-wise the last long while, I HAVE booked my first audition of 2012 and I plan to make good on it.  I have to prepare a 1-minute monologue for it, and I’m gonna dig thru my collection over the next few days to try and find a gooder.  I realized recently that I really, really do need to make this happen…I need to get on a stage soon.  I’ve been trying to figure it out, and I think…indulge me for a minute on this, or skip ahead to the next video if you like, I’ll understand.  Basically, I never feel like I’m allowed to speak.  I know, that’s insane and terrible, but that’s how I feel.  Maybe I’M insane and terrible, but I always feel shut out somehow, even when I’m TOTALLY not.  I never phone people because I’m convinced I’ll somehow be bothering them if I do.  I won’t join people in conversation, because I’m sure they’ll hate me for interrupting.  Please don’t try to talk me out of this disposition, it simply will not work.  That’s just the way I’ve warped over the years.

But if you get on a stage, then…then you get to speak.  Then you get to let things OUT, even if they’re not your words.  I think that’s it…or at least part of it.  I want permission to speak.  I want permission to ROAR, dig?  And, God of your choice willing, I want permission to mime.  I’d like that a lot, I think.

And now, as an antidote to how almost-heavy that got, here’s Mojo Nixon:

WRITING:  Hey, there’s a word I used to have more in common with!  I mean, okay, I DO still write a fair amount, non-fiction wise, in the form of this here blog (remember when I used to call it a ‘Chud’?  Where did those carefree days go?)  But I used to write-write ALL the time.  Nothing that can really be called very useful in the traditional sense (cough*fanfiction*coughcough), but goddammit, I would sit down at the ‘pooter for HOURS at a time, smashing away on them keys, getting into good writing grooves, brainstorming, improving, fucking DOING IT.  And I have no ding-dang idea where all that went.  I have this theory that I’ve let myself get distracted by too much nonsense (foofarah?), and that what I really have to do is just sequester myself at regular intervals and, at possible pain of disfigurement, get the job done.  I need pressure, I need motivation, I need a deadline.  I need to create stuff again, or I AM dead.  More to come.

Serious again. Dance break!

Running out of shit to say…got my first ever UNDERCURRENTS volunteer shift tomorrow nite, which I’m stoked about.  People keep treating me like media these days?  Which is cool and all, and it actually gets me free tickets to stuff…but on the downside, it gets me FREE TICKETS TO STUFF.  Which means I’m not PAYING for those tickets, which means I’m not contributing in a real, concrete way to my supposedly beloved theatre, and am stepping close to that abyss of ‘critic’ that I am loathe to go down.  So it really makes me feel good to do something like spend a night working the front of house or whatever…so I know I’m not a total parasite.  Plus which, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and I can’t think of a better way to spend it than at the theatre (and I’m totally bringing Valentine’s treats for the gals in the box office).  Because drinking whiskey alone in a corner is, quite frankly, getting cliched.

Not that I’m above cliche…just rereading some of my fanfiction and, oy vey, do I dig on the melodrama!  Watch out, Buffybot!  Plot devices at 6 o’clock!

Ahem.  Sorry, almost gave away the secret identity there.  That’s all for the Foofarah this week, folks, here’s some distracting music to play you out (did I yammer enough this week?  And more importantly, did I catch the Prettiest Hobo’s bus home from school?)…this tune is from the amazing Wim Wenders non-fiction flick PINA, which I don’t seem able to shut the fuck up about.  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

UNDERCURRENTS 2012 – And Then it Falls Open

In Undercurrents on February 12, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Whee!  Day Two of Undercurrents already!  Okay, okay, it’s, like, day six as I write this, but I’ve only been twice, so shaddup.  I’d already seen BLUE BOX and LIVE FROM  THE BELLY OF A WHALE in a previous post I’m too lazy and shiftless to link to just now, so you might have to take my word on that.  But this Saturday, following a harrowing Brunch shift at work and a lovely dinner with the prettiest Hobo I’ve ever encountered, it was back to the studio at the GCTC for some more Theatre festival goodness.

I said Prettiest, not Littlest.

First up was a show actually begun at LAST year’s festival, when a group of enterprising theatre scamps known collectively as 2 Little Birds set up shop in the lobby and engaged fest-goers in interviews, creative workshops and interviews.  It was called, simply, The Lab.  Over the course of two weeks, they gathered information from patrons about what they wanted to see in a play, or a show, what they did NOT want to see, , what moved them, and so on and so forth.  One year later, the Labbies have returned with the results of their endeavour, AND THEN IT HAPPENED.

Consisting of Kiersten Hanly, Laura Astwood, Guy Marsan and director Sarah Conn, AND THEN… is a curious and likeable show with a somewhat chaotic feel at times, but then, it is literally experimental theatre..and as they tell us up front, the experiment may in fact have failed.    In their attempts to follow through on the data gathered and give the audience ‘what it wants’, a quite lovable mix of scenes and setups followed  My fav’rits bits were Guy Marsan dancing like a raccoon, and Kiersten and Sarah recreating an arts interview on a pair of little girls.  The show shifts tone rather dramatically at one point, and the performers challenge themselves to bare themselves (not physically, come on now) to the audience, with mixed but engaging results…Laura Astwood’s physical performance, as well as the story she tells, are rivetting from the first moment.  If this sounds like I’m having trouble describing the show, well…I am, and I’m just fine with that.  The gang is all over the map with this one, and while they admit you probably won’t like everything in this show, I can very strongly guess that you WILL like a lot in it…I did.  But don’t believe me, check it out for yourself.

After a quick stop at the pub, it was right back into the studio for a returning Fringe show, one of the most buzz-worthy shows of 2011 (note: that was the first, and I hope the last, time I use the word ‘buzz-worthy’ in these pages.  Thank you.), Luna Allison’s FALLING OPEN.  Directed by Lib Spry, this show originally took place in Luna’s own bedroom, which took the theatrical concept of intimacy to almost ridiculous lengths.  It’s been adapted somewhat in staging to accommodate a larger space, which happily gives this amazing show a chance at a much-deserved wider audience.

The show features Luna, a shockingly engaging performer as three separate characters in what could have been a dreadfully heavy, gloomy affair in any other hands.  A story about the sexual abuse of a young girl and the fallout on said girl’s life, Luna gives daringly sympathetic portrayals of both the girl AND her abuser, while weaving both tales together as a life-sized living doll, our narrator for the tragic events.  Luna’s background as a spoken-word poet are on display with her easy wordplay and delivery, and she draws the audience in  with easy confidence throughout.  Video images supplied by artist Nathan Hoo flesh out the twisted family portrait feel of the show, which has lost none of its potency in the move to bigger digs.  A shocking show, and I know the subject matter will turn some folks away, but I wish it wouldn’t.  Be brave, folks, you’ll be glad you did.

That’s it for me and this inexcusably late post…Gotta rest up for some extra-strength FOOFARAH! tomorrow, and then back for my final UNDERCURRENTS POST in a few days.  Thanks for reading, gang, and I’ll see you in the studio.  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

UNDERCURRENTS 2012 – Blue from the Belly of a Box

In Undercurrents on February 10, 2012 at 12:38 am

There’s still, like, more than four whole stoopid months until FRINGE, did you know that?  Depressing, right?  It just all seems so hopelessly far away…even that new Spider-Man trailer is no help.  The Lizard isn’t even wearing his god-damned lab coat!  That’s what makes him THE Lizard, instead of just A Lizard!  Oh, woe!  *sigh* Well, there’s nothing for it, I suppose.  I’ll just run a nice warm bath, start sharpening that blade Grandma left me in her will, put on a little Smiths…

But wait!  What’s this?  A bright light in the midst of the winter blahs, in the form of Ottawa’s own February mini-Fringe, the UNDERCURRENTS festival at the GCTC!  All is saved! Untie that noose, theatre fan, I think we’ve found ourselves a reason to carry on! (Note: this is a bit of hyperbole on my part…as I may have mentioned in another post, there are in fact one or two other shows on the go these days here in the Capital these days)

The festival, now entering it’s second year, launched a couple of days ago.  All I managed on that occasion was to crash the post-show party…which was SO worth it because I got to fulfill a longstanding theatre fanboy dream when I actually MET Brigette dePape!  SHE RULES WITH IRON STIX  Brigette dePape!!  Seriously , I was sitting a couch, TALKING with Brigette dePape AND Emily Pearlman, and I’m gonna get all overexcited if I keep talking about it, but OHMIGOD IT WAS SO COOL YOU GUYS!!!

All this AND she made an ass of Stephen Harper.

Ahem.  Back to the festival, and to tonite, when I finally got my chance to catch my first two of the six shows being spotlighted in this years lineup.  Arrived early to have a bite to eat, catch up on some comix, and chat a spell with the purtiest box office staffers in the whole wide world (yes, I’m sucking up to my volunteer bosses, and proudly).  Then it was upstairs to the studio for my first show of the night Carmen Aguirre’s BLUE BOX.  I wasn’t too familiar with Carmen myself, but apparently she won some kind of reading award recently?  That sounded kinda cool, so I headed on in, and was greeted by my kinda set…a stool.  Cool, so no frills on this production, ya know I can get into that.  Although even I was taken aback when Carmen finally took the stage…no waiting for blackout, she just strode wright on up, ignoring said stool and standing intimidatingly close to the audience.  Seriously, she was practically sitting in the front row (where I happened to be, comPLETEly out of character for me)..and that actually set a lot of the tone for her show.  From her first words, telling us the true, secret name of the show, Carmen laid every aspect of her story bare before us, for the audience to either accept and embrace, or simply get the fuck out of the way, because this is NOT a woman to be ignored.

Her story was actually several, from her past as a revolutionary in Chile, to a more recent encounter with her literal dream man, often splicing between one timeline and the other with little warning.  You had to think fast to keep up, but Carmen’s melodic, poetic wordplay made it a treat to do just that.  Director Brian Quirt kept the theatrics to a minimum, and with a secret weapon like Carmen Aguirre on stage, you really don’t need many tricks.  And yes, folks, there’s even some salsa dancing in this sexy, smart show about life, love, loss, and the difficulty of getting laid in Canada, so wear your dancing shoes.  Only two more times to catch this raw performance at the festival!

A quick break followed, did some star-spotting in the lobby (Koensgen, Rainville, Duckworth…some powerhouses in the audience tonight!), and then it was right back inside for part two of the Undercurrent evening, this one directed by Festival organizer and Fringe ninja Pat Gauthier himself.  The latest from MiCasa theatre, big local fav’rits around town, I can tell ya, LIVE FROM THE BELLY OF A WHALE ran during the last Fringe as a ‘workshop show’, which is theatre-speak for ‘we aren’t quite done yet’.  It didn’t matter, because Emily Pearlman and Nick DiGaetano, the Dynamic Duo of MiCasa, would be enthralling even if you were just watching them enjoy a spirited evening of Parcheesi.  But Parcheesi just doesn’t cut it for Nick and Emily, so they went back to the drawing board and came up with this, the final incarnation of WHALE, and a whale of a tale it is (…sorry about that).

Joined onstage by musical accompanist Ann Walton, the play tells the story of a Brother and Sister (plus a mystical third ‘sibling’), staged around a creaking, multipurpose armoire that is so beautifully magickal it almost deserves a listing in the credits (I’ll settle for it’s designer, joltin’ John Doucet).  Starting in their early years, bonding through games of Taxonomy and pirates, until the Brother falls under the spell of the Moon, while Sister prefers to remain earthbound, naming the species of whale and telling tall tales.  Told with song, dance, mime, imaginative lighting from Guillaume Houet, and whatever other tricks the gang could pull out of their tickle-trunk of a set, it was a warm, outlandish mythic story as told by brilliant children.  Emily, I gotta say, was positively radiant on stage, and Nick stalked, howled and jumped in perfect clowning form.  My only quibble was sonic, as Walton’s accompaniment was occasionally so loud as to drown out song lyrics or other goings on…an easily correctable trouble.  Grand theatre magic, and a perfect counterpoint to the stripped-down realism of BLUE BOX.

A great start to my 2012 Undercurrenting, I conclude.  And I’ll be back in two days time for more (and maybe I’ll have time to see something else in between).  Peace, love and soul, Undercurrenters,

The Visitor (and Winston)