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Archive for October, 2013|Monthly archive page

Don’t Mess With Princess T

In Theatre on October 30, 2013 at 8:34 am

Trying to squeeze in a few minutes before school today to jot down some thoughts on the show I caught last night.  While the rest of my school chums from OTS were off catching Andy Jones and gang in TARTUFFE, I found myself heading back to good old Academic Hall, for the first show of the season from the Ottawa University Drama Guild.  Their latest is PRINCESS T, an adaptation of Puccini’s classic opera TURANDOT by Daniela Fischerova, translated by Ivana Jlovcov-Fieldov.    Director Helene Ducharme put together a seriously impressive piece of theatre for the kids to play around in, right off the bat immersing the audience in a bit of meta-theatre (hint: you won’t be going in by the front door).

The story follows the Emporor of China (Paul J.Piekoszewski) and his quest to marry off his fierce daughter Turandot (Danielle Savoie, acting through the help of a lovely doll subbing in as the Princess), who has already had her last 12 suitors beheaded, just because.  Along comes a smoldering stranger (Aaron Williams), who answers the Emporor’s call for new suitors and asks for the Princess’ hand.  He answers her 3 riddles successfully (thanks to some training from his former master Barach, Aidan Parchelo), but she still isn’t satisfied.  With a little help and hindrance from her aides (Meaghan Flaherty and Alexandra Isenor), the Princess has until morning to guess the strangers’ name and get out of marrying him once and for all.  That is, if she still wants to.

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Ably assisted by some great sound, and wonderful shadow puppetry throughout, PRINCESS T is a darn fun night at the Hall.  The staging and setwork is gorgeous, and Savoie and her doll counterpart are smashing as the hard-to-please title character (LOVED her knock-down shouting match/power struggle with her Dad…so very cool).  Props also to great work from the chorus of clowns/guards, and Andrea Connell as Barach’s wife. This is a solid, well-executed and engaging bit of theatre, designed to ensnare more than a few senses and succeeding pretty well throughout.  Good on the Ottawa U gang for what must have been a ton of work getting ready, and I’d say more but I’m about to be late for school myself!  So get on out to Academic Hall this week while you have the chance, and see what you think.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Fresh Meat 2013 Preview – Part 2!

In Theatre on October 23, 2013 at 8:27 am

Well, Week one of the second edition of the FRESH MEAT FESTIVAL in Ottawa is over, and kick me like a yappy poodle but it was a good damn time.  Where to start?  I was there on Thursday and Saturday, and got to see: two mighty hilarious sets from hosting heroes GRIMPROV; Whimsimole making a solid, funny theatrical debut with TEMP (featuring Nick Wade himself, hurrah!); the ladies of Little Green Hat making potato sacks look good in the haunting WHO WILL SEPARATE US?; Mado Boyes-Manseau being freaking amazing in her one woman drama TO HELL IN A HANDBASKET; Tony and Jake getting too close for comfort in Rapscallion Diversion’s MANIMALES; Nick Amott having too much fun with lighting effects in WAKE; and Thunk! Theatre being just all beautiful and wonderful in FAR & NEAR & HERE.  All this plus booze, friends, and all the ambient sound you can handle!  What more could you ask for?  A whole other weekend of that, perhaps?  You got it.  Here’s what to look forward to in the second spectacular week of the little theatre festival that just doesn’t give a fuck:

Tim, Kristine and Brooke of TWO AND A HALF WOMEN.

Tim, Kristine and Brooke of TWO AND A HALF WOMEN.

Hosting duties for part two fall, almost appropriately enough, to TWO AND A HALF WOMEN, a mighty improv trio consisting of Kristine Shadid, Brooke Cameron and Tim Anderson.  Formed in 2012 as part of Crush’s ‘Bout Time series, they quickly became one of the winningest and most beloved teams ever to make merry at the Elmdale Tavern.  Trust me, it will be VERY good to see them back together.

Tony Adams and Cory Thibert of MAY CAN THEATRE.

Tony Adams and Cory Thibert of MAY CAN THEATRE.

And the shows proper get underway as well, with Ottawa faves MAY CAN THEATRE, who most recently killed it at Fringe with their latest full lengther, HAPPINESS(tm), as well as a certain collaboration with BackPack Theatre (see below).  Now Cory and Tony are back at Fresh Meat with MOTION PASSED, their first ever collaboration with director Tania Levy.  Tania is all kinds of fantastic so this is more good news, folks, and I expect greatness from their tale of the Beautification and Improvement team of Sandy Hill.

The B Team. bitches.

The B Team. bitches.

Then there’s the company that Fresh Meat founder Jonah Allingham built, BACKPACK THEATRE.  After solo shows at the Fringe and original FM fest, Backpack and May Can teamed up for THE TRAGICALL HISTORIE OF NICK WADE (AND OTHER FUCK UPS) last summer, scoring the Future of the Fringe award (and yes, I may or may not have been in that show as well).  Backpack’s latest is THE B TEAM, an action-figure adventure about the unstoppable Bean Brothers, featuring Jonah, Nick Fournier, and Leslie Cserepy.

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New to the Festival, but old hats at killer storytelling, OBVIOUSLY A THEATRE COMPANY are jumping in the Fresh Meat arena with their offering UNTITLED, UNPUBLISHED AND UNSETTLED, featuring three poetic performances by Fraser MacKinnon, Jean Nicolas Masson and Elizabeth McIelwain, for something a little off the usual path.

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One last original Fresh Meat Team, DEAD UNICORN INK are returning, hot off the remount of their Fringe hit CHESTERFIELD with their new show SCARS, written by Sylvie Recoskie, and featuring herself along with Ted and Patrice-Ann Forbes, and directed by Aaron Lajeunesse.  The story of what promises to be a terrifically uncomfortable morning after, DUI has a history of delivering some pretty cool goods, and this should be no exception.

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A welcome addition to the festival lineup this year is EGODETH, aka Norah Paton (who you may remember as director of the Fringe fav’rit AROUND MISS JULIE this past summer) and Kara Crabb, who are teaming up to bring us FORSAKEN DAUGHTERS OF WINTER, a story about ‘one woman’s journey through cultural carnage at the forefront of a new scientific era’.  Which, quite frankly, sounds like exactly my cuppa tea.  Can’t wait.

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And finally, another new company tp Fresh Meat (and even more Ottawa Theatre School power, yay!) Caitlin Corbett’s HERE BE DRAGONS returns from her Fringe debut MORNING STAR with a whole new ensemble piece, FOUNDATIONS.  A story about the forgotten ghosts of the Rideau Canal, and featuring smooth Tim Oberholzer Nick Surges, and OTS alums Hannah Gibson-Fraser and Mitchel Rose, this is definitely one to look forward to.

The Festival runs for three remaining days, and costs 15$ a night or 25$ for the whole weekend.  If you already bought the full festival pass LAST weekend, then just come on in!  Here’s the lineup for each day (tho as before, the specific running order won’t be decided until the evening of the performances):

Thursday the 24th: Backpack, Here be Dragons, Egodeth, Obviously a Theatre Company.

Friday the 25th: Backpack, May Can, Dead unicorn Ink, Obviously a Theatre Company.

Saturday the 26th: May Can, Egodeth, Dead Unicorn Ink, Here be Dragons.

I promise, folks, you don’t want to miss a minute of this festival, even with the crumby bands occasionally bleeding through from below.  It just adds to the DIY fun!  Grounds up, hands on Theatre like this doesn’t happen every day, but thanks to enterprising and energetic little upstarts like the Fresh Meat gang, we’re getting closer all the time.  Come on and support them, like you know you want to.  See you there!  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Moliere on the Rocks

In Theatre on October 20, 2013 at 4:55 pm

You know who’s a wise, funny fella? Moliere, that’s who.  I got my first face full of him a ways back with an Ottawa u production of Mamamouchi (aka le Bourgeois Gentilhomme), which inspired me to read a few of the man’s play’s, and even though they were translations they still kicked some serious ass.  The news that the NAC English Theatre season would kick off not only with Moliere, but Newfie Moliere, was almost too glorious an announcement to bear.  It was a long wait to the premiere of the new season, but it was totally worth the wait.

Programmed AND directed by Easterner and new NAC AD Jillian Keiley, Moliere’s classic TARTUFFE came to impressive life, updated and transplanted by legend and CODCO alum Andy Jones to 1930s Newfoundland (or somewhere very much like it), and stars himself ass the titular Holy Man who sets the byzantine plotlines off and running. Aided by the terribly impressive NAC ensemble players, we’re introduced to war veteran and town patriarch Orgon (Joey Tremblay, a veteran of plenty of recent NAC shows such as METAMORPHOSES and ST.CARMEN OF THE MAIN), who has succumbed to Tartuffe’s born-again charms and invited the preacher to live in his home.  Orgon’s family is less enthralled, from mouthy maid Dorine (Petrina Bromley), to Orgon’s wife Elmire (Christine Brubaker) and children Damis and Marianne (Eric Davis and Leah Doz).  Everyone but Orgon seems to suspect Tartuffe of being nothing but a slick mouthed shyster and, spoiler alert, they’re all 100% right.  But even after Tartuffe puts some lame but enthusiastic moves on Elmire, he still manages to smooth talk Orgon into promising him his daughters hand in marriage, thus screwing up her already impending nuptials with her true love Valere, played by David Coomber).  Used car salesmen WISH they had that kind of schmooze.

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The goings on are joined by Elmire’s level-headed brother Cleante (Dmitry Chepovetsky), Orgon’s iron-willed Mom Mme Pernelle (Quancetia Hamilton) and her comically devoted maid Flipote (Eliza-Jane Scott), and Sheldon Elter as both an unwelcome Bailiff and a straight-shooting Ranger.  The collective cast has so many great moments its impossible to single much out…I will say that my love of scene-stealing servants was well rewarded in this show, and echo my galpal Rebecca’s rejoinder that Marianne and Valere’s breakup/makeup scene is goddamn side-splittingly wonderful.  The laughs in this production could power the NAC for a solid year, if they ever feel like going off the grid.

On the technical side, the set by Patrick Clark is SO MUCH NICER than where I live right now I wanna throw up. Seriously, it’s fucking gorgeous.  And shoutouts to my Ottawa Theatre School profs Doreen Taylor-Claxton and Andy Massingham (suckup alert) for behind the scenes work on music and movement.  I’m happy to see that stair moment Andy had mentioned went off so splendidly. This whole production is just an absolute frikkin’ delight from beginning to end, Moliere’s sharp skewering of religious hypocrisy still shining through and ringing as viciously true as ever.  And to be clear, this play has no problem with God…it’s the clergy who take the brunt of the jibes, Andy Jones’ Tartuffe in particular.  And Mr. Jones can take a jibe like the master he is…you should probably check it out for yourself.  For reals.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Victoriana Gone Wild

In Theatre on October 18, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Everyone knows that Fringe is the best time of year, and just generally the best thing ever.  So it was quite a delight to my fanboy ears to hear a show that has a solid Fringe touring track record was making its way onto the current Gladstone Theatre schedule.  Coming courtesy of Black Sheep Theatre and director Dave Dawson, SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE CASE OF THE HANSOM CAB KILLER is an hour and a half Victorian mystery-farce starring Chris Bange, Brian Kuwabara and Emily Windler as a plethora of characters, often in dizzyingly rapid succession.  I knew Chris Bange from previous Fringe shows like HOUDINI’S LAST ESCAPE and THE FAT GUY SHOW, and was pretty stoked to see what he had up his sleeve this time around.

Taking on the role of the Great Detective himself (among others), Bange and trusty assistant Doctor Watson (Kuwabara) meet the odd, awkwardly gloved Doctor Meriweather (Windler), who introduces them to the titular mystery of the disappearing Hansom Cab, via a pretty amusing shadow puppet gimmick that gets good use throughout the show. Holmes races off to solve the case…as does his housekeeper Mrs.Hudson (Windler again), who turns out to be the secret brains behind the Sherlock brand.  With her own assistant Winnifred (Kuwabara), they track the various clues, miscreants, and random trips to the pub until the criminal mastermind is finally uncovered.  Or is he..?

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HOLMES is a pretty madcap romp indeed, almost intentionally shambotic in presentation as multiple quick-changes into outstanding wigs and preposterous moustaches interlace with a heroic volume of sex gags and, more often than not, even more sex gags.  Yes, this show is pretty indulgently juvenile at times, but luckily it’s being performed by three proper goddamn clowns who know a thing or two about making fools of themselves in the best possible way.  It’s almost at its most amusing when something goes wrong, and you get to sit back and watch how the gang is going to improv a solution with consistently hilarious results. Writer Bange makes a great, if somewhat less than inspiring Holmes, as well as multiple iterations of the same eerie servant.  Kuwabara has a blast as the loudmouthed Winnifred, stealing scenes with obvious delight.  And Emily Windler is just marvellous as the keen Mrs.Hudson, not to mention the gloriously nefarious Professor M.  This is lighthearted and goofy fun all around and I had a silly good time indeed.  If you’re in the mood for a smile (or if Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller are just a little too serious for your Sherlockian tastes), this bloody charming show is well worth a trip as it runs until the 26th.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Fresh Meat 2013 – Preview part 1!

In Theatre on October 16, 2013 at 6:08 pm

Last year this town got a much needed infusion of cool when theatrical whippersnapper and Ottawa Theatre School alum Jonah Allingham inaugurated the first ever FRESH MEAT FESTIVAL in Ottawa, a micro-Fringe spotlighting a handful of local young theatre companies over a weekend at the Pressed Cafe.  Each group premiered an original short creation in a funky, intimate atmosphere…the bar was open, the mood was playful, and Ottawa’s theatre community was raring to go.  This year it’s back, more than doubling in size and scope and moving to new digs at the Lunenburg Pub.  All the original companies are back, and being joined by a swell gaggle of new blood, necessitating a whole extra weekend to squeeze everything in.  Which is fantastic, because Ottawa’s young theatre community is clearly just bursting at the seams with new stories to tell, and Jonah and crew deserve huge kudos for creating a place for them to tell them. Let’s take a look at what’s happening for week one, because yay!

GRIMProv, contemplating the consequences of their actions.

GRIMProv, contemplating the consequences of their actions.

Local improv scamps and Fresh Meat originals GRIMPROV will be hosting the opening weekend from the 17th to 19th, and if memory serves from their performance last year, you may want to bring an umbrella.  They’ll be presiding over the debuts of six new pieces of theatre, which you can catch for $15 a night,$25 for the weekend, or $40 for the whole festival.  And which shows, you ask?

Well, first up there’s returning company RAPSCALLION DIVERSION, aka Jake William Smith, who debuted last year with the solo HENCHMAN’S SURVIVAL GUIDE.  With his latest, MANIMALES, Jake teams up with local hero Tony Adams of May Can theatre (more on them next week) to bring us a tale of bromance and discovery in the great outdoors.

Jake William Smith and Tony Adams in MANIMALES.

Jake William Smith and Tony Adams in MANIMALES.

Also returning is the wonderful LITTLE GREEN HAT, a hat worn very well by company founder Tess McManus.  Miss Tess, understanding how awwesome my new alma mater at the Ottawa Theatre School really is, has drafted a couple of powerhouse OTS ladygrads to up the girl power of her latest, WHO WILL SEPARATE US?  featuring McManus herself, Victoria Luloff and Holly Griffith as three women locked in a Belfast prison (and before you start flashing back to your favourite Women in Prison movie moments, I suspect they have something a little different up their sleeves for this one).  That’s talent aplenty, folks, and the writeup promises a cool blend of music, movement, politics and drama.

Victoria, Holly and Tess in WHO WILL SEPARATE US?

Victoria, Holly and Tess in WHO WILL SEPARATE US?

The rest of opening weekend is comprised of all newcomer companies to Fresh Meat, starting one completely new company, WHIMSIMOLE from Emily Soussana and Lewis Caunter.  I know and luv Lewis the sound guy from my Fringe experience this past June and cannot wait for his company’s inaugural offering, TEMP.  After getting their feet wet at Lumiere festival and Nuit Blanch, Whimsimole is ready for their first helping of Fresh Meat, and it should be good stuff indeed.

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Up next (and holy shit, are you guys in for a treat), the amazing Madeleine Boyes-Manseau is up to bat with her new solo creation TO HELL IN A HANDBASKET.  One of the most talented gals in town, and with the awards to prove it , Mado never disappoints and her latest looks like it’s gonna be fantastic.  Featuring curious items in jars and described as a play about ‘Old people’s skin, curious moral codes and (ultimately) hope’.  I fail to see what more you could ask for.

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And god damn, fresh off THE FIGHT at Fringe, and mere weeks before the remount of their very first show MERCUTIO AND OPHELIA at the Avalon, Nick Amott’s FIREFLOOD steps into the Fresh Meat fray with WAKE, the solo story of an insomniac who believes himself to be the next stage of human evolution.   Continuing Fireflood’s mandate of epic storylines and intimate characters, Founder Amott himself takes to the stage for this, the first solo piece for the company.

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Last but you better believe not least,, THUNK! theatre returns to Ottawa audiences after a very special experience baking BREAD at the Undercurrents Festival in February.  Geoff McBride and Karen Balcome are both back with their new bit FAR & NEAR & HERE, presenting the story of Ted and Ned and how they manage to meet in the middle of the ocean, bridging the gap from their homes in Far, and Near.  Expect some magic from Thunk!, kids, and you probably won’t be disappointed.

Karen Balcome and Geoff McBride of THUNK!

Karen Balcome and Geoff McBride of THUNK!

So much good stuff!!  Honestly folks, if you’re not coming out for this you need to seriously ask yourself if humanity really even needs you around. Here’s the night-by-night lineup for opening weekend, with GRIMProv hosting all three nights:

Thursday the 17th: Rapscallion Diversion, Madeleine Boyes-Manseau, Whimsimole and Little Green Hat.

Friday the 18th: Little Green Hat, Whimsimole, Thunk and Fieflood.

Saturday the 19th: Rapscallion Diversion, Thunk, Madeleine Boyes-Manseau and Fireflood.

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Note that the order of shows for each night will be drawn by lot that evening and NOT posted online, so expect some variation from the lists I just wrote.  Doors open at 6:30 and shows start at 7 every night, and yes, the bar is OPEN.  I’ll be back with a preview of Week 2 in, well, about a week, featuring more all-new shows from May Can, Egodeth, Dead unicorn Ink, Backpack, Here be Dragons, Obviously a Theatre Company and 2 ½ Women! And in the meantime, dig into some delicious Fresh Meat.  Even if you’re a vegetarian (don’t worry, it’s only metaphorical meat).  See you there!  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Coming Up in October 2013

In Theatre on October 4, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Hey, the coming up post doesn’t involve that much work, I can still manage THAT!  A few days late, sure but who’s counting?  Here’s the lowdown for October:

PRIVATE LIVES at the Gladstone Theatre, from Plosive Productions.  Noel Coward continues his rampage of mannered destruction, at least until the 12th.

A LIFE IN THE DAY at the Cumberland Heritage Museum, from Vintage Stock Players. Some outdoorsy theatre in Cumberland, with complimentary Apple Cider!  The 4th and 5th!

AND SO TO BED at the Centrepointe Studio, from Restoration Players, Goya Theatre and Suzart. A restoration musical, and why not? From the 9th to the 12th.

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THE WEIR at Richcraft Theatre (Shenkman) , from Tara Players.  A welcome spot of Conor McPherson for your Octobeer.  From the 10th to the 12th.

SPARKS at the Avalon Studio, from New Ottawa Repertory Theatre.  The inaugural show at the new Avalon space in the Glebe, which is reason enough to go right there!  From the 11th to 20th.

YOU FANCY YOURSELF at the Great Canadian Theatre Company.  Maja Ardal couldn’t be stopped a second time, and is back with her previously scheduled one-woman show, starting on the 15th.

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DEADLY MURDER at the Ottawa Little Theatre.  Some Deathtrap-esque mystery as the 101st season continues!  From the 15th to Nov 2nd.

FREUD’S LAST SESSION at Various locations, from 9th Hour Theatre.  Freud vs. CS Lewis!  Check the 9th hour showlist for places and dates, ass it continues it’s marathon tour!

TARTUFFE at the NAC Theatre.  Moliere goes Newfie in this adaptation from Andy Jones and the NAC Players!  From the 15th to Nov 2nd.

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SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE CASE OF THE HANSOM CAB KILLER at the Gladstone Theatre, from Black Sheep Theatre.  Chris Bange’s Fringe hit comes to Ottawa for two weeks, playing from the 16th to 26th.

THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE at Arts Court Theatre, from Opera Lyra.  A little G&S to liven up your Fall!  the 19th and 20th.

TOLSTOY’S TREASURES at St. James United Church in the Glebe , from Third Wall.  Kristina Watt, Mary Ellis and James richardson do some dramatic readings of Tolstoy’s short works, part of their ongoing EMPTY SPACE series.  On the 23rd!

MERCUTIO AND OPHELIA at the Avalon Studio, from Fireflood Theatre.  Another Fringe winner featuring a Shakespearean fanfic mashup you’ll want to see, now with 100% more Holly Griffith.  From the 25th to 27th and Nov 1st to 3rd.

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LLOYD GEORGE KNEW MY FATHER at the Elmwood Theatre, from Linden House.  A bittersweet comedy from the Linden House mob, playing the 22nd to 26th, and 31st to Nov 2nd.

PRINCESS T at Academic Hall, from the Ottawa U Drama Guild.  A particular Princess indeed picks a husband.  Hijinks ensue!  From the 29th to Nov 2nd.

THE WAR OF THE WORLDS at the Gladstone Theatre, from Plosive Productions.  The radio play takes a turn towards Halloween, with some Welles on Wells action. Plays the 30th to Nov 2nd.

THE EXTREMELY SHORT NEW PLAY FESTIVAL at Arts Court Theatre, from New Theatre Ottawa.  The mini-festival within an evening returns for a second incarnation, with  a cascade of short original plays from local authours for your edification.  Preview on the 30th, regular run from the 31st to November 10th.

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          CANADIAN COMEDY AWARDS

I’m a little too late with some of this stuff, going on as I write this, but there’s still time for lots of great national comedy, happening at Arts Court, Centrepointe, and wherever.  Check the website for deets, and I’ll see you at great shows like THRONE OF GAMES and OF MICE AND MORRO AND JASP!

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         FRESH MEAT FESTIVAL

Yay, it’s back and bigger than ever!  Playing for two weekends over the 17th to 19th, and the 24th to 26th, the little festival that doesn’t give a fuck is taking over the Lunenburg Pub to bring you the best ad brightest of Ottawa Youth theatre!  Hosted by GRIMPROV and 2 ½ WOMEN, and featuring debut shows like WHO WILL SEPARATE US?, MANIMALES, TO HELL IN A HANDBASKET, FAR & NEAR & HERE, WAKE, TEMP, MOTION PASSED, THE B-TEAM, FOUNDATIONS, FORSAKEN DAUGHTERS OF WINTER, SCARS and UNTITLED, UNPUBLISHED AND UNSETTLED from a who’s who of local talent (including May Can Theatre, Little Green Hat, Dead Unicorn Ink and so many more).  Who exactly is doing which show and when? Stay tuned for a big preview post about the festival in the weeks to come, telling you all (I hope…I’ve been awfully blog-lazy these days).

          THEATRE FRANCAIS

LE CHATTE ET LE HIBOU from Theatre de L’Ile, until the 12th.

L’IVRESSE DES PROFONDEURS at l’Ecole de la Salle, from Theatre la Catapulte.  The 19th only!

POMME at the NAC Studio, from Isabelle Payant and Patrick Conan.  The 26th and 27th.

VISAGE DE FEU at the Nac Studio, the 30th to Nov 2nd.  Directed by Joel Beddows!

Plus, Crush Improv will be having their regular ‘BOUT TIME event at Mother McGintey’s on the 7th, plus their post-PRIVATE LIVES show at the Gladstone on the 11th.  And their debut cage match style CAPITAL CRUSH hits Centrepointe Studio on the 25th! Plus on the 28th they’ll be back at the Heart and Crown for the MATTHEW THE BRAVE benefit show, a fundraiser for a tough little kid with some serious medical woes, so it’s a pretty good excuse to get your improv laff on.  Probably more stuff too, but I’m almost out of coffee so it will have to wait!  See you soon, Ottawa.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)