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Archive for January, 2014|Monthly archive page

A Life of Convenience

In Theatre on January 28, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Two days, two shows at the NAC…don’t I feel like a pampered little prince over here?  One of them especially was a little out of my usual pay grade, National Theatre of Great Britain’s celebrated WAR HORSE, part of the NAC Broadway series.  I don’t get invites to big stuff like that, but luckily I managed to trick my Mom into buying tickets for it, because there’s a horse in it and Moms like horses.  All I’ll say about that particular spectacle is IT’S WAR HORSE.  Pretty incredible, and it makes my mind boggle at the things theatre can do.  Also, the goose totally stole the show.

I was back again the following day, however, on my more regular theatrical beat, checking out the latest from the NAC English Theatre series, this time Soulpepper’s much-lauded KIM’S CONVENIENCE by Ins Choi.  With the stellar company of the lady miss Bobby Robert, and some of the best damn seats I ever did score at the NAC, we headed on in to see what all the fuss was about.  After its initial creation at the fu-GEN theatre company, and later sold-out full length debut at the Toronto Fringe Festival, KC has been a hit all over, and reportedly now in development as both TV series and movie.  You’d think it was pretty good or something.  Time for me to find out!

The show is set entirely in the titular convenience store (a gorgeously real set from designer Ken MacKenzie that looks like you could walk in and stock up on Lay’s right there in the theatre), owned and run by the uncompromising Mr.Kim (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee).  Mr.Kim is a Korean immigrant who started up his small Toronto convenience store with his wife Umma (Jean Yoon) upon arriving in Canada, with dreams of passing it on to his children Janet (Grace Lynn Kung) and Jung (Ins Choi).  But things don’t always work out as planned…Jung left home in a fit of teenage pique years ago and has hardly been heard from since, and Janet, now pursuing photography, has little interest in Dad’s store.  This leaves Appa working day and night behind the counter, indulging in his hobby of despising the Japanese and wondering whether or not he should take that rich investor’s bid on the store or not.

KC

A beautifully simple story that is uniquely Canadian AND Korean (who hasn’t been in this very same convenience store at some point?), KIM’S CONVENIENCE tells a hilariously honest story of family that is, just like the hype suggests, straight up impossible to resist.  The cast led by Paul Lee’s imperious Appa, is a joy to behold as the fractured family in question (and rounded out by the excellent Andre Sills as a local policeman, among other roles).  Jean Yoon’s quietly faithful and fretting Mother exudes sympathy, and Grace Kung’s feisty Janet is painfully funny as she grapples with her Father’s utter lack of sensitivity to her dreams.  There are more laughs in this show that in the average full season of any sitcom you care to name.  And when the emotional kicker comes to bear in the final act, and we learn just what Mr.Kim’s story is really all about, it’ll leave your eyes watery and your heart soaring.  This is an intimate piece of theatre that’s as big as any Broadway show you’ll ever see, in all the best ways.

And fun news!  If you’re still in the mood for even more of playwright and actor Ins Choi’s work, he’ll be performing his spoken word show SUBWAY STATIONS OF THE CROSS one night only, on February Sunday the 2nd at St.Alban’s church right here in town.  I think I’ll be in rehearsal (I’ll tell you all about it one of these days), but you all should definitely check it out.  And for sure see KIM’S CONVENIENCE, as good as theatre gets.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Tsum

In Theatre on January 24, 2014 at 11:08 am

Mon Dieu, but it’s been too long since I caught me some French Theatre.  How long HAS it been?  I can hardly recall…it’s like I got busy with something the last three months or so.  It’s all a blur, I tell you!  But even though I’m still an Anglo, and my French remains passable at best, I still adore seeing la theatre Francais, and I still maintain that any fellow Franco-deficient theatre fans out there should get themselves out to the odd production themselves.  Why?  Because the French just attack theatre differently, is all…there’s this crazy sensibility that seems to come with the territory that makes the shows great to watch, even IF you don’t really know what the Hell is going on (I know that’s a generalization, but I’m hoping the fact that it’s a favourable generalization will earn me a pass here).

All of which is a long-winded way of saying I was at Arts Court this past evening to catch the new spectacle from Groupe des Deux, Richard Leger’s POP FICTION.  Co-Directed by Benjamin Gaillard and Natalie Joy Quesnel, I’d heard some enticing and amazing things about this production, especially from the design side of things, and was stoked indeed to check it out.  Arts Court studio was laid out in a merrily new way for the show, not unexpected, and every chair was outfitted with a pair of headphones.  Sort of unexpected.  Enter Benjamin Gaillard, seemingly here to act as spokesperson for some sort of business conference, but something seems to be troubling him.  Even with my poor French, I could tell he was stressed about…

…and what it was, I just really don’t want to tell you, but believe me, you want to find out for yourself.  Aided by a trio of backstage translators (Chancard Lemvo, Julie Lotrice Grethen and Sebastien Lajoie), Gaillard is joined onstage by three, um, guests, played by Nancy Kenny, Michelle Leblanc and Chantal Tokarky.  He attempts to greet them politely which only half works, and things rapidly start going from bad to worse.  Apologies for being vague here, but the surprise WILL be worth it.  And there’s also a good helping of English throughout the production, if some of my fellow Anglos are trembling with fear at the thought of the language barrier.

popfiction

This is one of the coolest looking live shows I have ever done seen, and the G2 gang have really outdone themselves on the design front.  From makeup, costumes and props to several slick satirical videos (and even one Skype call), there are incredible things going on visually in POP FICTION…it’s a hell of a sight to see.  Shoutouts to the design team of Isabelle Belisle, Julien Lelievre, Francois Oliva, Benoit Thibodeau and Jacynthe Tremblay, as well as anyone I might have missed (I forgot to grab a program the night I was there, horrors!).  Ben Gaillard makes a very engaging lead, struggling to maintain his tenuous hold of the situation as things spiral out of his nervous clutches.  Nancy, Michelle and Chantal are awesome as the eclectic trio, doing great work under trying conditions (just GO SEE IT, you’ll see what I mean!) and creating what will be some of the most memorable onstage personas of 2014.

I of course only half-followed all the specifics of the story, my lapses in French and some Arts Court echoes causing some interference in my head, but this was just a killer fun time no matter how many words I missed.  This is a production of rare ambition, and one that deserves to be admired by a nice, wide audience.  Get your butts to Arts Court, because it’s playing in the studio until February 1st and you really want to check out this cool, poppy production while you can.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

For the Bible Tells me so

In Theatre on January 23, 2014 at 11:47 am

Thunderation!  So much new stuff to partake this week, it’s almost more than a theatre nerd could hope for!  And the pickings are good, folks, so don’t let me hear you whining about staying inside because it’s all cold out and other such nonsense.  What’ll be cold is your sad, lonely soul if you miss all this sweet, sweet theatre!  Besides, do you wanna live forever?  It’s only 36 below zero.

Do try and dress warmly, though.

Do try and dress warmly, though.

Speaking of eternal life, my first show up this week was the latest from 9th Hour Theatre, GRAIN OF SALT.  An original world premiere (how I dig the sound of those words) created by and co-starring Megan Piercey Monafu, GRAIN is a verbatim piece (ie: all the text comes from actual interviews from actual human people) inspired by the ‘we’re sorry’ project, an undertaking seeking to ask a multitude of Canadians, both in the church and not, whether the Catholic church should apologize for any transgressions over the years…or if it even had anything to apologize FOR.  Many answers were forthcoming, from ironclad certitude on both sides of the equation to honest bafflement in the mushy center.  Some of the responses were insightful, some funny, a few heartbreaking, and on or two downright maddening.

9th Hour made the smart move of bringing Kelly Rigole (herself a creator and performer in the Fringe/Undercurrents verbatim hit THIS IS A RECORDING) on board as director, and with her at the helm this piece really takes off.  It doesn’t hurt that they have a very solid onstage cast as well…Monafu herself, along with Lori Jean Hodge, Robin Hodge, Jeff Lefebvre and Mitchel Rose (OTS shoutout!).  Using a variety of simple props and costumes along with some beautifully choreographed physicality, the gang makes the most out of the potent material that has been assembled into the story.  What could have been portrayed as a simple ‘talking head’ style of theatre turns into something really memorable.  An extended moment on a Montreal subway train is magical, as well as Lefebvre talking to Monafu in a busy café, telling a story about being relieved of his duties due to struggles with his sexuality amidst the hustle and bustle without.  Rigole isn’t afraid of ambient sound, or long awkward pauses (there’s a gorgeous moment late in the show where everyone grumpily sits down to break bread with one another, I loved it to pieces).

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There’s a lot in the text about the church’s relationship with homosexuality, so much that it has no choice but to become one of the central points of the show.  It’s handled well, with interesting points coming from all sides (you’ll agree with what you agree with, but I still enjoyed hearing every word).  And there’s plenty more to dig into as well…intellectual arguments against the bible clash with the genuine love the church fills so many people’s lives with, to the point where the show almost can’t help but make you question whatever ideas you came in with.  Which is kind of the point, I suppose.  And this may be my Ottawa Theatre School loyalty shining through, but props to Mitchel Rose for a wonderful moment as an older devotee describing a pilgrimage he partook…it was my one true misty-eyed moment in the show, and it made me feel all warm and fuzzy.

The premiere last night was at the Mercury Lounge in the market, but the show will be travelling to multiple venues in its run.  Here’s the full rundown so ya don’t get lost (because you really should be heading out to see it):

Jan 23 – Pressed Café

Jan 24-26 – Avalon Studio

Jan 28-31 – Lunenburg Pub

So there…brave the cold, head on out and check out some original, eye-opening theatre in the middle of January.  It’ll do ya good!  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Detroit Rock Bottom

In Theatre on January 21, 2014 at 7:06 pm

Pardon the late writeup, but, well, excuses!  Would have had this one posted yesterday, but I was waylaid by a well earned but nonetheless blinding headache most of the day.  Why didn’t anyone ever tell me there were theoretical downsides to excessive drinking?

I blame society.

I blame society.

But to business!  A couple days past I got to head down to the Gladstone Theatre in the awesome company of my classmate (note: I will never stop calling you, or the others, that) Kathryn to check out the latest from Plosive Productions, Lisa D’Amour’s DETROIT.  Directed by Chris Ralph, the Gladstone gang kicked off 2014 with the Canadian Premiere of this deadly funny take on American suburban life and I’m pretty glad they did.  The play follows two families living backyard to backyard in the very beleaguered indeed titular city.  Mildly affluent Mary and Ben (Teri Loretto-Valentik and David Ross Whiteley) enjoy a good backyard BBQ and the quiet life, but are hoping their luck will turn around since Ben got laid off at the Bank.  Newcomers to the area Sharon and Kenny (Stephanie Izsak and David Benedict Brown) have long since tossed the notion of luck out the window, existing from day to day without a stitch of furniture to their name.  A random invitation from Mary to the new kids starts off their unlikely friendship, which will involve a lot of laughs, drinks, a little fire, and at least one trip to the hospital.  Oh yes…there will be blood.

But BBQ first.

But BBQ first.

DETROIT is as good a way to kick off this theatre year as you could reasonably ask for, or be unreasonable if you like, you’ll still leave smiling.  Chris Ralph knows him some stagework, and seems well suited indeed to helming this viciously funny look at the dog eat dog life in the decaying American dreamscape. He certainly corralled himself a solid cast…Teri Loretto as Mary is always teetering on the verge of a breakdown, balancing being the breadwinner of the family all of a sudden with just wanting to enjoy her damn life for five minutes.  David Whiteley as maybe-British Ben is a great straight man, until the strains of the situation start to bend him into all sorts of fun new shapes.  Watching the two of them spiral into Sharon and Kenny’s manic lives is a great ride.

Dave Benedict Brown and Stephanie Izsak in DETROIT.

Dave Benedict Brown and Stephanie Izsak in DETROIT.

I’ve only seen Stephanie Izsak once before with Odyssey a couple years back, and holy Hell she impresses as Sharon, almost unbearably vibrant and playful, giving her hard luck character some true childlike wonder despite all the hardships, and those do surface along the way.  And what did I tell you people about Dave Benedict Brown, what did I JUST tell you?  Him=Funny, and he proves me right in this show…although his Kenny also has a very cool underscore of danger that surfaces from time to time, and I like it.

The cast is rounded out by OLT vet Geoff Gruson, and I won’t give too much away about his appearance because it would spoil the surprise.  Suffice it to say this is a just plain fun show with an amazing cast, and laughs from beginning to end…even if those laughs are essentially about the economic uncertainty facing, well, most if not all of us these days.  Props to Attilla Clemman’s naturalistic set, much more dangerous than your eye might first lead you to believe.  Cheers to the first killer comedy of the season…keep’em coming.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the visitor (and Winston)

525, 600 Minutes (but feels shorter)

In Theatre on January 17, 2014 at 6:22 pm

Keeping busy, that’s my new mantra!  In the wake of, well, everything that done gone down recently (about which I shall not trouble ye here, gentle reader), your old pal the Visitor has a fervent need to keep his hands occupied with some good honest work…or, not finding that, some theatre work, which is even better.  Lucky for me it’s January, and January brings the wile-eyed hooligans of Sock’n’Buskin Theatre out of hiding to cause some much-needed winter mischief at the Kailash Mital Theatre on Carleton Campus.  This sounded swell to me so, with galpal superstar Rebecca by my side, we trekked on out to see what the Sockies had planned for their first show of 2014.

That show was the musical smash-phenom-thingamajig RENT from Jonathon Larson.  The show is a kind of lower East side update to the classic opera LA BOHEME, which oddly enough I have actually seen.  But I never did see RENT, so this was one I was anxious to check out.  The Sockies’ last musical, ROCKY HORROR, was an absolute blast and a half.  And they even brought the director of that show, Geoff Burnside, back for this one.

The show honors its Opera inspired Bohemian roots as we follow a trio of would-be couples and various misfits through a year in their penniless but passionate lives in the slums of New York.  At the heart of it all is our central sort-of everyman Mark (Elijah Mucciaco), an amateur videographer trying to record everything around him with the help of his roommate and best pal Roger (Jordan King).  Roger is a struggling musician who, to me at least, bears a wonderfully striking resemblance to Shaggy from Scooby-Doo, and from the looks of his life at the moment he should have stayed in the Mystery Machine.  No job, no cash, reeling from a recent tragedy, and now his former buddy and current landlord Benny (Tim Baretto-Burns, wonderfully smarmy) has turned on him and Mark, threatening them with eviction.

Enter Mimi (Ciara Roberts), a dancer and drug addict, into Roger’s life and things really get rolling.  Their rocky, stop and start relationship carries on alongside the relative bliss of Collins (David Shiff) and his Angel (Alex Brunjes, being terribly fabulous as the heart of gold drag queen), and the nonstop fireworks of Mark’s performance artist ex Maureen (Annie King-Smith) and her straight laced lady love Joanne (Stephanie Hughes).  We watch their fights and foibles and falls and, with the help of an onstage band (musical direction courtesy of Chris Santillan), we get to hear them sing about all this madness.

RENT-Poster1

RENT is a good fun production but I’ll be honest…I thought it got off to a bit of a shaky start.  I spent a lot of the first act not quite convinced by the production, despite some consistently strong work from Jordan King as Roger and Ciara Roberts as Mimi.  Mucciaco and Hughes likewise have a terrific duet in the first act, the Tango Maureen…and Maureen herself is a grand shock to the system when Annie King-Smith explodes into the story with a voice that sounded like it was bellowing forth from some nearby giant (girl got PIPES, dig).  But still, overall it felt a bit shaky.

But the second act, the second act…oh, my.  Worth the price of admission all by itself, resetting the bar high right from the get go with a terrific full cast production of the showstopper Seasons of Love.  In the words of galpal Rebecca, a lady who knows her some Rent, “They OWNED dat shit!”  Everyone in the cast collectively stepped up their game in act 2 with gorgeous number after number, and a couple of genuinely tear-inducing moments, most notably from David Shiff in a reprise of the first act’s Cover You that was an eye-opener for me.  Everything hit right up to the emotional finale, and I left with a nice silly smile on my face.  In the end, the Sockies quite obviously poured their collective hearts into this show, and that will win me over every damn time.  RENT is a fun show indeed with some talented folks on stage, and while not perfect, its huge heart is in the perfect place.  And speaking of heart, and from recent experience…support student theatre, willya?  You’d miss it if it wasn’t here. Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Sophie the Horse

In Theatre on January 11, 2014 at 12:04 am

If any of you have been following my life for the last few days, you know that I really, REALLY needed something to do to take my mind off my troubles.  And even though my woes are theatrically based, it still figgers that with a one-track mind like mine, it would be theatre that helped make them go away, at least for a few hours…whatever works, right?

Oh sweet Denial, you tease you.

Oh sweet Denial, you tease you.

I lucked out and found out about a show only a day or two before it went up, making it the first new production to launch in Ottawa 2014 (that I know of, and I know very little, folks), and at the cozy little Avalon studio in the Glebe at that.  A pleasure to return to that lovely space, so after milling about for a few hours after work, I made my way up to the show, and was greeted by a mightily packed house indeed. In January?  Ottawa, sometimes you surprise me in good ways.

After making my way to one of the few remaining seats, I settled in for the start of Joan Macleod’s SHAPE OF A GIRL, being put up here by Cart Before the Horse Theatre and director Paul Griffin.  The company’s mission statement is to explore the ‘authentic teenage voice’, and they achieve their goal in damn-near terrifying fashion in this show.  Based around a real life 1997 event where a young girl was bullied, beaten and murdered, this show follows tough-talking Braidie (Megan Carty) as she argues with her Mother, hangs with her clique, and joins in the fun as her galpals make the merciless teasing of hanger-on Sophie their life’s work.  It all starts off so innocently, really, until alpha gal Adrienne decides that someone in the group just NEEDS to be the target of all the scorn.  Poor Sophie draws the short straw, and what follows is a dismal, rather horrifying and painfully real look into the classist world of teenage high school girls, a hostile microcosm that makes gang warfare look like Sunday school at times.

Shape of a Girl

Paul Griffin makes full use of the great Avalon studio space with some solid staging, and occasionally bloody clever touches.  Briadie is followed throughout the story by an omnipresent chorus (Shawna Della-Ricca, Christa Anguelova, Caitie Campo, Laurel Moyse, Noah Booniv, Jordyn Lewis, Keira O’Shea and Nicole Ormerod) who, aside from embodying her classmates and other characters, also each become Sophie at a different age, from 8 to 15.  It’s a great flourish, and they do a fantastic job, really bringing a richness to the show.  And Megan Carty (who I caught a couple years back as Ophelia in Kanata Theatre’s ROMEO AND JULIET, I do believe) is just a stunner as Braidie, pulling off a seriously impressive performance in this challenging, 80 minute show.  This year has gotten off to a solid star, show-wise, and I’ve already got my first pick for fav’rit performance of 2014.

This is a tough show and no fooling…bullying is a trigger issue for a lot of us (I know I found my knuckles clenching at some of the scenes), and the team pulls it off in style without compromising any of the nitty-gritty.  Thought-provoking and all that good jazz…check it out.  I’m glad I made it out…even if I did leave without realizing there was an opening night reception that I totally missed out on.  Heads-up next time guys, geez!  I like to mooch as much as the next guy, after all.  But seriously,  thanks for the awesome distraction…I needed that.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Pafiglia

In Theatre on January 10, 2014 at 7:37 am
My first year Ottawa Theatre School class (minus Alex), during the happy, murder mystery times.

My first year Ottawa Theatre School class …Kathryn, me (Kevin), Ashley, Laura, Dania, Julia and Ben (minus Alex), during the happy, murder mystery times.

So this is the last post I ever wanted to write.

It was barely a week ago that I posted a brief summary of my joyous first semester at the Ottawa Theatre School, an acting conservatory program whose work I’ve followed with admiration for years now and that, at age 42, I decided to audition for and enroll in myself.  It was a serious starting over point for me, maybe the most exciting and joyous point in my life.   I learned so much in that all-too-short semester, and could not wait to get back to my teachers and classmates at the studios on Picton ave for the second part of my inaugural year.

But it wasn’t to be.

This week I, and the rest of the students at the OTS learned that, due to an increasingly bad financial situation which had become insurmountable, the Ottawa Theatre School Conservatory Program was forced to cease operations after a decade (although the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama, and its recreational and evening classes IS still going, it must be stressed).  The announcement came on what should have been our first week of classes of the second semester…it was clear that Natalie Hanson and Bruce Bissonnette, the program’s administrators, had been fighting to the last moment possible to keep the school alive. That their efforts were ultimately in vain is a serious blow to the Ottawa Theatre community, and a devastating gutpunch to those of us who called its halls and studios home.  The best time of my life had somehow led me to one of the worst.

But maybe I’m too close to this…maybe I’m confusing the ragged fucking hole that’s been left in my heart at this loss with a perceived hole in the Ottawa Theatre community.  Maybe.  But I really don’t think so.  Ottawa has still some stellar Theatre programs thank goodness, most notably at Ottawa U and Algonquin, but nobody focused on acting in such a specialized and physical manner as the OTS, and nobody but nobody was working so intensively on performance creation, something that to my mind is an increasingly vital tool in any actor’s toolkit in today’s artistic landscape.  It was quite simply a unique and progressive conservatory program, and its loss is one that is going to be felt, and felt hard, down the line.  This school didn’t just turn out great actors…it turned out Creators.

And yes, I know there are several major financial issues still stemming from the OTS closure, and multiple parties affected..hell, I’m one of them.  But this post isn’t about that.  It’s not an expose, or hard hitting journalism in any sense.

This is me, saying Goodbye.

My sense of personal loss at this announcement is…hard to express.  I’ve shed more tears in the last 48 hours than I have in the previous ten years.  When I think of the hours logged, lessons learned, the sweat earned, and the new family I made there, its almost too much to bear now that it’s gone.  When I think of what could have, SHOULD have been yet to come…ouch.  To my beloved classmates…Alex, Ashley, Ben, Dania, Julia, Kathryn and Laura (three of whom travelled from the maritimes just to be part of this amazing program, that’s how hardcore we are)…I’m so sorry I won’t get to continue growing and learning with all of you.  I guess we didn’t manage to be the class of 2016 after all, but you’ll all be in my heart forever.  I’ve been a bit of a loner all my life, never really fitting in…the handle ‘Visitor’ seemed way too apropos at times.  But with you guys I felt, for one shining moment in my life, like I was where I belonged.  Like the visit was over.  I will hold on to each precious memory of our time together like my life depends on it.  Thank you for making me part of your family.  We were amazing together.  And we would have been a FANTASTIC 3rd year class. 🙂

The Second year Superstars, good guy Henry in absentia.

The Second year Superstars…Sidney, Alexa, Chelsea, Phil, Aidan, Lauren, Nadine and Kelly. Good guy Henry in absentia.

And for all the second and third year gangsters who blew me away with work I was chomping at the bit to learn all about…God damn, thank you for being so inspiring.  Your incredible end-of-semester masques were something to see, and rising to the challenge of how high you collectively raised the bar was a fight I was really looking forward to.  I’m so sorry that three of the planned productions will now not see the light of day…but at least the amazing SYLVIA made it to the stage.  If you missed this show folks, then…wow, you fucked up.  If anyone from the Gladstone or GCTC is reading this, you could do a lot worse than to consider programming it into your next season.  I’m dead serious.

Bobby, Madeleine, Jeremie and Jerushah...year 3 gangsters!

Bobby, Madeleine, Jeremie and Jerushah…year 3 gangsters!

To the amazing instructors who taught me so much along this path, and who helped me become more than I thought I could be…I am so grateful.  I found funny, angry and sad inside me that I never knew I had…I sang and danced and bent in ways I honestly didn’t think I was capable of.  You helped me overcome limitations, discover hidden talents (and hidden flaws!) and open doors to me that are going to change the way my life proceeds from here on out.  An extra special and heartfelt thanks to the ones who stuck it out to the end, difficulties and all.  It mattered, I promise.  And I thank you for everything.

And to the staff…Debbie, I will dearly miss seeing your smiling face behind the front desk every week.  Hell, I’ll even miss co-op kid whose name I always forget.  Natalie, thank you for fighting so hard for us, every day.  We noticed, and we thank you.  Bruce and Andy…please know that you helped make me a better person, as well as a much better actor.  I kinda love you for that, and I always will. Please be well, and take care…you’ve all earned a rest.  We owe you a huge debt of thanks, and that’s the truth.  Your work at the OTS, and the school itself, won’t soon be forgotten.  Promise.

There’s so much more, and I could go on for days and days, but let’s face it…I’m just postponing the inevitable.  Thank you Ottawa Theatre School…for the great days I spent following your grad classes and their awesome shows (UNDER MILK WOOD, GLITCH, THE SUICIDE, WE WANT LIFE, FARM SHOW, and THE EUMENIDES to name just a precious few) and the amazing students, actors and creators who came out your doors, year after wonderful year.  I call many of them friend today, and I couldn’t be prouder.  Thank you for letting me in to share in the magic, even for so short a time. I spent precious little time as an active part of this program, but I learned a helluva lot. Even in the painful days following its closure, I’ve learned things…like it isn’t so bad to be filled with sadness, if that sadness is born of love.  I won’t lie, I’d wanted so, so much more from this school I love so much…but sometimes the gifts the Gods give us are tricky beggars.  And if the launchpad to the rest of my life is shorter than I’d hoped, then I suppose I’ll just have to jump a little higher now that I’ve reached the end.

Closing Night at Sylvia...oddly fitting, I suppose. Alex, Kathryn, Ashley, Ben, Dania, Laura...it's been the best.

Closing Night at Sylvia…oddly fitting, I suppose. Alex, Kathryn, Ashley, Ben, Dania, Laura (and you too, Julia)…it’s been the best.

Thank you, OTS…I’ll do you proud.  I won’t forget.  And we’ll meet again.  Thank you so, so much.  Thank you.

Goodbye.

PS: If any previous years worth of OTS gangsters have group class photos they’d like me to add to this post, send’em my way and I’ll happily add them. 🙂  visitor.tba@gmail.com

Updated: Got the first submission!  Here’s the epic class of 2012, when they were just raw first year recruits (and Bruce is in this one, Yay!  Thanks, Jonah!

Class of 2012

Laurel, Queen of Fools

In Company of Fools, Theatre on January 6, 2014 at 11:56 am

Another year, another Fools Night out at the 4th Stage!  I only just realized, checking the old blog, that this was my fourth COMPANY OF FOOLS 12th NIGHT FUNDRAISER party in a row!  Gotta say, it’s a fairly dandy way to kick off the new year, and evening out in one of the cozier corners of the National Arts Centre, surrounded by supporters of the arts and talented pals to help one of Ottawa’s oldest professional theatre companies A Company of Fools raise some cash and launch their new season. And, of course, to crown a new king or queen of Fools.

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The joint got jumping early when lead Fools Scott Florence and AL Connors took the stage, and made the happy announcement that the lady miss Catriona Leger was officially being returned tot he fold as a full time Fool, as wise decision as these Fools have likely ever made.  The three of them then proceeded to help the evening live up to its name by giving us a quick retelling of Shakespeare’s TWELFTH NIGHT in a brand new interactive format they call SHAKESPEARE AND YOU (or possibly SHAKESPEARE AND THE ZOMBIE DINOSAUR APOCALYPSE, they’re still deciding) and will potentially be touring this spring.  It’s an intriguing way to try and gauge the ongoing relevance of old Zombie Bill’s work, turning the presentation into a conversation with the audience.  Curious to see how this one will fly in full production mode.

But that’s just the tip of the Foolish iceberg…next up for the gang is a special event at this years UNDERCURRENTS festival at the GCTC, where the Fools will host their PITCH PARTY on  February 19th.  Got a new theatrical project, and need help producing it, getting collaborators, whatever?  Come and make your pitch to fellow artists!  Sounds like a blast, and I just might have a pitch of my OWN to make.  We shall see…

Then on March 27th, it’s time for World Theatre Day and the annual OTTAWA THEATRE CHALLENGE!  Competing teams have 48 hours to create an all-new piece of theatre, based on a trio of inspiration items, vying for the coveted Rubber Chicken Award!  It’s a fantastic and fun event, and last year’s winnners, the team from the Gladstone Theatre, have decreed that the proceeds from this years event will be going to the Actors Fund of Canada.  Good cause, good times…get your team together now!

About this time in the evening the cake came out, and a new monarch was chosen…all hail Laurel (and I hope I heard that name right), this year’s reigning Queen of Fools, who made the (some might say disturbingly quick) decision to have Scott Florence executed…he proceeded to have a rather touching, if violent, death scene played out at the hands (or flippers) of an Elephant Seal.  You kind of had to be there, honestly.  But the show must go on, dead Scott or no, and it was time to announce the main event, the Fool’s centrepiece, the touring Torchlight Shakespeare show.  And his year, as heralded by last years’ Falstaff and director of this years show Matthew John Lundvall, the Fools will be getting down with AS YOU LIKE IT.  Touring Ottawa and area parks between July 3rd and August 16th, the gender bender romantic comedy (last seen in O-Town courtesy of BEAR AND COMPANY‘s great version a couple years back) will star Simon Bradshaw, Catriona Leger, Geoff McBride, Scott Florence (back from the dead!), Katie Ryerson and Foolish newcomer Kate MacArthur!  The Fools’ tour is always one of the highlights of the Ottawa theatre year, and this one promises to be no different (did I mention that they’re setting this version in Ottawa..?).

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There was only one thing left to announce, and…well, I still don’t know what it is.  AL Connors was deliberately vague about the final mystery project on the Fools’ docket, a commission from the Great Canadian Theatre Company that may or may not see the light of day this year, and may or may not feature two local clowns of some repute…stay tuned!

That was just about it for this year’s event…I didn’t win anything at the raffle this time out, and I really had my heart set on that snow brush.  Oh well, there’s always next year.  And thanks to the Fools, we’ve got some good theatre to occupy us in the meantime.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

PS: all props to Scott Florence’s 3-year old son, who absolutely stole the show last night.  Like Father like son!

Unzipping the Cat – my 1st Semester at OTS

In Theatre on January 2, 2014 at 6:02 pm

So I had a whole post almost ready to go, talking about my first semester as a full time student at the OTTAWA THEATRE SCHOOL acting conservatory.  And I’m scrapping it, because it just didn’t feel right.  Too pretentious or something, I dunno.

But I still wanted to give at least some kind of blog shoutout to the school that has helped make this past year without doubt the greatest one of my life thus far.  Because when I ended up auditioning for it at the start of the year, I really and truly didn’t have much of a plan in mind…it was sort of just the next step in this whirlwind theatrical path I’ve been on since 2008, when the Ottawa Fringe Festival changed my life for the better.  I suppose I didn’t even really know if I was planning on becoming a professional actor…I was just moving forward fast enough so that I couldn’t convince myself to fall back.  Something my life up until then had been all too full of.

But since entering the school, and meeting my amazing classmates Alex, Ben, Ashley, Kathryn, Julia, Dania, Laura, and Proteus (not to mention the 2nd and 3rd year gangsters, Chelsea, Nadine, Kelly, Sidney, Henry, Aidan, Phil, Lauren, Alexa, Bobby, Jerushah, Jeremie, and of course Madeleine), I’ve been through a hell of a lot.  Some tough times, some REALLY tough, but some, if not most, incredible.  I got to perform in short pieces that I had to create myself, and it felt so damn good.  Pieces that I love, some that I plan to return to in the future (you haven’t seen the last of Roscoe P.Lucifer, gang, let me tell you).  My end-of-semester Vocal Masque ‘The Flower’ is something I’m intensely proud of, and I can’t wait until next semester when I start getting the more specialized physical training that will help make that piece so much better.  I can’t wait.

I don’t want to get into too many specifics about the school year (what happens at OTS stays at OTS, you understand…at least until it’s been properly rehearsed), but there’s one story that I just have to share…it involves a daily routine we were all to bring in and essentially mime for Bruce Bissonette’s acting class.  I picked my coming-home drill of petting Winston just the way he demands, then feeding him.  But when we presented, Bruce then asked us to introduce an unseen twist into the proceedings…could be anything.  For some reason, literally the ONLY twist onto this routine that popped into my head, and thus the one I used, was that while petting Winston I came across a zipper on his back.  And upon unzipping him, it turned out there was a bird inside all along, just wearing a cat suit.  Apparently this is the sort of thing that goes on in my head, and  ‘unzipping the cat’ has since become almost a catchphrase in our class for trying to add something unusual to a bit or a scene.  I encourage you all to try and work it into your daily routine too.

There are a lot of reasons I picked the OTS as my destination…great profs one and all, and thanks so much to Bruce, Andy, Doreen, Kristine, Kate, and Rachel for all the valuable lessons so far.  But it’s the students I’ve met along my path that steered me here…I recently did my end of year wrap-up post on this blog, and here’s a partial list I compiled along the way of theatre from 2013 featuring OTS students, alumni, or faculty:

RiderGirl
Metamorphoses
Skin
Absurd Person Singular
Summer of ‘34
Arms and the Man
the Comedy of Errors
MorningStar
the Day we Grew Wings
Proud
Temp
the B Team
Who Will Separate Us
Foundations
War of the Worlds: A Radio Play
Loyal Opposition
So2Speak
Collapsible
the Vanity Project
Emissions
Die Zombie Die
Mercutio and Ophelia
the Tragicall Historie of Nick Wade

And of course the OTS shows themselves, THE FARM SHOW, FALSE ASSUMPTIONS, and SYLVIA.  Not a shabby or small list (and I’m likely missing a few), and these folks make me darn proud to be among their number.  There’s only a few days now until second semester start up, and I’m anxious to get back to it.  Because I finally have a plan!  It turns out…I’m going to be an actor.

A GOOD one, to be specific.  In for a penny, after all…

Peace, love and soul, and keep on unzipping the cat,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

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Coming Up in January 2014

In Theatre on January 2, 2014 at 12:30 am

New Year!  But slow month, it looks like, so make the most of what we got (see it ALL, I mean).

THE SOUND OF MUSIC at the National Arts Centre.  Still singing until the 4th!

COMPANY OF FOOLS 12th NIGHT FUNDRAISER on the 5th, at the NAC 4th Stage.  Wherein the Fools announces their new season, crown a new king or queen, and just generally makes fools of themselves, as only they can.

SHAPE OF A GIRL at the Avalon Studio, from Cart Before the Horse Theatre.  A one woman (plus Chorus) show from writer Joan Macleod and director Paul Griffin that sounds like a nail-biter.  10th to 12th, 17th to 19th.

RUMOURS at the Ottawa Little Theatre.  Farce ala Neil Simon! From the 14th through February 1st.

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STORIES TO THE SOUND OF THE DRUM at the NAC 4th Stage, from Ottawa Storytellers. A one-man show featuring Metis/Mi’kmag performer Robert Seven Crows…part of Ottawa StoryTellers’ SPEAKING OUT, SPEAKING IN feature series taking place monthly until June.  On the 16th!

RENT at the Kailash Mital Theare, from Sock’n’Buskin. The Sockies do good musical and this production of the suburban version of LA BOHEME should be no different.  From the 16th to 18th, 23rd to 25th.

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DETROIT at the Gladstone Theatre, from Plosive Productions. Chris Ralph directs this Plosive show from writer Lisa D’Amour about neighbourly combat in suburbia.  From the 17th to February 1st.

ONE MAN, ONE WOMAN, ONE NIGHT ONLY!  At Arts Court Courtroom, from May Can Theatre and Norah Paton. An evening of theatre featuring May Can’s THE ROOM OUTSIDE THE ROOM starring Tony Adams, and Norah Paton’s FORSAKEN DAUGHTERS OF WINTER, recently seen at the Fresh Eat Festival!  Don’t miss this one on the 17th.

WAR HORSE at Southam Hall NAC.  A giant puppet horse, as I understand it…all I need to know!  21st to the 26th.

KIM’S CONVENIENCE at the NAC Theatre, from Soulpepper. Ins Choi’s award winning play about a Korean-Canadian convenience store owning family.  22nd to February 8th.

GRAIN OF SALT at Various Locations, from 9th Hour Theatre.  An original verbatim piece about Christianity and people’s thoughts about it.  Check their website for the different locales, from the Mercury Lounge to Pressed Cafe and more!  Plays from the 22nd to 31st!

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CLUE-LESS at the Velvet Room, from Eddie May Mysteries.  Every Saturday this month, get your eat on wand watch some of Ottawa’s finest solve a theatrical mystery!

And the OTTAWA STILT UNION have a sweet offer this January, for an awesome Acrobatics workshop taking place over the weekends of the 11-12th and 17-18th.    If you’re at all interested, these guys are some of the best.  Don’t miss out…registration deadline is the 5th!

– THEATRE FRANCAIS

FLOTS, TOUT CE QUI BRILLE VOIT at the NAC Studio.  Theatre designed for a very young audience, but knowing French creators, probably still immensely entertaining for adults too.  The 25th and 26th.

CONFIDENCES TROPS INTIMES at Theatre de L’Ile.  Starting on the 29th, and going right through until March!

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POP FICTION at Arts Court Studio, from Groupe des Deux. Described as a ‘co-lingual’ show, which I’m pretty sure means ‘bilingual’, but directed by Natalie Joy Quesnel so who cares!  It’ll be amazing.  From the 22nd to Feb 1st.

– IMPROV!

CRUSH IMPROV has a busy month…they’ll be back at Mother McGintey’s in the Market on Monday the 6th for their regular scheduled ‘BOUT TIME featuring to teams so epic I’m already very sad I’m working that night.  CAPITAL CRUSH returns on the 25th at the Centrepointe Studio, a team vs team long-form battle royale.  And Crush does DETROIT at the Gladstone Theatre on the 31st, an improv take on the new Plosive show following that evening’s performance (see the listing above for more info!).  Crush is also offering a new workshop on the 17th at Centrepointe Studio…pre-registration is required, you can check their website for more details!

GRIMPRov should be back on the final Wednesday of this month at their usual haunt, the Cock and Lion, likewise CRYSTAL BASEMENT plays on the last Tuesday every month at the Atomic Rooster.

And if that just isn’t enough theatre for you, there’s always some nearby out-of-town action going on, like…

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NEXT STAGE FESTIVAL from the 8th to 19th at Factory Theatre in Toronto.  Featurig that Randy and Evi Quaid show!

WILDSIDE FESTIVAL from the 3rd to 12th at the Centaur Theatre in Montreal. Featuring Blue Box and Little Orange Man!

Was I missing something?  I hope I was missing something, I want more!  Let me know, and I’ll see ya out there!  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)