visitorium

Archive for May, 2014|Monthly archive page

The Sheep Turns Four

In Uncategorized on May 30, 2014 at 5:42 pm

Four years…four whole years? God damn…I can’t imagine how presidents do it. I’m only writing a goofy part-time theatre blog, not running a country and committing war crimes, and I’M exhausted. Still, you take the work you get, I suppose…

Yes, the moment of anniversary is almost upon us. This June the 1st will mark four years since I launched the little chud that could, or maybe couldn’t, but didn’t really give a shit if it could or not. And you bet your sweet bippy we’re having a party! This Sunday, downstairs at the Clocktower Brewpub on Bank street (better known as ‘the drudgery’ to my longtime readers…uh, sorry about that, CT) comes the event four years in the making, the VISITORIUM 4th ANNIVERSARY FOOFARAH LIVE! It’s gonna be a sweet, sweet time and you should be there. Why? Here’s why: a killer lineup of kung-fu theatre gangsters guaranteed to spin-kick some original performance creations right down your eager, gasping throat!!! Or, you know, some slightly less violent analogy. Your choice. But check out what we got planned…

visi4ium banner 2

– Opening act, the newly assembled team of Foofarah Improv Players, merry folk one and all…Ryan Walsh, Kristine Shadid, Kevin Mongeon and Crush Improv’s own Brooke Cameron, and they’re gonna get the whole ball rolling around 730 or so (opening doors just before 7pm that night). I’ve seen all these cats do improv, and I’ve even DONE improv with some of them, and they’re the goods, trust me.

– Madeleine Hall, recent Ottawa Theatre School graduate and star of their amazing production of SYLVIA, remounting her hilarious final semester solo performance piece!

– May Can Theatre (Cory Thibert, Tony Adams and Mado Manseau), making merry and singing songs, before heading out on tour with their hit show WOLVES>BOYS.

– Pretty Ugly Productions, aka Hannah Gibson-Fraser and Jodi Morden, giving us a sneak peek at their upcoming Fringe show, RACHEL & ZOE.

Rachel & Zoe 1(cred Hannah Gibson Fraser)

Jodi and Hannah of Pretty Ugly Productions, Rachel and Zoe-ing it up.

– Nick Fournier, aka Nick Wade, another OTS grad (kind of a running theme at this party) debuting some solo material following his recent appearance in Vacant House theatre’s terrific THE ANGER IN ERNEST AND ERNESTINE!

– Loose Cannons Collective, a new team featuring even more OTS gangsters, performing a snippet from their upcoming Fringe show GETTING THROUGH, written by Aidan Dewhirst and featuring Alexa Higgins and Phil Merriman.

– Nancy Kenny, just about to head out on an epic cross-Canada tour of her hit show ROLLER DERBY SAVED MY SOUL, and filming a feature length documentary at the same time, will be debuting some all-new material at the party!

Nancy in ROLLER DERBY SAVED MY SOUL.pic by Richard Gilmore.

Nancy in ROLLER DERBY SAVED MY SOUL.pic by Richard Gilmore.

– Tony Adams (of May Can Theatre) and Tess McManus (of Little Green Hat, about to debut her latest show TALES SHE TELLS at the Fringe) join forces for a show that, they promise me, WILL get messy.

-And, finally, me. Kevin Reid, OTS orphan and theatre nerd, will be performing not one but two short pieces, both inspired by my time at the school. A reprise of my first semester piece THE FLOWER, and the premiere of what would have been my second.

You gotta admit, that’s a lot of entertainment, folks. And how much would you expect o pay for this avalanche of amazing? How about nothing? Does that suit you? Good, because its settled…there will be zero charge for this anniversary party, just a small donation jar set aside to help yours truly buy well-deserved drinks for his performers and helpers. And half-price appetizers will be in effect throughout, so eat to your heart’s content!

When the show’s over (whenever that is…I really haven’t planned this too expertly), the music will flow courtesy of DJ My Laptop, so stick around for some shenanigans. And if you’re a Fringe artist attending the festivities, you are encouraged to bring your promo materials along and flyer away…’tis the season, after all! Let’s make this evening about one thing and one thing only…the love of theatre.

Well, that and drinking. I mean, come ON. Peace, love and soul, and I’ll see you at the party,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

 

Deconstructing a Friendship

In Theatre on May 28, 2014 at 8:29 am

Pardon the lack of recent postings…aside from prepping for my upcoming fourth anniversary Visitorium party on Sunday June the 1st (you’re coming, right..?), I just haven’t actually SEEN that much lately. Tho I have at least had two interesting visits to the Gladstone Theatre in the last few days. One was a very lovely opportunity on the weekend to take part in their general auditions for the upcoming season, and , well, it was an audition and let’s leave it at that, okay? The night ended up in drunken karaoke, if that tells you anything (that it was awesome? Am I sending out mixed signals?).

But last night I was back in a more traditional, bloggery role, checking out a little art. Or rather ‘art’ by playwright phenom Yazmina Reza (translated from her native French here by Christopher Hampton), whose GOD OF CARNAGE rocked Ottawa last year courtesy of Third Wall. This time she’s back courtesy of Same Day Theatre, who just racked up the Outstanding Production nod from the Prix Rideau Awards for IN THE NEXT ROOM. Plus the show was directed by Peter James Howarth, who helped my beloved Ottawa Theatre School go out on a high note wit SYLVIA late last year. So, yeah, the show was pretty well credentialled before I even got to my seat. And after taking in the very gorgeous set, I settled in for what I figured, based on CARNAGE last year, would be a group of regular people behaving extremely poorly despite their best intentions. And that’s just what I got, thank God.

Set in Paris, the show follows longtime friends Serge (Robert Marinier), Marc (David Frisch), and Yvan (Andy Massingham). Serge is showing off his latest acquisition to Marc…a seemingly all-white painting (but no, there are shades and some lines, if you look at it just so, he swears) by the artiste-du-jour that he’s just paid a king’s ransom for. And Marc, all rebel swagger in his leather jacket…he just doesn’t get it. There’s modern art, and then there’s…well, bullshit. Both Serge and Marc seek independent counsel on the issue, in the form of flakey Yvan, who is busy stressing out about an impending wedding that seems more like planning a siege than preparing for wedded bliss. But his attempts to placate the slowly simmering Serge and Marc only seems to fuel their fire, as well as draw him into the vitriol. Things soon spiral out of control, and the fifteen year friendship threatens to erupt into the most violent modern art set piece ever imagined.

art

As someone who once got dumped because I didn’t like the same folk singer as her, I can attest to the dopey fact of how much our cultural choices affect out relationships, and ‘art’ illustrates (and mocks the ever-loving shit out of) that dynamic beautifully. Slick direction and lighting is heightened tenfold by great performances…Frisch as the eternally smarmy Marc is wonderfully intolerable in his nitpicky aggression. Robert Marinier, who I’d never caught before this, is goddam perfect as the would-be enlightened art lover Serge, taking passive-aggressive to new levels as he airily scoffs his friends for their lack of appreciation for the ‘modern’ style. And my old prof Andy Massingham scores big as poor Yvan, clinging feebly to his marbles as things crumble around him…the moment when he races in, out of breath, and relates a terrible family phone battle he’s just been subjected to at top speed is a glorious sight. This is a smart and funny show with a lot of uncomfortable truth in it, and a great cast bringing it to life…fast paced, never dull, viciously witty, real and absurd at the same time. Just like life, no? The resolution to all of this has to be seen to be believed…a wonderful ‘gasp’ moment from the entire crowd, and trust me, you want to be a part of that crowd. ‘Art’ plays until June the 8th, and is a great capper to the Gladstone’s season. Check it out, I dare ya. Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Oil and Water

In Theatre on May 19, 2014 at 8:19 am

Okay….THAT was pretty epic.

This week was the premiere of the last show of the NAC’S 2013/14 season, and Jillian Keiley’s first season as AD. Natural then that she’s direct the show, one she brought over from out East where she directed it the first time with Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland. That’s where she and writer Robert Chafe collaborated to create OIL AND WATER, the show now gracing our stage as a fitting finale to the season…it would sure be a hard act to follow.

Based on a true story, the play tells the long story of Lanier Philips, at two crucial points in his life. First, as a sailor in the US Navy during WWII (played by Anderson Ryan Allen), struggling under entrenched racism as a black recruit; and then as a Father in 1974 Boston (played by Jeremiah Sparks), trying to send his daughter Vonzia (Starr Domingue) to one of the first integrated schools in the city. In both cases, violence and disaster were lurking just around the corner.

Living in cramped quarters with fellow recruit Langston (Mike Payette), and under constant scrutiny from demeaning fellow sailors like Bergeron (Clint Butler), it should almost come as a relief to Phillips when his vessel hits the rocks and starts going down off the coast of St.Lawrence, Newfoundland. Except that his superiors expect him to stay with the ship, but as Phillips himself declares, he’d rather die kicking than waiting.

What’s waiting for him are the people of frigid St.Lawrence, a town with their own intimate knowledge of oppression….instead of racism, their master is poverty, and the local mine. Violet Pike, a local housewife (played by Petrina Bromley) watches in not-so-mute frustration as her husband John (Jody Richardson)’s health deteriorates before her eyes, and nephew Levi (rushes to follow in his late Father’s footsteps down in the depths. They’re a community with precious little to give, but when the shipwreck occurs off their shore, they rally and work tirelessly to save whoever they can…including Lanier Phillips, the first black man anyone in the town has ever seen. What happens next changes the course of Phillips’ life.

oilwater

Years later, as his daughter experiences first-hand the kind of hatred Lanier had hoped he’d left behind years ago, only a photograph of St.Lawrence (from excitable local photog Ena, played by a delightful Alison Woolridge) stands as a reminder that things can and should be different, a counter to the constant refrain of bitterness coming from the spirit of his grandmother Adeline (Neema Bickersteth).

It’s a staggering show, for as many reasons as you’d care to count. Performances rock across the board, with both young and elder Lanier’s providing strong leads throughout. Petrina Bromley is terrific as uneducated but unwavering Violet, and holy Hell, the power coming out of wee Starr Dominique could keep the lights in the NAC running until the next century. Keiley and Chafe have made something just astonishing here, starting from his fantastic script and running from there…designer Shawn Kerwin’s sextant-set works beautifully, and the musical score by Andrew Craig and Kellie Walsh, a melding of Southern gospel and Newfie folk music, is gorgeous down to the last note. I learned plenty of history in this show…some I’m warmed by, some I’m goddam furious about…but the beating heart about the nature of humanity is impossible to ignore. A powerful piece of work that’ll stay with me for a long, long time. Much thanks to Keiley and the gang for bringing this one inland. Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Youth Infringement 2014 – Part 2 of 2

In Theatre on May 15, 2014 at 3:18 pm

Two days, six brand new plays by the under-25 crowd…yes, it’s day two of YOUTH INFRINGEMENT 2014 and I just managed to see the second half of the festival last night. I’d already been treated to THE EVER-PRESENT WITNESS, LUCY and THE ANOMALY the previous night, now it was time to collect the complete set. I was in good company, from galpal Rebecca Laviolette taking care of box office, Infringement vet Nick Amott at the candy stand, and YI mentor and derbygirl Nancy Kenny taking in the shows (have you contributed to her Indigogo campaign yet? I’ll wait while you do that).  And of course, proud producer Lily Sutherland making sure day two ran smoothly. Which as far as I could tell, it most certainly did.

y12014

First up for the night was Mark MacDonald’s BLAZER directed by David Hania. An all-dude cast shares the stage here with a multi-purpose projection screen and a few dozen empty beer cans, for the bro-tastic tale of Tom (Matt Hertendy), Simon (Andrew Maloney), Shayne (Dustin Roy), and Rob (a slap-happy Will Lafrance). Tom, the straight man of his group of eternally delinquent manchild buddies, is about to pop the question to his longtime girlfriend. All he needs is to keep his lucky blazer intact until then…which is of course the moment when it becomes irresistible to all his buddies. Wackiness ensues!

Yes, this isn’t exactly the most substantial of shows, a fact about which it seems giddily unapologetic. This a frat party with an audience, folks, and the lads do indeed have a lot of fun with it, and for the most part I had fun right along with them. There’s some nifty multimedia storytelling worked into the mix as well, and the cast is pretty spot-on for the task at hand…being a bunch of drunken, irresponsible boy-men. Good times.

Next up was Jeremy Piamonte’s LOVE AND WAR, directed by Chelsea MacKay. A period tale about Helen (Kate Boone), a WWII wife and teacher telling her story to a group of visitors. With an ever-present smile, she tells how she met the love of her young life, soft-spoken Ron (Matthew Skilton), their plans, dreams, and how the war changed all that. Kate Boone gets the lions share of the work in this one (although props to Skilton for his earnest and honest Ron), and tackles a sneakily complex script with impressive chops. She was one of the standout performers for me at last year’s festival, delivering fantastic work in NEBRASKA, and is even better this time around. And huge shout to writer Piamonte, with probably the best script at this year’s festival. Heady subject matter, presented well, acted great, staged just so…a seriously solid show.

Albeit with surprisingly few zombies...but we'd fix that soon enough.

Albeit with surprisingly few zombies…but we’d fix that soon enough.

After a touch of improv goodness from Lafrance and some of the lovely lads in the studio (pro tip: NEVER let the audience make the rules when Nancy Kenny is in your audience. She lives for that shit), it was back in for the final show of the night, Laura McLean’s CLASSIC HORROR MOVIE MISTAKES, directed by Rachel Worton. There were, in clear violation of YI tradition, no shows taking place in limbo at this year’s festival, so thank fuck at least ONE show had zombies in at. Taking place in a bunkered basement during a zombie apocalypse, Felix (David Coleman) and Leanne (Marissa Caldwell) are holed up with an apparently mad scientist (Aaron Lajeunesse, and his hair), who is trying to teach them the titular horror movie errors to avoid (like what weapons to use, and why running is better than hiding) via his collection of VHS tapes. Scenes from the movies play out split-screen style, with our heroes on one side of the stage, and occasional moments of movie-monster-mayhem acted out on the other courtesy of Heidi Spicer, Ryan Nadon and Paul Piekoszewski. It’s a nifty conceit, and what the show lacks in polish it makes up for in gusto. Lajeunesse gets well and over the top as our nutty professor, and Piekoszewski steals more than a few scenes as the silent but deadly movie monster across the stage. A little rough in patches, but all in all a nice, raucous ending to my 2014 Infringing.

Congrats to all the participating writers, directors, stage managers, producers and everything else for what looks to be a nicely successful 16th addition of YI. If you’re hitting it up tonight, you’re in for a panel discussion treat featuring Nancy Kenny, Chris Ralph and Mary Ellis (and maybe Pat Gauthier..?), and the SUBMERGE art installation will be there ll week, plus raffles, cupcakes, live music and of course, the shows. Check it out, have some laughs, vote for your fav’rit (the winner goes on to repeat at this year’s Fringe Festival), and support local youth in theatre. Peace, love and soul, folks,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

 

 

Youth Infringement 2014 – Part 1 of 2

In Uncategorized on May 14, 2014 at 8:44 am

So it’s that time of year again..the snow has finally melted, and the kids can smell FRINGE in the wafting breezes and they just can’t contain themselves! And so bursts forth in May the YOUTH INFRINGEMENT FESTIVAL, and all is well with the world…or, at least May in Ottawa is pretty well taken care of. Taking place at Arts Court in the Theatre and studio, this is the 16th year of the little festival that just wishes you’d quit trying to box it in with your RULES and REGULATIONS, you square! Run this year by superstar Lily Sutherland, seen recently tearing it up onstage in Ottawa U’s production off THE BALD SOPRANO, who has added a sweet art gallery component in the studio itself (called SUBMERGE, and curated by Lauren Parsons) so you can get all cultured while snacking on a cupcake and pop and waiting for the next show (remember, YI is only 16, so no booze at the bar…yet). After day one of the festival, I’d say Lily and her production team of Sam McCarthy and Jeremy Piamonte are doing a pretty sweet job…including the first time I’ve ever seen the YI schedule done up in such a way that I can actually just see all the shows in the first two days with no repeats! Seriously, I think these kids are wizards or something.

y12014

But SHOWS! Three world premieres on opening night, starting off the Madison Joliffe’s THE EVER-PRESENT WITNESS. Directed by Alexandra Isenor, this one is a very fun large-cast show starring a seemingly happy nuclear family who are each nursing a deep, dark secret all their own. All smiles and cheer on the surface, Mom Claire and Dad Rob (Rebecca Laviolette and Liam O’Brien) oversee their four children with what seems to be endless patience. But Bree (Shannon Collins), Ben (Cory Hogan), Brooke (Rebeccah Pyrah) and Blair (Lisa Johnston) all have secret agendas of their own, ranging from desperate to downright sinister. By the time Rob’s mysterious Senator boss and his son (Euan Wheaton and Dustin Roy) come over for dinner, things are well primed to hit the fan. And always there’s the witness (DJ Johnston, in a lovely and mostly silent role), just taking it all in until he can’t take no more. A groovy show with some fun staging, lots of energy and a very fun script. This is a good way to start the night.

Next up was LUCY by David Coleman, and directed by Elizabeth Chant. A one woman tale starring the very likeable Julia Bueneman in the title role, Lucy is a rather peevish, grumpy immortal with an axe to grind with her very famous Dad. I won’t give that secret away, but Julia as Lucy has some cool fun relating the tale of her long and troubled life, drinking and smoking throughout as the latest in what must be an endless line of coping mechanisms. This is another cool one, darkest of the night’s entries, and left me wanting just a little more. Another cool script, I was just hoping to see both director and actor really dig into it a little more. But I’ll be watching out for wee Miss Bueneman in the future…she does herself proud in a tricky performance as an almost intentionally unrelatable character. Good food for thought, this one.

Finally, after a bit of sweet live music in the studio, the evening was finished up by Ryan Nadon’s THE ANOMALY, directed by Colin Giles. A merry bit of retro-themed lunacy, the show stars Paul Piekoszewski as Joseph Baxter, a 60’s scientist investigating a mysterious chunk off meteorite in his home lab. Enter assistant and good lad Robert (DJ Johnston, back for the second time tonight), who balances work with the Doc and trying to date his lovely daughter Emily (Joy Mwandemange). All would be going swimmingly if it weren’t for Joseph’s money-hungry vamp of a wife Margaret (Katie Volkert, ta king a break from playing a petulant British teenager) and her obedient lover David (Matthew Godin). This one is a crowd-pleaser by design, with scenery chewing performances all around in just the right pitch, working well with a funny script and smooth direction. Some big laughs, even for YI, in this one, and well-earned. (And on a completely unrelated note, hey Katie Volkert…I see from the program that you’re from Manitoulin Island, where I’m going at the end of summer for clown camp. If you have any advice for the tall, out-of-place guy with glasses in the crowd tonight, please say hi!)

That was it for opening night 2014…back tonight for the next round of WORLD PREMIERE SHOWS, if I didn’t mention that before. As always, great atmosphere, wonderful fun, and it’s nice to be reminded that Ottawa’s youth scene is keeping theatre alive andwell. See you there! Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

 

Monday Foofarah! – May 12th 2014

In Foofarah on May 12, 2014 at 9:54 pm

Cranking out another weekly Foofarah, despite hilarious anxiety attacks and occasional suicidal thoughts…my medal is in the mail, right? On with the show! What’s to see this week?

y12014

Well, there’s MY BRILLIANT DIVORCE wrapping up at the Gladstone, as well as MAURITIUS finishing over at Ottawa Little Theatre. Premiereing we have OIL AND WATER at the NAC Theatre, LE PROMENIOIR in the studio. Over Gatineau way, FAUSSES RUMEURS launches at Theatre de L’Ile, and at the 4th stage THE ARRANGEMENT THE MARRIAGE AND ME plays for one night only. INHERIT THE WIND starts in Kanata, the OTTAWA INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN’S FESTIVAL plays until Wednesday at Lebreton Flats, and the 16th YOUTH INFRINGEMENT FESTIVAL runs this week at Arts Court Theatre! And for your dinner theatre pleasure, DIAL M FOR MOUNTIE is at the Velvet Room. Sorted!

ABORTION: Earlier this week I tried to check out a movie on my day off. And since we ain’t got no more movie theatres downtown (except the Bytowne and Mayfair, which are awesome but sometimes I want to see superheroes, right?) That meant a trek on the bus out to the boonies somewhere…I settled on Silver City, out Gloucester way. But I hadn’t planned well…that day was the day of a massive protest on parliament hill and thereabouts, by our avid ‘pro-life’ crowd, or the ‘anti-choice’ crowd, depending on who you’re talking to. This meant me being trapped on the 95 for about 45 minutes going exactly nowhere, until eventually we had to practically threaten the poor driver to let us off the damn bus. It wasn’t the best way to spend the day off, for sure, but it did give me time to think about the issue at hand. Here are a few bullet points I came up with during my isolation:

– I get where the vitriol comes from, I really do. I don’t want to get into name-calling, even IF they did make me miss Amazing Spider Man 2 that day (in the long run, a minor issue and possibly even a favour). Most of the Pro-life crowd are no more ‘anti-choice’ than the pro-choice crowd is ‘anti-life’. There are exceptions on the fringe, of course, but I do understand the core issue for a lot of them. I just disagree, is all. To me, the difference between abortion and killing babies is like the difference between scrapping a chapter in the novel you’re working on, and burning books. While tangentially related on a certain level, they are, in all important aspects, completely different animals.

– This is just a theory on my part, but something I strongly suspect nonetheless: if it were men who got pregnant, this conversation would be LONG over. A few rousing and loud speeches about personal freedom and some perfectly reasonable ‘How DARE you’’s later, and we’d all move on. The argument persists because, and this is the terrible truth of it, most of our world still holds onto the idea that women’s opinions can be summarily dismissed by virtue of the fact that they are the opinions of women. This isn’t publicly stated very often (except occasionally on Fox News), but if you look it’s pretty easy to spot. Even worse, it ain’t just men who hold this ugly idea. I think things are getting better, but too slow for many of our tastes.

– I have no children, but do have a pair of precocious Nieces whom I adore and look up to. And while I’m thrilled that my sister chose not to have an abortion during these instances (not that I think she was contemplating anything like that, this is just an example), I’m also glad that she DID have the choice. And I hope my nieces grow up to be wise, wonderful, healthy and strong women who have full access to reliable birth control and safe abortion technology so that, should the moment arise, they can make the same informed decision that was their Mothers right. And it annoys me that there are people out there who don’t want my nieces to have that right. Who think that they have the authority to preemptively make that decision FOR my nieces, without ever meeting them. All I can really ask these people is..who the Hell do you think you ARE? Trust the ladies to make their own choices, dig? And let me see shitty superhero movies if I want to. It’s MY LIFE!! Speaking of which, here’s the amazing title song to HOWARD THE DUCK:


CHUGGERS: Oh, God, the chuggers. They’re getting to me, I won’t deny it. You know who I’m talking about…the ‘Charity Muggers’, those well-intentioned young clipboard-wielding psychopaths lurking on every second downtown intersection these days, waiting with an overly aggressive sales pitch and a smile to try and get you to fork over your cash to the cause du jour. And I am officially DONE with these kids. Not that I think they intend evil or anything, just that it’s really time to retire this schtick and think of something new. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m pretty sure I get hit up for cash MORE than enough in the downtown core as it is without a bunch of amped-up saleskids chasing me down and calling me ‘bro’ and trying to convince me to hand over my private banking information to a stranger on a streetcorner (spoiler alert: never gonna happen.) It’s gotten to the point where I’ll cross the street in a direction antagonistic to my destination just to avoid these goddamn critters. Am I just a grumpy old fuck? Okay yes, a bit, but tell me I’m alone in this, I dare you! I can’t take it no more….I’m starting to actively dislike the causes these guys are hying, just by association. I want to like Amnesty International again!! Let me walk down Bank Street in blissful self-isolation again, I beg of you! Get a new gameplan, charities, think outside the box, and more importantly, think off the sidewalks. WAY off. I’m walkin’ here. And now for something completely different, here’s some awesome fucking VENTURES goodness from my fav’rit album growing up:

CROWDFUNDER OF THE WEEK: I realized that, in my haste, I actually forgot to include one of these last week. I forgive myself, it’s a new segment..but on the other hand, I don’t forgive myself, and FUCK ME! But I’ll make it up to you, by including TWO great places to throw your money at, and both without bothering you on Bank street in any way whatsoever.

First up is the amazing Natalie Joy Quesnel: Mom, teacher, artist, and Executive Producer of the Fringe Festival in our Hearts. She’s got a fantastic-sounding new one-woman show coming to the Ottawa Fringe Festival this year, FIRST WORDS, and is looking to shore it up with a little funding, and you all WANT to help her out with that. Dramaturged and directed by the incredible Emily Pearlman, sound by Steve Goddam Lafond…it is gonna be SOLID. Check out her page, watch her video, and then please, help out in any way you can. I’m very proud to call this wonderful lady a friend, and can’t wait to see this show. You can’t either. Skip the next take-out latte and help a true artist out…you’ll be glad you did.

http://fwyc.ca/campaigns/first-words

Second is one that you may have already seen around, on account of the whipsmart production team at work behind it, but it’s such a great cause I have to pimp it a little more. Nancy Kenny is a longtime friend, and the reason I have cat hair on everything I own, and she’s going on the road this year with her great show ROLLER DERBY SAVED MY SOUL (which I’ll be seeing for the 6th time at the end of this month). But more than that, she’ll be taking a crew along with her on her cross-Canada tour to create a feature-length documentary on the Fringe circuit life, called ON THE FRINGE. And folks, this is a movie that NEEDS TO HAPPEN! Nancy is a passionate performer, and has the tenacity and the drive to do this right…and with the team she’s assembled (including director Cory Thibert of May Can Theatre and Wolf Pelt Productions), I have all faith this will be a movie that we can ALL be proud of…the Fringe circuit is one of the most beautifully unique things about Canadian Theatre culture, and I can’t wait to see it documented in the way it deserves. You can help. Donate what you can, share the link even if you can’t spare the cash, tell your friends all across this land…the doc will be following not only Nancy, but fellow Fringe vets like Jem Rolls, Martin Dockery, Venessa Quesnelle, and who knows who else. Help out, gang…it’s the right thing to do.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/on-the-fringe-documentary

And now, to help soften the blow of what comes next, fucking Guitar Wolf:

NOW, ABOUT THAT ‘SUICIDAL THOUGHTS’ REMARK IN THE OPENING PARAGRAPH: Okay, not really, okay? Take it easy. I mean, yes, I DO think about it. Kind of in an abstract way, though…trust me, my fear of death is WAY too high to ever seriously contemplate the S word. But I will admit, when my mood gets progressively darker and I grow more isolated (kinda like is happening right about now) that thought just creeps into my mind, like a terrible TV show running in the background and I can’t reach the remote. I wrote a shitty piece of poetry about it called THE WORD when I was a teenager or thereabouts, and since I can’t find the original (I actually looked), here’s the gist of it:

There’s this word that pops into my head from time to time. Suicide. I don’t like the word. I hate it. I would never, ever do it. Not if my life were a million years. Never. I want to LIVE.

…but then, if I hate it so much…why is the word there, at all?

Jesus. How annoyed am I that I’ve made exactly zero emotional progress from my teen years to now? Still the same dumb loner, still not understanding at all why ANY of you would like me, ever. If you all disown me, I understand. I certainly wouldn’t have the patience for my bullshit that you all seem to have (thanks very much for that, by the by). In the meantime, here’s some apropos Suicidal Tendencies coolness to play us out this week:

Peace, love and soul, Ottawa…and I’ll try and be a little more positive next week, deal?  Deal.

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

 

Kidsfest 2014 – I ON THE SKY and DINOSAUR ZOO

In Theatre on May 12, 2014 at 6:53 pm

Had a rare Monday off of work today, so decided to take an even rarer stab at daytime theatre, with a return trip to the OTTAWA INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN’S FESTIVAL. I made it out to the opening night showing of FROGZ from Imago Theatre on Friday, but didn’t think I’d get to see any of the other pieces. And frankly, I almost didn’t go today, with the call of bacon and eggs at the Wellington diner a powerful siren song in my mind. Glad I resisted.

oicf2014

Located at Lebreton flasts in a myriad of tents and venues, you can only see a couple of shows on any given day with the scheduling…a tough blow to a Fringer used to catching 4 or 5 in a row in a festival atmosphere, but I get that things run differently at a Children’s event. So I picked my shows and bought my tickets. And as I bade my time, you could see that there was plenty to do besides the more theatrical aspects of the festival…a supercool face-painting tent looked insanely popular, and I recognized local heroes Alix Sideris and Patrice-Ann Forbes making the rounds, part of the Alice in Wonderland-themes TEA PARTY event occurring at regular intervals throughout the day in one of the outdoor areas. I even caught some of the 100WATT kids doing poetry reading inside one of the big tents, very neat.

But my first show was up, inside the War Museum itself in the lovely Barney Danson Theatre. Called I ON THE SKY, it was the creation of Montreal’s DynamO Theatre, an hourlong piece of nonverbal, physical theatre that had me intrigued. After about ten minutes, it damn near had me in tears. Starring the impressively talented team of Lauriane Brabant, Frederic Nadeau, Andreanne Joubert, Hugues Sarra-Bournet and Marie-Eve Lafontaine, SKY tells the wordless tale of a lone woman taking shelter from a storm on a park bench (No, I don’t get how that works either, but play along, okay?). There she sees and interacts with numerous passersby, including a sleepy custodian who loves to dance, an old baglady feeding the pigeons, a self-obsessed diva and many more. But there’s one person in particular, a young runaway girl whose fate seems to become intertwined with the lady’s, and watching their twin tales unfold is a thing of beauty. DynamO uses music, video backdrop, dance and positively breathtaking physical acrobatics (aided by an almost magically placed trampoline) to create what is definitely going to be on my top ten list of shows for 2014. Not specifically ‘children’s theatre’, but certainly accessible to all, SKY is heartbreaking, life-affirming and universal. An utterly affecting and effective hour of wonder.

It was almost hard to stick around the festival after that one…could anything top that?? But I of course stuck around, because theatre marches on, and also there was kick-ass wood fired pizza on hand to help pass the time. After that tasty treat, I was up for one of the main draws of the fest, Australia’s ERTH with DINOSAUR ZOO. Set up like a proper live animal show, our congenial Aussie host Mike entertained the kids as we all settled in on bales of straw or mats on the ground, all the while warning us that we COULD very well get eaten during the following hour. And while I knew that wasn’t exactly true, he sold it well, got the kids on his side, and set about introducing us to some of Australia’s finest dinosaur specimens. Definitely a show for kids, with lots of show and tell moments and educational riffs about creatures of old, but still very entertaining stuff. Aided by a pair of Dino-Wranglers, Erth trot out everything from adorable baby dinos to ancient oversized dragonflies, before unveiling the gasp-inducing finale, a monstrous T-Rex style carnivore that sent the kids absolutely SCATTERING when he made his impressive, roaring entrance. This gang knows their puppetry AND their kids, and they played both like the experts they are, scaring the bejeezus out of the kids and making gaping giggling fools out of the older folks like me in the crowd. Best time I’ve spent sitting on a haybale in a LONG time, I don’t mind saying.

He TOTALLY reeked of weed...so awkward.

One of Erth’s more scene-stealing actors, on the prowl.

That was it for the day….things wrap up early at this Festival…and sadly, I won’t be able to return for all the rest of this years offerings. Believe me, now I really, really want to. Memo to self for next year…book time off work. Next year, I’m seeing EVERYTHING. Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Frogs vs.Dinosaurs

In Theatre on May 9, 2014 at 10:29 pm

So I walked away from free beer tonight. Let me tell you all about it.

Got an invite to head over to Lebreton Flats tonight and check out the opening shenanigans for the 19th annual OTTAWA INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN’S FESTIVAl, which sounded pretty swell as I still had never managed to make it out to this festival, ever. I know, right? Well, this year was the year, and I managed to find the tent in question, and tried my hardest not to look like a total creep, standing there by myself with a shaved head and black trenchcoat amidst a sea of little children. It wasn’t easy, I don’t mind saying, but fortunately, someone even more out of place came along and distracted everyone.

He TOTALLY reeked of weed...so awkward.

He TOTALLY reeked of weed…so awkward.

That, of course, was one of the giant-sized dino-puppets from ERTH’S DINOSAUR ZOO, a show that came all the way from Australia to impress the hell out of children and their parents. It seemed to be working out pretty well for them so far. After that coolness, me and th rest of the sold-out opening crowd filled the beans out of Tent #1 to catch the main show of the evening, Imago’s FROGZ. A sweet physical theatre team outta the US of A, Imago does indeed start the show off with a trio of Frogs getting all wacky up in the space, but that’s only the beginning. The show expands to include babies vs balls, penguins playing musical chairs, dueling concertinas, and a paper bag that must be seen to be believed. It was a heck of an impressive show from some clearly ridiculously capable performers. And the kids seemed to dig it almost as much as me…lucky for them there’s a lot more shows to catch over the next few days. More theatre out of Australia with KAPUT, England’s THE CITY AND IRIS, and homegrown goodness like PINOCCHIO DANS MA VALISE, A LA BELLE ETOILE, and I ON THE SKY. Plus multiple tents filled with activities and music, including Kristina Watt’s celebrated 100 WATT Earth Stage…right now is a good time to be a kid in Ottawa, folks. And as the organizers proudly reminded us, this is the ONLY festival of its kind in all of Ontario, so let’s take advantage, hokay?

oicf2014

After the show was a big reception in the dining tent, with food courtesy of Detroit Soul Food and, like I mentioned, free beer. But as dark and low as I may be these days, I am apparently not SO dark and low that I’m going to start drinking alone in a tent full of children. I politely made my escape, instead taking the time to figure out how I can manage to come back and catch a few more shows before it’s all over on Wednesday. If little kids can do it, then by fun, so can I! Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

the Benevolence of Evil

In Theatre on May 7, 2014 at 8:43 am

Last night I saw two great pieces of theatre. The first was actually a movie, Jim Jarmusch’s MYSTERY TRAIN that I caught at the Bytowne cinema while I had some time to kill, and I can’t believe I hadn’t seen this ‘89 beauty yet. It was so cool and so great that I already forgive Jarmusch for the goddam vampire movie he directed, whose trailer preceded the film. Fucking vampires…come off it. But MYSTERY TRAIN? That was pretty boss.

But as noted, I really only hit the movies to fill up some time between work and theatre, the usual two sole modalities of my existence (besides drinking alone, but I’m only human). This night I was off to good old Arts Court to catch the latest from Counterpoint Players, least seen hosting a few performances of Bronwyn Steinberg’s delightful one-hander OCCUPY ME. Bronwyn, Counterpoint’s artistic director, directed this latest ambitious production, thee world premiere of Darrah Teitel’s CORPUS. I lucked out and bumped into OTS superstar Alexis Scott en route to the theatre, so we got to take in the tale together. And damn, what a tale.

Sascha Cole as Megan in CORPUS.  Photo by Kathryn Reeves.

Sascha Cole as Megan in CORPUS. Photo by Kathryn Reeves.

CORPUS takes place in two times and places. One of those places is Auschwitz, and the time is. You guessed it, WWII, or the waning days thereof. Here we meet young SS wife Eva (Colleen Sutton), whose husband, smelling blood in the water, has arranged for a Jewish prisoner (Eli, played by Eric Craig) to teach her Polish. But Eva has bigger plans than that, including escape for her and Eli both.

Meanwhile, 60 years later in Canada, excitable undergrad Megan White (Sascha Cole) is stalking war criminals in online chatrooms, and happily letting her mentor Homer (John Koensgen) take all the credit. Enter Heinrich (Daniel Sadavoy), a German squeegee kid and hacker who tracks Megan down and begins an online affair with her, but with an ulterior motive…his grandmother is none other than Eva herself (Laurie Fyffe) and she want to tell her story before it’s too late. But will she tell the REAL story?

Now right off the top, I know what you’re thinking…a play about the holocaust? HEAVY. But step back, McFly, because there’s a lot more to CORPUS than meets the eye. The play does delve quite merrily into murky philosophical ground like the nature of evil and how our circumstances shape our reactions, and offers more than enough food for thought to fuel many and after-theatre conversation for hours. And certainly, the war-year scenes are tense as Hell, with Colleen ‘Ridergirl’ Sutton positively fucking chilling as the calculating Eva. And Eric Craig, who last impressed the Heck out of me at the Extremely Short Play Festival, is just jaw-droppingly good as Sonderkommando Eli, a walking contradiction who find himself in another impossible moral scenario against his will. Laurie Fyffe bridges the gap between the eras beautifully as the frail, failing elder Eva, haunted by the ghosts of her past with the aid of some brilliant staging by Steinberg.

corpus

But I have to say, the thing that shocked me the most about this show wasn’t the charged content or subject matter, but the relationship between high-strung and dorky Megan and the weirdly endearing Heinrich. What starts off as a strange bit of cyber-stalking subplot turns very smartly into one of the best 21st century love stories I’ve yet seen on a stage. Sascha Cole is ridiculously loveable as Megan, especially in a fantasy sequence in which she imagines her success as revenge against all her mean old middle school profs. Her and Heinrich (a marvelous Daniel Sadavoy, giving the play much needed joy) are an utter delight with every interaction, almost always staged using projections to reflect their faraway, online status so you can choose whether to watch them in real-life or onscreen. And while Megan’s relationship with Homer was a touch too reminiscent of GOODNIGHT DESDEMONA for comfort (this sort of mentor/student abuse must happen all the damn time), this is the most fun I’ve seen John Koensgen having on stage in a while, and I loved it.

To sum up…CORPUS is one of the best shows of the year, in a year that’s already had some amazing shows. Miss it at your peril, my friends, these are theatre pros at the top of their game and they came to play. Utterly engaging, wonderfully directed, and potentially bitterly divisive…what more could you ask for? Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

 

 

 

Monday Foofarah! – May 5th 2014

In Foofarah on May 5, 2014 at 10:35 pm

Another week, another Foofarah…who knew I could be this productive? And does this really count AS being productive? Doesn’t that require the creation of something useful? I suppose I should stop splitting hairs, I don’t have that many to spare anymore (don’t worry, it’s growing back). Rather, let’s get down to business, and see if I actually have enough in my head to fill another one of these nonsense posts!

First up, let’s see what’s playing in town this week, so you can decide what order you’ree going to see ALL OF THE THINGS in, because you are, right? Right.

Heloise Drouin et Chantal Tokarsky dans LE PROJET TURANDOT.  Photo: Martin Cadieux

Heloise Drouin et Chantal Tokarsky dans LE PROJET TURANDOT. Photo: Martin Cadieux

Well, there’s CORPUS from Counterpoint Players, still running this week at Arts Court Theatre. MAURITIUS at the Ottawa Little Theatre. HUFF at the NAC Studio from Cliff Cardinal. LE PROJET TURANDOT at Studio Leonard-Beaulne, from le Theatre Tremplin. NUNSENSE A-MEN at Academic Hall, from Tototoo Theatre. DIAL M FOR MOUNTIE, the current dinner theatre from Eddie May Mysteries, is also still going. Improv-wise the latest ‘BOUT TIME from Crush Improv is on this Monday, and GRIMprov plays at the Cock’n’Lion on Wednesday. If you’re mobile, my OTS classmate Alex is partaking in RAPA’s musical production of THE FULL MONTY out Russell way…still trying to figure out how to get down there myself! And for the kids: WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE at the NAC 4th Stage. Wild Things played at last year’s OTTAWA INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN’S FESTIVAL, and its return coincides with this years festival, kicking off on Friday. I’ll be there for FROGZ on Friday, can’t wait!

COMIX: Well, this past weekend was Free Comic Book Day, and from the looks of how picked clean both the Snail and the Shoppe were when I checked them out after my brunch shift, FCBD is more popular than ever. And while I’ll have to continue hunting for my Valiant Universe Handbook, dagnabbit, I’m glad to see my other fanboy addiction is thriving to some extent.

As I’ve mentioned a time or three in these pages before, I’m a Valiant fan from back in the 90’s, and am so far delighted with their modern-day resurrection. Titles like ARCHER AND ARMSTRONG and HARBINGER continue to knock it out of the park month after month, the new RAI is so flippin’ gorgeous I can hardly bear to look at it, and the upcoming ARMOR HUNTERS event looks like major fun. But what the Hell ELSE do I buy? After a lifetime of being a DC man, the soulless ‘new 52′ initiative has cured me of that (although Fringe bigshot Pat Gauthier tells me the current BATMAN title is still worth picking up). I actually AM buying a DC Batman title, but it’s the awesomely retro BATMAN ‘66, based on the classic tv series and handled just perfectly. There’s a Green Hornet crossover coming up, y’all should check it out for sure.

This could be YOURS!

This could be YOURS!

My Valiant addiction has spread to other publishers as well, as the classic ‘Gold Key Three’ of Turok, Magnus and Solar have been licensed by Dynamite entertainment and relaunched in their own new mini-universe, along with the revival of Gold Key mystery character Doctor Spektor later this month. I’m mostly enjoying them so far…a few sweeping changes in the characters that I call into question, like the elimination of the ‘Lost Land’ concept from Turok. I always wonder, why license the character if you’re not interested in using 90% of what made them unique? And a lot of the revamp makes me giggle, because they’re clearly inspired by and using so much of the original reboot at Valiant, from the ‘Dinosaur Hunter’ tagline on Turok right down to having Bob Layton do BWS-inspired cover riffs for Solar. But it’s all good, and I’ll keep buying for the time being. But I could probably do with a little more indie street cred in my weekly haul…any rec’s for me? Let’s get some comment threading going, comic-discussion style!

#VISI4IUM: Still edging towards the big anniversary party on June the 1st! Had my first proper rehearsal last night, getting what will be my second vocal masque (a term coined for our end-of-semester presentations at the Ottawa Theatre School) off the page and onto its feet. And as always when that happens, I learned a lot right away. Even played a bit with some of the Laban techniques that Alix Sideris drilled into me at her workshop last week, something I plan to do with scripts until the day I die. I’ll need to do some wardrobe shopping for the second masque, and will need some help with that part. But at least mine won’t be the only OTS style vocal masque appearing that night…esteemed graduate Madeleine Hall will be performing HER epic final masque, and I can’t wait for y’all to see this one. I’m pretty obviously at this point an OTS keener, and me and Maddy aren’t the only alumni who will be representing at the party. The fantastic Hannah Gibson-Fraser and Jodi Morden have teamed up and created Pretty Ugly Productions, and will be performing a sneak peek into their new Fringe show RACHEL AND ZOE. Likewise, my second year heroes Alexa Higgins and Phil Merriman will be previewing their show GETTING THROUGH (Written by another OTSer, Aidan Dewhirst!). Plus the inimitable Nick Wade himself, Nick Fournier will be going solo in a piece all his own that I can’t wait to see. It’s gonna be a killer night, and I really hope you pack the joint. And if anyone is still interested in being part of the performance, give me a shout at visitor.tba@gmail.com , still room on the bill!

GT Fringe

TACTICS: Okay, so I till haven’t seen CORPUS, and shame on me. I hear it’s faboo, and I’ll be there early next week to catch it. That’s the latest show from the Counterpoint Players, as mentioned earlier, who are also spearheading a new multi-show initiative starting later this year, called TACTICS. Featuring four shows from four different companies in a very cool sounding season, the first show will be a welcome return for local fav’rits Evolution Theatre (fresh off some Rideau award honors for HROSES) with their latest, THE YOUNG LADY IN WHITE. A new translation by Maureen Labonte of a play from Dominick Parenteau-Lebeuf, I managed to catch a free reading of the piece this weekend at Arts Court. I don’t wanna spoil much about the plot this early in the proceedings, but the reading by Catriona Leger, Zachary Counsil and John Doucet was just goddamned lovely and the story, featuring a beautiful and original look at the history of the last century or so through some very unique eyes, is gonna be a showstopper. I’m dying to see how Chris Bedford ends up staging the whole thing (I couldn’t help but get some ideas of my own during the reading), and also wonder if this will be the final cast or if auditions will take place. Not that there’s anything wrong with the dream team they had up there already…most directors would kill for a trio of that calibre. The show proper will apparently go up this November, so start making life plans to be nearby when that happens NOW. It will be worth it.

MENTAL HEALTH: I had a whole bit written about the state of my heart/mind mashup lately and why it kept me from going out to ‘Bout Time tonight, but it was getting all kinds of dark that might make somebody call someone, and then someone would come over and take away all my sharp things that I totally need for cutting baloney and tomatoes and stuff (reminder: I am a PROFESSIONAL COOK, dammit), so let’s just say IT’S BEEN BETTER, and here’s Maria Bamford on Doctor Katz:

And on that fantastic note…same time next week, yeah?  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)