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Archive for January, 2015|Monthly archive page

An Apple a Day…

In Theatre on January 27, 2015 at 11:08 am

Okay…I’m as sick as a particularly ill dog just now, can’t hardly speak, and my head and chest feel like they’re filled with pudding (in the non-wonderful way), so forgive me for being terribly late with this one, and I hope anything I write makes sense. Mustering up the meagre energy necessary even for basic bloggery can be a daunting task when you’re a precious, wilting flower like myself. But what’s art without suffering? I guess a Beach Boys album or something…nevermind, it was a rhetorical question!

So anyhow, a couple days ago I made it out to Arts Court for the second entry in TACTICS, the new little Theatre series that could. Having been kicked off with Evolution Theatre’s YOUNG LADY IN WHITE a ways back, it was time to keep the theatrical ball rolling courtesy of miss Lisa Jeans and her new piece, LIGHT. Shining said light on the occasionally taboo subject of eating disorders, the show follows Doctor Helen Rose, a brilliant Doctor with ambition, drive, a promising career, and a painfully calorie-free daily diet that she obsessively maintains, substituting coffee and running for balanced breakfasts. ‘You have to be light to fly’, as her recurring mantra goes…and when Doc Rose gets an idea in her head, she is nothing if not tenacious. Slowly but surely her relationships with her fiance and family suffer, her work falters, and her health and well-being teeter on the edge, all the while her belief in her quest for ‘perfection’ never faltering.

light

Aided by impressive sound and video work from Pixie Cram, Jason Sonier and Elizabeth MacKinnon, with guest-video cameos from some spiffy local Ottawa actors like Michelle LeBlanc, Tim Oberholzer, Mado Manseau and more, LIGHT is a daring and uncompromising theatrical punch to the gut. Lisa is a singular performer, and I loved the choice to make the protagonist both a doctor AND indisputably brilliant…someone who would seem to possess all the tools necessary to recognize a harmful eating disorder when its right in front of her, which is precisely the point…IQ has nothing to do with it. Doc Rose is frustratingly hardheaded as she barrels down her path… ‘I’m not rationalizing, I’m rational’, she insists, even as things begin to crash down around her. The script also does a very nice job illustrating the less-than-sympathetic way others can view someone with an eating disorder (‘this is the thanks we get?’) as if it were a dietary choice as simple as passing on red meat. The show is very cool in staging…Eleanor Crowder is listed as Dramaturge, and she and Lisa have worked some magic in the Arts Court space. Technology and performance mesh beautifully here to make a show unlike any I’ve caught in a long while, and one I think Ottawa audiences need to support. Honest, if I weren’t so head-thumpingly sick, I might go catch it again this week. All of you go for me, deal? Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid (and Winston)
Side note: I caught another show about eating disorders, THE DYSMORPHIA DIET by Clay Nikiforuk, last year at the Montreal Fringe Festival…happy to say neither of them came off as an ‘issue play’, while still doing a solid job of spotlighting the important issues at their beating core. Hurrah to awesome women making great theatre about important shit!

Two Pints of Bitter

In Theatre on January 21, 2015 at 8:28 am

Starting off with an apology…I was slated to see Jim Cartwright’s TWO at the Gladstone Theatre this past Saturday night, but thought I’d be a clever little specimen and catch the absolute last possible bus to make it to the show on time. And then some even MORE clever fellow decided to have some sort of medical infarction/episode/whatever on said bus, necessitating the arrival of a half-dozen emergency personnel, a few police, and absolutely no chance of me making it to the show on time. Way to go, human frailty. You win AGAIN.

Slow clap, mortal weakness.  Slow clap.

Slow clap, mortal weakness. Slow clap.

But I would not deterred, by cracky, so once Tuesday rolled around I tried again and this time successfully managed the task of catching a city bus, making it to the Gladstone in plenty of time. The show, as mentioned, was TWO from 100 Monkeys Productions and directed by the man himself, John P.Kelly. Set in a typical English pub over the course of a single evening, the show stars two of Ottawa’s greatest, Richard Gelinas and Michelle LeBlanc. They appear as both the husband and wife landlords who anchor the whole story, as well as a flurry of guests, from belligerent rageaholics to tired old ladies and gents enjoying their one spot of joy in a dreary day. Through it all we witness the simmering rage between the pair behind the pumps, and slowly but surely the reasons behind it all comes out. Nothing like a night at the pub too spill some secrets, after all.

Michelle LeBlanc and Richard Gelinas in TWO (pic by Lois Siegel)

Michelle LeBlanc and Richard Gelinas in TWO (pic by Lois Siegel)

Cartwright, who writes dialogue so eerily real at times I’d be tempted to believe this show was a verbatim piece, pens some marvellous characters and scenes in this show, which LeBlanc and Gelinas dig into with wild abandon. The first act is highlighted by a wonderful and hilarious courting dance between a would-be lothario and his meek but wily galpal. Act two hits some graver notes, starting out with a scene of an abusive husband that will set your teeth to grating in its quiet but all-too-honest brutality. Happily, it gets balanced later on with a beautifully serene moment of two goofy old retirees visiting the pub just to watch some telly.

Two

TWO is hysterical at times, and painfully sad as well, and thanks to masterful work from Richard and Michelle it never rings false. Intimate in nature, I strongly advise the bolder among you to take advantage of John Kelly’s sneakily brilliant staging to grab a table on the stage itself, turning the audience into the pub patrons (and yes, you can bring your actual drinks onto the stage with you…how authentic is that??). I’ll leave it to more well-travelled folk than myself to say if all the myriad of local accents at play in the show were spot-on or not, but they sounded good to me. I could have watched another hour or two of these two actors delivering this caliber of work with a smashing director at the helm, and wouldn’t mind at all coming back for another night out.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid (and Winston)

Clybourne Park, Then and Now

In Uncategorized on January 15, 2015 at 8:39 am

So my 2015 is off to a decently creative start. Hit up the Company of Fools fundraiser a few weeks back, HAIRY APE rehearsals have started up again with Chamber Theatre Hintonburg, and I’ve finally restarted my long-lapsed practice of reading on the bus (I’ve been woefully off my reading these past couple of years, something I’m trying hard to correct these days).

But more importantly, I’ve finally gotten out to see some full-on theatre. After inexcusably missing the previous shows in their 102nd season, I at long last returned to the Ottawa Little Theatre last night for look at the their latest bit, an Ottawa premiere of a play so laden down with impressive awards it’s amazing they can actually get it on its feet. But manage they did, and with director Chantal Plante at the helm, Bruce Norris’ CLYBOURNE PARK has been brought to life, a little slice of Chicago right here in Canada’s capitol. Or rather, two slices (one slice of Chicago-style is NEVER enough), as Norris script splits into two neatly divided acts, each taking place in the same suburban Chi-town home, taking a scrutinizing glare at race relations then (1959) and now (2009). The ensemble cast each play a different character in either era, giving the play a wonderful freshness as well as a delightfully curious ‘cracked mirror’ effect on the whole.

clybourne

Act I finds Bev and Russ (Laura Webster and Lawrence Evenchick) selling their family home after a tragedy they can’t seem to put past them. But a local busybody (David Holton) finds out that the home has been purchased by a – gasp – coloured family (‘don’t we say ‘negro’ now?’ asks well-meaning minister Jim, played by JT Morris), and arrives to try and talk some sense into the vacating Russ. That he spews his thinly disguised racism right in front of Bev and Russ’ housekeeper Francine and her husband Albert (Cherie Hoyte and Eze Leno) makes it all the more surreally real, grasping at thin straws like Francine not liking to ski as evidence that the races cannot possibly coexist. Only Karl’s blissfully deaf wife Betsy (Kirby Naftel) escapes the ensuing melee relatively unscathed.

JT Morris, Laura Webster and Lawrence Evenchick, 1959.

JT Morris, Laura Webster and Lawrence Evenchick, 1959.

Flash forward to 50 years later…a young white couple (Holton and Naftel) are readying major renovations on the very same house, prompting a neighbourhood meeting about zoning laws and height restrictions and what-not, with some ages old resentment bubbling beneath the surface. Lawyers (Webster and Morris) glare at one another, and a clash with another local couple (Hoyte and Leno) simmers for a spell until inevitably boiling over. All the while the ghost of 1959 looms over thee proceedings…

Kirby Naftel, Cherie Hoyte, Eze Leno and David Holton, 2009.

Kirby Naftel, Cherie Hoyte, Eze Leno and David Holton, 2009.

PARK is a pretty sweet time, with some brutally frank exchanges and lines that you have to laugh at, because they make you too uncomfortable to do anything else. I found the first act more compelling than the second, but that’s me..see it yourself and tell me which part worked best for you. Evenchick’s rigid, broken Russ makes the first act riveting, especially when clashing with the insufferable Karl (a wonderful shithead courtesy of David Holton), and Cherie Hoyte’s proud Francine has incredible bursts of power throughout. Webster, too, is great as the stoic and suffering Bev, and I particularly loved a late-act exchange between her and Eze Leno. Act II gets stolen a bit by Naftel as outspoken Lindsey, but it’s a terrifically entertaining theft to witness. Morris has great moments as grumpy lawyer Tom, too. Props as well to OLT set dude extraordinaire Robin Riddihough, for a brilliant job of transforming the 50’s dream home into a modern fixer-upper between acts, plus some nice soundscaping from Bob Krukowski. The play gives us no easy answers for a problem that has no such quick fixes, but a solid ensemble gives us an exciting look at the shifting sands of time and race, via the microcosm of one neighbourhood. And the question over whether things have actually gotten better, or if we just try really hard to make it LOOK like they have, may linger with you. They certainly should, at any rate. Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid (and Winston)

One Year Later – Where are we Now?

In Theatre on January 6, 2015 at 4:51 pm

Feeling a little motivated today, so I wanted to write a quickie post, about the reason I’m feeling motivated. It’s a bit of an anniversary this week, or as I like to call it, a Sadiversary…it was a year ago now that my second home at the Ottawa Theatre School closed its doors forever, and left the Theatre scene in Ottawa the poorer for it. I treated myself to a nostalgic breakfast outing today at our unofficial OTS eatery the Newport, then swung by the old alma mater for a teary look back. I still miss it, and always will.

OTS logo

BUT, as doc Leary reminded us, nostalgia is the surest way to stifle growth, so I cling to my rallying cry of Onwards and Upwards. Because looking back is all well and good on occasion, but it’s the horizon where I’d like to fix my eyes for this post, and see what some of my fellow OTS gangsters are getting themselves up to these days. We’ve lost a few to different shores, of course…good old Drew Moore and Ridergirl Colleen Sutton have both answered the call of the bright lights of Toronto recently, and I hope they own that town within the year (Jonah Allingham has already been softening them up, doing some comedy work at the venerable Second City). And many, including my beloved classmates Kathryn and Dania, are continuing their theatrical education elsewhere…but I know they still think of us from time to time. 🙂

Caitlin Corbett, who with her company HERE BE DRAGONS put on such productions in the past as MORNINGSTAR and IMMOLATION is breaking new ground and putting together a new mini-festival to happen in April, featuring original works based around the common theme of mental illness. This amazing and exciting venture, called THE EDGE OF THE MAP, is currently seeking contributors, and I hope Caitlin and company won’t mind me republishing their open call here:

****************

Call for Submissions!
Attention all local established and emerging theatre companies! Here Be Dragons Productions will be hosting a three day festival of plays this April (dates to be announced) entitled The Edge of the Map. This festival will be an exploration of the taboo subject of mental illness and mental health. This is a subject that will touch all of our lives at some point or another, whether we ourselves or someone we love suffer from anxiety or depression, OCD or bipolar disorder and many others.
Our hope is to spark conversations about mental health by portraying it as another common aspect of life and by humanizing those touched by mental illness by showing them as complete, fully-rounded people. They live, they work, they laugh, cry, love. They’re just like us. They are us. 1 in 5 Canadians will directly experience mental illness in their lifetime, and all Canadians will be affected through a family member, friend, partner or colleague.
What are we looking for?
We are looking for 6 pieces that are approx. 10-15 minutes in length. The pieces must focus on the topic of mental illness but otherwise we give you total freedom. They can be comedic or dramatic, can take the form of fables or rock operas or slam poetry or movement or anything in between. Submissions will be chosen based on creativity, entertainment value, emotional honesty and respect for the subject. Please be aware that our venue (Club SAW) has only basic lighting. Keep sets and technical needs as simple as you can.
What’s in it for you?
Here Be Dragons operates under a profit sharing module. All door sales will be spilt up amongst the participating companies with proceeds from the bar going to cover the costs of the event.
What should you send us?
A script roughly 10 pages in length. If your work is more movement based or otherwise unconventional and non-script friendly then send us a performance treatment or a one page description of what you plan to do or perhaps a video of past or present work or what ever else you deem appropriate. Please also send us the resumes of any and all artists you wish to involve in the project and a main contact.
Where should we send it? And when?
Please send all submissions or inquiries to herebedragonsproductions@gmail.com by February 2nd (Groundhog Day).
So join us in charting a course off The Edge of the Map!

********************
Elsewhere, I know the brilliant Michelle LeBlanc can be seen this month in TWO at the Gladstone Theatre. In February, the legend Bobby Robert will be gracing the Ottawa Little Theatre stage in SABRINA FAIR, and Diego Arvelo will be hitting the Gladstone stage running in BANKRUPT. And come April our own Victoria Luloff will be rocking to some very packed houses as Janet in Vanity Project’s highly anticipated ROCKY HORROR SHOW.

This isn’t even touching on Fringe, where I know a gaggle of OTS alum will be turning up, including yours truly who will be debuting a new show with my Fresh Meat collaborators and OTS superstars Jodi Morden and Madeleine Hall (Madeleine and I also will both be appearing this March/April in Chamber Theatre’s THE HAIRY APE, I should gleefully mention). And of course, our teachers from the school are popping up everywhere as well…super excited for Andy Massingham’s turn in Daniel MacIvor’s BEST BROTHERS coming up at the GCTC!

This is almost certainly not a complete list…in fact, any gangsters reading this who have an upcoming project they’d like me to add to the list on this page, drop a comment to me somewhere and it shall be done (likewise if I got anything egregiously wrong so far). Mad love to all my schoolmates, and I hope you’re keeping your heads held high wherever you are. Very, very proud to be counted among you. Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, OTS (and Winston, honorary mascot)  visitor.tba@gmail.com

PS when you’re done here, go and check out good guy Henry Lee’s new Blog, chronicling his life as a late-blooming theatre practitioner, something I can very much relate to. 🙂

Valiant 2014

In comix on January 1, 2015 at 7:20 pm

Open apologies to the majority of Theatre folk reading this, as it’s a bit of a stray from my usual wheelhouse (if you’re here looking for the end-of-year Theatre post, just scroll down). But ya gotta keep your interests varied, and it turns out I have at least one other obsession besides theatre. And yes, it is becoming a bit of a merry obsession.

Valiant-Comics-Logo-600x251

I’ve raved a little here and there on this blog before about my love for Valiant Comics. It stems from their original incarnation in the early 90’s, which I still liken to what it must have felt like reading the Marvel Universe being born in the 60’s. It was a killer good time, and it gutted me and a lot of fans to see the line wither and fade. One misfired reboot from Acclaim later, it seemed like these characters might be gone for good, but the comic Gods were smiling on Valiant and a third launch arrived a few years back. Now, almost three years into a slow, steady and thoughtful reboot, the new Valiant Comics is going strong and steady, nowhere near the whopping numbers they did in their early incarnation, but maintaining a small but solid line of titles with a level of quality that is on par with anything the big houses are putting out. Seriously, they talent they’re bringing to the table on a monthly basis is damned impressive, and for the most part the better of the original line. Lately I find myself getting more and more into them..I’m seeking out variant covers, I’m buying trade collections for issues I ALREADY OWN…just because it brings me joy. Valiant has become one of my fav’rit vices, and I have no intention of giving it up. Major thanks to CEO Dinesh Shamdasani and everyone on down the line for a tremendous effort in 2014…it shows.

FAV’RIT TITLES/EVENTS OF THE YEAR

BSHC - Mission ImprobableMISSION: IMPROBABLE (from ARCHER & ARMSTRONG and BLOODSHOT AND HARD CORPS)
Fred van Lente continued to put out one of the most consistently entertaining books ever in A&A, and managed to help steer that title straight into what may be the most pitch-perfect crossover I’ve ever read. Pairing up with B&HC expertly, it was as if both titles had planned on meeting up at this time and place since they started. The story (from Josh Dysart and Christos Gage, as well as van Lente) was well-paced and exciting, furthered character development in both books, and left both titles forever changed. Sweet art from Pere Perez and Tom Raney didn’t hurt neither.

DrMirage 2THE DEATH-DEFYING DOCTOR MIRAGE
A book that took me by surprise, and perhaps single-handedly reinvigorated the whole ‘deadside’ aspect of Valiant (after a few missteps in SHADOWMAN), we’re still awaiting the finale of this 5-issue series int he new year, and I can’t wait (tho I’ll be sad to see it end). Writer Jen van Meter took this character and ran like Hell with her, in this case very nearly literally. Introducing the new Doctor Mirage as a strong, deeply flawed and not particularly friendly character who I can’t wait to see more of, this is a story I’ll be rereading as soon as I get the chance. And extra thanks to van Meter and amazing artist Roberto de la Torre for doing away with Mirage’s gratuitous cleavage from her initial Shadowman appearances…leave that jazz to DC and Marvel.

Rai 1RAI
OH MY GOD, how worth the wait was the Rai reboot? Kindt, Crain, I just…I just can’t. Wow.

AH 3-2ARMOR HUNTERS
Valiant goes just a little bigger, one-upping the previous years HARBINGER WARS event with this multi-title story about ruthless aliens coming to cleanse the Earth of the X-O armor, even if that means killing every last speck of life on the planet. Bringing together X-O Manowar, Unity, Bloodshot and Harbinger for some epic comic-book destruction, and introducing the instant fan-favourite giant robot Gin-Gr, this was a very solid sci-fi crossover with some high-stakes consequences for the Valiant U. I think this will be the first Hardcover Deluxe Edition I buy when it arrives in March.

BSHC HC 0-1H.A.R.D.CORPS #0
The more I think about this issue, the more I love it. Telling the story of the timeline of Project Rising Spirit’s elite Anti-Psiot squad from brutal initial testing days in Vietnam to their eventual dissolution post-Bloodshot, this is a smart, engaging and believable story that beautifully demonstrates the thought that went into the recreation of the Valiant roster of heroes. Bleak and powerful and leaving me wanting more. “This is monstrous work. Let monsters do it”

Harbinger-O 3-1HARBINGER: OMEGAS
Quietly rivalling Armor Hunters for scope, Joshua Dysart brought his run on the flagship HARBINGER title to a wrap with this incredible transition mini, bridging the gap from the regular title to the upcoming IMPERIUM. The Renegades succeeded in ‘outing’ Toyo Harada as a superpowered power-hungry fanatic, and probably immediately regret that fact when Harada realizes he has no further need to hold back and lets loose with all his considerable might against the rest of the world. Seizing land in Somalia and setting up a basecamp, Harada fights off the allied forces of the world while launching his vision of a perfect society, even as everyone else tries to track down the one person they think can stop him…but Peter Stanchek has other ideas. A brilliant and organic evolution to the title that keeps everything as fresh, if not more so, than when it all began. Cannot wait to see how the story continues in February.
FAV’RIT UNRESOLVED PLOTLINES (please note this isn’t a complaints list or anything…just some exciting threads still dangling in the back corridors of the Valiant U, just waiting to be exploded into life again. And rest assured, there is a certain level of spoilers ahead for some events of the past year, so be forewarned if you aren’t up to date):

Shadowman 5-1

MASTER DARQUE IS LOOSE.
At the finale of SHADOWMAN: END TIMES, heavyweight supernatural bad guy Master Darque was revived and setting out about his wicked ways, with current Shadowman Jack Boniface in his thrall. Darque is an extinction level event waiting to happen, and it’s about time for him to become the full-on planetary threat he was born to be in the new Valiant U.

HWars 3-1

H.A.R.D.CORPS IS GETTING A GRITTY REBOOT.
After being locked up after the last BLOODSHOT AND HARD CORPS storyline, Gunslinger and his crew were awaiting potentially fatal decommissioning from the brass at Project Rising Spirit, even as a newer, more brutal iteration of the Corps was being created by PRS.

AH-B 1-1
ONE OF OUR ARMOR HUNTERS IS MISSING.
The AFTERMATH one-shot was just chock-full of Easter eggs for the future, but none so immediately tantalizing as the discovery that hunter Helix, an alien being seemingly composed of pure energy, was alive and well and on the lam. Considering she was a seasoned interstellar agent specifically trained to murder anyone wearing the X-O armor, it’s plain to see why this could definitely be bad news down the road.
There are other X-Factors roaming about, too…Mammon, the deity worshipped by the 1% in ARCHER & ARMSTRONG was recently revealed to be an actual guy you could talk to, and was reworking his greedy followers into a more dangerous force than ever. Xaran, the Eternal Warrior’s violence-prone daughter, is currently unaccounted for, not to mention his dead/not-dead son Mitu. Of course, they’re not the only ones we need to keep an eye out for…

Dynamite Gold Key
THAT ‘OTHER’ VALIANT UNIVERSE.
Well, not exactly, of course, but it has to be remarked upon that, over at Dynamite this past year, the Gold Key characters who formed the crux of the original Valiant U in the 90’s made their latest return to comics, as MAGNUS, SOLAR and TUROK were joined by the newly revived DOCTOR SPEKTOR for a fresh reboot. I won’t lie, I was excited…Valiant gave me a deep love for these characters, and I’ll check them out whenever they pop up. I was pretty bummed when the promising Jim Shooter revival at Dark Horse went belly up in the blink of an eye, so was hoping that Dynamite would do them justice. With folks like current Valiant scribe Fred van Lente along for the ride, it seemed like a good bet these characters would get a decent shot. And, well…it hasn’t quite worked out.

Some swell covers, tho.

Some swell covers, tho.

I always get worried when reboots of old characters stray TOO far from the source material, and that happened for me with the new Gold Key line pretty quick. The adventures of the latest iteration of these heroes failed to make their mark, and news has already come down that all the titles will cease publication by March of next year. While I presume Dynamite will at least do a mini or one-shot to tie some stuff up, this may once again be dangling the potential return of the beloved ‘Gold Key Three’ to what many fans now consider their rightful place in the Valiant Universe. And while Valiant execs have stated that they wouldn’t want to use the characters unless they owned them outright (and the new universe has been steering just fine without them, all in all), maybe this latest licensing disappointment will convince Western Publishing to talk turkey. Mind you, Valiant has already introduced their vision of 4001 AD in RAI and ETERNAL WARRIOR, and there’s precious little room in it for Magnus’ North Am. But then, the recent Valiant-Sized QUANTUM & WOODY introduced the concept of parallel worlds into the new Valiant U, so anything’s possible. Never say never. 😉

Promo - Valiant Next-1
WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS/WISH LIST
Valiant is already beginning to roll out titles in their VALIANT NEXT promotion, which began this month with the release of THE VALIANT #1…and if this isn’t the book that puts them on the map, then I don’t even know what’s wrong with the people who make maps. Following that comes TIMEWALKER, QUANTUM & WOODY MUST DIE, IMPERIUM, DIVINITY, NINJAK and BLOODSHOT REBORN, and that’s just what’s been announced by April. Fans are still speculating as to what big event, if any, might be hitting this summer. Your guess is as good as mine, but it’s worth noting the DIVINITY mini will be ending in May, and could very feasibly lead into something major in June. Given how awesome the Valiant Next lineup looks, I’m hard pressed to make much of a wish list for the coming year, but here goes:

Shadowman 0

THE RETURN OF SHADOWMAN.
Darque being out of action is bad enough, but one of Valiant’s mainstay heroes is MIA as well, and that cannot stand. Shadowman was probably the weakest of the new Valiant relaunches, with what I believe is one of the rarer editorial mistakes to come out of the new line…that is, going mostly with the openly supernatural Acclaim aspects of the character (something tough to work into a mostly science-based comic universe), and using virtually nothing from the absolutely seminal Bob Hall run of the original series. Give this guy a leather jacket and a sax, and someone find Nettie already. It’s all jazz, and he can play. LET him.

ACTION FIGURES.
Seriously, I want an X-O figure. I NEED it. You understand.

Harbinger 22-2

A ZEPHYR SOLO SERIES.
Way, way pat time for maybe the most quietly progressive and inspiring heroines in comix to take her place at the head of a title. I get the feeling her time with Unity is not going to end well, and I’d hate for the flying fury to fade into the background. Have Faith, Valiant.

ALEX ROSS AND GRANT MORRISON.
Hey, it’s a WISH list, okay? All I’m saying is one month. ONE month of Alex Ross covers across the board (and maybe a poster of the whole Valiant gang for good measure). Is that so much to ask? I’ve waited SO LONG. And Grant…the New 52 is a snake that’s eating itself. When you’re done blowing my mind on Multiversity, come on over here where you can do some REAL universe building (you know, that might actually not get retconned out of existence in the next few years). Put this cat on Eternal Warrior (or The Visitor..!) and strap yourselves in. Can’t ya just feel it..?

Promo - tabletop

A COMPANY WIDE CROSSOVER.
Okay, some people are sick to death of this sort of thing (it’s pretty much a monthly happening at DC and Marvel the last few years), but I remember Valiant being one of the first companies to do it absolutely perfectly with the original UNITY. Getting close to time for them to school the rest of the comics world once again. Maybe not 2015, but I hope it’s in the planning. The Torment ARE coming, after all…

And that’s more, more than enough for this go=round. Thanks for the wonderful year, Valiant, you make this fanboy happy. I’ll be there every week as long as you keep doing what you’re doing..putting out great books. Peace, love and Soul,

Kevin Reid (and Winston)

2014 – Big Stoopid End of Year Post

In Theatre on January 1, 2015 at 5:06 pm

Well, so long 2014. You were a time and a half, I’ll give you that. It’s been a whirley-doodle kind of a year, and you can quote me on that, internet. I’ve got a shit-ton of stuff and looking back to get through today (don’t worry, I have whiskey AND chips, so I’ll make it), so we should get started. First up…the shows! Here’s the full lot of them from 2014 that I had the privilege to see, in pulse-pounding Alphabetical Order!!

12 Tongues
Against Gravity
Age of Arousal
Aiden Flynn Lost his Brother so he Made Another
A La Recherche des Escargots / Searching for Snails
Alice Through the Looking Glass
the Anger in Ernest and Ernestine (2)
the Anomaly
l’Araignee
‘art’
As You Like It
the Bald Soprano
Bananaramallamadingdong
Bandolier of Dreams
the Big Weed
Blazer
Broken
the Burden of Self-Awareness
Burnt at the Steak
Burnt Out
By Any Other Name
Chase and Stacey present: Joyride
Cherry on Top
Ciseaux
the City That Eats You
Classic Horror Movie Mistakes
Corpus
Crook of my Dreams
Cupidity
Dancing with Rage
Death of a Salesman (2)
Deranged Dating
Detroit
the Devil’s Circus
Dicky Dicky
Dinosaur Zoo
Dixie Swim Club
Don’t tell my Dad
Double Duty
Do You Want What I Have Got? A Craigslist Cantata
the Dysmorphia Diet
Empire of Dirt
Enron
the Ever-Present Witness
Extremely Short New Play Festival
the Financier
First Words
Forsaken Daughters of Winter
Forstner and Fillister Present: Forstner and Fillister in: Forstner and Fillister
Frogz
Garden in the Sky
Garden of Knives
Getting Through
the Glass Menagerie
Glengarry Glen Ross
God is a Scottish Drag Queen II
Grain of Salt
Gravity: a Tragedy
Great Battles in History
the Great Divorce
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
High Tea
High Tide
Housebum: a Superhero on Trial
Huff
Hunchbacks of Notre Dame
Hurry on Down
Immolation
IMO (In My Opinion)
the Importance of Being Earnest
I on the Sky
Iredea
Jem Rolls: One Man Traffic Jam
Kavalier’s Kuriosities
Kim’s Convenience
Kitt & Jane: an Interactive Survival Guide to the Near Post-Apocalyptic Future (2)
LOTUS
Love + Hate
Love and War
Lucy
Madama Butterfly
Magician’s Nephew
Mauritius
Me and my Monkey
Me and my Monster
a Mind Full of Dopamine
Mr and Mrs Jones
Moonlight after Midnight
Morpillon
Morro and Jasp do Puberty (2)
Much Ado About Feckin’ Pirates
My Cardboard Life
My Playwright Sister
Never Own Anything You Have to Paint or Feed
Oceans Apart
Oil and Water
Othello
Over It
Paleoncology
Pants
Pommes and Restes: Shipwrecked! On the Tempestuous Lost Island of Never (2)
Pop Fiction
Portable#3: Not Just Another French Class
Projet Turandot
A Quiet Sip of Coffee
the Quitter
Rachel & Zoe
The Radio Show – Christmas Classics
Real Dead Ghosts
Rent
Ridergirl
Roller Derby Saved My Soul
the Room Outside the Room
Royal Jelly
Sans Sense
the School for Wives
the Screwtape Letters
Seeds
Seven Stories
Shadow Waltz
the Shape of a Girl
Shirley Gnome: She’s Presenting
Silent Party Interlude
smash.bam.kapow.
Spamalot
the Stillbirth
Strips
the Surprise
the Tale of a Town
Tales she Tells
the Tashme Project: the Living Archives
This is War
To Hell in a Handbasket
Touch & Go
Tusk Turns One!
Underbelly
Wake
War Horse
Wedding Pool
We Glow
What about Horses?
Who Killed Gertrude Crump?
Women Who Shout at the Stars
Wunderjammer
Young Lady in White

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Company of Fools 12th Night Fundraiser
Revised from the Belly of a Whale
Acceptable Appearance Theory
Jerk It
Ottawa Theatre Challenge
Flip It!
Young Lady in White (reading)
Faster Than the Speed of Dating
Vollmond
Paul Hutcheson’ s New Years Eve

Kinda small this year, I know. Things do intrude, as I’ll get to in the second half of this post. But lots of amazing stuff did make it onto the list, and I’m still a little befuddled as to how to go about this year’s roundup. Kinda want to move away from the hokey ‘top 10’ whatever lists, as the notion that each of these shows occupies an iron-clad place in my heart and memory in terms of quality, value and meaning is patently absurd. I mean, that’s still probably what I’m gonna DO, because everyone does it, but just so long as we acknowledge its absurdity up front, yah? And of course, I must stress that these are not my lists of ‘the best’ of the year, but simply my fav’rits. Anyone who declares what is or is not ‘the best’ is guilty of hubris, mild hallucination, and is probably just a little bit of a dick. Onwards!!
FRINGE!!
I had the pleasure of hitting up two Fringe Festivals in 2014 as reviewer, both here in Ottawa as well as a jam-packed 4-day trip to Montreal Fringe. It was, as always, a major joy, and here are a few of my killer fav’rits from Ottawa Fringe this year, stuff that I hope will continue to be seen across the country and become the world-famous smashes they deserve to be:

The delightful Jessica Fitzpatrick (photo by TheatreinLondon)

The delightful Jessica Fitzpatrick (photo by TheatreinLondon)

CUPIDITY from Jessica Fitzpatrick.A show about being in love with love, that I fell in love with after the first 5 minutes. Jessica Fitzpatrick needs to make more shows and bring them here NOW.

wj3

WUNDERJAMMER from Punchbag Playhouse. Fringe mainstay Richard Hemphill wrote this loony sketch show, and assembled the exactly perfect gang to bring it to life, from director Stewart Matthews to killer cast Victoria Luloff, Jordan Hancey, Allison Harris and Richard Gelinas. Features the best ball-shaving skit of the year.

Kitt&Jane poster

KITT & JANE: AN INTERACTIVE SURVIVAL GUIDE TO THE NEAR POST-APOCALYPTIC FUTURE from Snafu Dance. A sequel of sort to the incredible LITTLE ORANGE MAN sees Ingrid Hansen teaming up with Rod Peter Jr. As a pair of adolescents racing the clock to save the world, in their own unforgettable fashion. Mesmerizing.

Natalie Joy Quesnel in FIRST WORDS.  Pix by Trevor Laforce.

Natalie Joy Quesnel in FIRST WORDS. Pix by Trevor Laforce.

FIRST WORDS from Natalie Joy Quesnel. Directed by Emily Pearlman and starring the Joy herself, this lyrical based-on-a-true-story tale of family tragedy and finding one’s place was uplifting and unsettling all at once, and I hope hope hope it gets revisited before too long.

Martin Dockery and Vanessa Quesnelle in MOONLIGHT AFTER MIDNIGHT (pic by Concrete Drops).

Martin Dockery and Vanessa Quesnelle in MOONLIGHT AFTER MIDNIGHT (pic by Concrete Drops).

MOONLIGHT AFTER MIDNIGHT from Concrete Drops. Ottawa fave Martin Dockery and his brilliant partner Vanessa Quesnelle world-premiered this mindbendy love story/mystery/whatever at the Ottawa Fringe in 2014, and audiences rightly ate it up. Gorgeous, haunting, and unique.

Jem Rolls braves the traffic jam...for YOU.

Jem Rolls braves the traffic jam…for YOU.

JEM ROLLS ONE-MAN TRAFFIC JAM from Big Word Performance Poetry. I’ve seen several Jem Rolls shows before, but this one stood above the pack…the maestro has outdone himself, and I can’t wait to see him back again in 2015!

…And here are a small collection of shows from Montreal Fringe that I would dearly love to see come to Ottawa (and I’m gonna try and make it happen in a couple of cases, stay tuned) in the near future, because they’re awesome and need to be loved more:

wolfingerproductions_photo1_fringe2014

SHADOW WALTZ from Wolfinger Productions. Dark and cool as the name suggests, star-in-the-making Lar Vi weaves a funny and unforgettably surreal tale in one of my Montreal highlights.

MoonDinosaurTheatre_Photo1_Fringe2014

PALEONCOLOGY from Moon Dinosaur. Magically weaving family drama and dinosaurs, Kira Hall had an emotional hit with this innovatively staged charmer.

aiden flynn

AIDEN FLYNN LOST HIS BROTHER SO HE MAKES ANOTHER from Theatre Howl. Oh God, Aiden Flynn…I still get misty eyed listening over and over to the amazing soundtrack. A wordless bit of fantasy that will never leave you.

lotus

LOTUS from Hopegrown. A wonderful drama from the Hopegrown gang inspired by terrible true events and given incredible life here.  Affecting and smart.

flapjack cadillac

BANANARAMALLAMADINGDONG from Flapjack Cadillac. Wicked fun sketch comedy from three goofballs who aren’t trying to change the world, just make fun of it a little bit at a time. Here’s hoping this trio reunites sooner than later!  Also, best Fringe show title ever.

This is gonna be a shorter year end post than previous ones…not just because my reviewing schedule has waned in the past 12 months. But I’m cutting a bunch of smaller ‘categories’ that I usually do, like fav’rit performers and such, because it’s just too much now like I’m giving shoutouts to my pals. I know all you guys!! And I love ya, and you know who you are. Catriona, Lisa, Tim, Leslie, Donnie, Brad, Sarah, Alexis, Karina, and so many more…you did so good, and you make me wanna do the best that I can all the time. Thanks for the memories, and the inspiration. And now without further schmoo…

FAV’RIT SHOWS! Yep, jumping right to it, because why not? Here are a bunch of productions (besides Fringe, which I’ve already covered) that left me filled with YAY and SQUEE and OH GOD and WHAT THE HELL when they were over. This list is n no particular order, by no means complete, and if you were up there at all creating and performing and making it happen, you’re the goods. So there.

VOLLMOND from Tanzwuppertal. Okay, not entirely a theatre show in the traditional sense, and a bit of a cheat considering the scope and scale, but Holy blue freakin’ Hannah, Pina Bausch’s dance masterpiece was a wonderment to behold and I still can’ t believe I saw it. Inspiring to the nth degree.

DoaS

DEATH OF A SALESMAN from Chamber Theatre. Bias admission: I worked on this show AND I’m working on their next show. But so what? Salesman was one of the most exciting pieces of the year, a fresh and daunting remounting of Miller’s masterwork of Americana. There’s a reason I wanted to work with Chamber on their next show, and this is a big part of that.

The Hunchinson Family Players (tm).

The Hunchinson Family Players ™.

THE HUNCHBACKS OF NOTRE DAME from Under the Table Theatre. A hilarious clowning meta-show about three inept but earnest siblings trying to mount a production of Hugo’s tragedy. Things go wrong in the best and most wonderful ways.

GCTC-2013-14-posterloop-War

THIS IS WAR from the Great Canadian Theatre Company. Eric Coates directed Hannah Moscovitch’s harrowing and acclaimed look at life in wartime and the result was fantastic. Terrific performances from Sarah Finn, John Ng, Brad Long and Drew Moore pushed this one to terrific heights.

Alexis Scott, Patrick Kelly, Nick Fournier and Karina Milech in THE ANGER IN EARNEST AND ERNESTINE.  Photo by David Whiteley.

Alexis Scott, Patrick Kelly, Nick Fournier and Karina Milech in THE ANGER IN EARNEST AND ERNESTINE. Photo by David Whiteley.

THE ANGER IN ERNEST AND ERNESTINE from Vacant House. For their first ever production, Vacant House decided to put on one of the best shows of any year, and they did it in a cramped laundry room in a Byward Market hostel. Alexis Scott, Karina Milech, Nck Fournier and Patrick Kelly delivered a brilliantly funny and engaging take on marital non-bliss, with David Whiteley at the helm.

glass menagerie

THE GLASS MENAGERIE from Bear and Company. Eleanor Crowder’s crafty directorial take on the Tennessee Williams fav’rit helped get this one out of the gates running, and terrific performances from Tim Oberholzer, Sarah Waisvisz, Rachel Eugster and Cory Thibert kept it going to make a truly memorable production. And speaking of Tim…

hedwig

HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH from Vanity Project. The show that had everybody buzzing this past year (directed by Stewart Matthews), and has put smooth Tim Oberholzer on the theatrical map to stay. Now hurry up and get your ROCKY HORROR tickets before they’re all gone.

SEARCHING FOR SNAILS/A LA RECHERCH DES ESCARGOTS from the Ottawa Stilt Union. Whimsical theatre of the best kind, and a show that proves that the OSU are capable of some far more fantastic feats than just walking tall.

Heather and Amy, aka MORRO AND JASP.

Heather and Amy, aka MORRO AND JASP.

MORRO AND JASP DO PUBERTY from UNIT productions. This show is a few years old, but made its Ottawa debut at Undercurrents this past year, and we’re very glad it did. Everyone’s fav’rit clown sisters shone in this fresh take on being, well, not-so-fresh. Comic gold, and heartwarming to boot.

L-R - Scott Florence (Pomme), Pierre Brault (Prospero), Margo MacDonald ('Restes)

POMMES AND RESTES: SHIPWRECKED! ON THE TEMPESTUOUS LOST ISLAND OF NEVER from A Company of Fools. Not to be outdone, Ottawa’s homegrown clown duo returned at the GCTC with a fantastical and loopy take on Shakespeare’s TEMPEST. Funny and endlessly inventive, with Scott Florence and Margo MacDonald sparkling as the mismatched red-nosed leads, and an impressive supporting cast of Pierre Brault, Jesse Buck and Katie Ryerson.

I ON THE SKY from DynamO Theatre. A lot of regular theatre folks probably missed this show, nestled snugly within the Ottawa International Children’s Festival, but I’m forever grateful I caught it. A simple and beautifully staged nonverbal, physical show about a woman waiting on a park bench, I was weeping with joy by the end of this show…pure magic.

…And that’s about all I gots to say today on Ottawa Theatre, honestly. Well, not honestly…I could go on for hours and hours, but I have other fish to fry. Like the ever-changing face of this blog, which has been all but dormant the last few months. And that’s due to my own increasing involvement behind the scenes, and on the stage, of local theatre, a trend I pray will continue unabated. And while I do hope to start blogging a little more ABOUT that in the near future (as soon as I teach myself how), I wanted to devote a little more space than usual for a look back at how my personal life in Theatre went in 2014. It was a ride, I’ll tell you that.

OTS logo
THE WALLS COME TUMBLING DOWN. Well, metaphorically at least, when in early January of this past year me and all my fellow classmates at the irreplaceable Ottawa Theatre School got the devastating news that the conservatory program was being cancelled due to bankruptcy (followed in short order by its sister program, the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama). Starting my year off with the worst kind of Bang I could think of outside of a goddam bullet to the brain was a helluva thing, and it still hurts. Still proud as Hell of the work I did in my short time at that institution, fiercely in love with my teachers and schoolmates, and ever indebted to them all.

These people.  These people RIGHT HERE.

These people. These people RIGHT HERE.

This terrible event shaped my year, without question, and will continue to go on shaping my life. It was sad, challenging, and very, very painful, and I wouldn’t have missed it for the whole Goddamn world. Onward and Upward!

trois

BACK ON THE BOARDS. Out of that tragedy came opportunity, thanks to a groundswell of support from our wonderful Theatre community. Out of the aftershocks of the OTS fall I somehow came out with two pretty nifty gigs. One was an opportunity to work behind the scenes on Chamber Theatre Hintonburg’s terrific, long-delayed production of DEATH OF A SALESMAN as an assistant to director Lisa Zanyk. The other was an onstage role in Dead Unicorn Ink’s ACCEPTABLE APPEARANCE THEORY, co-written by OTS gangster Victoria Luloff herself and part of the mini-festival TROIS.

Bobby, myself, Nadine, Chelsea and Kathryn...the OTS Orphanage Players in ACCEPTABLE APPEARANCE THEORY (all photos courtesy of David Pasho and ONSTAGE OTTAWA)

Bobby, myself, Nadine, Chelsea and Kathryn…the OTS Orphanage Players in ACCEPTABLE APPEARANCE THEORY (all photos courtesy of David Pasho and ONSTAGE OTTAWA)

It was a blast, especially getting to work with several of my fellow OTS Orphans in the show, and a very welcome respite from feeling sorry for myself. Some days I can still see those tattoos glowing on my skin…

visi4ium banner 2

FOOFARAH LIVE. I wrote in my personal journal that this event was ‘the best night of my life’, and remembering back it’s hard to argue. A fourth anniversary Foofarah party for this here Chud featuring guest-performances from a ridiculous crop of my supertalented pals including Nancy Kenny, Madeleine Hall, May Can Theatre, Loose Cannons, Nick Wade, Tess McManus, and a couple of mini-shows from yours truly. I had ten kinds of fun, got great feedback and learned a ton, and one of those pieces I did would eventually lead to something I never, ever expected. As big a success as I’ve ever experienced, and I still plan to do it again in 2015. And thanks again for the song, Cory, Tony and Mado…I’m not a Visitor, I’m home.

Baby Clown Alley, Manitoulin Style.

Baby Clown Alley, Manitoulin Style.

CLOWN CAMP. With no full-time school to keep me busy, I looked elsewhere for some Theatre learnin’. And that elsewhere ended up being Manitoulin Island, where I headed out for a two week Mask and Clown intensive under the tutelage of the legendary John Turner of MUMP & SMOOT. I pushed myself hard learning and feeling the Richard Pochinko style of clowning, making masks and creating turns, trying to let myself have fun, drop the script every now and then, and did it with a class full of inspiring and enthusiastic Brother and Sister clowns to boot. My approach to theatre is forever changed after this experience, and I heartily recommend it to anyone with a sense of wonder. Check out their info at their Website, and don’t forget to get yourself off. 😉

Freshmeat3_poster

FRESH MEAT. On a last-minute, spur of the moment decision, I applied to enter the 2014 edition of the FRESH MEAT FESTIVAL. When I got accepted (with my nouveaux production banner STRANGE VISITATIONS) it was time to start brainstorming a show. Inspiration came from the good old OTS and my 5 minute masque THE FLOWER, remounted at the Visi4ium Foofarah, and now sequelized and improved into the two-hander FASTER THAN THE SPEED OF DATING with co-star Madeleine Hall and the amazing Jodi Morden behind the scenes.

Me and Maddy, photo courtesy of photography Mouse Kathryn Reeves.

Me and Maddy, photo courtesy of photography Mouse Kathryn Reeves.

Me, Madeleine and Jodi, happy-timing it in DATING rehearsals.

Me, Madeleine and Jodi, happy-timing it in DATING rehearsals.

It was a collaborative, intense and wonderful experience, and the final product was something I’m immensely proud of. I think we brought something new to the Fresh Meat table and challenged ourselves in the bargain. Thanks so much to the incredibly warm audiences who gave this silly show such an amazing reception! You made my year.

OTHER BITS. There actually WAS more, astoundingly enough…two dynamite weekend Laban workshops with the incredible Alix Sideris that left me bruised but invigorated. And for the last few months I’ve been slugging away at the early rehearsals for next year’s Chamber Theatre production of THE HAIRY APE (I’ll be playing your friendly neighbourhood Union Secretary, as well as pitching in as a member of the squinky ensemble we’ve got going). She’s gonna be a gooder, folks, I promise.

Hairy Ape

And, in the last insane bit of news for 2014, Strange Visitations (like my page!) has officially been picked as one of the companies to receive a formal slot in the 2015 Ottawa Fringe Festival, which qualifies indeed as a dream come true. I couldn’t be there at the lottery party, but I’m told a mighty cheer rang forth when my name was drawn. That humbles me plenty, and I try to imagine that cheer when things get dark. Of course, that news means a whole heap of work in the coming months for me and my team (reuniting with Jodi and Madeleine for something just a bit familiar, but hopefully a whole lot surprising as well…stay tuned!), and I can’t wait.

There’s more to say, so much more, and I’ll get to it. For now, enjoy the New Year, comment if you like, and head on over to my Facebook page to nominate someone worthy for the Spirit of Theatre Award…which as far as I’m concerned we all win.  Now I need a sitdown after this past year, before diving into the new one.  Tho if anyone wants to talk new projects soon…I’m all ears.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid (and Winston)