Archive for the ‘GCTC’ Category

undercurrents 2018

In Theatre, Undercurrents on January 31, 2018 at 2:52 pm

I already wrote a post about the regularly scheduled theatre goings-on in Ottawa this  February, but there’s one big chunk of programming I thought deserved its own post!


Always the big event in Ottawa’s February, the undercurrents Festival (always in lowercase, they’re real sticky on that point, holy cow) is back for its 6th (7th? 8Th? More than 2, I’m almost positive) incarnation, and director Pat Gauthier has put together another stellar lineup! I mean, okay, there’s no FASTER THAN THE SPEED OF DATING this time around, but it’s still pretty good, I guess. But seriously folks, come on out to the newly renovated Arts Court (and in one show’s case, the National Arts Centre) and enjoy the party with the following hit lineup of shows! The programming runs from the 7th to 17th, full festival schedule and lineup available at the fest website!


Photo Credit Japhet Alvarez

THE PIPELINE PROJECT from Savage Production Society and Itsazoo Productions. Native rights, land claims, big oil and climate change collide for a show about as topical as you can manage, and featuring brand new AD of  Indigenous Theatre at the NAC Kevin Loring, along with Quelemia Sparrow and Kevin Archibald.


Photo Credit Barbara Havrot

FORSTNER AND FILLISTER PRESENT: FORSTNER AND FILLISTER IN: FORSTNER AND FILLISTER from F&F Theatre. Dave Benedict Brown and Will Somers are the titular Forstner and Fillister (or perhaps Fillister and Forstner…wouldn’t THAT be something!) in this comedic tale of brotherly woodworking gone desperately wrong.  Starring two of Ottawa’s funniest and talented gents, and featuring direction from the wonderful Madeleine Boyes-Manseau, it’s gonna be a night of cabinetry and comedy to remember Beware of flying sawdust.


Photo Credit Japhet Alvarez

LITTLE BOXES from Little Boxes Collective. A brand new creation from Gabbie Lazarovitz and Brad Long, starring Gabbie Laz and Carter Hayden, and directed by Adam Paolozza. A suburban thriller that sounds mucho intriguing, and Gabbie Laz is a local treasure who must always be seen when onstage. ALWAYS.


THE TWILIGHT PARADE from STO Union. At Arts Court Theatre. A Puppet-based true-life magical adventure film with live performances and contributions from over 70 people, and the sentence I just typed is so insane I cannot WAIT to see this piece.


Photo credit Emily Cooper

HOW TO DISAPPEAR COMPLETELY from The Chop. Itai Erdal’s celebrated one-man show (co-created by himself, James Long, Anita Rochon and Emilia Semington Fedy) combining his artistry for lighting with the true story of his Mother’s final days. A multi-award winning show that will surely be a festival highlight (pun sort-of intended)


Photo Credit Alejandro Santiago

DAUGHTER from Quiptake and Pandemic Theate. Described by NOW Magazine’s Glenn Sumi as a ‘strong, disturbing play’, this one-manner starring Adam Lazarus and directed by Ann-Marie Kerr tackles fatherhood, patriarchy and misogyny, putting it head to head with THE PIPELINE PROJECT for most topical show at the festival. It’s also the one that ducks out of Arts Court, with just 2 showings at the NAC Rossy Pavillion. UPDATE: Daughter is now down to just ONE showing on the 10th at 7pm, at the NAC Fourth Stage.  Topical AND rare!


Photo Credit Japhet Alvarez

THE SHIT SHOW from Emergence. The first of two late-night shows in the Studio, Luna Allison (last seen on the undercurrents stage with her amazing FALLING OPEN) returns with this show about, you guessed it, poop. So okay maybe not going for most topical, but be honest, you’re intrigued, aren’t you? And Allison is a gifted performer, so whatever she’s got planned…it ain’t shit.

SnackMusic_IngridHansen_CredLaura Dittmann

Photo Credit Laura Dittman

SNACK MUSIC from SNAFU and the Snack Music Collective. Late night show for week 2 brings us the return to undercurrents of Ingrid Hansen (LITTLE ORANGE MAN) with the terrific Elliot Loran and Andrew G.Young in tow for this storytelling food-based improv extravaganza (you can also catch Snack Music this weekend at the NAC for their kid-friendly TABLE TOP TALES).


Photo Credit Japhet Alvarez

INDIGENOUS WALKS. Returning from last year’s festival, the guided walking tour of downtown Ottawa once again points out areas and landmarks of specific indigenous meaning and history. As good a reason as you’re going to get to head outside this month!

NEW PLAY TUESDAY on the 13th. A one-night tradition, this year’s crop of exciting new staged readings from local playwrights includes FOUR WHORES AND A PRO by Joanne John, UNRESOLVED by J.Katrina Wong, and COACH OF THE YEAR by Pierre Brault. A Free event, along with the opening and closing night parties!

So that’s it for the nuts and bolts of this years festival…but reading about it ain’t nothing compared to seeing it, trust me. The always-in-lowercase undercurrents is a very special and vibrant part of the Ottawa cultural scene, and if y’all are not going, you’re missing out large. I hope to see a ton of you there. You’ll be glad you went. Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid

I don’t know what the birds signify!

In GCTC, Theatre on February 25, 2017 at 6:38 pm

I’ve been in a bit of a theatre funk, post-Undercurrents. Is that okay? It seems a bit selfish, frankly, but being able to share the festival stage with the kinds of big shots and talented magillas that we did was pretty amazing, and the post-show ennui is a force to contend with (note: I know totally forgot to do a blogpost about my show, Faster than the Speed of Dating, being part of the 2017 Undercurrents Festival, so if the above confuses you, don’t worry, I just suck at marketing!). But funk or no funk, Theatre stops for nothing, especially not whiny suckybabies like me. And hey, is that my 1st GCTC opening night show in almost 2 years I see before me? Well hot damn, so it is. Right, funk over, let’s get to the show!

The show, 5th up in the 16/17 season and a bit of a milestone in even GCTC’s long history, is LES PASSANTS from the mighty Theatre la Catapulte. And yes, as that company name implies, this is indeed a French language production (no catapults though, here’s hoping for next time), first ever at the Irving Greenberg Theatre. Seems a little silly to think about it, but there you go…and if this is the beginning of a GCTC francotheatrical tradition, then it’s off to a terrific start. As was easily predicted from the involvement of Catapulte, Luc Moquin’s PASSANTS is a terrific show.

Featuring a cast consisting of Melanie Beauchamp, Benjamin Gaillard, Andree Rainville and Yves Turbide, and directed by Jean Stephane Roy (also the AD of Catapulte), Les Passants is made up of a series of vignettes and scenes each shining its own light…be it satirical, slapstick, serious, ironic, or all of the above…on human interconnectedness (or lack thereof, aka solitude). A somber opening featuring a ride on the river Styx (or something similar from Dante’s Inferno) and a lone man trying to remember his way and his why, quickly give way to lighter fare including the recurring romantic misadventures of the Waldo-esque Bernard and the series of women he tends to drive away with overzealous ardor. Or a mismatched long-term couple venting their mutual frustrations via interpretive dance. Or a fantasy vs.reality look at knocking on a strangers door in search of romance.


There’s a lot covered in PASSANTS’ 100 minute runtime, and if you don’t find something that relates to your experience, you might want to leave your house more. Not that homebodies aren’t covered well too, like the middle aged gent who realizes that, despite his best efforts, he just doesn’t (gasp!) like reading as much as he used to. The quartet cast slides effortlessly (probably not, of course, but they make it look as easy as falling off a log) between multiple roles and styles, be it deadpan serious or over-the-top goofy, assisted by a terrific overall production. Brian Smith’s set is all-encompassing and out of the way at the same time, and the lighting from designer Chantal Labonte is nothing short of astounding. The great Vanessa Imeson impresses as always with a dizzying array of costumes that seem to never run dry. And big thanks to Lisa L’Heureux, whose English translation of the script runs constantly over the stage, making this French production as inclusive as anyone could hope. No excuses, Anglos!

LES PASSANTS marks an exciting milestone in local theatre, and hopefully not a one of a mind event. I’ve long touted the wonders of French Theatre and the dazzlingly different sensibilities they bring to the theatrical table, and this show is as solid a proof of that as any. Check it out while you can at the Great Canadian Theatre Company, then check out something else! Ottawa U is presenting LE CHANT DU DIRE-DIRE next week at Academic Hall, and I’m calling that a good next step. Heck, I’ll be there. Allons-Y au theatre! Peace, love and soul,

Kevin R

PS now, back to our regularly scheduled funk:

Coming Up in February 2017

In Undercurrents on February 3, 2017 at 10:54 am

Sorry I’m late! Already 3 days into the month…that’s, like, half of February! Let’s get it started already!

COLONY OF UNREQUITED DREAMS at the NAC Theatre, until the Feb 11th. So many dreams they formed their own colony!

THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEPEOPLE from Eddie May Mysteries, at the Velvet Room downtown every Saturday night. Superheroes and dinner, what more do ya need?

A MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM from Taboo Productions, at Academic Hall until the 4th. An LGBTQ retelling of the Bard’s most fantastical outing. So get out there!


AT HOME AT THE ZOO at the Carleton Tavern, from Chamber Theatre, from the 1st to the 11th. Albee’s Zoo story with its prequel Homelife get the Chamber treatment at Ottawa’s coolest theatre…order a quart and some wings and strap yourselves in!

SCHOOLHOUSE from Kanata Theatre, at the Ron Maslin Playhouse from the 7th to 18th. Will this Schoolhouse rock? Only one way to find out..!


CRIMES OF THE HEART from Three Sisters, at the Gladstone the 8th to 18th. A gritty drama about the grizzled, veteran cops who tackle to toughest crimes of all…Heart Crimes! Probably.

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD at the Ottawa Little Theatre, from the 15th to March 4th. Get a Little Harper Lee in yer February, people!

PHANTOM OF THE OPRY from Brett Kelly Entertainment, at the Gladstone Theatre from the 22nd to 25th.


SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET from Suzart after Dark, at Centrepointe Theatre the 23rd to 25th. The brutal killer with the silly name is back!

UNDERCURRENTS at Arts Court, the 8th to 18th. Hosted by the Ottawa Fringe Festival, the mighty undercurrents festival is back with another sweet, sweet lineup (and also me). Check it out, and plan your month accordingly:


THE ELEPHANT GIRLS from Parry Riposte


TOMORROW’S CHILD from Ghost River Theatre

UN-COUNTRIED from Theatre 4.669


BROTHERHOOD: THE HIP-HOPERA from b current and Sebastien Heinz.

BURNT from Norah Paton

VOVK from Lana Kouchnir


FASTER THAN THE SPEED OF DATING from Strange Visitations (that’s ME! And Jodi Morden and Madeleine Hall, too) Pay What you Can, PLEASE COME SEE OUR FUNNY LITTLE SHOW!!

– …plus the INDIGENOUS WALKS walking tours (bundle up!), New Play Tuesday, panel discussions, talkbacks, opening and closing night parties, and all the fun you can handle. Go go go!  Check out the full schedule HERE.


FUCKING CARL from Theatre du Trillium, at La Nouvelle Scene the 4th and 5th. Sold-out Fringe hit is back for a limited engagement!

LES PASSANTS from Theatre la Catapulte, at the GCTC from the 23rd to March 12th. A french show at the GCTC? Allons-Y!



CRUSH IMPROV continues their ‘Bout Time tournament thru February, at Mother McGintey’s. Check the calendar HERE!

GRIMPROV, you lads still good for some funny the 1st and last Wednesday of the month at the Cock’n’Lion? Here’s assuming!

THE IMPROV EMBASSY has their usual full roster of events, and their own calendar to boot. Check it out!

More to come!  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin R

Beasts of Burden

In GCTC, Theatre on June 6, 2014 at 1:30 pm

It’s the beginning of June, the sun is (occasionally) shining, and most of the big theatre seasons are winding down to make room for Fringe. At least, I assume everything was planned that way, and it works pretty well for me. The Gladstone and NAC have already launched their last shows, and this week the GCTC premiered their final show of the 2013/14 season, aka the season that Coates built. This show marks the end of Eric Coates’ inaugural season as the new GCTC Artistic director, and he decided to do a little double duty for the occasion, putting on his actor shows and actually starring in the show himself. And considering the show’s pedigree and kick-ass cast, I can hardly blame him for wanting in.


A world premiere from Canuck superscribe George F.Walker, who I last saw performed in Algonquin College’s dandy production of ZASTROZZI some years back, THE BURDEN OF SELF AWARENESS is directed by Arthur Milner, himself a bit of a GCTC legend. Featuring Coates as Michael, a multimillionaire success who finds himself in a moral crisis following a life-altering event. He becomes inspired to turn over a new leaf and give most of his filthy lucre away to those more needy, an admirable bent that doesn’t exactly sit well with his pampered wife Judy (Sarah McVie).Her efforts to have him committed in an attempt to salvage her beloved wealth don’t get much traction, partially thanks to her mostly incompetent Psychiatrist/lover Stan (Paul Rainville). Michael, meanwhile, is involved in a somewhat more stable extramarital with brainy escort Lianne (Samantha Madely),oddly enough maybe the only healthy relationship in the whole story. As Michael and Judy become more and more estranged, a dubious born-again PI (Phil, played by John Koensgen) starts being used as a back-and-forth pawn between various parties. Schemes start piling up, meds stop being taken, underwear is clearly visible, and before long things take that inevitable turn down the dark kind of path that, quite frankly, you expect in a Walker bit.

First things first…this is maybe the best show off the season, and that’s a pretty easy call to make. Only THIS IS WAR (the other one to directly involve Eric Coates, tellingly enough) gives it a run for its money. The show plays out almost like a film noir sketch comedy show, with rapid fire scenes of humanity at its worst, knocked out in fine style by a cast at the top of its game and killer dialogue from Walker. Eric Coates really impresses as a man struggling to find a new path in life, while Sara McVie chews some impressive scenery as the increasingly unstable Judy. Paul Rainville steals a huge chunk of the show as neurotic, hopeless Stan, lost in a world he can no longer understand. John Koensgen is as good as I’ve ever seen him as the oddball detective Phil, never quite able to decide if he’d rather be a sinner or a saint. And this was my first time seeing Samantha Madely in action, and she’s got power to spare, turning Lianne into a memorable character almost scary in her intensity at times. It’s pretty cool. All of it is brought together with crazy tight direction from Milner, and great design from Martin Conboy (set and lights) and Aymar (sound). It’s a funny, sleazy, dark and memorable end to a solid debut season that Eric Coates has every right to be proud as pie about. And now I can’t wait for the next one! Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid (and Winston)

GCTC 2014/15 Season — LAUNCHED!

In GCTC, Theatre on April 8, 2014 at 11:44 pm

Been looking forward to this one for a bit now…a few weeks ago I got an invite for me and a guest to hit up the GCTC to check out the launch of the upcoming 2014/15 season, also their 40th anniversary. I didn’t bring a guest, as I’ve been feeling intensely anti-social of late, and it was rough enough to haul myself out to something that I knew would be so damned, well…SOCIAL. But season launches arrive but once a year, and the show must go on and all that, so out of my cozy little Visitorium I ventured Took a pitstop at Bridgehead to read a little Eugene O’Neill, which got me into the theatrical mood soon enough, and I made it to the corner of Holland and Wellington just as the large and enthusiastic crowd was starting to form outside of the Irving Greenberg theatre. Lots of familiar and friendly faces were abounding, and I could feel my anti-social armour starting to crumble when, thank Heavens, the theatre doors opened and we started going in. I ran to a seat and eagerly awaited the evening’s announcement (ignoring the full disclosure media release I just spotted being delivered by e-mail to my cellphone…no wonder Coates hates those things!).

After a swell into delving into the 40 year history of the GCTC, Artistic Director Eric Coates himself took the stage to helm the launch. And he started out with a strong vision of what the ‘theme’ of the new season would be. “If you want a theme, go to Santa’s Village” he shouted to a pretty joyous response from the crowd, and I have to agree…the notion of theming a theatre season has always seemed pretty dubious to me, and I’m happy to see the idea so merrily disowned. Good theatre is theme enough.

The new season begins with Emil Sher’s adaptation of THE BOY IN THE MOON by Ian Brown, a book that is apparently amazing but which I have not read (longtime readers know that I am , of course, functionally illiterate). Starring Peter James Howarth, the show tells a Father’s true-life story of raising a son afflicted with a rare disability. Howarth gave us a short reading from the play (the first of two directed by Coates himself, who last helmed the great THIS IS WAR), and I think this one’s gonna be a gooder.

Next up is a double bill, FISH EYES and BOYS WITH CARS, both written, performed and choreographed by Anita Majumdar. She stars in the paired shows as Indian Canadian teens Meena and Naz, both dealing with life, tradition and dance in Port Moody BC. I love one woman shows, I love double bills, I am SO THERE.

The Holiday show is next, and I’m so excited for this one I cannot tell ya. But I’ll tell ya ANYWAY. A joint production with a Company of Fools (who last paired with the GCTC to bring us the sublime MIDWINTERS DREAM TALE), Ottawa’s fav’rit homegrown clown duo return to the stage in POMME AND ’RESTES: SHIPWRECKED! ON THE TEMPESTUOUS LOST ISLAND OF NEVER. To be directed by AL Connors, and written whenever, this show is brilliant news to a wee budding clown like myself (have I mentioned yet in this post that I’m going to clown island this summer? Because I am). If you miss this show, then good luck in the next life, friend, because you have hopelessly fucked THIS one.


Hitting 2015, we start the second half of the season with the second dose of George F.Walker in 2 consecutive seasons (following the upcoming premiere of BURDEN OF SELF-AWARENESS to finish off the current season), with Green Thumb Theatre’s production of MOSS PARK. Directed by former GCTC artistic director Patrick McDonald and starring Graeme McComb and Haley McGee as a down and out couple looking for a future…a dark comedy for what will likely be a dark January, if this crappy winter is any indicator of things to come.

Next up would likely be UNDERCURRENTS, and it will of course be having its fifth iteration in 2015….but that news no longer belongs in this post. In what may be the biggest bit of news to be revealed at the lunch, Undercurrents is officially following producer Pat Gauthier to the Ottawa Fringe Festival, and will happen next year under the Fringe umbrella at Arts Court Theatre! And while it while be sad indeed to no longer lounge at the Greenberg while waiting for my February awesomeness, I’m stoked that Gauthier will continue to helm the series, and a marriage with Fringe does indeed make perfect sense. The studio at GCTC will still get some use, as they’ve partnered up with local heroes Propellerdance to work up there in anticipation of a mainstage show later in the year. Good news all around, I say.

Speaking of the mainstage, the next show in the roster is another one that makes me smile, Daniel MacIvor’s THE BEST BROTHERS, a play I only recently bought and read my own self! Directed again by boss Coates, and starring the dream team of Andy Massingham and John Ng as two estranged brothers dealing with the drag-queen-related death of their Mother (as well as the disposition of her dog Enzo, surely a nod to our own Richard Hemphill), I can attest to how great this play reads and cannot WAIT to see it brought to life in front of me. Very, very happy to see my teacher Andy back on the GCTC stage. 🙂


And the season caps off with a former UNDERCURRENTS show making the jump to the big stage (falling in BLUE BOX’s salsa-dancing footsteps), as THE PUBLIC SERVANT returns to town. The breakout hit of the 2013 festival, the civil-service-skewering comedy by Jennifer Brewing, Haley McGee, Sarah McVie and Amy Rutherford was a goddam laugh riot in its original form, and will be expanded into a full length show for its triumphant return to the GCTC next June. It will be very, very great to see this show and this ensemble again.  And a show about civil service will sell in this town, folks, so get your tickets early.

The Public by Jacqui Jensen-Roy.

The Public by Jacqui Jensen-Roy.

That was the end of the launch and the beginning of the afterparty where, despite myself, I found a little bit of non-anti-social behaviour creeping in. But what else could I do when confronted with the likes of Emily Pearlman, Michelle leBlanc, Alexis Scott, Alix Sideris, Zach Counsil, Karen Balcome, Rich Hemphill, and so many, wonderful more. I love my life in theatre (also known as my life), and am delighted to look forward to the next year of it at the GCTC. Heck, I might even volunteer again this year. I’m sure they miss me anyhow…and I just KNOW I’m gonna need to see Pomme and ‘Restes more than once…

Peace, love and soul, GCTC fans,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

PS  the entire Box Office staff danced onstage, and Tony Adams got naked.  Sorry NOW you missed the launch..?

Undercurrents 2014 – MORRO AND JASP DO PUBERTY

In Undercurrents on February 16, 2014 at 5:05 pm

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Whew!  Two show reviews down today, after an epic triple bill at UNDERCURRENTS yesterday, only one left to go!  And after a hundred-pound breakfast at Bramasole to help myself recover from the opening week afterparty, I think I’m ready to tackle the final task of the day (before I have to hustle into show rehearsals of my own, that is).  And my only real problem with writing this last one up will be trying not to use all caps or filling entire paragraphs with exclamation points.  Because last night at 9 pm, Morro and Jasp returned to Ottawa…and I believe they may now literally own the place.

The much beloved clown duo (in ‘real life’ Heather Marie Annis and Amy Lee), who had made smaller scale excursions into the capitol at the Canadian Comedy Awards and SubDevision, arrive here with their first full show run in town, MORRO AND JASP DO PUBERTY.   Their first ‘grown-up- show from, I think, 2009, this show does pretty much exactly what the title suggests, as the clown sisters wend their teenage way through raging hormones, petty squabbles, stupid boys, and a first time visit from their Aunt Flo.  Along the way there’s shouting, fighting, some seriously tough sisterly love and more onstage toilet time than I’ve yet had the joy of experiencing in live theatre.

Heather and Amy, aka MORRO AND JASP.

Heather and Amy, aka MORRO AND JASP.

Heather and Amy have their clownish alter-egos down pat, and the laughs they wrest from the audience with such ripe material as this come fast and furious, never really stopping from before the lights go up until after the final curtain.  But these clowns are no dummies…they know exactly where the beating heart of their story is, and before you know what’s happening they’ve gone and snuck in some genuine, bittersweet drama in the midst of a hilarious series of tampon jokes.  Looking back on it now that the laughter has subsided, I’d say this is one of the sweetest, and probably more honest looks back at that period (sorry) in a young gal’s life that you’re ever likely to see on a stage.  It just happens to be perpetrated by two brilliantly gifted clown performers, who if we’re any kind of lucky will keep on coming back to Ottawa to show us how its done.  Forever, please.  This is as funny and wonderful as theatre has any right to hope to get.

After the show it was time for the official opening week party, where I managed to fulfill my secret mission for this year’s festival, which was to meet Morro and Jasp in person (as in, sans makeup and bright red noses).  We did, we hugged, we danced a bit, and it was just damn lovely.  Also had the pleasure of a long chat with the show’s director Byron Laviolette, who is a gentleman and a scholar.  I’m happy to say Ottawa embraced this gang in magnificent style…that audience was, as superfan Richard Hemphill noted, maybe the most receptive audience we’ve ever been part of.  It was a glorious and epic way to finish off my first week of Undercurrents 2014, and you don’t want to miss a moment of it.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

PS: their cookbook (yes, they have a cookbook..!) EAT YOUR HEART OUT WITH MORRO AND JASP, is for sale along with other clown merch in the box office.  I’m getting mine, you should get yours.  Just sayin’.


Undercurrents 2014 – RIDERGIRL

In Undercurrents on February 16, 2014 at 2:52 pm

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More adventures in UNDERCURRENTS on a fine Saturday indeed!  Already did myself the very large favour of seeing Matt Miwa and Julie Tamiko Manning’s wonderful TASHME PROJECT, and now, after a spot of writing with miss Michelle, the sun was starting to go down, the tailgate party was getting underway, the jock jams started playing all throughout the Irving Greenberg, and beer and sausages were being readily consumed by theatre and football fans alike.  Yes, that’s right…it was game time.

I’d already had the pleasure of seeing Colleen Sutton’s delightful one woman show RIDERGIRL a couple of times in the past, and was more than happy to make it a triple play (sports pun!).  Drected by the great Jan Irwin, the play tells the engaging, occasionally awkward true story of Colleen’s journey from marching band prairie lass to Ottawa actress, with the ever present green and white shadow of those eternal underdogs (this year’s cup win notwithstanding), the Saskatchewan Rough Riders looming large over every moment.  Colleen is what you might call a fan, see…she loves her Riders like other people love their kids.  Amidst the ups and downs of her own life…failed relationships, career switches, and a steadily mounting avalanche of overdue bills…the joy she takes in those rare Rider wins are the one bright hope she clings to, and perhaps something any sports fan can relate to.  In fact, even us non-sporties all still likely have SOMEthing we follow and take hope in…in case anyone hasn’t noticed, I take a bit of an unhealthy interest in the world of theatre from time to time. 🙂

Colleen Sutton in RIDERGIRL.

Colleen Sutton in RIDERGIRL.

The lady Colleen is a dynamo on stage, and it’s hard to watch her and not become, if only for an hour, a bit of a Riders fan yourself.  Aside from herself, she brings a handful of other characters to life during the show, the highlight of which remains for me Sandra, her trash-talking mentor in the ways of Rider Nation.  Sandra is the source of lots of the plentiful laughs in this show, which help to nicely set us up for the darker moments that inevitably, and very beautifully fall.  All football trappings aside, RIDERGIRL at its heart is a story of a woman trying to find her way in the world on her own terms.  And heart is one thing this show is never, ever lacking.  Third time was indeed the charm for me, and you should probably get on this high-energy joyride of a show before its gone.  Go Riders!  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Undercurrents 2014 – THE TASHME PROJECT

In Undercurrents on February 16, 2014 at 2:15 pm

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So yesterday was the most awesome day I’ve had in a while…but then, you might expect that from a triple-bill day at UNDERCURRENTS at the GCTC studio.  It was definitely worth booking the weekend off from the drudgery to start my festival viewing early this weekend, because it turns out I still had some goddam great theatre left to see.  Bumped into one of Ottawa’s most talented actors Michelle leBlanc, who had the same three show idea as me, and we became seat buddies for the rest of the day.  So, already a great day.

First show up was THE TASHME PROJECT: THE LIVING ARCHIVES, a verbatim piece from Matt Miwa and Julie Tamiko Manning.  For those not in the know, verbatim just refers to theatre whose text is culled from the real words of real people, often through interviews or the like.  I guess the most famous is THE LARAMIE PROJECT (and more recently in Ottawa, GRAIN OF SALT), and it’s a style of theatre that I deeply adore. This particular piece is centered on Tashme, an internment camp for BC Japanese-Canadians during WWII, and the stories Julie and Matt have gathered from its survivors and descendants.  The whole story of the camps and forced relocations is one of the more deeply shameful bits of Canadian heritage that don’t get mentioned much in polite conversation, so right away this is, to my mind, a damn important bit of work.  Using a beautiful and simple trick of structure, Matt and Julie embody what appear to be dozens of different persons, each retelling a different bit of the history of the Tashme generation, as well as the ones that followed.  Some are funny as Hell, some are just as bitter, many are revelatory.  And all of them are voices that have needed to be heard for a long, long time now.


Matt and Julie are top-notch in their performances, seamlessly moving from one character to the next and treating each with the utmost respect and pride.  Miwa, who once upon a time blew me away in Evolution Theatre’s great LITTLE MARTYRS, continues to impress here, most especially as a camp survivor railing against a racist history teacher.  And Manning is stellar, often coming back to one specific character who seems to act as a bit of a focal point/unofficial narrator for the whole sordid story.  I was always entertained during TASHME, and also learned a hell of a lot that I feel like I SHOULD have known a long time ago.   You’ll hear the words ‘haunting’ and ‘beautiful’ a lot when people talk about this show, and there’s good reason for that.  But do yourself a favour and find out for yourself.  As for me…well, I still had two shows to see.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Undercurrents 2014 – A QUIET SIP OF COFFEE

In Undercurrents on February 15, 2014 at 1:49 pm

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Another day, another crack at a new UNDERCURRENTS show at the GCTC studio.  The little Festival that could continues to put the Fun in February (trust me, there’s a fun in there, you just have to squint a bit) with the latest show to premiere in the lineup.

The brainchild of AnimalParts theatre, a joint Toronto/New York collective, A QUIET SIP OF COFFEE (or THIS IS NOT THE PLAY WE’VE WRITTEN) stars Anthony Johnston and Nathan Schwartz as themselves, recounting a bizarre, hilarious, kind of scary and amazing true story that began in 2004.  The duo, then-recent grads of Vancouver’s Studio 58 Conservatory, had themselves a goofy idea…they wrote a letter to a notorious ‘gay reform’ camp, asking for money to fund a new theatre project.  Just as a joke, of course, so imagine their surprise when the camp’s leader not only invites them in for a chat, but asks them to participate in 2 weeks worth of their therapy as part of the deal.  Anthony and Nathan, gay and straight best friends in real life, agree, adopting fake names and diving in headlong.  What happens is decidedly more than they bargained for.

Nathan Schwartz and Anthony Johnston in A QUIET SIP OF COFFEE.

Nathan Schwartz and Anthony Johnston in A QUIET SIP OF COFFEE.

Shows like COFFEE are why I love Undercurrents…where else besides Fringe would I get easy exposure to this kind of rule-breaking original Canadian theatre creation?  This was a joy of a show from beginning to end, even (or maybe especially) the bits of the play-within-a-play NEVER CRY WOLFMAN, the completely fake production they invented way back in ‘04 to get their feet in the camp’s doors.  But amid the moments of hilarity (which are many, many indeed) come some moments of unsettling honesty and pain, and thankfully Nathan and Anthony have more than enough talent and charm to pull off both extremes with style.  This is a perfect little gem of a show, laugh-til-you-cry funny and heartbreaking all at the same time.  Ottawa is lucky to be hosting these two talented cats, and I was lucky to get to see this great show (not to mention hanging out with the lads at the Carleton Tavern afterwards).  Put this one on your schedule, folks, it’s a can’t miss.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Undercurrents 2014 – CISEAUX

In Undercurrents on February 13, 2014 at 5:36 pm

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Told you I saw two shows last night…and now, after being tired last night and slow this morning, here comes my second check-in from this years UNDERCURRENTS, the little festival that Pat built.  The other show I caught was BROKEN, a heartfelt and awesome show that I talked about already.  For this post, we’re going into always amazing French Theatre territory, the first time Undercurrents has made the barrel-roll through the language barrier, and it’s about time, I say.

The show, which originated at the regular Carte Blanche series that takes place at l’espace Rene-Prevost across the river, was CISEAUX from Theatre Rouge Ecarlate.  The first work from an obviously cool new collective, Ciseaux was created by Lisa L’Heureux, and stars Lissa Leger and Marie-Eve Fontaine.  Leger plays Phanie, a young student who seems to rule her school with an iron fist, and takes an immediate dislike to crumby newcomer Olivia (Fontaine).  They clash, getting Olivia in trouble with her overbearing Grandmother, and prompting her to run away.  Which in where the trouble really starts.

Lissa Leger and Marie Eve Fontaine in CISEAUX.

Lissa Leger and Marie Eve Fontaine in CISEAUX.

Or rather, this is where the play finds the trouble, a it seems to be brewing in the form of a revolution/civil war all around, and both girls find themselves caught up in it in their own fashion…Olivia ends up joining a violent band of fighters called only ‘the boys’ after they mistake her short-cut self for a lad instead of a lass.  Phanie ends up being drafted into…a different type of service.  It gets a little dark folks, but very cool dark.  Leger and Fontaine are consistently engaging and high energy as their two very different characters, each fighting a completely different path that eventually leads them back to one another. The supercool set and props are used very effectively (loved the red scarves, and those amazing windows), as well as some killer lighting and sound effects.  And for any English speakers feeling left out, rejoice…the show features English language surtitles of all the dialogue on a projection overtop the set.  No one should have any trouble following along, and no one should even think about missing this one.

This is a solid, hardcore and gorgeously crafted show, with great performances and a punch to the gut ending. Congrats to L’Heureux for making this great show accessible to all…I hope everyone takes the opportunity to get themselves some killer theatre, and support French theatre in Ottawa while you’re at it.  You’ll be pretty happy you did.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)