VANCOUVER GREENROOM 10: Sore throat

Theatre is community. 

My throat is sore from cheering Vancouver theatre artists.

Veena Sood knows how to take a great picture. And she has just won a fresh award.

SORE THROAT

Geez, my throat hurts. The cheering for Vancouver theatre artists just doesn’t stop these days.

Marcus Youssef, who is nominated for the Simonivitch Prize, just won the Mayor’s Arts Award for theatre, and Conor Wylie got the nod as emerging theatre artist. Artistic director of Neworld Theatre, Youssef is also an actor and playwright, who wrote and performed Winners and Losers with Jamie Long. Actor and writer Wylie works with a number of cutting-edge companies including Hong Kong Exile.

Sean Harris Oliver and Raes Calvert are nominated for the Playwrights’ Guild of Canada’s Carol Bolt Award for Redpatch, which Hardline Productions mounted at Presentation House this March. Redpatch is about the experience of a Métis soldier during WW1. The Carol Bolt Award goes to the best work by a PGC member to have premiered in the past year. The other nominees are Kate Henning for The Virgin Trial and Karen Hines for All the Little Animals I Have Eaten.

Local boy Corey Payette and sometimes-local Julie McIssac are nominated in another PGC category, the Stage West Pechet Family Musical Award, which is given to the most promising unproduced work created by a PGC member. The working title of their musical is Les Filles du Roi.

And, on November 8 in a ceremony at the Vancouver Playhouse, Veena Sood will accept the Lorena Gale Woman of Distinction Award (ACTRA, UBCPA). A 30-year veteran of stage and screen, Sood worked with Calgary’s Loose Moose Theatre Company, the creators of TheatreSports, near the beginning of her career.

Okay. Time for a lozenge.

 

Presentation House Theatre in North Vancouver has new, movable risers.

Kim Selody is warming up the new seats at Presentation House.

SET A SPELL

You’ll see Presentation House Theatre in a whole new way this season because you’ll be seeing it from different angles.

Since time immemorial, the theatre’s somewhat awkward seating arrangement has been fixed. No more. This summer, overseen by artistic director Kim Selody, a new, reconfigurable riser system has been installed. Freedom!

Your first chance to check out the new look will come on October 13, when the latest run of Where the Wild Things Are opens.

 

Ayad Akhtat won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Indecent.

Ayad Akhtar is among the most produced playwrights in the US.

THE SIMPLE ACT OF INCLUSION

As Yussuf El Guindi points out, “Americans are so averse to politics in their entertainment that the simple act of including Arab or Muslim characters in a play exposes it to the charge of being overly political or didactic.”

Groups of Middle Eastern and Muslim-American artists have created two seminal documents to help to rectify the situation: an open letter and a bill of rights.

Fortunately, the artistic conversation is already underway. Playwright Ayad Akhtar won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Disgraced, which deals with Muslim-American identity, and American Theatre magazine listed him as one of the most produced playwrights of the 2015/2016 season. His new play, Junk, which is about capitalism—in a curious rather than an overtly critical way—opens on Broadway this fall.

Akhtar, who is clearly a star and a bit of an outlier, is also one of the winners of this year’s Steinberg Playwriting Awards, which come with a $50,000 prize. The other Steinberg winner this year is Lucas Hnath, whose play The Christians closes this Saturday at Pacific Theatre.

In the project The Hijabi Monologues, creators Sahar Ullah, Zeenat Rahman and Dan Morrison have taken a page from Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues to create an evening about the experiences of hijabis, women who wear the hijab, or headscarf.

As Atiha Sen Gupta notes in this piece from The Stage, a common experience among the narrators is “one of exhaustion, a shared fatigue at being cast by white society as a representative of more than one billion people. In Ullah’s ‘I’m Tired’, our hijabi protagonist emphatically tells the audience, ‘I’m not a bad example, I’m not a good example.’”

 

CLICK ON THIS HYPERLINK 

Hyperlink is playing at the Firehall Arts Centre.

TJ Dawe and Itai Erdal have created this week’s top theatre pick, Hyperlink.

Both The Goblin Market and 1 Hour Photo, which opened this week, are admirable in many ways. That said, my pick of the week is Hyperlink, a new script by TJ Dawe and Itai Erdal. These guys are originals, and so is their creation. Bonus: you get to watch goofy YouTube videos and not feel ashamed.

 

About Colin Thomas

Colin Thomas is a Vancouver-based editor, an award-winning playwright, and an established theatre critic. Colin helps writers unlock the full potential of their novels, short stories, screenplays, and children's books.

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