VANCOUVER GREENROOM 12: Hearing voices

Latinx playwrights have a friend in Jacob Padrón and the Sol Project.

Jacob Padrón is the artistic director of the seven-member collective, the Sol Project, which champions Latinx playwrights.

SOL TRAIN

The core goal of the Sol Project is to strengthen the presence of Latinx playwrights off-Broadway and in regional theatres in the US.

Although it only launched last May, the Sol Project has already been incredibly successful. The collective enterprise plans to develop and co-produce 12 works by Latinx playwrights with 12 Off-Broadway institutions. Nine companies, including The Public Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, and LAByrinth Theatre Company have already signed on.

The partnerships are ambitious. The institutional players commit to co-producing a script with the Sol Project, and to commissioning a new script from a Latinx playwright for future production. The companies also commit to meeting with other professionals of colour, including administrators, crew members, and designers.

What’s the secret to the Sol Project’s success?

In this interview, Jacob Padrón, the founding artistic director of the initiative, says his producing experience probably helps: he has worked with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre, and New York’s Public Theatre.

Intriguingly, he also says that partnership with the Sol Project can help to alleviate theatre companies’ fears of screwing up sensitive issues of cultural representation. Members of the Sol Project, Padrón says, can act “as cultural translators”, easing the introduction of fresh voices and offering concrete advice about strategies such as audience development.

 

Amir Nazir Nuabi wrote Oh My Sweet Land.

You can smell the onions sizzling when Nadine Malouf performs Oh My Sweet Land in the kitchens of private homes.

HELL’S KITCHEN

In Amir Nazir Nuabi’s Oh My Sweet Land, a German-Syrian woman prepares kibbeh—a traditional Syrian dish of croquettes made from minced lamb and beef, pine nuts, bulgur dough, onions, and spices—while telling the story of her journey through Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria to find her lover.

The piece is performed in the kitchens of private homes for audiences as small as ten and in community-centre kitchens, where audience size tops out at about 100.

In her review in The New York Times, Alexis Soloski evokes the effectiveness of the play’s strategy: as audience members struggle with the juxtaposition of the harrowing story and the comfort of a kitchen, they also ask how Westerners can make sense of the horrors in Syria from far away.

That production of Oh My Sweet Land is playing in New York until October 22. After that, it will move to kitchens in the Bay Area.

– This piece in American Theatre details the play’s development process.

– These reviews from The Guardian and The Independent speak to the success that Oh My Sweet Land enjoyed in London, where it premiered.

 

Maybe Burk performed in the International Human Rights Arts Festival.

Other performers, including Kathleen Turner, have demonstrated their solidarity with trans artist Maybe Burk.

STILL HERE, STILL QUEER, STILL SLUGGING

The International Human Rights Arts Festival was primed to premiere an evening of new activist work—including gay and trans work—last Sunday. But, on Thursday, St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, which was renting space to the festival , informed organizers that it would block the evening unless the queer performers, including trans artist Maybe Burk were removed from the line-up.

“We are a human rights arts festival,” producer Tom Block said. “We are not going to abandon people.”

Actor Kathleen Turner, who was slated to perform on the program, called the decision by the Catholic church “absolutely, completely wrong” and “very much against the teachings of Christianity.”

Fortunately, the festival was able to secure a new venue for the event: St. Ann & The Holy Trinity, an Episcopal church in Brooklyn Heights.

Uptown, activism and transgender inclusion are getting more respect.

This week, Stonewall: A Rhapsody on Resistance, a musical about events leading up to the watershed Stonewall riot of 1969, received two readings at Ripley-Grier Studios.

And it was announced that, this spring, Modern Family’s Jesse Tyler Ferguson will star in the premiere Log Cabin at Playwrights Horizons. The script by Jordan Harrison, who was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2015 for Marjorie Prime, imagines a tight group of gay men and lesbians who are learning to view the world from the perspective of a transgender friend.

 

SpaceFinder BC helps you to find rehearsal, performance, and exhibition spaces.

Director Peter Brook championed the idea of the empty space, but where can you find one to rehearse in? SpaceFinder BC might be able to help.

SPACE RACE

Looking for rehearsal space? There’s an app for that—well, a website anyway.

On SpaceFinder BC, you can search for rehearsal spaces, performance venues, meeting rooms, exhibition spaces—all sorts of facilities related to the arts.

The idea is to realize more of the potential of underutilized venues in the province.

Apparently, the site has seen a 73% jump in new users over the last two months. Not surprising. It’s an excellent idea.

 

 

Touchstone Theatre and Ruby Slippers are collaborating on Happy Place.

The cast of Happy Place is ridiculously impressive.

TSUNAMI OF TALENT

Actors love working with director Roy Surette, and no doubt that’s partly what has allowed him to assemble such a jaw-dropping cast for Touchstone Theatre’s production of Happy Place, which opens this Friday at the Firehall and runs until October 29. The powerhouse team consists of Diane Brown, Nicola Cavendish, Sereana Malani, Adele Noronha, Laara Sadiq, Colleen Wheeler, and Donna Yamamoto.

The script, which was written by Canadian Pamela Mala Sinha, is set in an in-patient care centre for women who have experienced trauma, and it explores the characters’ movement towards compassion and healing.

Reserve yourself a spot by buying your tickets here.

Honour, Confessions of a Mumbai Courtesan, which is part of the Diwali Festival, is also opening on Friday. Dipti Metha’s solo show is set in Mumbai’s red light district. It’s running at the Vancity Culture Lab until November 4. Click here for tickets.

And then there’s Cirgue du Soleil’s new show Kurious – A Cabinet of Curiosities, which opens tomorrow (Thursday) in the Grand Chapiteau, the company’s tent, which they have pitched near Science World. Buy your tickets on this site.

Are we lucky to live in Vancouver? Yes. Yes, we are.

 

Subscribe to my theatre newsletter.

In the world of online gay dating, guys who are too pretty for their own good, can be unapproachable. Not me.

TAP ME

On Grindr, the gay dating and hook-up app, there’s a feature that allows you to “tap” other users: you hit a little icon and that lets the other guy know you think they’re hot.

A lot of users are objecting to the tap icon. Somehow or other, they think it’s beneath them: “Tap=block”. I do not object to the tap feature. Tapping and getting tapped are not beneath me.

And it’s not beneath me to continue to invite people to subscribe to my newsletter. THERE WILL ONLY BE A COUPLE MORE EDITIONS OF VANCOUVER GREENROOM. In November, I will start pouring all of the Greenroom content—which is more industry- and insider-oriented, into my fabulous newsletter.

So, if you’re enjoying Greenroom, please subscribe to newsletter. It’s free. It’s easy. And it is not beneath you.

 

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.

Leave a Reply