Click on TJ Dawe and Itai Erdal’s Hyperlink

Elbow Theatre is presenting Hyperlink at The Firehall Arts Centre.

TJ Dawe (right) seems to be implying that Itai Erdal is getting a little self-indulgent in Hyperlink. (Photo by Diane Smithers)

Hyperlink is terrific, stylin’ entertainment. It’s about social media. And, in crucial ways, it’s the opposite of social media.

During the show, we’re all in the same space at the same time, for instance. Real human beings, live flesh: how refreshing! Nobody is anonymous. And nobody—as far as I can tell—is trying to farm our personal information. We’re all just playing together with the hilarious, alluring, sometimes dangerous toys of YouTube, Facebook, and Craigslist. [Read more…]

1 Hour Photo is underdeveloped

Empire of the Son was a success. 1 Hour Photo may be a success or a failure.

Tetsuro Shigematsu’s 1 Hour Photo needs more focus.

There are exquisite elements in 1 Hour Photo. There are also significant problems with the storytelling.

For almost its entire length, 1 Hour Photo doesn’t seem to know what it’s about. Writer Tetsuro Shigematsu, who performs the show with musician Steve Charles, tells the life story of Mas Yamamoto, who is the elderly father of a good friend. So far so good. But what’s the core of Shigematsu’s take on Yamamoto’s history? The playwright presents several major elements, including the incarceration of Yamamoto’s family during WWII, an unfulfilled romance, and the rocky development of Yamamoto’s career, which culminated in his owning a thriving photo-development business. [Read more…]

The Goblin Market: “She suck’d until her lips were sore.”

The Goblin Market, produce by Dust Palace, is bering presented by The Cultch.

In The Goblin Market‘s prettiest passage, Laura and Lizzie twine and untwine in a rotating hoop. “Did you miss me?/Come and kiss me./Never mind my bruises.”

Make no mistake: Christina Rossetti’s poem, Goblin Market, which was published in 1862 and which inspired this circus performance, is about sex.

At twilight, sisters Laura and Lizzie are tempted by goblin men, who offer to sell them fruit. At first, Laura demurs: “We must not look at goblin men,/We must not buy their fruits:/Who knows upon what soil they fed/Their hungry thirsty roots?” But, when Laura lets herself go—“Like a vessel at the launch/When its last restraint is gone”—she is ravenous: “She suck’d and suck’d and suck’d the more/Fruits which that unknown orchard bore;/She suck’d until her lips were sore.” [Read more…]

As You Like It: Is Shakespeare’s comedy the right vehicle for a meditation on the refugee crisis?

Michael Scholar Jr.'s As You Like It draws inspiration from the refugee crisis.

Playing Orlando in As You Like It, William Edward serves notice that he is an actor to be watched.

There’s a lot going on. And a bunch of it works.

In setting As You Like It, Shakespeare’s comedy about banishment, director Michael Scholar Jr. draws inspiration from the global refugee crisis. The combination isn’t always a good fit, but it does result in the creation of a multi-textured, sometimes surprising world. [Read more…]

VANCOUVER GREENROOM 9: Failure is essential

Vancouver Greenroom: theatre is community

Mike Bisbiglia stresses the importance of failure.

Mike Bisbiglia doles out tips on keeping it real. (photo: Robby Klein/Contour for Getty Images)

FAILURE IS ESSENTIAL

Comedian, actor, and filmmaker Mike Birbiglia offers some of the best artistic advice ever.

Highlights include, “Failure is essential. There’s no substitute for it. It’s not just encouraged but required.” And it’s probably the critic in me that makes me love this: “I’ve learned that harsh feedback, constructive feedback, even weird, random feedback, is all helpful, if you know the essence of what you’re trying to convey.”

Excellent! I will continue being weird and random. [Read more…]

Japanese Problem: these people were Canadian and they weren’t a problem

Japanese internment in Canada.

This family of Japanese Canadians was forcibly relocated in 1942.

Japanese Problem is delicate production, but it packs a punch.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, thousands of Canadian citizens of Japanese origin were removed from the West Coast and forced to live in internment camps in the BC interior and elsewhere in the country. This was despite the fact that the RCMP said there was no evidence of spying or other fifth-column activity in the community. The citizens’ property, including homes and the sizeable fishing fleet from Steveston, was confiscated and sold—presumably to pay for their incarceration, although greed and racism were clearly factors. And these innocent people were not allowed to move freely within Canada until 1949. [Read more…]

VANCOUVER GREENROOM 8: Perfection is the enemy of excellence

Vancouver Greenroom: theatre is community

 

Seattle Repertory Theatre has initiated a program called Public Works Seattle.

In Seattle Rep’s version of Homer’s Odyssey, homeless people, vets, and children join professional actors on-stage. (Photo by Jim Bennett)

MEANINGFUL INVITATION 

“Perfection is the enemy of excellence.” Doesn’t that sentence make your shoulders relax? Wouldn’t it be lovely to hear it during rehearsals?

It’s a sentence favoured by Simone Hamilton, one of the driving forces behind Seattle Repertory Theatre’s production of Homer’s Odyssey—a production that involves about 100 performers, including military vets, children, homeless people, bikers, and four professional actors.

This Odyssey is part of a new initiative called Public Works Seattle, whose slogan is, “Theatre of, by, and for the people.” It’s about inviting new folks into the theatre, not just by handing out free tickets, but by encouraging them to perform.

Read all about it in this inspiring article from The Seattle Times. [Read more…]

Posh: Is it worth spending an evening with these toffee-nosed gits?

Fighting Chance Productions is producing Posh at the PAL Theatre.

In Posh, the characters wear dusty-rose cummerbunds, even though they are supposed to be upper-class.

I love class analysis. Posh is packed with class analysis. So why does this script, which premiered in London in 2010, not work for me in this Vancouver production in 2017?

In Laura Wade’s play, a group that calls itself The Riot Club meets in the private dining room of a suburban pub. They are all upper-class students from Oxford University, and their goal for the evening is to get hammered—or chateaued as they call it—and run amok. A tradition of the club is to destroy the rooms they rent and settle the expenses afterwards. [Read more…]

The Christians: for an atheist, whether or not hell exists is not a burning question

Pacific Theatre is presenting The Christians.

Playwright Lucas Heath has excellent hair, and, in The Christians, quirky theatrical instincts.

The Christians: if you’re not Christian, what’s in this play for you? Not a lot in terms of moral complexity. But a fair bit in terms of theatricality.

In Lucas Hnath’s script, Pastor Paul is the leader of a gigantic evangelical congregation: his church has thousands of seats and “a baptismal font as big as a swimming pool.” But, delivering a sermon near the top of the play, he drops a theological bomb on his flock: “We are no longer a congregation that believes in hell.” [Read more…]

Perestroika, which means “restructuring”, is faultily structured—and sometimes transcendent

The Arts Club is producing Perestroika, which is part of Tony Kushner's Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes.

Lois Anderson makes one heck of an entrance as The Angel in Angels in America, Part 2: Perestroika.

Like a fever dream, this production of Angels in America, Part Two: Perestroika comes and goes. Sometimes, I was completely in its thrall. At other times, I popped out of the experience and thought, “Oh. I’m in a theatre. And not much is happening.” [Read more…]