Archives for March 2016

Onegin: more

Onegin, Arts Club, Andrew McNee, Lauren Jackson

Andrew McNee and Lauren Jackson are having an excellent time in Onegin. Mind you, dressed in Jacqueline Firkins’s fabulous costumes, I’d be having fun, too.

When I write reviews, I try to cram in as much information as possible—but there’s almost never enough room, so, right here, I’m going to cram in a little bit more about the Arts Club’s production of Onegin.

Director Amiel Gladstone has done a fantastic job.

A couple of images spring to mind. One is Gladstone’s staging of the duel. I’ll leave the moment for you to discover. Let me just say that it works because it’s so  understated.

The other image is of actor Lauren Jackson running across the stage. This is kind of a random memory, but it’s telling, I think. Jackson’s character, Olga, is happy in that moment, but, so, I think, is Jackson. And that’s emblematic of the palpable sense of JOY that saturates this production: everybody on-stage seems to be having a REALLY GOOD TIME. That joy comes from the company, of course, but, in to setting the tone, the director is hugely important.

And, of course, under Gludstone’s direction, the whole frickin’ thing is insanely stylish and vivacious. But I’ve said that already in my review, which is on

Go see Onegin. It is, hands down, the best show on this weekend.

Quick thought on race and casting

Carl Kennedy, Pacific Theatre, Common Grace

Carl Kennedy plays a family friend in Pacific Theatre’s Common Grace

Let’s not racialize actors of colour all the time. Do they always have to be in shows that are about race or racially specific experience?

I was glad to see Carl Kennedy playing the neighbour in Common Grace at Pacific Theatre recently. Kennedy is African American, so the character happened to be African Canadian. Why the hell not?

This kind of casting could happen much more often than it does.

Wish list: artists of colour

Anosh Irani, The Arts Club, race

Anosh Irani’s The Men in White will be the only script in the Arts Club’s upcoming season written by a person of colour—although Tomson Highway’s (Post) Mistress will be on tour, and Kevin Loring is working on a commission.

Let’s help the Arts Club out. Seriously.

The company announced its 2016/2017 season this week, and artistic director Bill Millerd has been receiving criticism for including only one writer of colour in his core season, and no directors of colour. Anosh Irani’s The Men in White is the sole play not written by a white person.

So let’s help out the Arts Club—and other theatrical programmers—by creating a wish list of artists whose work we’d like to see more of.

I’ll start things off. Tetsuo Shigematsu’s Empire of the Sonwas one of the best shows of the current season. The Cultch is bringing it back for a remount next year. Do not miss it. The script is beautifully written and fantastically well conceived physically. I’d love to see more from this guy.

The Arts Club produced Hiro Kanagawa’s Stanley Park a while ago. And Kanagawa’s Indian Arm, which Rumble mounted last spring, is a stylistically sophisticated, emotionally wrenching, and politically relevant reworking of Henrik Ibsen’s Little Eyolf.  Indian Arm has the kind of scale that could work on one of the Arts Club’s stages. 2018?

Kevin Loring’s Where the Blood Mixes premiered in 2009 to rave reviews and a downpour of awards. Loring is currently working on a commission for the Arts Club. Yes! This wish is already in the process of being granted.

Who are your choices for writers? How about directors? Post your faves in the comments section of my blog or on my Facebook page.

And let’s not forget: race isn’t the only consideration artistic directors have to deal with when considering inclusion, and, on other fronts, Millerd and his company deserve credit. Almost all of the directors are local, which is terrific. A quarter of the scripts are written by local playwrights. Yes! And there are some strong female artists in key positions: the list of directors includes Sarah Rodgers, Kim Collier, Rachel Ditor, Valerie Easton (twice), and Chelsea Haberlin.

Let’s take practical steps to work towards more racial and cultural inclusion on our stages. Let’s also celebrate the support and inclusion that’s happening.

The Gay Heritage Project: show this show some love, Vancouver

The Gay Heritage Project, The Cultch

Damien Atkins, Andrew Kushnir, and Paul Dunn in The Gay Heritage Project: show ’em some love, Vancouver!

Okay, Vancouver, we need to talk. What’s up? Why aren’t you turning out for The Gay Heritage Project, which is playing The Cultch until March 19? It’s a really good show, and word has it that, as of today, ticket sales suck.

If you’re straight and you think that this show isn’t about you or you’re not going to understand it, get a grip. Of course you’re going to have fun. This is a gay show. Remember how funny we are?

And, if you’re gay, what the fuck? How many opportunities do you have to take in a really smart, witty script that seriously addresses your history and identity? Get out there and buy those damn tickets. Seriously. You’ll be glad you did.

P.S. If you’re a gay man and you think that the title, The Gay Heritage Project, sounds too academic, buck up: all three actors are really cute.

This weekend, go gay

The Gay Heritage Project, The Cultch, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

Paul Dunn, Andrew Kushnir, and Damien Atkins in The Gay Heritage Project. I have no idea what they’re doing in this moment.

I don’t care who you’re having sex with, as long as nobody is getting hurt—well, as long as nobody is getting hurt non-consensually—go see The Gay Heritage Project at the Cultch.

In this production from Toronto’s Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, three young, gay artists—Damien Atkins, Paul Dunn, and Andrew Kushnir—explore gay identity, politics, and history. With references to everybody from Charlie’s Angels to Michel Foucault, The Gay Heritage Projectis really funny, really moving, and so frickin’ smart.

Every letter of the sexual alphabet will have a good time.

Phone the Cultch’s box office at 604-251-1363.

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