Archives for October 2023

Assembly Hall: Motion to Dissolve

publicity photo for Assembly Hall, Kidd Pivot

Renée Sigouin in Assembly Hall (photo©Michael Slobodian)

Gosh. So many great things.

Assembly Hall, the latest creation from choreographer Crystal Pite and playwright Jonathon Young, is so narratively eccentric it will resonant in different ways for every person who sees it. Let me tell you a bit about what it meant to me.

First, the container. In the set-up, we realize we’re watching the annual general meeting of a medieval re-enactment society, the General Assembly of the Benevolent and Protective Order. The society has fallen on hard times — rising costs, dwindling membership — and they’re going to vote on whether to dissolve the organization. They’ve tried it before and have always ended up tabling the motion.

But we’re not in a literal reality. Like other works from Pite and Young, this is a dance/theatre hybrid. So the eight characters’ voices are recorded and, when we hear that speech, the onstage performers, the dancers, don’t just lip sync the words, they embody them with exaggerated postures and flamboyant gestures. The effect is simultaneously operatic and camp.

The text isn’t mundane either, although it’s concerned with mundanity. When the chair of the society asks if they have quorum, the vice chair notes that every member contains three, including one who leads and one who comes after. She says something like, “In the one, there is a multitude. And, in the multitude, there is one.” So they have quorum. [Read more…]

Peace Country: Go there

Publicity photo for Peace Country

The stellar cast of Peace Country: Angus Yam, Sofía Rodríguez, Manuela Sosa, Kaitlin Yott, and Sara Vickruck.
(Photo by Pedro Augusto Meza)

Peace Country is a huge accomplishment. I love its urgency, its complexity, its humour — and its weirdness.

Its weirdness — well, its eccentricity — lies in the play’s structure. Pedro Chamale’s new script is set in an area also known as Peace River Country, an aspen forest that stretches from northwestern Alberta to the Rocky Mountains in northeastern BC. Rather than being driven by plot, as most scripts are, Peace Country offers immersion in the relationships of a group of friends who grew up in the Peace and mostly still live there.

It’s set in the near future. A new political party, the British Columbia Environmental Alliance, has swept to power provincially and it’s working to limit the impacts of climate change. The party has canceled the pipeline project that helped to keep the friends’ town afloat. Canfor, the logging giant, has left. Oil-and-gas company Suncor may be next.

So Peace Country is about the tension between the urgent need for long-delayed environmental action and the economic impact of that action on resource-based communities that are too often ignored or demonized in the discussion. [Read more…]

Someone Like You: predigested

publicity photo for Someone Like You

(Photo of Steffanie Davis and Praneet Akilla by Moonrider Productions)

There are things I liked in Someone Like You, but so many more that I didn’t that it’s going to take a while to get there.

Mostly what bugged me is that I felt like playwright Christine Quintana was cutting my meat for me. So much of her script is predetermined and prescriptive that there wasn’t a lot of room left for me to engage with its ideas as a freethinking grown-up. [Read more…]

The Empire of the Son: setting

Publicity photo for Empire of the Son

The thrill is gone.

When I first saw Tetsuro Shigematsu’s solo show Empire of the Son, when Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre produced its premiere seven years ago, I was so moved that, two weeks after seeing it, I still couldn’t talk about it without crying. But this Pacific Theatre production largely left me cold.

Figuring out the crucial factors in my differing experiences is tricky. [Read more…]

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