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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

How do you like your Alberta History? Onstage is good with me! John Ware Reimagined at Workshop West...

Until I heard of the play I hadn't heard of John Ware. I knew a bit about Amber Valley and have some of knowledge about some of the history of Black Canadians mostly because of my work and my personal interests. A couple of seasons ago we produced a piece called Blak! by Krystal Dos Santos at the Citadel and in preparing for that I went on all sorts of little research tangents across the internet.We're so lucky to have access to so much information literally at our fingertips...

John Ware Reimagined by Cheryl Foggo is actually more than one play... at least that's how I felt when I left. I thought there was one play, about John and Mildred Ware and how they met and fell in love and lived, and another about Joni, who was seeking to find herself in the history of Alberta and her frustration with feeling like she was both invisible and other. It was also a musical (which caught me off guard only in that I wasn't expecting that).

I left these two plays with quite a few thoughts:

  • I really want to see a full length play/musical about John and Mildred Ware. I think there's something there. Jesse Lipscombe (John) and Jameela McNeil (Mildred) had a lovely chemistry and voices and it left me wanting to know more of their story. I was fascinated by the big-city woman and the tongue-tied cowboy who are clearly meant to be together. I wanted to more about the 4 parts of John Ware's life and I wanted to know more about Mildred and who she was. Both of them were inherently fascinating. 
  • I wanted more resolution for Joni. I was a bit frustrated with where she was at the end of the play and I wanted to know more about where she might be heading. I kept doing the math in my head for how much older she was than I was because it seemed to me that things must've changed a lot in a very short time or else where I grew up was different (or maybe my family was different). I wondered if she ever talked to her friend Marcy again. 
  • It also underscored for me that we all need to accept that everyone's life experience is different. We can't assume we understand what they are feeling in a given situation. I 'know' this, but it is nice to be reminded. 
Like so many other plays I have seen in recent years, it has sent me to the internet to find out more - more about John Ware, more about Mildred Ware, more about Alberta at the turn of the century, more about the Black communities in Toronto at the turn of the century... So... I have some reading to do!

John Ware Reimagined has now closed. I saw it's second last show, but if it gets remounted, you should check it out... or do some reading yourself! 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Still Thinking About Hadestown...

... and waking up with the songs in my brain...

Gotta get back to see it again...

Saturday, November 18, 2017

When Artistry meets Quirkiness... Jabberwocky by The Old Trout Puppet Workshop at Theatre Network...

There's no Alice in Jabberwocky but there are A LOT of white rabbits! Jabberwocky is the latest show created by the Calgary-based Old Trout Puppet Workshop currently being presented at Theatre Network. It has all the hallmarks of the other shows I have seen from them (Ignorance, Famous Puppet Death Scenes) - the quirkiness, the off-centre humour, a bit of darkness, lots of twisted whimsy, and above-all the ridiculously well-done and out-of-the-box props, sets, and puppets.

It's a story far removed from the original Jabberwock, so don't go expecting Alice, but there is an incorporation of some familiar iconography and they certainly make use of the text of the poem itself. You can see the inspiration. The story is more about life and the pursuit of happiness and purpose. I'm not one for giving a synopsis, so it's best to just go and check it out. I promise you won't get lost and there will be lots of humorous surprises along the way.

If you've seen an Old Trout show before and enjoyed it, you should go because this will definitely appeal to you and there are some new approaches that will keep you entertained. If you haven't seen one before, see it, because it's kind of cool that we have this kind of company in Alberta producing this kind of work and I think you will find it entertaining.

runs at Theatre Network until November 26,
Click here for more information and tickets.

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Road to Hell is Heavenly... HADESTOWN at the Citadel...

If there's one show to see this season... 

I know. You hear that about a lot of shows. But seriously... this is the one. Personally I hope you see 10, or 15, or 20 shows, but if you only have room for one it should be Hadestown. It's not even so you can have the bragging rights about being one of the first to see it before it moves on to it's next incarnation (hint, hint... think NYC). It's because it's so very good. 

It's the Orpheus and Eurydice myth set to music by the incomparable Anaïs Mitchell and directed by Broadway's Rachel Chavkin. What they have created is something welcoming and engaging, making you feel as though you are sitting in a small bar on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, not a 670+ seat theatre. And although it's wonderfully intimate it is, at the same time, dramatically epic. 

Tonight was the second time I saw the show, having seen it on last Sunday evening. With all the hype I was not content to wait for Opening Night. I also plan to go back for a third viewing next week. It's that good. And why? Well, beyond the unforgettable music that I have found myself waking up singing, with it's folk sensibilities and truthful emotion, a big part of what makes it so good is the outstanding cast. Reeve Carney (Orpheus) has a clear, pure tenor voice that conveys incredible honesty and feeling. Opposite him is T.V. Carpio (Eurydice) whose presence and voice defy her petite stature. She is mesmerizing. Her voice has size and tone that simply pulls you in. The two of them feel incredibly connected. Juxtaposed with them are Hades (Patrick Page) and Persephone (Amber Gray). Every moment Ms. Gray is onstage you are seeing something incredible. Before she even speaks or sings, just the kick of her boot makes you aware that this is one of those special people who gift us with their presence onstage. When she does sing, it's electric and visceral. Page is commanding and charismatic and dangerous - everything Hades should be - and with a tremendous bass that you imagine could literally pull you down into Hell... We're brought into the story by the narrator Hermes, played marvelously and energetically by Kingsley Leggs. He guides us through with command and emotional investment and boy does he sound great. 

This is a show where you want to talk about everyone onstage.  The Fates (Kira Guloien, Evangelia Kambites, & Jewelle Blackman) have an incredible blend with their voices and the three of them are so fierce. The Workers (Tara Jackson, Vance Avery, Hal Wesley Rogers, and Andrew Broderick) are a marvelous quartet of voices and movers. As an ensemble, this cast makes incredible sound and as story-tellers they are wonderfully unified and present. 

There's more... Lighting (Bradley King) that blew my mind - It looks like you could literally touch it and it would be solid. A beautiful set (Rachel Hauck) and costumes (Michael Krass). A kick-ass band under the direction of Liam Robinson. It all comes together and you leave knowing you had an incredible theatre experience that you will want to have again, and again, and again... 

Hadestown runs to December 3 at the Citadel.
Click here for tickets. 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Oh, What a Night! Jersey Boys is Outstanding!

Friday night I finally got to see Jersey Boys! I'd been hearing about it for a few years and had been unable to go the last time it came through because of scheduling issues, so I was really happy to get a chance to see it this time around. The cast was incredible - the singing perfect, the dancing so clean and tight, the acting just the right mix of humour and realism. I'd never really thought of myself as a Four Seasons fan but as the songs rolled out I realized how many of their songs I knew and loved.

I was particularly blown away by Jonny Wexler, who as Frankie Valli sings some incredible high notes and makes them soar, and Tommaso Antico, who as Bob Gaudio has a sensitivity and presence that always felt honest even in the huge theatre. Corey Greenan as Tony DeVito added the intensity and antagonism needed to make the journey of the show feel worth it, and Chris Stevens as Nick Massi injected a good deal of humour in a delightfully deadpan manner.

I think there's only one show left on Sunday, November 12th. So call fast if you want to check it out!

Click here for more information.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

A few good shows in the road ahead...

It's a good problem to have - good for me, good for the city - a whole bunch of theatre to see!

This Friday I will finally get to see Jersey Boys with Broadway Across Canada. I've heard the show is awesome so I am looking forward to it. I have prepared myself to hear a lot of swearing and some great music!

I'm also very, very, very excited about Hadestown which starts this weekend at the Citadel. We've been working so hard on it, and hearing snippets of the live music and imagining what the mind-blowing cast we have will do with it (several are Broadway Alums and the ones I have seen previously in Canada are seriously amazing performers). Every day I peek in the theatre and the set looks incredible and I just can't wait. I'll be there on Opening but I am thinking I might not wait until then so I'm looking to see if I can go on Saturday or Sunday night. I will likely take Gibson as our current joint-obsession with Hamilton tells me he will probably really like the show.

Next week I am also taking in John Ware: Reimagined presented by Workshop West Playwright's Theatre. It's a new work, which always appeals to my playwright heart, and about a real Albertan historical figure and it promises to shed light on parts of our history many of us might not know much about.

After the Opening Night of Hadestown on Thursday, I will end the week with Jabberwocky at Theatre Network. It's the World Premiere of a new work by The Old Trout Puppet Workshop. I've previously seen Ignorance and Famous Puppet Death Scenes and really like their work, so I am looking forward to seeing a new work from them.

Other than that, I am trying to figure out how I can squeeze in Little Women: The Musical by Foote in the Door Productions. I'm hoping to shuffle a few meetings to make that work as there are a lot of great people working on that show. Hopefully I can get things sorted out fast because I understand they are selling really well and I might be out of luck for tickets if I don't figure it out quickly!

Anyhow, it's a good problem to have... so much theatre to see!

Monday, November 06, 2017

Constellations at Shadow Theatre... so many possibilities...

I'd heard about Constellations by Nick Payne a few years ago. It's concept was intriguing, multiple iterations of the same scenes, with slight changes to reflect the multiplicity of possibilities. I'm am avid Science Fiction reader, so the idea is one I have seen explored before in books and film, and I liked the idea of exploring that on stage. So when Shadow Theatre announced that it was part of their season, I was happy to get the chance to see it. My sister, who lives in Toronto, saw it at Canadian Stage last year, but wanted to discuss it with me only after I had a chance to see it (so now we are due for a phone chat...). In the wishing for one more multi-verse, I wish I had seen the version she saw too! I think this is the kind of play that would only be enriched by seeing multiple productions...

Anyhow, it's a boy meets girl story, about Marianne the Physicist (Liana Shannon) and Roland the Bee-keeper (Mat Busby). They meet, they flirt, they meet again, they flirt, they fight, they meet again, things happen, and again, and again.  Each time is different. Sometimes subtly so, and sometimes the changes are vast. The idea is that there are an infinite amount of ways that these two lives could intersect and interact. Some details are maintained for coherence, but it is possible to imagine that there are even more options out there. I liked the way director Amy DeFelice jumped from reality to reality - it was clear that we'd shifted but it didn't hold up the flow of the story. I also liked Tessa Stamp's set - scientific, yet abstract, its circles nested and repeated echoing the repetition and cyclical nature of the storytelling. I always enjoy a play with science or math, whether conceptual or concrete, so this was a good one to speak to my brain. I could easily imagine many, many more variations on the themes.

On a more emotional level, it's the kind of play that makes you think about the myriad of choices that we have in our own interactions. If I had been less angry... If I had invited them over... If I had said no... I think on that human level we all realize that our lives could be vastly different if the little choices were changed and added up.

Constellations is at the Varscona Theatre until November 12.
Click here for tickets.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Diving into work at Walterdale...

Last week was kind of a special one for me with regards to Walterdale Theatre. At the AGM I became the President for the 2017/18 Season, a posting I am very excited about especially considering the team that I will have to work with on the Board. It marks a return to the Board after a 5 year absence where I poured myself into production and a new job and work on other Boards. I think that after the experience I have gained on the Theatre Alberta and APN Boards I go back with a lot of skills that will help me serve the organization.

I also was surprised with an Award last week. I was selected for the Outstanding Season Contribution Award. Because they knew I was attending as incoming President they didn't tell me, so it was a very nice surprise. I was glad that Mark had decided to come along and since Walterdale has been so much of my theatre family over the years, I did feel like I had a lot of friends there to share the win with. It is always wonderful to be recognized and thanked for what you do and even nicer when it is done in front of people you love.

As for my Walterdale non-Board work this year, I am happy to announce that my play, Water Beneath Her Feet, has been selected for development and production at this year's From Cradle to Stage Festival. This means that I get to work on the script with dramaturge Tracy Carroll between now and February and then the developed script will be presented at Walterdale as part of the From Cradle to Stage Festival in May 2018. I had my first session with Tracy tonight and am looking forward to diving into a new draft with her questions and comments buzzing in my head.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Woman Behind the Man... Testament of Mary at Northern Light Theatre...

Saw Testament of Mary at Northern Light Theatre last night. It is a strikingly beautiful play to watch, particularly because of how Trevor Schmidt's Set and Costumes are lit by Adam Tsuyoshi Turnbull's lighting. This is not the cool, mild Mary portrayed in the New Testament but one that simmers beneath the surface so perhaps it is also appropriate that Holly Turner, who plays Mary fiercely and intelligently, is dressed in warm reds instead of the cool blues we often associate with the Virgin Mother. It's a fascinating imagining of Mary's personal, emotional, resistance to what happened to her son (who she refuses to name) and to how she feels used in the narrative that is being constructed around his miracles, death and resurrection.

On reflection this morning, it has me thinking about how we receive and consume news in our world. So much of the stories we receive are crafted by media and conflicting details are suppressed and shaped into something palatable and click-worthy. If you've read the Da Vinci Code you are probably aware that there are many more than just 4 gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) and that those four were selected for the new testament to tell a particular and consistent story. I wonder what the story of Jesus would look like if we read the other testimonials as well. And yes, I know that this is a fictionalized 'what if' story... but I can imagine that a mother who lost her son in the way that Mary did would not be so inclined to rejoice.

Testament of Mary runs to November 4th at the PCL Theatre. Click here for tickets.

Photo Credit: Holly Turner in The Testament of Mary, Northern Light Theatre. Photo by Ian Jackson.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Questions raised by Freedom Singer at the Citadel...

Where do we come from? Where are we going to? 

These questions have been in my head a lot over the last few years, so in some ways Freedom Singer was the perfect show for me to see as it deals very beautifully with both of them. Inspired by a search for his history, creator Khari Wendell McClelland embarks on a journey to find out more about his great-great-great Grandmother Kizzy who fled the U.S. and slavery to Canada via the Underground Railway. Additionally, he was seeking a larger social history in trying to recover the songs and music that Kizzy would have sung. Like the saying goes, it's the journey not the destination, and we are fortunate to go on that journey with him.

From the moment it started, the spirit of the room is one of welcome and companionship. We are invited to witness this story and thanked for coming along. There are several touch points along the way where McClelland makes sure that the audience is walking right a long with him. We are as invested as he is to find out what he is seeking because of the constant yet gentle invitation to be a part of the journey. Along the way we get to hear music (beautiful, thoughtful, layered music) performed masterfully by McClelland, Tanika Charles and Noah Walker. Charles, a gifted vocalist and truthful actress, also portrays several characters encountered by McClelland in his path to knowledge. It's both more than a concert and more than a play. 

And along this path, with ups and downs, and many dead ends, I was able to reflect more about those questions and my own life. Generously, this show allows the audience to embrace their own history and the complicity of our ancestors without shaming them. It's about acceptance and acknowledgement and I think, for me, most importantly about the second of the questions. While it's important to know where we come from, it is even more important to think about where we are going to. 

A joyful, truthful, embracing story that should make everyone think about who they are and what they can be. 

Freedom Singer has only two more shows: Saturday, October 28 at 8 PM and Sunday, October 29 at 2 PM. Click here for tickets. 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Plans for the Weekend... Freedom Singer at the Citadel and The Testament of Mary at Northern Light Theatre...

I certainly feel that the theatre season is in full swing. Since mid September I have seen 8 shows, 1 concert and I have two more shows coming up this weekend. The menu has been varied, global in scope and both thought-provoking and entertaining.

This weekend I will be taking in two shows. The first, Freedom Singer, promises a compelling true story about the Underground Railroad combined with outstanding music from Khari Wendell McClelland, Tanika Charles and Noah Walker. 

Here's a sample:

Freedom Singer runs at the Citadel until October 29. Click here for tickets.

The other show I will be seeing this weekend is The Testament of Mary at Northern Light Theatre. It's going to be a very different show in terms of content and tone. In it, the mother of Jesus tells her story of her son’s crucifixion and questions his death and divinity. It's a one woman show starring Holly Turner and directed by Trevor Schmidt, and a portrait of a very human woman trying to make sense of and come to terms with the tragic death of her son.

 The Testament of Mary runs until November 4, 2017 in the PCL Studio. Click here for tickets.

Les Feluettes (Lillies) at Edmonton Opera... Stories we still need to tell...

Tuesday Night I saw Les Feluettes (Lillies) at Edmonton Opera. It was such a beautiful production. I'm usually aprehensive with opera, but 10 minutes in I was hooked. The acting was so strong and the cast a true single organism. I wasn't sure what i would think about a show entirely composed of men, but it was the only way it would make sense to tell this story. Plus the singing was gorgeous, both the solo voices and the choral pieces. Kudos to the entire cast and creative team. It was also told respectfully and honestly and artfully. It hit all the markers. 

I cried a little - during the scene in the picture, not because the scene was sad, but because it was so beautiful and because it hit me that it is sad that we are still in a place that we need to tell these stories. For most of the world I live in, Love is Love is Love is Love, but there are many places in the world, in our country, in our communities, where that is still not the case. So even though this story takes place in 1912 and 1952, to some degree this story could be happening today and that made me cry. Won't it be wonderful when we don't need to tell these stories anymore? 

There's only one more opportunity to see the show - Friday, October 27th. Click here for tickets. 

Photo Credit: Nanc Price

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Jack and the Beanstalk... Terrific TYA!

I had the pleasure of taking in Alberta Opera's Jack and The Beanstalk last week at the Backstage Theatre. They only had a very short public performance run before they headed off on their 200+ performance school tour. I was so glad I managed to catch this show as I have been disappointed to some degree with the TYA (Theatre for Young Audiences) that I have been able to catch over the last few years. This one, directed by Lana Michelle Hughes with music direction by Erik Mortimer, was delightful. The perfect show to make younger audiences appreciate and enjoy theatre. A clear story with captivating characters (played with skill, talent and enthusiasm by Ethan Snowden, Marc Rico Ludwig and Rachel Ironmonger), humour and well-written and well-performed music, and a subtle message that was neither preachy nor throw-away. It also clocked in under an hour, which from my experience with my own children is simply perfect. Kudos to the cast and creative team for an enjoyable introductory theatre experience. The children in the audience I attended were captivated and thoroughly entertained!

There are no more public performances, however, if your child is in K-6 in the Edmonton area chances are they will be seeing the show sometime during the school year!

The Aliens are all around us...

Took in The Aliens by Annie Baker at Theatre Network this past week. It's a very introspective piece with silences and pauses but don't let that scare you off. Director Taylor Chadwick has made sure that the pauses are present and engaging, not simply waiting for the next thing to happen. The action is meticulous and purpose driven, pulling us in. It focuses on KJ (Chris Cook) and Jasper (Evan Hall), two 30 something misfits who hang out in an alley behind a coffee shop. Enter Evan (played with wide-eyed wonder and a delightful awkwardness by Michael Vetsch), a 17 year old coffee shop worker who encounters them and forms a connection with them, entranced by their seeming wisdom and coolness as compared to his relative inexperience. Although KJ and Jasper are failures by most modern standards, they do not see themselves that way and neither does Evan. Their purposeless lives have purpose if only to them. They are here in this alley for a reason even if that reason is just to hang out together in silence. They see themselves as geniuses even if the rest of the world does not. The chemistry an interaction between Hall and Cook is tight. They understand these guys and they make them work by making them human, not stereotypes. It's a deft, unusual portrait of the less than ordinary, which points us to think more about those in our world who do not stand out, who seem to exist on the margins. We get to see them as Evan does - as inspirational, as heroes, as artists and as geniuses.

The Aliens runs to October 22nd at the Roxy on Gateway.

Friday, October 13, 2017

A Doll's House (Walterdale Theatre) - still so incredibly relevant...

I took in the Opening Night performance of A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen at Walterdale Theatre  this past Wednesday evening. I knew what was coming, having read much of Ibsen in my 20s and 30s, and revisiting some of it in my 40s. What struck me was how sadly relevant it still is today. It spoke sharply to the defined roles that people impose on themselves and others with regards to marriage and parenthood and life in general and that need to find and understand oneself outside those expectations. It speaks also to societal judgement and the implications of stepping out of line morally and the personal and professional ramifications of moral missteps. I see it all around me - particularly in our social media world - the implications of social shaming for errors combined with the need to present a near-perfect persona to the world. I'm torn on some of this in today's world because I find social media shaming morally abhorrent in many situations... but I digress...

It is this fear of judgement from the outside world that guides Torvald, along with his expectations of his roles and Nora's within a marriage. Nora has bought into those roles because she has been told they are correct and while she is living a pleasant life there is no reason to question them. It's when things are not going so well that the social order is challenged and Nora wakes up, or decides she needs to wake up.

We can dismiss this world as being of it's time, but I don't think it is. I know people today who buy into that philosophy of having to appear perfect and without flaws - just look at the nearest Instagram feed, each selfie composed thoughtfully and artfully demonstrating a life to envy. Look at the kids dressed as tiny adults in designer clothes - little dolls dressed up to highlight the perfection of their family. All vacation and no real life. There are many doll's houses in our world today, created by a code of superficiality and lack of real depth. So many people today, like Nora then, do not truly know themselves. They can quote the deep and complicated articles they read in their Facebook and Twitter feeds but upon questioning their rote responses indicate they do not fully understand what they are saying. They, like Nora, are having fun but they are not truly happy...

Anyhow, as you can see it gave me a lot to think about and I truly believe that it is an extremely relevant piece today. Kudos to the cast for excellent commitment to a challenging script and to the entire team for creating the world.

A Doll's House runs until October 21st at the Walterdale Theatre.
Tickets can be purchased at Tix On The Square (780.420.1757 or or through the Box Office 1 hour prior to show start. There is a Pay-What-You-Can night on Tuesday, October 17th and a Talk Back on Wednesday, October 18th.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

UBUNTU (The Cape Town Project) - Thoughts on who we are...

I'm very aware that there are a lot of people around me that are 'not from around here'; mostly because I am an immigrant myself. I blend in well... because I have been in Canada from a very young age and because I think of myself as Canadian, but there have always been stories and accounting of our heritage in my family (Norwegian, German, Macedonian, Irish, English, American,... and so on). Now I was born in Minnesota (the most Canadian of all the states), not China or Zimbabwe or Wales, but I have always been conscious that Canada is a country of travelers - probably because I lived in Fort McMurray for a large part of my life and the majority of people there come from somewhere else. I went to my friend's homes and was warned to eat from the pot on the left because I was Canadian and I was unlikely to be able to handle the spiciness of the pot on the right. I did my best to understand the heavy accented English their parents spoke, enjoying the cadence and knowing that most of the time they were teasing us. My friends came to my house and we ate grilled cheese and sang along to the radio in my bedroom while my little brothers annoyed us. All this is swirling in my brain as I come home from seeing Ubuntu (The Cape Town Project) at the Citadel. At it's core is a need for connection between people of different cultural heritage. It juxtaposes South African spirituality and Canadian practicality. It finds common ground that pulls people together and disconnect that pushes them apart. It does so using beautiful music and movement and language - from both worlds.

Following the show, I talked to a young friend of mine and she asked what stood out for me, what resonated. It's hard to articulate. It's a beautifully layered story told in two times, about two visitors to Canada from South Africa - a father and son. Both have challenges when they encounter the Canadian culture - from bad coffee on the lower end of the spectrum to funeral rites on the upper end. Both find connections and both lose them. The story of what happened is unwrapped cleverly with surprise and anticipation. We see bits of the past nested in the search in the present. Emotion is expressed through movement and repetition - both joyous and sad. And it's about ubuntu - "I am because you are" - the perfect word for theatre, for what is a play without an audience?

Here are things that resonated with me:
- I really enjoyed hearing the untranslated Xhosa onstage. The scenes became about understanding the emotional needs of the characters and even though I didn't understand everything, I understood the stakes and how the characters were feeling. Later scenes in the play helped to give context in retrospect challenging my brain to recall and stay engaged. Also, Xhosa with it's clicks is just fun to hear.
- The movement/dance portions were quite lovely. Used to underscore the emotional tides of the characters the flavours of the movement were simply beautiful.
- The juxtaposition of science and spirituality. Those who know me know that I sit much more on the science side, but the show challenged me to be more empathetic to those who are more spiritual. I think I will continue to think about this balance for weeks to come.

UBUNTU (The Cape Town Project) runs to October 22nd at the Citadel
There's a Pay-What-You-Can this Sunday evening and tickets for all other shows start at $30+fees&GST.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

And Life Returns to Normal?

Guess we'd have to know what "normal" is for that to happen.... But Sense and Sensibility is up and running and I have returned to just my regular job and I have even finally had a couple of days off, so I am feeling a little more rested. The intensity of the 10 weeks was such that it will take me a little while to completely reflect on what I have learned and what I will do with it.

As to Sense and Sensibility, here are a few reviews to help you decide if you will be checking it out.

REVIEW from Colin MacLean, Gig City

REVIEW from Liz Nicholls, 12th Night

REVIEW from Liane Faulder, Edmonton Journal

REVIEW from Mel Priestley

REVIEW from Jenna Marynowski, After the House Lights

I was very happy with the show onstage and have now seen it 6 times and will see it another time before it closes. It is the last week, so act fast!

Now that the show is up and running, I have been working hard to catch up with my theatre viewing. I saw the delightful Irma Voth at Theatre Network last week. It is closed now, but it was a refreshing little piece of theatre full of humour and humanity.

I caught ELOPE's Sweeney Todd on Friday night and partook of the delicious meat pies on sale outside the Arts Barns. It was a surreal experience to see the show as it was the first time I had seen a show that I had previously directed. Hard to sort through expectation and memory.

Last weekend I caught the frenetic Bone Wars from Punctuate Theatre. At it's core, it was a TYA show that had opportunity to really discuss the importance of scientific method, unfortunately the over incorporation of extra social issues muddied the waters a bit. Still entertaining and very silly with a very talented cast - I'm just not sure the kids would be able to sift through all the layers and get to the bones of the story.

Somewhen in the last month or so I also caught 9 Parts of Desire presented by Maggie Tree. It needed a little more cohesion, but left me thinking and searching google for more information on the Iraqi War, something I sadly knew little about. The show seemed externally hijacked by the discussion of diversity in theatre, and after seeing it, I hoped that the work itself would direct audiences to the core of the play - survival and coping after living through (and still) war. The 9 women in this play live through a situation of war as normal life, and the effects of that are devastating.

I also managed to catch Madfandango Theatre Collective's The Believers presented through the Roxy Performance Series at Theatre Network. Still not quite sure what it all meant but boy-oh-boy was it compelling. The direction was incredible.

I think there was something else in there... if I remember, I will make a comment or two.

Up next this week I will be seeing Art at Shadow Theatre and Bonnie and Clyde at Northern Light Theatre. I also have Jesus Christ Superstar at the Mayfield lined up for next week.

So, what is normal?

Monday, February 27, 2017

Away in Banff... Having a wonderful time!

I have been in Banff for the last two weeks and will be here for 2 more weeks as the Intern Director for the Citadel/Banff Centre Professional Theatre Program. It's an intensive and rigourous program and I am blogging about the experience here:

When I return I will be Assistant Directing Sense and Sensibility at the Citadel Theatre.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Cinderella, BUST and Moi, Monsieur, Moi! All over the map - literally!

Well, I traveled from Italy to Fort McMurray and then to Senegal this week in my theatrical adventures! I also took in an Opera, a new work and a one-woman show - variety that is a testament to the many different theatrical offerings available in Edmonton in most months!

Cinderella (or La Cenerentola) at Edmonton Opera was a delightful, silly romp! The cast went for the ridiculous in this Cinderella story with a twist (the Prince is also in disguise!). Supported by terrific costumes and a fun set, this was a great light-hearted adventure. I enjoyed the singing, particularly from Krisztina Szabó as Cinderella and John Tessier as Prince RamiroThey made a lovely couple! It was also nice to go to an opera where you don't have to rely too heavily on the surtitles because you know the basic story and the step-sisters and Dandini provided many over-the-top comic moments!

Bust at Theatre Network took us to Fort McMurray post-wildfire. I have to admit, this show had me apprehensive, as most shows about Fort McMurray do. I am not sure that it captured much that I recognized as being specifically Fort McMurray any more than any other smaller city in Canada, so I could relax a little in that. I think for any of my friends who went through the fire, that this would be a challenging show to see - because there are trigger moments that might be hard to deal with. The set is gorgeous (although there should be snow... if they're playing hockey in McMurray there will be snow outside). It evokes more the burnt out  forest surrounding the city. Note: for people familiar with Fort McMurray and what the area around the tailings pond looks like, you will have to accept that there was dramatic license... The cast is a committed ensemble. Louise Lambert stands out with incredible drive through the piece and Lora Brovold delivers a heart-breaking monologue about loss that I really connected with.

Moi, Monsieur, Moi! at L'uni Theatre was a one-woman show about a young girl born in Senegal who was passed on to an aunt, a cousin, an uncle. It was brilliantly performed by Patricia Gomis using puppets, props and a terrific story-telling ability. It's a story with humour and sadness and truth. Truly entertaining but not veering away from challenging and difficult topics. French with english surtitles. I took my husband and he liked it so much he returned the next evening with our sons.

Friday, February 03, 2017

On the Horizon... The Citadel/Banff Professional Theatre Program...

I haven't written about this yet... too busy preparing and getting things ready for me to go. But in a few short weeks I will be starting an amazing career adventure. I will be the Director Intern for The  Citadel/Banff Professional Theatre Program. What does that mean? Well you can find out more about the program here. For me, specifically, it's an opportunity to learn more about how to direct from some of the top theatre professionals in Canada and following the program I will be Assistant Directing Sense and Sensibility at the Citadel. I will also be there with the 12 Acting Participants (who will be in Sense and Sensibility) and another Directing Intern who will be Assistant Directing Peter and the Starcatcher. I anticipate that it will be rigorous and challenging - I am certainly hoping it will be - and I also believe it will be incredibly rewarding. It will be wonderful to immerse myself with my fellow artists and simply commit myself to artistic growth.

Past Participants from ebenezerink37016692 on Vimeo.

2017 Program Trailer from ebenezerink37016692 on Vimeo.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Mountain, A Weapon, and a Dinner Party...

Annapurna, Shadow Theatre - Funny, real, and moving, it tells the story of an unexpected reunion of a long estranged couple. Their history is revealed slowly and significantly as they each harbour resentments and scars from the past. Ullysses, in a powerful and humourous performance by Shaun Johnston, is a tortured cowboy poet who greets us in an unconventional outfit. Emma, played by Coralie Cairns, arrives at Ullysses' somewhat derelict trailer with an obvious hidden agenda and more baggage than just the large suitcases which suggest she is there to move in. The two have great chemistry together and Shadow has created a sensitive and funny show you probably shouldn't miss this theatre season.

Annapurna runs to February 5th at the Varscona Theatre. Tickets here. 

Star Killing Machine,Broken Toys - "This is absurd!" yells one of the characters... and yes, yes it is. But it is also a lot of fun and filled with some really great music. I did wish for mics, not because you can't hear every word, but because it's a rock musical and I wanted to hear it more. It's a new work and I hope that it's only an early incarnation, because I think there is a lot of future in it. Go for the music, go for the ridiculous twinkie, go for the rolling chair dance, go for the beautiful closing song, go for the quirky humour. There's a lot of reasons to see this show.

Only one show left - today at 2 pm. Tickets here. 

Disgraced, Citadel Theatre - As I woke up this morning and read my twitter and FB feed, this one feels all the more relevant. An explosive dinner party that lets you step inside the experience of those that aren't you... at least to some degree. You won't leave with answers, but you should leave with more empathy and hopefully connection. A terrific script brought to life by the perfect cast.

Disgraced runs to February 12th. Tickets here. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Peter Fechter: 59 Minutes and Fortune Falls - Illuminating

This past week I took in 2 very different shows, both Canadian works. 

First up was Peter Fechter: 59 Minutes produced by the relatively new company, Cardiac Theatre in the PCL Theatre at Fringe Theatre Adventures. The short (59 minutes) show tells the story of Peter Fechter, a young East Berlin brick-layer who attempts to cross the Berlin Wall in the early 1960s. As he attempts to escape he is shot and we experience a fictionalized account of what goes through his mind in those 59 minutes before he dies. The source material is true and one thing the show did for me was get me thinking and reading. Off to climb down that wikipedia wormhole. That's one of the things I love about theatre is that often it provides a glimpse of something I didn't really know much about and it sparks that interest in finding out more. The production is well done. I loved the set and lighting and the choice of the alley staging - underscoring the two sides of the wall - and the twisted barbed wire that is entangled with the detritus of Peter's (Bradley Dore) young life. It was tight and engaging and thought-provoking. 

The other show I saw was Fortune Falls presented by Catalyst Theatre at the Citadel. Catalyst Theatre started out much in the same way as Cardiac Theatre is now - a group of young U of A drama grads presenting challenging work. Fortune Falls combines many things that Catalyst has become known for, an edgy world with a unique vision. Each moment is excellently executed by it's 5 person ensemble. The music is original and tight with stand-out vocals from Jamie Tognazzini and Daniel Fong. The many characters portrayed by the ensemble are clearly defined and individual. My favorites included Braydon Dowler-Coltman's brash and larger than life Tour Guide, Shannon Blanchett's hilarious clickety-clark executive secretary (there are too many characters for me to remember names) and Graham Mothersill's East-coast factory repairman. I really loved the lighting design by Kerem Çetinel, which was brilliant and precise - no small feat in a thrust theatre - and Megan Koshka's costumes were inspired. Truly an original world created onstage. 

Peter Fechter: 59 Minutes runs to January 22nd at the PCL Theatre.
Fortune Falls runs to Feberuary 5th in the Maclab Theatre at the Citadel.