Magnetic North: scripts are back in with Vancouver New Play Festival

In keeping with Magnetic North’s mandate as a national festival, this year’s edition of the Vancouver New Play Festival has a distinctly national feel. Moved from its usual May slot to June in order to coincide with Magnetic North, about half the scripts in this year’s play-reading series are from other parts of the country.

The New Play Festival – which opened last night with a playwrights cabaret – has been running for over 30 years and features staged readings of new scripts from a mixture of experienced and emerging playwrights. Not only are the readings a chance to hear new work in development, it is also an opportunity to see some of Vancouver’s top actors working in a more casual setting, scripts in hand. There is a rough joy to the New Play Festival and the chance to “discover” a new work and then act a bit smug when a full production arrives a year or so later (or, better still, become a proselytizer for this exciting play/playwright that no one else has heard of yet).

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Author Name: 
Andrew Templeton
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No, not discarded playwrights but Tragic Animals (14 June), photo by Mark van Bakel

Anyone who is vaguely interested in attending HIVE2 should go, at once, and not read anything about it before hand. Don’t even let anyone tell you what they saw there last night, and that includes this review. The next paragraph is safe, but the one after that should be avoided, along with all that follows.

HIVE2 is a group of eleven site-specific, short works (5-15 minutes), all performed in different spots in an old factory. Each has been created by a different West coast theatre company. HIVE2 depends on surprise, and particularly on the audience's surprise at the different spaces...

Theatre SKAM at HIVE2

In a Montreal-style apartment, a fridge door sunk inside a cityscape wall of tin cans separates reality from fiction. It is through this divider that the audience enters the theatre.

We are the guests of the performers, they serve us, they tease us, they throw grapes at us, and then the show begins. Faon Shane, a sultry redhead, lures an audience member with an apple. Will he take it? Of course – with ready ease. “Men. They never learn.”

Coquettishly she turns back to her roommates as a fight over the apple turns into a dance with a tablecloth 30...

Loft, good clean fun

HIVE at Magnetic North: It’s a Party! And some of you are invited…

The Mother of All Theatre Parties is back. For those of you who missed the carnival known as Hive last time around, the Magnetic North Theatre Festival is giving you another chance to get shit-faced with Vancouver’s theatre intelligentsia.

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Alex Lazaridis Ferguson
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HIVE2: Felix Cupla found a way in

Some people – usually men and, in my experience, often English – like to make lists and rank things in order of excellence or bestness. In making their lists of the Greatest Movies Ever Made, they usually rank Godfather II ahead of the original Godfather for, of course, it is “the sequel that was better than the original”.

Personally, I could never choose between the two Godfather films (in my world there is no III). Which was better? Who cares? I love them both. The first Godfather had great narrative thrust and plenty of verve while the second had a...

HIVE, feel the love

Go see this show!


1) It is fun, sexy, and exciting.

2) You will be awed by what the human body can achieve; you will laugh, clap your hands and shout; your breath will catch in your throat.

3) You enter the auditorium through a fridge.

And that’s about all you need to know.

What’s that? I’m supposed to write some more?

OK. You asked for it.

I once conceived a proposal for a television series that had nothing more than a working title: Girls in Pajamas. I thought that was about all I needed...

Loft, circus, dance, pyjamas

HIVE2 takes our audience selves and blurs the possibilities of what we're invited to be.

When we walk into the large, hangar-like space that used to be a Finning factory, the atmosphere is enticing. The lighting is medium-low but comfortable. Curtains and doorways close off certain parts of the building, piquing our anticipation. People gab and drink as they stand waiting at the "stations" that each of the 11 theatre companies has installed to sort out different sizes of audiences. Capacities range from 1 for The Only Animal to 18 who get to carry "The End Is Here!" signs for...

HIVE2: the crowds gather

Well, I was feeling good about my review assignment last night. Andy Jones’ show An Evening with Uncle Val was up at Presentation House promising a dose of Newfoundland comedy.

I know all about Newfoundland. Heck, I lived in Halifax for two years, so that’s real expertise, right? And I saw a movie about the place once. There were a bunch of academics, (historians, actually) and they were sleeping around and stealing primary documents from each other, which you should never, never do, and Joey Smallwood was there, in a snowstorm, and then someone burned all the evidence which proved...

Andy Jones in An Evening with Uncle Val

There is a scene – maybe half way through blood.claat – where the mother of Mudgu, the play’s central character, appears. The scene takes us back approximately three years to when Mudgu had her first period, before her mother’s departure for Canada.

The mother’s reaction to her daughter’s period is in marked contrast to Granny’s disgust over a blood-stained sheet in a scene at the top of the play. Where Granny insists that Mudgu wash both the sheet and her “something” with Dettol, her mother greets the onset of menstruation as something to be celebrated. Mommy is so filled with...


"This is my story", the spirited young woman sings in her backyard, by the cinder blocks and corrugated tin walls.

She's washing the blood from between her legs with a cloth, and happy because she'll soon be heading off for netball practice before school. "I have gold trophies on my mind/woopsie all the time", she sings. The fact that she's washing away blood is essential, because this is a story about the power of blood: the blood of creation, and the blood of destruction.

Given the topic, it's a good thing we have mudgu (d'bi.young.anitafrika) to guide us, with her...

d'bi.young.anitafrika in blood.claat