2009

Patti Flather's *Where the River Meets the Sea* is a play about an abused single mother escaping from the Rez with her daughter to rebuild their lives in North Vancouver. As usually happens with stories of this nature, the past comes back to haunt them. As they pertain to family and heritage, the themes are basic but because of the local setting and Musqueam characters, the piece has a subtext that explores the intricacies of local real estate and native land deals. Patti Flather's play is decent but in the end fails to really rise above your average movie of...

where the river meets the sea, carmen moore and kim harvey

*This Mortal Flesh* presented by the "Firehall Arts Centre":http://www.firehallartscentre.ca/index.php and produced by "MachineFair":http://machinefair.ca/ opens strongly: a beautiful woman dressed in a slim and clinging red dress is on stage alone and engaged in an inner monologue, preparing herself for a sexual tryst with her lover. The seductive Tanya Marquardt (Holly) is hilarious in this sequence; she has the audience in the palm of her hand. The excellent and engaging Billy Marchenski (Harry) enters the apartment stage left with jacket over his shoulder, coming home from work.

He is obviously smitten by this woman and approaches her with intense...

Billy Marchenski and Tanya Marquardt can't touch this mortal flesh; photo by Natasha Kanji

My first impression of *F*, a new work by "Kokoro Dance":http://www.kokoro.ca/, presented in this year’s "Vancouver International Dance Festival":http://www.vidf.ca/, at the Roundhouse was a striking use of color and height, which the combination of Judy Nakagawa’s giant hanging sculpture and Cori Ohirko’s beautifully stark costume design certainly provide. My second impression was of the highlighted, rapid, molten phrases that Deanna Peters uses to move across the stage effortlessly; my eye was riveted to her every nuance. After that, I no longer knew where to look.

The stage composition always remains heavily stage right where three musicians and three...

Barbara Bourget in F; photo by Chris Randle

Daniel Martin and Dave Mott, co-founders of "Upintheair Theatre Society":http://www.upintheairtheatre.com/, bring us *Johnny Grant: A Rollicking Adventure Story*, the quasi-historical tale of the Martin’s real-life great-great-great grandfather John Francis Grant.

Grant was born in Alberta and died in Alberta but in between played a significant role in the development of Montana and Idaho, having interacted with both the First Nation and frontier communities. Grant accumulated a considerable estate, which included a hefty cattle fortune and a large family (a large family in those days likely added to ones estate).

He married seven times and fathered thirty children. Following the...

Creating history are Dave Mott and Daniel Martin

The most recent addition to the oeuvre of Toronto’s "One Little Goat Theatre Company":www.onelittlegoat.org is *Someone is Going to Come*, the first work written by Norwegian playwright Jon Fosse. Though Fosse’s minimalism boasts considerable popularity in Europe he is rarely seen in North America.

Director Adam Seelig sought to change this by co-translating *Someone is Going to Come* for its English Canadian debut; a task that could not have been easy, given the inherent lyricism (and lack of punctuation) in Fosse’s original script. In collaboration with University of Guelph professor Harry Lane, Seelig has crafted a script that uses...

Someone is Going to Come: bleakly forceful language drives tension between Dwight McFee and Stacie Steadman; photo: Yuri Dojc

When I was 12, I went on a family vacation to "Barkerville, BC":http://www.barkerville.ca/ where the staff dress as 1860’s townsfolk and tourists lap up the Gold Rush experience. We saw the school teacher at the one room school house, the blacksmith at the smithy, and Hanging Judge Begbie at the old courthouse.

When we got to the Church, the Old West style preacher greeted us in character, guided us to pews, only to shut the doors and preach an _actual_ sermon. It was a sermon peppered with local history, but mostly with hymns and scripture, and a very real...

Entering through the fireplace is the cast of Under the Hawthorn Tree

First performed in 1987, Joan McLeod’s *Toronto, Mississippi* is as fresh and poignant in 2009 as ever. The production at the "Vancouver Playhouse":http://www.vancouverplayhouse.com/is strong, playful, and captures the heart of this wonderful play.

Jhana (Meg Roe), a mentally challenged teenager with mild autism, lives with her mother Maddie (Colleen Wheeler), and her mother’s best friend Bill (Alessandro Juliani), their boarder and an academic/poet. Jhana is obsessed with Elvis Presley, because her absent father, King (William MacDonald), is an Elvis impersonator. She listens to Elvis when she can, and she has memorized much of his life story.

Jhana is lively...

Alessandro Juliani and Meg Roe in Toronto Mississippi

Not long after the Dunblane shooting (where a man entered an elementary school in a small Scottish town and shot and killed a teacher and 15 kindergarten children), Martin Amis was interviewed on Michael Ignatieff’s talk show in England. Amis observed that immediately following the events, people said there are no words to describe such a tragedy.

Yet eventually, he noted, you must search for those words. And if you’re a writer, it’s your job.

In his play, *Blackbird*, David Harrower gives words to a painful and horrifying relationship 15 years after it has ended. In this "Theatre Conspiracy":...

Jennifery Mawhinney and Russell Roberts in Blackbird; photo: Tim Matheson

After a "Vancouver International Dance Festival":http://www.vidf.ca/ show comprised entirely of local performers, a dancer friend and I were discussing the merits of projecting emotion. There seems to be a disturbing trend for dancers, specifically amongst those trained at Simon Fraser University, to completely internalize their performance.

Why, is this disturbing? Well, maybe disturbing isn’t quite the right word. Maybe a more appropriate word would be something along the lines of… tiresome. It’s tiresome because the idea that the performing arts are a tool for personal exploration is just a little too 1982, and, except in rare circumstances, really deserves...

Louise Bedard, dancers willing to emote; photo: George Krump

It was a week ago that I saw *Flower*, a butoh performance with Yoshito Ohno and Lucie Grégoire, part of this year’s "Vancouver International Dance Festival":http://www.vidf.ca/. I am still carrying the memory of this experience and can’t resist writing about it anymore. As time has passed so have the details however, and what I am left with are more general impressions.

As we filed into the risers and found our seats, Ohno was at center stage, his back to us, hunched over. His head shaven and butoh white. He was wearing what looked like a suit but later I...

Flower: simplicity, contrasts and breaking patterns

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