Thursday, March 29, 2007

Spot The Star

Recognize the poster boy for a past PT show? Our once but probably not future king, with certain affinities to Frank Sinatra? Around our office, we think of him as "The IT Boy"? Winging his way back from the front, just in time to see his buddy Craig Erickson in GRACE...

Critics are Praising GRACE!

“Grace is a powerful story powerfully told. It's completely riveting right down to the last second.”
Jo Ledingham, Vancouver Courier

“darkly hilarious, very intelligent, and always compelling”

Charles Demers, Westender

"this production of Grace makes for a stimulating ride to hell"
Colin Thomas, Georgia Straight

"Steve’s credibility is further enhanced by Craig Erickson’s total commitment to the character. Alexa Devine is equally excellent as Sara...Van der Griend is spectacularly good"
Jerry Wasserman,

Mike Mason, "Champagne For The Soul"

Break out the bubbly! Soul Food Friend Mike Mason wrote a book a few years ago about his experiment with joy, a ninety-day adventure to see if he could "break my addiction to the cheap wine of melancholy and seek champagne for the soul."

The bubbly (and paradoxically substantial) volume went out of print, but word is just out that Regent College Publishing are publishing the reprint! It's not yet available on their website, but in the meantime you can snag yourself a copy through amazon.

(Now if only somebody would get on the stick and publish Mike's masterwork, a novel, THE BLUE UMBRELLA. I'm not kidding: better than champagne, better than furniture, better even than marriage or job...)

Congrats, Mike. And a tip of the hat to Regent Publishing!


"The injunction 'Get real' usually means 'Leave your world of fantasy and return to what really is.' True Realism always and everywhere is to find out where joy resides. In the past year this magical gift got lost or mislaid in my life. Mike Mason has located it, given it voice, and helped me to recover it. Even one sip of Champagne for the Soul is a heady, exhilarating experience." -Brennan Manning, author of A Glimpse of Jesus: The Stranger to Self-Hatred If you were given the chance to be happy for the rest of your life, wouldn't you jump at it? In Champagne for the Soul, bestselling author Mike Mason explains that the Bible does make this offer. Yet most of us hang back, reluctant and skeptical. Theologically most Christians will agree that the Bible teaches and offers a life of joy; yet deep down we're not convinced that such a life is practical-for us or any ordinary person. But, says Mason, such joy truly is ours to claim and embrace. What you now hold in your hands is a call to throw off all worries and complaints and to "come and share your master's happiness" (Matthew 25:21). Is it possible to live every day in joy? You will never know if you don't try. These pages, drawn from the author's own ninety-day experiment in actively pursuing joy, will lead you on a journey that will help you-no matter what your circumstances-to escape the trap of worry, fear, and dullness and grab hold of the joy of the Lord. Mike Mason is the best-selling author of several books, including The Mystery of Marriage, The Mystery of Children, The Gospel According to Job, and Practicing the Presence of People. He and his wife, Karen, an M.D. in general practice, live in Langely, British Columbia, Canada, with their teenage daughter, Heather.

Publishers Weekly
By his own admission, Mason (The Mystery of Children) isn't a happy person by nature. A recovering alcoholic who had lived most of his life in a state of anxious, borderline depression, Mason realized that a lingering, low-grade melancholy was his last line of defense against the love of God. In this 90-day experiment, he sets out to see if he can "break my addiction to the cheap wine of melancholy... [and] seek champagne for the soul." His 90 short essays, each prefaced by a verse from Scripture about joy, chronicle his quest to find the happiness buried in the ordinary world of laundry to be done, errands to be run, meetings to attend and the general muck and mire of the human condition. Over the course of his experiment Mason discovers simple truths about joy: to find it you must discover a solid sense of identity, face crippling fears, offer thanks when you don't feel like it and try something new. Metaphors abound, and his passion is infectious as he helps demystify joy for the reader. At the end of his experiment, Mason finds that the deepest joys come out of the blue for no discernible reason, because "God Himself is all goodness and all rightness and because the depths of His joy surpass all understanding." Christians of all denominations will be inspired to sample this foamy elixir, sipping from its wisdom slowly and finding fresh ways to discover joy in everyday circumstances.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Mar 30: Ben Keyes & the Regent College gospel choir, U Chapel

Soul Foodie Ali Cumming sends this our way...
Hey all - just wanted to give you an option for this Friday. The gospel choir that I have been a part of is performing this Friday at 7:30 at University Chapel on the UBC campus (right after the golf course at the main gate of the campus 10th Ave). Ben Keyes (whose original work and arts thesis this is) is all the way from Boston - and he grew up in a gospel church, so we've been taught well. Rumor has it that it is going to be pretty packed out - so you will want to be there no later than 7pm. We are doing a live recording of it and cutting a CD. I guarentee it will be worthwhile.

If you are wanting to come in (those of you from out of town) and do din-dins in the area - I recommend Burgoos, The Wolf and Hound or Dentry's. They are all located close to UBC campus.

Let me know if you are coming and I will keep an eye open for you!

Blessings to you all,


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Sojourners Magazine on GRACE

Deryl Davis, Sojourners, February 2005

Religious themes are scattered throughout Craig Wright’s work, but if you ask the award-winning dramatist and TV writer if that’s intentional, the answer will be a resounding no. A graduate of United Theological Seminary in Minnesota and a former United Methodist pastoral intern, Wright primarily earns his living as a writer for the acclaimed HBO series Six Feet Under. While the label "Christian writer in Hollywood" doesn’t comfortably fit Wright, you wouldn’t dismiss him as non-Christian either. Like many writers in the secular domain, he is compelled to ask religious questions without having them define him or his work.

"With each play, I approach whatever is most interesting," the 39-year-old Wright says. "Quite often, the language of religion is a quick way to cut to the chase, to the most important things."

Wright’s work has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and an Emmy award. His latest play, Grace, looks at questions of faith, God’s will, and time through the lives of an evangelical Christian couple transplanted from Wright’s native Minnesota to the Florida gold coast. Wright says he looked again at John Calvin’s classic Institutes of the Christian Religion as he thought about the theological arguments of the play. One of the main characters, Steve, believes he knows God’s will but is destroyed when things don’t turn out as he planned.

"When you make God into something that only serves your best interests, when you’re no longer able to see God in the things that don’t serve your interests, then you run into trouble," Wright says. "Things that serve our best interests are often destructive in the lives of others."

In the play, Steve’s business deal (to create a chain of gospel-themed motels) and his marriage both fall apart. The apparent cause is Steve’s inflexible belief that he knows exactly what God is up to. But equally disturbing is the fact that his lonely wife finds love and spiritual connection with their agnostic neighbor, Sam. In the play’s most moving scene, Sara even teaches Sam to pray. Is this, one trembles to ask, a kind of grace?

"What is ‘grace’?" Wright responds. "If the best thing that ever happened to one person is also the worst thing that happened to another, is that ‘grace’?"

One quickly recognizes that, from Wright’s point of view, grace is not a single act or event, but a series of unfoldings that reveals God’s purposes over time. What might be called a theology of time is, in fact, a major preoccupation for Wright. He experiments with it in Grace, for instance, where the ending comes before the beginning, and only after that do events move in normal chronological order toward a conclusion we already know. In an earlier draft of the play, Wright had one of the characters remark that grace is "the order in which things happen, the history of what God has allowed."

"For me, that’s one of the big questions of life," Wright says. "Why we have this linear, irreversible conception of time. It’s one of the things that makes Christianity unique - a necessary forward motion built around the moment when history changes, pre-Christ and post-Christ. But what does it mean that we’re all - Muslims, Buddhists, Christians - moving forward, and it doesn’t stop?"

Seminary helped Wright wrestle with that question, as well as find a language and point of view from which to work. Initially following his theological interests, and concerned about whether he could really make a living as a dramatist, Wright found that seminary training made him a better writer and artist. ...

By his own admission, Wright is in the far reaches of the Christian tradition. He left the organized church some years ago after a disagreement over communion practices in the Methodist church where he worked. Today, Wright practices shape-note singing and sometimes attends his wife’s Catholic church. He says people are fascinated with the fact that he is a successful playwright who went to seminary, and they are always asking about his beliefs. Of particular interest is his understanding of the resurrection.

"H. Richard Niebuhr, one of my theological touchstones, once said, ‘Most people are right about what they affirm and wrong about what they deny,’" Wright says. "I’m not in a hurry to deny the physical resurrection. What I can affirm is the amazing, miraculous power of this story in history. I’m not going to waste my time disbelieving or denying."

It’s clear that Wright doesn’t want to be pinned down to a specific set of dogma. He argues that religious belief has to change and grow, or it will die. One of the main problems in Grace is, in fact, the character Steve’s inflexible conception of God.

"You can’t make an idol out of your religious experience," Wright says. "If you have an experience of the divine and you insist upon organizing everything in life in terms of that experience, you will find yourself against a wall. My experience is that God keeps generating novelty and growing new possibilities all the time.... The essential nature of God doesn’t change. God never stops giving of God’s self, but the forms that giving takes are changing constantly." ...

"What Christianity tells us is that God is the one exacting the price, and God is the one paying the price," Wright says. "The mystery of how we participate in the crucifixion is one of the great blessings of the Christian tradition. Any system of belief that didn’t have such mysterious violence at its core couldn’t save me.... For me, the world is full of horror, and I need my religion to reflect that."

Soul Food Menu: Grace, Sinner/Saint, Shrew, Jewish Film Fest, Bigger Than Jesus, Amazing Grace, Adam's Apples...

Pacific Theatre
Closes Apr 14

Over at the Pacific Theatre blog I’ve posted a fascinating article from Sojourners magazine about about the premiere production of our current mainstage show, GRACE. I saw the opening last Friday, and under the direction of Angela Konrad it’s an electric show: Act One is very funny indeed, something I never expected when I read the play on the page, and Act Two as powerfully provocative as ever I expected.

Colin Thomas lauds the show, celebrating all four performances and singling out Kerry van der Griend as “stellar.” He calls the show “provocative, funny, and consistently engaging… A stimulating ride to hell.”

It’s there for a shorter run than usual, so move fast.
731-5518 /


Pacific Theatre
SINNER/SAINT: Rage Against the Extremes!
Mar 27: Free Performance, 8pm
Mar 30 & 31: After GRACE at 10:15 pm (Pay-what-you-can or free with GRACE tickets)
No reservations necessary

Another of Pacific Theatre’s terrific Apprentice Showcase projects: the world premiere of Tina Teeninga’s RIVER BOTTOM BABY, along with John Lazarus’ BABEL RAP and Julie Jensen’s CABBAGE HEAD. Directed by Spencer Capier and Tina Teeninga, starring Lori Kokotailo, Kirsty Provan and Alison Chisholm.

RIVER BOTTOM BABY is the tale of one woman’s search for true identity as impending blindness and a dark secret overwhelm her sense of self. BABEL RAP, a beloved favorite by John Lazarus, is hilariously pointed and thoughtful in the vein of absurdist theatre. Julie Jensen’s CABBAGE HEAD wraps up the night with a story of silliness and social criticism.


Theatre at Trinity Western
To Mar 31

Wow! Saw this last night, and have already booked tickets for Saturday night to see it again – all the way out in Langley. I liked it that much. Director Aaron Caleb sets a comic pace that’s giddy, saturated with endlessly inventive physical comedy. The cast throws themselves at the script with heedless abandon, and it works splendidly. And oh my gosh, do they look amazing! In the best costumes ever from Jessie-winning designer Nicole Bach, whose 1950s Italian setting invokes LA DOLCE VITA, or an Ingrid Bergman / Roberto Rossellini collaboration. Wow.



Fifth Avenue Sat Mar 24, 2pm
Fifth Avenue Sun Mar 25, 9:30pm
One of my favourite theatrical experiences was a production of CHERRY DOCS Katrina Dunn directed a few years back at the Cultch, an intense two-man show about a compassionate Jewish legal aid lawyer assigned to defend an unrepentant neo-Nazi skinhead. The production I saw layered the story with scripture, a provocative exploration of hatred and the limits of forgiveness. Canadian David Gow co-directed this 2006 screen adaptation. No guarantee it’ll see a general distribution: see it now!

Fifth Avenue, Fri Mar 23, 9:15pm
Fifth Avenue, Mon Mar 26, 9:15pm
Norman Rothstein Theatre, Wed Mar 28, 7pm
Looks like this one also has a stage pedigree. “A German-Jewish journalist receives a polite letter asking him to speak at a school about his daily life as a "Jewish fellow citizen" to a group of German schoolchildren. Goldfarb can’t imagine what would be of interest to kids regarding his very ordinary life and declines the invitation. His attempt to write his letter of refusal develops into a monumental settling of accounts in which he starkly confronts Germany's dark past and his German-Jewish identity. Goldfarb enters into an amazingly intense monologue on the post-1945 German-Jewish relationship. As he confronts his mask of an “ordinary” Jew, he recognizes that his life, along with his Jewish heritage, is very unordinary. Becker’s stage performance is powerful and thought-provoking.”

Fifth Avenue, Thu Mar 29, 7:30pm (before “Fired”)
And this fifteen-minute sketch looks to be just for fun: maybe the appeal is imagining Dan Amos and Nathan Schmidt hauling that park bench out of storage and reprising their characters from THE QUARREL. “Waiting for Woody Allen, a parody of Samuel Beckett's classic “Waiting for Godot,” is a tragic comedy about two quarrelsome Hasidic men, Mendel and Yossel. Disillusioned with religion, therapy and their own friendship, they wait on a bench in Central Park for Woody Allen to come and give meaning to their lives.”


And don’t forget the celebrated BIGGER THAN JESUS, a bit of a Canadian theatre phenomenon, in Vancouver for a one-week run at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre: a high-concept one-man-show about Our Guy Who Art In Heaven. Looks inventive, funny, and probably (hopefully) more. Worth a gamble.

And STEEL MAGNOLIAS closes at Gallery 7 this Saturday.



AMAZING GRACE is – or ought to be – the new buzz-film among Christian movie buffs, and it opens this weekend at the Fifth Avenue and SilverCities Riverport and Coquitlam. Sure it’s got some melodrama, and the script may be over-written at one or two points, but those are quibbles: the story of William Wilberforce’s struggle to outlaw the slave trade stirred me deeply, and I recommend it. Superb companion piece to AMISTAD.

THE LIVES OF OTHERS (Fifth Avenue and Cinemark Tinseltown) is next on my gotta-see list, a German film about life during the cold war. PAN’S LABYRINTH continues at the Clova and Granville 7 cinemas, the best general release film of 2006 in my opinion: visually brilliant, see it before it leaves the big screens.

The trailer for BREACH (Hollywood 3 and Granville 7) sure did catch my interest, a fact-based story about a man accused of spying against the US government that foregrounds his impassioned (fanatical?) Catholic faith. The fun-looking FIDO, lensed by Vancouver (Christian) cinematographer Jan Keisser, opened last weekend and continues at a ton of theatres; Colossus Langley, Paramount Vancouver, SilverCity Coquitlam, SilverCity Mission, SilverCity Riverport, Station Square 7, and Empire Studio 12 Guildford.

And starting this next week, a limited-run engagement of ADAM’S APPLES (Mar 30 – Apr 2, 5) at the VanCity Theatre, Vancouver International Film Centre. Utterly fascinating.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Sinner/Saint at Pacific Theatre


Rage Against the Extremes!

Vancouver, B.C. March 27th-31st

Pacific Theatre and Stone’s Throw Productions are proud to present the world premiere of Tina Teeninga’s RIVER BOTTOM BABY, along with John Lazarus’ BABEL RAP and Julie Jensen’s CABBAGE HEAD, with direction by Spencer Capier and Tina Teeninga, playing March 27th-31st at Pacific Theatre.

RIVER BOTTOM BABY is the tale of one woman’s search for true identity as impending blindness and a dark secret overwhelm her sense of self. BABEL RAP, a beloved favorite by John Lazarus, is hilariously pointed and thoughtful in the vein of absurdist theatre. Julie Jensen’s CABBAGE HEAD wraps up the night with a story of silliness and social criticism.

Dynamically directed by the proficient Spencer Capier (COTTON PATCH GOSPEL, Pacific Theatre), RIVER BOTTOM BABY stars the effervescent Lori Kokotailo (BRIGHT PARTICULAR STAR, Pacific Theatre). BABEL RAP and CABBAGE HEAD highlight the significant emerging talents of Kirsty Provan (NORMAL, Pacific Theatre & Stones Throw Productions) and Alison Chisholm (SISTER MARY AGNACIOUS EXPLAINS IT ALL FOR YOU, Sears Drama Festival) under the direction of Tina Teeninga (NORMAL, Pacific Theatre & Stones Throw Productions).

SINNER/SAINT features the talents of three of Pacific Theatre’s apprentices, as well as some of Vancouver’s most talented emerging artists. Pacific Theatre’s apprenticeship program affords actors the chance to perform on a professional stage, and also provides artists the opportunity to produce original work from “the ground up”. Stay tuned for REMNANTS, Pacific Theatre’s mainstage emerging artist production, playing from May 16-June 8th.

Details:SINNER/SAINT: 3 one act plays
When: Free Performance, March 27 at 8pm.
After GRACE at 10:15 pm, March 30th and 31st.
Where: Pacific Theatre. 1420 W 12th Ave at Hemlock St., Vancouver, BC.
Tickets:Free, March 27th.
Pay-what-you can Mar 30-31 or free with tickets to Pacific Theatre’s GRACE.
No reservations necessary.

Friday, March 16, 2007

GRACE Notes from the Artistic Director

We’ve got this thing on our office wall – a mission statement, a mandate, whatever you call those. And even though I don’t know what it is, exactly, we do pay attention to it, more than you might think.

There’s one part about striving to operate with artistic, spiritual, relational and financial integrity, and you’d be surprised how often that comes up. (“Should we shaft this guy?” “I dunno, let’s see what the writing on the wall says…” That sort of thing). There’s another bit about plays that “explore the spiritual aspects of human experience,” which comes in handy when selecting (or rejecting) scripts.

But what’s been on my mind since Grace rehearsals started is the part that says we aim “to delight, provoke, entertain, stimulate and challenge” our audience. Because Grace covers more than its share of those pithy verbs. It provokes and challenges me – not to mention unsettles, annoys, surprises and worries me – at the same time as it entertains and, ultimately, moves me. (Why isn’t that one on the list? Time for some tinkering.)

This isn’t a comfortable play, or a comforting one: it doesn’t reassure, doesn’t coddle, doesn’t make nice. I don’t agree with all it has to say, I don’t think it always plays fair, sometimes it out-and-out makes me mad. But that’s what I love about it.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t go to the theatre to be coddled. Oh, I do love the occasional piece that reassures or inspires or encourages – God knows we need all the courage we can get in these sometimes desperate days – but there’s nothing quite like the bracing, head-clearing shot of adrenaline that comes from a play that shakes things up a bit.

So, in the tradition of Learning To Live With Personal Growth and Hospitality Suite, Prodigal Son and Espresso, we offer…. Grace. Not cheap grace, nor easy, but I think when all’s said and done, real grace. In all its confounding Mystery.

Ron Reed,
Artistic Director

March 23 - April 21 Canadian Show in Seattle, Produced by Taproot Theatre

Contact: Marie Frederickson
(206) 529-3666

For Immediate Release
Kill Date: April 22, 2007


An Award-Winning New Work by Canadian playwright, Stephen Massicotte

This heartfelt, critically acclaimed new work explores the beauty of love and the call of duty against the backdrop of World War I. On the eve of her wedding, Mary dreams of the first time she met Charlie. Memories of young love weave together through letters of their long distance courtship between the farmlands of Canada and the battlefields of France. Mary’s Wedding runs March 23 through April 21. All performances are held at Taproot Theatre at 204 N. 85th Street in Seattle. Mary’s Wedding is sponsored in part by 4Culture. Taproot Theatre’s 2007 Season partners include ArtsFund, The Charles Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences, City of Seattle Office of Economic Development, KUOW, and PONCHO.

About the Production
“So, tomorrow is Mary’s wedding, tonight is just a dream. I ask you to remember that. It begins at the end and ends at the beginning.” – Charlie, Mary’s Wedding Act 1
Mary’s Wedding takes place in a dream, traveling between the farmlands of Canada and the trenches of France during World War I. Taproot Theatre’s production dramatizes the simplicity and complexity of a dream world. Relying on the aesthetic of lighting and a constant soundscape to establish location, Mary (played by Jesse Notehelfer) and Charlie (Sam Wilson) move between a barn, tea party, shipyard and warfare trenches, maneuvering in and out of natural time and space. World War I images project against a pallid set as a constant reminder of the backdrop to the intimate love story. Blending stylized and natural movement
(choreographed by Bob Borwick and Kelly Balch), Charlie and Mary go in and out of authentic reality and Mary’s dream reality, including moments when she embodies Charlie’s officer, Sergeant Flowerdew.

“Mary’s Wedding is highly theatrical. In many ways this play has stretched us artistically,” says director Karen Lund. “There are scenic, sound and lighting elements we have never tried before on our stage. I am delighted to share this new work with our audience.”

Taproot Theatre’s production is staged under the direction of Associate Artistic Director, Karen Lund. Her production team includes scenic and sound designer Mark Lund, costume designer Sarah Burch Gordon, and lighting designer Andy Duff. Rebecca Patterson serves as stage manager and Judy Naegeli as dramaturg.

Performance Dates & Tickets
Mary’s Wedding opens March 23 and runs Wednesday through Saturday through April 21. Midweek performances begin at 7:30 PM, Saturday matinees at 2:00 PM and Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00 PM. Low cost previews are offered Wednesday, March 21 and Thursday, March 22 at 7:30 PM. There is a special pay-what-you-can performance on Wednesday, March 28. Tickets for that performance go on sale at noon the day of performance at Taproot Theatre’s box office. A dessert reception with the cast and director follows the opening night performance on Friday, March 23. Post-play discussions follow all Wednesday evening performances. A senior matinee performance is offered on Wednesday April 18 at 2:00 PM.
Tickets for Mary’s Wedding are $25 - $27 for midweek performances and Saturday matinees, and $29 - $32 for Friday and Saturday night performances. Preview performances are $19 - $21. Full-time students and seniors receive a $2 discount off all general tickets. Half-price student/senior rush tickets are available fifteen minutes prior to performance, subject to availability. Group discounts are available for parties of eight or more. Tickets may be ordered by phone by calling Ticketmaster at (206) 292-ARTS.

About the Playwright
Stephen Massicotte initially set out to write an anti-war play using World War I as a setting. As the writing progressed, his personal experience of love and relationship found its way into the interactions between Mary and Charlie. The result was a critically acclaimed play with a prominent love story set against the backdrop of
World War I. Mary’s Wedding was Stephen Massicotte’s first full-length play, and has proven to be a success. Since its premiere at the 2002 playRites Festival at Alberta Theatre Projects, Mary’s Wedding has won the 2002 Betty Mitchell Award for Best New Play and the Gwen Pharis Ringwood Award for outstanding new publication. Mary’s Wedding has been produced in at least ten Canadian Regional Theatres, including Victoria’s Belfry, Regina’s Globe, Thunder Bay’s Magnus Theatre, the Brome Theatre in Eastern Townships, Theatre New Brunswick, and the Eastern Front Theatre, the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. It has been produced in Washington D.C., San Jose, CA, England, and Scotland. His other award-winning plays include The Emperor of Atlantis, A Farewell to Kings and the one act plays Hombres and One Hard Pull. His plays, My Life of Crime and Boy’s Own Jedi Handbook series, have been Fringe Festival and Calgary Edmonton cult favorites.
Stephen is a member of the Alberta Playwrights Network, the Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers and the Playwrights Guild. He is a member of the Alberta Union of Canada. Stephen is the playwright in Residence at Theatre Calgary and a frequent collaborator with Ground Zero Theatre. He has a degree in Drama from the University of Calgary.
Taproot Theatre Company is a professional, non-profit theatre company with a multi-faceted production program. Founded in 1976, Taproot Theatre serves the Pacific Northwest with Mainstage Productions, Touring Productions and Acting Studio. Taproot exists to create theatre that explores the beauty and questions of life while bringing hope to our search for meaning. Taproot Theatre Company is a member of Theatre Communications Group (TCG), Theatre Puget Sound (TPS), and the Greenwood-Phinney Chamber of Commerce.


WHAT: Mary’s Wedding, by Stephen Massicotte. Directed by Karen Lund.
WHEN: Previews March 21 and March 22. Opens March 23 and runs Wednesday through Saturday through April 21. Pay What You Can Performance March 28. Senior Matinee performance April 18.
WHERE: Taproot Theatre, 204 N. 85th Street in Seattle
TICKETS: Wednesday and Thursday evenings and Saturday matinees, $25 and $27; Friday and Saturday evenings, $29 and $32; Wednesday and Thursday previews, $19 and $21; Student/Senior discount of $2 off per ticket. Group rates are available. For tickets contact Taproot Theatre’s box office at (206) 781-9707, or Ticketmaster at (206) 292-ARTS.
SCHEDULE: Wednesday and Thursday 7:30 PM, Friday and Saturday 8:00 PM, Saturday Matinee 2:00 PM

Wed. March 21 7:30 PM Preview
Thurs. March 22 7:30 PM Preview
Fri. March 23 8:00 PM Opening Night with Reception
Sat. March 24 2:00 PM
Sat. March 24 8:00 PM

Wed. March 28 7:30 PM PWYC Performance, Post Play Discussion
Thurs. March 29 7:30 PM
Fri. March 30 8:00 PM
Sat. March 31 2:00 PM
Sat. March 31 8:00 PM

Wed. April 4 7:30 PM Post Play Discussion
Thurs. April 5 7:30 PM
Fri. April 6 8:00 PM
Sat. April 7 2:00 PM
Sat. April 7 8:00 PM

Wed. April 11 7:30 PM Post Play Discussion
Thurs. April 12 7:30 PM
Fri. April 13 8:00 PM
Sat. April 14 2:00 PM
Sat. April 14 8:00 PM

Wed. April 18 7:30 PM Post Play Discussion
Thurs. April 19 7:30 PM
Fri. April 20 8:00 PM
Sat. April 21 2:00 PM
Sat. April 21 8:00 PM Closing Night


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Mar 1-18: "A Delicate Balance," Anthony Ingram

Anthony Ingram's involvement with Pacific Theatre goes right back to 1984, when "Tony" auditioned for the Pacific Salt Company! A billion shows later at PT (ELEPHANT MAN, BEGGARS AT THE WATERS OF IMMORTALITY, HALO, PRIVATE EYES, RON'S FIFTIETH BIRTHDAY PARTY, etc, etc) and everywhere else, Anthony's in the director's chair for Eddy Albee's seventy-ninth birthday party...

Tempus Theatre presents…

Edward Albee's Pulitzer Prize winning play
A Delicate Balance
Directed by Anthony F. Ingram
Starring: Anna Hagan, Terence Kelly, Teryl Rothery, Bert Steinmanis, Valerie Sing Turner, and T Weir

March 1 - 18
Tuesday to Sunday 8pm
Jericho Arts Centre

1675 Discovery Street (at NW Marine Drive)
Pay-What-You-Will: Tuesday March 6 and 13
For Tickets: ticketstonight or 604.231.7538

Join us after the show on March 11, and celebrate Edward Albee’s 79th Birthday!

On an autumn weekend, Agnes and Tobias find their stately home invaded by her alcoholic sister, their daughter who has just left her fourth marriage, and their best friends seeking refuge from a mysterious terror. As the powerful ties between family, friends and each other begin to pull in opposing directions, Agnes and Tobias discover that more is at stake than just who gets the spare room.

"[A Delicate Balance] is basically about these people who have accommodated to their own weaknesses and compromises, the adjustments they've made. When the time comes that there is a demand put on them, they have to figure out whether or not they are strong enough anymore to do what should normally be done; the Christian way, to take you in. The [delicate balance] is between what we should be doing and what we ultimately decide we need to do to protect ourselves."
-Edward Albee

Who - or what - is Tempus Theatre?
In 2005, five actors - Anna Hagan, Anthony F. Ingram, Bert Steinmanis, Valerie Sing Turner and T Weir - were brought together as part of the cast of Caryl Churchill’s groundbreaking work, Cloud 9, which became both an audience and critical success. Challenged by the complexity of the play and inspired by each other’s talent, ideas and passions, they sought a way to continue working together on scripts that challenged actor and audience both artistically and intellectually. Thus, Tempus Theatre was born. Celebrating the ephemeral essence of theatre – the unrepeatable moment of performance – Tempus Theatre is committed to producing strong, text-based work that provokes consideration of the past that has shaped us, the present we live in and the possible futures we may encounter. For more information about Tempus Theatre, visit us on the web

Mar 28 - Apr 7: Bigger Than Jesus, Cultch

I tried to see this one in other cities - Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton - thinking to maybe bring it out to Pacific Theatre. Actually got a Canada Council grant to check it out at one point, but the timing was off. And then found out the show would be coming here anyway. So that's good. (Probably wouldn't have fit in my little room anyhow. "Bigger Than Jesus Bigger Than PT!"...)

Pretty sure it won't be exactly orthodox, but pretty sure it will be stimulating, entertaining, and very, very theatrical. I don't know about you, but I often get the most spiritual nourishment from artists who may not be "believers," but who encounter this this stuff with fresh eyes, surprisable hearts and new language. Let yourself be distracted by what they get wrong and you'll probably miss out on what they get right - sometimes, something nobody else got quite right, or at least not in quite the same way, ever before.

When it comes down to it, though, I'm just a Jesus junkie. If it's got that guy in it, I've got to check it out. For good or ill, I'm there.

See you - and Jesus, I hope - at the Cultch.


Created by Rick Miller and Daniel Brooks
Performed by Rick Miller
Directed by Daniel Brooks
Designed by Beth Kates and Ben Chaisson

Mar 28 - Apr 7, 8pm
Mar 31 & Apr 7, 4pm matinees
Vancouver East Cultural Centre

Who was Jesus? Was he the Son of God or just another prophet? Bigger than Jesus begins with a 33-year-old man coming face to face with the Roman Catholicism ingrained in his youth. He leads us on a quest to understand the tremendous impact that a Jewish peasant from Galilee has had on the world. Through twelve interlocking character portraits (mirroring the 12 stages of the Passion), we confront varying interpretations of Christ and Christianity, and the often cavernous gulf between them.

This challenging new one-man show features the trademark humour and intelligence of actor/playwright Rick Miller. Live video projections show off Miller’s facial expressions, Daniel Brooks’ clever staging, and the play’s innovative design. Bigger than Jesus has wowed audiences across Canada, the US, Germany and Italy. Christians and non-Christians alike will find plenty of philosophical points to chew over, as well as virtuoso performing and staging to enjoy. Visit the show's website to learn more.

TOP 10 SHOWS of 2004—Toronto Star
TOP 10 SHOWS of 2004—NOW Magazine
BEST of 2004—EYE Magazine
WINNER: Dora Award for Production, Actor and Lighting



"Religion is the best defense against a religious experience." Carl Jung

"An exciting piece of multimedia theater with a challenging point of view, Bigger Than Jesus could have a big future... a fast-paced, thought-provoking ride." Variety

Two thousand years after his death, Jesus continues to be a potent and controversial figure, inspiring both devout worship and incalculable violence. Who was Jesus? Was he the Son of God or just another prophet? A politically correct social worker or the Messiah? Bigger than Jesus grapples with the thorny crown of Christianity through conflicting viewpoints, each embodied by a character obsessed with Jesus. A challenging new one-man show featuring the trademark humour and intelligence of Rick Miller.

"Miller and Brooks divide the piece into several substantial units. In each of them, Miller plays a different character: a Jewish academic, a revivalist preacher, an obsequious flight attendant, and, finally, Jesus himself. One of the show's strengths is the way miller takes each of these portraits right to the edge, making them zestily theatrical, but without ever slipping into caricature.
"The best sequence is the Last Supper, which Miller begins by staging with a series of tiny plastic dolls - everyone from Jesus through the Tin Man, Darth Vader and George W. Bush. He then launches into a sharp and accurate parody of "Gesthemene" from Jesus Christ Superstar, which shows off his excellent singing voice and scores some telling satirical points.
"One of the show's greatest strengths is the use of a live video camera that allows Miller's facial expressions and Brooks' clever staging to be seen to best advantage. The camera flies, twists and changes focus to create a series of striking, always apt visual images, sometimes projecting onto the screen, sometimes onto Miller himself.
"Non-Christian viewers may not grasp all the subtleties of the piece's parallel structure with the Catholic Mass but will still find plenty of philosophical points to chew over, as well as virtuoso performing and staging to enjoy." Variety


Weaving together the Catholic liturgy, the gospels and some good old-fashioned bible-thumpin’, Bigger than Jesus is a funny and poignant multi-media mass that questions the mysteries of life and the thorny crown of Christianity.
This challenging new one-man show features the trademark humour and intelligence of actor/playwright Rick Miller. Live video projections show off Miller’s facial expressions, Daniel Brooks’ clever staging, and the play’s innovative design. Bigger than Jesus has wowed audiences across Canada, the US, Germany and Italy. Christians and non-Christians alike will find plenty of philosophical points to chew over, as well as virtuoso performing and staging to enjoy.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Mar 21-31: The Taming Of The Shrew, TWU

By William Shakespeare

March 21 -31

Evenings: 8pm
Saturday matinees: 2pm

Freedom Hall, Trinity Western University

Adults: $12
Students & seniors: $10
*Opening night and matinees: 2 for 1


For more info or to purchase tickets online, visit our website:

For directions to campus, visit:

For directions to Freedom Hall once you arrive on campus, visit:

For details on the show, see below:

The Taming of the Shrew


1950’s Italy. Sun in your eyes… Love in the air…. Cross-dressing in the piazza??!! Trinity Western University presents William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew in a production that rethinks this classic battle of the sexes as a meeting of the minds.

“Traditionally, this play focuses on gender conflict and many people see the “taming” of Kate as anti-feminist” says director Aaron Caleb. “Our production really messes with the usual gender stereotyping because I think the story is ultimately about people connecting. The personalities are what give the play its spark and its humour.”

Caleb has blurred the gender distinctions to rework the script for his mostly female cast. This production has: female characters that were originally male, females playing males who disguise themselves as females, females who play both male and female roles, and males portraying male characters who masquerade as females. Confused yet? That’s all right, since Caleb believes the play is all about confusion and connection.

Two Abbotsford natives are among the women who play men in this production. Fourth year theatre major Laura Van Dyke plays the male servant Grumio (who disguises himself as a woman in one scene) and second year student Jenni Fischer plays both a young boy and an old woman.

“In order to play the role, I found I had to completely transform my body,” Van Dyke says. “My walk became much more grounded and solid, my voice changed. I even feel stronger!” Fischer agrees, “Playing both a boy and a woman makes you very aware of your physical choices,” she says. “It has been fun to explore the different ways age and gender affect movement and to try to incorporate that in these characters.”

Fast-paced, fun and full of physical comedy, The Taming of the Shrew features stunning 1950s fashions by award-winning costume designer Nicole Bach. The range of styles in that decade provided ample opportunity for Bach to create a distinctive look for each character that displays her obvious love for the period.

The Taming of the Shrew features Jackie Faulkner as Katherina, John Voth as Petruchio, Rebecca Branscom as Bianca, Thomas Gage as Lucentio and Laura Van Dyke as Grumio. Completing the cast are Daniel Cloake, Jenni Fischer, Amanda Hart, Matthew Nauta, Holly Pillsbury, Laura Taylor, and Robert Steinkamp. The design team is Nicole Bach (costumes), Lora-Lynne Frewing, (lighting) and Aaron Caleb, who furthered his directorial vision by designing a sun-drenched Italian piazza for the set. The Stage Manager is Victoria Thompson, assisted by Carrie Waterton and Erin Mahoney.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Dylan Hears A Who

Lots of gimmicks and spoofs show up on the net every day. This one goes way beyond. You'd swear somebody had dug up outtakes from lost Dylan tapes, circa "Like A Rolling Stone." Until you listen closer and realize Bob (or pseudo-Bob) isn't singing some little rhyming ditty along the lines of "How does it feel to be on your own / no direction home / a complete unknown / like a rolling stone" - no sir, he's singing a timeless little rhyming ditty along the lines of "I do not like them in a box / I do not like them with a fox / I do not like green eggs and ham / I do not like them Sam I Am." Inspired.

No Soul Food there, except for a good chuckle. But apart from the fact that that is probably soul food enough for most of us, I know that many soul food afficionados also happen to be Dylan devotees, so I figure some of y'all might be interested.

PS A while back I told you about Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour, Bob Dylan's new weekly radio show where he plays favourite music (and all kinds of other tasty tidbits: clips from movies or old radio shows, poetry, vintage ads, brief interviews, bad jokes), all related to that week's theme. We've had "Bible" and "Baseball," "Shoes" and "Eyes" and "Musical Instruments." My driving companion all last fall. We're now up to #44 ("Texas"), the rumour is there'll be fifty episodes, so you may want to tune in before they're all gone. You can hear them when they're broadcast by subscribing to XM Radio, but if you don't have a digital radio, you'll want to download the programs. The site I mentioned for download no longer exists, but the ever-reliable Nick found us a new source. Check the link above for details, including the new link.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Mar 9-24: Gallery 7, "Steel Magnolias"

Gallery 7 Theatre & Performing Arts Society proudly presents
Steel Magnolias
by Robert Harling

A heartwarming tale of friendship and surviving the joys and challenges of life

March 9, 10, 15 – 17, 22 – 24, 2007 @ 7:30 PM
Discount Matinees: March 10 & 17 @ 2:00 PM

MEI Secondary School Theatre, 4081 Clearbrook Road, Abbotsford

* Tracey Anderton * Melissa Franson * Shannon Pedder *
* Shelley Picard * Lindsay Rindt * Michelle Ronning *

Directed by Sarah Hu
Set Design by Lori Rippin
Costume Design by Elva Atha
Lighting Design by Noah Arney
Sound Design by Sarah Hu
Stage Managed by Gary Atha

Truvy’s hair salon, nestled in the heart of a small town deep in the American south, forms the backdrop to this heart-warming and endearing tale of friendship where life’s hard-fought victories are celebrated and tragedies are made more bearable. Laugh, cry and ruminate along with six colorful friends as they share together each other’s joys, challenges and ambitions.

Call House of James now for tickets: 604-852-3701

Diane Tucker, Vancouver poem in Apple Valley Review

It's a point of pride with me (I know, cardinal sin and all that. Fine. I'm a sinner. That comes as a surprise?) that Pacific Theatre's CHRISTMAS PRESENCE and other such nights (CONFESSIONS, PASSION, TESTIMONY, etc) almost always feature a real live poet. We've had Richard Osler, we've had Karl Petersen, we've had... Well, lots.

One of 'em is the much-enthused-about Diane Tucker, who's just had one of her pieces published in the Apple Valley Review literary journal. I'll make you make your own journey to their site for the poem itself - just click on the link, scroll down past the pretty picture of the little girl and leaves and nature and stuff to find the link to Diane's - but I'll whet your appetite with her notes on the poem's Vancouver setting;

On “Speeding north: Vancouver”
I’ve taken the Number 10 Hastings bus down Granville Street into downtown Vancouver hundreds of times, but one night, a shiny, rainy, stereotypical Vancouver night, everything I saw meant more somehow. I guess I was thinking how the city’s changed since I was born there almost 42 years ago. Even though Vancouver, still a young city, has taken over the last few years to wearing too much make-up and unbuttoning her shirt a little too low to attract the cool guys, I still remember her when she was a sweet, interesting nobody in comfortable shoes who was perfectly happy with bad Chinese food, walking in the rain, a romantic movie and a slice of (non-gourmet) pizza. I still want to think of her that way and I don’t think she likes it.

Mar 1 - Apr 8: Damon Calderwood Bird Pix

Damon Calderwood was THE ELEPHANT MAN at PT a year and a bit ago, he's got a long history with our Salt Company and a ton of other shows around town, and I'm thrilled to say we'll be acting together (at last!) in A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS next January (you heard it here first - more season announcements to follow in due time). What you may not know is that Damon is an accomplished photographer: as well as doing a lot of the archive and publicity shots for our company, Damon is a birder, and the release of his first book and the opening of his first gallery show make March a big month for the lad!

This from Damon...

Flights Of Fantasy
Mar 1 - Apr 8
The Blackberry Gallery
Port Moody Arts Centre
2425 St. Johns Street, Port Moody (at St. Johns and Kyle).
Gallery hours: Mon-Thurs 10am-8pm, Fri/Sat 10am-5pm, Sun/Holidays noon-4pm

I wanted to invite you to my first ever Gallery Display of my bird photographs. I am also launching my first book, Flights of Fantasy: Photographing North American Birds. The display will be on from March 1st to April 8th, 2007, and includes pictures of a variety of beautiful birds from my trips to the Arctic, Oregon, and all over British Columbia.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Talk to you soon,


Mar 11: Leora Cashe Jazzes Joni!

Wow! Leora Cashe always raises high the roofbeams when she sings at Christmas Presence or any of the other Pacific Theatre gigs she graces. Now she's got an evening of jazz covers of Joni Mitchell material, and you know it's going to be stunning. If I have my way, you'll see me there!

'Both Sides Now'
The Songs of Joni Mitchell
A Jazz Tribute To A Canadian Standard
Sunday March 11 @ 7:30
The Cellar / 3611 West Broadway / Reservations 738-1959

arrangements by Ross Taggart
Leora Cashe - vocals
Ross Taggart - piano
Buff Allen - drums
Darren Radke - acoustic bass

Leora writes: "During the recording of my first jazz vocal demo, Ross Taggart inspired me with the idea of recording a CD featuring the songs of Joni Mitchell. How does one pick 12 or so tunes from such a rich song treasury? I love them ALL! So I decided to focus on the early recordings from 1968-1974. This past fall we started working on these new arrangements and I've gotta say, Ross Taggart has captured an exquisite harmonic landscape to frame these 'Joni Gems'. Well done, Ross, and a great big heartfelt Thank You! We're thrilled to be working on this project together, honouring the music from one of our Canadian treasures. 'Carey, Michael from Mountains, Woodstock, Big Yellow Taxi, All I Want' are some of the tunes just to name a few."

$10.00 cover with $10.00 food or drink minimum

Check out Leora's website

Mar 10: Celtic ceilidh at St. Barnabas

PT regulars will know Stephen Elcheshen and Kerri Norris from performances in a number of Stones Throw shows - most recently, Kerri played George MacDonald's wife Louisa in A BRIGHT PARTICULAR STAR.

What you may not know is that Kerri and Stephen are seriously into the whole celtic thing: they've done lots with Stage Eirrann, and now they've got some sort of wild Irish party going on at their home church in New Westminster. (It's called a ceilidh, and you say it "KAY-lee." Just so you know.)

Here's the dope from Kerri;

It's a Celtic Ceilidh - featuring traditional celtic music by Celtic Traditions from 7pm-9pm and some other presentations. (Poetry readings, singing etc.)

There will be munchies, sweets and a raffle. Tickets are $25 and can be bought at the door.


Church eyes green plans for future
St. Barnabas Anglican Church is going green.

Rev. Mavis Brownlee is pleased that St. Barnabas Church is one of four congregations selected to receive a solar hot water panel in the Diocese of New Westminster. The initiative represents St. Barnabas' ongoing commitment to the objective of becoming a green parish.

"It is going to be up and running by mid-March," she says. "The tank is here. We are waiting for the second part."

Mavis says it's anticipated that the solar hot water panel will result in annual cost savings of $268 per year, but more importantly, will result in significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The exact emission reductions will be known when the panel becomes fully operational in mid-March

St. Barnabas is encouraging community leaders to take the green challenge and reduce emissions in city facilities and vehicles. The federal government and the Diocese of New Westminster provided funds for the solar water panels.

In celebration of the greening of the parish, St. Barnabas is having a Celtic ceilidh on Saturday, March 10 at 7 p.m.

"We will have good food and good drink," Mavis says. "We invite you all to help celebrate the greening of the parish."

The Celtic ceilidh fundraiser features music by Michael Pratt and Lynn McGowan of Celtic Traditions.
Tickets (only 100 are available) are $25 and available at
St. Barnabas parish hall, 1010 Fifth Ave, New Westminster

For more information, call 604-526-6646.

Rickie Lee Jones "The Sermon On Exposition Boulevard / Lee Cantelon "The Words"

Sad to say, Soul Food missed reading about Rickie Lee Jones' Commodore show (March 8) until the darn thing was over. Neither Black Swan nor the local book emporia are open yet this morning, so it'll be a couple hours before we can run down and pick ourselves up copies of "The Sermon On Exposition Boulevard" or "The Words." Meanwhile, I'll content myself with spinning those first two RLJ LP's (though something tells me we've come a long way from "Chuck E's In Love") while you pull up a chair and help yourself to a heapin' helpin' of words about Rickie and her friends, Lee and Jesus.

Rickie Lee Jones finds her spiritual side
by Alexander Varty
Georgia Straight, March 1 2007

When Rickie Lee Jones entered the makeshift recording studio on Los Angeles's Exposition Boulevard, she thought she was just going to help out her friend Lee Cantelon. The Vancouver Island–based poet, photographer, and world traveller had recently compiled The Words — a book of the sayings of Jesus arranged for modern readers — and was anxious to issue these texts in spoken-word form. With Mike Watt, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, and Low already behind the project, he was pleased to have Jones on board as well.

But she just couldn't do it. Faced with a microphone and prerecorded tracks courtesy of guitarist Peter Atanasoff and recording engineer Bernie Larsen, she decided that the words of Christ were too baggage-laden to fit in her mouth. She also realized that something else was at work: while Jones couldn't speak for Jesus, his parables were drawing her into the world of the Holy Land, circa the year zero.

“The first image that I had was that we were drawing pictures of Jerusalem a few thousand years ago, setting the stage for me to look out of people's eyes—or for them to look out of mine,” she explains, reached at a St. Paul, Minnesota, hotel. “To have one foot here, but mostly, you know, to inhabit that time and look out through them and tell you what I saw and what I heard.”

Words welled up out of her, and Cantelon's project quickly morphed into Jones's next CD. The Sermon on Exposition Boulevard is the most coherent and accessible statement Jones has made since 1997's underrated Ghostyhead, yet more than half of its 13 tracks feature lyrics the singer made up on the spot.

“I'd done this before, in that I've sometimes taken a chance in making a text in front of an audience,” Jones allows. “But this was obviously extraordinary. I didn't plan or expect what came out, and for it to take shape so clearly was very wonderful and miraculous in that setting.”

Christian mystics might call Jones's experience gnosis, the direct and instantaneous experience of the divine. This isn't entirely new to Jones: like musicians as diverse as John Coltrane and Iggy Pop, the singer has often felt a connection to something bigger while performing. But to have the spirit manifest in something as concrete as a song has changed her relationship to the Christian message, if not to organized religion.

“Through knowing Lee, I've developed sympathy and understanding and empathy for the character that is Christ,” she says. “But my point of view would be kind of radical to a traditional Christian.

“The idea of practising utter nonviolence in thought and action is still a very profound idea,” she continues. “That's the beginning and end of that rabbi's message. And he was against religion—he was really against rote prayer, against being pious in the sense of making a big deal out of your prayers. Yet it seems that's the only kind of representation he has: the things he absolutely didn't seem to like at all.”

With subversive gospels like Cantelon's The Words and Jones's Sermon, this may be starting to change—and, frankly, it's about time.

The full story behind the recording sessions is told at Lee Cantelon's website. Here is an excerpt;

We were now into our second week at Marc's studio, mid-June, 2005. I asked Rickie Lee Jones if she would come across town to Exposition Boulevard and read from the book. ... For as long as I had talked to Mike about this, I had shared the same vision with Rickie, and felt that it was important to have a woman's voice reading the Jesus words. Rickie arrived in the afternoon, and we looked over a few chapters that might appeal to her.

Rickie said she was ready, and we did a test reading for levels. She read only a few sentences, and abruptly stopped. "This isn't going to work for me," Rickie said, and suggested that she sing her lines, and that, instead of reading verbatim from the book, she use it as a reference and improvise lyrics based on one or more pages. We all agreed that she should try this approach, and selected a track that we thought would serve her voice. Bernie set up a vocal microphone, from his collection of antique sound equipment. (We went on to use a Russian microphone for Rickie's vocals. When it broke, we couldn't fix it, because the transformer and all the literature was written in Russian.) I asked if Rickie would like to hear the track through her headphones, so she could get a sense of the melody, chord changes, and length. "Sure," Rickie said, and we played about twenty seconds before she stopped us. "That's good. I'm ready now," she said. "Just let it roll and let me see what happens."

I closed the sliding fire door to give Rickie some privacy. Bernie cued the Logic track on his laptop. I looked at Peter. What was Rickie planning to do? She didn't have any lyrics. She didn't even know what the song sounded like. The track started, two guitars, chords pounding out a tribal beat. "For a thousand years," Rickie sang. Her voice was plaintive, filled with sadness, timelessness. "Now I walk among them and I see them, and I open up my wrists and nobody knows my name. So I walk again ...I look at you. Do you know my name? Say you know my name? Do you know my name?"

As suddenly as it had begun, it was over. To say we were stunned would be an understatement. "That didn't just happen," Peter finally said. I rolled the door back. Rickie was still standing at the microphone, her eyes closed. I waited until she took off the headphones. I tried to say something appropriate, but the words wouldn't come. Rickie's performance had changed the project in the three minutes and thirty-four seconds it had taken to record what became Nobody Knows My Name. Without hearing the track, and without lyrics, she had reset the direction for the project. She turned and walked out into the early evening, absorbing slowly what had just happened. I walked up Exhibition with her, but we didn't talk. She had emptied so much emotion into that song. I thought about the lyrics. "Did the anonymous Christ walk among us? In using his name, did we reveal that we did not know or recognize him?" There were many implications in what Rickie has just "written." And more depth was to come...

Should we try this approach again? I didn't want to impose this on Rickie, but we all agreed to record another track. Peter and I picked some music we thought would work, and waited. "How about the chapter on prayer," I suggested when Rickie had returned (physically and emotionally). She read a few pages from the book, then put the headphones on. The door rolled shut and Bernie hit command "R" on the laptop. The cursor began tracking along the timeline. Again, Rickie was hearing the song for the very first time. "I wanted to pray," she sang, and followed, "How do you pray in world like this? You know I see the people on TV and they close their eyes and they bow their heads and they say, 'Let us pray,' and it feels so cold and meaningless..."

Five minutes later there was only silence. The first two songs, Nobody Knows My Name and Where I Like it Best were finished. We never did go back and change one note of these tracks, all the way through to mastering. The melody and lyrics remained exactly as they were captured that afternoon and evening, beneath the dusty skylight of the cluttered studio on Exposition Boulevard. Instead of a literal reading from the book, Rickie was guided to say what she felt in her spirit, to answer without thinking, to seek without implying that she knew, or could know, the answers.

It is recorded that Jesus once told his followers not to be "like the religious" who repeated (memorized) prayers over and over, thinking that God would hear them because of their repetition. Rickie's decision to improvise, in that moment, forced us away from stereotype or dogma.

"You wake up one morning and you're someone else," Rickie sings in I'll Be True.


I was reminded, during the making of the record, of something W. H. Auden once said. He was talking about the spirit of creativity and likened it to the Holy Spirit. He said he knew when the Holy Spirit was speaking to him, because the idea was always new, something he had never thought before, and it always demanded something of him. I think we would all agree that this happened to us during the months that we engaged ourselves with The Sermon on Exposition Boulevard. Each of us heard and felt something new, and, in turn, we were challenged to act on what was expressed. There is truth in these songs, lightness, and lack of artifice. May they "catch you in its ray."

The text of Lee Cantelon's book "The Word" is online at his website. Here's what he has to say about that project;

The idea for the book was to extract the words of Jesus from their New Testament setting, and to approach them from a non-religious perspective.... The goal was to free the words of Jesus from the socioeconomic, political, and institutional impositions/distortions that had attached themselves to his message throughout orthodox (Christian) history. Many more well-known authors have attempted to amplify the Christ story. This list includes names such as Nikos Kazantzakis, Sushako Endo, and Jose Saramago (among many others). What made my book different from these, is that I sought, not to retell the story, but to expand the recorded words of Christ out from the four Gospels, including newer linguistic understanding, and to arrange them topically. The essence of the Christ message, from my perspective, can often be understood as an indictment of the church. The Jesus I discovered during my research warned of the perils of religion. My Jesus worked to achieve liberation for the slaves and oppressed, dignity for the poor, and for those who were outcast because of gender, race, or social prejudice. The entire Jesus message seemed, in my studies, dangerous to the elite, ready to shake the foundations of the status quo.

In the 21st century, the book seems particularly relevant. We are living in a time when the message of Christ is greatly misrepresented. The Words is about undoing down these perceptions, as it is about realizing our potential to be compassionate and do good. Within the message of The Words you will discover keys to a more "abundant life," and a mandate to share this good news with anyone who will listen.

I can't tell if the original spoken word project, "Words From The Streets," is still going forward, but I'm hoping so. You can get a taste of the first track of "Words From The Streets" - "Blessed Are You" by Bone Thugs-n-Harmony - at Cantelon's website.


And one last voice to be heard from. Thom Jurek is a regular at the Arts & Faith conversation board, though we rarely cross paths - he mostly talks music, I hang out with the movie crowd. Here's some of Thom's rave review for AllMusic Guide;

...easily the most arresting recording of Rickie Lee Jones' labyrinthine career... something so completely unraveled, moving, and beautiful, something so unexpected -- even from a latter-day Beat chanteuse like Jones -- that it can only be called art. Certainly many of these songs feel raw, but they are supposed to; it's not artifice, it's inspiration.

Check the opener, "Nobody Knows My Name," where a three-chord Velvet Underground-styled vamp gives way to Jones as she channels Jesus walking through the streets of history and particularly Los Angeles, as himself, as disguised as a suicide, as a player, as every woman and man, and comes out truly anonymous. The pain in her voice when she gets to the refrains is the wail we only get from her in live performances. This is likewise the case in "Gethsemane," a tad -- not much -- more polished, and once more with Jones as Jesus, here relating the agonizing experience of the beginning of Jesus' moment of trial before he has been handed over to be put to death. In her voice she says, "I'd like to just sleep awhile" in near whimsy, but the agony is there. In "Lamp of the Body," with Peter Atanasoff, Bernie Larsen, and Joey Maramba in a combined Eastern and Western lilting rock groove as intruding sounds enter the mix, Jones sings as Jesus with the lamp of the body being the eye:

"See the darkness shine
How great is the dark
See the dark
And are there not 12 hours of daylight
But if you walk by night
You will fall...."

This gives way to the nearly pop-sounding "It Hurts." This track simply has to be heard to be believed. It rocks, it rolls, it stings and stabs, and it breezily calls forth all the complex emotions of being human and divine. It's angry and tender, uncertain and immediate.

Is this "Christian" music? Not in any CCM sense. It's punk rock, it's shimmering heat L.A back-court street rock, it's back-porch rock, garage rock, and just plain rock. But Jones is trying in her way to offer proof of the inspiration she found in Cantelon's book, and to relate the humanity of the one called Jesus Christ as an actual person, who is in and around every one of us, no matter how broken, poor, angry, violent, deceitful, happy, or wealthy. There is no new agey overtone to this set. And besides all that, it rocks, it rolls, it swings and strolls. This is pop music from the jump, but it's pop that would never, ever be considered for play anywhere except on the home jukebox. And there is no Christian-ese...

This is the least polished and crafted recording of Rickie Lee Jones' career, and it stands alone in her catalog. It's a ragged kid in ripped blue jeans singing her heart out to you without drama or falsity. How can it be anything less than a masterpiece?