Tuesday, June 28, 2011

artwork spotlight | on the cover

I know I said the series on artwork for the 2011-2012 brochure was over, but I have since realized that I neglected the cover!

This is the cover we all know and love, assembled by the wonderful Tim Anderson of Alphabet Communications from Emily Cooper's artwork.  Clean and simple, it gives a slice of the artwork for each show that is (hopefully) just intriguing enough to make you want to learn more without being overwhelming.

As per usual, we went through a couple of other, wildly different versions.

This was the very first draft.  If you ask me, a stunning piece of artwork in and of itself.  This was when we were playing with the idea of having every show represented by birds.  This bird, emerging from its nest, represented the idea of a season (or an individual play) being born (or hatching) out into the universe.  The lady appears to be holding a cane, and looks like she just might break out into a can-can - she's ready for her spotlight!  Unfortunately, as beautiful as the image was, it just didn't quite speak to the season of plays.

The next idea was to take one of the "characters" from each of the brochure images and put them on a stage together.  This certainly captured the whimsical and creative nature of the rest of the brochure, as well as the possibilities of what can be done with collage.  Again, as much as we loved it, we had a niggling idea that the cover of our brochure might need to be a little more simple.  The next draft was the final draft, perfectly containing the dynamic nature of each collage image into a simple format.  Just what we needed.

Friday, June 24, 2011

june 25 | pacific rim string quartet

Our mainstage season closed last weekend, but we've got more coming at you this summer!  First off is our resident string quartet, The Pacific Rim String Quartet, this Saturday night!

The program will feature the music of Dmitri Shostakovich – one of the most evocative and expressive composers of the 20th Century. We’ll be performing his compact and quirky Quartet No. 7, the searingly intense Quartet No. 8, and his final, deeply personal Quartet No. 15, all in the intimate space of the 120-seat Pacific Theatre.

Hope to see you there!

Pacific Rim String Quartet
Saturday, June 25, 8:00pm
Pacific Theatre – 1440 West 12th Ave. at Hemlock
all Shostakovich

Tickets are available at www.pacifictheatre.org, 604-731-5518, and at the door.

More information can be found at www.pacificrimstringquartet.com.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


I'd love to do this play

"I was hoping to get a library card."

"Good for you, dear. I think a lot of people figure, ‘Why bother? I’m just going to die, anyway.’ Let me just find the form."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

jun 29 -jul 2 | the verona project

'Tis the season for apprentice projects!  Our last mainstage production closed, and now our apprentices are busier than ever, getting their artistic projects onto the stage.  First up is Evan Frayne, winner of the Sam Payne Award for Most Promising Newcomer at the Jessie Awards, with his adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, THE VERONA PROJECT.

The Verona Project: an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet
adapted and directed by Evan Frayne
June 29-July 2
Tickets $11.50 in advance or PWYC at the door
For tickets: call 604.731.5518 or buy online

The Verona Project is an unflinching, streamlined adaptation of The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. Adapted by the director, Evan Frayne and the ensemble, The Verona Project looks to explore the story of the young lovers through their relationships with family and friends; the community of Verona.

Featuring: Aslam Husain as Romeo and Susan Coodin as Juliet.

With: Scott Button, Alison Chisholm, Chris Cook, Rhys Finnick, Mack Gordon, Phil Miguel, Maryanne Renzetti, Kaitlin Williams & Troy Anthony Young.

Crew: Anthony Liam Kearns (Stage Management), Lauchlin Johnston (Set Design) Crystal Dodding (Lighting Design), Lois Dawson (Sound Design), Carolyn Rapanos (Props Master) and Anna Hargott (Costume Design), Mishelle Cuttler (Composer, Musical Director, Piano), David Kaye(Drums), Clara Shandler(Cello), Benjamin Whipple (Bass).

july 11-29 | summer teen acting intensives | abbotsford | andrea loewen

We're getting our good friends at Gallery 7 Theatre in Abbotsford out to the city next fall to bring their production of TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE to our stage.  This summer, PT publicist Andrea Loewen (yes, the person currently writing this post) will be heading out to Abbotsford to teach their teen performance intensives! Info below, or go here to register.

Ages 14 - 18

Choose one of the following weeks:
Week #1: July 11 - 15, 2011
Week #2: July 18 - 22, 2011
Week #3: July 25 - 29, 2011

Time: 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Returning Camper (available until May 31): $118/camper
Early Bird (before June 30): $130/camper
Early Bird (Multi-Camp Rate): $118/camper
Regular (After July 3): $150/camper
Regular (Multi-Camp Rate): $135/camper

*registration fee includes camp and daily snack.

A performance intensive camp for more experienced actors, this camp will focus on voice & movement, character development, auditioning and scene study at a more advanced level. Lead by an experienced and professional actor, this is a perfect camp for young people looking to pursue acting as a possible profession.

everybody wants to go to heaven...

Rudi Krause and I were chatting about The Great Divorce, and he mentioned a passage from Douglas Coupland's book which formed the basis for his Massey Lectures series on CBC earlier this year. I figure the opening quote is a reference to Albert King, whose song is used in the soundtrack of Jason Goode's production of Danny & The Deep Blue Sea, at Pacific Theatre next season.

Bertis says, "Everyone wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die."
Karen blinks.
The power goes out and nobody is surprised.

. . .

Luke is in the foxhole, but it's not making him question his newly found atheism. He asks Bertis, "Why would you kill Leslie Freemont?"
"Why? Because he wanted to go to heaven without dying."
"Excuse me - explain that to me."
"He was a prisoner of the world. He thought earthly happiness was all we needed. 'Power Dynamics Seminar System.' What the hell is that? Leslie Freemont thought humans saw themselves as bottomless wells of creativity and uniqueness. But God refuses to see any one person as unique in his or her relationship to Him. Nobody's special. And life on earth is just a bus stop on the way to greater glory or greater suffering."

Douglas Coupland, "Player One: What is to Become of Us" 
pages 151-152

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

2011 jessies | photos

While I may have been a little too distracted at The Jessies last night to take photos (what with all the cheering for our artists and having to walk all the way up onto that stage), I'm happy to report that other people had the presence of mind to snap a few shots.  I'll keep adding more to this post as they come in.  Check out the list of PT wins here.

Photo Credits:
1: Rob Olguin accepting his award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Lead Role, Small Theatre in JESUS HOPPED THE 'A' TRAIN.  Photo by Carl Kennedy.
2: The whole team of JESUS HOPPED THE 'A' TRAIN on stage to accept their award for Best Production! Photo by Rebecca Bollwitt (Miss604.com)
3: Evan Frayne (winner, Sam Payne Award for Most Promising Newcomer) and Angela Konrad (director, JESUS HOPPED THE 'A' TRAIN) show off their hardware!  Photo by Carl Kennedy.
4. Ron accepting the significant artistic achievement award for curation and execution of an outstanding season of theatre, looking back at one of the artists or staff members crowding the stage. Photo by Thor-Sten.
5. Drew Facey accepting his award for set design of PLAYLAND. Photo by Thor-Sten.
6. Itai Erdal accepting his award for lighting design of JESUS HOPPED THE 'A' TRAIN. Photo by Thor-Sten.
7. The whole gang from JESUS HOPPED THE 'A' TRAIN again. Photo by Thor-Sten.
8. David Mesiha accepting his award for sound design of THE BUSY WORLD IS HUSHED. Photo by Thor-Sten.

pt goes to the jessies

Exciting night at the Jessie Awards tonight! Drew Facey won a statue for his Playland set design, Itai Erdal for his lighting design on Jesus Hopped The A Train, David Mesiha for his sound design on The Busy World Is Hushed, Rob Olguin won Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Lead Role for Jesus Hopped The 'A' Train, and 'A' Train - the inaugural mainstage production by Glass City Theatre - won Outstanding Production! Too, Pacific Theatre won a special Significant Artistic Achievement award for Curation and Execution of an Outstanding Season of Theatre.

But there was one more completely unexpected - and thoroughly well-deserved - surprise award: one of our current apprentices, Evan Frayne, won the Sam Payne Award for Most Promising Newcomer! A thrilling moment. You saw Evan as "the nice guard" in Jesus Hopped The A Train, and playing C.S. Lewis in The Great Divorce. Next week we'll get a look at his directing chops when The Verona Project takes our stage, Evan's take on Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet - with PT actors Phil Miguel, Kaitlin Williams and Mack Gordon in a strong Emerging Artist cast.

So, adding Evan's honours into the mix, that's 22 Jessie nominations for shows in our season this year. What an extraordinary way to celebrate the close of a memorable season. Thanks for the party, Jessie!

Monday, June 20, 2011

jun 22 | voices of light: the passion of joan of arc | berkshire choral festival

Having brought The Passion Project to Vancouver's PuSh Festival in 2010, and savouring the Stefan Smulovitz live-performed score for a screening of Dreyer's Joan Of Arc also featured in that Festival, this further exploration of Dreyer's classic silent film is pretty much irresistable...

Berkshire Choral Festival Sings
The Passion Of Joan Of Arc
Jessica Werb, Georgia Straight, June 16

On Wednesday, June 22, more than 100 singers will take the stage of the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts, after just one week of intensive rehearsals, to perform an epic work of contemporary music: Richard Einhorn’s Voices of Light: The Passion of Joan of Arc, which requires a full orchestra, a medieval a cappella quartet, and four soloists—as well as a simultaneous screening of the 1928 black-and-white silent film by Carl Dreyer, The Passion of Joan of Arc.

If that sounds like a tall order, conductor Tom Hall isn’t sweating. The music director of the Baltimore Choral Arts Society will be taking the helm of this massive project, which is being produced as part of the Berkshire Choral Festival — a roving event that, seven weeks each year, assembles 200 choristers for weeklong singing vacations. This year, one of those weeks is taking place in Vancouver. . . .

In addition to conducting a massive choir of voices, Hall will be simultaneously leading the National Broadcast Orchestra, the New York–based medieval a cappella quartet Anonymous 4, and four soloists that include Vancouver-based soprano and composer Kathleen Allan in her first orchestral singing role. . . .

The work itself, says Hall, is an intensely emotional piece of music, written specifically to be performed in tandem with Dreyer’s haunting cinematic masterpiece. “The music, which was written just some 20 years ago, is actually quite ancient in its inspiration,” he observes. “So there’s a lot of medieval-sounding stuff, there’s a lot of chanting, there’s a lot of clear references to Gregorian music and medieval music.”

In contrast, he notes, the film — rediscovered in 1981, when a near-complete print was found in a janitor’s closet in a mental institution in Oslo — was far ahead of its time. “The movie is actually quite modern and quite precedent-breaking, and forward-thinking in its approach.” He cites, for example, the use of fast cuts, close-ups, and creative angles more familiar to modern audiences than to cinema-goers of the silent-film era.

Even though it was written to be performed with the film, Einhorn’s piece is not a soundtrack, stresses Hall, noting that much of its text comes from the writings of medieval female mystics rather than Joan of Arc’s own words. Even so, he says, “the oratorio needs to be synced up to the movie. When I conduct this, I have to make sure that I’m in the right place — I’ve got to get everybody moving along so that the movements that Richard has composed to correspond with the various scenes in the movie are happening at the right time. . . . This is a really emotionally gripping experience, to witness this movie and to hear this music tied to it. It’s a very emotional evening for everybody involved."

jun 24 | karl petersen | urban fits | book launch

Karl Petersen goes back almost as far at Pacific Theatre as Anthony Ingram and I do - he played Brother Something-or-other in The Zeal Of Thy House, our first-ever Community Show (precursor to today's Stones Throw Productions and Emerging Artist Showcases), and kept up the tradition with any number of roles right up through Grandpa in You Can't Take It With You three years ago. He's also read his fine, funny, accessible and thoughtful poetry at our various anthology shows - here are some from Confessions and Christmas Presence

Urban Fits

This new collection from Karl Petersen explores the urban landscape of Vancouver, BC. The poems both celebrate city life and express a yearning for belonging amid urban complexity. Petersen finds redemption from without and from within the city's walls where we hear cries for a significance of person and place. Often, the most unexpected revelations are found in the city's hidden corners. The title, Urban Fits, suggests the neurotic state of urban life and questions whether the urban environment is fit for human life, but the title also implies that we who live there must fit ourselves the city as home. With humour and word play, through deft, vivid phrasing and startling metaphor, the voices in these poems offer spiritual insight into urban life.

And there'll be a book launch - reading, author Q&A, and signing - this Friday, June 24 at 7:45.
At Grace Vancouver Church, 1696 W.7th Ave,, Vancouver (W.7th & Pine)

This is part of an Arts Event that starts at 7pm and includes a visual arts display and music, with Karl as the featured artist.

And if you can't make it to the reading, you can buy a copy here.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

oct 16 | mavis staples

One night at Christmas Presence, buddy Rick Colhoun introduced me to an amazing tune: You Are Not Alone, by Mavis Staples. Wow. An instant favourite. Now it turns out she'll be here in Vancouver in four short months! Here's a stripped-down version of the track: check out the full studio version on iTunes as well.

Mavis Staples with Special Guest Allen Toussaint
Chan Shun Concert Hall
Sun Oct 16 7pm
Presented by the Chan Centre

"Mavis Staples is the most underrated diva of the century. She has an almost superhuman ability to implant the pure power of passion and emotion." - Rolling Stone

Soul and gospel legend and civil rights activist Mavis Staples won a 2011 Grammy Award for her best-selling album You Are Not Alone, produced by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy. Perhaps best known for her role in The Staples Singers, since the 1960s Staples has since established a highly successful solo career and continues to wow audiences with her power house talent.

Starting the show will be singer/songwriter, pianist, arranger and producer Allen Toussaint, a hugely influential figure in New Orleans R&B. Toussaint has crossed many paths in his illustrious 40 years plus career in music. He has produced, written for, arranged, had his songs covered by, and performed with music giants Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Elvis Costello, The Rolling Stones, Etta James and countless others.

Don't miss this very rare chance to see two of America's greatest musical treasures in a concert featuring new hits mixed with well-known favourites.

Okay, I can't resist. My favourite Staples track. Bob Dylan: "Pops Staples with his dreamy, underwater sound of the tremelo guitar. That's one of the hardest things to master if you're a singer. It's hardly ever used, you won't hear anybody use it because it's very hard to control. But when you use it the right way, it can be a very beautiful effect. As we can hear from Pops Staples and the Staples Singers, singing "Uncloudy Day." For some reason it's not working to provide a link, so you'll just have to cut and paste: www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7V7OMw7tg8

aug 31 deadline | new play contest | mustard seed theatre

A few years back, I flew to St. Louis to see the inaugural production by a new professional theatre founded by my friend Deanna Jent - Mustard Seed Theatre's staging of my post-apocalyptic Christmas play, Remnant.

Now you've got that same opportunity! Well, it won't be their inaugural show, but if you've got a new play burning a hole in your hard drive (or the idea for a new play burning a hole in your head), you could see it onstage a year from now - as Mustard Seed Theatre has just announced its first annual New Play Contest.

Are you a professional playwright or even writing in your spare time? Application Guidelines below, download the application here, and YOUR play could be chosen as the final offering in MST's 2011-2012 season. Contact Emily Immer (emily@mustardseedtheatre.com) with any questions.


Scripts must relate to Mustard Seed Theatre's mission to explore our relationship with God and our ethical responsibility to the world. Scripts previously produced are NOT eligible.

Professional staged readings and/or scripts produced in an educational environment are eligible.
Full-length and one-act plays are eligible. However, no musicals will be accepted at this time. If the play is an adaptation, written proof must be provided that the original work is in public domain, or that permission from the holder of the copyright has been granted. There is no fee for submission. A maximum of three scripts per playwright will be accepted.

Application forms and complete details, check out the Mustard Seed website - as well as more on MST (not to be confused with MST2K) shows including Godspell, Playland, My Name Is Asher Lev, Shadowlands and Remnant.  (Can you tell Deanna and I swap a lot of emails?)

Friday, June 17, 2011

artwork spotlight | side show

Last but not least in our series on Emily Cooper's artwork for the 2011-2012 season: SIDE SHOW!

Our annual romp through the land of comedy improv, SIDE SHOW is a guaranteed good time for the whole family.

Once again, this image may not have as many elements to unpack as the mainstage images, but it is a lot of fun.  Here's why:

A mouse is doing yoga!

That cat is a party animal!

The suits are just kind of funny, no?

They are in the sky, for pete's sake!

Being the stellar worker-bee that she is, Emily gave us a whole host of versions of this image:

It was a tough choice, but in the end the votes were unanimous for the yoga mouse and party cat.  Not that moonwalking-whiteshirt mouse wasn't pretty sweet too, nor the party girl mouse.  (That mouse sure has been busy, hasn't he?)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

june 24 | noon hour gospel concert series | tom pickett

Tom Pickett was on our stage this past season in PLAYLAND, and got nominated for a Jessie Award for his performance (we'll find out if he won on Monday).  He's doing a concert with the Vancouver International Jazz Festival's Noon Hour Gospel Concert Series next Friday with Candus Churchill.

Noon Hour Gospel Concert Series
Candus Churchill & Tom Pickett
Joyful Testimony!

St. Andrew's-Wesley United Church
1022 Nelson Street
Friday, June 24th 12-1
Admission by donation

Steeped in their love of Gospel, Jazz, and R&B, this dynamic duo offers a joyful presentation which lifts the heart and feeds the soul.

Candus and Tom have honed their music partnership through the years in film, TV, commercials, and theatre across Canada and the US.  Their vocal renditions send a spiritual message to touch, move and inspire their audience.

Accompanied by Michael Creber (piano), Tim Stacey (bass), Dave Say (sax), and Lou Hoover (drums).

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

artwork spotlight | christmas presence

We've completed the main stage portion of our spotlight on Emily Cooper's artwork for next season.  Now on to the second stage with CHRISTMAS PRESENCE.

Every year we bring CHRISTMAS PRESENCE to our stage, a sure-fire quick seller that brings together some of PT's favourite musicians for a night of music and readings about the joys and foibles of the season.  To be honest, since the Vancouver performances of this show often sell out before the Christmas season has even begun, we've never concerned ourselves too much with getting a stellar image together to sell it.  Not that we didn't have some great images from our artists, we just never really worried about it too much.  Well, I can't say we were all that worried about it this time around either, but didn't Emily knock this one out of the park?

There's not a whole lot to unpack with this image, so instead let's just look at how much fun it is:

A reindeer in a Santa suit!

What a lovely shade of blue in the background!

He's got a hat hanging off his antlers!

It's snowing!

Monday, June 13, 2011

artwork spotlight | the meal

THE MEAL is a guest production, directed by Richard Wolfe (THE BUSY WORLD IS HUSHED), created by Rick Maddocks and performed by The Lost Gospel Ensemble.  Here is our analysis of the artwork created for this piece by Emily Cooper.

A "gospel funk" song cycle, THE MEAL tells the story of the Last Supper, before and after Jesus' presence.  The singers await their guest of honour and then discuss (or rather, sing about) what happened after he's gone.

To the artwork:

It is an obvious depiction of Leonardo Da Vinci's The Last Supper, with Jesus conspicuously absent in the middle.

The characters are all represented as birds, which fits in quite nicely with their penchant for singing.

On the table we have traditional music notation, drawing another connection in with the music of this piece.

PS from Ron: here's an earlier version of the image, before Emily knew that THE MEAL wouldn't include Jesus himself...

Friday, June 10, 2011

artwork spotlight | 100 saints you should know

The next in our series on Emily Cooper's artwork for our 2011-2012 season features the final mainstage show of the season, 100 SAINTS YOU SHOULD KNOW.

100 SAINTS YOU SHOULD KNOW is a story that sounds really serious from its most basic description: a priest is falling away from his faith at the same tame as a housekeeper is finding it, while her daughter stirs up a little mischief on the side. The characters are so real and the dialogue so fresh, however, that what you end up getting is a bright and funny story with incredible depth and meaning.

There's not actually a ton to say about this artwork without giving away some bits of the story, but I'll take a go at it:

Center stage, toilet brush in hand, we've got Theresa, the housekeeper who's searching for God (hence the cross necklace).  The toilet brush, and of course, the toilet she's standing in, are because she spends her days cleaning toilets.

There are flowers everywhere, because Theresa is named after Saint Theresa.  Turns out there are a few Saint Theresas, but her particular Theresa is the patron saint of florists, and is also referred to as the Little Flower of Jesus.

All of the people are represented with variations of deer heads, despite being incredibly different people, showing how we are all, indeed, a part of the same species.

The final image is actually a dead ringer for the very first thing Emily came up with for this show.  There were, however, a couple of draft before we landed back where we started:

What do you think?

Thursday, June 09, 2011

re:union | sean devine's washington dc research road trip 1

Here is a first in a series of blog posts on the research and background for the RE:UNION. The posts are written by playwright and co-artistic director of Horseshoes & Handgrenades Theatre, Sean Devine, and can be seen in their original context here.

As Horseshoes & Hand Grenades and Pacific Theatre continue our development and pre-production work on our upcoming Fall 2011 project, Re:Union, we’re going to be blogging throughout our creation process.

For our first entry, playwright (and HHG co-artistic director) Sean Devine and production video projection designer Jason H. Thompson (based out of Los Angeles) are down in Washington DC on a research trip. Sean sent in this blog:

We’ve come to DC to collect archival records that we plan to incorporate into both the production design of Re:Union as well as any exhibits that might be a part of our outreach events for Vancouver: The Activist City. Understandably there’s a wealth of information to be had here, what with the National Archives, the Library of Congress, and just everything you can see driving around the city. We’re doing a considerable amount of video shoots to help capture the scope and architectural grandeur of Washington DC. It helps in trying to imagine just how small Norman Morrison must have felt as he drove himself past these empire-sized monuments on the way to the Pentagon to offer up his one little life in the cause of peace.

All in all, this trip is an incredible opportunity in the ongoing script development process, as we’re now able to incorporate so much more realism and detail into the project. Much thanks to Arts Partners in Creative Development for making it possible.

Most of our first day has been spent at the National Archives in nearby Maryland, which boasts the largest collection of government records in the country. The security requirements of getting in and out of the building are several times more exacting than even the most nervous of airports. Not only are you physically screened, but every single piece of equipment and paper that you bring in and out of the building is carefully monitored. And no pens allowed! White gloves and pencils only.

But you quickly realize why they’re so strict. The size, diversity, and impossible-to-estimate value of this collection is unmatchable. It might even help to justify the large number of armed employees.

Jason Thompson and I are focusing our research on video and photographic records from the mid-1960s, in the era of Norman Morrison’s death. As we know, this was a period of escalating militarism as well as activist protests.

In October 1967, a massive sit-in action was held on the grounds of the Pentagon. This protest was one of the larger events in the years-long wave of anti-war activism that Norman Morrison’s death helped to ignite. We’ve sent you a couple of the many photos that we found to help imagine what it might have been like.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

artwork spotlight | doubt, a parable

We're back with the fifth installation in our series on Emily Cooper's artwork for our 2011-2012 season!  The second-to-last show of our season is DOUBT, A PARABLE, another gem of a play by John Patrick Shanley.

The whole point of DOUBT, A PARABLE is that it's supposed to keep you in doubt (it's as if these playwrights are intentional with their titles, isn't it?). The story tells of Sister Aloysius, a strict nun who suspects Father Flynn, an unconventional priest, of a terrible crime. She relentlessly pursues him and he relentlessly defends himself, both of them pulling Sister James, the young, pure-hearted nun, back and forth between their arguments.

As for the artwork:

The owl represents Sister Aloysius. Watchful, elderly, perhaps wise, but also a rather deadly huntress.

Just like we are easily biased to believe a negative allegation against someone (usually for fear of what it could mean if it's true), we are biased to think of the vulture as a scavenger hunting for weak prey. However, vultures are also resourceful, community-oriented animals that provide a valuable service to hot regions. The vulture represents Father Flynn.

The two birds are meant to appear as unbiased as possible: both the same size, black and white, both birds that can be seen in two different lights.

In the top right corner, another bird is flying out of frame. This one is young and brightly coloured, representing Sister James, who just wants the world to be a beautiful, safe place for everyone.

The torn paper on the bottom came about because Emily wanted to have something torn in the image, since the whole play is about being torn between ideas. Paper works well, and she works with paper a lot (have you checked out her other artwork yet?) already, so it made sense.

Like many others, we had a few different versions of this image. The final is almost exactly where we started out, the first image just missing Sister James in the corner. There was a radically different version along the way though:

Pretty cool, right? More colour, the dangerously shifting cross, the owl looks a little more sinister... But in the end we just loved the original idea too much and back we went!

Monday, June 06, 2011

artwork spotlight | danny and the deep blue sea

Up next in our series of blog posts highlighting the amazing artwork Emily Cooper put together for our 2011-2012 season is DANNY AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA by John Patrick Shanley.

This is one of the "tougher" pieces in our season, rather literally. It's the story of two very tough, very damaged individuals with a lot of armour up, and their process of breaking it all down. It's harsh and tender, funny and heartbreaking, and yes, it has our strongest language, violence, and sexuality warning of the year.

As for the artwork:

One of the main goals Emily had in creating this piece was to make a surreal world. It's one night where everything else in the world disappears except for these two people, giving them a shot to work things out.  So you know, some fish coming out of the water is not so big of a deal.

They are half-submerged in the sea - lending to the surreal quality of the piece as well as reflecting the title, and maybe having something to do with these characters being half-submerged in the madness of their lives.  There might still be a chance for escape?

The moon comes up several times in the play as an image of love and signal of darkness for the characters, so it got prominent placement in the image.

Danny and Roberta are both represented by dogs - powerful, aggressive, but beautiful and loving.  Especially Danny's pit bull, an animal known for its violence, but that is also very fit and has a basic attraction to it.

june 13 & 14 | auditions | mackenzie gordon

Mack Gordon was Dave Smith (also known as The Main Dave) in YOU STILL CAN'T and is engaged to former apprentice and next season's Sister James in DOUBT, A PARABLE (yeah, okay, that might not be all that relevant to his work as an artist, but it sure says a lot about his good judgement!). He also wrote and is directing a show with Itsazoo Productions.

ITSAZOO Productions is holding auditions for its upcoming production of Debts, a new site-specific promenade production by Mackenzie Gordon to be performed in October 2011 at the Roedde House Heritage Museum in Vancouver’s Westend.

We are looking for 8 adult actors for this production, both men and women. The characters range in age from 16-60 so we are looking for a variety of ages.

We are able to pay a modest honorarium for involvement in this project.

Auditions Dates: June 13 and 14
Rehearsals: September & October 2011
Tech: October 17 and 18, 2011
Run: October 19-31, 2011 in the evenings

How to Apply:
Please submit a headshot, resume and cover letter to info@itsazoo.org. Write in the subject line “Debts Auditions”.
Only those selected for an audition will be contacted with sides to prepare for the audition.
Application Deadline Thursday, June 9 at 5PM

Sunday, June 05, 2011

artwork spotlight | a christmas carol

Installation three of our series on Emily Cooper's artwork for the 2011-2012 season!  Next up is A CHRISTMAS CAROL, our home-grown, one-man adaptation by Ron himself.

This story is almost a tale as old as time.  It seems like everyone's done their own interpretation.  According to Wikipedia there are 30 stage adaptations, 20 film adaptations, 23 versions for television, 11 radio broadcasts, and 5 recordings of the story (including one with Patrick Stewart that I've just got to track down!)  That's only the more-or-less official takes on the story that have been tracked enough to make it to Wikipedia!  This tale of Scrooge's harrowing Christmas Eve and ultimate redemption has certainly spoken to a lot of artists, and now we're doing our own version: restoring the thrilling originality, wit and fire of the original.

Now, for the artwork!

The ghosty, green back streets of London are indeed, the toxic, dirty streets of Scrooge's London.  The man may have been wealthy, but he did not live or work in splendor.

Scrooge is pictured here as a turkey, in part because he was really just a plain ol' turkey.  Something about that long neck and beady eye gives him a real Scrooge-like feeling.  Can't you just see him trying to steal a penny out of your pocket with that long beak of his?

The chain was a late addition.  The poster as a whole was stunning, but perhaps a little plain.  Chains are a huge image in the story, so adding one to  Scrooge was a gimme.

Now for the evolution of this image!  It wasn't quite so dramatic as the evolution of RE:UNION, but there were a few changes.

We've got the drab London background and Scrooge is a walrus, so far without the toxic green background.  Pretty cool.

This one was actually a third draft, - the second draft is the one that wound up being the final version.  We weren't even being difficult clients this time around, Emily was trying new things.  In the end we thought the hand on the hip was a little too jaunty.

june 10 | auditions

PT publicist and co-blogger Andrea Loewen (yep, yours truly - this is a case of blatant self-promotion) is writing and co-directing a show for the Neanderthal Festival this year. Auditions are this coming Friday evening, and there's still time to submit!

What: a short (~15 minute) piece in the Neanderthal Festival. It’s an existential comedy about a guy who loses his manhood and goes on a quest for a canon arm so he can get it all back.

Who: 2 men and 1 lady with strong funny skills. Ideally people who have background in improv, stand up, sketch comedy, or character work.

When: Auditions are Friday, June 10th starting at 4:30pm at Pacific Theatre (upstairs). Bring a comedic monologue and we might do a cold read from the script.

When part 2: The rehearsal process will begin in July with performances July 21-24 at The Cultch. (It is a condensed rehearsal process, so we need people who have pretty good availability in the month of July.)

How: Email andrealoewen@gmail.com with your availability on the 10th to arrange an audition.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

jul 7-17 | house-sitting? | jp allen

Playwright/director J.P. Allen is coming to Vancouver July 7-17 to work on a PT apprentice project with me. He needs accommodation. Does that coincide with anyone's vacation? Could he stay at anybody's place here in Vancouver area? JP is 100% trustworthy, one of my closest friends for almost 30 years, since CalArts days.

Fire me an email at soulfood@ronreed.org

Bit of a sneak peek at the project. PT apprentice Phil Miguel will be directing one of J.P.'s plays at Pacific Theatre July 13-16, with a superb cast - I'll leave it to Phil to announce the details, but suffice it to say I'm very excited about it.

That show's only about an hour in length, so it occurred to me when that plan was taking shape that the opportunity was lying in front of me to fulfill a whole pile of things myself. To get back onstage for the first time since Godspell, spring 2010. To work with my friend Shay McFaul, who simply MUST be seen more on the PT stage. To act in J.P.'s play The Disappearing, which I've given to acting students for scene work the last twenty years - it's so demanding, powerful - indeed, a year or so ago I made myself a theatre "bucket list" of plays I want to act, direct or write before I kick the proverbial, and The Disappearing was one of the first plays that went on the list. And maybe most exciting, to work again with my buddy J.P. - we've schemed about it for years, but not managed to pull it off since we acted together in Macbeth way back in 1996!

So Shay and I will be rehearsing together ahead of time, then J.P. will arrive probably July 7 and spend a week directing us in the final phase of rehearsal for The Disappearing, which will comprise the first half of an evening of work by J.P. Allen. Pretty stoked.

Now all we need is a place for J.P. to lay his head for about ten days. Anybody?

Friday, June 03, 2011

artwork spotlight | re:union

The second in our series of features on Emily Cooper's artwork for our 2011-2012 season!  Here we have the wonderful image for Horseshoes & Hand Grenades' Sean Devine's playwrighting debut, RE:UNION.

RE:UNION is, in my humble opinion, one of those once-in-a-lifetime plays that is at the right time and the right place with the right story.  Another one based on real-life events, this one revolves around Norman Morrison, a Quaker who burned himself in front of the Pentagon in protest of the Vietnam War and the baby girl he left behind to grapple with his choices 36 years later.

So, what does this image have to tell us?

The dove, of course, represents peace - it is the statement Norman Morrison was trying to make with his protest.  He has a brightly coloured circle behind his head that may or may not be a halo, which may depend on how you interpret his actions.

The red and yellow spikes are a not-too-literally version of fire.

5:20.  In this play time is crucial, and several events co-occur at exactly 5:20, years apart.

This particular play had a few versions of the artwork, here are a couple of drafts that didn't quite make the cut.

This was one of the very first drafts.  We loved it (we aren't fools, after all) but were hoping for something with a little more "punch".

Well, we asked for punch, and we got it!  Brighter colours, the dove becomes a cougar, and the fire is more of an explosion.  Once again avoiding being fools as much as possible, we loved this one too, but wound up deciding we needed to scale it back a bit.  The image is amazing, but maybe a bit too "explode-y" for this story.  Maybe we could bring it back a bit towards the last one?

And back it went.  But now, being the eternally finicky clients that we are, we missed the bright colour and eye-grabby punch of the previous draft.  We aimed for the best of both worlds and what was born is the final image.  Perfection!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

2011-2012 brochure online

Now you can flip through the 2011-2012 brochure online, as if you were holding it in your hands!  It's probably especially cool for folks who own one of those fancy handheld devices.

Check it out for yourself here.

Massive thanks to Tim Anderson at Alphabet Communications for setting this up!

the great divorce | responses

"Truly this is a very worthwhile piece of theatre ... which holds up to the audience a mirror of itself." | Alan Charlton, The BC Catholic

"You know when you go to see a movie and you don’t even realise there is an audience as you get swept up into story? Well, that is exactly how it was for me when I went to see The Great Divorce. I was pretty worried going in, thinking about the heavy content matter, but I actually left feeling lighter, feeling loved." | Leslie Mak, audience email

"I loved reading C.S. Lewis' Great Divorce but I think I enjoyed Pacific Theatre's presentation even better. Everything about this play was simply perfect." | William Hay, blogger

"The Great Divorce is hardly Sunday school material but it does offer an imaginative treatise on mankind’s inability to embrace the opportunity for paradise – even at the low cost of rejecting misery." | John Jane, Review Vancouver

"Rideout makes The Great Divorce a visual and theatrical treat. ... An impressive directorial debut." | Jo Ledingham, The Vancouver Courier

"The highlight of The Great Divorce is the phenomenal cast's poetic portrayal of these varying lifestyles and their vices. I recommend it for those that want live and layered philosophy presented to them by an intelligently orchestrated cast in terrific macabre costumes." | Maziar Ghaderi, Shargon

"Amazing show tonight, visually amazing, beautiful costumes, wonderful music, great set & lighting!" | Airam Vandenberg, Facebook

Just saw it - absolutely stunning! Hard to put to put words - stunning, unsettling, tortured, beautiful. And we got in on the talk back too! Wonderful evening. Got me thinking back to the days when PT was just a dream. Pretty amazing." | Melanie Calabrigo, Facebook

"We went to opening night. It was a great show! Entertained and edified. Great work by all involved!" | Jason Goode

"Just talked to someone in church this morning who saw the great divorce last night, he said he had read the book years ago and didn't like it, but the play changed his mind. He loved it." | Audience Email

"My family (wife, son and I) thought the performance was splendid! Amazing acting with minimal props, and the script stimulated much introspection and theological musing." | Jeff Small, email

"We attended opening night of this performance. It was truly an excellent performance, in writing, in staging and in the acting. This book of C.S. Lewis must have been very difficult to put into play format and to stage effectively. You did a magnificent job -congratulations." | Mary and Eldon Bruce, email

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

artwork spotlight | tuesdays with morrie

This is the first in a series of blog posts spotlighting the artwork for our 2011-2012 season. We know it's a little different than what you're used to seeing from us, and our artist Emily Cooper put a lot of thought into the various elements of these images, so we thought it would be fun to show them to you! We'll be going in the order of productions, so the first item up for perusal is TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE.

The story of TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE is pretty well known to many. First a New York Times best selling book, then a movie and stage play, it tells the real-life story of Mitch Albom's weekly meetings with his former sociology professor over the course of his dying days.  It's quite simply a wonderfully funny and life-affirming story about generosity of spirit in the face of death.

Now, let's unpack this image:

The first is a gimme: the little calendar on the side with Tuesdays highlighted because, well, Mitch came and spent every Tuesday with Morrie.  (Maybe that's where he got the idea for the title?)

Now for the animals.  The zebra is Mitch: fast-paced, erratic, young, and upwardly mobile in a snappy blue suit. The wise, old elephant is mentor Morrie Schwartz who may be a little slow to speak, but (maybe because he never forgets) always has something meaningful to say.

The numbers coming out of Morrie's trunk represent the re-occuring image in the play of Morrie counting how long he is able to hold his breath as the illness progresses.

If you look closely at the text on the left-hand side you can read some of the words: joyous, colour, soft, and bright are a few.

film of the week | hop the twig

THE GREAT DIVORCE director Kyle Rideout's first short film HOP THE TWIG is featured this week on Exposure Film, a Canadian film website, reposted below.  Find the original post by Joy Loewen here, and stay tuned for the announcement of Leo Award winners on June 8th when we'll find out if he won any of the 5 awards the film was nominated for!

With an upcoming screening at the CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival and five recent Leo Award nominations, Hop the Twig is my film of the week.

Written and directed by Kyle Rideout, this short film masterpiece – made for a mere $1,000 (incredible!) – is a shining example of new Canadian talent and cinema.

Described by the CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival programmers as a `visual stunner` Hop The Twig is a cleverly animated fairy-tale about a little girl`s fears and wild imaginations about death.

In less than 10 minutes, I fell completely in love with the story, the animation and the little girl.

I also fell in love with the work of Kyle Rideout who together with his business partner, Josh Epstein, were participants in my final year as program manager of NSI Drama Prize (a training program for emerging shorts filmmakers).

From my first introduction to this dynamic duo through the development, production and completion of their NSI Drama Prize short Wait For Rain, these guys impressed me with their passion, skill and commitment to becoming professional filmmakers. Together they`ve established a production company, Motion 58, and are actively developing new scripts and films.

Rest assured you`ll be hearing more about these guys and seeing both Hop the Twig and Wait For Rain at festivals across the country in the coming months.

The Canadian premiere of Hop the Twig takes place in the Flora and Fauna official selection at the CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival on June 2 (2 p.m. at the Royal Ontario Museum) and June 4 (9:45 p.m. at the Cineplex Odeon Varsity Cinema).

If you live in or near the Toronto area – this is one of a thousand good reasons to take in the CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival which starts Tuesday June 1.

Kyle and Josh – this is your bliss. Congratulations on finding it, following it, and sharing it with the rest of the world.