Saturday, May 02, 2020

soul food: the ghost light season | podcast

Welcome to my podcast!  A way of "keeping the lights on" while Pacific Theatre's doors (and everybody else's) are closed. "Soul Food: The Ghost Light Season" is like a radio show, all about theatre and movies, music, stories, and life during this strange time we're all going through.

There was a special edition of the podcast on Easter weekend, Easter Presence. Act One went onstage (virtually) at 8:00 Good Friday, with Act Two taking the stage for a Saturday matinee at 2:00.  It's a special edition of the podcast that's just like Pacific Theatre's great tradition, "Christmas Presence" - except, of course, it's not about Christmas.  Songs and readings for this essential season.

Soul Food is also thrilled to be premiering a brand new novel-in-progress by our favourite playwright, Lucia Frangione!  Grazie is posted in serial form every Monday and Thursday, details and links below.

And Thelma Schoonmaker edited a nice little trailer for our First International Earth Day Film Festival, which happened April 22nd, coincidentally enough. Earth Day Film Festival trailer which you can find on YouTube. There's a nice little interview with Thelma early in Episode 12.

Ron Reed,
Artistic Director, Pacific Theatre


as a podcast: downloadable, streamable, or subscribe-able... or pretty much anywhere you get your podcasts 

on YouTube
here's a playlist of all the episodes in order

Friday, April 24, 2020

loren wilkinson | hot cross buns 2020

A recording of Loren reading the original Hot Cross Buns poem, written in 1987 and recorded for Iwan Russell-Jones' documentary "Making Peace With Creation," can be found as part of the YouTube playlist of selected poems by Loren Wilkinson, Imago Mundi

Saturday, April 11, 2020

ghost light podcast #9 | easter presence | set list | act two

Teacup's Jazzy Blues Tune | Taj Mahal with the Pointer Sisters
from Ooh So Good 'n Blues

sometime during eternity | Lawrence Ferlinghetti | read by Ron Reed
from Coney Island of the Mind

I Am One | Miriam Jones
from Being Here

Samaritan Woman | Sheila Rosen | read by Rebecca deBoer

Strange Man | Ken Whiteley
from Up Above My Head

Kwuz | David Kossoff | read by Ron Reed
from The Book Of Witnesses

Heal Me | Cheryl Bear
from Cheryl Bear

The Christ Of Charlie Edenshaw | Loren Wilkinson

By The Mark | Gillian Welch
from Revival

The Sighting | Luci Shaw | read by Ron Reed
from Sea Glass

What Love Looks Like | Carolyn Arends
from Seize The Day and Other Stories

Jeremy's Easter Egg | author unknown | read by Nicola Shannon

How Can I Keep From Singing | Julee Glaub
from Fields Faraway

Open | Luci Shaw | read by Ron Reed
from one of her books

I Am The Man, Thomas | Viper Central
from Live At The Street Church (out of print)

Food For Risen Bodies | Michael Symmons Roberts
from Corpus

Where Shall I Be
from Up Above My Head

The Lego Easter garden is by Sebastian Tow

Friday, April 10, 2020

ghost light podcast #8 : easter presence | set list | act one

I Want Jesus To Walk With Me | The Nelson Boschman Trio
from Keeping Time, Volume 2

Jesus Was An Only Son | Jon Ochsendorf
recorded for this podcast

Mr Prediction | Ira Glass & David Rakoff
from This American Life #241: 20 Acts in 60 Minutes

Touch The Hem | Ken Whitely
from Up Above My Head

Jesus Christ Superstar | Lucy Grealy | read by Chantal Gallant
from "My God," found in Joyful Noise

I Don't Know How To Love Him | Laura Koch, of The Kwerks
recorded for this podcast

Judas | J.D. Salinger | read by Ron Reed
from The Catcher in the Rye

Judas | Peter La Grand
from Duende

The Cast of Christmas Assembles | Steve Turner | read by Ian Farthing
from Tonight We Will Fake Love

All My Tears | Leigh Ann & Ryan Howarth
Rick Colhoun recording

Six Feet | Kirsty Provan
recorded for this podcast

The Cost of My Cure | Allen Desnoyers

Jesus Checks In For the Flight Home | Luci Shaw | read by Ron Reed
from Sea Glass

I'm Headed For | Michael Hart
from Desire, reissued on So Far So Good

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

ghost light podcast #5 | garth bowen | covid wars

Garth Bowen is a long-time friend, and a long-time friend of Pacific Theatre.  He was in our first production of Cotton Patch Gospel at the Richmond Gateway Theatre in October 1989, and has played nearly twenty years worth of Christmas Presences.  He posted a video of this brand new song on Sunday, March 29, on his Facebook page.

Finn Slough, March 24 | photo by Garth Bowen

Lock the gate shut all the doors
It’s time to face the Covid Wars
A battle fought without a gun
Where falling back is how its won

A viral menace fills the air
Another burden comes to bear
It’s not against the foe we fight
Not by power not by might

The markets fell just days ago
A life of saving doesn’t show
Things on end and upside down
The spirit’s gone in Vancouver town

There’s a dozen notes upon my wall
From friends who live in protocol
warmest thoughts and funny shares
sent with love and heartfelt prayers

And still beside the checkout stand
Those glossy pictures bronzed and tanned
What once amused us seems so trite
The simple things are the best in life

Social distance, seems so strange
I’ve got my dear ones on my brain
How long like this, maybe a year
How can I guard my heart from fear?

Sometimes it’s wise to plan ahead
The dreams we once held close seem dead
With so much time to think at home
And the coming storm has barely blown

There’s a dozen notes upon my wall
From friends who live in protocol
warmest thoughts and funny shares
sent with love and heartfelt prayers

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

'no show tonight' | behind the scenes at pacific theatre: coronavirus edition!

One of my favourite PT audience members sent me a thoughtful, inquisitive email, and I think our correspondence may be something worth sharing with other folks who may have questions about the practical challenges theatres and theatre artists are facing right now.


We are. Plus the stage manager, and a few remaining costs - settling up play royalties, truck rental to return set pieces and props, that’s mostly it.


If they signed the contracts with their Equity actors before first rehearsal, they will have to pay a certain amount of the actors’ and stage manager’s salaries, I think maybe two weeks’ worth? But it’s common practice to sign those contracts on first day of rehearsal, so the Arts Club may have no legal, contractual obligation there. But for whatever loss of expected revenue the artists themselves will now face, they will just have to hope that the financial compensation the government is putting in place for self-employed workers will apply to freelance artists.

The artists collective who were putting together our next production, Love/Sick, will actually break even on what they’ve already had to spend on front-end costs to mount their show - IF most of the people who bought advance tickets turn their ticket purchases into donations, which PT will of course pass along to those artists. We’re still proceeding to move toward our mid-May production of Trip To Bountiful, and even if we end up having eventually to cancel it, we will pay the designers proportionately for the work they will have done by the time we cancel; the set designer has done much of her work, I’m meeting (remotely) with the music/sound designer and the costumer today, and that will mean we’ll be committing to pay at least a portion of their contracts regardless of what happens. We’ll keep moving resolutely toward that production, and incurring whatever costs are involved, until we reach the point where it’s evident the show cannot go on - in the hopes that we find a way, that the community finds a way, for shows to go on. And if we can’t produce Trip To Bountiful this spring, we’ll put it in next season, so that the actors who’ve already invested time in learning their lines won’t have wasted that work - and because I’m dead set on producing that show! And we have already guaranteed the Love/Sick artists that we WILL present their show as soon as the doors are open again.

As for the Pacific Theatre artists who were touring Kim’s Convenience - which may have the dubious distinction of being the first show in BC that had performances cancelled? - I’m not sure what their Arts Club contract involves. They may be guaranteed pay right through to the end of the run, even though it’s not going ahead, or they may only have been paid for a week or two of their remaining run. I need to look into that.

It may be that larger theatres like The Arts Club have cancellation insurance. I really hope they do, for their sake as well as the sake of the artists. But Pacific Theatre doesn’t, and I’d be surprised if other smaller, indie theatres will have that protection in place.


You are the best! Truly, the people in Pacific Theatre’s audience astonish me, time and time again.

Here's a link to the Pacific Theatre website, for anyone who wants to make an online donation.

Friday, March 13, 2020

best of enemies cancellation | covid-19

Dear PT family,
In light of rapidly developing measures to limit the impact of the Coronavirus in our community, Pacific Theatre has made the difficult decision to cancel the remaining performances of Best Of Enemies, which had been scheduled to close March 21. While authorities have not mandated the closing of venues under 250 seats, their recommendations for social distancing would be difficult to guarantee in our theatre space, which is known and valued for its intimacy.
Ticket holders for cancelled performances will be contacted directly by our staff to make arrangements, offering a variety of options with regard to their tickets. We ask that ticket holders please DO NOT call the Box Office regarding your tickets until you hear from us, in order for our small staff to handle the complexities of the situation as smoothly as possible. You are welcome to e-mail with broader ticketing questions, and we will respond as quickly as we can.
Though we believe this decision by our Board of Directors reflects the company's values of serving our community with artistic, relational, spiritual, and financial integrity, it was a difficult one, involving both concern for public well-being and regret at the loss of such a substantial and significant piece of theatre. It has been a high water mark in our season, and we recognize the disappointment this abrupt closure will cause for those who have not yet seen the play, and for the artists who have invested such heart and passion into the work. But we respect the proactive stance being taken in our province to address the much more dire potential threat to the health of our community, and wish to play a role in that initiative.
We strive to care for Pacific Theatre staff and artists with the same intention we direct towards our patrons and our neighbours. Though ticket revenues will be significantly impacted by this decision, Pacific Theatre has committed to paying our Best Of Enemies artists for the duration of their contract.
While this closure is right for the health of our community, it creates profound financial hardship, not only for non-profit arts organizations which operate on very narrow margins, but also for individual artists whose employment may be compromised in coming days. We will need your help. If it is within your means, please consider making a financial contribution to help sustain our people and avoid lay-offs in this uncertain time.
Ron Reed & Ian Farthing
Artistic Director & Executive Director
Pacific Theatre

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

mar 14 | emily carr: small wonders | allen desnoyers

Allen Desnoyers founded Pacific Theatre with me back in 1984, he plays pretty much every year at Christmas Presence, and he'll be back on our mainstage next season!  Meanwhile, here's a chance to see Allen's work as a playwright, composer, and performer, this Saturday in Tsawwassen.

Monday, March 09, 2020

best of enemies | responses

All we can say is wow! We saw Best of Enemies last night and we were blown away by how great it was.  Everyone and everything was fantastic. Such a powerful story, too. ...  We are so grateful that PT staged this excellent play. Each of the actors was just marvellous. We still rave about Robert Salvador in “Jesus Hopped the A Train”—one of the most amazing productions in PT history in our humble opinion— he was just incredible in this, too. Celia perfectly captured the spirit of the strong African-American matriarchs that we have known who hold their communities together and fight for their children, yet display amazing tenderness, too. The final scene was wonderful beyond words. Anthony was completely believable as Riddick, and his interactions with both of the main characters were stellar. And Rebecca did such a beautiful job with Mary—understated in all the best ways which highlighted both her strength and her vulnerability.
I apologize for this long email, but we have spent a lot of time thinking about the show and talking about it since we saw it last night, and I wanted to thank all of you all.
We truly need more stories like this. It reminds me of what Golda Meir said in a different fraught situation: Peace will come to the Middle East when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us. Thank you for producing this wonderfully hopeful, yet realistic play about a true story of redemption."
audience member

“The elements that really make Best of Enemies worth seeing are the relevance of the play’s themes and the excellence of the acting. Under Ian Farthing’s direction, this Pacific Theatre production is excellent. Informed by a deep — often furious —  undertow, Celia Aloma’s performance as Atwater is always wary, always listening.  As Ellis, Robert Salvador manages to humanize the racist without apologizing for him. Playing the Department of Education employee who brings Atwater and Ellis together, Anthony Santiago delivers a sophisticated portrait that combines wit and compassion. And Rebecca deBoer will make you feel the exhaustion — and fight — of Ellis’s wryly funny wife Mary. Colin Thomas

“Do yourself a favour and see this slow burn to brilliance, with stunning performances. Deftly directed by Ian Farthing.” audience member

Feels like a balm for our times right now. Really hoping it gets the buzz it deserves. A beautiful show.” audience member

“There are moments in this production where you know everyone in the audience is holding their breath.” Monika Forberger, Entertainment Vancouver
“Exceptional in all respects…powerful performances, great overall design, brilliant direction. Loved it!” audience member

“Ann (Celia Aloma) takes out her frustrations on white racists like Ellis with a quick tongue and wicked sense of humour […] Rob Salvador gives a marvellous performance as C.P. Ellis.” Jerry Wasserman, Vancouver Sun
Aloma and Salvador have great on-stage chemistry, and their flawless southern accents will truly transport you to North Carolina, circa 1971.” Erin Jane, Review Vancouver

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

best of enemies | AD Notes

Artistic Director Ron Reed's notes for Best of Enemies:

"Some years ago I visited the Smithsonian in Washington, DC.  Long enough ago that I remember only one thing from the visit: a row of red lunch counter stools. A few Mondays ago when we gathered on the partially built set for the first reading of Best Of Enemies, my eyes immediately picked out one detail from the visual clutter of construction materials and tools, props and scripts and lighting instruments and people. A row of red lunch counter stools.

Red barstools on the Best of Enemies set

Greensboro, North Carolina is 54 miles down Interstate 85 and US Highway 70 from Durham, just under an hour if you drive the speed limit. That distance and eleven years were all that separated the historic Woolworth department store sit-ins from the less well remembered civil rights battle reconstructed here on our stage.

Why do those red stools in particular have such power for me?  A few things preoccupied me in my growing-up years in suburban Calgary, that stood in vivid contrast to a pretty near idyllic childhood of banana bikes, Batman comics, Monkees records and kick the can. Nuclear bombs, and stories of people surviving the end of civilization. The Holocaust. And the American chaos I saw on the TV: black people beaten and lynched, Watts and Detroit burning, angry students swarming college campuses, bodies coming home from Vietnam.  Perhaps those images and stories gripped my attention precisely because they were such a surreal contrast to my quiet, safe daily life. But it did seem like the world was ending.

Only as I write these notes does it strike me how these things eventually manifested themselves in my art, and in my artistic direction, decades later. Remnant, and The Top Ten Thousand Of All Time. Refuge Of Lies, The Quarrel, even Talley's Folly in the shadow of anti-Semitism. That quintessential Pacific Theatre show Cotton Patch Gospel grew out of the soil of the Civil Rights Movement, from Koinonia Farm's quiet, costly stand against racism in rural Georgia. We're not an issue-based theatre, so I'd never say these themes have been constantly front and centre. But as this play takes shape on our stage, I instantly trace a direct line back to my childhood nightmares, and a suburban white kid's quiet obsession with trying to come to grips with unthinkable evil. 

As the Watts riots raged, Noah Purifoy gathered the detritus of a city breaking down - neon signs, the metal from ruined vehicles, shards of wood and brick from broken buildings, a busted, hollow TV set - and made art.  These assemblages were a way to mark what had happened, to re-member what had been dismembered. To create something like beauty, or perhaps just to ensure that the story of what happened would not be forgotten.

Set designer Sandy Margaret seeks to honour Purifoy's work as she assembles a world where this particular story can be lived out in our midsts, lunch counter stools and all. North Carolina was on the other side of the country from Watts, and their traumas seemed the other side of the universe from my suburban childhood in Calgary, or our safe Vancouver vantage point half a century later. But once a thing has happened, it leaves a story. And those stories must be remembered. And when artists remember, they make art.
And as far away and as long ago as these stories may be, the terrible realities they manifested are still entirely with us, even here. The past hasn't really passed, and perhaps re-membering our old stories might reshape the stories we are living now."

Get Best of Enemies tickets here. Runs Feb 28-Mar 21.

meet the crew | best of enemies

Introducing our incredibly talented crew for Best of Enemies!

Ian Farthing – Director
John Webber – Lighting Designer
Sandy Margaret – Set Designer
Julie White – Costume Designer
Rick Colhoun – Sound Designer
Ariel Slack – Properties Manager
Sammie Hatch – Stage Manager
Nicola Shannon – Assistant Director

See their hard work come to fruition on stage starting Feb 28! Get tickets here

Monday, February 24, 2020

meet the cast | best of enemies

We asked our remarkable Best of Enemies cast a few questions about themselves and the show – check out their answers!

Celia Aloma
Do you have any personal connections with the content of the play?
Best of Enemies talks about race relations and unfair treatment of African American and low income families in the public school system among other things. Racial discrimination in school isn't a thing of the past, though we have come so far since segregation it's still prevalent in our society. I've had many experiences through schooling where teachers have tried to keep me from achieving above my socio-economic status. In middle school, for example, my teacher refused to give me documents to go to an arts school that was mostly white. She told my mom that's not a place for me and referred me to my local high school in the black community which had one of the lowest grade averages in the Toronto school board district. She eventually gave me the document but many weeks after she had given it to a white student and the application deadline had passed. Going into high school, again, I was told by my music teacher when I expressed my intent to transfer to said school. He told me I wouldn't cut it there, and I will be back within the month and this is just the tip of the iceberg. If the spirit of a child is crushed, then the sky is not the limit when all they can see is the ceiling.
It's not often the conversation of institutional racism is brought to the forefront. I'm not the only one who has faced this and I will not be the last. The resolve is speaking about it and starting a conversation and forcing change.
What excites you about this show?
I feel excited and empowered by Ann’s story, one single act of defiance can change the course of h(er)istory. As a black woman, often times I feel like I have to lower my voice and play into the nice woman complex so as not to be labeled by the stereotype attached to an “Angry Black Women”. So I dim my light and voice. Ann Atwater reminds me where my voice box lives. She reminds me that no matter what the opposition, not to falter but to stand in my truth against all odds.

Rebecca deBoer
Do you have any personal connections with the content of the play? 
Well, I am not married to a KKK leader. However, my character is a mother of three and a passionate advocate of a Family First philosophy, which does hold resonance for me.
One thing I love about this story is that it's such a beautiful illustration of the power of empathy and the importance of getting to know people who are different from ourselves.
“I think that hate is a feeling that can only exist where there is no understanding.” ― Tennessee Williams
What excites you about this show?
I can't wait to dig into playing this grounded, funny, badass character, and to get to work with such an incredible cast!

Anthony Santiago
Why does Best of Enemies matter to you?
Best of Enemies is relevant to me because growing up in the seventies as a first generation black person I had the opportunity unlike my parents, of interacting with other races and other cultures and we had a dialogue. We were able to communicate with one another. Best of Enemies where it's set at a time and place, it shows the importance of that, the importance of being able to speak to one another, even though we have such strong opinions of where we come from and where we belong in this world. Which is beautiful, which is why I am so privileged to be able to do a show like this.
What excites you about this show?
The power of finding common ground through dialogue.

Robert Salvador
What excites you about this show?
I'm thrilled to return to Pacific Theatre, the place I consider theatre home, and honoured to play a small part in paying tribute to a champion of civil rights, Ann Atwater.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

kim's convenience | the mother meets appa

Anita Wittenberg, who played Joan of Arc's mom in MOTHER OF THE MAID, was at the opening night of the KIM'S CONVENIENCE tour, and I introduced her to Jimmy Yi, who plays the father in KC.  Which, by the way, transfers beautifully to the larger stage!  I was thrilled.

Friday, February 14, 2020

best of enemies | theatre club talkback mar 7

For our Best of Enemies theatre club talkback on March 7 following our 2pm matinee, our outstanding selected speakers are:

Michelle Casavant

For the past 10 years she has had a diverse practice in litigation, advising, and dispute resolution in the areas of wills and estate planning, Aboriginal rights and title, treaties and governance, consultation and accommodation, civil litigation, and residential school hearings. Michelle is a member of the Aboriginal Lawyers Forum, an appointed board member of Continuing Legal Education BC and Promise Vancouver.

Adrian Greer

Adrian carries on a general litigation practice involving complex files in diverse subject areas, including commercial disputes, administrative proceedings, and constitutional law. Adrian has worked on several trials, appeals, and commercial arbitrations, and he has zealously advocated for clients before the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

After completing his articles at a national firm, Adrian joined Gudmundseth Mickelson as an associate. As part of the team, Adrian assists businesses, individuals, and public institutions to resolve important legal disputes. Adrian holds a J.D. from the University of British Columbia. During his studies, Adrian participated in the Law Students’ Legal Advice Program where he worked with individuals who could not afford traditional legal services.

Laura Track

Laura is a human rights lawyer and the Director of Education in CLAS’s Human Rights Clinic. She advocates on behalf of people who have experienced discrimination and assists complainants to navigate BC’s human rights process. Laura also has a strong interest in making legal knowledge accessible. She delivers workshops and presentations to a wide variety of audiences to help people understand their human rights and comply with their legal obligations. Laura earned her law degree from UBC in 2006, and holds a Masters in International Human Rights Law from Oxford University.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

best of enemies | first read

It's time to begin again - on Mark St. Germain's BEST OF ENEMIES, the true story of Ann Atwater and C.P. Ellis's astonishing journey towards school desegregation in 1974 North Carolina. Here are a few shots of the cast and crew assembled for first read.

Thursday, February 06, 2020

feb 13 - Mar 28 | kim's convenience on tour

The folks at the Arts Club are taking our beloved production of KIM'S CONVENIENCE on the road! After her beautiful performance of GRAMMA at Pacific Theatre, Maki's back (sounds like a Bobby Darrin song) in her original role, along with Jessie Liang and Jimmy Yi from the original PT cast.

The tour runs Feb 13 to Mar 28, with stops in West and North Van, Mission, New West, Surry, Coquitlam, Chilliwack, Maple Ridge, Burnaby, Kelowna, Cranbrook, Revelstoke, Nanaimo, and Duncan. All the deets and dates at the Arts Club website.

Colin Thomas says "See this one. In Ins Choi’s script, which spawned the CBC TV series, Appa (Dad) and Umma (Mom) run a convenience store in Regent’s Park, Toronto. Appa regards the store as his legacy and wants his daughter Janet to take it over, but she dreams of becoming a professional photographer. When Janet’s brother Jung was a teenager, Appa hit him so hard that the blow sent Jung to the hospital. Jung no longer speaks to his father, but still sees his mom in secret. Audaciously, the show flirts with stereotypes without ever causing harm. In the best example of this, Appa teaches Janet how to spot shoplifters: “Fat black girl is no steal. Fat white guy, that’s steal…Lesbian is steal. Two lesbians, that’s no steal. That’s cancel-out combo.” ... Director Kaitlin Williams’ Pacific Theatre production is as shiny as a chocolate bar wrapper. A couple of the roles have been recast since 2018, but Maki Yi (Umma) and Jessie Liang (Janet), who are both excellent, are still with the show. So is James Yi (Appa), who is stellar. Carolyn Rapanos’s set is so brightly realistic it makes you want to buy the chips.

P.S.  SIX Jessie Richardson nominations!

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

feb fest | meet the cast and crew

at Pacific Theatre Feb 5–Feb 8
info | tickets

The casts and crew of Stone's Throw's Feb Fest are hard at work preparing for their opening night on February 5th! Join these talented emerging artists for an evening of smart, thoughtful one-act plays.

Cast & Directors

Third and Oak: The Laundromat
Nicola Shannon | Director
Marit Christensen | Alberta
Ariel Slack | Dee Dee

Nicola Shannon | Director
Chantal Gallant | Performer

Here We Are
Mikayla Wust | Director
A. Jade Munsie | She
Ryan Doherty | He

Technical Team
Linnea Perry | Lighting Designer
Uliana Akulenko | Set Designer
Tyler Dumoulin | Sound Designer
Dayna Horn | Stage Management

Monday, January 27, 2020

to feb 1 | gramma | artistic director notes

GRAMMA by Maki Yi
at Pacific Theatre until February 1
info | tickets

Sometimes I'm led to choose a particular show for a season because all of a sudden people start asking for it. "When are you going to do such-and-such again?" "Would you ever consider doing again?" This season, that Popular Demand show is Gramma.

Not that we've staged this particular play before. But a few years back we brought you Maki's winsome one-woman show Suitcase Stories and, maybe in the wake of Maki's lovely performance in Kim's Convenience last season, folks started asking about bringing her back. Which I was eager to do. Someone reminded me that Maki had another solo show that focuses on one small chapter of Suitcase Stories, the story of Maki's time in Regina living with a woman who was more than challenging. Living with Gramma. And here we are.

I love this play for the way it takes me not only to another place, another situation, but also into another way of being in the world, another way of experiencing events. It's a story of clashing cultures, of "foreignness" - of Maki finding herself a stranger in a stranger land, to be sure, but also a story where I find myself a foreigner, a stranger to the ways Maki perceives and lives through these events. The idea of filial duty, which informs not only Maki's relationship with this difficult elder, but also pervades the mythic Korean story Maki interweaves with the real world events unfolding in Saskatchewan. Perhaps the whole story is an illustration of the Korean idea of "Saumyonsoe jongdunda" - but I'll leave it to Maki's play to tell you, and show you, the reality of that phrase.

Of course, a one-person show is never the creation of one person. At the first reading of the script a few weeks back, I was so taken by the contribution of a whole team of designers and other creative contributors. For a while now I've been looking for a way to have Laura McLean in the director's chair at Pacific Theatre; I started following her work when she stage managed Godspell, so many years ago! I even think of the outside-the-theatre contribution Emily Cooper, who has designed our posters for nine seasons now; take a moment after the show and look closely at her wonderful image for this show, at all the details that encapsulate a delightful vision of Maki's highly individual story.

And if you want even more Maki, check out the upcoming Arts Club tour of our production of Kim's Convenience as it travels the Lower Mainland and beyond, to Kelowna, Cranbrook, Revelstoke, Nanaimo, Duncan. Maki's back!

Ron Reed,
Artistic Director

Friday, January 24, 2020

How Playwrights Horizons is shining a spotlight on God off Broadway | America: The Jesuit Review

"The Christians" at Playwrights Horizons

How Playwrights Horizons is shining a spotlight on God off Broadway
by Rob Weinert-Kendt
America: The Jesuit Review | October 24, 2019

Off-Broadway isn’t a distinct neighborhood in New York City; it refers simply to any Manhattan theater with a middling budget size and seat capacity. But the theater company Playwrights Horizons is literally on 42nd Street, a few blocks west of Times Square and the heart of Broadway’s commercial theater district. And in more than just geography Playwrights Horizons has long epitomized Off-Broadway, producing new plays by the likes of Christopher Durang, Annie Baker and Lynn Nottage that have had as much national impact as anything originating on Broadway, if Pulitzer Prizes and regional productions are any guide.

Playwrights Horizons has also been a place where New York theatergoers can get an above-average dose of plays on spiritual, even religious themes. It was there that I went for my first review for this magazine—10 years ago—of Evan Smith’s “The Savannah Disputation,”in which a young evangelical Christian argues with her Catholic neighbors, and eventually their priest, that they are not true Christians at all. It is where Lucas Hnath’s Socratic-debate-as-church-service “The Christians” pondered the theology of hell and the authority of scripture; where Heidi Schreck’s “Grand Concourse” put a Bronx nun in the crosshairs of a crisis of faith; and where more recently the musical “A Strange Loop” climaxed with a disturbing gospel-style refrain in the vein of a black-church altar call, “AIDS Is God’s Punishment.”

The play currently running on its mainstage, “Heroes of the Fourth Turning,” is a meaty, up-to-the-minute portrait of red-state Catholics, written by Will Arbery, the son of two esteemed academics at Wyoming Catholic College. It has garnered ecstatic praise from mainstream critics as well as from Rod Dreher at The American Conservative. (The New York Times recently noted that R. R. Reno and Sohrab Ahmari were spotted at a recent performance.)

It would not be fair to say that religion is a dominant strain at Playwrights Horizons, which stages all new work on a wide variety of themes, or that it is the only New York theater with God on its mind (“Doubt” originated at Manhattan Theatre Club, for instance; “Sons of the Prophet” at Roundabout Theatre Company). But it’s an unmistakable throughline of the theater’s programming, and it can be traced to artistic director Tim Sanford, who has had the job since 1996 (and just announced that he will leave the post in mid-2021).

Though he is not a religious person himself, Mr. Sanford explained in a recent interview, his father was a Methodist minister who originally felt called to ministry after being a “staunch pacifist” during World War II. Much of his father’s pastoral career was in the cause of ecumenicism, Mr. Sanford said, and in what he called “a very strong wrestling match with the right wing of the Christian party.”
In his experience, the contemporary theater is full of folks like him: adrift from organized religion but still seeking meaning and community.

“It's pretty easy to wriggle out of Christian influence when you’re in a super progressive church,” Mr. Sanford said. Some influence sticks nevertheless. “If you asked the people in our field what their parents did, I would guess that ministers and therapists probably enjoy a fairly high percentage in churning out secularized, no longer practicing, but still metaphysically and spiritually inclined people.”

That squares with my own experience and observations, of both myself and others. I have often thought of theater as my church, for reasons that seem fundamental to both practices (ritual, communion, iconography), and know plenty of like-minded critics and artists. As Mr. Sanford put it, “I do think it is baked into theater—the radical empathy of assuming that it’s possible, or that it's at least a project worthy of attempt, to inhabit another person. To get inside of them. That’s kind of a metaphysical notion to begin with.”

Unsurprisingly, Mr. Sanford’s studies included heavy doses of theater, literary criticism and philosophy, particularly Henri Bergson, who had a “view of time that was not linear, it was volumetric. He thought of time as being something that fills up the vessel of the person. Time doesn’t go away; it’s not discrete, it's interpenetrating.” Bergson’s thinking informed Sanford’s dissertation on Proust, Pinter and Beckett, and it still informs the way he thinks about playmaking. “Theater is the only art form that uses human beings as its clay. And I think when you’re working on a play with actors, it’s inside of them somewhere, and the change that is effected on them is cumulative.” The plays he has programmed over the years, he said, also live inside him somewhere—and in their audiences:
“The other common thread between a play and a religious service is its repeatability. You go to church no matter how you’re feeling because you understand that it’s cumulative. You might have a moment of redemptive insight, even just five seconds. Well, that gets added to your self, right? And that's why you do a play.”

While you could tick off Playwrights Horizons’ programming by theme or genre—post-apocalyptic sci-fi (“Mr. Burns, a post-electric play”), transgender family comedy (“Hir”), grief meditation (“The Treasurer” or “A Life”)—Mr. Sanford insists that he doesn’t program plays by topic, even if he admits that he is drawn to some more than others.

“I felt called after the Trump election to try and do something, and I did plays that were topical in certain ways,” he said, citing Robert O’Hara’s “Mankind,” about a post-female dystopia, and Lindsey Ferrentino’s “This Flat Earth,” about a school shooting. Topical doesn’t mean preachy, he emphasized. “I think the best way to really answer back to the world is to write a good play, not to turn a pamphlet into a play.” He cited Cleanth Brooks’s concept of the “heresy of the paraphrase,” by which he meant “that art is not paraphrase-able, or if it is—if its goal is to give you a message or something you can boil it down to—it can’t possibly be a good play.”

Not every play at his theater has cleared this bar, in my opinion, but its batting average is high. And if the work at Playwrights Horizons, including comedies and musicals, seems to have in common a certain seriousness of intent, Mr. Sanford said, “That’s more a reflection of my belief that theater really calls us to examine who we are and what we believe.”

Amen to that.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

jan 23 | feb fest - apprentice project

This year's Pacific Theatre apprentices are excited to present Feb Fest: An Eclectic One-Act Play Festival

You may have met Chantal, Jade, and Nicola at the box office or in their fall production Foolin' Around - and now they're excited to present three more pieces for you. The festival is a light-hearted and varied exploration of the nuances of human connection: What does it take to connect meaningfully with a stranger? What happens when you use your voice? What does an enduring connection look like?

Tickets are only $15, but if you're a PT subscriber, admission is FREE! 

Click here to purchase tickets now

FEBRUARY 5-8 at 8:00 PM
FEBRUARY 8 at 2:00 PM

Directed by Nicola Shannon.
A cagy, retired teacher and a reckless young woman find themselves doing laundry at a laundromat in the middle of the night. This bittersweet comedy about love, loss and hope is set at 3:00 a.m in a laundromat in Louisville, Kentucky. Nicola says, “the story is so engaging because it comes across almost as a mystery play: why are these women doing laundry at this strange time? What are they hiding?”

NOSEGATE by Chantal Gallant
Written and performed by Chantal Gallant.
A few weeks after Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer files a complaint, citing discrimination and bullying in the workplace. The Unhuman Resource Department of Holiday Creatures has to step in for an internal investigation. Will the rest of the reindeer be able to defend themselves and keep their jobs, or will Christmas as we know it change forever?

HERE WE ARE by Dorothy Parker
Featuring Jade Munsie.
Set on a train to New York City, a newlywed young man and woman traveling for their honeymoon find themselves faced with the reality of marriage, and the question arises: will they be able to survive together?

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

jan 15 | the hunt for a new executive director

While the artistic end of Pacific Theatre is headed by Ron Reed, the day to day running of the theatre is in the hands of our Executive Director.

Our outgoing ED, Alison Chisholm, left last summer to enjoy the full-time role of Executive Mommy and Ian Farthing has been serving as our interim ED since then.

But the hunt is on for a new face to lead Pacific Theatre into the next stage of its life!

Could it be you? Or is there someone else you know that is looking for a change and would enjoy the challenge?

The ideal candidate will be someone who is organized, literate, good with people, numbers and budgets and who can lead the staff team with humour and grace. Oh - and someone who can personally get behind the mandate of PT.

For a full job description and how to apply, click here.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

mar 12 | martyn joseph

Ten or fifteen years ago Michael Hart and I went over the the North Shore to see Welsh singer/songwriter Martyn Joseph at a Rogue Folk concert, and I was blown away. His presence on stage was massive; the audience response was electric. Not your standard folk concert (though I've been to some pretty rowdy ones!). But I think what most amazed me was the fact that Joseph is an unabashed Christian, and made no bones of the fact in his performance. Not that great artists can't be Christians. But the culture of the folk music scene in Vancouver at that time was distinctly antagonistic to Christian faith - and here were the folks at the Rogue slating this guy for their concert. And here was a packed theatre full of Rogue folkies on their feet for this guy. It was heartening.

He'll be back here in a couple months. It'll sell out. You should go.

The Rogue Folk Club & CelticFest Vancouver Present
Mel Lehan Hall at St. James
Mar 12 @ 8pm
3214 West 10th Ave, Kitsilano
info | tickets

Martyn Joseph is a powerful singer and songwriter gifted with the rare ability to speak to the soul with his expressive and poignant lyrics. With a career spanning 30 years, 32 albums, over a half a million record sales and thousands of live performances, the versatility of his music touches genres of folk, rock, soul, folk funk and Americana, yet somehow all these labels cannot define the spirit of his music.

Compared to Bruce Springsteen, John Mayer, Bruce Cockburn and Dave Matthews, he has created his own style and reputation as a mesmerising live performer and stands in his own right, built on a reputation for giving what thousands have described as the best live music experience of their lives. A unique talent driven by passion, social awareness and love for his trade, his music manages to empower and speak for the many. He’s a jaw dropping guitar player who has developed a unique percussive style, teamed up with a powerful show stopping voice, and has been called “The Welsh Springsteen”

Martyn was awarded Best Male Artist at the 2004 BBC Welsh Music Awards and in 2012 his song “There’s Always Maybe” won the best folk song category in the World Independent Music Awards. In addition to his 5 top 50 UK hits, the importance of his work has been recognised by programmes such as BBC 2’s prime time series on singer/songwriters. Social justice has an essential presence throughout his music, which has been recognised with various humanitarian awards and plaudits.

Concerned with making music that is relevant and vital to his audience, he engages with challenging narratives tackling the complexity of the human condition underpinned with a promise of hope. In his own words “Really what I do is to try and write songs that might step up and make some sense of a moment in time. A good song makes you feel like you’re not alone in the world.” There is a versatility to Martyn’s music that is hard to categorise. Many have tried, resulting in labels such as folk, rock, soul, folk funk and Americana; all of which somehow miss the mark. But sometimes music doesn’t need a defining genre and with the ability to articulate a sense of the bigger picture, Martyn’s music and social commentary manage to empower and speak for many. His songs are pictures, and stories, and feelings all put to music and delivered by a master craftsman.

In 2013 Martyn released a CD of Bruce Springsteen songs, to great public and critical acclaim, with the glowing endorsement of Dave Marsh, acclaimed American music critic and official Springsteen biographer.

His CD Sanctuary was released in Autumn 2015 to great critical acclaim. The album was produced by Grammy award winner Ben Wisch and it musically pools myriad influences and is lyrically contemplative, honest and big-hearted – attributes that also convey a sense of both the artist and the individual. It’s impossible not to share his optimism for the collection.

2014 saw him take the spirit of his music onto a more practical footing with the launch of his “Let Yourself Trust”, a not-for-profit organization which aims to make a small difference out of great love and commitment by challenging injustice wherever it’s found, educating via advocacy, campaigning for human rights, and raising issues that have been forgotten or ignored via fundraising initiatives, thus bringing about greater awareness for beautiful people in powerless situations

He has won the love of audiences from USA and Canada to Europe through an impressive number of live dates, and has previously toured with the likes of Art Garfunkel, Jools Holland, Ani DiFranco, Suzanne Vega, Mike and The Mechanics, Joan Armatrading, Celine Dion and Shirley Bassey. He is hailed as a raconteur weaving tales on topical concerns, as well as stories on the fragility of love, with a magical ability to reach out to his listeners through his passion and humour. Stunning reviews single him out as an unmissable solo performer whose music stays with you long after the show has ended.

Martyn Joseph. A unique talent driven by passion and love for his trade, continues to write, sing and play from the heart. It’s a road he’s been travelling for most of his life and, as he often tells his audience, ‘You keep turning up and so will I."

jan 31 | the passion of joan of arc | orlando consort live score

Exactly a decade ago, Pacific Theatre brought a remarkable work of art to our stage from New York City, to coincide with the cultural component of the 2010 Olympics. Reid Farrington's THE PASSION PROJECT was a one-woman performance piece which placed an actor/dancer in a 10X10 square of light on which were projected (from multiple angles) a barrage of clips from Dreyer's masterpiece of silent film, THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC. I was so proud of the fact that we were able to place the piece in that year's PUSH Festival, which also featured a screening at Christ Church Cathedral of Dreyer's film accompanied by the live performance of a highly contemporary Stefan Smulovitz score.

Ten seasons later, Pacific Theatre again revisited the story of Joan of Arc this year with our season opener, MOTHER OF THE MAID, also of New York provenance - ours was the Canadian premiere of the work which debuted Off-Broadway the previous season with Glenn Close in the title role. And here we are, exactly ten years after that screening of Dreyer's PASSION at the Cathedral, with another PASSION screening, also at the Cathedral, this time with an ancient score performed live by the Orlando Consort.

Early Music Vancouver presents
Fri Jan 31 @ 7:30 (Pre-concert talk 6:45)
Christ Church Cathedral

An intense experience awaits us as we journey to medieval France to witness the trial of Joan of Arc: a silent movie classic, the award-winning Orlando Consort provide beautiful live choral music composed and performed during her lifetime, intricately tailored to enhance the harrowing drama. Condemned unseen in France on its release, vilified by the Catholic authorities and even banned outright in England, Carl Theodor Dreyer’s film, La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc (1928), is widely recognised as a masterpiece.

Formed in 1988, the Orlando Consort rapidly achieved a reputation as one of Europe’s most expert and consistently challenging groups performing repertoire from the years 1050 to 1550. Their work successfully combines captivating entertainment and fresh scholarly insight; the unique imagination and originality of their programming together with their superb vocal skills has marked the Consort as the outstanding leaders of their field.

“Simultaneously ravishing and reverential.” – Los Angeles Times

program notes + artist bios


Monday, January 06, 2020

Christmas campaign 2019 | OVER AND ABOVE!! | 110.6% Thank you so much!!

This Christmas, we're solving the mystery of who makes our theatre work possible.
Is it the illustrious Professor Plum (Phil Miguel), without whom our actors would be left in the dark? Doctor White (Ian Farthing), our multi-skilled Executive Director? The lovely Mrs. Peacock (Cara Norrish), running the show with the help of our hard-working box office staff? The dashing Colonel Mustard, Brad Tones? Or our own A.D. Boddy, Ron Reed?

If you've visited Pacific Theatre before, you already know that it takes a team of dedicated artists, staff, and volunteers to keep creating powerful theatre like this year's Mother Of The Maid or Ron's beautiful interpretation of A Christmas Carol

But the most important piece of the mystery is, of course...
We've kept a tally of all the donations 
to the Christmas Campaign below.

Every gift, large or small, made a difference. Thank you.

$50 + 10 + 5 + 15 + 20 + 34.11 + 300 + 100 + 3000 + 10 + 100 + 1500 + 200 + 1000 + 14.69 + 400 + 5 + 100 + 66.12 + 50 + 1000 +20 + 2500 + 800 + 40 + 1000 +50 + 100 + 500 + 300 + 250 + 1000 + 250 + 500+ 200 + 100 + 200 +  200 + 500 + 1000 +100 + 250 + 500 + 7000 +5000 + 300 + 100 + 150 + 500 + 100 + 1000 + 300 + 500 + 20 + 20 + 350 + 50 + 66.12 + 20 + 500 +100 + 500 + 45 + 300 + 250 + 500 + 50 + 250 + 50 + 50 + 500 + 25 + 38.35 + 200 + 1500 + 1458 + 200 + 2000 + 200 + 200 + 10 + 192 + 50 + 300 + 200 + 240 + 500 + 200 + 100 + 96 + 250 + 50 + 800 + 1500 + 24 + 24 + 24 + 24 + 288 + 48 + 50 + 96 + 75 + 250 + 150 + 2000 + 50 + 100 + 300 + 200 + 1000 + 25 + 500 + 2500 + 100 + 200 + 1000 + 2500 + 50 =

$55, 323.39 (110.6%) towards our goal of $50,000

To donate, click here or give us a call on 604 731 5483

Merry Christmas!