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