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Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Smallish Project on the Horizon...

This Sunday I will be starting a smallish project for Walterdale Theatre.  When I was asked to be Master Painter for the first show of the season way back in the early summer I had to say No.  I knew that I would be too busy with the advent of the new theatre season and my new position at the Citadel.  However, a request from the set designer, former student Brendan Boyd, for help with painting the floor made me do a slight reversal. It's hard to say No to former students, especially those like Brendan. I came in with conditions, because my time is tight, but this Sunday I will go in and start the process.  I have yet to see the set design, so I am hopeful that I will have the right colours in the shop (it's a wood floor and there were a lot of varied browns in the paint shop). It should only take a couple days - for me, this month,that means Sundays.  There are a couple of wrenches in the works with the theatre being over-shared and the surprise of finding out an Open House and Tour is being held on one of my limited painting days, but I am optimistic about getting it done. I might be a little 'grumpy old man' about it, but it will get done.  I'm looking for suggestions for a good place for a massage in early October to recover from floor painting (it's the hardest on my back) so if you know any, let me know...

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

A Terrific #yegbookclub with Michael Hingston's The Dilletantes

Last night a group of readers met on twitter for an hour and chatted about Michael Hingston's The Dilettantes.  This was the first of our two summer reading choices.  It was a lively discussion with many threads and side roads and the hour flew by.  It was a great way to spend a snowy evening in September (yes, there was snow!).  The conversation swerved from favorite weird sodas, to student newspapers (comparing U of A's The Gateway to SFU's The Peak) and angst... plenty of angst.  Michael joined in and it was great to have the author chime in and answer questions. If you want to check out the conversation, use the #yegbookclub on twitter to search.  You should be able to pick up most of it.

If you want to check out the book, here's a link to find out more.

Next week we tackle our second summer reading choice, Marty Chan's The Demon Gate.  I think you have time to get it read and join in! See you on twitter on Monday, September 15th at 7 p.m.!

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Northern Light Theatre's Race for the Limelight a.k.a. an Edmonton Theatre FUNdraiser a.k.a. a Great Event Bringing Together the Edmonton Theatre Community!

Yesterday was the 1st Annual Northern Light Theatre's BATTLE FOR THE LIMELIGHT - An Amazing Race style fundraising event which took place in the Old Strathcona district. Theatre companies and related organizations across the city were invited to enter a team to
up to four competitors to participate in challenges whereby they would earn points to see who was the winner. They would also use the event as an opportunity to fund raise for their particular organization. The winning team was presented with The Golden Handjob (there were silver and bronze handjobs for 2nd and 3rd place finishers, as well).  Northern Light Theatre did all the organizing and the event ended with a BBQ at Queen Alexandra Community Hall and a great party for all involved.  I was unable to participate in the actual event due to Mom-related Obligations (i.e. Piano Lessons) but followed the tweets and FB posts and swung by the BBQ at the end.  The energy was fabulous and it was great to see so many people from Edmonton's Theatre community visiting and celebrating together.  A great event and a great FUNdraiser! I hear it's going to be an annual event and I am determined that one of the theatres I am involved with will participate next year and I will be on a team!

The Winners:

First Place - The Golden Handjob - Team AIEEEEE! (representing Teatro la Quindicina)
Teatro la Quindicina’s team consisted of: Shannon Blanchet (actor), Mathew Hulshof (actor), Ryan Parker (actor), Amber Bissonette (actor)

Second Place - The Silver Handjob - Team Nextfest #1 (representing Nextfest Emerging Arts Festival) Nextfest’s team consisted of: Maggie Baird (Nextfest Festival Manager), Ainsley Hillyard (Nextfest Dancefest Curator), Patrick Lundeen (Nextfest Emerging Artist Award Winner for 2014), Perry Gratton (Nextfest 2014 Image Artist and actor)

Third Place - Team Theatre AL-BEAT-CHA! (representing Theatre Alberta) Theatre Alberta’s team consisted of: Aaron Talbot (Theatre Alberta Communications and Marketing Coordinator), Morgan Norwich (Theatre Alberta Office Administrator & Executive Assistant), Frazer Andrews (Theatre Alberta Programmer)

Friday was One of Those "I LOVE MY JOB!" Days!

Sometimes I feel like I am unusual, because I generally wake up very happy to go to my job.  It's a terrific fit for me.  I work at the Citadel Theatre in the Marketing Department, so right off the bat you have me working in a theatre, and I love that. It's also a theatre that produces a wide variety of work and at a very high level so that's a super double bonus.  For the actual work I do, it's a great fit for me in that it uses my organization skills, my people skills, my problem-solving skills and I get to work with a lot of fun people.  It's also busy, and while some people are not as fond of that, I do like a fast pace, and there are periodic lulls to recharge when you need to.

Anyhow, I really like my job, but on Friday I had one of those I LOVE MY JOB days.  We had a photo shoot for the upcoming ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS which stars John Ullyatt and for a couple of hours in the afternoon we were entertained my his antics in front of the camera.  He kept us giggling the whole time with his contortions, ad-libs and improvising with the various props.  I was there to take behind the scenes shots and it was the most fun couple of hours anyone ever got paid for!

Friday, August 29, 2014

What's On in September?

September is a traditionally quiet month for theatre in Edmonton.  I think the Fringe has something to do with that.  People need a little time to recover, rehearse and build the next show.  Similarly the audience needs a bit of down time to handle all that happens in the Fall and many are a bit tired out and pocket poor from whatever shenanigans they have participated in over the summer months.

There are a couple of shows coming towards the end of September to kick off the 2014-15 Theatre Season.

 Kim's Convenience by Ins Choi opens the 2014/15 season at the Citadel Theatre.  This is the Soulpepper Theatre production which started at the 2011 Toronto Fringe Festival.  It's a tight little comedy about a Korean family who runs a convenience store in the rapidly changing Regent Park area of Toronto.  Following it's runaway success at the Toronto Fringe, it was picked up by Soulpepper for an even more successful production (both commercially and critically) and then the show began a National Tour. This is a quintessentially Canadian story (how many of us are immigrants?) and has been described as both hilarious and touching. Kim's Conveniences runs at the Citadel Theatre in the Shoctor from Sept 20th to October 11th.

Fatboy, at Theatre Network is another show with it's roots in the Fringe. This time it's the Sterling-Award winning show from the 2012 Edmonton International Fringe. Described as a live-action Punch and Judy show inspired by Alfred Jarry's UBU ROI! Scatological, scabrous and scandalous - a pummeling comedy that will leave you punch drunk. Fatboy runs from September 16th to 28th at the Roxy Theatre. 

Finally, The Violet Hour kicks off the Studio Theatre season at the Timm's Centre. A deliciously dark comedy set in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby era. A Princeton graduate who wishes to be a publisher must choose between two manuscripts: his best friend from college's masterpiece, or his lover's compelling memoir. I beleive this would be one of the MFA Candidate's shows but I am not sure which one. The show runs from September 18th to 27th.

It's going to be hard for me to wait until halfway through the month to see anything.  I'm hoping the start of school will be enough crazy to keep me satisfied until these shows open!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fringe Wrap-Up

It feels a little weird to write a wrap-up because technically I am not done.  I have a hold-over show to go to this Saturday so that means it's technically still Fringe, right? I have to say, I was very pleased with the line up for hold-overs this year.  I think they really represent some of the best work that was presented this year - best in that the companies involved worked hard and went the extra mile to produce something that was artistically excellent. It's also very diverse, which I like, as I think it represents the diversity of what Fringe goers want to see. Also, all of the shows held-over made my Word of Mouth posts which tells me that they were the kinds of shows that a Fringe Goer would tell someone to go to!

You can find the Hold-Overs here.

So, as I look back, here are the shows that resonated the most with me from this year's Fringe Festival.  Bear in mind I did not see everything (I think I saw 27 shows in addition to my own 2):

DogFight - This show left me crying. Other than the seating, it felt like so much more than a Fringe show.

McCrackin 2: The Whackining - Going to this show felt like an event.  The theatre was packed and even before the show started there was an electricity.  Then it started and was deliciously ridiculous!

eleven-oh-four - Best new work I saw this Fringe.  Creepy and hilarious.

Flora and Fawna - Hilarious and touching.  No Mean Girls!

Red Wine, French Toast and the Best Sex You've Ever Had - such a cool show - surprising, athletic, emotional and whimsical.

3... 2... 1... - This was the last show I saw of Fringe and it was well worth the wait.  It's a tightrope of a show that requires excellent direction and acting or else it could easily be a disaster.  Luckily, with Wayne Paquette at the helm and Jamie Cavanaugh and Chris W. Cook on stage it veered close enough to the edge to keep us pulled in, but never went off into melodrama.

Anyhow, I hope you all had a great Fringe.  I know I did.  Two shows was a little much for me to manage, but luckily I had great teams to help them come together and run! See you next August!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Five Show Friday at Fringe!

I saw four shows in addition to my own yesterday and in my travels I got from the Fringe site to Scona High School in less than 10 minutes.  I am pretty proud of myself! Here are the highlights from what I saw!

Red Wine, French Toast, and the Best Sex you Ever Had - A Sold Out Westbury Theatre for a dance show? WHY?  Because it was so good.  Accessible, complicated, whimsical, & saucy - so many descriptors for this show.  It's held over for good reason and I am so glad to see a piece like this in the mix.  This is one of those fringe gems that makes the Fringe lottery of ticket buying pay off.  You pay $15 and you get to see something worth so much more.

Polly, Polly - A really interesting concept and very funny solo piece all about Polly. Sit centre if you can because of the sight-lines in the space, but it's still engaging even from the sides.  It surprised me a little because it wasn't what I was expecting - that's always a good thing. Lots of laughs, and a little bit more.

Dogfight - This show had me in tears at the end.  It's hard to believe that this was a fringe show, the quality of the production was so good.  Excellent singing and acting all-around, but especially from the leads Chris Scott and Mary Kate Whitehead.  Sydney Williams is another stand-out in a smaller role but I cant' wait to see her again onstage.  She has something. Like Red Wine, French Toast this is one of those gems that you are lucky to see. I am stunned that it got anything less than 5 stars because I honestly do not know what more they could have done.

I've got a couple more to see tonight and tomorrow.  I hope you manage to get out to see some great stuff. I know I have!