Well, that rocked. Vancouver’s Wrecking Ball, which opened with an all-party debate on the arts and then moved into a cabaret of political theatre, went off tonight with a bang, and judging from the amount and enthusiasm of the attendees, was a good indication of a freshly politicized artistic front.
The anti-Harper sentiment in the Stanley Theatre was palpable, it hung heavy in the air like smoke from the wings. The place was packed for the start of the debate, which was gently and efficiently moderated by Hal Wake, Artistic Director of the Vancouver International Writer’s and Reader’s Festival, who delivered questions submitted by members of our arts community. All four Federal parties were represented, only three of them were from from Vancouver Centre. Conservative candidate Lorne Mayencourt declined to attend, so John Cummins from Delta-Richmond East filled in the gap. Fortunately the crowd’s dissension consisted mainly of a few audience members voicing their displeasure at his party’s policies and some persistent hissing in response to his somewhat repetetive responses. Despite some rather cheeky verbal policy sparring between the candidates everyone was reasonably polite and well-behaved. Peter Birnie delivers a comprehensive play-by-play here.
From there the night was turned over to Spirit of the West’s John Mann and local actor and theatreist Jonathon Young, and the Wrecking Ball was in full swing. Some highlights:
Mann and Young Master the Ceremonies
Writer Alex Ferguson delivered a Buddhist koan to Mr. Harper, tounge firmly in cheek
Us, on the phone with the Victoria Wrecking Ball. Uplink provided by the technological wizardry of Jonathon Young.
Rick Dobran as Harper’s assistant, Kevin McNulty as Harper in Lucia Frangioni’s ‘The Ordinary Canadian’. Directed by Michèle Lonsdale Smith. Best line: “With all due respect sir, Jesus wouldn’t vote for you”.
Local punk legend Joey “Shithead” Keithley ripped into the night with a kind of ‘DOA Unplugged’ set. And killed it. Damn, but can this man still tear up a guitar.
David Bloom reads Judith Thompson’s ‘Nail biter’, a stunning new monologue about the Omar Khadr case, a Canadian citizen arrested at 15 on suspicion of murdering an American soldier in Afghanistan. A provocative and predictably meaty piece.
Michael Turner (Hard Core Logo) wrote ‘A Two-Hander’ for the party. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen Jonathon Young play Stephen Harper. (Shown here with actor Laara Sadiq.) The sweater vest was one of four ‘authentic and autographed’ Harper sweaters he was giving away to the crowd.
Bill Richardson of the CBC had agreed to write a piece for the night, but Mann announced that he had canceled due to the CBC policy of ‘remaining at arm’s length from anything political.’ Boo. In its place to end the night was a epically sarcastic bit of cabaret called ‘Extraordinary People’, written by Allison Badger (I think), and directed by the Arts Club’s Bill Millerd, set at one of our typical gala artist soirees, darling. You know, the kind we’re always frequenting with our gobs of cash and privilege.
Allan Morgan and Katie Wright
Jennifer Lyon and Bill Dow
It was an honour to be among that crowd and those artists tonight, and it feels like something’s started rolling. I, for one, think we need a whole lot more of this kind of thing. Anyone else have any thoughts or stories around the first nation-wide Wrecking Ball?