Game day! 2 tickets to ‘Ashes’ up for grabs!

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Buzz is quickly building around the premiere of beloved local playwright Bill Marchant‘s new play Ashes, playing at the Firehall, and to keep it buzzing the producing team has made available a pair of tickets to give away to one lucky The Next Stage reader! Ready for it? Here we go…

To claim your prize, be the first person to leave a comment on this post the closest to 12 noon Vancouver time today, Thursday, March 19, but not before. The comment must include the name of at least one of the members of the cast.

The tickets are valid for opening night: Tuesday, March 24, or Wednesday the 25th or Thursday the 26th only.

Free theatre, up for grabs on The Next Stage. Because theatre loves you. Thanks for stopping by!

Click here for full details on this production

A lack of diversity on our stages, you say?

preview_aisha_n_ben_09
Aisha 'n Ben - opening March 19

There’s been a lot of fantastic conversation here on the internets of late concerning the visible lack of cultural diversity in the theatre of our fair city. Basically the question was raised of why the traffic of our stages doesn’t mirror the traffic in an average Skytrain car, and the back-and-forth on it has been the kind of dialogue that we theatre bloggers crave: here on The Next Stage, over at Jerry’s site (where the debate began), and in Plank Magazine, too.

But let’s take a a minute and have a closer look at our entrenched independent theatre scene. We’ve long had sub-cultural theatre companies here comprising a huge part of our available cultural diet. The Vancouver Asian-Canadian Theatre consistently puts on new plays that challenge stereotypes and discuss their community’s place in Vancouver. The Leaping Thespians have been bringing stories of Lesbian Vancouver to audiences since the early ’90s, and Screaming Weenie has been doing the same thing for gay men for years. Full Circle has been doing nothing but First-Nations theatre since 1992, ditto for Urban Ink since 2001. Theatre Terrific has been the voice of disabled artists for ages. Pacific Theatre has been a very successful Christian faith-based professional company since 1984. Théâtre la Seizième, our resident French language company, was founded in 1974. Hell, we’ve even got a company that produces solely for Sci-Fi and Horror geeks enthusiasts. (What’s up, Spectral Theatre!) Women’s theatre, more women’s theatre, youth theatre, kid’s theatre, we’ve got theatre for almost every imaginable segment of our population. One of our foremost theatre companies that’s been doing an amazing amount of work to draw international attention to our art here is the incomparable Neworld Theatre, whose mandate actually reads “[Neworld] creates, develops, produces and tours new plays that reflect multiple facets of Canada’s diverse populations”. You know? How many other cities have a list like this?

And then we’ve got South Asian Arts, whose Managing Director Gurpreet Sian contacted me today to ask for some help promoting their upcoming show, Aisha ‘n Ben, which opens this week at the Chan (ahem) Centre for Performing Arts out at UBC. While perhaps not the only South-Asian Theatre company in Vancouver, Sian says, they are the only ones trying to break into the mainstream market.

We discussed what The Next Stage could do to help the show out and agreed it was probably too late to shoot and post a video listing (the play runs from March 19 – 21) I said I’d be happy to post the video promo that they had already done. And so…

For full details on this production, click here

Whatever your opinion of our current theatrical state of affairs may be, here are a couple of self-evident facts: yes, the majority of Vancouver theatre was sprung from an academic, European model. But as we become more and more multicultural that multiculturalism is becoming increasingly – albeit slowly – mirrored on most all of the stages here. When we talk about the diversity of the stages of our city, we need to consider all of our stages, and all the companies facing the same challenges we all do to put a season of work up that they are passionate about sharing with us.

So don’t worry, we’ll have a Skytrain theatre scene here before you know it, and a truly reflective art scene all around. We’re diverse all right, and driven and growing, year after year. What I love about the companies that I mention here (and many, many more, to be sure) is that they represent their particular community within the larger community of the city, and the country, and the rest of the world.

Hmm…sounds like something worth celebrating…

This one goes to eleven: Jill Perry

The Stage Manager: long the un-sung hero of the theatre. And it’s time someone did some singing. Technical expertise, a will to get everything little thing perfect every single night, a precise eye for detail and the patience of Job are the requirements for this position, and we couldn’t live without them. We have a wise saying in my company: “The Stage Manager never pays for a drink”.

We were fortunate enough to find Jill at exactly the right time for our last production, and as a unit completely fell in love with her. Able to handle – to quote Peter Birnie – “enough technical cues to power a big Broadway show”, she also managed to keep us all in a good mood throughout through her sheer effervescence.

Jill, take it away…

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1. In one word, describe your present condition.

Inspired.

2. In any length of text, describe the present condition of the Vancouver theatre scene.

I feel this is the time to be involved in Vancouver theatre. The culture of recognizing independent theatre as something to see and to enjoy is growing. I would like to see Vancouver become more like New York in the sense of having a lot of theatre going on at one time and ongoing shows. I think this idea is possible, we as artists just need to be patient and wait until the consumers of theatre catch up to this idea. Theatre should be just as affordable and assessable as going to a movie. This is what Vancouver theatre should strive for.

3. What’s your ‘how I fell in love with theatre’ story?

I think I was born in love with Theatre, but as a young child my parents would take me to see theatre shows and I would fall in love more and more. Through out my life I have had great theatre teachers that have inspired me and make me realize what is possible, and to challenge myself. This has made me fall in love with theatre more each day. I fell in love with Stage Managing when I realized that it incorporated a bit of all the aspects of theatre that my knowledge had to be strong, not just with one aspect but all.

4. Please finish this sentence: “The SM is the most important person on a production because…”

She keeps things organized and is the in between from the director to the designers. Makes sure the actual performances run smoothly.

One of my theatre beliefs is that everyone is the most important on a production. We all have to work together to achieve the final result.

5. Describe your ideal career trajectory.

It would be to continue Stage Managing, and be able to direct someday.

6. What is your proudest career moment to date?

My first show out of university was very tech heavy and I was recognized for it in a review in the Vancouver Sun by Peter Birnie.

7. Where is the next generation of theatre techs going to come from?

Capilano College and Douglas College are putting out some great theatre techs.

8. What is your #1 theatre pet peeve?

Audience members who arrive late and still want to be admitted, as well as impatience.

9. What would you like to see our community do more of on stage?

I would love to see more living theatre. I think this is something that could change the way Vancouver thinks of theatre, as well as help make people aware of what is happening around them.

10. What are your top 3 theatre reads?

Stage Managing the Arts in Canada – Winston Morgan

Joan – Joan Littlewood

Playing with Fire – Julie Taymor

11. What’s next?

Dying City by Christopher Shinn
Directed by Ben Ratner
Starring Carrie Ruscheinsky and Adam Lolacher
Runs 01 April – 11 April at Little Mountain Studios

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The Return of the Blogfather

You can blog like a man! What's the matter with you?!
You can blog like a man! What's the matter with you?!

Good news, everyone. Canada’s primogenial theatre blogger Ian Mackenzie has migrated his ground-breaking blog Theatre is Territory to a new corner of the internets, and re-launched with typically discussion-provoking content.

Click here to absorb and subscribe to Theatre is Territory 3.0

Good news Part II: The old URL has not been forsaken, Praxis Theatre co-ADs Michael Wheeler and Simon Rice are running with the well-worn baton and authoring the Praxis blog themselves. Artists and activists both, look to them to continue using the site to raise awareness of political and artistic issues facing the independent theatre movement in Canada, as well as a lot of the fun series we’ve come to expect from the Praxis crew.

Click here to feast upon the newly re-christened Praxis Blog

All of these cats were inspirational to me in publishing my own regular theatre blog. If you find similar inspiration at these sites, please drop us a line and let us know so we can get your address out to the neighbourhood. It’s a fun place to play…