The Wrecking Ball rolls again

wbIf you were unfortunate enough to miss last year’s inaugural Vancouver Wrecking Ball at the Stanley, ask anyone who was there how awesome it was and then stand back and watch them explode with volcanic enthusiasm. It was a clear and resounding proclamation that a group of impassioned artists joined together can generate serious shock waves. I walked out onto Granville Street feeling a part of something important, part of a movement, and I am thrilled that we’re hosting another one again this year.

Titled “Wrecking Ball to Tackle Draconian Cuts to the Arts: Canada’s Leading Theatre Artists Take On the BC government from Coast to Coast”, our Ball is the fourth this November after Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa (which drops tomorrow, November 16). Here’s some copy from the Facebook Page:

Vancouver’s Wrecking Ball features some of Canada’s most nationally and internationally recognized actors and directors, including multiple award-winning actor/playwrights Daniel MacIvor (House, Twitch City) and Linda Griffiths (Maggie and Pierre), Leacock-winning writer Mark Leiren Young, and Alcan Award winner Carmen Aguirre. Original member of the Nylons and BC Walk of Fame member Denis Simpson will host.

Margaret Atwood asks, “What is it that power-hungry politicians want from BC artists? Control over the story through the annihilation of the former story-tellers? Is this the agenda behind the decapitation of arts funding in British Columbia, while mega-millions are poured into the Olympics? The BC arts community will retaliate, of course. Over the past 50 years they’ve put BC on the map.”

“It won’t just be a protest,” adds Wrecking Ball Spokesperson Adrienne Wong. “It’ll be a night to laugh and celebrate what we know – that British Columbians care about culture.

Power to the people. Hope to see you there.

NOW! youth sustainability announces National playwriting competition

playwrightThe NOW! Organization was founded in 2006, and it “…bridges people from diverse backgrounds to sculpt innovative, holistic solutions toward social, environmental, and economic sustainability”. And further: “We implement interdisciplinary grassroots programs to creatively inspire, engage, and empower youth, pique ideas and discussions, promote interdisciplinary, holistic thinking and problem solving, and spark action.”

So essentially it’s a youth organization on sustainability run entirely by youth volunteers, who last year established a playwriting competition for aspiring theatreists between the ages of 14 – 26 (split into 2 categories: 14 – 18 and 19 – 26). The winning playwrights receive:

  • $500
  • their plays performed across Canada to an estimated audience of 10,000 people
  • their plays broadcast on Sustainability Television

This is the second annual competition, information on the two winners from last year’s inaugural competition is available here.

On-line submissions will begin in December, giving aspiring writers lots of time to prepare.

Best of luck to all entrants, I sincerely hope the craft sticks with you, and we’ll be hearing much more from you in the future.


PuSh 2010 line-up announced

The Edward Curtis Project

Vancouver’s very own PuSh International Performing Arts Festival drops next year on January 20, running to February 6. The official site has just released the shows that will be on display for your consideration and discussion.

Here’s a grab bag of copy from the listings section:

An enormous scale model of Auschwitz fills the stage, with thousands of tiny handmade puppets representing the prisoners and their executioners.


Clark and I Somewhere in Connecticut is one of the most notorious theatre pieces to come out of Vancouver in recent memory.

Clark and I Somewhere in Connecticut

Filled with absurd, inspired, bizarre and often touching “events,” it is part dream, part chaos and part variety show…

White Cabin

Intimate one moment and operatic the next, these seemingly mundane gestures build to a surprising conclusion that is delightfully unhampered by its performers’ complete lack of formal dance training.

Poetics: A ballet brut

Fascination, humour, madness and sheer terror are melded in his puppet show recreations of the gruesome, sexually charged murders.


For eight continuous hours, 50+ performers use the compositions and improvisational languages developed by Braxton to create a living sound world.

Sonic Genome

A simulated city evolves as each of 200 spectators add their personal touch, game controller in hand.

Best Before (working title)

…a fantastical rendering of the Gothic dreamscape of Poe’s life.


Performed on an assortment of instruments, most of which the performers are required to build themselves using materials from giant pipes and tea cups to flower pots…

So Percussion

…Vancouver-based composer Stefan Smulovitz has written a luminous score to accompany Carl Dreyer’s 1928 silent film, The Passion of Joan of Arc.

The Passion of Joan of Arc

A transformative and dynamic sculpture takes form as the hanging canvases grab hold of the fleeting, flickering images.

The Passion Project

…a delightfully subversive game of anticipation and expectation that blurs the line between spectator and spectacle.

The Show Must Go On

In her journey to recover from post-traumatic stress disorder, she finds herself face-to-face with the controversial photographer who was obsessed with capturing the Indian way of life he thought was dying out.

The Edward Curtis Project

Australian-born photographer-storyteller William Yang shares a deeply beautiful account of his personal pilgrimage to China…



Switching baskets: growing a sustainable funding model?

copyright Jackie Connelly Photography
copyright Jackie Connelly Photography

A comment just popped up from Jon Stancato, Co-Artistic Director of NYC’s The Stolen Chair Theatre Company, on this recent post about the Open Up and Let Them In concept of Indie Stage, that discusses a recent initiative towards a new funding model that bears examination. I think I love it.

There’s an essential point to be made about fixing the busted down model of theatre by looking to functioning models outside of the theatre industry; adapting methods and practices that are actually working instead of spinning the same old wheels. Stolen Chair is adapting a workable model of community-supported agriculture (similar to the Vancouver Farmers Markets here) to independent theatre. In Jon’s own words, from the comments section:

Glad to read this post and wanted to share something that my company, Stolen Chair, is doing in NYC.  We’ve been given a sizable grant from a program called Economic Revitalization for Performing Artists (from The Field) to adapt the business model of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) to the theatre (our CST).  A small community of members will be following the development of our newest original work, QUANTUM POETICS, from its earliest zygotic stages until its first public presentation.  Along the way, we’ll be curating a variety of thematically related cultural and educational activities to bring the audience even further into the world of the play.  The community will also have its own private online social network, with exclusive rehearsal footage streamed right from the studio, podcasts, excerpts from the developing script, and, most importantly, a feedback forum where we can dialogue about the work-in-progress even when we can’t do so in person!

The reasons behind the initiative speak to a lot of what you say above about creating a community of informed, invested stakeholders.  We’ve just opened up signups over at (where the whole concept is explained in detail). will be “embedding” a writer in the CST for the next 9 months and she’ll be chronicling the progress of the show and the community we’re trying to build.

Here’s to more models!

Jon, thank you so much for sharing. In the clip below you can check out Jon explaining the concept at an “Economic Revitalization for Performing Arts” presentation in New York…

The part that’s got me really excited?

The community will also have its own private online social network, with exclusive rehearsal footage streamed right from the studio, podcasts, excerpts from the developing script, and, most importantly, a feedback forum where we can dialogue about the work-in-progress even when we can’t do so in person!

Love. Love it. Theatre as community building. Isn’t that supposed to be the point? What do you guys think, does the CST model concept have eggs? Er…legs?

Photo courtesy of Jackie Connelly Photography