Name Vancouver’s new independent theatre festival

A brand spankin’ new indie theatre festival is in the works here in Vancouver – it’s the new project of the boys at Upintheairtheatre (the Walking Fish Festival) and the heads of Left Right Minds and Machine Fair (Plank Magazine). The inaugural fest is scheduled for this July, with no venues or specific performance dates yet announced. The break-down is thus:

Based on Toronto’s successful, SummerWorks, the Festival will provide a platform for theatre artists to showcase and try out new and experimental work. The objective is to feature work that takes risks, is creative and has a clear artistic vision. At the same time, the work should be accessible and engaging for an anticipated audience of 20-40 year olds.

The working title for the festival is Evolution, but the organizers are looking to give the community a bit of ownership with the branding out of the gate and have announced a name-the-festival competition. The author of the winning moniker will receive two free passes to the festival, and bragging rights. Here’s some concept tags the organizers have been playing with, by way of guidelines:

Excitement, Summer, Performance, Innovation, Experimental, East Vancouver, Fresh, Inclusion, Quality, Neighbourhood, West Coast

Send your idea, name, email address and contact phone number to:

The deadline for submission of ideas is January 31st.

A new indie theatre festival? Here in no-fun city? This is incredibly exciting news, and they’re smart to model it after Summerworks, now an institution in Toronto that was started as a Fringe-like lottery fest by five buddies in 1991 and went fully juried in 2004. A similar festival here could go a long way towards increasing the quality and quantity of new works. And more notice in the media!

Great stuff, can’t wait to hear more.

The Big Lebowski as written by W. Shakespeare

You have to appreciate this for the effort, if nothing else. Adam Bertocci has re-written the entire script of The Funniest Movie Ever (as awarded by me) in the hand of the Bard. Behold:

Be I wrong?

Yea, but verily—

That rug, in faith, tied the room together, did it not?

By my heart, a goodly rug.

And in most miserable tide did this rogue besmirch it.

Prithee, Donald! Thou too eagerly hold’st the mirror up to nature.

My mind races; I might endeavour to seek this gentleman Lebowski.

His name is Lebowski? Verily, ope thine ear; that is thy name, Knave!

On good authority; and his nobleness must oblige. His wife taketh up quarrel and borrows, and they bespoil my rug.

Marry, sir, my heartstrings do you tug;
They urinate upon thy damnèd rug.

[Exeunt severally]

And the great Julianne Moore art scene:

Permit me to explain about the rug—

What cares have you, Lebowski, upon love?

Alack, lady, thy question does me vex.

The physicality of making love;
I’d have you tell me if you like it well.
A myth persists on women of my stripe,
That our body politic renders us in hate
Of acts of love; a most injurious lie.
The enterprise can have in it much zest.
But men who walk with satyrs in the morn
And women swimming nightly ‘twixt the nymphs
Are punished by Oberon for sin
And do the deed compulsively engaged,
Sans joy, sans love, sans everything.

Prithee nay!

Read the entire folio here.

Looking ahead to 2010: fired up and ready to go

Greetings and Salutations, gentle reader, a most Happy New Year to you, one and all. May 2010 be a year of renewal and growth, and prosperity. Nowhere to go but up, right?

2009 will surely be remembered as the year we were forced to defend ourselves as contributing citizens by our own government. Which made us furious (but not quite to the point of pitchforks and torches), but also forced us to take a good, hard look at our systems and infrastructure, and begin a real dialogue on the future of our industry. And the future of the companies that comprise it. It was the year that we truly came together as a tribe, albeit a tribe under siege. No change without crisis, as they say. 2010 will be a year of big decisions, no doubt about it. What’s next? Where do we go from here?

I guess the answer to this question has much to do with where you sit on the tree of the arts industry in BC. Some of us are in immediate danger. Some of us have been hit more obliquely. My work, for example, is self-produced and has never received the benefit of government funding. I’m personally more interested in establishing a small-business, entrepreneurial style of production. My work hasn’t been directly affected by the cuts at all. But the work of many of the companies that I love and rely on as part of my ecosystem have been, so that alone makes it my problem. And if that’s not enough, the cuts are nothing if not a barefaced declaration by the Liberals that the work I do and the industry that I am helping to build is meaningless. Inconsequential. A luxury.

I am sick to the teeth of defending Art as ‘necessary’. I’m so over it. I’m just going to keep making it and experiencing it. But I’ll quite happily keep telling my government that they need to get over it too, at least until our arts sector is raised back to the level of respect enjoyed by the rest of the country. So that’s on the 2010 to-do list.

What else does the coming year hold? For me there’s the matter of what to do with this here blog. It’s been going for a while, and it’s been received well by my city and industry, I think, and I hope it has provided a source of some discussion. Last year, 77 productions took advantage of my free Video Listing service here, which saw all of them accountably telling their potential audience why they felt we should spend our time and money on them. For that I am proud of them all, and grateful for their generosity and support. We’re getting much more savvy as businesspeople, and as marketers. I’m hoping this year will see great leaps forward in this regard, and in our dialogue as a community here on the net.

I’ve been talking about this with Mike and some others here recently, and basically getting down on my knees and begging theatre artists across Canada to engage more online. The great thing about that discussion is that it has brought back into focus how important I feel it is for us to commune together on a regular basis and share ideas and resources, debate, promote and all in all be a more informed and connected industry. (Thanks for that Mike.) To that end I am re-committing to The Next Stage and to my own blogging, I invite you to join me – here, or at your own sites this year. The theatrosphere has been incredibly vibrant of late, the conversation out here has been as healthy and progressive as it’s ever been, actually, and it’s proving a deep well of inspiration. (We’ll be taking a tour in the next post, it’s some great stuff.) It just needs more Canada. We need more of each other. Our audience needs more of us. Here’s to a kick-ass 2010 everyone, I can’t wait to hear about how you’re all doing.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user macastat