The Arts Club’s New Revue Stage re-opens tonight

Congratulations to Bill Millard, Howard Jang and company on the grand re-opening of the Revue Stage on Granville Island. It looks like the latent potential of this space is set to be realized, and kudos to the AC’s directive to dedicate it to ‘new and innovative theatre’ and emerging artists. The makeover looks mighty sexy, sleek and simple. Check out their blog for an introduction by Bill himself.

The space launches tonight with Anosh Irani’s My Granny the Goldfish. Break many legs in there, gang.

Photo by David Cooper

The Cultch announces new youth performing arts intensive

I finally got to check out the sexy new Cultch when Jack and I took in Elephant Wake the other week (a sterling example of how great acting can elevate a good theatre experience to a magnificent one, btw.), and the new facility is everything I hoped it would be. Absolutely worth the wait. Super comfy with great sound, while retaining the elegance of the old space. The Culture Lab promises big things. And they’ve got a lovely little wine bar in the building now as well, and have just announced that Sebastien Le Goff – he of Uva and Cibo – will be in charge of the wine program. Should be enough to get us out of the house and to the theatre a little earlier, anyway. My thanks to  Head FoH Manager (and sickly talented playwright) Dave Deveau for the grande tour.

And they’re taking their role as an industry leader seriously. Just announced is a new summer youth initiative geared towards training the next generation of theatremakers. From the press release:

This unprecedented opportunity recreates first-hand what a professional performing arts company has to tackle to bring a new work to the stage, all condensed into two weeks! The camp culminates with the students premiering the work they have created with their mentors in the Cultch’s Historic Theatre.

It’s going to have to be pretty intensive to get all that into two weeks. But the 40 lucky high school artists from the lower mainland are certainly in good hands, the mentors are all gigantically talented ADs from some of our top indie companies: Kendra Fanconi of The Only Animal, Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg of Tara Cheyenne Performance, James Long of Theatre Replacement and Marcus Youssef from Neworld Theatre.

The Cultch is in a unique position to offer youth programming because we work so closely with Vancouver’s premiere independent performing arts producers. We are able to connect young people to artists in the city who are out there doing what they want to be doing in the future. It is all about learning first hand what it takes to succeed.

Corbin Murdoch, Cultch Youth Program Manager

Click here for mentor bios and registration info

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I have been waiting very patiently for this announcement…

The Arts Club just announced the inclusion of the Western Canadian Regional Premier of  August: Osage County to next year’s season. It opens January 27. No word yet on cast or crew, I’ll be keeping an eye peeled.

Tracy Letts junkies unite!

In honour of this auspicious occasion, let’s return once more to the ultimate Letts fan letter, courtesy of the Southern Mothers… (slightly NSFW for blue language. But if that bugs you you ain’t going to like Tracy’s stuff anyhow.)

Electric Company needs hundreds of extras for Tear the Curtain

Hey Vancouver! Want to be featured in an Electric Company project? Always wanted to work with Kim Collier? Check out this call from the company for a shoot on February 15:

HUNDREDS OF VOLUNTEER EXTRAS WANTED

On Saturday February 13, Electric Company is shooting background/extras scenes at the Stanley Theatre for our new project, a film / theatre hybrid show called TEAR THE CURTAIN! Hundreds of volunteers are wanted to work with director Kim Collier.  This is a rare opportunity for us to share our unique creative process with the wide community.  No experience necessary.

The Arts Club Theatre Company in Association with Electric Company are producing Tear the Curtain! for stage in Fall 2010.  Set in a fictionalized 1930s Vancouver, and shot on location at the historic Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage in South Granville. On February 13, we are shooting crowds of snappily dressed theatre-goers attending the opening of a play.

What we need from you:
Some costumes are on-site, but if you have things in your closet bring them along.  For men we’ll need suit jackets, shirts and ties.  For the ladies we’ll need you in any tops or dresses that feel vintage.  Trench coats, fedoras or other vintage hats, gloves and accessories will be very helpful.  Let’s put it this way: the more 1930s you look, the better chance you’ll have of being featured in close-up!

The day may be long-ish – save 8am-8pm and we will confirm the call.  Bring a book, snacks, and tell friends.  Some food will be available on-site.

Contact us by email with your interest at info@electriccompanytheatre.com or phone 604-253-4222.

TJDawe + BrendanMcLeod (JoannaMarattaAward/CaraYeates) = a brand new theatre blog

Waddya get when you throw a Fringe star, a spoken word rock star and an award-winning theatre actor into a bag and shake? I have no idea, but this here new blog of theirs might provide a few answers.

Cara won the ’09 Joanna Maratta Fringe Award for the artist who “best exhibits the original founding spirit of the Vancouver Fringe Festival and shows the most potential to contribute to the Vancouver theatre community”. So there. The prize consists of a mentorship with TJ, who pretty much totemically embodies the spirit of independent theatre here on the West Coast. They have decided to use their time to prepare Brendan’s first ever play, which I for one am eagerly awaiting, as he’s a true local wordsmith. In addition to being a Vancouver Slam Poetry Champion and placing 2nd in the World’s, he’s a past winner of the illustrious 3-Day Novel Writing Competition. Oh, and he’s a member of The Fugitives. So yeah, I guess theatre’s what’s next.

TJ’s just put up his first post on the new blog, asking for opinions on the play’s title. Check it out here if you’d like to help them out…

And break legs all. We’ll be eagerly awaiting whatever comes out the other side.

For fun, this was my first taste of The Fugitives, back in 2007. A buddy had seen them do a mini-show before a movie at 5th Avenue Cinemas and raved about them:

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: summerfestival@upintheairtheatre.com

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.


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