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Bridge Mix 2011

The Cast of "Parkade: An Indie Rock Musical"Bridge Mix 2011
Presented by ITSAZOO and Enlightenment Theatre
at the W. Pender Metro Parkade between Burrard and Thurlow.
June 8 to 25 2011.

Vancouver, BC. It does not take long for newly graduated theatre students to realize that if they want to practice their art they have to make their own opportunities. The arts life of Vancouver, like other similar cities is enriched by by numerous small independent theatre companies, who must be venturesome and innovative to produce their work with limited budgets and resources. As would be expected, the range and quality of work varies greatly, and some enterprises are more successful than others,

From Save our Metro ParkadePresented by ITSAZOO and Enlightenment Theatre,  Bridge Mix 2011 offers an opportunity to see work by 9 small theatre companies, staged in an urban environment -  a downtown Parkade.  Located in a predominantly business area, the Metro Parkade is normally closed after business hours, and is rented out for film shoots - and for site-specific theatre in the broad use of the term.

After meeting at the entrance to the Parkade and getting our hands stamped in lieu of a ticket, we followed one of the ushers up to the 6th floor of the building. There we learned that we would be seeing nine 10 minute plays as we followed out guide up the ramps, ending on the rooftop where the last two plays would be staged.

Audience members discuss the program on the roof topEnlightenment Theatre kicked off the evening with "Catch 22", ostensibly about two bank robbers (Ryan Hauser and David Benedict Brown) trying to escape from the police who have them surrounded. Improbably dressed in clothing of hospital patients, the two men cavort around in a wheelchair and on a bike, and we realize there is something wrong with the picture.

Next, Spectral Theatre presented "Zom Rom Com" - written by Chris Schonfeldt and directed by Michael Cope, it features a rotating cast of zombies and a guy who has to chose between his zombie girlfriend and a girl friend.

Delinquent Theatre's "Parked: An Indie Rock Musical with Novelty Instruments" was a delightful surprise.  The standout show of the evening, it featured a cast of talented musicians/singers (Meaghan Chenosky, Brian Cochrane, Ira Cooper, Mishelle Cuttler, Alexander Keurvost, Britt MacLeod and Christina Quintana) with catchy music composed by MacLeod and clever lyrics, contributed by Quintana. The opening song  "where the f-ck is my car" must have struck a chord with any one who has ever wandered hopelessly as I did, trying to find my car in the Chan Centre Parkade at UBC after one graduation ceremony. Loved the rap bit by Cochrane and the way Quintana's voice particularly just soared despite the less-then-optimal acoustics.

(June 18, 2011) CORRECTION: The music was composed  by Mishelle Cuttler.  My apologies to Mishelle and Britt for the incorrect attribution.

Tigermilk Collective's offering "Save Our Metro Parkade" was a video mockumentary, spoofing protest and protesters who can't stay the course. It purported to be about saving the Metro Parkade from being torn down for yet another condo building or even - a sushi restaurant. It was really well done, funny, and they even had a petition for the audience to sign. The artists involved were Lindsay Drummond, Kirsten Slenning. Nick Hunnings, David Mesiha  and Tony Massil.

ITSAZOO"S LifelineThe last show before intermission was Slam Ink's "Completely Centered". Written and directed by Duncan Patterson, and featuring Keira Danniels and Kyle Sutherland, it was about two people yelling at each other. I am not sure exactly why.

Since we had enjoyed an excellent meal at Diva before walking up to West Pender, we decided not to indulge in anything from the "rolling? roving? bar" and instead went out onto the roof to enjoy the mild night air and discuss the program while admiring the unusual perspective of the surrounding buildings.

The T/S..wat Team from Genus TheatreThe fifth presentation was by 411 - presenting Exhibit A.  Written by Melanie Moore and powerfully performed by herself and James Avramenko, this piece asks the question, "how do we deal with criminals that have no empathy and cannot feel remorse". Based on public transcripts and articles about the horrific murder of Kimberley Proctor by two teenage psychopaths, this piece was sobering and full of impact.

Monster Creative (Frances Kitson, Riel Hahn, Jayme Burke, Amy Lester  and Angie Descalzi) created and performed a piece called Gang! Bang! directed by Heather Lindsay and Jeff Gladstone it involved a girl gang, theft, noise and a  power struggle.

Itsazoo Productions led us up to the roof top for Lifeline. Written by Sebastian Archibald, directed by Chelsea Haberlin with sound design by Chris Adams  and featuring Archibald and Colby Wilson, this was a nicely conceived and well acted piece about a dying man reaching out for a lifeline. 

The final event was Genus Theatre's "Geronimo". Performed with a lot of energy by Jordan Bodiquet, Pedro Chamale, Duran Cruikshank, and Victoria Lyons, dressed as a Swat team (though somewhat differently named - the Twat team)  they had the best costumes of the evening.

I applaud the initiative of these groups and found the evening's entertainment  overall to be an interesting experience. Bridge Mix is worth a visit for Delinquent Theatre's piece alone and Exhibit A, Lifeline and Save the Metro Parkade were my next three favorites. It would be interesting to hear which pieces other people liked. So feel free to comment below and support your favorite piece.

As we walked back towards Yaletown we agreed that with our pre-show dinner, the variety of theatre pieces and the long walks to and from the restaurant and Parkade, we had happily satisfied our fitness, food and fun needs in one fell swoop. Who can ask for more than that?