January 2007

Vancouver, BC: Since I saw the first production of Vigil at the Arts Club Theatre more than a decade ago I have probably seen a couple of hundred more plays, the details of most of which have been lost in the fog of the passage of time. However when I first read that Vigil ,written by Morris Panych, was to be part of the 2007/2008 Playhouse season I found I could clearly recall the set and the bitter-sweet plot of this play.

VANCOUVER, BC: My favorite type of play is one that stimulates a spirited debate about a complex subject. The Blue Light by playwright Mieko Ouchi, directed by Donna Spencer at the Firehall Arts Centre does just that. The production is an engrossing exploration of the cinematographic career of Leni Riefenstahl, that asks perplexing and enduring questions about art and artist. Can one separate the artist from her art? Is it possible to despise the artist's proclivities yet admire the work they create? Can one admire technical and creative genius while despising the use to which this talent is put? And if one can intellectually think about art as a product distinct from artist and context, should one do so?

Toronto, ON: I remember clearly the day my daughter, Amanda, came home from an undergraduate theatre history class at UBC, handed me a play to read and said "I would love to direct this some day." It was Trifles by Susan Glaspell. Trifles is a little gem of a play set in the American mid-west. It illustrates the intense loneliness that farm women experienced in isolated rural communities in the early 1900s, when winter made travel difficult and they did not even have access to a party-line telephone. It also shows the paternalistic attitude of the men to their women-folk and their work, and the way female bonding helps the women endure this lifestyle.

Vancouver, BC. So why the long lapse in ranting and raving from the pen or rather the pecking fingers of your peripatetic "bum-in-the-seat"? Well in December my to-and fro-ing between Vancouver and various theatre-deprived locales did not provide much material for a theatre column. After all on a hot humid night in Mexico, watching a Cuban Nights Extravaganza in the Performing Arts Centre of our resort, the only thing that my sun-scorched, pina colada soothed brain could think was "wow, can they cha cha cha!".