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While I may not be an out-and-out opera buff, I am eternally grateful to Halifax Summer Opera Workshop for introducing me to the delights of some accessible works over the past few years. And as of now, their latest production, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, has risen to the top of my “favourites” list.
The opera, written by Benjamin Britten, is pure magic. Britten’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s Dream focuses primarily on the machinations within the fairy world, and his music seems intrinsically right for that world.
And while this is show filled with high points, but I’ll give you three just to whet your appetite: Oberon (played by Andrew Pickett) is delightfully perverse and his queen Tytania (Allison Nicholas) is sensuous and exotically beautiful. The pair, along with the fairy crew, close the show with the most haunting and lovely piece of music. Shilpa Sharma as Hermia and Ashley Buckhout as Helena bring down the house with their height-based cat fight. And the mechanicals… well what can I say except funny, funny, funny.
I’ve seen many productions of Dream, but I know this will always stand out for me.
There are two more chances to see this show (one with this cast, one with another) as well as opportunities to see HSOW's two other offerings Carmen and One Act Operas.
Check out http://halifaxsummeroperaworkshop.com/ for dates, times and prices.
Theatre Arts Guild did a brilliant job a couple of years ago with their production of Reginald Rose’s Twelve Angry Men, and now Halifax has another opportunity to see the classic courtroom drama. Lion’s Den Theatre (the newish company that recently revived the hilarious Arsenic and Old Lace) opened the play at The Bus Stop Theatre last night to a full house. The caliber of acting was, to a man, exceptional. Daniel Gervais is a powerful and persuasive Juror 8. He puts his own stamp on the role, coming off grumpier than I remember Henry Fonda being in the 1957 movie version. Jesse Robb is perfect as the petulant Juror 7, and Ira Henderson simply shines as the brutish Juror 3. At 80 minutes, this production is brief and brisk, but all the salient points that lead to the unexpected verdict are still there. Go, even if you’ve seen this play before, and certainly go if you haven’t.
See it at The Bus Stop Theatre, 2203 Gottingen St, Halifax.
Thursday August 2 - Sunday August 5 8PM
Saturday August 4 - Sunday August 5 2PM
Tickets are $15 General and $12 Students/Seniors/Artists
For tickets or information, please contact email@example.com
Well, judging by the number of people in attendance at the Bus Stop Theatre on Saturday afternoon, it seems that Queer Acts is giving Tall Ships a run for their money.
I took in the two shows that I hadn’t previously seen: A sampling of work from DaPoPo’s Acting Out! Queer Youth Theatre Workshop and Fluffer Theatre’s staged reading of Love Me Always.
The Acting Out! pieces introduced Halifax to a fresh and formidable new voice on the Halifax theatre seen. Aisha Sommer Zaman is a young playwright/actor with something to say. The first piece starred Sommer in a monologue about how the magazine industry contributes to negative body image in teen girls. Sommer has poise, presence and personal magnetism that will take her far as an actress. The second piece was performed by local professional actors Keelin Jack (who also stars in the fabulous Touch) and Rhys Bevan-John. The work, presented as a staged reading of a work-in-progress, explored the persecution of gays in Iran. The writing is powerful and beautiful and I look forward to seeing it fully-formed on stage.
The second show starred Hugo Dann as the brilliant and urbane Oscar Wilde. The piece knits together portions of Wilde’s actual writings to bring to life the story of the author's love affair with a selfish young Lord and his subsequent incarceration for gross indecency. Dann is outstanding as both the tortured Wilde struggling to remain sane in intolerable circumstances in prison and the romantic, condescending Wilde musing on love and passion. The text is dense, but Wilde’s words shine, even more than a century later.
For more information on show times and costs, go to: http://www.halifaxpride.com/index.php/pride-week/queer-acts
The house was full for all four shows that opened the Queer Acts Theatre Festival last night, and were we ever grateful for The Bus Stop’s new cooling system. Even packed cheek to jowl, the theatre was cool and comfortable.
The plays themselves covered a wide variety of topics from masturbation to polyamory, yet each (perhaps excluding the campy and demonically-driven rock opera Sissydude) sent the message that love, no matter how messy and painful, is ultimately worth it.
Sissydude is a delightfully over-the-top musical that begins as a kind of love letter to life on Gottingen Street and ends at the fiery gates of Hell. Ian Mullan stars as the fey and fickle Jamie, a hoarder of all things beautiful. When two would-be subletters (Jack Black look-alike Connor Purdy and rockin’ chick Michelle Skelding) come knocking, secrets are revealed and much rock and roll music ensues. Fun, fast and fabulous, this show was a real crowd-pleaser.
Tanya Davis was up next with her one-woman show Nonmonog and the Gray Scale Dwellers. Davis is one of those rare performers that holds the audience in the palm of her hand from her very first line. She positively bubbles over with ideas about love, framing them in poetry, song and hilarious understatements. This show is about embracing non-traditional love in a very traditional world. Davis strives to express the beauty and challenges of polyamorous relationships, and in the process the audience leaves feeling a little in love with her.
The new play called Touch by The Doppler Effect really did touch me on many levels. Actors Keelin Jack and Annie Valentina play young cousins Liddy and Fran (age 12 and 15 respectively) who are best friends despite their age difference. Everything changes as Fran crosses the line from childhood to young adulthood, leaving the socially awkward and possibly gay Liddy behind. The play is about, among other things, bullying, self-acceptance, teenage sexuality and the power of love. Jack and Valentina do a remarkable job of capturing the innocence and angst of those turbulent years.
Last up was one of my favourite shows from last year’s Fringe, Short Skirt Butch. It’s the story of the defiantly queer Jean, a young woman who refuses to button-holed by her sexuality. After a love affair goes tragically but humorously wrong, she calls together the audience (who represent the curious gossip mongers in her small-city community) to explain her actions to them. Jean is such a forthright and self-deprecating character, that it’s hard to imagine a group so heartless as to not commiserate with her and understand her actions. Great story telling on a really interesting theme.
For more information on show times and costs, go to: http://www.halifaxpride.com/index.php/pride-week/queer-acts
Head to The Scene for your arts news fix from now on. In the words of Marvin from Big Brother 5: It's been real and it's been fun, but it ain't been real fun. (Just kidding, it totally has, but now the fun don't stop at The Scene). Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your arts news, willya?
You’ve probably been following Wit’s End Theatre as they blog here at The Coast about the birth and growing pains of their company. You know Wit’s End is dedicated to putting on shows that will make you laugh, and their fourth production Science Inaction: A Love Story is very successful at that.
It’s the story of two science nerds from different disciplines—-sociology and neurobiology, who meet and fall in love, or at least lust. The audience watches their story unfold in different styles and “realities” evoking plenty of laughter.
There’s no doubt that actors Liz Johnston and Lewis Wynne-Jones have a remarkable comic chemistry. This piece showcases their charm and impeccable timing to a T.
The play itself, written and directed by Griffin McInnes, explores interesting ideas in interesting ways, however, it lags in spots and is ultimately dragged down by a too-serious conclusion for a brainy romp.
A cool set by Brian Riley and some brilliant film and projection by Nick Bottomley make this show visually memorable. Oh, and did I mention, you’ll laugh, A LOT.
Science Inaction: A Love Story
Written and directed by Griffin McInnes
Starring Liz Johnston and Lewis Wynne-Jones
The Bus Stop Theatre (2203 Gottingen Street)
June 28th, 2012 to June 30th, 2012: 8:00 pm, admission of $20/$15 for students and underwaged
July 1st, 2012: 2:00 pm, admission of $10
Mike Holmes (of True Story fame, in this very paper!) is releasing a book showcasing the value of putting yourself in other people’s shoes. Mikenesses, funded entirely through a successful Indiegogo campaign, features Holmes imaginging himself (and sometimes his portly cat Ella) drawn in 100 different styles, those of his favourite cartoon, comic book, children’s book and video game artists. Maurice Sendak, Dr. Seuss, The Muppets, Chuck Jones and MAD magazine among many others are reverently imitated. Holmes says it began as a daily drawing warm-up exercise and became an illustrated autobiography, representing a collection of Holmes’ most treasured influences throughout his life.
Pick up your copy Friday, June 29 from 7-10pm at the Frigate Pub (1582 Granville Street) in Halifax. It's free and Nerd Army will be kicking out the video-game theme jams.
In the meantime click right here to print off your own Mikeness masks (of Holmes’ beard and his adorable cat Ella), then wear it to the launch and really freak him out.
See example pic below to gauge the cuteness for yourself:
Like sweet corn, lake swims and shorts weather, Write Now! Halifax is a short, sweet summer experience. Pairing up youth aged 13-18 and adult writers to connect and collaborate together, Write Now! is currently seeking youth who love to write and express themselves. Stories, song lyrics, journals, poetry, spoken word, graphic novels or whatever else strikes your fancy are all fair game, the only requirement is creativity.
Write Now! will collect the writing projects at the end of the program and will publish a collaborative book.
With funding from the 4Cs Foundation and help from Invisible Publishing, the program runs Tuesdays 6-8pm, July 17 to August 21 at the Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia, 1113 Marginal Road. Bus tickets will be provided.
The program is free, email email@example.com to register, and get something more lasting out of your summer than sand in your shoes and a sunburn. Check out writenowhalifax.tumblr.com for more info.
After a weekend and a half of dreary rain, the vitamin D (hereby known as vitamin daaaaamn) punch of Clutch Culture's sunny summer 2012 runway collection should bring you back up to normal happiness levels.
The two lines shown on Saturday night at FRED represented where designer Mo Handahu is at right now, 1998 featured styling reminiscent of the cooler part of that decade, with bold prints, oversized blazers, tight minidresses, laptop sized clutches, a couple of across-the-body chain straps and a very fun Robert Palmer vibe.
Wild Hearts focused on what Handahu calls the staple of her brand, African prints. Head scarves, body art, a compelling intro complete with dance and a line of gorgeous leather-accented bags and clutches.
I've you've ever walked past weird garbage and thought it was sort of beautiful, Lisa Cochrane feels you. Cochrane has curated a show opening opening Wednesday, July 4 the Chase Gallery at the Public Archives of Nova Scotia filled with the work of like minded artists. ReVISION, running to July 30, exploring what she calls “the art of recycling.”
Working with found objects, Cochrane and the exhibiting artists (Jay Dort, Emma Fitzgerald, Noah Logan, Susan Malmstrom, Mike Milligan, Melissa Schwegmann and Catherine Venart) have created an exhibition of sculpture asking “not ‘what is art?’, but ‘when is art?’. When does it stop being an object and becomes art?” asks Cochrane.
“It’s about taking objects that had had a life and doing something new with them,” Cochrane says. “A lot of the artists are collectors, or taking objects they find on the streets.” Cochrane herself is re-imagining an old coffee table, among other things. “It was lying there broken and I'm working with the way it was broken. I saw an image in it and I can see potential.”
The loaded question of “what is art?” may yet go unanswered, but ReVISION aims to at least get a foothold on when art happens.
“I think it has to do with the intention and the purpose of the person envisioning it. You see an object and you see it transitioning,” says Cochrane. “I may decide that I don't want to show it, it may not come to fruition, but it can still be quite a liberating experience.”
It seems fitting that Little Women, a story fueled by loving relationships and plucky, can-do attitudes, is being used to raise funds for as worthy a charity as the Metro Non-Profit Housing Association.
The Broadway Musical version is a little disjointed in its retelling of Louisa May Alcott's tale of a tight-knit family living through the American Civil War, but it hits all the high points I remember from the story. Tia Andria nails the pivotal role as the strong-willed Jo, and she is supported by a uber-talented young cast. The choreography is polished and the singing (for the most part) very professional.
The Second Act drags, mostly due to its heavier subject matter and too-frequent songs, but ends on a happy note that stresses the value of friends and family.
June 21 to 24 at 7pm at The Neptune Studio Theatre.Tickets are $15 for children/seniors and $20 for adults and are available online at www.neptunetheatre.com or at 902 429 7070
Hey ladies! Tonight (Wednesday, June 20) at 8 pm, Orgasm Zine, a new zine about women's orgasms, will be launched at One Block Barbershop (2010 Gottingen).
The zine is a "powerful compilation of women's stories about their diverse experiences of orgasms," says organizer Amanda Stevens. Expect readings from the zine, a screening of the documentary Orgasm Inc. and a recording booth in which you may share your own orgasm stories, or indeed, your orgasms themselves. Self-service, I imagine.
The event is free and copies of the zine will be available for $5 each. For more information e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
All hail the King! A big congrats goes out to Eleanor King, who’s made the 2012 Sobey Art Award Short List. Snagging the spot for the Atlantic Region, this Nova Scotia artist, musician and NSCAD instructor—she graduated from NSCAD with a BFA in 2001—has been showcased both nationally and internationally, including an appearance in Norway. The Sobey Art Award has been considered the most prestigious contemporary art award in Canada and has been celebrating, um, Canadian contemporary art, since its inception 10 years ago.
Alongside Gareth Moore, Jason de Haan, Derek Sullivan and Raphaëlle de Groot, King is said to “speak to both local and the global and share interests in notions of obsolescence and materiality.” The winner of the prize is awarded $50,000 and $5,000 is awarded to each of the other finalists. The Short List artists’ work will be showcased in an exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA) in Toronto in October and the winner of the award will be announced on November 16. Best of luck to our dear Eleanor.
Having last been in Casino Nova Scotia’s Harbourfront Lounge for a depressing night where I found myself being stared down by an old boss before the night devolved into me trying to be the biggest bitch I possibly could be (pretty big), I welcomed a chance to cleanse that horrible night from my memory with fire. Fierce fashion fire would be ideal.
Atlantic Fashion Week’s New & Emerging Designers showcase was packed with really attractive looking folks, talented designers and a ton of Centre for Arts and Technology students.
Tucking my ill-chosen rabbit fur cat ring into my bag, I took a seat under a very unflattering bright light to be soothed by pretty clothes.
First up was designer Rebecca Pike’s BEC FASHIONS. Pike designs as she sews, and it works for her. Her collection included a lot of cool ice cream colours, neons, revealing cut outs, the most cropped of crop tops, hot pants, high-low hemlines, lace, florals, mixed fabrics, bustiers. It was a real mixed bag, but the overarching theme seemed to be “youth”. The clothes were attractive and wearable (if you are moderately hot, that is).
Blue Ladybug Designs was next, with the eco-friendly idea of using repurposed fabric to create fresh new designs. The collection had a flowy, hippie feel, incorporating 70s graphic prints and saris. The finished product was completely new, simple looking but with unique details. A single mini strap going from hem to shoulder, Grecian-esque looks, multiple layers in a single garment. It’s like every Value Village big idea you’ve ever had (“I’m going to take this dress shirt and make a skirt AND a tank top!”) but Blue Ladybug actually follows through—and follows through well—instead of collecting ill-fitting button ups in a bag on her closet floor.
CBrido brought a collection of gauzy, floral party dresses. Whisper thin shawls with ruching, a skirt and pant with mesh panels, cool pastels, more high-low hemlines and a fresh and accessible vibe.
Centre for Arts and Technology’s fashion design program students made the most of their slogan “where passion meets reality”. The students to put forth a collection that might be better suited for a new slogan—“skirts you’d punch a puppy for” maybe? Seriously out of control. High waists, nautical details, insane construction, a structured jacket and a saucy as hell red satin dress. I perished.
What the heck is going on at that fashion design program? What insane teacher is keeping these kids in rad detention, forcing them to create piece after piece of clothing taken from my dreams? Not exaggerating even a tiny bit. Eman Mustafa was next and her mid and maxi skirts revolved around “majestic pleats”. The looked just as good in cream as they did in acid jewel tones. Mustafa’s colour choices were fresh and exciting, it was like neon fall in there.
Mitchell Stuart Gilroy’s NOADDEDMSG pushed the envelope the furthest of all, unisex mesh sweatshirts? Hoodies with formal tuxedo tails? Why yes! What the items lacked in wearability (any outfit requiring pasties probably won’t make it into my regular rotation) was more than made up for in high fashion appeal. It was a truly enjoyable collection, and it was nice to see some menswear up there. Read a little more about Gilroy here.
Overman’s body adornments schooled us in new places to put jewellery. Shoulders, thighs were fair game. Delicate chain vests in muted golds and brilliant silver kicked off a cool daydream about how our Khaleesi would love these.
Sueno Swimwear reminded us all of the looming bikini season in the cutest way possible. Snakeskin one pieces, polka dot bikinis, nautical looks, strappy electric greens and blues, fuchsias, and that gorgeous coral colour that everyone loves now. Maybe I could sew three of them together and hit the beach.
Cadence Macmichael for Pretty Things Boutique closed the show with some universally flattering pieces that blended Hollywood glamour with modern floral fabrics and animal prints. The model that looked like Joan Holloway really rocked her look, understandably. It was a great note to end on, and I can’t wait to see what tonight’s Designer showcase has in store.
Angels & Heroes’ Domestic Train Wreck is a deceptively cozy piece of performance art that explores the role of memory and mammaries in one woman’s life. The woman is Melanie Bennett, an actor/playwright who based the show on her unorthodox upbringing by a mother who was obsessed with Harlequins and Soaps. Bennett weaves together fragments of memory, audience participation segments, folksy chatter and a high-tech soundscape produced on stage by musician (and game show host extraordinaire)Aaron Collier. The show, which is directed with energy and fine pacing by Richie Wilcox, covers a lot of territory in a little over an hour. And while it may tell one woman’s specific story from self-described “train wreck” to empowered woman, it speaks volumes about the way society views and values women. Go for the laughs, enjoy the cheese dreams, and know that you’ll be thinking about this show long after it is over.
June 6-June 10 at the North Street Church, 5657 North Street, 8pm (2pm Sun), $20, 420-6909