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Review – UBC Theatre’s Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again.

By Britt MacLeod

You don’t need me to tell you we are living in strange times.

UBC Theatre’s production of Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. by British playwright, Alice Birch opened last Thursday and closed two days later after three performances. There are many things to be saddened and stranged about during this confusing time, and I certainly feel for the cast and crew of this show, who after months of work are not able to continue their run. And indeed, I am sorry that you will not be able to enjoy this thrilling piece of theatre by a very talented ensemble.

The experience of witnessing this production will buoy me through the coming weeks of self-distancing and scarcity of live performance. It was brave, exciting and dynamic work.

Emily Dotson’s set was minimalistic, an asymmetrical arrangement of boxes painted in greyscale that were rearranged gradually over the course of the fragmented vignettes which make up the play. From the top of the show, the boxes and the cast (who costume designer, Sherry Yang had clad in greys whilst playing as ensemble) were set back on the stage, framed by the proscenium, but both would later splay across the playing space and spill out into the house as the production dipped a toe into more avant-garde forms. This greyscale scene formed a backdrop for the thrust stage that was constructed to extend two rows deep into the centre orchestra of the auditorium. The square took on the role of a pedestal sometimes, or a podium, where actors edged closer to the audience making their arguments for revolt and offering themselves as art or timeless artifact, all the while reeling the audience in.

The ensemble deftly maneuvered from the series of realistic scenes between twos and threes of actors to moments of controlled collective chaos rooted in experimentalism. 

I could distinguish the mature, searing and grounded performances of Charmaine Sibanda, and Ava Maria Safai, or point to the comedic chops of Pamela Carolina Martinez and Drew Ogle, the gripping energy and intensity of Holly Collis Handford, or the incredible show of vulnerability and courage by Hana Cripton-Inglis.

But the true strength of this show, and a great credit to director, Sloan Thompson, was the power of the collective energy, the unity and cohesiveness of its ensemble. The actors did not move as one in the literal sense, quite to the contrary, their blocking and movement remained individualized and distinct throughout their group work, with each gesture or glance seeming to be supported by specific character choices even in moments where they remained set back from the main action of the scenes. At every twist and turn, there was a palpable thrust of energy from the group, they leaned in together to hear and judge the wording of every argument presented in the vignettes, they were collectively unctuous and looming then empathetic and luminous. I got the sense that there was a great deal of trust and harmony between them—everyone was sharing the work to deliver this story, parts of a whole. This idea is further supported by the equality exhibited in the program… every performer has the role of ‘Ensemble’; the artistic statement was not the director’s alone, but rather one by the ‘Director and the Cast.’

In the previously mentioned experimental moments, the ensemble not only broke the fourth wall, but burst through it. Painting their bodies, shouting, holding up signs, peddling hymens to the crowd with deeply unsettling flyers featuring Victorian portraits of young girls. This production is challenging, and yet, I felt taken care of.

The play does not offer much for intersectional feminists, it’s not for trans women, not for queers, really, but then again, it examines with a laser focus—different forms of oppression of cis-women and demands put upon them in the historical heterosexual/heterosocial relationship while staying true to the playwright’s experience, and it can still stir thought about identities that are not represented. It’s a beautifully crafted piece of theatre. Are there voices missing? Absolutely. But whether it’s Alice Birch’s job to write those voices, I’m not so sure. (This bears thinking about, though, particularly while our minds are bent to isolation… who is being left out? What is left unsaid?)

It is really a shame that this show couldn’t continue. I don’t know how else to say it, and, admittedly, I don’t know what all to say. I find myself conflicted about whether to avoid spoilers or to explicate the action of the play to fill in what you now cannot (for the time being?) experience. But suffice it to say, Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. was exciting. It happened. And hopefully it can happen again in some way, some time.

UBC Theatre and Film Department’s production of Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. by Alice Birch was directed by Sloan Thompson. It was slated to run March 12-28, 2020 at the Frederic Wood Theatre on UBC’s Point Grey Campus, however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and global responses to it, the show was forced to close on Saturday, March 14.

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Festival Dionysia – Have you got your tickets yet?

Players Club’s spring production, Festival Dionysia, is a festival featuring six one-act plays written and performed by local artists, whose talent is drawn largely from UBC. Local playwrights submit their original scripts in December and of the submissions, six scripts are chosen by the UBC Players Club’s Executive Team to be performed the following spring. Each year, the club tries to choose a variety of genres in accordance with a theme. This year, our theme is A Night of Love and Intrigue.
  The festival works to empower emerging artists in UBC and in the greater Vancouver area, and as a result is a wonderful place for artists to meet and support one another and hone skills they already have or to try their hand at something new! In every festival, there is a chance that at least one artist working on each show – playwright, dramaturg, director, actor, technical crew member, or production manager – is doing this for the first time. Every show benefits from the fresh ideas and encouragement of the community of artists involved in putting on the show, and evolves dramatically over the course of production.   The six plays will be shown consecutively in the Dorothy Somerset Studio on UBC campus from March 11-15, 2020.   🎭 UBC Players Club presents A Night of Love and Intrigue: Festival Dionysia 2020! 🎭

Introducing the following scripts being performed:

🌟 GRANNY KNOT 🌟
Written by Ruby Ravvin
Directed by Ryan Hollobon
Dramaturgy by Katie Czenczek
Rea – Emily Ison
Vince – Matthew Raffin

🌟 LOVE LETTERS 🌟
Written by Amelia Brooker
Directed by Daniela Shklover
Dramaturgy by Britt Macleod
Callie – Haley Allen
Zach – Matthew Raffin
Sara – Sophia Tavasieff

🌟 AFTER THE HARVEST 🌟
Written by AD Solitaire
Directed by Bailey Bates
Dramaturgy by Alysha Forester
Senka – Sasha Saksena
Alecto – Sophia Tavasieff

🌟 BLACK BARN 🌟
Written by Annahis Basmadjian
Directed by Shehab Khan
Dramaturgy by Britt Macleod
Stepan – Ryan Hollobon
Valery – Devyn O’Connell

🌟 WRONG COM 🌟
Written by Daniela Shklover
Directed by Jeremy Cruz and Jiejun Wu
Dramaturgy by Alysha Forester
Martin – Louis Liu
Alyssa – Renuka Rajamagesh
Cindy – Evie Hamilton

🌟 THE MERMAID 🌟 
Written by Nayoung Jin
Directed by Katrina Basnett
Dramaturgy by Katie Czenczek
Mom – Aurora Chan
Daughter – Lucy Li

SHOW DATES/TIMES:

Wednesday, March 11 @7pm
Thursday, March 12 @7pm
Friday, March 13 @7pm
Saturday, March 14 @7pm
Sunday, March 15 @7pm

Dorothy Somerset Studios
6361 University Blvd
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2

🎫 TICKETS: 🎫

Please select the link for the date you would like to attend.

https://www.showpass.com/dionysia-march11/
https://www.showpass.com/dionysia-march12/
https://www.showpass.com/dionysia-march13/
https://www.showpass.com/dionysia-march14/
https://www.showpass.com/dionysia-march15/

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Review – Backbone Collective’s Spine at Havana Theatre

Review by Britt MacLeod

There is nothing more terrifying than a teenager with something to say.” Or, you might add… than a feisty, worldly-wise pensioner.

This is an excellent production of a well-crafted and topical contemporary play and you should get tickets immediately.

You know when you love someone so much that even their little idiosyncrasies and ‘flaws’ seem few, and those that remain just make you love them more? That is what this show was for me. There was a moment when a minor costuming mishap made the sole actor—the very gifted and beguiling Kate Besworth crack a bit, but having inhabited her characters so effectively and having built such a strong relationship with her audience, this moment actually served to enhance the audience’s investment rather than threaten to weaken it. Her slight laughter was sparked by said mishap but was incorporated into the performance and delivered by Amy, the scrappy adolescent Londoner that delivers most of the engaging narrative of Spine. There were moments when the dialects of this character and the aforementioned pensioner, Glenda, seemed to regionally-oscillate, but frankly, while I did notice sometimes, I simply didn’t care. Again, the strength and charisma of the acting performance and the world that Director, Wendy Bollard and the collaborators of Backbone Collective had created won.

The world that was created was one that felt dramaturgically cohesive and fun. Ariel Slack’s set design is a smile-inducing layering of stacked up and spilled over books and the flutters of their pages which extend to the walls of the otherwise minimalist playing space. An exciting feature of the production is that these books have been made to function as an actual lending library—when you go to see the show, you may *take a book/leave a book*. I felt that this feature could have been emphasized more in the promo and pre-show experience of this production. The lighting and sound design, offered by Celeste English and Nico Dicecco, respectively, supported each other and the story’s emotional twists and turns well.

Importantly, the play, which is an award-winning piece by British playwright, Clara Brennan, feels especially relevant for our world right now. The piece is thematically-dense, touching on the importance and complications of community-, political- and social-engagement, particularly by youth, intergenerational friendship, and the threat to public libraries by funding cuts and waning appreciation, and the way that books (and libraries) can be “radical.” See Spine, a show staged at one of the best independent theatre spaces in the city that is (not without its small and few flaws but is nevertheless) thought-provoking and inspiring, not just for affect, but for action.

Spine by Clara Brennan, presented by Backbone Collective and Peninsula Productions plays January 29-February 8 (with shows Tuesday to Saturday) at the Havana Theatre at 8:00 pm. Tickets are $10-20 and available through Showpass or through links on the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/598254954338789/

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Review – The Changeling by Theatre UBC

Review by Britt MacLeod

UBC Theatre Department’s production of The Changeling at the Chan Centre’s Telus Studio Theatre provides an exciting opportunity to witness a seldom-produced piece of Jacobean-era theatre. Written by Thomas Middleton and William Rowley in 1622, the play features two separate plot threads which eventually weave together. The main thread follows the romantically-tangled Beatrice-Joanna as she makes some regrettable, brutal choices, and is further entangled by a horrifyingly violent event and its repercussions. MFA Director, Luciana Silvestre Fernandes has crafted a production that is visually stunning and dynamic with its use of the three audience levels for staging, engaging ensemble choreography, and the beautiful set and lighting design by Luis Bellassai and Zach Levis, respectively.

The big payoff of the design elements is in the way they reflect thoughtful directorial choices of thematic continuity. A network of floor-to-ceiling ropes seems to stitch the three levels of audience in with the world of the play, offering a satisfying mirroring of the appearance and the plight of the corseted (and otherwise bound) female protagonist. Charlotte Di Change’s costume design features layer upon layer of sensuous red, highlighting the bloody deeds of the quintessentially Jacobean plot.

Some design choices prove less effective. In a recognizable historical convention of supporting evil with physical variation or ‘deformity’, the character of De Flores is written as being ‘ill-faced’ to match his villainy. Though we come to understand early on (and progressively more so throughout the plot) that he indeed disturbs Beatrice-Joanna greatly, the character is portrayed by the rather handsome (and engaging) Kyle Preston Oliverwhose face is not augmented beyond a few light blotches of red makeup. But rather than offering relief at the sidestepping of the prescribed metaphor, this design choice compounds confusion about the character, because with what could be understood as the impetus of his othering being omitted in this contemporized adaptation, the Disney-villain-like proportions of De Flores become all the more glaring. That being said, the work of Preston Oliver, and of Bonnie Duff is certainly laudable. Duff’s Beatrice-Joanna is marked by impressively complex micro-expressions, courageous attack, and a natural command of the language.

Although not necessarily portraying central characters, Connor Riopel as Alonzo/Madman, Abbey Laine Schwartz as Lollio and Ishan Sandhu as Antonio (or “Tony”) are standouts, each with surges of energy, bags of charm and bold physical choices.

While the subject matter of the play undoubtedly has great potential for meaning in our current times (as might be evinced by numerous recent adaptations around the world), offering an opportunity to reflect on what the director identifies as a depiction of “the reality of trauma,” this production also raises questions for this reviewer about the ways in which theatre-makers facilitate those afflicted with trauma, actors and spectators, alike. A moment of what seemed to me to be unnecessary nudity not only added fuel to this questioning but was dramaturgically disruptive. Additionally, I wondered if the nearly 400-year-old plot, which is fixated on honour and treachery, mightn’t benefit from a more satirical edge in this adaptation. Despite, or maybe because of some of the points problematized here, this production is worth seeing, as it offers a glimpse at a rather obscure play by a couple of Shakespeare’s contemporaries, and indeed raises important questions for the modern audience about rape culture and our responses to it, trauma and triggering and how theatre contributes to those conversations.

The Changeling plays nightly at the Telus Studio Theatre in the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts January 16-February 1, 2020 at 7:30 pm. Ticket prices: $24.50 Adults; $16.50 Seniors; $11.50 Students. Post-show Talkback January 22. Box Office: 604.822.2678 or box.office@ubc.ca or www.ubctheatretickets.com Website: www.theatrefilm.ubc.ca Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/629550977584876/

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Hold These Truths at The Cultch

Hold These Truths runs at The Cultch Historic Theatre (1895 Venables St., Vancouver) October 20-November 2 and is accompanied by two events presented by Asian Canadian & Asian Migration Studies on Thursday, October 24th

ACAM is delighted to participate in Hold These Truths, a play by Jeanne Sakata about the life of Gordon Hirabayashi, a U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient who fought against the forcible removal and mass incarceration of people of Japanese ancestry in America during WWII.

Hirabayashi’s journey, from his time as a young man fighting injustice in America to his final days as an educator and activist in Canada, demonstrates his passion and hunger for freedom. It is an inspiring quest of what one can do to fight inequality, a tenacious reminder of history, and a reflection of how we, too, can change the future if we hold on to these truths.

Hold These Truths is making its international debut at The Cultch Historic Theatre in Vancouver after a celebrated U.S. tour.

This plays offers a chance to learn about histories of Japanese American internment through the eyes of someone who later moved to Canada and became a community leader here.

Nikkei Cultural Production and Legacies of War
Thursday, October 24
12:30-2:00 PM
Isabel McInness Ballroom, Walter Gage Residence (5959 Student Union Blvd.)

Moderator: Dr. JP Catungal, ACAM/GRSJ

Panelists:

Carolyn Nakagawa (BA ’15), Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre

Tamlyn Tomita, Producer of ‘Hold These Truths’

How have Japanese North American communities mobilized creativity, arts, media, and cultural production to respond to the legacies of World War II, including the internment of Nikkei communities and its contemporary impacts? This panel features cultural practitioners and organizers, who will draw on their histories of individual and community practice to shed light on the linkages between cultural and creative production and Nikkei histories, identities and community formations. RSVP at https://acam.arts.ubc.ca/events/event/hold-these-truths-acam-250-public-panel/ .


“Hold These Truths” Talkback
Thursday, October 24
After the Performance
The Cultch Historic Theatre (1895 Venables St.)

Moderator: Wendy Yip, UBC Ambassador

Speakers:

Joel de la Fuente, Lead actor

Jeanne Sakata, Playwright

Tamlyn Tomita, Producer

After the play, join the cast and production team for a discussion on the production of “Hold These Truths,” the play’s impacts, the importance of bringing the story to Vancouver, and how it fits into Asian Canadian or Nikkei pop culture production. Purchase a ticket for the October 24 showing if you would like to attend the talkback.

Tickets for “Hold These Truths” are available at https://thecultch.com/events/hold-these-truths/?mc_cid=5f98b2acd2&mc_eid=8de3fc173a . 

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Beckett 19: Review

Beckett 19: Review

Beckett 19: or some such semblance
Directed by Gerald Vanderwoude

Gone too soon! Yesterday was the closing night of UBC Theatre and Film’s production of Beckett 19: or some such semblance by Samuel Beckett. This year’s Beckett production was short but very sweet with incredibly versatile performances, evocative technical design, and much appreciated humor.

Opening with a radical drum solo by Tony Koelwyn under a multicoloured spotlight Beckett 19 captured our attention right from the top. The sparse but deliberate set and lighting design created the unique character of Mouth from Samuel Becketts’ short monologue Not I. Beverly Bardal delivered this biting and breathless piece about a nearly mute woman finally exposing the trauma of her youth and the buzzing voice in her head with impressive feeling and impact. A raptured audience was then briskly transitioned into a comedic series featuring light bulbs, a hat and a squashed cream horn. This light-hearted but thoughtful comedy came with performances from Joe Procyk, Norman Young, Chris Humphreys and Cam Cronin. Another short piece written by Beckett, Biddies in the Boat, finished off the first half of the show with Beverly Bardal, Deb Pickman and a gigantic moon challenging the audience to an evening conversation in the departments famous row boat.

After a brief intermission Beckett 19 concluded with a final piece – Act Without Words by Beckett. A darkly comedic piece centred on physicality and an animated desert island rounded out the performances and brought together an amazing night of talent, humor, and contemplation. Truly hypnotic the technical design of this series stood out with their stark contrast lighting and minimal but effective use of set, props and sound. Congratulations to everyone who made this set of performances into such an enchanting evening – the UBC Players Club is looking forward to the rest of the UBC Theatre and Film’s 2019/20 season!

Review by Veronica Blott, UBCPC Production Manager

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Jesus Freak: Review

Jesus Freak: Review

Pictured: Kaitlin Williams and Katharine Venour. Photo by Jalen Saip.

Jessica Kim

Clara Campbell looks around at her family’s horrified faces around the dinner table. She had a whole speech prepared and was waiting for the right moment to tell them. All that’s gone out the window when she blurts it out: She’s Christian.

In Jesus Freak, playwright Peter Boychuk explores difference and acceptance in families. When families diverge and adopt different values from one another, what is it that ties them together? Usually this is done by the child declaring something liberal, like homosexuality. Clara’s rather conservative declaration of her newfound faith throws everyone in her family off. They believe this makes her a different person, perhaps a person who is even opposed to who they are individually and as a family.

The Set by Brian Ball and lighting by Jill White are beautiful and well executed. The set depicts a well made away-from-civilization cabin in the woods complete with beautiful paintings of the woods on each side of the wall. The ambient lighting directly reflects the characters and their moods and shifts in relationships. It’s a pleasure to watch everyone grow from the experience.

This hilarious yet heartwarming play is short and sweet, getting to the point immediately and exactly. It wastes no time developing the characters and conflicts. The chemistry between Clara (Kaitlin Williams) and her brother Nate (Brandon Bate) is hilarious on top of Boychuk’s wry and witty humour, resembling real life siblings at times. Alan (Ron Reed) and Susan (Katherine Venour) are very believable concerned parents. They recognize the hard time Clara is going through, and are supportive and loving, but are having a difficult time accepting the new change. Catch the family dramedy at Pacific Theatre before it’s gone!

 

Jesus Freak by Peter Boychuk is running at Pacific Theatre from March 1st to March 23rd, with 8pm Wednesdays-Saturdays with 2pm Saturday matinees.

Tickets | Facebook Event | Pacific Theatre

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