Archive for the 'Canadian Theatre' Category

IS THEATRE DEAD?

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

In the first of a series of guest posts from the Arms and the Man company, second year BFA Acting Candidate Ryan Warden weighs in on the question “Is theatre dead?”:

Depending on what circles you’re in the answer will invariably vary. If you’re reading this your answer is probably “no”, but for the vast majority of the population, theatre is just a class they took in high school.

Even many in the theatre community are heralding the death of theatre due to the recent cuts in arts spending. Despite the recent resurgence in arts and culture awareness during the Olympic games, it doesn’t look like things are going to get any better. In fact, yesterday’s budget lockup at the BC Legislature revealed that arts spending will continue to drop to record lows.

High octane rehearsals for our upcoming production of Arms and the Man reveal signs of life.

High octane warm ups in rehearsal for our upcoming production of Arms and the Man reveal definite signs of life. Photo Credit: R Warden

So, for those of us who are investing years of our lives in theatre school, not to mention the years after paying off student loans, it begs the question, “Are you nuts?” Well the simple answer is “yes” and to be honest it’s a question I ask myself far too frequently.

However, all I have to do is look over the past couple years that I’ve been in UBC’s BFA Acting program and it’s plain to see that it would be nuts NOT to do this. It’s way too much fun! And I’ve achieved an awareness of myself and those around me in a way I never thought possible. I’ve managed to break out of my skull and inhabit my body as a whole, fully-functioning person, which is quite a feat in today’s world.

As social interactions and relationships become increasingly web-based, theatre is one of the last strongholds of good old fashioned human connection in its truest form. So those of us here in the Alamo might be committing suicide, but we’ll fight to the death nonetheless.

~ Ryan Warden

Bio: Ryan Warden’s production credits include UBC’s Mother Courage, The Rez Sisters, and A Dybbuk as well as lighting operator for Werewolves (Pi Theatre). Acting credits include The Collector and Weeding the Flowers (Brave New Play Rites), The Dining Room (Director Sarah Rogers) and The Laramie Project (Director Nicola Cavendish). His most recent work was in Romeo & Juliet for Theatre at UBC. He is most proud of his role in David Savoy’s Diary of a Madman, which was chosen for admission to Setkani/Encounter International Theatre Festival in Bruno, Czech Republic. http://www.wardenfilms.com

A PASSION FOR ACTING

Monday, January 11th, 2010

In the second of a series of guest posts from the Romeo & Juliet company final year BFA Acting Candidate Moneca Lander talks about the BFA Acting program:

Before UBC, I attended various acting schools and programs to further my education and training. As soon as I began my journey here at UBC I realized that this is where I needed to be in order to fully explore my potential as an actor.

Professor Gayle Murphy coaches BFA acting Candidate Monica Lander.

Professor Gayle Murphy coaches BFA acting Candidate Moneca Lander.

Throughout my years here at UBC I’ve been involved in many productions. The specialized training in my classes has broadened my range as an actor and exposed me to a variety of stylistic acting techniques – one of the most memorable, being the Commedia dell’arte mask work introduced in my Intermediate year. This stylistic training gave me a foundation for my work in full-scale productions, such as Servant of Two Masters in which I was given the opportunity to play the role of “Smeraldina” the lady’s maid. I was able to transform myself physically, vocally and mentally into a character, a task that would have been extremely difficult to do had I not been given the stylistic training.

I’ve developed a strong appreciation for the classical training this program has offered. I believe that a strong well-rounded foundation is crucial in the development of a young actor.  The specialized training in a wide range of stylistic genres such as Shakespearian, Renaissance, Commedia dell’arte and Modern/Contemporary has absolutely made me a well-rounded actor.

"...and playing is what i am here to do."

"...and playing is what i am here to do."

Romeo and Juliet will be my final performance before graduating the program – and what an amazing experience it is turning out to be! The amount of professionalism that I am experiencing in UBC’s academic learning environment makes me confident and ready to accept any new challenges in the “real world.”

Working with and observing actors from the various class years of the program has proven to be a fantastic way for me to expand my own skills. I often find myself more open to ideas and suggestions when surrounded by such an inspiring group of talented actors.

Monica Lander backstage in rehearsal for Romeo & Juliet.

Moneca Lander backstage in rehearsal for Romeo & Juliet.

The rehearsal process for Romeo and Juliet has been extremely organized.  The expectations are always set out by the director, and we are able to come to rehearsal with our work done, and just play! And playing is exactly why I’m here. I can’t think of anything else in this world that would ignite as much passion within me, as the satisfaction of bringing a written character to life and watching us both grow together.

– Moneca Lander

On Performance:“Secrets that Whisper in the Blood”

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

As an novelist as well as an actor, I have always been fascinated by ‘the secrets that whisper in the blood’; by inheritance, what we have taken from those that have gone before us, our parents, grandparents, even further back. In our genes, of course, but also in how these people behaved, characteristics and even attitudes passed on that we have adopted, that rule some of our actions in ways we cannot tell.

The theme reoccurs in my books… and it is one of the many reasons why the production of this play, ‘The Master Builder’ by Henrik Ibsen has been such a fascinating journey. He was Norwegian, of course, wrote about his countrymen and women. And I am half Norwegian, have always felt viscerally connected to that land of fjords and myths. It features in a lot of my writing. But there is another connection of blood and legacy – my Grandparents, all of them, English and Norwegian, were actors too. And most of them played Ibsen.

Tim Matheson

L-R: Chris Humphries, Norman Young Photo Credit: Tim Matheson

I have a framed photo of Betsy Jordal, my grandmother, on stage in a rather obscure Ibsen, ‘Fru Inger’. Also one of Karl Holter, my grandfather, playing the better known ‘Peer Gynt’. I brought both of them out to UBC, have them sitting there on my dressing table. It seemed appropriate, in the week that included November 2nd, ‘the Day of the Dead’ when people, especially in the Latin countries, visit with their Dead, for me to visit with mine.

Tim Matheson

Chris Humphreys, Photo Credit: Tim Matheson

Karl, Betsy and Me. Eighty years apart, all playing ‘title’ roles’, all wrestling both with acting choices and personal demons, in the psychological maelstrom that are the plays of Henrik Ibsen. I wonder what from their lives they brought to the roles. How, perhaps, consciously and unconsciously, they used their grandparents. Wonder about the line that stretches back, the secrets hidden in time, held in blood.

Somehow, they are up there with me, Karl and Betsy, under the lights, in ways I cannot fathom. I am glad of it – and just a little bit scared.

Guest Post ~ C C Humphreys

Director’s Notes for MK Woyzeck

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

While I may have taken the extreme liberty of adapting Georg Büchner’s timeless masterpiece, Woyzeck, I remain well aware that no words of mine could ever come close to expressing the anguished ruminations at the play’s core as well as those penned by the author himself in an oft-quoted letter to his fiancée:

“I felt as though utterly crushed by the hideous fatalism of history.  I find in human nature a terrible sameness, in human circumstances an ineluctable violence vouchsafed to all and to none.  Individuals but froth on the waves, greatness a mere coincidence, the mastery of geniuses a dance of puppets, a ridiculous struggle against an iron law that can at best be understood but never mastered… ’Must’ is one of those words by which mankind was damned from the very beginning.  The saying, ‘It must needs be that offences come, but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh’, is horrifying.  What is it in man that lies, murders, steals?”

Theatre at UBC's production of MK Woyzeck

Theatre at UBC's production of MK Woyzeck

It was over fifteen years ago that the inspired and inspiring teaching of UBC’s own distinguished Professor Emeritus of Theatre, Dr. Errol Durbach, first ignited in me a burning obsession with Büchner’s Woyzeck that has continued to smolder to this day.  It is to him that I dedicate my work on this production.

Tom Scholte
Assistant Professor
UBC Department of Theatre and Film

Note: MK Woyzeck runs in the Frederic Wood Theatre at 7:30 nightly until Saturday October 10th. Call 604.822.2678 for tickets.

Find UBC’s Sweet Spot: The DSS

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

Ready – set – and “go” book your tickets to our first Extra Event of the 2009/10 Season from Theatre at UBC. It’s the final week of production for the alumna founded company shameless hussy productions’ professional presentation of Frozen by Bryony Lavery at our Dorothy Somerset Studio Theatre.

The Somserset aka “The DSS” is cleverly disguised as an former engineering shed – but enter the doors to this newly renovated facility and discover the sexiest performance space in all of UBC. It’s the kind of venue Vancouver artists and patrons are continually crying out for, an intimate little black box theatre that features state of the art equipment and seating for up to 120.

Dorothy Somsetset Studio Theatre

Right: Dorothy Somsetset Studio Theatre

shameless hussy company members, including myself, have taken time out from saying the same things over, and over, and over (aka rehearsing) to pitch the opening of Frozen for Simon Ogden’s The Next Stage Magazine on YouTube.

The Dorothy Somerset Studio was first opened in a location below the Frederic Wood Theatre to honor Theatre at UBC’s first and founding department head Dorothy Somerset. Generations of theatre artists cut their teeth in the Somerset including Brent Carver, Goldie Semple, Nicola Cavendish, Eric Peterson and many others – along with our current department head Jerry Wasserman.

It’s a great privilege to return to perform in this historic venue for the first time since it’s been relocated, and to open this play that I love so much under the banner of the Department of Theatre’s very beloved founder, Miss Dorothy Somerset.

A New ‘Art-titude’ for City Council

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

An update on the “Save the York Theatre campaign”. Consider it officially “saved”. Wall Financial rescued the York from the wrecking ball this past Friday for a purchase price of $2 million and the architect, Henriquez Partners, will begin the 12 million dollar renovation this afternoon. Wall purchased the theatre for the City of Vancouver and will foot the bill for it’s makeover in exchange for a density allotment (which Wall will use on one of their future projects – subject to City approval). The City will own the historic 1912 venue on Commercial Drive, with a longterm lease going to the VECC. At this morning’s press conference it was revealed that Tom Durrie has been working on the “Save the York” campaign for 27 years! He presented original “Save the York” brochures circa 1982 to Mayor Gregor Robertson, Heather Redfern, Bruno Wall, Gregory Henriquez and Jim Green, who along with Durrie were the partners involved in brokering the deal to save this historical landmark. In his remarks the Mayor thanked Councilwoman Heather Deal for her part in garnering a “yes” from City Council when they were requested to grant an almost unprecedented 100% transfer of the density of the venue to Wall Financial. Mayor Robertson remarked that Deal has said, “the City of Vancouver has a new “art-titude”. I’m so excited to know this east side venue will be restored, particularly in light of the connection to Theatre at UBC, with Dorothy Somerset, Joy Coghill along with many other of Vancouver’s theatrical pioneers having performed there. From the artist’s renderings it looks like they are going back to the name “Vancouver Little Theatre”. More at http://www.thecultch.com

Billy Bishop – Design Notes

Friday, October 31st, 2008

The design for Billy Bishop Goes to War , which opened last night at the Telus Studio Theatre, was influenced by a number of inspirations. These included the sculpture of American artist Lee Bontecou, airfield architecture from the First World War, aerial photographs taken during actual reconnaissance and the idea of found objects in a space transforming into something theatrical. The elements give us a sense of period, bringing us back in time and into the world of Bishop. The palette is muted and earthy, incorporating the feeling of natural materials. It is derived from examples of Bontecou’s work, which contains an interesting juxtaposition of hard and soft materials combined with paint.

The show lends itself to intimacy, given its single character, Billy Bishop, and a musician to support him. Because of this we have chosen a thrust layout for the Telus Studio Theatre, wrapping the audience on three sides. There is a hint of an old hangar, with a sculptural element at the end of the space and a few prop elements scattered throughout. By simple suggestion the audience is transported to various locations; a simple prop such as a rug invokes a parlour, backlighting the sculpture as a window gives the vastness of a hangar, giving the actor height for the telling of a flying story takes us into the air. Towards the end of the piece, the simple, seemingly non-descript objects transform into something unexpected in a bit of theatrical magic. Come see Billy Bishop to discover the surprise.~ Kevin McAllister

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