Shylock joins Bard on the Beach 2018

As the 2017 Bard on the Beach continues bringing Shakespeare to Vanier Park, a provocative, contemporary work, Shylock, joins the repertoire.   Written by BC writer Mark Leiren-Young, Shylock plays on the Howard Family Stage until September 15th. The play premiered at Bard on the Beach in 1996 and has since been performed around the world to popular and critical acclaim.

 Echoing current affairs, Sherry J. Yoon directs this explosive one-man monologue about censorship, racism and the role of theatre as a reflection of our own present-day attitudes and thoughts. Star Warren Kimmel, who is also playing Shylock in The Merchant of Venice on the Howard Family Stage. Within the play, Kimmel plays the character of Jon Davies, an actor and a Jew, condemned by his own community for his portrayal of the Jewish moneylender in a traditional production of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. Davies uses his final post-show talkback to raise challenging questions about censorship in general and the political correctness of Merchant itself.

 Shylock was one of the first original works we presented at Bard, under the direction of John Juliani”, notes Christopher Gaze, Bard Artistic Director. “With our current staging of The Merchant of Venice, it’s the perfect time to bring Shylock back as a companion piece.”

Adds director Sherry J. Yoon, “Though Mark’s play was written over 20 years ago, Shylock seems more relevant today than ever. From the historical references in literature, to extremist views that have simultaneously polarized and united us, the irreverent humour in this work will resonate.” Leiren-Young, as is his practice whenever the piece is produced, has provided contemporary updates to help link the story directly to today’s political and social climate.

Shylock plays in repertory on the Howard Family Stage with The Merchant of Venice and The Two Gentlemen of Verona, from today until September 15th. Visit bardonthebeach.org for tickets and information

This Is Our Youth at Red Gate Revue Stage

photo: Ken Thorne

This Is Our Youth is the debut production by the fledgling Mid Twenties  Theatre Society as well as the directorial debut of its founder Beau Han Bridge.  Now playing at the Red Gate Revue Stage on Granville Island, This Is Our Youth is a play by American playwright and Academy Award-winning screenwriter Kenneth Lonergan.  Since its stage debut in 1996, This Is Our Youth has been staged numerous times over the years, off and on Broadway, in the West End and around the world.

photo: Ken Thorne

While there is reference to the President, updated to President Trump, from its original Reagan era setting, the play doesn’t feel dated, in spite of it being written two decades ago.  Set wholly within Dennis Zeigler’s New York studio apartment, This Is Our Youth is a weekend in the lives of an early-twenties trio; Dennis, Warren Staub and Jessica Goldman.  The play mostly surround the awkward and dynamic friendship between Dennis and Warren, but Jessica Goldman, the object of Warren’s clumsy amourous advances, also stops in and out in each of the two acts.   At two hours, including short intermission, the oft-intense interaction between Dennis and Warren, Warren and Jessica plus the simple staging keeps the play move quickly.

photo: Ken Thorne

All three of the players were perfect in capturing the angst and intensity of the characters.  Zack Currie brilliantly portrays the frenetic energy and intensity of drug-dealer Dennis’ often verbal diarrhea of random thoughts on life and how he interacts with others.  Warren Staub is brought to life by Quinn Hinch in a turn that balances Warren’s sheltered innocence and desire to get out from under his parents and the burden of memory of his deceased sister. Mackenzie Cardwell provides Jessica, someone who always wants to have the last word, with the protective wall of her argumentative personality while maintaining the arrogance of youth.  This trio can more than hold their own against the impressive line up of respected actors who have previously played these roles like; Jake Gyllenhaal, Matt Damon, Michael Cera, Anna Pacquin to name a few.

Even though situations, styles and cultures may shift everyone should be able to relate to the themes in This Is Our Youth; finding your way from childhood to adulthood, balancing being your parent’s child and being your own person, and how to make your mark in the world.

If this debut is the way they’ll proceed, Mid Twenties Theatre Society has a bright future ahead of them.

This Is Our Youth continues at Red Gate Revue Stage on Granville Island; tonight July 17, 19, 21-23. Nightly at 7pm with 3pm matinees Saturday and Sunday. Visit mtstheatre.com for tickets.
*Audience Warning: the play includes graphic language and drug use including non-toxic smoke

The Merchant of Venice at Bard on the Beach

The Merchant of Venice is now open on the Howard Family Stage at Bard on the Beach 2017.

Photo credit: David and Emily Cooper

The thought provoking play, at first glance, seems dated in it’s views on Jews, Christian, marriage, women.  However, when you break it down prejudice, revenge, distrust are themes that are timeless. While Shakespeare wrote the play over 4 centuries ago, these themes in the story seem to resonate with today’s news headlines.  Award-winning director Nigel Shawn Williams has taken brought his version of The Merchant of Venice into this century with modern Italian-inspired costumes but kept the dialogue true to the original script.

Split into two location, Venice and Belmont, set designer Marshall McMahen keeps things simple using projections against the static onstage towers to change the locations, and Costumer Drew Facey changes the palate of the costumes with crisp suits and fitted fashions in black, white and grey in Venice while Belmont has a softer, flowing silhouette in pastels and creams.   The two halves of the story feel differently too; the aggressive business and legal transactions in Venice between Jewish Shylock, played with fury by Warren Kimmel, and Christian Antonio, an understated Edward Foy, are coupled by the fast paced action and speech, While the romantic storyline surrounding fair Portia’s Belmont villa is slower and builds suspense as we watch the love unfold between Portia and Bassanio’s, played by the charismatic Olivia Hunt and Charlie Gallant.

The Merchant of Venice has so much going on, at times it’s hard to keep it all straight in your head, but the concentration made it more thought provoking,  as modern day prejudices came to mind.   The 160 minute production goes by quite quickly as the pace of the staging keeps your attention in check.

Bard on the Beach presents The Merchant of Venice at the Howard Family Stage in the Douglas Campbell Theatre on alternate nights with The Two Gentlemen of Verona.

Picks of the Week – July 5, 2017

If you’re not too worn out from your Canada Day long weekend, there’s still plenty to do in the picks of the week to keep you entertained

Kicks: Tonight, watch for fireworks as Whitecaps FC play host to NYC FC and it’s star studded roster at BC Place at 7pm.

Charity: Play some bingo, win some prizes, donate to charity while supporting Friends for Life, sounds simple? It is, all at Jukebox Bingo with Mina Mercury, Misty Meadows and retro tunes from DJ Del Stamp on Wednesday evening at Celebrities.

Shakespeare:  Bard on the Beach is under the tents at Vanier Park, Much Ado About Nothing and The Winter’s Tale are on the BMO Mainstage with The Merchant of Venice and Two Gentlemen of Verona in previews on the Howard Family Stage.

Front: Fridays on Front is a new evening market experience on Front Street in New Westminster; food, artisans, entertainment and more

Park: The 2017 edition of FVDED in the Park fills Holland Park in Surrey with great music from The Chainsmokers, Wiz Khalifa, Dillon Francis, Ty Dolla $ign and many more, Friday and Saturday

Victoria: More music can be found across the pond, The Phillips Backyard Weekender kicks into gear with music from headliners Common Kings, Cake, Current Swell, plus many more over three days; July 7-9.

Party: Saturday, the annual Khatsahlano Street Party takes over 4th Avenue in Kits for a day-long party of shopping, Food Trucks, family entertainment and music from The Zolas, The Courtneys, D.O.A and more

Eat: The Third Annual Taco Fest brings food fans out to Swangard Stadium on Saturday to witness The Ring of Fire Eating Competition, musical entertainment, food vendors and merchants

Stage: The Arts Club Theatre Company stages are loaded with entertainment; Million Dollar Quartet at The Stanley Stage, extended until July 16th, Hand To God at The Goldcorp Stage, until June 25th and Bittergirl The Musical running until July 29th at Granville Island Stage

The Winter’s Tale Opens at Bard on the Beach

This week, Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale joined the schedule at Bard On The Beach.  Director Dean Paul Gibson, a Bard veteran, has crafted a classic interpretation of the complex play.  Part tragedy, part romance, part comedy, the production is divided into two acts, two eras and two locations.

The Winter’s Tale

Opening in Sicilia, the simple staging finds five columns serving duty to form the multiple locations within the island. Designer Pam Johnson’s stripped down set allows the graceful Greco-Roman costuming, by Carmen Alatorre, to shine, bringing a regal air to the court of Leontes, King of Sicilia (Kevin MacDonald). Noble woman Paulina, charismatically played by the multiple Jessie Award-winning Lois Anderson, serves as narrator and a central player moving the play through its 16 year narrative.   The rest first act plays out like a typical tragedy; lust, jealousy, betrayal, judgement, death all rear their heads.

Act two move ahead 16 years and begins in Bohemia, focusing on the homeland of King Polixenes, also the mood of the play shifts greatly, from the tragic first act. In the rural, free-spirited setting of Bohemia, The Winter’s Tale becomes much lighter and comedic as we meet Autolycus, played by Ben Elliott in a slapstick turn reminiscent of Jim Carrey.  The Shepherd and Son also provide lighthearted diversion, from the more romantic act, as do their sheep and farm maids.  The Second act also brought music into the production, with Autolycus, Prince Florizel and his beloved Perdita all add songs, to varying effectiveness.  Shifting back to Sicily, the final scenes of The Winter’s Tale tie the stories together and bring the play back to the beginning and the end.

While Lois Anderson shines as the anchor of the play, the whole company of The Winter’s Tale fit nicely into their characters and believably carry the regal roles and costumes.  While nearly 3 hours, Dean Paul Gibson has kept The Winter’s Tale moving, entertaining and visually appealing that it doesn’t feel long.

The Winter’s Tale alternates with Much Ado About Nothing on the BMO Mainstage at Bard On The Beach until September 22, 2017.

Pi Theatre presents Long Division

Remember when we were children in math class and wondered how math would relate to the real world? Long Division, is a play that seeks to show us how math works its way into every aspect of our lives.

Melissa Oei, Linda Quibell, Anousha Alamian, Jay Clift, Nicco Lorenzo Garcia (photo: David Cooper)

From April 26th to 30th, Pi Theatre presents a remount of Peter Dickinson’s Long Division, at the Annex Theatre. Directed by Pi Theatre’s Artistic Director Richard Wolfe with choreography by Lesley Telford and a musical score by Owen Belton, the work combines multimedia and physical theatre to explore the mathematics of human connection.

“Math is a secret language hidden in plain sight. So much of what we see in the world around us

– traffic patterns, the growth of plants, our ubiquitous mobile devices – are governed by logic and patterns that can be expressed purely in numbers,” says Richard Wolfe.

Long Division’s story revolves around seven diverse characters who are traveling to a downtown bar on the occasion of a complicated anniversary. Despite their eclectic backgrounds, the Venn Diagram of their lives overlap in a singular, unresolved traumatic event that binds their pasts together.

Long Division is a play about the search to discover and understand all of the profound and painful ways we are tied to one another. In life, as in math, it is often difficult to see the patterns that link us, or the connections we make until we experience them from different angles.

This bold and innovative work demonstrates how the seven characters need each other, the audience, and a healthy dose of mathematical history and theory to find the answer to the question they all share.

Long Division runs April 26 – 30, 2017 at Annex Theatre, 823 Seymour Street. Tickets are available online at pitheatre.com/tickets

Documenting The Watershed at Gateway Theatre

Now on stage at the Gateway Theatre in Richmond, The Watershed is an interesting and topical piece of documentary theatre.
Originally commissioned for the Arts and Culture program of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games, Annabel Soutar’s The Watershed followers her and her family on an exploration of the Nation’s precarious fresh water supply.

Although the play was first performed in 2015 with material documented in the years prior, the conflict between science, news, arts, ideology and politics continues to be a topic of discussion. While researching and preparing The Watershed, Ms Soutar recorded every bit of dialogue between her, her family and subjects. These recordings along with quotes from news clips, speeches and public forums form the script of the docu-play.

The play’s two acts follow the two segments of the research process.  First the audience follows Annabel, husband Alex and daughters as they set out to research Canada’s fresh water supply, and see the strongest story of the documentary evolve.  Act two follows the family on a cross-Canada Winnebago trip to explore the country and learn about their topics first hand.

While the subject is politically charged and controversial the play maintains a balance to show characters from all sides of the story and not get too ‘preachy’ when delivering the message.
While the 2 hour and 45 minute play (incl intermission) is long, it doesn’t drag.  The pacing and mix of humour and drama keep the story moving.

The Watershed runs at Gateway Theatre until April 15th.