No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks comes to Chan Centre

In recognition of Black History Month, The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts is bringing No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks to the Chan Shun Concert Hall on February 24th. 

As part of the Beyond Words series, this multimedia work from innovative art-collective Manual Cinema in collaboration with Chicago-based poets Eve L. Ewing and Nate Marshall, featuring a live six-piece band and original score by Jamila Woods and Ayanna Woods, creates an inspiring biographical narrative, of Gwendolyn Brooks. The late poet was a radical and disruptive presence within the national literary scene, becoming the first African-American to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1950.

Photo of Manual Cinema by Julia Miller

“Manual Cinema creates magic, pure and simple. Through the unlikely pairing of high-tech digital equipment and old-school overhead projectors they are known for completely captivating audiences,” says Wendy Atkinson, Programming Manager at the Chan Centre and curator of Beyond Words. “Two years ago they performed here to rave reviews and when I heard about their most recent project — a biography of poet Gwendolyn Brooks that also includes a live band — I couldn’t resist inviting them back!”

Born in 1917 in Kansas and raised in Chicago, Gwendolyn Brooks worked for decades as an acclaimed artist, mentor to aspiring poets, and advocate for schoolchildren. Gaining much acclaim, she became one of the most widely read authors in America, using her poetic eloquence to convey the black experience.

No Blue Memories traces the political arc of her career and the development of her craft. Manual Cinema’s production uses a combination of shadow puppetry, vintage overhead projectors, multiple screens, actors, live feed cameras, multi-channel sound design, and live music. Written by Ewing and Marshall — also known collectively as Crescendo Literary, a name taken from a Brooks composition — the evocative performance poetically explores her legacy. Fellow Chicago-based soul singer Jamila Woods collaborated with multi-instrumentalist Ayanna Woods for the original score, which will be performed live. 

No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks takes the stage at The Chan Centre for Performing Arts at The University of British Columbia at 7pm, Sunday February 24, 2019. For information and tickets visit chancentre.com

A return to Chelsea Hotel : The Songs Of Leonard Cohen

Adrian Glynn McMorran
Photo: Emily Cooper

As the Firehall Arts Centre celebrates its 35th Anniversary, it brings back one of its most popular shows, Chelsea Hotel : The Songs Of Leonard Cohen.

The musical follows a writer who has checked into the famed Chelsea Hotel seeking inspiration and the words to his next prose. As he reminisces about his past romances to find his muse he is haunted by a love that he cannot, but longs to, forget.  The writer’s memories and hotel room are brought to life through Leonard Cohen’s poetic lyrics.  Creator Tracey Power and musical arranger/director Steve Charles allow the audience to enter the writer’s thoughts play out like a lucid dream.

l-r: Kayla, Steve, Ben, Marlene, Krystle
Photo: Emily Cooper

Adrian Glynn McMorran is the perfect embodiment of the writer’s angst,From tender lullabies to full out rock opera he is able to project the emotions of each tune whether he’s being sung to or singing.  Ben Elliot stands out as the writer’s conscience, helping him keep striving to find the words he’s seeking. Kayla Nickel, Krystle Dos Santos playing his various lovers, from flirtatious minxes to sultry sirens, while Marlene Ginader is the love he can’t forget. Along with Steve Charles all the actors sing and play seventeen different instruments on stage, immersing the audience in the musical.

Marlene Ginader + Adrian Glynn McMorran Photo: Emily Cooper

The first remount since the bard’s passing, the show packs an added emotion when hearing the memorable and thought-provoking lyrics from Everybody Knows, and Closing Time, to First We Take Manhattan, and Bird On A Wire, any many more. Of course no omnibus of Cohen’s music would be complete without the inclusion of Hallelujah.  With JUNO Week in Vancouver celebrating Canadian Music, it seems especially appropriate for the Firehall Arts Centre to remount this love letter to Cohen’s music

Chelsea Hotel: The Songs Of Leonard Cohen plays at Firehall Arts Centre, 280 E. Cordova St. until April 21, 2018. Visit firehallartscentre.ca for showtimes and ticket information.

Vancouver International Writer’s Festival 2014

viwfThe next six days will be filled with literary brilliance as the 2014 Vancouver International Writer’s Festival fills the city with events.

Centered around Granville Island the Festival kicks of today and funds until October 26th. Now in its 27th year, the Festival celebrates the story, through a series to readings, workshops, presentations and more featuring authors, poets, spoken word performers, and graphic novelists from around the world.  Find events with James Ellroy from the US, William Gibsons from BC, Miriam Toews from Quebec, Anne Kennedy from New Zealand, Karl Ove Knausgaard from Norway and many more.

The festival’s events bring together readers and writers of all backgrounds with something for adults, children, educators and anyone who enjoys the written word.

The full festival schedule and tickets are available now at writersfest.bc.ca