All My Friends Are Animals connects to your wild side

Take a walk on the wild side as Babelle Theatre and Axis Theatre join forces to present, All My Friends Are Animals, a family-friendly romp from the city and into the wild. .

About connecting with our inner wild selves, the two theatre companies, known for creative, experimental, physical theatre that appeals to young and the young at heart bring All My Friends Are Animals to Russian Hall from September 18 -23, 2018 for school and public audiences.

Loosely based on a true story of a bear’s adventure into downtown Vancouver. When a bear wanders down from the mountains and into the city, the poles of wilderness and civilization are flipped, and young Jo is forced to navigate the city as a ‘wild human’ – spooking unsuspecting animals and outrunning agitated mobs of vertebrates – in order to get back home. It is through her interactions and encounters with other ‘civilized animals’ (raccoons, coyotes, mice, crows) that Jo learns what it means ‘to be human’ – the fact of our essential dependence on one another and our collective dependence upon nature.

All My Friends Are Animals is a show that examines our western colonial tendency to set Man apart from Nature and Mind apart from Body. Through a rich language of metaphor, it takes aims at Western European myths of individualism and technological independence.

To bring to life the surreal vision of Jo’s journey, Babelle will be working with puppets and shadow puppets designed by award-winning master puppeteer Jeny Cassady. Speaking about her approach for this production, director Marie Farsi says “For the past several weeks James and I have been working in collaboration with the other designers in order to create a visually rich storytelling experience.” Playwright James King adds, “The possibilities are enormous for puppetry – it can be very literal but it can also become very impressionistic, and I think we’re interested in finding the balance between the two.”

Aimed for audiences 10 years + All My Friends Are Animals runs September 18-23 with school performances Tuesday to Friday and two public performances each day, Saturday and Sunday.  Tickets for public performances are available via Eventbrite, from $10+ fees

Arts Umbrella Expressions Theatre Festival 2018

arts umbrellaArts Umbrella has revealed the line up for the 2018 Expressions Theatre Festival. Running May 17 – 26, 2018 at the Waterfront Theatre, the festival showcases the talented young artists in Arts Umbrella’s Intensive, Pre-Professional and Theatre Conservatory Programs. This annual festival boasts a bevy of captivating productions, from the whimsical family fun of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to the frontier hijinks of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!, the audacious programming capitalizes on students’ exceptional range and skill.

Oklahoma

This year, audiences will be treated to an line-up of thought-provoking works, including a modern take on the classic Greek tragedy The Phoenician Women and the perceptive student-created original work, Outside In. Additionally, the Theatre Conservatory Program will be make their festival debut with a performance of Charles Way’s Missing, a riveting modern interpretation of the classic fairy tale Hansel and Gretel featuring Vancouverite and Arts Umbrella graduate, Douglas Ennenberg.

“The young and exceptionally talented assemblage of Expressions Theatre Festival students never fail to inspire with their courage, passion, and devotion to their craft. Their dauntless enthusiasm is contagious,” says Paul Moniz de Sá, Artistic Director of the Theatre & Music Program at Arts Umbrella. “We strive to provide an environment where students can take risks and express themselves freely while they hone their art. The skills they learn as they rehearse for and perform in this festival enriches their lives on and off the stage.”

Charlie & the Chocolate Factory

While developing their presentations for this year’s Expressions Theatre Festival, Arts Umbrella students have the opportunity to collaborate closely with professional directors and designers. Before staging each festival production, the students perform their works in schools across the Lower Mainland, while learning the important operations involved in mounting and producing technically demanding works. This process allows students to experience the collaboration, creativity, and dedication that goes into a successful theatre production. For the 17-22 year olds who are preparing to audition for professional theatre schools in the Theatre Conservatory Program, the festival gives them a preview of the life of a professional actor.

For the full line-up details and ticketing information visit artsumbrella.com

Bard On The Beach supports Young Shakespeareans

With just six weeks until the 2018 Bard on the Beach season opens, registration is open for the return of its annual Young Shakespeareans Summer Theatre Camps and Teen Workshops.  Camp and workshop sessions begin July 3, running through to August 31, 2018, allowing youth from ages 8 to 18 to receive coaching by professional actors from Bard on the Beach, and perform some of Shakespeare’s most beloved works under the famed white tents in Vanier Park.

Shakespeare’s words are read and analyzed in English classrooms around the world, but we often forget a simple fact: These plays were never meant to be studied.” says Mary Hartman, Director of Education. “With Young Shakespeareans we actively and imaginatively introduce growing minds to these plays, giving young people the tools to make these timeless tales their own through performance. It is endlessly inspiring to see the perspective that new generations bring to these stories, and that more than 400 years later, Shakespeare continues to shed light on our lives.”

This season Young Shakespeareans will grow and expand to include The Young Shakespeareans Summer Camps and Workshops consists of 16 distinct sessions, most of which are half-day sessions running for two weeks. This season also introduces, for the first time, full-day options that take participants beyond the world of performance and into production.  The workshops centre around one of Shakespeare’s most beloved plays (among 2018 options are HamletRomeo and JulietJulius Caesar, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and more).  Over the course of the workshop, professional actors from Bard’s company will help participants bring Shakespeare’s words to life through coaching in voice, movement and dialogue, and with activities designed to boost confidence and foster collaborative relationships. Each session culminates with the opportunity for the young thespians to share their work on Bard on the Beach’s Vanier Park stages.

More than simply developing artistic talent and an appreciation of Shakespeare’s work, the summer camps are dedicated to inspiring and nurturing confidence, creativity, and positive social relationships amongst its youth participants. In more than two decades, the program has contributed to the development of thousands of aspiring thespians, including Bard alumni such as Christine Quintana, Rachel Cairns, and Kayla Deorksen.


For registration and full details about Bard on the Beach Young Shakespeareans Summer Theatre Camps and Teen Workshops and its other community initiatives visit:
bardonthebeach.org/education/community/young-shakespeareans.

Once On This Island The Musical on Granville Island

“The Godsquad” L-R: Yoo Ra Kang, Ricardo Pequenino, Alexandra Quispe, Sari Rosofsky
Photo: Tina Clelland

From Broadway to Granville Island, Once On This Island is now playing at Red Gate Review Stage.  The award winning musical, currently in a revival on Broadway, is making its Vancouver debut with Fabulist Theatre.

With book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and, music by Stephen Flaherty, Once On This Island is based on Rosa Guy’s 1985 novel My Love, My Love: or, The Peasant Girl.  Based in the French Antilles, the story is a tropical take on The Little Mermaid with a touch of Romeo and Juliet added to the tale.

Once On This Island: Michael Gnansounou and Brianna Clark
Photo: Tina Clellan

Once On This Island tells the story orphan peasant girl Ti Mourne, one of the villagers who worship the island’s four gods; earth, water, love & death. The gods are looked upon for guidance while they control life, love and death.  On the other side of the island the wealthy French grands hommes look down upon the peasants but Ti Mourne finds love and plans to unite the island with her love of Daniel Beauxhomme, the son of a grands homme who crashes his car near Ti Mourne’s village during a rainstorm.

A lively score and a mix of energetic and soulful island ballads fill the musical with a tropical feeling.  In this ambitious Fabulist Theatre production, directed by Damon Bradley Jang, has cast Brianna Clark as Ti Mourne.  The high school student is a standout amongst the large cast, possessing a charismatic, lovely voice and lights up the stage with her smile. In his stage debut, Michael Gnansounou makes a charming leading man as Daniel Beauxhomme.

The limitations of the smaller review stage created congestion onstage with the sets and large cast taking up precious space, resulting in ensemble members bumping into each other during the dance numbers and some rather clumsy looking scenery changes.  The size of the theatre also plays a hand in some of the other technical issues, the band sounds amazing but overwhelms the vocals a number of times, making the story hard to follow.  A few actors’ microphones slipped out of place as well making them only audible for those nearby.  In spite of those technical difficulties, which will surely be worked out over the run of the show, Fabulist Theatre presents an uplifting, sunny look at culture clashes, diversity, love and death.

Fabulist Theatre’s Once On This Island plays at the Red Gate Review Stage April 12, 13 & 14, 2018.  Tickets are available on brownpapertickets.com.

7 Minutes In Heaven with Eternal Theatre Collective

Playwright Steven Levenson is Broadway’s hot writer, the 2017 Tony Award winner for Best Book of a Musical, but before Dear Evan Hansen,  Levenson cut his teeth on 7 Minutes In Heaven.

Eternal Theatre Collective, brings 7 Minutes In Heaven to Vancouver with a run at Studio 16, until March 10th.  The youth run theatre organization is dedicated to providing young actors experience in live theatre.  Seven Minutes In Heaven is a perfect production for this type of troupe, the play, set in the early 90s, centres around 6 teens at a basement party. What follows is a series of random vignettes spanning their evening’s activities. Filled with non sequiturs as the teens, each filled with their own angst and insecurities, try to amuse themselves with games of Candyland, Truth Or Dare, Wink Murder, Spin The Bottle and of course Seven Minutes In Heaven.  Moments of maturity compete with the adolescent insecurities, peer pressure, hormones and awkwardness.

The awkwardness played well with the varying experience of the cast, the play allows any fumbles and slips to seem like natural social stumbles that we all remember from our youth, no matter when you grew up.  The script is filled with cringeworthy moments of mocking, bitchiness, scandal and emotions. Some of the characters break the fourth wall with the awareness of where they’re going in life or what brought them to this time, just to remind us in hindsight that what was so important at 15 years of age, is just a blimp in our road of life.
Director Allyson Fournier and the cast have created a world that will feel familiar to most of us, the realistic basement set and 90s era pop soundtrack take us back to a time before the internet, cell phones, selfies and social media. While we like to think of those times as simpler and more innocent, 7 Minutes In Heaven reminds us that the trials and tribulations faced by teens is the same through every generation, only amplified in our globally connected times.

Now let’s use that social connection for good and share the word about Eternal Theatre Collective’s production of 7 Minutes In Heaven, at Studio 16 until March 10, 2018, tickets are on sale online at eternaltheatre.com

Monsters coming to Scotiabank Dance Centre

Something wicked this way comes as Miscellaneous Productions presents Monsters at the Scotiabank Dance Centre October 6th and 7th.

As evenings grow dark and Halloween season creeps upon us, monsters and villains start to lurk and there will be monsters indeed at the premiere performance of “Monsters”, a new transdisciplinary musical theatre work by Miscellaneous Productions, a Vancouver-based non-profit society which uses art as a path for social change and personal transformation in culturally and socially at-risk youth – empowering them to be fully participating citizens. 

The monsters in question are those, real and imagined, encountered by a cast of Vancouver youth as they explore the concept of ‘monsters as found in culturally diverse, historical, pre-modern, Indigenous and traditional storytelling, as well as futuristic monsters in popular culture. “Monsters” integrates these stories with the performers’ personal experiences of bullying or being bullied — the monsters they have encountered, and the monsters they find within themselves.

Loosely based on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, but incredibly topical for today’s news headlines, “Monsters” is a strongly anti-bullying, anti-violence, anti-racism play designed for young audiences aged 12 an older, and performed by youth, exploring how and why a community creates and supports a ‘monster’, how collusion functions and how people are often attracted to individuals with loud, brash, forceful or aggressive personalities but are unaware of how incredibly damaging they can be. 

Monsters plays at the Scotiabank Dance Centre’s Faris Family Studio Theatre for two performances only on October 6 and 7, 2017, at 8pm.
Tickets available from brownpapertickets.com

“Monsters” Free Open Rehearsal April 28th.

Miscellaneous Productions invites the public to a free open rehearsal of their new musical theatre work, MONSTERS.  The free open rehearsal and community forum takes place on Friday, April 28 at the Dance Centre’s Faris Family Studio. 

photo: miscelleneous productions

Based loosely on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein,  the show is designed for children and played by young actors to help reach the audience on the same level.  The title ‘monsters’  are both real and imagined as encountered by the cast of 14 youth players.  When the show debuts in October, the audience will find strong anti-bullying, anti-violence, anti-racism themes.  The play explores how and why a community creates and supports a ‘monster’, how collusion functions and how many are unaware of how incredibly damaging bullies can be.

A one-of-a-kind youth oriented arts-based company, Miscellaneous Productions is a 17 year old collaborative, non-profit creating  culturally and socially diverse, multi-barriered and mainstream performances, films and music for the public.  

MONSTERS’ free open rehearsal and community forum takes place Friday April 28, 2017, 7pm at The Dance Centre, 677 Davie Street (at Granville St)