Sunday, November 16, 2008

in the pen case

As some of you may know I collect fountain pens. {Brief pause for the inevitable laughter to stop}. I won't bore you with the minutiae but sufficeth to say that if you ever get a check, note, or ask to borrow a pen then you will inevitably be handed a fountain pen of some description or it will be written by a fountain pen.
There is for me great satisfaction in pairing up various pens to ink and following the impulse of the moment as to which will be used. It is an in the moment piece of art that allows for random expression.
So from time to time I will post what pens I currently have in my pen case. They may reflect some inner clue as to how things are or maybe they will just, like much of what I believe is theatre, be an opportunity to be surprised.

So from left to right are this weeks current crop. Filcao Atlantica {ink: Private Reserve Plum}, Parker Duofold {ink: Aurora Black}, Cleo Scribent Chiffre 2000 {ink: Private Reserve Fiesta Red}, across the top a Parker Lady Patricia Pencil in Onyx {part of a set with a matching Ladies pen}

I seem to be heavily into red inks these days. I wonder what that invokes.

Alison Croggon

Alison Croggon, a theatre blogger from Australia writes in her post "Hope and so on"

"Culture isn’t the same as art. Culture is the contract, however defined, between an artist and his or her public. Culture is the lively communal yeast that makes everything rise. It’s the air that lets art breathe, the space where it can swing its arms, the multiple influences that flavour it.

If our theatre culture is deeply impoverished, it’s not because there are not committed and skilful artists, or that there aren’t audiences – even enthusiastic audiences – for what they do. It’s because something crucial is missing in between, in that implicit contract between the creation and reception of art. Whatever the causes – and they are manifold, historical and difficult to track – the effects are plain."

This is a huge post that is, in it's references, quite Australian. However I think that we here in Canada could make the necessary substitutions. This is a post well worth reading all the way through.

The front page of her blog, theatre notes, is here. And I will be adding her to the blogroll as I find her a fascinating read.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sunday Quickie

Conservative Theatre

Ottawa Festival Cuts

I don't know if the two go together but maybe....just maybe

or maybe this fits in somehow as well Sacramento AD Resigns

Monday, November 10, 2008

International Playwrights Forum - Fin

Kwame Kwei Armah, Philip Akin, Velina Hasu Houston
Photo by Dian Marie Bridge

This weekend opened up for me a number of questions. I was amazed at the magnificent artists that came and so generously shared with us. I was amazed at how those in attendance seemed to be so inspired and enriched by the Forum. Their survey forms often spoke of how they had been avoiding the difficult work that is inside them and how now they know that that is the work that has to be tackled. I was amazed at how, even though they registered, over 54% did not bother to show up.
I felt that this Forum was a unique opportunity to open some doors between companies and to activate the process of cross pollinization of ideas and cultures. But then again perhaps not. It was somewhat disheartening to realize that it may be easier to look outward, across borders and seas, to find people and companies that believe in this model instead of down the street.
It has left me with a lot to think about and to re-evaluate what direction will best serve Obsidian.

Internationa Playwrights Forum - Day 2

Roxanne Joseph, Marcia Johnson working after a Masterclass
photo by Dian Marie Bridge

Day 2 Started with a panel discussion with Velina, Kwame and myself. It did not stay that way as the audience had some great questions and we were able to be quite free ranging.

Kwame Kwei-Armah  finished off the forum with a wonderful address wherein he read from Naomi Wallace's essay on the Art of Transgression. He passionately took us into his world of political theatre and challenged us to write from any place that does not support the status quo. How the status quo is at best conservative theatre and that we as artists must not be afraid to break any idea of being conservative.

His Masterclass was an interesting one in that we asked each of us to say something to the group that we had no idea or intention of stating publicly. What followed was an intensely personal sharing. Kwame then spoke of how we as artists have to open ourselves up to that place. That place of nakedness and put that out on the stage. And that it is through that nakedness that the audience is clothed. It was a wonderful moment and thought and one that has lingered with me.

International Playwrights Forum - Day 1

Photo Dian Marie Bridge

So our Forum was a couple of days of intense surprises, laughter, thought and artistic stimulation. We ended up having to change some things around as Migdalia had to return home early and so, she and Velina {as pictured above}, presented on the Saturday. They were so very different in their approach and yet so deeply inspiring. Velina has a clear, insightful approach to her work. She weaves her themes deftly together and her Masterclass followed that approach. 

All the Keynotes were done in the Enwave theatre and then the Masterclasses were held out in the lobby so that there could be a greater connection between the presenters and the attendees. This proved to be a great combination although they never seem to be able to heat the Enwave lobby to a nice comfort level.

Migdalia is so fierce. Her works are raw, passionate, visceral, full of images and fully grounded and realized. When she read it was like being emotionally hammered. Usually her Masterclasses are 3 - 4 hours long and since we didn't have that kind of time she spoke more about process. 

The Saturday evening finished off with our Across the Tdot Readings {or as i subtitled it, the Tapas Readings}. We were treated to to short excerpts of new works by, Laurence Anthony, Aisha John, Motion {Obsidian Playwrights Unit for this year}, Victor Gomez {Alameda Theatre}, David Yee, Marie Beath Badian {fu-Gen Theatre}, Alicia Payne / Don Molnar and Leah-Simone Bowen.

Miriam Makeba

Before the great singers of Mali or Ladysmith Black Mambazo were known there was Miriam Makeba. She even married Stokely Carmichael and how cool was that back in the day

Monday, November 3, 2008

Dora, Dora, Dora



TORONTO – The Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA) announced a contest today to redesign the Dora Mavor Moore Award statue. The Doras recognize excellence in theatre, dance, and opera on Toronto stages. The Dora Award Design Contest is open to all Ontario residents eighteen (18) years of age or older. The original Dora statuette, designed by John Romano depicting Harlequin from Commedia Dell'arte, will be replaced by the winning entry, and distributed for the first time at the 30th Annual Dora Mavor Moore Awards in June 2009. The winning designer will receive a cash prize of $2,000. 

"The industry has evolved considerably since the first Dora statue was presented nearly 30 years ago. The new Dora award will become an icon of Toronto's vibrant and diverse performing arts community," says Philip Akin, chair of the Redesign Committee. "We are not looking for a re-imagining of the current statuette, but something that will resonate with modern audiences."

"Dora Mavor Moore was a visionary who helped establish Canadian professional theatre. She was an innovative director, actress and educator," says Jacoba Knaapen, TAPA's Executive Director. "The winning design will embody her spirit and reflect the excellence of Toronto's theatre, dance and opera industry."

Entries will be judged independently by a jury of Toronto-based performing and visual arts professionals selected by TAPA (listed below). Entries must be received by 5:00 pm Monday, January 12, 2009. For full contest rules and how to submit entries, please visit www.tapa.ca. 

Dora Statue Redesign Jurors:


Philip Akin, Jury Chair: Philip is a Founding Member of the Obsidian Theatre Company and is currently its Artistic Director. Directing: Black Medea (Obsidian Theatre), Intimate Apparel (Obsidian Theatre), and Born Ready (Obsidian Theatre, Theatre Passe Muraille). Upcoming: Toronto the Good (Factory Theatre). Philip has been an actor for the last 33 years and was last seen in Othello {Stratford Festival} and this spring he will reprise his Dora nominated performance in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Birdland Theatre). He has also performed in over 150 movies, MOWs, television shows and series, the most recent as a recurring character in Flashpoint.


Sarah Diamond: Sara is the President of the Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD), Canada’s foremost university of art and design. She holds degrees from Canada and the United Kingdom in social history, communications, new media theory and practice. She is currently a member of the Ontario Ministry of Culture’s Minister’s Advisory Council on Arts & Culture, the Board of Directors of the Toronto Arts Council Foundation and of ORANO, Ontario’s high speed network. She is a founding member of CONCERT and the Chair of the OMDC funded Mobile Experience Innovation Centre. She provides media consulting to Heritage Canada, SSHRC, CFI, Industry Canada, CHRC and DFAIT, as well as international governments, institutions and agencies as diverse as China, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Argentina, Finland, Australia, Brazil and the USA.

Prior to her presidency at OCAD Diamond was the Director of Research for the prestigious Banff Centre. She created the renowned Banff New Media Institute (BNMI) in 1995 and led it until coming to Toronto in 2005. Diamond developed international summits and business development workshops and accelerators that explored the near future of new media. She built alliances between artists, designers, architects, scientists, social scientists, and international and Canadian businesses. Diamond created and was Editor-in-Chief of www.horizonzero.ca, an on-line showcase for new media art and design, in collaboration with Heritage Canada. She is a visualization software researcher and developer www.codezebra.net.


Camellia Koo: Camellia is a set & costume designer and installation artist. Recent designs include the set for The Stepmother (Shaw Festival) and sets & costumes for East of Berlin (Tarragon). Other collaborations include fu-Gen Asian Canadian Theatre Company, Cahoots Theatre Projects, bCurrent, Modern Times Theatre, Nightwood, Native Earth Performing Arts, Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People, Fujiwara Dance Inventions, Great Canadian Theatre Company, The Shaw Festival, and The Second City (Toronto and Chicago), Soulpepper and Tarragon Theatre. She is the recipient of four Dora Awards and shared the 2006 Siminovitch Protégé Prize. Camellia holds an MA from Central Saint Martin’s College of Art & Design (U.K). 


Scott Lyall: Scott lives and works as an artist in Toronto. His work encompasses graphic design, painting, and sculpture, along with references to performance events, architectural environments, and design software. The possibility of living performers haunts his abstract, formalist practice. He has exhibited across Canada, the United States, and Europe, with recent shows in Paris, New York, Cologne, London, and Basel, Switzerland. His exhibition “Color Ball” is currently installed at the Power Plant in Toronto. Lyall has also collaborated with artists in other fields and disciplines, including at the 2008 SITE Santa Fe Biennial in New Mexico, and with the choreographer Maria Hassabi on a new evening-length dance. He attended undergraduate studies at Queen’s University and received a Law Degree from the University of Toronto (1991). After completing his MFA at the California Institute of the Arts, (1994), he spent several years in studio practice in New York and London, England. He has taught at the Art Schools at Guelph and York Universities, and has visited as a lecturer at Western, Goldsmiths College, and Columbia. Upcoming exhibitions include Miguel Abreu Gallery (New York), the Contemporary Art Gallery (Austin, Texas), and Confort Moderne (Poitiers, France). 


Andy McKim: Andy is currently the Artistic Director of Theatre Passe Muraille. He has spent most of his professional life developing, dramaturging and directing new Canadian plays. Early in his career he worked in PEI, at Neptune Theatre, in London, England and now in Toronto where from 1985 to 2007 he was the Associate Artistic Director at Tarragon Theatre. Andy has directed more than 50 different productions. Nearly all of them were world premieres. Most outstanding amongst them is 2 PIANOS, 4 HANDS. He sat on the Dora Awards Board, the Toronto Theatre Alliance Board (TTA), served as the TTA President, sat on the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT) board and served as the PACT President. Andy has taught in a variety of contexts and is serving on the Theatre Department Advisory of both Sheridan and Humber Colleges. He has also received the George Luscombe Award for mentorship.


About the Dora Mavor Moore Awards

The Dora Mavor Moore Awards were founded on December 13, 1978 by a committee convened by Millie Drain. On that date, Drain and the other founders (Ann Antkiw, Ronald Bryden, Bill Glassco, Graham Harley, Leon Major, Sean Mulcahy, Peter Peroff, Heinar Piller, Susan Rubes, Pat Stewart and Sylvia Tucker) decided to institute an award to recognize outstanding achievements in Toronto theatre. Today, the Doras honour the creators of over 200 theatre, dance and opera productions annually. Each year, thirty-five awards are presented to winners across five divisions: General Theatre Production, Independent Theatre Production, Dance, Opera, Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA).


Further information about the Dora Awards and a biography of Dora Mavor Moore visit www.tapa.ca/doras.


Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts:

The Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA) is an arts service organization that represents nearly 200 professional theatre, dance and opera companies in the City of Toronto, and works to create an environment in which the performing arts may flourish and maintain its leadership role in the vitality of the City of Toronto.