Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Over at Superfluities Redux

Over at Superfluities Redux George Hunka does a fine breakdown on the book Outrageous Fortune. I'm thinking that I may be headed down to Theatrebooks to pick up a copy so I can discuss it from a point of fact but in the meantime head over to Superfluities Redux and have a read.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas 2009

And a fine and wonderful Christmas to you all

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

In the Mail Box

I received this in the mail today.

Can you spot what I did?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday Quickies

On the home front are a couple of stories that are bubbling along. Over at Praxis Theatre is a hefty post on the Harold Green Jewish Theatre pullout of Yichud Seclusion. The post has some good links in it. Especially the one to Now Magazine. Go, read, play follow the links.
Meanwhile over at the National Arts Centre it looks like the "company" ideal is back.

And up in Montreal, Simon Brault's new book has people paying attention.

Down south of 49 has a couple of interesting updates. First off it looks like a compromise has been reached in the Miracle Worker casting situation. The Drama Circle Critics bring in their inaugural on line member and the Actor's Fund is going on a major housing campaign.

Over the ponds comes some fears on the decline in actors at the regional theatres and finally a meditation on the critics changing roles.

And finally: Big, big props to Lynn Nottage for Ruined being chosen the #1 Play of 2009 by Time Magazine. Way to go Lynn.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Oz & Gender

Whoa! Alison Croggon of Theatre Notes is on a lovely tear on gender equity issues down in OZ. First a great post about the kerfuffle during the Philip Parson's Memorial Lecture.

Next some thoughts on the design of the National Play Festival's posters.

It really does feel like certain issues are taking flight worldwide.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Kicking the diversity ball down the street

So there was so much diversity talk in the air today that I got positively heady.
Some I can talk about right now which is the session I wasn't at. Georgetown University held a forum on diversity and I have some round up links for your perusal. They are also on Facebook right here.

From Parabasis #'s 1, 2, 3, and 4.

And while all of that is exciting from an American point of view really the big news for me was the gathering today at Cahoots Theatre Projects where reps from diverse companies from around the country got together to talk about the state of the art/theatre/browning the stage. It was very cool to meet some smart and talented folks who had lots of insights to share. There will be more details coming out as we go along but needless to say the Ad Hawk Assembly is going forward and plan on being a big presence in the theatre scene.

Guest B - Marcia Johnson

I am pleased to have Marcia Johnson as the first Guest B on NSAA. This will be a peripatetic feature that brings guest bloggers to talk about what they are doing around the world.

Canadian Playwrights Take the World

I recently attended the International Women Playwrights Conference in Mumbai, India. Don’t worry if you have never heard of it or Women Playwrights International (WPI), the organization which, well…organizes these conferences. This was the only the eighth installment since the inaugural one in Buffalo, New York in 1988.

I was fortunate enough to go to the second one (1991) in Toronto. I attended as an actor, doing an excerpt from a collective show by the Company of Sirens. It would be three years before I attempted (and succeeded) in writing a play on my own.
Since those first two neighbourly North American installments of the IWPC, the locations been somewhat more far afield beginning with Adelaide, Australia (1994), Galway, Ireland (1997); Athens and Delphi (2000); Manila (2003) and finally Mumbai in 2009.

As the Chair of the Women’s Caucus of Playwrights Guild of Canada, I urged members to apply to the Conference. I wanted Canada to have a strong showing. I was thrilled when more than twenty of us were invited to present our work. Unfortunately, due to several issues including work conflicts, visa problems and a shortage of travel funding, only nine of made the trip to Mumbai.
We were in contact via email for months leading up to the conference, sharing information about which inoculations to get, the most suitable Indian visa and, most importantly: casting each other in our readings.

The theme of the Conference was Liberty and Tolerance. I had submitted two scripts and was invited to do a reading of Say Ginger Ale. It’s my semi-autobiographical comedy (Comedy was a sub-theme) about a Jamaican-born woman who adapts quite comfortably to Canada and feels no connection to Jamaica. An unexpected trip “back home” unearths long buried feelings and a new found love for the country of her birth.

Only one other writer Gail Nyoka (Mrs. Seacole) in our group is black. So when it came to casting, I had to make that leap of faith and hope that the international audience in Mumbai would understand. Since turnabout is fair play, Sally Stubbs who I had cast as a Jamaican grandmother, cast me as a German grandmother in her play Herr Beckmann’s People. Her play was about a young German-Canadian woman who makes an awful discovery about her father’s actions during World War Two.

So far, it sounds like Canadian women only write about being from somewhere else and making discoveries set in our countries of origin. In our case, that is only half right. All the plays seemed to be about being from somewhere else (physical or otherwise) and trying to fit in.
We met up in one of the hotel rooms on the first morning of the conference and had five minute rehearsals of each of the ten scripts. (Yes, ten. Melissa Major had been invited to read from both Sapphire Butterfly Blue about the Salem Witch Trials and Art is a Cupboard about exiled Russian artists.)

Our plays were very well received. The feedback sessions were lively and engaging. We kept hearing people from all over the world saying that they identified with our characters. Playwrights began fighting over us, asking us to read their plays because our acting was so good and, more importantly, our speech was so clear. Several of us got to read in plays by Australian and Dutch writers but, because of scheduling conflicts, had to say no to Americans and Swedes.

We had been offered the services of acting students at University of Mumbai; our host. I decided to cast a male student as my love interest. We got to meet and rehearse for a few minutes the day before. He seemed to understand the story and the humour but I had to explain to him that, even though the character he was playing was set up on a date by my character’s mother, it was in no way the first step in an arranged marriage. I also had to explain to him and the audience next day what ginger ale is. It’s non-existent in India. When I asked for some at the hotel bar, the bar tender started pouring me a shot of Gordon’s gin.

I digress.

The audience laughed in the right places, the Jamaican accents weren’t that bad and I am now determined to get the play produced in Canada. I wonder if there’s a black theatre company that I could convince to produce it.

Another digression.

During the conference, I was voted in as one of five members of the WPI management committee. Among my duties is assisting the planning committee for the 2012 Conference in Stockholm, Sweden. I had already made some good connections with the Swedish delegation and look forward to working with them over the next few years.

If you see a number of international collaborations between female Canadian playwrights over the next few years, you will know where it all began.
Here’s a shout out to my other Canadian writing sisters who made the great journey with me:
Beverley Cooper (Innocence Lost: A Play about Steven Truscott), Trina Davies (Shatter), Jordan Hall (Kayak), Christine Estima (Central Line) and Tara Goldstein (Harriet’s House).

Sunday Quickies

So you might want to get into the act and write your very own ending to a George Bernard Shaw play but will you be able to find a woman director to direct it?

You might want to check out this new way of accessing scripts on line. Sounds like a fine idea and I am wondering whether there might be a case to bring this plan to Canada.

I say, of course critics can booze it up before the show as long as the actors get to do the same.

And then some thoughts on theatre photography. A skill that I must say has declined since the advent of digital cameras. Well not as far as the pros are concerned but they are getting less work as everyone thinks they can do an equal job. I have to say that being handed a couple of dvd's after a photo session and having to pick, crop and photo shop my own images loses its appeal after the first couple hundred images.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday Quickies

The Wrecking Ball takes on arts cuts in a big way. And London is taking on Edinburgh Fringe mano-a-mano.

Meanwhile: What is really going on inside the actor's brain.

The whys and wherefores of walking out of a play.

Some thoughts on the building conversation around Precious. Ta Nehisi Coates has some fabulous comments in this post. Well worth reading for the 2009 shadism insights.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Step Afrika

Just for the sheer, unmitigated joy it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday Quickie

It's a bit of a weighted UK entry tonight.

First off: The Regional Theatre Revival, How Cutbacks may save the Arts {I'm not sure I'm buying this yet. I need some more thought on the matter} and an Old Age R+J.
That might be a very cool play to get a hold of.

Last week there was a link to try and get people to suss out who was to get either the bouquets or brickbats for a production. Over a Parabasis comes one helpful hint.

Now this is not about theatre per se but typography. After some of the brittle discussions in the office regarding what font to use where I thought this might be of interest.

Finally Theatre B in OZ has a new artistic Director. I just love the idea that it is a designer. Head over to One Big Umbrella to get all the links.

h/t MK Piatkowski

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday Quickie

Theatre can be such a huge varied experience. I mean it's all about making some sort of connection with our fellow humans, right?

So the scale of what constitutes theatre is all over the map. From the entertainment extravaganza of Spiderman to Dream Girls to the potential healing of Theatre of War to how the world has changed with Slam Theatre.

How did our local anchors do this season? Stratford & Shaw. I was down in Stratford the other week and I went to the Book Vault. I can usually tell how the season was just by how the staff is holding up up. They all looked pretty beat.

Some thoughts on the whole theatrical experience goes from the ongoing complaints about playwright's support to the state of theatre to who actually did what for the production to how about that curtain call anyway.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Stop BC Arts Cuts

A quick bump for this website http://stopbcartscuts.wordpress.com/

Some great stuff on the goings on in B.C.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Judicial Review

From the Mirror up to Nature blog a post on the Judicial Theatre Review. Their first review is of The Overwhelming by J. T. Rogers. Directed by Shawn LaCount. Presented by Company One at the Boston Center for the Arts, Boston

Although as is mentioned in the comments this is may be just a slight twist on an idea that has been going around for awhile. The Critic-O-Meter or Rottentomatoes.com to mention two.

I seem to recall there was a Critique the Critic website that took a long look at Toronto critics and then it vanished over night. I always wondered what kind of chill got it pulled.

It is still an interesting idea though. Reviews can be so disparate that it really trips the "who you gonna believe button" Case in point would be the Yellowman reviews.
Case 1 Case 2 Case 3

Who you gonna believe? It would be nice to get a bit of dialog going to fully understand where things came from.

And on a final note regarding reviews and online news. What the heck is going on with these websites. I mean trying to get browser {Opera} compatibility with most of them is a lost cause. And even when that kind of works it is like trying to do the dance of the Minotaur to try and find anything. Heck if information on the Obsidian website was as hard to get at I would be inundated with phone calls. It is always a struggle to find a review and then never in a timely manner. You would think that making information easy to find might be the only thing left to save the media.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday Not So Quickie

Kelly Nestruck of the Globe and Mail has a couple of interesting articles up. One from the pulp edition and one from the blog.

I have been in discussion with Mike Wheeler {Praxis Theatre} about my segregation blues post.

Mike says: Also, Kelly Nestruck has an interesting post today on his interview with Tracy Letts that tackles segregation in American theatre and how Steppenwolf is handling it. They're treating it like a bad thing that can be dealt with by race-blind casting. Thoughts?

I say: Whoa! Thats a big subject. The dream in the US has been about integration. Well at least from the liberal and black communities. Do a Google search with the key words "segregation 21st century" and you will get a very different point of view. Well, you will get a reality that usually doesn't get discussed. The point is that for many {read minorities} integration is not working that well. It works better for the majority since the minorities get to change to become like the majority but they still don't get to hang out in the same places or get the same funding levels.

Steppenwolf is in a bit of a bind I think. They are an ensemble company and like ensembles here they started with a group of like minded people. As is often the case like minded is also like raced. And that's where the real difficulties begin. For Steppenwolf I daresay segregation is bad and they are doing what they can to approach that in a way that make sense for their ensemble.

Tangent alert: We often talk about succession plans for artistic directors and boards but very, very rarely for the ensemble itself. And perhaps that's the biggest issue of all. How does an ensemble continue when the founders move on and you are left with a different racial climate than the one you started in.

So what to do? Race blind casting works for a bit. Maybe do nothing and hope that it all goes away. Put up a Potemkin village of artistic accessibility and keep going to the funding trough. Or maybe, just maybe admit that you haven't a clue how to change and that we should be...ta daaaaa...moving on to my original premise....change the system so that the diverse companies can get the funding they need to grow into becoming powerhouses themselves.

I think Mike, that one of the things we don't discuss in all of this is what is the goal, the desire, the dream of the smaller companies. I don't mean anything pejorative here but if the goal is to be the equivalent of Junior B or Junior A hockey teams then fine. If it's to have a company for a few years and then move on, excellent. I can get behind that. But what if the goal is to become one of the big guys. If that is the "prize" we are keeping our eye on then lets not get bogged down by the tangents and the small pieces of fruit that are tossed at us. If Nightwood or Necessary Angel say, had the latter for their goal 20 years ago how different would our theatre ecology be today.
I want us all to define our prize and to then go for it with the same tenacity and dedication that got the Four Seasons theatre built.

The targeted browning of our stages that we are currently seeing is not the answer. It's a small piece of fruit. Good enough for a snack but not enough to make a pie.
We can continue to be mice getting by on the crumbs of grain or we can own the farm. I know which one I want. How about you?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Shows This Week

So this is a big week for shows. It always feels like there are way more shows that I am supposed to get to than I actually can. This week is looking like a 3-fer.

Wednesday is the opening of Yellowman

Thursday is the opening of Gas Girls

Friday is the Abby Singer of The Turn of the Screw.

Good shows all so go out and enjoy

Ongoing Updates

I wanted to do a bit of a re-cap on what has happened since I posted the segregation blues post. You can find it 2 posts downstream. I sent a cover email and a link to the post to all of the PACT Region 5 membership and the Obsidian theatre officers at all the councils. The next day I sent the same information to the Ontario Stand Firm members since we are in the midst of planning a meeting along with the Stand Tall participants regarding the resignation of Native Earth Performing Arts and Cahoots Theatre Projects from PACT. I thought that the post might be a way to bring ideas to the table instead of the usual bitching.

To date I have heard back from one person. It's a bit disappointing but hey, one person at a time is probably the way to go. It may be the only way to go.

Sidebar: I have always wondered where the heck they came up with the names Stand Firm and Stand Tall for these programs. They didn't seem to relate to anything diverse that I could think of but when in doubt Google is your friend. Perhaps someone up there in Ottawa has a bit of a Bible Belt streak to them.
After reading those lyrics I am once again reminded how much I hate the idea of waiting for glory on that great getting up morning.

I thought that I was going to be able to report on a bit of success today but on further examination it looks like nothing has actually changed. In the latest issue of the Equity newsletter it stated that "Executive Editor’s note: Beginning mid-October, Equity will institute improvements to e-drive, our online subscription mailing list. In answer to Marcia’s comments on diversity, any theatre with an ethno-cultural mandate, or production to be cast with a specific ethno-cultural group, will now be able to identify these artistic decisions in their e-drive posting." {I would link but it is pw protected}. However the Equity website still says: Direct references to ethnicity, age and body type may be edited at Equity's sole discretion.
So we are still at the do-si-do stage of things.

Sunday Quickies

A very varied assortment of topics this week. First up, hot on the heels of e-book readers, an idea that I like to call The Theatrical Kindle: Why would you download plays?

Can an e-performance get you in that partying mood like a good after opening party? Well maybe they aren't as happening as they used to be. Opening nights shed their opulence
Frankly, I have never been to a party like the one's mentioned in this article. Mostly the food is gone by time the actors get to the lobby and all that is left for you is a couple of crumpled drink tickets. Opa!
Back in my theatre school days the Globe and Mail used to review our performances. Thank you Herbert Whittaker. And the great opening night tradition was to drink like crazy, go to Frans on College Str to eat and sober up, and then grab the 2AM edition of the Globe to read the reviews. Things have been downhill party wise ever since.

So now they say that Reality TV shows ‘encourage theatre-going’ and while sitting during a performance you might hear Whispers Offstage? Could Be Actor’s Next Line all the while fuming over Booking fees: the great theatre ticket rip-off.

Meanwhile the Executive Director is sitting in their office humming {apologies to Paul Simon} Six Ways to Know If It's Time to Leave .

Finally, the ongoing controversy of the "Miracle Worker" casting.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Time be talking those segregation blues

I read a couple of things today and it wrapped up some things that I have been saying for a few weeks in a nice neat bundle. It was at the PACT Region 5 meeting where I broached the idea that integration in theatre was not working and perhaps we should give some serious thought to segregation. This, as to be expected, did not go over like a nice iced mocha. The idea of segregation seems to rip some liberal correctness buttons and for that I think we should expect that and then get over it.
When questioned about this idea I responded by saying that there are already any number of theatres that do complete seasons without a single non-white face of the stage. It may be their art but it is also de-facto artistic segregation. So why don't we just admit that and move on. Let the Euro-centric theatre produce what they feel comfortable in producing and lets work to build up the diverse theatres so that we can produce what we need to produce, in our own venues and without curatorial assessment by the rental venues.

The Mission Paradox blog is the entry point but the real money is:

Michael Kaiser, of the Kennedy Center, on diversity:

"I have been spending a great deal of time thinking about the issue of diversity in the arts, specifically, the drive to diversify the programming and constituents of all arts organizations.

The more I consider this thorny issue, the less I am convinced that the arts world has worked hard enough to dissect the true costs, benefits and implications of recent diversity efforts.

I love it when he talks about selecting the "low hanging fruit". The phrase always reminds me of Billie Holiday and:

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday Quickies

The Cape Town Opera Company has a touring production of Porgy and Bess that is set in Soweto. Here is a preview from the Cardiff Centre and here is a review.

Meanwhile Alexander McCall Smith has created The Okavango Macbeth. Maccers as seen through a tribe of baboons. A review is here.

A bit of a retrospective of the work of Neil Simon and just for contrast an article about Throwing Rotten Veggies at the Actors Night

Rethinking arts economies and arts exchange

Some thoughts on Miking Actors in Straight Plays

For the last item I sure am on the fence about using mikes in a straight play. The recent production of Secrets of a Black Boy used them at the Music Hall and I would love to know why that choice was made. It could be that the actors did not have the vocal capacity to fill that space or simply it is an unfillable space without augmentation.
On the other hand I have had trouble hearing actors on the Festival Stage at Stratford. So is vocal training not up to snuff anymore or have we moved to a more naturalistic style of theatre that is better served by mikes.

The debate continues.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

A truly brilliant speech about perception. the single story and how it can shape our world view.

This is the best 18 minutes you can spend today.

The single story

h/t A. Payne

Friday, October 23, 2009

Canonize This! Day 3

From left to right: Philip Akin {Artistic Director}, ahdri zhina mandiela, Miranda Edwards {reader}, Donna Michelle St. Bernard, d'bi young anitafrika, Dian Marie Bridge { Host}, Motion and Joseph Jomo Pierre.

Tonight was the final evening of Canonize This! And despite the rain and flood and traffic that never quit, everyone made it to the theatre and a great time was had by all. Many thanks to all who made it out.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Canonize This! - Day 2

Thursday nights group of playwrights are from left to right:
Dian Marie Bridge (host), Sharon Lewis, Nicole Brooks, George Boyd, Joan M. Kivanda and Djennie Laguerre

Friday is our final evening. Come on out if you can.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Canonize This! Day 1

So here are the fine group of playwrights that read tonight at Canonize This! Day 1. From left to right: Marcia Johnson, Sarah Michelle Brown, Darren Anthony, Michael Miller and Dian Marie Bridge.

Day 2 begins at 1pm, Harlem restaurant. All the info is here at http://www.obsidian-theatre.com/canonizethis.html

Sunday, October 18, 2009

AWG and Playwrighting Groups

If you are a playwright then run don't walk to this link and have a good read.

Canadian Theatre Blogs?

Google Reader had a Canadian Theatre Blogs Feed set up by Ian MacKenzie. It has seemingly discorporated or something. I get a "permission denied" error when I try to access it. Does anyone else get this or has the management of the feed changed?

Give me a shout if you have any info. I did enjoy using the Reader to catch up on what had been newly posted.


Sunday Quickies - Massive Edition

No real theme to the links so I am grouping them into countries.

Lets start right here at home with the Siminovitch nominees. And for more info on the Nominees. Ummm just have to say that the invite this year was pretty ugly. It was not good design by any means.

Moving southwards we come across great thoughts by Elizabeth Streb {follow the links in that article as well}and Anna Deavere Smith. A couple of interesting ideas regarding a Twitter campaign and Talk Backs but really the prize article for me is the one about combining the play with selling the props at every show so that things keep changing.
Now it wouldn't be theatre without some controversy so here is a dose of that.

Heading across the Atlantic we get Judi Dench putting the hurt on young actors, David Mamet as a diminishing playwright, the RSC to relaunch its development studio and some thoughts on the hybridization of film and theatre.

And even though it isn't theatre who could resist a story about Nazi gnomes? Certainly not me.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Austin Clarke - Toronto Book Awards

I just read where Austin Clarke has just won the Toronto Book Award for his novel "More".

I had the privilege of working with Austin as we brought his novel The Polished Hoe to the stage in 2007

Congratulations Austin.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sarah Ruhl

Ok ...I do like Sarah Ruhl's play "Dead Man's Cellphone" a ton. I would love to produce it sometime in the near future. Ok maybe next year if other plan's don't work out.

Here is a article on Ms. Ruhl on the opening of DMC in Boston.

99 Seats

I added a new blog to my blog list tonight. It's 99 Seats. An interesting blog by an anonymous black playwright. He has been delving deep into some of the issues that were brought up by Roy Williams in the Guardian a week or so ago. I have a link back a couple of posts.

Some interesting reading. Go and ignore the white on black text. It's worth the effort

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Voaden Awards

I few weeks ago I was asked to present this year's Voaden Awards at Queens University in Kingston.

Here is a great explanation of how this award works and the winners.

It was great to be able to listen to the readings and to get involved with some insightful questions.

Gas Girls by Donna Michelle St. Bernard will be getting a production in November 5-14 at the Passe Muraille Backspace. This is one to check out for sure.

The superb quality of Tom's-a-Cole by David Egan will most probably be on a stage near you in the quickly approaching future.

Finally a thought about the whole Voaden thing. I was thrilled to be asked and happy to make the drive down on a beautiful fall day to Kingston. Where I was disappointed though was that while the two plays had been thoroughly worked on over the week and delivered fine performances on the day there was very little hoopla or props about the event. Kind of anti-hoopla if you will. It felt more of just a quiet, low key, lets not make any big fuss kind of an event. And that was a shame. The plays were great and the playwrights deserved big props. It would have been nice if the whole event had been swanked up a notch or two.

Just saying.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A shot of culture

From the Globe and Mail:

“Germany is experimenting with a revolutionary kind of preventive medicine: Doctors are prescribing culture for children,”
Isabelle de Pommereau writes in a Christian Science Monitor blog. “In one region in the state North Rhine-Westphalia, every child ages seven through 15 who goes to the pediatrician for a checkup walks out with two free tickets to the theatre. The Culture Shot program aims at encouraging pediatricians to support children's ‘physical, emotional and intellectual health,' says Hermann-Josef Kahl, the Dusseldorf pediatrician who spearheaded the idea in his city. It rests on a simple idea: Culture fosters better health habits. ‘It's cultural primary prevention,' says Dr. Kahl. ‘We hope to establish an impulse that shows that opening the door to culture paves the way to better education level, and that better education fosters a healthier way of life.

h/t J. Knappen

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Jack Medhurst Memorial

h/t Jess Cohoon

There is a memorial / celebration of Jack Medhurst's life at the Celebrity Club, (housed in the PAL building on the Esplanade - Toronto) on Friday, October 2 at 8:00 pm. A photo of Jack will be placed on the wall of notables. Refreshments will be served, courtesy of Jack's family but it is a cash bar.

If you know of anyone else who would be interested, please forward the information.

On another note, we would like to contact Leslie Whitaker, Herb's niece. She was involved in several productions that Jack was involved in. If you have any co-ordinates on her please send me an email.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Brenda Devine

Brenda Marie Devine

Back in the day when I had finished theatre school and went to the Shaw Festival as my first job I met Pam Rogers who would go on to be a life long friend. She introduced me to Brenda Devine and with assorted family and friends we had a bit of a brat pack that worked, played and ate prodigiously together. I didn't see much of Brenda over the last number of years. Chance meetings at a theatre or the subway but somehow she was always in my heart as a dear friend. The picture above is one I took of her on one of our many trips to farm country around St. Marys. She seemed translucent, ephemeral and yet so present. I will always cherish the memories of all of us sitting on Brenda's steps sipping coffee and scotch first thing in the mornings.

pectus pectoris teneo quoque tardus quam desidero

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday Quickie Part the Second

Black Theatre in Great Britain:

The Roy Williams Take.

The Kwame Kwei-Armah Take with a spin to a national black archive.

When we did the International Playwights Forum last year we tried to get both Roy and Kwame but alas only Kwame could make it. At that time he said to me that if I wanted to see how Black Theatre could grow in Canada then I had to get over to England and see what they were doing. He opined that they were 10 years ahead of us.

Kwame Kwei- Armah YouTube Video #1

Kwame Kwei- Armah #2

Sunday Quickies

So there is this theatre in Utah that is doing a reno when all of a sudden: Turning a crisis into opportunity

And another kind of reno. The kind of wading through new play submissions and then dealing with the controversy: The O'Neill Center Achieves New Heights of Chutzpah

Some new to them but old to us ticketing strategy: Companies bet on cheaper tickets to draw bigger crowds

Of special interest to me is taking a look at what is being produced. Scroll to the bottom of the page and see what's hot in Denver.

Behind the Curtain of a Customizable Theater
I am so thinking that Obsidian should have one of these.

And a shout out to: MT Space Impact 09 down in Kitchener-Waterloo.

I was pleased to have been invited down to be part of the Chasing the Money Panel along with Sheila James {Canada Council}, Sanjay Shahani {Trillium Foundation} and Nadine Villasin {Carlos Bulosan Theatre}.

There is a full schedule of events this week so if you can get to KW please do so and support the very fine work that will be presented.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Happiness is......

After two days of talking about PACT issues I submit the following without comment.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday Quickies

From the NY Times we get: We Can’t Stop Talking About Race in America
and that neatly dovetails into: August Wilson Center opens its doors

For what was to be a post racial society it seems to still be more of the same ole same ole.

Artists in British Columbia got a slap upside the head with a bit of a wet fish this last week. Dramatic cuts, dramatic fallout for B.C. arts

And finally: What do you mean by emerging?

As I have said before I favour the phrase "young in craft" instead of "emerging". Young in craft opens the doors up to everyone who is starting a new career path while emerging seems to be always focused on sub 23 year olds.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Trevor Rhone 1940-2009

I worked with Trevor Rhone in 1975 on a production of his play Schools Out for Black Theatre Canada. It was my first experience with a tumultuous, rambunctious audience and with the huge energy of the man himself. Obsidian was proud to have produced Two Can Play in 2005.

Some of the obits are here: The Gleaner & CBC

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

B stands for...?

Now I know we all like to complain about critics/reviewers. I know that some have been taken off the comp list and another has a washroom named after them but I have never seen, in print, this:

The Bitch of Broad Street.

And we think we have it bad.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Quickies

Only in the UK could they have an article that says:Which theatre has the best scenery?

An interesting article: When Babies and Broadway Intersect
I had clicked on the article because I thought it would have something to do with having babies working on stage. This seemed quirky to me since over the last 3-5 years it seems that kids are not hired to play kids anymore. I am not sure of all the ins and outs of why. I do know that when we did Black Medea we had to have two brothers alternating the roles. There are a number of CTA measures that define the working requirements for kids but I don't know if they are in part responsible or not. Anyway this isn't what the article is about. It's much better.

Perfect Cross Pollination Theatre would probably look like this: A Pakistani-American Family Is Caught in Some Cultural Cross-Fire

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Mantee Murphy Memorial & Karaoke

Friends of Mantee Murphy are hosting events to commemorate his life. At this point there are events planned in Toronto and Winnipeg. Please head over, hoist a few and sing some tunes.

Start Time: Monday, September 14, 2009 at 9:00pm
End Time: Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 12:00am
Location: FOX AND FIDDLE 280 Bloor Street West
Phone: 4169664369

Facebook Page

Start Time: Monday, September 14, 2009 at 9:00pm
End Time: Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 1:00am

Check here for the Winnipeg location
Facebook Page

On Monday, September 14th, friends of Mantee Murphy will come together to celebrate the life of this tremendous performer and beautiful friend, with one of Mantee's favourite activities - karaoke.

This event will be taking place in numerous cities across Canada - wherever Mantee made his mark on the world. Please come out and remember this great man with the other people who love and miss him.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Structural Theatre Part 2

So with an eye to de-constructing structural theatre the Canada Council created the Extended Project Grant Program

I think that this was a great idea that started to bring the art back to the forefront. Why did I say “was”? Well it has been put under review and applications won’t be accepted until 2010. So that is less than helpful. The program also has a total value of $24,000 to $75,000 over a three-year period.
At the very least this is a program that should go ahead.

I feel that the amounts are truly not high enough but then you would have to weigh the ability of the companies with a light administrative structure to be able to handle greater amounts with the level of fiscal responsibility that would be necessary.

Here in Toronto we have STAF that fills in the administrative gap for a number of smaller theatres.

Thus if you were an extended project client using STAF you would have to pay STAF out of your grant which, depending on your grant amount, may eat up too much of the necessaries so to speak.

So what if we looked at combining some of these functions?

#1: Increase the amounts in the EPG and have that money be directly earmarked for the artistic process.

#2: Using STAF as a kind of a template, have a number of administrative companies formed to handle that side of things. They would not be paid by the client company out of their grant but out of a separate amount that would come directly from the councils. Since, I believe, that any amounts over $20,000 need to be fully audited these admin companies would be fully responsible for the timely dissemination of money as well as all the tracking.

The OAC has been working on the creation of a new audit template as well as a chart of accounts that would allow for a common bookkeeping process.

So we could have smaller artistic alliances created, funded at a good level as well as achieving solid fiscal accountability. But the big gain would be in the freeing of the creation process in a new and dynamic way.

Artists could choose to build a mayfly company, invest fully into it and then leave with a body of work not with an outdated structure. This may be one way to start to ease the gridlock that is stifling the theatrical ecosystem as it now stands.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Sunday Quickies

Didn’t the Medici’s used to do this? Maybe it’s an idea that can be dressed up in new clothes for the 21st Century

Patrons Support Artists on the Web

Now here is a novel idea: Community Database

For many reasons I don’t think this would fly here. Primarily the strictures in the Privacy Act would work against it. But I have to say that I would love to be in the room when someone pitched the idea to get all the theatres to put all their patrons/donors/subscribers into a communal pot.

And the continuing story of: Should whites direct black plays, and vice versa?
If you have read my previous posts on this then you know where I stand. Some interesting points about the two way flow of directors though.
h/t Marcia Johnson

I found this quote at some point during a web crawl.

Howlin' Wolf once said about some particularly good barbecue—it was "like Baby Jesus in satin pants."

I don't exactly know what it means but there is a play in there somewhere.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Structural Theatre Part 1

At the start of this latest economic downturn I began to hear the words “structural deficit” a lot. Wikipedia defines it as: The structural deficit is the deficit that remains across the business cycle.

What that means is that if you build in a structural deficit then no matter the economic state that expense will always stay on your books. Through good times and bad what you have put in place remains.

For some reason that phrase stuck in my head. I gradually understood why as I began to apply the notion of a structural deficit into the idea of a structural theatre. And further to that the idea of a structural theatrical ecosystem that no matter the creative impetus behind a project one has to create an ongoing theatre. An ongoing theatre that in good or bad times has to be there. Without that kind of structural theatre then one cannot access the higher levels of funding or gain the “respectability” that is currently mandated by ecosystem. It’s all a bit “evolution in progress” with the continuing goal that growth is the hallmark and only true measure of success.

We see this in how many shows have to be produced before applying for the base level of operating funding. We see it in how project funding has such a low cap. We see it in the multitudes of forums about funding, corporate pitches, succession planning, branding, marketing and capital campaigns. We see it in the constant push to create a structural theatre regardless of the artistic goal. Yes there have been some theatres/artists who have understood the concept of life span but they are few and far between.

The first chains of structure are the provisions of the Canada Revenue Agency’s Charitable Status.

And thus mandates, mission statements, vision statements, boards, administrative structures and accounting practices have to be implemented. And by time you have gone down that road far enough then there is too much invested in the structure to give it up easily.

Now none of this is particularly new. But what I would like to do is to posit a few ideas as jump off points for a potential re-assessing of how things are currently being done.

Mostly this is all about money. Money to create in a way that is unique and visionary while at the same time not destroying the artistic staff but maintaining fiscal responsibility.

First off let’s start by agreeing that the road to structure is a totally artificial one and one that is not necessary for the creation of outstanding art.

{More in Part 2}

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sunday Quickies

An interesting contrast this week between the theatrical experience from the audience side vs the non traditional venue approach.

So in the blue corner: The Theatre Experience: Time for an Upgrade

and in the red corner two plucky contenders:

Theater Where It’s Least Expected
Terror drama staged in back of a Belfast taxi

Then we have this intriquing idea about the value of a play.
Theater tickets shouldn't come with a return policy.

I have to admit I was interested in this article primarily because it was a Migdalia Cruz play and I have been trying to follow her work ever since I met her at the Playwrights Forum.

And finally a fairly straight ahead story regarding a festival in North Carolina.

The National Black Theatre Festival

It's the comments section that plays out a whole other aesthetic.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunday Quickies

So the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is actually walking the diversity talk in a big way. I wonder how they can do it and so many others just can’t.

Far From the Spotlight, a Brewing Fight Over Theatrical Rights
Another fine example of how playwrights get hosed. I have never heard of anyone in Canada getting anything even close to 40% of subsequent author royalties but I know that it has been an issue in some negotiations. Lets just say no to chiseling back money from playwrights. Especially if we are developmental companies whose mandate it is to develop and produce original work.

So with that in mind why don’t we ….. Adopt a Playwright

On the other hand. It doesn’t matter how surreptitious you think you are while checking your phone during a performance those around you cannot help but say….Look! Something Bright and Shiny!

Now this is something that should be taught in all theatre schools.

And as we circle back to the top we find another take on what diversity means

Saturday, August 8, 2009


The thing is with boomerangs is that when you throw them they travel in a circle. So I read this article today in the Globe & Mail featuring Kelly Thornton and Monica Esteves from Nightwood Theatre.

{Full disclosure: Obsidian is co-producing with Nightwood this season}

I liked what they were saying and the passion with which they said it. I have only one issue and that is the conflating of gender equity with culturally diverse equity. Like the aforementioned boomerang this conflation eventually comes round the corner and has to ask "and how many were non white?" I mean it is important to talk of how many women are getting productions and directing opportunities but then you have to address the diversity as well. It's outstanding to be showcasing women directors but from this corner it seems a shame that the ratio was not a bit more balanced.

Full Disclosure #2

Here are the Obsidian stats since I have been artistic director. In the Director category the male director in all cases is myself.

Actors further breakdown to 12.9% white, 87.1% non-white
In all other categories the artists were all non-white.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Then What?

It's funny that I should stumble over this today. I had an enjoyable conversation with one of the SLIP participants over at the Summerworks Festival and we were discussing whether or not there was actually a large enough theatre going audience to sustain all of the theatre in Toronto. This kind of noodled away at me and somehow I got into thinking how many opportunities seem to be now available and focused on emerging theatre creators.

Then this article popped up.

This is not a great cycle to be creating.

Now what?

So the Equity and PACT negotiations ended with a stunning affirmation of the status quo. Nothing changes for Year 1 and then a pay increase of 1% in Year 2 and 2% in Year 3. Nothing else changes.
How could this happen? With a host of issues that are all hanging fire nothing was resolved.

At the heart of all this is a profound difference of opinion on the way this industry should look going forward.

Now being on both sides I get the buzz from both directions and it’s always a treat to see how things are viewed differently.
I think that both sides feel that they can gain the advantage by waiting for the next negotiating round. But I do not believe that with the limited amount time available there will be room for any substantive change. Nobody is working on negotiations full time. Yes, both sides get input from their members and compile a wish list but the actual talking between the sides doesn’t happen until the last 6 months.

Obsidian abstained from ratification at the PACT AGM and I am abstaining from the Equity vote because I think that the agreement should be rejected and that negotiations should continue until there is a meeting of minds. This, however, will probably not happen with the prevailing mindsets in place.

I am reminded of a story that said that forest fires are so bad now because they have been so assiduously fought that the deadfalls and underbrush were allowed to grow without check. So now the amount of deadwood pushes the fires out of control in a nonce. The only way to get back to a healthy forest is either by ongoing controlled cutting or to let it burn.

The current approaches are not working. We need to change the way we are looking at this industry and find better ways of safeguarding the creators as well as being open to current realities.
This is not a perpetual growth industry. Ticket prices have stalled for the majority of theatres, the audience is aging and grants by and large are plateau-ing.

There will be a winnowing that’s for sure. What we have to do is find the courage to imagine and create a new vision for the future.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Neil Monroe

Neil Monroe

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, July 13, 2009…The Shaw Festival Company is deeply saddened to announce today the passing of long-time Resident Director, Neil Munro. Mr. Munro died July 13, 2009 at the age of 62 at London Ontario’s University Hospital after a lengthy illness. He is predeceased by his wife Carole Galloway and is survived by his sister Anna Munro, nephew John Munro and his mother-in-law Stella Galloway and sister-in-law Jackie Martinez.

On making this announcement, Jackie Maxwell commented: “Neil Munro created an indelible mark on the Shaw Festival. As a director he had a vision that was unique — blending extraordinarily detailed preparation with brilliant and at times outrageous ideas, always in the service of illuminating and revitalizing each play. His passion for theatre was immense, only matched by that for the artists he worked with – especially actors. As Resident Director, his commitment to and love for the Ensemble and all it stood for was clear daily as was his brilliant sceptical humour which unsuccessfully hid his true warmth and empathy. We already miss him terribly but our vivid memories of his talent and his passion will live on here at The Shaw, and I know, in the hearts of the many, many Canadians artists whose lives he touched.”

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Dora Nominations

Obsidian Theatre would like to congratulate the following people on their Dora Mavor Moore Award Nominations:

Tamara Marie Kucheran: Outstanding Costume Design, Black Medea
Tamara was nominated for and won in this category last year for her stunning costumes in Intimate Apparel.

Naomi Campbell has been awarded this year's Leonard McHardy and John Harvey Award recognising her outstanding career as an independent theatre producer.
Over the past 20 years she has worked everywhere from the Fringe Festival to Nightswimming to Mamailian Diving Reflex- including Obsidian producing our Mentor/Apprentice Program.

Marjorie Chan was nominated as a librettist with Abigail Richardson (composer): Outstanding New Musical/Opera, Sanctuary Song.
Marjorie also directed Obsidian's production of Late this past season.

Raven Dauda:Outstanding Performance by a Female in a Featured Role- Play, Miss Julie Freedom Summer, Doubt, a parable
This year Raven appeared in 3 CanStage shows- an unprecedented occurance.

Kevin Hanchard:Outstanding Performance by a Male in a Principal Role- Play, Miss Julie: Freedom Summer
You can catch both Raven and Kevin in the Canadian Stage presentation of the Obsidian Production of Intimate Apparel in February 2010 at the Bluma Appel Theatre.

Marcia Johnson was nominated as a librettist with Stephan Andrew Taylor (composer): Outstanding New Musical/Opera, Opera to Go: My Mother's Ring.
\Marcia is an Obsidian Playwrights Unit Alumnus and playwright of Late, which premiered as part of our 2008/09 Mainstage season.

Richard Lee: Outstanding Performance by a Male in a Principal Role- Musical, The Forbidden Phoenix.
Richard is also the General Manager of fu-gen Asian Canadian Theatre Company and was sound designer for Obsidian's Mainstage productions Late and Black Medea earlier this season.

Andrew Moodie:Outstanding New Play, Toronto the Good
Toronto the Good was directed by Artistic Driector, Philip Akin.

Alison Sealy-Smith,Obsidian's Founding Artistic Director was nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Female in a Principal Role- Play, A Raisin in the Sun

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Staying at home

Theatres adapt to lower budgets

The Perils of Playing it Safe.

So a couple of links that, although from the States, have a certain relevance to Canada. I just finished looking over a semi comprehensive list of the 2009-2010 theatre seasons from around the country and boy oh boy is the playing it safe paradigm ever at work. Maybe it was ever thus but when you look at the whole picture it sure leaps out at you.

Also what leaps out is the size of the shows and who is directing them. By my quick count it seems that the artistic directors are taking on a bigger directing load this season. Bob Baker [3], Steven Schipper [4] , Peter Hinton [3], Richard Rose [3], Ron Ulrich [4] and Messers Hinton and Rose are also directing away from their own venues as well.

So this must be the sign of the times. More tried and true recognizable theatre with slightly reduced opportunities for outside directors. I am not sure this is a workable plan if it goes on for more than a year or so but it would be nice to open up the discussion of how theatres are looking to the future.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Put to Rest

Well! All done. Over. Finis.
The 2008-2009 Season that is. The Mussorgsky Project was this afternoon and we had a full house, good food and many kudos floating in the air.
I have to say that this is probably the most special event for me as it was the first new thing that I created after taking over as artistic director. So many of the previous playwrights unit have gone on to further develop their pieces and create new work that I feel this was the right thing at the right time. I feel kind of like that I was able to create a space and people came in and made a garden. Some flowers, some veggie and some herbs. Everything that you might need to tease the palate and entice the eyes.
Next season we go to a slightly different model whereby we will be working on full length plays with and eye to down the road production but the M-Project will arise again the year after.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Mussorgsky Project

Obsidian marks the beginning of spring with The Mussorgsky Project - our third annual staged reading series celebrating the work of our Playwrights Unit.
What makes each Obsidian event a success is the presence and constant support of our community. Come and join us for an afternoon of readings, a talkback session and great company. Take the opportunity to indulge in complimentary treats and meet the playwrights at the post-show reception.


Sun May 3rd, 2009
2:30 p.m.
Factory Theatre Studio
Part of the CrossCurrents Festival 2009
Tickets: PWYC

Featuring new works by Obsidian's 2008/2009 Playwrights Unit:

Toast by: Laurence Anthony
Directed by Mumbi Tindyebwa

Group by: Aisha Sasha John
Directed by Joan Kivanda

Aneemah’s Spot by: Motion
Directed by Dian Marie Bridge

For more information about the Mussorgsky project please visit our website at: www.obsidian-theatre.com

Obsidian General Auditions

Obsidian’s General Auditions

On Tuesday, May 19th & Wednesday, May 20th 2009 we will be having our annual General Auditions.
Please submit online using Casting Workbook.
For actors who are not online: please email photo and resume to:
office@obsidian- theatre.com
cc: obsidiantheatre@bellnet.ca

Please prepare 2 short contrasting monologues (modern or classical- whichever shows you off best) and if you are singer feel free to do an acappella verse.

Please bring hardcopy of headshot and resume with you to the audition.

Obsidian is interested primarily in black artists who have not auditioned for us in the last two years.

Playwrights Unit 2009/2010

Call Out for Playwrights Unit 2009/2010:

This coming season Obsidian will be introducing Playwrights Unit: Tier 2, which will concentrate on the development of full-length main stage plays. Tier 2 begins in the fall and will work according to the needs of the playwrights and their scripts. There will be dramaturgical support, private readings and a public event that will showcase their new works.

How to Apply:
Please send in a resume or current bio, cover letter explaining the project you would like to work on while in the Unit and a 5-10 page excerpt from said project by Friday May 29, 2009 to:

Playwrights Unit- Tier 2
c/o Harmony Cohen
Obsidian Theatre Company
943 Queen St E
Toronto, ON
M4M 1J6

Successful Playwrights will be notified by Monday June 15, 2009.

Harvest Reading Series

Obsidian Theatre Company is calling for scripts, new and previously produced, from established AND emerging playwrights across Canada for inclusion in Harvest: A Reading Series from October 21-23rd at the Berkeley Street Theatre. Harvest will present the works of Black Canadian playwrights from 1970 to the present that highlight the current identity and stories of Black Canadians. Playwrights will read from their works.


Mentor/Apprentice Program Call Out

Mentor/Apprentice Program

Obsidian Theatre Company is passionately dedicated to the exploration, development and production of the Black voice.

Funded by the Department of Canadian Heritage, Obsidian Theatre Company is offering 4 paid apprenticeship positions as part of the 2009-10 season. Placements will occur between Autumn 2009 and Spring 2010.

Apprentices will be given the opportunity to work alongside noted members of the Canadian theatre community, including Obsidian Theatre company members. Past partners for this program have included Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People, Factory Theatre, Tarragon Theatre, Mirvish Productions, Nightswimming and Canadian Stage. Past Mentors include:

Philip Akin, Jeff Cummings, Christopher Dennis, Monica Esteves, Joanna Falck, Donna Feore, Michael Gianfrancesco, Astrid Janson,Tamara Marie Kucheran, Steve Lucas,Allen MacInnis, Paul Mathiesen, Doug Morum, Brian Quirt, Allan Ross, Michael Sinclair, Colin Taylor, Julia Tribe, Iris Turcott, Lesley Wilkinson, Quammie Williams, Martin Zwicker

Depending on the interests and abilities of the applicants, FOUR (4) apprentices
will be chosen from the following 7 categories:

- Apprentice Director - Apprentice Production Manager
- Apprentice Dramaturg - Apprentice Set Designer
- Apprentice Producer - Apprentice Lighting Designer
- Apprentice Costume Designer


You must be actively pursuing a professional career in the theatre. Having an education in theatre, or equivalent experience at the community or professional level is essential to this program.

You are Canadian citizen or landed immigrant and you are, or identify yourself as, a member of the African Diaspora.

In addition to a resume, applicants must provide a letter of intent indicating their career goals and how an apprentice position would help in achieving those goals.

Submission deadline: Friday May 29th, 2009

Submit applications by e-mail or mail to:

Rupal Shah
Apprenticeship Coordinator, Obsidian Theatre
943 Queen St. East
Toronto, ON M4M 1J6

For more information about this program or about Obsidian Theatre, visit
www.obsidian-theatre.com or call Philip Akin, Artistic Director at 416 463 8444.


Sunday, April 26, 2009


And so we have come to this. Here we clearly sit at the intersection of "Be Careful What You Wish For Boulevard" and "The New Reality Lane". And all that is left is to try and create a new workable vision of the future.

So on the former street we believed that things would be so much better if only the major festivals would hire more minority actors. If they did that then everything would be coming up roses or maybe this coming up roses
Either way they are and it is not quite what we expected. First off the long seasons pull so many great performers out of the working pool that if you want to use them then you are looking a very restrictive time frame for production. And then now that performers know that the festivals are a calling they are now being quite reluctant to commit to any projects that are 8 - 14 months away.

And yet here on "New Reality Lane" time frames have totally changed over the last few years. As the available venue space has diminished the pre-planning has lengthened. We now book spaces a year to a year and a half in advance. Designers and Production Managers are booked at least that far in advance as well. In fact the entire industry has had to move towards these kinds of time lines except I daresay actors who in hopes of that elusive festival gig are refusing to commit.

Now this wouldn't be much of a problem if the role you are looking for is one that there are a number of choices for. However if it is a very specific role due to age/background/gender then all of a sudden you are in an ugly producing box. If the actors won't commit do you cancel the show? Or go outside the country?

If you don't do the show then there goes your co-pro and your season. If you go outside the country then I think that some goodwill just left the building.

I am not sure how to solve these issues. All I know is that this particular intersection has the same freezing aspects as Portage and Main in January.

Sunday Quickies

Ok so a huge listing of provocative links for you this Sunday.

So The Guardian wants to know if Lynn Nottage's Pulitzer Prize win for Drama went against the awards criteria.

The Mission Paradox blog started a great thread that provoked a number of responses about how companies start and why they crash and burn.
Start you exploration here and then go here and here.
There are some tangent links which are fully worth the ride as well.

In somewhat the same vein we have Don Hall with an interesting post as well.

On some other thoughts......

Does theatre still shock?

Do we really and truly want patrons boozing in the house?

Some people seem to think so.

The Olfactory Theatre. I must confess to trying this with Toronto the Good but it never came off exactly like I envisioned it. I wanted the smell of popcorn to be making peoples stomach rumble but it just didn't quite work.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Nottage Alert

Ah most excellent news as Lynn Nottage wins the Pulitzer Prize for Ruined

I saw this play about 6 weeks ago and man o man it is truly great.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I wrote about Jack Medhurst here.

I just found out that there will be a Memorial Service for him.

The Memorial Service for Jack will be held on Thursday, April 9 between 2-4 at the Tony Stacey Centre for Veterans Care, 59 Lawson Road, Scarborough, M1C 2J1. It is south of Kingston Road between Morningside and Port Union Road.
RSVP to kphiggins@sympatico.ca. The number there is 416-284-9235. The notice suggests in lieu of flowers, to please make a donation to the Centre.

Sorry for the late notice but please make it out if you can.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


We all want to connect with our audiences. So many times we puzzle over new strategies, ideas, and concepts to create that very elusive ephemeral union with our paying public.

Has it all gone hugely wrong?

Say it ain't so?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Garth and Myron

So the word came down on Garth Drabinsky and Myron Gottlieb today.

Not looking so good.

Richard Ouzounian of the Toronto Star had this video up the day yesterday. It doesn't seem to have a permalink so go now and view quickly.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


Just about lost amid the noise at places like the G&M Comments section is the idea of the arts not contributing to the economy. I mean we know it isn't true but still the old canard keeps coming up.
Queen West has followed the old pattern of artists raising the chicness of an area only to be driven out and pushed ever farther west. Of course they take the chic with them and leave behind chain stores in their wake.

And now this idea Philadelphia street turns empty stores to studios.

Sounds good right? Until you realize that this would be the third time that artists have revived the area and then been driven out for those more "profitable" corporate ventures. And when the market turns and the chains go home to rust who are you gonna call to save the street? Arts busters!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Sunday Quickies

Yes I know that this is actually Saturday night but I just finished a day and a half Aikido Seminar and my Sunday is going to be spent in no way quick at all.

So here we go......

A San Francisco Salon type discussion group with some thoughts on ...well go and see!

Satire and Stereotypes...a winning combination?

Anxiety and the theatre. The Good the Bad and the Ugly. Man can I relate to this. Sitting in the audience praying that someone will get through a scene is not my idea of an exhilarating evening of theatre.

Green Room? Yeah why is it called that?

And finally there has been much talk about the melanin challenged state of Vancouver theatre. You can follow the discussion here, here and here.

Some posts to come include final thoughts on Toronto the Good, My trip to see Ruined in New York and what the heck is Obsidian up to in the next few months.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What She Said

I will not put another dead young black man on stage
Forget the vogue for tales of knife crime and hoodies ? I'm interested in the full range of the black British experience
Patricia Cumper

Oh yes I am so over this article. What a novel idea huh? When I am in an almost joking mood I say that black plays always have someone die in it, usually a child. Death is the most common charcter in black plays. The linchpin of the story in many cases. I often wonder if any good, interesting non-death related stuff ever happens. I believe that the few plays that actually work on the bigger canvas of ideas really capture peoples imaginations. Intimate Apparel does that in a big way.

I think I will follow some of the links in the article and see what others I can find.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Not Quite Right

Ok I hate to start a new month off with a snark but well take a look and see what I mean

For me this image doesn't quite reflect what fight directors are trying to project.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Saving God

1. Who: Ardon Bess Occupation: Actor

2. What is your Obsidian connection?
Founding member

3. Where have you been?

4. When will we see you next?
"Saving God"

5. Why art?
What else?

6. How’s the city treating you?

7. Complete the sentence: “2009 will be…”
2009 will be a year of changes.

8. What is your favourite “O” word?

9. The best?

10. The worst?