; Fun! Fun! Vancouver!: October 2012

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Vancouver Inspiration Pass

Wow it feels like there's so much going on in Vancouver these days, it's hard to keep up. This is one thing I definitely need to blog about though, even though it's probably on all the other more timely and popular blogs out there!

Still, it's a good little thing to know for locals! The Vancouver Inspiration Pass was introduced today by the mayor. It's a joint project with the Vancouver Public Library:

"Opening the door to exciting experiences and fun things to see and do across the city, the Vancouver Inspiration Pass is a free cultural and recreational pass program that allows families and teens to get out and explore their city like never before!

Free for Vancouver residents aged 14-years and older, participants can request to borrow a pass for two weeks at any Vancouver Public Library branch."

It will allow access to venues such as the Vancouver Aquarium, Science World, Vancouver Art Gallery, HR MacMillan Space Centre, UBC Museum of Anthropology, Roedde House Museum and Vancouver Police Museum.

"The passes also allow free entry to all the park board’s fitness centres, swimming pools, skating rinks, pitch-and-putt golf courses and botanical gardens. Passes can be used for a limited number of seats for performances. The Vancouver Opera, for example, is setting aside up to 30 seats at each of 10 performances. Also participating are the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and the Vancouver Bach Choir."

Master Class

Last night I went to watch Terrence McNally's Tony-award winning play Master Class, now playing at the Granville Island Stage.

Although there is a cast of 6, there is no denying here that the shining star of this production is Gina Chiarelli who plays famed opera singer Maria Callas now turned Julliard instructor who relives her tumultuous and not so distant past through her teaching and her students.

Angus Kellett is the patient piano man who is witness to all of Maria's tirades and outbursts. Felix LeBlanc plays the oblivious stagehand, who fetches water and pillows for the diva in distress, either not caring or not knowing whom she is or used to be. The hopeful students are played by Shannon Chan-Kent, Melanie Krueger, and Frederik Robert, all of whom gift the audience with their operatic talents.

This play is not about opera though, not really. So if you're like me and not an opera fan, you will still enjoy this for the writing and most definitely for the acting. This play is about narcissism and holding on to a life long gone. It's a fictionalized portrait of a true life diva, and Gina Chiarelli knocks the performance way out of the ballpark. She is terrific, she is mesmerizing, she is breathtaking, she is tantalizing. Even though she sings only but a few strained bars, she had the entire audience in the palm of her hand with her portrayal of Callas and we ate up every last bit. I was in the second row so I could see the tears that rolled down her face as she gave her heart and soul into a truly stunning and powerful performance. And she has to do this every night? I am exhausted just thinking about it.

I'm sorry I didn't get to see this earlier on as I would have herded everyone who reads this to the show immediately. If you get the opportunity, go attend Master Class. It's one of the best performances in Vancouver I have seen in a long time.

Master Class runs until this Saturday, Oct 27th at the Granville Island Stage.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Jetset - Theatre Replacement fundraiser Nov 3!

Theatre Replacement is a Vancouver theatre company. They are holding their annual Art Auction/Fundraiser, which will include a live auction of artwork by local and renowned artists, such as Julie Morstad, Cindy Mochizuki and Sarinah Haba. There will also be live music and a DJ.

Tickets are $10 and include a drink, if you come before 9pm. There will also be a live animation show by Cindy Mochizuki and Ana Mori for an additional $10.

Theatre Replacement is an ongoing collaboration between James Long and Maiko Bae Yamamoto. Whether working together or apart, we use extended processes to create performances from intentionally simple beginnings. Our work is about a genuine attempt to coexist. Questions of authorship, ownership and copyright are always alive inside our examinations of found materials. Conversations, interviews and arguments collide with Yamamoto and Long's aesthetics resulting in theatrical experiences that are authentic, immediate and hopeful.

The company continues to build and tour work, and has been presented at internationally recognized festivals and venues, including Festival TransAmériques (Montreal), Magnetic North Theatre Festival (Ottawa & Vancouver), Free Fall Festival (Toronto), High Performance Rodeo & Enbridge PlayRites Festival (Calgary), On the Boards (Seattle WA), Fusebox Festival (Austin TX), Noorderzon Festival (Groningen NL) and the PAZZ Performing Arts Festival (Oldenburg Germany).

The Jetset fundraiser takes  place November 3, at 7pm at the Beaumont Studios - 316 West 5th Avenue.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Initiation Trilogy - Electric Company

Last night I attended one of the coolest theatre productions going on right now in town! Electric Company Theatre presents Initiation Trilogy, a 90 minute 3-part show that has you moving from place to place all around Granville Island. I've heard so much about Electric Company Theatre and had never been to any of their shows, because they are ALWAYS sold out! They currently have a show running in Toronto that premiered here in Vancouver last year (Tear the Curtain!) which is getting rave reviews over there too.

With Initiation Trilogy, I had NO idea what to expect. I was just thrilled to have gotten tickets (bought them a month in advance!) I don't want to ruin or spoil the experience for anyone, so I won't go into what the show is actually about. Let's just say it's three separate experiences, all of which are equally as amazing and creative as the next. Based upon three different books of poetry, the scenes that they set out for you are so far apart and so different from one another yet at the same time hold a recurring theme of some sort of "initiation."

 It's a wildly fantastic show from the genius minds at Electric Theatre Company, and you absolutely HAVE to go see this! Initiation Trilogy runs on Granville Island now until October 28th.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Andrew Grassie at the Rennie Collection

(photo by L. Madziag)

It was the perfect rainy weekend to go check out the latest exhibit at the Rennie Collection. Jill, Dave, Lukasz, Peter and myself hit up the Andrew Grassie installment on Saturday afternoon. The show was challenging, I found. It wasn't art that I particularly liked. It was very metaphysical, I thought, in that the artist liked to create art about art. Am I losing you?

One example: he would take photographs of himself painting with egg tempera and then he would take those photos and create a painting out of that. So it's the process of him painting that becomes the artwork, and calls into question what exactly is artwork, how does it become considered artwork, etc etc etc?!

It was a bit too much! But I did enjoy being in the Wing Sang building as always, and look forward to the next exhibit there. This one? I wasn't a huge fan, but I did enjoy the end product of that egg tempera painting, titled Smiley Face:

Two other pieces I liked were paintings of Bob Rennie's, (the collector's), home apartment, painted 3 years apart by the artist.  Otherwise, I found the exhibit to be very minimalist. There's a lot of space that can be used, but the works are tiny and look even tinier in the large empty gallery. Perhaps that too is part of the point? You'll have to go and see for yourself!

If you haven't been to the Rennie Collection before, I do recommend it. It's a private art collection, so you have to book yourself a tour in advance. You are then led around the gallery by an art history student who will give you a very informative tour of the space and the exhibit. (Thanks Robin!)

The Andrew Grassie exhibit runs at the Rennie Collection until February 9th, 2013.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Dinner with Wayson Choy

Wayson Choy is the author of the acclaimed novel The Jade Peony, and also the writer who inspired me to find my voice.

"On October 15, 2012 at 11 am on the Southeast corner of the intersection of Pender and Gore, Project Bookmark Canada and Wayson Choy will unveil two plaques to highlight and commemorate the physical landscape so vividly rendered in Choy’s iconic novel, The Jade Peony. Members of the public are invited to attend the plaques’ unveiling and to hear the author read from his novel."

Tonight, there will be a special evening at Floata restaurant in Chinatown (180 Keefer St), a tribute dinner to Wayson.  Starting at 6pm, the night will feature stories and interviews from friends and family of Choy, as well as an 8 course Chinese dinner for $55.

Come and meet Wayson in person and have your books autographed by him! 

For more information, check out the webpage at RicePaper Magazine, or if you want to buy tickets, call Kristin Cheung at 778) 928-5408

Saturday, 13 October 2012

VIFF: Holy Motors

Holy Motors!?! HOLY @#$#@#@$! !?

What in the world did I just watch??? I mean, what a way to end off the Vancouver International Film Festival but with an amazing yet completely bizarre French film that starred Kylie Minogue in it!?

Seriously though, WHAT THE HELL?

I think I have an idea of what this film was about, but then I think I kinda don't. It was awesome and I loved it, but I have no idea what the heck I watched!!

Thank you VIFF for bringing such a wonderful and original and creative and crazy and insane film to Vancouver!! And if you get a chance to see HOLY MOTORS, definitely do so as it will probably blow your mind or make you want to leave the theatre!

Friday, 12 October 2012

Little Shop of Horrors - Jericho Arts Centre

I had a date last night.

I don't think it worked out. I mean, I liked him. But I didn't feel like he was all that into me.

Oh well. I really should just go and get that cat I've been eyeing, right?

On the bright side of things, I got to go see Fighting Chance Productions' opening show of the season, Little Shop of Horrors!

This is the perfect treat for Halloween, so get a group together, bring your kids, and enjoy this musical horror comedy with catchy tunes and a hilarious story of a blood-thirsty plant, a nerdy botanist, and a psycho dentist! 

Kerry O'Donovan's shy but strong Seymour shone brightly, as did his co-star, Melissa Maxine, who as Audrey, belted out the numbers like a true stage diva. Greg Delmage - you can be my dentist any time!  Delmage juggled several hats, but none as delightful as the menacing Orin. The three ladies who made up the singing trio of Chiffon, Ronette, and Crystal had fabulous chops and helped add humour to the already funny show. 

Little Shop Of Horrors plays at the Jericho Arts Centre now until October 27! Go suddenly see more shows this Fall! Don't miss out! 

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

VIFF: Closing Gala tickets available!

I'm exhausted. I have VIFF fatigue. That's what happens when you're not prepared to do film after film after film. I'm not a pro like some of the folks who go to this, taking time off work and packing their breakfast, lunch, and dinner with them. Good on ya, and I'm envious at all the films you get to see. It's winding down already, with the Closing Gala a few days away.


Vancouver International Film Festival has recently released more tickets for the closing gala. For the first time ever they are presenting a film on the huge 50 foot screen of The Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts, and doing so with newly installed digital image and sound. The large capacity of The Centre also allows us to open this closing awards gala event to the general public.

Here's a unique chance to see one of the most highly anticipated films of the year in high style! The film is Holy Motors, and Vogue magazine recently called it "An exhilarating tour de force... The most astonishing film at Cannes."

Holy Motors closing gala event is Friday, October 12, 7 PM, at The Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts, right across from the library.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

VIFF: Rust and Bone

On this past Thanksgiving weekend, I was thankful to the Vancouver International Film Festival for bringing this amazing movie from France to our city. Starring the incomparable Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone is a love story between a underground ultimate fighter and a killer whale trainer who suffers a serious accident.

Beautiful and tragic and sexy and romantic. Cotillard's delivers yet another must-see performance.

Monday, 8 October 2012

VIFF: Any Day Now

I first noticed Alan Cumming when I saw him years ago in Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion. He showed up in X-Men movies, blew Broadway away as the Emcee in Cabaret, and has appeared on multiple TV shows, most recently reuniting with Romy & Michelle's Lisa Kudrow for her show Web Therapy.

In the film, Any Day Now, Cumming puts in a tour-de-force performance. His portrayal of a drag performer who winds up fighting for custody of his neighbour's Down syndrome son is tender and moving. His drag act could be spiced up a bit, but he shines when he's showing off those Broadway chops of his in three scenes that feature him singing.

Heartbreaking and frustrating, this is a fact-based movie about a gay couple in the 1970s trying to gain custody of an unwanted mentally challenged 15 year-old.

Winner of the Audience Award: Narrative at the Tribeca Film festival.

Any Day Now plays at the Vancouver International Film Festival on Monday, Oct 8 at 9:30pm.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

VIFF: Laurence Anyways

Montreal's golden boy Xavier Dolan (Heartbeats, I Killed My Mother) returns with his third feature length film, Laurence Anyways.


This two hour and forty minute epic tells the story of a relationship between Frederique and Laurence. When Laurence tells Frederique that he is transgendered and wants to become a woman, so begins the long and tumultuous journey that the two begin together.

Shot with Dolan's unique and aesthetically pleasing camerawork, with an inspired soundtrack to accompany the events on screen, this is an ambitious film that successfully tackles a sensitive topic while making you feel compassion for both of the lead characters, despite them being on opposite sides of the issue.

Unlike his other two films, Dolan does not feature in this one, though I do think I caught a cameo of him in the party scene where Frederique escapes to.

Laurence Anyways plays today, Sunday Oct 7, at 1:30pm at the Vancouver International Film Festival.

Friday, 5 October 2012

VIFF: Keep The Lights On

Keep The Lights On is a movie about a film director named Eric who falls for Paul, a successful young man who also happens to be addicted to crystal meth. I liked this movie from the get-go. It began with images done by Boris Torres, a NYC artist that I am now totally obsessed with! Check out his artwork!


Then, it turns out the entire soundtrack for the movie is all Arthur Russell! Hello!!? Awesome!

The film also turned me onto the works of Avery Willard, whom I had never heard of before, but now am fascinated by!

Finally, the movie takes place in New York City, which is only my favourite place on Earth! So yeah, I was liking this film a lot!

 The story I could somewhat relate to, as I was once in love with an addict. It wasn't crystal meth, but I could see the whole dynamic of wanting to help out this person that you just love so much, and you'll make up all the excuses in the world for them and keep going back, even though the only thing they're wanting is their next fix. The film dragged in the end, only because it got frustrating and tedious to watch our main character Eric constantly keep returning to his crackhead lover. But I think that tedium may have been the point. Everyone else can see it, but when you're stuck in the middle of the storm like that, you only see what you want to see.  

Keep The Lights On is an official selection from Sundance and also the recipient of a Teddy Award at the Berlin International Film Festival. Check out the Vancouver International Film Festival website for more info!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

VIFF: Call Me Kuchu

Another heavy and emotionally exhausting documentary (that's 2 in one day for me!) is Call Me Kuchu which documents the struggle for gay rights in Uganda. Wow. Holy shit. These people are courageous and brave and amazing. To be gay in that place sounds absolutely terrifying. I mean, the country was on the verge of passing a bill where it would be illegal to be gay and punishable by death! WTF people!! It wasn't until the international WORLD told them to STOP THAT SHIT.

Still, their plight is a heavy one. They've got an uphill battle but they are persistent and trying to make change and do right. This film is both inspiring and heartbreaking. I felt like I was literally watching the strength of the human spirit here at work. At times uplifting and hopeful, the documentary sheds light on what it is like to be gay in Uganda. For example, the local paper (whose editor is a total and complete ASSHOLE) likes to put photos of gay people on the front cover, outing them, and under the headline "Hang them!"  Great.  And did you know that if you participate in HIV testing (giving them or taking them) that this is seen as a "gay activity" and can cost you 7 years in jail!?? WHAT. THE. FUCK.

It was sad and infuriating at times to see what life would be like as a gay person in Uganda. Yet there were also celebratory scenes that included a drag show. However, the film takes a tragic turn when one of the main characters is murdered and the ensuing circus that takes place at his funeral is even more maddening. As a supporter from the USA says in the movie, "Uganda, WAKE UP!  STOP THE HATE!"

Call Me Kuchu has one more screening at the Vancouver International Film Festival. Catch it at 5pm on October 5th. You can purchase your ticket here.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

VIFF: More Than Honey

 More Than Honey is a documentary about the collapse of bee colonies around the world, and how it will affect us. Mainly, because they are responsible for pollination, this would drastically affect the world's food supply. In this film, we are presented with a variety of reasons for why all the honey bees are dying out. It includes mixing of colonies by honey producers, which in turn spreads disease and infections. Unlike other films on the same topic, this one aims to provide a few solutions for us. We are shown at least two possible saviors to this critical crisis in nature. Will it be enough?

Find out on October 4th, by catching a screening of More Than Honey at the Vancouver International Film Festival at 6:20pm.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

VIFF: Teddy Bear

Teddy Bear is a Danish film about a professional bodybuilder who lives with his aging mother and though physically imposing, is a shy introverted soul searching for love. The actor who plays Dennis does a wonderful job as the giant teddy bear, as does the actress who plays the Thai woman he eventually meets and falls in love with. It's a charming and endearing film, done from a very genuine place - no Hollywood rom com crap here.

VIFF: The Last White Knight

I had no idea that the director of this film also directed the documentary Prom Night in Mississippi, which focuses on a high school in the South that to this day, has all-white proms. The same director once went down to Mississippi back in the 1960s to help with the civil rights movement. While there, he was beaten up by KKK members. He has recently gone back down there and located one of his assailants, and has interviewed him and forms the basis of this documentary, The Last White Knight.

I had tears streaming down my face the moment the movie began. Watching these two older men talk about the incident that happened between them all those years ago, fighting for what they believed in and being on opposite sides of the issue. I hate hatred. It sucks. Watching this will definitely infuriate you. Interviews with Harry Belafonte and Morgan Freeman help balance out interviews with Klan members and the like.

It is a fascinating film that could very well be brought back for another screening! If so, try to catch it at the Vancouver International Film Festival!

Monday, 1 October 2012

Madonna MDNA Tour Vancouver - September 30, 2012

"Come on Vancouver, you stoned motherfuckers!" - Madonna

And so it was the 2nd night of Madonna's MDNA tour during her stop here in Vancouver! 
Well. It's just an embarrassment of riches. Not only did I get to go see Madonna two nights in a row, but I got to be in the coveted Golden Triangle area both times! Thank you so much Guy Oseary, who has been Twittering fans all over to give them these prized tickets!

Ok, Madonna was obviously pissed off at the Saturday night crowd, who (aside from the Golden Triangle) sat around and didn't dance or sing when she ordered them to. So people who were in the know came on Sunday ready to help redeem our city's reputation, for fear that she may shun us in the future! I mean, it ONLY took 20+ years for her to get here. We don't want to give her a reason to not come back, do we?

She began with Girl Gone Wild, with everybody singing along. I was all the way up at the front - second row, if there were rows - and could see the smile on her face and that she was indeed impressed with the Sunday crowd. At one point, we swear that she looked directly at us and stuck her tongue out in a cheeky manner.

Notably absent during the second show was Holiday and Like a Virgin. Was she punishing us for the previous night's lackluster audience? Or did she feel we were amped up enough already so didn't need to include Holiday? And I wasn't a huge fan of Like a Virgin the way she did it (very slow) so maybe they felt that it was too slow for us as there wasn't much reaction to it.

When she stripped down after Human Nature, on her back was the word "Slave" on Saturday night, but on Sunday night, it instead read, "Free Pussy Riot." There was a brief mention of smoking pot and she asked the crowd if it mellowed us out when we did it or if it made us all crazy, to which everyone cheered!

She also spoke about respecting one another. It went something like this:

Madonna: Do we care about whether the person beside us is black or white or another culture?

Vancouver: No!!!!!

M: Do we care what the person next to us believes in or what religion they belong to?!

Vancouver: No!!!!

M: Do you care if the person beside you is gay or straight?!!

Vancouver: No!!!

M: Do you care about what other people wear and the kind of clothes they have on!?!

Vancouver:  YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

M: (laughing and smiling) Good. You can all work for me.


She also asked where everyone was from. There were Brazilians to my left, and in front of me was a guy in a turban, whom she singled out and asked where he was from. His reply: Vancouver. That obviously wasn't exotic enough for her, so she continued, "But where's your FAMILY from!?" to which he replied, "India!" and that is what she was looking for, lol.

It was another awesome night with Madonna! Let's hope we managed to redeem our city's reputation with her and that this won't be the last time she visits!!