; Fun! Fun! Vancouver!: October 2015

Friday, 30 October 2015

Bianca Del Rio - Rolodex of Hate

Drag superstar and winner of Rupaul's Drag Race, Bianca Del Rio storms into town on December 8th at the Vogue Theatre with her comedy special, Rolodex of Hate! This will be the last chance to see her on tour this year, so get your tickets early as it is likely to sell out!

For a taste of her acidic tongue, here's the best of Bianca Del Rio from her season on #RPDR

Tickets are on sale today, get them online!

Monday, 26 October 2015

...Didn't See that Coming

Attention fans of the TV show Once Upon a Time! Dear sweet Granny is setting up shop over in Richmond at the Gateway Theatre with her very own show, "...didn't see that coming" in which "she takes you on a comedic musical ride with her funny and moving collection of autobiographical stories. Tales of unexpected blessings and uncomfortable epiphanies, this comedic romp takes you from small town Ontario to Vancouver’s gay bars and red carpets to our very own Steveston." 

An audience favourite from the Pick of the Vancouver Fringe Festival 2014! With orginal songs and stories starring Beverley Elliott!  ...didn't see that coming runs from November 12 to the 21st at Gateway Theatre!

Saturday, 24 October 2015

The Dining Room

Currently playing at the PAL Studio Theatre is A.R. Gurney's The Dining Room, presented by Western Gold Theatre. This table-side play invites the audience to take a seat and witness an array of homages to one of the most important areas of a house, the dining room. For those who grew up with one, it can be a source of good or painful memories, as depicted in the multitude of vignettes that bleed into one another in this impressive production.

The actors get to flex all their acting muscles as they jump from character to character, whether it's a teenage girl from the 80s or a domestic servant polishing the silverware. The scenes are served like a 12-course meal, coming one after the other, overlapping and complementing with contrast and subtlety.

Stealing the scene for me had to have been Anna Hagan, who gives a heartbreaking performance in one of the Act One scenes as a mother suffering from Alzheimer's, and then coming back in comedic form in Act Two as the monosyllabic maid Bertha.

The set was beautifully done, reminding me of an early 1900s Frank Lloyd Wright house, with the audience perched on either side of the stage, making us feel like we were part of the dinnertime conversation. The show starts off with a group of visitors at a museum exploring an antique dining room display, but things actually begin in the lobby as the person who brings you up to the theatre in the elevator has a little name tag on that reads "Museum Staff." Little nuanced touches like that were a great addition to the show!  

This was an enjoyable evening at the theatre and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a fun and engaging night out!

The Dining Room is on now at the Pal Studio Theatre until November 8th.

Friday, 23 October 2015

VPL Book Sale!

Once a year, the Vancouver Public Library has its annual book sale where it offers up an entire room full of books available at low low prices. This is happening RIGHT NOW until tomorrow! Books for 75 cents, people! You can't beat that!

 Check out the VPL website for more info! 

Monday, 19 October 2015

Postcards From Vancouver: Breaking Bad edition

I haven't posted a Postcard from Vancouver in a long time, but I came across this washroom sign up at UBC the other day and just had to snap a photo. For all you Breaking Bad & Heisenberg fans out there...

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Postcards from Vancouver: Astoria Hotel

The iconic Astoria Hotel in Vancouver shows off the magnificence of the city's once vibrant neon scene with its fully restored neon sign. 

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Madonna in Vancouver

After a few months of avoiding tour spoilers, I finally got to see Madonna's REBEL HEART tour as it rolled into town last night! The photos I took were not great and I really didn't want to watch the whole show through my phone, so I didn't document much, but I'm sure you can look online for footage.

If you're familiar with the tour already, you know the setlist, the costumes, the set, etc. So what was different for the Vancouver show? Well, she performed SECRET which she hadn't done at any other show during the tour! That was exciting! Unfortunately, it replaced the song Who's That Girl, which I would rather have heard as I've never seen her do that live before.

Also specific to the Vancouver show? Amy Schumer and Sean Penn were in the audience!

(photo from Twitter)

At one point, Madonna had Amy do shots with her. After Amy was done, she put the plastic shot glass back on the stage and Madonna was all, "Don't leave your garbage on my stage!" which had the crowd laughing. 

Overall, Madonna was a lot friendlier than the last time she came to town. The crowd was more enthusiastic too, so that might have helped things. But I have read reviews of how she's way more laid back during this tour. It is nice to see. 

Highlights for me included the acoustic/ukulele version of True Blue, the 1920s flapper-style Material Girl and Gatsby-infused Holiday. Also, all the fan art during Rebel Heart was beautiful.

Thank you Madonna for visiting Vancouver again!

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Maria Eichhorn

On now at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery up at UBC is an exhibit on German artist Maria Eichhorn. This marks the very first time that Eichhorn's work has ever been exhibited in Vancouver.

It's part sensual, part sensational, at times comedic, and an interesting look at censorship and sexuality.

The first iteration of Prohibited Imports was realized for an exhibition in Tokyo in 2003. For this occasion, Eichhorn sent several parcels of books from Berlin to Tokyo between 2000 and 2002 on the assumption that Japanese customs would open the parcels and censor the books. The book Mapplethorpe: Die große Werkmonographie, among many others, was censored by the customs authorities at Tokyo’s Narita Airport, and was displayed in the 2003 exhibition alongside an uncensored copy of the same book. Unlike Canadian customs practice, which involves the seizure and then destruction of offending published material, the censors in Japan altered the images with a kind of sandpaper pen, scratching the paper and rubbing off the layer of printing ink from the paper’s surface and ultimately replacing parts of images with a white nimbus. For the exhibition at the Belkin Art Gallery, Eichhorn made new photographs of censored pages from three of the books she had sent between 2000 and 2002 to Tokyo: Jeff Koons, Wolfgang Tillmans and the Kinsey Institute. By coincidence, one of the works censored in the Tillmans book is in the Belkin’s permanent collection.

 Also in the exhibit are 20 three-minute long films that run off 8mm and need to be requested to have screened. Each film depicts a close-up shot of a sexual activity, i.e. french kissing, anal coitus, etc.

For the Belkin exhibit, three new films were commissioned: Japanese bondage, wax play, and needle play.

The Maria Eichhorn exhibit is on now until December 13.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

The Waiting Room

The Waiting Room is not a typical musical. Written by celebrated playwright Morris Panych, this tells the story of a man who has been diagnosed with cancer and his fight against it. Aesthetically, the show is gorgeous. Ken MacDonald did the Set and Costume Design, Gerlad King provided Lighting, and Wendy Gorling supplied the beautiful choreography and movement for the actors on stage. To see it is to be astounded and in awe.

Unfortunately, the music jarred me right out of that dreamscape. John Mann, who is the lead vocalist of the band Spirit of the West, provided the music and lyrics which is fitting since this story is based on his true life experience. I was never a Spirit of the West fan, so maybe that's why this just wasn't for me? Nor was it for my theatre companion either, as she said, "I loved everything about the show - except the music." This is not to knock Mann's talent as a singer or songwriter. But considering this is being toted as a musical, there were certain expectations I had. The songs were fragmented into so many little pieces that I found it really difficult to appreciate them. As well, none of the actors sang the songs, but rather, John Mann did all the singing as the band played in the background. I don't normally enjoy a one-person musical, with the huge exception of Hedwig and the Angry Inch

The music had bits of country twang and barnyard jigs thrown in, mixed with some indie rock-pop and a touch of Celtic. Considering the subject matter, I guess this wasn't the type of music I expected the show to have. But maybe that's intentional? Maybe for a show about cancer, the music needs to be uplifting and light? It just was too much of a contrast for me to grasp, although the song "Moving Day" was brilliantly done with its imagery of selling off and giving away the belongings of a deceased loved one. 

All in all, the actors were good, everything was good, but just the music had me...waiting.

The Waiting Room is on now at the Granville Island Stage until October 31st.

Monday, 12 October 2015


The Arts Club theatre opened its 2015/2016 season with Disgraced at the Stanley Theatre.

Meaghan and I attended the other day and we both left feeling... confused. We weren't quite sure what the point of this Pulitzer Prize-winning play was all about. The story revolves around a Muslim lawyer and his White wife. He basically denounces his faith while his wife embraces the world of Islam through her art. His nephew, who has changed his Muslim name Hussein to something more Western - Abe, is suddenly all concerned about a local imam, while the lawyer uncle doesn't give a crap about the imam but is incensed about his nephew's name change and refuses to call him anything but Hussein. Contradictory, no? Why is the Westernized nephew suddenly into defending Muslim leaders? And why is the Muslim-denouncing lawyer not seeing why his nephew would want to change his name to something more Western?

That's just the tip of the iceberg. I think the play is very layered, maybe a bit too much. Another couple enters the scene, consisting of a Jewish man and his African American wife. Heated debates and arguments erupt over race relations. Is that the point of the play? That everyone's got it hard? As a person of colour myself, perhaps I already got that memo.

A sordid love affair rears its head, which seems to spring from nowhere. Although that could also be the lack of chemistry between the actors. Meaghan thought the acting was quite stiff and was obsessed with the bad wig she saw on stage. I found it refreshing to see the diversity of actors up on the stage.

I also had some misgivings about the direction of the show. Having taken a stageplay course in Creative Writing and working with directors, I've always been told to never have the characters sit on stage, because it takes the energy completely out of the show. At one point, one of the actors sits at the dinner table with her back to the audience. Throughout the play, it was hard to hear some of the lines too as the actors are facing a certain direction.

There could be a lot of discourse and discussion inspired by this show, but the production at the Stanley has too many distractions to really get into the meat of it. And even if you look past all the minor things that we found ourselves obsessing over, was there really anything substantial there to begin with?

A head scratching beginning to the Arts Club season, though many of the upcoming shows look promising. Disgraced will definitely make you feel uncomfortable and question your own beliefs. It is thought-provoking and at times difficult to swallow. It is on for one more week at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Smoke on the Mountain

Opening the 2015/2016 season at Pacific Theatre is Smoke on the Mountain, a musical revue of sorts that will transport you back to a Baptist church revival set in the 1940s. Complete with live instruments, the show incorporates sermons and stories of each of the characters between songs as you are immersed into participating in a lively gospel church service.

Stealing the show for me was Kaitlin Williams as June Sanders, whose comedic timing is spot on as the one member of the musical family to not be seen as musical; rather, she signs the songs for the hearing impaired while the rest of the troupe entertains, though her struggles at signing is what's really entertaining. Not to mention the slapstick style of instrument playing she takes on, from a spoon on a washboard to creating the sounds of hell or the trotting of a horse.

Another highlight was Kim Larson's character Denise Sanders, whose story line of being torn between religion and her desire to see more of the world was probably the most interesting part of the show. Not everything is black and white anymore, as we watch this congregation deal with the changing world around them, beginning with the arrival of electricity.

For a high-spirited evening of music and theatre, Smoke on the Mountain is a great escape from the doldrums of rainy Vancouver nights. The show is on now at Pacific Theatre until November 1st. 

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

The other night I got the opportunity to go see a concert put on by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

As I sat there and let the music wash over me, I realized just what a magical experience it really is. Why don't I go to the symphony more often? The musicians are wonderful, the selections are unique and varied, and the Orpheum theatre is simply gorgeous. It really is a beautiful cultural evening out on the town that will whisk you away from your daily troubles if only for a few hours. Who doesn't want that? Go experience the symphony!

Check out some of the special events coming up, including this Bugs Bunny/Looney Toons night!

And for anyone 35yo and younger, or any full time student, you have the ability to get tickets to the symphony for only $15! What are you waiting for?

Friday, 9 October 2015

Harry Potter and the Rain City

 "This fall, UBC Library celebrates the legacy of the Harry Potter series and Vancouver’s special relationship with “the boy who lived” with a special exhibition at three library branches, featuring first editions of the books, stories and memorabilia from local businesses and people affected by the series. Share your Harry Potter memories with the Library via #harrypotterUBC.

Curated by Rare Books and Special Collections, the Harry Potter and the rain city exhibition is on display from October 6 to December 11, 2015 at three different Library branches."

There will also be a colloquium and a costume party! 

For more information, check out the website.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

literASIAN Festival - Oct 8-11 !

Just to wet your appetite before the Writer's Festival begins, LiterASIAN is a festival Pacific Rim Asian Canadian Writing that begins tomorrow Oct 8 for the entire weekend, featuring workshops and readings and book launches and even a dinner party celebration!

For more information visit: http://literasian.com/

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Romeo + Juliet

This is not just any production of Romeo + Juliet. No indeed. Studio 58 continues to bring thought provoking and innovative theatre to Vancouver, this time turning Shakespeare on its head with two female protagonists in the lead roles of Romeo + Juliet!

How amazing does this sound?

In this version of Shakespeare’s classic, created for the anniversary season, travel back in time fifty years to 1965.  Get up close and personal with the lovers and their entourage and abandon yourself to the passion of youth and all that it brings. This production features an accomplished design team who will create a atmospheric and immersive space inspired by Andy Warhol’s infamous parties at The Factory in New York City. In this R & J, the visuals and music pulse alongside Shakespeare's timeless words. Indulge in this tale of love and living to the edges.

Romeo + Juliet runs from October 1 - 18 at Langara's Studio 58. Get your tickets now! 

VIFF: Ninth Floor

(reviewed by Meaghan Smith)

An Insider Look at the Sir George Williams Affair

The filmmakers introduced the film by telling us that we were the third audience to ever see the film. The film covers the Sir George Williams Affair mostly from the side of the students. After an accusation of racism goes ignored for too long the students host a sit-in in the school’s computer lab in 1969. Sir George Williams would later go on to be part of Concordia University. Like many other protests it all starts peaceful until the protesters are pushed just a little too far. The computer lab ended up being destroyed and the ninth floor set ablaze.

I went into Ninth Floor with little knowledge of this protest and riot. Raised in a French speaking school I was very aware of many of the large scale protests and crises that took place in Quebec including the FLQ and the October Crisis and the École Polytechnique Massacre, so I was a little disappointed in my gap in knowledge. I like that the film reunited as many of the original complainants and protesters as possible to tell their version of the story instead of the one that has become public knowledge. The main differences in these two sides are of course how dangerous the protesters were; it was a group of peaceful students hosting a sit-in, and whether or not they lit the fire themselves, or if the locked door that trapped them in a room on fire was a clue to something a little more insidious.

The film combines new interviews with old footage to try and give as much of the student perspective as possible. The film had a little too much stock footage and overly stylized shots for my tastes, which usually pings my assumption that the film didn’t have enough primary material to make it feature length. The subjects of the film are now elderly, incredibly well spoken, and obviously well educated which helps to legitimize what they are saying. The use of a “where are they now” segment was so powerful that many members in the audience forgot their film etiquette and started speaking at the screen (something I may broach in a later piece. Long story short, don’t speak during film screenings, it’s incredibly rude and disruptive).

 Although the film is in the BC series, the film is about Quebec and race relations in Canada. The Sir George Williams Affair is something incredibly important for the people of Canada to learn about, especially now that we see ourselves as such a multicultural country. I had no idea how bad racial tensions in 1960’s Canada were because I was only ever taught about the civil rights movement in USA, and the racial tensions there and never what was happening here. Racial tension and horrifying acts of racism were and are committed right here at home and maybe a shake from the foundation is what we need to open our eyes.