Friday, January 9, 2009

Things Worth Celebrating

The contract for the book has arrived. Hoorah! It will appear with Manchester University Press, in their "Theatre: Theory, Practice, Performance" series either late this year or early next. Before the Olympics, at any rate, I've been assured by my editor. Greatly relieved by this, although it does increase the pressure to finish up final revisions and get the typescript off asap. If only world events would take a time-out and allow me to stop tinkering. It's terribly difficult, despite what Benjamin says, to write a history of the present.

Have I mentioned the title? It's called World Stages, Local Audiences: Essays on Performance, Place, and Politics. You've likely sensed a theme.

Our 2009 PuSh Festival passes have also arrived. We're psyched about the shows we've chosen: new work from Marie Brassard and Ronnie Burkett; dance and experimental theatre from Japan; more dance from Toronto and Cambodia; lots of whacky local work; and late-night cabaret at the new Club PuSh the organizers have set up on Granville Island. Am especially looking forward to catching a show there by dragster extraordinaire Taylor Mac.

On the horizon, there's a show at the Vogue by Antony and the Johnsons to look forward to in February, and before that the (imminent, I believe) release of their new album, The Crying Light. I got to interview Antony Hegarty as part of Susan Stryker's TransSomatechnics Conference at SFU Harbour Centre this past May--an amazing experience, and as an added bonus he serenaded conference participants with a short private solo concert.

While the news on the expected cost overruns for the Olympic Athletes' Village in False Creek gets worse by the day, Mayor Robertson and his new Vision team have so far made some bold decisions that are shaking things up for the better at City Hall. First, Robertson fired City Manager Judy Rogers, who bears a lot of responsibility for the False Creek mess, and who had amassed far too much individual power for an unelected bureaucrat. Next, Vision councillors instituted a new Homeless Emergency Action Team (HEAT) that succeeded in getting more than 300 people off the street and into shelters during the recent cold snap in the city. And, finally, there are signs that the new regime is going to be more responsive to culture and arts infrastructure, reversing a decision of the previous administration, for example, that will allow the Vancouver East Cultural Centre, undergoing a massive LEED-certified renovation of its main performance space (a former church on Venables), to also purchase and renovate a second venue nearby.

Now if only the mayor could do something about getting rid of all of this snow. To be fair, he does seem to have ordered up a rather controlled melt so far. The rains have arrived, but not in the force with which they were first predicted.

In Vancouver, that's always worth celebrating.


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