Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Relief x 2

So I didn't throw up yesterday evening during the premiere of my monologue at the Solo Flights Emerging Playwrights showcase. In fact, no one did. Which I take as a sign that it wasn't complete shite. Actually, I had some very nice words of congratulation and encouragement--some from people I didn't even know! Of course, Kerry did an amazing job, and now I'm cursed for ever conceiving of anyone else in the role. Not that the piece is likely to be reprised anytime soon...

And who would have thought that coincident with my tiny performance feat last night on Granville Island Alison Redford would be weaving her own magic trick by snatching victory from what just about every poll and political pundit had predicted was almost certain defeat in Alberta's provincial election? Indeed, who would have thought that progressive types inside and outside the province would be hailing yet another Conservative majority? Almost certainly we have to thank the legions of undecided voters who were alienated by some of the homophobic and racist comments made by Wildrose candidates in the last weeks of the election, as well as the traditional left-leaning voters who likely held their noses in strategically deciding to transfer their allegiance to Redford and her party from the Liberals and the NDP in order to stop the Danielle Smith juggernaut. Strange political times, to be sure. But this election almost surely holds some cautionary lessons for BC (facing a provincial election next year, and with a new Conservative party on the ascendant in chasing the right wing vote), as well as Canada as a whole (is there any way to stop Harper other than with a Liberal-NDP merger?).

For now, I suppose, we take our relief wherever, and in whatever form, we can get it.


Sunday, April 22, 2012


An intriguing article in the Globe yesterday by Kate Taylor re 21st-century, digitally-oriented audiences and the live performing arts, and what steps some artists/companies are taking to deal with patrons who just can't unplug for two-plus hours.

It will be interesting to see if some of what Taylor had to say can be put into productive dialogue with a show at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco called The Audience as Subject that Richard and I are hoping to get to when we're in that wonderful city next week. Matthew Akers' film documenting Marina Abramović's one-on-one audience encounters at MOMA a few years ago (The Artist is Present) is also screening at SFMOMA while we're there. But I think I'll wait to catch the film when it plays her in Vancouver at DOXA on May 9th (the day after my panel discussion following the Vito screening). However, Richard and I will definitely be in the audience for the Berkeley Rep show In Paris, starring none other than Mikhail Baryshnikov! Not every day you get to cross something like that off your live performance bucket list. And I promise there will be no tweeting or texting from me while MB is on stage.

But first there's my very own audience to survive on Monday night at the Solo Flights event on Granville Island. The monologue's in as good a shape as it's going to be at this point--thanks mostly to Dave and Kerry. If I can get through the evening without throwing up, I'll be happy.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Performance is...

... the doing, the how of the doing, and the thing done.

... theory, and theory is performance.

... an object-becoming-a-thing.

... an ethics of encounter.

... a potentiality: for action and activism.

... a way of gaining institutional purchase, and of guaranteeing a return on our investments.

... an unruly sheep.

... coming to SFU (we hope).

A few random thoughts on the Performance Studies Methodologies Workshop, organized by York University's Laura Levin and Marlis Schweitzer at Massey College in Toronto this past weekend. Video footage of the papers delivered at this event will be uploaded to the following site in the coming weeks: www.performancecanada.com. And hopefully a follow-up event will be in the offing sometime soon here on the west coast.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Happy Birthday Charter!

Thirty years ago today, on a wet and blustery morning in Ottawa, Betty Windsor sat at a table flanked by a nattily dressed Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and Justice Minister Jean Chrétien, and signed into law Canada's new Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

While the event is not being marked in any significant way owing to the churlishness of the current Conservative government, two articles in yesterday's Globe point to the Charter's immense significance, not just in terms of Canadian law, but also in terms of its global significance. In an op-ed piece, former Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour looks at three aspects of the Charter initially derided--including the notwithstanding clause--that in retrospect have become key elements of the successful work that it does. And another article cites a forthcoming study by two American law professors examining how Canada's Charter has now superseded the American Bill of Rights as the go-to document for emerging democracies seeking a model on which to base their own legal statutes.

That's definitely worth celebrating. And so while Prime Minister Harper pursues oil contracts in South America and dodges the question of why no official marking of the Charter by hiding behind the lack of consensus on the accompanying repatriation of the Constitution (in fact, the above Globe article also cites the fact that the majority of Quebeckers overwhelmingly support the Charter), I will quietly be raising a glass to what, along with a Supreme Court tasked with interpreting it, might be the last defense against a government wishing to undo much of what it has accomplished.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Workshop

I haven't posted for a while, in part because work and life have intruded on my performance-going. But I did want to follow up briefly on my last self-promotional post re a recent event/conversation/sharing that reaffirmed for me the intelligence and generosity and care for good work that the theatrical community in this city daily makes manifest to me.

I'm referring to the workshop earlier today for my monologue that will be part of the Solo Flights program on April 23 at Studio 1398 on Granville Island. I had met earlier last week with Dave Deveau, my dramaturg, to discuss the piece, but this was the first time we'd be meeting with the actress who'd been selected to speak my turgid prose, and to work through collectively what was working and what wasn't. First off, I've totally lucked out in securing the amazing Kerry Sandomirsky as the actor for my piece. When she first read through the monologue, it was revelatory. I had a vision of how this woman sounded in my head, but it was nothing like the depths Kerry tapped on just her first read through.

But then the questions came, from Kerry and Dave, and they were smart and on point, and made me see things and forced me to clarify and defend choices that I had just taken for granted in my totally absorbed writer's way. The two hours flew by, and in the best sort of way, where one comes out energized and itching to get at the revisions one has been tasked with--in order to make the work better, so that it befits the level of talent of one's collaborators.

I have until Monday to get those revisions done, and wouldn't you know that I have a trip to Toronto to attend a conference in the interim (on Performance Studies in Canada, which I hope to report on in a future post). But what are plane rides for?

Here's hoping no one is too disappointed with the results.