Friday, February 22, 2008

A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS: Audience response

Here's a note from one audience member - actress, filmmaker and former PT apprentice Genevieve Miedema
Hi Ron,

I wanted to let you know that David and I really enjoyed A Man for All Seasons when we went two Saturdays ago. It was our first night out together since Caspian was born and we were thrilled by the performance. What a great script! I loved the era-change for the costumes and thought the whole production was excellent.

It was a bit of a stretch to see a tall, thin man play Henry VIII, but he pulled it off, and his Cromwell was just creepy! The guy who played the butler/jailer etc. was a delight to watch. And your performance of Thomas was moving and poignant. It was exciting, as always, to see the familiar PT faces of Adam, Evangela, and Trish. Each character was convincing and captivating.

What a heartbreaking scene that was when Thomas had to make his friend dislike him by telling him what he really thought of his capitulation to the king... I've been recommending this play to everyone I know and I hope it does very well for Pacific Theatre. What a challenge to us all, as we try to justify our compromises.

Thanks for putting this show on, and thanks for blessing us with your work.

Geneviève (and David) Miedema

And another from a physician, a longtime fan of Pacific Theatre...
Yes, we were misting up in the north front row Friday night. My parents agreed it was one of the most outstanding performances to date. Not that you are intentionally competing with what London and NYC offer us. Bravo! Exemplary acting! Yes, don’t let so much time pass again. The reading of “Twelve Angry Men”, provided an inkling of what can be when directors remember where they began. Could be like when physicians become patients once in awhile. (Clearly autobiographical)

Theatre provides the extraordinary gift of engaging me completely; intermission being an uninvited dream-state. Reminds me of a comment made recently by NBC (Newfie by choice) philosopher Daryl Pullman. “We don’t just take a patient’s history, we are privileged to enter into their story.”

Profound fallout…..

In the early 80’s I had written in my journal Sir T.M’s quote about a vow being like holding water in your cupped hands. I claim that image to have inspired me against all odds now beyond the 25 year mark…

And what the heck, how about this one...
Thanks so very much for a wonderful night at Man for all Seasons- We were 'wowed' by the performances and the ability of the stage to bring story into an intimate and engaging experience for us. We talked all the way home about the density and intensity of the dialogue and it's delivery- so very powerful! Now I want to get the play to read! Do you ever tape performances?

Kudos to Ron- you must be exhausted- you put so much into your character- I could so clearly see Sir Thomas More's physical deterioration juxtaposed to the increasing determination of the will matched with wit to stand as a congruent servant of God.- Wonderful! thanks to everyone for giving it their all- Ok I'll write your next review- Blessings to you all, and thanks again it was a great diversion to our up-hill climb right now.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Mar 7: TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL opens at Gallery 7

Gallery 7 Theatre & Performing Arts Society proudly presents

The Trip to Bountiful
By Horton Foote

“…the rarest of theatre experiences, an evening which will prove an indelible memory.”

“Horton Foote has done, and done beautifully, the one thing that it is important for a playwright to do. That is, provide the disciplined material for expert actors to completely capture an audience and hold it through the evening.”

-World Telegraph
March 7 & 8, 13 - 15, 20 - 22, 2008 @ 7:30 pm
Discount Matinees: March 8 & 15 @ 2:00 pm

MEI Secondary School Theatre
4081 Clearbrook Road, Abbotsford

Tickets Now on Sale! Please call House of James:
604-852-3701 or 1-800-665-8828

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Apr 6: TWU Choirs at the Chan

Acoustic Splendor - Spring at the Chan Centre!
Sunday April 6/2008
2:30 pm
Chan Shun Concert Hall
Presented by the Trinity Western University Choirs
Tix available online

Wes Janzen, Artistic Director

Featuring Ay Laung Wang, solo organ
Trinity Western University Choirs, Wes Janzen
Pacific Mennonite Children’s Choir, Kim Janzen Carmen Fast, piano

Showcasing the Chan's fabulous acoustics, this sunny spring program will include spectacular organ solos performed by Ay Laung Wang, glorious choral selections sung by the Trinity Western University Choirs, and musical offerings featuring the award-winning sound of the Pacific Mennonite Children’s Choir.

Apr 17: ST JOAN opens at Chemainus

A classic "soul food" play takes the stage at Chemainus a couple months from now, with Sarah Rodgers directing - she helmed DRIVING MISS DAISY and THE ELEPHANT MAN at Pacific Theatre.

Saint Joan
by George Bernard Shaw

April 17 to May 17, Reopens June 7 to July 26
Chemainus Theatre Festival

1429 France. Joan of Arc, a charismatic young peasant girl, leads the French to victory over the English, but two short years later she is burned at the stake. Why? Regarded as one of the most riveting and powerful texts in the English language, Shaw’s monumental work re-examines Joan’s dramatic rise and fall in light of the nationalism, political corruption, religious intolerance and hero worship that caused not only World War I, but that also challenges our world today.

"One thousand like me can stop them. Ten like me can stop them with God on our side."

Monday, February 18, 2008


I met Camille Hallstrom a year and a half ago, soon after PT's premiere of A BRIGHT PARTICULAR STAR. She was traveling North America, visiting theatres and theatre artists doing work like we do, from some sort of a Christian faith perspective - and also, in the process, scouting shows to perform back at Covenant College in Georgia, where she heads the theatre program.

Well, STAR opened there last weekend, and she sent me a glowing account of their run so far, and attached their director's notes. Here are both, for your interest and edification.



The show opened Friday to a sold out crowd who was positively rowdy in their enthusiasm. I thought we would have added 5-minutes to the run time with all the eruptions of laughter and applause (though as it happened, the actors were so jazzed we only added one-second to the previous night's length.)
I had people say it is the best show they've seen, others say "I wished numerous times I could have shouted 'Stop!; I want to think about what you just said!'" It's been a great experience for the cast and crew. Thanks for this play.
I'm really sorry you won't be able to see it. Hopefully a dvd I'm having shot and edited will turn out moderately watchable. If it does, I'll send it to you. ...
Blessings as you conclude your run of "Man for All Seasons."
And thanks again for this fine play.



"God has made everything beautiful in its time.
There is a time for every activity under heaven." (Eccl 3:11)

I consider my job at Covenant College equal parts encouraging students to work in theatre and discouraging them from it. Some of us are called to this wonderful, exciting, needy, dangerous “mission field”; others are not.

For millennia Churchmen have, often in outrageous ways, castigated the stage. We must disagree with 18th-century William Law (“It is no uncharitable assertion to affirm that [an actor] cannot be a living member of Christ”) or 19th-century Samuel Miller (“The finger of God, [via a theatre fire that killed 75] points to this Amusement [showing] theatrical entertainments are criminal in their nature and ...directly hostile to... the Religion of Jesus Christ”). Still we cannot deny that the dramatic world has also historically been rife with sex, violence, loose living and heartache. Would a loving parent willingly send a child to wallow in such an abyss? Many could not, yet it cannot be denied that the “abyss” is in large measure the Church’s fault. Having, for centuries, abandoned the theatre to the world, we have no business complaining that the theatre is now worldly. It is shocking to read C.H.Spurgeon claim that “the moral character of the theatre [is such] that it has become too bad for mending.” How can he forget that “God was pleased to... reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven” (Col 1:19-20)? How unconscionable for 1st-century Tertullian to insist that “demons... [give actors] the artistic talents required by the shows!” It is “by Christ [not demons] all things were created” (Col 1:16) and “nothing [God created] is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving” (1Tim 4:4). In the play, retired actress Kate Terry sighs: “[The stage] is corrupted and corrupting - not the place for a Christian, I fear. The meat has gone bad.” But Lilia gives the Kingdom reply: “Because the salt never got there in the first place! Simply because the battle is difficult, do we hand it over to the enemy?”

Ron Reed's play does an admirable job of summing up, in two hours, 2,000 years of Christian controversy in these matters. Parents recognize “God has given you a gift, lassie” one moment, then worry “as Christian parents, you cannot consent to your daughter losing her innocence to the stage” the next. Some Churchfolk tend to lionize one type of drama (they “only like a play if it's got a sermon in it!”) and demonize another (“Shakespeare… Frankly, I don’t see the point in it.”) But art has never been about giving a 3-point gospel presentation. As playwright and Christian apologist Dorothy Sayers once wrote: “Playwrights are not evangelists!.... If [one] writes with his eye on a kind of spiritual box-office, he will at once cease to be a dramatist, and decline into a manufacturer of propagandist tracts. It is his business not to save souls but to write good plays. Should he forget this fact, he will lose his professional integrity, and with it all his power -- including his power to preach the gospel.”

Well, okay, supposing Sayers is right, what then is “the point in it?” Lilia’s answer: “It’s beautiful. (And I want to be a part of that.)” Oh, but surely! That’s impractical; that can’t be Christian. More’s the pity it would strike us so, for though we may have forgotten, the Church has had a long and venerable history of “theological aesthetics.” There was a time when Christians realized their proper study was not merely Truth and Goodness, but also Beauty.

Historically, C.S. Lewis reminds us, a goal of education has been to teach people to feel right feelings: “By starving the sensibility of our pupils we only make them easier prey to the propagandist when he comes. For famished nature will be avenged and a hard heart is no infallible protection against a soft head.” Jonathan Edwards wrote “God is God, and distinguished from all other beings, and exalted above ’em, chiefly by his divine beauty, which is infinitely diverse from all other beauty.” And could it actually be iconoclastic, old John Calvin who encourages us: “Let us not be ashamed to take pious delight in the works of God open and manifest in this most beautiful theater [the world]”?

St. Paul exhorted us that “each one should retain the place in life… to which God has called him.” (1Cor 7:17) There’s little evidence this verse applies only to doctors and farmers and locksmiths and priests. Lilia tells her friend, “I think God likes me to act in plays”; but when the friend presses, “Why? To what end?” she can only reply, “I don't know.” Calvin (wild-and-crazy Bohemian sensualist that he was) perhaps supplies the answer in an elaboration on the passage above: “The contemplation of God's goodness in his creation will lead us to thankfulness and trust.... God has shown by the order of Creation that he created all things for man's sake.”

Soli Deo Gloria

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Feb 14-24: Kyle Jesperson in STEEL KISS

Hi everyone,

A quick plug for my next show, "Steel Kiss," inspired by the fatal beating of a gay man by a group of highschool students.
It is one hour long, and it runs Feb.14-24 at the Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island. There is content warning for those under the age of 16.
For info about the show:
For tickets:

Me and the rest of the guys are amped up as heck about this show...


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Letter: Gratitude for Rosedale Writers Week

Last year at this time Pacific Theatre hosted a Writers Week, made possible by the Rosedale On Robson Suite Hotel, which drew together playwrights from all over North America. Here's a recent email from Jeanne Murray Walker, whose play was workshopped.
Hi Ron,

...this is an anniversary, and I just want to say thanks again for bringing us together last January. For me, for many of us, I think, it was a profoundly wonderful time. Your generosity and the hard work of your staff at Pacific Theatre was heroic. I have gone on to revise the script I heard read there and will be listening to the next draft read by the Gordon College Theatre department next week. I think the script is almost finished. For me the time in Vancouver was transformational, and I suspect it was for other playwrights, too. I hope we can figure out a way to get together again. But whatever happens about that, last year's gathering drew us together and provided real, practical help for many of us, and I remain enormously grateful to you.

Wishing you all good things,


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Feb 17: Pacific Rim String Quartet at Pacific Theatre

This reminder note from Brian Mix...
Hello friends,

Just a reminder that the next "Music at Pacific" concert is this coming Sunday, February 17, at 3:00 pm. The Pacific Rim String Quartet will perform Haydn’s “Emperor” Quartet, Arvo Pärt’s Summa, and Shostakovich’s powerful and moving Quartet No. 8. The intimate 124-seat Pacific Theatre, located at West 12th Avenue and Hemlock, is perfect for experiencing chamber music.

Tickets are available at 604-731-5518 or For more information go to Only 21 seats were vacant at the last concert, so order your tickets soon!

Hope to see you there,

How Theatre Failed America, by Mike Daisey

Here's an article sent to me by a theatre buddy in Seattle. Reminds me to be grateful that we at PT are small enough, and unbeholden, and can still be lean and lithe, and do the theatre we want, however modestly. It does make me sad to see how poor my fellow artists can be, both in terms of annual income and in terms of opportunities to make their art. But I'm not actually sure the good old days ever were: I think it's pretty much always been this way for theatre folk, a hard road. To paraphrase G.K. Chesterton, it seems to me that life in the theatre has not been tried and found wanting, it has been found difficult and left. Or not tried in the first place.
The Empty Spaces
Or, How Theater Failed America
by Mike Daisey
The Stranger (Seattle), Feb 5, 2008

Seven years ago, I left Seattle for New York—I abandoned the garage theaters and local arts scene and friends and colleagues—because I was a coward. I'd already tried to sell out once, by working at a shitty Wal-Mart of a tech company, but I knew I would not survive in the theater if I stayed. I fled to New York to bite and claw a living out of the American theater as an independent artist because I was young and stupid enough to think that would actually work. Today, my wife and I are one of a handful of working companies who create original work in theaters across the country. We're a very small ensemble: I am the monologuist; she is the director. We survive because we're nimble, we break rules, and when simple dumb luck happens upon us, we're ready for it.

We return to Seattle maybe once a year. During my first week back this time, I ended up at a friend's party, long after the rest of the guests had gone, in that golden hour when the place is almost cleaned up, but the energy of the night is still hanging in the air. We settled down in the kitchen under the bright light, making 4:00 a.m. conversation and, as all theater artists do, I asked the traditional question: "What are you working on?"

My friend's face fell, for just a moment—she's a fantastic actress, one of the best in the city, with an intelligence and precision that has taken my breath away for years. She corrected a moment later, and told me carefully that she wasn't going out for anything now—that she was giving it up. She has a job-share position at her day job to let her take roles when needed, but now she is going to go permanent for the first time in her entire life. After 15 years of working in theaters all over Seattle, she'd felt the fire go out of her from the relentless grind of two full-time jobs: one during the day in a cubicle, the other at night on a stage.

She said what really finished it for her was getting cast in a big Equity show this fall and seeing how the other Equity actors lived—the man whose work had inspired her all her life, living in a dilapidated hovel he was lucky to afford; the woman who couldn't spare 10 dollars to eat lunch with colleagues without doing some quick math on a scrap of paper to check her weekly budget. These are the success stories, the very best actors in the Northwest, the ones you've seen onstage time and time again. Their reward is years of being paid as close to nothing as possible in a career with no job security whatsoever, performing for overwhelmingly wealthy audiences whose rounding errors exceed the weekly pittance that trickles down to them.

My friend looked at me imploringly—she's close to 40, at the height of her powers, but the sacrifices of this theater ask for raw youth: When she arrived in Seattle, she'd eat white rice flavored with soy sauce for lunch for a month at a time. "Maybe if I was 23 again," she said. "Maybe not even then." She looked down at the table as she said this, and I felt a kind of death in the room.

The institutions that form the backbone of Seattle theater—Seattle Rep, Intiman, ACT—are regional theaters. The movement that gave birth to them tried to establish theaters around the country to house repertory companies of artists, giving them job security, an honorable wage, and health insurance. In return, the theaters would receive the continuity of their work year after year—the building blocks of community. The regional theater movement tried to create great work and make a vibrant American theater tradition flourish.

That dream is dead. The theaters endure, but the repertory companies they stood for have been long disbanded. When regional theaters need artists today, they outsource: They ship the actors, designers, and directors in from New York and slam them together to make the show. To use a sports analogy, theaters have gone from a local league with players you knew intimately to a different lineup for every game, made of players you'll never see again, coached by a stranger, on a field you have no connection to.

Not everyone lost out with the removal of artists from the premises. Arts administrators flourished as the increasingly complex corporate infrastructure grew. Literary departments have blossomed over the last few decades, despite massive declines in the production of new work. Marketing and fundraising departments in regional theaters have grown hugely, replacing the artists who once worked there, raising millions of dollars from audiences that are growing smaller, older, and wealthier. It's not such a bad time to start a career in the theater, provided you don't want to actually make any theater.

The biggest reason the artists were removed was because it was best for the institution. I often have to remind myself that "institution" is a nice word for "nonprofit corporation," and the primary goal of any corporation is to grow. The best way to grow a nonprofit corporation is to raise money, use the money to market for more donors, and to build bigger and bigger buildings and fill them with more staff.

Using this lens, it all makes sense. The worst way to let the corporation of the theater grow is to spend too much on actors—why do that, when they're a dime a dozen? Certainly it isn't cost-effective to keep them in the community. Use them and discard them. Better to invest in another "educational" youth program, mashing up Shakespeare until it is a thin, lifeless paste that any reasonable person would reject as disgusting, but garners more grant money.

Every time a regional theater produces Nickel and Dimed, the play based on Barbara Ehrenreich's book about the working poor in America, I keep hoping the irony will reach up and bitch-slap the staff members as they put actors, the working poor they're directly responsible for creating, in an agitprop shuck-and-jive dance about that very problem. I keep hoping it will pierce their mantle of smug invulnerability and their specious whining about how television, iPods, Reagan, the NEA, short attention spans, the folly of youth, and a million other things have destroyed American theater.

The numbers are grim—the audiences are dying off all over the country. I know because every night I'm onstage, I stare out into the dark and can hear the oxygen tanks hissing. When I was 25, the Seattle Rep started offering cheap tickets to everyone under 25. When I turned 30, theaters started offering cheap tickets to everyone under 30. Now that I've turned 35, I see the same thing happening again, as theaters do the math and realize that no one under 35 is coming to their shows—it's a bright line, the terminator between day and night, advancing inexorably upward. A theater I'm working at this year is hosting a promotional event to coax "young people" to see our show. Their definition of young? Under 45.

There are clear steps theaters could take. For example, they could radically reduce ticket prices across the board. Most regional theaters make less than half of their budget from ticket sales—they have the power to make all their tickets 15 or 20 dollars if they were willing to cut staff and transition through a tight season. It would not be easy, but it is absolutely possible. Of course, that would also require making theater less of a "luxury" item—which raises secret fears that the oldest, whitest, richest donors will stop supporting the theater once the uncouth lower classes with less money and manners start coming through the door. These people might even demand different kinds of plays, which would be annoying and troublesome. The current audience, while small and shrinking, demands almost nothing—they're practically comatose, which makes them docile and easy to handle.

Better to revive another August Wilson play and claim to be speaking about race right now. Better to do whatever was off Broadway 18 months ago and pretend that it's relevant to this community at this time. Better to talk and wish for change, but when the rubber hits the road, sit on your hands and think about the security of your office, the pleasure of a small, constant paycheck, the relief of being cared for if you get sick: the things you will lose if you stop working at this corporation.

The truth is, the people in charge like things the way they are—they've made them that way, after all. Sure, they wish things could be better. Who doesn't? They're dyed-in-the-wool liberals, each and every one of them, and they'll tell you so while they mount another Bertolt Brecht play. The revolutionary fire that drew them to the theater has to fight through so much shit, day after day, that even the best of them can barely imagine a different path. They didn't enter the theater to work for a corporation, but now they do, and they more than anyone else know the dire state of things. I've gone drinking with the artistic directors of the biggest theaters in the country and listened to them explain that they know the system is broken and they feel trapped within it, beholden to board members they've made devil's deals with, shackled to the ship as it goes down. I've heard their laughter, heard them call each other dinosaurs, heard them give thanks that they'll be retired in 10 years.

Corporations make shitty theater. This is because theater, the ineffable part of the experience that comes in rare and random bursts, is not a commodity, and corporations suck at understanding the noncommodifiable. Corporations don't understand theater. Only people, real people, understand theater. Audiences, technicians, actors, playwrights, costumers, designers—all of them give their time and energy to this thing for a reason, and that dream is not quantifiable on any spreadsheet.

As I drove home from my friend's house that night, I felt myself filling up with grief. There will be some who read this who will blame her, think she should have sacrificed more, that this is a story of weakness. But I stand by her. I know in my heart she has given full weight, just as so many other artists have given over the years. Much of the best theater of my life I have seen in the garages of Seattle, unseen and forgotten by many. But I remember. Theater failed my friend, as it is failing us all, and I am heartbroken because we will never know the measure of what we've lost.

Mike Daisey is a monologuist, author, and working artist.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


a short film directed by Jason R. Goode
starring: Aleks Paunovic & Gina Chiarelli

These are the FINAL local screenings of this film.

1) New Cineworks 2008
Tuesday, February 12, 7:00pm (Pacific Cinematheque, Vancouver)
(Screening with other local short films)
$8 Members, $10 Non-members

2) Port Moody Canadian Film Festival
Saturday, February 16, 7:00pm (Inlet Theatre, Port Moody)
(Screening with the feature film: Guide de la Petit Vengeance)

Martin is a desperate hitchhiker who just wants a ride. A car pulls over but the dirver won't help until she is sure Martin is completely "safe." With outstanding performances from Aleks Paunovic and Gina Chiarelli, and featureing the music of Blue Rodeo, two worlds collide in this story about what it means to help someone out.

Based on the play by Kathleen Parsons
Produced by John Sullivan & Jason R. Goode


Palm Springs Festival of Short Films
Los Angeles International Short Film Festival
Calgary International Film Festival
Winnipeg International Film Festival
D.C. Shorts Film Festival
Beach Blanket Film Festival
Digital Narrative Arts Film Festival
East Lansing Film Festival
Flickerings Film Showcase
Longbaugh Film Festival
Everett Women's Film Festival
Portobello Film Festival (UK)
Northwest Film and Video Festival
World of Comedy Film Festival

Awards include:

Niagara Indie Film Fest (Best Independent Drama)
Women in Film Festival, B.C. (2nd Place People’s Choice Award)
Okanagan Film Festival (Opening Gala, People’s Choice Top 10)
Global Comedy Fest (Winner: Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Actress)

Feb 7: Happy Birthday, Sir Thomas...

Thursday February 7 is Thomas More's birthday. He'll be turning either 530 or 531, but once you pass the big five-o-o, who's counting?

Rumour has it St. Tom will be dropping by the Pacific Theatre lobby a little after 10pm for some birthday cake, so if you want to pass along some birthday wishes in person, meet a dead guy, hang out with some groovy actor types, or just score some free bd cake, come on by! And listen, just so we know how much cake to make, you can RSVP by booking yourself a ticket to see A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS that night. (Hot tip: apparently the saint himself will be at the show, as well!)

You heard it here first.

Ron Reed,
Soul Food Chef and Personal Pal of Sir/Saint Thomas More

Tickets: 731-5518 or PT website

P.S. Here are some other links...

Press release for the Midnight Theatre Collective production of A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS at Pacific Theatre

Film maker Kevin Smith (Clerks, Dogma, etc) on A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS

Catholic film critic Steven Greydanus on A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS