Saturday, January 30, 2010

Jan 31, Sunday: "The Gospel According to Judas Iscariot" | Ron Reed, Michael Kopsa

Snappy title, eh?

Tomorrow morning at 10:00 and again at 11:30, I'll be a guest at Holy Trinity Anglican Church (just upstairs from Pacific Theatre). Holy Trinity is the amazing church that built a theatre for us back in the mid-nineties, when our company was on the ropes: in 1992 we came to the point where we had to cancel our mainstage season, I laid myself off from the theatre I had founded, in 1993 our touring ended, and that was the end of that. Except that in 1994 we opened a brand new theatre, given to us by the people of Holy Trinity. (So how could I not believe in resurrection? And how could I refuse when they invite me to do something for them - like, for example, preach once or twice on a Sunday morning?)

When I spoke at HT a couple years back, I reflected on what God was doing in me through the process of playing Thomas More in A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS. When I saw that the gospel text this time around just happened to be the calling of Saint Peter, I flashed on Michael Kopsa's beautiful embodiment of that story last fall in THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT, and it was immediately clear what I needed to talk about.

So tomorrow morning, my buddy Michael is joining me (as Peter, not Satan - don't worry, it's a church, not a theatre). I'll bring Matthew, and reflect on what Judas Iscariot (and Isaiah the prophet, Stephen Adley Guirgis, J.D. Salinger, James Martin SJ ("A Jesuit Off-Broadway"), C.S. Lewis, George MacDonald and Butch Honeywell) might have to say about the Gospel.

Holy Trinity Vancouver
1440 West 12th Avenue
Contemporary service: 10:00
Traditional service: 11:30

Last word to J.D. Salinger, who died this week...

Holden Caulfield: "In the first place, I'm sort of an atheist. I like Jesus and all, but I don't care too much for most of the other stuff in the Bible. Take the Disciples, for instance. They annoy the hell out of me, if you want to know the truth. They were all right after Jesus was dead and all, but while He was alive, they were about as much use to Him as a hole in the head. All they did was keep letting Him down. I like almost anybody in the Bible better than the Disciples. If you want to know the truth, the guy I like best in the Bible, next to Jesus, was that lunatic and all, that lived in the tombs and kept cutting himself with stones. I like him ten times as much as the Disciples, that poor bastard. . . . I'd bet a thousand bucks that Jesus never sent old Judas to Hell. I still would, too, if I had a thousand bucks. I think any one of the Disciples would've sent him to Hell and all — and fast, too — but I'll bet anything Jesus didn't do it." Catcher In The Rye, Chapter 14

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Jan 29: Songs Of The People | VCC | John Trotter debut!

Here's a note from John Trotter. Concert details follow his letter.

Dear Friends and Colleagues;

I am now in the thick of rehearsals for - and only eight days away from - my upcoming concert with the Vancouver Chamber Choir and Pacifica Singers. The concert is at 8 pm Friday, January 29, in the superb acoustics of Ryerson United Church at 45th and Yew. Many thanks to all of you who have already purchased tickets for yourselves and/or organized groups. At yesterday's production meeting I learned that the concert is selling well, which is a great encouragement.

For those of you who haven't had a chance to make your arrangements yet, or who are still considering whom you would like to invite, please find concert and ticket info below. Unfortunately, my email won’t correctly format all the cool graphics the choir has put together to help publicize this concert, so I can’t send you those. You can, however, always link to the Vancouver Chamber Choir website:

Ticket and concert info:

Dear friends;

On Friday, January 29, I will be conducting my first full-length program with a professional ensemble here in Vancouver: the Vancouver Chamber Choir. It would make me very happy to see you there! I recently returned from a very successful three-week concert tour to Taiwan and Japan with the choir, ( so this will be something of a homecoming.

For this particular concert, there are two ways you can enjoy the music and save money at the same time:

1) If you are the enterprising type and can round up a group of 10 or more people to come, Karen in the Vancouver Chamber Choir Office (604) 738-6822 can give unbeatable rates on all three classes (adult, senior, and student) of tickets. Karen can explain how to do this if you have any further questions, but I think I recall it works most smoothly if the person who contacts her knows how many people to expect and takes care of payment for the group. I think this method also lets you avoid the Ticketmaster fees, which is a great advantage. Groups have to be confirmed by the Tuesday before the concert, at the absolute latest.

2) If 10 people is too ambitious, on this particular concert you can still get something of a discount on adult tickets (seniors/students are already somewhat discounted) by using a special ticketmaster page that has been set up for my ‘friends and family’ (yes, that includes you!) Click here to check it out:

I’ll include some info about the concert below, and would be happy to provide anything further that you might want. Of course, you can feel free to invite others you may know to come too! For example, Marie and I have bought a few tickets ourselves to use as “thank you” Christmas gifts for folks; this way, we know we’ll get to see those people again, and can look forward to sharing something special with them.

SONGS OF THE PEOPLE European Traditions
8 pm Friday, January 29
Ryerson United Church
2195 W. 45th Ave (at Yew St.)

Vancouver Chamber Choir
Pacifica Singers
John William Trotter, conductor

The Olympic season leads us to reflect on the diverse peoples of the world and their many rich musical cultures. Our new Assistant Conductor John William Trotter draws on the folk heritage of the European continent, Scandinavia and the British Isles for this concert of Songs of the People. Several great composers - the Hungarian Kodály, Frenchman Poulenc, German Brahms, Englishman Vaughan Williams and Wilhelm Stenhammar (a Swede setting Danish words) - provide their insight and perspective on the folk traditions of their respective regions. Also a few Italian madrigals and bonus folksongs, just to round out John’s first full concert with the Choir.

After the concert, join John William Trotter and founding Music Director Jon Washburn for a short post-concert reception. Join the conversation about what it is like to serve as Assistant Conductor of Canada’s Outstanding Professional Choir!

Voices For Bulembu | Concerts On Demand, CBC

This just in from long-time friend of Pacific Theatre, Scott Campbell, who works with the Bulembu Foundation and organized the concert. Congrats, Scott!

Voices for Bulembu on CBC

Last September’s inaugural “Voices for Bulembu” Concert at the Chan Centre featuring The Canadian Tenors was broadcast on CBC Radio 2 December 28th. If you missed out on the live performance or the subsequent broadcast, CBC has provided an opportunity to listen to the music from this amazing night, adding the concert to their Concerts On Demand list. We hope you will find time to listen again (or for the first time!) to this outstanding concert. And mark your calendars too – the 2010 Voices for Bulembu Campaign will take place the weekend of September 17 to 19, again featuring The Canadian Tenors and a handful of new Special Guests! Stay tuned for more details in the weeks ahead.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


THE PASSION PROJECT opens tonight! We (or at least I) couldn't be more excited as this show is completely different than anything we've ever done in the history of PT. Check out this video of performer Laura K. Nicoll and creator/director Reid Farrington trying to put into words exactly what it's like to experience THE PASSION PROJECT.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Jessie Richardson Awards 1994-2009

Grant-writing season is upon us, so part of my work on the Canada Council application has been to review some of the company's accomplishments, including our recognition by the arts community. Among other things, I looked over the list of our Jessie Richardson Awards nominations. Of course awards are no sort of "last word" on the value of a work of art - scanning these titles and names, you'll surely think of others equally worthy. But it does provide an interesting perspective on the company's work in the fifteen seasons since we became eligible for Jessies.

Jessie Richardson Awards 1994-2009
75 Pacific Theatre nominations
15 nominations for work presented or sponsored by PT

1994-95 (6 nominations)

Actress: Erla Faye Forsyth
Supporting Actor: Dirk Van Stralen

Director: Morris Ertman
Musical Direction: Allen des Noyers
Ensemble Cast: Spencer Capier, Allen des Noyers, Tim Dixon, Ron Reed, Wyndham Thiessen

Set Design: Morris Ertman, Damien

1995-96 (1 nomination)

Musical Direction: Scott Hafso, The Howard Cycle

1996-97 (3+1 nominations)

Set Design: Bruce Repei, Talley's Folly
Lighting Design: Bruce Repei, Talley's Folly

Actor: Dirk Van Stralen, Mass Appeal

Ensemble Cast: Lucia Frangione, Erla Faye Forsyth, Anita Wittenberg, Holy Mo (Potluck Productions)

1997-98 (4+4 nominations)

Lead Actress: Miriam Brown
Supporting Actress: Linda Bush
Sound Design: Steven Bulat

Lead Actor: Dirk Van Stralen, The Nerd

A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE (Building Bridges Equity Co-op)
Director: John Juliani
Set Design: Robert Gerow
Supporting Actor: Hiro Kanagawa
Lead Actor: Terry Jang Barclay

1998-99 (4 nominations)

Light Design: Kevin McAllister
Set Design: Morris Ertman
Lead Actress: Gina Chiarelli

Lead Actress: Miriam Brown, The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe

1999-2000 (8+2 nominations)

Outstanding Production: Pacific Theatre
Director: Morris Ertman
Lead Actor: Jeremy Tow
Supporting Actor: Tom Pickett

Costume Design: Christine Hackman
Outstanding Actress: Tiffany Lyndall-Knight
Set Design: Kevin McAllister

Original Composition: Allen des Noyers, Dreams of Kings & Carpenters

Outstanding Actress: Sharon Heath, Quilters (Quilters Co-op)
Lead Actress: Katharine Venour, Saint Joan (Candlelight Productions)

2000-2001 (2 nominations)

Musical Direction: Karen Parent, Tent Meeting
Supporting Actress: Carolyn Tweedle, The Foreigner

2001-2002 (2+1 nominations)

Original Play or Musical: Lucia Frangione
Lead Actor: Dirk Van Stralen

Sydney Risk Award, Emerging Playwright: Lucia Frangione

2002-2003 (10 nominations)

Supporting Actress: Trish Pattenden
Lead Actress: Erla Faye Forsyth

Outstanding Production: Pacific Theatre
Original Play: Lucia Frangione
Lead Actress: Lucia Frangione
Lead Actor: Todd Thomson
Set Design: Kevin McAllister
Light Design: Kevin McAllister
Critics' Choice: Espresso

Supporting Actor: Ron Reed, God's Man In Texas

2003-2004 (2+1 nominations)

Performance, TYA: Paul Moniz de Sa
Performance, TYA: Julia Mackey

Supporting Actor: Bob Frazer, The Glass Menagerie (Liffy)

2004-2005 (4+1 nominations)

Supporting Actor: Corina Akeson
Set Design: Kevin McAllister
Costume Design: Nicole Bach

Supporting Actor: Kyle Rideout, Halo

Lead Actor: Rick Dobran, The Domino Heart (Section 8)

2005-2006 (17+5 nominations)

Outstanding Production, Small Theatre: Pacific Theatre
Outstanding Direction: Morris Ertman
Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Lead Role: Ron Reed
Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Lead Role: Katharine Venour
Outstanding Set Design: Dale Marushy
Outstanding Costume Design: Nicole Bach

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Lead Role: Erla Faye Forsyth
Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role: Kyle Rideout
Outstanding Costume Design: Nicole Bach
Significant Artistic Achievement, Props Design: Francesca Albertazzi & Lauchlin Johnston

Outstanding Production, Large Theatre: Touchstone Theatre & Pacific Theatre
Outstanding Original Script: Shawn MacDonald
Outstanding Direction: Katrina Dunn
Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role: Bob Frazer
Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Camille Beaudoin
Outstanding Lighting Design: John Webber
Outstanding Sound Design or Original Composition: Paul Moniz de Sa

ELEPHANT MAN (Five Bob Equity Co-op)
Outstanding Production, Small Theatre: Five Bob Equity Co-op
Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Annabel Kershaw
Outstanding Lighting Design: Adrian Muir
Outstanding Costume Design: Sheila White

Gordon Armstrong Playwright's Award winner: Lucia Frangione
(For LEAVE OF ABSENCE, which Lucia is developing for Pacific Theatre in partnership with the Playwrights' Theatre Centre)

2006-2007 (8 nominations)

Outstanding Production: Pacific Theatre
Director: Angela Konrad
Actor: Craig Erickson, Grace
Supporting Actor: Kerry Vander Griend
Supporting Actor: Duncan Fraser
Actress: Alexa Devine

Costume Design: Nicole Bach, A Bright Particular Star
Set Design: Kevin McAllister, Cariboo Magi

2007-2008 (3 nominations)

Supporting Actor: Paul Moniz de Sa, Driving Miss Daisy
Sound Design: Stephen Bulat, Driving Miss Daisy

Lead Actor: Ron Reed, A Man For All Seasons

2008-2009 (1 nomination)

Supporting Actor: Ron Reed, Mourning Dove

Friday, January 22, 2010


What Is Jesus Doing...

"As an exceptionally beautiful young man, Victor Garber played Jesus in the film “Godspell” in 1973, where he wore a Superman T-shirt and had a heart painted on his forehead. In the film, Garber’s disciples didn’t seem crazy, just in thrall to their leader’s charisma. He was a new kind of musical star, not macho and aggressive, but soft to the eye and maybe to the touch. Thirty-seven years later, the esteemed stage and television performer (he was a regular on “Alias”) has matured into a distinguished older man who could play F.D.R. in a revival of “Sunrise at Campobello.” But until some clever producer sets that up, Garber’s on view in the current revival of Noël Coward’s 1939 comedy, “Present Laughter.” Garber plays Garry Essendine, a self-obsessed actor on the verge of a midlife crisis who is trying to shed a number of emotional entanglements even as he takes more on. The part is as far away from what Garber generally projects in his work—decency, compassion, strong support for his female co-stars—as his lovely Jesus, portrayed so long ago."

Hinton Als, The New Yorker, January 18, 2010

A Child's Response to WARDROBE

Some of you may know about our Community Guest program at PT: a special fund that allows underprivileged members of our community who might not normally be able to attend the theatre attend our productions. Every once and a while we receive thank you letters from individuals and organizations that are a part of our program, and this one was just so darn sweet I had to share it with you. It's from a child who came to see THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE. I'm giving you the letter exactly as it was sent to us, spelling mistakes and all.

Donna Lea Ford as Lucy and Kyle Rideout as Peter

To Whom it may concerns

I would love to thank you for giving me a chance to see The lion, the witch & the wardrobe.
I was so excited as this is one of my favorite stories.
The thought of it being a two person play freaked me out.
The best part of the play was when Aslan came back to life.
I would love to thank the director for his great job.
I thought the actors did a fantastic job.
The costumes were awesome.
This was a very special time for me as is was the first play I ever went to.
Doesn't that just warm your heart?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Jan 22: Benefit Concert for Haiti Earthquake Relief | St Philip's Anglican

Just got word of the UBC School of Music - Opera Ensemble's fundraising benefit for Haiti Earthquake Relief. If you don't already have tickets to a PuSh Festival show, please consider this event. Event details below.

Benefit Concert for Haiti Earthquake Relief

Students from the UBC School of Music - Opera Ensemble - will be presenting an evening of Arias and Musical Theatre to aid the Haiti Earthquake Relief effort.

There will be no admission charge, however you will have the opportunity to make a donation to support the Haiti Earthquake Relief work of the Canadian Foundation for the Children of Haiti .

Date: Friday, January 22, 2010

Time: 7:00 pm

St. Philip's Anglican Church
3737 West 27th Avenue
Vancouver B.C.

Spread the word, invite a friend, and come for an evening of great entertainment to support a very worthy cause

The Canadian Foundation for the Children of Haiti is a registered Canadian charity.
CRA Business No. 89000 4591 RR0001.
Donations qualify for CIDA’s matching grant program.
Tax receipts will be issued for donations over $20.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Vancouver Observer on The Passion Project

There have been so many wonderful interviews and articles about THE PASSION PROJECT this month, here's one more I just had to share with you. An interview with Reid with Tom Graff of The Vancouver Observer (find the original article here):

The Passion Project: Joan’s Story is in the Room
Tom Graff Posted: Jan 19th, 2010

The Passion Project should not be watched, it should be entered into. After all, it is an act of devotion.
— Helen Shaw, Time Out NY

Magical, and sinister, and strange – one of the most satisfying theatrical experiences I’ve had in ages.
— Claudia La Rocco, Culturebot

What beauty there is in Mr. Farrington’s work. Like Dreyer’s film it is both luminous and cruel.
— Claudia La Rocco, The New York Times

I had three questions for this articulate and fervent artist and afterward his answers filled four absorbing pages.

Reid Farrington is a media artist, theatre director, stage designer, choreographer as well as an engaging conversationalist. He creates what some might mistakenly think is performance art, what others might think is post modern performance, but in actuality is what Farrington insists astutely must be experienced as theatre.

Passion is the Project
Drama is Farrington’s métier because his clear goal is to offer the audience foremost an emotional experience, the classic impulse of all theatre. There are his “love of the technical” and the “physicality of the theatre” with its props and actors, but the attraction of theatre is that “its purpose for me is to effect the audience emotionally,” speaking on the telephone from his Brooklyn loft.

Reid Farrington has tried The Passion Project in different iterations, processing it first in video (“dull and passive”), then as projections on his loft’s white walls (“dead” “my purpose unactivated”), and finally to the more dimensional and audience-involving present version. With well over 150 performances of this version, worked through three different performers, Farrington notes the valuable “vulnerability” inherent in the work of the present performer, Laura Nicoll. “She leads and guides the audience.” He gives the feeling that his work has hit its zenith.

In the Room
“The story of Joan of Arc is in the room,” Farrington notes with “one hundred cues to hit every minute, the choreography makes connections for the audience.”

This is confirmed by audience members who have experienced the work already. The audience members situate around an open stage area during the 35 minute performance and are invited to move about to achieve different points of view, affording different paradigms, different approaches to the passions unfolding and layering. This intimate theatrical space is defined by ropes as well as Farrington’s significantly fragile projection screens which are like defenseless minimal sculptures upon which are projected a complex unfolding of multiple images from the stunning and compelling Carl-Theodor Dreyer 1928 silent film masterpiece La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc. Included as well are recorded interviews, various sound clips, combining into a kind of gesamtkunstwerk (synthesis of art forms) on archival film concerns.

Techno Guy Brings Emotions Forward
Speaking about his passion for theatre and passion
“I would say that I am firmly based in the world of theatre and I am a new media artist and director.” With this project, his first on his own with a “serious blend” of choreography, film and acting, he breaks away from being the resident video artist (think: artistic techie) for the N.Y.C. Wooster Group, a group Mr. Farrington characterizes as technical rather than emotional—“They shy away from the emotional.”

When asked about his process, the artist explains in splendidly considered detail non-stop: “My projects begin with a fascination with a particular film (“currently developing another work around director Alfred Hitchcock”) and with Passion Project he “basically fell in love with the actress Falconetti” who plays Joan in The Passion of Joan of Arc. Farrington felt compelled to “bring Falconetti back in some way.” This turned him toward live acting. It becomes a kind of talisman for the cinematic.

As film expert Acquarello asserts, “The Passion of Joan of Arc is a profoundly moving, indelible film of courage and perseverance, spirituality and conscience; a fitting tribute to the memory of the Maid of Orleans: a heroine, a martyr, a saint.”

On YouTube the 1985 reconstruction of the film can be seen in eight parts. In light of Farrington’s Passion Project, the artist notes that the original footage:

· The original film is shot almost entirely in close ups;

· The victimized Joan is filmed downward while inquisition judges only upward;

· Viewers only briefly at the outset get a sense of space between actors; and

Falconetti as muse
Renée Jeanne Falconetti was a celebrated stage artist and had appeared in two films, La contesse de Somerive and Le Clown (both in 1917) when Dreyer witnessed her acting on stage and cast her as his Joan in his La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc (1928). Her depiction is widely considered one of the most astounding performances ever committed to celluloid, and it would remain her final cinematic role. It is said that Dreyer's method of directing his actors pushed Falconetti to emotional collapse. This was said to have taken place so Falconetti could experience the same deprecation which Jeanne most surely received in her trial.

Researching widely, including the Danish Film institute, Farrington’s aesthetic impulses are drawn to cinematic celluloid vulnerability itself and this work was at least in part heightened and inspired by the particular ironic saga of Dreyer’s film’s destruction and resurrection, the 1928 original censured, then the print destroyed and thought for years to be lost by fire, then re-cut later in Dreyer’s 1935 version, only to have a good print of the original inexplicably show up in 1980 in a closet of a Norwegian mental institution (now the print offered in the Criterion Collection), Farrington informed me.

Rather than creating an homage, which would be tedious, Farrington began his Passion Project “with a fascination with a particular film, but basically I fell in love with the actress.” He then took on the daunting task of lifting his own rapturous experience into a shared one. He has looked at and experienced viscerally multiple aspects of this film, its subject, its vulnerable celluloid history and its palpable impact on the viewer.

Sampling as inspiration and device
Originally Farrington dedicated his efforts toward the process of sampling the original film and juxtaposing portions in ways it was not originally issued. In so doing Farrington used the collaged pieces much in the same way a Jack Chambers film such as Hart of London uses cinematic images in new editings, evoking far wider emotions than the originals might have. Juxtaposition is the key.

Past the screen
Dealing in what Farrington refers to as “the child-like desire to be inside a film,” something he feels we all have in coming, he wishes to get us past the screen’s surface. This artist wants to “give the audience that experience” of not being an actor, but being inserted into the rhythm of the film, not simply outside, viewing it passively.

During the development of the project the artist went through the original film enacting his “extracting exercises” of putting the film, scene by scene in different edits, paying particular attention to actress Falconetti cinematic takes, all in close up as per Dryer’s insistant vision of the this epic and historic story. Initially Farrington was planning that the audience would see the actress as the only cinematic image in whatever iteration he ended up putting forth, editing out the other original actors. But more artistic considerations came calling and more images from the original will be on stage in the production as it arrives at Pacific Theatre here in Vancouver.

About film as his inspiration: “I choose films that have very heavy emotional components. I want an audience to engage in a very physical way. That’s what theatre is for me.”

Digitizing and re-arranging images is clearly not enough for Farrington. He enjoys the physicality of the old movie machines and the celluloid itself, something the audience witnesses upon entering the theatre. While cherishing his experiences with the “texture that is appropriate in working with this film” Farrington “takes textures, what the film is about, what the characters are wearing, focusing on the history” and relishes re-coding them as textures for his own work. He salvages, recovers, re-uses, re-organizes, all in a bid to engage the audience into the process of the project. In all this he has isolated a directorial and set design method to involve the audience in the process of passion itself, the Passion of Joan of Arc and the passion inherent in a full expression of feeling.

Worth witnessing several times.

Jan 23: Martyn Joseph

It's always been a gratifying puzzle for me, to see the esteem in which Martyn Joseph is held in a musical community that isn't habitually quite so open to a singer who's quite so open about his Christian faith. Him and Bruce Cockburn. One suspects it's the radical politics in the mix with the spiritual, personal transparency - and mostly the exceptional musical gifts. Joseph brings an immense presence to the stage, big voice, huge passion - you need to see him live.

Rogue Folk Club presents...
Martyn Joseph
Sat Jan 23 | 8pm
St James Hall

"One of acoustic music's most original voices, and most forward looking of his generation of singer/songwriters." — Q Magazine

"the beautiful business of being alive with all it's jokes, absurdity and sadness, seared by music for the heart and head."

Across a 25-year career, and having released his 30th album Evolved in October 2008, which traces the organic morphing of some of his best loved songs, Martyn's song catalogue is an awesomely impressive archive of our times, our tribulations, our wonder and our wounds. Always charming, sometimes alarming, Martyn Joseph is a unique songwriter who digs deep and delivers an ultimate, life affirming message. One of the most unusual and compelling performers you are likely to encounter.

Thanks Rudi

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Passion of Joan of Arc - fun facts

You probably know by now that our upcoming production of THE PASSION PROJECT is a dramatic reconstruction of Carl Theodore Dreyer's film THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC. A stunning classic silent film, THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC has a wealth of history surrounding it. While the story of the film is not so fun, I am happy to give you what I consider to be some fun facts about the history and making of THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC:

1. A theatre tie-in

Theatre history students will surely have studied the one and only Antonin Artaud. A French playwright, director, and actor, Artaud initiated the Theatre of Cruelty movement. The movement attempted to created an affective theatre of violent emotional rigor where the actors show the audiences deep and cruel truths about themselves. He was also known for being an exceptional actor on film, and is best known for his portrayal of Marat in Abel Gance's NAPOLEON BONAPARTE. Look for Artaudian influences in Reid Farrington's deconstruction of the film.

2. Censorship!

Lo and behold, a film about Joan of Arc was censored by the Brits! Not because of its religious content, but because it portrayed British soldiers in a negative light: they cruelly mock and torture Joan, mirroring the Roman soldiers who cruelly mocked and tortured Jesus.

3. Destroyed by fire

In a somewhat ironic turn of events, the final cut of the film was destroyed in a fire. Dreyer attempted to reconstruct the film from out-takes and surviving prints. Miraculously, in 1981 an almost-complete print of the film was discovered in a janitor's closet of a Norwegian mental institution.

4. Music

At the time of its release, musical scores were played live in-house, and we have no evidence of Dreyer ever selecting a definitive score for the film. Since then many composers have made their own attempts at scoring the film, most recently Stefan Smulovitz, performing his score live at the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival this year! Join us opening night for a talkback discussion with Reid Farrington and Stefan Smulovitz at 7:45pm. (How's that for a promotional tie-in?)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Georgia Straight on PASSION PROJECT

Reid Farrington’s Passion Project rises from flamesA blend of performance and installation resurrects a visionary film
by Brian Lynch | Georgia Straight | January 14

In a sense, Reid Farrington’s world runs in reverse. Most artists working with film begin with a story idea, assemble the necessary performers and sets, and wind up producing a two-dimensional illusion. But this process flowed in the opposite direction during the making of The Passion Project, an installation that the New York–based Farrington will show at Pacific Theatre from January 27 to February 6, as part of the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival.

The Passion Project recasts Carl Dreyer’s 1928 silent film The Passion of Joan of Arc as a kind of shifting sculpture. Four computer-driven projectors throw Farrington’s custom-made cut of the classic movie into a 10-foot-square space, where dancer-performer Laura K. Nicoll captures the intersecting beams on small canvases she suspends during a densely choreographed series of “tasks”, as Farrington calls them.

“That’s my way into the project,” the new-media artist and director says on the line from Lower Manhattan’s 3LD Art & Technology Center, describing both this work and his newest piece, Gin & It, which is based on the Alfred Hitchcock movie Rope. “I’m interested in executing a formal exercise. Once that’s in place, I bring in performers and have them interact with the exercise. And because of the nature of performers…they’re going to have some sort of relationship with the media and some relationship with each other that just adds to the work. And then, through watching that and running it over and over and making adjustments and changes, slowly a story—their story—starts to emerge. Once I can find that, then I start to finesse it and bring it out even more.”

In the case of The Passion Project, the exercise at the source was an act of devotion to the star of The Passion of Joan of Arc, whom Dreyer framed mostly in intense close-ups. “I saw the performance of Maria Falconetti, and to be quite honest I almost fell in love—I wanted to bring her performance back,” Farrington says of the initial impulse that came to him five years ago. “I wanted to take every frame of her from the film and then string it together, so I could just watch her uninterrupted image.”

Thus he copied the film to an editing program on his computer and was in the process of isolating the footage of Falconetti’s eerily expressive face when he saw the spatial possibilities. “I realized that since it’s a silent film, if I took out a title card between two shots of Falconetti, sometimes there wasn’t even a frame missing, so that made me feel like I was putting the film back together,” Farrington recalls, referring to the scenes in which the doomed 15th-century visionary is interrogated by Bishop Cauchon, played by Eugène Silvain. “And so then I realized that since it’s a silent film, Dreyer, to create a conversation, would take a long shot of one person and then a long shot of another, and then in the editing room he’d create the dialogue. So I said, ‘Oh, I could take all the shots of Falconetti and put them together, and all the shots of Cauchon and put them together, and now I can put these people on opposite sides of the room and they can interact, like they did when they were filmed.’ ”

The result is a gripping live reconfiguration of a film that has already taken several forms over its bizarre history: the master negative of The Passion of Joan of Arc was destroyed in a fire shortly after the movie’s release, and a later fire claimed a second version that Dreyer had pieced together from outtakes. The director’s original cut was thought to have been lost forever until a copy was discovered in 1981—in, of all places, a closet in a Norwegian mental institution where the film had been shown in the 1930s. (PuSh is also presenting a special screening of this reclaimed version on January 28 at Christ Church Cathedral, with a new score written by Vancouver-based composer Stefan Smulovitz and performed by the Eye of Newt Ensemble.)

Now, through a complex dance between computer and human that involves some 300 cues for Nicoll to follow, Farrington rescues the legendary saint from the flames once again.

“Watching that film vibrate next to a living body really brought that story back to life for me—of Joan and how she really did all of these things, all as a 17- or 19-year-old girl,” he says. “There’s something about that story that becomes more like a myth to us today, or a parable, because you don’t necessarily connect it with history, because it’s such an amazing tale. And unlike King Arthur, it really did happen. But that was through working with the medium—it wasn’t the intention at the outset.”

Jan 1 - Mar 1 | Dan Steeves, "Tantramar Gothic" | Regent Lookout Gallery

Thu, January 14 - Mon, March 1

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Brother Can You Spare a Room?

Steve Walschmidt is a long-time member of the PT family. For years he ran our publicity with flair, and took the stage in A BRIGHT PARTICULAR STAR and CHICKENS. Since then he's gone on to live in Alberta, write a blog, and start his own theatre company. We are so excited that his show HOCKY DAD: A PLAY IN THREE PERIODS will be playing here at PT as a part of our Olympics rental group MORE THAN GOLD's line up of dance, theatre, and music. Unfortunately, his stage manager has no where to stay during the Olympics craze - a plight I'm sure we can all sympathize with. His request below:

Hello my friends in Vancouver,

I hope you're having a good new year thus far. I don't know if you've heard but a little solo show my friend Jamie & I created is coming to Vancouver. HOCKEY DAD: A PLAY IN THREE PERIODS will be playing at Pacific Theatre Feb 17-27, part of More Than Gold's line-up of arts events during the Olympics (see ) I'm thrilled about this.

I wanted to ask for your help in finding a billet for our stage manager, Wanda. (We have a spot lined up for Jamie.) Would you have a spare room or know of someone who might - and would like to donate it to a fledgling theatre company for a few days? Wanda will arrive Feb 16 and depart Feb 28. Let me know if you have any ideas or leads. Thank you so much for giving it some thought.

For more about HOCKEY DAD or our company, burnt thicket theatre, go to

Still missing the coast and you people there,

Dec 27 - Jan 16: Craig Erickson in VIRGINIA WOOLF

Blackbird shows are always top notch. This time PT regular Craig Erickson (Grace, Prodigal Son, God's Man In Texas, etc) shares the stage with Kevin McNulty (Judge Littlefield in Judas Iscariot), Meg Roe and Gabrielle Rose in Albee's recently revised classic...

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Passion Project - A work in progress

UPDATE: New pics added! Scroll to the bottom to check them out.

Bringing The Passion Project in from New York involves more than just flying in Reid Farrington and Laura K. Nicoll. It actually takes a massive rebuild of our stage! The whole staff is pitching in (including yours truly) to make it happen, and production manager Frank Nickel was good enough to document the progress:

The stage while it's still recognizable.

Apprent Ben works away at those seats. Dremmel on, Ben!

Seats begone with ye!

The new home for our first couple rows.

Apprent Shay makes things look a little nicer in the back stairwell.

While Apprent Kaitlin gets the higher spots.

If any of you have seen the back entrance to the theatre before, you know this is a HUGE improvement.

Of course, what's the point in spending a day painting a staircase if you can't then paint a birthday greeting overtop?

New stage!

Technical Director Jess Howell is all over that.

Apprent Ben Miller on the other hand is all business.

This is what happens when you interrupt Production Manger Frank Nickel while he's vacuuming.

Kaitlin keeps the stairs safe!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Jan 8-10: Missions Fest Film Festival

PT pal Debra Sears helms inaugural Missions Fest Film Festival! Huge congratulations, Deb!! More details at soulfoodmovies. (I think we should call it the Fest Fest...) "The Best Of Vancouver Theatre 2009"...

Oh. My. Gosh.

I couldn't be more thrilled. For about a million reasons.

Look what made Number One on the "Best Of Vancouver Theatre 2009" list...

click on image to enlarge

Thursday, January 07, 2010

DO NOT MISS THIS! Passion Project / Passion Of Joan Of Arc with live score

Three weeks until THE PASSION PROJECT opens at Pacific Theatre (Wed Jan 27), and I want to make sure nobody misses an amazing PuSH Festival event the next night (Thu Jan 28) - a complete screening of Dreyer's silent film masterpiece THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC accompanied by the premiere of a brand new score for the film, commissioned by the PuSH Festival and performed live under the direction of composer Stefan Smulovitz.

Your best bet? Get tickets for THE PASSION PROJECT at Pacific Theatre, either the 7pm or 9pm showing of the opening night performance, and make sure to be in the theatre between shows for a 7:45 artist talk with Reid Farrington (who created PP) and composer Stefan Smulovitz - two cutting edge contemporary artists who are intimately familiar with the Dreyer film, having interpreted it through their own artistic expressions. ALSO get tickets for the screening of the film itself at Christ Church Cathedral the following evening - one night only! Alternately, book your tickets for the screening first, then follow it up with THE PASSION PROJECT on Friday 29 or Saturday 30. Either way, this is a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to immerse yourself in what may be the great silent film of all time, almost certainly the hallmark of spiritual cinema in the silent era.

“Men are sometimes hanged for telling the truth.” – Joan of Arc

by Carl Theodor Dreyer
with original live performance score by Stefan Smulovitz

Screening: January 28, 8pm, Christ Church Cathedral
Artist talk: January 27, 7:45pm, Pacific Theatre with Stefan Smulovitz and Reid Farrington of The Passion Project

Composer | Stefan Smulovitz
Text | Colin Browne
Voice | Viviane Houle
Trumpet | JP Carter, John Korsrud
Trombone | Jeremy Berkman
Violin | Rebecca Whitling, Cam Wilson
Viola | Reg Quiring
Cello | Peggy lee
Percussion | Daniel Tones
Pipe Organ | Michael Murray
Conductor | Giorgio Magnanensi

With the haunting face of actress Maria Falconetti playing the doomed Joan of Arc as inspiration, Vancouver-based composer Stefan Smulovitz has written a luminous score to accompany Carl Dreyer’s 1928 silent film, The Passion of Joan of Arc. Performed by the Eye of Newt Ensemble, this PuSh Festival commissioned piece for ten musicians includes text by Colin Browne and combines the stunning voice of Viviane Houle with the city’s top instrumentalists and Christ Church Cathedral’s legendary pipe organ, in a sublime tribute to one of film’s most enduring performances.

A cinematic pièce de résistance, The Passion of Joan of Arc details the uncompromised devotion and tragic end of France’s most famous martyr. Shot almost entirely in close-ups, this intensely intimate film cuts to the heart of faith, human choice and truth.

“The light enters in the name of the voice.” – Joan of Arc

An active composer, improviser, violist and laptop artist, Smulovitz’s eclectic creative undertakings run the gamut from film and installation, to theatre and dance. Widely known for the legendary Silent Summer Nights extravaganzas, Smulovitz and his Eye of Newt Ensemble have collaborated with the PuSh Festival on a number of projects that include The General, Dreams, Beauty and The Beast, and Go West.

Commissioned by the PuSh Festival with the assistance of the British Columbia Arts Council

Tickets $25
Tickets Tonight 604.684.2787
Additional service charges apply to phone orders

Long-time CHRISTMAS PRESENCE musician as well as co-star in last year's JESUS, MY BOY (remember the musicians?), Sheree Plett is releasing a new CD! The release party is fast approaching, so if you need something to do before coming out to THE PASSION PROJECT at the end of the month this promises to be a great event. Her smoky voice and poignant lyrics have long made her a personal favourite of mine, so I can't wait to see what her next album has to offer. As a bonus, she'll be performing at St. James Community Square, one of Vancouver's best little-known venues! Official info about the CD release below.

The follow up to SHEREE PLETT'S regionally well acclaimed album 'Red Circled Heart' is finally here! The new album 'The Road to My Family' is her 3rd full length album, and may cause her patrons and fans to do a musical double take. Swampy and spacious, raw and unsolicited, Sheree is drawing us deep into her roots with her lively story of nostalgia. Bring your spurs and holsters.

Black Tortoise is the new solo side project of Andrew Lee (In Medias Res). His live performances are sure to shake off the fat of Christmas and wake us up again. He'll be opening the show.

TICKETS: $10 (or $20 w/ the purchase of 'The Road to My Family')
DOORS: 7.30pm
STARTS AT: 8.00pm (sharp) w/ Black Tortoise

Sheree in JESUS, MY BOY

Jan 16: Sheree Plett CD release concert

As soon as I heard about this, I was kicking myself - I've already got something on the sixteenth. So you, gentle reader, will have to go in my stead. Sheree and Jeremy were FANTASTIC every night they played at Christmas Presence - that haunting, delicate quality was still there in half the tunes, but on the others they kicked it up three or four notches. Touring this summer they fell in love with Buddy and Julie Miller, and that rougher, tougher sound is all over their new stuff. Energy, prairies, and great guitar hooks! Damn I wish I could be there.

The Road To My Family
CD Release Concert

Sheree Plett full band
with Black Tortoise (Andrew Lee of In Medias Res)

St. James Hall
3214 West 10th Ave.
Vancouver BC

Saturday, January 16, 2010
Doors at 7.30pm
Starts at 8.00pm

Tickets: $10 or $20 w/ purchase of the new album

Saturday, January 02, 2010

This post is pulled from Pacific Theatre's long-time top stage manager, Lois Dawson's blog Lois Backstage. If you're looking for another Vancouver theatre blogger, Lois is your girl. She blogs about everything from the state of the art, to shows she's seen and wants to see, to her work as a stage manager.

Tuesday The Globe & Mail published their Top 10 Productions of 2009. Wednesday The Vancouver Courier followed suite with their Top 14. Today it's my turn. 2009 was a big theatre year for me. I saw 68 shows. I worked on 12 shows. Picking a top ten was hard, but I love that it is a huge range. It includes an opera, a musical, some shakespeare, but mostly it includes shows by small, local companies who are doing fantastic work. I did find that I couldn't rank them from one to 10, so I've listed them in chronological order.

1. 20 minute musicals (Rumble/ Push)
* Distant Second: The Steve Fonyo Story * Do You Want What I Have Got? A Craigslist Cantata
When I first saw these shows at Club PuSh back in January I rushed home to gush about them here on the blog. I called it "one of the funnest nights of theatre" & told everyone to go see them. 11 months later I still remember that evening's entertainment & the amount of laughter that accompanied it.

2.Rigoletto (Vancouver Opera)
Rigoletto was a show I wasn't sure I would see. It was on a "hopefully" list, but money was tight and when I called they were out of their cheap tickets. Then my friend Craig called. He'd bought two tickets and didn't have someone to go with and he knew I liked theatre and would I like to go to the Opera with him. For me it was a no-brainer. I was first exposed to opera as a genre at 14 and fell in love with the grandiose nature of it all. Rigoletto was no exception.

Lissa Neptuno in Tempus Theatre's 36 Views

3. 36 Views (Tempus Theatre)
36 Views was one of the most visually stunning plays I saw this year. When I originally gushed about it, I said, "Michael Kopsa is pitch perfect as Darius Wheeler, the somewhat shady art dealer and the use of projection with the design is beautiful." The script was intriguing and had myself & friends talking about it for weeks following its viewing.

4.Fat Pig (Mitch & Murray Equity Co-op)
I had read Fat Pig about a year before it's Vancouver premiere this past spring. I read the play and thought "Wow. Tom is an asshole. Other than that this play has potential." I went into the local production with low expectations based on that and they were blown out of the water. In this production Tom was not just an asshole - he had depth & his struggle was real. And Kathryn Kirkpatric as Helen was wonderful: endearing, hilarious, & heartbreaking.

5.Palace of the End (Felix Culpa, Touchstone Theatre, & Horseshoes & Hand Grenades)
Three theatre companies. Three Directors. Three incredible performances. Three different looks at the war in Iraq. One show I'm glad I saw because I will never look at the war in the same way.

6.Alls Well That Ends Well (Bard on the Beach)
Prior to this Bard production, I had never seen a production of Alls Well that worked - the offstage bedroom scene always felt wrong. Even in reading the play it was like this enormous plot point was missing from the story (of course, that can be said for a lot of Shakespeare's plays where major plot points happen offstage and are only ever discusses), however under Rachel Ditor's direction, it works. And it worked. Well.

7.Midsummer (The Cultch & Traverse Theatre Company)
A quirky little play about Bob & Helena. He's a used-car salesman. She's a high powered divorce lawyer. With original songs & a set that transformed into everything from a bar to a bondage club to the church steps for a wedding, it was both hilarious & made me wish there were more designs that transformed as well as this one did.

Bob Fraser as Judas & Michael Kopsa as Satan in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot at Pacific Theatre. Photo by Tim Matheson.

8.The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Pacific Theatre)
What can I say about Judas? The script is so rich that even now that I've read it multiple times I am still finding new depth. Add to that the remarkable performances given by the entire cast & the beautiful simplicity of the final moments and I still find myself moved by it.

9.The Project (Solo Collective)
The Project had everything going for it - Aaron Bushkowsky's new script is a witty look at starvation in Africa through a new lens - a camera lens. Christian fundamentalism. Militarism. Hollywood. And strong performances by the cast, especially Lindsey Angell & Andrew McNee.

Alessandro Juliani as SuperFrog in Pi Theatre/Rumble Production's After The Quake.

10.After The Quake (Pi Theatre/Rumble Productions)
I didn't have to come home and gush about this show because Simon beat me to it. This show was a perfect balance - no one element outshone the others, but rather all the elements (design, direction, acting, script) worked together to make the story ever more engaging. This show certainly earned its place on this year's top 10 list.

Honorable Mentions:

Anne (Chemainus Theatre Festival) - My first trip to Chemainus was just a week ago to see Anne. It didn't break the top ten, but this girl whose middle name is Anne with-an-E, was delighted by this stage production of a story that shaped my childhood.

Antigone Undone (Leaky Heaven Circus) - One of the more bizarre plays I saw this year, it was all choreographed to 67 minutes of music & projections and sure, it didn't stick directly to the traditional story of Antigone, but you would expect nothing less from Leaky Heaven.

Skydive (Artsclub/Reelwheels) - Skydive doesn't really qualify for the top 10 since it premiered in 2007, but the innovation of the ES Dance Instruments & it's ability to let anyone fly makes it worth another mention. Besides, who doesn't love a Madonna dance party mid show?