Monthly Archives: October 2010

ST. Nicholas at the Cube Gallery

Don Monet, the curator of the Cube gallery on Wellington, certainly knows how to host a party. On opening night, of the New Theatre of Ottawa’s production of St. Nicholas, he pulled out all the stops. The wine flowed freely, cheese and grapes were available for munching on, and the pre-show schmoozing was in full swing.

It’s great to see a theatrical performance while surrounded by beautiful visual art. I love when these kinds of collaborations between mediums (in this case theatre and visual art) take place. In fact, we all benefit from the cross pollination that occurs from these exchanges. The proof of that was at intermission where the audience was discussing the art on the walls the gallery as well as the play on the stage. That’s fantastic and I encourage artists, galleries, theatres, and dance studios to embrace collaboration because it’s truly the best way to grow the arts in this town.

Conor Mcpherson’s script tells the story of a critic looking for redemption . The narrator has lived a rather empty life. He has failed as a husband, artist, and critic and now can only gain friendship by lying to others. “I wasn’t dying, like you might think,” he exclaims. ”I was dead!”  The stage is then well set for this, appropriate for Halloween, fable of a theatre critic falling in with a coven of vampires.

So what does the title have to do with the theological St. Nicholas? It is certainly enigmatic at first blush, until we remember that while St. Nicholas is most famous as the patron saint of children (Santa Claus mythology etc.) he is also the patron saint of prisoners and those wrongly condemned. 

Mcpherson’s St. Nicholas, is an appeal by the unnamed narrator for redemption. Will the critic be freed from the prison of the life he has created? Is a man who is in many ways so despicable worthy of redemption?  Or does he deserve his fate?  Mcpherson leaves these questions for the audience to ponder.

John Koensgen is convincing as the narrator  in this production. He is a wonderful storyteller and it is a delight to watch him perform in this small and intimate space.

(Award winning Actor John Koensgen in photo)

I also enjoyed the simple but effective lighting design. There are several moments where the critic (Koensgen) is lit by a lone candle,which evokes the feeling of a good flashlight ghost story. All this combined with the intimacy of the space, and Don Monet’s hospitality, led to an enjoyable experience.

I was fortunate that I sat near the front, I wonder if the seats at the back of the room provided adequate sight lines. Perhaps some risers would alleviate this potential problem.

St. Nicholas is spooky, smart, and fun. A perfect fit for this time of the year. Catch it if you can.

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The Glamourous Life of A Theatre Critic

I’m loving my life this week. It’s been full of plenty of artsy goodness.

Tuesday, I enjoyed some complimentary snacks and wine that accompanied the media launch of the brand new Undercurents festival at the GCTC. This festival will feature new work by three local artists as well “three of the hottest independent theatre touring the country.” It’s great to see the GCTC collaborating with independent theatre companies to help them find a wider audience. This is an auspicious beginning and I hope to see more of this kind of collaboration in the future.

You can currently buy a three or 6 show pass for the festival. The 6 show pass is $60 which works out to a cost of $10/show. That is phenomenal value, so click the link and get your passes while they last. I’m sure they’ll go fast and seating is limited.

Wednesday, as part of my ongoing efforts to improve my French, I attended Personal Jesus at the NAC. I enjoyed the show and felt inspired to write my first  mini-review for ottawasneezers.com.

It’s worth pointing out that, ottawasneezers is looking for contributions (reviews/previews) etc. from the public at large. You don’t have to be an arts insider to contribute. All you have to do is be able to write a very brief (50 word) note about an arts event. Whether your interest is in theatre, dance,  or visual art, Ottawasneezers gives you a great opportunity to get the word out about all the fantastic art going on in this city.

Finally, Thursday I was invited out to the Cube Gallery on Wellington to see Conor Mcpherson’s St. Nicholas. I will be writing a formal review of this one man show starring John Koensgen so watch for that in the next day or so. The play is about vampires and theatre critics and definitely worth checking out especially with halloween approaching.

So that was my week in the arts world. How about you? See anything interesting?

OttawaSneezers.com: Win-Win, Right Out of the Gate. (via Movement)

Trying out a new WordPress  feature and promoting a great new Web site for the arts scene in Ottawa. Win-win indeed. 🙂

Last year, around this time, I wrote a play for a national contest. When I finished it, I was confident it would win. And it did. This year, I “wrote” a website instead. I’m also confident it will succeed. It addresses a need, fills a niche, and is tailored to an audience. Here’s the pitch, if you haven’t heard it yet: Are you ready to sneeze, Ottawa? An Ottawa arts sneezer celebrates all that is great in Ottawa and the arts. Imagine a site where … Read More

via Movement

Warts and All: Wayne and Jay’s cover of Paper Thin Walls

I have been watching the musical video posts from Sterling and others for awhile now. I’ve kind of always wanted to do one but have never gotten around to it. Old perfectionist tendencies got it in the way. Yesterday, good friend of mine, guitar virtuoso, Jason Lutes stopped by for a jam, so I finally decided to put the camera on my macbook pro to use.

I’ve always envied Jay’s ability to listen to a song and then be able to play it. For Jay this is like breathing. Music comes much slower to me. To be honest, my brain doesn’t retain even my own songs for very long.

I also learn songs more visually. In this video you can see me watching Jay’s fingers,  to figure out where we are. Any other musicians out there? Do you play more by ear? or more by sight?

This video is far from perfect. It had been a couple months since Jay and I had last played together and as usual I had forgotten all the songs I learned last time. We played this one through a couple times and then just recorded it in one take.

Jay made the observation that we are much more relaxed now in our thirties than we were in our twenties. Back then, we would have tried to make it perfect. If it couldn’t be perfect then we wouldn’t share it.  In hindsight, this was a huge mistake. Here’s to the dawning of a new era!

Wayne and Jay’s cover of Paper Thin Walls by Modest Mouse: