Alice-Munro_0331Alice Munro Stories – Belfry Theatre

Belfry Theatre’s production Alice Munro Stories presents two of Munro’s celebrated short stories – “Differently” (from Friend of My Youth, 1990) and “Save the Reaper” (from The Love of a Good Woman, 1998) – in an all new theatrical format, word for word. Last year, director Anita Rochon (who created How to Disappear Completely, Through the Gaze of a Navel, and KISMET one to one hundred) and the Belfry’s Artistic Director Michael Shamata travelled to San Francisco to meet with JoAnne Winter and Susan Harloe from Word for Word, which since 1993, creates theatre using only the words as they were written by the original author.

IMG_1086_3351Eifman Ballet – Tchaikovsky Pro et Contra

Boris Eifman’s ballet company is at the fore of contemporary St. Petersburg ballet. On July 6, 2016 the company performed “Tchaikovsky Pro et Contra” (which premiered in May 2016 in its current version, but goes back to its origins in 1993) at the Alexandrinsky Theatre. Since the early 1990s Eifman focused on the creation of large-scale psycho-dramatic ballets, and established this aesthetic form as the main direction for his company.

Foto by Olga Anosova (5)The Picture of Dorian Gray – at Ermolova Theatre

On July 3, 2016 the Ermolova Theatre in Moscow presented an adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s philosophical and Gothic novel The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890), directed by the 33-year-old Alexander Sozonov. The play originally premiered in March 2013, and is described as a contemporary story of success and failure, money and risk, beauty and moral ugliness. In Sozonov’s version of the play, the story unfolds as the memoirs of a successful producer Lord Henry (played by Oleg Menshikov), whose main project is the mass-media and technology-driven myth of a new Übermensch: Dorian Gray (played by Sergey Kempo).

ae7505e002389684Oleg Menshikov’s Dream Orchestra – in St. Pete

On July 2, 2016, St. Pete’s Music Hall hosted Moscow’s Ermolova Theatre musical performance of Dream Orchestra: Brass (which originally premiered in December 2011) created by its artistic director Oleg Menshikov. This performance alternated between Menshikov’s sweetly-nostalgic and optimistically light-hearted stories, memories, and favourite songs, as well as performances of thirty multi-talented musicians, who brought the many melodies that inspired and influenced the narrator’s work since childhood to a sold-out theatre.

DER GUTE MENSCH VON SEZUAN Musik von Paul DessauThe Good Person of Sezuan – Berliner Ensemble

Berliner Ensemble‘s production of Bertolt Brecht’s The Good Person of Sezuan (Der gute Mensch von Sezuan – published in 1941 and first staged in 1943) opens with the character of Wang, who sells water in the impoverished city in the province of Sezuan, and encounters three goddesses in search of a good person. Finding them a place to spend the night proves to be a challenge, and only the sex worker Shen Te takes them in despite her dire poverty, and the goddesses reward her for her kindness with money. She buys a tobacco store but is immediately taken advantage of by all the inhabitants who know that she can’t say no to anyone, and thus she is forced to invent and cross-dress as her mean cousin Shui Ta, who immediately created order, and kicks out all the free-loaders who exploit her generosity.

BEBerliner Ensemble – Behind the Scenes with Werner Riemann

I arrive back in Berlin for research on a new book series on cities and theatres – after writing on Berlin for my MA Thesis, PhD dissertation, Berliner Chic, and covering all cultural aspects of this city, including film, documentaries, literature, architecture, branding, fashion, art, and music, it was only a matter of time until my attention turned to theatres! I started with Berliner Ensemble, established by Helene Weigel and Bertolt Brecht in 1949 and moved into the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm from Deutsches Theater in 1954.

Billy ElliotBilly Elliot – Arts Club Theatre Vancouver – Interview with Matthew Cluff

From May 12 to July 10, 2016, Vancouver’s Arts Club Theatre produced the musical Billy Elliot at the Stanley Theatre. With music by Elton John, lyrics and screenplay by Lee Hall, and based on the acclaimed film (dir. by Stephen Daldry, 2000), the musical is an inspiring tale of courage, ambition, and overcoming adversity. Set in 1984 County Durham’s coal miners community during Margaret Thatcher’s austerity politics and the miners’ strike (1984-85), this story focuses on 11-year-old Billy (Nolan Fahey), who finds his way into Mrs. Wilkinson’s (Caitriona Murphy) ballet class following his boxing lesson. Enthralled with dance and showing inherent ability, Billy is encouraged to audition for the Royal Ballet School in London, but he fears the reactions of his father (Warren Kimmel) and brother (Danny Balkwill), who are wrapped up in the escalating strike situation. Winner of 10 Tony Awards, this musical challenges gender stereotypes and celebrates creativity and arts despite the most severe economic and conservative obstacles.

Mary Poppins by the Canadian College of Performing ArtsMary Poppins – Canadian College of Performing Arts

The Canadian College of Performing Arts (CCPA) concluded its 18th season with Mary Poppins the Musical (based on the stories of P.L. Travers and the 1964 Walt Disney film). Directed by Alberta-native Darold Roles, under the musical direction of Heather Burns (born on Vancouver Island) and with choreography by Janice Tooby-MacDonald and Caitlenn Bull, this production is a high-caliber graduation project for many of the diversely-talented performers at CCPA, who are beginning their national and international careers this summer. To include the school’s 70 performing students, the production features two casts (Yellow and Pink casts) on alternating performances, on stage from April 22 to April 30, 2016 at the McPherson Playhouse.

Belfry Theatre - Puttin' on the RitzPuttin’ on the Ritz – Belfry Theatre

The Belfry Theatre concluded its 40th anniversary season with a revival of Don Shipley’s 1976 musical review that premiered at the theatre forty years ago: Puttin’ on the Ritz (immortalized by Fred Astaire dancing in a top hat and tails) that features some 50 iconic songs and musical numbers composed by Irving Berlin. Directed by the renowned director of Pacific Opera and former Belfry artistic director Glynis Leyshon, who first revived the review in 1994, this production stars the exceptionally talented Lauren Bowler (from this season’s musical Chelsea Hotel), Andrew MacDonald-Smith, Katrina Reynolds, and John Ullyatt, and can be seen from April 12 to May 8, 2016.


Theatre in Passing 2

Theatre in Passing – Interview with Elena Siemens 

Elena Siemens‘ two volumes Theatre in Passing: A Moscow Photo-Diary (2011) and Theatre in Passing 2: Searching for New Amsterdam (2015, both published by Intellect) combine a personal narrative of cities, the author’s experiences and memories, stories of the different theatres, performance and urban spaces, with quotes from authors, scholars, playwrights, and theories of photography. The books are a great blend of scholarly, poetic, and personal narrative tone with street photography, and particularly the snapshot aesthetic.

Meet Me In St. Louis - logoMeet Me in St. Louis – by Victoria Operatic Society

Ever since Judy Garland sang “clang, clang, clang went the trolley…” in the 1944 MGM musical directed by Vincente Minnelli (whom she married in 1945), Meet Me In St. Louis became a canonical staple of musical theatre, famous for its many memorable musical numbers and songs by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane.


Marat / Sade (photo by Brian Wilson)Marat / Sade

The Canadian College of Performing Arts (CCPA) opened its 18th season with “Marat / Sade” a play in two acts by the German dramatist Peter Weiss, originally performed at the Schiller Theater in West-Berlin in April 1964, entitled Die Verfolgung und Ermordung Jean Paul Marats, dargestellt durch die Schauspielgruppe des Hospizes zu Charenton unter Anleitung des Herrn de Sade (The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade).

Speed-the-PloSpeed the Plow at Belfry Theatre (photo by David Cooper)w by David Mamet – Belfry Theatre

The Belfry Theatre in Victoria celebrates its 40th anniversary season this year and opens with Mamet’s play directed by Toronto-born Michael Shamata (Artistic Director of the Belfry Theatre since 2007). The play originally premiered on Broadway in 1988 with Ron Silver and Joe Mantagna in the leading roles, and was Madonna’s Broadway debut in the role of Karen. The Victoria production features North Vancouver actor Brian Markinson (known from Mad Men and Charlie Wilson’s War), Vancouver actor Vincent Gale (Big Eyes and Hector and the Search for Happiness), and UVic graduate Celine Stubel.

Shakespeare in the Park – The Taming of the Shrew

Montreal’s Repercussion Theatre‘s Shakespeare-in-the-Park tour presents a “Fellini-esque” re-imagining of play directed by Andrew Shaver and Paul Hopkins. Presented at various parks in and around Montreal  from July 11 to August 5, 2012.

Via Intolleranza II – Christoph Schlingensief’s last play

Christoph Schlingensief’s last play (which premiered in Brussels in May 2010) was invited to the Berliner Festspiele Theater Treffen festival this year. Schlingensief, famous for his provocative, politically-activist performances, films, theatre productions, documentaries, installations and happenings, passed away in August 2010 after battling lung cancer for two years. During those last two years, Schlingensief was extremely active producing self-reflective plays, publishing a book, and building an opera village project in Africa.

Berlin! – The Musical

If you had to sing the story of Berlin after Reunification, what would it sound and look like? Barbara Abend’s Berlin! Und wir mittendrin. (Berlin! And we right in the middle) tells the story of Berlin in humorous and serious headline announcements, in theater repertoire (which also recently celebrated it’s 20th anniversary) in songs, and in dance.

The Visit of the Old Lady / Der Besuch der alten Dame

Friedrich Dürrenmatt‘s 1956 dark-comic story of Claire who returns to her decaying hometown as a billionaire and wants revenge for her once broken heart and honour, and sets in motion a tragi-comic social experiment of moral values, has been revamped in a post-Wende rendition directed by Armin Petras at the Maxim Gorki Theatre in Berlin.

Achtung Deutsch! – What makes someone German?

What is German, and how does a German family speak, act, or look? You can find out by going to the theatre – of all places. Until April 24th, Theater and Comedy on Kurfürstendamm presents a play that by way of humour constructs and deconstructs stereotypes of multiculturalism, and of Germanness.