The Art of Stealing, World Premiere at Firehall Arts Centre, May 28-31, 8 PM (with Amber Funk Barton)

Amber Funk Barton’s The Art of Stealing combines contemporary dance and fashion, and her latest work has spawned a unique collaboration between her dance piece, described as “post-apocalyptic”, and a new lululemon clothing line. Interestingly enough, Vancouver has had three yoga-related productions this spring that I know about: Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg’s Porno Death Cult, Emelia Symington’s Through the Gaze of a Navel, and now Amber Funk Barton’s The Art of Stealing. I enjoyed the first one, and although I missed Through the Gaze of a Navel, it sounded fascinating, and I expect the same for Barton’s work.

I am curious to know how this collaboration works out, and lululemon is always good for an interesting story. Most recently, now that the somewhat tactless Chip Wilson has stepped down, the somewhat bulgy Laurent Potdevin has taken on the CEO role, to the chagrin of some shareholders who want their CEO to reflect chiseled physical perfection. Image, reality–does it matter which is which?

See the trailer for The Art of Stealing

Although I typically do not post entire press releases, I think you will find this one of interest.

Amber Funk Barton’s The Art of Stealing: Contemporary dance meets clothes design

VANCOUVER, BC – When one of Vancouver’s hottest dance choreographers, Amber Funk Barton, started creating a new contemporary dance piece she had no idea the project would turn into a lululemon clothing line. After 3 years of incubation,Barton’s unique post-apocalyptic vision for her dance piece The Art of Stealing is close to being realized, as is the collaborative clothing line produced by lululemon lab’s Capsule Collection and Barton’s company, the response. The Art of Stealing makes its World Premiere on May 28, 8pm at the Firehall Arts Centre and the lululemon line will launch May 16. Continue reading

BeyondYVR bloggers going beyond YVR!

The two BeyondYVR co-founders are shortly on the road. The talented, creative, witty, and methodical yvrfoodfanatic is moving to Regina indefinitely to pursue an excellent career opportunity, whereas CheapEventsVancouver is traveling to New Orleans and Portland (returning May 7).

Watch for posts from the road to read about places beyond YVR.

Check out our Facebook page for YVR events as we may be slow to post:

BC Buds Spring Art Fair, Firehall Arts Centre, May 7-11

BC Buds Spring Art Fair, Firehall Arts Centre, May 7-11

By Donation 
May 11 to 13, 2012 
Friday 6 to 10:30pm 
Saturday 4 to 11:30pm 
Sunday 4 to 8pm 
Sat & Sun – KidStuff 1 to 4pm

This yearly event showcases some up-and-coming theatrical work, and it provides some family-friendly programming as well. Check out the program–something is sure to interest you.

P.S. The name refers to the nascent characteristics of the young artists’ work, rather than some other meaning of “bud”. What were you thinking?

Mies Julie, and the increasing prevalence of multilingual theatre

I was not quick off the mark with my Mies Julie review, and now it’s finished its run at the Cultch. But I was grateful to have such a world-class production in Vancouver. The actors, native-born South Africans, have been all around the world (you can readily find reviews of the play in Cape Town, Edinburgh, London, New York, Hong Kong, and elsewhere) with this production.

 In Mies Julie, Bongile Mantsai, who plays the farm labourer John, speaks to his mother Christine (played by the actor Thoko Ntsinga) sometimes in English, but also in their native language. I listened closely, and heard clicks, so I suspected the language was a click language. I then found this interview with Bongole Mantsai, who discusses how he is Xhosa. In fact, the Xhosa is a click language, so I strongly suspect the characters were speaking in Xhosa. In this production, unlike some others I have seen, there were no surtitles, so we just had to guess what the two very emotional characters were saying in that conversation.

Learn more about Xhosa (and try a tongue-twister) in this BBC video

I’m not conversant enough with South Africa to know whether Julie and John, if the events were occurring on a real farm in the Karoo in South Africa in 2012, would speak in English (which they do in this play) or in Afrikaans. “Julie” is pronounced with a “j” sound rather than a “y”, so the English pronunciation is chosen, although the honorific Mies is obviously Afrikaans.

I have seen other productions this year that include languages other than English. “Night”, set in Nunavut, featured Inuktitut extensively. “Ga Ting” went back and forth between English and Cantonese. I missed seeing “Blue Man Group”, but it has no spoken language, so perhaps it is by default multilingual.

Tomson Highway’s operetta, “The Postmistress”, includes a libretto with songs in English, French, Cree, and even a bit of Spanish and Portuguese. When I saw this production in 2013 at Granville Island, the singer Patricia Cano moved amazingly well among these different languages. The postmistress, being from a small northern Quebec town, could be reasonably expected to be multilingual, and Tomson Highway himself is conversant in various languages (he says he is trilingual, but it sounds like he is conversant in at least two more). Patricia Cano explained each song before she sang it, so there was little loss of meaning. Perhaps in a fullscale production, there would be surtitles.

I saw La Cravate Bleue, in French, at the Vancouver Fringe Festival in 2013. I was able to understand it quite well, despite my limited understanding of spoken French. I had a summary of what the play was about, and the musical format made the progression of scenes quite clear.

In San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico in January 2013, I saw two separate productions about Mayan cosmology, which featured theatre, dance, acrobatics, and music (on instruments modeled after the Mayan originals). One production was given in a Mayan language (of which there are several, but I suspect this one was Tzotzil) with Spanish surtitles, and the other was given in a Mayan language with Spanish and English surtitles. In Chiapas, there is a very strong push for the citizens to be proud of being Mayan (“preserve their heritage” implies a museum-like activity, and Mayans are clear they want to move forward). Presenting what were essentially two religious productions (of a sort) in Spanish would not have made sense in this context.


Productions of plays in translation are commonplace, whether by Chekhov, Michel Tremblay, or other non-anglophone author. Although the quality of translation is important, I think it may be a little less so in a theatre production where the actors embody the characters and give the script life, as opposed to a novel or particularly poetry. I hope we can see more non-English-language plays besides the typical (although profound) stalwarts, as well as more English-language plays from around the world that are outside the standard mainstream of the theatrical canon. When reading about some of the actors in Mies Julie, I found that there is a significant movement to produce theatre in South African townships. In fact, Thoko Ntsinga (the mother Christine in Mies Julie) is reworking a play, with some young South Africans, about sexual assault and drugs at parties that occur after matriculation.

Multilingual theatre is significant in terms of making theatre universal. It’s not surprising that Denmark, with both a multilingual population and a native language spoken by few, is a leader in this field, with the company Odin Teatret.

It is trite to say we are living in a global village. My hope is that we can become as conversant with the cultures of other places as we are with gadgets and cheap clothing. In a world where you expect to hear several languages on a typical public transit commute, multilingual theatre is one effective way to convey this globalization.

Vancouver Nerd Nite (April 16 is the next one)

Vancouver Nerd Nite (April 16 is the next one)

Much as I like to think that I keep abreast of Vancouver cultural happenings, I miss a lot. There’s just too much happening, which is a good thing.

So while I was heads down working, or napping, or something, Vancouver Nerd Nite has sprung into existence at Cafe Deux Soleils, and they have already had two meetings. I had noticed this gathering in other areas, and thought it would be great to have in Vancouver. But I didn’t want to organize it myself, and lo, and behold, someone else has! A typical Nerd Nite has several thoughtful talks on interesting, often scientific, topics, and this month’s event features “The Seedy Side of Plants”, “Sex and the Singularity”, and “On Being Scientifically Literate … Particularly As It Relates to Unicorns”.

These events are held regularly at Café Deux Soleils, a café already noted for its participatory evenings of slam poetry, music, and other artsy things. Attend and make these nerdish nights a huge success.

I missed the Nerd Nite World Meetup in Brooklyn last year, but who knows, maybe I can attend wherever they hold it this year.

Review: PROUD (Firehall Arts Centre until April 26)

PROUD, a political satirical comedy, is well-produced in this Firehall Arts Centre production. Emmelia Gordon is wickedly funny (and clearly enjoying herself immensely) as the ingénue, although definitely not innocent, Member of Parliament who has been elected by accident.

(The inspiration for this character is clearly Ruth Ellen Brosseau, who inadvertently went from bartender to NDP MP in a Quebec riding. Note that Brosseau is working hard to be an effective MP, and is gaining the confidence of her constituents, and is now Deputy Critic for Agriculture.)

When Andrew Wheeler as the Prime Minister walked in, the audience started laughing, because the depiction is astonishingly on point. He captures the look and mannerisms of Harper so well, but in a just slightly-over-the-top way.

The chief of staff character (too young to be a Nigel Wright clone) has his own agenda. He supports these two characters very well.

The character who sets nearly off-stage, playing both Evan Salomon (CBC reporter) and Jyzabel’s young son, is humorous, but it was sometimes difficult to catch which side of the conversation he was playing.

The Prime Minister inadvertently finds himself, through an intriguing plot twist, schooling Jyzabel Lyft in the art of political machinations. What you see happening in Parliament probably has little connection to the players’ motivations. Backbencher MPs who are colorful characters are particularly useful for introducing inflammatory private member’s bills that distract attention from the Prime Minister’s real agenda.

Just as a James Bond villain spends hours explaining his philosophy and motivations to Bond, the Prime Minister goes into great detail about his political and economic philosophies to Jyzabel. Michael Healey as the playwright explains a particular brand of neo-conservatism so well, that one might be tempted to think it is the playwright’s own belief (which I doubt). But there’s no particular reason that neo-conservatism has to be placed alongside strident and anachronistic bleatings; neo-conservatism can and does have an intellectual basis, and Healey wants us to understand what that is. Healey states in this video that his intention is to open a conversation about Canadian values.

The Prime Minister represents the repressed Superego (the Rational Man), and Jyzabel represents the libidinous Id (often known as Woman, or Eve). Because North American understanding of psychology has moved beyond Freud, this division seems simplistic. But for a comedy that works in broad satirical strokes, simplistic characters are often easier to work with than complex nuanced ones. And the play is effective in getting you to think about what motivates Stephen Harper and what his true ideologies and motivations might be.

Healey refers to George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion (which you might know as “My Fair Lady”). I see Shaw’s influences in the long, philosophical digressions. And a typical Shaw character is a woman who presents as stupid, but who expresses great and timeless truths.

It was difficult for me as a feminist viewer to see a central woman character (the only woman in this play, and one of the very few women politicians in theatre productions) who is promiscuous and lacking in intelligence (even if she is not so stupid as she seems). Not because it is impossible for such a woman to exist, but because she represents such banal stereotypes of women who have attained power. What if I choose to see this as a male politician’s fantasy? Hmmm.

Despite my unease, I am glad to have seen the play. I appreciate that it brings political philosophies (rather than the “feelings” so readily dismissed by the Prime Minister character) to the fore, while still being very funny indeed. Go and see it!


Verses Festival is happening now (until April 12), Commercial Drive venues

Take a look at the schedule.

Tickets Tonight Half-Price Tickets has the Tuesday show, Mashed Poetics – Rage Against the Machine, on half-price for $7 right now, if you can make it down to 200 Burrard in time to buy the tickets in person.

I’d love to get to this Tuesday masterclass with spoken-word poet d’bi young. d’bi young is a daughter of a great poet herself, and d’bi’s poetry is so incredibly real and powerful.

However, there are so many great shows and classes that something is sure to suit your taste and schedule. Take a look and find out more about Vancouver’s happening poetry scene.

SFU student plays (Blackbox 2014) SFU Woodward’s, April 4

Support student playwrights and actors.

April 3 and 4: Retreat – Black Box Plays

Time: 7pm, 8pm, 9pm
Place: Studio T, Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, 149 West Hastings St.
Cost: Free

Presented by the School for the Contemporary Arts Theatre Program, featuring the work of ensemble:

Robert Azevedo
Brandi Elliott
Daniel O’Shea
Megan Stewart
Beverly Cheung
Andrew Ferguson
Katie Gartlan-Close
Jessica Hood
Rachelle Miguel
Keely O’Brien

Instructor: James Long