What could be more appropriate for a summer evening of Shakespeare than A Midsummer Night’s Dream on Granville Island on an outdoor stage? Saturday night in Vancouver on the last weekend in July is typically the start of the fireworks festival so I was a little worried that heading into the heart of the city was going to put me at odds with the hordes looking for fireworks. My fears were unfounded. I was able to get to Granville Island and park with no problem and leaving the island to get back to the North Shore was even easier.
Not familiar with Midsummer Night's Dream? READ THE SYNOPSIS
Carousel Theatre has been around for a long time and is a Granville Island staple specializing in arts programming for children. In 1990 Carousel started the Teen Shakespeare Program in order to offer an intensive six week program for exceptional teen actors under the direction of working theatre professionals. I had a chance to speak with Mike Stack, the Lead Instructor and Director, just before the ‘curtain’ went up. He was effusive in his remarks about Shakespeare and theatre in general, especially for kids. Noting Carousel’s audience is primarily kids and educators, being able to put kids on the stage to entertain and educate their peers is a powerful way to engage children and young adults in theatre. Stack likened the stage to playing dress-up, noting when you play dress-up you can be anything you want to be and that is a powerful life lesson for kids.
Click on the "Read More" on the bottom right for the full transcript of the video review.
I must admit, I am a sucker for some good improv theatre. Regrettably, it had been longer than I care to admit since I’d last made it out to a show. So I had quite a bit of anticipation for Vancouver Theatre Sports’ new show Avocado Toast, a parody on the eccentricities of life in Vancouver.
Not only will the same show not be seen twice, but the cast of Avocado Toast rotates as well! I had the pleasure of enjoying the talents of: Jullian Kolstee, Ken Lawson, Taz VanRassel, Margret Nyfors, Rae-Lynn Carson, and Ed Witzke, all hosted Lauren Mcgibbon. The chemistry on stage was palpable between these wickedly clever comedic improvisors. But, perhaps the best testament to these performers is the fact that I was sat beside a woman vacationing from Mexico who’d come to see her first ever improv show. She was very excited but also somewhat unsure due to english being her second language. Well, lo and behold, she was laughing as hard as I was! Even though the odd word or reference might have not landed for her, the night’s improvisers were so good at physical comedy that their scenes transcended any barriers.
Avocado Toast is a fantastic show. It’s format is especially great because it not only has many opportunities for audience participation but also has an overarching narrative that ties oh so perfectly into the realities of living in Vancouver. A word also needs to be said for the unsung heroes of the night, the ‘Technical Improvisers’ who have the challenging -- and often hilarious -- job of operating the lights and sound cues all while keeping up with whichever inventive, ridiculously funny scene was unfolding.
I honestly cannot recommend this show highly enough. I fully intend going to see it at least one more time! Avocado Toast runs until September 1 at The Improv Centre on Granville Island. Do yourself a favour and don’t dare miss these guys!!
~ reviewed by Josh Cronkhite
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Please comment on the review, the show if you see it, or pick from one of the following conversation starters:
1. What things do you personally do that is typical for Vancouver?
2. What is your pet peeve / favourite part of living in Vancouver?
3. What crazy names, ridiculous double standards, or Vancouver themed activities could you offer the improvisational team?
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Read the review instead...
How Star Wars Saved My Life carries, first and foremost, a message of hope. Yes, it has moments that are deeply disturbing and heartbreaking, but it is also full of joy and wonder and love and courage. Tears are welling up for me just writing about the experience.
This one man play is based on an essay written in 2008 by Dr Nicholas Harrison entitled: “Unleashing the Jedi Within: Reclaiming a Stolen Childhood Through the Power of the Force.” It's a geeky, innocent, heartrending, impassioned telling of a little boy's story of early childhood abuse and how he grew (with the help of his family, the Force and his friend R2D2) from victim to survivor to Jedi.
Director Valerie Methot and writer/actor Nicholas Harrison did a fantastic job with this piece. Set/lighting designer John Webber and composer/musician Ken Lawson must also get a shout out for the atmospheric music and magical set. It's real, it's raw, it's relatable, for geeks and non-geeks alike. Although if you are a geek I think this piece will resonate within you at a whole different level. I know it did for me.
This is the first production of this piece, I hope of many more. It runs until Dec 10th 2017 at Performance Works on Granville Island if you have a chance to catch it this time around.
If not, check out the website at http://starwarssavedmylife.com/
~ reviewed by Danielle Benzon
Overcome stage fright and find confidence in your unique voice.
ABOUT THEATRE ADDICTS
Founded by Danielle Benzon, a self-professed theatre addict.