PuSh merchandise

8:15 Second update from the PuSh Opening Gala – Opening Speeches

Following Mayor Gregor was Max Wyman, president of the PuSh Board. It was very hard to hear what he was saying unfortunately, but something that stood out was when he talked about the imp0rtance of what he calls  the ‘creative class’. He said that “sharing a cultural experience gives us more understanding of each other”. Wise words indeed!

Up next was VanCity CEO Tamara Vrooman who expressed her delight about VanCity’s contribution as a sponsor for the 125th celebration events.

Then it was Norman Armour’s turn! He saluted with a big “Hellooooo Vancouver!! As the Executive Director of the PuSh Festival, he talked about the importance of keeping the arts at the centre of our civic life and was visibly excited about sharing the stage with Vancouver’s 125th birthday celebrations. This year’s festival explores the notions of ‘cityness’ and place, and is sure to inspire many to discover all that Vancouver has to offer as a cultural hub. Norman gave a big shout-out to The Georgia Straight, CTV and all the bloggers and journalists who have played a part in getting the word out about this year’s festival; and gave a resounding rallying cry to all of those present as ambitious and passionate leaders in the arts to strive for our goals and seize opportunities in these challenging and daunting times. Our city needs us!

19.30pm First update from the PuSh Opening Gala – Mayor Gregor’s speech

(Details may be patchy as most of the speeches were inaudible until someone turned the sound up halfway through Norman Armour’s speech!)

Club Five Sixty is packed with people excited to celebrate both the launch of Vancouver’s 125th birthday celebrations (or quasquicentennial to use the correct term-just don’t ask us how to pronounce it!) and the opening of the 2011 PuSh Festival.

After some community performances (did anyone catch who they were over the noise of the crowd?) Mayor Gregor Robertson took to the stage to officially launch the City’s plans for the 125th birthday festivities – a celebration of Vancouver’s diversity: “that’s what we are all made of”.  He announced the plans for Birthday Live –  a free family event on April 6th, the official anniversary of the city’s incorporation, which will include the lighting of the Olympic Cauldron and “yes, there will be birthday cake!”; and Summer Live – three days of free performances  over multiple stages in Stanley Park taking place July 8-10th. As well as these two spotlight events, a funding program of $10 million will go towards bringing improvements and vibrancy to neighbourhoods including Gastown, Chinatown, the Downtown Eastside and Strathcona.

Throughout his speech, the Mayor spoke enthusiastically and proudly about the diverse communities which make up the city, and the role of the arts, culture and creative expression in giving voice to those communities and the city as a whole, as well as acting as a “huge economic driver for the city”. 2011 is set to be a fantastic year with Vancouver being named as the Cultural Capital for Canada and promises of “the most legendary PuSh Festival in history”.  There were thanks offered to the Federal Government, Heritage Canada, the PuSh Festival Board, staff and volunteers, and City Councillors, before  the Mayor signed off by thanking everyone for being here, wishing us all a great 125th year, and reminding people to check celebratevancouver125.ca for updates on all of the plans discussed tonight.

So what do you think of the Vancouver 125 plans so far? Will you be attending Birthday Live and Summer Live? Leave us a comment on this post or let us know on twitter (@escapadetheatre)!

The excitement is building… The 2011 PuSh Festival kicks off in a matter of hours. With so many varied and  exciting performances to choose from, we can’t wait to sample what’s on offer over the next few weeks. We’ll be live-blogging and tweeting from tonight’s Opening Gala at Club 56o – we’ll be updating this post throughout the evening so keep checking back for updates…

Push Festival 2011 publicity image

I have never been a fan of Shakespeare.  I can appreciate the theatrical and historical value of his work, but I have always found Shakespearean to be a entire different language that is very hard to comprehend (at least in English).  So when I was invited to go see Hamlet at Havana I prepared myself to sit there for three hours trying very hard not to fall asleep. But boy, was I wrong!

It’s amazing what happens when a group of talented people put on a show together! In previous experiences as an audience member, I have witnessed actors focus so much on a fixed idea of how they think Shakespearean dialogue should be delivered that they forget to think about what they are actually saying, and the actual meaning of the words gets lost. In this version the actors delivered the dialogue in a more conversational style, and as a result it became much more accessible and understandable. You could actually see that they were enjoying themselves and having fun with it, successfully finding and sharing the wit and humour in this tragic, depressing play – which also aided understanding.

The Havana theatre is a small space, made to seem even smaller by designer Jennifer Stewart’s decision to surround the room with white fabric. It almost seemed like you were inside a tent. The play was staged in traverse, with audience members seated on both sides. There was only one prop on stage: a chest, which was brilliantly used throughout the play as a table, chair and podium, and container for other props.

The staging and direction made excellent and imaginative use of the limited space. There were four exits (two on either side of the stage and two on the sides) and two windows. Each one was covered by the fabric and would open and close during the course of the production. There were times when the actors were outside of the “tent” performing, and at times were they would be talking to each other from the windows. There was a sense of intimacy in the room. Actors would interact with audience members and let them be part of the story.

The lighting and sound were very simple, but worked perfectly, setting the mood and complementing the performance without stealing focus from the performers. The costumes were beautiful and well executed, especially considering the small production budget.

At one point I looked around the room and noticed that there were people of all ages from little children (8-10 years old maybe) to young adults, adults and seniors. Every single person was captivated, entertained and very much engaged in the drama. Three hours later I was left inspired and just happy to have been able to see such a wonderful piece of theatre!

Angie

The story so far

Angie’s play Pretty Golden Cage began as an assortment of thoughts in a journal written during a reflective period spent in Ecuador in early 2010. The piece explores the different voices we all experience internally and externally that affect how we perceive ourselves and the world around us; and draws on Freud’s Structural Model of the Psyche. Having written most of a first draft by March, Angie shared the script with Tilly who took on a role as a dramaturg, assisting with the shaping and editing process.

Workshopping the play

Back in November we did an informal reading with some friends. It was a great opportunity to hear the script read out loud, and to get the reactions of an audience made up of people who do not work in theatre. On Monday December 6th we met with members of ITSAZOO Productions who had agreed to read the script and offer feedback. After a reading, there was an open discussion with some insightful comments about the characters, dramatic conflict, and the abstract style of the piece.

Pretty Golden Cage workshop

What happens next

Having taken on board feedback from both readings, Angie is currently researching Theatre of the Absurd and reading lots of Beckett, Albee and McLeod plays, with the idea of rewriting Pretty Golden Cage in a more absurdist style. We will be arranging more readings and workshops of a newer draft in 2011.

 

 

Hello and welcome to the Escapade Theatre Project! Thanks for stopping by.

Check out the tabs above to find out more about us, how the project started, and what we’re trying to do.

Our first adventure is the development and workshopping of Angie’s play Pretty Golden Cage. We’ve been working on the script for the past couple of months, and we’ve already had one reading amongst some of our Escapade friends. On Monday 6th December we will be workshopping the script with our good friends at ITSAZOO Productions.

We’ll be updating the site shortly with blogs about the process we’ve undertaken with the piece, as well as some discussion posts, and reviews of shows we’ve been to see – so keep checking back!

Welcome aboard – enjoy the ride!

Angie and Tilly