‘The Gooseberry’ headlines my NextFest theatre and dance reviews for Vue Weekly

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Vue Weekly gave me free reign of NextFest last weekend. Here are excerpts from my reviews of The Gooseberry, Where do we Begin?, Pretty Boy: The Musical, and Occupy.

The Gooseberry

… The Gooseberry is like a wreck you can’t look away from. Zena and Audrey gnaw at each other, openly antagonizing every party invitation, cooking preference and living habit. This animosity extends to the rest of the six-person cast too. Read more

Where do we Begin?

Joanna Simon and Lady Vanessa Cardona’s new theatrical work Where do we Begin? arrives as a poetic statement of reconciliation. Billed as a 45-minute land acknowledgment, the two creators take to the stage as themselves: Simon, a Plains Cree woman from here on Turtle Island, and Cardona a Columbian refugee. Read more

Pretty Boy: The Musical

Skinny Love Productions’ 90-minute, two-act original musical tackles a larger-than-life saga that’s captivating in its historical accuracy. Pretty Boy: The Musical follows the adult life of Charles Floyd (Damon Pitcher), a small-town, depression-era Oklahoma farm boy turned Robin Hood-esque criminal hero. Read more

Occupy

… One dancer glides across the stage in a wheelchair, while the other mirrors her movements atop a wheeled stool. A nurturing friendship exudes from the duet, complete with the wheelchair equivalent of trust-falls and several reclining embraces. Long moments of silence amid the vast space-like music set an introspective mood. Read more

Fantastic, homegrown theatrical art always invigorates me, and NextFest runs for four more days. You can purchase tickets at the onsite box office in The Roxy on Gateway Theatre or from the festival website.

Video Games Live symphony concert preview for Vue Weekly

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I enjoyed a fun and personal assignment this week when I previewed Video Games Live for Vue Weekly.

When veteran composer Tommy Tallarico dared in 2002 to produce Video Games Live—an audiovisual spectacle featuring symphonic music—no one in the business thought it would work.

Tallarico recalls the game publishers, symphonies, and concert venues telling him “people who play video games don’t go to a symphony, and the people who do go to a symphony certainly don’t play video games. You’re crazy, kid. Get out of here.”

But 11,000 people showed up to his first show in Los Angeles, silencing the doubters and starting a wave of momentum that still rolls today. Video Games Live now holds a Guinness World Records for the most concerts performed by a touring symphonic production (450, and rising), as well as the record for most concurrent live viewers at a symphony: 752,000 at a concert in Beijing, China in 2015.

“No time ever in the history of music have millions of young people around the world come out to watch a symphony,” Tallarico says. “Before Video Games Live, it never happened.” Read more

Alongside the first conscious moment I can recall as a toddler playing Chrono Trigger (trying to catch the password-rat in Arris Dome,) the haunting bass line of the derelict 2300AD labs is the first piece of music I remember. So to interview Tallarico about his numerous arrangements of equally great video game music for Video Games Live was a special moment I won’t soon forget.

Video Games Live tickets almost always sell out, but if you’re in town and can make it, hopefully I’ll see you there!

Clips from my time as an Anime News Network news intern in 2015

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I recently noticed that Anime News Network began listing bylines on all articles in its news section (where I interned for six months in 2015) and as several employers have reached out to me with potential work opportunities, I decided to index a few clips for easy review.

Though I ended the internship in one of the lowest mental health states of my life, I’ve completely rebounded since. Working on ANN’s news desk in a 24-hour virtual newsroom with multiple deadlines each day was a phenomenal experience. In addition to assisting with translation, editing, and other administrative tasks, here are some of stories I wrote:  Continue reading

‘Doob: No Bed of Roses’ Film Review for Vue Weekly

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I tackled a film review of Doob: No Bed of Roses for Vue Weekly this week. I thought it was a great, probing film

Bangladeshi director Mostofa Sarwar Farooki’s latest lodges a chisel into a rock labelled “unfaithful love.” And during 85 minutes of film, he gently hews away until there’s nothing left.

No Bed of Roses (Doob) trains a plodding lens on infidelity—a subject that’s often only struck with comedic and glancing blows in western cinema—and places us within some of the most uncomfortable moments of a fracturing family in a present-day Bangladesh city. Muted greys and whites hang over each frame, draping an impossible-to-shake malaise over each character’s conversations during some of the lowest points in their lives. Read more

Serendipitously, Doob: No Bed of Roses hits on several things I’ve recently been thinking about and studying in fiction and reality (infidelity, global media systems, interpersonal pressures), so I was thrilled to tackle this review. The film runs at The Princess Theatre this Saturday and Sunday.

‘La Traviata’ Opera Preview for Vue Weekly

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I had a fun time previewing La Traviata in Vue Weekly this week. It’s described as the ‘pinnacle’ of opera, and this production is set in a cabaret club.

Mercury Opera’s slogan may be “Opera where you least expect it,” but for this week’s production of the iconic La Traviata, it’s hard to imagine a more fitting venue in Edmonton than the Chez Pierre Cabaret.

La Traviata tells a tragic tale of overlapping love triangles in 1920s Paris, with Violetta Valéry (an accomplished courtesan) and Alfredo Germont (the first man she feels has truly loved her) at the centre.

And within the intimate club setting of Chez Pierre, Mercury Opera artistic director Darcia Parada says an eight-piece orchestra will bring Giuseppe Verdi’s music to life while internationally acclaimed singers unleash their voices up close as if every audience member is a part of the characters’ party. Guests are even invited to attend in ‘20s attire to suit the occasion. Read more

I can’t wait to see what it feels like to be so close to the performers. I love the way Mercury Opera‘s tries to hook new audiences, and Chez Pierre couldn’t be a better choice to flaunt that approach. The show runs through Mar. 11.

Clips from the rewarding Leduc Rep reporting gig I held in summer 2017

 

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I worked as a reporter at the Leduc Rep weekly newspaper from the start of June until the end of August 2017. The newsroom was small, but my audience was engaged. My writing and photography also served several municipalities, appearing in the Devon Dispatch, Beaumont News and several other small papers. I was worked to the bone, but I learned a lot in the process. Here are some of my favourite stories from the internship.

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Good Grief Photo Exhibition Preview for Vue Weekly

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I previewed Good Grief for Vue Weekly today. It’s an exciting debut exhibition by Jay Procktor, an Edmonton photographer I respect immensely.

As a Grade 1 teacher, Jay Procktor sometimes clowns around with his students. But after years of work on the side as a photographer, the 43-year-old local is unveiling his first large gallery exhibition this week, filled with 16 images of clowns in both a literal and symbolic sense.

The Good Grief exhibit is inspired by personal loss Procktor has encountered, featuring 15 self-portraits and one photo of Procktor’s father.

In February 2012, Procktor’s best friend passed away and five months later his father also passed after a long battle with cancer. Read more

My interview with Procktor was one of my all-time favourites. The way he channeled loss into a community project culminating in fantastic art is incredible. I only wish I had more space to share his story.