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.
Women The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown is my new favourite musical (overtaking Chicago and Rent) and I reviewed it for Vue Weekly.
Plain Jane Theatre Company has always had a knack for reviving musicals that didn’t necessarily live up to their initial potential during Broadway runs, but Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown is a standout.
A farcical tale of love, infidelity, and crime in ‘80s Madrid, Jeffery Lane’s screenplay (based on the 1988 film by Pedro Almodóvar) boasts an abundance of the embellishments that make a great romantic comedy work, while also presenting an endearing human narrative that’s brought to life with surprising continuity by Plain Janes’ cast and crew. Read more
Until now, I’ve never felt like I absolutely need to see a show twice during its run before, but this Plain Janes production absolutely warrants it. The show runs through Saturday at the Varscona Theatre, and you don’t want to miss it if you’re in Edmonton!
Macewan University’s The Scavenger magazine ran my feature profile of Edmonton’s 2016-17 Youth Poet Laureate today. Nasra Adem is an inspiring artist, and I’m so happy to share part of her story.
On this hot summer day, Nasra Adem gazes out at the 600 demonstrators packed against a precautionary police line at the steps of the Alberta Legislature, and puts her body where her poetry is. Wearing a traditional orange-and-green African dress that hangs past her ankles, and a matching headdress that temporarily tames the frizz of her thick black hair, she looks out from the podium into the faces of the crowd, and finds sympathetic eyes staring back.
This August rally has formed under an “End Racism in Canada” banner. It is, in part, a reaction to the alt-right extremists who had marched in the streets of Charlottesville, Va., two weeks before, and, in part, a denunciation of the myth that racism doesn’t exist in Edmonton. Adem leaped – as she often does – at the chance to present her work for an important cause. Not necessarily as 2017’s Edmonton Youth Poet Laureate, but as an affected voice trying to change the world for the better.
Some days, she changes the young, urging them to embrace love and question what they see. Some nights, she changes the old, chipping away at their hardened views from a place of vulnerability. And sometimes, she is blocked by a seething lie that has poked at the Canadian psyche as long as she can remember. Read more
I previewed Good Grieffor 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.
Last week I previewed the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour for Vue Weekly. The Edmonton stop of the tour brought documentaries from around the world to a new venue.
Tales of skiers, spelunkers, kayakers and more will hit the big screen in the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour this week. And for the Edmonton leg of this year’s tour, that screen will be in Garneau Theatre.
The main Banff Mountain Film Festival, which began in 1976 under what is now the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, screens international submissions every fall. Following the initial screening, the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour shares them with more than 550 communities around the globe. Read more
Track ‘N Trail hosts the festival every year, and it was enlightening to hear about the variety of films they selected this year. The screenings appealed to more than just people who love the outdoors; there was a distinct human interest bent this year too.
I returned to my musical roots again this week when I previewed the Heart of the City Music and Arts Festival for Vue Weekly.
The annual Heart of the City Music and Arts Festival will take over Giovanni Caboto Park again this Saturday and Sunday as it highlights inner city artists for the 14th year in a row.
Charity Slobod, an organizing board member for the festival, has helped run the event for six years, and she says its primary goal is always the same.
“The main focus, and the most important point, is really giving a platform and helping inspire inner city musicians, artists, slam poets—you name it,” Slobod says. “If you sing it, you can play it, you can be on our stage.” Read more
I played with a high school rock band (Goodluck Jonathan) at the festival in 2010, so it’s great to hear that it is still growing and supporting artists in Edmonton’s core.
I previewed the second High Level Lit Salon this week for Vue Weekly, and the lineup looks as spectacular and as diverse as the first.
Four local writers will converge at The Mercury Room on Wednesday to discuss their work on a non-fiction anthology reflecting on Canada’s 150th birthday from an Edmonton perspective.
High Level Lit: Musings on YEG for Canada’s Sesquicentennial will feature essays and poetry from 12 local authors and be published as a special issue of Eighteen Bridges Magazine this October. The project is organized by the Edmonton Community Foundation in tandem with LitFest Alberta.
The High Level Lit Salon Series spotlights the anthology’s contributors with a live event, and the second salon will feature food culture writer Jennifer Cockrall-King, former Edmonton poet laureateAnna Marie Sewell, and local playwright Darrin Hagen. Malcom “Minister Faust” Azania also returns to host the event, after he read excerpts of his anthology contribution at the first salon on Mar. 1. He says the anthology focuses mostly on the Canadian settler perspective. Read more
The Salon Series and High Level Lit: Musings on YEG for Canada’s Sesquicentennial anthology aim to acknowledge that Canada 150 isn’t a celebration for all Canadians. The perspectives of each writer reflect that, and I can’t wait to learn more
Last week I reported on SpaceFinder Alberta for Vue Weekly. It’s a service brimming with potential, and making it’s way to my province after finding success across North America.
One of the most frustrating barriers to creating art is finding a space to work in. SpaceFinder Albertais changing this with a listing service aiming to provide a robust solution for Albertan creators.
“We’re kind of referring to it as the Airbnb for non-profits and artists to find the spaces that they require to do their work,” Julian Mayne says. Read more
SpaceFinder Alberta is free to use, growing steadily, and its granular filters should help creatives find the right space for their needs. It seems simple, but execution is everything, so here’s hoping the service succeeds.
I previewed Jeff Sylvester’s latest exhibition, Signals, for Vue Weekly earlier this month.
The work of longtime Edmonton-based artist Jeff Sylvester looks like animated freeze-frames. And Signals, his latest solo exhibition installed this week at The Front Gallery, continues his concept of melding natural and man-made figures with his paintings.
The 44-year-old father of three slowed his exhibition pace after he had kids, but he’s been working steadily on Signals for the past two years and he’s happy with the result. Read more
The exhibition is up until June 5 at The Front Gallery, and both Sylvester and gallery owner Rachel Bouchard say you have to see the paintings in person to really appreciate them.