3 Penny Opera

DreigroschenoperFollowing World War I, Germany endured over a decade of economic hardship characterized by hyperinflation, widespread poverty, food shortages and demands for reparations from France and Britain.

In the midst of all the turmoil, German playwright Bertolt Brecht teamed with composer Kurt Weill to adapt an 18th century “ballad opera” by English writer John Gay called The Beggar’s OperaThe Threepenny Opera debuted in Berlin in 1928 and served as a socialist critique of the capitalist system (at left is the original poster)

As its second production of the 2015-16 season, Do It With Class Young People’s Theatre is presenting its version of Brecht and Weill’s play at Darke Hall on Nov. 19 at 12:30 and 7:30 p.m., and Nov. 20-21 at 7:30 p.m. The production is rated 14+, and you can find out more details on the Do It With Class website.

How Safe Is Oil Extraction, Transportation & Refinement In Saskatchewan?

Over the next three weeks, the University of Regina is presenting a three-part lecture series examining three key steps in the production of oil in Saskatchewan.

Most of the province’s oil is produced through enhanced recovery techniques that are not only expensive, they also pose risks to the environment. Then there’s the issue of transporting the oil to refineries and then on to market. Finally, there’s the refining process that’s necessary to convert the oil into marketable products.

The series kicks off on Wednesday, Nov. 18 with Emily Eaton discussing the impact of drilling and production activity on landowners and communities in rural Saskatchewan

On Wednesday, Nov. 25 Simon Enoch will look at the rapid growth in rail transport for oil and discuss the need for greater regulatory oversight. Then on Wednesday Dec. 2 Sean Tucker will look at the refining process and threats to personal safety and the environment with particular reference to the Co-op Refinery in Regina.

All three lectures will be held at ED514, University of Regina, from 1-2:30 p.m. Find out more details on the U of R website.

The Snow Queen

SnowQueenEach year around this time the Globe Theatre unveils its main stage holiday theatre production. This year, it’s an adaptation of the Danish fairy tale The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen.

Published in 1844, the story chronicles a struggle between good and evil in which two children named Gerda and Kai embark on a journey to save their land from the wicked clutches of the Snow Queen.

This Globe production is courtesy the theatre’s artistic director Ruth Smillie, and it’s being directed by Rachel Peake.

You can find out more about the production on the Globe Theatre website,  but The Snow Queen is scheduled to run from Nov. 14-Dec. 27.

Remeasure

RemeasureAlong with All’s Well That Ends Well and Troilus and Cressida, Measure For Measure is often described as one of Shakespeare’s “problem” plays. I’m not sure what flaws academics have latched on to with the first two works, but the main bone of contention when it comes to Measure to Measure is the swings the Bard makes between comedy and tragedy that come across as overly jarring.

Set in Vienna, the play involves all manner of soldiers, prostitutes, nobles and religious officials and involves an illegitimate pregnancy, prison, and even an execution.

Which brings me to Remeasure. It’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s play by University of Regina Theatre professor Katherine Bracht. According to the synopsis I read, it’s set in a modern-day cabaret and involves a critique of contemporary social mores through the lens of pop culture.

Remeasure runs at the University Theatre from Nov. 4-7, with the curtain at 7:30 p.m. each night. You can find out more information on the U of R website.

Never Swim Alone

Never Swin AlonePenned by Canadian playwright Daniel MacIvor, this satire serves as a critique of so-called alpha males who compete for supremacy in the business world.

Frank and Bill (played by Kenn McLeod and Zachary Smadu) are the aforementioned males. As boys they were friends, but now they’re business rivals, and under the direction of an anonymous woman in a bathing suit (played by Jacqueline Burtney) they engage in an increasingly mean-spirited “battle” to demean and undermine each other to prove their supremacy.

I don’t know of the phrase “you’re a lying piece of shit” gets uttered at any point. But the satire certainly has relevance in our current political and economic climate where similar power dynamics exist. Although as the play progresses, the characters do evince a certain amount of longing for the more cordial relationship they enjoyed as boys.

Never Swim Alone is directed by Mark Claxton and is presented by Golden Apple Theatre. It runs at the Artesian on 13th from Nov. 3-14, with curtain at 8 p.m. each night. For more information visit the Artesian website.

Halloween Fun

Halloween is on Saturday this year, which always opens the door adults who celebrate the day to do so with a bit more gusto than when it’s in the middle of the week.

Here’s some party options that have come to my attention so far:

Sunday 25

BLACK MUSEUM Halloween-themed exhibit of criminal artifacts inspired by Scotland Yard’s Black Museum of British Crime. RCMP Heritage Centre, until Oct 31.

Tuesday 27

THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW Halloween production of the popular Broadway musical. Presented by Sterling Productions at Conexus Arts Centre Convention Hall, Oct. 27-29, 8 p.m. $28.75. See conexusartscentre.ca.

Friday 30

HALLOWEEN HOWL with Big Sugar, Leather Cobra and Trigger Finger at the Can-Sask Sound Stage, doors at 7 p.m. $32.50.

PARAB POET & THE HIP HOP HIPPIES with Bombargo, InfoRed and Merky Waters at O’Hanlon’s.

THE HAUNTED CIRCUS with Organic Mechanic, Dreadbeat, Krooked King, Psyborum, Gremlin Groove and more at the Hungarian Club (1925 McAra), doors at 8 p.m.

H​ALLOWEEN PRE-PARTY & MYLA EP RELEASE PARTY with DJs 2Beats & Smash Cox ​at the Mercury​, 9:30 p.m. $10. 19+.​

OWLLOWEEN featuring DJs, a costume contest at the University of Regina campus pub the Owl, 8:30 p.m. $10, or two for $15.

HALLOWEEN BASH with F.O.G.D.O.G. at McNally’s Tavern.

MONSTER BASH Family-friendly Halloween party with crafts, games, treats, dancing with DJ Jeremy and plenty of glow-in-the-dark fun. Royal Saskatchewan Museum, 6:30-8:30 p.m. $5, kids two and under free. Continue reading “Halloween Fun”

Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Lewis Carroll’s surreal children’s classic. To celebrate, Do It With Class Young People’s Theatre is presenting a stage version of the story adapted by Robert Ursan at Darke Hall on Oct. 28-29 at 12:30 and 7:30 p.m., and Oct. 30 at 7:30 p.m.

You can find out more on the Do It With Class website. And to give you a sense of how much fun staging a production like this can be here’s a promotional trailer for a 2013 production of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by London’s Royal Ballet:

Woolgathering

WoolGatheringCelebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the Globe Theatre has already kicked off its main stage season with a production of the 1950s era musical All Shook Up. Starting Tuesday, the theatre debuts its more experimental Shumiatcher Sandbox Series for 2015-16.

Woolgathering is a dance and visual art collaboration between local contemporary dance troupe FadaDance and artist Tamara Unroe which explores ideas of nesting, mapping and refuge.

“Woolgathering”, as a word, refers to the idea of dreamy thought and aimless musing.

As for the performance, FadaDance said in a press release, “inspiration comes from daydreaming the concept of “home”. In particular, the types of shelter, both physical and psychological, that can be temporarily created to maintain a sense of security and identity. Hoboglygphs – an image-based secret code that nomadic workers of the early 20th century used to warn each other of danger and guide one another to food and shelter appear throughout the show to guide movement and changing landscapes.

You can find out more information on the Globe website, but please note that the production isn’t being held at the Globe’s Scarth St. Mall location. Instead, the venue is the Artesian on 13th Ave. Performances will be held Oct. 20-24 at 7:30 p.m.

An Evening With Martin Short

Last month, veteran Canadian comic Norm Macdonald sold out a show at Casino Regina. Last I checked, Short hadn’t managed that trick — but that was a couple of months ago, and at that point tickets were described as “limited availability” on the casino website, so I imagine he’s matched Macdonald in selling out the room.

Last November, Short released a memoir called I Must Say. The title references a catch-phrase of one of his more memorable characters Ed Grimley which Short debuted on SCTV before moving to Saturday Night Live. Judging by the billing for this show, the audience can expect a mix of stand-up, performances in character and reminiscences about Short’s 30 plus year career in show business.

An Evening With Martin Short goes Saturday Oct. 17 at 8 p.m. To close, here’s a segment from Jimmy Kimmel in February where Short speaks about his memoir

Hitchhikers Improv

HitchhikersImprovLast spring, the University of Regina student newspaper The Carillon did a profile on this local improv group. They’ve already kicked off their 2015-16 season with two shows in September, but there’s still plenty of improv fun to come.

The performances are held at the Artesian, with doors at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for high school students.  

Your next chance to see the troupe is Tuesday Oct. 6, After that, there’s shows on Oct. 27; Nov. 17; Dec. 1; Dec. 15; Jan. 12; Jan. 26; Feb. 16; March 1; March 15; April 5; April 19; May 3; and the season will culminate with the Hitchhikers Improv Festival May 17-19.

Calendar Girls

Written by Tim Firth, this comedy is based on the true story of a group of Yorkshire women who in 1999 banded together to do a nudie calendar to raise money for cancer research.

The story was first told in the form of a 2003 British film starring Helen Mirren and Julie Walters, and the stage play was written later and debuted in London in 2008.

This production of Calendar Girls is presented by Regina Little Theatre. It will run at the Regina Performing Arts Centre Oct. 7-9 at 7:30 p.m., and on Oct. 10 at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m.

For more information visit the RLT website. And to give you a taste of what the story is like, here’s the trailer for the film

Goya: A Techno Opera

One of Goya's best known paintings The Third of May 1808 which was completed in 1814
One of Goya’s best known paintings The Third of May 1808 which was completed in 1814

Pablo Picasso is probably the most famous visual artist of Spanish descent. Salvador Dali, Diego Velazquez and Joan Miro are other well-known artists. But number two spot on the list, at least in my book, goes to Francisco Goya.

Born in 1746, Goya lived during a turbulent time in Spanish history that included plenty of court intrigue along with an invasion by France from 1808-14 which installed the “intruder king” Joseph I (who was the brother of Napoleon) on the Spanish throne. To top it off, Goya suffered a serious illness around 1792 which left him deaf.

The illness, along with the oppression Spain endured under French rule, had a profound effect on Goya as a man and an artist. Through the boldness of his artistic vision, and his deftness as a social critic, Goya (who died of a stroke in 1828) had a profound influence on later generations of artists, including his fellow Spaniard Picasso.

A local group of artists at the University of Regina has also found inspiration in Goya’s art. On Oct. 2-3, they will use a mix of classical opera, techno, hip hop, dance and video to bring to life five of his paintings.

You can find out more information on the U of R website. The performances are at the university’s Shumiatcher Theatre on Oct. 2-3 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 adults, $8 students/seniors, with U of R students free with ID.

The Sama Kutra

Sama KustraPromoThe Sama Kutra has been described as a cross between 50 Shades of Grey and Cirque de Soleil. It’s an adult-themed clown show, you see, and involves a long-married couple desperate to spice up their love lives who stumble across a mystical guide to romance.

The title, of course, is a play on the classic Indian sex and relationship manual The Kama Sutra which dates back to 400 BCE. And since the two performers (co-writers Jacqueline Russell and Jed Tomlinson) are in clown costumes as per the above publicity photo, you can imagine the comedic possibilities they are able to mine.

The Regina stop for this Calgary-based Fringe Act is being presented by Hectik Theatre. It runs at the Artesian from Sept. 29-Oct. 3 at 8 p.m. The first night is a pay-what-you-will preview performance, and tickets for the next four nights are $25. Find out more on the Artesian website.

Culture Days

If you happened to pick up a print copy of our Sept. 17 issue you would have found a multi-page insert outlining all the events that have been organized in Regina for Culture Days which runs from Friday Sept. 25 to Sunday Sept. 27.

Before the weekend even arrives there’s a book launch tonight for a new novel by Regina writer Dianne Warren at Slate Gallery at 7 p.m. The novel is titled Liberty Street, and it’s Warren’s first book since her 2010 novel Cool Water. That book was very well received, winning the 2010 Governor General’s Award for English language fiction and being long-listed for the 2010 Giller Prize. You can find out more about Liberty Street on the HarperCollins website. 

As for Culture Days, your best bet is to find a copy of the insert or visit the Culture Days website.If you do, you’ll find all manner of events from a cinq et sept social gathering for Regina’s cultural community at Creative City Centre on Friday to an Art Walk involving local galleries on Saturday to a Saturday street fair in north central Regina to an urban planning session called My Regina Is which is being held at Creative City Centre on Sunday afternoon.

Here’s a few more events that are happening in the next few days, but again it’s only a small sample of everything that will be going on.

Thursday 24

THE ESSENTIAL W.P. KINSELLA Canadian author reads from his new book of short stories. Central Library, 7 p.m.

Friday 25

WRITER IN RESIDENCE Until May, Iranian-Canadian author and academic Nilofar Shidmehr will be at Central Library to consult with established and aspiring writers. Today, there is a reading and welcoming reception from 7-9 p.m. Then on Oct. 25 Shidmehr will conduct a workshop on life writing from 1-4 p.m. Register at reginalibrary.ca.

THIRST YOUTH SLAM! Youth-focused spoken word with guest artist Dash Reimer. Creative City Centre, 7:30 p.m. Free. See creativecitycentre.ca.

Saturday 26

WORDS IN THE PARK With readings by Sharon Butala, Alex Cousins, Greg Simison and Coby Stephenson. Co-presented by Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild and Vertigo Series. City Square Plaza, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

BLAIR FORNWALD & BRETTE GABEL: RECIPE BOOK OF THE DEAD Three hour performance in which the artists explore their family history and domestic knowledge passed down from grandmothers to mothers to daughters. (Neutral Ground Gallery, 7-10 p.m.)

Sunday 27

CULTURAL GROOVES: CELEBRATING DIVERSITY IN STORIES & DANCE Readings, dance and food with contributions from Joanne Weber, Martine Noel-Maw, Tara Gereaux and Wambdi Dance. Central Library Theatre, 2-4 p.m. Register at reginalibrary.ca.

PRAIRIE PERFORMER SERIES with Brad Mahon (classical guitar) at Knox Met Church, 4 p.m. By donation. See cecilianconcertseries.ca.

Red Hot Riot

If you’ve checked out our Best of Regina nomination ballot you’ll perhaps have noticed we have a Best Regina Comedian category. With his duel gig as host of this comedy variety show and the Talkies series at Central Library Theatre where a cheesy movie of some description is screened and mercilessly mocked, Jayden Pfeifer is definitely a contender.

The final round of voting starts on Sept. 23, so you’ll have to wait until then to see if he made the cut. Meanwhile, Pfeifer kicks off the 2015-16 Red Hot Riot season with a show tonight at the Artesian. The musical guest is Danny Olliver, who played the Regina Folk Festival and also did a Market Under the Stars show in late August.

Also guesting is Joey Tremlay, a veteran playwright, director and theatre performer in Saskatchewan/Canada who was recently hired to head Curtain Razors Theatre Co. following Michele Sereda’s tragic death last February.

Curtain is 8 p.m., and tickets are $15. Find out more on the Artesian website. To close, here’s video of Olliver performing “Speak to You” as part of the Empty Room series at Creative City Centre.

The House of Chow Mein

HouseofChowMeinA few years ago, Coteau Books published a biography called Prairie Visionary by Alberta historian Donald Smith on Honore Jaxon — a Métis activist and archivist who was a colleague of Louis Riel during the 1885 Resistance, and later became involved in the labour movement in Chicago in the 1890s, and ultimately moved to New York where he built a fanciful fort in the Bronx and died in 1952.

Conceived by Edward Poitras in collaboration with New Dance Horizons and multiple artistic collaborators, The House of Chow Mein is inspired by Jaxon’s remarkable life and the role he played in preserving and celebrating Métis culture.

“I first learned about him through a famous photo I saw in the Globe & Mail around 2000 that showed him on the street in New York surrounded by all this archival material after he’d been evicted,” Poitras recalled in a recent interview at the NDH studio.

“In 2004, [current MacKenzie Gallery CEO] Anthony Kiendl commissioned me to do an installation for Database Imaginary at the Walter Philips Gallery in Banff. Jaxon’s dream was to create a library for First Nations people, so I made a piece called Shelf Life where I tried to imagine the material he might have had and might have lost.”

When Riel was tried for treason, Poitras says, Jaxon wasn’t allowed to testify. “He wanted to, and I think it was really unfortunate he wasn’t allowed to as it might have turned the trial in a different direction.”

When I spoke with Poitras he was still fleshing out the dance work’s structure. “It’s styled like a western. It begins in Batoche, and ends in New York City. There’s lots of text, including a poem by Tim Lilburn, along with live fiddle music, and we’ve been looking at jigging and tap and trying to incorporate them into a contemporary dance work.”

The title, says Poitras, is a play on “The House of Charlemagne” and a prophecy Riel made about Manitoba in 500 years. “Down the road, he said, Manitoba would be totally French Canadian speaking and would have 40 million souls. Manitoba is an indigenous word meaning ‘the great spirits crossing’, and it made me wonder if maybe he was referring to Manitoba in that sense as opposed to thinking of it as a province.”

Another source of inspiration for Poitras was a family photo of his great great grandfather. “It was taken between 1922-24, right after Duncan Campbell Scott with Indian Affairs had issued a document prohibiting First Nations people from doing their dances at powwows and attending  ceremonies like the potlach. It was a very difficult time for everyone.”

“The community has been really generous through crowd-sourcing to get the first draft out there and get it documented,” said NDH artistic director Robin Poitras. “It’s a long process, as there’s plenty of layers with solos, duets and group pieces. Once this is done, we hope to get some funds to develop it further and be able to tour it. That would be fantastic.”

The House of Chow Mein will be staged as part of Performing Turtle Island which runs Sept. 17- 19 at the University of Regina and First Nations University. Most festival events are free, but there’s an admission charge for Chow Mein to further the work’s development. The company’s been rehearsing at University Theatre for a few days now, and the performance is Saturday, Sept. 19 at 8 p.m. Tickets are Adult $30, Student & Senior $25, 13 and under $15. Find out more on the NDH website.

All Shook Up

The Globe Theatre kicks off its 50th anniversary season on Wednesday with this musical featuring the music of Elvis Presley.

Set in 1955, the musical (which debuted on Broadway in 2005) blends elements of Dirty Dancing, Footloose, Rebel Without a Cause and more to tell the story of a motorcycle-riding rebel who arrives in a small mid-western town and proceeds to shake up the conservative townsfolk.

All Shook Up runs on the Globe Theatre’s main stage Sept. 16-Oct. 11. Check the Globe’s website for ticket info. And here’s video from 1968 of Elvis performing “All Shook Up”

Raise The Dead III

Grand TheatreIf you feel like making a road trip on Saturday there’s a fundraiser being held in Indian Head for the historic Grand Theatre. If you check out the link you’ll see that the theatre was built in 1904, and over the decades it’s served as a venue for movie screenings, concerts and dances.

The Grand Theatre was purchased by the community in 2014, and Raise the Dead III is being held to raise funds for its ongoing operation under Indian Head Theatre & Community Arts. According to that group, the Grand Theatre is one of the oldest continuously operating venues of its type in Canada.

The event kicks off with a Zombie Walk at 7:30 p.m., followed by a concert featuring Johnny Two Fingers & the Deformities (Moose Jaw) and three hard-rocking Regina bands Newera, Mother Night and League of One.

Tickets are $20 advance and $25 at the door, with proceeds going to support the theatre.

Performing Turtle Island

Turtle IslandThe term “Turtle Island” has its origins in Iroquois oral history as a creation myth related to how land emerged from water when Sky Woman fell to Earth. Since the 1970s it’s kind of become a pan-indigenous term for North America and the championing of formerly marginalized indigenous histories and cultures.

From Sept. 17-19, the University of Regina and First Nations University of Canada are hosting a national conference called Performing Turtle Island that will focus on indigenous theatre and performance art and the connection those disciplines have with First Nations identity, sense of community and overall well-being.

If you visit the Performing Turtle Island website, you’ll see that the three-day event includes all sorts of symposiums, performances, readings, art installations and film screenings. Participating will be a number of well-known First Nations artists, writers, academics, filmmakers and more.

There’s events running from morning into early evening, with most of the action concentrated at the two universities in southeast Regina. But a variety of community partners are also involved, so overall it’s a pretty big undertaking.

Live Cinema Season

When I was in high school, it was common practice to take one Shakespeare play each year as part of English class. I don’t think Julius Caesar was the play typically taught in grade 10, but my English teacher decided to shake things up that year, so that’s the one we studied.

It was written in 1599, and was drawn from Roman history, with the title character being a successful general who expanded the reach of the republic to what is now France and German in the Gallic Wars (c. 51 B.C.E.). Following his return, he triumphed in a civil war and ruled Rome as a dictator until his assassination in 44 B.C.E.

This afternoon at Central Library Theatre there’s a broadcast of Julius Caesar as part of the Globe on Screen series from London. Curtain is at 2 p.m., and tickets are Adults $15, Seniors $12, Students $10.

Here’s a behind the scenes look at the production