Pick Of The Day (Tomorrow Edition): 50 Shades! The Musical

A movie is apparently in the works inspired by the Fifty Shades of Grey erotic trilogy penned by E. L. James that has captured the imagination of a certain segment of the population. Sam Taylor-Wood has signed on to direct, but there’s no word yet on who will play the principle characters Christian and Ana who indulge in torrid S&M-tinged romantic shenanigans.

The film will presumably be faithful to the original spirit of the trilogy. 50 Shades! The Musical, though, functions more as a parody of the novels and the risque female-centred sexual fantasies that drive the narrative.

The musical runs Sunday at Conexus Arts Centre with the first whip being cracked, or handcuffs applied, or plastic ball-gag attached, or whatever, at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $41.50 to $61.50.

To close, here’s a little mini-trailer/advert to give you a taste:

Pick Of The Day: Ridergirl

If you check out the YouTube interview below you’ll learn that this one woman play written and performed by Ottawa-based, Saskatchewan-born Colleen Sutton debuted at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival.

Considering that Sutton first performed the play in Regina last Labour Day weekend, and has returned this year for another engagement, that’s appropriate since the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are always in town on that weekend to take on the Riders in the Labour Day Classic.

During this run Sutton will be giving three performances at Artesian on 13th from Aug. 29-31. The show each night is at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $25 advance. and $30 door.

Pick Of The Day (Tomorrow Edition): Midsummer Arts Festival

Fort Qu'Appelle 2007A road trip will be required to attend this festival. But it’s in Fort Qu’Appelle, so it shouldn’t be too hard to reach. You can find out more details here, but what it involves is a mix of music and visual/performing arts, along with children’s activities and a farmers’ market. Things get going at 10 a.m. on Saturday and run until 4 p.m. Proceeds that are raised go to support scholarships for local students interested in developing their artistic talents.

Admission is $2 and more info can be obtained from the above-linked website or by calling 306-331-0550.

Double Dose Of Theatre

jennifer haywardHere’s a heads up on two theatre events that are happening in Regina on July 30.

The first involves Lorax Improv — a Vancouver-based company that’s in town at the invitation of their fellow Regina-based improvisers the General Fools. The show’s at the Artesian on 13th at 8 p.m., and tickets are $5. Sharing the bill will be a second Regina-based improv group called Combat Improv.

That same night, Saskatoon-born, Ottawa-based performer Jennifer Hayward (pictured) is presenting her one-woman show Jesus Even Loves A Crazy Horny Feminist at the Exchange (8 p.m., tickets $10 advance and $15 door). According to the Exchange website the play is a funny/touching story that explores the themes of spirituality, mental health, feminism and sex.

Spirits of the Trail

SittingBull

No pick of the day today. Instead, here’s a heads up about a touring theatre production that’s happening in Regina on Sunday.

Presented by Burning Sun Theatre, Spirits of the Trail recounts an historic encounter between Lakota Sioux Chief Sitting Bull (pictured) and NWMP inspector James Walsh in 1881. You can learn more about the production, which is based on a larger work by playwright Ken Mitchell called The Medicine Line,  here.

Spirits of the Trail has been performed at several locations in the province throughout the month of July, and one last production is scheduled for the RCMP Heritage Centre on July 28 at 2 p.m.

Pick Of The Day: The Trial Of Louis Riel

Louis RielBilled as the longest-running theatrical production in North America, this play is in its 47th year. It’s  based on court transcripts from the 1885 trial of Metis leader Louis Riel (pictured) who was tried for treason following the short-lived North-West Rebellion/Resistance.

To find out more about the devastating conditions that First Nations and Metis people were living under at the time, here’s a link to an interview I did in the June 13 issue of Prairie Dog with University of Regina assistant kinesiology professor James Daschuk about his recent book Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life (University of Regina Press)

The Trial of Louis Riel runs at the McKenzie Art Gallery, July 18-19, July 24-26 and July 31-Aug. 2 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are Adults $15, Seniors & Students $12 and $10 Youth (12 and under). For more information call 306-728-5728.

Pick Of The Day (Tomorrow Edition): Combat Improv

Combat ImprovDuring summer, a lot of performing arts type groups that host events indoors from fall through spring take a break to allow everyone to recharge their batteries and take advantage of whatever warm weather comes our way.

Combat Improv, which features an assortment of local improv artists, is no exception. On May 15-16 the group is hosting its double deluxe Season Finale at Artesian on 13th. Doors open at 7 p.m. both nights, and the first performers will hit the stage at 8 p.m. Tickets are $5.

Kafka’s Monkey at Artesian: Simian Vaudevillian Really Makes You Think.

Kafka's Monkey

On this weekend at Artesian is Golden Apple Theatre’s production of Kafka’s Monkey – adapted by Colin Teevan from Franz Kafka’s A Report To An Academy. This is the Canadian premiere of the play, following a successful run in New York this past spring, and its world premiere at the Young Vic in London in 2009 – and it’s well worth checking out.

A chimpanzee is shot, captured, and brought to Weimar-era Germany by ship. Over time, he realizes, in order to survive, he has to depart from his ape persona, and somehow become human. After a rough introduction to alcohol, he very quickly develops the human characteristic of speech and proceeds to enchant and amaze European audiences under his new vaudevillian persona – Red Peter (so named for the red mark on his cheek from when he was shot).

And he’s a hit! He dances, he sings, and he gamely climbs an on-stage apparatus, all the while wearing a tailored little suit and bowler hat. When we meet Red Peter, it is to hear his titular report to an academy – and, in this case, we are the academy, as audience members are given white lab coats to wear upon entry to the theatre. The relationship is set up early: We might be in control in the bigger sense, but for the next hour, we’re here to listen to an animal who no longer identifies as an animal, and to, ostensibly, hear his perspective on his life “as a former ape.” But it quickly becomes very clear that what he really is is a creature tragically caught between two worlds with, as he reminds us, “no way out.”

Jodi Sadowsky gives a nuanced and very observant performance as Red Peter – not to mention an energetic one. It’s a physically demanding role. Not only because of the marathon-like nature of the text (she’s the only one on stage for the duration of this one-act play), but for the way she channels the character. Sadowsky’s performance is imbued with the physicality of Red Peter’s former ape self, occasionally reverting to full-ape mode at key moments. It’s a tic he’ll never rid himself of, but Sadowsky’s movements are also a take on the ingratiating way of the vaudevillian stage performer – a plaintive appeal to draw Red Peter’s audience in – and the combination of these two traits works well. It’s a crucial aspect of the performance that was arrived at after long hours of work with local dancer and movement coach Chancz Perry.

“I started working out a few months before, but I didn’t realize how physical it was going to be,” Sadowsky says. “I watched a lot of ape videos – that was a big thing for me before we got to rehearsals. But when we got to rehearsals, Chancz and Ryland, we really worked together to find out ‘What is the walk? How do you hold yourself? You were an ape, but now you’re a man.’”

Red Peter oscillates between regaling the audience of his dangerous passage from the other continent (and transformation to an semi-upright “human”) and compulsively climbing his little wooden jungle gym, bringing home the point that he’ll sadly never be comfortable in either environment. Sadowsky’s interpretation of the text hones in on the simultaneous admiration and resentment Peter has for his former captors – now his friends.

This split affinity also raises questions around how much our personas in general are performances, and what is given up through the process of assimilation. When Kafka wrote the story, it first appeared in Der Jude, and was interpreted by some as a satirization of the cultural assimilation of Jews in a time of rampant anti-Semitism. Director Ryland Alexander points out that the themes of alienation are still very relevant.

“Comparing what the world was like then and now, I think we’ve come a long way, but at the same time it still goes on,” he says. “We aren’t as accepting of people’s ideas, philosophies and ideologies, and we’re very quick to judge. So, what happens when we don’t embrace, and we force our ideals upon others? And I think some of the despair that comes out in the character is really what you see in society when people don’t have a way out.”

“We talked about how Red Peter just goes from one cage to another,” Sadowsky adds.

On a personal level, both Sadowsky and Alexander say they can identify with the feeling of being caught between two worlds.

“I moved back into the province about a year and a half ago,” he says. “And things have dramatically changed in the cultural landscape of the province. So, I’ve had to take stock.”

He says the play also taps into the push-pull between following one’s life’s work as an artist and having to balance that with the ability to support oneself. “That pull of ‘what is your ape?’ What is it that makes you feel alienated from society as a whole, from not giving culture its just cause?”

“One of the things I like about the metaphor is that anyone can figure that out,” Alexander says. “What they take away from this play, hopefully, is ‘What do I do to survive? And how do I feel about that?’”

In the end, we’re all just little monkeys trying to figure that out.

Kafka’s Monkey continues at Artesian until Sunday May 12.
2627 13th Ave.
Show starts at 8pm.
Tickets are available at Cobb Swanson Music, Bach and Beyond and through Golden Apple’s website.

(photo: Darrol Hoffmeister, Sharpshooter Photography)

Pick Of The Day (Bonus Edition): Kafka’s Monkey

This theatrical adaptation by Colin Teevan is based on a short-story that Franz Kafka published in 1917 called A Report to the Academy. In it, an African ape named Red Peter recounts before a scientific conference his capture by a hunting party and subsequent voyage by boat to Europe. Caged along the way, he was denied the opportunity to do what he normally did in the jungle so he began to watch and imitate what the crew was doing. With surprising ease he was able to progress along the primate >>> human continuum until he reached an advanced state of development.

Kafka’s Monkey received its world premiere in London in 2009. May 8-12 it receives its Canadian premiere in a production Golden Apple Theatre is presenting at the Artesian. The show stars Jodi Sadowsky and and is directed by Ryland Alexander. It goes at 8 p.m. every night and tickets are $35 for adults and $25 for students. Find out more here.

Pick Of The Day: Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

This adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous drama by Jeff Hatcher is being presented by Regina Little Theatre. It goes at the Regina Performing Arts Centre April 17-18 at 7:30 p.m., and April 19-20 at 8 p.m. Tickets are Adults $19 and Students & Seniors $17, and can be obtained by calling 779-2277.

To close, here’s the trailer for a 1941 Hollywood version of the story that starred Spencer Tracy and Ingrid Bergman:

Pick Of The Day: I, Claudia

The title of this one woman play by Kristen Thomson riffs on a novel by Robert Graves called I, Claudius that examines the life and times of the Roman emperor Claudius (10 BCE-54 AD). The central character in Thomson’s play isn’t an empress, instead she’s a pre-teen girl who is struggling to cope with her parents’ divorce.

Lucy Hill has the starring role in this Globe Theatre production which runs on the main stage until April 28. You can find out more here.

Pick Of The Day: O.C. Dean

Written and performed by Daniel Maslany, the younger brother of rising star actress Tatiana Maslany, this drama depicts a young man struggling to cope with Obsessive Compulsive disorder that causes him to shun contact with the outside world and exist in his own carefully constructed world.

O.C. Dean is being presented by the Globe Theatre as part of its Shumiatcher Sandbox Series. Run dates are April 11-20. More information can be obtained from the Globe website or by calling 306-525-6400.

Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

In late February Do It With Class Young People’s Theatre presented The Little Prince.  Now, a week or so after Easter, they’re back with their interpretation of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s award-winning Biblical musical about Joseph and his coat of many colours. As recounted in Genesis, Joseph was the son of the Hebrew patriarch Jacob and his wife Rachel. He was sold into slavery by his jealous step-brothers and ended up being head poobah of Egypt or something.

Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat  goes April 10-12 at 7:30 p.m. at the Shumiatcher Room at Conexus Arts Centre.  Tickets range from $10.75-$29.50 and can be obtained by calling 525-9999.

To give you a taste, here’s video from 2011 of some high school students performing “Song of the King” from the show:

Boob Tube

Incisive documentary dissecting the pernicious effect that TV has on dumbing down human discourse and impacting negatively on the physical and mental health of those who consume it excessively? Or a cabaret performance by the Bottoms Up Burlesque Club that features routines inspired by hit musicals and TV shows?

To find out, show up at Artesian on 13th on April 6 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 advance and $20 door.

I intended to finish off this post with a Boob-themed video, by the way, but when I went to YouTube and searched “Boobs” I got 1.6 million hits and by the time I plowed through them all to find out which one was best like Steve typically does with his Friday afternoon pet videos I was out of time. So sorry about that.

Pick of the Day: Codice Remix

codiceThis is a co-production of Curtain Razors and Sakewewak Artists’ Collective that’s being held at the MacKenzie Gallery as part of MagDance 2. Below is a synopsis lifted from Curtain Razors’ website

Working with the thread “one world in which many worlds fit”, San Salvadoran multidisciplinary artist Danilo Villalta who resides in El Salvador and theatre/performance artist Michele Sereda based in Regina have created a performance inspired by the traditional pictorial history of the Aztec and Maya people of Central America.

Codice Remix is being presented at the MacKenzie today at 1:30 p.m., and March 15-16 at 7:30 p.m. Before Friday night’s performance there’s a pre-show chat at 7:15 p.m. Tickets are Adults $25, Students & Seniors $20, Thursday Matinee $15 and can be obtained by calling 525-5393.

The Birds

I don’t know if the ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes was the George Orwell of his day, but this comedy does evoke thoughts of one of Orwell’s masterworks Animal Farm. He penned it in 1945 as an allegory for the pervsion of socialist ideals occurring in the Soviet Union with the emergence of Joseph Stalin as a brutal dictator. In the book, barnyard animals come together to overthrow their oppressor (a farmer named Mr. Jones, who represents the capitalist class) and establish their own worker-run paradise. But things don’t exactly go according to plan.

The Birds is set in Athens. It was first performed in 414 B.C.E., and recounts a plan by the world’s birds to build a city in the sky so that they might enjoy a closer relationship with the gods than humans. This production is being mounted by the University of Regina Theatre Department and features a cast of 28. It’s also received a bit of a reworking by First Nations playwright Yvette Nolan to heighten its relevance to contemporary society. The Birds runs at Riddell Centre March 13-16 at 7:30 p.m. For ticket information call 585-5562.

Pick Of The Day (Tomorrow Edition): The Little Prince

Written by French author Antoine de Saint-Exupery in 1943, The Little Prince is apparently the most read and translated book in the French Language. An aviator himself, Saint-Exupery drew on his experience in writing the tale, which sees a pilot stranded in the desert encounter a prince who has fallen to Earth from an asteroid. Ostensibly a children’s book, The Little Prince  does offers some reasonably sophisticated insights on the nature of human existence. 

Feb. 26-28 at 7:30 p.m. Do It With Class Young People’s Theatre will be presenting their interpretation of Saint-Exupery’s whimsical tale at Shumiatcher Hall at Conexus Arts Centre. Tickets range between $10.75-$29.50 and can be obtained by calling 525-9999.

To close, here’s a video for a pop-up version of the novella that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt published awhile back:

Blue Box

No pick of the day, instead here’s a heads up about a play called Blue Box  that will be running at Globe Theatre as part of its Sandbox Series Feb. 26-March 3. It’s a drama written and performed by Carmen Aguirre (pictured), and tells the story of a woman’s involvement in the Chilean underground in the 1980s, along with a later affair that the woman had with Chicano actor in Los Angeles. For ticket info call the Globe at 525-6400.

Aguirre currently lives in Vancouver. While she’s in Regina she’ll be participating in two other events. Feb. 27, she’ll be at the RPL Theatre at 6:30 p.m. to  introduce a screening of Quinceanera­ — a 2006 drama about Latin America rituals surrounding a girl’s 15th birthday. Then on Feb. 28 she’ll read from her book Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter at the RPL Theatre from 5-6:30 p.m. You can register for that event by calling 777-6120.

Jon Sasaki: Good Intentions

I did have a pick of the day scheduled for today, but then the event ended up being cancelled, so I’ll mention instead an opening reception that the Dunlop Art Gallery is hosting on Friday, Feb. 1 for the exhibition Good Intentions by Toronto artist Jon Sasaki. If you drop by Neutral Ground from time to time you might remember a show called Cabin Fever  that was held there in December 2011. It explored the psychology of boredom and involved artists doing different things that, on the surface, seemed repetitive and inconsequential. But really, their actions weren’t any more mundane than a lot of things we do in broader society to while away the time like endlessly watching TV or playing video games.

Jon Sasaki was one of the artists in that show. In this solo exhibition we have an opportunity to see more of his work, which typically deals with notions of futility, determination, frustration and pathos. Following the Feb. 1 opening, Good Intentions  will be on at the Dunlop Gallery until March 31. To give you a bit of insight into his work, here’s a short TV interview that Sasaki did when he had a show in Lethbridge last year.

Way Off Broadway Cabaret

When it comes to Broadway and the musicals that play there, we’re probably most familiar with the big-budget high profile ones like Lion King and Cats. But lesser known musicals play there too.

Jan. 18-19 at Creative City Centre a group of local musical theatre artists, some with experience performing in New York, are presenting a cabaret showcasing songs from works like Spring Awakening (a rock musical set in late 19th century Germany that explores the challenges faced by teenagers when they came of age sexually back then) and Avenue Q (an autobiographical tale about the angst of youth raised in supportive “Sesame Street” type environments confronting the realities of adulthood where suddenly they’re no longer so special).

The shows both nights are at 8 p.m., and tickets are $10. For more information on Way Off Broadway visit here. And to whet your appetite here’s a performance from the Broadway cast of Spring Awakening at the 2007 Tony Awards: