Ottawa cuts funding to Festivals – Take ACTION Now, It Can Work!

Take ACTION Now! Stop the Cuts!

Take ACTION Now! Stop the Cuts!

Dahlya Smolash, Host of Kaleidoscope on CHUO 89.1 FM in Ottawa, passed along the following notice to CHUO volunteers:

The City of Ottawa proposes to cut 100% of funding to arts festivals in Ottawa. This will adversely effect such festivals as the Writer’s Festival, Jazz Festival, Ladyfest, and many others. Similar cuts were proposed in 2004, and were stopped by a campaign called “My Ottawa Includes Culture.” The only thing that will stop these draconian cuts is a huge public outcry to city hall.

Here is a link that will allow you to give direct feedback to the City of Ottawa about the proposed 100% cuts to festival funding. All you have to do is click, add your name, and send the form. Please pass it around.
City of Ottawa Feedback Form

Here is a link to a sample letter about the cuts, with links to city councilors. Please send emails to city councilors, and pass on the link to anyone who might wish to take action.
Link on Jessica Ruano’s Blog

“There is an opportunity to speak at City Hall (instructions attached) on Dec. 2 or 3 if you want to be part of a public delegation. To book a time, you have only to phone and make arrangements.

But the most important thing is to send letters into City Hall. Please send this message to anyone you think would act on this information. Since the budget vote will take place very soon (Dec 4 or 5), we haven’t got a moment to lose!”

Other Coverage:


Links about 2004 “My Ottawa Includes Culture Campaign” and post reactions (several sources removed due to content apparently no longer available)

(Post and links updated November 2013)

Ottawa Theatre Review: I, Claudia

Well, a little late on this review. My apologies up-front to those concerned. The change in the weather can sometimes get to a person, and that was the case with me. Fortunately, this is a long-enough run for you to still get out there and see this show. And if you haven’t gone to see the Great Canadian Theatre Company in their new home in the Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre, you should. It’s a wonderful space for the GCTC, and a huge congratulations to them and ther supporters for all of their fundraising efforts to secure the theatre. And now, without further ado . . .

“I, Claudia” by Kristen Thomson
Produced by Crow’s Theatre
Directed by Chris Abraham
Starring Liisa Repo-Martell

Like many of my friends and family, I am a child of divorce. In my case, I was about five, and my parents lived on opposite ends of the country. I lived with my mom, and never heard from my dad. And until my teenage years when my mom re-married, I never really had a father figure in my life at all. That kind of background stays with you for the rest of your life. And it affects so many of us. But how often do you see this explored in the arts? How often do we really talk about the effect of divorce?

“I, Claudia” takes a look at divorce through the eyes of a young girl (twelve and three-quarters). Through the use of masks, she is joined by a few other characters in her life who provide insight and tell a different side to Claudia’s story. And even though her’s was a different path than mine, I found many truths in this play. I thought it was well done for the most part, and I do recommend it.

I must admit to finding the ending a little difficult to follow, but that may have been due to the effects of the fog machine that seemed to run for the entire show and the use of the strobe light. I appreciated the mood that both of these created, but as an audience member, for me it just went a little too far. I certainly don’t think that should stop anyone from seeing this wonderful production, but maybe just be a little warned.

Overall, I think this is a strong start to what looks like will be an interesting season for the GCTC. Entitled “Stages”, the six plays for 2008-2009 are set to explore six stages of life. There will also be art showcased at the theatre to reflect the theme or nature of each stage. You can find out more information at the GCTC website:

“I, Claudia” runs between now and September 28.
Regular GCTC performance times: Tuesdays-Fridays 8pm, Saturdays 4pm & 8:30pm, Sundays 2pm
Great Canadian Theatre Company
Irving greenberg Theatre
1233 Wellington Street West (at Holland Avenue)
University of Ottawa Theatre Building
Tickets – prices vary, so check out the website.

Ottawa Theatre Review: Playing Bare

One of the many great things about being a volunteer at a local community station is the opportunity to see local events and meet the people behind the scenes. Last night was no exception. I got to see a great show, record an interview with its cast and director, and go play in the production studio this morning before heading off to work.

Playing Bare by Dominic Champagne
As translated by Shelley Tepperman
Produced by Evolution Theatre
Directed by Christopher Bedford
Starring Lawrence Aronovitch, William Beddoe, Jerome Bourgault, Fletcher Gailey-Snell, Kel Parsons, Chantale Plante

I’m always up for a look at reality, our existence, and the human condition. I think is is something many of us seriously think about at some point. No matter how you slice it, we all come into this world, we’re here for a time, and then we move on. How we choose to live our life is up to us (extenuating circumstances of environment and opportunity notwithstanding).

This play is an interesting mix of approaches to the journey, but one central path is one of waiting. Waiting for what? For opening night? For a spiritual sign to explain the meaning of our existence? For someone’s next thought? For direction? I don’t know if you’ll find your answers in Playing Bare, but I thouroughly enjoyed this particular passing of time. I got quite caught up in the lives of these characters – the comedy of their meetings, the tragedy of their pasts and presents, their moments of inspiration, the quirkiness of their souls. I was left inspired and thinking about my own soul and how I’m living my own journey.

From cast to director to lights and sound, even to the shoes on their feet, this is a show that does not disappoint. So be sure to check it out between now and September 13:

Sept. 3-6 and Sept. 10-13 at 8 PM
Sept. 6 & 13 Saturday matinées at 4 PM (Sept. 6 is pay-what-you-can)
Academic Hall, 133 Séraphin-Marion
University of Ottawa Theatre Building
Tickets – $15 adults, $10 students/seniors. Reserve tickets at 613-864-3386 or reservations [at] evolutiontheatre [dot] ca

More information at

(Links updated November 2013)

Ottawa Fringe Reviews: Fiery the Stories Fell

Reviews: Inferno Sonata, The Tricky Part, The Wedding Night

(The title of this blog post is a nod to a quote in Blade Runner, which I dreamt about last night — “Fiery the angels fell; deep thunder rolled around their shores; burning with the fires of Orc.”)

An interesting last day to my Fringe experience. I had intended on checking out a couple of other plays, but due to some other commitments, I didn’t make it. Luckily I made it to 3 shows, involving dinner with a new Fringe friend and hanging out with an old friend. One thing I remarked on to my old friend was how awesome it was to look back over the week and realize that this Fringe helped be chip away a bit at my outer shell. I realized that for the most part, I attended the Fringe by myself, and ended up talking to other Fringe attendees. This is not normal for me, as I have a tendency to not go out unless I have someone to hang out with. Starting this blog was also something the Fringe brought out in me. I didn’t want to go to all of these plays without the chance to reflect on how they affected me and what I thought about. One of the things that TJ Dawe mentioned in his play “Totem Figures” was about how some people read books and forget so much after they’ve finished. Even with favourite books that have had a major impact, people seem to only remember key people and important events. Some of these plays had a great impact, and I’m glad I took the opportunity to write these things down. And thanks to you for reading! It is a strange experience to know that other people are reading what I’ve written.

Inferno Sonata by Scott Sharplin (August Assembly, Edmonton): I thought this was a clever show. I must admit that I didn’t get some of the references as there is just a lot I haven’t read, and it has been ages since I read Faust, but I still enjoyed the writing in this show. It was pretty frenzied, much like the main character. Speaking of which, this was one of the few non-autobiographical shows that didn’t incorporate multiple characters, which added to the diversity of my Fringe experience. Great use of props and stage, as well as sound and lights. This was a show I was waiting to see all week, as it brings me back to some original theatre experiences I had in university. I enjoyed escaping into this world of alchemy for the afternoon.

The Tricky Part by Martin Moran (Hearts & Eyes Theatre Collective, Cape Town, South Africa): While dark at times, I found this to be an uplifting story, and one that was told quite well. As human beings, I think one of the hardest things we have to do is to forgive and move forward. I thought this play was quite brave in being open, honest, and so detailed with the telling of one man’s story in coming to terms with what happened to him. Peter Hayes delivers an intense performance, giving himself over to his character, Martin Moran, resulting in a heart-wrenching and beautiful play.

The Wedding Night by Nadine Thornhill (Silent “Quemb” Productions, Ottawa): This was a play full of wit. There was some really great writing in there, often quite funny. For the most part, the characters were strong and developed. I was just left hanging a bit on the story lines of two of the characters though, and was waiting to see what would happen to them. But it is easy to see why this show was voted best in venue. It was nice to wrap-up my Fringe experience with laughter and good friends.

Ottawa Fringe Reviews: Rock Rhythm Pictures, in Oil

Reviews: Busta Rhymes with MC Hot Pink, Boat Load, The Girl in the Picture Tries to Hang Up the Phone, Die Roten Punkte – Super Musikant, Telegrams from the New Canadian Cinema, Crude Love

A long post today, but it reflects two days of shows. Partly due to tiredness Friday night, but also because the last show I saw that night was so powerful. I just continue to be amazed.

Busta Rhymes with MC Hot Pink by Penny Ashton (Penny Ashton, Auckland, New Zealand): First off, I’ll get this out of the way, I’m not one for watching stand-up style comedy. I’m not sure why. So, like Transcendental Masturbation, it was a little disappointing for me personally just because I was just looking for something a little different. With that said, once again, I’m so impressed by the ability of the actors of both of these shows to push the limits and get people out of their comfort zone. Is this a goal for many comedians? Maybe that’s why stand-up comedy doesn’t click for me like it does for other people. But with that said, this show was very fun and funny. And creative. I thought the poetry was quite clever for the most part, and I really enjoyed Ashton’s songs (I’d love to hear her sing jazz!). She has a powerful stage presence and took us all along with her for the ride. And a nod to people who get up and volunteer for those audience participation moments. I kind of always want to, but never do.

Boat Load by Jayson McDonald (Stars and Hearts, Ottawa): A fantastic show. Vibrant characters, well-paced, and excellent staging made for a great story about aspirations and choices we make. This is one of the first shows I’ve seen that really made me feel like I was there with the actor walking around the town, in a friend’s apartment, on the doorstep to his basement apartment . . . it really felt like Jayson McDonald was taking the audience by the hand and bringing us up on stage with him.

The Girl in the Picture Tries to Hang Up the Phone by Hume Baugh (Optic Heart Theatre/Threshold, Toronto): This show blew me away on many levels, I’m not even sure where to begin. Hume Baugh is an excellent storyteller. Listening to him describing his mother at different points in her life — I felt like I knew her. And how amazing is it that Baugh would pay tribute to his mother in this way, painting her as she was.

I was so captivated by this play that I didn’t start thinking about it until the walk home. I couldn’t help but think of my own family relationships. I thought a lot about my grandmother, actually. My grandmother was nothing like the mother portrayed in this story, but her passing affected me to a similar degree, I think. She herself had been quite vibrant until shortly after my grandfather died. As her health started to go a bit, she took to saying, “It’s a great life, until you weaken.” It was another five years after that that she really started to get worse, and eventually landed in the hospital, going in for weeks at a time. Well, I was with her when she died. She had been in the hospital for about a week. I sat with her every day, holding her hand. She seemed to be in quite a bit of pain, so I would mentally send the same thought to her, “give me all your pain,” and then I would think of different images in my mind that I thought she would like, in case she really could sense what I was thinking — her lilac bush, her house that she loved, my grandfather and I snowmobiling and fishing. On her last night, I had already gone home, after visiting hours. I was sitting on the bed looking in the mirror, looking through myself. I started to see the faces of everyone in family — my mother and father, aunts and uncles, my grandfather, and finally, my grandmother. It was like my face was morphing into all of their faces. When I saw my grandmother, something in me told me that I had to go back to the hospital. This was at around 11pm. The nurses let me sit with her all night. I fell asleep in the chair in the corner at about 4am, and she died at about 5:30. I’m so happy to have that story, and I am happy to have remembered it last night, thanks to this play.

This story is wonderful to see, and I highly recommend it to anyone who still has not seen it. You’ll find something in there for you that will stay with you for quite some time.

Die Roten Punkte – Super Musikant (Super Musician) by Otto and Astrid Rot (Tobias & Bartholomew, Berlin): Wow! This show is as awesome as everyone else has said it is! Everything from writing, directing, lights and sound, wardrobe and make-up, to acting and performing, this is a fantastic production. I felt like I was in good hands the minute they stepped on stage. With two standing ovations in one performance to boot, you should not miss this show!

Telegrams from the New Canadian Cinema by North Country Cinema (North Country Cinema, Ottawa): I can’t say this really spoke to me, unfortunately. For sure, the production of the films was top-notch, and I enjoyed the characters in each of the short films, but I got lost with the story and purpose of each film. I felt like I was out of my element, that maybe the films were just too artsy for me. I just felt like the symbolism and plot lines were over my head. I was also lost with the live-acted scenes between each film. But if you like these kinds of abstract themes and images, I’m sure you wouldn’t be disappointed.

Crude Love by Russell Bennett and Gillian Bennett (Big Smoke Productions, Vancouver): I enjoyed this production. The chemistry between the two actors was quite obvious and made for a great theatre-watching experience. I liked how it had a message to tell about the Alberta Tar Sands but instead of preaching it, this play wove the message through the lives of two very different characters. This is something I hope we see more of in society, to be honest, as I think it makes this crucial message more down-to-earth and real for people, so they can touch it, feel it, and maybe even do something about it.