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undercurrents festival: Marathon delivers less than it promises

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Merav Dagan, Ilya Domonov and Gal Shamai in Marathon. Photo by Doron Oved.Merav Dagan, Ilya Domonov and Gal Shamai in Marathon. Photo by Doron Oved.

As the undercurrents staff lets the audience into the Studio outside Arts Court Theatre, Marathon is already in progress. The audience seats itself around three runners who are circling the space. On the floor is a marker for the finish line of a marathon: 42.2 kilometres. But this is not merely a run, an athletic event. In this dance/theatre piece, the performers intersperse disparate icons of Israeli life: Hora, the celebratory folk dance; Hassidic prayer; shunning of shiksas (non-Jewish women); grenade attacks; Kibbutz communes; national service (“follow me”, “hold the... | Continue reading article

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undercurrents festival: Feckin’ Pirates is a boatload of fun

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Much Ado about Feckin' Pirates
featuring Margo MacDonald and Richard Gélinas. Photo by Pascal Huot.Much Ado about Feckin' Pirates featuring Margo MacDonald and Richard Gélinas. Photo by Pascal Huot.

If conflict be an essential element in good storytelling, then here be some fine stories indeed. Much Ado About Feckin’ Pirates, the mounting of the improv piece by Richard Gélinas  and Margo MacDonald and directed by Al Connors, is as much a workshop in storytelling as it is a funny, absurd hour of improv theatre. The basic structure of the show is fairly straightforward: two bickering pirates have been banished by their captain to the crow’s nest and they have to stay there until they can learn to get along.... | Continue reading article

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Vagina Monologues – Februray 20 & 21 at Bronson Centre

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Photo courtesy of VDay Ottawa 2015.Photo courtesy of VDay Ottawa 2015.

“A muff?” says Emily Olding, when I ask her, on the coldest day of the year, what her vagina would wear if it could dress up. Emily is the co-director, with Di Golding, of VDAY Ottawa’s 2015 production of the Vagina Monologues. I am feeling winter’s dreary grip when I meet with Emily and producer Sandi Stoliar, but leave completely energized by both women’s infectious humour and passion. The Vagina Monologues is a play that tackles a somewhat delicate topic (no pun intended) in a way that is touching, funny,... | Continue reading article

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The darkly funny Marion Bridge is on at The Gladstone

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From left: Cindy Beaton (Louise), Shawna Pasini (Theresa), Robin Guy (Agnes). Photo by Jennifer Scrivens, Resonate Photography.From left: Cindy Beaton (Louise), Shawna Pasini (Theresa), Robin Guy (Agnes). Photo by Jennifer Scrivens, Resonate Photography.

130 minutes (including one intermission) / Drama | Parental Guidance The striking first impression of this production is how good the casting is. Robin Guy, Shawna Pasini and Cindy Beaton are immediately believable as sisters Agnes, Theresa and Louise. The MacKeigan sisters (hard-drinking actress Agnes, teetotaling nun Theresa and television-addicted, unemployed Louise) are gathered in their maternal home to prepare for their mother’s impending death from lung cancer. While the three sisters shared a common nurture, nature has given them dramatically different personalities. Their differences, with each other and with... | Continue reading article

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Hub and Spoke connects the Ottawa arts community

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Photo courtesy of Justin Van Leeuwen from the Apartment613 Flickr PoolPhoto courtesy of Justin Van Leeuwen from the Apartment613 Flickr Pool

Hub Ottawa holds periodic events that bring together disparate parts of the Ottawa community to connect and support each other. The events can help build crossover audiences and can help organizers share ideas and best practices. The events feature short presentations from event leaders, Q&A and networking opportunities following. Megan Monafu, a local Ottawa facilitator and playwright, is organizing the next Hub and Spoke to coincide with the Undercurrents Festival, the contemporary performance festival that’s entering its 5th year. Megan was looking for a way to build interdisciplinary connections between... | Continue reading article

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undercurrents festival: Punch Up needs to be punched up

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Tim Walker (left) and Colin Munch in Punch Up. Photo by Zaiden.Tim Walker (left) and Colin Munch in Punch Up. Photo by Zaiden.

Theatre Brouhaha from Toronto pitches their creations as “theatre for the HBO generation” and as “pitch black comedy”. This play by writer/director Kat Sandler won both Best of Fest at the 2014 Toronto Fringe Festival and Patron’s Pick.  So I was expecting to laugh a lot at Punch Up.  But I didn’t.  Neither did my theatre/life companion, who is known for having one of the loudest most infectious laughs in Ottawa.  But others in the audience did laugh a great deal, even at the jokes which were not supposed to... | Continue reading article

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Your child’s imagination will soar at NAC Family Day

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Photo courtesy of the NACPhoto courtesy of the NAC

For the fifth straight year, the National Arts Centre is putting on its annual NAC Family Day that will be filled with numerous children’s activities, games, special performances and baked treats. Taking place in the NAC lobby on Monday, February 16, the event will run from noon to 4 pm with the theme possible worlds – perspective and scale. “It’s all about playing with perspective and scale – twisted versions of reality,” says Judi Pearl, the Producer of NAC Family Day, when asked to explain the theme.  “We’re encouraging kids... | Continue reading article

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undercurrents festival: The PepTides take Love + Hate to new heights

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Image courtesy of The Peptides.Image courtesy of The Peptides.

When remounting a Fringe show, most people just re-block the previous production to fit into a new space. Then they tweak a few weak lines in the script and wait for the tickets to sell. The PepTides ain’t most people. At last year’s Ottawa Fringe, cramming nine people onto the diminutive Mercury Lounge stage meant making some definite site-specific choices. When undercurrents offered them the opportunity to use the much bigger Arts Court Theatre, the PepTides asked themselves: “What can we do differently?” The answer was lots: costumes, hair styles,... | Continue reading article

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undercurrents festival: Far & Near & Here – a memorable journey

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Karen Balcome and Geoff McBride in Far & Near & Here. Photo by Andrew Alexander.Karen Balcome and Geoff McBride in Far & Near & Here. Photo by Andrew Alexander.

In 2005-06, during the worst hurricane season in recorded history, Julie Angus became the first woman to row across the Atlantic Ocean (yes, row) from mainland to mainland.  She was accompanied by her fiancé (now her husband), Colin Angus.  It took them 145 days.  Julie wrote a best-selling book about their experience, Rowboat in a Hurricane. The story of their adventure inspired Karen Balcome and Geoff McBride (THUNK!theatre) to create the short play, Far & Near & Here, which they are performing at the undercurrents theatre festival, at Arts Court.  It’s... | Continue reading article

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undercurrents festival: Air is inspirational cross-training for the soul

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Trevor Copp in Air. Photo by Jamie Hamilton.Trevor Copp in Air. Photo by Jamie Hamilton.

Air is a physical theatre piece created by Trevor Copp, founder of Burlington`s Tottering Biped Theatre and Richard Beaune. The performance I saw consisted of three short pieces, each introduced by Copp with a few words, which are the only ones you hear throughout the performance: The Stag Hunter, in which Copp portrays both the hunter and the Stag, Ascension (described by Copp as everything you always wanted to know about what happens after you die), and the Incredible Gigantism of Mr. Small, the story of a man who reaches... | Continue reading article

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