Saturday, December 31, 2011

Review: (Toronto) American Idiot

Scott J. Campbell (photo credit: Doug Hamilton)

Bells and Whistles signifying...
Is there any there there in American Idiot?
by Axel Van Chee

With more bells and whistles than the biggest Santa’s sled imaginable, American Idiot by Green Day arrives at Toronto Centre for the Arts just in time to ring in the new year. It dazzles with psychedelic colours, exudes an abundance of energy and is unapologetically loud (unlike the Berkeley premiere, ear plugs are not provided). It is also chock-full of the best selling songs from the same-name album to satisfy the most rabid of fans, all superbly orchestrated by Tom Kitt, and performed admirably by the band under Jared Stein. It is also deep down, at the risk of irking all the Green Day fans out there, much ado about nothing.

No Script? No Problem. Part IV

Montreal Improv: l-r Bryan Walsh, Kirsten Rasmussen, François Vincent, Marc Rowland (photo credit: Jeremy Bobrow)

A Guide to Improv Terms 
by Kirsten Rasmussen Of Montreal Improv
(A version of this article was previously published at The Charlebois Post - Montreal)

Interested in hanging with improvisers, or taking a few improv classes or just like learning new languages?  Well then this guide is for you. A guide to improv terms includes my pick of the most used improv vocabulary that will keep you up to speed in any nerd-out improv session. 

Here they are in no particular order with examples and each word used in a sentence. Enjoy.

Offer- An offer is any info given in a scene that helps define the scene, or any contribution to a scene. Can be as simple as, “Hey Mom.” The offer would be that the relationship is mother/child. Or as complex as “King Reginald the townspeople are so angry that you have raised the taxes yet again!”   An offer can also be physical like skipping into a scene, or being a tree in the background, or stirring a coffee.  

Benny’s offer of being an invisible cat was an odd one.

Friday, December 30, 2011

No Script? No Problem. Part III

Montreal Improv (top: l-r) Kristen Rasmussen, François Vincent, BJ Walsh 
(bottom) Marc Rowland

*Yes And*
by BJ Walsh of Montreal Improv
(A version of this article was previously published at The Charlebois Post - Montreal)

There are multiple schools of thought in improv and thousands of show
formats, but there is one basic improv principle this is taught the
world over. And it might just make you a better person.

*Yes And*: To create a consistent and coherent world, improvisers
should accept (“Yes”) the fundamental truths about the world laid out
by their scene partners. Moreover, each scene partner has a
responsibility to not only agree, but to add more details to this new
world (“And”).

Thursday, December 29, 2011

CPC's Picture of the Year, 2012

A profoundly beautiful photo - 
one of those moments when actor and photographer
- DAVID COOPER - unite to tell a story. Well-lit, well-coloured,
well-posed (without looking posed).
Dennis Fitzgerald in the NAC/Belfry production
of And Slowly Beauty...

No Script? No Problem. Part II

Montreal Improv: l-r Bryan Walsh, Kirsten Rasmussen, François Vincent, Marc Rowland (photo credit: Jeremy Bobrow)

Why do improv?
(part II of a series)
Those times of divine inspiration where an improviser makes it work despite all odds are what we live for.

by Marc Rowland of Montreal Improv

(A version of this article was previously published at The Charlebois Post - Montreal)

In nature there are pecking orders amongst socially organized species. Bigger chickens peck at smaller chickens and assert their dominance to take the choicest grains and roosting spots. In the chicken coop that is the comedy world, improv may well be the smallest chicken there is. In Canada, stand-up and sketch keep improv in its place, but all over the country high school students are practicing improv, performing shows and competing to prove who’s the best at spontaneous make-em-ups. In fact, Canadians have an international reputation for being particularly good at improvisation. So, if improv is the runt of the comedy litter, then why are so many Canadians doing it?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

No Script? No Problem. Part I

Montreal Improv: l-r Bryan Walsh, Kirsten Rasmussen, François Vincent, Marc Rowland (photo credit: Jeremy Bobrow)

What is improv?
(Part I of a series)
by Francois Vincent
(A version of this article was previously published at The Charlebois Post - Montreal)

Montreal Improv has been invited by CharPo to write a series of articles about improvised theatre. Never one to turn down a soapbox, here we are. I wanted to start by talking about what improvised theatre is to me.

Improvised theatre, improv or impro as it is called in French (and in European English) is best described as "unscripted theatre". It is generally understood to be comedic in nature and comedy is what we teach in our classes and perform on our stage. But not necessarily so. It can be moving, disturbing, arousing, enlightening and all the other things we can find in scripted theatre.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Digital Drama Queen Part IV home page

Tool Time - Using For Online Promotion
by Liesl Barrell
(A version of this article was previously published at The Charlebois Post - Montreal)

Hot off the success of my Montreal Girl Geek talkwhere about 50 of us gathered at Twist Image to drink beer and build websites, this month I thought it was about time I profile one of my favourite tools of the interwebs,

IN A NUTSHELL (née flavors, but I forgive them so you should, too) is a sleek and simple aggregator that pulls in feeds from over 30 online services (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Etsy and many more...) You can play for free and link up to four services to your profile, or for less than two movie tickets ($20/year) you can subscribe to the full version for additional features and to use your own domain. 

Why do I like it? Because it’s easy, flexible and requires very little commitment: the cornerstones of internet goodness. Just how flexible? Read on for some ideas on using to promote yourself, a show or your company.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Profile: Christine Jones - Tony-winning designer for American Idiot

A video clip from the Broadway production of American Idiot with Christine Jones' Tony-winning work in full evidence

The Little Montrealer That Could
"...there are a thousand ways to have a life in the just have to find your tribe."
David King
(This article originally appeared at The Charlebois Post - Montreal in January, 2011)

In the 1980s, Christine Jones was a bored English Lit student at both Marianapolis College and Concordia University. American born and raised in Montreal, she found her thrills assisting Marianopolis theatre professor Victor Garaway with design, set building and scenic painting at the college. It was Garaway who suggested she apply to Concordia's Theatre Department and become a scenographer.

"A stenographer?" asked Jones. "No, a 'scenographer,'" Garaway told her.

Interviewing at Concordia with a primitive portfolio and a prayer, Jones landed herself a spot in Concordia’s Design For the Theatre Program, where she graduated in 1989. Hugely self-critical of her own work, says Eric Mongerson in a recent interview for Concordia University Magazine, Jones eventually found her path with the constant encouragement of mentors like Mongerson and [professor] Ana Cappelluto.

Digital Drama Queen Part III

André Belanger

TNM & Phéromone Tweet in Character
by Liesl Barrell
(A version of this article was previously published at The Charlebois Post - Montreal)

With CharPo already on a second TweeAtre instalment, I figured this would be the perfect time to cover a social media campaign involving Twitter that took the theatre world by storm. 

For Théâtre du Nouveau Monde’s 2010 production of Le Bourgeois gentilhomme  they enlisted Phéromone to helm the company’s first forays into tweeting, and together they produced the innovative interactive marketing strategy that won the agency a Bee’s Award and an Infopresse nod, to boot.

To get some industry insight into the campaign, I spoke with André BélangerVP at Phéromonewho remembers the snowballing momentum of the effort as a thrilling experience for his team. Spanning just four weeks, he laughs, “the campaign was too short!”  

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Digital Drama Queen Part II

The boys of Uncalled For

Digital Drama Queen (Part II): 
How Uncalled For Hijacked My Inbox
by Liesl Barrell
(A version of this article was previously published at The Charlebois Post - Montreal)

In this instalment we’ll be looking at email marketing strategies, with a few insights to get you thinking outside the junk mail box. 

I’ll tell you a little secret: I hate emails.  I’ll tell you a little secret: As a marketer, I love emails. As a user, I hate them. 

Marketer love:
Email is still one of the most cost-effective methods to spread the word, despite social media titans proclaiming its death or the blogosphere constantly feeling for its pulse. When effectively deployed and paired with good, timely, useful content it can be an amazing tool to build awareness and keep people in the loop.

User hate:
I feel the same way you probably feel about bulk emails: I’m bombarded with constant, bite-sized information, and here come these cumbersome, awkward chunks of dull, stock-photo-ridden meh-inducing content. Often pointlessly seasonal (It’s Valentine’s Day so buy socks!) and needlessly long-winded, I confess to having no fewer than 12,353 unread emails in my primary account inbox. That’s a whole heckuva lot of ignored emails!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Blog: Theatre Night Fever, December 24, 2011

24 December, 2011
Christmas on The Coast
By Howard Dai

It’s the Christmas season for theatre in Vancouver!!!

In Arts Club theatre, the heart-warming play The Patron Saint of Stanley Park , by Vancouver’s Hiro Kanagawa, will have their closing night on Dec. 24th, at Revue stage on Granville Island. Also, the fourth season of White Christmas is playing on the Stanley Industrial Stage till Dec. 28th, you can read my recent blog of my experience watching this year’s White Christmas here.

Theatre For Thought, December 24, 2011

joel fishbane

The Best-Of list is a rite of passage for the weekly columnist and, like most rites of passage, it can be both annoying and instructive. What can really be accomplished by trying to remember some show you saw in February? On the other hand, if you do remember a show you saw in February, that definitely says something about the show. 
Still art is a subjective thing. Saying something is “the best” is a pretty definitive thing to say about something that, at the end of the day, still comes down to a matter of taste. 

With this in mind, I’m not calling this a “Best Of” list. Think of it as my equivalent to raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens: in other words, these are simply a few of my favourite things.

Digital Drama Queen Part I

Confessions of a Grown Up Digital Drama Queen
By Liesl Barrell
(A version of this article was previously published at The Charlebois Post - Montreal)

In this series, running over the next four days, I’ll be profiling theatre artists and companies to investigate their digital marketing strategies, online lives and incorporation of new media in production. 

In this first instalment, I’ll take you on a little trip through my twin passions (stage and web) and give you an idea of where this Digital Drama segment will be heading.

People are often surprised by what seems to them like a strange move for me, from theatre into the digital marketing world. When asked about it, I like to discuss how all communications stem from the oral tradition, and by extension, the ancient art of the stage. Or that the phrase “virtual reality” was first coined by avant garde theatre theorist Antonin Artaud

This often does little to lower their eyebrows, as I suspect the reasons they think of the two spaces in binary opposition are the same that bring them together for me: old or new, media is what I’m passionate about. 

Perhaps the first time I heard the siren call of the series of tubes was in 2007, when I watched a piece on one of my all-time favourite multi-platform marketing campaigns: The HBO Voyeur ProjectIt was launched by BBDO (the real life inspiration for Mad Men’s Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, as well as their fictional onscreen rival) in partnership with a number of smaller agencies, vendors and media buyers. 

Watch the campaign summary video above and you’ll immediately notice the stunning theatricality of the silent vignettes that are at the heart of this award-winning campaign. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Friday Five, December 23, 2011

5 gift ideas for theatre-lovers
There’s something for everyone in this collection of theatre-related gift ideas…
by Matt G of Matt and Kyle and Matt 

1. Oedipus Rex, the Boardgame. 
Roll the dice and travel across the beautiful Grecian landscape, but don’t land on Tragic Flaw or you start right back at the beginning. Be the first to have sex with your mom and kill your dad. Fun for the whole family!

Charpo's Real Theatre, December 23, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

News: (Toronto) Tarragon names new GM - TO Fringe's Gideon Arthurs

Tarragon Press release:


TORONTO, December 22, 2011 – Tarragon Theatre is pleased to announce that Gideon Arthurs has been appointed as General Manager of Tarragon Theatre.

Blog: Critical Condition, December 22, 2011

December 22, 2011
Looking for adaptation
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

Every year I embark on a summer reading project: all of Shakespeare (several times); the Bible; all of Jane Austin; Restoration Plays (yaaaaaawwwwwwwwn). This year I decided to tackle the Big One: the seven volumes of Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust. It took me a whopping six months. (I do believe that is what the kids call a humblebrag.)

CPC's Picture of the Week, December 22, 2011

Hair, stopping in Toronto to December 31 (photo credit: Joan Marcus)