Fall Arts Preview 2019 theatre critics' picks: Diverse survival stories take the stage - Straight.com - Canadanewsmedia
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Fall Arts Preview 2019 theatre critics' picks: Diverse survival stories take the stage – Straight.com



The overwhelming truth right now is that most people are just trying to survive. Some have more tools or privilege than others, but many of Vancouver’s fall theatre offerings address aspects of navigating, negotiating, or confronting that survival, be it through bravery and compassion (Arts Club Theatre’s Cost of Living), humour and horror (Direct Theatre Collective’s Hysteria at the Havana; Pacific Theatre’s Frankenstein: Lost in Darkness), defiance and hope (the Cultch’s Hold These Truths), or music and heart (Raincity Theatre’s site-specific Company; Broadway Across Canada’s Dear Evan Hansen).

The most important step is, of course, listening to and centring the narratives, lived experiences, and creative voices of artists who are Indigenous, LGBT, racialized, and from other historically marginalized communities. Thankfully, this coming season boasts a variety of captivating and challenging shows from which to choose.

The Shipment

At the Firehall Arts Centre from September 24 to October 5 and at Presentation House Theatre from October 8 to 12

Award-winning Korean-American playwright Young Jean Lee (whose Straight White Men runs from February 6 to 15, 2020, at Gateway Theatre) is a powerful voice in contemporary theatre, thanks in part to her penchant for interrogating colonial violence and other so-called controversial subjects. Case in point: The Shipment prominently features a “modern minstrel show” that’s meant to confront racist stereotypes of black people.

The Draw: This remount of SpeakEasy Theatre’s Jessie Award–winning 2017 production, with the original cast, gives audiences a rare second chance to either a) finally score tickets to the previously sold-out show or b) experience the subversive play about black identity for a second time and relish the exquisite performances.

Target Audience: Those who enjoy challenging, bracing theatre that’s as fearless and funny as it is fraught.

Take d Milk, Nah?

At the Vancity Culture Lab from October 16 to 26

Theatre artist Jivesh Parasram guarantees his new play is “the first Indo-Caribbean-Hindu-Canadian identity play, as far as we know, ever done. It’s also a massive attempt to destroy the idea of an identity play.” Parasram tackles race, religion, culture, and nationalism through storytelling and ritual, and he does it with candour and wit, as in his “Hin-do’s and Hin-don’ts” for navigating life.

The Draw: Parasram is a massive new talent. He won the 2018 Toronto Arts Foundation Emerging Artist Award, and Take d Milk, Nah? was nominated for a 2018 Dora Award for outstanding new play. Also, in the play he talks about that one time he tried to assist in the birth of a cow, which sounds like a fun story.

Target Audience: Those who value the invitation to explore complex topics through a cross-cultural lens while also enjoying a good laugh.

The Incredible Adventures of Mary Jane Mosquito

At Presentation House Theatre on October 26 and 27, and at Carousel Theatre for Young People from October 30 to November 10

This story of a misfit mosquito trying to figure out her place in the world will resonate with children and grownups alike. This is a new piece from acclaimed Cree playwright Tomson Highway, and his background in Indigenous social work and education is a compelling source from which he can draw compassionate and relatable characters—and help kids feel seen.

The Draw: The staging sounds spectacular, with live music and puppetry, as well as interactive elements that teach audiences Cree words and phrases.

Target Audience: Those with young families and open hearts who want to celebrate and learn more about Cree artists and culture.

<span class="picturefill" data-picture data-alt="The Diary of Anne Frank Latinx is a bold move to recontextualize a beloved and iconic work.”>
The Diary of Anne Frank Latinx is a bold move to recontextualize a beloved and iconic work.
Elvira Barjau

The Diary of Anne Frank LatinX

At the Norman Rothstein Theatre from November 6 to 9 as part of the Chutzpah Festival

If this concept sounds audacious or controversial, then it’s important to understand Jewish American director Stan Zimmerman’s intentions behind the project. Zimmerman found out about the more than one dozen safe houses in the Los Angeles area hiding Mexican and Latin families from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and he wondered about how these people were surviving. He thought about The Diary of Anne Frank and Jewish families concealed in safe houses to evade capture by the Nazis, and he couldn’t help but see parallels. Thus, The Diary of Anne Frank LatinX was created.

The Draw: It’s a bold move to restage and recontextualize such a beloved and iconic work as The Diary of Anne Frank, but as Jewish Americans and countless others decry the American detention centres as contemporary concentration camps, this is a potentially brilliant way of bridging art and meaningful activism.

Target Audience: Those who have turned a blind eye to what’s going on in America, those facing hate and injustice, and those who are ready to rise up.


At the Cultch Historic Theatre from November 6 to 17

Tetsuro Shigematsu is one of the city’s best artists, and his new play might be his most ambitious yet. Maya has spent six years in her bedroom, a total recluse, save for her world of virtual reality. But when a random player challenges her to save her father’s life, she must venture back into the real world, specifically Japan’s notorious Suicide Forest.

The Draw: Shigematsu’s previous shows, Empire of the Son and 1 Hour Photo, were wildly acclaimed, and the show’s director, Amiel Gladstone, was the director and cocreator of the hit musical Onegin.

Target Audience: People who love celebrating innovative creators who want to experiment and take risks.

Anywhere But Here

At the Vancouver Playhouse from February 4 to 15, 2020

Carmen Aguirre’s new play follows a family in exile who end up on a “psycho-social-spiritual-physical journey” back to Chile from Canada, a reversal along their original path north as refugees. The darkly funny production utilizes magical-realist tropes to create a rich and vibrant framework through which the family can explore its history. But the play also has one foot in reality, set along the U.S.–Mexican border, celebrating “working-class Latinx culture”, and spotlighting “the invisible, undocumented brown workers that people the Americas”.

The Draw: This is the world premiere and it includes original raps by acclaimed Rwandan-Canadian hip-hop artist Shad Kabango and compositions by Vancouver-based musician Joelysa Pankanea. The sprawling cast features 10 artists of colour, and the producers at Electric Company Theatre describe the show as a “celebration of Latinx theatre in Vancouver”.

Target Audience: Those who gravitate towards ambitious, innovative shows, those who care about refugees and immigrants, and those who have yet to acknowledge the severity of the global refugee crisis.


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National Arts Centre Indigenous theatre honours trailblazing artists at Moshkamo opening – APTN News




[embedded content]

Shelby Lisk and Annette Francis
On a grey Saturday morning, dozens of canoers sat on the edge of the Rideau Canal just outside downtown in Ottawa waiting to make the historic journey to the National Arts Centre to officially open the Indigenous theatre festival, Mòshkamo.

The paddlers included Algonquin Elders and Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation community members, along with NAC staff.

(Artistic Director, Kevin Loring, waves from his canoe during the procession along the Rideau Canal to open the NAC Indigenous theatre Mòshkamo festival. Shelby Lisk/APTN)

“I was so honoured, so deeply profoundly proud. No words to describe that feeling I had when I saw my people, our people, journey in that water. A practice we’ve been doing since time immemorial,” said Algonquin Elder Claudette Commanda.

“Some of us did not go into a canoe, but let me tell you, each and every one of us that are here right now at this moment, we are in that canoe, in spirit, in heart, in respect, love and kindness. Let us paddle that canoe together in peace and friendship.”

National Arts Centre

(Claudette Commanda beams with pride as she welcomes everyone on behalf of the Algonquin Nation. Shelby Lisk/APTN)

For the Algonquin Elder, the work that the National Arts Centre has done, with Kevin Loring, Artistic Director of Indigenous Theatre, and Lori Marchand, Manager Director of Indigenous Theatre at the helm, is profound and unprecedented.

While she welcomed everyone on behalf of the Algonquin Nation, she shared her gratitude to the NAC.

“Thank you to the leaders of the National Art Centre. I truly appreciate that, we truly appreciate that and we know that indeed this is a true action of the rights relationship that was always intended between our ancestors and your ancestors,” said Commanda.

National Arts Centre

(NAC President and CEO, Christopher Deacon, addresses the packed crowd in the Canal Lobby at the NAC for the opening of the Mòshkamo festival. Shelby Lisk/APTN)

NAC President and CEO, Christopher Deacon, took the stage to acknowledge the work that has been going on behind the scenes to bring Mòshkamo to life.

He thanked the many people who have made this historic opening possible, including the Assembly of First Nations, Métis National Council, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the Native Women’s Association of Canada, Grand Chief Verna Polson and the Algonquin advisory council, who played a critical role in consulting with the NAC in the development of the Indigenous theatre.

He said Indigenous theatre is taking its rightful place next to the well-established English and French theatres at the NAC.

“Today, 50 years after the NAC’s grand opening, our engagement with Indigenous artists and commitment to their work has arrived at a new place. Our new commitment, made today, is to have Indigenous artists lead the creation and performance of Indigenous stories, music and dance,” said Deacon.

Kevin Loring was appointed Artistic Director on June 15, 2017 and has spent the last two years travelling the country to see Indigenous work and meet with artists and arts organizations.

Performing arts organizations from around the world have now started to contact Loring to consult on how to empower Indigenous arts in their own countries.

Loring, Nlaka’pamux from British Columbia’s Lytton First Nation, brought traditions from his home community to the opening, with a traditional blanketing ceremony to honour four Indigenous theatre trailblazers – Muriel Miguel, Tomson Highway, Margo Kane and Marie Clements.

National Arts Centre

(Kevin Loring hugs performing artist and writer, Margo Kane, as he brings her on stage to honour her work. Shelby Lisk/APTN)

With each actor, director or playwright they brought on stage, they told stories of how those visionaries influenced their own work and guided them to the place they are now – making history for Indigenous people at the NAC.

National Arts Centre

(Lori Marchand hugs Muriel Miguel during the blanketing ceremony for four Indigenous artists: Muriel Miguel, Tomson Highway, Margo Kane and Marie Clement. Shelby Lisk/APTN)

“We are honouring today, artists that have had a personal impact on the two of us. On our trajectory, on our artistry. They’ve blazed the trails that we walk on today. This exists because they have existed. This exists because they fought the battles that needed to be fought,” said Loring.

“This exists because of their love and today we are going to reflect that love back to them.”

The artists that were honoured included Kuna/Rappahannock choreographer, director and actor Muriel Miguel, Cree playwright and author Tomson Highway, Cree/Saulteaux performing artist and writer Margo Kane, and Métis playwright, performer, director, producer and screenwriter Marie Clement.

Marchand and Loring both told personal stories about the artists as they brought them on stage.

Marchand, a member of the Syilx (Okanagan) First Nation, mused about the first time she met Muriel Miguel at Native Earth performing arts, saying that it was the first time in her life that she had been in a room “full of people like herself”.

Loring described his first encounter with Tomson Highway’s work as the first Indigenous play he ever read in his life.

He performed a monologue from Highway’s play, Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing, for his university class in Kamloops, B.C.

“In that moment, I became an artist and that is all thanks to Tomson Highway,” said Loring.

Loring and Marchand reminded us all that this profound historic moment for the NAC Indigenous theatre comes from the years of hard work of Indigenous artists that came before.

National Arts Centre

(Muriel Miguel, Tomson Highway, Margo Kane and Marie Clements stand proud with their gifted blankets. Shelby Lisk/APTN)

The  Mòshkamo festival continues until September 29, with shows, workshops and masterclasses, including the play the unnatural and accidental women written by Marie Clements and directed by Muriel Miguel.



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Andrew Scheer pitches sports, arts tax credits for parents with children – CBC News




Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer unveiled his latest tax credit pledge Monday — this one targeting parents with kids in arts and sports activities.

A day after Scheer unveiled a $6 billion tax cut for most Canadian taxpayers, Scheer is now promising changes to the tax code that would allow parents to claim up to $1,000 per child for expenses related to fitness or sports activities.

Another credit — the children’s arts and learning tax credit — would allow parents to claim up to $500 per child for expenses.

The last time this credit was on the books, the Canada Revenue Agency had a broad list of applicable activities. They included anything that develops a creative skill or knowledge of literary, visual or performing arts, music, media, languages, customs or heritage, and wilderness and the environment.

Parents of children with disabilities would receive more from the promised credits. For every child with a disability, the sports credit would be worth $500 more a year, while the arts credit would double to $1,000.

According to figures from the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the fitness credit would cost the federal treasury about $240 million a year in lost revenue. The arts tax credit would cost about $56 million a year.

The credits would be refundable, meaning that even if a family owes no taxes to the government at tax time (often the case with low-income families), it can still benefit, Scheer said.

This is the latest Scheer campaign promise resurrecting a policy of the former Conservative government that was dismantled by the Justin Trudeau Liberals after taking office.

The Liberal government dismissed these tax credits — along with the public transit pass credit — as ineffective because they didn’t meaningfully change enrolment in sports programs or encourage people to take transit.

Instead, the Liberal government said it would re-deploy money spent on these initiatives to sweeten the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) payment each month.

“These were incredibly popular tax credits. Hundreds of thousands of Canadians appreciated the extra help with paying for kids’ activities. That’s why they were so disappointed when Justin Trudeau cancelled them,” Scheer said.

“And again, it goes back to choices, Justin Trudeau believes that he can spend your money better than you can and that is why he cancelled these very popular tax credits.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says that he can achieve a balanced budget even while lowering taxes by adding a public transit credit, a children’s fitness tax credit and a children’s arts and learning tax credit while also implementing a universal tax cut. 0:58

“We will be bringing them back. We will also have a fully costed platform that shows Canadians how we will get back to balanced budgets while still maintaining increases to important services like health care and education.”

Research by the federal Department of Finance prepared for the Liberal government shows that many families never claimed these expenses the last time they were available.

In 2014, 43 per cent of families with children claimed one or both of the credits. The fitness credit was more than twice as popular (41 per cent uptake in 2014) as the arts credit (15 per cent uptake.)

The credits were more popular with middle- and high-income families, while those with a household income below $40,000 were far less likely to participate.

The incentives for low-income families were comparatively small given how little — if any — federal income taxes they pay.

The take-up rate for the tax credits among families with household incomes of more than $200,000 a year income was 73.3 per cent, compared to just 16.8 per cent for families with a household income below $40,000, according to the department figures. Moreover, those higher income households claimed $104 in tax savings, while their low-income counterparts claimed just $14 in savings.

Still, Scheer argued the extra support will make raising an active child more affordable.

“In the coming days we’ll be making further announcements of some philosophical differences that we have with the Liberal party as to how they think they can spend money better than Canadians. We know a dollar left in the pockets of a hard-working Canadian is always better spent than in the pocket of a politician who taxed it. One thing is clear: we will lower the cost of living,” he said.

Affordability is the theme of the Conservative campaign. The party’s chosen slogan — “It’s time for you to get ahead” — has been plastered all over campaign materials and on TV ads airing in regular rotation.

Beyond the sports and arts credits announced today, Scheer has promised to bring back the public transit pass credit, introduce a new non-refundable tax credit for maternity and parental employment insurance (EI) benefits and exempt home heating from the GST. As part of his climate plan, Scheer also promised to revive the home retrofit tax credit so people can renovate their homes to improve energy efficiency.

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Businesswoman, champion of the arts Kathleen Richardson dies – CBC.ca




Winnipeg’s arts community is remembering a passionate patron whose quiet generosity benefited cultural organizations across Canada.

Kathleen Margaret Richardson, 91, daughter of James and Muriel Richardson, died Saturday.

“Throughout her life, Miss Richardson remained a quiet philanthropist, contributing to numerous worthwhile causes through the Kathleen M. Richardson Foundation,” states a news release from James Richardson and Sons, the Winnipeg-based corporation that owns companies in several industries including agriculture.

Richardson was best known as patron extraordinaire of the arts, and was especially involved with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. 

Former principal dancer Evelyn Hart said Richardson left an indelible mark on the ballet world.

“She was really the fairy godmother of the Winnipeg ballet and the arts in Winnipeg. I call her a sort of a gentle giant,” Hart said.

“She was a great supporter of the dancers and kept us always feeling like we were important. Personally, I was always supported by her in many, many ways. I could not be more grateful.”

Richardson was also a director of the Richardson corporation for more than 40 years, from 1954 to 1998.

During that time, she helped guide the expansion of Pioneer Grain, the development of Lombard Place in downtown Winnipeg, including the Richardson Building and Fairmont Hotel, and shepherded the growth of the corporation’s financial services operation into an international brokerage.

She also served in the director role for companies outside of James Richardson and Sons, including Sun Life Assurance Company from 1978 to 1998, Barclays Bank of Canada from 1984 to 1994, and Gulf Canada Limited from 1977 to 1987.

But Richardson is best known for her unwavering support of the arts—and always doing so anonymously. 

“Always preferring to remain anonymous, her extraordinary generosity benefited arts and cultural organizations across Canada,” the news release states.

“She believed strongly in the words often quoted by her mother Muriel Richardson, ‘Unto whom much is given, much is required.'”

Kathleen Richardson was instrumental in opening the RWB’s building in downtown Winnipeg in 1988. (Google Street View)

Richardson served as president of the RWB from 1957 to 1961 and was instrumental in the opening of the RWB’s downtown base in Winnipeg in 1988.

She remained as honorary president from 1963 until her death.

Richardson was also an officer with the Order of Canada, and a member of the Order of Manitoba.

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