Articles tagged with: Ottawa theatre
September is not being kind to local theatre; reviewers and audiences are being downright cruel. I haven’t attended any performances this month so there’s no sense in getting specific, but only when arts columnist Denis Armstrong gets bored or local actor Kris Joseph, thankfully, gets huffy, has the the mist of blah-dom risen from the Ottawa scene
His publicist Ashley Shea wrote me because she felt Tyler’s story of “how a small town Canadian maintains his integrity in a city known for swallowing its artists” would interest readers in his Ottawa home. It’s difficult to judge the integrity of a 22-year-old to whom you’ve talked long-distance for just 45 minutes. I do know Ham Pong makes a living in a notoriously fickle city with his stunning good looks and a short acting pedigree that started in Grade 9 at Ashbury College.
They All Do It, running until August 29 at Strathcona Park, is Odyssey Theatre’s first outdoor performance in two years. Irwin’s story is familiar: that the passion of youth is fickle and easy to manipulate, and we’re all young at heart and therefore susceptible to deception. But in a modern Ottawa setting, her task is to draw compassion out of misinterpretation. Not an easy job for such a literary theme.
One day Gertrude Wilkes is sitting in her call-centre cubicle trying to soothe a distressed customer; the next she’s trying to sell theatre fans on a performance of Shakespeare. The set of co-incidences that lifted her over that divide has made her believe there’s space for everyone in community arts.
If Canada has a debilitating form of tribalism, the sides are represented by management and labour. Management has had a big head start on becoming intractable, but unions have worked hard to catch up. In most cases today, each side has spiraled into binary thinking: if you win, I lose. Opportunities for flexibility get squashed by big bellies of ego.
Never threaten your customers, unless they are doing something illegal. This is the first point on the first page of the first day of the first course about how to run a business. Our culture is only capable of being told it is lazy, greedy or ugly when those judgments are accompanied by a million-dollar advertising campaign, with lots of pretty people in it. Only one in a thousand retailers have capital like that; the rest stand a much better chance of surviving if they make customers feel included and valued.
Nick Di Gaetano calls them dramaturges, the two women who now define Ottawa theatre: Lise Ann Johnson and Emily Pearlman. The awards they won last night at The Rideau Awards at De La Salle High School weren’t for a dramaturge’s mentoring, rather an indication of how engaging the local stage is becoming under the influence of superb storytellers.