Archive for the ‘Film and Media’ Category

My lovely and brilliant friend Julie Laurin filmed this. It is so strange watching yourself, and noticing the lines in your face, and the way your bottom eyelid flickers, and how much you bite your lip. Also, I think my dress is very pretty.

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Several weeks ago I attended a play at the National Theatre called Travelling Light, and it was a wonderful production. But the interesting thing about my experience with this play was not the any one aspect of the production, but how it – as a whole – affected me afterwards. Which is not to undervalue the qualities of this play: despite an unnecessarily sentimental ending, this is a strong and witty script about the creation of film, stemming from small-town ambition, complete with endearing Jewish personalities, a neurotic young film director, and his beautiful assistant turned silent film actress. And it had Anthony Sher, who is a fantastic stage actor.

My experience is not something I can explain in objective terms. I suppose the best way I can describe it is that it had this intoxicating, contagious energy that stayed with me the entire walk and tube ride home. I found myself walking so quickly I was practically skipping down the street with nervous excitement. I just wanted to keep moving. Even waiting at a crosswalk, I could barely keep still. I took out my iPod touch and started filming my route, paying close attention to the quick turns in the road, observing small details as I passed. Similar to when I became acquainted with Harriet the Spy and immediately bought myself a spy notebook just like hers; but, in this case, I thought I could be a film maker. Granted, the little video I created was far from imaginative, and it is, in fact, so boring to watch, that I won’t even bother sharing it. But the point is, at the time, something electric happened, and it felt fantastic.

I mention this only because sometimes going to the theatre can be an exhausting experience, which is why, I think, it isn’t as popular as it once was. Watching videos at home requires far less emotional sacrifice. But if a play is poor quality or simply ‘not for you’, the effort it takes to watch and stay engaged with a live performance can feel wasted when the experience is not gratifying. Still, once in a while, during or following a performance, you find yourself in a similar state to riding down a steep hill at full speed on your beloved bicycle (sometimes more therapeutic than therapy, I recently discovered…) or flying down a particularly lush snow hill with a sharp wind hitting the parts of your face not covered by ski goggles. And those moments are somehow magnified, multiplied by the closeness of theatre, by the intimacy of sharing the same space. And that’s why I keep going back – hoping to renew my acquaintance with that feeling.

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I’ve never been altogether concerned with finances, and I realize that is a total luxury. Thanks to a decent-sized scholarship and a handy parental connection at the University of Ottawa, I didn’t have to worry about tuition fees. I also saved money by living at home for the first three years of university. I haven’t developed a smoking habit, I rarely drink, and I’m generally frugal by nature. But I’ve never had to think twice about going out with friends, or going to the theatre, or buying a pretty dress – at least not for financial reasons.

Upon arriving in London, I had to handle a few initial expenses: namely paying my first month’s rent, paying a deposit, buying a cell phone, and purchasing a few basic living essentials, like soap. So there goes £1000 in the first week. Since I wasn’t yet earning money in London, I transferred funds from my savings account back in Ottawa: I can only take out £200 at a time, and I’m charged $5 or so for every withdrawal on top of the exchange rate. Which makes me grind my teeth indignantly.

Yesterday I did some calculations regarding my spending this past month, and I was shocked to realize that I had spent almost £350 in one month, not including rent. Yikes.

I estimated the following expenses for October:

  • £80 Groceries
  • £75 Travel: tube, overground, bus
  • £75 Theatre tickets / poetry shows
  • £120 Other: going out, books, household stuff, clothing

Okay, so clearly I would save a lot of money if I stayed home all the time. But I’m in London, for heaven’s sake. It would be stupid to live here and not attend the theatre. And to be fair, I bought tickets in advance for two shows in November and December, so that section includes expenses beyond the month of October. Also, a round-trip to central London costs just over £5, and I estimate that I went into town 15 days in the last month, hence £75. I am very careful about spending a reasonable amount on groceries, and I usually buy from the market stands and discount stores. And as for the final category… yes, I like to go for lunch with my friends, and yes, I did buy cleaning supplies one weekend, as well as some socks and stockings. Shocking.

So now I’m trying to figure out how to budget my earnings. Since I’m only working part-time at the moment, I imagine I won’t have much more than £300 spending money (i.e. not spent on rent) each month. And if that’s the case, I will have to cut down a bit, which will be difficult, since I had intended to see more theatre and attend more poetry shows and acquaint myself even more with London next month. Plus I wanted to visit Paris, travel around Europe… Ah, who needs groceries anyway!

And yes, I could very easily dig into my savings and give myself more spending money, but I don’t want to do that. I am determined to live within my means, within the confines of my earnings. I’ve met so many people who spend money they simply don’t have; they owe money to friends and institutions, but they still can’t help buying a new jacket or going to Toronto for the weekend. And I never want to be like that.

So what now? Should I live frivolously or responsibly. Should I use up all my savings, or just wait for my next paycheque. Or stay on the lookout for a second job. You know, I hear the adult film industry pays really well…

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I’m on a mailing list called Master Class that occasionally sends out notices for theatre artist talks occurring at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Today at 2:30pm I went to see one of my favourite film actors, Natascha McElhone. Most people would probably recognize her as Jim Carrey’s love interest in The Truman Show. But I adored her in Surviving Picasso, her first major film, and as young Clarissa in Mrs. Dalloway. She is strikingly beautiful and a captivating performer.

Composed. Sincere. Fierce. Gentle. Thoughtful. Mischievous. Maternal. Elegant. Opinionated. Steadfast.

I didn’t take proper notes, so please pardon the paraphrasing.

Natascha McElhone

After theatre school, I played Dunyasha in a production of The Cherry Orchard with Russian director Mishe Mokier, who spoke no English. He often refused to make use of his interpreter; he was very eccentric. And yet he was a most powerful director because he could communicate with very few words, or sometimes none at all, and he only spoke when necessary. Sometimes directors who speak too much and offer excessive feedback, though they may have great vision, are not always the best at working with actors. His one piece of advice to me: just sing.

When you’re young, you often feel the need to please everyone. When I had children, I stopped caring about what people thought of me. Because they were my world.

If my children were on set with me, I wouldn’t be able to concentrate. I would be watching them. They’re far more interesting than me.

From playing Lady Anne in Richard III Shakespeare in Regent’s Park to playing opposite Anthony Hopkins in Surviving Picasso.

I wouldn’t do that film because I hated the script. It was ridiculous. But then my agent said, but Robert Deniro’s in it! And I said, only if they fix the script. And my agent came back to me later and said, David Mamet had a look at it; will that do?

Mrs. Dalloway. That film wasn’t going to happen due to a number of set backs. Then they called me on Friday and said we’re going to film on Monday. We did all the flashback scenes in seven days. When you watched it, did you notice that there weren’t many close-ups? That’s because those take longer to film and require several more cameras to shoot. We didn’t have the time, nor the money.

If you think you’re not being cast because you’re American, then play British at the audition. You’re an actor. You’re going to play a role anyway.

Just go to the party. You can always leave early.

In Hollywood, everyone thinks they’re getting somewhere because the producers make them think they’re getting somewhere. You’re wonderful. I love your work. It’s so emotional. And then you realize they’re saying the same thing to everyone. It’s different in London: you may receive fewer offers, but at least they tell you the truth.

I always had an opinion, and an opinion isn’t always what everyone wants to hear.

Afterwards, I shyly approached three girls chatting. One of them had asked the question about being an American trying to get work in London. Another had raised her hand, but hadn’t had the chance to ask a question. And the third I’d been noticing throughout the event because she occasionally gazed back through the crowd, and I thought she had a penetrating look (and told her so); a gingered Cate Blanchett, perhaps. We talked about the event and about working in theatre in London. I gave them my business card, and already two of them have added me as friends on that social network thing.

As I walked away from them, I had visions of the four of us meeting on weekends and reading aloud from Shakespeare plays and perhaps even producing a play or a film together. Because that happens sometimes, you know? You meet some people at an event, and that’s all it takes. Natascha had spoken, in fact, about how important it is to find like-minded people and start something, anything. And my imagination ran with that idea. It may not be these three girls, but I hope to discover my theatre clan… and who knows what might happen.

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Over the last five years, I have worked as a publicist for numerous theatre companies and arts organizations in Ottawa and beyond. While I have tended to develop strong attachments to these groups, I have always maintained a healthy degree of objectivity in working with them; able to view their work from an outsider’s point of view, to see through the eyes of the media and potential audiences in order to create relationships between the various parties.

This objectivity is much more difficult to maintain when promoting my own work. I often find myself straddling (ahem) the line between vanity and self-deprecation. Do I tell everyone how totally awesome I am, or do I let them formulate their own opinions by simply providing them with the facts? Since I don’t have that objective distance, I might not be my own most reliable judge of talent. So, to a certain extent, I have to rely on the favourable opinions of other people, and not only on my own sense of good taste.

Two such people – local poets Graeme Loh El O’Farrell and Sean O’Gorman – were sweet enough to create a short promotional video to advertise my upcoming feature show with fellow poet Nadine Thornhill at the Spoken Word Plot on April 11 . Here’s the clip:

This is where the self-deprecation comes in: even though I really like what these guys have done with the video, I still think I look like a total dork (or perhaps “adorkable”, as Nadine would say). But is that just because everyone finds it weird seeing themselves on screen? I’ve been told that my poetry (or perhaps more aptly named “poetic monologues”) works well in performance, but does it translate on screen? Heck, I don’t know.

I’ve heard that a promotional video can “make or break” a marketing campaign. So here’s my question: does this video inspire you to bring a truckload of friends and family to my show, or does it make you want to run screaming in the other direction? I would love to hear from people who have seen me perform, as well as from people who had no idea that I have a life outside my computer.

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I would like to draw your attention to the following video.

Here, Shane Koyczan performs his own spoken word piece entitled “We Are More” in a promotional video created by Canadian Tourism.

He performed the same piece at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics Opening Ceremonies atop an intimidatingly tall stage structure surrounded by millions of people with millions more watching him on live television.

I thought that was pretty cool.

There have been some valid criticisms about his poem and performance. As someone familiar with Shane’s poetry and music, I have to say he’s written and performed better. His piece utilized numerous Canadian cliches (intentionally, as the poem does clearly state that “we are more” than these cliches; but still) and doesn’t really say anything truly revolutionary about Canada.

I completely acknowledge this. And yet, it really doesn’t bother me: because I think that the supreme coolness of having spoken word – performed by a reputable spoken word poet – at the Olympics far surpasses any quibbles I or anyone else might have about the content. Though a mention of the Francophone community, I agree, would have been nice.

Some people (heck, most people) in Canada have never heard of spoken word. This was a gentle, accessible introduction to the art form: perhaps not the most exemplary piece we could have offered (it was used as a tourism video, for heaven’s sake), but something decent that garnered a lot of attention and will very likely inspire people to look up spoken word on the internet, and thereby discover other amazing spoken word poets across Canada and around the world. I am grateful to Shane for creating this buzz around the art form.

Here’s something I’ve realized: whenever you do something interesting, noteworthy, or appear in any sort of public arena, it is inevitable that some people will love you and others will find something to hate about you. Regardless of whether or not it was your intention to be controversial.

This morning I noticed that some people were writing rather harsh messages on Shane’s Facebook Group, calling the poem “fake” and accusing him of “bastardizing” the art form*. I found this… unnecessary. It seems that these people wanted what this poem wasn’t: they wanted (and I’m paraphrasing here) an activist piece that pointed out what is wrong with Canada and what we can do to effect change.

From what I understand, this poem was intended to be celebratory, not an excuse to make grand statements about the tar sands in Alberta, the homeless situation in Vancouver, our pathetic federal government, or cuts to arts funding. Yes, these topics are important — but do you honestly think the Olympics committee would have programmed a political tirade for the opening ceremonies? Does everything have to be about anarchy?

Honestly, though, I want to know: what should this poem have told us about Canada? Should it have been celebratory or critical, or both? Are these whiny little buggers just jealous, or are they making a valid point?

By the way, there is a full version of “We Are More” on the House of Parlance website. Have a listen.

*One of these comments has now been removed by its author.

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When my brother was much younger, he would make model buildings out of paper and tape. They would be replicas of castles, of palaces (including a phenomenal one of Versailles), and other structures of note. He would also create little figurines to inhabit the space, perhaps imagining how they interacted once upon a time.

I think he would have loved this production of Kamp (from company Hotel Modern, the Netherlands) at the PuSh Festival. Just look at this set:


According to a recent article on the show, there are 3500 hand-made clay figurines used in the performance. They are arranged, re-arranged, and animated by three performers; these mute performers are always visible and always present, though not the focus of the piece. The focus is on the buildings and the figurines that are captured by a video camera and displayed in real time on the white screen backdrop. The audience catches glimpses of the gas chambers, the sleeping areas, a nazi drinking party, the hard labour forced upon the prisoners, and one particularly wrenching scene in which a sadistic soldier beats one victim to death with a shovel.

It is difficult for me to understand the sheer magnitude of the Holocaust and its destruction; statistics and numbers mean very little to me, and that is often all we are given in history books. The most striking thing about this visual display was actually seeing these numbers, these statistics come to life: row upon row of figurines, their swollen faces staring out from the screen, the camera slowly and carefully capturing every detail; dozens of figures piled into the showers; dozens of bodies thrown into a pit. It hits you hard.

The performance is only one hour long. But the audience on Thursday evening stay for yet another hour to attend the talk-back. Some audience members had actually been to Auschwitz and said they found this performance much more personal and affecting.

One particularly interesting question was asked: how far can you push an audience? At what point does the horror and destruction become too much to bear? I’m thinking specifically of the scene with the shovel; it almost made me ill. Is this something we should strive for in dramatic theatre, or is it just too much?

Here are a couple more close-up photos:



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Greetings arts fans!

I’ve had the most amazing month traveling across Canada and researching theatre festivals. My travels have brought me to Edmonton, to Calgary, and to Vancouver. If you’re interested in following along, please check out my blog entitled “the most exquisite moments” and feel free to partake in some of the ongoing debates, or just post a comment to say hi! I’ve been updating more frequently lately, and I’d love your feedback.

I’ll be back in Ottawa after this weekend, and I’m looking forward to attending all these fabulous events lined up. I’m especially excited about being asked to play a judge in the Great Canadian Laugh-Off: I have a feeling one of my sneaky comedian friends got me involved in this…

Here goes!


February 6
Capital Slam featuring Kay’la “Kiki” Mahy

February 7
Dusty Owl Reading Series featuring PrufRock

February 9
Voices of Venus featuring Kathryn Hunt

February 11
Bill Brown’s 1-2-3 Slam featuring Festrell

February 12
Urban Legends Poetry Slam


February 2
Canteen Gallery presents Picturama! (February Edition)

I would have loved to have been part of this event! Last month Canteen asked all aspiring photographers to send in their 4×6 photos to display at the gallery: your friends, your pets, your camel trek in Mali, your street art, your child’s shadow puppets and those adoring photos of your bike. Tomorrow the results will be in and Canteen will display the photographs and handle sales at $1/piece. Get some inexpensive local art for your walls!

February 3, 10, 17, 24
Yuk Yuk’s Great Canadian Laugh-Off

Every Wednesday this month, Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club is holding the preliminary rounds of the Great Canadian Laugh-Off in Ottawa. Local celebrity and media personalities (including yours truly!) will act as judges for the Ottawa series. The Laugh-off contest is open to all comics amateur and professional, and the Ottawa winners will go on to compete in Toronto. If you think you’ve got a funny streak, I dare you to sign up – and be subjected to my harsh, harsh judgment. Mwahahaha.

February 5 to 27
Spins & Needles presents Urban Cozy Project at Winterlude 2010

Spins and Needles will be doing a series of events this year at Winterlude including craft & DJ parties, weekend warm-up workshops, public arts&crafts installations, and more! Get involved by visiting the website, or simply showing up at the numerous Winterlude locations. All events and workshops are free! Also, you can contribute to the Winterlude 2010 Urban Cozy Project by creating various warm coverings, or cozies, wrapped around trees, lampposts, and other elements on festival grounds.

February 10
The boxcART Film Festival presents “EAT MY SHORTS”

Last month, filmmakers received an envelope with the top secret criteria and were instructed to come back 72 hours later with a short film. Participants of the film challenge will have an opportunity to screen their short films at the Film Festival that takes place at the Lieutenant’s Pump. Stop by for a pint and help celebrate local film making!

February 4 to 14
Third Wall Theatre Company presents As You Like It

You know, the one that takes place in a forest. No, not with the fairies, the other one, the cross-dressing one. No, not with twins… with that Rose girl, the one who says “Men have died from time to time and worms have eaten them, but not for love.” I guess that was just my way of sharing my favourite quote. Directed by Charles McFarland, this production features an array of talented local actors, including Kristina Watt as Rosalind and Jordan Hancey as Orlando.

February 12
Painted Lips and Lolly Licks: Mayfair Theatre’s Annual Sexy Short Film Festival

Sounds like my kind of festival! My friend Nathan Ings is acting in one of the films called Valentine’s Night, written by Thierry Papineau.The story centers around Val, a single gay man, dating and partying, just trying to get through life and do a little shopping. He is torn between an internet hookup with someone totally inappropriate and a young friend with benefits. Naturally, Nathan is playing the totally innappropriate one…!

February 13
Cube Gallery Salon featuring Sterling Lynch

Supported by singer-songwriter John Carroll and spoken-word artist Kel Parsons, local mover-and-shaker Sterling Lynch and his gifted cast of actors will be presenting a staged reading from his (recently award-winning!) play entitled “Home in Time” for the Cube Salon audience.

February 17 to March 6
The National Arts Centre English Theatre presents Mrs. Dexter and Her Daily

I’m looking forward to this next show; I really enjoyed Glass’ last play Trying that premiered at the NAC. “Mrs. Dexter and her maid Peggy must part ways after Mrs. Dexter’s divorce. As the women reflect on their lives we are privy to their journey, their losses, and their laughter. Join us as two of Canada’s most celebrated actors—Fiona Reid as Mrs. Dexter and Nicola Cavendish as her ‘daily’ Peggy —bring Joanna McClelland Glass’ endearing new drama to life under the direction of Former NAC English Theatre Artistic Director Marti Maraden.”

February 26 to 27
V Day Ottawa presents The Vagina Monologues

The vaginas are coming! (Sorry, sorry… that’s a recycled joke, but I couldn’t help using it again.) I’d say we all need a little feministing this month, especially after a certain irritating article that was recently posted in the National Post. Boy, the parodies were too, too easy. Also, this is a great chance to catch my friend Lauryn Kronick onstage; moaning her pretty little head off, no less!

If I’ve missed anything, please post information about your event on my blog: https://jessicaruano.wordpress.com. Thanks for reading!

Artistically yours,

Jessica Ruano


Jessica Ruano
Ottawa Arts Enthusiast
Publicist, Journalist, and Theatre go-er


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… and that’s why I love it.

scenes from Poetics: a ballet brut

One of the first performances I caught at the 2010 PuSh Festival was called Poetics: a ballet brut by this New York group the Nature Theater of Oklahoma. I decided to attend this show on a whim, so I didn’t have the chance to read up on the company (bad blogger, bad!), and for that reason assumed that I was going to be watching something resembling a ballet.

I have learned never to make assumptions about festival performance.

Four odd-looking performers (two male, two female) take the stage wearing eclectic street garb (running shoes et al), holding grocery bags, and flirting passive-aggressively with each other. The closest thing to dance in the first fifteen minutes is a series of gestures, such as putting hands on hips, crossing arms above the head, making devil horns, and grabbing their own chests. What followed was a series of movement pieces that seemed to be based around yoga and aerobics.

Immediately I was disappointed, as I recognized this as one of those shows that has been put on earth to bug me: more concept than result, more comedy than actual dance talent; some post-modern garbage that young people put out there to be different.

And yet I was seduced. I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but at some point my eyes lit up and I thought to myself, This is genius. I think it was around the time the performers were doing some kind of rolling-in-your-sleep dance, and one of the guys rolled too far upstage and shrieked shrilly as he “fell” behind the curtain. It was a priceless, priceless moment: everybody got it and everybody laughed.

Then at another instance (at this point the upstage curtain has opened to reveal more audience seating) this guy strolls in — seemingly accidentally — from the back, and decides to find his place in the empty seats opposite us. As he watches the dancers, he pulls out his camera and snaps a picture of the dancers with flash. I think the funniest thing was how much this upset me: I get so annoyed with people who leave their cell phones on during a performance, or try to take pictures, or whisper back and forth. And yet, here it was, happening onstage in front of me, and it was part of the performance, so of course I had no right to be annoyed. It was so infuriating!

And then, near the end of the performance, the curtain opens yet again to reveal a 30-person dance chorus that participates only in the last few minutes of the show. And this was even more ridiculous! In my arts-administration mind, I imagined the cost of including all these dancers in the show and all the work involved for that short-lived routine, and it just boggled my mind. Same with the brief inclusion of the ballerina near the end — which, for me, made all sorts of implications about how street dance can influence classical dance, as she incorporated many of the contemporary movements they had used earlier into her routine.

This show is perfect for uptight people like me who need to loosen up a little bit.

Clark and I Somewhere in Connecticut was another odd performance. Wearing an adorable bunny suit, James Long (Theatre Replacement) recounts the tale of trying to put together a show based on a number of family photo albums he found abandoned in an alley way in Vancouver. He tried to contact the family to ask permission, and had some trouble with certain members who ordered him to drop the project immediately. This turned into a whole debate about morality, legality, copyright, and ownership.

This show was originally presented two years ago at PuSh, mere weeks after Long was told he couldn’t use the material. Within that short period of time, he had to rework the show entirely to be in accordance with the family’s wishes, but still retain his sense of artistic integrity and share the story of which he had grown so fond. I think seeing this same show two years ago would have captured that sense of urgency and made for a really exciting performance. The one I saw this week, while delightful, was a tad too relaxed; and until a certain secret is revealed at the end, I wondered what the point of this would ultimately be.

That being said, Long is a wonderful performer: his writing style reminded me of a lot of storytelling and spoken word I’ve seen recently. I’ve learned that people love sharing stories and hearing shared stories, and that’s exactly what he is doing — offering up fragments of this simple family that has a dog and goes to the cottage with lots of children and takes lots of photos. It fills a basic need, provides a human connection. After the show as everyone was piling out of the theatre, I noticed an elderly couple still sitting in their seats, gazing at the empty stage, just holding each other. I’m not sure if it was because of the show, but I’d like to think so.

I’m glad I had the chance to see the video presentation of The Passion of Joan of Arc. The screening of this 1928 silent film was held at the gorgeous Christ Church Cathedral and was accompanied by the Eye of Newt Ensemble and singer Vivane Houle performing a new score by Vancouver composer Stefan Smulovitz. The film is haunting and the music was beautiful.

Also it gave me some context for another performance I saw two days later…

Reid Farrington’s The Passion Project is an electrifying work that compresses the entirety of Carl Dreyer’s classic silent film The Passion Of Joan Of Arc into a 30-minute concentration of movement, projection, installation and sound collage. The audience surrounds a 10×10 foot area, flooded by four projectors, in which Laura K. Nicoll meticulously arranges and rearranges a number of parchment screens in a series of choreographed movements that explode the film into three dimensions. A transformative and dynamic sculpture takes form as the hanging canvases grab hold of the fleeting, flickering images.

Reading the program, I was excited to note that Farrington is a former member of the Wooster Group, that very famous experimental theatre company based in New York. I had read so much about the collective, so I was glad to get a taste of this video artist’s work.

I loved the urgency with which the dancer Nicoll captured each film image with her panels. It seemed to say something about our desire to archive things that could very well be lost in time. This connects directly with the history of the film itself, so controversial that it had been destroyed and recreated more than once. This performance was more of a moving visual arts display than a theatre piece, and once I had that idea in my head, I could enjoy it entirely.

And that leads me to something I have been noticing lately about myself: I have become far less critical (far more open-minded, perhaps) when it comes to performance. Whenever I see something I don’t quite understand, or something that is unfamiliar to me, or something that I would not consider conventional “theatre”, I force myself to look at the piece from another point of view, to see its merits from an angle I had not considered.

This may be a good thing. After all, being open-minded opens up all sorts of possibilities and imaginative ideas; it makes room for discussion rather than flat-out criticism; it allows me to consider other genres and aesthetics when seeing theatre. I find that rather exciting.

But then, I don’t want to be one of those people who likes everything. I want to have strong opinions and strong tastes and be able to distinguish the brilliant from the banal. What do you think? Can I be open-minded and critical all at the same time?

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Greetings arts enthusiasts!

Last week I was at the grocery store and overheard the song “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” on the sound system. Guess it’s that time again! Now I realize that many people embrace Christmas time and savour every snowfall, while other people despise the very mention of the holiday season. So I’ve divided this month’s newsletter into two sections: Christmas time joyful activities, and other stuff to distract the Grinches.

Have fun!


December – January
Eddie May Murder Mysteries presents “And To All a Good Knife”

Just when I started talking about Yuletide joy, Eddie May goes and puts a knife through it! Experience interactive dinner theatre with some of Ottawa’s funniest performers, including newcomers Sterling Lynch and Michelle Leblanc. You can catch the show at the Velvet Room, or at the National Arts Centre; there’s also a show called “Survive This!” on tour.

December 3 to 19
The Gladstone presents “The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society’s Production of a Christmas Carol”

Speaking of hilarious theatre, this one should be a hoot. A misfit group of ladies decide to mount A Christmas Carol, and things go horribly, horribly wrong. Features a great collection of local talent, including Kristina Watt, Colleen Sutton, and Chris Ralph. The Gladstone will be holding a food drive for families in need, so bring your canned goods to the show!

December 5
Tarts and Crafts Holiday Edition

Avoid the crowded malls… and hit up the crowded craft sales! But seriously, Tarts and Crafts has locally made, creative, original gifts for the whole family; you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the variety. Get there early to get the good stuff!

Thursday, December 7
Musica Viva Singers “Vespers and Carols”

Highly recommended by Brian Carroll and Barb Popel, this Christmas concert in the Glebe features Mozart’s sublime Solemn Vespers (note: not actually solemn at all!) and many other works, as well as a special appearance by the Harmonia Choir of Ottawa.

December 8 to 26
The NAC English Theatre presents “A Christmas Carol”

Knowing director Peter Hinton, this will be A Christmas Carol like you’ve never seen it before. With Stephen Ouimette as Ebenezer Scrooge and local actors Kris Joseph, Matt Miwa, and John Koensgen, you can expect great things with this production. Also, this is the first time we’ll be seeing a performance from the National Arts Centre Resident Company; this company has been in the making for some time, so I’m looking forward to seeing how it pans out.

Sunday, December 13
Arts Court presents a “Holiday Helping of Christmas Soup” starring Jen Gould

Children, aged two to six and their adult accompaniment, will delight in some of Juno award winning Jen Gould’s best-loved tunes, and may experience a Winter Wonderland after the show. I do realize that most of my readers aren’t between the ages of two and six, but sometimes kids’ activities are just what we need at Christmas time!

Tuesday, December 15
Ottawa International Children’s Festival presents “Angel Square”

Check out this special performance fundraiser for the Children’s Festival, the second-annual staged reading of Brian Doyle’s Angel Square, adapted and directed by Ottawa writer-director Janet Irwin. This performance features actors Todd Duckworth, Mary Ellis, Andy Massingham, Sara McVie and Alix Sideris, CBC Radio’s Alan Neal, and a group of Canterbury High School students.


December 1 to 2
Pixie Cram film trilogy release: Nature and Technology

The Nature and Technology trilogy will be screened in its entirety for the first time at Club SAW, and include themes of cyborgs, cloning, and artificial intelligence, with a focus on the natural world and questions of human creation and responsibility. Set in rural locations, the films are also linked by a sense of isolation and mystery.

December 2 to 5
MiCasa Theatre presents “Countries Shaped Like Stars” vs. “Inclement Weather”

Both these crowd-favourites sold out at this year’s Ottawa Fringe Festival, and now they’re back for a short run at the Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre before touring across the country in January. Whimsical and playful with elements of clown, these productions showcase the many talents of performers Nic DiGaetano and Emily Pearlman. Bring the kids!

December 6
Komi Olaf’s exhibit “Angels of Music”

Spoken word performer / visual artist Komi Olaf captures various Iconic Musicians through an artistic translation of portraiture. The exhibition will open at the National Arts Centre- Salon and will run throughout the month of December at the Ottawa Public Library. The paintings are accompanied with music from Dj Memetic and Musk Ox.

Saturday, December 12
GuerillaLIVE Sin+Innocence

Guerilla Magazine and The Loft salon on Elgin Street invite you to a sinfully innocent night out to celebrate in high style. Don’t miss the launch of Guerilla #22 online and in print!

Wednesday, December 16
Dipna Horra in “The Colonial Times”

Check out this intimate sound installation where a teapot, a tea cup and a table tell stories of migration from multitalented Ottawa artist Dipna Horra.

Thursday, December 17
isme(e) Performance Cabaret – Third Year Anniversary

Catch an evening of great performances and lots of experimentation at the 3 year anniversary of isme(e) performance cabaret, one of my favourite underground events. Rumour has it: I’ll be performing. But shhh, that’s a secret.


For the national multimedia challenge entitled Roots/Racines, CBC Television is calling on Canadians of all stripes who have a story to tell about their roots/identity to turn their tale into a short film or web/multimedia production (film, animation, slide show, podcast) for a chance to win professional equipment (iMacs, camcorders, etc) and gain international recognition. For more information, visit www.rcinet.ca/roots

Thanks for reading! If I’ve missed anything, please post your event information on my website at https://jessicaruano.wordpress.com/blog

Artistically yours,

Jessica Ruano


Jessica Ruano
Ottawa Arts Enthusiast
Publicist, Journalist, and Theatre go-er



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