Archive for the ‘Literary Arts’ Category

Poetry in all forms has become my obsession these days. I especially love learning about powerful female voices that speak for their country with grace and elegance and some rather shocking imagery.

Valzhyna Mort from Laura Hope-Gill on Vimeo.

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The Canadian Festival of Spoken Word (CFSW 2010 Ottawa www.cfsw.ca) returns to the capital for the first time since its inception in 2004 with the largest slam-focused spoken word event in Canadian history. From October 12 to 16, 2010, Ottawa will be treated to a wide-ranging display of Canadian slam poetry and spoken word featuring over 100 of the best spoken word poets from 15 communities across Canada.

Capital Slam: John Akpata, PrufRock, Chris Tse, OpenSecret, and Brandon Wint

Over the course of five nights, 18 teams participate in highly competitive poetry slams that will determine this year’s Canadian Slam Champions. Home of the defending champions, Ottawa has two teams – Capital Slam and Urban Legends – attempting to keep the title in the capital this year.

Truth Is...

CFSW 2010 Ottawa features some of the biggest names in spoken word, most notably Dwayne Morgan with Toronto’s Up From the Roots, Truth Is… with the Burlington Slam, RC Weslowski from Vancouver, El Jones from Halifax, and John Akpata on Ottawa’s Capital Slam team.

CFSW 2010 Ottawa opens with a Francophone Showcase featuring Outaouais poet Marjolaine Beauchamp and closes with performances by the festival’s Poets of Honour Anthony Bansfield a.k.a. ‘the nth digri’ and Shauntay Grant.

CFSW 2010 Ottawa’s Daytime Programming is entirely FREE! Poets and poetry enthusiasts are welcome to attend workshops and panel discussions on poetry writing, spoken word in schools, and connecting with other arts organizations. There will also be a Last Chance Slam on October 12 to determine the festival’s ‘Wild Card’ Team, a Youth Showcase on October 13, and a Steve Sauvé Memorial Nerd Showcase on October 14. The poets will hit the streets of Ottawa ‘Guerrilla style’ on the afternoon of October 15 to perform random acts of poetry in the downtown core.

Following the slams, there will be late-night events highlighting the poetry of music: the Poetry & Music Cabaret featuring Scruffmouth, Moe Clark, and SPIN on October 13; the Slam After-Party with Montréal’s DJ Cosmo on October 14; and Toronto’s Kobo Town and Ottawa’s John Carroll & the Epic Proportions will grace the stage on October 15.

Shane Koyczan

Spoken word poetry in Canada has boomed over the last few years with numerous achievements across the country and around the world. In January of this year, Shane Koyczan introduced spoken word to the world at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver when he performed his poem “We Are More” at the Opening Ceremonies. This past summer, Ottawa’s Ian Keteku, member of the spoken word group The Recipe and one of the workshop facilitators at CFSW 2010 Ottawa, won the World Poetry Slam Cup in Paris, France.

The Canadian Festival of Spoken Word takes place in numerous venues in downtown Ottawa (see the attached CFSW 2010 Ottawa press release and schedule for details) from October 12 to 16, 2010. For more information, please call the CFSW 2010 Ottawa hotline 613 301 8648, email info[at]cfsw[dot]ca, or visit www.cfsw.ca.

Tickets and Passes

Tuesday FREE ALL DAY | Slams Wednesday and Thursday $10 at the door

Semi-Finals Friday $10 adv./$15 door | Finals Saturday $15 adv./$20 door

Festival Pass $40

Advance Tickets and Festival Passes available

East African Restaurant | 376 Rideau Street | 613 789 7397

Compact Music | 190 Bank St. | 613 233 7626 | 785½ Bank St. | 613 233 8922

Vertigo Records | 193 Rideau Street | 613 241 1011

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Mary Lavers

Writing a thesis can be overwhelming, but it isn’t actually that time-consuming. In fact, I would say that for every two hours I spend working on my thesis, I spend another ten hours complaining about it to my friends, family, colleagues and strangers in the street. My friend Mary Lavers – who shares my mischievous streak – was ‘kind’ enough to offer another perspective on the situation, but, in this case, from the point of view of someone who is not writing a thesis. I’m very grateful to her for writing the following poem and helping me to take my academic worries far less seriously.

And I plan to return the favour by writing my own response poem: you know, once I’ve finished writing my thesis… ;^)

Thesis Envy in the Post-Academic Female

I’m so jealous of people who have written a thesis.
They always sound so smugly self-satisfied
(Is there any other way to be self-satisfied?)
(For that matter, is there any other way to be smug?)
Pretending to be sooo stressed
Because they’re writing their thesis;
We’ll just have to go out for coffee and catch up
Once I’ve finished writing my thesis;
I just haven’t any idea what’s going on in the world
I’ve been so busy writing my thesis;
Did I ask them to go for coffee and catch up on world events?
No! They mention it only so they have an excuse
To mention their thesis.
Hi, Mary? Hi, I just called to say I can’t talk—
I’m busy writing my thesis.

I want to write a thesis!
If I did, I would be sooo smug!
It’s all people would hear about for at least a year!
I’d go to parties just so I could tell people
What a relief it was to be out of the house,
I’ve been holed up writing my thesis, you know.
And then when it was done, I could talk about it forever!
Anything vaguely related would be an excuse
For me to say, “Speaking of which,
I wrote my thesis on that very thing!”
I’d be the girl who wrote a thesis!
I bet Mary knows a lot about that.
I mean, she did write her thesis on it!
Let’s ask her and bask in her intellectual superiority.
She’s the smartest person we know!
I’m not as smart as Mary—I didn’t write a thesis!

Except I didn’t write a thesis either.
I didn’t do an honours degree because
I didn’t finish the language requirement
And I never did go to graduate school.
I’ve been out of school for ten years now
And people never ask me to be an expert on things.

That’s IT.
I’m going to write one anyway.
I’m writing a thesis!
I’m going to call it, “Thesis Envy in the Post-Academic Female”—
I’ve already done the research—I’ve lived it!
I’ll take two years and devote them to nothing but
The pursuit of academic excellence
And future smug-ery.
Oh, the conversations I will have
With hapless strangers at parties!
I’m writing my thesis, you know.
Yes, it is a lot of work. I’ll be so glad when it’s over!
I’ll say, secretly loving every moment.

Okay, here I go, I’m starting.
I’m writing my thesis.




I don’t wanna write my damn thesis!

 © Mary Lavers 2010

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So it’s the last weekend of the Ottawa Fringe. Not sure what to see? Not sure how to best spend your time? I highly recommend checking out FullyFringed.ca for a complete list of reviews. That’s right: we fifteen theatre critics have successfully reviewed every single show at this year’s Fringe. Woot!

I reviewed five shows, which can be seen by clicking the following links:

Every Job I’ve Ever Had

Love and Hate in the Post Modern Age


It’s Just a Stage

7 (x1) Samurai

Also, I would highly recommend the following shows:

featuring local talent Margo MacDonald (also the playwright) and Sarah Finn

Cactus – the Seduction…
featuring Fringe veteran Jonno Katz, who is taking this show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer

7 (x) Samurai
featuring David Gaines (just read my review)

The Duck Wife
Inuit myth narrated by a live rock band and illustrated by erotic duck choreography. Need I say more?

Six: At Home
site-specific magic created by Emma Zabloski and the cast

Mixing Boal: Kitchen of the Oppressed
an interactive cooking show conceived by Bronwyn Steinberg

The Beer Tent Reflux
because Kel and David mention me in the show, and I’m vain like that

The Capital Poetry Collective presents ‘The Adorkables’
uh, I’m in this show, and no, I’m not biased; it will be truly awesome

I have also heard great things about:

The Peter and Chris Show!

The Sputniks

The Last Straight Man in Theatre

Purely Cabaret

Phone Whore

Men Telling Stories

Multinational gRape Corporations

A Day in the Life of Miss Hiccup

Oh heck, just see all of them. You have four days left. GO!

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year! 10 days of theatre, fun, and scandal. I am so excited.

I’ve been involved with the Ottawa Fringe Festival in one way or another since 2001. I started out as a volunteer; I directed a multicultural, bilingual, spoken word romance in 2005; and I’ve covered the festival for various publications.

This year I’m involved with the festival as both a reviewer and a performer. Hello, conflict of interest!

As a reviewer, I will be writing for Fully Fringed, a brand new initiative that aims to review every single show at the Ottawa Fringe Festival. That’s 63 local, national, and international productions altogether. The Wellington Oracle and Apartment 613 have joined forces to create this fantastic website that will feature the work of 15 informed and enthusiastic local theatre critics. Mainstream print newspapers no longer have the means to cover Ottawa theatre as much as they might like (as much as I might like…), so the fabulous social media folks will be taking the lead this time. Go team!

Another new initiative at this year’s Ottawa Fringe Festival is The Jessie. You’ll be able to find this gossip sheet at all Fringe venues and scattered around the Fringe Courtyard. Produced by Evan Thornton and co-edited by Sterling Lynch and yours truly, this newsletter will tell you everything you wanted to know – and didn’t want to know – about the Ottawa Fringe. Please send gossip tips to thejessie2010@yahoo.ca.

Finally – as you can see in my Upcoming Performances section – I will be performing with amazing spoken word artists from the Capital Poetry Collective in the BYOV (Bring Your Own Venue) in the basement of the Royal Oak at 161 Laurier Avenue East, near the University of Ottawa. Tickets are $10 at the door, and all shows start at 9:15pm. Contact me directly if you want to take part in the Open Poetry Show on Saturday, June 26. All poets are welcome!

Here’s the full schedule:

June 19 and 20 : “Attack of the Dreadlocks” John Akpata and Prufrock

June 21 and 22 : “The Copper Conundrum” Danielle K. L. Gré goire, Rusty Priske, and Kevin Matthews

June 23 : BWANAGEEK – The Life and Work of Steve Motherf@*!ing Sauve (A Rambling Nerd Epic)

June 24 and 25 : “The Adorkables”  Nadine Thornhill, Jessica Ruano, Faye Estrella, Thomas McKinlay

June 26 : Open Poetry Show: mixed bag of spoken word artists

*** Watch video interviews with the artists on Ottawa Tonite ***

There are dozens of incredible shows at the Ottawa Fringe Festival this year. And you only have from June 17 to 27 to see them! Check out the website http://www.ottawafringe.com/ for descriptions of the shows, or pick up a brochure on site. No matter which show(s) you choose to see, I guarantee you will have an amazing time.

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Perhaps not as catchy as the original nursery rhyme, but check this out!


I love love love it. Yesterday afternoon I strolled – large suitcase in hand – down to Trinity Buoy Wharf to meet with Mark Ball, the new Artistic Director of the London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT). I was fortunate enough to have met with Mark this past January when I was in Vancouver for the PuSh Festival. He was happy to answer all my questions about festivals  in London and share with me me his professional life story. I was amazed to find out that he launched his own festival when he was about my age, which makes me feel totally inadequate and inspired me at the same time.

It was a short meeting this time around, as he had several more appointments that afternoon and I wanted to meet my Grandma in time for dinner. But it did give me the chance to see the main office (see photo above) – where approximately a dozen people work on various laptops across a long table – and learn about volunteering opportunities at the festival in July. I’m applying for a position called Group Host for a company visiting from Tunisia: it would involve meeting the company members upon their arrival, making sure they get around the city safely, and translating for them (they are a French-speaking group; guess I’ll have to brush up!) when necessary. Sounds like a great way for me to become better acquainted with London and with the international festival theatre community.

Other theatrical things I’ve done in London so far…

  • Attended Thomas Middleton’s Jacobean tragedy Women Beware Women at the National Theatre on Monday evening. This is a play with which I was not familiar, but I am so glad I was invited to attend because the production was truly excellent. Probably one of the best productions I have ever seen. This review in The Independent pretty much covers how I feel about it, especially the critic’s description of the final scene as “a bloodbath that makes the last scene of Hamlet look like a nursery game”. Furthermore, if you’re an actress looking for classical audition monologues that are not from Shakespeare, then look no further: the women have plenty to say in this story.
  • Attended a two-play reading at the Queens Theatre on Wednesday evening. This event was sort of hit and miss. The first play about two women struggling with complacency in Nazi Germany seemed unlikely, and the staging was pretty rotten all around. I think it would have been to the playwright’s advantage had this been a simple reading rather than a staged reading; it was difficult to give (anonymous) feedback at the end because I was so focused on the staging distractions. The second play was much better in all respects: reminiscent of an Alan Ayckbourn comedy with a darker twist near the end, as well as some fun analogies about life as a cricket game. But the winning performance of the evening was from an Irish poet named Matt Dunphy, who maintained such a warm relationship with the audience as he quietly, yet powerfully shared with us three poems entitled “This is the Land”, “Song for Returning Soldiers”, and “The Triumph of Love”. Apparently he has a myspace page, but I can’t find it. So if he actually contacts me with that business card I gave him, then I’ll get back to you.

I return to Canada on Friday (volcanic ash permitting…), but not quite to Ottawa: I’ll be in Toronto for the weekend to see Catalyst Theatre’s production of Frankenstein at Canstage. This is the show that preceded Nevermore, and I’m so looking forward to seeing the live production after having watched the archival videos several times. I may be one of those irritating people who sings along with the performers. Please don’t hate me.

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On my last day in Cardiff, I attended (and performed at!) a monthly event called Poetry on Tap hosted by local poets Ivy Alvarez and Mab Jones. A.L.bion has read most of my poems, but she had never seen them performed live – or attended any poetry show, for that matter – , so I was glad that she and her daughter (herein referred to as “little w”) were able to come along.

This particular show took place in a new venue this month: an upstairs room in a Louisiana style restaurant called Old Orleans, very much like Fat Tuesdays in Ottawa, where Eddie May Murder Mysteries performs. We stopped in to pay cover (£4, or £2 for open mic participants) and I signed up for the open mic, and then we went for a walk around the block to amuse little w until the show started.

Then something happened that sort of tainted this otherwise pleasant experience. Upon our return, we were told – and there was no mention of this earlier – that we would also have to pay the entry fee for little w, who, by the way, is only 4 years old. It seemed as though this request was being made only because attendance this month was much lower than anticipated; only a third of the chairs were filled. And, as it was explained to me, the organizers “had to pay for the room.” Having worked in publicity and event organizing, I completely understand how frustrating it is to have unusually low attendance. However, as I am reminded by Kris Joseph’s blog post on The Gladstone’s recent marketing controversy, it is never – and I mean, never – appropriate to shift the blame to your audience. Especially the ones who actually show up.

Another way of handling this situation might have been to pass the hat at the end of the show, suggesting that people throw in an extra donation to support this emerging showcase for local artists. That would have been a much friendlier approach and much less awkward than asking someone to pay an entry fee for her preschool age daughter who would be spending the whole time quietly drawing pictures in a corner anyway.

The show itself was really lovely. Ivy started off the afternoon by reading from her new book called “Mortal” about Demeter and Persephone, one of my favourite Greek goddesses. Then the feature poet Mike Jenkins – winner of, like, every poetry award in Wales – performed the first half of his set. I was really impressed by his reading because despite the fact that he was, indeed, reading off the page, he still maintained a certain theatricality in his performance and was able to engage the audience to the end. I’ve found it is unusual for a “literary poet” (as opposed to a “performance poet”) to have that level of engagement in performance, but Mr. Jenkins clearly values both the literary and the performance aspects of the art form. And he had the most beautiful Welsh accent.

After a short break, there was the open mic that consisted of approximately half a dozen poets. One red haired girl read a poem she had written about the opening of a new mall on Queen Street; her playful lines and conversational tone made me smile. Another poet near the end sounded like he was freestyling, his rhymes telling the life story of a pub crawler in a certain part of town. Truly entertaining.

When I was called to the stage, I was delighted to see that little w had decided to join me. It was a surprising turn of events, as she had indicated earlier that she wasn’t yet ready to perform. I suppose seeing me up there inspired her to give it a try. I placed her on a chair so that she could reach the microphone, and together we sang “twinkle twinkle little star” for a room full of people. I think it’s one of the loveliest things that has ever happened to me. And then I performed a couple of poems: Dear Volcanic Ash and It Speaks Volumes — since, let’s just say, I’ve been in a romantic mood these days.

It seems as though my performance was well-received: Mr. Jenkins was invited to award prizes to two of the open-mic poets, and one of them was me! I got to bring home some delicious Darjeeling tea and a little case for it. Hope I can smuggle this stuff through customs!

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The role of a lifetime

Jessica Ruano to play Nadine’s Thornhill’s clitoris in the Spoken Word Plot

Ottawa, April 6, 2010: Most female performers dream of playing Desdemona or Hedda Gabler or Blanche Dubois. But local arts enthusiast Jessica Ruano has much higher aspirations. Since meeting local playwright/actor Nadine Thornhill over four years ago, Jessica has yearned to play the role of Nadine’s clitoris. As astonishing as it may seem, Jessica will have that opportunity on Sunday, April 11, 2010 when she and Nadine perform as headliners at the Spoken Word Plot in JR’s Downstairs Pub, 385 Ottawa Street in Almonte, Ontario.

“It’s a dream come true” says Jessica, between tears. “I performed the coochie-snorcher piece in the Vagina Monologues back in second year university, but this… this is the role of a life time. I feel like my years of clitoral experience are finally paying off.”

The poem, Clitoral Protestation, was originally written and performed as a solo piece by Nadine for a local erotica series called Talented Tongues. However, after having seen Jessica perform at other poetry events in Ottawa, Nadine realized that the role was ideal for this cunning linguist.

“The subtlety of Jessica’s performance style is just right for playing the clitoris,” explains Nadine. “In order to do the role justice, the performer should have certain sensitivity in regards to the female body, and know how to push all the right buttons.

Jessica Ruano and Nadine Thornhill perform a collaborative set of their own poems and storytelling pieces and haikus at the Spoken Word Plot this Sunday in Almonte. For more information, please follow this link to view the official press release.

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Greetings arts enthusiasts!

Hope everyone had a great World Theatre Day on March 27. Congratulations to new Ottawa theatre group Rock the Arts for winning the Ottawa Theatre Challenge with their awesome puppet show. I also really enjoyed Scott Florence’s tribute to Henrik Ibsen, featuring the Wakefield Nudes Calendar.

It seems like everyone has decided to take advantage of April Fools’ Day, so April 1 is jam packed full of events. Good luck trying to decide on just one activity!

As always, visit my website https://jessicaruano.wordpress.com for updates throughout the month, and feel free to add any upcoming April events in the comments section.

April 1
6th Annual Urbana


URBANA celebrates the tireless work of Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa that has been an important part of our community for 50 years. The evening includes urban rhythms by DJ Memetic, hors d’oeuvres and live visual art, created by young artists from YSB, under the direction of local artist and illustrator Jordan Kent. Ottawa’s own Funk Delivery, performing street style dance such as locking, popping and b-boying will be featured. There will also be a silent auction of unique pieces of art created on windows.

April 1
Mélissa Laveaux at the Black Sheep Inn

Mélissa Laveaux returns to our old stomping grounds to re-release a new-er version of her debut album on the Spectra Musique label. Available in France since 2008 on the No Format label, Mélissa’s album captures her distinctive voice, performing acoustic blues, soul, folk and calypso in English, Creole and French. I first saw Mélissa perform at Café Nostalgica when I was 16, and it is so satisfying to see her working as a successful international musician; she really deserves it.

April 1
Patrick John Mills Contemporary Fine Art Gallery presents Going Local

Now that’s a title I like to hear! This (free) exhibit runs all month, but on April 1st you can meet the artists from 6 to 9pm at the gallery, with a reception catered by Essence Catering. These local artists are: Dane Atkinson, David Cation, Chikozero Chazunguza, Angela McGowan, Daniel Martelock, Patrick John Mills, Daniel Nadeau, Dawn Sandy, Robert Toovey, and Mariam Qureshi. Video film by artist Marc Adornato. Sculptures by: Garry Bowes, Shaukat Chaney, Cairn Cunnane, and Stefan Thompson. Also, check out the monthly Gallery Hop with seven participating galleries, all in the same neighbourhood!

April 1 & 2
The Bus Driver’s Handbook to Far Flung Destinations

Don’t miss this theatre creation between two members of Tatiana Jenning’s Kadozuke Kollektif: Brad Long and Sean Robertson-Palmer. It takes place at the relatively new Guerilla Heart Juice Studio, 111-A Rideau Street. For me, this venue is fitting because I first met Brad through a GHJ workshop last summer; I can’t wait to see more of his work.

April 6 to 10
Unicorn Theatre presents Blood Relations

Winner of the Governor General’s Award, Blood Relations by Sharon Pollock is a metatheatrical approach to the story of Lizzie Borden, who was accused and acquitted of her parents murder in Massachusetts, 1892. Miss Lizzie and her close friend relive the events leading up to the murders, removing the boundaries of time from 1892 to 1902. This production is directed by Rideau Award Nominee (Outstanding Adaptation for Pirate Jenny‘s Circus, Counterpoint Players 2009) Bronwyn Steinberg, an MFA candidate in Directing for the Theatre at the University of Ottawa. Ivo Valentik is the set designer; Sarah Waghorn, the costume designer; and the show features prominent local actors Michelle Leblanc and Kelly Rigole. Looking forward to it!

Also, on Saturday, April 10 – the last day of the run – the University of Ottawa’s Department of Theatre will be hosting its inaugural multidisciplinary bilingual graduate student conference entitled Staging History in Canada. And I’ll be on one of the panels giving a paper about international festivals. For more information, visit this website: http://uottawatheatre.wordpress.com/

April 7
The A B Series presents Sonnet L’Abbé

Don’t miss Sonnet L’Abbé, the award-winning author of two collections of poetry, at the Mercury Lounge in the Byward Market.

April 7 to 24
The National Arts Centre English Theatre presents The Comedy of Errors

The NAC English Theatre concludes its 40th anniversary season with one of Shakespeare’s earliest and silliest comedies. I have never seen this play performed, so I’m glad to have the chance to see it now. With this show you get two sets of identical twins, mistaken identities, hilarious wordplay, and even a case of demonic possession. Inspired by Montreal’s crazed summer festival season, this show is directed by the one-and-only Peter Hinton and features local actor Paul Rainville.

April 11
The Spoken Word Plot presents Nadine Thornhill and Jessica Ruano

The Spoken Word Plot presents the poetic stylings of Ottawa-based writers/performers Nadine Thornhill and Jessica Ruano. Both feisty and thoughtful, these poetesses bring their personal stories to the stage with an adorkable elegance and a hint of mischief. Having both headlined separately at the Voices of Venus series at the Umi Cafe, we are super excited to be doing a show together for the first time. And if you need more incentive to attend – I’m going to be playing Nadine’s clitoris. Yes, you heard me.

April 13 to 24
Spring Fest 2010

SpringFest 2010 is a grassroots festival of local and regional poetry, visual arts, theatre, and music dedicated to the celebration of community and the emergence of spring. This celebration is for the people of Ottawa by the youth of Ottawa, and is a small effort against the homogeneity and elitism of art in our city. All are welcome at this festival featuring the same bards and artists who frequent the same parks, the same cafés, the same libraries, and the same community of neighbours.

April 13 to May 2
The Great Canadian Theatre Company presents Facts

Khalid Yassin, a Palestinian inspector and Yossi HaCohen, an Israeli detective are brought together under political pressure to solve the murder of an American archaeologist in the West Bank. But how do you solve a murder when all sides are suspect? A politically charged mystery, this new play by local playwright Arthur Milner looks at the space that lies somewhere between fact and fiction, truth and lies, friends and enemies. Don’t miss the world premiere directed by (former AD of the GCTC) Patrick McDonald.

April 14
Jer’s Vision Gala

Jer’s Vision: Canada’s Youth Diversity Initiative & the international Day of Pink celebrates its 5th anniversary at the Exchange in the Rideau Centre (formerly the Elephant and Castle). The FREE event will celebrate diversity, and will include a reception and performances all evening! I attend Jer’s Gala every year and it’s always a most wonderful evening. Actually, for a couple of years I stage managed the event: and let me tell you, you don’t know what stage managing is until you’ve done it with drag queens.

April 16
Halabisky’s Uprising Video Release Party

Check out local musician Dave Halabisky joined by Moka Only, directed by Luca Furgiuele at Zaphod Beeblebrox.

April 17
The Cube Salon
presents “carpe diem”

“Procrastini” is the name of Jonathan Koensgen’s playwriting debut on the Ottawa stage. Since he was first cast professionally at the age of 11, Koensgen has racked up stage and screen credits too numerous to list, and Cube Salon is thrilled to be working with him as he turns his theatre craft to the written page. With musical support from recording artist John Carroll.

April 22 to 27
Ottawa International Writers Festival

Festival season kicks off with the Ottawa International Writers Festival: the perfect event to stretch your literary muscles. The festival has a new home this year at the Mayfair Theatre in Old Ottawa South, with lunchtime programming back at the National Library and Archives. Full schedule available online!

Thanks for reading, and have a great month!

Artistically yours,

Jessica Ruano

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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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