Posts Tagged ‘Jessica Ruano’

SAPPHO …in 9 fragments by Jane Montgomery Griffiths transfers to The Rose, Bankside from 21st May to 2nd June, 2013. This politically-charged and visually-compelling solo performance, featuring the “magnetic” (RemoteGoat) Victoria Grove, achieved critical and popular acclaim with a sold-out extended run at the White Rabbit Theatre.

Rose“The Rose – part fringe theatre, part excavation site – is the perfect venue for a play about Sappho, whose extensive collection of poetry has been all but lost, save for a few fragments that suggest what might have existed; just like the foundations that permit us to imagine the theatre once used by Marlowe and Shakespeare” 

– Jessica Ruano, Director of SAPPHO …in 9 fragments

Following its two-week run in London’s historic venue, this “uncommonly exhilarating” (Exeunt Magazine) production begins a tri-city Canadian tour in June 2013, then plays at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 2013 at theSpace Venue 45. 

Within a secluded cavern, Ancient Greece’s first love poet laments her erasure from history, while a chorus girl named Atthis is seduced into a modern-day Sapphic romance.

Featuring Victoria Grove as Sappho/Atthis and directed by Jessica Ruano, this production is designed by Ana Ines Jabares, with lighting by Sarah Crocker, sound by Luca Romagnoli, and aerial work by Jani Nightchild.

SAPPHO …in 9 fragments plays at The Rose, Bankside, 56 Park Street, London, SE1 9AS (near London Bridge Station) from 21st May to 2nd June, 2013, Tuesday to Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 3pm. Tickets are £12 (£10 concessions) at wegottickets.com

For more information: 0207 261 9565, info@rosetheatre.org.uk, and rosetheatre.org.uk.

For a one-minute trailer of the show, please visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UN2E8j5UfiE 

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Sappho Poster low res

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A Clown Wedding at the Eiffel Tower

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You told me once “Don’t pout. It’s unbecoming”

And I cried for a week

You told me I should develop a thicker skin

And I wondered why you felt the need to teach me that lesson

When it was you who seemed to value my skin for its softness

And my lips for their sweetness

And my body for its tendency

To let you in


In this sometimes harsh world, is it any surprise

That kind words are desperately sought after

Even if they’re not always sincere

Even if it’s just a ploy to get ahead

To get me into bed

Because then, hey,

At least I’m getting laid


I will soak up your sweethearts and lovers’ talk

Like syrup on pancakes

I will sacrifice my working hours

For some quality time and late-morning showers

Even if, in the end, my efforts are not matched

And the result is frustration, disappointment, distress…


When my mother finds me grieving over yet another seething injustice

She says to me, fondly

“You’ve been this intense since you were five years old”

And while I’m not entirely sold on the idea

That our personalities are determined at such a young age

It gratifies me to realize that I haven’t yet passed that stage

Because the truth is

I don’t want to develop a thicker skin

I don’t want to win arguments based in unfair fashion

Or use my passion to formulate malicious attacks

Or pack my slate full of anger and hate

Because while I’ve been hurt

I’ve not yet been broken

And while I’ve spoken my mind about the kind of lovers I’ve known

The kind who’ve shown themselves unworthy of the title


My tone, I believe, has always been mischievous, playful, without regret

And I begin each new love affair full of unabashed optimism

Yes, it’s a constant struggle

But each new person is different

And each new person has the potential

Has the essential elements that make it possible to feel something


And with a thicker skin, I’m afraid I might not be able to sense your soft eyelashes brush my face

Or your careful fingertips along the sides of my neck

Or your gentle lips pause against the backs of my knees

I never want to close myself off or shut myself up or turn my face away

To protect myself from what you might say

Because what you might say might be beautiful

You see

Sometimes I can feel my heart beat

And I never want to lose that feeling

Written by Jessica Ruano

September 2010

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The Newstalgica Poetry Series celebrates the autumn season with performance poet Jessica Ruano and the musicopoetic grooves of Poem de Terre. Hosted by Devin Zane Shaw and J. F. Lafleche.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Open Mic 8:30pm
Featured Performers 9:30pm

Cafe Nostalgica

603 Cumberland Street

Jessica Ruano is a writer of press releases, newspaper articles, romantic emails, blog entries, brochures, academic papers, and – occasionally – of short stories and poetry. She has performed with the Capital Poetry Collective, the Oneness Poetry Collective, Talented Tongues, at a Canteen Gallery Vernissage, and as the feature poet in the Voices of Venus series.

Poem de Terre is a multi-disciplinary ensemble melding live folk music and spoken word with contemporary and more established musical forms. Poem de Terre draws upon many influences to create music for the new millenium. As much as the music, words are central to Poem de Terre’s work, bringing stories and ideas to the community in the form of live performance.

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City gems found in local arts trove

By Jessica Ruano

Ottawa residents benefit from having the National Arts Centre, the Canada Council for the Arts, the National Gallery of Canada, and a plethora of national museums and cultural institutions. There is also a thriving local arts scene including the Ottawa School of Art, local theatre groups, numerous galleries, arts festivals, and dance troupes. This has resulted in a multi-layered arts scene that continues to attract both artists and audiences alike. Consider just some of these local arts events that have occurred in recent times.

The new Artistic Director of the National Arts Centre (NAC) English Theatre is known for his work on a national scale but nowadays Peter Hinton is concentrating on making Ottawa an exciting place for theatre. Local projects like The Ark involve theatre students from the University of Ottawa by encouraging them to lay the groundwork for future seasons and explore drama in contemporary social context. Hinton invites out-of-town actors to perform locally, and Ottawa actors had the opportunity to tour this season’s production of Macbeth at the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton. The NAC is exchanging artistic ideas on a national level, while still providing opportunities for local actors.

Inspired by our local theatre scene chock full of talent, a handful of professional artists programmed Ottawa’s first annual Rideau Awards show in April 2008.These peer-assessed awards recognized knock-out performances and stellar productions from Ottawa companies such as Third Wall Theatre Company, New Theatre of Ottawa, Gruppo Rubato, and 7:30 Productions.

With a shortage of performance venues in Ottawa, several new buildings have been created to provide outlets for local artists. The appearance of a brand new theatre building, several art galleries, and a better focus on general aesthetics has made the neighbourhood of Hintonburg one of the hottest new spots for Ottawa culture. The major contribution to this transformation was the creation of the Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre, home of the Great Canadian Theatre Company and Third Wall. Also providing “found” performance spaces are Cube Gallery and the Elmdale Tavern, demonstrating that shows can be enjoyed in the most surprising of locations.

St. Brigid’s Centre for the Arts and Humanities has become a most astonishingly beautiful venue for local arts events. The newly deconsecrated Roman Catholic Church on St. Patrick Street is the ideal spot for hosting Ottawa Writers Festival readings, unique art installations and other arts celebrations. In terms of festivals, the annual Magnetic North Theatre Festival and Québec Scene made quite an impression last spring by providing Ottawa arts fans with an infusion of national culture in the capital. The Ottawa Fringe Festival mixes local, national, and international theatre performances in its 10-day celebration of alternative arts in June. The Jazz and Blues festivals still trumpet celebrity acts, but also focus on amazing local bands like Soul Jazz Orchestra. A notable addition to the festival scene is Ottawa’s Photography Festival, which began in November of 2007 and showcased local photographers’ artwork in various downtown studios.

There also exists something artists like to call “poetry clubbing.” From the time that Ottawa hosted the very first Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, the slam poetry scene has been booming with new artists constantly adding themselves to the mix. Slam, by the way, is poetry in competition form: poets perform 3-minute poems that are scored by a handful of randomly selected judges from the audience. It is fast-paced, exciting, and encourages a variety of styles. Since the Capital Poetry Collective appeared on the scene a few years ago, a number of sister companies, such as the Oneness Collective in downtown Ottawa and the Spoken Word Plot in the Ottawa valley, have been spreading the word.

Ottawa’s arts scene is extensive. The events that have occurred in the past couple of years have played a major part in the improvement of certain communities, contributed to the education and involvement of artistic youth, and provided opportunities for artists to live and work in Ottawa. Our local arts community is alive and thriving, and there is still much more to come.

Jessica Ruano is a freelance theatre professional and the creator/writer of the Ottawa Arts Newsletter.

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My article found at Guerilla Magazine website: http://www.getguerilla.ca

I have made a fantastic discovery about Ottawa – a mind-blowing, unbelievable, revolutionary secret that I have decided to share with you all right here, right now. Believe it or not, Ottawa has a living, breathing, gorgeously subsisting local arts scene.
This summer our nation’s capital is simply brimming with thrilling events to keep you out and about every day. And I consider it my personal responsibility to inform each and every citizen of Ottawa of the best places to get your cultural fix.
Ottawa Festivals

Summertime in Ottawa is festival season, so pitch a tent, bring a lawn-chair, and enjoy chocolate fondue amidst the rifts of blues and jazz. Here, I would like to recommend a few hidden gems this summer: some lesser known, though no less exciting, festivals that sometimes fly below the mainstream arts radar.

Put on your breakdancing shoes and check out Hip Hop 360 (June 11-15), presented by the Canada Dance Festival. This national urban arts festival features performances by some of Canada’s wildest and most talented hip hop groups, including Montreal’s Rubberbandance Group. On the last day of the festival catch House of Paint—a summer block party with b-boy and b-girl battling, DJs, workshops, and freestyling—under Dunbar Bridge near Carleton University. Decypher Cru member Sabra Ripley is the passionate local voice behind this event, determined to bring together Ottawa artists in celebration of legal graffiti in the city. For more: www.canadadance.ca/hiphop360.htm and www.houseofpaint.wordpress.com.Image

For theatrical types with an edge, the Ottawa Fringe Festival (June 19-29) features local, national, and international performances in venues across downtown Ottawa. All 40 or so companies are chosen by lottery, so the performances range from good to bad to really, really ugly. Want to make sure you catch the top-notch stuff? Hang out around the Fringe tent and eavesdrop on artists gossiping about which shows are utter bombs and which will change your life for the better. My experiences with the Fringe have included getting kissed onstage by an Australian busker, verbally harassed by a casting couch cougar, and photographed for a mosaic art piece. For more: www.ottawafringe.com.

Later this summer the city of Almonte (only a short drive from downtown Ottawa) becomes positively infested with dozens of gorgeous puppets. I’ve attended the Puppets Up Festival (August 9 and 10) every year since its inception in 2005, and I have always been impressed with the variety of puppetry styles from all around the world. This year the festival features ten puppet troupes from across Canada, the United States, Mexico and, Budapest, Hungary. But wait, there’s more! You can also witness a wonderful parade featuring look-alike puppets of politicians and celebrities made by local craftspeople. Find out more about this amazing festival and their pre-festival workshops at www.puppetsup.ca.

More cool festivals this summer:
Westfest (June 11-15) www.westfest.ca
Jazz Festival (June 20 to July 1) www.ottawajazzfestival.com
Blues Festival (July 3-13) www.ottawabluesfest.ca
Buskers Festival (August 1-4) www.sparksstreetmall.com
Folk Festival (August 14-17) www.ottawafolk.org

Outdoor Theatre

Most theatre companies take a break over the summer months, but luckily there are a few choice outdoor productions in parks across Ottawa to keep us entertained. Braving wind and rain, black flies and mosquitoes, as well as vandals and voyeurs, these companies overcome all obstacles for local audiences to enjoy theatre in the great outdoors.

Throughout the Italian Renaissance commedia dell’arte theatre troupes would act out hilarious scenarios by playing stock characters (the lecherous old man, the seductive young woman, the melodramatic lovers, the mischievous servant) in elaborate and colourful masks. A mere few centuries later, Odyssey Theatre began performing commedia-inspired shows in Strathcona Park to the delight of Ottawa audiences. Now in their 23rd season, Odyssey Theatre presents a new “In the Works” Festival (August 6-17) that showcases seven new plays by local writers, including a theatrical adaptation of a Mozart opera, two one-man shows and a youth matinee. For more: www.odysseytheatre.ca.

Meanwhile, the local troupe A Company of Fools tours Ottawa parks this summer with Shakespeare’s most popular comedic tragedy, Romeo and Juliet (July 3 to August 4). The Fools are famous for their wacky interpretations of the Bard’s works, played in past seasons with garden tools, puppets, and musical numbers. Directed by Fools favourite Al Connors, this show features Emmanuelle Zeesman, Richard Gelinas, and the entire Theatrophy group (Nick di Gaetano, Aron de Casmaker, and Jesse Buck) who recently performed their show Moribund at the new Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre. The Fools are fun for all ages! For more: www.fools.ca.

More outdoor theatre to enjoy this summer:
Salamander Theatre presents A Midsummer Night’s Dream (July 8-31, August 19-24 and 27-30) http://www.salamandertheatre.ca
Ottawa Stilt Union presents This is a Very Old Story (June 19-27 and July 4) www.ottawastiltunion.ca.

Urban Arts Scene

Ottawa is crammed full of independent art galleries showcasing the best of local artistic talent. One of my new favourites is La Petite Mort Gallery just outside the Byward Market. Each exhibit at this gallery sparks conversation and controversy, and once in awhile they have one that is just plain adorable. Puppy Love: The Artist as Dog (June 6-29) is just what it sounds like: the artists were asked to present themselves in their chosen mediums as dogs. Expect some very unusual interpretations from these artists: cute dogs, devilish dogs, and dogs with serious attitude. For more: www.lapetitemortgallery.com.

Slam poetry is Canada’s hippest new art form and is now securing its place in the Ottawa arts scene. The Capital Poetry Collective hosts monthly slam competitions at the Mercury Lounge where local performance poets show off their stuff for enthusiastic crowds, and each performance is critiqued by a handful of randomly selected judges. At the final competition this year (June 7), find out which four poets will make the Ottawa team that will then compete at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word. The Ottawa team will perform collectively for the first time at the Dusty Owl Reading Series (July 20). For more: www.capitalslam.com and www.dustyowl.com.

More hot picks for the summer:
Ottawa Storytellers (various events) www.ottawastorytellers.ca
Ottawa Writers Festival (various events) www.writersfestival.org
Art in the Park (June 7 and 8 ) www.artinfoboy.org
New Theatre of Ottawa’s Disaster (June 18-29) www.geocities.com/newtheatreottawa
Toto Too Theatre’s Memoirs of a Single Gay White Male (July 16-19) www.tototoo.caImage

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Compass Points Symposium — Check out my blog
Questions for Jessica Ruano
Survey by Liz Truchanowicz

  1. Tell us about you. What came first Jessica Ruano or jessicaruano.wordpress.com?

I suppose I came first, unless we are referring to my public persona, in which case the answer to that question is debatable.

In Ottawa, I have worked as a publicist, arts journalist, photographer, drama coach, director, spoken word performer, and general arts enthusiast. I attended Canterbury High School for theatre, and have just completed an undergraduate degree in English and Theatre at the University of Ottawa. I return to the university in the fall for the new Masters program in Theatre Theory and Dramaturgy.

In addition to updating this website, I also have regular arts columns in Guerilla Magazine (www.getguerilla.ca) and the Ottawa Life Magazine (www.ottawalife.com), and I freelance with Capital Xtra.

Throughout high school, I wondered if I could find a career in theatre based purely on enthusiasm for the art form. Apparently, the answer is yes.

  1. Your Blog is called The Ottawa Arts Newsletter. However, you have been sending out Monthly Newsletters via email for a number of years now – so what’s the connection? And why the jump to blogging?

I started The Ottawa Arts Newsletter website mostly for archival purposes. I wanted an online outlet to store my past newsletters. I was also hoping to acquire more subscribers, and a website is a good way to spread the word. Since the wordpress format allows for several pages, I decided to expand my writings to include regular updates from the arts scene (press releases, audition notices, show announcements), commentaries and reviews, and listings of numerous Ottawa arts companies. I decided that this website could be an outlet for Ottawa arts patrons to find out more about their own community, and also a helpful page for tourists.

  1. With your blog, has this changed the style or substance of your monthly newsletters?

The website has certainly helped me increase the number of subscribers. And that means more people are sending me suggestions for events to promote. My newsletter, on average, contains 10 arts events to check out every month. Now I have to pick and choose, and I try to keep my descriptions quite brief. This newsletter isn’t intended to be heavy reading, but sometimes there is just so much to talk about!

I think I’ve also become a little more political recently. Before I start talking about the arts events, I usually write a little introduction that addresses issues I find important in the Ottawa community. Whether it’s lack of arts coverage from the print media, or difficulties in finding performance space, I think it’s important that these topics are made public.

  1. You are very supportive and involved in the Ottawa Theatre community. Where do you see the place of your blog within the Ottawa Theatre community?

I hope that my website gets people excited about what’s happening in the Ottawa theatre community. There are some people who think that Ottawa doesn’t have an arts scene. Other people think Ottawa only has a national arts scene. In my newsletter, I like to focus on what is available locally. I like to mention local performers, local theatre companies, and local arts exhibits. I think it’s important for our community to be proud of its accomplishments, and to strive for better things.

I do think arts coverage in Ottawa is absolutely pathetic. If people think Ottawa is lacking in arts events, it’s only because the media isn’t putting much effort into covering what IS going on. Newspapers are cutting down on their arts coverage all the time, and what they do cover is mostly celebrity gossip and Hollywood movies. The Ottawa Citizen, for example, has now combined the “Arts” section with the “Life” section, so now the theatre community is luck if it gets one article a week. The Ottawa Xpress is filled with advertisements and contains very little theatre content, at least in comparison with its sister paper, Voir in Montreal. I mean, their theatre writer – though she is a lovely person – doesn’t even live in Ottawa!

Point being: I like to offer a local, involved perspective on the Ottawa arts scene that I think is lacking is most popular media.

  1. Who reads your blog and who is your intended audience? The theatergoing public, the non-theatergoing public, other theatre artists?

It’s hard to know, actually! My newsletter is distributed to artists, non-artists, arts patrons, friends, family, media, and so forth. Most of my subscribers live in Ottawa, and some live as far off as Australia. There are over 500 altogether. I assume most of them read the newsletter by email (or on Facebook…) and some of them visit the website once in awhile. People have left only a handful of comments, but perhaps many of them are anonymous readers. According to wordpress stats, there have been over 5000 views in total. I’m not sure if that’s an impressive number or not.

  1. With your Theatre Across Canada series you are branching out beyond Ottawa – What are your thoughts on blogging helping to bridge the landmass gap in Canadian Theatre? Could the Internet help bring this country together artistically?

That’s a good idea! Well, to a point. I think the only way for the theatre community to connect is through meeting each other face-to-face, and to see one another’s live performances. Seeing Youtube videos just isn’t the same thing.

However, I think the internet is great for making preliminary connections. For example, before I left on this trip to Vancouver, I contacted a number of theatre companies via email and Facebook. Many of them wrote back and agreed to meet with me when I was in town. I’m going to be meeting with professional theatre companies in Vancouver, in Edmonton, in Saskatoon, in Winnipeg, and in Toronto. This would have been much more difficult to do if I had relied on phone calls or spontaneous visits.

Also, in terms of theatre blogging, perhaps if I keep reading blogs from people in Toronto (like my friend Kat Fournier at betweenlinestoronto.wordpress.com) I might be more inspired to visit Toronto and see more theatre there. Groups on Facebook could have the same general effect.

  1. You regularly review local plays in the Ottawa area – as both a critic and theatre artist how do you navigate between the two?

Correction: I irregularly review local plays in the Ottawa area. Although I am adept at writing reviews and I have the theatre education and experience to back it up, I am reluctant to publish critiques on my website. Why? Theatre artists don’t like theatre critics. And I want to be liked. It may sound shallow, but it is very important for me to be included as a member of the theatre community. I have listened to theatre artists rant about negative theatre reviews and get upset over the slight bit of criticism. I think this is a real shame. Theatre artists should want to improve themselves, and when a critic points out a flaw, I suggest they take it into consideration instead of throwing a fit.

However, I shouldn’t put all the blame on the artists. Some theatre reviewers are uneducated, inexperienced, biased, inane, sloppy writers. They are so focussed on offering up their own personal opinion (or wasting time on a lengthy plot synopsis) than actually talking about the production, discussing the decisions made by the director, analyzing the craft of the actors, and placing the show in the context of contemporary theatre as a whole.

For this reason, theatre artists are often rightly bitter against theatre reviewers. In an ideal world, reviewers would be not irritating downers on the road to artistic enlightenment, but members of the theatre community, knowledgeable advisors that provide helpful feedback and educated critical response. Theatre critics and artists alike should be working together with one common goal: the increasing improvement of contemporary theatre.

When that sort of relationship has been established in Canada, then I might be a more willing participant in the world of theatre criticism.

  1. So tell us – Why blog? Where do you see the place of theatre blogging in the Canadian theatre community?

Again, it’s an important way for artists to keep connected to their own community, to make connections with other communities, and to keep records of their work in the theatre. Plus it’s really fun seeing your name come up in Google search results.

  1. What are some possible pitfalls of blogging you have come across or avoided in the past?

I like to consider myself an emerging theatre professional. The word “blog” often implies something amateurish because, really, anyone and everyone can have their own website these days. You don’t need a theatre degree or any sort of credentials. You can just go for it. For this reason, I have tried to make my website look as professional as possible, and I try not to be overly colloquial in my writing.

  1. What advice would you give to students and emerging artists interested in starting up their own theatre blog?

Don’t be stupid. Don’t say stupid things on your blog if you want cool people to read it. Don’t try to make an argument for something you know nothing about. Someone I know tried arguing for the elimination of arts reviews, and I almost blew a gasket. And then I wrote my own response.

Once you have a website that you are proud of, promote the hell out of it. Tell everyone you know that it exists. Put a link on Facebook and other arts websites. Recently I’ve been putting notices in theatre programs along with arts listings. There should be a need in your community for what you have to offer. Write about things that people want to hear about, that they might not hear anywhere else.

Make sure you are passionate about your topic. If you are writing about theatre, you have to love theatre. Enthusiasm is contagious; people will catch on.

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