Posts Tagged ‘national arts centre’

Today my friend and colleague Kat Fournier and I launched the very first episode of Just Another Gala: Your Ottawa Theatre Podcast. Ottawa’s theatre scene has exploded in the last few years, and we feel that some thorough on-air discussion is in order. Join us!

We’re also on Facebook and Twitter. Please like and share widely.

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The National Arts Centre’s Orchestras in the Park begin this Thursday and run through Sunday at Lebreton Flats (the same venue as Bluesfest) outside the War Museum. Each FREE concert begins at 7:30 in the evening and runs for approximately 90 minutes. For more information, visit the NAC website.


Thursday, July 23
Classics and Kuertis
National Arts Centre Orchestra
Julian Kuerti, conductor
Anton Kuerti, piano
Amy Horvey, trumpet (Richard Li Young Artist Chair)
MOZART Cosi fan tutte: Overture
HUMMEL Trumpet Concerto in E-flat major
MENDELSSOHN Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor
DVORAK Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88

Friday, July 24
Opera Under the Stars
National Arts Centre Orchestra
Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor
Erin Wall, soprano
Antonio Figueroa, tenor
James Westman, baritone
MOZART The Marriage of Figaro: Overture
MOZART The Marriage of Figaro: E Susanna non vien – Dove Sono (Wall)
MOZART The Marriage of Figaro: Hai gia vinta la Causa – Vedro (Westman)
MOZART Don Giovanni: Giovinette che fatte all’amore (Wall, Westman, Chorus)
MOZART Don Giovanni: Il Mio (Figueroa)
MOZART Don Giovanni: La Ci darem la mano (Wall, Westman)
MOZART The Magic Flute: Overture
MOZART The Magic Flute: Dies Bildnis (Figueroa)
MOZART The Magic Flute: Finale: Die Strahlen der Sonne (Westman, Chorus)
GOUNOD Roméo et Juliette: Overture-Prologue: Vérone vit jadis deux familles rivales (Chorus)
GOUNOD Roméo et Juliette: Duet Madrigal: Ange adorable (Wall, Figueroa)
GOUNOD Faust: Jewel Song (Wall)
GOUNOD Faust: Ainsi que la brise légère (Wall, Figueroa, James)
VERDI La Traviata: Un Di felice (Wall, Figueroa)
VERDI La Traviata: Gypsy chorus (Chorus)
VERDI La Traviata: Di Provenza il mar, il suol (Westman)
VERDI La Traviata: Libiamo Drinking Song

Saturday, July 25
Natalie MacMaster and the NAC Orchestra
National Arts Centre Orchestra
Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor
Natalie MacMaster, fiddle
Mac Morin, piano
Vince Ditrich, drums

Sunday, July 26
Beethoven’s Fifths
Orchestre de la francophonie canadienne
Jean-Philippe Tremblay, conductor
Hong Xu, piano (Honens Competition Laureate)
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 73 “Emperor”
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67

ALSO: Opening this Thursday is the Carnivale Lune Bleue and the Ottawa premiere of Sexy Laundry by award-winning Canadian playwright Michele Riml.

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National Arts Centre

National Arts Centre

Just finished reading (or at least skimming extensively…) this incredible book by Ottawa journalist Sarah Jennings entitled Art and Politics: The History of the National Arts Centre. It is super informative and includes every bit of gossip you’d ever want to know about the NAC and all the folks involved. It even includes full colour photographs of past productions as well as a number of amusing political cartoons!

I am reading this book as part of my research on festivals that program new theatre in English Canada. I found lots of information about the ups and downs of the Summer Festival, the various English Theatre seasons, attempts at national touring, and the NAC’s partnership with some newer festivals, such as the Magnetic North and the Scenes.

You can find this book in Chapters, and possibly other bookstores in Ottawa. If you want more information, leave me a message and I’ll share with you some of my findings.

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The BC Scene (90 events with 600 artists from British Columbia) and the Ottawa International Writers Festival (literary folks from Ottawa and around the world) are taking over my life this week. And I am fully embracing the insanity!

T.O.F.U. Tons of Fun University

T.O.F.U. Tons of Fun University

Here is a list of all the events I plan to attend between Tuesday, April 21 and Sunday, May 3. Hopefully this will give you some idea of what’s out there and encourage you to check out more events at your leisure. This is also a handy tool for any potential stalkers who want to know where I’ll be at any given time. Knock yourselves out.

*** All Writers Festival events take place at the St. Brigid’s Centre for Arts and Humanities, unless otherwise indicated

I’ll also be updating this blog section more frequently, creating something of a “social column” about the events that I attend and the people I meet. Feel free to post comments if you find time to attend these events and want to offer your own opinion.

Welcome to festival season!

Tuesday, April 21

BC SCENE — SWARM: gallery crawl (6-9pm) and opening night party (9-11pm)

Wednesday, April 22

OSSD (not part of either festival, but I’m still going!) — Mischief City @ 11am, Natalie Stern Studio Theatre
BC SCENE — BIOBOXES @ 1:45, Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre
WRITERS FEST — Earth Day Vernissage @ 5:30pm
BC SCENE — La Vue d’en Haut @ 8pm, La Nouvelle Scene

Thursday, April 23

BC SCENE — T.O.F.U. (Tons of Fun University) and Kinnie Starr @ 8pm, NAC 4th Stage

Friday, April 24

WRITERS FEST — Michael Ignatieff @ 7pm
BC SCENE — Literary Cabaret @ 8pm, NAC 4th Stage

Saturday, April 25

WRITERS FEST — Dusty Owl @ 6pm
BC SCENE — Assembly @ 8pm, NAC Panorama Room

Sunday, April 26

BC SCENE — Jack Pine (opera) @ 1:30pm, NAC 4th Stage
WRITERS FEST — The Bible @ 4pm
WRITERS FEST — Writing Life @ 6pm
BC SCENE — Veda Hille and Penny Lang @ 8pm, Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre

Monday, April 27

WRITERS FEST — Extraordinary Canadians @ 6:30pm

Tuesday, April 28

WRITERS FEST — Big Idea & Poetry Cabaret @ 6:30pm

Wednesday, April 29

WRITERS FEST — Poetry Cabaret @ 6:30pm
BC SCENE — Mei Han and the Red Chamber @8pm, Library and Archives

Thursday, April 30

BC SCENE — Rage @ 8pm, La Nouvelle Scene

Friday, May 1

BC SCENE — Simone Osbourne @ 12 noon, Rideau Chapel
BC SCENE — Mom’s the Word @ 8pm, Arts Court Theatre

Saturday, May 2

BC SCENE — Wen Wei Dance @ 8pm, NAC Studio Theatre

Sunday, May 3

BC Scene — James Hill & ukulele events @ 1pm, 2pm, 4pm, Canadian Museum of Civilization

James Hill and Anne Davison

Anne Davison and James Hill

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Arts Smarts // With your field guide Jessica Ruano

View original article at http://www.getguerilla.ca

A learned approach to autumn

For me, the autumn months bring visions of two things: gorgeous, vibrant sunset-coloured foliage—bursting at the seams with passion, with matured tree branches, with ripe apples—and, of course, school. However, this latter autumn association never seemed to cause me the grief that it does for most young children because I have always loved learning. As long as the subject matter was made interesting, I thrived on the accumulation of knowledge and imagined my mind expanding progressively with every delectable info-morsel.

So, in this issue of Arts Smarts, I invite you to grasp opportunities to learn from the Ottawa arts scene. The cultural events highlighted below are suggested ways to acquire knowledge in your very own community —knowledge from writers, storytellers, visual artists, and performers. While I have always had faith in academics, I believe the greatest opportunities for learning come through listening to the tales of those around us. And, when we take advantage of these community resources, we can amuse ourselves as we learn.

The Ottawa International Writers Festival (fall edition, October 18 to 27) is a celebration of the written word, the spoken word, and almost everything else remotely connected with words. This all-encompassing 10-day extravaganza showcases some of the best contemporary writing talent in this nation’s capital and around the world. Authors of great works are flown in from hither and thither to share with us a cornucopia of narratives and to be readily available to answer questions and sign autographs. Literary enthusiasts can also witness the extent of Ottawa’s vivacious writing community at events including the opening-day Small Press Book Fair and the Tree Reading Series. Additional festival highlights include The Big Idea live debates, the Songwriters Circle, the Master Class Series, and the Poetry Cabarets. Become acquainted with up-and-coming novelists as they read selections from their new works at the Writing Life Series. For more information, check out www.writersfestival.org

Hot on the heels of the Writers Festival comes the 20th Annual Ottawa Storytelling Festival (November 5 to 9), featuring dozens of live storytelling performances to engage listeners of all ages. Contrary to popular belief, storytelling is not just for children! With tales of real-world happenings and flights of frivolous fancy, the festival attracts a wide variety of audiences, from spunky young people (like me) to cheerful women in lovely quilted vests and long skirts.

At this year’s festival (themed “A World of Difference”), enjoy tea and biscuits as you leap like a Frog Prince from story to story, losing yourself in other people’s worlds, whether real or imaginary. If you are inspired by the tellers (I always am), you may be interested in telling your own tale at the Monthly Story Swaps. Beginners are always welcome! For more information, visit www.ottawastorytellers.ca.

Cartoons, too, have a reputation for being just-for-kids. Here to prove that presumption false is the Ottawa International Animation Festival (September 17 to 21). Whether your interests lie in animated film, web comics, or graphic novels, this festival has something to get your artistic juices flowing and your pencil crayons back in action. Hands-on workshops are offered to young kids, teenagers, and would-be animators already grown up. Check out http://ottawa.awn.com for details.

Only in its second year, Festival X: Ottawa’s Photography Festival (September 18 to 28) has already established a solid reputation in Ottawa’s visual arts community. Invading the space of numerous galleries in the capital for 10 days of cutting-edge exhibitions, the festival also offers workshops and lectures on photography. As an aspiring image-smith, I’m looking forward to learning from those with sharp focus and a keen eye. For more information, check out www.festivalx.ca.

Yearning for deeper satisfaction after a couple of Women’s Studies courses? Catch up on your feminist schooling at Ladyfest Ottawa (September 19 to 21), a weekend of arts and music from talented local ladies who believe that political action can be fun and creative. Discover some unique crafts at Not Your Grandma’s Craft Sale and participate in Take Back the Night, a downtown march led by women. Getting the vote in the 1920s was just the beginning; what’s next for womyn-kind in the world of art? For more, visit www.ladyfestottawa.com.

Also in the autumn, Ottawa theatre companies begin new seasons of unique and enlightening productions. Learn dramatic artistry as a bevy of talented directors, performers, and other theatrical creators take the stage. Hey, if you’re an aspiring actor, actually seeing shows is the most important part of your education!

Fall theatre fare:

Evolution Theatre presents Playing Bare (September 3 to 13), www.evolutiontheatre.ca.

The Great Canadian Theatre Company presents I, Claudia (September 9 to 28) and Zadie’s Shoes (October 21 to November 9), www.gctc.ca.

Vision Theatre presents My Name is Rachel Corrie (September 10 to 20) and a benefit concert with Allison Crowe (November 30), www.visiontheatre.ca.

The Gladstone presents Gladstone Productions’ How the Other Half Loves (September 11 to October 4) and Rabbit Hole (October 9 to 25), as well as SevenThirty Productions’ Catalpa (October 30 to November 15), www.thegladstone.ca.

National Arts Centre English Theatre presents Happy Days (September 17 to October 4), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (October 29 to November 15), and Billy Twinkle (November 25 to December 6), www.nac-cna.ca.

Third Wall Theatre Co. presents Look Back in Anger (October 21 to November 1), www.thirdwall.com.

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Greetings arts enthusiasts!

Alas, our summer adventures are coming to a close. In our last few days we try to put aside a few hours for bike rides along the canal, strolls along Westboro beach, eating gelato in the Byward Market, or watching a sunset from Major’s Hill Park.

Wait… just a minute… I’m about to put a positive spin on this. Oh, RIGHT! We have arts events. Lots of them. September is always jam-pack full of show openings and quirky festivals and crazy events. I have to say, I’m very excited.

But there is something that has been worrying me lately. As many of you probably know, the government has cut a lot of funding from the arts. Canadian artists will suffer greatly from these cuts, and the changes will in turn affect Canadians in general. Some people think of the arts as a frivolity. I assure you that this is not the case. I think people take for granted what the arts do in a community: they increase tourism, general aesthetics, general health; they educate people and entertain them; and they define a community, a city, a country with its uniqueness. If this concerns you as much as it concerns me, please write to your Prime Minister directly or sign an online petition at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/Canadian-Arts-Funding. Find out what the government is spending money on. I have a suspicion it’s not just public healthcare and other essentials. A rebellion might be nice, too, but I understand that people are busy.

Besides, I’d rather you spend time supporting the arts by actually attending all these amazing events. If there’s anything I’m missing, please let me know, and I’d be happy to include it on my website. Here goes!


The Zucchini Grotto Theatre Company is looking for a female performer/vocalist to round out the cast of its next “Centre Stage Cabaret”. Auditions by appointment will take place September 7. For more information, check out http://www.zucchini.com/.

Savoy Society is holding auditions for Gilbert & Sullivan‘s comic opera The Gondoliers. Auditions by appointment will take place September 13 & 14. Please visit www.savoysociety.org for more information.


Still yearning for satisfaction after a couple of Women’s Studies courses? Catch up on your feminist schooling by attending Ladyfest Ottawa (September 19 to 21), a weekend of arts and music from talented local ladies who believe that political action can be fun and creative. Discover some unique crafts at Not Your Grandma’s Craft Sale and participate in Take Back the Night, a downtown march led by females. Getting the vote in the 1920s was just the beginning: what’s next for womyn-kind in the world of art? For more, visit www.ladyfestottawa.com

Ottawa-Gatineau’s premier arts awards show The Golden Cherry Awards (September 5) features 50 categories, 5 hosts – including Peter Honeywell, Alex Munter, Oni the Haitian Sensation and Amanda Putz, 5 musical acts, and hundreds of artists from all disciplines at the historic Saint Brigid’s Centre for the Arts and Humanities. For more information and to check out the nominees, please write to sawprogramming@artengine.ca or visit their Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=69800485439

Amanda Lewis, Artistic Director at the Ottawa School of Speech & Drama (OSSD), Ottawa’s pre-eminent theatre school, is opening the doors at OSSD to the public for its annual Fall Open House (September 6). From 10am-5pm, participate in mini workshops, take a tour of the studios, win great prizes, and register for fall courses. For more information, visit www.ossd.com

GuerillaLIVE #17 is Guerilla Magazine’s launch party at the Enriched Bread Artists Studios (September 12). Come celebrate my 22nd birthday and the magazine that features my awesome local-arts column, Arts Smarts. For more information, check out www.getguerilla.ca or visit their Facebook page.


Having lived in the Byward Market for exactly one year now, I’ve been discovering all these wonderful little galleries right around the corner from my home. Just walking down Murray or Clarence Street is a revelation in art and culture. One of my newest findings is the Lafrenière & Pai Gallery at 13 Murray Street. Just recently they featured works from a local art-jewellery design competition. This month they are showcasing the creations of two artists: Maude Bussières, an internationally recognized glass artist (my new favourite type of art work…) and Mary K. McIntyre, who takes her inspiration from the botanical world. While the artists will only be in shop on September 6th from 2-4pm, their work is on display until the 25th. Check out www.lapaigallery.com for details.

Ottawa International Animation Festival (September 17 to 21) highlights what’s new and interesting in the world of professional animation. Whether your interests lie in animated film, web comics, or graphic novels, this festival has a bit of everything to get your artistic thoughts flowing and your pencil crayons back on the page. Hands-on workshops are provided for kids, for teenagers, and for would-be animators. Check out http://www.ottawa.awn.com/index.php for details on this year’s great line-up of screenings in various cinemas and museums.

Only in its second year, Festival X: Ottawa’s Photography Festival (September 18 to 28) has already established a solid reputation in Ottawa’s visual arts community. Taking over numerous galleries in the capital, the festival offers workshops and lectures on photography, as well as providing space for established and emerging photographers to showcase their work. As an aspiring image-smith, I’m looking forward to learning from those with a keen eye and sharp focus. For more information, check out www.festivalx.ca


As most theatre companies are beginning a brand new season, Evolution Theatre is just finishing theirs. Always looking to challenge the conventions of theatre and produce thought-provoking plays, Artistic Director Chris Bedford leads a group of talented local actors – Lawrence Aronovitch, William Beddoe, Jerome Bourgault, Fletcher Gailey-Snell, Kel Parsons, and Chantale Plante – in the English premiere of Playing Bare (September 3 to 13), inspired by Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. Check out www.evolutiontheatre.ca for more details!

The Great Canadian Theatre Company opens their season with I, Claudia (September 9 to 28), a critically acclaimed one-woman show about an intelligent young girl named Claudia and the important people in her life. I saw the film version of the original production a couple of years back, and I was very touched by the story. Definitely worth seeing: check out www.gctc.ca for details.

Back again in Ottawa with another great season of contemporary masterpieces is Vision Theatre with their production of My Name is Rachel Corrie (September 10 to 20). This is a play without a playwright, edited from the emails and journals of Rachel Corrie, a young peace activist. An American who went to aid Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Rachel died at the age of 23, killed by an Israeli bulldozer while attempting to stop the demolition of a Palestinian home. Starring Ottawa’s own Sarah McVie and directed by her former teacher at Canterbury High School, Paul Griffin (also a favourite at Odyssey Theatre). For more information, visit www.visiontheatre.ca

Probably the most exciting thing to happen in Ottawa theatre this year, The Gladstone opens its doors this month with hilarious Brit Alan Ayckbourn’s How the Other Half Loves (September 11 to October 4). Owner Steve Martin plans on having the building open for theatre (and other performing arts) all year round and has already booked a dozen productions so far. He plans on hiring all local directors, actors, and designers, which means more work for our artists! For more information, check out their classy website at www.thegladstone.ca

The National Arts Centre English Theatre presents Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days (September 17 to October 4), featuring Tanja Jacobs and local actor Paul Rainville. It’s about a woman buried up to her waist in earth. Would you expect anything less from Beckett? Check out http://nac.ca/en/whatson/results.cfm?EventID=5544 for details.


NACO’s spectacular 2008-2009 season opens with the Mozart Brahms Festival — masterworks from these two classical titans will be performed from (September 23-October 2) at the National Arts Centre and in the Auditorium of the National Gallery of Canada. On September 23, the first concert of the Festival (in the NAC’s Southam Hall at 8:00 p.m.) features two close friends who are also musical superstars: conductor and violist Pinchas Zukerman and violinist Itzhak Perlman perform Mozart’s ‘Duo for violin and viola’ and ‘Sinfonia concertante’ and ‘Symphony No. 1’ by Johannes Brahms. For more information about the concert, the Festival, and numerous audience enrichment activities, please consult the NAC website at www.nac-cna.ca.

Didn’t get your homework done for class? Forget the “my-dog-ate-it” excuse, and just tell your teacher the truth: I was immersing myself in Ottawa culture. Don’t you want to encourage my artistic education?

Please remember that this newsletter is only just the beginning. My website also features handy advice and resources for those looking to get involved in the Ottawa arts community. I have also been contributing more frequently to my Ottawa Arts Blog, writing accounts of the various arts events I attend. And I always appreciate comments! Check out www.jessicaruano.wordpress.com for more.

Have a great September!

Artistically yours,


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January 2008

Peter Hinton’s Macbeth at the National Arts Centre

Director Peter Hinton has established quite a reputation across Canada for his obscure, avant-garde and, dare I say, even “campy” production choices. Needless to say, I was especially curious to see what he would come up with in directing one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies, the dreaded Macbeth, at the National Arts Centre. Anyone who knows anything about theatre knows about the unfortunate suspicions surrounding that play title: any mention of it in a theatrical space can cause illness in the cast, unfortunate technical accidents, or even death. Despite these frightening superstitions, Hinton fearlessly defied the possibility of misfortune by putting on this show – but was it worth the risk?

By subtly setting his production in the Second World War (no nazi flags, thank goodness), Hinton emphasized the nightmarish qualities of the play and focussed on the despicable nature of the cold-blooded murders that occur throughout the story. As usual, Hinton’s use of spectacle engaged the audience very quickly, allowing each spectator to become caught up in the world of the play from the moment they entered the theatre. The colossal backdrop formed by a series of translucent, dirtied windows was both alluring and functional; characters could be seen through the panels with the proper lighting, and doors opened to permit efficient scene changes. The soliloquies especially were skillfully handled by a series of lighting effects, each one surprising and delightful: the first glimpse of Lady Macbeth, for example, was only by the light of a flickering lamp; she was mysterious, lovely, and frightening all at once.

That description could also be attributed to the leading lady herself. Diane D’Aquila is nothing less than ideal for this role: her portrayal of the Lady made the character dangerous and beautiful, despicable and pitiable. When madness strikes her, she appears on stage in a nightdress and dragging a floor lamp – the effect is positively heart wrenching. Joined onstage by Benedict Campbell as her Macbeth, the duo is electric, especially in their encounter just after King Duncan’s murder has been accomplished. The quick dialogue – thanks to Bill Shakespeare – and the fear in their eyes and voices makes that particular scene unforgettable. Sometimes, however, I found Campbell touching a little too much on melodramatic speech patterns: prolonged vowels and hissing consonants can only be so effective.

An impressive team of Ottawa locals make up the rest of the cast and successfully interpret their numerous roles in the production. Unfortunately, they work so well as a collective that very few of them actually stood out as individual characters. That may also be because they are dressed almost exactly the same and seemed to have only minor distinguishing features. Given the only comic role in the entire play, Pierre Brault stole the show for a couple of minutes as the drunk and hilarious porter. Kate Hurman, as the Lady’s waiting woman, was always present when onstage, but – rightly so, as this character – never overpowering. It was irritating, however, that she was not asked to change her costume from that character to the witch, Hecate.

On the subject of witches, Hinton made an interesting choice by casting the weird sisters as three young people (Hannah Sideris-Hersh, Katy Grabstas, and Adrien Pyke) dressed as kindertransport children. I was amused at first by the children’s metaphysical abilities to make grown men keel over in pain and have their own voices echo hauntingly in the theatre. But I felt the creepiness factor was not pushed far enough, and eventually their presence grew tiresome for lack of stylistic novelty. The young actors themselves were very good, but they were not given much to work with. Also, they had to transition from the witches to the actual children of MacDuff and Banquo (Todd Duckworth), which meant their ghostly white makeup was inconsistent between scenes.

And then we arrive at that famed scene of the great feast when Banquo’s ghost haunts Macbeth by taking his place at the table – uninvited, naturally, because he is dead. Despite the severe warnings from Canada television show Slings and Arrows, Hinton decided to feature the ghost in the flesh (so to speak) at this banquet instead of allowing the audience to imagine this phantasm. Showing the ghost is always a mistake because the scene becomes, instead of horribly frightening, merely comic. This was especially evident in this production as the audience kept bursting into nervous giggles, which felt entirely out of place. Furthermore, poor Duckworth had to lift himself several times from underneath the table by clutching it with his fingers, therein raising himself to his seat. How exhausting!

But despite my nit-picking remarks, this production is worth seeing because of its awesome spectacle and sheer power of the poetry as spoken by these actors.

William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, directed by Peter Hinton, runs until January 26th at the National Arts Centre Mainstage Theatre For more information, call 613-947-7000 or visit http://www.nac.ca/en/theatre/macbeth/index.html.

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