Posts Tagged ‘World Theatre Day’

In honour of World Theatre Day (that’s today!) I thought I would do a little write-up about some of the most memorable theatre I’ve seen over the past decade. This is not necessarily award-winning theatre, or even a list of the best shows I’ve ever seen: simply theatre that has stayed with me over the years and has affected me in some life changing way. Enjoy! Oh, and feel free to add your own “most memorable productions” in the comments section.

Kalamay (2000, or perhaps a year or two earlier) Odyssey Theatre

This was the first Odyssey Theatre show I ever saw. My mother and my sister and I continued to attend their beautiful commedia dell’arte inspired productions for years afterward. Also, I signed up to be an administrative co-op student there during my high school years. I remember this production being colourful and magical, and I remember thinking “this is how theatre should be.” It reminded me of princess and sorcerer stories I knew as a child, but it had a certain air of sophistication that I found very alluring. It was created collaboratively by Laurie Steven, Lib Spry, and the cast.

Hair (2002) Act Out Theatre

I attended this show with my mum, and it was about the most fun we’ve ever had at the theatre. These community theatre actors were talented, committed, and skillfully playful. There was a lot of audience interaction and they really made use of the GCTC stage, climbing around as though it were a jungle gym. Fantastic stuff. The musical itself remains my favourite soundtrack for long car rides.

Whale Riding Weather (2003) Great Canadian Theatre Company

Perhaps it’s strange that I would include this Canadian drama about an awkward gay love triangle — right, because most love triangles are so comfortable. But I thought the play was very well-written, with fascinating power structures and ideas about ownership in love and… okay, let’s be honest: it was the first time I saw a naked man onstage. Actually, first time I saw a naked man period. Thank you GCTC for that experience.

The Taming of the Shrew (2003) The Stratford Festival

This was my second time attending The Stratford Festival with my Canterbury High School drama class. This version of Shakespeare’s problematic comedy featured rough cowboys and pistols. As one of my classmates noted: “It was as though it was meant to be a Western!” I loved that this production was approached as though the story was a romance, that Katherine and Petruchio are working together to find their place in a messed up society, and by the end this whole taming thing is a front and their love becomes their little secret. Perhaps that’s an obvious interpretation, but I thought it was very well done, and this is one of the few shows for which I have happily given a standing ovation.

Simpl (2004) National Arts Centre

Peter Froehlich wrote and starred in this fascinating show about German cabaret artist Karl Valentin, who resisted doing political comedy during the time of the Third Reich. It was a show rich with research, with actual skits drawn straight from old records and manuscripts. This sparked my fascination with theatre history and research.

Provenance (2005) Ronnie Burkett Theatre of Marionettes

Both beautiful and grotesque, this show had the same mystical quality that I loved in Odyssey Theatre, but with a touch of queer humour. I admired how Ronnie Burkett had such respect for his puppets, handling them carefully, occasionally giving one a kiss on the forehead. It wasn’t all tender, though: one puppet gets raped near the end, and that’s not something you soon forget. This show introduced me to adult puppetry; my love of which only increased when I began seeing shows by the Old Trout Puppet Workshop at the Magnetic North Theatre Festival.

Portrait of an Unidentified Man (2005) Sleeping Dog Productions

Oh, Pierre Brault. Even my mother’s friends who know little else about theatre in Ottawa will swoon over the mention of his name. I’m only exaggerating slightly. Since I missed Blood on the Moon (*gasp!*), this was my first experience with Pierre’s solo shows. I loved it. He shifts and slithers into different characters seamlessly; the story was really good, too. My friend Paul and I walked out of the theatre repeating our favourite lines, like “Dali doesn’t need wine. Dali IS wine!”

Kafka and Son (2006) Ottawa Fringe Festival

Some people complained that this show was too good. Some people just like to complain. Probably the most polished Fringe show I’ve ever seen, this masterful one-act shot through me like dark fire and got me spouting nonsensical similes for the sake of evocative imagery. Alon Nashman is a talented actor and a really nice guy. I will never forget that one white feather that appeared out of nowhere.

Betrayal (2007) Third Wall Theatre Company

Thank you, Natalie Joy Quesnel, for this fine introduction to Harold Pinter, and for giving Richard Gelinas the opportunity to really show his stuff onstage. I am forever grateful.

Iron (2008) SevenThirty Productions

A similar offering of thanks to John P. Kelly for directing this play: Margo MacDonald never looked so good. And what a fantastic set by Ivo Valentik. Special mention also goes to Kelly’s production of The Good Father because Kris Joseph and Michelle Leblanc were fantastic in that.

HIVE2 (2008) Magnetic North Theatre Festival

Yes, please! More of this! Eleven Vancouver theatre companies banded together to create this theatrical midway where you have to strategize effectively to see as many shows as possible. This event took place in a warehouse with a central area in which the companies set up meeting areas: if you managed to snatch the proper items in time, each company would lead you into a different room somewhere in the warehouse and shares with you a short piece of theatre. In one piece, I was dressed in an orange suit and blindfolded and dragged by force into another room; it was frightening.

A Midwinter’s Dream Tale (2009) A Company of Fools

I have always loved a Company of Fools, but I think this was their most creative show yet. Excellent clown work from Scott Florence and Margo MacDonald. Kris Joseph made the best gay fairy king ever, no matter how much he tries to deny it. For me, this is the perfect example of how theatre practitioners can be inspired by Shakespeare and still create their own new work that shines magnificently.

The Crucible (2009) Canterbury High School

I attended this production because my sister was in it. And man, was I impressed. Sterling Lynch and Nancy Kenny accompanied me to the show, and I remember one of them saying afterward “That wasn’t ‘good for high school’; that was just good.”

The Changeling (2009) National Arts Centre

I almost skipped this production because I didn’t like the poster (I’m not even kidding), but I think it was John P. Kelly who insisted I see it. I snuck into a school matinee – as this was part of the NAC family programming – and witnessed one of the most beautiful, touching productions I’ve ever seen. Kris Joseph and Alix Sideris play a young couple that take in a troll child to replace their own child that was lost in the woods. It’s about love and acceptance and sacrifice and all those wonderful themes that are so present in theatre for young audiences. Thanks, Peter Hinton, for that one.

Nevermore (2009) Catalyst Theatre

I saw this show 2 and a half times over a 5 day run. I found it addictive. After seeing it for the first time, I craved another taste of it: the haunting music, the dark-evocative design (courtesy of Bretta Gerecke), those moments of pure terror. I love Jonathan Christenson’s vision for the theatre, taking the spectators into another world and making them feel so intensely. It really got my imagination going. Again, thank you.

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Greetings arts fans!

I have been having a truly great time with the Ottawa Arts scene these days: whether it’s an all-night poetry and music party at the Library and Archives, or an amazing show at The Gladstone, or meeting up with charming photographers – the fun never stops!

This month I’m really excited to be celebrating a number of chill holidays, including Women’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and World Theatre Day. You can count on a matching event for each special day… well, except maybe that Irish one, but I expect you’ll all be hitting the pubs by three in the afternoon (or earlier) anyhow.



The Dale Smith Gallery presents ‘Mother Goose’
Vernissage: Friday, March 6 from 7 to 10pm

Fascinated with the darker side of childhood, Ottawa native Jonathan Hobin has created a photo exhibit entitled ‘Mother Goose’ that depicts young children in odd fairytale scenes based on a handful of carefully selected nursery rhymes. I had the chance to meet and interview Jonathan last week, and we had a great chat about children and their dark, dark thoughts. Check out my article about the artist and his exhibit (on display until March 31) in Capital Xtra’s upcoming issue!

Women in Leadership Foundation presents ‘Gala – a special celebration of all women’
Sunday, March 8 (International Women’s Day) from 6 to 8pm
Bronson Centre, Mac Hall

Do you long for a fabulous evening of fine food and enchanting music among women in leadership positions? Are you looking for an opportunity to celebrate Women’s Day in style? Are you interested in an intimate networking event? Women in Leadership Foundation Carleton Chapter is hosting the first ever GALA to celebrate all women! Don’t miss guest speakers Claire Beckton, Deputy Minister for the Status of Women Canada, and Dr. Runte, President of Carleton University, as well as performances by Erin Felepchuck and Musk Ox. Oh right, and I’m the MC!

(Limited seating – book your tickets in advance!)

Canada Dance Festival’s Fine Wine Evening
Wednesday, March 11 at 5:30pm
Hampton Inn Ottawa & Conference Centre, Ottawa

Don’t miss a magnificent evening that benefits the Canada Dance Festival, featuring fine wines, delectable food, wine and food celebrities, fascinating exhibits and demos, live jazz music, and unparalleled silent and live auctions. The outstanding auctions will boast hard-to-find wines from private cellars, everyday drinking wine and spirits, and unique wine-themed gifts and getaways. Support the Canada Dance Festival and give opportunities to our contemporary dance artists!


There is A LOT of great theatre this month, and I felt rather obligated to include as much as I could. But in the spirit of overcrowdedness (not actually a word, according to my spell-check), I thought I would do some thematic pairing up. So humour me.

The Gladstone presents ‘Doubt’
Until Saturday, March 14 @ 8pm

OLT presents ‘Wrong Turn at Lungfish’
Until Saturday, March 14 @ 8pm

Alright, I’m getting off to a strange start here. These plays really don’t have much in common, except for the fact that they’ve already opened and they finish on the same day. But I tried! Anyway. For the Ottawa Little Theatre show: a blind and bitter college professor, a streetwise woman and a dangerous boyfriend all clash in this edgy contemporary comedy; it is adorably rated PG.

I purposely avoided seeing the movie until this production opened. John Patrick Shanley’s play (after having seen the show, I really think it was meant to be a play) looks at the notion of uncertainty by examining the possibility of an inappropriate relationship between a priest and his young black student. Don’t miss stellar performances from Mary Ellis, Kris Joseph, Emmanuelle Zeesman, and (what an incredible find!) Natalie Fraser- Purdy.

Later this month, from March 19 to 28 at The Gladstone is The Radio Show, an opportunity to journey back to the golden age of radio with some of Ottawa’s great local actors!

Unicorn Theatre presents
‘l’Ours’ & ‘Dark Lady of the Sonnets’
March 5 to 7 @ 8pm
Studio Léonard Beaulne

Drama Guild presents
‘Don’t Blame the Bedouins’
March 17 to 21 @ 8pm
Academic Hall

This connection was easy: both events are being presented at the University of Ottawa! Scouting for new talent, or just looking to see a great show? Come see our amazing students in action.

MFA Directing students Sarah Waisvisz (director of Chekhov’s ‘l’Ours’) and Bronwyn Steinberg (director of Shaw’s ‘Dark Lady of the Sonnets’) present a FREE bilingual evening of one-act plays, featuring fellow students in production and stage roles.

For the university’s mainstage production, director Kevin Orr is taking an unusual approach to an equally unusual play. A Governor General Award-winning play, ‘Don’t Blame the Bedouins’ will be presented in a style which borrows heavily from the graphic novel. The story itself includes Heroes and Heroines, Intellectual Geeks and Monsters, Stalin, Lenin and Santa Claus.

(By the way, the University of Ottawa website is an absolute pain for getting information about anything. If you want to find out more about these shows, I’d suggest looking them up on Facebook – or just ask me!)

Chamber Theatre Hintonburg presents
‘A View From the Bridge’
Sundays and Mondays @ 7pm, until March 16
Elmdale House Tavern

Third Wall Theatre Company presents
‘Peer Gynt’
March 10 to 21 @ 7:30pm
Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre

Two classics of the world repertoire come to Ottawa, staged by two companies reputed for taking chances and showcasing great local talent.

Chamber Theatre, the company that specializes in putting on plays in Hintonburg’s historic taverns brings Arthur Miller’s classic tale of Eddie Carbone’s tragic love to the Elmdale House Tavern. Directed by Lisa Zanyk, this show features a stunning performance (according to Alvina Ruprecht’s CBC review) by Don Laflamme.

Henrik Ibsen often described his play Peer Gynt as being “impossible” to mount. Looks like Third Wall director James Richardson is crazy enough to take up the challenge! The lines between fantasy, reality and the conscious mind blur as we follow Peer Gynt around the world from Norway to the Kingdom of the Trolls and through the deserts of Africa. Don’t miss this new adaptation of Peer Gynt by Henry Beissel, starring local marvel Andy Massingham in the eponymous role.

Orpheus presents ‘Nunsense the Musical’
March 6 to 7 & 10 to 14 @ 8 pm
Centrepointe Theatre

Sock ‘n’ Buskin presents ‘Evil Dead the Musical’
March 12 to 14 and 19 to 21 @ 8pm
Kailash Mittal Theatre in Southam Hall

Time for some musical theatre!!!

‘Nunsense’ is a hilarious spoof about the misadventures of five nuns trying to manage a talent fundraiser to bury their dearly departed. The show offers a cornucopia of hilarity for the whole family, proving conclusively that nun rhymes with fun! You can also catch 2pm Sunday matinees on March 8 and 15.

‘Evil Dead the Musical’ is a laugh-riot, as it simultaneously pays comedic tribute to and pokes fun at Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead franchise (Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness), along with all B-movies in the horror genre. This show contains strong language, blood effects and suggestive content – yes, my kind of show!

That’s about all for now! But don’t forget that World Theatre Day is on March 27, and the Company of Fools uuusually has something planned for that day. So stay in touch with them at www.fools.ca

Visit my website at www.jessicaruano.wordpress.com to check out continuous updates throughout the month. I will post more upcoming events in the Press Releases section. Thanks very much for reading, and have a great time engaging with the Ottawa Arts scene!

Yours artistically,

Jessica Ruano


Jessica Ruano
Performing Arts Enthusiast
Publicist, Critic, and Theatre go-er


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