I wasn’t in Ottawa when Jessica started the Ottawa Arts Newsletter four years ago. I was in Auckland, New Zealand, working on my Ph.D. in Political Philosophy.
In the early months of 2009, after working on the Hill in 2007 and 2008, I decided to engage more fully with the Ottawa arts scene (and theatre, in particular). I realized quickly — in no small part because of this Newsletter — that the Ottawa arts scene had grown considerably since I had left Ottawa fifteen years before.
Federal politics brought me back to Ottawa. The vibrancy and promise of the arts scene convinced me to stay!
Although much improved, everyone knows the Ottawa arts scene isn’t as vibrant as Canada’s other major urban centers. Why is that? I’m sure anyone who reads this Newsletter has a theory or two.
The Council for the Arts in Ottawa has recently released a report which summarizes a two-year study that examined the unique circumstances that artists and arts organizations face here in our nation’s capital. The summary offers a plausible diagnosis of what ails us and it offers some plausible remedies too.
For anyone who has wondered why Ottawa arts is as it is, this is essential reading.
MY TWO WEEKS IN PREVIEW
On Saturday, August 21st, I braved the wet weather to catch Time 3, Gallery 101′s third time based art event, which included performance art and film/video work. In the market, Hélène Lefebvre attracted more than a bit of attention, as she made short work of an ice block with a pick and axe. Later in the evening, out behind the gallery, I watched Christine Messierin (from Quebec City I’m told) drink a bottle of wine and light himself on fire. Neat stuff!
On Monday night, I rehearsed with Sanitas Playback Theatre. We have our first public show coming up. Keep an eye out.
Wednesday night, I took in the truly glorious Seven Samurai at the Bytowne. They don’t make movies like this anymore. It was 207 minutes long and featured an intermission. Do you remember those! Intermissions are a dying breed in theatre too. Oh! There was plot AND character development. And you could make sense of the battle scenes! A treat. And no matter what you might have heard on Twitter, it wasn’t a date!
Thursday night, there was a wee bit of a reunion party, as more than a few pints were raised in honor of Jessica — the Godmother of the Newsletter — Ruano who’s back in town. She may only be passing through but she will be here long enough to promote the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, October 12 to 16. Maybe you can be the first to spot her at a local arts event and earn yourself a spotter’s badge!
On Friday, I had a meeting with Peter Honeywell, Executive Director of the Council for the Arts in Ottawa. He’s recruited me to help build awareness about arts issues for the upcoming municipal elections. I will keep you posted. Curiously, I managed to schedule the meeting without realizing I was scheduling it on my birthday!
On Saturday, August 28th, I popped into Café Paradiso to listen to some Jazz courtesy of Renée Yoxon and René Gely. It’s always a pleasure to hear Renée sing. It was the first time I heard her sing with René, who played well. @dallaninvictus and I tweeted the show and René became the Mayor of Cafe Paradiso. I’m glad I made it out. The release party for their first album is October 1st.
MY TWO WEEKS IN PREVIEW
Once again, the dance card looks a little light. I will keep my eye out for more events to attend. If you have any events to recommend, feel free to post them here. NB: a site the Newsletter can call its own is in the works.
Third Wall has given me plenty of advance notice, so I can report I will be attending the opening performance of Blackbird on the 15th. I expect I will have more details to share with you next time (maybe I can scare up some tickets to giveaway).
Although I can’t attend Norse Mythology: Creation to Ragnarok, its sheer potential for awesomeness deserves acknowledgment:
On Labour Day weekend, storytellers from across the country will gather at the edge of Taylor Lake in Lanark Co (about one hour from Ottawa) for an epic week-end dedicated to telling fierce, compelling, and sometimes funny stories from Norse Mythology. Telling begins on Friday evening and, with many pauses for food and conversation and a generally good time, continues till noon on Sunday. For information about tickets, accommodation, etc. please contact: Jennifer Cayley email@example.com or 613-256-0353
For an ex (?) – comic nerd, who loved Walt Simpson’s injection of the Ragnarok mythology into the Thor comics in the mid-80s, this sounds AWEsome!
My friend Bart, who sits on the board of Ottawa School of Speech and Drama, asked me to remind folks that now is the time to register for OSSD’s fall courses. Bart tells me,
“I’ve personally seen and heard the impact that their programs have had on children and I think that they’re doing some great work.”
Barb, a huge supporter of Ottawa theatre, forwarded me some fine praise for Swimming In the Shallows. She tells me,
“We very much enjoyed this funny, dark, and faintly bizarre play. Kudos to Marc Ouimet – it’s tough playing a shark but he carries it off swimmingly (sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun!). Joel Beddows does a fine job directing this talented cast. Applause to the props master roy Hansen-robitschek and the set and lighting designer Lynn Cox.”
The show has long since closed of course. But praise is praise and should always be shared! Opening or closing, please help me spread the word about the talent in our city.
A Flea in her Ear has an indefinable, elusive quality, pleasing with a certain je ne sais quoi that will charm everybody. The plot takes hilarious aim at jealous lovers and mistaken identities, as a group of elegant individuals run into each other at a hotel of dubious reputation.
More importantly, she has a pair of tickets to give away for “Terrific Tuesday on the 21st or, if preferred, any other Tuesday during the run.” The first person to email me the title of his or her favorite SevenThirty production gets the tickets.
On the eve of his retirement, professor Seymour Mann is asked to deliver a prestigious lecture on his life’s work. While preparing for his ‘great moment’, he is interrupted by a telemarketer’s solicitation, a desperate phone call that changes the course of both of their lives. A comedy that dares to raise questions about the nature of charity and the true meaning of a life well lived.
If you want the tickets, be the first person to email me the last name that would make Seymour’s name infinitely more amusing (Hint: Think, The Simpsons).
Please remember, I’m always eager to share your recommendations. Word of mouth support is the best way you can help a show you enjoyed. Tell me what you enjoyed and I will spread the word. Short (50 words or less), sweet, and personal is the way to go with your recommendations. Publicists should also follow suit.
The “Pop This” open-studio event at Enriched Bread Artists saw bloggeratti Ryan, Kate, and François from Apartment 613 checking out the Gladstone Street what-have-you. Also seen: visual / media artist, Sandra Hawkins. Also tasted: a delicious Sgt. Major Pale Ale brewed right here in Ottawa.
Was that Brian Carroll (of Third Wall Theatre) and Barb Popel trying out the Union Smoke Shop‘s new toasted panini service during the intermission of the epic full-length version of Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai at the Bytowne? Yes, it’s “outside food” but thanks to a new arrangement with the cinema’s management, patrons are welcome to bring the hot sandwiches with them to showings at the Rideau Street rep house.
Annie Hillies of the West Wellington BIA also joined the cinephiles eager to catch the much-anticipated screening of the restored classic. Of course, Annie has to venture east to get her fix of foreign film, as West Welly is still smarting over last year’s announcement that the owners of the Mayfair will not — after suggesting they would — be opening a second rep house in the trendy west side district.
Two evenings later and a bit further west, the Cube Gallery played host to a glitzy crowd that included Citizen Arts Editor Wendy Warburton, in the house to see the Portraits of Bluesfest auction.
Spotter’s badges this week go out to B.P., W.C., F.W., D.M. and S.S.
Do you want an easy and fun way to be a part of the story of Ottawa arts? Send me a quick note mentioning where you saw noteworthy people from all walks of life enjoying Ottawa arts and we may include it in “Spotted!” If your submission is used, we’ll acknowledge you with a spotter’s badge. Right now, these “badges” are immaterial honors but they may evolve over time into something more. Actually, good money would bet on it.
THE EVOLUTION CONTINUES
The more I look into Ottawa Arts, the more I discover! I can’t do this alone. Thankfully, Evan Thornton has come on-board, as a contributing Editor. He will be helping me out behind the scenes.
I’m also wooing a man-, blogger- and critic-about-town to help me in front of the scenes. Hopefully, I can convince him to share his adventures in the Ottawa arts with us as well. Stay tuned!
And there’s more! I’m on the look out for another writer to feature regularly in the Ottawa Arts Newsletter. If you’ve read this far, it may be you. Are you keen to sample all that Ottawa arts has to sample and tell us about it. Drop me an email, if you’re interested in being a regular contributor to the Ottawa Arts Newsletter! If you can think of someone who fits the bill, please send me the name.
Until next time, I leave you with this: If there are no supplies and provisions, the army will not survive; if there is no store of equipment, the army will not survive.
See ya out there!