Ottawa Arts Newsletter: Are You An Ottawa Arts Sneezer?

When you encounter something great in Ottawa arts, do you tell a friend about it? More importantly, do you need to tell someone — anyone — about it? Do you need to spread the word!

If “YES!” is your answer, you’re a sneezer and you’re essential to the life and vitality of Ottawa arts.

According to Seth Godin, the influential marketer from whom I’m borrowing the term, sneezers spread ideaviruses. An ideavirus is an idea so compelling it infects everyone it touches. But! Even if an ideavirus catches easily, someone needs to spread it.

And that’s where you — the Ottawa Arts Sneezers — come in.

The ideavirus I’ve caught — the ideavirus that I think all of you have caught — is this: Ottawa arts is transforming right now into something greater than the sum of its parts. Something’s happening around here and we know exactly what it is. We can feel it. We can breathe it. We’re living it.

Now, let’s spread the word. Let’s start sneezing!

How you can help: 1) forward this Newsletter to three friends who you think will spread the word about Ottawa arts; 2) start at least one conversation this week about something great in Ottawa Arts — preferably with someone who hasn’t yet caught the Ottawa Arts Bug; 3) If you aren’t yet on the email list for this Newsletter, sign-up now to receive it directly.

In the meantime, I will build a site where we can sneeze together and cause an Ottawa Arts pandemic. Keep an eye out. It’s officially coming soon.


Urban Shape 3. Manon Francoeur
Manon Mancoeur’s “Urban Shape 3”.
This work is part of City Decoding, at Exposure Gallery until October 19th.

Writing a thoughtful and articulate theatre review is tough and time consuming work. Writing four of them is a whole lot of work. Accordingly, I want to give kudos to Andrew Snowdon who found the time to go to four new productions in one week and then write four thoughtful and articulate reviews. And, of course, Ottawa Tonite should be acknowledged for sharing the reviews with us. The conversation about theatre is as important as the theatre itself and Andrew is one fine conversationalist Find out: Blackbird, Flea In Her Ear, The List, and Someone For Everyone. Two of the shows reviewed are still open. The List closes this weekend. Flea runs until October 23rd.

In honor of Andrew, I’ve arranged some ticket giveaways for the two shows still open. The first person to tell me the title of Andrew’s review for The List gets those tickets (NB: You’ve got to go this weekend). The first to do so for Flea gets those tickets (NB: you’ve got to go Tuesday 5th or 12th October).

Jan thoughtfully posted this mini-review on my blog. This is exactly the sort of sneezing I’m hoping to encourage with the new site. He tells me:

On Sunday, September 19th, I went on the West End Studio Tour. I was only able to see one artist, but his paintings are amazing. His name is Andrew King. If you have never been to a show of his you really owe it to yourself to check him out. His painting can be spooky, but funny too. He told me he has a show coming up in March at the Wallspace Gallery, but that is a looong time away. The Studio Tour has only two days left: Saturday and Sunday.

The tour, of course, has long since ended but thanks to Jan’s effort, I’ll be keeping an eye out for next year’s tour. I hadn’t heard anything about it before Jan mentioned it to me and, now that he has, I’m telling others! Sneezing works! Of course, if you knew where to find sneezes on a day-to-day basis, you might have read Jan’s sneeze in time to make it to the tour. And then you might have told others as well. What happens if we all start sneezing in the same place. Watch out!

I’m a big, big fan of win-win propositions. When I saw OttawaStart pitching this idea on Twitter, I helped spread the word. Now that it’s up and running, I want to make sure you know about it.

OttawaStart writes,

Back in August, we invited local artists to participate in a project called “Skyscraper Art on OttawaStart”. We received dozens of submissions, and picked 30 of our favourites to feature in the skyscraper ad space on our main site. The Skyscraper space is the tall, skinny ad on the right-hand side of the page. It’s hard to miss. And from now until November 30, it will become a virtual art gallery showing off some of Ottawa’s best artists.

What a brilliant idea! OttawaStart gets some fine art for it’s home page, fine artists gets some publicity, and everyone starts talking about OttawaStart and Ottawa Arts. Brilliant again! Can you think of a win-win arts partnership worth talking about? Let me know. Better yet, why not start one!

I was scooped by Peter Simpson at the Big Beat. I wanted to be the first to spread the word about Glenn McInnes‘s decision to open up his office and put on an exhibition he curated from his own collection. I love this idea, which is a part of Festival X! Art lives best when it lives in our lives. Thanks for reminding us Glenn!

Simpson writes,

The show is titled A Private Collection of Glenn McInnes: Canadian Photography, and it is compact and intimate. It’s 18 pieces in all, and if you can get over any anxieties about marching into a stranger’s private office for a viewing, you’ll find McInnes is an affable host.

Simpson is right! Thanks to my work at Exposure Gallery, I know Glenn. He’s friendly and loves to talk art. And he’s got impeccable taste. I’m sure this exhibition is top notch. It’s open from 11 to 5 p.m daily, until Oct. 3. Hopefully, other collectors in the city will follow Glenn’s lead. People sometimes open up their gardens for tours. What about a private art collection tour? I’ll bring the crumpets!

Art is intrinsically political, the best politics is artful, and, if our politicians aren’t talking about the arts, it’s our fault. Period. So I’m pleased my friend Sam reminded me of Debate 2.0 – Envisioning Ottawa’s Future.

Here’s the official pitch:

On Tuesday October 5, Ottawa mayoral candidates Jim Watson, Larry O’Brien, Andrew Haydon and Clive Doucet will go head-to-head in Debate 2.0 – Envisioning Ottawa’s Future, a 90-minute, web-enabled event during which citizens of Ottawa, particularly youth, will be encouraged to participate both online or in-person at the National Arts Centre’s Fourth Stage.

Because the mighty Apartment613 is involved, there are nifty ways to engage directly with the debate. Do you want the candidates to discuss his or her vision for the arts in Ottawa? Why not ask him or her directly with a YouTube video question? There’s got be at least one person out there who can get an Ottawa arts question into the debate. Go on, I dare you!

Finally, I want to acknowledge the NAC’s French Theatre’s Argonaut Club. What a brilliant idea!

The press release says:

The purpose of the French Theatre Argonauts Club is to allow 10 theatre neophytes to share our artistic journey over the course of the season, and discover and explore the many layers of the art of theatre. This enlightening voyage of (self-)awareness will include informal meetings and conversations with professional theatre artists; as well, the participants will attend (free of charge) four key plays in French Theatre’s new season. Our objective (and our hope) is that through this unique and up-close experience, our 10 participants will acquire the keys to an artistic and cultural autonomy based not on academic credentials but on emotional responses and personal insights.

Press releases rarely catch my attention but the idea expressed in this release is brilliant! For the price of a few tickets, the Argonauts Club will create super-sneezers for French theatre in Ottawa. What an amazing contribution! There’s an application process and the deadline is October 22, 2010. Anyone out there in English Theatre smart enough to steal this idea?

SPOTTED by The Jessie!
En pointe! Yes, that was famed ballerina Annette av Paul in the studio of the Irving Greenberg for opening night of Third Wall’s Blackbird, elegantly reclining a mere glissé away from Victoria Steele, former Managing Director of the NAC English Theatre.

Less than 24 hours later and a few feet down the hall, star of stage and screen Craig Spottiswood was mingling with the great and good during the opening festivities for GCTC’s The List, along with actors Kris Joseph and Jennifer Vallance, playwright Jan Irwin, and soprano Doreen Taylor-Claxton.

And speaking of The List, that was indeed curator Don Monet rising at the end of Artistic Director Brian Quirt’s opening night speech to demand recognition of the visual artists whose work is in the foyer of the theatre. We are thrilled to see that Monet has finally overcome his notoriously shy demeanor and ventured a comment in a public setting.

Spotter’s Badges go to N. T., E. T., and S. L.

C’est toute pour moi, for October 1st. See you on the 15th. Please forward this Newsletter to a fellow or potential Ottawa Arts Sneezers. Sign-up to the Newsletter, if you haven’t already done so. And please for the love of arts, talk about the arts whenever you can!

And here, at last, is your moment of physics: the total energy of the universe is zero.

Ottawa Arts Newsletter: A Tasty Sampling of Ottawa Arts Jam!


To quote The Kids in The Hall, it’s a fact! In the face of an abundance of choice, people often choose not to choose.

In an important study, it was demonstrated that promoting an extensive range of product choices in jam causes less jam to be purchased. Too much choice, it seems, can be a disincentive to choosing!

In other words, if I try to promote all that happens in Ottawa Arts with this Newsletter every two weeks, my efforts might cause people to be less engaged with Ottawa Arts.

In light of this fact, from now on, the Ottawa Arts Newsletter is going to be much more focused.

And I need your help!

Hereafter, on the 1st and the 15th of each month, I will include only one photo, three short reviews, three short previews, and the SPOTTED! section.

And I want the content of each Newsletter to be driven primarily by the people who enjoy and discuss the arts the most. That means you: the good people of Seattle! Just kidding. I know we’re in Santa Fe but, seriously, this tour is killing me!

My ultimate goal is to share the very many voices of enthusiasm and support here in Ottawa — not only my own!

I’m in the process of developing a website that will make this process easier, more transparent, and, hopefully, fun. It will also offer a clearing house for people who prefer to sort through the publicity material on their own (I know you’re still out there!).

In the meantime, please send me photos, short reviews, and short recommendations ( And if you spot someone out and about in Ottawa Arts, let me know too! It’s probably the easiest way to generate some publicity for an event you enjoyed.

And here now, without further ado, is some Ottawa Arts jam for the peanut butter that is the last two weeks of September 2010!


Geoff Berner: Not Local But Very Good At The Black Sheep (10/09/2010)
Geoff Berner: Not Local But Very Good At The Black Sheep (10/09/2010)

Because my french language skills are more than a bit rusty, it felt like I was taking a big chance by going to see Théâtre de Dehors’ presentation of Michel Garneau’s Les Guerriers on September 4th. I was rewarded with one of the best productions I’ve seen all year! I am resolved to see more local French language theatre! I think you should too! In fact, why not try attending something totally new in Ottawa arts and let me know how it goes!

Greg “Ritallin” Frankson, the Creative Director of Cytopoetics, sends me this review of an event I now wish I had attended:

Bill Brown’s 1-2-3 Slam celebrated its second anniversary September 9 at the Cajun Attic with a high-octane head-to-head elimination slam show.  The competition included poets from five different teams participating in the national slam championship at next month’s 2010 Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, taking place October 12-16 in Ottawa.  BB123 Slam has been a key part of Ottawa’s rise to national slam prominence and an incubator for new poetic talent in the capital.  The September show lived up to expectations as 16 of Canada’s best poets battled it out in front of an energetic and appreciative audience.

He also tells me it happens every second Thursday of the month. Something, perhaps, to add to you calendar — unless you take some special pleasure in missing out on great events.

This last review is a long-train-coming kind of review. My friends Von Allon and Sam Boswell have been nominated for some Friends of Lulu awards for their work on the graphic novel, the road to god knows… , which has been very well reviewed, including by me. It’s also a book very much set in Ottawa. Von Allon tells me:

the road to god knows…, myself, and Sammy have been nominated for the Friends of Lulu awards in four different categories. I would deeply appreciate it if you passed this along, since the final awards are by popular vote and we can use every bit of help we can get! More details: click here.

I strongly support the idea of popular voting for awards and I think we should all do whatever we can to help local talent win awards and make their mark on the world. If you can spare some time to vote, please do. If you can spread the word, please do.

To say thanks for our support, Von Allon has offered to mail a signed copy of the road to god knows… to the first person (from Ottawa) who correctly identifies the four awards for which his book is nominated. Email me your answer and mailing address (Ottawa only, please!).

And be sure to let me know of any other nominations and awards that involve local artists!

Katie Bunting, an actor in Third Wall‘s resident company who has lately found a knack for publicity, alerts me to the following:

Third Wall Theatre’s Blackbird opens Sept. 15th showcasing two of Ottawa’s greatest actors, John Koensgen and Kristina Watt. Blackbird has left audiences around the world mesmerized & stunned. Last week the Citizen named Blackbird its “Best Bet” and the Sun, “the most interesting production” in the city. You will not be disappointed!”

What’s more: she’s offered me two tickets to give away to Blackbird. Be the first person to email me the name of the playwright and the tickets are yours!

I don’t know a whole lot about the literary arts happenings in Ottawa. Fortunately, Amanda Earl, the managing editor of and the Bywords Quarterly Journal, took the time to send a few suggestions my way. Of the recommendations she sent, I share this one because it involves a gallery opening. Tear down those silos!

Excellent poetry to help launch a new exhibit at the Blink Gallery on Saturday, September 18, 2PM. “Barely Their Reading” will take place at the stone building in Major Hill’s Park and features TA Carter, Claudia Coutu Radmore, Sandra Ridley, Rona Shaffran, Sean Moreland, Margot Gallant, LM Rochefort, Gillian Wallace, and Laurie Koensgen. Don’t forget to visit for literary events, news on small press publishers, calls for submission, monthly poetry and more….

In my on-going effort to mine the insights of people across the city, I sent out a call to my Twitter compatriots. I wanted to know if they had a local musical act to recommend — yet another element of the arts scene for which I need me some schooling.

@JesLacasse heeded my call and recommends The Dave Tough Band, who plays the Elmdale Tavern on the 17th. Dave is the (12 inch?) pianist in Jes’ band. In response to the question that matters the most to me — and to any new potential audience members (tee, hee) — “Why should someone see this show,” she answers, “because he’s ridiculously talented, handsome, and a wonderful songwriter. Plus, Elmdale = pickled cheese.” Sold!


She’s got a Gemini award, an Order of Canada, and a star on the Walk of Fame. That was Canada’s most renowned cartoonist, “For Better or Worse” creator Lynn Johnston, popping into gallery row just west of Holland, reports from a few days ago tell us. But did any of the work catch her trained eye, enough to make her purchase a souvenir of her visit? The galleristas of West Wellington are keeping mum on that, which, going by our experience of the breed, probably means “no sale.”

Speaking of art, several spottings of our pretty-as-a-picture namesake Jessica Ruano – in a simply gorgeous dress, onlookers say — attending the first night of  Opera Lyra’s Turandot at the NAC this past Monday night. Twitter tells us that a few hours later the same evening the versatile Ruano swung to the other extreme, uploading her first ever YouTube vid, a very butch affair extolling the virtues of physical labour — featuring an outdoorsy dude, a burst inner tube, and a bicycle with a woman’s name!

Moving eastward, fabulous singer Dee Dee Butters of The Peptides (check ’em out on YouTube) can be seen on King Edward Avenue for the next two weeks while she appears in OLT’s Crossing Delancey.

Spotters badges this week: BL, CP, and RP, you know who you are!


That’s it for September 15th! If you aren’t on the email list, sign up here. And here it is, your moment of Tao: “If we can forget about the “self,” what is there left to worry about?” See you again, October 1st!

Ottawa Arts Newsletter: What’s Wrong With Ottawa Arts?

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.


Hélène Lefebvre Draws A Crowd With Her Performance
Hélène Lefebvre Draws A Crowd With Her Performance

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.

On Tuesday night it was off to the Enriched Bread Artists “Pop This!” event. I enjoyed some neat art inside and out. In particular, I liked “Dual” by Svetlana Swinimer.

"Dual" by Svetlana Swinimer
“Dual” by Svetlana Swinimer

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.

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 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.

Carolina, the publicist from SevenThirty Productions, has this to say about The Gladstone’s season opener on the 16th:

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.

Alysa, from 1000 Island Playhouse, also has a pair of tickets to give away to Till It Hurts. Here’s the blurb:

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.

Was that Arthur Milner at the Tuesday 17th performance of the well-reviewed show, Swimming in the Shallows. Perhaps?

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 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!

Ottawa Arts Newsletter: Who Can You Spot In Ottawa Arts?

I felt like quite the “man about town” this week. I had an event to attend every night of the week except Monday. It’s feast time in Ottawa Arts!

I also noticed there are more than a few other “men and women about town”. It might be fun to share with you who is spotted out and about!

Of course, there’s no way I can spot everyone. You can help!

If you spot someone of note at an event, let me know! I’ll award you with a — soon to be coveted I’m sure — Spotter Badge!

Check out the end of the Newsletter to see what I mean!

To read the newsletter, click here.

The Ottawa Arts Newsletter Evolves! Find Out How You Can Help!

Because of the increasing vitality and vibrancy of the Ottawa arts scene, it’s time for the Ottawa Arts Newsletter to evolve and grow. I’m hoping you will help!

Now Semimonthly!
From now on, the Ottawa Arts Newsletter will be published twice a month. This will make it more timely. It will also make it easier for people to notify me of up-coming events.

I will now publish the Newsletter on the first and the fifteenth of every month. Keep an eye out!

Now Including Readers’ Picks!
A short simple recommendation is a great way for you to help artists and events you care about! I want to share those recommendations!

If there’s a show, event, or activity you want to recommend, in 50 words or less, please tell our readers why it will benefit them to attend. I may include it in the Newsletter!

I still welcome anonymous off-the-record hints, nudges, and gentle reminders but nothing beats word-of-mouth and on-the-record personal endorsements! Together, we can generate the buzz our artists need and deserve!

To get a better sense of the community, please also let me know — generally-speaking — what part of town you live in. I want to give a sense of where in Ottawa our fellow arts supporters live.

And publicists, you’re very welcome to contribute! Please avoid regurgitating your press releases. I’m offering you a chance to connect more personally with the readers of the Newsletter. Make it unique, direct, and personal, and I will very likely use it. Offer freebies to our readers, that will also help!

P.s. I reserve the right to edit recommendations. I also won’t necessarily publish every recommendation I receive. Quality before quantity!

With your help, I think I can provide a more timely, comprehensive, and rewarding Ottawa Arts Newsletter. Together, we can grow the Ottawa Arts scene!

This Week’s Personal Picks!
Here are my personal picks for the next two weeks (with a few readers’ picks too!). I look forward to receiving and sharing your picks for the following two weeks!

Midsummer’s Night Dream – A Company of Fools.
I saw this very fun show on opening night. I’m very tempted to catch the final performance on Aug. 2nd in Strathcona Park. Because of its moments of improv, audience interaction, and lively sense of play, I’m very curious to see how the show has evolved. If you haven’t seen it, go watch Richard Gelinas steal the well-directed show from a strong cast.

More info: click here.

Macbeth – St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival.
On Friday, I got the chance to attend The St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival’s production of Macbeth, with Ottawa actor Kris Joseph in the title role. Joseph’s excellent command of the language and some clever costume design make this production accessible and enjoyable. It’s well worth the easy drive to Prescott, especially on a beautiful summer evening when someone else is doing the driving (Thanks, Ron)! Bring bug spray, a lawn chair, and a sweater!

Stu, who won the Trouble On Dibble Street tickets from the July Newsletter, had this to say about the other St. Lawrence show:

“We very much enjoyed Trouble On Dibble Street. It had lots and lots of laughs and it was rather silly. The direction and acting were excellent, and we were glad to see Alix Sideris, Kris Joseph, and Pierre Brault again.”

Both shows run until mid-August.

More info: click here.

They All Do It – Odyssey Theatre.
This show is a new work from Ottawa-based Janet Irwin. It also features a talented local actor, Kelly Rigole. I read an early draft of this lively script, which is based on Mozart’s opera, Cosi Fan Tutte. I’m looking forward to seeing how the script has evolved and how it lives on stage and under the stars.

The production runs at Strathcona Park until August 29th.

More info: click here.

Inseparable – Arts Court Productions.
Last year, I missed this bilingual satire about a fictional encounter between Generals Montcalm and Wolfe. Thankfully, it’s back, as a part of the The Downtown Rideau Summer Fling Theatre Festival. I’m pleased to have the chance to see another play featuring an Ottawa playwright, Louis Lemire, and an Ottawa actor, Jérôme Bourgault. I’m also curious to see if the bilingual approach works.

It runs August 10 – 22 at Arts Court, Studio A.

More info: click here.

1st Thursday Art Walk – Wellington West BIA & Seven Wellington West Galleries.

On the 1st Thursday of every month, Exposure Gallery and six other Wellington West galleries stay open late, so you can stroll easily from one friendly gallery to the next.

On Thursday, August 5th, I will be at Exposure Gallery, chatting with people about our new exhibition, Déjà Vu. It features some beautiful and insightful work from Ottawa artist Karina Kraenzle. Déjà Vu asks you “to see again” the carefully constructed female image in print advertising.

See images: click here.

Cube Gallery’s next exhibition looks like it will be lot of fun to check out. It features the work of twenty-two artists who pay homage to influential abstract artists. If you can guess the different artists inspiring each homage, you may win a prize.

More info: click here.

A Wellington West 1st Thursday involves fine art, fine conversation, and (if you want) some fine food and drink in a nearby restaurant. It’s always a pleasant night out.

More info (including a map): click here.

Ottawa Folk Festival.
Jan sent me a friendly note calling my attention to the Ottawa Folk Festival.

He says, “It’s a really nice festival, and the location by the Ottawa River is beautiful. It’s the third year I will be volunteering there.”

That, I think, is as fine an endorsement as you can get. I’m adding this “three-day celebration of music, dance, visual arts and community” to my calendar.

It runs August 13-15, 2010 at Britannia Park.

More info: click here.

And so concludes the first semimonthly edition of the Ottawa Arts Newsletter! Or is it the next edition that is, properly speaking, the first semimonthly edition?

You will need to answer this perplexing question on your own!

Talk soon,


Ottawa Arts Newsletter! Celebrate Canada Day With Some Free Tickets!

Happy Canada Day!

As an artist, it’s sometimes difficult to find the time to enjoy the work of other artists and attend their events

Over the past couple of months, as I rehearsed two shows for the Fringe, performed regularly at Eddie May Murder Mystery, and helped revamp Exposure Gallery’s marketing strategy, I’m a little red-faced to admit that I didn’t find the time to get out and enjoy much of the arts that Ottawa has to offer.

On the one hand, as an artist, I know I am worse off when I don’t engage with the work of other artists. On the other hand, as the new editor and producer of the Ottawa Arts Newsletter, it feels a tad hypocritical of me to trumpet the arts and not also make a greater effort to enjoy all the arts Ottawa has to offer.

After all, we’re all busy in our own way — whatever our work may be — and the temptation to cocoon into our own projects is strong. The vitality of the Ottawa arts scene depends on our willingness to burst out of those cocoons and enjoy each other’s work and company. We ask our audiences to do it. We should too! Being an artist is no excuse!

On the plus side, my busy schedule creates a boon for readers of the Ottawa Arts Newsletter! Because I can’t possibly attend all the events to which I am now being invited, I can pass those invitations along to you!

So, I want to experiment with some ticket giveaways! If the response is favorable, I will make giveaways a regular feature of the Newsletter.

More importantly, in the four years since Jessica first started this newsletter, the Ottawa Arts scene has grown and is more vital than ever. I’m going to need your help to track and trumpet everything that is happening in our great city!

Keep an eye out for your chance to help grow the Ottawa arts scene!


p.s. If you are looking for a comprehensive, straight-up, “just the facts ma’am” what’s-on guide, click here for Mike’s mighty and always growing events guide at Unfolding Magazine.


Time to Put My Socks On
July 8-10. 8pm.
Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre Studio
July 7, PWYC Preview. 8pm.Co-created with Michele Decottignes, Artistic Director of Stage Left Productions, this one man show features Alan Shain, a disabled actor / comedian.

Marc has cerebral palsy. Linda has a sock fetish. Marc swears by white tube socks. Linda is turned on by elaborate and colourful socks! Can the love between Marc and Linda survive their war over socks?

I’ve got a pair of tickets to give away to the first person who emails me the name of one other person who helped develop this production.

Click here to visit Alan’s site and learn the answer.

Trouble On Dibble Street
Opening Night: Saturday, July 10th, 2010 at 7.00pm
Kinsmen Amphitheatre, Sandra S. Lawn Harbour, Prescott, ON.Commissioned by the St Lawrence Shakespeare Festival, Trouble On Dibble Street by John Lazarus is a new adaption of The Merry Wives of Windsor. It is directed by Craig Walker and designed by Andrea Robertson.  After the performance, you can also attend the 2010 Season Gala at the Prescott Town Hall and get to know the cast, crew, and company!

I have a pair of tickets to give away to this great night of theatre. The first person to tell me via email where and when Lazarus sets his new adaptation gets the tickets.

Click here to learn the answer.

Blood Brothers & Another Home Invasion
Thousand Islands Playhouse
185 South Street
Gananoque, ON

I’ve got tickets to give away for the two shows now playing at The Thousand Islands Playhouse.

Blood Brothers, by Willy Russell, is a musical about fraternal twins separated at birth who end up on opposite ends of the social spectrum. Both fall for the same girl, with tragic circumstances. It runs until July 31st.

Another Home Invasion, by Joan MacLeod, is a new one-woman show about the struggle to age with dignity. It stars Terry Tweed and runs until July 17th.

Each show plays at a different theatre. Pick the show you want to see and tell me via email the theatre where it is playing. The first person to do this for each show gets a pair of tickets (but the same person won’t get both sets of tickets — greedy pants!).

Click here to find the answer.


A Midsummer Night’s Dream

A Company of Fools Torchlight Shakespeare.

Opening night is Friday, July 2, 2010, 7 PM Strathcona Park, by the Willow Grove. Reception to follow. Bring bug spray! Pay what you can but $10 would be swell.
The Tree Reading Series: All Open Mic July 13th!
On Tuesday, July 13, 8PM, Tree will host  an all-open mic at the Ottawa Arts Court. Before the open mic, from 6:45-7:45, Guy Simser will lead a workshop on tanka poetics, its ancient Japanese origins and its more recent Japanese and North American development.
The Summer Fling Theatre Festival: July 14th – Aug 28th!

The Downtown Rideau B.I.A is launching a new theatre festival this summer, featuring 6 locally produced shows with 80 performances in 6 venues,

Click here for the shows and schedules.

Free Lunchtime Performing Arts Series.
On Thursdays, in July and August, Ottawa performers are being featured at different wading pool parks throughout the city. The themed events will feature a variety of arts activities for children from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., including an artistic performance from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. There will even be a BBQ lunch on site (11:30 – 1 PM)

Check out the City of Ottawa site for dates, locations, and artists.

Have a great July! More changes are in store for the Newsletter, when I get back from the Winnipeg Fringe.

What’s New At The Ottawa Arts Newsletter In June? Me!

It’s with great pleasure and a genuine sense of honour I take over for Jessica at the Ottawa Arts Newsletter.

In early 2009, I faced the question so many other actors, writers, and artists in Ottawa eventually ask: “should I stay or should I go?”

Jessica’s enthusiasm, her unwavering belief in the vitality of the Ottawa arts scene, and her Ottawa Arts Newsletter were instrumental in convincing me that I should consider seriously the possibility of staying in Ottawa.

Now, in June 2010, after seriously considering it, I’m convinced the Ottawa arts community is vibrant, ripe with opportunity, and poised for even greater things!

Jessica, in her unwavering commitment to all things arts in Ottawa, has made an important contribution to the growth of our community with this newsletter.

I am privileged to be entrusted with the Ottawa Arts Newsletter and the community she has nurtured around it.

I’ll do my best not to muck it up (much), Jessica.


P.s. To learn more about me, click here.

My Picks For The Month Of June!

June 3

Corigliano & Co!

Freiman Hall (University of Ottawa)

Claudia Chan was born and raised in Ottawa, is studying at the Glenn Gould School in Toronto, and is a recent winner of the 33rd Eckhardt-Gramatte Competition for Contemporary Performance. She will be performing with Meliss Wilmot, a young violinist from Toronto who made her Carnegie Hall debut this spring.

$5/students and $10/adults.

I don’t know a lot about music but this seems like a pretty sweet deal for some high calibre talent.

June 4 – 12

Airport Security
Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre-Studio Theatre, 1233 Wellington St. West

Check out Rubato’s impressive website to get a feel for the tenor of a show that features the cream of the crop in Ottawa theatre. Written and directed by RBC Emerging Artist Award winner Patrick Gauthier, the production features talented local actors Simon Bradshaw, Kris Joseph, Catriona Leger, Tania Levy, and Kate Smith.

June 5

Capital Slam Finals
Alumni Auditorium

If you haven’t been to a Capital Slam event, the sooner you get to one the better!

When I first attended one of the monthly Capital Slam nights, I was deeply impressed and, to be honest, more than a little surprised by the high calibre of the poets and poetry on offer.

Capital Slam events are competitive and, at the finals, the top four poets on the evening will represent Ottawa at the 2010 Canadian Festival of Spoken Word which takes place right here in Ottawa come October.

Q: Who won the 2009 competition? A: The top four poets from the 2009 Capital Slam Finals!

Analysis: a great night of spoken word / poetry.

June 10

Exposure Gallery
Vernissage: The SPAO Motto Exhibition
Click here for the invite
The motto of the School of Photographic Arts: Ottawa (SPAO) is “Vision, Content, Craft”. Exposure Gallery’s SPAO Motto Exhibition features work exemplifying this motto by seventeen of SPAO’s very best students and alumni.

An inspired exhibit of fine art photography and Thyme and Again’s glorious pita chips! What more could you want?

Oh! And if you buy some of this fine art photography, you also help pay my rent!

June 11 – 13


A 100% Canadian three day festival that attracts about 200,000 people and features music, visual arts, literary arts, performance art, dance, spoken word, and theatre?

In what magical metropolitan not-Ottawa city could such an event take place?

How about Westboro Village? That’s in Ottawa, BTW.

Jessica tells me all the spoken word performers are local. She also recommends checking out local musicians Peggy White, Bloomistry, and The Balconies. And if you really want to get your local on — and you should — June 13th is Ottawa Night.

Word to the wise: I can’t make sense of the site. Click here to go directly to the printable PDF of the schedule.

June 17 – 27

The Ottawa Fringe Festival

The Ottawa Fringe is without question THE event in the Ottawa theatre community’s calendar. Amateurs, semi-pros, and pros come together to perform their work and to host some great national and international talent.

And by “host”, I mean, we try to out drink them in the beer tent.

There is so much happening in this year’s feast of a fest (yes, I will regurgitate publicity tag lines for the right people), I won’t even bother plugging the three shows in which I’m directly involved (I’m appearing in G-Men Defectives, Deliver’d From Nowhere, and I wrote Prisoner’s Dilemma.)

Instead, I want to plug two great new Festival initiatives.

First, the Lunchtime Artist Series will feature interviews and discussions with writers, creators, and performers involved with this year’s Festival. It looks rich with potential!

Click here, for a very funny video explaining the details.

Second, OYP Theatre school will run a theatre day camp for 4 -13 year olds on the 19th & 26th of June.

This thoughtful initiative makes it easier for parents to attend the Fringe and it also indoctrinates a whole new generation of performers, audiences members, and Fringe volunteers.

I anticipate that the shows the kiddies “create” will all involve the merits of serving an all-powerful and all-loving Festival Executive Producer. ALL PRAISE THE FEP!

Click here, for more details.

June 24 – July 4

Ottawa Jazz Festival

You probably don’t need to be reminded of the Ottawa Jazz Festival. You probably do need to be reminded to support some of the local acts.

Jessica says check out: Soul Jazz Orchestra, Jill Zmud, John Geggie, and Kellylee Evans.

Ok.That’s it for, June. I hope Henry isn’t jealous.