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Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Quick Rant

It's early in the morning to rant (but I've been up awhile) - still, I swear there's an Emperor's New Clothes thing going on in the design world, and I'd like to put a stop to it. Now, I actually studied this just a few years ago, so it isn't the rant of an elderly woman (or just my age speaking) "Reverse" type, I.E. white on coloured background is overused, incorrectly used, and is driving me utterly mad.

I swear it's another way for people to disrespect words (we've all given up a bit on grammar). More than 3 lines of type done in white (or worse, colour on colour) make the reader just haze over - or really strain. Can we afford to alienate people, or be so inconsiderate? Huge amounts of money are spent by not-for-profit groups to make flyers and brochures and ads they think (or their designers think) are really cool, but they might as well be written in gobbledygook.

If the words are so unimportant to read ----don't bother printing them. And stand up to your designers, people. Start noticing now much you read after the first line or two, when it's written in white (and 10 pt. type.) Gotta go to work now.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

ArtsTarting Rules! ( Sometimes you just need a laugh!)

Sometimes when you have a job (or two) that's all about supporting culture and artists you just have to go out, have a laugh, and assume everyone can take care of themselves for awhile (yes, just like parenting). Had a great couple of evenings this week, one hanging out with the ArtsTarts ( a little group of folks who promote the arts in our fair area) and the other at Women Fully Clothed. The ArtsTarts all talked our faces off but wore our earplugs and cones of silence and can't be quoted about anything. The good thing about drinking in a situation like that is that you won't remember much of what you - or anyone -said the next day. The bad thing is...someone might not have had as much to drink. Ah well, once in a blue moon, it's o.k.

Two nights later I went to Women Fully Clothed at the Grand, and I swear every woman in town over 50 (perhaps minus those who work at the university) was there. It was my first time seeing the comedy sketch troupe of brazen broads that includes Kathryn Greenwood from Whose Line Is It Anyway, the audacious Robin Duke from Saturday Night Live and SCTV, Jayne Eastwood from everything and Teresa Pavlinek from The Jane Show.

A couple of sketches really captured the essence of female conversation (do they go everywhere with microrecorders?) including a skit about the gang having what they think is a real conversation, but is mainly soundbites of media catch words that no-one ever gets time to really flesh out fully but psychically understand anyway! Best song of the night "Some People are Better Than You" - which was a Sesame Street style "feel better" song that explained how some people are just born superior, and they can't help it (so stop trying to catch up)! My favourite line of the evening went along with it: "you know those perfect women ...they're not out there with you...they're home having sex with their husbands!" Also LOVED a quintuple-take shudder/hex from Robin Duke about her (ex) husband and his predilection for Viagra! The troupe probably could have taken ten minutes from act two and had only one act full of great material, but well, you know women and bathrooms.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Grand evenings

I still remember the first time I visited the Grand Theatre, just before we moved here 10 years ago. The show (Guys and Dolls, from the Playhouse) was great - but I immediately asked "Why in the world does a nice city like this have a high school auditorium for its major theatre?" Thank goodness, that's changed, and I'm now a big fan. Okay, there are physical things to be worked out, but the programming is certainly not among them.

Last night I saw Angele Dubeau and her group of "femme string players" La Pieta there. First impression was "they're all so young!" And most of them were. Not so much the audience, however... (which is too bad, in a university town). The programme was about myth and legend and really featured a wide range of style, from Haendel and Bartok to Philip Glass, an old Russian film theme that had touches of giggles and ragtime, and a newer piece called Gypsy Heart. They even finished off with the wisdom of "giving them something to go out humming" ( Offenbach's "Can Can" from Orphee aux Enfers.)

In general, I started out a little nervous, because the group was fairly sedate and not much to watch (the configuation on stage was not conducive to watching anyone but Ms. Dubeau and the cellist) - but the aural effect was extraordinarily smooth and full. Other pieces became livelier and you genuninely felt Dubeau's Romanian training in "giving a voice and body" to the instrument. At times the "voices" of the instruments were challenging, at others almost hysterical and Dubeau's own solid connection with the instrument even made it a very physical experience.

Although it might be nice to have some sort of more interesting backdrop for smaller groups such as these --to offset the large stage and sedate first impression -- the choice was a solid one. Now if only the 30 "coughers" in the crowd had unwrapped their losenges early... I have a feeling that Saturday's Coleman Lemieux dance troupe will be more my "usual style" - and also might just dive in for much-needed comedy next Friday night with some very funny "broads in Women Fully Clothed." Good seats left for both.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

King's Conscience Redux

The long awaited Theatre Kingston/Salon Theatre King's Conscience (the "hip hop Hamlet) really turns the Baby Grand space into THE room to be in for Kingston. I'd love them to keep it that way and keep doing cabaret style theatre there. Maybe the bar could help subsidize the costs people keep complaining about. Rockne Corrigan is the coolest young modern Hamlet, and probably taking a teen to this is the best thing folks could do.

Anna Sudac is also fairly delicious as a smart guitar playing Molly/Ophelia, but I preferred to focus on the raps and the story between them, which was a mite hard to follow (it veers off from Hamlet fairly significantly but when it stays with the old Bard's words and messes with them, that was my favourite part) That being said, particularly in the first part, Charlotte Corbeil Coleman (a big young force to watch for, and director Layne's daughter) and Rockne wrote some pretty funny stuff. Really. They should have quotes from it all over the place.

So....before the end of the month, go for the "total experience" at the Baby Grand and treat yourself to a drink and smart young folks mixed with a classic in the neatest space in town. It might just be my Alternative Valentine pick... (since the major Valentine pick for me is Coleman Lemieux dance in the big theatre next door.) You could be really groovy and do both on the 13th.... since there's a late-night show.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

V Day Week....and the antidotes

I think I'll go with Val Week choices that you don't need to be "coupled" for or that won't have your stomach upset with too much "sweetness." BYOS (sweets)...Thanks to Trevor Waurechen for the image at right(you can get it at Art from our Hearts!)

Thurs Feb 11- Start the HeartArt attacks early with all female string ensemble of Angele Dubeau, LA PIETA, at the Grand. Elan...Excitement...Style. Or there may be a few tickets left for the hot Cuban band fronted by LEONI TORRES at Confed. Place. Tix -the usual outlets.

Fri. Feb 12
- Confed place again, cheaper (starting at 6) is GLENNA GREEN and friends, followed by SHARRIE WILLIAMS and band at 8:30 ($25 for that.) I think I'd go to the late show of THE KING'S CONSCIENCE at the Baby Grand (I've already seen it and the space couldn't be better) Girls can lust after Rockne Corrigan's new version of Hamlet, and the guys seem pretty sweet on Anna Sudac's Molly/Ophelia. Or...the reverse. Tix for this and Pieta : 613 530-2050 >

Sat. 13 is the big night, it seems. But these choices require no romantic inclination whatsoever, so you can also go with "just" a friend. LOW BUDGET Try UNION GALLERYduring the day 11-4:30 for some art inspiration about calmness, and maybe slip over to the Wilson Room for the OKWA show (always good art) then to NGB Studios' really cool and edgy ART FROM OUR HEARTS from 5-10 p.m. (food and munchies and excellent gifty things from 16 highly recommended artisans ) MEDIUM $ - COLEMAN LEMIEUX(where we'll be) DANCE company at the Grand Theatre. Very physical! $$$, but for a good cause: CEZANNE'S CLOSET the fundraiser for Union Gallery, 613 533-3171. $150 guarantees admission and munchies for two, an intriguing and suspenseful evening of figuring out your art taste (and that of your partner) and you're guaranteed a piece of art to take home. What you get depends somewhat on luck...but not if you're really clever and rank your faves. Duke it out with your friend for art custody. Call Union Gallery or just show up. Tix are a little pricier this year so you'll have less competition for your favourite work.

Sunday Feb. 14 itself (If you haven't had enough yet) At 2:30 you can catch IF MUSIC BE THE FOOD OF LOVE at Upper Canada Academy, 260 Brock - lovely music including harpsichord, oboes, pianos, trumpets for $20... and munchies too. In the evening (remember, we get a holiday on Monday for "Family Day" so you can stay up) folks are encouraged to dress up for SLOW DANCE at Modern Fuel Gallery, 8 pm on. DJ's and "designated dancers" will make it a fun event. And I must give a plug to the CHOCOLATE COOKIES found at Pan Chanco this week. MMMM.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Sounds and Spaces

There is so much talk around Kingston right now about "getting space" - transforming spaces, getting the right space. As if someone can just give us culture.

But...a big part of the going out experience for me is the combination of space, event and people. New Ideas/Old buildings (isn't that the Jane Jacobs line?) Mixing the familiar with the unknown.

I do prefer intimate spaces, in general. Which means you only get the small acts or semi-known acts the presenters can afford, or individual seat ticket prices have to be too high. Or subsidized...That's another story. This week I saw the great Swamp Ward Orchestra with Vagabond Opera(a sort of twisted cabaret troupe) at the Mansion Living Room, which now has tables not sofas, to fit in more people. Great room, in general, from my view, acoutics seem good. Not many people there on a Monday night. Oh well. Your loss, Kingston.

An "artignite event" was Basia Bulat and the Luyas from Montreal at Sydenham U. Church on Tuesday. Basia is sort of a combo between Tracy Chapman, Michelle Shocked and Dolly Parton - but Canadian, and has great power, plays a mean autoharp (I think it was) and guitar. But she should get more back ups. I felt like a really old woman listening to the Luyas...who seem to be more a dance group that's trying to dredge up the new music cacaphony sound from the 70's... But why sing with lyrics if we can't understand a word???Just because the singer enjoys them isn't good enough. Some folks say it's the S. U. church...not good for a group with drum kit, but there's a fad with young singers who mushmouth words. Articulation is a customer service thing. Ask around for help if you don't know how. Consonants.

Finally - not much time here to go with --but the long awaited Theatre Kingston/Salon Theatre King's Conscience (the "hip hop Hamlet) really turns the Baby Grand space into THE room to be in for Kingston. I'd love them to keep it that way and keep doing cabaret style theatre there.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Igniting February -It's working so far

It's working so far! We started last weekend with the Gala for the Reelout Film Fest, which seemed very well attended - and had superb company, food and music -- and then I caught one (sadly only one) of the films, Hannah Free. I did overhear, though, that a couple of others were absolutely dynamite, particularly the one by John Greyson - which he attended. "And Then Came Lola" is a sexy-looking re-look at Run Lola Run, this Thursday, and the festival is on through next weekend.

Monday night, I got a "sneak preview" of the great cast of King's Conscience, as they were all also at the extraordinary performances by Swamp Ward Orchestra and Vagabond Opera at the Mansion. Now, if you like great spaces and mind-meddling talent, both the Mansion and this Theatre Kingston/Salon Theatre production of King's Conscience (a hip hop Hamlet) at the Baby Grand should really be seen. Really.

First,The Mansion is actually inspiring me to stay up late - on weeknights -- the stuff there is so good. Swamp Ward Orchestra is more brilliant all the time and some smart person should put them in a film- sexy, clever, lotsa francais. I loved a song about a Russian nightspot and Laura Murray's new accordion work. And Vagabond Opera was extraordinary. People actually came from Ottawa to see them! A couple of real operatic voices, and an approach to performance that blew everyone away.

King's C - on 3rd to 20th - the Baby Grand Theatre is going to be transformed in amazing ways, apparently ..including bringing your drinks into the theatre. And having late-night weekend shows. Rockne Corrigan and Anna Sudac are rumoured to be blowing the roof off anyone's idea of what Hamlet could be.

TONIGHT Basia Bulat at Sydenham St. United Church. Next week - Too much to choose from, but hot off the press, a Cuban band is going to be playing at Confederation Place Hotel on Thurs. Feb. 11 (Next week seems to be Valentine's Week. I'll have to do a whole list of things later this week.) Tix at Brian's or Tara. Proceeds go to the Cuba for Haiti fund.