Thursday, 06 Februray
Ottawa, light snow
Whitehorse/Yellowknife/Ottawa – Air North’s inaugural flight, it was a great. A trip of just over 6 hours certainly beats the 12 hour slog via Vancouver on Air Canada, and we got real food! It was an entertaining flight with Boyd Benjamin and Kevin Barr providing tunes on departure and arrival. The arts take flight in Yukon!
Air North threw a big reception in the arrivals lounge in Ottawa with food and entertainment. Yukoners know how to party. I had a chance to say "Hi!" to Minister Taylor, MP Ryan Leef and several others there to celebrate the flight. I couldn’t stay around for all of the celebrations as I had to get downtown to catch Kim’s Convenience at the National Arts Centre.
The play, written by Ins Choi was first presented at the Toronto Fringe Festival where it won the new play contest. The Soulpepper theatre company then picked up the piece for further development, presented it in Toronto, and now it is on tour across the country. Following Ottawa it will be presented in Winnipeg (Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre) and Vancouver (Arts Club Theatre).
The author Ins Choi writes from the heart, his family emigrated from Korea and lived above his uncle’s convenience store. The cast of five delivers his story with sensitivity and humour. Paul Sun-Hyung Lee portrays Appa the convenience store owner and patriarch with humour, kindness and understanding; Grace Lynn Kung is superb as his daughter Janet.
Choi originally wanted to do the work as a location specific piece in a convenience store, unfortunately that was not practical. So the set is a highly realistic convenience store complete with coolers and counters, shelves and goods. It is a big show to take on tour, so we not likely to bring it to Whitehorse.
If you happen to be in Vancouver between 24 April and 24 May this is a show well worth seeing. It will be performing at the Arts Club on Granville Island.
Friday, 07 February
Chilly and grey
Magnetic North Theatre Festival meetings, but I did get the opportunity to watch part of the Olympic opening ceremonies on the giant screen in Confederation Park.
Saturday, 08 February
Sunny with snow, sun flurries
I spent the day in a meeting of the Canadian Institute for Theatre Technology. In the evening I had the chance to see some of the snow sculptures done for Winterlude while trying to find a restaurant with room for a group of ten; Ottawa during Winterlude is a very busy town. I can say, with regional pride, that sculptures at Rendezvous are of a higher quality.
Sunday, 09 February
I took in the matinee of This is War a new play by Hannah Moscovitch at the Great Canadian Theatre Company directed by Eric Coates. I am not a veteran of the Afgan, or any other conflict so I can’t speak to the plays authenticity by I can testify that it was very successful in delivering a powerful message about the permanent damage done to the young people who stand on guard for us.
Staged simply, three crates and light, the play follows four Canadian’s in a forward base for one night and a morning. The events are presented through the hearts of each of protagonists in a series of dialogues and monologues. The monologues give, as responses to the unheard questions of the press, the official story. The dialogues retell the rest of the story. It was a very effective technique that held our attention. It even managed to make a statement about the heartlessness of the medias search for THE sound bite.
Post show, the audience had the low mummer that indicated that they had been deeply affected by what they heard and saw. I noticed one young woman was being comforted by her escort and overheard that she had a brother on active duty.
I had hoped to get to the National Gallery after the show but the timing of buses made that impossible. Instead I had time to explore the amazing ice sculpture presented for Winterlude. One of the finalist pieces was a full size crocodile by a sculpture from North Africa.
On my way to dinner I passed through the Ottawa municipal building and in the Karsh-Masson Gallery encountered a fascinating exhibit entitled Little Voices featuring HO scale dioramas by Patti Normand accompanied by text pieces by Lesley Buxton. The tiny vignettes of Silent Falls captured moments of realism and fantasy that left me moved, but also left me giggling. As the brochure said it was a place “where the mundane and macabre intermingle”. (Video below)