Our CEO Al Cushing was recently in Vancouver and here is his report back.

We joined our Theatre consultant friend, Rob Hamilton, for  “Rite” presented by Ballet BC.

The signature piece, “Rite” which filled the first half of the evening was black on white, It was brilliantly choreographed by the Ballet BC artistic director Emily Molnar on a stunning textured off white set by Omer Arbel.  Usually an all white set is a recipe for a visual disaster, creating horrible challenges for the lighting designer.  However, here, the LD, James Proudfoot was able to overcome the challenges primarily because Kate Burrow’s costumes were in shades and textures of black. I found the work visually stimulating and emotionally engaging. I had two concerns; the lighting sometimes fought the choreography, changes in lighting texture competed with and failed to support the flow of the choreography: and, the soundscape although it worked well for the piece sounded to my ears like a hideous feedback loop that needed to be fixed.

I accept that the composer for “Rite” was probably trying to emulate the shock factor that Stravinsky had in 1913 when his Rites of Spring was presented in Paris.  However, he was no Stravinsky. 

The second half of the evening the now “traditional” Rites of Spring was equally strong, and featured white costumes on a black set.  Unfortunately, the unisex costume dresses did not do anything to add drama to the very fine and erotic choreography. 

All in all it was a stunning evening at the Queen Elizabeth theatre.

The next day, Saturday, acting on Eric Epstein’s advice we went to Granville Island to catch two pieces of theatre by an all female ensemble.  The matinee was “J Caesar”, a shortened adaptation of the Shakespeare’s play re-written for an all female cast.  The writing worked rather well, however James MacDonald’s direction brought the play to a fever pitch from the beginning and left no room for growth.  The Shakespearian language also seemed to be a challenge for some of the cast.  However, it was a worthwhile exercise in adaptation.

In the evening, the same company presented “Miss Shakespeare” a musical about women, notably Shakespeare’s daughter Judith, wanting to become thespians in an all male theatre world.  It was funny, touching and just plain fun.  Tracey Power wrote the book and lyrics; and also helped write the music with Steve Charles; both elements were very strong.  The performances were all very strong, the lighting effective and the simple set worked beautifully.

Both shows were at Performance Works, a delightful, small venue on Granville Island.  The shows will be moving to the Meek Centre in West Vancouver, opening on May 21.

Image: Miss Shakespeare. Photograph by: Bold Rezolution Studio