Tag Archives: Edmonton Journal

You say you wanna stage a revolution?

Edmonton Fringe Festival is upon us here in the Capital City and let me tell you what, it is worth every minute of your time and every traffic inconvenience.

In another life I was very much involved with theater which has put me in an excellent position to inform your decision on which shows to check during this years fringe.

Below is just a list of suggestion of shows I think are well worth checking out, if you would like further information or a more “review” type description I recommend checking out Vue’s Fringe reviews or The Edmonton Journal’s reviews. Both are fairly objective although I belive a caveat to my endorsement is needed. All reviews are subjective and all are only one viewing of one performance from one person, so ensure you keep that in mind and try to ignore the personal rave/distaste and look for the plot description and not the opinionated review of the design/acting/writing.

Full disclosure: I have a great many pals who are involved in the majority of shows mention in the below, however as I give you my word these recommendations come from a genuine belief in quality and creative integrity.

Transalta Stage at the Westbury Theater

The Year of Magical Thinking, Pobbie Productions: an adapted screenplay from Joan Didion, so you know it will be entertaining at the very least. Length: 80- minutes. Origin: Edmonton.

The Laugh Shop

The Big Stupid Improv Show, Rapid Fire Theater: improv is a hard thing to do, even if it looks like actors are just making an idiot of themselves on stage for cheap laughs. Ok, so that is what improv is sometimes, however laughs are always good cheap or Crystal. RFT has failed to disappoint this season, and they are local so this little taste will have you itching for their next season to start up, and then you can scratch that itch, scratch it good. Length: 75 minutes. Origin: Edmonton.

The Honeymoon Period is Officially Over, Gemma Wilcox: I worked the front of house for this show on Friday night, full house and nothing but good things heard from those in line. Length: 70 minutes. Place of Origin: Boulder, Colorado USA.

Acacia Hall

Excuse me: This is the TRUTH!, Break the Wall Productions: @Paulatics gives this show some serious love, and you know she knows what she is talking about. Length: 45 minutes. Origin: Edmonton, Alberta

Fringe Cabaret Lounge

El Dorado, Surreal SoReal Theater: I actually went to high school with the writer/director/actor and have been in several productions with him in our younger days. Excellent actor and I believe this is his first self written, self directed, and self acted show so I am keen to see what comes of it. Based out of Edmonton with loads of local talent from this city to support the show, I am genuinely looking forward to seeing this. Length: 70 minutes.

Between Tosha and Boleck, Aether Bag Theater: A two person show written and directed by Bohdan Tarasenko featuring Ukrainian accents. Length 60 minutes. Origin: Edmonton.

NGGRFG, Guy Un-Disguised & Small Brown Package: I got a glowing recommendation from a designer who’s opinion I trust entirely. This creator has a longer track than the combined characters from Trainspotting. Length: 60 minutes. Origin: Edmonton.

Catalyst Theater

Bashir Lazhar, Wishbone: Translated from Evelyne de la Cheneliere by Morwyn Brebner, toured in Munich, Dresden and Innsbruck. Vancouver Sun fell all over themselves for this production and from what I hear the praise is well deserved. “… raw physical impulse and muted desire.” Length: 90 minutes. Origin: Edmonton/Calgary, Alberta.

Old Strathcona Performing Arts Collective (OSPAC)

Edmund, Mur- Man Productions: Three actors I highly respect, including one I have the opportunity to work creatively with, hold this show down. The director and stage manager are incredibly talented and from the rumours, in high demand. The show was named best of Saskatoon Fringe and was sold out here in Edmonton for its opening night. Length: 75 minutes. Origin: Edmonton, Alberta.

Telus Building

Excess Unwanted Growth, Hey Haggard, Take Heed! Productions: Written and Directed by David Owen a well known director throughout Alberta and an excellent professor. I am lucky enough to have had the experience to be in one of his productions, Faustus at the University of Lethbridge, and have seen an excerpt from this play done for a class at the UofL. Itching to see the full piece. FTWL: interesting, thought provoking and sometimes obtuse theater with a genuine creative force that is refreshingly original. Length: 50 minutes. Origin: Calgary/Red Deer, Alberta.

Planet Ze Design Center

Cadaver, Digestion Theater: A troupe of Edmonton Theater students came together to write, produce and stage this show and from what I hear this is some of the best of Edmonton’s up and coming talent. Length:60 minutes. Origin: Edmonton, Alberta.

BYOV’s (Bring Your Own Venue)

This experiment in found theater space has changed the face of Fringe in the last few years. The idea of putting a production together in a custom found space, a space beyond a traditional stage forces both the actors and the director to interact in an environment alien to the traditional form that theater takes.

Avenue Theater: RAUNCH: The Rise of the Female Chauvinist Pigs!

La Cite Francophone: Reunion Tour, George Orwell is Not My Real Name, Pinters Breif’s

Strathcona Public Library: The Pumpkin Pie Show, Filling in Our Bones

Varscona Theater: LoveHateKill, Die-Nasty

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Where is Lethbridge’s homelessness plan?

The province of Alberta has announced a plan to “end” homelessness by 2019.With a price tag of 3.3 billion,

The plan calls for the development of 8,000 new housing units in Alberta, which could cost $1.3 billion, while operational costs are projected to hit $2.1 billion over the next decade. A major focus will be to quickly move homeless people out of shelters, and provide social supports once they are housed.

The issue of homelessness has become forefront for social activists in the last few years as Alberta’s oil boom has increased the cost of living so quickly and so astronomically that many who were scraping by before were no longer to house or feed themselves. Often the homeless are now called “the working poor”, a phrase which illustrates the lack of social housing and social support even to those who do contribute financially to our society.

While I am hopeful and commend Minister Fritz for this progressive plan of action, I am still hesitant to  give the Alberta Government a high five as the lack of action thus far has been indicative of the governments priority’s (that being said, there has been considerable amounts done to aid current homeless resource centers such as The Calgary Drop-In Center and the Invisible Project).

I echo Liberal MLA Taylor’s sentiments as reported in the Edmonton Journal:

“It’s a great plan in principle, but it all comes down to the level of commitment that is shown when Iris Evans brings down the budget on April 7,” said Dave Taylor, the Liberal party’s housing critic. “If the funding is there, I believe this is a plan that will end or dramatically reduce homelessness across the province over the next 10 years. If the funding isn’t there, it’s just a nice booklet.”

Lethbridge alone has seen an increase of 60% in our homelessness popualtion in the last year and although we are not reporting the numbers seen in Calgary and Edmonton, for a city of 70 000 people it is reasonable to think that the city of Lethbridge would see social housing as a priority and would thus create the spending to remedy this growing problem. With women being turned away from the YWCA due to lack of space and more and more families accessing resources or facing being split up among several short term and long term shelters I wonder where Lethbridge’s city council is on this issue.

Having been an invited participant in the city’s committee Social Housing in Action, I have seen the city’s lack of commitment to act and although there is a great deal of work being done to identify the problem of homelessness in Lethbridge I have been privy to the disappointment on behalf of agencies regarding the allocation of both municipal and provincial funds.

Direct action includes building more spaces for short and long term housing, resource centers for those who need access to education and living resources, greater funding to those agencies who work on the ground in Lethbridge to aid those homeless individuals, funding for emergency care and agencies such as the YWCA and Wood’s Homes which specifically offer help to high risk individuals. As citizens I believe we need to bring our concerns to the forefront and push the city council to act on this problem and demand accountablity of these committee’s and thier participants.

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Tar sands, Alberta Advantage, CCS: just a few of our favourite things…

My new favorite blog:

Alberta: Get Rich or Die Trying. An open critical look at the current Alberta government, their priorities, spending practices and contributions to one of the most serious environmental crimes this world has seen. The tar sands have proved themselves to be no financial savior and as our international reputation continues to be further tarnished by this province’s insistence on the exploitation of unsustainable and completely wasteful energy source, there is a strong and real voice to expose the untruths the media and government alike spin out . Yes this is a harsh evaluation, however the recent announcements by the government pertaining to energy development, specifically CCS (also see MikeSoron’s post on this) and the drop of “Alberta Advantage” has me disappointed (almost as disappointed as when I head Obama utter CCS in a positive manner, politics politics politics…). There was a time I was impressed, heavy tech spending to increase our “knowledge” economy had me hopeful of diversification and looking forward to a steady provincial government that cut the rhetoric and looked out for Albertan’s interests. I no longer feel the same.

Albertan’s need to be aware of what is happening. We are all too willing to bury our heads in the sand and just wait it out. Eventually we will be Ok. This is not the time to do that. Our provincial government has recklessly spent away two oil booms and left us with a measly 15 billion in savings. With the promises made to completely useless technology and infrastructure programs that benefit those who need those benefits least, how quick will that $15 billion go?

We are a province of business people, family farmers and capitalists. We are a province who used to fight when we were wronged. Now, we just look the other way and blame Ottawa. This time, Ottawa did nothing to us. Literally, nothing. For electing a Calgarian we have seen little help and little direction.

Our own provincial government is more willing to give royalty exemptions to non-Canadian oil companies then they are to investigate the syphilis rates among new born babies. They are willing to sink money into a technology never meant to “green” the tar sands and then go on record to say “90’s style spending cuts.”

There is no one solution of any of our, or the worlds problems. There are layers of complexity and heavy government bureaucracy which mar what seems like a fixable problem. Promises made, contracts signed and political agendas all factor in. But it is time to use some foresight and some logical thinking. This government has a huge majority in the house and can feasibly do anything they want. Use some of that for good, maybe it wont be what’s best for the trillion dollar, international oil conglomerates but it will likely be what is best for the people who chose to reside in this beautiful, strong and cultural rich province.

Alberta, Grow up.

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