Night Light – Are you afraid of the dark?

Night'L# 14 crop2Everyone’s Afraid of Something

The lights dim. Teachers and parents hush, children hush their neighbours, and the theatre goes quiet. Night Light begins at the MTYP. Farley walks onto the stage set as a playground and tells us about the pressure she feels from her dad to get good grades. We learn she fears math, because she fears her father’s anger. The audience remembers back (whether the memory was stored days earlier or years earlier) to the fear they felt when they faced a scary math test or a scary parent, and together we really feel for Farley.

Enter Victor.

Victor walks by the play structure, and in an instant Farley snatches his backpack off his back. Farley, our first impression of the show and newfound friend, transforms before our eyes into a card-carrying, lunch-stealing, schoolyard bully. The scene unravels and we realize, in the way that Farley fears her dad, Victor fears Farley. Instead of feeling for the victim of the bully, we feel for both of them.

The play unravels and we learn the fears of three kids, Farley, Victor, and Victor’s little sister, and we 591537.nightlight-mtyp-web-1-2learn along with them the different strategies for dealing with fear.

Here’s my favourite part; there was no cheesy “aha!” moment where all of their problem disintegrate. They experience success and failure, and, by the end of the show, they each learn to take control of their lives in spite of fear.

While some MTYP shows can easily entertain and teach all ages, this one is intended for children. The humour, the issues dealt with, and the language used are so relevant to children that it felt like a couple of kids were in on the writing process. The children in the audience were screaming and laughing along with each event. The little boy next to me was hollering, pointing, and half out of his seat like a football fan watching the Super Bowl.

Having said that, I enjoyed myself and felt braver as I walked back to my car to face the snowy roads and busy day ahead. You’ll enjoy it too, I’m sure. But, I would highly recommend you bring a child or pass the show’s info along to any parents you know. Any kid will benefit from this vivid and influential show.

Night Light is entertaining, applicable, and a must-see for Winnipeg children. It’s playing at 1pm and 6pm everyday through until Sunday. Monster white bkgd

Post by Meghan Zahari and photos by Hubert Pantel for MYTP 

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Processed with VSCOcamSince she was little, Meghan has had a love for words and kept her nose firmly stuck in a book. Now, she’s a writer, a wife, and the owner of a pug and a puggle. She spends her days reviewing local ballet and theatre, writing all kinds of stories, running Concrete & Cloud, taking classes through University of Toronto, and doing projects and social media for a local chiropractor that promotes natural health.

www.meghan-zahari.com


Sarah Zaharia

I On The Sky

MTYP 2No matter who we are, where we live, or when we live, the same sky hovers over all of our heads. The omnipresent sky was the inspiration behind Manitoba Theatre for Young People’s  “I on the Sky”, a dynamic, moving play that uses mime, gymnastics, and dance, to tell the story of a young woman who just arrived in a new country and finds refuge on a park bench. Yves Simard, the writer and director, explains that every time he arrives in a new place, he goes to a park to get to know his surroundings and to gaze at the sky, the same sky that is blanketing his family faraway. From that, a story of war, love, and isolation was born.

DynamO Théâtre’s acrobatics can be compared to Cirque de Soleil. The major difference being that every move is choreographed in line with the story, rather than the stunts being the main attraction. Though the play is presented at Manitoba for Young People, it tackles adult issues. Yet, the kinetic dynamic is so visually entertaining that it’s safe to say that any age would enjoy this show. The group of five actors seemed like a cast of twenty as they flew on and off the stage in tremendous acrobatic feats and a flurry of costume changes. The actors are light on their feet and stay in character the entire time, making the music, the movement, and the story flow into one.

The pace of the show never slows down and the audience is taken on a journey through the young MTYP 3woman’s memories that led her to her lonely place on the park bench. When the play started, I found myself confused, but after getting a glimpse into a few of her memories, everything began to come together. I began to realize that she was once engaged, belonged to a family and had escaped a war-torn country.

I won’t give too much away because I think you should go. Go for the acrobatics, go for the beautiful story, and go for the reminder that no matter where you are or who you’ve left behind, the sky will always be the same.

Post by Meghan Zahari and photos by MTYP 

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Processed with VSCOcamSince she was little, Meghan has had a love for words and kept her nose firmly stuck in a book. Now, she’s a writer, a wife, and the owner of a pug and a puggle. She spends her days reviewing local ballet and theatre, writing all kinds of stories, running Concrete & Cloud, taking classes through University of Toronto, and doing projects and social media for a local chiropractor that promotes natural health.

www.meghan-zahari.com


Sarah Zaharia

Kim’s Convenience – Universal Story Through Comedy

Kim's 3Ins Choi’s play Kim’s Convenience is touring to theatres across Canada and is playing at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre from March 13 – April 5. After a long and dreary winter this is the perfect play to lift your spirit and warm your soul. It’s lighthearted, brisk and has a tender core. The play centers on Appa (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) and his titular store. His convenience store operates much the same way Sam’s bar in Cheers did: the world outside the bar (or store in this case) exists only through what is said about it by the customers. The store itself is nothing special. If you closed your eyes and imagined any corner convenience store you’d probably have images of wood paneling, linoleum floors, fluorescent lights, a mop in the corner, a rack of shimmering potato chip bags, and you’d be spot on. Ironically, in its simplistic authenticity, the set almost takes on an enchanted quality (I always get that uncanny feeling when presented with a simulacrum that is so convincingly like its original).

The first minute or two of the play is a bit of a fake out: here we are in this incredibly realistic setting, Mr. Kim's 2Kim comes out of the back room and, humming, goes through the routine of opening the store. He turns the sign, readies the cash register, wipes a bit of dust off a Doritos bag and goes about pricing some Korean energy drinks. It couldn’t be more mundane. But then the first customer arrives and the dialogue exchange that ensues quickly informs the audience that while the intention of the play is to examine serious issues such as the immigrant experience, family dynamics and forgiveness, it was going to do so through the lens of comedy. While serious drama certainly has its place, Choi’s tendency towards the comedic universalizes the experience and makes it instantly relatable. It has the effect of putting us right into the story with the characters instead of giving us that anthropological position as observer. We are engaged because we can see ourselves in it, and the laughs keep coming.

Mr. Kim, like most fathers, just wants what is best for his children, and like most children his son Jung (Ins Choi) and daughter Janet (Chantelle Han) aren’t interested in living in the shadows of their parents. It’s a story that’s been told before, but it’s one that bears repeating. I may have thought going into the play that there was going to be a deep insight into the immigrant experience and the truth is that there was, just not in the way I expected. In telling the story of one Korean family living in Canada, Choi touches on things that are universal about all families. While it does speak to the Korean immigrant experience, there is nothing so specific in it that it can’t speak to a broader experience we all have of wanting to fit in, wanting our loved ones to succeed, and wanting to be remembered after we’re gone.Kim's 1

Post by Josh Benoit – Photos courtesy of RMTC, Photographer, Bruce Monk

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Josh Benoit - head shotJoshua Benoit is a freelance writer, musician with the local band, Pumas and videographer living in Winnipeg. He is passionate about food, philosophy, travel and Kurt Vonnegut. At one time he thought he wanted to be an optometrist but ultimately found more joy in words than in formulas, just as he derives more pleasure from whiskey than from soda.

His life goals are modest and include owning a dog with an aloof demeanor and a needy cat, publishing no less than eleven novels (some of them trash), and possibly raising children, though he’d settle for a weekly afterschool special in which he could impart his street-wise verbiage to the children of the world.

Joshua studied English and Film at the University of Manitoba and took his sweet time about getting his B.A. He now works for the Department of Education and is continuing his creative writing studies through the University of Toronto. To get in touch with Joshua, write to him at jedwardbenoit@gmail.com


Sarah Zaharia

Wine on Tap

Vancouver Urban Winery - 55 Dunlevy AvenueIf you’re serious about food or wine (or have a healthy appetite for either) you know the key to learning is tasting. It’s a process of figuring out what you like and why.

In the heart Railtown, a Vancouver neighbourhood that is becoming known for destination eating, drinking and reasonable rents, there is a wine revolution going on.

The Vancouver Urban Winery, at 55 Dunlevy Avenue, is open seven days a week and prides itself on providing oenophiles with a unique wine experience. Being able to drink wine in a winery is a unique experience and being able to walk to it is close to perfect.

Incredibly, all the wine at VUW is served on tap. You can order single tastings for $2.50, premium for $3.50 and by the glass pours from $6-$15. With over 30 taps, you can make your way through whites, roses and reds figuring out what you like best.

FreshTAP at the Vancouver Urban WineryWine on tapUnique taps by FreshTAPWine on tap isn’t a new idea. Commercialized in the 1980’s, it was closer to wine in a box, easily oxidized, and went off fast. Spearheading this new technological take on wine on tap is a local company, FreshTAP. Not only is FreshTAP located within the Vancouver Urban Winery, but they provide of all of VUW’s taps as well.

Similar to beer, this new technology has finally made high quality wine by the glass viable. Affordable for the consumer and eliminating the risk for the restaurant, these kegs are as innovative as they come. Pressurized with inert gas, they keep the wine perfect for six to eight months.

FreshTAP is also making a major dent in the environmental impact of wine distribution. Kegs have a 20-year life A flight from white to redcycle, are 30% lighter than bottles and their distribution produces 68% less greenhouse gas emissions than bottle use.

I asked Kate Marshall, the general manager of Vancouver Urban Winery what she thought made the winery work and she said simply, “How unique we are.”  It’s clearly evident this is a group of young entrepreneurs running the winery on an “outside the box” basis.

The wine comes from vineyards all over British Columbia, is tested by VUW’s wine maker, and then aged in barrels on-site to produce a unique and hyper-local product for urban Vancouverites.

The winery is currently going through some serious renovations, the most major of which is the installation of a full kitchen. You can come in for a glass, a flight of wine or for a Sommelier vs. Sommelier smackdown at VUW’s Sunday School tasting events.

The National Restaurant Association calls wine taps the number one wine trend for 2013, so it won’t be long before it shows up at your local watering hole.

Seating at the VUWA sampleBarrels at the VUW

 

 

 

 

 

Article by Sarah Zaharia – Photos by Adrian Crook


Sarah Zaharia

The Valley

Toby Hughes and Nancy Sorel on bed holding hand - blogThe goal of staging The Valley, according to director Ann Hodges, is to open up a dialogue around issues of mental health, a significant goal when you consider that the Canadian Mental Health Association estimates that the total number of 12-19 year olds at risk for developing depression is 3.2 million and cites Canada’s youth suicide rate as the third highest in the industrial world.

 

Alden Adair and Nancy Sorel at police station blogPrairie Theatre Exchange’s, The Valley, written by Joan MacLeod, engages the audience in a conversation about mental health using an altercation between a police officer and a mentally unstable youth as its inciting incident, a poignant example given the number of police shootings in recent years. While the altercation itself is dramatic and the actions of the officer are questionable, MacLeod is less interested in pointing fingers and witch-hunting than in exploring the lives of the people involved and the effects of mental illness on them and those they love.

Being arrested - Toby Hughes and Alden Adair - The Valley- blogAfter the altercation with the officer at the train station, Connor (Toby Hughes) slips deeper into depression and spends all of his time locked up in his room. His mother Sharon (Nancy Sorel) is frustrated that she can’t help her son and in looking for meaning blames the officer for ruining her child. While it’s painfully obvious to the audience that Connor was slipping into depression long before the altercation, his mother seems to be in denial about it, perhaps believing she knew her son better than she did. It’s a powerful revelation that the strong, masculine archetype (exemplified by the officer) isn’t the only one in denial when it comes to mental illness. It’s an issue that is very uncomfortable for all those who suffer from it and those who love them.

In the majority of the scenes involving officer Dan (Alden Adair) he is out of Alden Adair and Elizabeth Stephensen - The Valley bloghis police uniform, at home with his wife (Elizabeth Stephensen) and newborn child. He is shown as more than just a gun and a badge as he attempts to navigate fatherhood while dealing with an emasculated identity over the fact that his wife is suffering from postpartum depression—emasculating because he sees himself as someone who can, supposedly, fix anything. Because he can’t comprehend her attitude towards their son he uses rhetoric and aggression in an attempt to force her will. His behaviour at home overlaps with his professional life as a police officer and reveals a glaring problem: police are not adequately trained to deal with mental illness.

The Valley’s strong message and strong performances confront the issues around mental health without judgment and without prejudice. The play is not reactionary. It is not a soapbox for the writer to rage against the police. Rather, it is a challenging piece of theatre that wants to remind us that behind every news story there are real people involved, that these people aren’t just one way, that being human means being both good and bad and that mental illness further complicates and thus requires a deeper empathy towards humanity.

Post by Josh Benoit & photos courtesy of PTE – Bruce Monk

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Josh Benoit - head shotJoshua Benoit is a freelance writer, musician with the local band, Pumas and videographer living in Winnipeg. He is passionate about food, philosophy, travel and Kurt Vonnegut. At one time he thought he wanted to be an optometrist but ultimately found more joy in words than in formulas, just as he derives more pleasure from whiskey than from soda.

His life goals are modest and include owning a dog with an aloof demeanor and a needy cat, publishing no less than eleven novels (some of them trash), and possibly raising children, though he’d settle for a weekly afterschool special in which he could impart his street-wise verbiage to the children of the world.

Joshua studied English and Film at the University of Manitoba and took his sweet time about getting his B.A. He now works for the Department of Education and is continuing his creative writing studies through the University of Toronto. To get in touch with Joshua, write to him at jedwardbenoit@gmail.com


Sarah Zaharia