Hi folks! Hopefully, there are still people coming to this site to keep up with ITP and it’s members. And, even though there hasn’t much news to update on here, it doesn’t mean that it’s been quiet on this side of the keyboard! There are things a-rumbling here soon, and lots of stuff happening, so stay tuned!!!
However, I wanted to take a little break from work and from setting things up for next year to express some feelings.
I had just heard that after tomorrow night’s closing performance of Catalyst Theatre‘s Hunchback, The Vancouver Playhouse, one of Vancouver’s “Big Three” theatre companies (the other two being the Arts Club Theatre Company and Bard on the Beach), Vancouver’s own “Regional Theatre Company” for the past 49 years, is going to shut it’s doors forever, due to debt. They won’t even be able to finish their season with the acclaimed Tony Award winning show, God Of Carnage.
This is not only a huge blow to the theatre scene here in Vancouver, it’s a huge blow to theatre in Canada. I don’t know for sure, but I bet my left nut that one of the reasons that the Playhouse ended up in debt is greatly in part of the government cuts to the arts, both provincially and federally. When your government funding gets cut by over 50% over the last several years, and the cost of everything else on a steep rise, it’s no surprise that the Playhouse was forced to make this decision.
Max Reimer came in as the new Artistic Managing Director a few years ago and started his first season as AMD with a bang that included a production of The Drowsy Chaperone (featuring the illustrious Jay Brazeau) that ended up with a run at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa and Frost Nixon; both phenomenally produced and performed shows. Since then, under his guidance, the Vancouver Playhouse has pumped out one great show after another including: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (featuring Andrew Wheeler and Josh Epstein), The Fantastiks (featuring Steve Maddock, Bree Grieg, Colin Sheen and the incomparable Jeff Hyslop), a monumental production of Death of a Salesman, and two of this season’s biggest hits, La Cage aux Folles (featuring ITP friends Vincent Tong and Greg Armstrong Morris) and Hunchback (with ITP friends Andrew Cohen and Robert Markus). Thank you Max for doing everything you could to keep the Vancouver Playhouse alive and thriving. We really appreciate the work you’ve done. I look forward to seeing what you come up with for Titanic: A New Musical at TUTS this summer. Ever better if I end up getting a chance to work with your talent.
I remember when I had my first Playhouse experience. It was the talk of the school. The Playhouse used to have a high school program where BC High School students would pay $60/season, and we would be admitted to see a matinee dress rehearsal performance of whatever was playing at the Playhouse. It was an annual thing, and I think every school only had so many tickets allotted per school. At our school, we even had a waiting list. Sure, some of the kids did it cause it meant we got to leave school early. But most of the kids in my school were genuinely interested in seeing the shows.
After two years on the waiting list, in the fall of 1997, I finally had the chance to go. My first theatre experience was Playhouse‘s 2 Pianos, 4 Hands with Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt. Back in high school, I was primarily a musician, so this show spoke to me. But while I enjoyed the music tremendously, I was intrigued by the storytelling aspect of the show. What sold my heart to the stage though, was Morris Panych’s The Overcoat. It was the complete opposite of 2 Piano, 4 Hands. 2P4H was a musical storytelling, where the stories were spoken, but was anchored by the wonderful music those two men played with their fingers on the ivories. The Overcoat had no spoken text. There was music accompanying the piece, but it was all movement and staging and the little nuances that one would not normally notice if there was speech. But as different as they were, both of those shows gave me the same intrigue that ended up drawing me towards theatre. After that, I saw awesome performances of each show: A Perfect Ganesh, Atlantis, George Bernard Shaw’s Mrs. Warren’s Profession, Steve Martin’s Picasso at the Lapin Agile. I can still see the images of each show, engraved into my mind. Roman Danylo saying “Fuck!” in A Perfect Ganesh. The absurdity of seeing Einstein talking about relativity in Picasso at the Lapin Agile. Me asking about the significance of “foreshadowing” during the talkback session after The Overcoat. I think I still have all the programs too. It was easily the highlight of my year. Not only getting a chance to see shows, but to see *professional* shows before the rest of the city got to see it. I thank the Playhouse and it’s high school program for impregnating me with the larvae of a theatre bug that has now blossomed into what you saw in February with Intimate Theatre Productions and our production of I Love You Because.
* * *
Here’s the scary part for me: If this is happening to one of the “Big Three”, what does that mean for the small theatre companies like ITP?
I mean, I should be a little content that now there are some companies available to donate to us small companies to keep us going, but I’m not. I’m far from it.
With the Playhouse gone, that’s one less company to promote artistic culture in this city, one less BIG company to promote theatre to the masses and in turn, driving them towards ITP, RCMT, TUTS, FCP, Footlight, Metro, Pacific Theatre and any other smaller theatre company out there. It kinda irks me that some people in this city are willing to pay $250 for a single Canucks game ticket, a minimum $60 plus service charge to see Brittany Spears (not to mention the $50+ in merchandise) and $1000 to buy a handbag with an LV monogram, but they can’t be bothered to pay $30 to go see artists performing their hearts out LIVE for an audience. Not only is it live, but they are TALENTED and LOCAL (or at least Canadian)!!!
People of Vancouver, I cannot urge you enough to support the local theatre companies that are still around and still afloat. The reality of it all is, if even the Playhouse couldn’t keep up, what does that spell out for us?
That being said – two cast members from I Love You Because (Aaron Lau and Erin Palm) are currently rehearsing for Ghost Light Projects‘ upcoming production of The Great American Trailer Park Musical, at the PAL Studio Theatre, March 22nd – April 1st, 2012
Only 10 performances, so you’d better get over to Brown Paper Tickets and get your tickets now!!! Only $25 (and make sure to remind them that Aaron sent ya!) Or, alternatively, you can contact me and I could meet up to sell you some tickets as well!