Reposted from CBC News - Theatre - Vancouver arts groups seek young patrons.
Vancouver’s performing arts organizations, facing aging audiences that don’t reflect the diversity of the city, are using new strategies to attract people.
Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Executive Director Max Reimer said his core audience isn’t getting any younger.
“When I look out I see old people,” he said. “What happens when they die? Is it a question for you? Yeah, being at the tail end of the baby boom, I’d like to think all of theatre is going to survive me, but yes, it’s a question.”
To attract younger and more diverse audiences, the Playhouse has adopted new strategies when considering which productions to stage. Many are now aimed at youthful attention spans.
“The pieces are shorter,” Reimer said. “The removal of intervals, no intermissions, the writing, you get to the point fast. Even the classics are being tightened.”
Other companies, such as Vancouver Opera, are using social media to attract new patrons. The opera tweets from backstage during dress rehearsals, live blogs during the show and offers sneak peeks of performances on Facebook.
“If we weren’t online they wouldn’t be able to find us, friend us, follow us,” said Vancouver Opera’s Social Media Manager Ling Chan.
The opera is not alone in its quest. The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra is considering pulling back on some classical music programs to make room for more ethno-cultural co-productions.
Reposted from CBC News - Theatre - Vancouver arts groups seek young patrons.
I really admire actors. I admire designers and stage managers and directors and choreographers too…but I feel that actors need a special hug every now and then. They are expected to be physically, emotionally, spiritually, vocally, and intellectually available at every moment of rehearsal and performance, and aren’t really welcome to talk about the consequences these expectations might have on them for fear of being labelled “difficult.”
Actors are troopers, and I don’t think they get the credit they deserve. Ergo, I have a written a poem. An Ode to Actors.
Preamble: You may have heard that the latest Broadway sensation from the mind of Julie Taymor, the stage adaptation of Spider-Man, has been plagued by some nasty luck. Delayed openings, bad reviews, and most newsworthy, a series of on-stage accidents that have left actors seriously injured. One of the female leads even quit the show out of fear for her safety (after recovering from a concussion incurred by an onstage accident). Most recently, one of the stuntmen playing Spider-Man fell over 10m to the stage in front of a live preview audience when his rigging failed. This is not the first time that actors from Taymor productions have had difficulties. Her costumes, especially the headpieces for the stage adaptation of The Lion King have been rumored to have caused severe neck injuries for the actors playing giraffes.
Anyway, the Spider-Man actor suffered multiple fractures, but is reportedly in good spirits and eager to return. For this reason, I feel he and all actors deserve a little pat on the back. I give you An Ode to Actors (by Me).
An Ode to Actors
Hope you have an insurance plan
“Spin a web! Learn your lines!
Trust that guy who rigs the flies!”
Here comes the (actor playing) Spider-Man.
Is he strong?
He took the direction “This time, don’t suck.”
Can he swing from a thread?
Well, he tried, and is nearly dead.
Would YOU play the Spider-Man?
In the chill of night
HE’s the one on that stage
He wears make-up and tights
For half of your wage!
“Places! Places! Spider-Man!
I don’t care if you’re sick, get off the can!
…But do what I say.
And for god’s sake, SMILE. It’s CALLED a play.”
He knooows he might not live through this show
But if he ever says so…
They’ll find a NEW Spider-Man.
Happy New Year to you and yours!
2010 was a year full of new things here in Calgary: new theatre companies, like Liquid Meld Theatre; new award-winning plays, like Downstage’s In The Wake (being remounted right now at the HPR); new Artistic Directors picking new seasons of cool new art; a new mayor (and the newfound self-respect that we are now entitled to) …sorry Toronto.
What a year! For Christmas, Calgary got a breath of fresh air, and I can’t wait to see what we do with it.
In case you are interested, for Christmas, I got a Magic Bullet! I told my friend Sadie this, and she said “Ooh, sexy.” I informed her that a Magic Bullet is, in fact, a blender. No wonder she gave me a strange look when I told her I used it to make a raspberry smoothie… Hey, do you want a fun way to spend an hour? Watch the infomercial. The lady with the cigarette is nuts! I also recommend the Slap Chop and Shamwow infomercials.
In the spirit of new things, keep an eye out for our upcoming post about creation and creativity. 2011, you taste great already.
This article, written by our Co-AD Col, was recently published in Theatre Alberta’s All Stages Magazine.
Verb Theatre’s Co-Artistic Director asks the question: Can three straight artists produce a queer cabaret?
In 2009 Calgary’s Verb Theatre launched its inaugural season with Pretty, Witty, and GAY!, a queer cabaret celebrating sexuality and diversity. Our Verb team, at the time made up of three straight artists, had to ask ourselves the question: Is it okay for us to produce an out-and-out queer event? Are we allowed?
For me this question crystallized when I was approached by an actor who wanted to do a piece for PW&G and was looking for a queer-themed monologue. Pulling scripts off my bookshelf I came across a manuscript written by Vancouver artist Berend McKenzie. It’s a hilarious solo show about his experiences as a gay black man entitled Nggrfg. Sound it out. Without really discussing it we both understood that since this actor was white the idea of him performing this piece was out of the question. But then we talked it out a bit.
Why was it unthinkable for a white actor to play a black character, but we don’t have the same objection to straight actors playing queer characters? Why did the “nigger” in the title scare him off, not the “fag”? Why did we qualify those two disgusting words
differently? Was it because race is more visible than sexual identity? Is it because race-blind casting is seen as a directorial choice but sexual-preference-blind casting is still assumed? Was it because as two white, straight guys we can “pass” for gay, but not black? We talked about blackface (the theatrical practice in which white actors play black characters through stylized makeup), which has a forgotten history in Alberta. Were we guilty of “gayface” when we played queer characters and adopted certain stereotypical
“gay” traits? The actor and I discovered we were both straight, and had both wrongly assumed each other’s gayness. In Verb’s call for submissions we don’t ask performers about their sexuality; all we want are artists passionate about exploring sexuality or gender equality.
This conversation had me worried that maybe I was lying to a community I thought I was reaching out to. I was worried I was posing gay in an insulting and misappropriating kind of way. But that worry was also exciting. I’m not a big fan of taking on work that offers a lot of answers. I like projects that force me to ask these types of questions. With Verb we’re not looking for work that reaffirms our thoughts and worldview—we want to challenge ourselves and our audiences. Those questions have never really left me, but I’ll say this: we opened the doors for Pretty, Witty, and GAY! and it sold out in minutes, and for the next few hours those questions and doubts were far from my mind. All I thought about for those few hours was this electricity in the air arcing between a cast of performers who had something very specific and important to share and a crowd that was thrilled to be there to celebrate it with
them. And I liked that no one really knew who on that stage was straight, gay, bi, allied or anything else, and likewise with the audience. And I like that Verb Theatre helped make that happen. And that’s what I want to do with Verb, whether it’s the queer community, or Calgary’s homeless, or Alzheimer’s patients or any other group we’ll be
working with in the near future. When we approach a community we want to work with we understand that we’re there as outsiders, and that that’s a valid vantage point for us to be coming from. It lets us create events and performances where members of these communities can share their culture with not only each other but also with audiences from outside their community.
You can read the entire issue here.