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Showing posts from September, 2011

Trial & Eros!

LiveArt Dance, Trial & Eros of Montréal presents Four Quartets
Dalhousie Arts Centre, Sir James Dunn Theatre
September 29th-October 1st, 2011.

This season’s bold LiveArt Dance Productions première brilliantly captures the mechanical, apocalyptic and yet gracefully prophetic verse of T.S. Eliot through the art of dance.

A writhing punctuation to Eliot’s words, Montréal’s Trial & Eros delivers a stripped-down performance, the four-part dance vacillating between impassioned corporeal responses to a recording of snippets from Four Quartets, to her own voice theatrically projecting from what we—the intrigued audience—have forgotten is her body.

Like nothing else you will experience in Halifax, Trial & Eros returns the physical element to poetry, offering a flagrantly untamed interpretation of one of the world’s most influential Modernist poets.

Simplistically beautiful moments are contrasted with intense physical ramblings on the bare Dunn stage aided by dreamy lighting and minimal m…

The Art of Dance!

On the eve of its 2011-2012 season, Live Art Dance’s artistic director Paul Caskey spoke with AE about what his organization has on tap for the coming months and how it can grow their reputation as the leading provider of, and advocate for, contemporary dance and movement-based art in Atlantic Canada.

AE: What is Live Art Dance Production's core mandate?
PC: Live Art Dance develops and promotes dance and dance-related activities for dance professionals, existing and potential audiences, and the local music, film, theatre and contemporary arts communities. Live Art is an integrated part of the national dance milieu and an instigator of projects that create value for the local community as a whole.

AE: How has the organization grown over the years?
PC: Live Art now presents twice the number of events annually as compared to seven or eight years ago. Not only has the volume of programming grown, but the size of productions has grown as well. For instance, the vast majority of our shows u…

Danny Williams, Please Come Back!

Born in Newfoundland, Bill Rowe graduated in English from Memorial University and attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, obtaining an Honours MA in law. Elected five times to the House of Assembly, Rowe served as a minister in the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, and as leader of the Official Opposition. He practised law in St. John’s for many years, and has been a long-time public affairs commentator, appearing regularly on national and local television, as well as hosting a daily radio call-in show on VOCM and writing weekly newspaper columns. Rowe has written four books: Clapp’s Rock, The Temptation of Victor Galanti, Danny Williams: The War With Ottawa, and his latest effort, Danny Williams, Please Come Back. AE recently spoke with the outspoken author about his new work.

AE: What inspired you to write this book?
BR: The book consists of commentaries I wrote from 2005 to 2007 mainly in the St. John’s Telegram and the Corner Brook Western Star, right in the middle of…

Word Up!

The Word On The Street is a national celebration of literacy and the written word.
On one extraordinary Sunday each September, in communities coast to coast, the public is invited to participate in hundreds of author events, presentations and workshops and to browse a marketplace that boasts the best selection of Canadian books and magazines you'll find anywhere. The Halifax event takes place on Sunday, September 25, from 11am-5pm along the city’s waterfont. AE spoke with the festival’s executive director, Colleen Ritchie.

AE: How long have you been involved with WOTS?
CR: Last year was my first year with the festival. Sean Williams hired me as the event producer and we worked as a team. We were both freelancers in a tough year for the festival. They had been without an Executive Director. A small and dedicated board made sure the festival happened and in an 8 week period this team moved the festival back to the street after many years indoors. I enjoyed the festival and the work and…

Colour Me Impressed!

Colour Me
Atlantic Film Festival
September 21, 2011

Motivational speaker Anthony McLean explains to a Brampton, Ontario secondary school the concept of “brand new racists”. He describes that they love Black people, but if someone is not “gangsta” or “ghetto” or is educated, they regard that person as not really being Black. This comes from a scene in Sherien Barsoum’s first feature documentary Colour Me.

Two years ago, Barsoum was inspired by McLean’s mentorship program that asked youth what it means to be Black. As their conversations gave birth to her film, the story focused not only on the six teens, but also evolved into McLean delving into his own identity and how it related to him being half White and half Black.

Barsoum’s talent as a documentarian particularly shines through in a scene where McLean genuinely struggles to explain who he is, how he considers himself Black despite his Swedish heritage and how he acts differently with his Black versus White friends. The film’s honest sn…

Making an Impression: Letterpress Renaissance in Halifax

“I think people in general are returning to a hand-crafted culture, possibly as a counterpoint to the tidal wave of technology that we're inundated with on a daily basis” – Kyle Durrie, Moveable Type

Letterpress: a still vibrant art form that is often misunderstood in modern cultural spheres and banished to the confines of archaic history—namely Johannes Gutenburg’s infamous invention that engulfed the world in the popular printing of pamphlets and books with wood type in the 15th century. Today letterpress is used to make everything from custom wedding invitations, to political posters, to coasters, to notebooks and personalized stationary.

Always novel, letterpress appeals to those who value both the uniqueness of the singular object, and the artistry of imperfection. It remains one of the most functional and tactile art forms and has remarkably stood the test of time and technology.

In recent years, Halifax, Nova Scotia has become a haven for letterpress entrepreneurs, enthusiasts…

Charlie Zone!

Charlie Zone – An Atlantic Feature Film
Atlantic Film Festival
September 20, 2011

As I entered Park Lane Theatre 3, sleep-deprived, I attempted to find an isolated seat just in case I started snoozing and produced off-putting snores. No such luck. The festival’s second screening of Charlie Zone was once again completely sold out. It turns out it didn’t matter. No matter how tired I was, there was no way I wanted to miss a single moment of Cape Bretoner Mike Melski’s film.

Upon introducing his second feature, Melski described the piece as “a dark vision of Halifax, but also about humanity and hope”. The story exposes elements in HRM that us naïve, “socially acceptable” locals only imagine exist in Baltimore, Bogota, Detroit or Bangkok. Viewers are exposed to the underground fighting culture, a 24/7 crack house, biker gangs and the unforgiveable exploitation imposed by some of the most rich and powerful.

Charlie Zone combines gripping action with emotional bonds as the story details Avery’s …

Atlantic Film Festival’s Shorts 3

Last night was a night of the absurd – absurd in a good a way, although one could argue anything absurd is intrinsically good. The Atlantic Film Festival’s “Shorts 3” screening showcased short films from Canada, the US, the UK, France and Sweden. Each left me pondering the depths of the writers/directors/creators’ imagination and whether the source of their ideas came from day or night dreams, random, passing thoughts or even from distant planets. Each short was funny in its own right, in non-conventional fashion, ranging from cleverly witty to “can’t stop laughing-I’m crying-my sides hurt”.

Included in the collection were some films that still resonate hours later. Audience members ‘lol’-ed for the entire 13-minute duration of Las Palmas. Disturbing in all the right ways, the short presents an alcoholic baby, wearing a bra and fanny pack, who literally breaks into a bar before 9am, double-fists cocktails and runs up a tab of thousands of dollars. Johannes Nyholm makes creative use of …

BookCamp Halifax!

Literary lovers will be happy to hear that this year’s BookCamp is scheduled for a full-day of seminars, presentations and workshops on Saturday, September 24th at Saint Mary’s University in southend Halifax. Recently Arts East spoke with one of the event’s co-founders and organizers, Kimberly Walsh, about this year’s gathering.

AE: What is the core mandate of BookCamp?
KW: Our mandate is to simply bring together the books and publishing community in order to facilitate dialogue and learning. It's a very broad goal and I think each BookCamp brings with it a different learning opportunity because the attendees are different. Publishers have a much bigger representation at an event in Toronto whereas the Halifax event is a broader mix, everything from librarians to bloggers to journalists and authors.

AE: How has BookCamp evolved since its inception?
KW: The beauty of BookCamp is that by its very nature it has to evolve. We're an unconference about technology, and the digital world …

AFF Ecstasy!

World Premiere of Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy
Sept 18, 2011
Atlantic Film Festival, Halifax

Attending the world premiere of Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy seemed almost holistic.

Director/producer/screenwriter of the indie film Rob Heydon, as well as the three main actors (Adam Sinclair, Kristin Kreuk and Billy Boyd) attended: no glam or razzle dazzle – just four down-to-earth people there to celebrate the opening of their film, humbly thanking the audience for sharing this moment with them.

Toronto-based Heydon began work on adapting Irvine Welsh’s (author of Trainspotting) novella over a decade ago. It took years to tinker with the script and to secure adequate funding. After filming finally began in December in 2010, Ecstasy was completed just two weeks ago, just in time for the Atlantic Film Fest.

During the Q&A, Sinclair said when he read the script six years ago he knew, he had to play the role of Lloyd Buist. He also had once been a part of the rave scene in Scotland that seemed to bring peac…

CBC Atlantic Shorts Gala

CBC Atlantic Shorts Gala
Atlantic Film Festival (Halifax, NS)
Advanced Screening – September 16, 2011

It is a true testament to filmmakers who can tell a complete, impactful story within a matter of minutes. The CBC Atlantic Shorts Gala showcases such talent in nine, local and Canadian short films, ranging from 3 to 16 minutes in length. The variety of genre, resources and technique reflected from the collection will stretch your mind in many different directions.

Victim is brilliantly shot and told in time warp fashion and provokes utter disbelief; the quality of the piece may surprise viewers that it was produced by NSCC students just beginning of their craft. Oliver Bump’s Birthday Party combines humour, powerful visuals, emotional depth, a beautiful soundtrack and promising acting on the part of young Jason Spevack to tell the story of a boy destined to die on his 13th birthday.

From the gut-busting hilarity of animated Astronoobs to the touching story of a man embracing the qualities …


Atlantic Film Festival (Halifax NS)
Advanced Screening – September 15, 2011

The first few moments of Snow are powerful; the audience is immersed in utter silence as they take in the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean, a glimpse at the motion picture’s wondrous cinematography yet to come. The film chronologically begins in Sri Lanka, just before Parvati’s (played by Kalista Zackharyias) whole family is swept away with the tsunami’s powerful waves. When she comes to Canada, she faces the dichotomy of culture shock mixed with her uncle imposing the same strict rules from her native land. Although flurried with clichés, such as wrist slitting and an awkward bachelor candidate for a potential arranged marriage, writer/director/producer Rohan Fernando portrays the raw emotions associated with loss and pain with intricate passion, through the usage of documentary-style camera angles, point of view shots and close-ups. Snow’s pace is varied and becomes effectively crucial during a scene where Pa…

Atlantic Film Fest Opening Gala

Pulling up outside Olympic Hall Thursday night, the scene was explosive with large screen projections, red carpet lining the sidewalks and scores of lights penetrating the night sky. It was clear that this was THE spot – the site of the Atlantic Film Festival’s Opening Gala. Inside, disco balls and funky chandeliers hung from the ceiling, roller skates clung to the balcony and DJ T-Woo spun 70s disco tunes, all paying homage to Roller Town, opening night’s feature film starring Halifax’s own Picnicface.

The movie’s roller skating scenes were actually filmed inside Olympic Hall, and at gala night, plenty of the cast were on wheels dressed in retro-glitz. A fusion of people, from producers to directors, actors to writers, film fest volunteers, staff and fans, light technicians to sound crew were all mingling, boogying on the dance floor and chowing down on some good eats, including gourmet popcorn.

Chatting to Torontonians, Colourist Walt Biljan from Red Digital and Sales Executive James …

The Modern Prometheus

Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Neptune Theatre, Halifax

“…birth, life, death…all stitched together seamlessly…”
-Victor Frankenstein

Halifax’s Neptune Theatre launched its 2011-2012 season with a roar last night – literally – as the crackle of thunder heralded-in Frankenstein, Mary Shelley’s classic tale of love, life and death amidst the academia of 19th century Europe.

A close-to-capacity crowd was on hand to welcome the infamous fiend to the stage; a softly-lit, richly decorated parlour serving as the performance’s focal point. Above and behind the arena sat Dr. Frankenstein’s Gothic laboratory, replete with a myriad of mysterious electrical devices, where he gives his greatest – and most gruesome - creation the gift of life.

Despite some difficulty in placing the period - the story was written in 1818, but several modern references were noted - the play was well paced, the plot a place where passion meets precision. The terse, tense dialogue and the sudden, sharp body movemen…


Glass Boys
By Nicole Lundrigan
Douglas & McIntyre/ 29pp / $22.95

Glass Boys is nothing short of a family epic. Evoking rural Newfoundland with a gritty grace that is all her own, Lundrigan conjures a world of stark reality, delving into the lost innocence of peculiar childhoods in a land where boys become men before their time. Exposing the darkness of half-buried family secrets and tonguing at their wounds with each sepulchral word, this obscure novel is absolutely riveting from beginning to end. Charged with tension and guilt, Lundrigan intimately explores the unbreakable ties between us, weaving a tale of filthy beauty that never abandons its quest for love and rejuvenation. At once remarkably touching and disturbing, Glass Boys is an Atlantic saga, leaving behind traces of salt on the skin, and a familiar pang in the heart for anyone who has ever felt lost in the most familiar woods. ~ Whitney Moran


Chasing Freedom
By Gloria Ann Wesley
Fernwood Publishing / 240pp / $18.95

Many believed that Lawrence Hill had written the last chapter on the plight of blacks in Atlantic Canada with his 2008 bestselling epic, The Book of Negroes. Africadian author Gloria Ann Wesley brings the story closer to home with Chasing Freedom, the intimate tale of one young woman’s journey from the slave plantations of South Carolina to the bitter landscape of Birchtown, Nova Scotia. Though officially listed as young adult historical fiction, readers of all ages will be touched by the author’s colourful capacity to capture and convey both the feeling of the times, and the feelings of who endured them. - SPC

Dr. Fuckingstein!

Dr. Fuckingstein Explains (love, desire and the brain)
By Thaddius H. Hatte
The Bus Stop Theatre - September 10, 2011.

You have to hand it to Thaddius Hatte. On his last of six Fringe Fest shows, he literally works up a sweat as he soliloquizes for sixty minutes, switching between obsessed German scientist, nymphomaniac teacher and sexy Rod Stewart voices. Hatte’s main persona throughout the play is Dr. Fuckingstein, who lectures the audience through the sexual circuitry of the brain while expressing his life long dream of finalizing his unified fucking field theory. His charisma, enthusiasm and talent for acting and manoeuvring puppets into erotic positions, including a coat hook garbing a teddy, are indisputable. However, from the audience’s perspective, his monologue is somewhat reminiscent of that crazy uncle at a family reunion who talks erratically, non-stop, whether anyone is listening or not. The great thing about crazy uncles and Hatte is that sometimes listeners tune back in to…

9/11 – Eye Witness

John Botte is a former NYPD detective and lifelong photographer. His unique, powerful and intimate approach to his subject matter can only be described as fine art photo-journalism. Shot entirely in a black-and-white format, Botte’s work depicts a deep respect for his subject matter and an innate desire to communicate the moment in a way that reveals humanity. Of his photographic projects, he is best-known for his body of work capturing the days following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in Manhattan. Now, on the 10th anniversary of 9/11– and five years since the release of Aftermath, his controversial volume of photos that chronicled the days, weeks and months that followed the catastrophic events – many of those stirring images are being exhibited at the Morrison Hotel Gallery in downtown Manhattan.

In this exclusive interview with Arts East, Botte opens up about the exhibit and what it means to his community.

AE: Wow did you go about selecting the photos…

On The Fringe!

Whitney Moran at the Atlantic Fringe Festival

“In The Valley”
By Natasha MacLellan
Forerunner Playwright’s Theatre
Plutonium Playhouse, September 6th, 2011.

Creating an atmosphere of awkwardness thicker than the worst first date imaginable, MacLellan’s short theatrical insight will make you feel like the third wheel—in a good way!

With a minimalist set and baroque piano accompaniment Theresa sits alone at a table stroking her glass of wine, soon to be joined by 5 potential suitors one after another who are will ‘pitch’ themselves in 3 minutes. MacLellan’s “In The Valley”, debuting at this year’s Atlantic Fringe Festival, wryly approaches dating as a ‘product’ of an alienating, face-paced society while bending gender roles and oscillating between humour and heartache, touching on both the joys of love as well as the ways it wounds us. Because this play is so dialogue heavy—and most often one-sided—the power of facial expression, body movement as well as the quality of the script could have e…
Gerard Collins was born in Placentia, Newfoundland, and currently resides in St. John's where he is a writer and university lecturer at Memorial University. He has a Ph.D. in English and has won several prizes for fiction, including the Percy Janes Award, and has been shortlisted for The Cuffer Prize. Collins’ work has appeared in Storyteller, Zeugma, TickleAce, Hard Ol’ Spot, and The Cuffer Anthology. Recently AE spoke with Collins about his first book, Moonlight Sketches.

What motivated you to put this collection together?
These stories were written to belong together—each one as a piece of a larger collective. I already had two novel manuscripts set in the fictional town of Darwin. Neither has published yet, but then hardly anyone has seen them yet. But there were other voices to be heard—so Moonlight Sketches began as a series of one-off fringe stories. I wrote the first one, “Tar Cat,” as a personal challenge, forcing myself to meet a competition deadline. When it won, I was b…