Bard on the Beach

This is what I’m talking about…

Photo taken from Bard Site

The tents are up and the shows have begun. We can gather once more as a community with world class theatre in the park.  Vancouver welcomes Bard’s 33rd season with three new productions.

I cannot tell you how sad it was walking by the Vanier Park location with my dog for two long summers of darkness.  By that I mean no tents to be seen during the pandemic shut down period. But now the Bard is Back and stronger than ever!

Photo: d. king

I attended the opening night of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” – an appropriate production to start off this beloved Shakespeare Festival as the story is all about love, magic and dreams.  With that comes fairies, goblins, misunderstandings, confusion, egos, love gone wrong – and finally made right.  Kind of like life itself but with a Shakespearian twist.

Elyza Samson, Carly Street, Polina Olshevska, Kate Besworth & Anna Wang-Albini in the magical fairy woods A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 2022
Photo: Tim Matheson

Shakespeare’s comic masterpiece follows four young lovers and a troupe of stumbling actors through enchanted woods, on a journey of discovery to find out who they are, whom they love, and why it matters. Beginning in a world in disrepair, the story moves to the forest, where the natural and supernatural have merged and elves, goblins, and talking trees guide the way.

Heidi Damayo, Emily Dallas, Christopher Allen & Olivia Hutt play a quartet of magically manipulated lovers in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 2022
Photo: Tim Matheson

If you like slapstick comedy with a Shakespearean silliness, you’ll love this production. The costumes and sets are outstanding.

Directed by veteran Bard director and actor Scott Bellis (director – The Two Gentlemen of Verona, 2017; Bottom – A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 2014). Onstage from June 8 – September 24.

Let me know how you like it…



Art/Culture: National Theatre presents “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to see a special performance from London’s National Theatre of Tennessee Williams’s 1955 Pulitzer Prize-winning play

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Sienna Miller & Jack O’Connell in the starring roles. Show image photography -Charlie Grey.

But I saw it from the comfort of my seat at the Camelot theatre in Palm Springs.

When my friend Megan told me she had an extra ticket for the showing I actually thought we were going to watch a live stage performance.  It was instead a pre-recorded live performance in select cinemas around the world for one night only.  And to my surprise it was very much like being right there in person. Or at least the closest thing to experiencing the actual feeling of sitting in the theatre. This was the first I’ve heard of National Theatre Live.

Scene from the play.  Production photography – Johan Persson.

National Theatre Live was founded specifically to bring access to the incredible live performances of The National Theatre and shares them with audiences who may not have the opportunity to go to London’s West End to see them.

Broadcasts retain the feeling of a live performance and though each broadcast is filmed in front of a live audience in the theatre, cameras are carefully positioned throughout the auditorium to ensure that cinema audiences get the ‘best seat in the house.’  I was amazed at how good it was.

I vaguely remember seeing the movie about a tempestuous marriage in a dysfunctional family with lots of secrets and lies.  In the original it was Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor in the title roles and I thought who would ever be able to outdo them?  But this play, directed by Benedict Andrews managed to pair a wonderful Jack O’Connell as drunken husband Brick, and an amazing performance by Sienna Miller as Maggie “the cat”, Brick’s neglected wife. It’s a steamy family fight for survival that’s complex, riveting, disturbing and poetic all at once.  I have to admit their Mississippi accents makes the fighting and arguing sound that much more romantic.

So unless I’m actually in London, I’ll be on the lookout for more of these cinematic events by this exceptional company.

National Theatre Live launched in June 2009 with a broadcast of the National Theatre production of Phèdre with Helen Mirren. NTL captures live performances from the National Theatre and from other theatres in the UK and broadcasts them in more than 2,500 movie theaters and other venues in 60 countries worldwide. As of February 2017, the global audience reached almost 8 million people.

Next Production is Hamlet – The 2015 broadcast, with Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role, returns to UK and international cinemas.

Have you seen one of these?


Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks

Notice how as the sunset is coming to an end the colours become even more intense, brighter and vibrant? – paraphrasing a line from the playdancelesson1

I just saw a wonderfully thought out play about life, unlikely friendships, loneliness and aging presented by Coyote Stageworks at the Annenberg Theatre, which is part of the Palm Springs Art Museum.  Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks warrants discussion on several life issues such as what it’s like for a woman living alone, toleration and discrimination but with exceptionally witty dialogue.

The play stars Loretta Swit (most recognizable as Hot Lips Houlihan from M*A*S*H TV series) and Broadway Actor David Engel, both of whom I met recently at Village Fest while I was out walking my two dogs among the madness. Infact, I found out about this play from Loretta Swit. Coincidentally and funnily enough when I called to tell my husband about meeting her, he was at home watching an episode of Mash.

Michael (David Engel) teaches Lily (Loretta Swit) how to dance
Michael (David Engel) teaches
Lily (Loretta Swit) how to dance

Swit plays Lily, an elderly widow who hires Michael (Engel) a gay dance instructor to come to her home to give her lessons from Tango to Swing to Viennese waltz.

Both actors compliment each other incredibly well and are really fun to watch amidst some enjoyable dance moves.  They lie and they argue but ultimately they share more similarities than not and what enfolds is revealingly heartfelt. The audience also enjoyed two stagehands who entertained us while swiftly re-arranging the room in between each of the scenes.dancelesson3

They plan to take the play on tour.  When it comes to your city I highly recommend seeing it.

Have you seen any good plays lately?

Vancouver OPERA presents Madama Butterfly

Don’t miss Vancouver Opera’s gorgeous production of Puccini’s MADAMA BUTTERFLY – a beautiful story of honour, love, heartbreak and sacrifice.    

          As they say; Fall in love at the OPERA.

Middle: Mihoko Kinishita as Cio-Cio-San (Butterfly). Photo: Tim Matheson
Middle: Mihoko Kinishita as Cio-Cio-San (Butterfly).  Photo: Tim Matheson

I went to the opening last night and thoroughly enjoyed the gorgeous set, incredible voices and achingly beautiful music brought to life by two of the world’s most in demand sopranos.  There were many women fittingly dressed up in stunning Kimonos.

Mihoko Kinoshita as Cio-Cio-San (butterfly), Gregory Dahl as Sharpless, Richard Trotell as Pinkerton. Photo: Tim Matheson
Mihoko Kinoshita as Cio-Cio-San (butterfly), Gregory Dahl as Sharpless, Richard Trotell as Pinkerton.   Photo: Tim Matheson

About the Performers:

Sharing the role of Cio-Cio-San (Butterfly) for alternating performances will be Jee-Hye Han and Mihoko Kinoshita. Jee-Hye Han will be making her VO début. Mihoko Kinoshita was last seen in VO’s 2010 production of Madama Butterfly. Tenors Adam Luther and Richard Troxell will sing opposite them, sharing the role of Pinkerton.

Madama Butterfly is onstage at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, corner of Georgia and Hamilton Streets,Vancouver, B.C. for only 6 performances, March 5 – 13, 2016.

Good seats still remain but are selling quickly for all performances, with the best availability at the Friday, March 11 and Sunday March 13 performances.

Not a kimono but at least it was colourful.
Not a kimono but at least it was colourful.
The Vancouver Opera Orchestra conducted by Leslie Dala. Photo: Tim Matheson
The Vancouver Opera Orchestra conducted by Leslie Dala. Photo: Tim Matheson


Sunday, March 6 • 2:00pm matinée

Thursday, March 10 • 7:30pm

Friday, March 11 • 7:30pm

Saturday, March 12 • 7:30pm

Sunday, March 13 • 2:00pm matinée

Madama Butterfly will be sung in Italian with English translations projected above the stage.

Approximate running time: 2 hours and 40 minutes, including 1 intermission.

Tickets are available exclusively through the Vancouver Opera Ticket Centre: 604-683-0222 or Visa, MasterCard and American Express are accepted. Special pricing for groups of at least 10, and for families, is available by phone.

Follow Vancouver Opera on Twitter and Facebook for exclusive offers such as VO’s Get O.U.T (Opera Under 35) program, with $35 tickets for patrons aged under.








Art/Culture: OPERA – Madama BUTTERFLY

INSPIRATION is an awakening, a quickening of all man’s faculties, and it is manifested in all high artistic achievements.” – Giacomo Puccini

My inspiration for the week: the Vancouver Opera‘s opening night performance of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly; a beautiful story of love, honour, heartbreak and sacrifice. butterfly3

 This famous opera which was composed by Giacomo Puccini in 1904 (and remained his personal favourite throughout the remainder of his life) is based on a short story “Madame Butterfly” (1898) by John Luther Long.  In brief it’s about a pleasure seeking American naval officer based in Nagasaki, Japan who leases a house and weds a young geisha.  He is only briefly enchanted with her (his “Butterfly” – oh you know what some men are like; they profess their love only to lose interest when they want to move on to the next) while she in turn, gives herself wholly to the marriage.  He abandons her and then returns to claim their child.  Butterfly is devastated and dishonoured and makes an ultimate sacrifice to honour her family.
butterfly5Having spent some time in Kyoto when I lived in Japan, I was fascinated by the beauty and elegance of the mysterious geisha. I followed them around but never quite knew where they were going.  I wanted to learn their secret but maybe it was best not knowing.  For me, at the time it was a different world and an escape from the norm.   They had a reserved, otherworldliness unlike other women which was refreshingly appealing.  They gave the illusion of  being faithful and trustworthy.  I loved reading Memoirs of a Geisha (surprisingly it was written by a man; Arthur Golden).

Why, in the Peking Opera, are women’s roles played by men?…Because only a man knows how a woman is supposed to act.” – David Henry Hwang (Tony-award winning creator of the beloved play M. Butterfly).

butterfly4Some TICKETS are still available at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.  Only 6 performances from March 5 – 13, 2016.butterfly1

Purchase Tickets:

 I’m so looking forward to seeing this!

Style ICON: woman of substance – Charlotte Rampling

I’ve always been attracted to Charlotte Rampling but not in that way…

 Photo: Philip Sinden
Photo: Philip Sinden

…because she embodies that wow factor in the same admirable fashion that Cate Blanchett does and Katherine Hepburn did. Very attractive but not in a conventional sense, in a much more interesting manner, smart, confident, a talented actor and so very chic – her own stylishness. Her stage play Neck of the Woods just wrapped at HOME, Manchester, as part of the Manchester International Festival on July 18.

Rampling on…

Words with Charlotte Rampling – on working with wolves, the power of the audience and what she means when she calls herself an artist.

Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf? We all are, it seems.

Charlotte Rampling on the WOLF
“I think humans have a very profound relationship with animals. Wild creatures are more mysterious to us – we can’t actually approach them so that makes them enigmatic, that’s why we study them and do art pieces around them. There is a lot that goes in people’s imagination about wolves, starting from the basic stories we hear all the time. There is a particular fascination – from the thought that one must be scared or wary of them, to the cultural idea of ‘the big bad wolf’. They have a strange character, they are mysterious, maybe more so than other animals.”

Charlotte Rampling on the power of the AUDIENCE
“The study of an audience is very important. We are doing it for them so we want to get the best possible angle for them, and to bring them in. You feel when an audience is getting distracted or not quite following, and then you have to really start to understand why they are not with you. Yes, I think that is what live performance is about; you are facing an audience and you are saying it to them. It is not like you are in a play and playing to the people you are playing with; here you are playing to the audience so you must have them with you at all times. If you don’t – well, they are like a pack of wolves and they will take the play away from you if you are not careful. They will turn it into something other. If you let the audience go, you have lost the moment, and essentially you have lost the play.”

Charlotte Rampling on being an ARTIST
“All my life I have followed the thought that if I have already done something, why would I then want to do it again?” So unless the film is really intriguing then to me, it is just another film. I have always gone off the track and have looked at things that I can do that will allow me to see the world in a different way. It is just a basic form of curiosity on my part, to want to discover something and find another way of doing things. What I found is that as you get older your mind actually doesn’t get any older, you just get older physically and you obviously have more experience. Now that I am working with a lot of younger artists, it is very intriguing, as I am able to bring my life with me to the stage. There is a young French artist I am working with called Loris Gréaud. We did a film together with David Lynch called The Snorks, which was an extraordinary project based around animals that live so far underneath the sea that no one has ever seen them and they let out energy through electrics. The relationships that you have with other artists after you have done all these projects brings you into another world, and to me that is what living creatively is all about. I am not an artist per se even though I would love to be, I don’t do sculptures or the like as that is not my profession but I know that I can infiltrate what I have into the works of others.”

As told to Tish Wrigley for

Art/Nature – GREEN PORNO

The iconic Isabella Rossellini was in Vancouver to perform her provocatively acclaimed and comedic one-woman show Green PornoGreenPorno-Sold-Out-1200x590at a sold out, one night only performance Saturday night at the Vancouver Playhouse.  Presented by The Vancouver PuSh Festival and the Italian Cultural Centre.

Green Porno, explores the fascinating sex lives of land and sea creatures. C’mon, tell me you haven’t ever wondered? Encouraged by actor-filmmaker Robert Redford (who is tremendously supportive of experimental, independent films and very interested in nature), Green Porno was originally a popular web series for the Sundance Channel. Green Porno featured Rossellini live on stage discussing and acting out the scientifically accurate reproductive habits of marine animals and insects in an extremely entertaining manner.  The opportunity to learn about the mating habits of some creatures which aim to astonish anyone.

I am personally fascinated by the femme fatale of all insects –the female praying mantisShe always devours the male after mating, sometimes even during if she can’t waitI can understand this if he doesn’t please her and his services are no longer required; but must this always happen?

Rossellini exposes the intricate and often surprising reproductive rituals of the natural world—from pachyderms (very large mammals with thick skin, like an elephant or rhino) to bugs (no need to explain) to shed light on the fragile balance of our ecological future, to which humans are inextricably linked. From stage, Rossellini delivered a riveting presentation with props, costumes and remarkable wit and charm, accompanied by her Green Porno short films.

I had the opportunity of catching up with the glowing Rossellini at a reception following her performance

I asked how her daughter Elettra was doing. No surprise to find out she’s a successful New York model (discovered by Bruce Weber), and has a very interesting food blog (which I will talk about soon, since this blog is about Isabella’s show). But I can’t stop…In 2014, Elettra hosted the first ever Live Stream of the Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute Gala.  She’s founded a charity called “*One Frickin Day” for which she won the “Young Environmentalist Award” in 2011, among other things. I am so impressed by everything this woman is setting out to accomplish or already has. Needless to say, her mother is very proud.

I found out that my green porno name is “Black Widow” (be careful, I bite!)

Rossellini’s films include Blue Velvet (a personal favourite), Cousins (filmed in Vancouver), Immortal Beloved, The Saddest Music in the World and many more.  She was the face of Lancôme Cosmetic Company for 14 years and had a modelling career that lasted for 25 years. Isabella was recently seen in the romantic comedy Late Bloomers.  She’s still blooming.

*A charity aimed at equipping PIH clinics (Partners in Health) throughout the third world with solar power via another partner, Solar Electric Light Fund.

Travel/ART scene – Ashland, Oregon 


the town
my kind of town

Of all the times I’ve driven through Oregon, not once until now did I stop to discover the vibrant little town of Ashland. Especially since it happens to be my kind of town with shades of Niagara-on-the-Lake.  But that may be because normally we drive to the coast and Ashland is located off I-5 at the south end of the Rogue Valley and about 20 miles from the California border – our main destination.

Rogue Valley vinyards near Ashland in the fall.
Rogue Valley vineyards near Ashland in the fall

Surrounded by breathtaking scenery, majestic mountains, rushing rivers, rolling foothills and dramatic landscapes, Ashland is a gorgeous little city with an arts scene as appealing as its setting.

Shakespeare Festival
Shakespeare Festival

Ashland hosts Christmas celebrations and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (one of the largest and oldest regional theatres in the country) in winter, a film festival in the spring, classical music festival in summer and wine tasting celebrations in the autumn.

Not to be outdone by the festivals, is the food which seems to be right up there along with the quality of the art and wine scene.  A local gave my travelling companions and I some recommendations of places to eat.  They did not disappoint.

We had dinner here
We had a very nice dinner at Larks
We had brunch here
We had brunch at Morning Glory

We had dinner and cocktails at Larks (located in the historic Ashland Springs hotel) and for breakfast we went to Morning Glory (located in a heritage house) – photo below.
We were met there by the woman who made the recommendations – an interesting person who is the godmother of a mutual friend.  Her father and grandmother are subjects of an oil on canvas painting by none other than Renoir which hangs at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.  *Her story is worthy of a blog post of its own.

Ashland is worth the visit and I will plan to spend a bit more time there on my next trip.

Have  you been?