Sign Language, created and performed by Denise Clarke

March 10, 2011 at 10:22 pm | In arts | 1 Comment

Last night I wrote about the play I saw at the Belfry Theatre‘s Spark Festival and thought I was done with local theater review. But tonight I saw Denise Clarke‘s Sign Language (also part of the Spark Festival), and it really blew me away. Go see it if you can.

Clarke’s one-woman show is subtitled, “A Physical Conversation”; there is dialogue (monologue, actually) at the beginning, but it serves mostly to embed physical clues and signs deep into the viewer’s perception, so that by the middle of the play, when the words are gone, the body (hers and ours) re-minds and is reminded again and again of what she said earlier, how she said it (using sign language), and how she danced its meanings.

We’re taken from listening to a woman who may or may not be slightly off her rocker (she may or may not be drinking a bit too much, shopping a bit too much, fixating on her multi-thousand-dollar car a bit too much, medicating with psychopharmaceuticals a bit too much, loving her $400 Ralph Lauren knit dress, snagged at Winners for $50, a bit too much, and so on) to watching, riveted, a woman embody the various stages of ecstasy (angels and devils).

We never know just what Clarke is going to do next – whether it’s nudity or near-slapstick pratfall-type comedy or dead-serious dancing. She embodies all the contradictions: slightly imperfect, but stronger and more powerfully beautiful and in control of her body than probably anyone else in the theater. To say that her performance is athletic is an understatement. I once had the memorable pleasure of seeing Kazuo Ohno perform in Berlin, and it seemed to me that Denise Clarke channeled the same kind of immense expressive power Ohno brought to the stage.

Denise Clarke in "A Fabulous Disaster" (photo unavailable for "Sign Language"

Clarke is a member of Calgary’s One Yellow Rabbit Performance Theatre (see also this page). Sign Language was created in 2003 and uses the following music: Miserere (1989) and Sarah Was Ninety Years Old (1976/90) by Arvo Pärt. The “platform monologue” at the beginning was inspired by Radiohead’s Fitter Happier.

Oh, PS: ten minutes before Clarke’s 68-minute play was finished, the power went out. The high school next to the Belfry Theatre is building out and had covered a huge load of construction lumber with a temporary roof. Unfortunately, we’re having quite a few weather events this winter – a big storm blew in this evening. The wind picked up the temporary roof and flung it onto the overhead power lines. Poof, off went the stage lights, on came the emergency lights, and five minutes later the building was evacuated. Here’s hoping the weather – and roofs – behave for the remaining performances.


Until March 13: A Craigslist Cantata

March 10, 2011 at 2:22 pm | In arts | Comments Off on Until March 13: A Craigslist Cantata

If you appreciate theater and live in Victoria BC, you have until March 13 to see Do You Want What I Have Got: A Craigslist Cantata, now playing at The Belfry‘s Spark Festival.

Written and composed by Veda Hille and Bill Richardson, the currently 70-minute long production (still being workshopped, under Amiel Gladstone‘s direction) is both funny and serious. All of the dialog is based on actual Craigslist ads. And there is some zany shit out there, transformed by Hille (whose music carries the words to new a whole new level) and Richardson into spun gold.

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry (as they say). Well, maybe not cry. But gasp. At some point you’ll gasp.

The Spark Festival production stars Veda Hille (keyboard, voice) and (singers, all) Selina Martin, David Adams, Allan Zinyk, and Meghan Gardiner.

(An aside: People, get your own domain names and websites, for crying out loud – especially if you’re performers! How is anyone supposed to find you and/or look you up if you’re not online? Glad to see that Selina and Meghan have their online presence set up, but I couldn’t find anything definitive on David or Allan – who were both excellent.)

Loved all four characters – Meghan Gardiner had a stand-out song about a 23-year old recent college graduate (major: Philosophy) who has moved back into her old room in her parents’ house, intending to launch herself into the adult world …later. For now, she seeks to jettison the trappings of childhood that clutter her room, namely a collection of 300 (toy, stuffed) penguins. The story that’s revealed is of course utterly nuts, but capable of eliciting empathy.

Show starts at 8, in Studio A at the Belfry. Till March 13 (that’s another 3 nights).

Oh, the irony

March 9, 2011 at 11:11 pm | In johnson street bridge, land_use, victoria | Comments Off on Oh, the irony

Today our city “leaders” voted to go ahead with a new Johnson Street Bridge project that excludes rail. See this article for skeletal information: Victoria council decides not to include rail as part of the new Johnson Street bridge. See also Ross Crockford’s piece in yesterday’s paper, No need for panic on bridge decision, which hits on some important points.

Regardless of all counter-arguments, city council (with the exception of Counc. Geoff Young) voted to kill the 122-year old rail link into the city today.

Imagine the cognitive dissonance I also experienced today as, walking my dog, I saw a poster for a local upcoming TEDx conference – TED, which stands for progressive thinking and innovation. What did the local organizers of TEDxJuanDeFuca use to illustrate their poster? Why, an image of the bridge that our city council has voted to destroy (along with any hope for rail on the new bridge – already dubbed Fortin’s Folly in “honor” of Victoria’s mayor)…

Do the innovators around TED understand something our city leaders don’t? The old bridge is unique and iconic, and maybe they intuitively grasp that one builds on that DNA (versus destroying it). Unique and iconic is a damn good basis for innovation and transformation.


Incidentally, while I’m at it: note that TEDxJuanDeFuca will be held at the Vancouver Island Technology Park, which bills itself as the city’s (or region’s) tech hub. But I wonder where the tech community was when the battle to save the existing Johnson Street Bridge – and the rail line it currently carries – was being waged by JohnsonStreetBridge.ORG and its supporters. Why was there no awareness of rail’s significance for technology and innovation in our city? Consider that, over on Quora, Robert Scoble answered the question, Why are so many tech companies based in the San Francisco Bay Area?, with a pointed reference to the significance in Silicon Valley of the railroad. Please read the whole text, it’s a great little history and analysis of what made Silicon Valley become Silicon Valley. Scoble writes :

First, this is a railroad town. It wouldn’t have existed without it. Literally. First of all, if you go and visit the Santa Clara train depot inside is a museum. One of the photos on the wall is of this depot with NOTHING around it. Today it is the hub of Silicon Valley. Inside the rail yard, too, is one of the first computers used in Silicon Valley. It’s an interlocking machine. Basically controlled the the flow of trains in and out of the rail yard. These were the first “geek machines” along with communications, and other systems. That drew the first “geeky types” out west, to build systems for the railroads. Many liked the area and stayed.

The railway also brought a few other things…

Scoble goes on to enumerate those “few other things,” including how railroad wealth (concentrated in the hands of Leland Stanford) eventually created Stanford University. And how the railway right-of-way provided the path for laying internet cables and fiber. Traveling on top of those lines are the trains – commuter trains – that bring workers from San Francisco to Palo Alto (and vice versa). Now isn’t that interesting? Silicon Valley’s railway was integral to growing a robust regional ecosystem – one that could survive. Kill the railway, and you’ve preemptively killed whatever ecosystem it could be sustaining.

We used to have trains running from downtown Victoria to Sidney. No more. We still have a train track running from Nanaimo into downtown Victoria. Soon to be no more – it will end outside of downtown, in Victoria West, thanks to Fortin’s Folly.

The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)

March 6, 2011 at 1:30 am | In links | Comments Off on The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)
  • Being naturally an Eeyore type of personality, I’m not sure that I can deal with the findings in this article… But I guess they’re bang-on, and the conclusions are thought-provoking
    Emotion = distribution

    I can tell you, anecdotally, that for our Twitter feed, @niemanlab, one of the best predictors of how much a tweet will get retweeted is the degree to which it expresses positive emotion. If we tweet with wonderment and excitement (“Wow, this new WordPress levitation plugin is amazing!”), it’ll get more clicks and more retweets than if we play it straight (“New WordPress plugin allows user levitation”).

    For harder data, check out some work done by Anatoliy Gruzd and colleagues at Dalhousie University, presented at a conference last month. Their study looked at a sample of 46,000 tweets during the Vancouver Winter Olympics and judged them on whether they expressed a positive, negative, or neutral emotion. They found that positive tweets were retweeted an average of 6.6 times, versus 2.6 times for negative tweets and 2.2 times for neutral ones. That’s two and a half times as many acts of sharing for positive tweets.
    And from the conclusion:
    on the whole, figuring out how to make people want to share your work with their friends generates a healthier set of incentives than figuring out how to manipulate Google’s algorithm. Providing pleasure — pleasure that someone wants to share — is not an inappropriate goal. And when you broaden out beyond “positive emotions” to the idea of driving arousal or stimulation — positive or negative — the idea starts to fall a little more neatly into what news organizations consider their job to be.

    tags: nieman_journalism_lab joshua_benton facebook socialmedia socialnetworks journalism

  • Intro, after which the author summarizes 7 trends relating to collaboration:
    Since the dawn of managerial capitalism, collaboration and work have almost always been synonymous. People need other people to realize their greatest impact, and innovation, perhaps the most valuable activity in business, depends critically on the kind of cross-pollination of ideas that collaboration enables.
    1.Consumerize everything.
    2. It’s all about the culture.
    3. Cherish your experts, not your documents.
    4. Build the 24-hour knowledge factory.
    5. Mandate structure within the social cacophony.
    6. Tap the wisdom of your crowd, and any crowd.
    7. Keep it real.

    tags: mit_techreview trends collaboration

  • Another indication that authors have to think entrepreneurially themselves, perhaps figuring out (ahead of their publishers or distributors) where their books might go, aside from the traditional bookstore…
    Publishers have stocked books in nonbook retailers for decades — a coffee-table book in the home department, a novelty book in Urban Outfitters. In the last year, though, some publishers have increased their efforts as the two largest bookstore chains have changed course.

    Barnes & Noble has been devoting more floor space for displays of e-readers, games and educational toys. Borders, after filing for bankruptcy protection in February, has begun liquidating some 200 of its superstores.

    “The national bookstore chain has peaked as a sales channel, and the growth is not going to come from there,” said David Steinberger, chief executive of the Perseus Books Group. “But it doesn’t mean that all brick-and-mortar retailers are cutting back.”

    A wide range of stores better known for their apparel, food and fishing reels have been adding books. The fashion designer Marc Jacobs opened Bookmarc in Manhattan in the fall. Anthropologie has increased the number of titles it carries to 125, up from 25 in 2003. Coldwater Creek, Lowe’s, Bass Pro Shops and even Cracker Barrel are adding new books. Some mass retailers, too, are diversifying — Target, for instance, is moving away from male-centered best sellers and adding more women’s and children’s titles this year.

    Having a physical outlet for books is extraordinarily important, publishers say. While online and e-book sales are huge channels, lesser-known books can get lost in that world if they do not have a physical presence to spur interest. The ability to catch a shopper’s eye in a store is almost impossible to mimic online.

    So publishers are approaching just about anyone with a shelf.

    tags: publishing books nyt bookstores retail

  • Fascinating. Valuable land being squatted by plats (as it were) that will never be built, vs. being occupied by humans or wildlife or flora and fauna. Meanwhile, I’d say places like Victoria are on to something when they allow for legal secondary suites in traditionally single-family homes. How else to make sense of 6K-sq.ft. McMansions that will sit idle?
    …recognize the changing market for housing that is steadily turning away from the purchase of single-family homes, said Arthur C. “Chris” Nelson, professor at the University of Utah. In the coming years, households with children will drop, and the market will be dominated by aging baby boomers — but millions of them will be trying to sell their own homes, creating oversupply, and more interested in multifamily and renting. “We’re overbuilt by about 28 million homes on large lots considering demand by 2020,” Nelson said.
    The bottom line, said Holway, who is leading research on what is also known as obsolete or premature subdivisions: “It’s not just a crash. It’s going to be different when (the market) comes back.”

    tags: subdivisions suburbs cities housing zombie_economy zombie_real_estate real_estate boston_globe

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Arcadia, variations on a theme

March 5, 2011 at 11:44 pm | In arts | Comments Off on Arcadia, variations on a theme

Tonight I had the great good pleasure of experiencing The Art and Ecstasy of the Chaconne: From the streets of Spain to the mind of Bach, a concert by Sinfonia New York (brought to Victoria by the Early Music Society of the Islands). It was fantastic, I was literally at the edge of my seat for much of it. “Transcendent” is a word that came to mind – in the sense that Charlie Mingus or John Coltrane would have felt in sync playing with, say, Christine Gummere (cello) or Claire Jolivet (violin). Or vice versa.

The first piece was for solo violin, played by Judson Griffin: Passacaglia in g minor by Heinrich Biber (1644-1704). The music – and Griffin’s interpretation – reminded me, at a stroke, of Nicolas Poussin‘s great painting, Et in Arcadia ego (the version now in the Louvre Museum). In Poussin’s painting, we see three men and a single woman in a beautiful, Italianate landscape. The men are traditionally interpreted as shepherds; the woman’s role is more difficult to determine. In the foreground of this serene, classical landscape is a large block of stone: a tomb. Poussin shows us the four figures after they have come upon this tomb, which bears the inscription Et in Arcadia ego.

A lot of ink has been spilled interpreting the painting. Essentially, the scene is read as a meditation on death. “Arcadia” is “Eden,” but even in Paradise (Arcadia), there is Death. You can get all metaphysical and possibly Derridian or Lacanian (that is, ur-Freudian) here and go spare over the sole female figure (woman as life …and Death), but basically you’re left with the Latin, Et in Arcadia ego, on a tomb (which is where dead people lie). Death is even there, in the middle of bliss.

So why did I think of Poussin’s Et in Arcadia ego tonight? There was something so beautiful about the music (as written, and also as played and interpreted by the musicians) that all I could think was that I, too, want to live among people who could say Et in Arcadia ego. That is, it’s not at all about death, it’s about “getting” what it’s like to know Arcadia – a place no one actually lives in anymore (we’re all postlapsarian), but which can be known through various means (including art, particular kinds of work, certain deeds, etc.). It’s a place and a state that does not need to be entombed or announced via an inscription, but one that can embodied and experienced (as per the shepherds and their enigmatic muse). It’s a place that’s defined by its absence – the fact that it’s no longer directly accessible – but which is represented by something else (art, for example), and thereby known and experienced.

« Previous Page

Theme: Pool by Borja Fernandez.
Entries and comments feeds.