What a Week!
Canadian theatre rides the cyclone
By Gaëtan L. Charlebois
Jayzus, I had a really juicy rant all ready to go, this week, but the news - so...much...news - put me on a CharPo and emotional rollercoaster and now - as I write this (hours before the goddam time-change) I am feeling insanely bleery.
I got on the funride when Manitoba Theatre Centre announced its season and there it was, screaming in my face, Ride The Cyclone was part of their season. Ride the Cyclone is a hugely successful musical, little in size but - I have read everywhere - huge in heart. I had heard rumours that Cyclone was going to pop up as part of big-house seasons and the MTC announcement boded well for - maybe, perhaps, I hope - a presentation in Montreal where I could see it. (No news yet, on this score.)
I don't think we understand that when a company likes this goes a piece of our very nationhood goes with it.
The funride took a nauseating turn mere hours later when it was announced that Vancouver Playhouse was closing its doors for good. This is hideous news and it hit me particularly bad in an utterly strange way. I knew about this Company at the same time that I read my first Canadian Play. I was in high school when a brave teacher, giving a course in North American Literature (note: not Canadian), suggested we all read George Ryga's The Ecstasy of Rita Joe. The work had premiered, a few years before, at Vancouver Playhouse. It was one of those works that punches a teenager in the face. Moreover, from the Playhouse, it went on to become iconic, even transformed into a hit piece for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet which I also saw. How could it be that a company, on the verge of becoming 50 years old, which had done Rita Joe first!, was going under. Look - as I head to 55 myself I have almost gotten used to the deaths of those around me, but theatres like the esteemed Playhouse are not supposed to die. I don't think we understand that when a company like this goes a piece of our very nationhood goes with it.
Then, about 24 hours later (as I was actually writing an obit for Vancouver playhouse), I got the dance-in-the-street news that Antoni Cimolino had been named as Artistic Director at Stratford. All of my dealings with Mr. Cimolino have been wonderful - he's a real gentleman and has actually written for CPC, is preparing another article for us and even took the time to comment for CharPo on the death of the Playhouse (even as he knew his big news was about to break!). Moreover, I was on the record in The Globe and Mail naming him as most likely choice for the job. So this news was both delightful and a relief.
Now during all of this I was receiving articles from contributors and each one made me happier and prouder: Joel Fishbane's column, Joel Ivany's first-person and my secret girlfriend's new weekly Tour Whore By Cameryn Moore. (I'm writing it that way because if you pronounce it "hoor" it all rhymes.) Each of these made the grind of formatting for the internet a pleasure.
By Saturday lunchtime I thought I might very well burst into flames. But still wafting in my nose, like the stink of a dead skunk on the highway, was the news that Tarragon theatre had lost another person. Joel Fishbane asked me in an email if I'd seen the Globe and Mail piece about it and I told him that - despite our covering the Tarragon story to death - this was just too much misery on top of an already sad story.
So there you have it. A week (actually a few days) on the Cyclone of Canadian theatre.
And the rant that was supposed to run this week? As I wrote in Facebook, "I always jot down what pisses me off and if it still pisses me off two days later, I know I have a column."
I'm still pissed off - so next week...