Friday, September 4, 2015

Soul - a Fringe Festival Review 2015

I'm not a mom but I work with adults who have developmental disabilities so I can completely empathize with the kind of stresses and sadness and joy that Maxine shares in her Soul performance.  I love the people I work with, and I get a chance to miss them on my days off.  Parents raising special needs people don't get a break from it, a chance to put it all in perspective, to take some time for themselves and recharge their batteries.  Maxine has created her own space with this show, and within that space she tells a story of struggle and survival.

Brain - a Fringe Festival Review 2015

Brain wasn't at all what I expected.  I don't know why, but I thought it'd be some kind of scientific explanation about how the brain functions.  Instead it's a very personal story that's both amusing and disturbing.  It helped me understand a bit more about how my own brain functions, and I left with a new awareness of how OCD, the obsessive compulsive disorder that so many of us joke about, can actually take over someone's mind.

If this is Brendan McLeod's own story, as his indicates it is, he's a very brave man.  It's not easy to live with a history of mental illness, there's always judgment and stigma associated with that.  It's strange that it's called "illness," really, when it's really just about people trying to sort out who they are and what it's all about.  Thanks to Brendan who confidently and skillfully guides us through the adolescent brain with its conflicting hormonal influences and rebellious attitudes, to describe the moment his brain and body disassociated entirely in an experience of pure psychosis, to the educated University brain/mind/body/ego/self combination that seeks to find meaning and direction from life.

Camel Camel - a Fringe Festival Review 2015

Camel Camel is laugh out loud funny.  I left the show wondering if that's all I was supposed to do, though, or maybe there was some deep philosophical underlying message that I should be taking away with me?

Janessa Johnsrude and Meghan Frank's show is described as "David Lynch meets Abbott and Costello."  It's definitely strange, weird, surreal, fantastical ... but it also seems to invite us to question our awareness of self, identity, dualism, the doppelganger phenomenon. 

We're told early on that the story we'll hear is somehow connected to what's going on in the head of a Ukranian prisoner, then we're led on a journey of self exploration that seems to include gender bending, gender confusion, an exploration of sexuality and self discovery where mind over matter meets matter over mind.  The sisters seem aware of being observed while overtly unaware of their own selves.  "How can I be beginning and ending all at once?" is one question left unanswered.

Sid: the Handsome Bum - a Fringe Festival Review 2015

Sid the Handsome Bum is a sensitive, thoughtful portrayal of a variety of personalities who inhabit the DTES, all rolled into one.  It's written by Ira Cooper who mentioned, while promoting the show in another Fringe lineup, that he invested considerable time in the DTES talking to some of the characters there.  He said he listened carefully and wanted us to know that his motive is to help tell their stories, not to exploit them.  Sid is beautifully portrayed by actor Joanna Rannelli.  Ira and Jo are members of Vancouver's Spec Theatre (

Sid invites us to look at shopping carts, and the people who call them home, in a whole new way.  In fact, it's difficult to look at a shopping cart the same way again after meeting Sid, and the various characters who contribute to his DID - Disassociative Identity Disorder.  Despite his multiple personalities, at one point Sid describes himself as a nobody.  "I'm no-one."  Is it surprising to think that this is how a homeless person might feel?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Israel, Palestine and the Canadian Connection

Jeff Halper, founder of Israelis Against House Demolitions, speaking in Duncan BC, explains that what is happening in Israel and Palestine matters to Canadians and the rest of the world.