Mother Teresa is Dead from The Bleeding Heart Collective at Pacific Theatre

Coming away from Pacific Theatre‘s latest show, Mother Teresa is Dead, I felt almost overwhelmed. A guest production by The Bleeding Heart Collective, Mother Teresa is Dead is an intense, powerful drama wrought with emotion. I had just about no knowledge of the storyline before seeing the play last week, and as a result I had a surprisingly emotional response throughout the play, largely in part due to the outstanding four actors. With gripping performances, big questions, and no easy answers, Mother Teresa is Dead is a powerful play, written by Helen Edmundson, that makes you reconsider right and wrong.


Julie McIsaac and Katharine Venour as Jane and Frances. Photo by Ron Reed.


Helen Edmundson’s play opens with a Londoner, Mark, arriving in India in search of his missing wife. He is clearly frustrated and confused by his wife, Jane’s disappearance, who left Mark and their five-year-old son to work at a shelter in Madras. When Mark finds her, she is staying at the house of an expatriate Briton, Frances, and has clearly been through some kind of crisis. What follows is a difficult reunion between husband and wife, and a heated confrontation between Mark and Srinivas, the owner of the shelter who is trying to convince Jane to stay.


Sebastian Kroon and Julie McIsaac as Mark and Jane. Photo by Ron Reed.


I found Mark so unlikeable at first, with his anger, his irritation, his yelling. But as the layers pulled back, we learned that Jane abandoned him and their son. Soon, his anger felt justified. I began to sympathize with Mark. While he was harsh and merciless in his anger, I understood it. However, I found myself unable to blame Jane completely as she had just gone through some traumatic incident and did not appear entirely well. In addition, Srinivas and Frances, who first appeared charming and sweet, were later revealed to have their own skeletons. None of the characters were what they seemed. Yet Mother Teresa is Dead never once became apologetic or preachy; it simply asked some very big questions about life, moral conscience, and family.


Kayvon Kelly and Julie McIsaac as Srinivas and Jane. Photo by Ron Reed.


Mother Teresa is Dead is a play that made me think. There were no easy answers and no clear right and wrong. The characters were all so complex and yet each one was trying so hard to do good, or what was best, that I was left with so many questions. Was there a right or wrong? Were all the characters terrible, flawed people? Or were they all good people in a tough situation? Even now I can’t get my head around whether I truly liked Mark, Jane, Srinvas, and Frances and whether they were good people. Mother Teresa is Dead is a play I enjoyed immensely for its strong performances and for how much the characters made me think. That, I think, is always a sign of good theatre: when you’re left pondering the complexities of the characters long after the curtain has dropped.

Congratulations to Kayvon Kelly (Srinivas), Sebastian Kroon (Mark), Julie McIsaac (Jane), and Katharine Venour (Frances) for their superb performances and to director Evan Frayne for a truly thought-provoking and enjoyable show.


Mother Teresa is Dead
When: March 1-23, Wed-Sat: 8pm, Sat matinees: 2pm
Where: Pacific Theatre, 1440 W. 12th Ave, Vancouver
Tickets: Buy online

A Polar Swim in Lynn Canyon

When I made my to-do list for the summer, going swimming at Lynn Canyon was at the top of my list. So when I recently had two friends visit from out of town, I took the opportunity to cross it off my list. For those who have never been, Lynn Canyon is a park in North Vancouver with a suspension bridge and hiking trails. The appeal for me has always been the thirty foot swimming pool a short walk after the bridge, where crystal clear waters create the perfect place to swim on a hot summer’s day.


The suspension bridge


The day we drove up to Lynn Canyon was warm but overcast – not the ideal temperature for taking a dip in glacier waters. The three of us set off over the suspension bridge, swaying fifty feet over the mountain canyon. Luckily, none of us were afraid of heights! We walked on to the swimming hole. When we arrived, there were a fair number of people on shore but no one in the water – it wasn’t close to being warm enough for that! But we were determined to have a swim, no matter how crazy it would make us appear.


30 Foot Swimming Pool


Feeling self-conscious of all the people, my friends decided to wade across the river to the other side, which was empty. They chose a path across and I reluctantly followed. When I’m swimming in cold water, I prefer to just dive in to get the worse part over with, rather than torturing my poor lower half. I followed my friends into the water, but my feet went almost immediately numb. It was just too cold. I couldn’t do it.


Fording the river


The two of them, however, successfully made it to the other side. Deciding at this point it was far too cold for a swim, I stayed safely on my side of the river with all the other sane people. As my friends pulled out towels and began to undress, a man next to me said in disbelief, “I think they’re going to swim!”

The two of them ran into the water, screamed, and ran out while I killed myself laughing on the other side. But they did it again and again, even cliff-jumping at one point. Afterwards, they admitted to me they had never intended on jumping and had just climbed up the cliff to look at the view. Once at the top, they had felt they couldn’t back out since everyone was watching them. One of my friends had almost killed himself cliff jumping in Mauritius a few years back, but still felt he had to jump because everyone was staring!


Cliff jumping


I eventually made it into the water too, but only after the sun came out. Once the sun came out, other people also arrived with the intention of swimming and we turned out to not be so crazy after all. The water was still freezing, but I didn’t feel so numb after diving in. We spent a good few hours just hanging out and swimming, cliff jumping, and making a picnic of our lunch.


Hiking back along the river


At the end of their visit to Vancouver, my friends said Lynn Canyon was their favourite thing they’d done on the whole trip, mostly because it was so “Canadian”. I suppose hiking up into the mountains and swimming in glacier waters is the sort of thing us crazy Canucks would do, and I was thrilled they enjoyed it so much.

So the moral of the story: Visit Lynn Canyon. It’s beautiful and you’ll have a blast. But do so on a very, very hot summer’s day, so you’re not the crazy people who chose to go for a polar swim in glacier waters. And don’t climb up a cliff with people around unless you intend to jump.

Neon Vancouver

In my last post, I talked about all the things I wanted to do this summer. Last week, I managed to complete the first item on my list: visiting the Neon Vancouver | Ugly Vancouver exhibit at the Museum of Vancouver. I’d wanted to go since I read about the exhibit in The Vancouver Sun last October, but for some reason I never seem to get around to visiting museums in my own town, even though they’re always the first place I go when visiting cities abroad.


Exhibit sign


But last week, on a typically rainy Vancouver day, I managed to make my way to the museum and soon found myself bathed in the neon light of Vancouver’s past. The Neon Vancouver | Ugly Vancouver exhibit showcases neon signs that were prominent in the city in the 1950s to 1970s. After a movement against the conspicuous signage, neon signs were removed and fell into disuse. Now, a collection of signs are on display at the Museum of Vancouver where a young’un like me can only imagine a time when Vancouver was covered in neon.


Featured signs at Neon Vancouver | Ugly Vancouver


Upon entering the darkened room, I immediately saw why Vancouverites had opposed the neon signs. Despite being a small room, the glare from the neon signs was almost overwhelming. Neon light bounced off of signs for everything from dry-cleaning to beauty salons. I particularly liked an oversized neon owl wearing a kilt and advertising drugstore deliveries. Evidently, it had once hung in Kerrisdale. The idea of the garish, outlandish sign hanging in the upscale neighbourhood amused me to no end.

But my favourite sign had to be the “DRAKE” sign hanging in the entryway. The prominent letters brought to mind the rapper, rather than the Drake Hotel. However, as the hotel shut down in 2007, my second thought was that perhaps the sign was for Drake Street. I hadn’t even been aware there had been a Drake Hotel. And as the sign now seems more appropriate for the musician rather than Vancouver today, it really is representative of a bygone era.


The former Drake Hotel, not the rapper.


Lastly, check out this awesome music video featuring the exhibit!


PS. In Full Disclosure: As always, the opinions and thoughts shared here are our own and honest ones. We are bought out by no one. In the spirit of disclosure, it should be noted that on this trip our entrance to the museum was courtesy of Vancouver Tourism.

Summer To-Do List

Every summer I make a list of things to do, but I hardly ever get around to most of them. It’s easy to put things off when you’re living indefinitely in a place, but after awhile you start wondering why you’ve never gotten around to doing certain things. The only exception was two summers ago when I knew I was moving out of Vancouver in the fall and I actually completed everything, but one or two things on my to-do list that summer. Since I am back in Vancouver for the foreseeable future, a summer to-do list is my way of not falling into that trap again, as well as the perfect excuse for being a tourist in my own city.


Wreck Beach at UBC


Here’s my list for Summer 2012:

  • Go swimming at Lynn Canyon. I’ve been meaning to do this one since I was a kid. When I was ten, my family hiked up Lynn Canyon in November, and I remember wanting to dive into the canyon waters. Every summer since then I’ve been meaning to go and do just that, but it’s just one of those things I never got around to doing.
  • Visit the UBC Farm. Four years at UBC and I’ve still never been to the much-lauded farm. Hopefully I can do this one before I graduate.
  • Hike Finish the Chief. The Stawamus Chief hiking trail is one of my unfinished items from two summers ago. Due to time constraints, we only made it to the first peak before having to turn back. This summer, I’m going to make it to all three.
  • Read the entire Hunger Games trilogy and see if it lives up to the hype. Then discuss merits with friends with obvious comparisons to the Harry Potter and Twilight series.
  • Get screamers at Danny’s Market in Richmond. Slushie + soft ice cream = Screamers. No summer is complete without a trip to Danny’s Market for the awesomeness that is screamers.
  • See Rent at the Waterfront Theatre. Rent is my favourite musical and I never miss a chance to see it. This will be my fourth live performance, but not my last.
  • Rent a tandem bike and go cycling along the Seawall. Walking or biking the seawall is probably at the top of everyone’s Vancouver to-do list, but how many people go on a tandem bike? I’m going to drag a friend along and let hilarity ensue.
  • Watch an outdoor movie. The last time I did this, I saw The Neverending Story and it started pouring rain right at the climax when (spoiler alert) Bastian yelled out the Childlike Empress’ new name into the stormy night. It was like we were in the story. Can’t wait to see what happens this time.
  • Go to the Vancouver Pride Parade. Every other summer I’ve had to work on the day of the Parade, so I’m hoping that finally this summer I’ll be free to go.


Here’s to finding an outdoor cinema on the beach.


Do you make a to-do list every summer too? What do you think I missed? Let us know in the comments!