Vancouver Fringe Festival Must See: She Has a Name

WOW!  That is all I could think of when I first tried to write this post on Friday night.  WOW!  I’d just seen possibly the most powerful play of my 30-something years in a small Vancouver theatre, the Firehall Arts Centre, as a part of Vancouver’s 2012 Fringe Festival, and I was at a loss for words.  How would anything I write possibly do this play justice?

 

Carl Kennedy as Jason embracing Evelyn Chew as Number 18 in her fantasy of being rescued, with (l-r) Sienna Howell-Holden (Voice 2), Glenda Warkentin (Voice 3) and Alysa van Haastert (Voice 4). Photographed by Kelsey Krogman.

 

The Play in question?  She Has a Name by Andrew Kooman presented by Burnt Thicket Theatre and RaiseTheirVoice. A play on the heart-wrenching and all too real topic of human trafficking and sex slavery.  An insanely emotionally charged issue to write about and act, and to possibly do justice to the very real people and very real emotions of the people involved.  Andrew Kooman, Burnt Thicket Theatre and RaiseTheirVoice do just that ~ they portray the amazing array of emotions that the victims and those that try to safe them from the horrors, live through, and they do it with a great deal of sensitivity.  Just thinking about it now makes my eyes well up all over again.  Such a powerful story!  You can tell that a lot of thought, care and emotion has gone into it from the playwright, director, and from the cast and crew’s use of space, movement, music, lighting, costumes, set design, and of course acting. WOW!

 

Number 18 (Evelyn Chew) under the intimidation of her Pimp (Carl Kennedy), as photographed by Kelsey Krogman.

 

I can’t begin to imagine the energy that has gone into telling this emotionally charged story night after night from May 23rd – October 6th, as they deliver their 2012 Canadian Tour.  I’ve done some writing, directing and acting, so I know how energy consuming it can be, and that’s before we are talking the types of emotions that would go into this content and these roles. WOW!  The team that put this together are absolutely amazing ~ Andrew Kooman (playwright), Evelyn Chew (Number 18 & Voice 1), Carl Kennedy (Jason & Pimp), Alysa van Haastert (Ali & Voice 4), Glenda Warkentin (Marta & Voice 1), Sienna Howell-Holden (Mamma & Voice 2), Stephen Waldschmidt (Director, Scenic Designer & Artist), Karl Sine (Fight Director), Deanne Bertsch (Choreographer), Jaylene Wiebe (Costume Designer & Head of Wardrobe), Luke Ertman (Composer & Sound Design), Anton de Groot (Lighting Designer), Brad G. Graham (Tour Stage Manager), James Popoff (Artistic Director) and Alida Lowe (Producing Director).  THANK YOU!  I hate single out any of the actors, as they all did beautiful jobs portraying some very emotionally difficult roles, but I feel I do need to shine a spotlight on Evelyn Chew and Carl Kennedy, who perhaps carried the two most difficult performances throughout with grace and respect for the characters they played, especially Carl who played both the source of horror and the man struggling to help save the victims of the horror, and did it with ease of believability. Speaking of Carl, I was so impressed by how Andrew wrote his role of Jason, expressing many of the difficult emotions that men go through and struggle with that we often don’t acknowledge aloud. WOW!

 

The conversation between Jason (Carl Kennedy) and his Canadian wife Ali (Alysa Van Haastert) becomes heated during a Skype call. Number 18 (Evelyn Chew) listens intently in the background. Photographed by Kelsey Krogman.

 

This is a story that needs to be told for the many women, children (and men) whose voices (and screams) cannot be heard, and it is a story that needs to be listened to.  Hauntingly  beautiful and absolutely heart wrenching, there was not a dry eye in the theatre when it was all done. THANK YOU!  I again stand on my feet to applaud you on the story you told.  THANK YOU!

 

 

If you see no other play at this year’s Fringe Festival between now and September 16th, this is the play to see. No, let me change that, this is the play you must see.  And if you go on Friday September 14th, you can catch a Talk Back after the 5:15 pm performance at 7 pm at Saint James Anglican Church (302 East Cordova St.) with panelists Brian McConaghy, Founding Director of Ratanak International – Naomi Krueger, Deborah’s Gate – Mark Wollenberg, Director of Development and Mobilization at IJM Canada (West). Details on the performances at Vancouver’s Fringe Festival are as follows:

Where:

Firehall Arts Centre (230 East Cordova St.)

When:

  • Tuesday September 11th at 9:30 pm
  • Thursday September 13th at 7:30 pm
  • Friday September 14th at 5:15 pm followed by a talk back with human rights experts
  • Saturday September 15th at 9:30 pm
Tickets:
$10 – 12 at shehasaname.net or at the Fringe Box Office (in the parking lot on Granville Island between Waterfront Theatre and 1398 Cartwright St.) or at the door 45 minutes before Show time.

You can also catch it in Kelowna (September 18th-21st), Edmonton (September 25th-30th) and Red Deer (October 2nd-6th), if you are not in Vancouver this week.

 

Jason (Carl Kennedy) hits his breaking point and unleashes it on Mamma (Sienna Howell-Holden), as photographed by Kelsey Krogman.

 

Now if you are like me, you will likely leave the Show and want to be able to do something to help victims of human trafficking and sex slavery. Aside from telling all your friends to go watch She Has A Name (which you should do) and Play It Forward, Burnt Thicket Theatre  and RaiseTheirVoice have outlined on their site how you can respond and make a difference.  Read on here.

And again THANK YOU to Andrew Kooman, Burnt Thicket Theatre, RaiseTheirVoice, and the Vancouver Fringe Festival for bringing them to town. THANK YOU!

 

Show Your Support for Saskatchewan Filmmakers with #FilmFriday

For those of you that follow news from the film and television industry, you may be aware that in March 2012, the Government of Saskatchewan eliminated the Saskatchewan Film Employment Tax Credit (SFETC) set to expire on June 30, 2012. This decision is not only devastating to film, television and interactive industries in Saskatchewan, but also the industries that support them such as hotels, gas and construction.  If you work in the film industry, you know the impact of tax credits on enticing projects to film in your area.  Yes, you might be giving the production a tax break to film in your Province or State, but that then brings in money that feeds the economy. In Saskatchewan, that translates to every $1 invested in film and television brings $6 back to Saskatchewan in economic activity. Not having a tax credit is suicide to maintaining a healthy and profitable film and television industry.  Most Provincial and State Governments acknowledge this and offer tax credits, as you can see from the map below that I pilfered off of Rob Hardy’s facebook wall.

 

Courtesy of Halder Mauicio's Facebook

 

I’m glad to say though that the Saskatchewan Film Industry is not one to go down without a fight and there is still time to find a solution before the House is released for summer on May 19, 2012.

Here’s how you can help:

and this Friday, show Saskatchewan Filmmakers you care by promoting Saskatchewan-made film, television and interactive projects and / or their artists / creators on facebook and on twitter using the hashtag #FilmFriday.  If you need help brainstorming Saskatchewan-made projects, check out SMPIA’s Pinterest Boards. Here’s one with our very own Richard Yearwood starring in it:

 

Photo of the InSecurity Cast, taken by Kharen Hill

 

Why do I care?  I’m not a Saskatchewan Filmmaker or resident.  I care, because the Saskatchewan Film Industry is very near and dear to my heart.  This film community fostered our company, Ahimsa Media, in it’s early days, showed us the ropes, gave us honest advice and our first TV Show, and shows us a Hell of a good time on a yearly basis at the Yorkton Film Festival.  This is a film community I love and won’t stand to lose, so help me out in ensuring it’s survival. Tweet your love!

Thanks to SMPIA and Katrina German for leading up the digital stampede.

Giving

I met a wonderful woman on the subway.  She was on her way home from a Lakers game and was clearly a huge fan, as she had all the gear and the glow that comes from a great win.  She shared a story with me about her night at the game.

 

A True Fan

 

Having been a season’s ticket holder with her husband for many dedicated years, this was the first game she had ever gone to by herself.  She thought about just staying home, but decided to go down to the Staples Center with the great intention of giving her tickets away in a random act of kindness type of moment.  To her surprise, no one would take her tickets.  The gift was too great and people felt it must be some suspicious trick.

Unwilling to give up, she made the choice to go inside and find two fans sitting higher up and offer to trade tickets with them.  While grabbing a bite to eat she met a father whom she thought would be elated to give his child the experience of sitting in prime seats, but he declined.  He also did not trust the situation.  She kept on trying to give and it took until the second quarter for her to have a taker.  A very lucky young man heard, and believed her when she said that she was at the game alone sitting in incredible seasons tickets seats and that she had an empty seat beside her available.  He decided to join her and he was the most grateful person for the gift he had received.  An ear to ear grin and a slowly whispered “Thank You” was the perfect end to her night.

We chatted passionately on the subway about the state of human nature.  Is it that we don’t give enough so people aren’t used to receiving?  Is it that scams do happen so often making us reluctant to trust anyone? Do we trust some people and not others based on appearance, age, or other factors? The way fellow fans reacted on that night left her feeling that a bit of the latter was true.  Before we parted ways she revealed to me that she has wealth beyond comprehension including jewels, incredible cars, and a high heel shoe collection to die for!  She stressed the importance of being kind to every single person you meet because you never know their story.  We shared a big hug and I have been thinking about her story ever since.

 

Just in Time for Timeraiser Vancouver Tonight

This is just a quick post as my favourite yearly Vancouver charity event is tonight, and I have yet to write about it.

If you have been to Timeraiser before, you know what a truly wonderful and inspiring event it is and you likely already have your tickets for tonight’s event at the Waldorf Hotel. If timeraiser is new to you, in a nutshell, it is an art auction, where you bid on art with volunteer hours. The artists get paid in real dollars, you get to meet and chat with different organizations about volunteer opportunities, admire and learn about the art of local artists, bid on art work, just as if you were a high roller, and best of all do some good in your community in the process.  How could you not love this!

Sadly I am not in town, so can’t be there tonight, but for those of you lucky enough to be in town, take advantage of the event to learn about some great volunteer opportunities and take in some great local talent.

Here are the details:

  • When? TONIGHT – Thursday September 22, 2011
  • What Time? 7 – 11 pm (you want to arrive no later than 8 pm)
  • Where? Waldorf Hotel - 1489 East Hastings Street
  • How Much? Only $20 online.
  • What? A fun evening, that has you mingling with interesting people and leaves you feeling great.

Wish I was seeing you there.

Kisses,

Emme xoxo

Mystery of Blue Caped Man

I just hate waking up in the middle of my sweet dreams. Why do people need to be so cruel to text or call someone in the morning?

The other day I was again woken up by a text message from a friend at 4 am in the morning! I was going to just hang up on her. However, remembering she was living in Hamilton, Ontario at the time, I just did not want to be a meanie. I glanced at her text which just completely brought all my wandering soul back into my body. She told me that she saw a flying blue caped man just outside her house. Originally she thought that someone was going to break into her house as she heard a lot of noises from her frontyard. She quickly grabbed her hockey stick as a weapon and looked through the window and saw the blue caped man flash across the window. Although I am a big fan of superheroes, I am not inclined to believe that anyone in the world actually has the ability to fly.

Very soon, she just climbed back into her bed to sleep, as the man who could have been a thief had left. I, too, was satisfied with this decision, even though I kept on thinking about this superhero. When I woke up later in the day, I got an email from her, which revealed the mystery of this blue caped man:

Sorry for waking you up so early in the morning.

Apparently, the man is not a superhero. His name is Blue Box Man. He is just a crazy person, wearing a blue cape that checks out what kind of stuff goes into our bins. He was not flying around in the yard; he just got excited by my mum’s work of dividing all our stuff and putting them into the right bin, so he sprinted off to grab us a golden box, as a reward. You know what, when she got the golden box, she grinned like the Joker. Okay, that was a bit yuck! She grinned like she was wearing a gold Olympic medal. Insane, eh? Now my mum is trying to keep up with her good work; it almost seems like she is back to kindergarten again, making an effort to get a prize from her teacher.

Blue Box Man, Hamilton's Superhero of Green Good

 


That was a little excerpt of her email. I was quite interested in the appearance of this golden box and what was going on, so I went to dig out a bit of information on google. Ha! I then found out the truth. The blue caped man was rewarding the residents in Hamilton with a golden box for properly sorting the stuff into their bins. For example, food scraps should be placed into the green bins, paper and cardboard should be in one of the blue boxes, and bottles, cans and jars should be in another.


An unsuspecting Hamilton resident receives a visit from Blue Box Man.

 

The blue caped man was indeed a hero, even if my friend did not say so, because he was trying to encourage people to recycle and to make this world more sustainable for us to live in. Isn’t that every superheroes goal; to protect people from harm?! I really like how this hero stirred up this green recycling wave in the city, so now people who have a golden box will be proud of what they have done and act as a role model, encouraging others to do the same. Maybe it is time for Vancouver to do something similar? Now let’s have a green hero in the city to create an environmental friendly vibe and make everyone get excited by the idea of recycling.