Is that meant to be funny?

If you think there’s nothing funny about censorship, Mark Leiren-Young would like to change your mind. A prolific freelance journalist, screenwriter, playwright, memoirist and award-winning author, Leiren-Young is this year’s Harvey Stevenson Southam Lecturer in Journalism and Nonfiction for the Department of Writing. And while his current Writing course Finding the Funny focuses on humour writing, his upcoming public lecture will examine the fine line between comedy and censorship.
Mark Leiren-Young is the latest Southam Lecturer

Mark Leiren-Young is the latest Southam Lecturer

“I’m fascinated by the question of, ‘Where’s the line?’,” says Leiren-Young. “What can you make fun of? What can’t you make fun of? What’s taboo? How soon is too soon?” By way of example, Leiren-Young looks east to Toronto’s frequently lampooned mayor. “Rob Ford and his tumor—too soon for jokes?”

As the author of the 2009 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour-winning memoir Never Shoot A Stampede Queen: A Rookie Reporter in the Cariboo and one-half of the long-running satirical comedy duo Local Anxiety, Leiren-Young well knows the fine art of funny. A graduate of both UVic’s Writing and Theatre departments, he is also the first UVic alumnus to hold the Southam position.

His October 15 annual Southam public lecture You Can’t Say That!? Comedy, Censorship and Sensitivity in the 21st Century will draw not only on his own experiences as a journalist and performer but also on examples from popular culture to illustrate how the line between comedy and censorship keeps shifting.

“Think about the first time you ever saw South Park,” he says. “We all said, ‘Oh my god, you can’t say that on television!’ And that’s one of the thing I’ve told my class—you can critique anything you want, just don’t tell me it’s not funny. It’s okay to say you’re offended by it, but I’m not talking about anything that people haven’t laughed at.”

After writing three plays about censorship and spending the past 25 years on the Freedom to Read organiztion’s free expression committee, it’s a topic that’s clearly close to Leiren-Young’s heart. “It gets at the heart of what we are ‘allowed’ to write, and why we write,” he says. “Riffing on what’s funny versus what’s offensive is going to make for a great conversation.”

Mark Leiren-YoungThe secret, he says, always lies in context: given our rapid-fire media messaging and instantaneous technology, it’s all too easy for a joke to cross the line. “These 10-second Youtube clips that are killing careers now—all too often they’re taken totally out of context. It’s one thing to be funny in a comedy club, but play that same joke on the evening news…”

As the eighth Southam Lecturer for the Writing department, Leiren-Young follows in the footsteps of the likes of CBC Radio’s Jo-Ann Roberts, author Richard Wagamaese and sports journalist Tom Hawthorn. And, given the topic, will his public lecture actually be funny?

“It better be,” he chuckes wryly,” or I’m already in deep trouble.”

You Can’t Say That!? Comedy, Censorship and Sensitivity in the 21st Century 7:00 pm Wednesday, Oct. 15 in room A240 of the Human & Social Development Building. Admission is free.

Five for Fine Arts in GG list

When it comes to the really big awards, we always hope there will be at least one name on the list associated with our faculty—or, if we’re really lucky, sometimes even two. Colour us amazed then that this year’s list of the English-language finalists in the Governor General’s Literary Awards includes five people associated with the Faculty of Fine Arts: one Department of Writing faculty member, two former grad students, one Harvey Southam diploma grad plus one Theatre alum!

That’s five, count ‘em, five from Fine Arts out of 18 nominees in the Fiction/Poetry/Non-fiction/Drama categories of the Governor General’s Literary Awards, which are funded and administered by the Canada Council for the Arts.

GG finalist Bill Gaston  9photo Jen Steele)

GG finalist Bill Gaston
9photo Jen Steele)

Congratulations go out to Writing professor Bill Gaston (Fiction) for his new short story collection Juliet Was a Surprise; MFA alumni Garth Martens (Poetry) for his debut collection of poems Prologue for the Age of Consequence and Arleen Paré (Poetry) for her latest volume, Lake of Two Mountains; Harvey Southam grad Arno Kopecky (Non-fiction) for his timely investigation The Oil Man and the Sea: Navigating the Northern Gateway; and Department of Theatre alum Janet Munsil for her recently published play That Elusive Spark, which was mounted here at Phoenix Theatre in 2005.

“It was quite a surprise,” Martens told the local Times Colonist in this interview with the local nominees. “I was half asleep . . . I was really quite jubilant.” And you can click here to listen to an interview with local CBC’s On The Island.

The Governor General’s Literary Awards are Canada’s oldest and most prestigious literary awards program with a total value of $450,000. Each winner will receive $25,000. The publisher of each winning book will receive $3,000 to support promotional activities. Non-winning finalists each receive $1,000.

“This year’s list of finalists contains powerful novels and poems, imaginative children’s books, skillful translations, entrancing dramas and enlightening non-fiction,” says Canada Council Director and CEO, Simon Brault. “They are all meaningful books in which we can, as readers and Canadians, lose ourselves and find ourselves.”

His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, will present the 2014 GG Literary Awards at 6pm Wednesday, November 26 at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.

New book for Writing professor Lee Henderson

From Blondie to Doonesbury, comic strips have been a mainstay of the newspaper industry for the better part of a century. Now, Department of Writing professor Lee Henderson has crafted an insider’s look at the world of comics in his highly anticipated new novel The Road Narrows As You Go (Penguin/Random House).

Lee Henderson

Lee Henderson

Henderson will be launching the book locally at a special event: 7:30pm Saturday October 4 at Munro’s Books, 1108 Government Street. Admission is free and everyone is welcome.

A young woman growing up in sleepy 1970s Victoria dreams of becoming a successful cartoonist like Peanuts creator Charles Schultz, and when she winds up in hedonistic 1980s San Francisco she finds herself competing for newspaper space with the likes of ‘80s stalwarts Garfield, Calvin and Hobbes—even Peanuts itself. But is US President Ronald Reagan really her father? Henderson deftly explores all this and much more in a book that he also rounded out by illustrating his main character’s fictional comic strip, Strays.

book-U6-A146-B319-R493“The way it started for me is just living out a vicarious dream that I had when I was a kid in the eighties to be a comic-strip artist,” says Henderson in this Globe and Mail interview. “As soon as I knew that my next book would be about a comic-strip artist, [I had] the idea that I would learn how to draw them at a professional level. It was an ambition to take [on] something I did as a kid.”

Named one of “the 25 most anticipated Canadian books of 2014” by the National Post, The Road Narrows As You Go is the follow-up to Henderson’s BC Book Prize-winning novel The Man Game—which he also illustrated. A two-time Journey Prize nominee, he is also the author of the short story collection The Broken Record Technique.

Henderson will also be teaching a special Writing department course in January 2015: “Inside the Comic Artist’s Studio,” an in-depth and insider’s look at how comics and graphic novels are made. A study of the early stages on sketchbook with pencil to final inked pages laid out as digital files, the class will look at the unique challenges and opportunities for comic artists when telling a story using sequential illustrations. Not just superheroes, the semester will focus on a range of comics including Chris Ware’s groundbreaking graphic novel Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth.

Two 4 One has BC premiere

Department of Writing professor Maureen Bradley‘s debut feature film, Two 4 One, will have its BC premiere in Vancouver on October 1 & 3 at the Vancouver International Film Festival.This is following the world premiere at the 2014 Calgary International Film Festival, in their Canadian Cinema Series. At VIFF, it’s featured in both the Canadian Images program, and in the BC Spotlight.

A scene from Two 4 One

A scene from Two 4 One

“The VIFF West Coast premiere at the Rio was packed,” wrote Bradley on the movie’s Indiegogo page, which helped finance the production. “So far,  response has been fantastic. Last night there lots of laughs and some tears.  It was great to see old friends and have family cheering me on.”

Regular blog readers will have been following the development of Bradley’s transgender romantic comedy. Both Bradley and film producer & Fine Arts digital media specialist Daniel Hogg were in attendance for Q&As at the Calgary screenings, along with some of their cast.

Two 4 One's Calgary premiere: (from left) producer Daniel Hogg, actor Gabrielle Rose, writer/director Maureen Bradley, actor Gavin Crawford, actor Naomi Snieckus

Two 4 One’s Calgary premiere: (from left) producer Daniel Hogg, actor Gabrielle Rose, writer/director Maureen Bradley, actor Gavin Crawford, actor Naomi Snieckus

Described as the first transgender rom-com, Two 4 One follows transgendered Adam (This Hour Has 22 Minutes’ Gavin Crawford) and Miriam (Mr. D’s Naomi Snieckus) as they enjoy an ill-advised one-night stand . . . only to wind up both being pregnant. Gabrielle Rose (The Sweet Hereafter) co-stars.

Check out this Calgary Sun interview about the film, which they describe as having “several clever and hilarious twists.” You can also peruse this VIFF Q&A with Bradley, where she discusses the project’s inspiration, biggest challenges and offers some advice to aspiring directors.

And VIFF BC Spotlight programer Terry McEvoy said this about Two 4 One in this Westender article: “It strains your belief, this idea that this couple gets together and both end up pregnant, but the set-up that she has for it, and the performances in it, are just fantastic.”

Two 4 One plays Oct. 1 at 9:00pm at Vancouver’s classic Rio Theatre and multiplexing it Oct. 3rd at 11:00am at the Cineplex Odeon International Village 8.

Keep up tp date on all things Two 4 One via their Facebook page. And fingers crossed for a Victoria date with this locally-lensed charmer at the Victoria Film Festival!

Writing professor Tim Lilburn earns national honour

Noted poet and Department of Writing professor Tim Lilburn has joined the ranks of Canada’s academic elite after being elected by his peers to become a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. The distinction is Canada’s highest academic honour.

Poet & Writing professor Tim Lilburn

Poet & Writing professor Tim Lilburn (UVic Photo Services)

Lilburn is one of the world’s leading poets and essayists on poetics. His works—including nine books of poetry and two essay collections—help us interpret our relationship to landscapes and their ecologies, and offer paths forward to living ethically within these relationships.

“Place is a version of one’s larger body: where you live shapes you physically, psychically and spiritually,” says Lilburn. “It certainly affects how you write. If you live in a colonial mindset you tend to forget about this link—and, as a result, you forget about an important part of yourself. Poetry is important because it gives us stillness.”

Lilburn’s work has been translated into French, Chinese, Siberian, German, Spanish and Polish, and has been widely anthologized. He gives readings and lectures around the world and is a frequent guest on radio and television. In 2011, he served as a judge for the Griffin Poetry Prize, the world’s largest prize for a single collection of poetry written in, or translated into, English.

Among his many awards, he has been twice nominated for the Governor General’s Award in Literature: first for Tourist to Ecstasy in 1989, and then winning it with 2003’s Kill-site.  As the award jury noted at the time, “Lilburn has dug down to a speech which is like ‘unbearable nudity.’ Everything comes together here: immensity of canvas, ambition of language and line.”

Read more about Lilburn’s reaction to his award in this Times Colonist article.

His most recent book of poetry is Assiniboia (2012)—which you can hear him read a poem from by clicking here.

“I was lucky enough as a poet to grow up in a time of literary resurgence,” says Lilburn. “I’m talking about the great wave in Can Lit that began to build in the late ’60s and rode right through to the late ’90s . . . it seemed at the time that literature was helping to define the national identity. You see a similar thing going on in the literatures of other countries at around the same time—in Nigeria, say, with writers like Achebe, Soyinka and Okigbo. A similar phenomenon occurred in China a few years after the death of Mao.”

When asked about finding inspiration in nature, in the Canada landscape and in a greater sense of our place in the universe, Lilburn is characteristically philosophical. “I think place is a version of one’s larger body: where you live shapes you physically, psychically and spiritually,” he says. “It certainly affects how you write. I think that if you live in a colonial mindset you tend to forget about this link, and as a result, you forget about an important part of yourself.”

Tim Lilburn joins other current and past Faculty of Fine Arts colleagues Mary Kerr, Lorna Crozier, Bill Valgardson, Pat Martin Bates and Jack Hodgins as RSC Fellows.

Also elected as a Fellow this year is UVic History professor Eric Sager—the sixth UVic historian in recent years to join the prestigious academy.

This year’s new Fellows will be inducted to the academies of the RSC during the Induction and Awards Ceremony on November 22 at Fairmont Le Château Frontenac in Quebec City.

A total of 66 UVic scholars, scientists and artists—including current, former and adjunct faculty members—are fellows of the Royal Society of Canada.

Founded in 1882, the Royal Society of Canada comprises the Academies of Arts, Humanities and Sciences of Canada. Its mission is to recognize scholarly, research and artistic excellence, to advise governments and organizations, and to promote a culture of knowledge and innovation in Canada and with other national academies around the world.

New student welcome

Now that classes are back in session, it’s time again for our annual Fine Arts New Student Welcome soiree, where we welcome our first-year students in style.

ice-social_960x540But rather than offer yet another year of pizza, this time around the Fine Arts faculty and staff will be serving something different: ice cream! Yep, we’re throwing an ice cream social—but better still, this Sept 11 event will feature tasty gourmet ice cream sandwiches by Cold Comfort, local purveyor of high-end ice cream yumminess.

ColdComfortRather than just the humdrum likes of vanilla, strawberry and chocolate, Cold Comfort offers ice cream sandwiches with flavours like Vanilla Bean sandwiched between chocolate cookies and Salted Caramel (that’s dairy and gluten-free, no less). We’ll also have a mystery box of random flavours for the more daring ice cream gourmands.

Coastal Giant

Coastal Giant

But there will be more than just ice cream up for grabs. In addition to popcorn and cookies (for those who don’t like chilly treats), we’ll also be featuring the music of local country funk band Coastal Giant.

Come for the food, stay for the fun! The New Student Welcome is always a great chance to connect with Fine Arts faculty and staff in a casual environment. All Fine Arts students, staff and faculty are welcome to join us from 4 to 6pm Thursday, September 11, in the Fine Arts Courtyard.

A September full of events

Now that  university classes are back in session (at least some BC students have returned to school), Fine Arts is also back in action with a full slate of September events. Here’s a chronological list of what’s coming up in the next few weeks—be sure to check back in early October for next month’s lineup.

irontomahawksThe annual Audain Exhibition presents returning Audain Professor Jackson 2Bears and his live cinema/scratch video performance, Iron Tomahawks. Digitally-encoded vinyl records—created in conjunction with specialized software developed by the artist—enable the manipulation of audio/video media in realtime, creating a multimedia performance that simply needs to be seen. Pop in and see the kind of contemporary work our Visual Arts professors are creating.

Iron Tomahawks should be open by Sept 12—they’re just dealing with some technical issues at the moment. Once it opens, it will run 10am-4:30pm Mondays-Fridays through to Sept 26 in the Audain Gallery, found off the main foyer of the Visual Arts building. And it’s free to watch, of course.

TiaCasperPhotoMagicPosterVisual Arts alumna Tia Casper is opening her first exhibit since graduating. Photo Magic offers a series of photographs taken in Las Vegas over 48 hours.These analog, pseudo tourist snapshots show Las Vegas through its lights, signs and grandiose architecture. The images juxtapose the glamour of greed against the detritus and decay of a failing dream. The images are dark, yet the lights shine through to create a parody of what Las Vegas symbolizes.

Photo Magic opens Thursday, Sept 11 and runs to Sept 28 at the Fifty Fifty Arts Collective, 2516 Douglas.

From Thomas Kneubuhler's "Access Denied" series

From Thomas Kneubuhler’s “Access Denied” series

Staying on the visual arts beat, we’ve got the first of the 2014/15 Visiting Artist series—Thomas Kneubuhler. A Swiss-born multimedia artist, Kneubuhler creates work that often deals with social issues and how technology affects people’s lives. His work has been presented in many exhibitions in both Europe and North America. He’s appearing here as part of his participation in Open Space’s Work’PLACE’ exhibit. (Thanks to Open Space for jointly sponsoring his illustrated talk here on campus.)

If you’ve never caught one of the Visiting Artist talks, they’re a great chance to hear about what’s happening in the contemporary art scene around the world. Thomas Kneubuhler appears at 8pm Wednesday, Sept 17, in room A162 of the Visual Arts building. Also free!

Iron Chink imageAs mentioned above, Open Space’s fall exhibit is Work’PLACE’, and it features a number of connections to the Visual Arts department. Work’PLACE’—curated by longtime Visual Arts professor Lynda Gammonuses a variety of strategies to interrogate the rapidly transforming definitions of “work”. Work’PLACE’ features Visual Arts MFA alumnus Dong-Kyoon Nam, previously mentioned Visiting Artist Thomas Kneubuhler, and London’s Tommy Ting, along with a film by Christine Welsh of UVic’s Women’s Studies.

Work’PLACE’ opens 7pm Friday, Sept 19, and continues to Oct 25 at Open Space, 510 Fort. If you’re interested in the ideas behind the art, the exhibit’s Artist’s Talks is at 2pm Saturday, Sept 20.

ReBirth of the Cool_PatrickBoyle9 copyThe School of Music is keeping the “cool” in “school” (but, you know, spelling it correctly) with the first of the season’s Faculty Concert Series: Re-Birth of the Cool. Jazz professor Patrick Boyle is celebrating the 65th anniversary of the iconic Birth of the Cool sessions—featuring Miles Davis, Gil Evans and Gerry Mulligan—by performing innovative arrangements from these classic charts on guitar and trumpet, as well as a duo with Juno Award-winning local trombonist and School of Music professor emeritus Ian McDougall.

Re-Birth of the Cool kicks off at 8pm Saturday, Sept 20, in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall. Tickets are $14 & $18. Can’t make it to the show? Tune in here for a live broadcast of the concert.

Our colleagues at the Legacy Art Galleries are offering a pair of exhibits focusing on Salish art: Perpetual Salish: Contemporary Coast Salish Art from the Salish Weave Collection and Salish Reflection: Coast Salish Art and Artists on Campus.

lessLIE's "wHOle_W(((h)))orl(((d)))"

Art by lessLIE

Perpetual Salish presents a wide range of art forms and ideas, and gallery visitors will gain a better understanding of the cultural and stylistic elements that unify and inspire these contemporary artists in their own artistic practices. Artists featured are Maynard Johnny Jr., lessLIE, John Marston, Susan Point and Dylan Thomas, and the exhibit runs to January 10, 2015.

Meanwhile, Salish Reflection honours Coast Salish artists Chris Paul, Maynard Johnny Jr., and knitters May Sam and the Olsen family (Adam, Joni, and their mother Sylvia), who were all part of UVic’s Artist in Residence Program through the Department of Anthropology between 2011 and 2013. During their three-month residency, they collectively taught students about their own artistic practices as well as aspects of Coast Salish history and contemporary culture.

Chris Paul's "Conservation"

Chris Paul’s “Conservation”

This exhibit illustrates the teaching methodology and experience of students and artists in collaboration along with examples of the artists’ work. (The Artist in Residence Program is facilitated by Dr. Andrea Walsh, who teaches the Anthropology of Art, and the program is supported by donors George and Christiane Smyth.)

All are welcome to join the artists and curators of both exhibits for a reception at 2pm Saturday, Sept 20, at Legacy Downtown, 630 Yates. Light refreshments will be served

You can also hear a curator’s talk with lessLIE at 2pm Saturday, Sept 27, at the Legacy Downtown.

cal_23_event_97334

Sarah Treadwell (top) and West My Friend

A great new project by the School of Music is their Emerging Artist Alumni Series. Not only does it allow recent Music graduates a chance to shine in the spotlight, the Emerging Artist series also offers a fantastic opportunity for students to meet with and learn from young alumni. The first in the series brings together classical and folk traditions in a double-bill of violist Sarah Tradewell and the chamber folk group West My Friend—featuring Eden Oliver, Jeff Poynter and Alex Rempel. 

The Emerging Artist Alumni Series kicks off at 7:30pm Sunday, Sept 21, in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall. Admission is by donation.

WR Faculty reading poster_14If the literary arts are more your style, the Department of Writing is holding its Annual Faculty Reading Night this month. Featuring the words of Carla Funk, Bill Gaston, Kevin Kerr, David Leach, Tim Lilburn, Joan MacLeod and an excerpt of a film by Maureen Bradley, plus grad students Leah Callen, Heather Clark, Danielle Janess, Michael LaPointe and Sam Shelstad, the evening will be hosted by Fine Arts communications honcho and Writing department sessional instructor John Threlfall.

The Annual Faculty Reading Night starts at 7pm Tuesday, Sept 23, in room A240 of the Human & Social Development building. Guess what? It’s also free.

spearin_CAREWORN

Gary Spearin’s “Careworn”

Over the past two decades, the multi-media installations of Ontario-based multimedia artist Gary Spearin have utilized painting both on and off the canvas. A repertoire of painting techniques and styles had been employed to magnify issues of site and context within museums, private and public galleries, public and domestic architecture, and the natural and historic landscape.

Come hear Spearin talk when he’s the next in the Visiting Artist series. That’s at 8pm Wednesday, Sept 24, in room A162 of the Visual Arts building. Yep, it’s free.

Suzanne SnizekAnd you can end your month in harmony thanks to another of the Faculty Concert Series. This time it’s School of Music flute professor Suzanne Snizek performing works by composers Mel Bonis, Charles Koechlin, Kaija Saariaho and J.S. Bach. This concert will also feature School of Music guests, pianist Bruce Vogt and soprano Anne Grimm.

That’s at 2:30 pm Sunday, Sept 28, in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall. Tickets are $18 & $14, and you can tune in here for a live audio webcast.

 

Funny writing secrets revealed

There’s nothing funny about being a writer—although a good writer can make anything seem funny. Just ask Mark Leiren-Young.

Mark Leiren-Young is the latest Southam Lecturer

Mark Leiren-Young is the latest Southam Lecturer

An award-winning author, journalist, playwright, screenwriter and University of Victoria alumnus, Leiren-Young will be focusing on humour writing in his role as the UVic’s 2014 Harvey Stevenson Southam Lecturer in Journalism and Nonfiction. As the first UVic alumnus to hold the Southam position, he will also be teaching in the very Department of Writing from which he graduated—With Distinction—in 1985.

”I’m honoured and thrilled to be returning to UVic,” says Leiren-Young. “Several friends I’m still in touch with from my UVic days have responded to the news by bursting into the theme song from Welcome Back Kotter.”

Leiren-Young is the author of two comic memoirs, Free Magic Secrets Revealed and Never Shoot A Stampede Queen: A Rookie Reporter in the Cariboo. In addition to two other nonfiction books and a number of plays which have been produced throughout North America, Europe and Australia, the Vancouver-based Leiren-Young is also a well-known satirist, half of the comedy duo Local Anxiety and the writer/director of the film The Green Chain. As a journalist, he has written for TIME, Maclean’s, The Hollywood Reporter, Utne Reader and most of Canada’s daily newspapers, and is a regular contributor to The Vancouver Sun, TheTyee, The Georgia Straight and The Walrus. He has also written over a hundred hours of television dramas, documentaries and animated shows.

stampedeHis biggest success, however, may well be Never Shoot A Stampede Queen, which won the 2009 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour. A memoir of his first year working as a journalist at the Williams Lake Tribune, Stampede Queen is being adapted for both film and television and has had two stage productions so far—one of which starred Zachary Stevenson and was directed by TJ Dawe, both fellow UVic Fine Arts alumni. “Stampede Queen pretty much kicks off with me leaving UVic and getting my BFA—recognized in better restaurants worldwide as a ‘waiter’s degree’,” Leiren-Young quips.

His humour-writing course and upcoming public lecture—You Can’t Say That! Comedy, Censorship & Sensitivity—will incorporate not only his own experiences, but also a critical examination of what is funny in the 21st century. Don’t miss Leiren-Young’s free lecture from 6:30-8:30pm Wednesday, Oct 15, in room A240 of UVic’s Human & Social Development building.

FREEMAGIC_cover“It’s a fascinating time to talk about humour, comedy and media,” say Leiren-Young. “We’re living in an age where some comedians are taking facts more seriously than some journalists. When surveys used to report that young people were getting their news from late-night comedy, the implication was that this was a bad thing; today it means they’re better informed than people watching cable news. Comedians know how to deliver a punchline, but we may be laughing at the wrong media figures.”

Leiren-Young is the eighth person to hold the prestigious Southam lectureship, following freelance journalist Tom Hawthorn, Jo-Ann Roberts (CBC’s All Points West), Charles Campbell (Georgia Straight), Sandra Martin (Globe and Mail), Jody Paterson (Times Colonist) and authors Richard Wagamese and Terry Glavin.

The annual Harvey Stevenson Southam lectureship is made possible by a significant gift from one of the country’s leading publishing families. Harvey Southam, a UVic alumnus and journalist, was heir to his family’s publishing empire when he died suddenly in 1991.

Fringe Festival—or Phoenix Festival?

It seems with each passing year, more and more Phoenix Theatre students and alumni are showing up in the annual Victoria Fringe Festival—and this year’s no different. For those who want to bat for the home team, here’s a quick list to those Phoenixers who are acting, writing, directing, designing or managing backstage at the Fringe.

Remember, these are only shows featuring Phoenix students or alumni—there are plenty of other great shows in the Fringe well worth checking out!

I, Claudia
High Wire Theatre

Directed by Joanne James, featuring Nikki Bell, Stage Manager Meaghan Danforth

A one-woman show written by Canadian playwright Kristen Thomson, I, Claudia explores the world of a 12 year old girl struggling through the life of a misfit adolescent. Detailed through the perspective of 4 different characters, including Claudia herself, the script is full of charm, wit, and moments of raw truth outlining the experience of simply “growing up.”

Improv on Trial
Singles Awareness Theatre Company

Written/Created by: Amy Culliford & Blair Moro, featuring Logan Mitev, Hayley McCurdy, Sean Dyer, Markus Spodzieja, Amy Culliford and Blair Moro, with marketing photo by Kate Loomer.

A completely improvised court case in the historic Maritime Museum’s court room. Each night will have a celebrity judge running the court (check the posters around the Fringe to see who our celebrity judges will be).

Kitt & Jane: An Interactive Survival Guide to the Near-Post-Apocalyptic Future
SNAFU
Written/Created by Kathleen Greenfield, Ingrid Hansen with lighting design by Michael Franzmann

From creators of Little Orange Man comes this encore engagement of Kitt & Jane. Two socially-awkward 14-year-olds hijack their school assembly: the apocalypse will occur in five years, and they’re here to train you to survive. A poignant exploration of the world today’s youth are inheriting and what they’re prepared to do about it.

Medicine
BIG SANDWICH PRODUCTIONS
Written/Created by: TJ Dawe

Fringe road dog TJ Dawe (Lucky 9, The Slipknot) returns, with a story about a retreat led by Dr. Gabor Mate, involving the shamanic plant medicine ayahuasca . . . in Victoria. “Probably the best show he has ever brought us” – Edmonton Sun “Cathartic and never less than fascinating” – Now Magazine, Toronto “5 stars – storytelling at its best” – CBC Manitoba

Rope of Sand
WORKINGCLASSTHEATRE
Written/Created by Tristan Bacon (and Alyssa Kostello) featuring Nicholas Yee, Kaeden Derkson, Joanne James, Chase Heibert

Tear gas. Rubber bullets. Revolution. Against the backdrop of Egyptian violence in January 2011, Tracey Stoddard struggles against the age old question of financial security versus following your heart. Fast-paced and dream-like, Rope of Sand takes us on a whirlwind journey from the slick, wet streets of Vancouver to the scorching, arid desert in Egypt.

Tatterhood
KERPLODING THEATRE
Written/Created by Molison Farmer, featuring Kaeden Derksen, Kathleen O Reilly. Designed by Chelsea Graham and Halley Fulford. Stage Management and lights by Imogen Wilson (with music by UVIC music student Simon Dawkin)

Meet Tatterhood: a scraggly goat-riding wild child who must use her gumption to save her sweet and angelic sister from a hoard of trolls! Pick of the Fringe winner Kerploding Theatre brings this age-old folk tale to life with puppetry, live original music, and choreography. “The show delighted everyone in the audience… people young and old.” – Martlet
The Hatter
SPIRED THEATRE
Written/Created by: Andrew Wade

The Hatter is the story of a man trying desperately to get home. (It is also a tea party!) The Hatter has lost his madness, and now he needs your help. Come join in this performance jammed with storytelling, a song, emotional problems, and a chance to be the Jabberwock. With free tea! “4½ stars!” – Saskatoon StarPhoenix

The Princess Rescue Force
NEW BLOOD THEATRE
Written/Created by Robin Gadsby, directed by Kieran Wilson. Design by Chelsea Graham and Simon Farrow. Stage Manager Becca Jorgenson.

Damsels, distress no more. The Princess Rescue Force is here!! Two young recruits set out to earn their tights within this prestigious company of men . . . only to discover that “happily ever after” is hard to find. Dragons have to be slain on the inside; love at first sight makes you question your sexuality; and kissing sleeping beauties is a criminal offense.

The Middle of Everywhere
WONDERHEADS
Written/created by Kate Braidwood (and Andrew Phoenix)

Two strangers. One bus stop. Infinite destinations. WONDERHEADS return with their larger than life masks and a story that bends time and space in a journey of epic proportions! 8-time Best of Fest Winners and creators of Fringe hits Grim & Fischer and Loon: “5 stars—pure magic.” – CBC “5 stars—wonderful, original, beautiful fun.” – Calgary Herald

The New Conformity
IMPLIED INTUITION
Written/Created by: Sean Brossard. Stage Manager Nic Beamish.

The New Conformity is a juggling show displaying contemporary exploration of the ever-evolving conformist trends through juggling. The four-man show entails an entertaining and exciting 45 minutes full of throws, pancakes, rolls, and much more. The story is carefully drawn through the eyes of the characters and their individual reaction to change.

The Rise of Basement Boy
SHANEBOB PRODUCTIONS
Written/Created Markus Spodzieja (and UVic Writing grad Shane Campbell). Featuring Hayley Mccurdy, Jenson Kerr, Francis Melling and Markus Spodzieja. Lighting design by Erin Osborne. Marketing photo by Kate Loomer.

What happens when a nerdy recluse meets the pizza-girl of his dreams? In this musical comedy Archibald Clarkson must brave the real world for the first time or face losing the game of love before he even presses start. It’s going to be an hour of laugher, lyricism, and live action role-playing.

The Stephen Harper Play
THEATRE THEATRE • VICTORIA
Written/Created by Ian Simms featuring Tyler Fowler, Laura Ramoso, LJ Tressider, Elliot Lupini
Francis Melling, Haley Garnett and Ian Simms. Designs by Shayna Ward and Erin Osborne. Stage Manager Jaymee Sidel.

Ever wonder what Stephen Harper does off-camera? We do . . . but we’ll never find that out, so instead we made this play. The Stephen Harper Play re-imagines the scandals and diplomatic decisions of our Prime Minister with some of the most out-there (literally, in the arctic) explanations ever. A lampoon on the man-in-charge as well as our own political ignorance that begs us to answer the question: how well do we know our leader?

Young Frankenstein
St. Michaels University School • VICTORIA
Directed by Cam Culham

Join in on monstrous mania in this contemporary tongue-in-cheek parody of the horror film genre, especially the Mary Shelley classic itself! This is family friendly fun, filled with plenty of lively show tunes, performed by a dynamic company of local teen performers. A musical retelling of the 1974 film classic!

POST-FRINGE:

Peter N’ Chris and the
KINDA OK CORRRAL
PETER N’ CHRIS
ONE NIGHT ONLY!
September 5, 2014
Metro Studio
Written/Created and performed by Chris Wilson and Peter Carlone
Phoenix alumni, dynamic comedy duo, Canadian Comedy Award-winners Peter N’ Chris return to Victoria to perform their newest hit show, where they continue to send up pop culture—this time taking on the classic western!

What is The F Word?

Let’s say right off the top that The F Word is not what you think. Not only is the “F” in question actually “friend”, but The F Word itself is a new movie starring Daniel Radcliffe—yep, he of Harry Potter fame.

poster+The+F+Word+CanadaBut the Fine Arts connection? The F Word is actually the brainchild of a pair of Phoenix Theatre alumni—solo performance guru TJ Dawe and now-Hamilton based actor Michael Rinaldi.

While they didn’t write the screenplay for The F Word, it is based on the 2003 play Toothpaste and Cigars co-written by Dawe and Rinaldi. A romantic comedy about unrequited love, Toothpaste and Cigars was first produced as a 15-minute playlet and was later expanded into a full-length play that toured across Canada.

A tale of unrequited love, The F Word follows Wallace (Radcliffe), a med-school dropout who falls for Chantry, an animator played by American actress Zoe Kazan. Upon meeting, the two develop an immediate connection. But because Chantry has a live-in boyfriend, they become best friends instead.

“I thought they were really true to the spirit of the original,” Dawe told Michael Reid of the local Times Colonist newspaper in this article. “For it to be made at all, and as  Canadian film, is a miracle.”

“I thought they were really true to the spirit of the original,” – See more at: http://www.timescolonist.com/university-of-victoria-grads-play-inspires-hollywood-film-1.1324032#sthash.c98DT5Nq.dpuf

“I loved the movie,” said Dawe. “For it to be made at all, and as a Canadian film, is a miracle.”

“I thought they were really true to the spirit of the original,”

– See more at: http://www.timescolonist.com/university-of-victoria-grads-play-inspires-hollywood-film-1.1324032#sthash.c98DT5Nq.dpuf

Michael Rinaldi

Michael Rinaldi

For his part, Rinaldi has kind words for the film’s star, describing Radcliffe in this CBC article as “funny and humble,” saying he’s “perfect” for the role of Wallace—which was originally the part Rinaldi played in Toothpaste and Cigars.

“I had been told…that he’s really self-effacing,” Rinaldi told the CBC. “That’s still my default and that’s how the character was written—to be really self-deprecating and undercutting himself all the time.”

It’s been a 10-year journey for the transformation of Toothpaste and Cigars into The F Word, now directed by Calgary-raised director Michael Dowse, whose credits include the rock & roll mockumentary FUBAR and hilarious DJ lifestyle spoof, It’s All Gone Pete Tong.

TJ Dawe

TJ Dawe

Dawes & Rinaldi were approached with a development deal for their script in 2007, which started a bit of a “will it or won’t it” roller coaster ride for the project. In 2008, the script started generating Hollywood buzz with indie-film biggie Fox Searchlight picking it up and, in 2010, enlisting actor Casey Affleck for the lead role. Cue the typical Hollywood scenario, however, as Searchlight dropped Affleck and then pulled out of the project themselves.

Radcliffe and Kazan in The F Word

Radcliffe and Kazan in The F Word

But then it morphed back into a Canadian project, with Dowse as director and Daniel Radcliffe onboard. “Suddenly, with a star like that, there’s all this interest in distribution,” Rinaldi told CBC. “I guess that’s how it works.”

Beyond their initial work expanding the world of the play with screenwriter Elan Mastai, Rinaldi and Dawes had little creative input on the film project. They did get to visit the set and meet Radcliffe in September 2012, however, before The F Word debuted to strong reviews at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.

what_if_movie_posterNow it opens across Canada on Friday, August 22—although it will be opening under a different name in the United States where, surprisingly, having any “F” word seems to be an issue. The film is being called What If? in America.

Here in Victoria, the timing is good for the film’s release—as TJ Dawe is back in town with his most recent 5-star solo show Medicine at the Victoria Fringe Festival. Medicine, a story about a retreat led by Dr. Gabor Mate and involving the shamanic plant medicine ayahuasca, runs August 25 to 31 at Langham Court Theatre.

So, if you’re one of the people who can say “I saw it when it was just Toothpaste and Cigars“, you can have a Dawes double-bill with the movie and his Fringe show.

Interesting side-note: Dawes also directed and dramaturged fellow Fine Arts alumnus Mark Leiren-Young award-winning memoir Never Shoot a Stampede Queen into a solo show starring another Phoenix alum, Zachary Stevenson.