On Stage: From Chemainus to the Cosmos

UNO Fest, GVPA Fest, baroque and Newcombe Singers

You’ll get more than you bargained for at Kim’s Convenience at the Chemainus Theatre this month. Sitcom comedy and snappy one-liners mix with light doses of sentimentality and social commentary, making this play engaging on more levels than one. The critically acclaimed smash-hit debut by celebrated Canadian actor, playwright, and poet Ins Choi is both hysterically funny and deeply moving.

Join us at Chemainus Theatre Festival April 27 to May 26, 2018 for this funny and heartwarming story of family and community. Tickets are available at 1-800-565-7738 or online at chemainustheatre.ca.

Kim’s Convenience debuted at the 2011 Toronto Fringe Festival, where it won the Best New Play award. Written by celebrated Canadian actor, playwright, and poet Ins Choi, he also directed the play and acted the part of Jung in the debut production. Soulpepper Theatre produced Kim’s Convenience in 2012, it became the most commercially successful production in the company’s entire history, winning two Toronto Theatre Critics Award for Best Actor and best Canadian play. It has since become a ground breaking CBC TV series.

Although the story utilizes Korean culture and language for some of the jokes, one could change the cultural specifics and this family’s story could be from any ethnic community. What is universal in the story, are the challenges of conflict between generations and navigating a changing society. Choi is quick to remind audiences that this is a Canadian show “made in Canada, fully funded by Canadian money. In the end, this is a show about a family. That’s who people will fall in love with.”

Delivering amusing folk wisdom, quizzical Korean trivia, and touching on themes of immigrant experience, change, and generational conflict, Kim’s Convenience is as poignant as it is humorous. It breaks through boundaries and explores some universal truths in a way that brings the powerful combination of both laughter and learning to the audience.

Writing the conflict and heart of this story with a light hand and sharp wit, Choi shares the rich Korean culture of which he is proud, while addressing themes we all face in family life. Language jokes abound, along with some slapstick and situational comedy, easing us into an exploration of cultural and family issues, and oft unspoken assumptions about one another.

Appa and Umma speak to each other in Korean, treating one another with tenderness and humour as they lead their little family toward the future while forgiving the past. Janet and Jung speak English, asserting themselves with the sharp wit of youth who identify with two cultures. What comes of it all are hysterically funny jokes and comedic situations which help the audience to more comfortably question our assumptions of stereotypes, immigrant experience and family conflict.

Is it the duty of the next generation to repay the sacrifices made by their parents? Is the point of immigrating to give the next generation the opportunity to find their own happiness? With a light touch, humour, and warmth, playwright Ins Choi keeps the laughs rolling even while the complicated characters work through conflict to answer these questions.

Bringing the hilarity to life for this production of Kim’s Convenience are: James (Jimmy) Yi as the fiery and proud Appa; Susan Hanson bringing quiet warmth to the role of Umma; Agnes Tong playing artistic daughter Janet; John Han brings poignancy and laughs as prodigal son Jung, and Michael Clarke plays the amusing array of characters.

Rounding out the creative team are Director Mark DuMez, Set Designer Craig Alfredson, Associate Set Designer Coralee Draginda, Costume Designer Michelle Lieffertz, Lighting Designer Nicole Lamb, Sound Designer John Han, and Stage Manager Lois Dawson, Apprentice Stage Manager Becca Jorgensen. Matinee and evening shows for all ages run April 27 to May 26.

Bob McDonald, CBC’s science guru, with Jenny Vincent on the organ take the audience on adventures in space through universes beyond our own, with informative and entertaining narratives interspersed with music in Cosmic Odyssey. Punched with outstanding visuals on large screens, this show is not to be missed.

Cosmic Odyssey is Saturday, April 28, First Metropolitan United Church, 932 Balmoral Rd. at 7 p.m. Tickets are $35 at the McPherson Box Office (250-386-6121, toll-free 1-888-717-6121, online www.rmts.bc.ca), Munro’s Books (250-382-2464), Ivy’s Bookshop (250-598-2713) and Tanner’s Books in Sidney (250-656-2345).

A walking tour, documentary footage and Irish dancing – Intrepid Theatre’s UNO Fest, a solo performance festival returns for year 21, May 9 – 19. This 11-day festival is chock-full of fearless artists, daring stories, solo audience encounters, slam parties, and hands down heroic performances.

This year’s festival features a Spotlight on Indigenous Women’s Voices and Guest Indigenous Curator Yolanda Bonnell; two Theatre for Young Audience shows in a new Family Fest Series, presented in partnership with Kaleidsocope Theatre for Young People; immersive site-specific shows where the audience becomes the performer in a one-on-one encounter; and the first UNO Fest show from Ireland.

UNO Fest is a curated festival widely recognized for launching new performance. With shows hailing from

Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Charlottetown, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Dublin, the 2018 program features 17 shows that push the boundaries of and run the gamut of performance styles from a classical piano concert turned comedy show to a feminist re-visioning of James Bond through a mash-up of dance and storytelling.

The 2018 UNO Fest is curated by Intrepid Theatre’s Executive Director, Heather Lindsay. “UNO Fest pushes boundaries and reimagines the possibilities of what solo performance can be – and this year’s festival is no exception. UNO celebrates artists who explore new terrain, take creative risks and are consistently enlightening audiences with the power of story & invention.

These artists provide a snapshot of contemporary performance and are the inspiring voices of the now,” says Lindsay.

UNO Fest highlights include:

Three shows that explore land rights, pipelines, intergenerational trauma, and alienation are part of the Spotlight on Indigenous Women’s Voices. Broadleaf Theatre’s The Chemical Valley Project, a critic’s pick at SummerWorks 2017 combines documentary theatre with projection design to tell the story of

LANDLINE is a new kind of theatre that takes place in two places at once. The audience member becomes the performer as they converse in real time via text message with a stranger in Halifax. This “show” is an intimate solo walking tour, and a curious exposure to the feeling of being alone, together. Presented in partnership with the Halifax Fringe Festival.

Intrepid Theatre believes that the arts should be accessible to all and offers its Cheap Thrills initiative with “pay-what-you-can” tickets to opening night performances at the festival.

Intrepid Theatre’s 21st UNO Fest runs May 9 to 19 at The Metro Studio, Intrepid Theatre Club and more. Multiple ticket options available, visit intrepidtheatre.com or in person at Ticket Rocket, #101-804 Broughton St.

“Home” is the concept around which the Newcombe Singers have built their upcoming spring concert. Concepts as diverse as a miner’s cabin to the cosmos are included in the notion of home. British composers William Byrd’s “Ascendit Deus” and Gerald Finzi’s “God is Gone Up” celebrate the bodily Ascension of Christ from earth to his heavenly home. Two African American spirituals – Steal Away and Goin’ Home – present death as a home coming for the weary soul. Felix Mendelssohn’s setting of the liturgical “Nunc Dimittis” used in the Vespers and Compline services presents home as rest at the end of the day (or of life.)

Home is not just a spiritual destination. The song of the Hebrew slaves from Verdi’s Nabucco was pivotal in the campaign to unify Italy into a country. Heading home can be an eagerly anticipated return to the Scottish Hebrides on the “Road to the Isles”, “Westering Home” to Islay; or the pain of leaving “Innsbruck”, Austria. Home can be in the mountains, “The Hills of Home”, or on the plains, “Home on the Range”.

The repertoire is drawn from composers of the Renaissance to two writing in this Century. With a balance of both sacred and secular themes, singing in four languages, this is a program of broad appeal to a Spring audience on Mothers’ Day afternoon.

Going Home is Sunday, May 13 at 2:30 p.m. at The Church of St Mary the Virgin, 1701 Elgin Rd.

Tickets are $15 advance from members, onine, and at Ivy’s Bookshop or $20 at the door. Children under 12 free. Visit http:newcombesingers.com for more.

Now in its 91st year, the Greater Victoria Performing Arts Festival still provides an opportunity for Victoria-area students to be adjudicated by renowned experts in the arts.

For six weeks, during April and May, talented young people and adults perform on stages throughout the city in 16 disciplines: brass, classical guitar, choral, composition, dance (school and studio), ethnic dance, fiddle, musical theatre, piano, school bands, school orchestras, speech and dramatic arts, strings, voice and woodwinds. The highlights concerts showcase this amazing talent. The public is invited to attend these adjudicated sessions and Highlights Concerts, to support our performers and enjoy the many outstanding performances. A detailed listing of these sessions and of their participants is available at www.gvpaf.org. This year too, the GVPAF association is excited to announce that Victoria was chosen to host the Provincial Festival for 2018, which follows our festival later in May and will be held at various venues around the city.

Celebrated chant masters Deva Premal & Miten with Manose, accompanied by Joby Baker and Rishi, perform May 11 at the University of Victoria.

Deva Premal & Miten have traveled the world for 20 years, sharing the healing power of mantras. The unique blend of Deva’s voice, the ancient Sanskrit chants, Miten’s soulful songs and Manose’s sacred flute offers audiences an evening of peace and transformation.

“Mantras are such a powerful force. We’ve seen so many people — us included — become spiritually rejuvenated as a result of chanting them. Personally, the dusty cobwebs and darker corners of my life have been washed clean by the mantras,” says Miten. The concerts are known for their transformational and healing effect. Their voices, their music and not least the communal chanting inspire a meeting of body, mind and spirit.

“For me, the greatest gift of chanting is that it brings a deep relaxation into my busy mind. In Sanskrit, ‘man’ means mind and ‘tra’ means to be free from, so ‘mantra’ is literally a way to free the mind. This has been the essence of my journey with meditation,” says Premal.

Nepalese bansuri maestro, Manose – acknowledged as among the world’s best – accompanies as always Deva Premal & Miten both on flute, vocals and various instruments, including ukulele.

The Soulf of Mantra live tour is augmented by Canadian Joby Baker on bass, vocals and keyboards and Danish percussionist, Rishi. Together, this unique ensemble serves as a musical bridge to experiencing the Soul of Mantra. Deva: “This planet is definitely shaking and trembling right now. It is an amazing moment to be alive because it is becoming very clear that we cannot expect peace to be delivered from outside – we have to find it within. For me, the mantras are a gateway to inner peace and to a deeper acceptance – and my joy is to share them.”

Visit DevaPremalMiten.com for a taste of the music. Get tickets at tickets.uvic.ca or 250-721-8480.

The Sooke Philharmonic’s next event is the 13th Annual Don Chrysler Concerto Competition for Young Musicians, on Saturday, April 21 at 7 p.m.

The competition is at the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall, University of Victoria, with free admission (donations appreciated). Audience members will each receive an Audience Choice ballot to vote for their favourite performers.

Visit www.sookephil.ca or facebook.com/sooke.philharmonic for more.

Victoria Baroque presents Trumpets Shall Sound, a celebration of music featuring baroque trumpet. The programme includes works by Handel, Telemann, Purcell and Biber. This grand event, at times with nineteen musicians on the concert stage, will include baroque trumpets, horns, oboes, flute, bassoon, strings and harpsichord. The concert is Friday, May 18 at 7:30 p.m. in the Church of St John the Divine, 1611 Quadra St.

Hailing from the UK, guest artist trumpet player Simon Munday exhibits rare versatility, equally at home as a soloist with baroque orchestras such as The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment or The Academy of Ancient Music as he is making regular appearances on the West End of London and touring with Peter Gabriel. As with many talented and successful brass players, Simon began his career with the Salvation Army. A scholarship-awarded graduate from the Royal College of Music, Simon now performs extensively in the UK and abroad and teaches at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Victoria Baroque is Vancouver Island’s only home grown, professional period instrument ensemble. Now in their seventh season, Victoria Baroque brings together early music specialists from Vancouver Island and beyond for explorations of chamber, orchestral, vocal and choral works. Playing on instruments of the 18th century, the ensemble brings audiences closer to the sound world of the period, embracing the dance-driven rhythmic vitality, as well as the lyrical and conversational aspects of baroque music.

Whether new to Baroque music or already an enthusiast, concert goers prepare themselves for a joyous evening balancing plebeian exuberance with royal dignity. The concert programme ranges from the famous – Handel’s Water Music Suites – to the exotic – two Sonatas from Biber’s Sonatae tam aris quam aulis servientes (‘Sonatas as much for the altar as for the table’).

More information: victoria-baroque.com, email victoria-baroque@shaw.ca or call 250-590-9770.


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