Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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Deep Into Darkness

On Friday, my friend Alicia and I went to the theatre. But it wasn’t just your average play. Described as an “immersive theatre experience” going into the mind of Edgar Allan Poe, Deep Into Darkness starts with some instructions from cast members in the area of the theatre where you’d usually gather during intermission:

  • audience members all wear white masks while in the theatre and must remain silent
  • once inside, you can roam around the theatre, exploring any room you like (except for any door that says “Do Not Enter)
  • you can touch anything you want – and are encouraged to riffle through drawers, read books, open containers – as long as you leave everything exactly where you found it
  • crew members wear black masks and if they touch you on the shoulder and move you from where you are, follow their instructions (because basically you are going to be in the way of something an actor is about to do)
  • a performer may extend their hand to invite you into a scene with them – you can accept the offer if you like, or cross your hands over your chest to signify that you would like to be left alone

And then you enter the theatre and your experience begins.

Creepy white mask

The logistics of the experience are pretty easy to explain (as above), but trying to explain the show is… difficult. There are a number of different rooms that all have a gothic sort of feel to them. One room is a bar that looks like a brawl has taken place. Another is a living room, another has a dining table. There’s a nursery, a bedroom, an outdoor shed, and various other creepy settings in rooms and hallways throughout the building. The performers move about these various spaces performing various scenes. You are free to follow a character around, or just go exploring to see what scene is happening in another place. It’s hard to really explain what the scenes were – some were fights, some were erotic, some were both, and some were quite mundane – like a woman giving a man a shave, or a women very, very slowly tearing a piece of paper. I honestly don’t know who all the characters were supposed to be and there’s no clear narrative. Also, none of the actors say a word – although they do groan, scream, and laugh maniacally. I read a few reviews to see if there was some obvious plot that I was missing, but there was not. The term “fever dream” was probably the best descriptor I’ve seen used to describe the show.

And while not having a plot, dialogue, or any real sense of who the characters were might make it sound pointless, it actually was a very cool experience. To me, I think the show was more about the feelings you got as an audience member experiencing a performance in a very different way. Some of my take homes from this were:

  • No two audience members saw the same show. Because while you were in one scene, several other scenes were happening in other rooms that you weren’t seeing. There were characters I saw over and over again in different scenes, but then like an hour and a half into the show I’d see a new character and think “who is that?” But they would have been doing scenes all evening in different rooms that I didn’t happen to be in.
  • There was an entire section of that I never saw and only found out about after the show when I talked to Alicia. “Did you go in the basement with all the tiny rooms?” she asked. I never even saw the stairway to the basement! It was kind of miffed that I missed out on seeing that part, but I had also been thinking about how you have to accept that there was no way you could have seen everything, because you can’t be in all the places at once!
  • There was an intimacy between the actors and the audience in a way that you don’t usually get at the theatre. At one point, an actor sat down at a writing desk to write in a book and I stood right behind him and looked over his shoulder to see what he was writing. Later another man sat at the same desk, wrote on a piece of paper, tore it in half and handed half to me and half to another audience member.
  • There was another scene in a very narrow hallway where there were audience members on both sides of the actors and everyone was crowded around to see – it was almost claustrophobic it was so tight.
  • Other audience members also became part of the performance, whether because an actor engaged them in some way or because they just walked through a scene you were watching. At various point, audience members just sat down on a couch or chair that was right in a middle of a scene to watch it, so if you were watching from the side of the room, you would be watching them too.
  • At one point an actor took an audience member by the hand and led her into a room with a crucifix on the door and closed the door. When the audience member’s friend tried to follow, a crew member blocked the door and wouldn’t let them in. They were in the room for like 5 minutes – I’m super curious about what happened in there!

All in all, I’d have to say that I quite enjoyed the show. But I’m like the worst theatre reviewer ever, because the show ends tomorrow so unless you happen to already have a ticket, you won’t get to see it. #WorstTheatreReviewerEver

Also, before the show, Alicia and I were chatting with a couple whose daughter was one of the performers. The man suggested that we should read about Poe’s life, as he was totally crazy (Poe, not the man we were chatting with). But he also said he thought Poe was writing in the 1960s and I was like “I think more like the 1860s”, so then I totally decided to look it up after the show. According to Wikipedia, Poe was born in 1809 and died when he was only 40 years old! Other interesting facts include:

  • he was born Edgar Poe but was taken in by John and Frances Allan when he was two, as his father had abandoned the family the year after he was born and his mom died the next year
  • he married his 13 year old cousin when he was 27; she died of tuberculous 11 years later
  • the cause of Poe’s death is a mystery. Apparently he was found delirious, walking the streets of Baltimore. He was “not coherent enough to explain how he came to be in his dire condition and, oddly, was wearing clothes that were not his own. He is said to have repeatedly called out the name “Reynolds” on the night before his death, though it is unclear to whom he was referring.” (source). He was taken to the hospital, and died there a few days later. All the medical records of this, including his death certificate, were lost.

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On the third day of donating…

This semester I taught a program planning and evaluation class at SFU and the main assignment was for the students to work with a non-profit organization to develop an evaluation plan that the organization can use. So I figure I will highlight the five nonprofits that we worked with as part of my course.

First up is the Arts Council of New Westminster. You may recall the ACNW from such things as me being on their board of directors for a few years. The Arts Council is so integrated in the community that they have a hand in pretty much ever event that happens in the city. Fridays on Front Street, New West Craft, Music by the River, Uptown Unplugged, the Cultural Crawl, etc., etc., etc.!

Bringing Community Together Through the Arts

ACNW Tagline

In recognition of the great work that the Arts Council does, both the Executive Director, Stephen O’Shea, and the President, Leanne Ewen, won Platinum Awards1 , this year. Stephen won Citizen of the Year and Leanne won the Bernie Legge Cultural/Artist of the Year award!

  1. For those of you not from New West, the Platinum Awards are given out by the New West Chamber of Commerce and are kind of a big deal. []

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NaBloPoMo – Day 26 – Happy 50th Birthday to the Arts Council of New Westminster

Today was the Annual General Meeting of the Arts Council of New Westminster, followed by its 50th birthday party! For the past 50 years, the ACNW has been bringing community of New Westminster together through the arts and I’m proud to have been a small part of that.

Name tag. Arts Council of New Westminster

I joined the board of ACNW back in June 2014, at the encouragement of my friend, Tig. It was shortly after I finished my MBA and it gave me my first experience of being on a board of directors. For the past year, I served as the secretary on the board. I got to work with a fabulous group of people, got to contribute to an organization that supports artists in the community and runs many of the amazing events that makes New West such a cool place to be. I learned a lot, made some great friends, and am proud of what we’ve accomplished over this time. I made the tough decision to step down from the board after 3+ years – with my day job getting busier and busier and my new role on CESBCY, I felt like I should not spread myself too thin and that it was a good time to make way for some new blood on the Arts Council board. I will continue to be a supporter of the ACNW, but now as a cheerleader on the side rather than as a member of the board. Looking forward to seeing what amazing things the ACNW does in the next 50 years!

Happy birthday, ACNW and thank you to all the artists, art enthusiasts, donors, staff, volunteers, board members, and ACNW members who make it all possible!

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Who Wants To Go To A Fundraiser?

The Arts Council of New Westminster1 is having a fundraiser next week and you’re invited!

When: Tuesday, February 23, 2016 from 6:00 PM – 10:00 PM (you don’t have to be there right at 6 –  you can show up anytime between 6 and 10 pm)

Where: MATCH Eatery & Public House (at Starlight Casino – New Westminster, 350 Gifford Street, New Westminster

What: Ticket includes Burger and Beer (or wine)

Join us for an celebration of the arts including a silent auction, live painting from local artists Danielle Bobier and Pierre Kaufman, music created by local musician, HARGOW. (Wes Koopmans), and visual projections by local artist Tetsuomi Anzai.  Funds raised at this event will be used to bolster the delivery of our outreach and education programs, including ArtsToGo and LitFest NewWest.

How:

LIMITED AVAILABILITY. ONLY 60 TICKETS AVAILABLE!
Tickets are $25 (+ $2.11 Eventbrite Fees)
TICKETS WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE AT THE DOOR. PURCHASE IN ADVANCE.

Go to EventBrite to get your ticket!

  1. Full disclosure: I’m on the board of the Arts Council. []

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Paint Nite – Take 2

Remember that time I did a Paint Nite with Cath? Well, I also did a paint night with my friend Amy way back in the old timely days of October! Here’s the painting we were trying to paint – a heron sitting on a hill:

Paint Nite with Amy

My hero turned out to look more like a duck, but I’m OK with a duck on a hill:

Paint Nite with Amy

I don’t really love my clouds, but overall I’m happy enough with the painting that I’ll hang it up (once I figure out which wall I want to hang it on!)

Amy was unhappy with her initial attempt at the heron, so she painted over it making the hill bigger and did another heron!

And here are Amy and I with our masterpieces!

Paint Nite with Amy

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I bought some stuff to hang on my walls

I’ve been looking for something to hang on one of my living room walls for a while, but I hadn’t been able to find something I liked that was big enough to put on this big empty wall, with the exception of a $2200 piece that I saw at Granville Island, but I just couldn’t justify that much money on a thing to look at1. The other day, however, I was browsing at my favourite consignment store, Champagne Taste2, and I came across this:

Silver art

It’s paint on canvas and it’s just big enough to justify going on my big empty living room wall.

Then this other piece – a print on canvas – caught my eye, mostly because I thought it would look good above my awesome purple chair:

John Seba - Pink Magnolias I

Right now it’s by my Christmas tree, but in January when the tree comes down, it will be directly above the chair. Unlike the silver one, where I have no idea who the artist was, this purple one came with the artist’s name – John Seba – and the artwork’s name – Pink Magnolias I – so I was able to Google it and find out what the original owner would have paid for this: $166.99. What I paid for it: $183 Since I have no idea where the silver one came from4, I have no idea what it’s value is, but I paid $255 for it, and I think that’s a pretty good deal.

  1. Clearly, I am not a sophisticated art connoisseur. []
  2. I.e., the place I got my awesome purple chair. Also, I have no affiliation with these guys – just love the stuff they sell! []
  3. Champagne Taste was having a tax-free sale, plus it had been marked down 40%. []
  4. It has the initials “RMA” on it, along with what kind of looks like a single triangle with a circle above it before the initials, but I can’t figure out who that is! []
  5. Also marked down 40% and tax-free []

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LitFest New West – Call for Workshop Proposals

LitFest New West – an “annual literary arts festival presented by The Arts Council of New Westminster1, Royal City Literary Arts Society, New Westminster Public Library and Douglas College” – has just put out their call for workshop proposals!

They are looking for proposals that are:

centred on writing and/or reading as they relate to the following subjects:

  • Panel discussions
  • Current events
  • Editing
  • Food & beverage
  • Genre (e.g. mystery, humour, fantasy)
  • Memoir & history
  • Poetry
  • Reading (the art of)
  • Song writing
  • Spirituality
  • Storytelling
  • Travel
  • The business of writing (e.g. publishing, social media, fundraising)
  • Minority perspectives & approaches to the craft
  • Children’s literature (e.g. writing, presenting)

Check out the full call for proposals here. The deadline is Feb 15, 2016.

  1. Full disclosure: I’m on the board of directors of ACNW []

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Beer & Bling Report

Thursday night a few friends and I went to Beer & Bling, an event held at Working Silver, a silversmithing shop, where local jewelry makers were selling their wares while sampling some fine Steel & Oak beer, with beer proceeds going to the Arts Council of New Westminster 1. And I have to say that the turnout was great, both the beer and the jewelry were excellent, and it appeared that lots of both were being sold!
My friend Heather stopped by on her way to dance class, my friends Kim and Cath came in from Vancouver (with poor Cath making an accidental side trip to Surrey because she was on an Expo Line instead of a Millennium Line train2.) and my friend Erin came over from Surrey. Cath did the lion’s share of her Christmas shopping, Kim did a mix of shopping for gifts for others and gifts for herself, and I bought one gift for someone else and a few things for me, and Erin got herself a ring plus a bunch of business cards so she can go check out the artists websites and spend some time deciding what to buy3

I can’t show you what I bought as a present lest the recipient be tipped off, but I can show you what I got for myself!

First I got myself a Christmas tree ornament:

Christmas tree ornament 2015
It a Christmas tree to hang on the Christmas tree. Meta-Christmas, if you will.

And I also treated myself to this necklace and these earrings:

Earrings and necklace

They kind of look like (a) you could do some serious damage with them in a street fight and (b) you could use them to ask Scotty to beam you up.

  1. Full disclosure: I’m on the board of the Arts Council. []
  2. For those of you not from the Vancouver area, the Expo Line and the Millennium Line run the exact same route from Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver until they get to Columbia Station in New Westminster, at which point Millennium Line loops through New West and Burnaby, and back to Vancouver, whereas Expo Line crosses the river into Surrey. If you are Skytraining just within Vancouver and Burnaby, you don’t need to pay attention to which train you get on, so many a Vancouverite who ventures out into the ‘burbs has found themselves on the wrong Skytrain thinking “omg! Why are we going over a bridge???” []
  3. I don’t think Heather got anything, but I could be wrong. []

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Beer & Bling

I’m stealing this directly off the website of Working Silver, a silversmith who offer silversmithing supplies, classes, and silver jewelry for sale. They are having a Christmas shopping night that is paired with beer drinking, which is also a fundraiser for the Arts Council of New Westminster, a nonprofit organization of which I’m on the board of directors. You should check it out!

BEER & BLING Christmas Shopping Night!

Dec 10th 5-10pm

Sample Craft Beer made by our friends at Steel & Oak and do your Christmas Shopping at the Arts council LOGO same time!  Hand made sterling silver jewellery by local artisans, Jewellery making Classes, and Gift Certificates make wonderful Christmas gifts!!

At the Workingsilver store and teaching studio, we are all about hand made sterling silver jewellery and supporting local artisans.  Partial proceeds from the Beer Tasting will go to the New Westminster Arts Council.

Workingsilver: 131 E Columbia Street, New Westminster

  • Driving: 5 minutes from Hwy 1.  FREE off street parking available behind the building for this event
  • Walking:  5 minute walk from the Sapperton SkyTrain Station
  • Free Parking available behind building after 6pm

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OMG, it’s December tomorrow

So, it’s December tomorrow. How, exactly, did that happen? Wasn’t it January just like 5 minutes ago? Looking at my calendar for the next month, I see that December will also be flying by, because I have an insane amount of things in my calendar, including:

Plus a variety of other meet ups with people I haven’t seen in ages and, you know, Christmas and New Year’s! Let the festivities begin!

  1. This is how you can tell that the 12 Bars of Christmas crowd has gotten old. []
  2. Where DDG = Drinks/Dinner with Dr. Girls – where me and my PhD grad school buddies get together to catch up []