Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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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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What Have I Been Doing for the Past Month – a bulleted list

So now that I’m done making excuses for my prolonged absence from the blogosphere, here’s a brain dump of all the things I’ve thought “I should blog about that!” in the last month:

  • I did, in fact, have that belated birthday party I talked about having. I decided that since I celebrate Bethmas Eve, Bethmas, and Bething Day, it only makes sense that if I have a party after my actual birthday, it’s Orthodox Bethmas. The party was fantastic, if I do say so myself. I’m so lucky that I have so many wonderful friends and I love it that even though lots of my friends don’t know each other, everyone enjoys chatting and making new friends with my other friends. There’s also some of my friends that only know some of my other friends from having met at my various birthday parties over the years, so they get to catch up – lol! I also discovered that two of my very close friends, each of whom I have known for well over a decade, have never actually met each other! They seem to have just not had their paths cross before – even when they’ve both been able to make it to one of my parties, for example, one of them had come early and the other hadn’t come until later, after the other one had left. 
  • Rather than doing an elaborate house drink for my birthday party, which I often do because I love mixing cocktails, I decided to go with the simple Moscow Mule. This choice may have also been influenced by the fact that I had a bottle of ginger liqueur that I bought in Portland ages ago with the intention of using it to make Moscow Mules but hadn’t. At any rate, they were very popular.
  • Dr. Dan, and his grad student, Nic, visited for a while. It was great to see them, as always (I only wished I could have spent more time hanging out!). They got to come to my birthday, which was awesome, and Dr. Dan even guest lectured in my class at the JI!
  • I completely blew my weightlifting personal record (PR) that I set on my birthday out of the water. As you may recall, on my birthday, I back squatted 77.5 kg (171 lbs). By the time that particular program ended two weeks later, I back squatted 85 kg (187 lbs)! I also set PRs for trapbar deadlift (100 kg or 220 lbs!) and what I think are PRs for bench press (42.5 kg or 94 lbs) and barbell overhead press (26 kg or 57 lbs), but I’d have to look back at all my old programs to be sure.
  • We had a full day planning meeting for the Canadian Evaluation Society BC chapter executive last weekend and I have to say, I’m really lucky to work with such a dedicated and creative group of people. We’ve got lots of exciting plans for this year!
  • Work is crazy, as always. And that’s probably enough said about that!
  • On Thursday, my friend Alicia took me to see a performance of Much Ado About Nothing by an all female cast at the Cultch. It was hilarious! I’ve never seen or read Much Ado About Nothing before, so it was fun to get to see it without knowing what was going to happen. All of the actors were brilliant and the venue is so intimate – it’s quite a different experience than seeing places up on a tradition stage in a big theatre. It’s running until Feb 16 – if you can, I highly recommend you go see it!

How much better is it to weep at joy than to joy at weeping!

Leonato, Much Ado About Nothing
  • In nine days, Scott and I head to Palm Springs for week. Given that the forecast for Vancouver for the next two weeks is highs around 0 degrees, I think that the Palm Springs forecast of highs in the teens sound pretty appealing. We are flying Swoop from Abbotsford to Vegas and then driving from there (because cheapness). It will be really nice to get a little bit of break (where by “break” I mean “doing course prep pool side rather than wrapped in blankets in my condo”)

Anyhoo, I guess this has been enough of a break for today – time to get back to my marking!

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Theatre Goer

Apparently I’m really into theatre all of the sudden, as last night I saw Red Rock Diner at the Arts Club Granville Island Stage.

Here the trailer:

The show was great – great music performed by an incredibly talented cast. I am always in awe of people who can sing (and boy, could these guys sing), but then to throw in super energetic dancing pretty much non-stop for 2 hours – well, I just have no idea how that is humanly possible.

*spoiler alert* {Don’t read any further if you don’t want to read spoilers!}

To say that this was a play about “five teens coming of age” is a bit of a stretch. The first half was basically a radio show – song after song after song, punctuated by Red Robinson’s crazy radio antics. Then the second half was a high school talent competition hosted by Red Robinson and in which, you guessed it, there was song after song. That is to say, there was pretty much no actual plot, let alone one about anybody coming of age. This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy it – it was very entertaining and, as I said, the cast was super talented, which was totally worth watching on its own. But perhaps they could do a better job of their description of the play.

There was some added excitement in the second half where they dragged people up on the stage to join them in their dancing. And can you guess who was the very first person they pulled up on stage for some dancing? That’s right – me! And I am nothing if not an attention whore, so I had no problem with it, though the little girl who got dragged up on the stage next looked like she wanted to be anywhere by on that stage. I’m pretty sure that they chose me because I was wearing my fabulous red dress that I bought in London as it’s not the first time that I was chosen by performers to join them on stage for some dancing while wearing that dress. Actually, now that I look at those photos from Ireland, I see that I was also wearing that dress when I got voluntold to be an whiskey tester at the Jameison factory. I think we can conclude that this dress is an attention getter. Because I have three replications. Hooray for science!

Wait, where was I? Oh yeah – the show. It was tonnes of fun and I totally recommend you go there1. Apparently they extended the show, so it’s now running until August 23.

The audience was told that we weren’t allowed to take photos during the show, but in the but that we’d be able to get photos of the show off their website. However, when I went to the Arts Club website to look at them, I found the link to their Flickr account and all of the photos are up as “all rights reserved”, rather than as a Creative Commons license, so I can’t legally use any of them on this posting. Instead you’ll just have to read my words and then you can go look at their photos on Flickr if you like.

  1. As per usual, I have no affiliation with the theatre company – just recommending it because I like it. []

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All Things Hockey

Item the First: this, my friends, is a toddler hockey brawl:

more about “LiveLeak.com – Toddler hockey brawl“, posted with vodpod

It’s so very wrong, yet so adorable.  I would so love to see a couple of NHLers have a slap fight like that.

Item the Second: Apparently there’s a new play on tour called “Five Hole: Tales of Hockey Erotica.” In case it isn’t clear, they provide this informative tagline: “Combines sex and hockey together.”   According to this site they are on a “cross-Canada” tour.  A tour which stretches from Calgary, AB to Ottawa, ON1.    There are a number of shows slated for Ontario, so all of my Ontario-based readers: I expect you to attend this play and report back.  Maybe you can win the much coveted role of “Theatre Critic” here on NTBTWK2.

Item The Third: I’ve figured out what’s been wrong with the Canucks.  It’s not been coaching nor injuries nor lacklustre play by the defence.  It’s all been the result of a cursed password.  Not unlike the cursed chocolate bar episode of 2007, the cursed password is a password that was jinxing my boys.  I have to change my work computer password every 42 days.  And it’s surprisingly difficult to think up a new password that often, so I usually go with whatever I’m thinking of at the time I get the “change your password now” reminder.  And in early January, I happened to be thinking of that Canucks when I got that reminder and so I happened to make that my password.  And the Canucks went on a horrible losing skid.  And it didn’t occur to me until just yesterday that this is obviously the result of my password, which must be cursed.  And so I changed it.  And guess what happened in tonight’s Canucks game?  Yeah, I think that’s enough evidence to conclusively prove that my password was cursed.  Lesson learned: no more Canucks-related passwords.

1Hate to break the news to you, but if you keep going west past those big moutains, you’ll find more Canada! Ditto for going east of Ottawa.
2“Coveted” due to the level of prestige that comes with this role. The level of pay, not so much3.
3There is no pay for the NTBTWK Theatre Critic position.