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unnamed-1I was immediately excited about Buy Us, For You, By Us because the image of a brown skinned girl with braids in a camel turtleneck spoke to me. I am a huge fan of the turtleneck. I’m also a huge fan of representation and seeing people who look like me depicted in creative works. So, without even knowing what Buy Us, For You, By Us was about, I had a good feeling.

What I had failed to notice was that the model had a lot of armpit hair…on the outside of her shirt. Now I was intrigued. While doing a little more digging online, I came across photos of people with more armpit hair, but also hairy nipples. Again, on the outside of their shirts. I was confused.

I was also curious. What did Buy Us, For You, By Us mean?Buy us. For you. By us. David Roth’s artist statement described this as “a locally-inspired look at urban planning and lifestyle marketing.” There was also mention of the artist being somebody who encourages to audiences to rethink how they examine worth and value. I expected also that there was going to be a powerful statement about bodies and how we groom and clothe them. Fast forward to an especially rainy Tuesday afternoon, and I am on the number 9 bus, eastbound on Broadway to see Buy Us, For You, By Us at Field Contemporary.
unnamed-3As I opened the door to the the gallery, I was already feeling a little intimidated by how few things and people there were in the room. Some framed pieces on the walls, three garment racks with clothes hung on them and a barber’s chair in the center of it all. I said ‘Hi’ to the two people huddled over a computer in the corner, one of them echoed my greeting and they resumed their conversation. The clothes, which were hung as they would be in a retail space, all had hair on them. Some shirts with hair on the armpits, others with hair shaped into nipples and even some with hair on the sleeves. There were also gloves with hairy knuckles strewn about. The armpit hair was realistic and varied in texture, which left me wondering if it was real.

These garments, framed or as is, were all for sale. There were also printed photographs of the garments being modelled. All the pieces were named after people, which left me thinking that the shirt titled Jamie had Jamie’s hair attached to it. Unfortunately, I didn’t leave with an understanding of why any of this mattered or should be interesting. In fact, I had to thumb through the pages of a binder that I was not quite certain was meant for visitors to even discover that detail.
unnamed-5My feeling is that work should speak for itself, or be explained. Clearly some statement was being made. What that statement was however, was completely lost on me. There was no artist’s statement or explanation of what the work was about, though there were people working in the space who might have initiated a conversation with me, as the only person in the space. Instead, they chatted amongst themselves and stared at their phones.

I really wanted to like this exhibit, but instead walked away confused and with wet shoes. It’s difficult to say that it’s worth making the trip, because all of the images can be seen online and I gained nothing from the experience of visiting the gallery, besides seeing with my own eyes that this was in fact hair glued to everything. I would have preferred to walk away with an understanding of why there was hair on all the garments and what David Roth hoped to achieve with this work.


David Roth’s Buy Us, For You, By Us runs at FIELD Contemporary from December 18 – January 16. More by Roth at http://davidrothprojects.squarespace.com/.


During its two week run at the Cinematheque, the European Union Film Festival (EUFF) dazzled cinema-goers with a variety of international films. There were some absolute gems in the mix and some unfortunate flops, but the festival was a success, overall.

Still from Gods (2014)

Poland’s official submission to the festival was Gods, a feature from director Lukasz Palkowski. The film was a fictionalized version of events which took place in Poland in the 1980s, following a young cardiovascular surgeon at a time when heart transplants were considered entirely too risky and taboo to perform. Tomasz Kot plays Zbigniew Religa, the first surgeon to successfully perform a heart transplant in Poland. The film is dramatic in its delivery, and gripping in its subject matter. Tension between Religa and his staunch older colleagues is clearly at the heart of the film’s story, reflected in the cinematography and sound design. However, I found the camerawork to be distracting at times, due to its wildly changing approach. Long takes and shaky, hand-held shots were sometimes used in the same scene, which might have been a technique to reflect the film’s conflict but was mostly a disruption to my viewing experience. My other qualm with this particular flick was its climax and ending. We watch as Religa descends into a disastrous fit of professional pressure and personal disgrace, as each heart transplant fails and the public loses whatever support they had for him and his work. All of the drunken anger and self-loathing unfolds unceremoniously on screen, until finally and suddenly, a successful operation is performed. However, this transition from catastrophe to triumph is so abrupt, and is followed so quickly by the rolling credits, that I nearly missed it. It took me a moment to realize that he had achieved his lofty goal after all. Ultimately, this film was a hopeful drama with an intriguing subject, but lacked consistency and final gravitas.

Still from The Fencer (2015)

The feature from Estonia was a much more subtle and skilled take on historical events. The Fencer, directed by Klaus Haro, was a delight to watch and felt authentic on all accounts. It tells the story of a former professional fencer, Endel Nelis, who, during Soviet occupation, hides away in a small Estonian town to avoid capture by Stalin’s secret police. He takes on the role of gym teacher to the town’s school children, and fosters a earnest relationship with them through the teaching of his old sport, despite the objections of the school’s rule-following principle. This film was a quiet and steady account of life during a time fraught with political suspicion. I felt a sincerity in the film’s delivery, both in the actors’ performances and in the visual vocabulary. I felt privy to the struggle of living with the burden of war and political transgression, and was very much taken by the subtleties between the children and their teacher. The cinematography was understated, conveying the intimate relationships between characters through close-up and static shots. However, during the film’s screening there was a short interruption, due to a few moments of disc trouble. One of the scenes in the last quarter of the film was skipped through and the theatre lights came on for a quick minute while the problem was addressed, but nothing of critical importance was missed and the screening carried on without error afterwards. Despite that slight snag, I thoroughly enjoyed this film and its affectionate portrayal of a very difficult period in European history. It was an intimate account of the values of patience and steady resolve during a time of oppression.


Sometimes, film festivals speed by so quickly that there isn’t enough time to publish all of our content. Sometimes, the content is so good that we have to publish it later because we love it so much. This is some of that content.

Poster for AAAAAAAAH! by Steve Oram

The Vancouver International Film Festival can sometimes seem like a very pompous affair, with all of its line-ups and pass holders and fancy venues. It can be refreshing when all of the slow-burners are interrupted by a real wild card. Though, in the case of this year’s AAAAAAAAH!, directed by British filmmaker Steve Oram, I might not use the word ‘refreshing’, more likely ‘bizarre’. It was like Coronation Street but with tea-bagging involved. Or a Planet of the Apes directed by Tommy Wiseau. Whichever of the two you can visualize more clearly. In plain terms, the film was violent, graphic, and sexually explicit. The characters carried out their lives like apes, and I do not mean that metaphorically.

After acclimatizing myself to the bizarre grunts and phallic gore as best I could, I saw a very familiar story playing out onscreen. I was watching a family drama, albeit a deranged one. The matriarch of the family ditches her husband and instead gets freaky with a younger man, much to the dismay of her angsty, brooding daughter. While Mom has fun with her new suitor, the daughter seethes in the shadows, until eventually she falls in love with an equally despondent fellow. However, happiness can’t last forever. I won’t give away the final bit of the movie, but I will say that healthy familial boundaries are blatantly ignored by all. It’s enough to make you nauseous, to say the least. The characters’ ape-like behavioural patterns are purely shocking at first, but eventually become a sly critique on regression in society and perhaps a comedic version of primal patriarchy. Though, I really can’t say anything with complete confidence. I know there must have been a thematic direction within the film, but I was way too busy trying to forget the array of flaccid members and food spittle. This is not to say that it was a bad film, I just don’t know if I will ever get over it.


Still from Jason Lei Howden’s Deathgasm


A film that I almost overlooked and ended up thoroughly enjoying was Jason Lei Howden’s Deathgasm. I bought my ticket late in the game and went to the mid-afternoon screening at the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts rather than the evening one a few days earlier at the Rio Theatre. Even though I might have missed out on the late night atmosphere, Deathgasm was still a serious treat. A very bloody, campy, and obscene treat. Exemplary in its dry, tongue-in-cheek Kiwi humour, this cinematic gore-fest poked the perfect amount of fun at both cult sensibility and metalhead culture.

After the death of his mother, Brodie, moves in with his severely religious relatives and their bully of a son. While finding solace in the local record store, Brodie befriends fellow hardcore fan Zakk, and the two form a band. But when Brodie stumbles across a decrepit sheet of music and the two decide to play it themselves, death and terror reign down on their sleepy New Zealand town in the form of a demon-zombie apocalypse, until only their misfit group of friends are left to defeat the abounding evil. Howden directs the absurdity with skill, and uses genre tropes like low-fi special effects and hyperbolic character to his advantage. However, cult horror is notoriously misogynistic, and though this film tried to break from that pattern, it was not entirely successful. The film contained three noteworthy female characters, one being Brodie’s high school crush turned demon-fighting badass, another a low-ranking servant of hell who eventually usurps the head title, and the third a record store clerk who reads fortunes on the side. They operate in very different spheres and never interact with one another except during the film’s climax, and though they possess a certain amount of agency they still play a passive role in the film as a whole. I knew it was coming, but I still didn’t appreciate the genre sexism. However, apart from those few snags, Deathgasm was still a raucous bit of fun, presenting itself as a very clever addition to the cult canon.


When I walked into the Cultch, the greeter immediately warned that the show would be between 100-120 minutes without intermission. I beelined for the bathroom, then to the bar. Not only do they serve beer (and wine) at the Cultch, but they’ll even let you bring it to your seat inside the theatre. This evening was off to a great start.

Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset
Photo by Sagal Kahin

When the lights dimmed we made our way to our seats and were pleasantly surprised at both the set up and the size. There wasn’t a bad seat in the house. When Ronnie Burkett emerged, dressed in all black, the crowd erupted into cheers and applause. It seemed everybody knew and loved Burkett already. In his introduction he talked of his past work, which again, the audience seemed to know all about, then explained his objective with the Daisy Theatre. He wanted to create a puppet show for adults that was fun; a departure from his past work, which was decidedly darker.

As far as marionettes go, I’ve only ever seen Pinocchio and Gepetto at work. This was a change of pace for me. The opening number starred Dolly Wiggler, who would dance to music and peel off her clothing one item at a time, burlesque style. I didn’t know marionettes could move like that. I was laughing and in shock, looking over to my friend to confirm that she was seeing this. Her rhythm, as created by Burkett’s hands, which moved quickly without distracting him from the song he was singing, was incredible.

Funny for the most part and provocative throughout, Burkett had the audience laughing and cheering from start to finish. I laughed a lot, but I also cringed some. Especially when Franz was on stage talking too much–at least for my liking–of inviting starry-eyed audience members backstage and humping them from behind while they were distracted by smaller cuter puppet named Schnitzel.

From the applause, to the coos, to the shouts of encouragement everybody seemed to know from the moment the show began that this was a participatory event. The length, I would learn, varies because Burkett invites the audience to hoot, holler and applaud as a way of voting for which puppets or songs they would like to see performed. This was something I quite liked. Quickly it became clear that many of the audience members had seen this play before and were keen to see some of their favourite puppets return to the stage. At one point the lights came on and he looked into the audience for a volunteer. Burkett would settle on a man named Gavin, who would learn how to make a puppet play the piano while bobbing his head to the music–“he” being the puppet. Gavin would also go on to sing on cue and even take off his shirt.

The Daisy Theatre_publicity image
It was a while before I was able to find the connection between these puppets, all telling stories or singing songs that had nothing to do with the others. In a way, it felt disjointed. I’d been in a gambling mood when I decided to see the show without first doing any research about Burkett or the Daisy Theatre, which I would realize part way through was a variety show. Even still, I struggled to make sense of why some of them were performers, while others were just there to tell stories.

In addition to Gavin, the highlights for me were without a doubt Jesus (yes, Christ) and Edna Rural. Neither sang or danced, but rather they talked to the audience. Jesus, who may actually have been performing stand-up routine, was dreading the holidays with his parents Mary and Joseph. His birthday is a tense time and his parents don’t approve of his girlfriend, he explained while weaving clever jokes, with even more clever biblical references into his story. Edna, a widow from a small town in Alberta, is an expert baker, and talks endlessly because she fears that if she’s quiet somebody will give her bad news. Everybody had a good laugh when Edna told the story of her pie crust made with dill, which of course was referred to as dill dough (read: dildo). I’m not a big fan of sex jokes. They’re popular and funny making me a minority on this one, but I can’t help but find them boring and a little too easy.

While I thought two hours was a little too long and the sexual references a little too frequent, I quite liked this play. It was smart, topical and funny. It was also sad, heartwarming and relatable. Burkett is quick-witted and truly a master of his craft. He brought each puppet to life with his voice and movement and that alone makes for twenty dollars well spent. The fact that no two nights are the same, has me curious as to who will grace the stage of the Daisy Theatre in the nights to come. In this regard, it makes sense that this is a show people come back for.


The Daisy Theatre runs until December 20 at The Cultch (1895 Venables Street). Tickets are available by phone at 604.251.1363, or online at thecultch.com.

Social Studies_image of family drawing (1)

What do residents of comfortable first-world countries do when confronted with a massive and tragic refugee crisis? If my Facebook feed is any indication, they use it as an opportunity for posturing. One strain of internet argumentation rants and raves about the irreparable damage that bringing in a relatively minuscule number of refugees will do to our country’s social fabric, because Canada has obviously never allowed any foreigners in before. As loathsome and racist as this line of reasoning is, there is something no less annoying about people who appear to only post about the world’s catastrophic events in order to make sure that everyone knows what good and caring people they are. Can we ever truly understand the unimaginable horrors of war and genocide? And how can we help?

Trish Cooper’s new play Social Studiesplaying at the Firehall Arts Centre until December 5th, both dissects and celebrates our attempts to do good. Val (Susinn McFarlen) is the kind of hippy-dippy mom who thinks that every­one who has can­cer learns a valu­able les­son from it. She turns saying Grace into a lecture about Western privilege and adopts a South Sudanese Lost Boy named Deng (Richie Diggs). His arrival to her family home coincides with the return of Val’s oldest daughter Jackie (Erin Moon), who is recovering from the dissolution of her marriage and is crestfallen to find a stranger in her childhood bedroom. The family’s younger daughter Sarah (Lili Beaudoin) is much more enthusiastic about Deng’s presence, possibly because her interest in Deng veers from the sociological (her social studies project about the Lost Boys functions as the play’s framing device) to the romantic.

Social Studies has a long running time, and most of its conflict only really gets going after the intermission. Yet the time we spend with this makeshift Winnipeg family pays off, as it gives the script the space to create fully realized and three-dimensional characters. Val slowly reveals the spine behind the drum circles, and shows herself to be a much more attentive mother than her daughters give her credit for. Sarah finds her role as the family’s speaker of uncomfortable truths, culminating in a hilarious and uncomfortable comic set piece when she comes home drunk and discloses what all the family members have been saying behind each other’s backs.

Beaudoin’s comic timing is consistently excellent, and she has strong chemistry with Moon. The script gets great mileage from contrasting Jackie’s entitlement and materialism with her mom’s altruism, and Jackie vocalizes unjust suspicions about Deng and scrutinizes him for holes in his story. But Moon’s committed performance makes the possibly unsympathetic character of Jackie completely believable and even loveable. Equally excellent is Richie Diggs, who fully inhabits the character of Deng. His entire body language transforms from ebullient and grateful at the play’s start to agonized as he realizes that his community’s tragedies have followed him to Canada. This transformation is breathtaking to behold.

First world problems, as one of history’s greatest hashtags has it, lack dignity. And while moving to Winnipeg may sound appealing at first, it has never solved anyone’s problems. Social Studies is at heart a sweet and funny look at the importance of empathy, with a heartwarming finish that may leave your eyes a little damp (just blame it on the rain). While it in no way sugarcoats the difficulty of sponsoring refugees, it makes a stirring case for the importance of doing so. Go see it, and then post about it on Facebook so all your friends know to see it too.

Social Studies is playing at the Firehall Arts Centre until December 5. Tickets and showtimes here

GCNb2EGa_vdfQkXGoIEjfiZ9Qi7tz5jRQki5Wh38ZT0Violence, sex, drugs, love, friendship, hope–Luxembourgian director Donato Rotunno’s latest feature, Baby(a)lone, reminds us why being thirteen and different is still every bit as confusing as ever. The film launched this year’s annual European Union Film Festival, which runs until December 9 at the Cinematheque. With powerful performances by a talented young cast, Baby(a)alone is difficult, emotional, and gripping from start to finish.

Joshua Defays is the film’s unnamed protagonist, a problem child living with his largely absent mother (Fabienne Elaine Hollwege) in an affluent modern Europe. Life isn’t going well for the boy; his antics have landed him in special ed, just a small step up from the alternative–reform school. He spends his days rolling cigarettes and talking to his imaginary best friend Johnny (Etienne Halsdorf) at recess. The evenings he passes in his bedroom, smoking pot while his mother has loud webcam sex in the room next door.DJQ-Jr_jSe4KWEi4cto9fgsdw1XEhqpk1gHmRzA0cxE

Everything changes when he meets Shirley (Charlotte Elsen), a pretty, enigmatic misfit who joins the special ed program after attacking another student. The boy is immediately drawn to her, and they quickly develop an intense friendship. Although Shirley is manipulative and at times even abusive, she brings a spark of energy to the boy’s life. Together, they skip school and wander the city, watching movies, shoplifting, and getting drunk.

Expertly directed and stunningly shot, Baby(a)lone is an honest and emotional venture into a bleak teenage reality. And while it isn’t exactly enjoyable to watch (at times, it is downright horrifying) the film is extremely engrossing. For, despite the young protagonists’ flaws, it’s impossible not to sympathize with them as they fumble towards happiness–or at least some approximation of it.

The 18th Annual European Film Festival runs from November 27 to December 9 at the Cinematheque. For more tickets and screenings, visit the festival website.

Photo courtesy of Access Gallery
Photo courtesy of Access Gallery

On the overcast afternoon of October 31, I met about ten other curious people at Access Gallery for artist Alana Bartol’s Water Witching Workshop. What better way, I thought, to celebrate All Hallow’s Eve than by learning some practical magic?

Bartol’s artistic practice involves, among many other things, dowsing for water. She discovered that the women in her family were known for their ability to find groundwater, and had been helping people find well sites for generations. Curious about her own abilities, Bartol began going on “dowsing walks” and incorporating dowsing into her art as a creative method for connecting to nature and the non-human world.

Dowsing traditionally involves the use of a Y shaped rod, made from a found willow branch, or two L shaped rods, usually made from copper. These days, dowsing rods of both shapes can be made from any material, from the bespoke ceramic Y rods Bartol makes herself, to the L rods made from wire hangers that we were given for the workshop.

The premise is simple, though as I learned, the practice is difficult. One holds their wand of choice lightly in their hands and asks it yes or no questions; the wand will respond with subtle movements directing the “water witch” towards water (or, as Bartol, informed us, toward anything one might be looking for). The L rods’ movements are more obvious, while the Y rod’s answers are much more elusive. Craving the challenge, I chose a spindly willow Y rod and headed down the street to Crab Park with the others.

We walked though Saturday shoppers, garnering strange looks as we held our dowsing tools in front of us unselfconsciously. When we reached Carb Park, we walked down the grassy slope to the beach, my willow branch bouncing wildly. In my skepticism I giggled and disregarded the branch’s warning. Then my foot sunk half an inch into the ground and I found myself hopping through the hidden marshland trying to stop the water from seeping into my leaky boots. Once we reached the beach, Bartol let us loose to explore using our rods. She suggested we ask the rods “Is there something on this beach I need to find?” and let them guide us freely from there.

It’s nearly impossible to be still enough for the rod to move completely on its own: even the slightest slip of my fingers caused the thing to quiver. That’s when I realized that there was no separating the magic from my body; if divination was going to happen, my body would be the conduit. The exercise grounded me, allowing me to notice things I probably would not have if I was taking a walk in the park on any other day. And so the rod became a kind of conductor, a radio tower between myself and the earth, which helped me dial in to the frequency of my surroundings.

Dowsing is extremely meditative. It made my thoughts less erratic and forced me to focus on being present with my own body. I had to pay attention to the way my legs reacted to the changing grade of the ground, on how I was holding my hands out in front of me despite sore elbows and finger joints, numb from the air’s damp chill. I found my way around the park with my whole body and not just my eyes.

Our dowsing revealed things that had been purposefully hidden, or that typically go unnoticed. Among the things I found were a shotgun shell and a shrine covered in flowers and dream catchers. One participant had asked her rods to help her find a stone with a white ring around it and a stone with black and white speckles. She opened her palm and showed us both stones. Another had found a drainage pipe, and someone else had discovered a tree full of fruit that she had never seen before.

We joked about taking a pair of glow sticks and dowsing for a Halloween party that night. But according to Bartol, we had all already been dowsing for those things: we can think of our phones as wands, too, that guide us through the dark streets towards places, events, things we need to find, and even each other. Really, we are witching all the time, it’s only a matter of becoming aware of it. And that was the most powerful part of the workshop: the feeling that the magic is already there if you take the time to practise it.


On October 13, Pi Theatre’s Artistic Associates Pippa Mackie and Jeff Gladstone and actors Tom Pickett and Barbara Ellen Pollard presented the program for the evening to an eager audience. The crowd listened while marvelling at the party favours in their hands: packets of condoms for both men and women. Each actor was costumed in a simple white top and black bottoms, with a few shirt buttons left open suggestively. Mackie had purposefully put on ripped, black pantyhose.

Welcome to the Sex Edition, the first performance of the daring series Lost Words. That night, the troupe would perform three “very sexy…and twisted” plays which had been banned during the late 19th to 20th century. Lost Words, Mackie and Gladstone explained, would feature cheeky, redacted plays and all the sensitive topics that come along with them. They closed the introduction with a simple question: “What’s more destructive to a society than…a bunch of artists?” The audience clapped and laughed, and the show began.

The performers had selected scenes from Frank Wedekind’s Spring Awakening, Michael McClure’s The Beard, and Thomas Bradshaw’s Intimacy. Orgasms took place on stage, and storylines touched intrepidly on pedophilia, incest, and pornography, yet everything was performed poetically. In between each play, they performed songs which had also once been censored. Renditions of “Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)” and “Colt 45” (during which my friend said to me, “This song is a masterpiece!”) lightened the mood of an otherwise intense performance.

The audience that night were observably respectful, open-minded, and so ready to have fun. Some of us, admittedly, made uncomfortable noises at moments during the scenes with explicit content—but these were honest, uninhibited reactions, not signs of disapproval. I don’t think the provocative theatre acts I saw that evening would have had the same impact or appeal at a different venue, with a less appreciative and accepting audience—a pleasant assurance for our “no fun” city.

Luckily, there is more to come from Lost Words: on December 1, the cast will tackle another cringe-worthy subject: Religion.


Lost Words: Religion Edition takes place at The Emerald on December 1 at 8:30 pm. Tickets will be available on the Pi Theatre website and at the door.


Albert Maysles, famed documentarian and beloved cinematic friend to all, passed away earlier this year at the ripened age of eighty-eight. He, along with his brother David (1931 – 1987), sought out uncommon character and strange circumstance within their work, developing a myriad of delightful and rare documentaries that are still treasured today. I remember watching Grey Gardens for the first time and gazing up at the theatre screen in awe of the life I was witnessing, in all of its honest nonsense. Albert Maysles was the one to capture those moments, and since then I have been equally in awe of his sincerity with the camera.

Albert Maysles

This year, the Vancouver International Film Festival had the pleasure of screening one of Maysles’ last films, a work on which he collaborated with several other filmmakers (Lynn True, Nelson Walker, David Usui and Ben Wu). The film finds its subject in the Empire Builder, America’s most frequented long-distance train route, stretching from Chicago to Portland and Seattle, a journey which takes approximately three days. The camera’s role is observational, typical of a Maysles production, and it captures intimate conversation and solitude alike. Passengers on the train pour their hearts out into the lens, and we become witness to all manner of departure and arrival.

David and Albert Maysles. Photo: John Sotomayor

Unfortunately, I did not enjoy this film as much as I had wanted to. Though I found the train as subject to be fascinating, it was generally difficult to immerse myself in the stories of the people on board. The vision of the film was supposedly objective, but the moments captured by the camera were often cheesy and clichéd, which seems like a very cynical thing to say about actual lived experience, but I could not make myself feel differently. One woman revealed her struggle with being a single mom, another explained that the train was her break from an ex-husband, and a mother and daughter exchanged words about their dreams of arrival and feeling that the destination would be a new start.

Sometimes I felt as though these testimonies and exchanges were written especially for the camera and that their candid nature had been erased. If it had all been scripted, I would have cringed in my seat. What I would have liked to have experienced further was the thematic presence of the train as destination in itself, a kind of temporary space in which to ponder what came before and what will come next. Cinematic representations of trains are usually limited to the symbolic. They are used as devices to signify a character or narrative’s transformation, the start of something new or the leaving behind of old. With In Transit, the train became the definite location. Yes, it did symbolize coming and going, and held transformative qualities for some of its riders, but more so than that it became a real place. A self-contained habitat for all manner of folk passing through. I guessed that perhaps the characters aboard the train were intended to be the humanity of the film, but I wanted to explore that of the train instead. I was intrigued by its omniscient personality and acceptance of those who travelled along its route, and by the pattern of existence which only the train could produce. Oh, well. I may have been underwhelmed, but Albert still holds an honoured place in my heart.


Photo by Steve Ullathorne

Gravity and Other Myths just brought their ‘A (Eh?) game’… and you’re going to want to see them do it again.

Remarkably skillful, hardworking, risk-taking acrobats, this Australia-based team of performers is pushing physical limits and personal boundaries. Their featured tour, A Simple Space, is honest, genuine and viscerally infectious. With a small twist of playful humour and a touch of over-confidence, the cast of A Simple Space will tickle your soft spots just enough to distract you from the physical angst you feel for the performers.

On opening night, A Simple Space’s cast revealed their show (and a little bit more) to a mesmerized and fascinated full house. The York Theatre was the perfect sized space for Gravity and Other Myths’ performance aims. Cast only by a handful of spotlights, the room was no bigger than a modern sized Vancouver condo (kidding…we know condos here are smaller) and housed the cast to its maximum potential. With nowhere to go but up, that’s exactly the direction these performers ended up traveling.

The show started out with a game of trust. Accompanied by melodic pieces produced by live percussionist (and insanely talented musician), fellow Gravity and Other Myths member, Elliot Zoerner, the acrobats began a sequence of staged falls, one after another. Each acrobat moved with the music, exercising stealth, strength, and agility to quickly catch his fellow performer. Setting the tone for the rest of the evening, the opening act unveiled a truthful, trusting, raw approach to what could otherwise have been a flashy, over-the-top circus style scene.

Each following act only got better. Every cast member was given an opportunity to showcase her individual ability while being surrounded and supported by her mates. The team seemed prepared and ready to respond to any situation. Quick on their feet and graceful with their steps, the performers demonstrated cooperation, determination, and responsibility. Though silly and challenging games were played, every audience member watched with bated breath. The acts, ranging from a skip and strip contest to a front flip-a-thon, brought a unique set of skills to the stage but always kept the artists’ focused mindsets intact. The show was admirable, entertaining, and nerve-wracking all at once.

Undoubtedly, I’d go see this performance again. It’s family friendly, date night appropriate, and checks off all the boxes of ‘cool things to do in Vancouver’. Check out the individual bios of Gravity and Other Myths here and be sure to scope out the listings for the next show.


A Simple Space runs until October 24 at the York Theatre.