A Meditation on Virginity

I very much enjoyed the Stratford Festival production of All’s Well That Ends Well at the Tom Patterson Theatre under the direction of Scott Wentworth. Curiously it was the third production we saw at the Festival this year that begins with a grave (Richard III & Hamlet) – a subtext?

In All’s Well it is the grave of Helen’s (Jessica B. Hill) father who has left her in the care of Countess of Rossillion (Seana McKenna). The Countess sees Helen as her own daughter to such a degree that she insists Helen call her mother – which might explain why her son Bertram (Jordin Hall) is repulsed at the thought of marrying his sister. The main plot of the play is how Helen manipulates Bertram into consummating & accepting their marriage.

The cast handles Shakespeare’s witty dialogue very well. The scenes between Seana & her sexton, André Sills crackle with playful energy & subtle sexual tension. It is their ‘relationship’ that, for me, holds the play together. In fact all of André’s scenes were great fun as he gave the sexton a real sexual magnetism that was a pointed contrast to Jordin’s nearly total lack of sexual energy – what did Helen find so appealing about him? I did feel a little sympathy for him as he surrendered to Helen’s manipulations. 

There was also great crackle in Parolles (Rylan Wilkie) meditation-on-virginity scenes with Helen & his exchanges with Lafew (Wayne Best). Parolles is this play’s Mavolio. A man who sees himself in a different light than anyone else sees him. Rylan plays him well & Parolles’ comeuppance is perhaps the play’s most comic scene. Even in defeat his ‘redemption’ shows him unbowed.

The staging was simple, effective & the cast rolled pedestals, beds & baggage trollies on & off stage without disrupting the flow of the play. I particularly loved the military costumes with their gaudy epaulets, elaborate strings of gold & rows of shiny medals. Of course Parolles’ uniform had the most fringe. Smoke billowing out of suitcases was a fun dramatic visual. Highly recommended.

reviews of shows I’ve seen this past season:

Richard III

Dull In Denmark 

The Mister 

Rocky Horror 

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‘Chuckles the Clown’

Here I go again with another wild word association list poem. The prompt was ‘joke’ as if you couldn’t tell. It starts with a couple of slap-stick references that set, I hope, the reader up but then throw in the first glimpse of a narrative line to throw things off balance. This isn’t going to be about running gags after all. Then returns to other comic tropes.

socks knocked your socks off

Some come from stale punch lines, some from the back of comic books ads selling joke items. I think I once ordered something – a pack of gum with a sort spring on the piece you pulled out that would snap your finger.
Then the point of view shifts around to parents telling you stop clowning around, to people who accuse of taking nothing seriously, to how optimists get judged. With a reference to Chuckles- anyone who doesn’t YouTube: Chuckles the Clown.

balloon unblown blew

The focus shifts as the list pushes along with variations of why humour isn’t productive, mutates for a bit into a sort of stand-up comic’s rant and finally hits a punch line conclusion.

bottles jolly bottles

It probably needs to be chopped down some as it does go on and on. That sort of cutting happens when I prepare a piece for performance. I have to read out loud three of four times finding the rhythms, the spots where it slows down too much or loses too much focus.

samples

Joke

the banana peel
the pie
the you running off with another guy
the salesman’s daughter
or was it the farmer’s son
you where gone
here am I
dropping water bombs
fly in the ice cube
squirting rose
that pepper gum

knees first
face last
talk to the ass
‘cause even the hand ain’t listening
better than a hand job
but no better than the moment allows
trying to wriggle out
you never take anything serious
you’ll have to one day
my son
you’ll have to grow up
stop all this clowning around
there’s no future for you
if you don’t listen to reason
toe the line
walk the walk
we have to walk
so surrender what you can now
get it out of your system
sow those wild oats
those magic beans
‘cause
the only giant
you’ll ever have to face
is your own giant ego
if you don’t get it down to size
now

put down that flower pot
and not on the window ledge
watch where you’re walking
go though the door
not the door frame
look out
take your time
listen to what’s being said
don’t jump to conclusion or concussions
don’t jump period
that’s best for all concerned
just stay still a minute won’t you
stop giggling jiggling
this is serious
give it a break
be quiet
that’s all we ask
be quiet
wipe that smirk off your face
this is no laughing matter
no chuckles the clown here
don’t get smart with me
think you’re such a smart ass
we’ll just have see how far
you get in life
with that attitude young man
not everyone will find that amusing or admirable
think inside the box
safety first
sensible shoes
clean underwear

did you hear the one about
how things change
how things remain the same
the words we once mumbled
are now the names of smart shops
the titillation has gone
from those saucy secret moments
and we’re left with road kill
raw
no subtly no depth
coarse meat in your face
shock value meat
why dress it it up
though panties
on pork chops would get a laugh
or perhaps
sausages in jock straps
now that’s a good one
you think of that
or what
you are such a cut up
such a card
always ready to lighten up
how do you mange
this is a serious life
how can you laugh when there are
homeless cripples
runaway’s being raped
in dirty alley ways
limbs hacked off in Africa
brides burned in India
how could you
find something to laugh about
you have to be sick in the head
unbalanced
cold heartless callous
not to feel some of that
not to respect the suffering of others
by not laughing
don’t joke around
no more horsing around

dig up that garden
I just read
that flowers are the earth’s laugher
and the earth has nothing to laugh about

life is a death sentence
no amount of snickering will change
the fact
no one gets out of here alive
you can’t take it with you
you can hide from the reaper
laughing in his face
will make it worse for every one
so stop
right now
no more laughter
no more
you hear me
all of you
laughing at something
stop right now
repent

I’m the last of the stand ups
who couldn’t stand up to you

cake cake in the rain

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Hot Box Girls

Guys and Dolls was our one Shaw Festival production for the season. For some reason seeing an actual Shaw play holds little appeal to me so I was glad there was at least one production at the Festival I wanted to see. I was not disappointed.

boots
boots

We drove down Wednesday – a perfect day for travel – sunny & not hot. Traffic reasonable. With a Tim Ho’s at the right place for a pit stop. We found a shady parking spot at N-Lake, also a nice bonus.

Lunch was at Yianni’s – great cajun crab cakes, fine house burger but inedible fries. A few new cafes have opened on that little strip of gift shops, fudge shops, gift shops, & we may try of them the next time. Picked up a couple of movies at Silver Screen -including a Tarzan serial from the 30’s. Oddly there is no book store in N-Lake.

branch
branch

G&D was at the main theatre. We had excellent balcony seats. The production was well-paced and well-performed. From the opening trio I was hooked and taken for a fun, melodic ride. When an ensemble and cast enjoys performing a show as much as these did it’s impossible not to enjoy it. The orchestra was great.

bench
bench

I would have liked more of the Hot Box Girls (by more I mean another number or two) and less of the gamblers but such is life. The text is very much of the time though some things haven’t changed as much as we’d like to think. At one point the women sing ‘marry him today, change him tomorrow’ – a song I hear many people still singing. The problem with fixer-uppers is that they turn into money pits 🙂

01.Nano-Winner-Certificate1.2

November 1-30 – participating – NaNoWriMo

June 6-8, 2014 – attending – Bloody Words

samples

For the Heart of Hearing

one from the hard

my hard was in my throat

the hard of darkness

a hard attack

I left my hard in San Francisco

hard of the dark continent

open hard surgery

I hard NY

talking hard to hard

places in the hard

don’t keep breaking my hard

hard harded hanna

the hard of the hard of the country

hard healthy

change of hard

hards of fire

open your hard

wearing my hard on my sleeve

deep in my hard

the hard foundation

I gave you my hard

when hards collide

my secret hard

the hard of the matter

like a stake through the hard

take a little piece of my hard

tore the hard right out of his chest

gotta hide my hard away

take it to hard

the bleeding hard

my hard skipped a beat

queen of hards was baking some tarts

hard on a platter

you gotta have hard

falling hard first in love

cross my hard

hard in my hand

the hard is a lonely hunter

a growing up green
a growing up green

Racket @redrocketcoffee

Got over to Make A Racket at the Red Rocket. I’ve been aiming to check out this new reading series & had a great time. Host Sandra Cardinal offered up an eclectic mix of non-fiction, spoken word, music, drama & story telling. As it was the 200th anniversary of Laura Secord Sandra opened the show with a look her research into Laura’s life.

side by side
side by side

First feature Teri Degler read and discussed a section of her book Divine Feminine Fire. This section dealt with the ‘Transmutation of Desire.’ Like myself, she’s found it odd that so many people believe that spirituality is meant to transcended sexuality rather than a way to experience it on deeper creative level.

Next up was a quick set of great open stagers me, Vanessa McGowan (her dad never learned how to laugh), Adam Abbas (tackling limericks to good effect & actually cracked a smile), & Joshua newly moved here from Montreal (multi-generation pieces, one about newly born niece, the other partly about how is grandparents met).

a Cathy Petch étude
a Cathy Petch étude

After the break Cathy Petch hit the stage. I’ve seen & reviewed Cathy many times but she is always a compelling performer. From her Mike Tyson piece -where we sympathize with him then are dismayed by his inability to escape the violence of his life – to her fan crush on Chewbacca – to a recent death ‘On the way to your memorial I discarded pieces of the wall you hit instead of me,’ I was not disappointed.

trashy cuddle buddies
trashy cuddle buddies

Next up was Teneile Warren a Jamaican playwright/poet – a strong set with some solid poetry  about the ‘cold war of adolescence’ and a short story of her coming out – cultures may be different but the fear of coming out remains the same – fearful at first & then how much do you tell once the basic truth is out there. Dancing with guys while eyeing the other girls dancing with guys – sort of the reverse of my high-school experience of dancing with some girl while watching the guys dance.

The night wrapped with Sage Tyrtle a ‘true’ storyteller with a great tale of growing up in California with her Dad, who meets a woman at T.M. who looks like a wicked step-mother – a wry, touching & laugh-out-loud funny story about the face verses the behind the doors reality of getting caught up in the Beach Boys extended families. Makes the Kardashians look like Quakers.

A great show, on hiatus for the summer. Kudos to Red Rocket for making itself a go-to destination in the east end with regular nights of comedy, live music and spoken words.

my legs are cold

my legs are cold

Beautiful #Evolution #Upload

Beautiful and Damned’s Femme Fatale show broke a few hearts, as hoped. A full house was immersed into the smooth word play of first feature Josh Smith – he looks good and presents well – funny, tender, emotional and seductive in Spanish. ‘I can think of sixty-nine ways to confuse you’ – for most of us it only takes one, lol. I identified with ‘we are never ever getting back together.’ And really  enjoyed his Gil-Scott Heron riff ‘the evolution will be uploaded.’

am I blue

Second feature Myna Wallin read new work and some pieces from her collection A Thousand Little Pieces – ‘the longing grows longer at night.’ Sometimes bitter, often funny, tender and sensual. Clear images ‘he drinks like a man in a hurry to lose consciousness’ invited us in to modern romance.

blues without a feeling

Music feature was Andrea De Boer aka blueVenus. I remember first hearing blueVenus at the late, great Renaissance Cafe sever years ago and was blown away by her range, her violin playing and songwriting. Andrea loves to perform and we wanted more than we had time to hear. The pieces were mainly from the Grin cd – Assured, playful & even when they were sad they were happy, music. I would have like a bit more violin but I do have the cd to satisfy that need.

blue gutter

Lizzie Violet gave great host & trivia. Open stagers were excellent – for photos check lifewithmorecowbell.

chair

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@TorPoet

@TorPoet