In a society where everyone is consumed by some kind of electronic device, sitting down in a theatre with a group of strangers to watch a play is the ultimate communal experience.
“It’s about the people your sitting beside, breathing the same air as the people on stage, sharing the same moments at the same time and influencing each other,” said Richard Wolfe, artistic director of Pi Theatre. “You can tell when someone is feeling tense about a moment, you can kinda sense it. I think the more digitized society becomes, the more important that kind of contact will be.”
Wolfe describes a recent bus ride, where practically everyone was looking down at their phone texting or listening to their iPod, not really paying attention to all of the people that surround them. He says people become engaged in these devices but that theatre is all about human interaction and communication.
Wolfe has always had a love for theatre and an interest in human communication. “Theatre is really all about human interaction, human challenges, aspirations and family. It’s a formalized portrayal of human life.”
Pi Theatre is an independent theatre company located in Vancouver. It produces local and international contemporary plays that are dynamic, exciting and provocative. Wolfe has been the artistic director of Pi Theatre for three years. Before that, he was the co-founder, director and co-artistic producer of Theatre Conspiracy for 12 years.
Theatre Conspiracy was similar to Pi Theatre in the way that they both look at international artists, as well as local. They did Canadian premieres of many major international plays, which include Wil Eno’s Thom Pain, Penhall’s Blue/Orange and Jez Butterworth’s Mojo. He chose to leave Theatre Conspiracy and become the artistic director of Pi Theatre because funding was more stable. At Theatre Conspiracy, they were paid project-to-project whereas at Pi Theatre, his job is salary-based.
Wolfe has received 30 nominations for Outstanding Artistic Achievement for his productions in Vancouver. He won two awards, for Outstanding Ensemble Cast, and has been nominated for Outstanding Director three times.
Wolfe got his MFA at UBC. He says his inspiration comes from his teachers, well-established artists, and from the people he works with. “Everybody that you come into contact with at different points in your life will have an impact on you in one way or another.”
He describes Vancouver’s theatre scene as healthy because there are a lot of creative artists here and schools that offer theatre programs. “People are being trained, and they’re being put into the community and all of that energy produces good things,” said Wolfe.
According to Wolfe, the biggest challenge facing independent theatre companies is funding.
“The provincial government isn’t pulling their weight but the current administrative of the city is very pro-arts and culture because they understand that the creative economy is essentially important in the larger economic picture,” he said. “But with the provincial government, after arts and culture played such a huge role in the Olympics, coincidently or not, right after the Olympics were over, they cut all the funding.”
He says his long-term goal for Pi Theatre is to increase the programming and keep it in a financially stable position. He also wants to continue building its profile as a playwright-centred theatre company that deals with the best contemporary playwrights.
To Wolfe, the most important thing in theatre is to “look at the world we live, in a very strong and individual way that speaks to the audience, whether they’re from here or not,” he said. “Certainly it’s important to develop local writers and to juxtapose those writers and the plays they write with international plays so that we can have a bigger picture of the world and of the art.”
To learn more about Pi Theatre, visit the website.
Twenty-Something Theatre can be described as edgy, cool, provocative and definitely not your grandma’s theatre. At least, that’s what Sabrina Evertt says.
Evertt is the founder and artistic producer of the independent theatre company Twenty-Something Theatre. She describes the content and dialogue of their productions as realistic.
“It’s the kind of thing you would see or speak on the street. People see themselves in that and they can relate to it,” she says.
Productions are generally geared to 18- to 35-year-olds, with scripts that speak to the younger generation. “The transition from being a young adult in school, to real life, finding a job, finding purpose and finding love; all of those kind of things, like finding out who you are and what you want to do, are what a lot of our plays are about,” says Evertt.
Her passion for theatre started when she was around 16. All of her friends were in the drama club, so she decided to try it out. She was cast in one of the productions and she was hooked. “I think a lot of people who do theatre have a need to do it. I think you just kind of get hooked and it’s in you and you have to do it,” she says.
After high school, Evertt attended UVic and got a BFA in theatre. She says one of her biggest influences were her high school drama and improv teachers and college professors. “They helped me keep going and shaped what I wanted to do. They all just really encouraged me,” she says.
Evertt has many productions on her resumé, including both producing and directing Blue Surge, The Fever, Anne Frank Is In My Dreams, Suburbia, The Shape of Things and others. Not only is she a producer and a director, but she is also a costume designer. “I guess I’ve always had a flair for fashion and clothing”, she says. She has done the costume design for productions that include Werewolves, Hamlet, As You Like It, Banana Boys and Stuff Happens.
Currently, she is producing and directing the play Nocturne, written by Adam Rapp and featuring Troy Anthony Young. Nocturne is a one-man play, around 80 pages long, and Young has quite the challenge. It’s about a man’s journey to find closure and redemption after causing an accident that tore his family apart.
Young started acting when his mother enrolled him in drama classes almost against his will. Soon, he realized he enjoyed it. “You know how most people spend time in their lives just trying to find that one thing that makes them feel right about themselves? That’s what is was for me,” says Young.
Young always hoped that one day Evertt would find a play that he could have a part in, but he didn’t expect it would be in this one and, after four years of waiting, he finally got the chance to work with her. Despite the challenges, he says it’s rewarding.
“The things I’ve seen Sabrina direct before has always been really really challenging theatre. Things you don’t see a lot of in this city. She doesn’t hire the actors you see on stage everywhere else, she gives a break to some people and gets some of the most amazing performances on stage I’ve ever seen,” said Young.
Young describes Evertt as supportive and one of the hardest working people he knows. “She could have moved to New York City and by now probably have an off-Broadway company running in the amount of time that she’s been running Twenty-Something Theatre. And she’s chosen to stay here in Vancouver, and give us a chance to get on stage and promote the people here and I think that’s one of the most honourable things in the world,” he says.
Evertt started Twenty-Something Theatre to give young actors and designers the opportunity to have careers in theatre. “I would also love to be able to financially support young people as well, as opposed to just giving them a opportunities to gain exposure,” she says.
As an independent theatre company, there are challenges.
One of the major issues facing independent theatre companies is being able to find the funding to put on the production. As a producer, that’s what Evertt spends most of her time doing. “It’s also difficult to get audiences out to see your shows, especially when your competing in this culture with TV and movies and computers and music. There’s so many options for young people,” she says.
Evertt describes Vancouver’s theatre scene as small in comparison to other places, so therefore, it’s relatively young. She mentions the big three: the Arts Club, the Playhouse and the Bard on the Beach festival. Other then that, she says, you’ve got the independent theatre companies who have been around for awhile, such as Pi Theatre, Neworld Theatre and the Electric Company Theatre.
Evertt says she would like to see Vancouver’s theatre scene take bigger risks in the material they produce. “I think that you take certain risks by incorporating technology, and that’s very interesting and that’s very different but it’s more focused on innovation and that kind of thing,” Evertt says. “I would like to see people return to telling stories, but then taking risks with those stories, like pushing boundaries and discussing topics that are relevant to today,” she says.
To learn more about Twenty-Something Theatre, visit the theatre company’s website.
It’s all laughs at the Comedy Mix on Saturday night as headliner Tom Segura takes the stage.
Patrick Maliha, the MC, prepares audience members for Segura by describing him as awesome and describing how he blew the roof off the venue on the night before.
He does it again. From talking about people with no teeth, to comparing living in LA to living in prison, Segura has the audience roaring with laughter. After the show, he stands outside the venue selling his album Thrilled, which features nearly an hour of his comedy. Members of the audience stopped to talk to Segura, including one man who claims he hadn’t laughed that hard in a very long time.
Segura is a comedian from LA, whose favourite comedians have included Bill Cosby, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, George Carlin, Dave Attell and Dave Chapelle.
“I feel like I’m always being inspired by different people,” Segura says.
Segura was born in Cincinnati, but moved around a lot growing up. He started thinking about a career in comedy when he was 18, and became set on the idea when he was 21. He decided to move once more, this time to LA, to pursue a career in comedy. He started taking classes at an improv school where a couple of his fellow students, who were stand-up comedians, took him out to a couple of different clubs to show him what it was all about. Three weeks later he started trying it out himself.
“I’ve always liked doing it; making people laugh and I really liked performing,” says Segura.
He describes his first year doing comedy as awkward. “It was like a discovery thing, like just figuring out how to get a feel for it. I didn’t know what I was doing so it was about figuring out the little stuff, like how to walk on stage and how to take the mic out,” he says. Most importantly, “it was about learning how to fail, miserably.”
A lot of embarrassing things can happen during stand-up comedy, especially at the beginning of a career. “There’s everything from flubbing what you say to forgetting a joke, but I think the most embarrassing thing is getting really upset,” Segura says.
He recalls losing his cool on a couple of occasions when someone in the audience yelled something at him. He now believes the best way to deal with hecklers is to not let them get under your skin: in order to come out on top, you have to be funny back at them.
“If you lose your cool, which I’ve done, it’s really embarrassing. It throws everything off. You don’t want to do that but sometimes you feel undermined because somebody just mocked you,” says Segura.
Segura says ideas for jokes just come to him. It’s not something he really plans for. “I’ll just be having a conversation with someone, and then start thinking, ‘Hey, that could be a good joke’,” he says.
He also comes up with jokes by writing about something he thinks about a lot. “If there’s something you’re always thinking about, that’s usually a trigger that you should write about it and a joke will just come to you,” he says.
For Segura, what makes a good comedic performance is someone who has a solid point of view.
“It’s always better as an audience member to watch someone who is not just funny, but interesting. It really heightens the performance,” he says. Segura also believes that a good performance is a combination of material, personality and energy.
His advice to beginner comedians is to “quit now, don’t do it,” he says.
Jokes aside, Segura says “you have to write a lot and get on stage as much as you can. It sounds obvious, but there really are no shortcuts. You need to perform a lot, you should be on stage every night, like at least six nights a week.”
If Segura could go back, he says he would have started doing comedy earlier. “It took me awhile to gain that momentum, because at first, it’s really intimidating to try to be an entertainer basically,” he says.
Some of the highlights of his career include having a special that recently aired on the Comedy Network, doing festivals in Montreal, Las Vegas and Vancouver, and getting the opportunity to open for Russell Peters in front of 16,500 people.
“I’ve been pretty lucky that I’ve been able to do some pretty cool things. I don’t feel like there’s just one highlight, I feel like it’s been a lot of different things,” he says.
Segura believes there’s a strong future for stand-up comedy.
“I think it’s exciting right now. There’s like a resurgence going on. You go to these clubs and it’s packed, the show is sold out. That’s a really good thing to see and it’s inspiring to see that people still want to go to live shows. And there’s so many young comics to watch. I think there’s a really bright future for stand-up comedy,” he says.
To learn more about Tom Segura and his tour dates, visit his website.
The cost of filming is one of the biggest issues facing independent filmmakers in Vancouver.
The City of Vancouver’s Vancouver Film Office was set up to deal with on-location filming while ensuring the safety of the public and protecting the rights of local neighbourhoods. It handles all productions in Vancouver, ranging from independent films and commercials to feature films and television series. And while the office helps production companies get the authorization to film on public property and on city streets, the price can be high, especially for independent filmmakers.
According to the city’s website, it costs about $650 a day to film at any major parks or beaches, while the permit for filming in neighbourhood parks is about $590 a day.
Any filming that affects the normal use of public property requires a Film Activity Permit. Each day of filming or different location requires at least one Film Activity Permit, which is approximately $150.
A street-use permit is approximately $150, but the amount of street space being used for filming will determine how many permits are required to shoot the scene.
The use of a Vancouver police officer in filming is $95 an hour and a sergeant is $119 an hour. Using a fire engine in filming costs $110 per hour and firefighters are $82 per hour each. Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services Training Classroom is available for $400 per day and the Training Academy is available at the rate of $1,500 per day.
Lori Clarkson, film liaison at the Vancouver Film Office, says that the cost of film permits is the same for independent filmmakers as it is for professional filmmakers.
“From our point of view, if a production crew is asking us to do some work, it doesn’t matter whose asking us to do the work. We have to be paid for the work we do, so it doesn’t matter if it’s a huge feature or a small independent feature,” said Clarkson.
There are some ways the city can cut back on some of the costs for independent filmmakers.
“One of the things that we can do is consider lessening the cost of a street-use permit, but it depends on what it is they need,” Clarkson said. “Typically, our fees are set by city council, so they are pretty much set in stone. But in some situations, we might be able to knock a little bit more off the cost of a permit.”
To find out more about the cost of film permits in the city of Vancouver, visit the Vancouver Film Office website.
The Kwantlen Creative Writer’s Guild provides a judgement-free environment for students at Kwantlen to present their writing in fiction, non-fiction and poetry.
Shawn Mitz, president of the Kwantlen Creative Writer’s Guild, says “it’s an opportunity for all students at Kwantlen who are interested in creative writing to get some feedback on their work. And for people who are looking to become better writers, we provide an environment for them to display their work, get some positive feedback, socialize and get more acquainted with the writing community at Kwantlen.”
The group has meetings bi-weekly, depending on the members’ schedules. At the sessions, they go over peoples’ work, give feedback and let them know what they think of their writing.
“I think it provides a haven for some of the creative writing folks who are a little too hesitant to display their work in class. Often people feel they’re being judged because they’re being graded. We like to think that this is venue for people to present their work without being graded or judged,” Mitz said.
The guild has open mic nights where students who are interested in reading their fiction, non-fiction or poetry can sign up and read in front of an audience. Last time, they had their open mic night at the Grassroots Lounge on the Surrey campus.
“I think it allows for a larger sense of school pride. We look at schools like UBC and SFU and they’ve got these extremely large and well-established creative programs for all the different arts. So we want to make Kwantlen on par with some of the larger schools and create a better university experience,” said Mitz.
Every year, they publish an end-of-the-year journal filled with writing done by Kwantlen students. There is a writing contest, which is open to all Kwantlen students, who can submit poetry, fiction or nonfiction. For each category, there will be a first- and second-place winner. The winners receive a small prize and gain a spot in the journal.
“The main goal is to create a positive writing environment for any student who is interested in creative writing. They don’t have to be professional, they don’t have to be the most brilliant writer ever. We are just looking for people who feel they have a passion to write. We want to be able to foster that for any student,” Mitz said.
Olivia Lovenmark isn’t just typical fashion-obsessed Vancouverite: She is style struck.
At 22, she’s working two jobs, penning entries for her blog Style Struck and hoping to launch her career in public relations.
Lovenmark’s fashion sense was there even as a child. “My aunt made my sister and I these pink jeans with bunnies on them and even as a five-year-old, I was like ‘there’s no way I’m wearing these.’”
After high school, Lovenmark enrolled in Kwantlen’s Fashion Design and Technology degree program. After a year, she realized design wasn’t for her. She took a year off and then went into fashion marketing and eventually the public relations program at BCIT.
“A short-term goal of mine would be doing public relations for Holt Renfrew. That’d be amazing,” she said.
A few of her favourite designers are Michael Kors, Karl Lagerfeld and Carolina Herrera. Her favourite local spots for shopping are Zara, Browns and Holt Renfrew. Lovenmark describes her style as “constantly changing.”
She claims to have two alter-egos when it comes to her fashion sense. One resembles her blog: more frivolous, sparkly and fun. The other is her more casual everyday look, with tailored jackets and ties.
“I really love androgynous clothing. I just really like men’s apparel, it’s got more structure to it and it’s a more thoughtful design.”
She claims her guilty pleasures are donuts and shoes. As a proud owner of more than a hundred pairs of shoes, she says, “I have a weakness for expensive shoes, but I also have a knack for finding designer shoes on sale.”
But lately her wallet has been given a break from the designer brands.
“I’ve been very fortunate lately to receive free clothes because of my blog. They see me talking about their brand and send me clothes to help promote their label, by blogging about their clothing and advertising for them,” she said.
She’s had her blog for two years and she’s been receiving clothes from a number of designers for about a year.
“It’s about building experiences. I worked for Guess by Marciano and by working for that brand or other brands, it really builds your credibility and people start to notice that and want you to wear their clothing, too,” she said.
Lovenmark blogs about everything fashion-related — what she wears, what’s in style, events she attends and people in the fashion industry she meets.
One of the biggest fashion faux pas, in her opinion, is when women show too much skin.
“I think that girls should cover up more, and leave a bit more to the imagination,” she said. “You can still look sexy and fashionable without showing too much.”
Lovenmark is a big believer in the power of social media to help build a personal brand.
“Social media is the new way of communicating; it’s here to stay. I was listening to this speaker earlier this week who describes social media as a cultural shift and I think that’s so spot on. As a blogger, your whole life is on social media, on Facebook, Twitter and your blog,” she said.
The key to being successful is being able to meet people in the industry and network through social media, she said.
“It’s a free platform to express yourself and kind of brand yourself as an expert in your field, I don’t have the capital behind me to start my own business, but with my blog I can show off what I do and people can find me and see what I’m about,” she said.
One of the biggest perks of her fashion blog are that it has opened the door to meeting other interesting people in the field.
“One of the best highlights for me is having the opportunity to meet so many cool people. I’ve been able to meet Judy Becker, Lisa Tant of Flare Magazine and Adrian Mainella from Fashion File. Being able to meet these people and talk to them, when I’ve looked up to them for so long, is an amazing experience, whether they’ve seen my blog or not,” she said.
Armani Exchange has just opened a new store in Oakridge and, of course, Lovenmark is going to be at the grand opening.
“They dressed me for it, so I’m going to wear Armani and promote the brand,” she said. “I really like working tandem with brands like that. For them, it’s good to have someone wearing their brand who blogs about it all the time and, of course, I like it because it builds my credibility. It shows that I’m working with established brands.”
Of all the opportunities Lovenmark has had available to her in the fashion industry, she said it’s all because of Style Struck.
Making the decision to further your education is one of the most important decisions in life. For students who have children, making the decision can be tougher, because they have to try and balance school work with being a parent.
The Student Parents’ Program is a support group that allows students to connect with other students who have children.
The group has weekly sessions that include workshops on parent education, financial planning, taxation, budgeting, study skills, stress management, nutrition and women’s health. They also take part in outdoor activities, arts and crafts, yoga and aerobics classes.
Robyn Rushford, a counsellor at Kwantlen, tries to schedule the group meeting around the students’ class times, to make sure as many students as possible can attend. Currently, she offers support to 15 students, and approximately 6-8 attend the weekly group meetings.
“I hope that this program increases a sense of belonging for the students, because when you do have kids you don’t have as much freedom and flexibility to participate in the school community,” said Rushford.
A former student parent, Rushford understands the challenges students face with finances and balancing class times around daycare.
Student who are parents can receive a $75-a-month per child bursary, with a maximum of $500 per semester. This bursary is offered to the students in fall and spring semesters; the only criteria is that they have to participate in the weekly group meetings.
“It’s a way of supporting the group and supporting the students who make that commitment to the group,” said Rushford.
Through the Kwantlen Foundation, funds are raised for the group which can be used to buy bus tickets from the KSA for students who can’t afford transportation to and from school. For a few years, the students in the program have also been doing fund-raising, usually by having a school bake sale, to support a family in need for Christmas.
“My group really believe in helping those who are in need,” said Rushford.
The Student Parents’ Program has been in existence at the Richmond Campus since 2000. Later this year, the Surrey campus will offer the program as well.
“Some students, in the entire time they are at Kwantlen, will participate in the program,” said Rushford.
One of those students is Jodi Macdonald, a single mother of two, in the last semester of her psychology degree.
“As long as I’ve been at Kwantlen, I’ve been going to the support group,” said Macdonald.
One of the struggles she is facing now is that her son has been ill and she has a hard time making it to classes because her daycare centre won’t take him when he’s sick.
“I’m a single parent and it’s hard to find someone to look after my kids on weekends or in the evenings, but if I do find someone, it’s an issue that my kids are not be seeing me enough during the day. I’m their only parent and it’s not fair to them if I’m never home,” said Macdonald.
Even when she took a break from school to have her baby, Macdonald still attended the group, because she liked the support she received.
“The group gets you out of the house. Usually, when people have a baby, it can get quite isolating if you don’t go out and be with people. It’s nice to talk to other moms because they understand exactly what you’re going through,” said Macdonald.
It’s no secret that textbooks can be expensive, coming on top of tuition and living expenses. For a student relying on a part-time job to cover these costs, having a social life is pretty much out of the question.
“Textbooks are extremely expensive, I just paid $512 on textbooks for this semester,” said Kayla Shimbashi.
“If I had bought my textbooks from the bookstore, it would have cost me about $300. But since I got them used off of Craigslist, I only paid like $170 for them,” said Scott Rachel.
Out of 20 Kwantlen students interviewed, only five bought their textbooks used. The majority of the students who bought new textbooks new from the bookstore were first-year students. The students who bought their textbooks used off of Craigslist and BC Bookworm were second- and third-year students.
Craigslist is one of the most popular sites for buying and selling used textbooks. You can find textbooks for the majority of your courses being sold up to 50 per cent cheaper and most are in great condition.
“I buy my textbooks from the bookstore because it’s just really convenient. When I’m done with them, I usually post them up on Craigslist. I’ve sold four out of eight of my old textbooks on Craigslist,” said Jansen Paulino.
BC Bookworm is an organization run by students that allows you to buy and sell used textbooks. It’s free to post an ad and the ad stays up for 90 days. The site states it can help students save up to 35 per cent on their textbooks.
“I find BC Bookworm really helpful, I used it to buy a few of my textbooks last semester,” said Fei Hyang.
Another way to save some money on textbooks is to borrow from friends or split the cost of textbooks with classmates.
“I either buy my textbooks at the bookstore or I borrow them from friends who have taken that course,” said Samantha Sunderland.
Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter may seem like a major distraction from doing homework, or anything productive for that matter, but are they really a waste of time?
As well as spending time on Facebook poking people, commenting on friends’ new relationships and creeping random profiles, there are some ways Facebook can be used productively.
“If you can’t reach someone on the phone, you know they will be on Facebook. It’s helpful because you have a way of getting in contact with them if you missed a class and need their notes,” said Matthew Espinosa.
Some Facebook groups can be beneficial to studies.
“Everyone is using Facebook now. The people in my class want to start a new group where we can share ideas and keep in touch with each other,” said Brittany Bird.
Facebook has a group for Kwantlen Polytechnic University that lets students connect and post events happening on campus.
“I find Facebook very helpful with keeping in touch with friends, being able to buy/sell used textbooks and join study groups,” said Joe Che.
Facebook also has groups for the different programs offered at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. “The Official Kwantlen Page” is an example of one group that allows past and current students of the fashion program to get together, share ideas, plan events and post pictures of their creations.
“I find it very helpful to use social networking, especially Facebook and Twitter, as a marketing medium for my online business,” said Greg Spoorski.
Twitter is also a popular choice when it comes to social networking and an effective way to connect with people in 140 characters or less.
“I find Twitter incredibly helpful because of the speed it generates information at. I can find out what everyone is doing and things that are happening all around the world, ” said Anna Burchill.
These last two weeks in Vancouver have been indescribable. People from all corners of the world gathered together as one to witness the most amazing event in the world, the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
Walking down the streets of downtown Vancouver, you got a real sense of people. Everyone instantly became your friend if they were wearing the same Team Canada jersey as you.
A quick glance and you could tell where all of these people came from — all dressed head to toe in the colour that represented their country and supported their athletes.
Although not everyone was fortunate enough to be in this beautiful city, they were still tuned in to the games and cheered from their own hometowns.
But our home, Vancouver, was the place to be.
Stories of personal strength and courage arose when Joannie Rochette performed her routine just days after her mother’s death. Although she didn’t win gold, she still won a bronze medal and the support of people worldwide. Even Celine Dion, her mother’s favourite singer, called Joannie to commend her on the amazing and emotional performance.
The audience roared with applause when Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won gold for figure skating. They have been skating together since they were children, and proved that with determination and motivation you can succeed.
But the biggest game of all was the final hockey game: Team USA against Team Canada, one would win gold, the other silver.
It was amazing to see that people from all around the world were watching this game, from soldiers in Afghanistan holding a Canadian flag, to crowds of people downtown with a maple leaf painted on their faces.
I was overwhelmed with a feeling of joy and pride when Sidney Crosby scored the winning goal in overtime. Whether you were at the game, celebrating in the streets or jumping up and down in your living room, much like I was, this was an incredible moment that we all witnessed and will remember forever.
After the game, cars were honking their horns and drivers were cheering at all of the people passing by. All were celebrating being Canadian.
The 2010 Olympic Winter games showed the world who we are. It also showed us what it means to be Canadian.