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Blaine Greenwood among Southern Alberta poets “Bearing Witness” to different world views at symposium

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Art inspires art. So when local poet Blaine Greenwood went to the Glenbow Museum to see travelling exhibitions of French artist Henri Matisse, Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali and Belgian artist Rene Magritte, he was immediately inspired by their unique world views during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Blaine Greenwood officially releases his second book of poetry, Feb. 15  at Andy’s Place at the University of Lethbridge. Photo by Richard Amery
Greenwood just released his second book of poetry “The False Mirror”, inspired by the works of those artists. He will release the book during “Bearing Witness,” a special poetry symposium, Feb. 15 at Andy’s Place (AH100) beginning at 12:15, featuring seven southern Alberta poets including Richard Stevenson, Ali Riley, cowboy poet Ken Sears, Calgary poet Vivian Hansen, Ian McAdam, performance poet Erin Dingle Adam exploring the theme of Bearing Witness until about 2:30 p.m.. Each poet will have about 10 minutes to showcase their works.

“The theme is general enough that all of the poets interpret it differently,” Greenwood said, noting after a break, he will officially be launching his book at 6 p.m. at the U of L bookstore.
“If you can’t make sense of what Blaine Greenwood is saying, then in 10 minutes it will be different. Part of what poetry means depends on the perception of the reader. You bring your own experiences. You may get something completely out of it that I might not have even thought of it. We have seven poets with seven different world views,” he continued.

 His poetry was inspired by the three different world views of three wildly different arts working in the same time period.

“All three of them were working during the Second World War. So when you thunk about that a lot of them are about the chaos of war,” he said.
“Dali interpreted reality through dreams. Dali spoke a lot with Sigmund Freud about the interpretation of dreams. So when you realize that, you realize they (his paintings) make a lot of sense,” he said.
“And everyone dreams, so people can identify with that,” Greenwood continued, adding art, both visual like painting, and literary art is subjective, so everyone brings their own interpretations to art according to their own life experiences.

“Matisse was inspired by Muslim poet Rumi from the twelfth century and he lived in Morocco during the Second World War, so there is a lot of mid eastern and African  imagery in his works. He was inspired by the casbahs there,” Greenwood observed.
“Magritte is known for his (painting of a) gigantic blue eye. All of his works were very monochromatic. He used really bright colours. He started as a graphic designer who designed posters and billboards,” Greenwood observed.


Yates renovations force local theatre groups to improvise with weird spaces

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 Theatre can happen anywhere, and in part, due to the closure of the Yates Theatre for renovations last year, it has as local theatre and arts groups have been performing anywhere they are able to.
 Due to asbestos, the re-opening  of the Yates Centre has been tentatively postponed to July.

“We usually have a main stage production in February, so when the Yates closed, it was challenging,” said Playgoers of Lethbridge board president Elaine Jagielski, who is also directing their upcoming dinner theatre of the British comedy “ Beyond a Joke.”
“We Playgoers of Lethbridge rehearses for their play “Beyond a Joke” in an upstairs room at the Southminster United Church. Photo by Richard Ameryalways do well with dinner theatres,” Jagielski observed, noting usually they do a main stage production in February, but had to re-evaluate their plans as a result of the Yates Theatre closure.
The Derek Benfield penned British comedy “ Beyond a Joke,” runs Feb. 7-10 at the Italian Canadian Club featuring actors Rob Berezay, Jocelyn Steinborn, Aaron Tyslan, Stephanie Wickham, Kevin Reddyk, Marcie Stork and Howard Pearson.

Jagielski emphasized the biggest problem community theatre groups face is finding a place to rehearse and perform that is affordable and will welcome them in.
“It has been challenging to find alternate places to perform,” she said, noting there is such a demand for performing spaces apart from theatre group, that there is a lot of competition to  get into a space.
She noted Playgoers approached numerous venues for their upcoming production.

 “We looked into the College Drive Community Church and  the French Canadian centre, who have a nice stage, but it wouldn’t have worked for a dinner theatre. We even looked at the Gem of the West Museum in Coaldale, but there is an open space in the middle of it and there are pillars in the way. We even looked at the community hall in Diamond City, but we weren’t sure if people would be willing to drive that far,” she said.

“There’s a lot of interesting spaces, but it is challenging trying to find one that is cost effective and aren’t booked up. All of the spaces are booked up,” she said.
 They are rehearsing for “Beyond a Joke” at Southminster United Church.

“We have a relationship with them and we’ve had people who are involved with our plays who are also involved with the church,” she said, adding she is appreciative of their support for Playgoers.

LCI usually has a main stage production, however, they decided to use their own theatre instead for their December production of “Anne of Green Gables.”
Frewin noted putting on the musical has been a challenge.
“We’re working with a smaller stage than we’re used to, especially for a musical,” said drama teacher Kelly Frewin, noting they put on a musical every three years or so.
While Hatrix Theatre isn’t affected by the closure of the Yates, they still use alternate spaces for their productions. They have been using the Moose Hall for productions like “Little Shop of Horrors” and “Avenue Q” to name a few, though they put on Spamalot in the Yates.

The other arm of Hatrix, has used the Nord bridge Seniors Centre for their past two productions of “12 Angry Jurors” and “the Game’s Afoot: Holmes for the Holidays.”

 Utilizing a space which is already used by other community organizations and events presents its own unique set of technical problems.
“You still need to find a place to meet. And for the show, you need to think of audience visibility,” said Hatrix Theatre’s Karolyn Harker.

“You have two choices, you have to either raise the audience or raise the stage. And if it is used for other events, you have to tear it all down,” she continued, adding lights also have to be moved at the end of the show.
“When there’s no fixed lights, they have to be changed each night too. And there’s no backstage area,” she said.

 “That limits the director’s choices unless there is a space you can lead actors off into a separate room. That’s why I chose 12 Angry Jurors. The actors were on stage all the time and there was consistent lighting with no special effects,” she continued, adding she enjoyed working with Nord Bridge using their space when nobody else was using it.

 She is planning a May production of Ken Ludwig’s “ A Comedy of Tenors,” which features some of the same characters, though it isn’t a sequel. It will be a location to be determined.
New West Theatre was probably the theatre group most affected by the Yates closure, so ended up having shows at an assortment of various locations all over the city.
“We chose  plays based on the spaces we expected to be in. So a lot of extra time went into planning,” said New West Theatre General manger Derek Stevenson. They utilized the Trianon Art Gallery for “Vigil,” which was a collaboration with Club Didi, held a Christmas show at The multicultural Centre downtown, Chinook High School for their big annual winter musical revue of “Starlight” and used the Casa community room for their theatre for young people’s production of “Hansel and Gretel.” They will be in the University Theatre for “Ms. Sugarcube,” their final production of the season, Feb. 21-24.

“The Trianon was a perfect match for the Vigil,” Stevenson said, noting who you know is an important part of being able to get access unusual spaces.
“Sharon Peat (New West Artistic Director) is really good friends with the Savilles who own the the Trianon,” observed Theatre Outré general manager Jay Whitehead.
“And it’s an art gallery, so we had to move in seating and lighting and black out the windows, because there were a lot of blackouts in the play. We were set up for two weeks. They were very generous,” Whitehead said.
“It takes place in the attic of an old house, so the space really suited the play,” Whitehead said.

“When we‘re paying professional actors, we’re hoping at the very least to break even,” Stevenson said.
“We also had to think about parking and audience accessibility, especially because the audience for the musical comedy revue are elderly,” Stevenson said, adding they had to do a lot of organizing in a short time, with three of their shows this season happening  within a month.
“They were  bam, bam, bam, one right after the other, which was also difficult for people like Erica (Hunt) and Kathy (Zaborsky,) who were involved in all three of them.


Things get back into full swing this week with jazz jam and Flipfest fundraiser

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Things pick up this week, beginning tonight at the Slice with a big rap show featuring Evil Ebenezer of SDK plus West Coast O and J Marsh. There will be local support from the PSychonauts, Pyke, ONTK  and JPB.

 Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets James Oldenburg plays gigs with Bandemonium and hosts the jazz jam at to Owl Acoustic Lounge with HBO3. Photo by Richard Ameryare $10 in advance $20 at the door.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, Jan. 17,  the Slice features a special FLIPfest fundraiser with Montreal’s Duchess Says, Windsor, Ontario’s Partner and local band W.I.T.S.

Duchess Says are members of the Church of Budgerigars who formed in 2003 to spread the word of the Duchess (spiritual Budgie) through synth powered indie rock.

 Partner are  best friends Josée Caron and Lucy Niles who released their debut CD in πIn Search of lost Time” who were named best new band in Canada by the Globe and mail. W.I.T.S Are a local synth pop band.

 Tickets are $15 from the Slice or Blueprint or $20 at the door. It is a fundraiser for this year’s edition of FLIPfest, a  multi-venue Femme positive music festival which was a highlight of last year.


Derina Harvey Band ready to get your toes tapping and hands clapping

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Edmonton based Celtic band the Derina Harvey  Band are excited to return to the Slice, Jan. 19.

The Derina Harvey band return to the Slice, Jan 19. Photo by Richard Amery
They have added  a new member to the family in  new fiddle player Jessica Blenis.

“ Our other fiddle player moved to a different part of the province. We’ve played with a lot of different fiddle players. She played her first gig with us last weekend in Fort McMurray. Though she has got on stage with us before,” observed lead singer Derina Harvey.

“ She’s from New Brunswick, so we’re still the most authentic eastern band in the west,” Harvey continued, adding the transplanted Newfoundlanders released two CDs including their most recent “Rove and Go” in 2016, has been playing together for many years.

“ Me and Steve (Pinsent, drummer) were in the same music program in 1998 where we met our guitar player Scott (Greene) who was in the recording program. As it happens, he has been playing with our bass player Ed Smith since they were 14, so we’ve been playing together for a long time. We’re like family,” she added.

They have spent most of the  year playing all around the province as well as into Saskatchewan and Manitoba. They returned to Newfoundland during a summer filled with festivals including the George Street Festival in St. John’s the North Country Fair in Driftpile, Alberta, Springfest in East Coulee, went to Ontario for the Ontario Contact in Petrolia and even played Yellowknife for the first time at the East Coast Garden party this summer under the midnight sun.

They enjoyed playing Newfoundland.


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