Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Alex Cuba Special Ticket Offer

Worldbeat Lovers Rejoice! Catch Cuban-Canadian Guitar Sensation Alex Cuba This Saturday!

Special Seat Offer!
Buy one Alex Cuba ticket for $29 and receive all additional tickets 20% off! Contact Theatre Junction GRAND box office to buy. Tickets subject to availability so buy fast!

Singer-songwriter Alex Cuba hails from Artemsia, Cuba and currently resides in Smithers, B.C. His trademark sugarcane-sweet melodies, pop-soul hooks and rock chords subtly subvert commonly held notions of Cuban music. Alex is on the vanguard, crafting a cross-cultural sound that mirrors his geographical journey.

In 2006, his debut solo CD earned him a Juno award for World Music Album. His second album “Auga Del Pozo” was released in February 2007 and earned Alex his second Juno award in the same category.



About the GRAND Independent Music Series:
Theatre Junction GRAND is excited to welcome more emerging and breakthrough Canadian artists. Focusing on independent performers which share our Do-It-Yourself attitude and featuring an eclectic body of music styles, The GRAND Independent Music Series enters its 3rd season to strong anticipation. The series highlights up and coming artists achieving success without compromise. Those who forge a path of independence, allowing them to flourish distinctively, earn recognition on its own musical merits and avoid all attempts at music industry categorization. The 07/08 series featured sold out concerts by Kathleen Edwards, Patrick Watson, and Chad Van Gaalen. On October 4, 2008 award winning world music artist Alex Cuba will open this season’s series.

Enjoy music that determines its own destiny!

4Play From Theatre Junction


See the remaining 4 shows of our 08/09 season for under $100!

Seven Deadly Sins Concert
The Tiger Lillies (London)
Oct 30-Nov 1/08

The Invisible
Marie Brassard (Montreal)
Feb 17-21/09

On The Side Of The Road
Theatre Junction (Calgary)
Mar 18-Apr 4/09

Three Sixty Five
Wen Wei Dance (Vancouver)
Apr 15-18/09

Get 4Play action any way you want --
To make it even easier and flexible to enjoy the remainder of our exciting season, we are now offering the same pricing for weekday & weekend shows. Choose any night you want!

Students must provide valid student ID to take advantage of the $64 price.

Get your 4Play Action Pack:

1) Directly from the Theatre Junction GRAND box office.

2) Phone the Theatre Junction GRAND box office 403.205.2922.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Critical Perspective on SITI Company's Radio Macbeth by Michael Thomas Taylor

Macbeth plays in the hinterlands called Scotland, beyond the borders of English civilization. Radio Macbeth, so the program notes tell us, plays in the “guts of an abandoned theatre,” as a group of actors rehearses for a radio broadcast of Shakespeare’s play. But in neither world are the boundaries between center and periphery as clear as they might seem. From the witches with which Shakespeare’s play opens, Macbeth’s Scotland is a realm governed by sorcery and violence, and above all by fear; in which the line between the natural and the supernatural, the living and the dead, has come under siege as Macbeth and his Lady invoke the darkness and eschew the day. And if the conceit of the Radio broadcast in this new production seems to fade into a subtext as the rehearsal gets underway, it nevertheless continues, like Scotland, to define the scene of the play. As the audience will doubtless know if they have read even one review of Radio Macbeth, this is a production about sound and the power of sound to set the stage. But it is also a play about the transposition of this medium—the worlds it can conjure up and the boundaries it can cross—onto a more modern stage.

A reliance on sound is not so far from Shakespeare, who wrote for a theater in which afternoon performances meant that darkness, the color of this play, could only be had in the imagination; and it is an obvious twist on a work famous for the tolling of its bells and the knocking at its gates. But this continuity from Shakespeare to Orson Welles, whose 1936 “Voodoo Macbeth,” set in Haiti and played with an all-black cast looms behind Radio Macbeth, haunts this production even as the designers make full use of more modern theatrical means such as light and shadow. Sound and sight do not compete, but they are also not equals. Indeed, the radio-frame begins offstage, as the actors arrive and loudly fumble their way toward finding the lights; but only as they enter does the theatre go dark, hiding the actor who will play Macbeth, and who has been silently inhabiting the stage as the audience comes in. The retreat from this well-worn device (some might say worn-out cliché) of contemporary theatre to an earlier setting is obvious and intentional. It is also a retreat into a world of stage-craft in which the spooky, even kooky effects of Radio theatre, can be employed with the brazen confidence of a Halloween ghost-pageant. Witches cackle and winds blow and we will not leave without a blood-curdling scream of murder! The clear artistry of Radio Macbeth is to bring about these effects simply and fundamentally, with voices and objects on stage; just as the actors’ basic physical vocabulary allows them to effortlessly increase the pace or redraw the center of action. But it is the constant modulations in sound, the playful fashioning of Shakespeare’s lines, the trading of roles back and forth among the cast, that carries through the shifting scenes and the shadows on the wall. Indifferent to light and darkness, sound fills outs distinctions of center and periphery, just as radio is a medium that is both everywhere and nowhere.

Hence if sound does not so much establish boundaries as pass around and through them, it does place several things squarely in the center of this performance: the actors’ voices and Shakespeare’s text. To say that Shakespeare’s text lies at the center of things is no empty or idle observation. It reflects a Shakespeare bent, ironically enough, away from centuries of concern about historical chronicles, Scottish costumes, and the great question of Macbeth’s character, to a post-modern sensibility. The overwhelming weight of the soliloquies, of the murderers’ open calls to darkness, have always threatened to tip the play into comic farce. In Radio Macbeth, they have found an apt medium. We always and literally see on stage the split between the grand ambitions of these illusions, amplified and reverberating through the theatre (and in broadcast, into the world), and the script from which they are read. But what does this make of the text? In her program notes, Anne Bogart, who co-directed the play together with the prolific sound designer Darren West, writes that the actors “cling to the sanity of words while the chaos of history grows to be undeniably present with them in the room.” What, one wonders, could be sane about this text? We need no literary scholars to tell us that witches speak in riddles, that ambition blinds Macbeth to dangerous ambiguity, that words shamelessly lie under the thin cloak of irony. Perhaps the sanity resides, nevertheless, in the blunt force of language, in Shakespeare’s poetic surety, swiftness, and precision? Or in the sharp blows of comic relief that connect with the audience? Or, as Bogart seems to suggest, in the ritual of coming together around the play, in the very power of theatre to share and shift roles and voices? However one answers this question, it articulates the most pressing risk of SITI’s Radio Macbeth: an unyielding decision to stage Shakespeare in a way that avant-garde theatre has today largely abandoned, to display a deliberate trust in the tradition of its text as capable of “exorcising” its ghosts.

Michael Thomas Taylor, Assistant Professor, University of Calgary

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Critical Perspective on SITI Company's Radio Macbeth by Natalie Meisner

SITI Company’s production of Radio Macbeth exploits the centuries of superstition and lore surrounding “The Scottish Play.” Actors in rehearsal will go to great lengths to avoid pronouncing the name of the play or the protagonist inside the theatre due to the belief that they will bring misfortune and disaster upon themselves, the theatre or the production. This results in elaborate euphemisms such as referring to the couple as Mr. and Mrs. M. or the king himself as Mackers or MacBee.

The origin of this curse has many supposed points of origin. In the play’s original production, legend has it, the trick daggers were switched for real ones resulting in an on-stage death of an actor. Talk about suffering for your art! Some say that Shakespeare “borrowed” the spells of the Weird Sisters from a coven of “real” witches who, lacking any protection under copyright law, opted to haunt subsequent productions, causing actors to fall to their deaths and stagehands to drop dead in the wings. A less romantic view would point out that classical theatre with their ad-hoc back stage areas were prime areas for disaster, or that since Macbeth was such a popular play that theatres would often stage it as a last-ditch effort to stave off financial trouble and hence the association between the play and the closing of theatres.

The remedies employed by actors to fend off misfortune are legion and include leaving the theatre, spinning around three times, spitting or reciting a virtuous line of the play itself. No doubt the legend grew as each generation of veteran actors regaled the new ones with weird occurrences they had witnessed during production with their own eyes.

Determining the true origin of the legend, however, is perhaps less important than examining the haunting effect that it has and continues to have upon theatre artists and audiences alike. The enduring themes of the dangers of overarching ambition, the torture of a guilty conscience and the onslaught of madness continue to resonate with contemporary audiences while the lean, pared down production that SITI delivers highlights one of Shakespeare’s particular gifts; the infusion of the guts and gore, the gritty bodily aspects of life with high poetry.

Radio Macbeth leans heavily on the play’s most famous speeches, allowing a return to the ritualistic incantatory aspect of theatre making it a species of meditation for the Shakespeare fan. You can almost feel the spectator in the seat next to you mouthing the words silently during the dagger speech. The open-ended approach that the production takes allows you to consider all other productions you might have seen of the play, or even perhaps your own thoughts when you previously read or studied it. The bare stage and the lean approach place the focus on the skill of the actor and the beauty of the text. Spectators are free to contemplate all the emanations and meanings of the complex metaphors and figurative language in a placid pool, free of spectacle, impressive costumes, and special effects.

In his book, The Haunted Stage, Marvin Carlson points out the extent to which the spectator’s enjoyment of classical theatre depends upon what he calls ghosting. In other words, any production of a play is haunted, to a certain extent by all previous productions of the play due to the memories (and even the body memories) of both stage performers and audiences. The dagger we see before us is even a ghost of all the other daggers which have hung before the eyes of all other amazed performers and audiences of the past. This creates a plenitude of stage meaning in each moment that is not reducible to any one interpretation. This haunting of the live performance by the collective memories of actors and audiences produces the “frisson” or shiver that we feel in live performance and may also explains why we, in theatre are in turn so obsessed with ghosts.

SITI Company has capitalized on the phenomena of “ghosting” in live performance. The focus is shifted from the obvious dramatic tension of the murder plot and returned to poetic contemplation of the words themselves. The production intentionally violates the taboo, and the performers themselves seem to intentionally taunt the ghosts of past performances with each utterance of the king’s name. The play opens, as the liner notes tell us, in the “guts” of an abandoned rehearsal hall. This visceral, corporeal personification of the architectural space of performance is likely a nod to the company’s well documented use of the viewpoint method of actor training.

The setting and the sparse lean production are infused with the layers of meaning applied by the actors in response to their own quotidian experience in the rehearsal hall. The spooky terrain between the actor and the “character” he is playing is on display here. Each time we hear Macbeth, the tension in the room heightens. There are crashes in the dark. The use of the microphones allows the audience to focus on the performers’ formidable vocal skills and the earthy poetry of one of Shakespeare’s most beloved plays.

Dr. Natalie Meisner

Department of English, Mount Royal

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Critical Perspecitives

Theatre Junction will be publishing critical perspectives on each of its season shows. They will be written by Michael Thomas Taylor, Assistant Professor at the University of Calgary & Natalie Miesner, English Instructor at Mount Royal College. We would like to create a discourse with the public and we welcome responses to these critical perspecitives and any other comments you may have about our presentations.

The first set of responses about Radio Macbeth (Sept 24-27) created by Anne Bogart's SITI Company (New York) will be published online here following Opening Night.

We want to hear from you so don't hold back!