Donâ€™t follow your dreams. Lead them. – Zuhaeb Hassan, 17, Frank Hurt Secondary School
Five years ago, I was 15 years old and probably more overweight than I am now. At that age, I worried about nothing more than my friends, school, extracurriculars, and who was booting for me on the weekend.Â Not once did it cross my mind that there was a life beyond my bubble,
â€¦I almost got into like 6 car accidents and ended up at UBC because I missed a turn, but what else is new? Thank goodness I got there with half an hour to spare, although I spent that entire time up until the show started being overly excited about my amazing reserved seating with a sign that had my name on it. Iâ€™m kind of a big deal. Just kiddingâ€¦but no really.
Anyway, back to the show!
Fighting Chance Productions (remember that amazing theatre company that brought you BARE: A Pop Opera this summer?) presented to a full and enthusiastic audience A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum: an over the top comedy where everything that could go wrong in a storyline does in a matter of seconds. The millions of different things happening onstage and the million misunderstandings between characters in the plotline made for a very audience-active show. While the plotline twists and bends into the most complicated scenarios that leave you thinking, â€œholy shit, the worst possible thing that could happen in this situation definitely just happenedâ€, everything managed to make perfect sense through song, dance and humor.
I laugh a lot, believe me I do, but the amount of laughter which escaped from wherever it is that laughter escapes from in body was absolutely ridiculous. From the very moment when Pseudolus (played by Mr. Ryan Mooney) stepped on the stage, I knew that this character would have me in stitches the entire time. And he did! Then Hysterium (Michael Wild), Sennex (Peter Stainton), and every single other character in that amazing show came onstage and tears continued to stream down my adorable cheeks. I am a huge stickler about comedic timing, and that is one of the most important things I notice when I see a performance.
Good thing the comedic timing was spot on in Forum! Pseudolus for example: I honestly couldnâ€™t even tell if what Ryan Mooney (who might I add, is the guy who directed BARE) was saying was scripted or not, THATâ€™s how clean and pristine his comedic chops were for this character. The great thing about this show is that nobody sucked, and even if they did (which Iâ€™m sure they didnâ€™t), I was laughing so hard that I didnâ€™t even notice.
Because Youth in 57 Minutes is dedicated to youth, I feel compelled to talk about Hero; a teenage boy lost in love with Philia (Elyse Maloway) played by Cameron Dunster, who was also in BAREâ€¦am I the only one who wasnâ€™t in that show?! Anyhow, Hero exemplified and illustrated the perfect amount of teenage angst and internal desire in which we often face, and is a very adorable and relatable character in that sense. His comical songs sing about common adolescent issues, and his singing voice was wonderful. He also had great legs, and rocked the hell out of an itty-bitty toga better than anyone I know.
My favorite part of the entire show was the audience interaction involved that made the show complete. It was amazing how each character stayed committed while interacting with very different audience members each time, and how the audience members reactedâ€¦Iâ€™m not going to tell you what happens because it is best you see what I mean for yourself.
A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum is playing until the 22nd of October, so if you havenâ€™t seen it yet then pleaseâ€¦GO! If it wasnâ€™t worth seeing, I would not say thisâ€¦actually I might of anyway, but that is NOT the case here. I may even bring my mom to see it (cue the â€œAWWW!â€). A huge thank you again to Fighting Chance Productions for exceeding our expectations and accommodating Youth in 57 Minutes. We love you. Sounds tacky, but we do. Until next time!
Have you ever had this amazing thought or idea during the process of waking up in the morning- just as youâ€™re getting used to the subtle burn of morning light in your eyes- and you suddenly get this feeling that you just HAVE to write down, causing you to skip the next couple of steps in the â€œwaking upâ€ process so you can bolt for your laptop and just type it out?
Yah. Thatâ€™s what happened to me the morning that I thought after viewing Choose the Right Thing?, it was very obvious that I had â€˜chosen the right thingâ€™ to watch at the Vancouver International Film Festival this year.
Iâ€™m sorry, I just couldn’t help myself.
Choose the Right Thing? is a compilation of 8 short films from the USA, the UK, Germany, New Zealand, and Brazil as part of the High School Outreach Program at the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF). Â I liked everything about the films; from the scenery to camera angles, everything was so raw, fresh and exciting and youth centric.
It is impossible to watch any of these shorts passively. My mind was constantly in motion through the viewing of these shorts, for the storylines were layered and embedded with so much in regards to the youth experience. Each film details varying social, emotional, and cultural contexts that cannot go unnoticed in our world, and the steps taken to exemplify these issues in each short to the fullest is pretty remarkable. The execution of each story was unlike any other mainstream â€œbox office hitâ€ youâ€™d come across, and the feelings associated with these issues are very different. Take Opus for example: the issue of a student-teacher relationship is something that is not so new to the industry, however, Opus looks at it through a superficial-less and much more realistic lens of infatuation, and shows the mental and emotional (not the judicial ones) complications associated with such an affair. Â And in Just Like Her, when a teen girl has the opportunity to spend time with a model whom she idolizes, things un-spiral in a way unlike any other film has done beforeâ€¦but Iâ€™m not going to tell you what, because that will spoil the surprise!
One general note I feel compelled to make after watching each of the films is that the acting was fantastic. I kid you not; Iâ€™m pretty sure each and every character made me feel something. Whether it was wanting to beat the shit out of Micahâ€™s older brother in Crush, or hug poor Ahmad in Broken Cycle, it was crystal clear that the actors successfully completed their jobs in telling the story. There were plenty of times where I wanted to reach out to the characters in the film, and give them a hug or something, since they gave me the impression that they needed itâ€¦if that makes any sense.
I, too, felt the frustration and confusion dwelling within the teenage boy in Goalie, and IÂ so badly wanted to console the teenage boy in The Off Season who was grieving over the loss of his father. I was constantly on my toes anticipating the actions of each character, for it felt as though they were replicating real lifeâ€¦and we all know how erratic and spontaneous people in real life can be! There were instances in All Ages where I thought to myself, â€œstory of my lifeâ€, especially when the girls had to pee so bad at a party and had to squat outside, only to be caught by a smokinâ€™ hot guitarist (donâ€™t act like itâ€™s never happened to you). Each of the characters in each of the films are very relatable, which is something that I have always found to be pretty important; it was all very REAL, and that is what made these films so goddamn special.
Speaking of being â€œgoddamn specialâ€, I had the honor of interviewing (via email because we love utilizing technology these days, and of course, time zones) four of the film directors who will be in town for the festival: Matthew A. Brown (Crush), Clifton Archuleta (Broken Cycle), Laramie Dennis (All Ages), and Max Rousseau (Opus).Â I had planned to be all journalisty and incorporate their responses within the article, but the content within their responses was just too good and inspirational to pass up:
So tell me about yourselves! Please state your name, age, how long you have been involved in the film industry, howÂ you got started, when you did in fact start, what your films are usually about, etc.
Matthew (MB)- Matthew A. Brown. 37. Involved in the film industry since around 1997. Started as an actor. Did leads in some critically acclaimed American indie features like God’s Army (2000) and Brigham City (2001). But started writing very early on. Did English lit in university, where I started writing screenplays. And once I stepped behind the camera for the first time, I knew I’d never act again. Was ecstatic and so much more emotionally available and was always more interested in creating the entire world of the story than being a pawn to someone else’s vision. My stories vary. My first feature, which I’m shooting next year in Cape Town (I was born in Cape Town, immigrated to New York with my family at 16) is a South African coming-of-age gangster thriller, called STRONG BONES. Also have a psych-thriller in development. And another gangster movie with kids, but this one’s NY-based, called THE RISE AND FALL OF LORENZO THE KID. My shorts have displayed both these tendencies. Crush, my 4th short, deals with teenage violence, sexuality, revenge, love. And my previous short, Victim, is dark suspense thriller… Very much a genre piece.
Clifton (CA)- Hi, my name is Clifton Archuleta and I’m 32 years old.Â As a recent college graduate, my industry experience is just beginning.Â Four years ago, I decided to make a major career change.Â I had been working as a contract translator after serving 7 Â½ years in the U.S. Army as an Arabic linguist, but felt it was time to pursue my passion to pick up a camera and start making movies. That’s how I ended up in film school. Since graduation, I’ve been working with a commercial production house in Denver and doing some freelance work.Â It’s all been a great experience and I feel fortunate for the opportunities that have come my way.Â Most recently, I was able to spend ten days in Argentina on a shoot. My films often deal with social justice issues.Â Making such films is difficult for me though, because while I’m very opinionated, I’m not interested in beating people over the head with my message. I’d rather let issues present themselves in the circumstances surrounding an individual and focus on the human aspect of how one deals with them.Â I believe this helps to provoke thought and allows the viewer to reach their own conclusion about a given issue.
Laramie (LD)- I’m 38, but my psychic age is 17. After college, I spent ten years in New York directing theater before deciding on a whim to apply to film school. All Ages is my graduate thesis, and the first film I’ve ever screened publicly.
Max (MR)- I’m Max Rousseau, 23 and I’ve really been involved in the film industry since I was 9. I wanted to be a filmmaker ever since then and never jumped ship no matter what was thrown at me. It started mainly with me wanting to be a Producer (when I was 9, I used to watch big budget action films produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, he was my childhood hero) but that shifted to writing as I would write my own scripts on my free time. It wasn’t until high school that I actually picked up a camera and starting shooting my scripts. I interned on numerous low budget films shooting where I grew up in South Florida (Ft. Lauderdale to be specific).Â I decided to get my degree in film and I got into the Film B.F.A. program at the University of Central Florida. I directed four short films in undergrad, (one of which is Opus – which is playing/premiering at VIFF). Â Right now I’m at UCF getting an M.F.A., teaching Film Courses and directing my first feature which is in pre-production currently (check out www.pembrokecircle.com).Â My films to be honest are usually about outcasts of some sort, people who don’t fit into the “norm” due to social awkwardness, not relating to people their age, cultural differences or insecurities.Â That has been a running theme in all of my films including Opus and my up-coming feature Pembroke Circle.
All of these films revolve around youth (ages 15-25). Why was it important to you to create such a film using the demographic of teenagers? How do the issues in your film address real life, and why did you choose to create a piece on that specific issue addressed?
MB- I love working with teenagers because there’s so often a certain raw and burning emotional aliveness and immediacy. Also no bad acting habits from years of TV or theater or whatever. In Crush, I went through agencies in Berlin, and couldn’t find the right faces or rawness. In fact, many of the agencies were too scared of the material to even show their kids. But of course when the kids read the script, they loved it. Because it was real to them. But this was also due to working in Germany I think, where there’s a certain fear of violence. Unless it’s depicted in the past. I like to capture spirit on the screen. And teenagers are so often just exploding with all this life and desires and impulses going haywire… But that’s also why I like actors like Sean Penn. The unpredictability.
CA- I feel like teenagers are at a very vulnerable point in their lives.Â I remember being faced with split-second decisions that could have potentially changed the course of my life(drugs, vandalism, etc.).Â There was a night that I decided not to get in a car with some kids from school who had been drinking.Â Later that night, they crashed their car and two of the teens died.Â I feel that it’s important to address issues that teens are currently dealing with in order to help them see that a person doesn’t have to succumb to peer pressure or pretend to be something they’re not.Â Broken Cycle addresses several issues, but primarily racism and bullying.Â Several years ago, I read an article about a Sikh 9th grader in Queens, New York who had been assaulted by his classmates because of his appearance.Â That same year, there was a Muslim teen from Staten Island who finally spoke up about being beaten and bullied by his peers for over a year.Â Stories like these forced me to think more in depth about the potential consequences of such actions on the development of adolescents. There’s also my personal connection to these issues.Â My heritage is half hispanic, half irish.Â Growing up in an ethnically divided community, I found it difficult to find acceptance from my peers.Â Luckily, I was able to look past these things and not let it reflect negatively on the way I viewed myself, however, I can see how easily youth can get caught up in the conflict it causes.
LD- When I was in high school, my friends and I were obsessed with the movies John Hughes made with Molly Ringwald (Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club + Pretty in Pink). We wanted Molly’s clothes. We wanted to get the guy in the end, like Molly always did. We wanted to be her. But we also identified with Molly. Whether she was playing an awkward sophomore or a prom queen, she radiated this intense, teenage self-consciousness. This fear of acting like a dork. I really identified with that.
MD- I think it was important for me to make the protagonist of my film 17, because I wanted to show a character who felt alienated because of her passion (in this case classical music/ piano) which ultimately leads to her falling for her teacher. I think many of my peers, in my generation at least, have no idea what they want out of life or are afraid to follow their dreams (or passions).Â The main character in my film is following her passion (though she has temptations along the way) she does what many people my age seem to not be doing.Â They’re not willing to take risks.Â This could just be Florida though…
Do you think the teenage experience often exemplified in film and television is generally important? Why do you think the medium of film is so successful in raising awareness to teenage issues and struggles?
MB- I’m not sure the medium of film is so successful in raising awareness to teenage issues… Most of what I see nowadays that deals with teens in cinema has nothing at all to do with raising awareness… I see a lot of purely entertaining stories that involve teens kicking ass, sucking blood, flying broomsticks, talking about cocks and cunts, and generally living balls to the wall and loving life. In fact one my upcoming features is a teenage surfing vigilante movie called MY NAME IS CALIFF HUTCHINS. And it’s a balls to the wall and ecstatic celebration of living your dreams to the full. And yes, killing, or at least maiming, anyone who gets in the way.
CA- It’s definitely important.Â Teenagers are influenced by so much.Â The culture they experience through movies and on television helps to define their self-image.Â This can be bad, violence is a good example.Â Not that I’m against violence in media, I think it has its place, but I don’t agree with violence being gratuitous or glamorized.Â For this same reason, film and television can also be good. It has the ability to reach so many people, as well as, show youth that there are others who share their experience.
Why do you think it’s important for youth (ages 15-25) to be involved in the film industry, whether in front of the camera or behind the scenes.
MB- I think the teenage / young adult perspective will naturally bring a whole other energy/vision to the table. Harmony Korine’s writing KIDS for example. Or Catherine Hardwicke’s writing “13″ with the teenage girl. There’s an element of life there that’s raw/burning, like what I was talking about above. And the other major thing for me is that so often adults either forget or try to deny just how hardcore their thinking/dreaming/desires were as teenagers. I was so excited when I saw Chloe Moretz in KICK ASS. Firstly coz it felt like at least now there’s a precedent for some of the shit my kids get up to in LORENZO THE KID, which has a much darker, but ecstatic tone… But also I was thinking how brilliant it is that she was just allowed — by parents/guardians/agents/whoever — to do the role in the first place. I feel like it should be the kid’s decision. Sure, there are limits. But I think kids reach the age of discernment infinitely earlier than parents are willing to admit.
CA- I think it’s important for several reasons.Â One, it helps them to get their stories heard. A major problem with issues like bullying is that teens often feel that no one is listening. Two, filmmaking a hugely a collaborative effort.Â Becoming part of a team, such as a film crew, helps to instill a sense of belonging and confidence through accomplishment in people.Â It also allows people to express themselves creatively, which can help break down barriers and inhibitions.
LD- Make movies if that sounds like fun to you. Or act in a play. Or play basketball. Play violin in the dork-ass ORCHESTRA, if that’s what you’re into. (Do schools even have orchestras anymore??) Tell your mom you’re going “out for coffee” and go to rock shows instead.
If you have anything at all, whether it be advice or something important about your film that you would like revealed in the article.
MB- Do what you love.
Agreed. Do what you love, people. Just like Ellie did in Ellie. Not sure of what she did? Then go see Choose the Right Thing? and be inspired to create and do the things it is that you love. Speaking of which, Iâ€™m going to eat now. Thank you very much to VIFF for accommodating Youth in 57 Minutes Media, and an even greater thank you to those directors who shared a word or two with usâ€¦we appreciate it, and look forward to seeing more of you in the future!
Photos from www.viff.org
Skateboarding is something that Iâ€™ve tried a few times. Unfortunately, I have yet to successfully accomplish staying on the board for more than a couple of seconds. It is something I find to be extremely difficult, and thought â€œhow could anyone have the patience for this?â€
Josh â€œSkreechâ€ Sandoval sure as hell does, and anyone who watches Tristan Pattersonâ€™s Dragonslayer at the Vancouver International Film Festival this year will know exactly what I mean. Pattersonâ€™s dark, yet enlightening documentary illustrates the complexities of the homeless skateboarder who, despite all of the shit heâ€™s been through and is currently going through, is trying very hard to quench his passion for skateboarding any way he can, even if it means boarding in empty swimming pools (that did not belong to him) and competing in competitions all over the world. On one hand heâ€™s an addict who drinks and parties often, and on the other hand heâ€™s a father to this adorable child named Rocket (pretty sweet, huh?) and boyfriend to a reasonably understanding high school student who basically looks past his wild,partying ways. It is these very conflicting lifestyles and complexities thatÂ made for an interesting storyline.
I had a chance to speak with Patterson about the film earlier this week.
â€œPretty instantly when I met Skreech, I thought he was interesting. I thought that the world he was living up was interesting to me as well and I wanted to capture that moment in timeâ€, says Patterson. While 35 year old Patterson was searching and hoping to do something experimental with his next film, he met Skreech at a party.Â Â â€œI just thought he had a strange poetry, and I liked the idea of making something that is different â€˜cause no one else could make a movie like this one. There are no other people out there who are like Skreech. Thereâ€™s a sort of authenticity of who he is. Heâ€™s very upfront about things.â€
And Voila! In 2009, Patterson began working with Skreech on Dragonslayer. But yes, itâ€™s true: If Skreech isnâ€™t a breed of his own, then I donâ€™t know what is! Â Dragonslayer demonstrates Skreechâ€™s appreciation for everything that is handed his way, and not once through the entire film does he become remotely selfish or turn on anyone close to him. For someone who literally has as little in his pocket as his burning passion for skateboarding, Skreech felt lucky and grateful for every little contribution his friends and Skateboarding sponsors could hand his way. While most of us would have probably cringed at the thought of staying in a tent of someoneâ€™s backyard during a skateboarding competition, he considered himself as being â€œhooked up phatâ€, and meant it. The way he appreciated everyone and everything around him was quite remarkable, and kind of made me feel like an asshole for taking everything around me for granted.
Itâ€™s not every day that a drug addict/alcoholic skateboarder is portrayed in such a light where the audience is left feeling like they are one with them, and that they are really and truly good people, and I think that is another one of the reasons that I appreciated the film the way I did. Nothing about this film felt contrived or clichÃ©d as some reality television or documentaries do; rather it was aÂ very real film that had no hidden agenda. Patterson reassures us that his only agenda was to be authentic to himself, and that he was not trying to capitalize on anything. It simply went through the trials of a unique individual trying to get through each day dealing with the issues that Iâ€™m sure I mentioned earlier in the article.
â€œHeâ€™s kind of â€˜off the map”, and itâ€™s honest, you know? I felt like what he was giving me and what was coming back to me was really honest. It felt really refreshing to me; the idea of making something like that.â€
The filming process was just as genuine. A lot of the filming done in the film was Skreechâ€™s preparation for competitions, or the trials associated with his different lifestyle. Each moment in the film, according to Patterson, highlights what Skreech does day to day.â€œI didnâ€™t want to film him doing anything he wouldnâ€™t do anyways,â€ he says. Making this documentary as real as possible meant that if Patterson and his crew showed up to filming and Skreech wasnâ€™t down to film, they wouldnâ€™t film. Thankfully, though, that didnâ€™t negatively impede the product of the film in any way, shape, or form.
Like I said, itâ€™s not every day that youâ€™re inspired by a homeless, addict, skateboarder, and one will only understand if they watch Pattersonâ€™s wonderful documentary at VIFF. Thank you, Mr. Tristan Patterson, for being a gem and allowing me to interview you, and thank you to VIFF for accommodating Y57!
Photos from www.viff.org
Getting locked out of your house sucks major balls. Trust me; if anybody has ended up sitting on their front steps for hours waiting to be let in by an angry parent at 3 am, itâ€™s me. But as soon as Iâ€™m in the comfort of my home and under my zebra-printed bed sheets (donâ€™t judge) feeling as safe as I ever will be, their frustration hardly matters. Everything is in your house; your clothes, your food, your life, and most importantly the feelings of unity and harmony with yourself when surrounded by your family unit, or whomever it is that you choose to share living space with. I donâ€™t know about you people, but after a long, crazy day or night, I just want to feel at home with my family and feel their love and support.
So the SFSS (Simon Fraser Student Society) staff is locked out. Before I even knew what that was, I assumed they were on strike like every group seems to take part in sooner or later in life. Then on my first day back to school, I was handed a paper by about 6 different people in a span of 10 minutes (ok, maybe Iâ€™m exaggerated a little bitâ€¦11 minutes) stating the following:
I donâ€™t know what disturbed me more: the fact that an established university admitted to using Wikipedia, or the fact that the SFSS- which provide valuable services that we SFU students apparently pay for is shutting down its services until they can reach an agreement with CUPE, meaning those services that people rely on would essentially be shut down for who knows how long. I decided to keep readingâ€¦
SFSS staff members run the copy centre, Out on Campus, the Resource Office, the Surrey Office, and the Womenâ€™s centre. We are the backbone of SFSS support for clubs, departmental student unions and individual undergraduates through the General Office.
As Iâ€™d assume others took this also after reading that, I imagined that the SFSS lockout then meant that facilities would no longer be available to the students who are in need of peer counseling, etc. I expect that there are people on campus who rely on these facilities (like Out on Campus and the Womenâ€™s Centre) to make it through the day or to feel better about whom they are as students apart of such a vast university community. With that in mind, I had planned to be all creative and cute by comparing the SFSS lockout with my â€œgetting locked outâ€ story in the beginning. I wanted to say the following:
While money seems to be a crucial issue here, what about the students who relied on these groups? What about the students who relied on those groups as their family unit or support system? Instead of losing their key, theirs was taken from them and all the locks were changed, denying them access to a safe and burturing environment with no zebra-printed bed sheets. Those students who need a group to rely on, or whatever, have been locked out of their houses and comfort zones. How much longer will they have to wait on- what used to be- their front steps until someone is kind enough to wake up and open the door for them?
â€¦but this idea went to shit when I read on the SFSS lockout site in the â€œLetter to Students from the SFSS Board of Directorsâ€ that all of these facilities will remain open. But wait, the flyer that was so kindly handed to me stated that these services that we pay for wonâ€™t be accessible to us until the lockout is done with. Then, as it comes naturally for me, I got confused. Back to lockout.sfss.ca for more information, I found this in the â€œQuestions and Answersâ€ section.
How are SFSS Services affected by the lockout?
During the lockout the General Office will remain open. Please come by the GO or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book tables, conference rooms, and equipment or to apply for club and DSU grants. The Womenâ€™s center lounge is available 24 hours 7 days a week as a safe space for self identified women. Out on Campus is open as a safe space when a trained volunteer is present in the lounge. The Copy Centre will be closed until the end of the lockout.
Oh no, not the Copy Centreâ€¦that was sarcasm. I didnâ€™t even know we had one here. Fail. And look! It says it again in another statement made on the website:
During the lockout, the elected Board of Directors will maintain services that are important to theÂ student membership. The directors will keep the SFSS General Office open and will continue toÂ provide grants and support to clubs and departmental student unions. The Out On Campus andÂ Womenâ€™s Centre lounges are available as usual. Finally, the food and beverage services â€“Â including the Highland Pub â€“ are not affected by the lockout
Well thank goodness about the pubâ€¦that wasnâ€™t sarcasm at all, I swear. Canâ€™t you tell I have great priorities?
Anyway, this seems pretty normal and dandy to me, considering the facilities that matter most are still very much open and available to students who attend here. I personally don’t see what the problem is or how it affects students. Clubs Days is still happening, and people are still allowed to create new clubs (go look through the website, itâ€™s there and Iâ€™m too tired to look for it again). So if everythingâ€™s still open and working (besides the copy centreâ€¦) then why should I care about this? Why should anyone care whose not being paid to work there?
Basically, this boils down to money issues that don’t necessarily concern students:
In the past four years the SFSS has faced increasing expenses including high staff wages. As a result, significant funding cuts were made to student services in the past year. The Board strives for accountability to undergraduate students as well as a strong future for the SFSS. If reductions cannot be realized, the Society will be unable to fulfill its Constitutional mandate which is to fund clubs, departmental student unions, and constituency groups and provide other valuable services to students. The Union has been less than willing to compromise and continually stalled the process of negotiations. This led to a unanimous vote held on June 6th to lockout the staff. The Board of Directors is not an anti-union group but is rather pro- student.
So if they’re pro-student, then why are they complaining? If, as you say you are pro-student, you would go on with your job and take the money cuts because helping out another human being is better than helping out yourself to a hefty pay cheque. I understand that there is a cost to living. Believe me, I do! So is it terrible for me to say that they should maybe start looking for a second job in the same sort of field? And getting laid off sucks, but at the end of the day, that might have to happen if we want everything to be back to normal, per se. I understand where both parties are coming from, and after doing further research on CUPE BC’s website, I think it’s pretty abhorreny that the SFSS has been treating this considerably hard working staff with disrespect. Decisions need to be made, because there are quite a few people who feel as though they have been locked out of their own homes (hey, there’s that terrible metaphor again!).
Call me whatever youâ€™d like in regards to the situation, but after all of this information was presented to me, I feel like this is an issue that should stay amongst the SFSS board of directors and CUPE, because clearly, us students are still getting the facilities we are paying for…except for the copyÂ centerâ€¦and the pub is still open. Places of mentoring and guidance that make students feel comfortable and “at home” (Out on Campus, Women’s Centre) are still open, as are other groups that other students are taking part of.
Am I missing something here? What do you think? Is this lockout annoying for students, or do you think itâ€™s affecting us? I invite all forms of response- I don’t mind if you even decide to call me an ignorant asshole- so please, give us your input!
There are many things in life that piss me off: driving, people reading and not replying to my BBMâ€™s, and working are among the extensive list. But the number one thing on my ongoing and ever-growing list is the way in which the Catholic community suppresses very real issues about sexuality and being in high school, which then leads to ignorant children and teenagers who will forever go on in life hating or being uncomfortable around certain types of people…like the homosexual community, for instance. I went to a catholic school all of my life, so Iâ€™d like to deem myself entitled to make claims like that. Anyhow, since I graduated and moved onto university where I was faced with â€œdifferentâ€ people, Iâ€™ve been struggling with the fact that being gay is strongly frowned upon in a Catholic/Christian (whatâ€™s the difference, anyway?!) setting, and is what causes the students and followers of the faith to not view these lifestyles with an open mind.
Iâ€™m not totally pessimistic. There are also many things in life that I love, like sushi, sleeping, and- my ultimate favorite- Musical Theatre. When my good friend, Imelda Gaborno, told me earlier this year that she had been cast in Fighting Chance Productionsâ€™ BARE: A Pop Opera, I was excited that I had an excuse to go see a show (not that you ever need an excuse to see theatre!). Then she told me what the show was about, and I was ecstatic as it combined my love for theatre with that issue I bitched about earlier; I was all in and had high expectations for how this show would be tackled.
BARE, under the direction of the multi-talented Ryan Mooney, takes us through the complicated, secret relationship between high school students Jason (Lucas Blaney) and Peter (Braeden Cox) at a Catholic boarding school. Keeping it under wraps from their friends, teachers, and parents, Jason and Peter sing their way through a complicated story-line as they are thrown many curve-balls and surprises along the way (Iâ€™d tell you, but then it wouldnâ€™t be a surprise..duh.). The love between them draws many parallels to the story and relationship of Romeo and Juliet; lovers who could not be together. Using Romeo and Juliet in its plot line, a tale about two star-crossed lovers who could not be together under certain circumstances, was great symbolism that helped the audience to digest the tough situation happening in front of their eyes easier.
Besides the relationship between Peter and Jason, the partying, drug use, alcohol consumption, and sexual tendencies amongst all characters were things that couldnâ€™t go unnoticed. It was, from my point of view, an accurate portrayal of what happens when you take a bunch of kids, lock them up away from the bigger world around them, and tellthem what to believe in and control everyone of their movements. Iâ€™ve been going to a catholic school since Kindergarten, and to say that that stuff doesnâ€™t happen is bullshit (sorry, mom and dad…).
The singing was incredible. Letâ€™s be honest…in every show thereâ€™s usually that one person who doesnâ€™t really deliver vocally. Again, I deem myself eligible to say this because I am usually that person (fuck my life). It felt as though there was barely any speaking lines, but I am NOT complaining. The songs told the story, and the youth vocals made that story all the more enjoyable. I do need to put the spotlight on the character Nadia (played by Emma Leigh Hillier) who sang a song called “Plain Jane Fat Ass” that immediately became my new favorite musical theatre song.
A performance so real and raw, BARE made me leave the theatre feeling more passionate about the issues of oppression which adolescents deal with in a Catholic community, and also super inspired by the mesmerizing cast of 20 who stayed completely committed to the story and its truth. Did I mention they were all considered youth? No?! Well now you know that we are capable of being the key players in such dramaâ€™s like BARE, and can portray any issue on stage…no matter how hard it is to bare. Thank you to Fighting Chance Productions for accommodating Youth in 57 Minutes, and I look forward to seeing more of your productions!
Photo from http://fightingchanceproductions.ca/
“I want you to meet myâ€¦sibling!”Â - Johanna Nutter,Â My Pregnant Brother
A few years ago, Oprah introduced to the world a very pregnant Thomas Beattie, a transgendered woman, who decided to carry his and his wife’s children due to her infertility. The reason I know that is because this pregnancy was huge news! Like, it was next to impossible to flip through the television’s channels and NOT see “The Pregnant Man”. While Beattie’s pregnancy was exploited and sugar coated by the media in the sense that he and his wife were so excited to bring home a baby, I (as the little Communications student that I am) couldâ€™’ help but think that there must have been more to that story. For example, why is it such a shocker that a woman (because really, Thomas started out life as one) is giving birth to a child?
My confusion was eased and I gained more respect for the whole situation after watchingÂ My Pregnant Brother; a story, told by playwright and performer,Â Johanna Nutter, that details with the experience she had with the pregnancy of her brotherâ€¦or transgendered sister. Through story, chalk drawings of signs and landmarks of both Montreal and BC, and a minimal usage of props, Johanna successfully outlined what made the idea of a “Pregnant Man” the big deal that it is. By describing what her sister-turned-brother went through with family, relationships, and identity crisis, the audience was able to see and fully understand what a delicate situation it really is. The whole idea of others in a religious community (she had a church with a cross drawn very large behind her) seeing what looked like a pregnant man, and dealing with transgendered peoples in our world today is one struggle I particularly liked in Johannaâ€™s story as it removed her as the focal point to the narrative. She explained what her brother went through in terms of seeking acceptance from their mother, homelessness, relationship heartache, gender confusion after her breast removal surgery, and getting impregnated by a man; not a syringe filled with sperm like Beattie.
A huge thanks to Johanna Nutter for inviting us on her insightful journey. Again, thank you to theÂ Neanderthal Arts FestivalÂ for accommodatingÂ Y57Â in the way that they did! Keep going to theatreâ€¦it’s good for you. Until next week!
Photo credit:Â www.thal.ca
Imagine a world where everyone was equal, where hierarchy and institutions of power didn’t exist.
Seriously, picture it.
In that same place, imagine yourself not having to answer to anybody but yourself, and only had to worry about lounging next to your closest friends outside. Pretty awesome, huh?
I saw this very world during the hilarious production ofÂ Chairs: A ParableÂ byÂ ITZAZOOProductionsÂ at theÂ Cultch, as part of theÂ Neanderthal Arts Festival. Chairs took its audience on a journey, accurately detailing what happens when three men attempt to build themselves a civilized existence through team work on a barren wasteland. The hilarious trio (played by Sebastien Archibald, Coby Wilson, and Cameron Anderson) begin the play by living contently with their uneventful and very equal life consisting of sitting in the sun, and protecting one an other when it rains. After one of the men becomes furious with his idle life, he decides to build something – a ‘chair’- which puts him in a place of power among his friends. Now being able to check out the land beyond the hills that they were all once so accustomed to, his position and abuse of power tests his friends,and causes them to take drastic measures into their own handsâ€¦by building a second chair! What happens after that is ensuing hilarity and an accurately depicted tale displaying what happens when such people rise to power and discard all traces of equality and fairness.
Written by Sebastien Archibald,Â ChairsÂ brought a combination of theatre, animation, and sound. The comedic timing was dead on, and I wasÂ thatÂ person in the audience who found every single joke funny because of it.
Seriously, though. I laughed out loud at just about everything because the actors’ delivery of their lines were so clean and unexpected. For example, when the word “fuck” was introduced to them for the very first time, they used it nonsensically and threw it within every couple of words. It was hysterical, especially how excited they became when it was introduced to them.
Overall,Â ChairsÂ is a show that gets you asking: is sitting amongst equality the perfect world, or do we need some sort of order and power to get things done? Thank you to theÂ Neanderthal Arts FestivalÂ for accommodatingÂ Youth in 57 Minutes, and the best of luck to the cast and crew ofÂ Chairs!
Photo credit:Â Review Vancover
When you hear the term “folk music”, what do you think of?
I think of banjos and old people. . .two things that aren’t necessarily my cup of tea. So, when a ticket for theÂ Vancouver Folk Festival 2011was handed to me, I was a little reluctant. Since I had no idea what to expect from a “folk” event, I assumed it would essentially bore me to pieces. But, after attending the Friday evening portion of the 2011 Vancouver Folk Festival, I realized that I had spoken to soon. I found myself in a relaxing, enjoyable atmosphere surrounded by crowds of people ranging all the way from infants to the elderly. It was an evening filled with great music, bare feet, delicious food, organic refreshments like Guayaki Yerba Mate, and awesome shopping (I managed to find an amazing dress, so if you see me wearing it Out&About and I look better than you, donâ€™t be surprised). Babies refrained from crying and young children kicked around soccer balls, passed around hacky sacks, and danced with their parents to the sounds of Feet and Fiddle Express. I was blown away by the large attendance of youth on the grounds ofÂ Jericho Beach Park, and how involved with the performances they were. Coming from a girl who’s obsessed with the Backstreet Boys, I had the pleasure of taking in brand new sounds that I have never considered letting in; all of which I thoroughly enjoyed and Youtube’d afterwards. The sultry vocals ofÂ Digging RootsÂ and the upbeat energetic groove thatÂ Freshly GroundÂ exhibited were aspects that I obviously didn’t expect to see at a folk festival. The crowd energy was contagious, and it was hard not to dance to the music.
Taiko for TohokuÂ surprised me the most. This large ensemble of performers combined aspects of musicality with physicality, and offered a wide range of diversity onstage. Taiko (meaning Japanese drum) first emerged in the early eighties because of invisibility that the Japanese community had felt after the war years. Since Taiko groups are all for communal solidarity, all of Vancouver’s Taiko ensembles came together after Japan’s devastating earthquake to form this ensemble. After performing together for the first time at the Queen Elizabeth theatre for a fundraising concert for Japan, they were asked to bring it back for the Folk Festival. I got to sit down with some of Taiko’s youngest and most dedicated members,Jordy RileyÂ (22) andÂ Emiko NewmanÂ (17), and hereâ€™s what went down. . .
What do you like most about performing with this particular group?
Jordie: It’s rare for all of the Taiko groups to come together to play. There are probably about 7 or so that work together, and usually we donâ€™t see them very often. Our performances are often separate. Events usually want one Taiko group, so they choose between us. It’s not that were competing; it just means that we don’t see each other very often, so it’s nice to be playing together.
Emiko: Rather than playing with the younger groups where youâ€™re like the leader, you’re playing with more experienced players, and they’re professional players so it’s a good opportunity and good way to learn.
So tell me about your experience with the Vancouver Folk Festival.
E: I’ve been coming since she I was a baby. I come every single year, and I love it! It’s one of the biggest things I look forward to every year. It’s fun to just walk around, talk to people, eat and go shopping.
J: I’ve only been to a few other folk festivals but this year, I appreciate it more. I have a greater appreciation for the music.
How do you think playing at this particular festival is going to affect your audience and how they feel about the issues you guys perform for?
J: I think it’s more of the concept of these groups getting together for a common cause. Even if we have to come together for such a terrible event, at least we can support the cause together. Our name has Tohoko in it, so were trying to bring awareness to that.
E: It’s nice that everyone can see all of these different groups coming together when we don’t normally so it’s really different for us and will hopefully have a stronger effect.
How do you think the festival is going to work for you guys in terms of your groups’ success?
J: We have a large audience today. Often the performances we do aren’t as big, and are for smaller festivals. Some of our performances are even private, and usually the demographic is different. We don’t play for this type of audience. Quite often it’s an older audience, or almost only Japanese audience for some of the festivals, so it’s definitely something different for the group of people were playing for.
E: It’s nice having a huge crowd with young people. Â I think you can inspire others we can inspire others.
J: Younger people tend to respond more when we’re playing. Theyâ€™re more likely to cheer. And if you look up and interact, you can see them interact back.
E: I like how Taiko is one of the more unique groups at this festival . You don’t see it every day.
You probably already know this, but your performance was pretty sweet.
J: That’s what Taiko’s good for. It’s good for bringing everyone together, that loud booming sound they can hear from far away.
E: I love it when people come up to you and they’re like “I’ve never seen anything like this before!” It’s fun and it’s good exercise
J: It’s one of the more types of physical music. Taiko has athleticism, musicality, and everyone can play it. There are people who played today who were well into their 50s, but people start it at that age too. You don’t have to start at 5 or 10 years old.
Thank you to Jordie and Emiko for reassuring me that folk festivals are not all about banjos and old people. Rather, it is a ground for people to come together and celebrate certain topics through music, dance, or Taiko.
Who would have guessed that a parking lot would make use as the perfect venue to present and unfold the serious and hilarious stories of 9 emerging Vancouver theatre companies?
Bridge Mix 2011Â took its audience on an interactive journey throughout theÂ Metro ParkadeÂ on W. Pender Street, where each piece presented byÂ Enlightenment Theatre,Â Spectral Theatre,Â Delinquent Theatre,Tigermilk Collective, Slam Ink, 411 Theatre,Â Monster Creative,Â ITSAZOO Productions, andÂ GenusÂ was inspired by the parkade itself, and ultimately set out to challenge experimental theatre artists alike within this challenging atmosphere.
It was interesting to see how each budding theatre company creatively used the enclosed space very differently from one another. Each of the nine, ten-minute shows brought with it something unique, whether it was musicality, humour, social issues, current events, murder, or the latest trends in zombie culture. The underlying themes dealt with in each of the shows were even- surprise!- relatable to common issues experienced within youth culture. For example, break-ups ending badly (as seen inÂ Completely CenteredÂ by Slam Ink), teen criminals and the brutal murder of Kimberly Proctor in 2010 (wonderfully presented by 411 Theatre inÂ Exhibit A), female gang warfare (in Gang! Bang! by Monster Creative), and my personal favourite: losing sight of your car in a ginormous parkade (sung by Delinquent Theatre inÂ Parked: An Indie Rock Musical with Novelty Instruments). Don’t act like it’s never happened to you…
Judging by the amazing detail incorporated into each of the shows, I have no doubts that each of these theatre companies will produce great entertainment, entertainment that I look forward to writing about for Y57 in the future. Keep checking back for fine and performing art event coverage!
Sunday, June 5, 2011,Â The Blarney StoneÂ was filled to the brim with the cast, crew, and avid supporters ofÂ Bruns Family Productions’Â (in asscociation withRising Entertainment) upcoming independent feature film entitled,Â Heart of Dance, a movie made by youth which is to raise awareness of eating disorders in teens.
The film centers around the tragic death of 17 year old Kealy Charmichael’s younger and perfect sister, Anna, and then follows Kealy throughout her downward spiral into a deadly eating disorder as she tries to fulfill Ann’s dream of being a professional dancer. The film deals with and touches upon all aspects of the disease which affects many youth.
Heart of Dance was created by 22 year oldÂ Scarlett Bruns, a very hard-working and driven individual who has done everything from putting together an amazing ensemble of youth and adult cast members, to organizing the successful fundraiser and silent auction that helped to raise close to $5,000 Sunday night!
The fundraiser, hosted by Bruns and her co-star 22 year old Julian Leblanc, included live music from talented sistersÂ Robyn and Ryleigh. Robyn (19) and Ryleigh (16) are currently recording their first album and will be releasing two original songs on the Heart of Dance soundtrack, and have been creating and performing original songs at a young age, and this was very evident in their performance last night. Also, Canadian croonerÂ Jay “Big Daddy” PhillipsÂ serenaded his way around the Blarney Stone while singing hits like “That’s Amore” and “My Girl”. It made for great entertainment when he’d sing directly to one of your guests (like my mother, for example…)
Bruns Family Productions is committed to making a difference within the community, and every project they take on is designated to a specific charity that relates to the film. 30% of the proceeds that will be made by Heart Of Dance will go directly toÂ Looking Glass Foundation For Eating Disorders.
Heart of Dance is a film made by youth, for youth! Check outÂ Y57Â for more Heart of Dance updates!
“Hard times arouse an instinctive desire for authenticity.”Jenn Regehr, one of the newly graduated students and designers ofÂ John Casablancas Institute, quoted this famous Coco Chanel quote when describing how class 132′s graduation fashion showÂ “Wasted Youth”Â exemplified just that. “When times are rough, clothes can go into survival mode or come out to be crazy, and I believe that has a lot to do with our collection and theme tonight”, she says.
“Wasted Youth” found family and friends of the graduates, volunteers, photographers, aspiring fashion art students, and other passionate guests filling up a wonderfully decorated Heritage Hall on June 8th to see a student-run fashion show that was heavily influenced by current events in world issues, politics, natural disasters, and the anticipation of doomsday. While the title of the show posed no deliberate theme, the progression of the show illustrated ruin, rebuild, and rebirth; a process that takes place after every natural disaster before a new beginning presents itself. But why use youth as a focal point for the show?
Brittany De Fehr, one of the stylists who was responsible for all visuals projected onscreen and presented in the programs, says “there has been so much going on, and it’s our generation that’s going to be affected by it, and there’s a lot of pressure on us to do something now. ‘Wasted Youth’ shows how were forced to grow up so fast because of this.”
Jenn adds: “I think it’s relevant because the youth is the future, and with everything that’s happening right now in the world, we’ve really been affected by it and we’ve really just become the focus on that. And there’s that stereotype that youth don’t really care what is happening and are never really involved in it, and we don’t believe that at all. Obviously it directly affects us, and that’s why we wanted to do a show about that. And also we’re considered youth so it’s kind of fitting.”
Over 60 different outfits, styles, and original pieces were assembled and presented, and it was very obvious that these youths knew exactly what was going on, and took a keen interest in current events. The first sets of outfits were very dark, transparent, revealing, raw, tight, edgy, and brought about an eerie essence when combined with the heavy and sinister music selection. This, along with the visuals projected on a large screen (images of violent warfare, graffiti phrases like “I’m your prostitute”).
So why was it important for the graduates to present these problematic events through fashion as opposed to just talking about them or listening to them on the news?
“Everything that’s going on has direct correlation with what we choose to wear” says Jenn.Â Marlee Worthen, who was the assistant secretary to the production explains, “We wanted to touch on something more meaningful than other fashion shows. Our show goes from dark, destruction to very light and flowy, and we felt that this cycle on how things happen during a natural disaster would be interesting to show through the clothes.” The transition from rebellion to loose-fitting, light colored, bohemian attire was interesting, and was successful in expressing the rebirth stage of the show.
Judging by the powerfulness of the show, I assumed that the students in group 132 had some direct connection with the past string of unfortunate events. “I don’t know if anyone personally has, but we all know someone that’s been affected by something happening somewhere,” Brittany says. This is the same for both Jenn and Marlee, who adds, “our net proceeds are going towards the Looking Glass Foundation for eating Disorders, and growing up I had a lot of friends that have been hospitalized from them.”
Most of the fashions shown were eccentric and bold, and I couldn’t help but think if there was some sort of extent that youth stop at when it comes to expressing themselves through their clothes. Money can obviously act as a barrier when it comes to uniqueness through clothing, but besides that, there is the whole issue of being ‘labeled’ amongst peers in high school as Brittany explained to me: “In elementary school and high school, you’re so suppressed to being one certain way. There are so many different people and many different personalities when you’re going through high school, so a lot of people don’t really get to express themselves there.”
Marlee makes a point in saying that the graduating group is known for making a difference through their fashion. The impact of fashion and creativity is felt strongly upon by the students who presented their materials at “Wasted Youth”…do you agree? Congratulations to group 132 at John Casablancas on a successful fun and informative show!
Image styled by Leanne McLoughlin