Downton Victoria

B.C. is the most British of all the Canadian Provinces and nowhere in B.C. is more British than the capital city of Victoria. ​

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2015 Fringe Notes: Day 2 & Day 4

I’m a bit behind but here are my notes. I wouldn’t really call them “reviews” —I have been seeing shows almost every day this year, and I have encountered some disappointing shows that had great reviews, and of course, opposites.  So don’t rely too much on the reviews, take the risk and go see you feel like seeing.

Day Two:

Tipped and Tipsy by Jill Vice

Stories of Love and Passion by Rosie Bitts

Day Three: I took an evening off after FringeKids on Saturday.

Day Four:

The Untitled Sam Mullins Project by Sam S. Mullins

Almost a Stepmom by Keara Barnes

 

Tipped and Tipsy

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Written and performed by Jill Vice (San Fransisco) /Solo Comedy/PG14+/Venue 7: Fairfield Hall (1303 Fairfield)

I saw Jill walking around with a sign on her back at the Fringe preview. Someone told me she won Pick of Fringe in San Fransisco and my curiosity was piqued. I went to see her on Day 2 at Fairfield Hall.

Have you ever worked in a service industry? I have. I worked as a bartender when I was 19. It was illegal to work at a bar when you are 19 in Japan so my boss told me to tell everyone I was 20. It was fun, I had way more energy than I do now, and I met a lot of amazing (and not-so-amazing) people there. Most of the basic life lessons I learned when I was bartending. Like, The scariest thing in the world, is often people. One of the regulars said that to me one night, and to this day, I believe that.

The show is about a kind, yet skilled bartender Candy, and all the regulars at the bar, Happy’s. It’s a one-person show with no costume change whatsoever. Jill plays 16 different characters— mostly men—flawlessly. It’s full of funny moments and catchy phrases for audience participation. At one point I thought this show was going to be one of those laugh-out-loud funny haha show—there is nothing wrong with that—but there is a good twist in the story and it makes it all heartfelt. Don’t worry, it won’t be all soppy, there is an epic slo-mo scene as well.

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I’ve had the privilege to chat with Jill after the show and also at length at Fringe Club last night. I am impressed with her dedication to the show. The show sold out few days ago and I am not at all surprised. It’s hilarious and touching. Make sure you go see it.

Only two more shows left:

Saturday September 5 – 7:30pm

Sunday September 6 – 5:45pm

Stories of Love and Passion

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Written and performed by Rosie Bitts (Victoria)/Storytelling, Cabaret, Burlesque/Adults Only/Venue 7: Fairfield Hall

After seeing Jill’s show, I stayed to watch my friend Rosie’s show. She is a hugely popular burlesque star in Victoria, and it was apparent that she has a big fan base. Audience were full of giggling women and some familiar faces from the burlesque community. Rosie is perhaps the most feminine friend I have. She is always sweet and kind, impeccably dressed—no wonder she has many fans.  I have seen Rosie’s burlesque performance few times, but this was the first time I saw Stories of Love and Passion.

Burlesque is certainly a part of this show, but there are also storytelling  and music. I was pleasantly surprised how funny it was. Of course, they are all sex stories, but she shares them with humour without being overly raunchy. It was almost like I was at a slumber party and she was sharing some of the funniest (and some poignant) moments. Burlesque and musical performances accompanied by “Jeffrey” (Jeff Poynter) was quite lovely too.  I think he and Rosie has great chemistry.  I left feeling quite entertained —I got to laugh, I got to see the burlesque and enjoy music. And of course, it’s very intimate and sexy. Totally worth your money. Go see it.

There are two more shows coming up:

Saturday September 5 – 5:45pm

Sunday September 6 – 7:30pm

 

The Untitled Sam Mullins Project

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Written and Performed by Sam S. Mullins/Storytelling Comedy/ Venue 4: VCM Wood Hall (907 Pandora)

I LOVE This American Life. I also love The Moth. I love me good storytelling.  There are many storytelling shows at this year’s Fringe, and this has been my favourite so far. I didn’t know anything about Sam Mullins, that he actually studied theatre at Uvic, but as soon as he came onto the stage and uttered few words, I was hooked. He has great projection and obviously properly trained actor. I was sitting in the very last row at the Wood Hall, and I had no problem seeing/hearing him.

Sam starts the story with the part he walks into an improv class on Blanshard Street. There he was asked to write down some truths he knows. It’s a story about his truths as he knows it.

Man he’s good. Sam is an excellent storyteller and I’m a sucker for excellent storytellers. I have several “theatre crushes“- which I feel for amazing artists. Sam Mullins is my latest addition to the list. His delivery is effective and writing fantastic. I loved all the stories but especially the one “Life is fleeting”. How true it is.

I understand some stories don’t necessarily have proper endings, and that’s okay, but one of the things I loved about this show was that in the end, it beautifully came together. It shows his talent as a great writer. This is the kind of show I’d gladly watch twice. This is a show not to be missed.

Four more shows left:

Wednesday, September 2 – 6:00pm

Friday, September 4 – 10:00pm

Saturday, September 5 – 7:15pm

Sunday, September 6 – 4:45pm

Almost A Stepmom 

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Written and performed by Keara Barnes/Solo Comedy, Storytelling/PG14+/Venue 4: VCM Wood Hall

Another Uvic Theatre graduate actor Keara Barnes from Vancouver. After graduating, Keara moved to Ireland—for six months. Six months turned to three years. She met a guy. He had a daughter. Almost A Stepmom is a true story of her experience.

Just before the show starts, a woman (Keara) with a thick Irish accent with a glass of wine strut out onto the stage and starts yelling at the audience. She is harsh, rude and she doesn’t seem to care. Turns out, that is She Who Must Not Be Named, a character of Keara’s boyfriend, Joe’s ex. Keara tells the story of her move to Ireland, meeting Joe, his daughter Efa, and She Who Must Not Be Named. It’s a very short show (35 minutes) but she is a good actor – changing into four or five different characters effortlessly. With Irish accent it’s no small feat!

I related to the story because I am in a blended family (although I’m not the stepmom-my husband is the stepdad). Also, as a mom, I’d hate to see any child suffering. So it definitely tug at my heartstrings. I look forward to seeing more shows by Keara.

Three more shows left:

Thursday, September 3 – 5:00pm

Saturday, September 5 – 5:45pm

Sunday, September 6 – 8:30pm

 

The 29th Annual Victoria Fringe – Fringe at your own risk!

Fringefeaturedimage11It’s that time of year again. Fringe! 

As you know, I’m on the board for Intrepid Theatre, so I’ve been busy helping them get ready for this annual awesomeness.

Last night was the Fringe Preview & Block Party, and tonight Fringe officially opened. I’ll be around the venue, fundraising for Intrepid (We are selling WestJet Raffle – 2 Round Trip tickets to anywhere WestJet flies.  Find me around Fringe or contact me if you want to reserve tickets), volunteering at FringeKids and Fringe Club etc. I will do my best to do reviews here.

My first show for 2015 was “I Can’t Tell You”.

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I Can’t Tell You Caitlin McFarlane and Vincent Leblanc-Beaudoin

Comedic Collage/PG14+/Venue 6: Langham Court Theatre(805 Langham Court)

I wasn’t sure what to expect; I live right around the corner from Langham Court so I decided to go last minute to celebrate the first day of Fringe. Caitlin and Vincent are super friendly, easy-on-the-eyes (Caitlin is like a young Reese Witherspoon) duo from Vancouver. This is their first time at Victoria Fringe.

This variety-show-style show’s theme is “Lies”. Everybody lies. There are some really clever lines and theories on lies and secrets. I won’t spoil you, but expect a lot of fun audience participations. Vincent and Caitlin are easily relatable and I really enjoyed the show.  Langham Court’s intimate setting also helps. Recommended!

Ikebana workshop by Master Rinkei Nagamine

Rinkei P posterIkebana is Japanese art of flower arrangement. Japanese Ikebana master Rinkei Nagamine is visiting Vancouver island and holding a series of workshops in Duncan this September.

You can participate in any workshop you like. Basics will be taught in the first arrangement of all three workshops.

WORKSHOP ONE: Sept.16th 9am – 2pm
Arranging in a plate with a frog (a kenzan)

WORKSHOP TWO: Sept.17th 9am – 2pm (FULL -Waiting list being taken)
Arranging in a vase

WORKSHOP THREE: Sept.18th 9am – 2pm
Arranging in free style

Fee: $40/day (Flowers and light lunch included)
All the workshops will take place at Studio G Art (7298 Somenos Road, Duncan, BC)

There also will be public presentation on September 19, 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm at Studio G Art with Cowichan Valley Art Council “Word & Vision” writers/artists, a short Japanese tea ceremony, large Ikebana installation by Rinkei Nagamine, kimono display, and much more.

Rinkei Nagamine: Master of Japanese flower arrangement in Ryusei school
“I have been teaching Ikebana for 50 years. I believe that any flower arranged in a vase is not only beautiful but also shows the charm of the person who made the piece. I am looking forward to meeting creative people with whom I will share my knowledge, skills and passion in these two exciting workshops.”
To register, Email Yuko Yamamoto at yuko@sewyuzen.com
For more information, check out Sew Yuzen site.

Obon at Ross Bay Cemetery

 

obon2014-4In Japan, Obon is a pretty prominent festival usually held around August 15th. It is a festival/holiday to honour your ancestors. It is believed your ancestors return to the family during Obon.

Obon is a Japanese Buddhist custom to honour the spirit’s of one’s ancestors. This Buddhist-Confucian custom has evolved into a family reunion holiday during which people return to ancestral family places and visit and clean their graves. It is when the spirits of ancestors are supposed to revisit the household altars. It has been celebrated in Japan for more than 500 years and traditionally includes a dance, known as Bon-Odori.” – from Wikipedia

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Vegetable horse and cow made from cucumber and eggplant, so that our ancestors spirits will ride on a horse to rush home to us, and take the time on their way home riding a cow.

In modern Japan, Obon holiday is as important as Christmas or Thanksgiving holidays in North America. Two of the most important holidays in Japan are the new year and Obon, and people often take time off from work to go visit the families.  This is the time everyone is back at your parents’ (and often grandparents’) house and it’s a time for a reunion. I, too, have some fond memories of going to wash the family graves with my family, and also attending Bon-Odori (Neighbourhood festival with food vendors and dances)

Unfortunately, I don’t have my family’s grave here in Victoria. However, we have Ross Bay Cemetery.

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One of the first Japanese people arrived at Victoria as early as 1880, and during the Second World War, many Japanese people were interned to interior BC. After the war, very few returned to Victoria and many graves are abandoned.   You can read more about the history of Japanese graves in Ross Bay cemetery here. (Scroll down for English)

Ross Bay Cemetery houses more than 100 Japanese graves now, but most of them don’t have families any more to care for. Every year, Victoria Nikkel Cultural Society, Old Cemeteries Society, and Victoria Friendship Society jointly hold Obon ceremony and festival at Ross Bay Villa. This year, it will be held on Sunday, August 9th.

This is a time for us to get in touch with our past, expressing our true joy and gratitude to not only our immediate ancestors, but to all past causes and conditions that have allowed us to be here today. It is the ultimate recognition and celebration of the oneness of life that has existed in the past and that we continue to be a part of today. -VNCS Website

This is a free event open to the public. Please come help clean and honour the graves.

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12:30pm : Grave Washing (Cleaning supplies will be provided, but if you have gloves/buckets etc, they are always welcome)

Flower donations welcome. Please bring them at this time.

Photo credit: VNCS

Photo credit: VNCS

2:30pm:  Obon Service

Reverent Ikuta from Steveston will provide service

3:30pm: Obon Matsuri (Festival) at Ross Bay Villa

Enterianment (Uminari Taiko, Furusato Dancers and Minyo by Rina El-Nahas), light refreshment (including Kakigoori-shaved ice),

and Suika-Wari (Japanese watermelon smashing game)

Suika-wari

Suika-wari

You can read more about Obon Ceremony and Festival at Ross Bay here at VNCS website.

Victoria/Morioka Twin City 30 Year Anniversary

In May, the city of Victoria welcomed delegation from Morioka, Japan to celebrate 30 year anniversary of the twin city agreement. In case you didn’t know, cities of Morioka and Victoria became sister cities back in 1985, thanks to the connection of  Dr. Inazo Nitobe, who was an agricultural economist, author and educator from Morioka. Dr. Nitobe has passed away at Royal Jubilee Hospital in 1933 during his visit to Canada. Dr. Nitobe is well known in Japan as a pioneer and a leader, and his portrait was once featured in 5,000 yen bank notes.

I had a privilege to meet the people from Morioka back in March 2014, when they came to thank us for the support for 2011 earthquake and tsunami. It was wonderful to see some of the familiar faces again this time.

Their visit coincided with the Victoria Day long weekend, and a group from Morioka participated in the parade and performed Sansa Dance, which is their traditional folk dance. After the parade, there was the official renewal of the twinning at the city hall. Mayor Lisa Helps and several other city councillors welcomed the delegation, and the city of Victoria presented the city of Morioka with an artwork by local artist, Barbara Weaver-Bosson.

There also was a reception hosted by the city. It was great to see Misaki Usuzawa, a young singer who herself was affected by the earthquake and tsunami, again and hear her beautiful voice. We were also honoured to have Consul General Okada from Vancouver. What was particularly memorable to me was Mayor Helps’ speech, now that she met all the people from Morioka, she understands the importance of twin cities, and learning from each other.

The following day, there was a ceremony to reveal the Bell of Friendship, a gift from Morioka at Centennial Park. The Bell was disgned in Morioka, but the stand was designed by former Mayor Alan Lowe. He said he was thinking of the “Bridge across the Pacific”, like Dr. Nitobe’s famous quote.

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I feel privileged to be a part of this great friendship. My sincere thank you goes to the city staff who tirelessly organized all the celebrations, and the generosity of people of Morioka. I hope to visit the beautiful city myself one day.

A Quiet Sip of Coffee – OUTstages Festival 2015

Intrepid Theatre launched OUTstages Festival, Victoria’s first queer theatre festival. I just came back from watching A Quiet Sip of Coffee(or, this is not the play we’ve written) by Animal Parts from Toronto/NYC.aqsoc+website+photos

In the summer of 2004, Anthony and Nathan – self-proclaimed “gay-straight best friend duo” – undergo two weeks of gay conversion therapy in rural B.C. Years later, still struggling to come to terms with the events of that summer – and finding it impossible to agree on what exactly transpired – the friends reunite on stage to tell their conflicting stories.

I just happened to sit right in the middle of the theatre(which was a SOLD OUT show, by the way), and thanks to that (?), I got to participate in the play! Before the show, Anthony came over and asked me if I’d read couple lines during the show. Oh, OK. I was a bit nervous, but it was fun to participate.

The show is based on the true story, and of course there are a lot of fun/funny bits added. The fact that such a camp -gay conversion camp- exists, is truly messed up, but Anthony and Nathan(Both Studio 58 alumni)’s storytelling is superb and they really pulls you into the story they may or may not have written. It’s hard not to like these gay-straight best friend duo.

It’s hilarious, silly, crazy and heartbreaking. You will not regret seeing it. And what does the title mean? You just need to watch it to find out.

There is one more show of A Quiet Sip of Coffee at Intrepid Theatre Club(1609 Blanshard) on Sunday July 12, 2015 at 7pm.

Ticket might be sold out online at TicketRocket(I cannot find the link to the Sunday show), but there should be some left at the door.

OUTstages continues throughout the weekend until July 12th.

Uno Fest May 8-24

unoIntrepid Theatre’s Uno Fest starts today. What is Uno? It’s an international festival of one-person shows and they are back for the 18th year.

16 shows over 2 weeks. You can enjoy quality shows from Toronto, Montreal, Portland, Vancouver, UK, and of course, Victoria.

My husband and I have been a big fan of the Fringe Festival, another festival produced by Intrepid, but this will be our first time to experience Uno.  I’m starting tonight with 6 Guitars by Chase Padgett from Portland, and then Victoria’s own Mike Delamont‘s God is a Scottish Drag Queen II. So excited!

I have never thought about it, but last week someone told me Uno festival shows are all very good, because it’s a curated collection. Also, what makes Uno cool is that every opening night at Uno fest is Pay-What-You-Can for tickets at the door. Disclaimer: I’m a new board member for Intrepid Theatre.  And what I really love about this company is that they strive for accessible theatre. So, if, for some reason you cannot afford a ticket, go to the first performances.

Shows are either at Metro Studio(1411 Quadra) or at Intrepid Theatre Club (#2-1609 Blanshard at Fisgard)

Regular ticket price for shows at Metro Studio is $20, shows at Intrepid Theatre Club is $18. They also have a sharable 5-Show pass for $85.

All the show details are available at Intrepid Theatre website. I will be going to most of the shows – please let me know if you are going to any of the shows, if you need a company, or have any questions.

Special Event – Dark Monday

Uno Fest fundraiser Dark Monday is on May 11th at Phillips Brewery (2100 Government Street)!

Uber popular event that is sure to sell out. Enjoy pizzas from The Joint Pizzaria and amazing open taps beer from Phillips. The ticket also includes a ticker to any performance at Uno Fest. Crazy deal.

We are going! Who’s coming?

Buy your tickets here.

 

 

3rd Annual Family Theatre Festival

familyfestIt’s May! My favourite month.  From now until fall, this is Victoria’s best festival season.

Kicking off the season is 3rd Annual Family Theatre Festival this weekend on May 2-3.

Four local theatres in Victoria, Kaleidoscope Theatre, Theatre SKAM, Puente Theatre and Intrepid Theatre are hosting this amazing family fun.  I love theatre, and try to see as many shows as possible with my kids.  At this year’s Family Theatre Festival, there will be 4 shows throughout the weekend at Metro Studio. Quality theatre experiences appropriate for kids as little as 4 years old!  All shows are at Metro Studio (1411 Quadra Street). You can learn more about each shows on their website, but here are the lineups.

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I Have Seen Beautiful Jim Key  | Presented by Intrepid Theatre | May 2-3 12:00pm | Recommended for ages 5+

A new play by 2014 GG Finalist Janet Munsil, inspired by the true story of an educated horse and the remarkable man who trained him. Using only patience and kindness (and apple slices) former slave, William “Doc” Key, trained his ugly duckling of a horse, Jim, to read and count. Their traveling show in the early 1900s was an inspiration for millions of school children learning their letters and numbers, while illustrating the importance of being kind to animals.

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Pinkalicious: The Musical | Presented by Kaleidoscope’s Teen Ensemble | May 2-3 2:00pm | Recommended for ages 4+

This is the tale, based on the popular book by Victoria Kann and Elizabeth Kann, of Pinkalicious, who can’t stop eating pink cupcakes despite warnings from her parents. Her pink indulgence lands her at the doctor’s office with Pinkititis, an affliction that turns her pink from head to toe – a dream come true for this pink loving enthusiast. But when her hue goes too far, only Pinkalicious can figure out a way to get out of this pink predicament.

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The Umbrella | Presented by Puente Theatre and The Old Trout Puppet Workshop | May 2-3 5:00pm | Recommended for ages 4+

Based on the book by Judd Palmer (which was shortlisted for Canada’s Governor-General’s Award for Children’s Literature), The Umbrella is a love story about a man and his umbrella; but one storm-struck day a certain sinister crow threatens their happiness together. The set is a theatrical-storm contraption, complete with thunder sheet, wind machine, and rainspout; the puppet stage is a huge bucket. The show is a small-scale piece for families, created and performed by Mercedes Bátiz-Benét and Judd Palmer, with music composed by Julia Knight. The Umbrella is a co-production between Puente Theatre and The Old Trout Puppet Workshop, with music performed by Bučan Bučan, Victoria’s beloved Balkan brass marching band.

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Runaway | Presented by Theatre SKAM | May 2-3 7:00pm | Recommended for ages 10+

Sixteen-year-old activist Sam Stewart values the environment so much she won’t even eat fish. She’s gone under the radar to organize a rally hosted by David Suzuki – who hasn’t shown up! Now she’ll have to convince her supporters to help save the world from an alien threat much more urgent than Global Warming. Can she save the world with the help of her sister, seasoned environmentalist Annie Stewart, or will she have to go it alone?

Runaway is a bittersweet slice of life with a dash of humor and a pinch of song.  It’s a heartfelt meditation on growing up in an uncertain world, moving on the face of tragedy, and leaving the world in better shape than you found it.

They all sound so great. We are definitely checking them out.

Get your tickets at Ticket Rocket: All shows for Family Theatre Festival is $12 for adult,  $10 for student/senior/child

$40 Family Theatre Festival Sharable Pass is now sold out!(Passes can be used as 5 tickets to 1 show or 5 tickets to any combination of shows. ), but limited amount of Family Passes will be available at the door.

See you at Metro Studio!

F.I.T – 30 minute circuit workout now $25/month!

Fierce F.I.T

The warmer weather is upon us! The inertia from the colder months have weighed me down, and for once, I am itching to get out.

I’ve walked by Fierce Studio on Fort and Cook street many times, and I have always been curious what’s going on there. I’m not into martial arts, but when I walk by and see kids in Dogi I couldn’t help but smile. So I was thrilled to hear my friend Christy was going to this studio and told me about F.I.T program.

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F.I.T stands for Fierce Interval Training. It’s a 30-minute circuit program. You will go through 12-13 stations in that 30 minutes. Each station has 2 different moves and you will do them 30 seconds each, twice. So you will spend 2 minutes at each station. This video shows the current set. Have a look:

I’ve been trying the F.I.T program for few weeks now, and I am really enjoying it. The atmosphere is friendly, not intimidating, and the all the trainers I met are super nice. It’s a co-ed program and I’ve seen people in their 20’s to 50+. It is definitely not easy, especially for someone like me, who hasn’t been working out for a while, but as Christy said to me the other day, “You can do anything for 30 seconds” – how true is that.

I am turning 40 next week. (Cue the common freakout!) I am not exactly “freaking out” about turning 40, but I have been feeling  “I’ve got to do something about this” about my health…so this F.I.T program has come at the right time. I have also been inspired by my friend Shawn who has started The Rebuild – basically transforming his life – he started F.I.T as well and  we are holding each other accountable.

The circuit routine changes every 3 weeks.  One of the fun things about F.I.T is that they have some boxing moves incorporated in almost every circuit.  I’m hoping to get my own gloves soon.

Fierce studio is offering F.I.T program for $25/month. It’s a steal! Only catch is that the program only runs in the morning – but if enough people sign up, they might open the studio longer. So join us!

Check out the Fierce Studio website for more details.

 

 

 

 

Victoria’s Hidden Gem – JagaSilk Tea Bar

If you are in downtown Victoria, and feel like sitting in a quiet place, either on your own or with a friend, you need to visit JagaSilk. It’s tucked away inside the Nootka Court on Courtney St, just past the touristy Bug Zoo.
JagaSilk offers variety of high quality Maccha green tea drinks and home made Japanese sweets.
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