Orphaned Egret at Theatre in the Bush

The Summer was a busy one, between performing with the Frantic Follies Vaudeville Revue, teching at Canada’s Magnetic North Festival, and most recently driving the Waterfront Trolley as part of The Tale of a Town during their stop in Whitehorse. My play, Third Person, also enjoyed a production as part of Kingston Ontario’s first annual Storefront Fringe Festival. But now the Yukon landscape is painted a beautiful palette of yellows and greens and I await the exciting opportunities to come.

Looking ahead to the Fall, my company Orphaned Egret will be presenting a piece as part of Ramshackle Theatre’s fantastic Theatre in the Bush. Having attended the last two iterations, first as an audience member then as a guide, I’m so excited to contribute this Autumn as a performer/creator. Those attending can look forward to Orphaned Egret’s unique existential voice as we contribute a brand new original site-specific short play as part of this innovative multidisciplinary trek around Yukon’s boreal forest.

Currently, tickets are already selling out for the 6th edition of Varietease: A Burlesque Cabaret, which I’m happy to announce I’ll be co-Stage-Managing. Coming up, I’ll also be serving as the Stage Manager for Gwaandak Theatre‘s contribution to the Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance Intertribal Gathering in Haines Junction, YT.


I’m also happy to report that I’m running a Youth Theatre program at the Heart of Riverdale community centre, together with Orphaned Egret co-founder Kevin Ray. This after-school program for kids grade 3 – 8 gives youth a chance to develop their creative voices and explore the many roles that need to come together to create our own original musical from top to bottom, over the course of a whole school year. Registration is still open and we always welcome new voices!

As always, there’s lots of new work in development as well, so hold on tight for updates about a second appearance at Nakai Theatre’s Pivot Festival, a new Orphaned Egret Production in Toronto and another in Whitehorse, new initiatives and collaborations, as well as a bid to play a role in yet another renowned Yukon performing arts institution.


Spring Theatre Update!

Photo by Christian Kuntz, christiankuntz.com
The Frantic Follies Vaudeville Revue, Photo: Christian Kuntz

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be joining the cast of Whitehorse’s famed Frantic Follies Vaudeville Revue, a proud Yukon institution! I’ll be doing music-hall comedy, reciting Robert Service, singing, dancing, playing music, and generally hamming it up all summer with this goofy bunch and lots more new friends.Headshot 1 b&w

“The Frantic Follies is a turn-of-the-century vaudeville revue that depicts the entertainment seen by the pioneers of the Great Klondike Gold Rush of 1898. The company has been in operation for 46 years and is known as the most popular and successful show in the Yukon and Alaska.”

The Frantic Follies’ opening night is May 31st, and performances continue every night for the length of the Summer. What better excuse to come join us in the Great White North than to see me strut my stuff in authentic Klondike fashion?

These great photos are courtesy of Christian Kuntz, at ChristianKuntz.com.

Magnetic North BannerBut wait, that’s not all! The theatre community here in Whitehorse is bursting at the seams this Spring, in preparation for the arrival of the Magnetic North Festival, Canada’s largest national theatre fest!

It seems every able-bodied theatre-person in town is hard at work on some project or another (and often two or three!) and I’m no exception: In addition to the Follies and Kill Shakespeare I’ll be pitching in as a stage-hand at various venues during the festivities throughout June, and will be performing in a staged reading of Bystander by Wren Hookey. It’s an intense and thought-provoking play that addresses themes of fate, oppression, altruism, and a single person’s power to right the wrongs perpetrated in the name of society. We’ll be performing the reading on June 15th as part of the Magnetic North Festival, and again on June 29th for Arts in the Park. Hope to see you there!

The Play’s the Thing (part one)

a Treatise on making Canadian Theatre more like Hockey 

     As winter rolls around again, I find that more and more of my evenings (and much of my precious mental energy during the ever-shortening days) is occupied by the other of my great passions: Hockey.

MTL/BOS Faceoff    As did many Canadians, I grew up with the game, my father being a 3rd generation Montreal Canadiens fan despite our family’s geography in rural southwestern Ontario: My brother and I both played, albeit badly; I watched the Habs win their last Cup in ’93 from Dad’s lap; and I call in sick for games against Boston. And, like clockwork, with the first breaths of spring in the air I can eagerly await my life being swallowed up by intense and often torturous emotional turmoil, the likes of which go hand-in-hand with being a die-hard fan of any team.

But what becomes of my other passion during this momentous season, this Christmastime-in-April? After all, there’s another venue in which I have some expertise, one which (curiously enough) also features the vicarious experience of intense emotion by way of larger-than-life figures, and the collective breath-holding of real people anxiously awaiting who will come out the winner, who the loser. But, if Theatre and Hockey have as much in common as it would appear, then why will I practically abandon the rest of my life for months at a time – as many as four nights a week for solid three-hour stints – to watch with bated breath as the Habs pursue one game at-a-time the holy grail of their life’s-work, while a theatrical production (pursuing the no-less admirable or arduously earned holy grail of artistic revelation) can seldom tempt me out the front door to give up a single evening and 15 bucks? How can the NHL fill a 21,273 seat auditorium 41 times a year at minimum 70 dollars a head while theatres across Canada struggle to fill 50 seat black box theatres and studios, sometimes with the help of government funding?

Of course, several notable differences spring immediately to mind, but I think we as Theatre-makers would be too easy on ourselves to attribute this stark difference in success solely to the massiveness of corporate funding and advertisement for the NHL, or the ease of watching a game from the comfort of your home as opposed to walking or driving to your local theatre, or even that Hockey appeals to a wider audience-base due to its history and cultural ties with Canadians everywhere. I think these are all valid concerns, and ones that give Hockey and the NHL in particular a sizeable leg-up in terms of competition with other entertainment industries, Theatre included. However, at the same time I believe that reducing Theatre’s failure to compete with Hockey as an enjoyable way to spend an evening in Canada to being victim to these advantages is to wash our hands of our own responsibility to fix what’s wrong with our art. Otherwise, we will be forced to admit that, unlike Hockey, Theatre is not an art form for the people – at least not in Canada.

In the upcoming essay I hope to conduct a thorough comparison of Hockey and Theatre as performative art-forms (for those of you who would take issue with this claim itself, we’ll address it soon) within the cultural climate of the Great White North, and to derive from this exploration a treatise on what Canadian Theatre Companies can learn from the success of Hockey (and the National Hockey League) in Canada, as well as the steps that I believe necessary to translate these successes to Theatre and to facilitate their implementation for the Canadian Stage.

I will begin by briefly comparing Hockey and Theatre as live performance events, in spite of their often disparate fan-bases – focusing on what the two share, and whether or not we can consider Canadian Hockey as ‘Art’ in the same way we do Theatre. The philosophical distinction drawn, we will examine the polarized success stories of both Hockey and Theatre in Canada and draw parallels between their current management structure, publicity, and product. The overlying scene being outlined, we will then establish a list of practices by which Canadian Theatres can emulate the cultural success of Hockey through expanding and accentuating their similarities and adopting superior practices more in-line with today’s performance industry.

We have long been plagued by the perception that Theatre is a dying art-form, one which has lost touch with popular opinion and no longer serves as an accessible way for us to collectively explore our shared humanity. I am certain, however, that by looking ahead to a cornerstone of our national culture and identity, Theatre in Canada can regain its waning relevance by bringing some of the nail-biting, ref-abusing, hero-worshipping passion of the Stanley Cup Playoffs into our empty theatres.

(I’ll be re-posting this essay in parts, section-by-section as I transfer them from my old website, so follow me to keep posted as I release the rest – I’ll promise not to keep you waiting too long. I’d love for this to be a communal exploration, so if you have thoughts to share on anything I’ve mentioned here, or anything else you think I ought to explore, feel free to make your case in the comments section below. Thanks for reading, and until next time.)