Friday, November 30, 2007
Make Time for a Great Play
Semaphore Theatre Company's sci-fi hit
by Kate Watson
November 30, 2007 09:27 AM
[Original article here]
Time is running out to see Doing Time, a highly entertaining mystery based on a sci-fi short story by Kansas City author Mac Tonnies and adapted by the play's director Paul Kimball. It is staged in the tiny basement room of the Wired Monk Coffee Shop, which makes for a surprisingly effective space for this particular play.
The story is classic sci-fi, but you don't have to be a fan of the genre to enjoy Doing Time.
Three terrific actors elevate this play to must-see status. Kris Lee McBride anchors the work with an entirely convincing performance as the prisoner Leda. Christina Cuffari is controlled without being stiff, and does a fine job of showing the warmth beneath her character's frosty exterior. Nick Lachance is charming and funny and injects the last part of the show with a great energy.
In a season that has already had a banner crop of shows, Doing Time still manages to stand out.
Doing Time runs until Dec. 1st at the Wired Monk, corner of Hollis and Morris, at 7:30. Tickets are $8, $6 for students.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Submitted by Ron Foley Macdonald on 11.28.07 at 7:03pm. [original here ]
There’s something genuinely thrilling - and unsettling - about Semaphore Theatre’s world premiere of the play Doing Time. First off, it’s unapologetically hard-core sci-fi. Second, it’s a stage piece more interested in ideas that character.
For audiences who despair of the contemporary theatre’s capacity for endless navel-gazing, Doing Time is like a breath of fresh air. Adapted by director Paul Kimball and Kansas City author Mac Tonnies from Tonnies’ short story, the play dispenses with the all those self-conscious notions about the relationship between audiences and players to simply present a space-time mystery that rockets along like a great 1950 pulp sci-fi paperback.
At about one hour in length, the play follows a single young female named Leda as she is held prisoner on some kind of spacecraft. With a single unadorned set, we’re spared any attempt to visualize the ship; instead, a few hung sheets, chairs, and bed establish her cell. She’s accompanied by an aggressively chirpy attendant - Chistina Cuffari in neatly robotic role - who keeps Leda’s questions at bay for the first half of the play.
When Nick Lachance enters - as John, the ‘manager’ - Doing Time’s action picks up considerably. Lachance also injects a great deal of wry, unexpected humour into the play with his quizzical delivery and dry asides. He’s clearly having a great deal of fun with the role, defining it as a kind of slightly off-kilter existential space delivery man.
Kris Lee McBride - in the central role of Leda - modulates her performance in the central role of the piece to underplay her growing rage and exasperation. At the end of the play she achieves a striking sense of resignation that translates into a glimmer of hope, especially since she’s faced with the ultimate unknown.
Kimball’s raw, no-nonsense direction often sacrifices delicacy in order to accelerate the plot; a couple of pantomime scenes that illustrate Leda’s boredom with the voyage reflect a cinematic rather than a stage background, with brisk fade-up-and-back-to-blacks.
The only drawback to the production was the odd use of rather well-worn Bob Dylan songs (All Along The Watchtower, Lay Lady Lay) over the scene transitions. Some Tangerine Dream or Portishead might have provided something a bit more appropriately mysterious and futuristic for a show that seems suspended in some other time and space.
The inanimate basement performance space at The Wired Monk coffee shop at the corner of Hollis and Morris proved to be a surprisingly effective place to stage a play. Hanging on the walls is a rather neat series of sci-fi-like paintings that resonate with the show and warrant a separate visit by themselves.
Doing Time is small but smart production that reveals Semaphore Theatre as a substantial new player on the indie theatre scene. Aimed at wider genre-loving audiences rather than the usual jaded theatre crowd, the company has made a serious stride into a totally new direction for theatre in Halifax.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Just a quick reminder that my most recent interview on The Paracast with Gene Steinberg and David Biedny will be available for your listening pleasure later this evening.
I'm pretty sure that somewhere along the line I mentioned the Boer War.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Let the voting begin!
Polls will be open until 12:01 AM (AST), 1 January 2008.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Mac Tonnies is angry about how the Kucinich UFO question was handled at the Democratic debate. He writes:
This sad excuse of a "debate," in which Kucinich is essentially asked to apologize for seeing an object in the sky he didn't understand, typifies the mainstream response to a phenomenon that, by all counts, qualifies as a genuine scientific enigma. (For his part, Obama diverts attention from the subject at hand with consummate finesse, his condescension greeted by applause.) [entire post here].
Actually, I see it differently, and here's why:
1. The question itself wasn't looking for an apology. It was straight-forward, with the usual moderator run-on intro. If it seemed like Russert was looking for an apology, I would suggest that ufologists are a bit too touchy. They want people to ask questions, and here was a question. If there was a little bit of smarm on Russert's part (and honestly, I didn't really detect any more smarm than normal from TR), that's a small price to pay.
2. Kucinich has no hope of ever being President, but I thought he answered the question about as well as time and circumstance allowed (remember, this was a "rapid fire" round in the debate). He mentioned that a UFO is simply a UFO, and by extension not necessarily an alien spacecraft. He also got in the good line about more Americans having seen a UFO than support the president - catchy, if not quite true, at least according to the statistic Russert countered with, i.e. 14% of Americans have reported seeing a UFO. Is that stat true or not? I don't know, but as Kucinich indicated at the end, it's an awful lot of people regardless. He also name-dropped Jimmy Carter, although most people accept that Carter saw Venus, and not a genuine UFO. Still, not bad - if he was better informed, he would have added a few other names and occupations, including Kelly Johnson, Senator Richard Russell, Paul Hill, and any dozen of the scores of top USAF personnel who have reported UFOs. Better yet, he would have told people to purchase a copy of "Best Evidence" when it's out on DVD next year (yes, that's a shameless commercial plug!).
3. Mac also takes a dig at Barrack Obama's comments when he said, in essence, that we should focus more on problems down here, but what does Mac suggest that Obama (who no-one should confuse with presidential material at this point in his career - experience should count more than sound-bites and a good back-story), should have said, given the circumstances, i.e. he's trailing Clinton in the polls, and he had about fifteen seconds to answer? Besides, I happen to agree with the gist of his answer, which was "who knows what's out there, but we should focus on fixing our own myriad problems down here, which is what I'm going to do if elected President". I would probably have given the same answer, given the circumstances, and the priorities of a candidate trying to gain his party's nomination. Save the talk for manned missions to Mars, or the question of whether or not there's life out there, for another day, when you have more time, and when you might actually be in charge.
So, I think, all things considered, the debate was a good thing for "ufology" (and even for people interested in the serious study of the UFO phenomenon). Yes, there was some laughter from some in the audience, which just shows that there are Democrats who are as stupid as Republicans (did anyone who lived through the Carter presidency really doubt this?). Still, you have to walk before you can run, which in the case of the UFO phenomenon means that you're still going to have to put up with some chuckles every now and then. The way to silence the chuckles is to use facts and figures, and to point out that some very bright people have seen UFOs over the years, along with a pretty significant number of their fellow Americans.
That's not a bad place to start the process of re-building the public image of the UFO phenomenon.
I never thought I'd say or write this, but good for Dennis Kucinich.