Culture

Meeting with the Mayor- The Arts Are A Priority

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Last week the members of the Residents of the Exchange District  here in Winnipeg had an opportunity to meet with Mayor Brian Bowman. He told us about some of his visionary ideas for  the city and we talked to him about our concerns and questions.

Mayor Brian Bowman met with members of the Resident's Association of the Exchange District at the  Gurevich Art GalleryMayor Brian Bowman meets with members of the Residents of the Exchange District at the Gurevich Art Gallery

One priority for the mayor is increasing funding to the arts. Since many galleries, studios and performance venues are located in the Exchange District this could be particularly important to our area of the city.

Winnipeg Exchange District painting by Caroline Dukes at the Millenium LibraryWinnipeg Exchange District painting by Caroline Dukes at the Millennium Library

Mayor Bowman  told us  for every dollar you invest in the arts you get an $18 economic return. The average Canadian city invests $35 per person annually in the arts. Winnipeg invested $5 when Mr. Bowman took office. His first budget…

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Antony and Cleopatra and the Mosquitoes

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antony and cleopatra shakespeare in the ruinsI’m a huge Shakespeare in the Ruins fans and can still remember almost every play I’ve seen by the talented company.  I’ve been going to their performances for years. I loved their presentation of The Tempest, their Romeo and Juliet in a parking garage and their production of Amid Summer Night’s Dream in a downtown park. Last year’s Comedy of Errors was a complete delight.  We took visitors from Hong Kong and they were so impressed. 

shakespeare in the ruinsI have to say that this year’s Antony and Cleopatra might be my least favorite of all their productions. For me having the characters wear First Nations costumes and setting the play in pre-confederation Canada just didn’t work. The story of how the indigenous people of Canada were robbed of sovereignty of their own land is of vital importance and needs to be told; but aligning that story with the story of Antony and…

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10 Interesting Things About Bessie Smith- The Greatest Blues Singer in the World

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Miche Braden plays Bessie in The Devil's MusicMiche Braden plays Bessie in The Devil’s Music

This week we saw The Devil’s Music, a play at the Warehouse Theatre in Winnipeg about the famous 1920’s songstress Bessie Smith.  I learned some interesting things about the Grammy Award winner. 

1. She was born in abject poverty in Tennessee in 1892,  but was so beloved when she died that some ten thousand people walked by her coffin to pay tribute to her.

grave of bessie smith2. 1960’s rock star Janis Joplin once told friends she felt like she was Bessie Smith reincarnated.  It was Joplin who saw to it that a headstone was provided for Bessie Smith’s grave 35 years after she was killed in a 1937 car accident. Joplin chose an epitaph that named Smith- The Greatest Blues Singer in the World. 

3. During an outdoor performance in North Carolina, the Ku Klux Klan surrounded Bessie’s tent. She confronted them angrily…

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Ten Things I’ll Remember About the Ballet Going Home Star

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Going Home Star- Royal Winnipeg BalletGoing Home StarRoyal Winnipeg Ballet

1. The sound of the rain stick accompanying the orchestra.

2. The huge arching whale bones that were part of the set.

3. The fact that Asian dancers were cast in aboriginal roles.

4. The glowing turtle shell.

5. The hymns I recognized in the music score.

6. The priests’ sinister costumes.

Photo Winnipeg Free PressPhoto Winnipeg Free Press

7. The way the stars twinkled through the birch bark trees.

8. The voice overs that described how the first immigrants to Canada would never have survived without their First Nations neighbors. 

9. The way Gordon, the main character, had a model of a residential school on his back, and it kept weighing him down to the floor, and Annie, the woman trying to help him, kept lifting the school off his back, but each time it pushed him back down.

10. The cast and production crew…

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Winnipeg and Mennonites in Gone Girl Movie

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Gone-Girl-2014-film-posterThere weren’t too many surprises for me in the movie Gone Girl which we saw on Friday night.   I had read the book so I knew what was coming plot wise.  There were however two surprising lines of dialogue that caught my attention.  

Rosamund Pike plays Amy Dunne in Gone GirlRosamund Pike plays Amy Dunne in Gone Girl

The first was the mention of Winnipeg.  The movie’s heroine Amy played by Rosamund Pike gets in trouble and calls a former boyfriend Desi played by Neil Patrick Harris to come and rescue her.  They rendezvous at a casino.  A man bumps into Desi and Amy at the casino bar and says he is sure he recognizes Amy.

Neal Patrick Harris plays Amy Dunne's old boyfriend Desi CollingsNeal Patrick Harris plays Amy Dunne’s old boyfriend Desi Collings

 It is important that Amy remain incognito so Desi tries to throw the man off by lying and assuring the fellow there is no way he can know Amy…

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Why I’m Looking Forward to October 1

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andre lewis director royal winnipeg ballet“I have two children and I can’t imagine having them taken away from me like that.” Royal Winnipeg Ballet artistic director Andre Lewis is talking about how First Nations children were sent to residential schools across Canada. That experience is the focus of the ballet company’s new work  Going Home Star. going home star royal winnipeg balletThe work was inspired by local aboriginal activist and politician Mary Richard who passed away in 2010. According to Lewis it brings together not only the aboriginal and non-aboriginal community in our country but a group of incredibly talented Canadians.  I have tickets for opening night.  I went to hear Andre Lewis give a talk about Going Home Star at the Millenium Library last week and here’s five reasons I’m really excited about the performance

tina keeper1. I was a North of 60 fan and its star Tina Keeper is one of the producers of Going Home Star.

orenda2. I…

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Food From the Land and Shakespeare in the Ruins

marylou and meenaOur friends Meena and Anil are visiting us from Hong Kong and we took them out to the Peasant Cookery, a favorite Exchange District restaurant of ours.window ledge peasant cookery The window ledges are decorated with artistic fowl sculptures in wood or ceramics and jars of canned fruits and vegetables.interior peasant cookery winnipegThe Peasant Cookery boasts that it offers ‘real food from the land’ and we knew from our past visits that the food would be excellent and the service friendly. 

dave and anilWe decided to order five different dishes from the eclectic menu and share them all.  meal at peasant cookeryOur meal was first rate. beet salad peasant cookery

A beet salad with toasted seeds, goat cheese, arugula and a  caramelized honey vinaigrette dressing

tourtierre at peasant cookery winnipeg Tourtiere- a French meat pie with thick cut  fries

gnocchi at peasant cookery winnipeg

aged cheddar gnocchi  with sun dried tomato, spinach, red onion, piquillo peppers and basil oilmahi mahi at peasant cookeryLightly breaded mahi, mahi with fresh vegetablesbread pudding at peasant cookery

and bread pudding with Guinness ice-cream and a caramel sauce for dessert.waiter peasant cookeryDespite his look of concern in this photo our waiter was attentive and very pleasant and earned extra bonus marks from us when my husband asked him who his favorite Winnipeg band was and he replied, “Royal Canoe,” the band our son plays in. trappist monastery shakespeare in the ruinsAfter dinner we were off to the Trappist Monastery in St. Norbert to see this years’ Shakespeare in the Ruins production of The Comedy of Errors. anil and daveIt was a near perfect night. The rain held off and it was just cool and windy enough to keep the mosquitoes at bay. We had warm blankets provided by the theatre troupe. audience shakespeare in the ruinsWe moved around the monastery grounds to see the different scenes from the play. It was done in such an entertaining fashion, the humor bawdy and the acting a bit ‘over the top’ in a good way.  comedy of errors shakespeare in the ruinsThe actors made it so easy to follow the rather complicated plot of mistaken identity that near the end of the play when it was revealed that identical twins had been mixed up throughout the drama, a little boy about three or four years old in the audience blurted out, “Why there’s two of them.”  Even he understood the plot resolution. marylou and meenaThe Peasant Cookery staff and Shakespeare in the Ruins company helped us show off our city to our Hong Kong friends in first class style. 

Other related posts……

Shakespeare in the Ruins- 2012

Are You Speaking English

Devour the District

Categories: Culture, Exchange District, Food, Restaurants, St. Norbert | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Kim’s Convenience

kim's convenience posterI laughed. I cried. I know that’s a cliché but it’s what happened yesterday when we attended the play Kim’s Convenience at the Manitoba Theatre Centre. Kim is a Korean teacher who immigrated to Canada as a young married man to make a better life for his family. He buys a convenience store in a Toronto neighbourhood and spends his life behind the counter.

kim's convenienceBut Kim knows the store is not what his life is all about. “This store is not my story,” he says to his children. “You are my story.” That was one of the lines that brought tears to my eyes.

Mr. Kim and His Daughter- Photo Winnipeg Free Press

Mr. Kim and His Daughter- Photo Winnipeg Free Press

Kim’s children’s stories have not turned out as he hoped. His son ends up in trouble with the law, has a fight with his father, and runs away from home with all the money from the store safe. Now married with a son of his own and working at a dead-end job in the car rental business he has maintained his relationship with his mother but he and his Dad are estranged. Kim’s daughter is 30, a professional photographer who can’t afford to live on her own and isn’t married.

One morning a real estate developer offers Kim a bundle for his convenience store. Should he sell it and retire or is there still a chance one of his children will want the business? As the family goes through the day we are treated to a window on their lives.

The Kim Family

The Kim Family

I think the reason the audience laughs so often, and becomes so engaged with the play is because as they observe the family’s interactions they see their own family.  Whether they are of Korean, Polish, Ukrainian, Jewish or Mennonite origin they recognize characteristics of their own families in the Kims. They see their own grandfathers and fathers in Mr. Kim’s old-fashioned ways and pride in the ‘old country.’ They see their own kids in the Kim children who are having trouble deciding what they want in life and their mothers and grandmothers in Mrs. Kim’s steadfast love and loyalty to her family.

The play is only on for a few more days. Go and see it. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry.

Other posts about plays………

Confessions of A Fairy’s Daughter

Winnipeg Fringe Festival

A Mid Summer Night’s Dream on a Mid Summer Afternoon

 

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Discovering St. Cecilia

st. cecilia by Giuseppe Puglia 1630I’ve been getting to know St. Cecilia. We have this great painting of her at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. It is by Giuseppe Puglia and was painted in 1630.  St. Cecilia is the patron saint of music and in this painting she has turned from her violin to talk to the cherub beside her holding some sheet music. happy birthday ben love cecilia

Then on November 22 we went to hear the Winnipeg Singers in a concert called Happy Birthday Ben! Love Cecilia.  It featured four pieces of music written in honor of St. Cecilia by composer Benjamin Britten. Turns out Benjamin and the patron saint of music were both born on November 22 although Cecilia was born in the second century and Benjamin Britten in 1913. 

winnipeg singers ben and ceciliaLots of other composers besides Benjamin Britten have written music celebrating St. Cecilia and the Winnipeg Singers performed some of their pieces too including works by Purcell, Gounod and Victor Mio as well as a special Hymn to St. Cecilia composed by Michael McKay just for the Winnipeg Singers concert. 

The Ectasy of St. Cecilia by Raphael

St. Cecilia Altar Piece by Raphael

A verse in the Hymn to St. Cecilia composed by Benjamin Britten with words by W. H. Auden celebrates the role the venerated woman plays in musicians’ lives. 

Blessed Cecilia, appear in visions 
To all musicians, appear and inspire: 
Translated Daughter, come down and startle 
Composing mortals with immortal fire.

Other posts about art and music………

Landscapes for the End of Time

The Forty Part Motet

Other posts about the Winnipeg Singers

A Handel Meat Pie

Categories: Culture, Winnipeg Art Gallery | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

The Palace Theatre- Part of The North End’s History

palace theatre on selkirk street winnipegI go by the Palace Theatre every time I walk down Selkirk Avenue to do my volunteer work at a thrift shop. The theatre building is all boarded up but it looks like it was a grand building once and I wanted to know more about it. 

palace theatre on selkirk avenue in winnipegI found out the Palace was designed by Max Zev Blankstein a Jewish architect trained in Odessa, Russia who emigrated to Canada in 1904.  He drew up plans for a number of Winnipeg theatres. The theatre was built by Jacob Miles whose family would become one of the biggest movie theatre operators in Manitoba. 

The Palace Theatre has some detailed designs in its brick work

There are detailed designs in the brick work

The Palace opened in 1912 and was initially a venue for vaudeville performances. According to Russ Gourluck the author of Silver Screens on the Prairie it was also used for meetings of the Ukrainian community as well as the viewing of motion pictures. 

The Palace Theatre in 1930- photo by Jim Fustey from Silver Screens on the Prairie by Russ Gourluck

The Palace Theatre in 1930- photo by Jim Fustey from Silver Screens on the Prairie by Russ Gourluck

An addition was built in 1927 adding a balcony and increasing the capacity of the theatre to 800. 

Michael Koster in the Palace Theatre -photo by Raymond Koster- from Silver Screens on the Prairie by Russ Gourluck

Michael Koster in the Palace Theatre -photo by Raymond Koster- from Silver Screens on the Prairie by Russ Gourluck

Michael Koster worked in the projection room and it was sometimes so hot in the room that he wore only underwear, socks and shoes.

Jack Baturin a North End resident recalls kids attended Saturday shows that began at 10:00 am and many kids sat twice through the cowboy movies, mysteries, serials and cartoons bringing lunches that consisted of chunks of bread and kubasa sausage from home. the green hornet serialThe Green Hornet was a favorite serial. 

The theatre was a haunt of the Dew Drop gang who liked to run a variety of scams to avoid paying for their movie tickets.

palace theatre winnipegThe Palace Theatre closed in 1964 and was in turn an auction house, furniture warehouse and bargain store. Now it stands empty- a reminder of a time when the North End of Winnipeg was a very different place. 

Other posts about the North End………

Gunn’s Bakery

I’m a Shop Girl and I Love It

Ancient Objects- Seven Oaks Museum

Categories: Culture, History, North End | Tags: , | 1 Comment

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