Sunday, April 22, 2007

Editorial: The Sunday Muse

Sun, cherry blossoms and April showers. Spring was trying very hard to make an appearance this week, and while today is the kind of day to cozy up to a fireplace if you can find one, yesterday was nearly bikini weather. Nothing like sun to bring out the smiles!

In the wake of the shocking news from Virginia Tech, not to mention the Iraqi parliament, this week, people really needed a day of sun to rejuvenate them.

The good news is, almost everyone I know is involved in some kind of cool and interesting creative project - most of them taking place on (or within bicycle distance of) Commercial Drive! With all the ugliness going on out there, we really need to support the people who are trying to change that in unique and creative ways.

On Monday, the City of Vancouver is taking the matter serious enough to hold a day-long conversation on the future of arts and culture.

Although I disagree, the majority of producers rely on bums in seats to make up for expenses. That means they need more then just other artists! They need you!

There is nothing more disheartening to a promoter or event organizer than to have an empty house after spending so much time, energy and personal money to entertain and inform the community. These are the same people who buy your goods, fill your restaurants, raise your kids and sweep your floors.

You rely on them and they rely on you. Besides, chances are you will have fun and meet some nice people. How bad can that be!

And if you can’t go yourself, tell other people that something is happening. A big part of why I started this blog was because I got so much information about what was going on just a few blocks away from my home and it made me very proud to live here. I wanted to let my neighbors know what was going on around them and help people coming to the Drive make an informed decision as to where they spend their hard-earned paycheques.

From my own experience as a producer, I know that spreading the word is just as important as showing up. Please do the same for your friends and neighbours.

Last night I went to “We’re In This All Together” at the Russian Hall, a fascinating production by Vancouver Moving Theatre, co-producer of the Downtown Eastside’s Heart of the City festival. This is an arts company that really has heart and sees how important art is in building and healing community. With the entire cast, crew and creation team being made up of people living in or affiliated with the DTES, it is unavoidable that the theme of the show be addiction and the ripple effect it has on our lives and families.

“We’re In This All Together” was developed through an initiative called “The Shadows Project”, and employs simple but effective larger-than-live shadow puppetry to add vivid atmosphere and help move the story along. The result is sort of like watching a Richard Tetrault woodcut come to life. Tamara Unroe provided the amazing imagery. Standout also was the original music by Joelysa Pankanea and Ya-wen V. Wang and the lighting by Adrian Muir. Kim Collier had the challenging job of directing the hefty ensemble cast (which must have been no easy feat).

Despite a couple of flubbed lines a few missed notes, the pace was fast-moving and the story engaging. In the end I was left empowered and thankful for the experience. Every show is followed by a talk from an expert in the field. April 26th it’s poet and Bud Osborn. Well worth the $5-$20 sliding scale admission.

I became involved as a participant in a digital video training workshop funded by the “Shadows Project”. It was a marvelous 5 week learning experience conducted by videographer Cease Wyss, which gave 7 or 8 of us a chance to try our hand at film making using high quality equipment. We were taken very good care of and really given the opportunity to explore and learn at the same time.

The result was that Cease hired me to help record the event as well as a few interviews with cast members and writers. Most poignant was a story from one woman about a friend who died of an overdose at a party and it was suspected that he was thrown out the window so that the party wouldn’t have to stop.

“We Are All In This Together” is on tonight and then again from April 26th to the 29th.

My second video credit this week came with the debut of Heather Smythe’s trailer of her forthcoming documentary about ANU 5, the multi-disciplinary event I directed at the Roundhouse in November, produced by Jabbar Al Janabi featuring Lache Cercel, Serwan Yamulky, Angela Brown, Laura Crema, Leanne Sodjin and a host of other very talented musicians, artists, dancers and spoken word artists.

Heather is putting together a little event in support of it on May 19th at Somos Studio on Main where I and many of the original ANU 5 cast will be performing. One of ANU’s biggest supporters, Brian Turko of Turk’s Coffee House will be the MC for the evening.

By calling the event “A.muse bouche” , Smythe is imbuing her own influence as a chef into the artistic mix of ANU.

Check out me fumbling my way through the narration in the video at

And read here: for more details.

Hey Big News: Yesterday Commercial Drive – Live! hit the 4000 mark!

We’ve had 1000 visitors in only 12 days! And we’ve had hits from as far away as Singapore, China, Argentina and Dubai! Thanks so much to everyone dropping by! If you do stop in, please feel free to drop me a line and tell me a little about yourself and if you like my little virtual rag. I’m always open to suggestions and would love the feedback!

Until next time, stay in touch and keep up the good work.

Steve Duncan – The Drive Guy

P.S.: Hats off to the Saturday Bike Polo guys chewing up the asphalt in Grandview park yesterday. You all make it look so easy.

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