BY WENDY ELLIOTT
The Atlantic Theatre Festival won four Merritt Awards March 19 in Dartmouth at the Nova Scotia Merritt Awards for 2006.
Among those involved in last summer’s popular production of Noises Off, the winners include: Graham Percy as best actor; Patricia Zentilli as best supporting actress; Patrick Clark for costume design; and Neil Peter Jampolis for best set design. “We’re very pleased,” artistic director Nigel Bennett said last week. “I hope the town is pleased too and take some pride in us.”
ATF captured four of the eight awards for which it was nominated. “That’s pretty good for a comeback season,” Bennett said, “after two years of being totally inactive. You can expect more and better.”
Bennett spent one day auditioning in Halifax last week. He said he could hire only one non-equity actor this summer.
The artistic director is also waiting for definite news on federal spending in the arts sector and how it might affect the ATF. “We’re worried about cuts to tourism and culture and are waiting with bated breath.”
Canadian composer and Acadia University music professor Derek Charke recently received a second major commission from the Kronos Quartet, an internationally renowned string quartet based in San Francisco. The new work is for string quartet, Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq (who toured and recorded with Björk) and a prerecorded backing track of sounds from the north.
The world premiere will be May 3, 2008 at Disney Hall in Los Angeles on a program entitled “Nunavut”. The Kronos Quartet plans to perform this new work around the globe. Charke’s first commission for this ensemble has now been performed by them over 30 times and around the world.
The work will be around 20 minutes in length. Currently, the idea is “The Seasons.” Charke is recording sounds from all four seasons up north, and the sounds of throat-singers. These sounds will be integrated into a backing soundtrack that will be played at the same time as the string quartet and Tanya Tagaq perform. He will also compose a fully notated score for the Kronos string quartet to play.
Tagaq will be given cues in the score where she will throat-sing using various pre-determined techniques.
Charke’s first commission from the Kronos Quartet was for a 14-minute work “Cercle du Nord III,” which was premiered by the quartet last year in Vancouver. Since then, they have performed it around the world. They also commissioned selections from another work “Twenty-Two Inuit Throat Song Games for String Quartet.”
Charke describes his definite plans for his trip to Iqaluit this month. “My primary plans include recording sounds. Obviously winter is the longest and most prevailing season, therefore it’s crucial that I record sounds this winter.”
JUMP! An ‘80s Musical
JUMP! will be performed at the Al Whittle Theatre March 29-31. Showtimes are at 7 p.m., with a matinee at 2 p.m. on Saturday as well as a 7 p.m. show.
The tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for children and $35 for a family of four.
Call 697-2515 for details.
The Fundy Film Society begins its spring series with The Queen. Featuring Helen Mirren’s Oscar-winning performance as Queen Elizabeth II, this film is a dramatic story about the crisis affecting the Royal family immediately following the death of the immensely popular Princess Diana.
Screenings are April 1, 4 and 7 p.m. and April 2, 7 p.m. at the Al Whittle Theatre in Wolfville. Tickets are available 30 minutes prior to each showing.
A Country and Old-time Benefit Show is set for Saturday, March 31 to assist the family of young Hannah Corkum.
It will take place at the Canning Lions hall at 7 p.m. Ken Best and the Silverados and the Kings Fiddlers will take part.
Slowcoaster on stage
On March 30, Cape Breton’s Slowcoaster, one of the most popular jam rock bands in Canada, will be at On the Verge in Wolfville.
The members’ superior musicianship enables the trio to hammer out their own brand of high energy, guitar-based rock that incorporates touches of hip-hop, jazz, reggae and Afro-Cuban grooves.
Slowcoaster started to take shape in 1999 when Steve MacDougall hooked up with bassist Mike LeLievre. MacDougall brought with him a lifetime of tales which came alive in his songs. Accomplished drummer Brian Talbot adds a well-considered backbeat to an already rich sound.
The past six years have seen Slowcoaster perform over 700 shows throughout Canada and be rewarded for their tireless touring with Music Nova Scotia’s Alternative Group of the Year award in 2005 and the East Coast Music Association’s Alternative Recording of the Year prize in 2006.
Jess Clemons launched her new CD on a blustery night last month at the Al Whittle Theatre. Despite the weather, Clemons and her band report having “a bang-up, packed house night that will go down in the books as our first sold-out show!”
The new CD is available at the following places: Just Us! Café, Wolfville, Art Can Gallery, Canning, HMV, Halifax.
New titles out
Gaspereau Press in Kentville launched several new books last week. They include: Trudeau: Long March, Shining Path by poet George Elliott Clarke.
Clarke’s newest dramatic poem makes an irreverent, jubilant portrait of the life and politics of one of Canada’s most controversial political heroes, Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Originally composed as the libretto for a new opera by D.D. Jackson to be presented at Toronto’s Harbourfront Festival in April, “Trudeau” is a political caper, an extravagant portrait and a dramatic study of influence, power, revolution and liberation.
A two-part volume of poetry, Allan Cooper’s The Alma Elegies pairs the poems from his very first book with new poems written in the same place. The first half of the book was written in the autumn of 1978 when Cooper was living alone in his great-uncle’s house. These poems were published the following year in Blood-Lines. Twenty-five years later, having raised a family in the same house, Cooper has written a series of reflections or ‘answering poems’ about occupying that space and about the coming of winter years later.
An award-winning poet, Cooper has published 12 books of poetry, most recently Gabriel’s Wing and Singing the Flowers Open. Cooper is also a musician. He was a member of the trio Isaac, Blewett and Cooper for a number of years and later went on to release a solo project, Songs for a Broken World. He lives in Alma, N.B.
Broken Vessel: Thirty-five Days in the Desert is Harry Thurston’s latest work. The book is a lyrical and deceptively stark meditation on the Sahara desert. The desert Thurston encounters is a place where fossils, footprints and myths are sometimes one and the same, and where seeing and imagining are flexible acts, equal parts observation and invention.
According to Thurston, “in January 2000, I travelled to the Egyptian oasis of Dakhleh – the ‘Inner’ oasis – in the Western Desert, 600 kilometres southwest of Cairo as the crow flies. I was there to research a non-fiction book on the history of this so-called ‘everlasting oasis,’ where, archaeologists have shown, people have lived continuously for nearly half a million years. “Travel often inspires me to write new poetry and the clarity of the desert environment (which arises, I think, from its starkness and immensity) seemed to beg for a response in verse as well as prose. I decided to write a single poem at the end of each day’s exploration of the oasis and the surrounding desert. The poems were drawn from three principal sources: my first-hand observations of the desert environment and the things living in it; the Western Desert’s known history; and my daily discovery of its revealed history, the last through the careful work of my archaeologist companions.”
Thurston is one of Nova Scotia’s best-known freelance journalists and the author of several collections of poetry. He lives in Tidnish Bridge.
Ross Creek workshops
Beginning April 1 on Sundays from 1-3 p.m., the Ross Creek Centre for the Arts will host six weeks of art fun using a great variety of materials and projects, all taught by staff. For ages 7 to 12.
Adult workshops also begin April 1. Three distinguished Nova Scotian artists are teaching three distinct styles of painting.
Then plan to attend the Bringin’ It Home concert April 12 at 7:30 p.m. with a Songwriter’s Circle, featuring live performances by Dan McKinnon, Jenn Grant, Thom Swift and Tanya Davis.
Tickets are available at Box of Delights bookstore in Wolfville or at the door at Ross Creek.
On Sunday, April 22, Bienvenidos!, in celebration of Frida Kahlo’s Mexican Heritage on the 100th anniversary of her birth, a variety of art projects exploring Mexican culture will take place. That Sunday is also Volunteer Day at the centre.
For more information about events and programs happening at the Ross Creek, please visit www.artscentre.ca or call 582-3842.
Musical on deck
The Acadia Music Theatre program is presenting its second production of the season, Working: the Musical. Based on the Studs Terkel book, composer Stephen Schwartz explores the existence of the average working man.
The artistic team on this production consists of director Robert Seale, musical director Lisa St. Clair, choreographer Mary Lou Martin, and associate musical director Paula Rockwell.
Working: The Musical is being presented at the Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre April 5, 6 and 7 at 8 p.m., plus a Saturday matinee, April 7 at 2 p.m. There will also be a special student preview being offered April 5 at 1 p.m. Tickets are $10, $8 for students and seniors and are available at the Acadia School of Music (585-1512) and at The Box of Delights in Wolfville.
Rounding out the series
Virtuoso violinist David Greenberg and celebrated harpsichordist Gordon Murray join Symphony Nova Scotia for a performance of baroque music March 31 at the Festival Theatre in Wolfville.
Tickets are $32 ($22 for students) and are available from the Acadia Box Office in the Arena Complex. Call 542-8425. Don’t forget that any remaining tickets are available for half-price ($10 for students) at 7 p.m. on the day of the performance.
Van Nostrand an author
Retired biologist Neil Van Nostrand of Wolfville explains in plain language in his new book, Perfect Ape to Perfect Idiot, how society arrived at this moment of destructive wealth and power, impacting every corner of the Earth, threatening humanity's very survival.
Van Nostrand, a 76-year-old grassroots wildlife biologist, put this book together over the last 10 years with his spouse Erica. Its central question is, how could Homo sapiens have managed to dominate every habitable space on earth, and now to have reached this moment of self-destructive wealth and power?
This book provides a biological understanding of what happened and why. Its biological orientation allows the reader to choose a more realistic, more honest re-evaluation of her or his life.
The author hopes the book will be a "seed" to motive people in the Western nations to cool their prodigal lifestyle, for the sake of both present and future generation's physical and mental well being and for the salvation of Earth's rapidly collapsing ecosystems.
Van Nostrand has always loved domestic animals, and wildlife and Nature. Growing up on the family farm in southern Ontario during the WWII, he had ample opportunity to study all three. Adult life took him to the Ontario Agriculture College, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (agronomy), then a Master of Science in Wildlife Management. In 1958 he moved his small family to the Annapolis Valley. For 25 years he did management-research on the province's wild furbearing animals for the then Department of Lands and Forests. Specializing in beavers, he learned valuable insights into population dynamics and the behaviour of mammals under stress in different habitats. These insights apply just as well to our increasingly crowded planet.
Following retirement in 1985, he pursued biodynamic organic farming for nine years, raising livestock, winter storage vegetables and many fruits including apples. In 2006, the Atlantic Canadian Organic Network (ACORN) presented him with the Gerrit Loo Award "in recognition of his contribution to organic agriculture."
At 106 pages, his book sells for $16.50.
To March 31
Acadia spring play 4:48 Psychosis, Denton Hall, Wolfville, Wed. – Sat. until March 31, 585-1766
To April 1
Billy Goats Griff, CentreStage Theatre, Kentville, 678-8040
New music at the Verge, Wolfville, 9 p.m.
JUMP! the musical, Al Whittle Theatre, Wolfville, 697-2515
Lenten music, Manning Chapel, Acadia University, 7:30 p.m.
Slowcoaster, On the Verge, Wolfville, 10 p.m.
CFUW book sale, Wolfville Lions hall, 9 a.m.
Greg Muttart, The Wick Pub, Berwick
International Gospel Choir, University Hall, Wolfville, 7 p.m.
Stadacona Band and Dukes of Kent, Horton High School, Greenwich, 2 p.m.
Man in Black, Festival Theatre, Wolfville, 8 p.m.