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August, 2004 - Nr. 8


The Editor
Vorsicht Satire!
Rachel Seilern
Dear Mom
Saying "Good-bye"
KW & Beyond
210. & 150. Jahresfeier
Herwig Wandschneider
Dance Students Graduate
Clinton in Germany
German Fest Milwaukee
Dick reports...
Sybille reports
Ham Se det jehört?
Health Newsletter
From Pensions to Hotels
Anton Kuerti Performs
2004-2005 Season
Cabaret from Leipzig
Chinese Are Coming
Frida Kahlo Remembered
"Best Word" Jury
No German Beer at World Cup
Bundesliga Attendance Tops
Hopes On Klinsmann
Berlin's Olympic Stadium
Lots of Free Time
Free Trade Deal
On The Road
Surf's Up in Munich
Plattduetsche in Long Island
QM2 Stops In Hamburg
Solar Cell Break-Through

KW & Beyond

  by Irena Syrokomla

Festivals in the hot days of summer

The Grand River Baroque Festival, at the beginning of July, was memorable. The theme, the voices, the instruments, the setting in the garden and the Buehlow barn - altogether better than ever before, it that is possible! Several highlights are worth mentioning: Joseph Schnurr, a very impressive 22-year-old tenor and a student at Wilfrid Laurier University carried the main part of St. John’s Passion (what a voice, what future!) - and James Mason and his Bach’s oboe concerto in F. Of course, other musicians and other singers were very impressive, too many to mention: Laura Pudwell, Carolyn Sinclair, Daniel Lichti, Roxalana Toews; the instrumental talents of Julie Baumgartel, James Mason and others…. And, Victor Martens, of course, leading St. John’s Passion with such emotional involvement. The first evening of all 6 Brandenburg Concertos was a real feast. Many thanks to the organizers, musicians, singers, sponsors and the faithful audience.

Uptown Waterloo Jazz Festival was a different venue taking place on the parking lot behind the Waterloo City Hall. It was the 12th annual festival on this theme, with about 14 participants, prominent sponsors and several hundred enthusiastic jazz lovers. The weekend weather on July 9 to 11 was hot and everybody was searching for some shade. A good number of attendees were almost camping there, enjoying the music and voices of some well known and some less-known artists. I attended Denzal Sinclaire’s concert and the final one on Sunday of Peter Appleyard. Listening to such talent on a hot summer day among the crowd who weretapping and swinging along with the music and songs – what a way to spend a weekend! What an opportunity to hear it for free! Denzal Sinclaire is one of Canada’s most popular vocalists and Peter Appleyard has been weaving his magical music on vibraphone for over 30 years. Both baby boomers and the younger crowd must be familiar with his talent and appreciated it greatly. Next year I’ll try to come for more concerts and bring not only a lounge chair but my own umbrella as well.

The Count of Monte Cristo in Stratford.

Every year, Stratford Festival organizers are presenting something suitable for a younger audience. Last year it was The King and I, this year it is The Count of Monte Cristo.

This is a stage adaptation of the famous novel by Alexandre Dumas, a thick volume (at least in the version I read in my teens) condensed into 2 hours full of action, not too many details, just enough to understand the plot and follow what is happening. It is amazingly constructed in acts with numerous stage changes, light effects, incredibly fast and moving at the speed of… a movie?

The theatre has changed in the last 30 years, with the exception of some rare classics everything has to move faster, the audiences have shorter and shorter attention spans (influence of modern movies and television, perhaps?) and are more accustomed to changes, short cuts and simultaneous story lines. Among the cast David Snelgrove in dual roles of young Edmund Dantes/Albert de Morcerf and Joseph Shaw as Abbe Faria are particularly worth mentioning. The choreography of stage fights by Nicola Pantin was impressive. And the stage set design – by ingenious Guido Tondino - changing in front of your eyes, seamlessly and silently – everything done by computers these days – transformed the theatrical stage into a movie set.

It is good to see on stage the stories read many years ago and refresh the memories, enjoy the action and the settings. It may be an opportunity to take a younger generation to the real theatre and give them the taste of some classics. The Count of Monte Cristo is running till October 30 at the Avon Theatre and is marked as "Family Experience". It is only a short drive to Stratford.

Studio Theatre at Stratford:
The Human Voice and The Elephant Song

Studio Theatre at Stratford has limited space and therefore is a suitable stage for more intimate plays, with very few actors, less décor, more focus on acting, facial expressions, changes in tones of voices. Last year No Exit was presented, this year it is The Human Voice and The Elephant Song. Each is a one-act play, together as a double bill they present an evening of deep emotional experience – I would hesitate to call it "entertainment". Both have the same team: director Jim Warren, (who also directed No Exit last year), designer Sue LePage and lighting designer Louise Guinand. Both are recommended for mature audiences only.

The Human Voice was written by Jean Cocteau, a famous French movie director, and presented in a new translation – more current English, but retaining the French flavour. It is a one-actress play, about a woman holding telephone conversations with her lover who recently left her. Lally Cadeau is very soft and controlled in this role, carrying on a very civilized conversation on the subject of returning some letters and declaring that everything is fine, " she is just fine", and their parting was after all expected. There are no outbursts and no visible breakdowns, just a shaking voice, shaking hands and gradual change in tone of voice of the woman whose world has ended. The shades of pain and loneliness deepen as the play progresses and she discovers one more lie in their relationship. One wonders what is going to happen to this 50-something woman who wrapped her life around her lover and eventually was betrayed and abandoned. The play leaves us with our own thoughts.

The Elephant Song is a world premier of the first play by 26-year old Nicolas Billon. It is also the debut of a very young actor Mac Fyfe playing the part of Michael – a real opportunity for such a young actor to get a central role in Stratford, one of the most prominent repertory theatres in Canada. He is surprising in his acting and obviously has a very promising future. The play takes place in the psychiatric hospital from where Dr. Lawrence, a psychiatrist disappeared. The last patient to see him is 23-year old Michael, a patient with a troubled past and a fascination with elephants. Dr. Greenberg, played by Stephen Ouimette, is attempting to interview Michael and locate Dr. Lawrence. Although he is repetitively warned that Michael plays games and has his own objectives, it becomes clear that it is Michael who holds the cards and manages the interview with Dr. Greenberg towards his own objectives. The ending is surprising – and leaves us with the desire to see more plays by Nicolas Billon. He is obviously very talented, and considering his age there should be more plays to come. We will be watching for them.

The official opening night for this double bill at the Studio Theatre is August 21 and it runs until September 26. Another Stratford plays worth recommending to our readers.


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