Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

One Shirley, Two Actors

Posted: April 12, 2016 in Art, Theatre

I know… it’s been a while. But hey, when life does give you a few minutes to yourself – parking in front of the computer is rarely what you want to do as “down time”; so the blog stays idle until there’s a compelling reason to post something. Well, something has come up… so, here you go.

I’m sure many of you have seen, or have at least heard about, the movie Shirley Valentine. Before it was made into a movie in 1989, it was an amazing play written by Willy Russell. Starting the last Tuesday in April, 4thWall Productions will be staging a production of Russell’s play and they have invited me to design the soundscape for it. It’s what is sometimes referred to “in the biz” as a one-hander, which means there’s only one actor on stage for the whole play.

That’s one actor, delivering all the lines, for two hours, every show. And when there are two shows a day for five days in a row, that’s a lot of work; especially if, like most actors in Canada, you need to hold down a part-time or even a full time job just to pay the bills. Add in the kids, and soccer/hockey, and… well, you get the idea. What’s the solution? Before I answer that question, let me tell you a little about Shirley Valentine in case you are among the uninitiated.

Shirley is in a place a lot of us find ourselves at one point or another. She’s in her forties, her two kids have moved on, the bloom has fallen off the romance with her husband and when she takes the time to sit down and have a glass of wine and think about it, she’s saddened by the fact that life is not what she imagined it would be. She wonders where it all went sideways and what happened to all the dreams she had when she was younger. So she goes looking for them and also discovers, as a wise Greek philosopher once put it, “Dreams are never where you expect them to be.”dreams

So what happens? Well, that would be telling now, wouldn’t it?

But, back the solution: as my title suggests, the trick is one Shirley, but two actors! You get two people to share the role, trading off one performance to the next. In this case that also means two Jennifers; first, my good friend Jennifer Barson, whom I’ve enjoyed working with a number of times, and second, my new friend Jennifer Cornish, whom I certainly hope to work with again. Two great actors sharing one tremendous role to the delight of all. It’s a remarkable thing to watch them work. Same story, same dialog, same blocking, but, in a manner of speaking, two great plays. You may have to come see it twice!

So this is my invitation to you my faithful reader, to make your way to the Fergus Grand Theatre in, of all places, Fergus, Ontario and take in a remarkable show. Grab a date and enjoy an evening show together, or round up the book club and grab a matinée. It all starts on Tuesday, April 26th and runs two performances a day (2pm and 8pm) through to April 30th. Tickets are just $25.

To buy tickets online… CLICK HERE!

shirley-valentine-post-card-600pxw-2016-v2

I’ve been reading Jamie’s blog for a while now and I am always touched by the intimate looks at her family life most. This one is a great encouragement to us all not to stifle creativity when we encounter it, whether in our children, our friends, or ourselves.

Jamie the Very Worst Missionary: “I need you” by Great White..

I’ve never been to Disneyland or Disney World but as a kid the Wonderful World of Disney was a Sunday staple in our household. We would all sit in from of the TV eating roast beef sandwiches (leftovers from lunch) and enjoy the program week after week.

So when I read this post at Soul Caffeine I was washed over by a small wave of nostalgia, but I also found myself in agreement with his basic premise. What do you think?

What Church’s Could Learn From Disney

Shalom.. Dennis

http://soulcaffeine.wordpress.com/2011/09/22/what-churches-could-learn-from-disney/

Happy Punctuation Day

Posted: September 24, 2009 in Art, Current Events
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In honour of International Punctuation Day allow me to present to you the great Victor Borge. Yeah, I know; most of you have never heard of him. Pity. Enjoy anyway.

Okay.. there two things that I want to talk to you about.

The first is art. The scriptures say that man was created in the image of God. For me the greatest evidence of this has always been humankind’s ability to create. From the earliest cave paintings to the delicate intricacies of an electron guitar, I really believe our obsession with bringing what we can imagine into some degree of reality one of our most God-like qualities.

It’s why I’ve always thought that those who believe in God should support those who make best use of their creativity. To the best of our ability to afford it, there should be art in our homes, original when possible, prints and replicas when necessary, but there must be art. It is an expression of the creative spark that God has placed in all of us. For this reason, I have always made a point of supporting and promoting the artists that come into my life, be they musicians, sculptors, architects, painters, whatever.

Which brings me to my friend Stephen. I have known Stephen Ascough for nearly three decades. And while I have long coveted his friendship, I will confess that what I envy most is his artistic ability. I am proud to have three of Stephen’s original nature drawings hanging on the walls of my home. They remind me not only of a great friendship, but of the wonder of God’s creation expressed in an act of love and creativity.

I know, I’m getting a little mushy here, but it’s hard not too – Stephen’s work always amazes me. Sometimes I look at the three pictures I have in my home, (the mushrooms are my favourite) and I still see things in them I never noticed before. But why am I telling you this now?

Because recently my friend Stephen was accepted as a member of Artists For Conservation, a “non-profit, international organization dedicated to the celebration and preservation of the natural world. The Foundation represents the world’s leading collective of nature artists and an unparalleled pool of artistic talent focussed on nature. The organization’s mission is to support wildlife and habitat conservation, biodiversity, sustainability and environmental education through art that celebrates our natural heritage.” Membership is limited and by invitation, I’m thrilled for my friend that he has been included.

As a result of this for the first time, high quality art prints of his work is available on the web. The picture at right is from his home page at AFC where you can see more of his work and purchase a print. On selected works a portion of the purchase price will go to the AFC Foundation to support their work in world wide conservation efforts. I invite you to visit his home page and consider the possibilities. You can use the following link or the one in the sidebar at right.

http://www.natureartists.com/stephen_ascough.asp

The second thing I’d like to mention is The Ride to Conquer Cancer. The Ride is a 200km cycling tour from Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, Ontario through the Halton Hills, down through the wine country of the Niagara peninsula, to the natural majesty of Niagara Falls, natural wonder and honeymoon capital of North America. The funds raised through this event will help to ensure that the vital cancer research that is done at Princess Margaret (one of the top five such centres in the world) continues.

I’d be surprises if there’s anyone reading this who hasn’t seen someone in their lives touched by this all to common disease. If you are so inclined to do so I would appreciate it if you would follow the link to my personal page at the Ride’s web site and make a donation in support of my participation in the event.

On behalf of the thousands who will benefit from the work that goes on at Princess Margaret, I thank you.

Dennis Gray

The ROM Does Itself Proud

Posted: June 8, 2007 in Art
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I’ve always been a fan of innovative design in architecture ever since my Dad took me to see Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Fallingwater” when I was a kid. My father was a construction superintendent and he was always careful to make sure I understood that form does not always have to follow function. It’s one thing if a car parts warehouse is a big concrete and steel box, but the places where culture thrives, the places where people gather to express their creativity, individuality and spirituality need to reflect the events that take place inside them.

As I llok around the world at what is being done in other cities and then look at the bulk of modern Canadian architecture all I see is a glowing tribute to the bottom line. It’s never about what it looks like, what it inspires, what are the possibilities – it is only about how much it costs. Especially, it seems, when it comes to public buildings.

To make sure the taxpayer gets value for the tax dollar is indeed important, but it seems to me we must redefine “value.” It should not always be about only doing what is needed, it must also be about showing the world, our children and ourselves just how much we are capable of doing, just how great a legacy we can leave.

New World’s Tallest

Posted: November 25, 2006 in Art
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Okay, I realize that the CN Tower’s record as the world’s tallest structure isn’t going to last forever. Eventually somebody had to build a bigger one, ’cause that’s just the way things are in this world. But am I the only one who thinks the proposed design (see computer generated picture at right) looks just a little familiar? And if the appearance isn’t enough, the leading corporation on this project is a railroad company! Even the description sounds like something I’ve read before.

“The new tower will be fitted with two observation platforms… It will sit on a triangular base and become cylinder-like as it stretches upwards.”

Now I appreciate that there are only so many ways to build a tower, and what with form following function and all, there is going to be a certain similarity in any design – but really! Please, people, could we try to be a little more innovative?

Espe
cially since this tower will also replace another one that looks hauntingly familiar. Check out the picture on the left. Has a certain French feel about it doesn’t it.

I recognize that imitation is in itself a form of flattery but I was hoping that when the CN Tower’s record was toppled it would be by something not only taller, but more elegant as well.

But hey, that’s just me.