James and Jamesy – Incredibly Special and Deliciously Rare.

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I haven’t been posting blogs lately as I have not been inspired to write about anything.  Everything that has been going on around me has only made me grumpy and want to complain.  Everything that I was writing about was becoming hard to live with so I just decided to stop.  I decided to live inside of that platitude that if I couldn’t say anything nice I wouldn’t say anything at all.

I figured I just needed exposure to some talent, so I decided to go out and see stuff.  However, I haven’t been having a lot of luck watching shows lately.  I have been disappointed almost all of the time.  Two nights ago I went to a show and was left so drained for the experience, I was ready to leave town.  I was looking at my watch, making mental notes about how bad the script was and yawning at the plethora of tired old gimmicks being employed to make the audience feel as though the had not wasted their money.  I left the theatre depressed and started to believe that innovation was truly dead, at least here in this town.  After being here for almost a year I had yet to see anything that filled me with the euphoria I have only known when something truly original and inspiring comes my way. It seemed as though Vancouver was devoid of any real talent.

As a performer and artist I am always looking out for that special something, a show like no other that ignites the imagination and keeps you transfixed for how ever long it is.  I give really bad audience.  I have seen too much.

Last night I went to the In Jest Clown Festival at Russian Hall in Vancouver expecting more of the same.  The evening started with a red nose clown doing some pretty rudimentary stuff that the kids who were in attendance seemed to be indifferent about. Some of what he was doing in terms of technique I had seen the previous night but in a slightly different form.  It was unclear if what he was doing was for adults or kids.  After about 10 minutes, I started looking at my watch and trying to figure out how to gracefully exit the premises. I simply couldn’t do this to myself two nights in a row.

However, the clown then did something that took me by surprise.  During the course of his camping excursion show, he had befriended a puppet squirrel.  The kids who were at the show came to like the squirrel and found his antics amusing.  My heart had been won and I was actually enjoying myself.  Then, owing to a complication in his script, the clown got hungry and without much warning, broke the neck of the puppet squirrel, skinned it, cooked it and ate it, all in a cartoon fashion but graphically enough to make everyones heart stop.

I looked to the kids sitting beside me to see their jaws drop and their eyes bulge out of their head.  Although the clown technique and the story were under developed, the artist had succeeded in grabbing my attention.  His show ended and I decided to stay for the next show to see what else might happen here.

 

After a short break, The comedy duo James and Jamesy took the stage with their new show “High Tea”.  From the moment the lights went up and the first character took the stage I felt a familiar electricity in the room and found myself sitting on the edge of my seat.  It only took about 30 seconds to realise that I had a huge smile pasted on my face and felt I was about to witness something astounding.

 

The physicality and eccentricity of the short lean and lanky character Jamesy juxtaposed against his foil the practical, pragmatic and rather imposing James, while the former serves the later tea, was an absolute joy from start to finish.  The attention to detail, the choreography, the unexpected twists and turns of the script, the audience participation and the over abundance of fabulous ideas left me with a serious lack of superlatives with which to describe this show.  Conventional accolades simply will not do.  All I can do here is to tell you to go and see them when they come to your town, if you are looking to be a part of something incredibly special and deliciously rare.

I left that show filled with a renewed lease on life, a jump in my step and an inspiration I had not know for quite some time.  I owe a big thank you to the people who produced the inaugural “In Jest Festival of Clown and Play” for showing me some compelling stuff.  You can find out more about the festival here:  http://injestfestival.com.  Creativity is not dead, it is alive and well and living in Vancouver.

 

If you are in Vancouver, you can see James and Jamesy at the Revolver Festival May 13 through 18 at The Cultch, 1895 Venables St, Vancouver.   Check the website for show times:  http://www.upintheairtheatre.com/2-tea-vancouver.  If you are not in Vancouver, they will be touring across Canada, if you are not in Canada, call them, invite them over and pay them to do their show for you.

 

The Yin and Yang of It All (Part 2)

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I have always tried to maintain a balanced position.  I don’t see myself as an extremist.  That said, I understand that life must have its ups and downs in order for things to stay interesting, I just don’t think that I need to be the one implementing those ups and downs.  Life and nature have this way of presenting hardship and obstacles without any added assistance from me.  I like to remain reasonably calm and only have a tendency to get worked up when someone or something else does something to me to  upend that inner peace.

Humanity has, for as long as I can remember, always been antagonistic towards itself.  Many say that this is the way of the world, that there will always be “good” people and “bad” people.  However the concept of good and bad is always in the eye of the beholder.  We need look no further than any war or conflict to see two sides, both of whom think THEY are the good ones.

When I was in my early 20’s I read about the Holocaust and the killing of over 6 million Jews by the Germans.  I also read about other historical atrocities and believed, naively so, that, since these events had happened, these sorts of behaviors were past tense, ancient artifacts of  growing civilization.  Growing pains.  It didn’t seem possible or even intelligent that a modern population could consider behaving in such an archaic and primitive manner.  We’ve put people on the moon for fuck’s sake, why would we continue to annihilate each other.

Oh yeah, the military industrial complex.  Money, Greed, Power.  Sorry, I forgot.

I thought humanity had moved on from these sorts of behaviors and that it had become common knowledge that anyone who did behave in this fashion was an enemy of humanity and needed to be put down.  It was sometime in the 90’s after I starting reading Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein that I came to understand that other more recent genocides had been committed.  The most shocking thing about these revelations was that they had been committed not by some country or group that my country viewed as hostile, but, in fact, by my own country and it’s allies for the purposes of laying the foundations for capitalism.

Ah isms.  They have so much to answer for.  So many different kinds of isms out there, all designed to put humans at odds with each other.  I’ve always looked at Isms as the playthings of the Plutocracy and Oligarchs.  Humans need something to keep them occupied, so those who have manipulated the population and the psychological landscape to make themselves stinking rich continuously put forward new and more complex Isms for humanity to play with.  It’s like a big board game with a stack of playing cards.

One stack of  cards, the political ideology set,  have words on them like Anarchism, Socialism, Communism, Capitalism, Authoritarianism, Totalitarianism, Fascism,  Environmentalism, Feminism, etcetera.  There is another stack of ism cards, the religious ideology set, that contains cards like Catholicism, Judaism, Buddhism, Taoism, Existentialism, Hedonism and Islam, which is an ism with a “la” thrown in the middle to try and throw you off and make it think it is something different, but it’s not.

I have always believed myself to be open minded, forward thinking and willing to consider the argument of any ism.  All too often I gleen the best part of any particular ism and integrate into my own belief system that I appropriately call “Ismism”.  This, in no uncertain terms, makes me an ‘Ismismist” and, as such,  I find myself with my feet firmly planted in what many would call the middle.

The middle is a great place because it is populated by the majority.  In my opinion the middle allows the majority to define the bounds of reason and reason dictates that we must all live in harmony with one another so that we can battle the obstacles put in play by nature and the rest of the universe.  It is an unfortunate truth that the middle must endure the extremists who continuously attack the middle in their desperate attempts to  maintain the archaic idea that humanity must be at eternal war with itself.

Extremists (read pessimists) please note:  We, the middle, have enough problems coping with climate change, meteors, disease, tsunamis and the like without having to endure you so, please, grow up an get with the program elsewise evolution will do what it does and make you extinct.

Consider as my final presentation on the matter, this, what I would call “The Yin and Yang of it All”.  If you take the symbol of the yin yang, duplicate it, then flip the duplicate over and place it on the original copy, remove all the colours and lines except for those lines that start and end at the very middle you end up with a figure eight.  Then  turn that figure eight on its side and you end up with a something very similar to the symbol for infinity.  At the place where the lines intersect, in the middle, is the center of all things, the perfect balance and THAT is where I want to live.  At the center of infinity.