Saturday, March 10, 2012


Amidst all the hand-wringing and tears of dismay, one has yet to hear the simple sad truth.

The Playhouse has been doing lousy, boring second-rate work for a long time now.

Membership subscriptions dropped from 8,000 to 4,500? That's not my fault or the city's.

I've loved show biz and the theatre my whole life. Yet, in the almost 50 years I have lived in Vancouver, I may have seen five shows at the Playhouse and four stunk.

The one great show was The Syringa Tree, an import from South Africa. It is a one-woman show written and performed by the author, Pamela Gien. It was (name your breathless adjective) extraordinary.

It is true that the company should have been put on solid funding by various levels of government. It is also true that the arts in Canada net so much less support from governments than they should. It is also devastating for the many actors, writers and people of stage craft that they will have one less place to work. All of that is so.

But nothing can ruin a good day like bad work on a stage and that's what the Vancouver Playhouse has been dishing out and pretending to be high art for a great many years.

And who was the genius who decided about ten years ago that the company would no longer do "classics" and stick only to works since 1950?

And yes, it is a deep embarrassment - in the same week that we will have to pay a few more millions to stop the leaky oil girders from wrecking the $500 million roof at the almost renamed BC Place - that a municipal theatre company folds its tent in a berg that likes to plump itself up with the monicker, "world class city."

So, here's my wish.

I hope a ragtag band of fiery young arts guerrillas (with a real sense of flair and presentation and engagement AND money management) come along and occupy that dead old space and blow some real sexy spiritual life back into the place.

Then I'll be sitting in the front row cheering them on.


Anonymous said...

Hear, hear! The fellow who presided over the press conference announcement broke down in sobs at the microphone ( can't remember his name ). Give me a break!

Save your sobs for the hungry children in sub-standard care under the incompetent and arrogant Ministry of Family & Children. Save your tears for the elderly incarcerated, drugged and abused in BC's residential "care" facilities where no one will admit the horrors going on in these places. Save your anguish for anyone who has been assaulted or killed by our out-of-control police forces. Save your sadness for the growing hoards of homeless people, some of them "working poor".

To be doing all this hand-wringing over a third-rate theater company is ludicrous. Vancouver isn't an arts town, it's a town that likes to show off wealth and "the good life". That's not art, that's narcissism. Take a look at Edmonton. That city has, since the 80s, a vibrant mainstream and on-the-edge theatre community. The theatre atmosphere is electric. Many fabulous companies, large and small. Vancouver has never had that, and the folding of the Playhouse is not surprising in the least. And it's certainly not worthy of all the moaning going on now. We have way too many things to be paying attention to now than some failed theatre venture that has been sputtering for most of its life.

Evil Eye said...

The last time I saw a Vancouver Play House production, it was so dreadful I walked out. couldn't complain because we had free tickets as a gift and it was easy to see why they were re-gifted to us.

It comes as no surprise we are saying AdiĆ³s to the Playhouse, it time to say goodbye was long overdue.

What begs a question is, if the denizens of Vancouver keep calling the city "world class", why is many of its cultural amenities so 'third' world?

Are we so dead boring that the higher purpose persons have spawned this (and many more) jokes on us?

Give me a riot or two, that is low-brow action entertainment that I can watch on TV.

Anonymous said...

A victim of those late night parking meters, maybe?