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.