A Tale of Two Comedies

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One of my old professors posts frequently and publicly on Facebook and I read those posts without technically “following” him–that’s a thing non-stalkers do, right?–and the other day he mentioned OBIT at the Vancouver Fringe Festival.

B-cat took me to see it a couple of days ago. It’s a two-chuckle play for me, with tired (and at times homophobic) jokes from the script writers and disappointing acting from all except Marnie Mahannah, a real girl surrounded by line-reciting marionettes.

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Okay, Richard Archer was charming, too, in his own way

Only the elderly members of the audience, the ones holding glasses of wine, were laughing. Still, I held my tongue after the show until B-cat began talking about the fart joke-level of humour and wooden performances. He hadn’t known shows got into the Fringe by lottery rather than merit. In the end, it was his gentle mockery of OBIT that gave us a laughter-filled evening.

The Fringe has a million billion shows–try your luck!

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Two weeks before that, I took B-cat to hear Rossini’s Barber of Seville at Bard on the Beach. Why is the Shakespeare festival putting on unrelated operas? Who knows? At least they do it better than Vancouver Opera.

The production features UBC opera students and Vancouver Opera Orchestra musicians. The stage is the one looking out onto the park–it’s almost as beautiful as the music. Everyone contributes to this sincere, delightful performance; Geoffrey Schellenberg’s Figaro, in particular, stands out with his humorous ways and strong voice, plastic wig be damned.

On our way out, we passed an attendee who was asking Schellenberg about his career. The latter said he was heading to Calgary Opera, which is pretty nice, even if Vancouver won’t have him. (It’s not eavesdropping if they’re loud, right?)

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The chocolate’s not bad, either

In short, UBC Opera is awesome and the world needs more student operas. Bard on the Beach doesn’t list any operas for next season, but hey there’s plenty of Shakespeare.

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Opera! In Vancouver!

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You may recall my whining about Vancouver Opera’s lousy customer service over the years (and my very subtle gloating about their downsizing into a mere “festival”).

There wasn’t even time for me or other non-fans to feel their absence, because a new company immediately came on the scene: Heroic Opera, whose vision is to “produce only operas of Wagner, Strauss, and Verdi“, put on a production of Wagner’s Die Walkure in June.

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Tasty German pretzel and cherry strudel–proceeds go to the church’s sponsored refugees

[If you’re interested but fuzzy on the details, this is the part of the Ring cycle that deals with Siegmund and twincest, not Siegfried being a hero.]

Like the opera B-cat and I saw last November, this took place in a church. The surtitles were projected (crookedly and with typos) onto a board behind rather than above the artists, who sometimes blocked the view. The wardrobe was contemporary. A couple of the Valkyries were a little wooden…

Nothing really mattered except the voices. The voices were strong and beautiful. Sarah Templeton as Sieglinde was particularly expressive, though her interaction with David Gibbons‘s Siegmund made both of them seem more vulnerable and lovable.

The opera was so good it didn’t feel five hours (including intermission) long.

Heroic Opera’s next project, which won’t be ’til their next season, is a joint one with Opera Mariposa: Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera in November. Keep an eye on tickets/dates here.

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Above: Ryan Caron, nihonbuyo dancer. Below: B-cat

Oh, and two weeks ago, B-cat took me to Nikkei Centre‘s fundraiser tea & silent auction in return for my taking him to the opera. Proceeds went towards the Japanese-Canadian museum’s exhibitions and programs.

We had a (mini) traditional tea ceremony with Maiko, who taught all the tea ceremony classes we’ve taken, tasted other teas and canapes, and watched two snippets of buyo dance. I enjoyed the dance most of all, though I’m a completely uninformed spectator beyond ballet.

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Proof of admission is a lovely green floral ribbon tied around the wrist!

Other than the opera and tea, I’ve missed all the events going on recently, thanks to graveyard shifts and daytime courses.

Don’t be like me; go out and support the arts! If you’re in Vancouver, you can even start tonight with UBC Opera‘s production of Ariadne auf Naxos. Let’s make this a summer of German opera.

 

This isn’t the Coastal City Ballet We Know

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Ill-fated programme (mine) for an ill-fated romance (Giselle’s, not mine)

I’ve been so overwhelmed by courses and a new dayjob that Coastal City Ballet‘s Giselle just tiptoed up on me. If not for some bickering with a ballet teacher about availability (“You won’t be here Friday.” “Yes I will!” “S said you’re all seeing a performance that day.” “…Huh?”) I would’ve missed it.

It would’ve been a shame, too. CCB has become unrecognisable… in a good way. This performance took place at Vancouver Playhouse, an upgrade (especially in sound) from Centennial Theatre in North Van. The choreography and dancing are good, and nearly all the costumes make sense. Maybe it’s why Coastal City now refers to itself as “a company for emerging dancers” rather than a pre-professional company?

I’d given B-cat the tickets as a St. Valentine’s Day gift; my ballet friend S met us there; and during the first intermission I discovered I was sitting next to G, a classmate from Goh Ballet. That made three people I originally met at three different ballet schools! And the one thing all of us minus B-cat disliked was the Princess’s outfit.

Why, in a world in which grown women clearly wear full skirts with voluminous underlayers, is she wearing a fitted (Edwardian?) jacket and narrow skirt with a bustle???

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The Prince’s betrothed is 3rd from the right, back row, in a ridiculous hat

Giselle and Albrecht convey emotion well as a sad, sweet couple. It’s one of the male villagers, though, who stands out most with his power and control. I only recall reading that he’s from Japan… as we seem to have left our programmes at Guu Garden after the performance. Damn S for suggesting that restaurant.

So while I can’t credit him by name, the three of us (again excluding B-cat, who, now that I think about it, said little about anything. Did he even enjoy the event?!) thought this unknown male the best danseur of all. Keep up the good work!…

See Coastal City Ballet’s Giselle in Surrey on June 9, regardless of what you thought of them before. They’re so worth it.

Pick up another programme for me while you’re there?
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My prograaamme

 

My First Race Report

“How many kids do you have?”

“None.”

“Oh. Why were you at the Easter fun run then?”

This past Sunday, I ran my first 5k race/fun run as planned. Hosted by Running Tours at Stanley Park, the event was surprisingly well managed, with an enthusiastic bunny MC/warm-up leader, friendly staff and volunteers, a nice race kit, and a freebie-filled water stop courtesy of Z95.3.

The organisers also donated a significant portion of proceeds — possibly 75%, judging by entry fees — to Canuck Place Children’s Hospice, which is more than admirable.

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The one that says “Here, have some wings” does not seem to be a coupon/voucher at all

The cookie and tea vouchers are 10/10, the running magazines are interesting if ad-heavy, and the pepperoni stick I ate as soon as I left the Running Tours office, two days before the race.

The day before the race, B-cat and I did no more exercise than walking around the cherry blossom event at Queen Elizabeth Park. We shared a maccha-cherry blossom milkshake and woke up 2 pounds heavier the next day.

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The morning of the race, downtown Vancouver was one giant traffic jam. We got off the skytrain at Granville, walked down to Burrard station, and watched the next #19 bus clank by with “Sorry, bus full” displayed.

The longest distance I had ever run was 5 km, and I was on my way to a 5k race. The logical thing to do then, according to B-cat, was to run 3 km to the race.

Because time was running out (I hate puns), we ran, passing four more #19s and two unrelated buses along the way. At least I was no longer cold by the time we reached Lumberman’s Arch…

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Free bunny ears from the race kit

Running is fun when you run your own way, at your own pace. For me, that also means running in the rain or on cool evenings.

Not only was it sunny that afternoon, but after the first km, I found myself running just before or just behind an athletic couple pushing a stroller and decided to follow them the rest of the way. Their pace was challenging; I started feeling lightheaded the last 2 km.

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I choose to think this woman let me pass her at the very end out of the kindness of her heart

But I had fun and was happy with my results. Not only did I beat my personal record for the only two other times I’d ever run 5km, I was 1st in my age group — 32 minutes and 5 seconds for this 32-year-old. Don’t tell me the serious runners took it easy because it was a fun run!!

We ran back to the Z95.3 booth to pick up the vanilla lipbalm I missed while spilling water into an entire sleeve (like a real runner!…) after visiting the sponsor tents, where we entered a Sun Life Insurance prize draw.

Today, as I was basking in the euphoria of having another story accepted by a literary magazine — more on that in a few weeks — one of the Sun Life representatives called to say that I didn’t win, but that he had time to meet up to discuss insurance plans.

When he asked why I went to the Easter fun run despite not having kids, I said I’d gotten hit by a car last year and wanted to get into running now that I could use my legs again.

His response: “Oh.”

Am I creepy for entering a fun run without kids, or is Sun Life just terrible??

Either way, I don’t regret this run: it was a blast from start to finish. I expect Running Tour’s Big Elf Run in December to be enormously fun and smoothly planned as well. Sign up if you’re in town!

 

So Apparently Running isn’t the Worst Thing in the World

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Lovely view during a lovely run

In early March, I had another nightmare about the car accident and again realised how lucky I was to have legs that still work. With approval from the physiotherapist, I started running.

First attempt: I can’t run 200 metres without stopping.

Third attempt: I can’t run 200 metres without stopping.

Sixth attempt: I aim for 500 metres. Now my throat tastes like blood.

You’d think I could run at least 1 km, since that’s how much we had to run in elementary (after-school run) and high school (milk run, Terry Fox run), but hey I’m full of surprises.

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That squirrel ate the tofu out of my pad thai

What was more surprising than me (haha) was how quickly running stopped sucking and became fun. Two weeks later, I signed up for a 5k as something to work towards and installed Strava to track my progress. Since I had 0 Strava friends at the time, I was happy logging the most inane “runs” like the above.

One rainy morning, I went to a Hoka One One event and ran an almost-5k alone around Burnaby Lake.

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Sample pair of Hoka Clifton 3s — so squishy and light

I didn’t end up buying the test shoes, because I’m a terrible person [who needs more arch support], but B-cat convinced me to invest in runners actually made for running… even if they’re not as cute as $20 canvas shoes.

These homely Stinson 3s were the ones I ended up with:

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So much arch support

Now, after one solid month, I can finally run 5 km without stopping and my body fat percentage is down to 17% (vs. 11% to 13% in the early 2010s and 25% after I started dating B-cat).

Running is great. No wonder Murakami is into it.

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Streets in Vancouver smell like magnolia and cherry blossoms

Lest any of this sounds like bragging, I should point out that not only is my 5k personal record abnormally slow, but B-cat had completed a 5k before in jeans and totally wrong shoes and took only half the time.

He also looked gorgeous doing it.

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“I wasn’t expecting to run,” he says.