Eco-comedy takes cue from dirty dishes, pizza boxes

Beginning today at Dancers’ Studio West, Liquid Meld Theatre presents the Calgary première of a short play that takes its cue from the empty pizza boxes and dirty dishes piling up in the apartment of two young guys oblivious to the, uh, growing implications of their shared mess, wrote the Calgary Herald March 10.

The play is Excess Unwanted Growth, by Calgary-raised playwright [and York grad student] David Owen.

Owen says his inspiration for the piece came years ago from an ex-roommate. "There’s a line in the play that he actually said, ‘Why don’t we just buy paper plates, and then we never have to do dishes again.’ So based on that, I thought of a really crazy premise: What if the dishes got so bad that the stuff growing on them came together and became ‘sentient’…?"

The 40-year-old playwright says the idea for Excess Unwanted Growth "bubbled around in my mind for about a year" before he turned it into a one-act comedy at a single go during a weekend writers’ retreat in a cabin near Edmonton.  "I fixed maybe three spelling mistakes and it’s really the same script that’s been done in seven productions." (The play premiered at the 2003 Summerworks Festival in Toronto).

Owen is currently studying for his doctorate at Toronto’s York University [theatre studies].

His thesis subject? Well, it has to do with the increasing theatrical sophistication of video games. "What I’m seeing happening in a lot of game writing (think Fable, Fallout, or Dragon Age, for example) is that there’s a lot of parallels to stuff that has been done in theatre, but nobody is really making that connection."

Message to Ron Wilson: Don’t publicly shame your players

If [Toronto Maple Leafs coach] Ron Wilson had an MBA, he may have given the Leafs clearer directions on how to pick up two points on Tuesday, instead of berating his top lines for losing a winnable game, wrote the Toronto Star March 10.

After all, management experts say, there’s no clear advantage for a leader who unleashes a public shaming – even in the unique world of sports where teams perform and are judged by an audience.

Positive messages could boost morale and propel the Leafs toward a much-needed win as the team competes for a playoff spot, management experts say.

The opposite could demoralize players and fuel poor performance, said Chris Bell, a professor at the Schulich School of Business at York University. “You want to be realistic about what’s happening, but I think you can be realistic without making it difficult for that person to find their way out of a dark place,” Bell said. “If people are already down and you’re slugging away at them, to some extent, you’re communicating that it’s their fault. You want to be able to communicate a path or a way out of the problem.”

Gold report cites Schulich prof’s opinion on prices

Spot metals dealings started the midweek session with decent gains across the board, wrote Australia’s International Business Times online March 10, in a story about gold prices.

A…less-than-uber-bullish opinion comes from Pauline Shum, professor of finance in the Schulich School of Business at York University. Shum cautions that "it is unrealistic to expect gold to repeat its performance [of the last decade] in the next 10 years."

Anne Lindsay’s strings captured hearts

Anne Lindsay visited Amazing Coffee this weekend to engage an audience of 70 with her eclectic violin/fiddle style, wrote Stirling EMC March 10. Her performance enhanced with eye contact, smiles, stories and body language was embraced. The concert was "intimately raw," says Lindsay, a description she uses when playing more intimate acoustic venues.

Having grown up with elder sisters and their piano lessons, her mother would placate her youngest child’s desire by taking her into the "pot and pans" cupboard and giving her a wooden spoon. Ironically, she is the only girl who pursued music as a career. She is a graduate of York University [BFA Spec. Hons. ’82], the Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto, and the Banff Centre, Alberta.

Lindsay believes learning music is an aural experience. "Too often we get caught up in teaching music by reading notes," she says. "We need to be more aware of our environmental rhythms and rhythmic structures. Windshield wipers and turn signals combine quite an interesting musical sound," she says with a grin.

Her advice to those pursuing their artistic dreams is: "It is normal to struggle with technique and creation as an artist," says Lindsay. "Be aware of your surroundings, seek inspiration from the soundscape and move to the music."

Theatre grad Rhoma Spencer tackles Marcus Garvey

Lesbian theatre director [Rhoma Spencer (MFA ’01)] has called Toronto home since 1999, when she came here [from Trinidad] to study directing at York University, wrote Xtra March 10. Her latest production, New York writer Edgar Nkosi White’s I Marcus Garvey, chronicles the life and times of the Jamaican activist and agitator. Spanning 22 years of Garvey’s life, the piece uses a combination of performance and multimedia, including a live band that plays both traditional Caribbean music and jazz standards from the Harlem Renaissance.

Even prior to her studies, Toronto was a sort of gay mecca for Spencer. She was able to access the works of local lesbian writers Dionne Brand and Shani Mootoo back home in Trinidad, which served as her gay coming-of-age material.

“I was aware of the black lesbian movement taking place in the city, and I felt like I wanted to be a part of it,” she says. “When you come from a space where you have to hide who you are, coming to Toronto is an awakening. You have no idea how good it feels to be able to have this conversation with a publication, without any fear of backlash.”

But leaving Trinidad behind did not mean an end to discrimination. Spencer has felt the sting of homophobia from the Caribbean-Canadian community, too. Though she was a chart-topping singer back in Trinidad, she laments that she is never asked to share her talents here. “Maybe if I would keep my sexuality a secret I would be more highly favoured,” she says. “There are some in the community who have not learned the ways of the new country and still walk with their old island habits.”

Grad student selected as Nahum Goldmann Fellow

Winnipeg born and raised Karlee Sapoznik, a PhD candidate in history at the Harriet Tubman Institute at York University, was selected as a fellow for the Nahum Goldmann Fellowship that will take place in Israel from June 12 to June 20, wrote the Jewish Tribune March 9.

“I’m incredibly humbled and honoured and I look forward to the opportunity,” said Sapoznik, who had just returned from an international conference in Sierra Leone, Africa, on forced marriage in conflict situations.

Ancaster church will host York grad’s CD launch

Ryerson United Church, Ancaster, invites guests to enjoy an eclectic mix of funk, soul, rhythm and blues, and gospel music by local performer Aidan Miller, wrote the Ancaster News March 9.

Ryerson is hosting the official launch of Miller’s first CD: Strength and Wisdom on Sunday, March 27 at 7pm.

Miller’s musical roots  go back to childhood when he received classical training in voice and piano…. He is a graduate of the [Faculty of Fine Arts] at York University in Toronto, majoring in jazz piano and free improvisation.

On air

  • Susan Braedley, project manager, Major Collaborative Research Initiatives Long-term Care Project in the York Institute for Health Research, spoke about an upcoming panel discussion on the subject, on CBC Radio (Windsor) March 9.
  • Dr. Joel Lexchin, professor in York’s School of Health Policy & Management, Faculty of Health, spoke about Bill C-393, which would make it easier for Canadian generic drug manufacturers to send affordable medicine to developing countries, on CBC Radio March 9.