How much art can I pack in my brain tonight? I questioned myself on Wednesday, February 8th. Well, I witnessed a reading of a play and interviewed the playwright. I watched a student concert at Laurier and interviewed awesome classically trained young people who play beautiful music. I often feel like I would be better suited to moving to Toronto to leap into the leviathan arts scene, but nights like the 8th make me stay just a little longer.
My night began when I met Princess Cafe mastermind Marc Lecompte. I talked to him about Absolutely Free’s article and he told me about this home-grown stroke of brilliance: CHEESES MURPHY! Cheeses Murphy is only open 7 hours a week, 12 to 3:30 AM, Fridays and Saturdays in the foyer of the Princess Twin. I haven’t been there, but I know Marc’s got meals down to a math-rock science! Marc told me he was catering a “Piece Meal,” which is a play/meal at the Button Factory.
It began at 7 so I went to Death Valley’s Little Brother, a new whisky/coffee place, to have some bourbon on the rocks and to write. The cashier is named Andrew, I know him from thrash parties…We met when he was working at Koifest. He recommended a Collingwood on the rocks and I sat down to savour it. It was exquisite and methinks Death Valley’s Little Brother might be the best new [first] date spot . Having finished the drink, I tipped of course and bid Andrew farewell. I must make way to the play!
The Button Factory is one of few long-running hosts to arts in Waterloo, and this fit right in. Written by Allie Bell, a hardworking “masochistic” Toronto playwright/Factory stage manager/Humber college theatre student, “Neighbours” is a play about a government-controlled dystopia where personal rights are suspended easily by asshole investigators.. A young lady named Rayan is being interrogated by two policemen who are digging connections to T.J., a party gang and “plums” (aka drugs?). Though it was only a reading, and not the full play, I still enjoyed it – a lot of unique sci-fi jargon to spice the script, with some good jokes about being tied up. I interviewed Ms. Bell and asked her about it:
ALLIE BELL: I wrote a play. I write because I’m compelled to write, and I’ve been writing my entire life and I love to do this. So, my play is uh, is placed in a different world, but it’s a commentary on the absurdity of the Patriot Act. And my message is, “FUCK the Patriot Act!” and “FUCK what we’re doing to censorship!” and “FUCK how we’re controlling our people and our information!” And the freedom of information is closing us in more, and I want to say something about that. But I also want people to laugh at it, because it’s sooo absurd. It’s ridiculous! What we’re doing right now is we’re walking the line between old-school information, and new school information, and that we’re in such an interesting time, and that someone like me who’s 27 and seen the development of the Internet, and remembers what it was like not to have the Internet AT ALL, and have a pager, right? I had a PAGER when I was 14 or 15 years old, and now I’m going to school with 19 year olds and they don’t know what a pager is. I’ve had someone ask me “What’s a pager?” And just to think, I’m ONLY 27, and those changes are happening so fast. I want to comment on how our society is dealing with it.
She had the strongest handshake I’ve ever felt, and complimented me on MY handshake! Allie Bell’s “Neighbours” was written in the span of 24 hours and is appearing at the Winnipeg and Toronto Fringe Festival. She also remarked that theatre requires no electricity to be made…like singing. THINK SURVIVING ART FORMS, FOLKS! Unfortunately the play ended at 8:30, which meant I was already half an hour late for the concert. I left quickly and jumped on the 7C.
I got to Laurier’s Maureen Forrester Recital Hall at concert intermission; sadly, I missed first half. Due to a stroke of destiny, the first compositions I heard were written by Michelle Psutka, an old Bluevale schoolmate…we performed together in Many Moods of Music! She did not perform, but rather a very handsome pianist, Keenan Reimer-Watts, did. Mr. Reimer-Watts is very inspired by Prokofiev & impressionism (or so he said) and played with crystalline sensitivity and control. I especially liked “No.5, The River”!
Following Ms. Psutka’s Etudes were two pieces of improvisation featuring singer Daniel Turner, Mike Anderson on piano and Samuel Otoo-Appiah on baritone saxophone as well as clarinet. Though Mr. Turner sang well, the real stars were Mr. Anderson and Mr. Otoo-Appiah…Mr. Anderson danced delicately, building the melody and rolling with it, and when Mr. Otoo-Appiah started playing sax, it blew my skull. I was shivering! I asked the gentleman about their improvisation influences and why they chose Laurier:
MIKE ANDERSON [piano]: In improvising? [Pauses] You know man, I think…that’s a really tough question to answer for me, just because…if we’re talking jazz music, I really like the pianist Bill Evans. But if…I mean…I just know what I like, and music that isn’t improvised, and I teach my hands what that feels like and I incorporate that into little bits and pieces… [I chose Laurier] for the New Music Program mostly, like composition and improvisation, they have an improv program here! Like, you can study it!
SAMUEL OTOO-APPIAH [saxophone and clarinet]: Wow, off the top of my head I have to go with three. Miles Davis, um, all the classical composers who came before the stuff were written, so I would have to go with Miles Davis and Chopin, aaand Sonny Rollins. Those are my three favourites. I’ve been playing music for about 9 years now, [I started] because my dad’s brother owned a music store and I just fiddled around. It’s pretty cool. Laurier has a good program, I came here because they gave me a good scholarship to begin with and I thought that was interesting, haha. I took it ’cause it was an opportunity.
When I asked Mr. Otoo-Appiah how many instruments he could play, he said “Ummm…I can play about twelve. But my main four are clarinet, sax and flute. Oh and trumpet.” Good gravy! I thought I was so cool playing 4 decently! I got a lot to learn. That is my mission.
After the improvisations there were two more pieces of music. One was called “Dark Tranquility” written and performed by Richard Rutherford. Mr. Rutherford WRITES SOUNDTRACKS FOR SWEET ANIME!!! But the last composition, “The Lotus Flower,” written by Melissa Warner, was stupendous. It featured a string quartet and two singers, and had me hooked. I even met Ms. Warner on the bus on my way to band practice, so I told her rather awkwardly that I really enjoyed her work. And I did.
What a Waterloo night on the town and all for free! Sure beats videogames…though not Skyrim, I suppose. See ya later!
- COMMANDER “ANDY” CLARK