Ken Gass makes music.
Tapestry New Opera Works has a knack for encouraging playwrights to tackle opera.
With the help of Tapestry, writers like Dave Carley, Leanna Brodie, Dave Deveau, Krista Dalby and Lisa Codrington have made the move. Some have even staged their own musical pieces independently, such as Opera On The Rocks at last summer's Fringe.
For its season opener, Opera Briefs, Tapestry's enticed several more theatre writers to try the form, among them Factory artistic director Ken Gass, award-winning playwright Andrew Moodie and young gay native writer Spy Denommé-Welch. They're joined by writer David Brock.
The four are paired with composers Scott Brubacher, Theresa Connors, Jack Perla and Justine F. Chen.
Opera Briefs is a good intro for audiences new to opera, for works are only five minutes long. If one doesn't grab you, you don't have to wait long till the next.
The performers include a mix of Tapestry regulars and new singers: Scott Belluz, Carla Huhtanen, Keith Klassen, Lauren Phillips and Justin Welsh, directed by Tom Diamond with musical direction by Christopher Foley and Jennifer Tung.
Buddies goes the distance for its opening production of Waawaate Fobister's Agokwe, beginning tonight (Thursday, September 25).
In conjunction with the solo show about queer love on the rez, Buddies invites ticketholders to a cabaret series of queer Aboriginal arts and culture, featuring film, photography, music and dance as well as an unusual lesson in the Ojibwe language.
Events include Ojibwe-style speed dating (you'll get a crash course in Ojibwe and learn some good pickup lines), a digital photo exhibit by Red Works Studio, film and video screenings by various native artists, a concert by Nadjiwan and dance by gay performer EJ Kwandibens and his daughter Sagatay.
See artsexy.ca for details.
Nightswimming, which just closed its successful workshop of Blue Note (see NOW Daily online), goes into the theatrical vineyard to prepare City Of Wine for a spring tasting.
The epic production is Ned Dickens's seven-play, 13-hour cycle about the city of Thebes, from its founding to its collapse. Local companies have presented parts of the cycle over the years, including the stories of Oedipus and his daughter Antigone, but the full cycle's never been produced before.
Just as exciting is the way the epic's being staged. Over the next months, seven theatre training programs across Canada offer one of the shows. Then, in May, the seven troupes - that's some 150 performers - present it all at Theatre Passe Muraille.
We'll have a chance to see sections of the series before May, though; in April, Humber College offers Pentheus and York stages Seven, while George Brown produces Laius in February. The other participating groups are Simon Fraser University, Vancouver's Studio 58, Concordia University and Cornerbrook's Sir Wilfred Grenfell College.
Dickens and Nightswimming's Brian Quirt and Naomi Campbell travel to the various institutions to workshop the plays. It's a fascinating concept, since the story of Thebes is one of collaboration and the creation of a social unit; that's exactly what's happening nationally in the development of this monumental theatre piece.
The City Of Wine Festival runs May 6 to 10. It should be one of 2009's theatre highlights.
For more info, see nightswimmingtheatre.com.