Naked & Near Naked, Two Nights At The TheatreWednesday, December 02, 2009
This is a pleasant story that begins with a very serious Argentine woman. Nilda Crivelli came to Vancouver this past June as a delegate to the Vancouver World Rose Convention. She was a former president of the Argentine Rose Society. She was formal as many Argentines can sometimes be. I invited her to our rose garden and then we visited Vancouver rosarian Janet Wood with my granddaughter Rebecca. By the end of the day we were caught on one of those bicycle Fridays and we did not move, from our Cardero and Georgia spot for a whole hour. By then Crivelli had lost her Argentine formality and she was laughing as I secretely swore at the cyclists who blocked our way.
A few months later she e-mailed me to tell me she had suggested that Martín Flores (a director and playwright of the avant garde in Buenos Aires) look me up when he arrived on an interesting assignment in Vancouver. Flores did contact me and I had him for dinner. It was a treat to be able to converse (over a delicious bottle of Argentine Torrontés wine)in Argentine Spanish with the younger Argentine man. I suggested we meet for a night of theatre at UBC’s Telus Theatre. My friend writer and actor C. C. Humphreys was tackling the principal protagonist of Henrik Ibsen’s The Master Builder. The play was a tad heavy and serious for us but I told Martín that in Vancouver we had a tradition of being able to go back stage to talk to the actors. That cheered us up. We went backstage and caught C.C. Humphreys in the shower. He did allow us to appear with him in his almost near naked Ibsen persona and told me, “I gather this will appear in some blog of yours.”
For me the evening was one that I have been digesting since. I had somehow had never seen an Ibsen play. It was a strange experience. My first impression was that Ibsen did not translate too well into the 21st century. Now I am not so sure and I think, that thanks to C.C. Humphreys I am ready for Hedda Gabler.
Martín Flores explained to me that by some quirk of fate he had been invited to Vancouver to direct the students of the Eric Hamber Secondary School Theatre Department (Theatre Hamber).
I decided to take Rebecca to the opening night, yesterday Tuesday and alas I got my time wrong and we arrived at the intermission. This mistake ended up being a blessing in disguise as I will explain below.
Naked, written by the 12 students in the play, and only directed by Martín Flores (As he modestly explained his contribution in what if you happen to know Argentines is most uncharacteristic!) is a terrific set of 12 monologues (with some limited interaction of the other players). The actors reveal up front on a mike some of their pet fears: The One In Love, The One Who Cannot Dancer, The One Who Can’t Stand to be Touched, The One Who Fears Being Buried Alive (extremely Edgar Allan Poeish).
In my years of going to terrible high school plays (so as not to offend my daughters) Naked was professional, terrific and best of all my laughs and Rebecca’s were good chicken soup to my lately bluish insides.
The man singly responsible for the laughs was John Lee (The One who is Afraid of Many Things), see below in picture with Rebecca and Martin Flores. He has all the makings of natural born stand-up comedian who will make a fortune if his plans to become a nuclear physicist should fail. Lee the man who fears pants that fit and gave us an explanation of why the Chinese might not be able to drive (in involves unicorns and giraffes) delighted us and made Rebecca and I decide that we should return to see the play (all of it!) tomorrow. We will bring along her mother. I look forward to all that laughing.
But it wasn’t all laughs. Sarah Trolland (The One in Love) gave a crescendo of a performance where she updated with panache (my view on it) Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s How Do I Love Thee? By the end of her monologue I could see tears in her eyes.
As I understand it, her friend Justin Somjen (a precocious student of mine at Focal Point) shed some tears the very same night we were there. We plan to do some more laughing tomorrow.
Naked, until December 4th, 7pm (doors open at 6:30) Admission $6.00 Directed by Martín Flores Cárdenas with:
Zahra Cully, Alex Dee, (I thought he was cute and when I asked Rebecca she blushed.), Andrew Duffy, Pamela Kennedy, Krystyna Kozlowski, Jon Lee, Ellen MacNevin, Mihajlo Todorovic, Sarah Trolland, Stephen Wong, Holly Zhou.