Shane Lunny - Cyrano de Bergerac On Fast Forward
Saturday, September 15, 2012
Through the years in the small town that our Vancouver really is I have run into Shane Lunny many times. Twice, in August 1990 and in January 2001 I took his photograph. The former date was for the Georgia Straight
and the second for Vancouver Magazine.
I have no idea who the woman in the Zodiac is, nor who the man with the sun glasses is. The other man with Lunny is Terry David Mulligan.
I know that Lunny was involved in making high tech interactive museum exhibits. He did this for Expo 68 as well as for the Space Centre of our Vancouver Planetarium. I ran into Lunny before 1990 at Nite Dreems.
And yet I have asked several people in the last few days, “Can you tell me what Shane Lunny did and does in one sentence?” None were able to explain to me in detail exactly what the man does. I know he is a hyperactive man (in the good way), has a smile on his face most of the time and one way or another is a Vancouver institution.
Of Shane Lunny writer John Lekich wrote in that August 1990 Straight profile:
…to appreciate the Lunny edge – you have to keep a sharp eye on the Lunny blur. If there’s anything he likes more than talking, it’s talking with action. Combined with his chivalric goatee and an artfully prominent nose, he looks like Cyrano de Bergerac on fast forward.
I am pretty proud of the Straight illustration credited to me and to William J. Morrison. I think I remember how this pre Photoshop picture was made. I took Lunn's photograph with my Mamiya RB-67 Pro-S. I returned a few days later with an 8x10. A cameraman (Morrison?) copied into video and blended it (in camera). He put the image on a screen and I copied it with my Mamiya.
A Room With A Very Good View
Friday, September 14, 2012
|Alan Morgan & Sarah Rodgers|
While my wife Rosemary was entertaining Sarah Rodgers’s daughter Poppy
, Rodgers and I were having watermelon in the garden. The busy director/actor was telling me that these days with so many directing jobs she finds that acting can almost be a holiday. I did not believe her for a moment as whatever this enthusiastic woman does she does with passion and gusto. She casually mentioned that she was directing a play A Room with a View
The United Players of Vancouver have given the adaptation of the E.M. Forster novel, by Roger Parsley & Andy Graham its premiere production in North America. And a lovely premier it is.
I knew that anything that Rodgers does (be it low or high budget, all immaterial) would be worth seeing. I invited my eldest daughter Rebecca (a 15 year-old living the Middle Ages) who immediately accepted. She had met Rodgers when we (with sister Lauren) attended Music Man
at Malkin Bowl last month.
We were not disappointed. And consider that I was out to compare and contrast Helena Bonham-Carter’s performance in the Merchant Ivory 1985 screen adaptation with that of Emma Middleton’s for the United Players of Vancouver production. I was further involved in the comparison as I had met and photographed Helena Bonham-Carter
in her hotel room in Vancouver in 1990 and we had chatted at length in Spanish as Bonham-Carter speaks it flawlessly. I told her I was going to photograph her as an adult and not as the eternal in her 20s which she portrayed much too often. She smiled and told me she was excited at the prospect.
I am happy to report that Emma Middleton’s performance did not disappoint me. She is terrific, and when at one point she let down her hair to reveal a Baroque curl that left me breathless (and made me feel many years younger) I was as happy as this frequent theatre goer can be.
The production included a young blonde woman, Maja Futtrell-Fruhling, who would bring a sign with the title or a sentence on the scene coming. After parading it like a card girl at a boxing match she would hang it on the lovely but minimal set. One such sign said “The Middle Ages” Rebecca asked me if this was the same as medieval and why exactly it was called that. I explained that after the fall of the Roman Empire and before the Renaissance there was a middle period of history in which some say (not entirely correctly) that nothing happened except for wars. There was little learning. I further explained that some of us liken the middle ages to that period in a young girl’s life (between 14 and 16 or 17) when all brain activity ceases. It is our hope that these young girls eventually slip into womanhood and a personal Renaissance. She did not take my explanation too seriously as she smiled and informed me she was having a very good time.
I must confess that I not a regular to the performances of the United Players held at the Jericho Arts Centre. But I was quickly reminded of the delight of putting your feet on the floor on our front seats, on the very floor that is the stage. The players sometime were a mere three feet away from us. This intimacy is both priceless and charming.
As we left, very happy I told Rebecca, “Make sure you tell your mother that tonight you saw three dicks!”
Indeed we both did and we laughed lots in a play that director Rodgers and all the players have injected with verve.
|Maja Futrell-Fruhling & Fencing Master Maitre Bac Tau|
The play is on until September 30th.
Cast: Lucy Honeychurch (Emma Middleton), Mrs. Honeychurch (Trina McLure who also played a most arresting woman dressed in black with a penchant for kissing coins), Freddy Honeychurch (Mitch Hookey), Charlotte Bartlett (Helen Martin), George Emerson (Graeme McComb who I thought was a hunk but Rebecca was too embarrassed to agree with me), Mr. Emerson (Michael Wild who played a very friendly socialist), Mr. Beebe (James Gill), Mr. Eager (John Harris), Miss Lavish (Louise Phillips most deft with her umbrella), Cecil Wyse (Alex Pangburn playing the English prig to perfection) and Signorina (Maja Futtrel-Fruhling whom I would never challenge to a fencing duel behind the cathedral).
Hydrangea macrophylla 'Ayesha' & Rosa 'William Shakespeare 2000'
Thursday, September 13, 2012
As summer diminishes into fall I look at the plants in my garden and wonder about next year. Will I be around to see them come back? Will some of them bid me a final goodbye this year as Cercis canadensis
'Forest Pansy' did? My Hydrangea macrophylla
'Ayesha' almost died two years ago in an early fall frost. Last year she announced that it was a false demise and she came back up with lots of green shoots but no flowers. I was forced to wait another year (consider that Ayesha is "she who must be obeyed"). She did return with just two blooms and here is one of them where you can observe the most unusual florets that look like porcelain tea cups.
|Lauren & Rebecca Stewart with Rosa 'William Shakespeare' |
English rose, Rosa
'William Shakespeare 2000' is a tad more vigorous than the rose it replaced, Rosa
'William Shakespeare'. I have both but the "improved 2000" one does not colour as well into the red. It does flower more and it repeats as you can see here. I sort of like that the flowers while beautiful and slightly tired may promise another year in which if fate provides and Ayesha demands, I will be back to see them again as the old friends they are. For me my two William Shakespeares represent not only the promise of their blooms next year but another successful year for that other Vancouver Shakespeare institution, Bard on the Beach.
A Perfectly Pregnant Sasa Brown Performs Perfectly
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Some of you who read here might know I have an open-ended project
in which I photograph people I know who represent a varied amalgam of professions with my mother’s red Mexican rebozo. My subjects then write an essay (on anything) to accompany the blog posting. Recently I approached actress (I like actress) Sasa Brown. Her reply is below.
Hey Alex, I'm so sorry for the delay in replying. I'm not sure if you knew but I'm pregnant. And doing this show while I'm still getting sick has zapped any energy I thought I might have. I've been just trying to get through each day without running off stage to find a bucket!! Haha!! The joys of pregnancy I'm discovering!!!
You can imagine my shock last Wednesday when my wife and I attended the Arts Club Theatre Company opening performance, at the Stanley, of Bruce Norris’s Clybourne Park
and when the curtain went up there was a very pregnant Sasa Brown. Why the shock?
Unlike my Rosemary, who reads up on plays and thoroughly consumes the program before any play begins, I did not know that Brown’s character in the first half of the play, Betsy, is of a woman who is pregnant.
I know that the folks in costumes and makeup can instantly convert the slimmest of actresses into pregnant soon-to-be mothers. I wondered. Is Brown really pregnant?
Down a couple of seats I spotted director John Wright (no relation to Clybourne Park's director Janet Wright, but father of director Johnna Wright
). I consulted with him. With a twinkle in his eyes (I suspect he had read the program) he told me, “One way or another we will know in the second act as the actors play different roles 50 years later.”
Well you must know, in a sort of slight plot revelation, that Sasa Brown’s Lindsey is a role in which the woman is pregnant, too!
My conclusion became that even if Sasa Brown might be a method actor throwing up on purpose to feel the part of being a pregnant, she perhaps was pregnant. But I wasn’t sure.
After the play that left my wife and I exhausted with the laughing and the delight of watching 7 actors, Sebastien Archibald, Daren Herbert, Marci T. House, Robert Maloney, Andrew Wheeler (who I have been told has a killer suave Cary Grant routine) and Deborah Williams perform with a continuous virtuosity, consulted with dramaturg
at the end) Rachel Ditor who indeed did confirm that Brown had been losing her lunch the previous weeks because she is pregnant.
Clybourne Park might seem like a play of its times where in the first part the blacks (Negroes in the parlance of Chicago in 1959) are prevented from moving and spoiling the value of homes in all-white neighbourhoods. In the second part, 50 years later, our African American couple (formerly the Negroes) played by Marci T. House and Daren Herbert (Music Man, an Italian in Light in the Piazza, Glengarry Glen Ross and Intimate Apparel and I hope this enormous talent is persuaded to stay in Vancouver!) play sophisticates out to protect the history of their neighbourhood which might be destroyed by white couples keen to upgrade.
But I noticed that the play somehow becomes contemporary. The word rape crops up in a most Republican way proving that good plays transcend their time.
While Sasa Brown may not have had to dip into method acting to play the pregnant woman, consider that in that first act she plays a loopy hearing-impaired woman with a domineering husband. Her performance brought to mind another by Meg Roe in the Vancouver Playhouse production of Joan MacLeod’s Toronto, Mississippi
. We in Vancouver are lucky to have them both.
From Concept To Reality
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
The blog that this was supposed to be has sprawled in my brain, and, I know I have to write, now, or I will never finish. Keeping at it would include a furious search through my large library of books with notable (for me) covers or notable (for me) inside illustrations. Pay close attention to one of my faves the Mexican illustrator Abel Quezada.
It began on September 11, 2012 on the editorial page of the NY Times. There was this article that melded beautifully copy (typography) with an illustration which featured black twin towers with reverse type and a fallen paper airplane at the bottom. The illustrator, Javier Jaén Benavides lives in Barcelona.
|Illustration by Javier Jaén Benavides|
|Note the disappearance of the towers of type. |
Because of the differences between the layout of a venerable paper newspaper and its on-line version I was disappointed to note that the Benavides illustration lost most of its impact because only the paper airplane was used. Can this be an example of something being better because it can be seen and touched on paper? Read the addendum by Benavides at the end of this blog.
I can argue in the opposite direction as hard copy papers cannot show you videos or slide shows (some are enabling you to point your intelligent phone to get that). One fantastic look at this is a series of fashion photos that show up in the style section of the NY Times called Model-Morphosis
where with the simple flick of your mouse you can see a model’s face with and without makeup and its transition from one side of the face to the other.
|One of the memorable illustrations by Ian Bateson for Vancouver Magazine, 1980.|
Definitely the medium of paper and that of photons on a screen will have advantages that cannot be shared.
All the above made me reflect on Malcolm Parry’s open door policy at Vancouver Magazine
in the 70s and 80s. In those years photographers and illustraters where contacted to show up in person. They were given manuscripts and told to come up with an idea. That process of creating mental images in photographs or illustrations from an author’s copy is a process that is slowly disappearing in modern 21st century journalism. The thoughtful illustrations to be found in good newspapers (including our local ones) now have become a crudely drawn cartoon or a file photograph. This essay
splendidly shows an illustrator working beautiful in tandem with a writer.
|Illustration by Phiz in my father's quarto edition|
But judging by that devastatingly elegant and effective illustration by Benavides I think that there might be a shift back into that past of excellence in design.
I want to emphasize here again of that wonderful transition when the illustrator or photographer, is given a manuscript (subsequently technology faxed it and then emailed it) and told to come up with something. That moment when the idea germinates and explodes in the head and the image is then transferred into the palpable (even on a monitor) illustration or photograph. Copy and illustration, type and photograph, hand in hand tells us something. There has to be more of this telling.
|Abel Quezada my fave Mexican illustrator|
|Abel Quezada, 1968|
|Quezada's editorial cartoons in the Excelsior|
|Illustration by author from Len Deighton's Cookbook|
|Illustration and cover design by author.|
|Design by Barbara Martin|
|Cover design by author.|
|Jacket photograph by Thomas Mc Avoy, tinted by |
John Cruz and hand lettering by David Gatti
|Illustration by Alberto Beltrán|
|Design, Manuel Estrada, Illustration Joan Mundet|
|Illustration by Gustave Coubert|
Cristina Belmonte Paccini & Valdemar
|Illustrations by W.B. Hole, R.S.A.|
|No design credit found.|
|No design credit. I love the clean starkness.|
|Cover: Daniel Gil|
|Sisyphus by Titian|
|From Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling|
Illustrations by author.
|Illustration of author playing his protagonist|
|Jacket design: Public Good|
|Photograph by Alex W-H|
Cover design by Thölon Kunst
|Design by Solo |
|Cover design & illustration by Bascove|
|Cover design by C.S. Richardson|
|Jacket Design by Mellisa Ann Jacoby|
Illustrations by Bob Bakker
|Jacket design by Nancy Etheredge|
An email from Javier Jaén Benavides
Muchas gracias por escribir. Me ha hecho mucha ilusión.Creo que es la primera vez que alguien lo hace después de ver el papel. Como comentas, cada sistema tiene sus ventajas y desventajas, pero…de momento, el periodico se disfruta mucho más en papel, abriendo la bolsa azul cada mañana en tu casa!
Me ha encantado tu trabajo, sigue enviado cosas.Un placer compartir raíces e intereses.
Un abrazo desde Barcelona.
Javier Jaén Benavides