Before the performance of Pi Theatre's production of William Maranda's The 8th Land, directed by John Wright I knew I had to write a blog in thanks for the years of pleasure I have received from the Wright family via John Wright's daughter Johnna Wright and husband Del Surjic. The new artistic director for Pi, Richard Wolfe (in company of general manager Emma Luna Davis) announced that Surjic, his predecessor at Pi, was leaving for Saskatoon where he will be the artistic director of Persephone Theatre. With Surjic leaving we will also miss Johnna Wright.
I didn't sleep much last night. I knew I had a picture of Surjic (in photo above left) I took on February 2003 for the Georgia Straight. It was a preview of Pi Theatre's Elisa's Skin. Here you see Surjik (right, with Marie Stillin and Jean-Michael Legal. I didn't sleep last night because I couldn't find the pictures with Johnna Wright. I knew I had photographed her for the Straight in relation to the founding of See Seven. I looked under See Seven, See 7, C Seven, C 7 and found nothing. I didn't sleep. I had nightmares involving last night's scary performance by Linda Quibell who on stilts (playing goddess Hiva)and with a striking costume by Marti Wright was the ethnic mother-in-law from hell! Photo (I took this some years ago for Felix Culpa) bottom left.
This morning I remembered and I ran down to my files and looked under Bloom, David (the Director of Felix Culpa). And there was the picture of Johnna Wright, Del Surjic, David Bloom (top left) and Ruby Slippers' director Diane Brown. Photo is top left.
This story really begins during the 2002 Christmas season when Rosemary and I went to see the Solo Collective's three one act, one actor plays A Christmas 3. The three plays Kiljoy with Lois Anderson, Office Party with Bill Dow and Wobbling Maddona with Sheelah Megill (in picture Megill is far right) was a virtuoso performance night. Rosemary, who likes little, liked a lot. In particular we loved Johnna Wright's direction of Killjoy and Del Sujik's direction of Office Party.
Rosemary asked me who the director for Killjoy was. Lois Anderson was fantastic. I pointed at a woman who was sweeping the floor between plays and said, "The floor sweeper, that's Johnna Wright." Rosemary was then not surprised to see Wright selling sweets and drinks during the intermission.
This is theatre in Vancouver. It is a pity that perhaps nobody will acknowledge or appreciate the contribution of this couple until they are gone. My guess is that with Richard Wolfe as the new artistic director of Pi Theatre we will be subjected to more cutting edge theatre if his directorship of Theatre Conspiracy is an example.
In the beginning I was troubled by last night's performance of The 8th Land. It had a lot of hocus pocus. It was contrasted by the interesting music of Oriental (La República Oriental del Uruguay) Pepe Danza and the intriguing contribution of four singing, chanting, martial arts fighting, insects (flees and flies) played by Sarah Afful, Spencer Atkinson, Nick Fontaine and Thrasso Petras. The sets by David Roberts were interesting, elaborate and finely crafted.
But then I warmed up to all the hocus pocus. I was watching a modern version of a Greek play. The voices of all the actor were (unlike the voices of modern radio) superb. I recognized the man playing the lead part of Te-Te, Parnelli Parnes but I could not place him until I read he had been in the Banana Boys.
The evening was specially enjoyable because of the tropical heat of an unseasonably hot evening. I looked at all the usual suspects, including Felix Culpa's David Bloom and I felt sad that Surjik and Wright will not be with us. But I am grateful that all these usual suspects have challenged my perception of what theatre is supposed to be. They have done this gently and entertained me to no end.
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