Behind the Kiln, 15 episodes from 2010 to 2012

Behind the Kiln, 15 episodes of dance, music and visual improvisations, from January 28 2010 to April 13 2012

What is Behind the Kiln? A project by Tanis Macarthur (dancer/choreographer) and Judith Sandiford (designer/live image improvisor), for on-going occasional evenings of improvised collaborations by dancers, musicians and a V-jay mixer. The idea is to pair up at least one dancer with at least one musician, and see what happens.
Why does Tanis call it Behind the Kiln? If you leave wood to dry behind the kiln, it warps into all kinds of strange unpredictable shapes. As Tanis puts it, “This event is all about the interaction between artists. It’s not about blowing the audience away with high kicks and spins and intricate choreography. It’s more about small delights. Subtle but powerful communication. and, of course, play. Experiential rather than sensationalistic.”

Behind the Kiln #1, Thursday January 28, 2010 at 8 pm, pwyc. The prototype. Performers confirmed so far for Jan 28 include Tanis Macarthur and Anne Milne (dance) and Judith Sandiford (projections), musicians Annie Shaw and Sarah Good on vocals and feedback loops, Orange McFarland on stand-up bass, Jennifer Lockman on piano.

Behind the Kiln #2, Saturday July 24, 2010 at 8 pm. $5. An evening of improvisations between dancers, musicians and artists. Collaborators include dancers Tanis Macarthur, Laura Kappel, Anne Milne,  musicians Eugene Martynec on laptops, Brian Ropcean on percussion, Orange McFarland on standup bass, Ron Weihs on fiddle, with Jeff Seffinga text and vocals, projections by Judith Sandiford on real-time video-mix software. Solos, duos, trios and all of the above.
Why is the evening called Behind the Kiln? ­ Tanis explains: “If you leave wood to dry behind the kiln, it warps into all kinds of strange unpredictable shapes.”  We did a prototype evening back in January and now we want to warp unpredictably again!

Behind The Kiln #3,  Thursday November 25, 2010  at 9:30, an evening of real-time collaborations between dancers, musicians and artists. (Photos by D.Delgado July 24 session.) Collaborators so far include dancers Tanis Macarthur,  Anne Milne,  musicians Orange McFarland (standup bass), Jennifer Lockman (piano), Tom Shea (guitar), Ron Weihs (fiddle), with projections by Judith Sandiford on real-time video-mix. Solos, duos, trios and all of the above.

Behind the Kiln #4, Thursday February 10, 2011 at 8 pm, pwyc , an evening of improvised dance, music and visuals. This one takes as its jumping-off point (could mean that literally, you never know with dancers) “Smoky Romance of the Femme Fatale“, an exhibition of vintage party dresses from the 50s to 80s curated by collector Andrea Liss (in the installation gallery through February). Dancers: Liz Bates, Grace Loney, Tanis Macarthur, Orange Mcfarland. Musicians: Jennifer Lockman, Tom Shea, Orange Mcfarland. Visuals: Judith Sandiford. Photo left Tanis and Grace.

Behind the Kiln #5, Thursday March 10, 2011, pwyc. Due to popular demand these are now monthly, second Thursday (day before Art Crawl). Hosted by dancer Tanis MacArthur and video jammer Judith Sandiford. Participants: Liz Bates, Maxine Heppner, Grace Loney, Jenny Rae, Jennifer Lockman, Orange McFarland, Matthew Van Allen, Tanis Macarthur, Justine Lanza, Alison Novak, Ron Weihs, Judith Sandiford.

Behind the Kiln #6, Thursday April 7, 2011 at 8 pm: Movers: Grace Loney, Liz Bates, Jenny Rae, Laura Kappel, Victoria Slager (Runaway Brides), Tanis MacArthur.
Sound makers: Jennifer Lockman (piano), Tom Shea (guitar/spoon/etc.), Orange McFarland (double bass), Jenny Rae (saw), Ron Weihs (violin), Gordon Odegaard (various). Video jammer: Judith Sandiford.

Behind the Kiln #7, Thursday May 12, 2011 at 8 pm, pwyc , thrilling and unpredictable  evenings of real-time collaborations between dancers, musicians and visual artists. Theme “EchOes” Participants: Sounds: Tom Shea, Jennifer Lockman, Orange Mcfarland, JonGordon Odegaard, Ron Weihs. Moves: Grace Loney, Jenny Rae, Liz Bates, Rose Gowling, Victoria Slager, Tanis Macarthur and a ‘maybe’ from our juggler Lacey Cameron. Visuals: Judith Sandiford. 

Behind the Kiln #8, Saturday June 11, 2011 at 8 pm, $5. We are delighted to have two of the best improvisers in Canada as our guests for a special “Behind the Kiln”. Eugene Martynec, laptop improviser, and Nobuo Kubota, sound poet, will kick us into very high gear. The rest of us will also be there to provide the movement, visuals and more sound. [Photo: Eugene Martynec, Nobuo Kubota, dancers Victoria Slager and Tanis MacArthur, plus a Steel Image by Shane Turcott manipulated by Judith Sandiford.]
Movers include Liz Bates, Tanis Macarthur, Jenny Rae, Victoria Slager. Sound from Jennifer Lockman piano, Tom Shea guitar, Orange McFarland upright bass.

Behind the Kiln #9, Thursday July 7, 2011 at 8 pm, pwyc. Thrilling and unpredictable  evenings of real-time collaborations between dancers, musicians and visual artists. Participants Tanis Macarthur, Liz Bates, Grace Loney, Victoria Slager, Jennifer Lockman, Tom Shea, Andrea Frolic & video-jammer Judith Sandiford. [Image: dancer Andrea Frolic]  Behind the Kiln — it’s thrilling, it’s unpredictable, it’s unexplainable. Be there!

Behind the Kiln #10, Thursday Sept 1, 2011, 8 pm, pwyc. “Last fling of summer.” Last minute craziness. Our wildly unpredictable multi-media collaborations between dancers, musicians and a video-jammer, making it all up on the spot. We’re filling a gap the only way we know how — having fun and making magic. Come and join us. Coordinated by dancer-choreographer Tanis MacArthur. Participants so far: movers Liz Bates, Carissa Bowerman and sister, Tanis Macarthur (maybes from Rose Gowling, Victoria Slager); sounders Jennifer Lockman, Ron Weihs, Tom Shea; visuals Judith Sandiford

Behind the Kiln #11, Thursday September 15, 2011 at 8 pm, pwyc.  Organized by dancer-choreographer Tanis MacArthur and video-jammer Judith Sandiford. Movers: Jenny Rae (via skype from Thailand), Liz Bates, Rose Gowling, Paula Grove, Tanis Macarthur. Sounders: Jennifer Lockman, Ron Weihs, Orange McFarland.   Image right: live realtime duet Jenny Rae (in Thailand) and Liz Bates (in Artword Artbar), via skype and a web-cam. Wow! We did it! (photo Anne Milne)

Behind the Kiln #12, “ghOulish and dreAry”, Thursday October 13, 2011 at 8 pm pwyc. Movers and sounders for our “ghOulish and dreAry” evening: Victoria Slager, Anne Milne, Jennifer Lockman, Tom Shea. Orange McFarland, Tanis Macarthur, Liz Bates, Ron Weihs, Judith Sandiford. [Image left Sept 15: duet Tanis MacArthur, Rose Gowling, plus live web-cam, photo Anne Milne]

Behind the Kiln #13, Thursday November 10, 2011 at 8 pm pwyc. Always thrilling and unpredictable, our  evenings of real-time collaborations between dancers, musicians and visual artists, are a treat. Organized by dancer-choreographer Tanis MacArthur and video-jammer Judith Sandiford. [We did not record the doings on November 10. Image here shows the whole space in February 2011.]

Behind the Kiln #14  + Trio Arjento, Friday, February 10, 2012, from 8 pm on… (James North Art Crawl). Behind the Kiln part one, dance and music improvised before your eyes, featuring Tanis Macarthur, with the improvising orchestra, Trio Arjento plus friends. Second set, a concert by Trio Arjento members Jennifer Lockman piano, Tom Shea guitar, Orange McFarland stand-up bass. Last set, Behind the Kiln part two, more real-time collaborations with guest musicians (including Angela Macaroni on flute) and dancer/movers including Jenny Rae on a visit from Thailand, live video-mix by Judith Sandiford.

Behind the Kiln #15, Friday April 13, 2012, 7 pm-9:15 (James North Art Crawl): Behind the Kiln multi-media dance, music, video collaborations in real-time. Dancers include:  Olga Barrios, Liz Bates, Laura Reid, Victoria Slager, Grace Loney, Tanis Macarthur. Musicians include: Brier Pomfret, Ronald Weihs. Video vee-jaying by Judith Sandiford.

Friday April 13, 2012 turned out to be the final episode of Behind the Kiln. Tanis went off to become an aerialist! And Ron and Judith were busy doing four plays at The Lyric (2012-2013) as well as running our live music venue. In 2013 we decided to make our cozy little Artword Artbar into a space for our theatre work, with black walls and a stage lighting hang. Our first fully staged theatre show at Artword Artbar was Scroogissimo! in December 2013.


In June 2014,  we started up a new series of dance and music collaborations we called Big Dance Little Stage, hosted and curated by dancer-choreographer Learie Mc Nicolls.

Tobacco Troubadour, April 15-26 & July 3-4, 2009

Tobacco Troubadour, a new play with music about growing up in tobacco country and its lively dance hall scene, is the fourth show in Artword’s 2008-09 season at The Pearl Company, April 15-26, 2009.
The show is based on the songs of J.P. Riemens, with script and direction by Ronald Weihs, design by Judith Sandiford. Performed by the Artword Theatre Ensemble: Paula Grove, Tanis MacarthurGordon Odegaard, Ryan Sero.
Music performed by J.P. Riemens & The Barflies (J.P. Riemens vocals/guitar, Carrie Ashworth string bass, Linda Duemo drums, Brian Griffith lead guitar)

*April 15-19, 23-26: Thurs, Fri & Sat at 7:30 pm, Sun at 2:00 pm. The Pearl Company, 16 Steven St, Hamilton.
This is an Artword Cultural Projects production supported by

 


*AND a remount in Delhi, Ontario (heart of tobacco country) on July 3 & 4, 2009 (poster above) at the Backstage Capitol Theatre, 93 King Street, Delhi, Fri & Sat, July 3 & 4, 2009, at 8:00 pm, Tickets: www.BackstageCapitol.com


Gordon Odegaard, Paula Grove, Ryan Sero, Tanis Macarthur, in rehearsal, w. JP Riemens on guitar.

Artword’s new show Tobacco Troubadour, tells the story of a musician in the making, as he grows up in tobacco country. The story weaves in and around a number of songs composed by JP Riemens.
The story is a rich and colourful history of strong-willed individuals with a great capacity for survival – survival with style, pride and a great sense of fun. They worked hard and played hard. The parties on a Saturday night are legendary.

 


Tanis Macarthur and Ryan Sero in rehearsal

Roosevelt’s Dance Hall by J.P. Riemens (copyright)

Along tobacco road, back in 63
There was my mom, my dad, my sister and me,
Mama worked the table and daddy worked the land
Sharecropper’s wife and a hard-working man.

Well, my dad played in the local band,
Drums and bass and accordion,
A little bit of fiddle and a guitar too,
And a good-lookin’ singer in a cowboy suit.

It’s oh my, wouldn’t it be nice,
To take a little trip through the pages of time.
Put the cooler in the oldsmobile, come on let’s ride,
It’s a Roosevelt’s Dance Hall Saturday night.


The Tobacco Belt is the area southwest of Brantford, to the north shore of Lake Erie, centered on Norfolk County. Delhi and Tilsonburg are in the heartland of tobacco country. In the 50s and 60s, the cash crop of choice was tobacco. It grew well in the sandy soil here. And the demand for it was high – back then..

J.P. Riemens, photo by Kyle Weir

JP Riemens grew up in tobacco country. He was working on a tobacco as a boat-driver when he was 12. He went on in his late teens to become one of the most sought-after kil’ hangers in the area. When the season was on, there was plenty of work. There were the jobs for the kids, jobs for the ladies, the jobs for the daredevils, and the all-night jobs with lots of waiting and beer drinking. There were the factions – the Francophones from Northern Ontario, native people from the nearby Grand River communities, and European immigrants from Belgium, Poland or the Ukraine.

And there was always the music. On a Saturday night, everyone, including the kids whose folks played in the bands, went to the local dance hall. People packed their own coolers in their trucks, left out in the parking lot. There was the Roosevelt Dance Hall in Langton, The Summer Gardens in Port Dover, The Hillcrest Hall in Simcoe, The Highlands in Long Point, The Silver Hill, The Stork Club.

Both JP’s stepfather and his Francophone godfather, Paul Vincent, were musicians. Paul Vincent was leader singer and played lead guitar in a band called The Continentals. His stepfather was an accordion player. The music – it was what JP calls “outlaw music” – was Texas western swing, Bob Wills, Hank Williams, and anything that got them out on the dance floor for the two-step.

JP bought his first guitar, for $15, with some of his early tobacco earnings. He mostly taught himself to play. Since he didn’t have access to many songbooks, he figured he had to make up his own songs, and so he did.

Tobacco Troubadour is a passionate story about hard work and great music, and the willful and wonderful people who did both. As the plot emerges and develops, we see the human cost of the economic decline of the region.

The crop that drove the economy in this area for over 60 years has fallen out of favour, for good reason. The communities that thrived in the tobacco hey-day now struggle to reinvent themselves. But what the farmers are going to do now – that is another story.

For more about J.P. Riemens and his music, visit http://www.jpriemens.com/  and http://www.myspace.com/jpriemens


Background: Artword Theatre’s season 2008-2009

The fourth show in Artword’s 2008-2009 season in Hamilton is Tobacco Troubadour, a new play based on the songs and stories of J.P. Riemens (of J.P.Riemens and The Barflies), about growing up in Ontario’s tobacco country and its lively dance hall scene. The other shows: Sunamabeach a new show by Charly Chiarelli, an irreverent look at Hamilton, March 25 to April 5, 2009.  Rascals and Numskulls (Feb 12 to 22, 2009), a now original work written and directed by Ronald Weihs, tells the thrilling adventures of Robert Land spy for the British in the American Revolution, friend of Mohawk leader Joseph Brant, United Empire Loyalist, first white settler in Hamilton, performed by the Artword Theatre Ensemble, with music by Gary Santucci. You Are What You Do, an original musical by Ronald Weihs celebrating the lives of working people, launched the season in October 2008 to rave reviews and remounted in December.

Background: Artword Theatre and The Pearl Company

Artword Theatre, the creative team of director Ronald Weihs and designer Judith Sandiford, has been producing original theatre since 1993. Until 2006, Weihs and Sandiford operated a facility (Artword Theatre and Artword Gallery) in downtown Toronto, when their theatre was closed to make way for a condo. After 12 years in downtown Toronto, Artword has pulled up stakes and moved to Hamilton in 2007. In 2008 they teamed up with Gary Santucci and Barbara Milne at The Pearl Company.

The Pearl Company is an arts and performance facility owned by guitarist and composer Gary Santucci and arts activist Barbara Milne, located at 16 Steven Street in the heart of the Landsdale neighbourhood of downtown Hamilton. Renovated in 2006, the facility has devoted two of its three floors to the arts. The Pearl Company has launched a number of arts initiatives, including the well-known Art Bus two Fridays a month, the Opus Mundi Festival, theatre workshops and productions, concerts and events and outdoor festivals. For more information about The Pearl Company, visit www.thepearlcompany.ca.

Sunamabeach, by Charly Chiarelli, Mar 25-Apr 5, 2009

March 25 to April 5, 2009, an Artword Theatre Production:
Sunamabeach, a new play written and performed by Charly Chiarelli.
An irreverent look at Hamilton through the eyes of Charly Chiarelli, who grew up in the Sicilian North End. Charly comes back and finds that life is a “sunamabeach”.

Directed by Ronald Weihs, produced and designed by Judith Sandiford.
Performed at The Pearl Company, 16 Steven Street, Hamilton
Wed at 8:00 pm all tickets $10, Thurs, Fri & Sat at 8:00 pm, Sun at 3:00 pm: $20 reg /$15 std/sen.

Charly Chiarelli, in the Artword Theatre production of Sunamabeach

From March 25 to April 5, 2009, Artword presents Charly Chiarelli’s new show Sunamabeach, the latest in the continuing saga of a Sicilian in Hamilton. Charly’s first two shows Cu’Fu? and Mangiacake, originated at Artword Theatre in Toronto, and were directed and dramaturged by Ronald Weihs. The first in the trilogy is Cu’Fu? (So Who Did It?), a hilarious and touching one-man show about growing up Sicilian in Hamilton. “Cu’Fu?” – “So who did it?” – is a Sicilian response to bad salami or the origin of the universe – and most everything in between. These tales of Charly’s weird and wonderful family coping with life in a new country, punctuated by his virtuoso blues harmonica, became one of Artword’s most-loved show. You don’t have to be Sicilian to love Cu’Fu. Everybody loved it.

The second in the trilogy — Mangiacake! — tells how an immigrant kid tries to shed his Sicilian identity – only to discover that he wants it back again. Charly comes to terms with his Canadian identity, and goes back to Italy to find his roots, only to discover that he too is – a mangiacake! “Mangiacake”, for anyone who hasn’t seen Cu’fu?, means “cake eaters”. It’s what Italians call non-Italians (when they’re being nice).

Charly Chiarelli began his career as a performer playing virtuoso harmonica in blues and jazz bands. He was in at the founding of the storytelling movement in Toronto. Initially, he accompanied storytellers with his harmonica, but soon he was telling stories himself, all about his crazy childhood in Hamilton.

Besides repeat runs at Artword Theatre in Toronto, both Cu’Fu? and Mangiacake! have been filmed for Bravo! Television. And Charly has performed the shows all across Canada in numerous venues.


REVIEW by Robin Pittis: SUNAMABEACH
http://www.viewmag.com/theatre.php
View Magazine Vol. 15 No. 14 • April 2 – 8, 2009
By Robin Pittis
In every industry and endeavour there are artists whose talent and ability get recognition beyond their hometown and circle of friends. That isn’t to say that there’s anything wrong with entertaining friends, family and neighbours; far from it. Charly Chiarelli, though, is the rarest of things in Hamilton theatre — an export. So it’s nice that this high calibre talent has returned and given us a reverently irreverent theatrical homage to his hometown.
Chiarelli is a prodigiously talented raconteur, musician and comedian. You might well have heard or seen his shows Cufu or Mangiacake, either in their theatrical forms or in broadcast media like Bravo TV. They are one man shows where he shares stories and music from his life and days growing up a Sicilian immigrant in Hamilton’s North End directly with the audience. He’s toured nationwide and appeared in feature films.
Not too big to return home, though, his newest show, Sunamabeach, the third of his Hamilton–based trilogy, opened last weekend at the Pearl Company. Working with his long-time collaborators, Ron Weihs and Judith Sandiford of the Artword Theatre, Chiarelli has delivered another raucously funny, wryly observed and touchingly intimate evening of theatre.

From the gymnastic blues riffs of the opening song and leitmotiv “Life is a sunamabeach”, Charly, or Calogero, is intensely committed to his performance, physically and emotionally. He’s got a lot of natural charisma and tightly wound up Italian spontaneity, which he uses to grab and hold his audience.
As a playwright too, this is a generous performance. Writing from life, and in this case drawing particularly from experiences gleaned in his day job as a high level administrator orchestrating governmental efforts to confront addictions and mental health issues, Chiarelli gives his audience flirtatious glimpses of his naked life. He gives up little gems about his own successes and failures, his family, friends, and fellow musicians.

Particularly interesting are his reminiscences of Hamilton past: Mayor Vic Copps, street fights with bikers on Locke Street, and what the city was like before the wrecking balls and the malls reconfigured the downtown core.
With a minimal set, projected images of Chiarelli’s own photographs of the downtown core taken from his Market Street apartment, and his office in the Ellen Fairclough building add an important layer of metaphor. This is a portrait of our city his from his particular perspective. Paradoxically, this particularity makes it accessible to everyone.
The story of his meeting with the late Hamilton blues and harmonica legend King Biscuit Boy was particularly memorable, and a terrific addition to Hamilton music lore. Given how impressive Chiarelli’s work on the mouth organ is, it beggars the imagination how good this King guy must have been.
If there are any complaints about the evening at all, it is only that this is a new work, and there were certainly a couple of rough transitions, or slightly misremembered wordings. This is not unusual as artists gain confidence with new works. There’s also a lot of F–bombs. While it’s totally believable north end speak, it does mean this show isn’t destined for Bravo, which is a pity. Chiarelli’s perspectives on our city and the ongoing worldwide battle with addiction and mental health, sharpened to a point could make a powerful point beyond — and because of — the entertainment value of this piece.
All in all, this is an impressive performance by a skilled and talented performer, and a loving look at our troubled but still beautiful times and city. This is locally engaged theatre at it’s best.
For future reference, Wednesday night tickets for Artword performances are $10, half the usual going price. [ROBIN PITTIS]


Artword Theatre’s season “Artword @ The Pearl” 2008-2009
Sunamabeach is the third of four productions for the 2008-2009 “Artword @ The Pearl” season.
You Are What You Do, (Oct & Dec 2008) an original musical by Ronald Weihs celebrating the lives of working people, launched the season in October 2008 to rave reviews and remounted in December.
Rascals and Numskulls (Feb 12 to 22, 2009), a now original work written and directed by Ronald Weihs, tells the thrilling adventures of Robert Land spy for the British in the American Revolution, friend of Mohawk leader Joseph Brant, United Empire Loyalist, first white settler in Hamilton, performed by the Artword Theatre Ensemble, with music by Gary Santucci.
Tobacco Troubadour (April 16 to 26, 2009), a new play based on the songs and stories of J.P. Riemens (of J.P.Riemens and The Barflies), about growing up in Ontario’s tobacco country and its lively dance hall scene, is scheduled for April 16 to 26, 2009. Script and direction by Ronald Weihs.

Article: Rascals and Numskulls, The Robert Land Project

Landing a Pearl of a story: Play explores history of Robert Land, the first white settler here

February 11, 2009 Gary Smith, The Hamilton Spectator

Ronald Weihs and Judith Sandiford are neither rascals nor numskulls. Head honchos of Artword Theatre, now working out of The Pearl Company on Steven Street, they strike me as rather gentle, cultured folk.

Their fascination with various rascals and numskulls, you see, has to do with a new play they’ve created that just happens to have that intriguing title. In choosing to explore the life of Robert Land, the first white settler in Hamilton, Weihs and Sandiford have taken a personal historical journey.

“When we came to Hamilton from Toronto to establish our theatre company here, we always intended to get caught up in Hamilton affairs,” Weihs says. “Our idea of theatre is one that addresses audiences directly. We’re concerned with how a culture talks about itself. One of our reasons to be so interested in Hamilton is the city has stories to tell.”

Sandiford picks up the thought: “We are working at The Pearl, and it’s in Landsdale. Why, we wondered? Of course, it’s named after Robert Land. We wanted to know his story. It turned out his tale was like something out of a Boys’ Own Adventure book, a real yarn. We just hit such a bonanza.”

Sandiford and Weihs took a history walk of the neighbourhood. They gained input from a book about Land, the tales of a local storyteller and a trunk full of research.

“Land was a spy or agent for the British, probably a member of Joseph Brant’s volunteers,” Weihs says. “Condemned to death at court martial, he escaped. It’s quite a tale.”

“It’s also a real romantic adventure,” Sandiford says. “It involves his wife, Phoebe. You couldn’t make up a story as fascinating as this.”

Sandiford and Weihs specialize in this type of intimate theatre created from grand-scale ideas.

“We take a huge story and reduce it to human terms. From such huge scale, we find what is personal. The play tells Robert and Phoebe’s story against the issues in which they are caught,” Weihs says.

Weihs writes the play, Sandiford provides a design concept that gives the story a place to happen, and together they solve the problems of getting it onstage.

In reading some diaries of the times, Sandiford got a clear picture of the wit and style of those days. From protest poems came the title Rascals and Numskulls.

“The Americans are the rascals, and the British the numskulls,” Sandiford laughs.

“When it came to the American Revolution, it embodied some of the finest ideals people ever had,” says Weihs. “But the fathers of independence were mega-land owners, and you know, you can see parallels with the Bush administration. It was about taking care of business. When you bully a nation, they hunker down. It’s a lesson powerful nations need to learn over and over.”

Seven people in the acting company play all the roles in Weihs’ drama.

“They sing songs, some from the period, some written for the production by Gary Santucci. And Judith has written square-dance calls that tell aspects of the story,” Weihs says.

“Slavish historical accuracy isn’t the point,” Sandiford adds. “But you need enough of that to give people a clue as to the time and place we’ll be in. We just can’t get too hung up on waistcoats and corsets, that’s all. This may be a dark story, but we want to have fun with it.”

Sandiford and Weihs were still working on the play during a month spent in London, England. In their flat they were typing pages of text and sending them back to Hamilton, where the cast awaited the next development in the Land story.

“Working on something so local and historic is our way of trying to understand where we are,” Weihs says.

 

Rascals and Numskulls: The Robert Land Project

Performed by The Artword Theatre Ensemble: Paula Grove, Valeri Kay, Tanis MacArthur, Allan Merovitz, Gordon Odegaard, Nea Reid, with Princess Land and Seneca Sundown.
Where: Artword @ The Pearl Company, 16 Steven St.
When: Feb. 12 through 22, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.

Gary Smith has written on theatre and dance for The Hamilton Spectator for more than 25 years.

Rascals and Numskulls, the story of Robert Land, Feb 12-22, 2009

February 12 to 22, 2009. Artword Theatre’s new theatrical entertainment, Rascals and Numskulls: Being the thrilling adventures of Robert Land, spy for the British in the American Revolution, friend of Mohawk leader Joseph Brant, United Empire Loyalist, first white settler in Hamilton. Written and directed by Ronald Weihs, music by Gary Santucci, produced and designed by Judith Sandiford

Performed by The Artword Theatre Ensemble: Paula Grove, Valeri Kay, Tanis MacArthur, Allan Merovitz, Gordon Odegaard, Nea Reid, with Princess Land and Seneca Sundown.

Thurs at 7:30 pm, all tickets $10; Fri & Sat at 7:30 pm: $20 reg / $15 std/sen; Sun at 2:00 pm: $20 reg / $15 std/sen.
at The Pearl Company, 16 Steven St, Hamilton

Rascals and Numskulls press release:
Artword Theatre’s second production in its inaugural season is a new original play Rascals and Numskulls, the thrilling adventures of Hamilton’s first white settlers – United Empire Loyalists Robert and Phoebe Land. This high-spirited production alternates between light-hearted comedy and realism, featuring original music by Gary Santucci, square dances and period songs.

The show is written and directed by Ronald Weihs, designed by Judith Sandiford, and performed by a cast of eight, the Artword Theatre Ensemble. The production runs February 12 to 22, 2009, Thursday to Saturday at 7:30 pm and Sunday at 2:00 pm, at The Pearl Company, 16 Steven Street, Hamilton. To reserve, call Artword at 905-548-0341.

Robert Land was a secret agent for the British army in the American Revolution. Captured and condemned to death, he escaped the hangman and fought in Joseph Brant’s guerrilla army, Brant’s Volunteers. Phoebe Land fought an equally courageous battle protecting her family in the midst of a terrible civil war. It’s a story of heroism and endurance by ordinary people caught in a clash of empires.

Paula Grove at Lord North, Valeri Kay as George III

The “Rascals and Numskulls” of the play’s title are the American and British leaders. The pompous and arrogant leaders are presented in comedy style. Our Rascals are John Hancock, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. On the other side, our Numskulls are King George III and Prime Minister Lord North. (The words – and spelling – are typical of the vigorous insults of the time.)

Artword Theatre is the resident theatre company (2008-2009) at The Pearl, on Steven Street at King William, in the Landsdale area of Hamilton. Recently transplanted from Toronto, Artword Theatre has formed an alliance with Gary Santucci and Barbara Milne of The Pearl Company in their effort to revitalize the area through the arts.

The Landsdale neighbourhood is named after Robert Land. “When we dug into the story of Robert Land, we became fascinated,” explains Artistic Director Ronald Weihs. “What a tale. It has everything – pioneering on the frontier, war, spies, vigilante vengeance, death sentences, narrow escapes, refugee hardships, evacuations and starting over, long-lost family rediscoveries – and the revolt of the Thirteen Colonies in America against Britain.”

Judith Sandiford, Artword’s resident designer, did extensive research into the American Revolution. “There are a lot of contemporary parallels”, she declares. “Britain had the greatest army in the world, and they thought they could simply ‘shock and awe’ the rebels. They discovered that it was not so easy.”

In the midst of this is the related story of the Six Nations Confederacy of upstate New York. When Britain lost the war, the British promise that all land west of the Appalachian divide would be Aboriginal land forever was also lost. Mohawk leader Joseph Brant fought for the British, and in return was granted the Haldimand tract along the Grand River. The implications of this relocation of the Six Nations is still an issue today.

Rascals and Numskulls is performed by the Artword Theatre Ensemble, the six actors who performed in Artword Theatre’s hit production last fall You Are What You Do. Paula Grove, Valeri Kay, Tanis MacArthur, Allan Merovitz, Gordon Odegaard and Nea Reid, plus Princess Land and Seneca Sundown.

Some brief history: Robert and Phoebe Land settled on the Pennsylvania frontier in 1757, in the town of Cushetunk. They homesteaded and raised a family of eight. When the war broke out, Robert Land remained loyal to Britain (a Tory) and became a secret agent for the British army. Meanwhile when their home was burned to the ground by Patriots, Phoebe Land fled with her children to New York City, along with thousands of refugees. Transported to New Brunswick after the war in 1783, Phoebe eventually made her way to the Head of the Lake in Upper Canada, where she she is reunited with her long-lost husband, who was living near where Barton and Leeming Streets in Hamilton are today.

Background: Brief Artistic Bios
The Artword Theatre Ensemble playing many roles: Paula Grove (singer, actor, The Full Monty; Cabaret, Jacques Brel. Getting Married, Berkeley Square, Stealing Home, Detaining Mr. Trotsky); Valeri Kay (actor Nietzsche: Behold the Man, The Way of all Fish, A Change of Plans, Romeo and Juliet); Tanis MacArthur (actor, dancer, choreographer, costumier, dada dance, indicaba dance theatre, among others); Allan Merovitz (actor, singer, writer and performer If Cows Could Fly, leader of klezmer bands KlezMerovitz in Calgary and the Merovitz Project in Montreal); Gordon Odegaard (actor, singer, musician, numerous projects in Brantford area); and Nea Reid (actor, My Matisse, Nietzsche Behold The Man, Gerald Hilroy’s Guide to the Art of Seduction and director The Hobbit and Godzilla). Two stage newcomers are also in the show: Princess Land (yes, a possible distant relation) as young teenager Rebecca Land, and Seneca Sundown as Mohawk leader Joseph Brant.

Gary Santucci (guitarist, banjo player, composer) is co-owner of The Pearl Company and is well-known for his world-beat music group Zarabanda. Ronald Weihs (playwright, director, fiddler) is Artistic Director of Artword Theatre with many writing and directing credits. Judith Sandiford (artist and designer) is Managing Director of Artword Theatre and designer of all Artword’s shows.

Background: Artword Theatre’s season 2008-2009
Rascals and Numskulls is the second of four productions for the 2008-2009 “Artword @ The Pearl” season. You Are What You Do, an original musical by Ronald Weihs celebrating the lives of working people, launched the season in October 2008 to rave reviews and remounted in December. From March 25 to April 5, 2009, Artword presents Charly Chiarelli’s new show Sunamabeach, the latest in the continuing saga of a Sicilian in Hamilton (following Cu’Fu? and Mangiacake, which originated at Artword Theatre in Toronto, also directed by Ronald Weihs). Tobacco Troubadour, a new play based on the songs and stories of J.P. Riemens (of J.P.Riemens and The Barflies), about growing up in Ontario’s tobacco country and its lively dance hall scene, is scheduled for April 16 to 26, 2009.

Background: Artword Theatre and The Pearl Company

Artword Theatre, the creative team of director Ronald Weihs and designer Judith Sandiford, has been producing original theatre since 1993. Until 2006, Weihs and Sandiford operated a facility (Artword Theatre and Artword Gallery) in downtown Toronto, when their theatre was closed to make way for a condo. After 12 years in downtown Toronto, Artword has pulled up stakes, moved to Hamilton and teamed up with Gary Santucci and Barbara Milne at The Pearl Company.

The Pearl Company is an arts and performance facility owned by guitarist and composer Gary Santucci and arts activist Barbara Milne, located at 16 Steven Street in the heart of the Landsdale neighbourhood of downtown Hamilton. Renovated in 2006, the facility has devoted two of its three floors to the arts. The Pearl Company has launched a number of arts initiatives, including the well-known Art Bus two Fridays a month, the Opus Mundi Festival, theatre workshops and productions, concerts and events and outdoor festivals. For more information about The Pearl Company, visit www.thepearlcompany.ca.

 

You Are What You Do, returns Dec 4 to 7, 2008

BACK for 4 shows Dec 4 to 7, 2008: Artword Theatre presents its 2008 production of You Are What You Do, a celebration of working men and women in story and song,
written and directed by Ronald Weihs, produced and designed by Judith Sandiford

Thurs at 7:30 pm, $10; Fri & Sat at 7:30: $20 reg / $15 std/sen
Sun at 2:00 pm: $20 reg / $15 std/sen, Group discounts: 12 or more $15 each.
Call Artword at 905-548-0531

Venue: The Pearl, 16 Steven Street, Hamilton
Running time is about 90 minutes.

Performed by Paula Grove, Valeri Kay, Tanis MacArthur, Allan Merovitz, Gordon Odegaard, Nea Reid, with Jennifer Lockman on piano and Ronald Weihs on fiddle.

Artword Theatre’s musical play You Are What You Do is coming back to The Pearl for four shows: December 4 to 7, 2008. We want to give you a chance to see the show that the Hamilton press loved:

“There’s a smart little show at The Pearl these days. It’s filled with sometimes joyous, sometimes sad reflections about how people absorb the identity of their work. It’s beautifully written and directed by Ronald Weihs with an ensemble cast that quiver with earnest emotion. Set against an evocative steel and wood landscape designed by Judith Sandiford, with projections that comment on the action onstage, it is a visually arresting experience. It’s well worth your time.” Gary Smith, Hamilton Spectator, Oct. 22, 2008.

“…Something truly new and original on the local arts scene … It successfully weaves many disparate elements to become something that is greater then the sum of its parts. Using songs and personal narrative, it gives us an insight into the lives of ordinary working Canadians. The cast of six (Paula Grove, Valeri Kay, Tanis MacArthur, Allan Merovitz, Gordon Odegaard, and Nea Reid) effortlessly portray at least 20 characters that are believable and compelling throughout. In the end though, it is the songs themselves that you carry away with you leaving the theatre. You Are What You Do is a must-see. It is a meticulously constructed piece of theatre that asks some real questions of its audience, and you cannot help but be enriched after experiencing it.” Brian Morton, View Magazine, October 23-29, 2008

You Are What You Do is an original musical play celebrating the lives of working people. You Are What You Do, written and directed by Artword’s Artistic Director Ronald Weihs, is a theatrical collage of stories gathered from men and women about how work has shaped their lives. The result is a high-spirited ensemble production, with a cast of six, that uses songs, mime and inventive staging to celebrate the energy and imagination of real people.

Performed by Paula Grove, Valeri Kay, Tanis MacArthur, Allan Merovitz, Gordon Odegaard, Nea Reid
with Jennifer Lockman on piano and Ronald Weihs on fiddle.

You Are What You Do, Oct 16-16, 2008

October 16 to 26, 2008, Artword Theatre presents  You Are What You Do, an original Canadian musical written and directed by Ronald Weihs, is a celebration of working men and women in story and song. The show launches the Artword @ The Pearl theatre season. The play, first performed in 1994, is a theatrical collage of stories gathered from men and women about how work has shaped their lives.

“Better not pick that up, he goes
You just might drop it and smash your toes.
Don’t touch that, don’t climb on that beam,
On and on until I’m ready to scream…”

Valerie Kay and Paula Grove

The Radio Plays Love Songs, a jaunty country tune, is sung by a woman carpenter who was completing her third year apprenticeship and describes her confrontation with one journeyman who wouldn’t let her try anything difficult. Other characters include a plumber, a punch press operator, a high steel painter, a bus driver, a cocktail waitress, a street-wise counsellor for runaway girls, a parking lot attendant, a garbage collector, a factory worker, and one man who describes himself as a “putterer”.

You Are What You Do, a musical play, is:
written and directed by Ronald Weihs,
produced and designed by Judith Sandiford,
performed by Paula Grove, Valeri Kay,
Tanis MacArthur, Allan Merovitz,
Gordon Odegaard, Nea Reid,

with Jennifer Lockman on piano and Ronald Weihs on fiddle.

Gordon Odegaard, Valeri Kay, Ronald Weihs, and at the piano Jennifer Lockman

Thurs at 7:30 pm, pwyc; Fri & Sat at 7:30 $15 reg / $10 std/sen; Sun at 2:00 pm all tickets $10, at The Pearl Company, 16 Steven Street, Hamilton. Runs 90 minutes.

Artword Theatre’s first production in its new home, Artword @ The Pearl, is an original musical play celebrating the lives of working people, written and directed by Artword’s Artistic Director Ronald Weihs. The play, first performed in 1994, is a theatrical collage of stories gathered from men and women about how work has shaped their lives. The result is a high-spirited ensemble production, with a cast of six, that uses songs, mime and inventive staging to celebrate the energy and imagination of real people.

Tanis Macarthur

Back in 1994, You Are What You Do was Artword Theatre’s first production in its first home at 81 Portland Street in Toronto. After 12 years of intense activity in Toronto, Artword has moved to Hamilton and teamed up with The Pearl Company. Artword’s co-founders, Ronald Weihs and Judith Sandiford, chose You Are What You Do as a fitting way to inaugurate their new home in Hamilton.

“This is the kind of theatre we like to do. We use an ensemble approach in which the actors and musicians together interpret the life of the people around them. We believe in a theatre that is full of fun and theatricality, while it deals with things that matter.” says director Ronald Weihs.

For more information about Artword Theatre, call Judith Sandiford at 905-543-8512


You Are What You Do: review by Gary Smith, The Hamilton Spectator, Wed. Oct. 22, 2008

There’s a smart little show at The Pearl these days. It’s filled with sometimes joyous, sometimes sad reflections about how people absorb the identity of their work It’s beautifully written and directed by Ronald Weihs with an ensemble cast that quiver with earnest emotion.

Set against an evocative steel and wood landscape designed by Judith Sandiford, with projections that comment on the action onstage, it is a visually arresting experience.

It’s well worth your time. You Are What You Do continues Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 and Sunday at 2 p.m. Artword at The Pearl, 16 Steven St.  http://www.thespec.com/Entertainment/article/453370


You Are What You Do: Review by Brian Morton, View Magazine Oct 23-29, 2008

It’s rare to be there at the birth of something. But the first Artword production at the newly renovated theatre space at the Pearl Company is just that: the birth of something truly new and original on the local arts scene. The Artword Theatre Company is the latest in a series of cultural refugees from the Toronto Arts scene, who have now found a safe refuge in Hamilton’s fertile cultural soil.

You Are What You Do is a new play, with music by Artword Artistic Director Ron Weihs. It is a rare experience at the theatre, in that it successfully weaves many disparate elements to become something that is greater then the sum of its parts. Using songs and personal narrative, it gives us an insight into the lives of ordinary working Canadians; much like the characters that peopled the songs of the late great Hamilton folksinger Stan Rogers.

In Weihs’ play we find the “little people” who do what they have to in order to survive and yet still try to be happy in an imperfect world. Addiction, sexism, desperation, unemployment and homelessness are just a few of the issues the play addresses, but always with characters that have a keen awareness of their own vulnerabilities and needs. In the end they realise, sometimes you have to take whatever job you can get, and try to make something from the choice.

Several of the characters don’t survive the struggle, but along the way they discover something of what it is to be Canadian, what is it to be working class, and what it is to have to make a living in the real world. Based upon actual field recordings of workers on the job made over 20 years ago, playwright Weihs has constructed a drama that verges upon the poetic, as he perfectly captures the nuances of real people authentically speaking about their lives.

The play is structured as a 1970s style docudrama firmly rooted upon the models of Canadian theatre pioneers like George Luscombe at Toronto Workshop Productions (who Ron Weihs apprenticed with), following in the footsteps of such works as their play Ten Lost Years, or the 25th Street Theatre’s Paper Wheat. This form of script creation is one that has fallen out of style in the recent years, as it depends on an ongoing commitment from an ensemble of actors who must remain a part of each incarnation of the play in order for it to work successfully. I myself found it ironic that many of the cast were not even alive when this kind of theatre was at its height, and in that sense the play is both hip and contemporary, and yet is

Many jobs are represented in the play: Construction worker, bridge painter, factory worker, musician, and retail sales clerk are just some of the experiences we share with the ensemble. A real balance is created between the individual stories, some of which are quite tragic, with the real humor of everyday life in the workplace.

The cast of six (Paula Grove, Valeri Kay, Tanis MacArthur, Allan Merovitz, Gordon Odegaard, and Nea Reid), effortlessly portray at least 20 characters that are believable and compelling throughout. These are performances that are genuine, thoroughly professional and they certainly deserve a wider audience. Particular note should be made of the unusual mix of voices and vocal styles, which shouldn’t obviously work and yet somehow do within the context of the play; as well as the clever use of space and objects and video projected imagery in Judith Sandiford’s set and lighting.

In the end though, it is the songs themselves that you carry away with you leaving the theatre. It’s a much richer experience then the typical Broadway style musical revue in that all of the music is original, it and skillfully continues the experience of the workers, although now through the medium of melody and lyric.

As something that is not the usual fare offered on the local scene, You Are What You Do is a must-see. It is a meticulously constructed piece of theatre that asks some real questions of its audience, and you cannot help but be enriched after experiencing it. … [BRIAN MORTON]

Artword Theatre’s first show in Hamilton, fall 2008

First show in Artword’s new Hamilton home

October 15, 2008 Jeff Mahoney, The Hamilton Spectator

For those whose energies can’t be contained by just one creative activity, there’s the idea that the individual arts (painting, music, writing, etc.) make up a family. The potential of each is best fulfilled when it comes out of its separate room to interact with the others.

[Image: rehearsal at The Pearl of You Are What You Do, opening October 16, 2008.]

Theatre, film, opera, stage shows — collaborative forms of all kinds — appeal to the integrative impulse of the most ambitious in the arts.

Ronald Weihs and Judith Sandiford know it well. It is, in a way, a basis for their relationship. She’s a visual artist and set designer. He’s a playwright, director and producer.

Together they were living their vision — an alternative, multi-stream laboratory of theatre/art — in the old garment district of Toronto. On Portland Street. They ran plays, arts shows and some publishing projects (Artword magazine) out of a performance/studio space in a renovated factory — a 30-foot span with no pillars, with 16-foot ceilings, sprung dance floor, raked seats, a 70-foot long building.

“No one believed we could have such supportive landlords,” says Sandiford. “They respected how hard we worked.”

It was called Artword, and it lasted from 1993 to 2006, first at a 60-seat theatre at 81 Portland, then at the larger building [next door] at 75 Portland, which housed a 150-seat multipurpose space, a 60-seat studio theatre and a 1,500-square-foot art gallery.

They were highly thought of and staged many popular productions, both their own and the work of other groups to whom they rented space, such as the African Theatre Ensemble. They did Allan Merovitz’s If Cows Could Fly, Weihs’ Sur (based on Ursula K. Le Guin) and Cu’Fu, by Hamilton’s own Charly Chiarelli. Much more. Not to mention the numerous art exhibitions.

Then, in 2006, their landlords, helpful as they’d been, could no longer resist market pressures. They sold the building to a condo developer. The new owner gave them four months’ notice.

“We locked up the back doors of a 48-foot trailer and drove out into sunset with our theatre and art gallery in it,” says Weihs.

This weekend Artword kicks off its first season in Hamilton, at The Pearl Company, 16 Steven St. When Sandiford and Weihs went looking for a new home, they scoured the MLS listings of the GTA, but one day they literally turned around on the QEW, came to Hamilton and ended up putting an offer in on a building.

That offer didn’t go through, but instead they found a house on Prospect Street three times the size and half the price of anything they’d been looking at in Toronto.

And then they found Gary Santucci and Barbara Milne, who own and run The Pearl Company, another renovated factory being used for the family of the arts, this one in Hamilton. So, they decided to use that space.

“We thought we were unique,” says Weihs. “But here in Hamilton there’s a couple as crazy as we are.”

So the vision continues. Sandiford and Weihs have assembled an ensemble cast for the musical You Are What You Do. It’s a new play by Weihs, who has written many over the years, including The Beavers (an Aristophanes-style satire), The Wobbly (with George Luscombe) and Highball!, a musical about logging, which he toured through B.C. logging country in the ’80s. Sandiford, whose art draws on themes from physics and cosmology, has helped create an innovative set with graphics for the unique stage.

You Are What You Do is a theatrical collage of stories based on the lives of working people. It previews tomorrow, opens Friday and runs to Oct. 26, with shows Thursday to Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. …

“We believe in a theatre that is full of fun and theatricality while it deals with things that matter.” says Weihs.

The approach, a tad Brechtian, is more horizontal and involving of the audience than conventional theatre.

Are Weihs and Sandiford part of the Toronto wave, attracted by affordability, which Hamiltonians have come almost coltishly to expect as our salvation? Well, there are Sky Gilbert, Ian Jarvis, others. Wave? Not yet. Maybe something between a smattering and an influx. But we’re glad to have them.

jmahoney@thespec.com      http://www.thespec.com/Entertainment/article/450514