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Frances Koncan

Frances Koncan

Arts reporter

Frances Koncan (she/her) is a writer, theatre director, and failed musician of mixed Anishinaabe and Slovene descent. Originally from Couchiching First Nation, she is now based in Treaty 1 Territory right here in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Frances is a grad of the University of Manitoba (BA Psychology) and the City University of New York Brooklyn College’s Playwriting Program (MFA Playwriting). She does not have a degree in journalism but she used to watch A LOT of Anderson Cooper 360.

Her work as a writer includes: That’s AWSM! (TV); Trendsettlers, Women of the Fur Trade, Riot Resist Revolt Repeat, zahgidiwin/love, How to Talk to Human Beings, The Dance-off of Conscious Uncoupling, and Little Red (Theatre); Outdigenous (Film); and a bunch of opinion pieces on blogs scattered across the internet.

As a director, she has directed many of her owns productions and has worked as assistant director on numerous plays including A Doll’s House Part 2, Seminar (RMTC/Mirvish), The Humans (RMTC), and Stripped Down Anthony & Cleopatra (SIR).

Frances is a Taurus with Leo Ascending and a Virgo Moon, which means she is stubborn, always right, very concerned with aesthetics, in desperate need of attention but would never admit it, and extremely organized.

When she isn’t busy doing artsy things or writing about other people doing artsy things, she can be found watching and participating in sports, practicing the MCAT just in case, and trying her best not to get in to fights on the internet.

She is low-key obsessed with the evolution of language, and strives to keep her vocabulary as lit as possible! ��

Recent articles of Frances Koncan

Second-hand shops adapt to pandemic

Frances Koncan 5 minute read Preview

Second-hand shops adapt to pandemic

Frances Koncan 5 minute read Monday, Sep. 28, 2020

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Winnipeg and the city went into lockdown, the fate of second-hand stores seemed uncertain.

As restrictions began to ease, stores were able to open their doors again, refreshed with new plexiglass barriers, an abundance of hand sanitizer and strict limits on how many people are allowed in a store at one time — all precautions they will continue to follow during the current code orange designation, which ramped up public health orders and restrictions in Winnipeg on Monday, in response to a surge in local COVID-19 cases.

At Mission Thrift Store, at 701 Regent Ave. W., which reopened in May, there’s one place customers won’t see a change: inside the changing rooms.

“We had to close our change rooms because we would have had to sanitize them after every use,” manager Jennifer Smith says. “We didn’t have the manpower for that.”

Monday, Sep. 28, 2020

Receiver Alison Seavers now loads all donations to the Mission Thrift Store into a shipping container, where they are quarantined. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

Gifted musicians play to strengths on Instagram

Frances Koncan  7 minute read Preview

Gifted musicians play to strengths on Instagram

Frances Koncan  7 minute read Thursday, Sep. 24, 2020

It’s not as easy as it once was to keep up with the live music scene in Winnipeg and with winter on its way, it’s only going to get harder.

While Spotify and Soundcloud are still fantastic places to discover music from around the world, a great way to learn about new local music — and the talented artists who make it — is Instagram.

Here are five suggestions of performers with incredible music and charming personalities and styles that you should definitely be following via the social media app.

RAYANNAHThe Winnipeg-born and -raised music artist Rayannah has an electro-alternative sound that blends breath, loop pedals, inventive beats and evocative lyrics to create a style all her own.

Thursday, Sep. 24, 2020

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILEs
Don't be a wiener: Sing along with Begonia's Hot Dog Stand to ensure extra-clean hands.

City selected as early stop for immersive exhibition of Dutch master's work

Frances Koncan  4 minute read Preview

City selected as early stop for immersive exhibition of Dutch master's work

Frances Koncan  4 minute read Wednesday, Sep. 16, 2020

Fresh off enormously successful stops in Montreal and Quebec City, Imagine Van Gogh is bringing its immersive sensory experience to the RBC Convention Centre. 

The exhibition premièred in Paris in 2017 and was created by designers Annabelle Mauger and Julien Baron. It weaves together multimedia — and the true life stories of two different men, artist Vincent Van Gogh and Cathédrale d’Images founder Albert Plécy — to create a grandiose experience of art, projection and music that has wowed millions of viewers throughout the world.

While it is the artwork of Van Gogh — the Dutch post-impressionist painter (1853-90) whose bold colours and expressive brushstokes influenced many who came after him — that is on display, it is Plécy’s concept of the “Image Totale” that inspired Mauger and Baron to create the immersive blend of sound and image. Plécy, a journalist and photographer, created the Cathédrale d’Images (now called Les Carrières de Lumières or Quarries of Lights) to project luminous images onto the stone walls, ceilings and floor of a former bauxite quarry in Provence, in southeast France.

Visitors are invited to wander and explore amid enormous projections of more than 200 of Van Gogh’s most famous paintings from the Arles period, the Saint-Rémy period and the Auvers-sur-Oise Period, including Sunflowers, Starry Night over the Rhône and Wheatfield with Crows. 

Wednesday, Sep. 16, 2020

laurence labat photos
Visitors are invited to wander and explore amid enormous projections of more than 200 of Van Gogh’s most famous paintings.

Turn up the volume

Frances Koncan 4 minute read Preview

Turn up the volume

Frances Koncan 4 minute read Friday, Sep. 11, 2020

A new TV series premièring on APTN this week aims to document the inspiration and personal process of Indigenous musicians from across Canada.

Amplify sheds light on the work of musicians — including local singer-songwriters Leonard Sumner and Jason Burnstick — over 13 22-minute episodes, all directed by Indigenous directors, including Winnipeggers JJ Neepin and Erica Marie Daniels.

“The show was conceived as a platform to showcase Indigenous stories and music,” says producer Shane Belcourt in a media release. “We called it Amplify because the series amplifies Indigenous music, Indigenous stories and Indigenous perceptions.”

Belcourt chose to focus on musicians because he believes music is the glue that holds people together.

Friday, Sep. 11, 2020

APTN
Cree singer-songwriter Jason Burnstick was inspired by the birth of his son.

Contrarian take on green movement gets re-release

Frances Koncan 3 minute read Preview

Contrarian take on green movement gets re-release

Frances Koncan 3 minute read Tuesday, Sep. 8, 2020

A new documentary by director Jeff Gibbs is being re-released with a live virtual event on Oct. 28, after being removed from YouTube earlier this year.

Battle for the Planet of the Humans premièred on YouTube on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and racked up millions of views. But it also attracted the negative attention of certain groups, one of which filed a copyright claim over a short snippet of footage of rare earth mining in China.

Gibbs says the clip was employed under the doctrine of fair use. Although the case was resolved, the copyright claim resulted in the film being removed from YouTube.

“It turns out the person who made the claim was funded by some of the same foundations that we criticize in the film that are associated with hedge funds and billionaires and bankers,” Gibbs says.

Tuesday, Sep. 8, 2020

Rumble Media
Abandoned wind power turbines dot the landscape.

As pandemic rages, performers, venue managers face tough task determining performance possibilities

Randall King, Frances Koncan, Alan Small, Eva Wasney and Jen Zoratti 20 minute read Preview

As pandemic rages, performers, venue managers face tough task determining performance possibilities

Randall King, Frances Koncan, Alan Small, Eva Wasney and Jen Zoratti 20 minute read Friday, Sep. 4, 2020

In 2020, planning for the fall arts season is like making a sand castle in a hurricane.

Intentions and results are very different things in the age of COVID-19, especially in Manitoba, where our once enviable low infection rate has given way to one of the worst in the country in terms of active cases by per cent of the population.

TheatreAcross the arts spectrum, nothing is set in stone — certainly not in the realm of live theatre, which is seemingly still in flux, even after all the major theatre companies radically adjusted their seasons in the wake of the March lockdown.

On its website, the Manitoba Theatre for Young People appears to be going ahead with its six-play season. But artistic director Pablo Felices-Luna can’t discuss the season until mid-September.

Friday, Sep. 4, 2020

Mike Sudoma / Winnipeg Free Press
Martin Kull, the Centennial Concert Hall’s general manger, expects a sellout for the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s reduced-capacity season.

WAG donor’s Inuit Art Centre tour inspires second gift

Frances Koncan 3 minute read Preview

WAG donor’s Inuit Art Centre tour inspires second gift

Frances Koncan 3 minute read Friday, Sep. 4, 2020

A recent tour of the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s soon-to-open Inuit Art Centre has prompted an awestruck city philanthropist to add to his existing contribution to the project.

Until the end of November, Bob Williams will match donations up to a total of $500,000, the WAG announced this week.

“Once you have a tour of the building, you see what this vision is,” said Williams, who invested in Apple stock 15 years ago and is passionate about giving back to the community.

“With this building there will be nobody in the world that will be able to match Winnipeg, Manitoba, for the display of Inuit art.

Friday, Sep. 4, 2020

Bob Williams

Urban Shaman gallery director shares journey in Art Talk

Frances Koncan 3 minute read Preview

Urban Shaman gallery director shares journey in Art Talk

Frances Koncan 3 minute read Friday, Sep. 4, 2020

Sometimes a work of art can change your life.

In this month’s Art Talk — a monthly event held in partnership with First Fridays in the Exchange and hosted by Free Press contributor Alison Gillmor — Urban Shaman gallery director Daina Warren will go live on YouTube to talk about the artists and artworks that have inspired her during her career as an artist and curator in a conversation entitled The Art That Won’t Let Go.

Warren, who is a member of the Akamihk (Cree) Nation in Maskwacis, Alta., earned her BFA at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design and holds an MA in critical and curatorial studies from the University of British Columbia.

She cites Kainai-Blood sculptor Faye HeavyShield as a major influence early in her training.

Friday, Sep. 4, 2020

Sarah Ciurysek / courtesy of the Walter Phillips Gallery, The Banff Centre
Urban Shaman director Daina Warren will discuss her work with artist Rebecca Belmore (above, with Ayumee-aawach Oomama-mowan: Speaking to Their Mother) as part of tonight’s Art Talk.

Documentary reveals bitter reality of Jordan’s Principle

Frances Koncan 4 minute read Preview

Documentary reveals bitter reality of Jordan’s Principle

Frances Koncan 4 minute read Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020

Abenaki filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin began making films in the 1960s at a time when there were few Indigenous filmmakers working in the industry.

The North American filmmaking landscape has changed dramatically since then with regards to diversity, thanks in large part to Obomsawin’s tireless commitment to activism through film.

Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger — which makes its streaming debut on Monday, Obomsawin’s 88th birthday — marks her 53rd film and tells another story of Indigenous resilience and resistance in the face of colonization.

The 65-minute documentary, which was named the best Canadian documentary at the 2019 Vancouver International Film Festival and is being streamed by the National Film Board, explores the life of Jordan River Anderson, a boy from Norway House Cree Nation who was diagnosed at birth in 1999 with a rare muscular disorder known as Carey Fineman Ziter Syndrome.

Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020

Norway House Cree Nation (NFB)

Get up close with Van Gogh at new exhibit

Frances Koncan  2 minute read Preview

Get up close with Van Gogh at new exhibit

Frances Koncan  2 minute read Friday, Aug. 28, 2020

A trip to Europe might be out of the question for the rest of the year, but a touring exhibit from Quebec City making its way to the RBC Convention Centre will bring a touch of the European museum experience to Winnipeg. 

Imagine Van Gogh, opening Sept. 17, was created by Annabelle Mauger and Julien Baron, and uses more than 200 of Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh’s works to create an immersive experience that positions technology at the service of art via enormous multi-projections of the paintings that amplify the detail, colour and brushstrokes involved in each work.

Through the concept of “Image Totale” — a concept that turns passive viewer into active spectator through the unguided immersion within sound and images — works are projected on 3D shapes, bringing viewers up close with Van Gogh’s work from angles that have never been seen before.

The artwork on display was selected from Van Gogh’s Arles period (1888/1889) to his death in 1890 and include iconic paintings such as Sunflowers and The Starry Night, as well as his Self-Portraits.

Friday, Aug. 28, 2020

Musee d’Orsay, Paris/Hervé Lewandowski/© RMN-Grand Palais /Art Resource, N.Y.
Starry Night is part of Imagine Van Gogh, an immersive art event opening next month.

All the world’s a stage for Indigenous stories

Frances Koncan 4 minute read Preview

All the world’s a stage for Indigenous stories

Frances Koncan 4 minute read Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic may have forced theatres to go dark for the rest of 2020, but for Sarasvàti Productions, the show must go on — even if that means performing in a park.

The theatre company is bringing a new play, Songide’ewin (which means “courage” in Anishinaabemowin), to the outdoor environment of Whittier Park in St. Boniface from tonight to Thursday.

The park — which is home to the annual Festival du Voyageur and the site of historic Fort Gilbraltar — has been a gathering place for centuries, so it seems fitting that a play inspired by the stories of Indigenous youth on the theme of reconciliation would mark one of the early returns of theatre gatherings since March.

Director Tracey Nepinak worked with an ensemble cast of five Indigenous and Métis actors — Sara Demers, Braiden Houle, Jessica McGlynn, Aqqalu Meekis and Josh Ranville — on the production, which emerged from a partnership among seven local organizations, Sarasvàti Productions and guest artists, with the intention of offering safe and supportive creative spaces for Indigenous youth.

Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Braiden Houle (left), Josh Ranville, and Aqqalu Meekis rehearse a hip-hop scene in the play Songidewin at the Theatre Cercle Moliere.

Belting it out again at Rainbow Stage: showcase aims to inspire young performers

Frances Koncan 3 minute read Preview

Belting it out again at Rainbow Stage: showcase aims to inspire young performers

Frances Koncan 3 minute read Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020

Broadway may be temporarily shut down, but that’s not stopping local musical theatre performers from honing their craft and putting on a show.

On Saturday, Rainbow Stage will reopen for the first time this season as a host of BELT Fest 2020, a performance showcase featuring 10 talented new faces from the Filipino community performing some of Broadway’s biggest hits.

From 50 video auditions, 10 singers were chosen for the program and have been receiving coaching from event host and actor Andrea Macasaet — who was starring in the Broadway musical Six when theatres were ordered to close — on how to get into character, how to portray a song and how to sing like a star.

One of the 10 lucky singers is Joyce Jugo, who has been using her spare time during the pandemic to build her vocal chops.

Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020

Supplied
BELT Fest performers, from left, Joseph Sevillo, Jesse James Baris, Victoria Exconde, Vina Dimayuga, Robin Quintana, host Andrea Macasaet, Alba Manuel (kneeling), Josh Caldo, John Eisma, Marini Tagarda, Joyce Jugo and Shauldon Santos.

Artistic sisters combine interests to chronicle pandemic experience

Frances Koncan 4 minute read Preview

Artistic sisters combine interests to chronicle pandemic experience

Frances Koncan 4 minute read Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020

When the COVID-19 pandemic ushered the world into lockdown in March, sisters Natalie Baird and Ariel Gordon began working on a poetry and visual art chapbook called Pandemic Papers.

The unbound collection of 75 pieces of paper, each featuring handmade art, poetry and bingo, officially launches Thursday as Phase 1 of the series, which explores what it means to live in and through a pandemic.

Gordon is a Winnipeg-based author and editor, while Baird is a visual artist, filmmaker and community-based researcher with a background in environmental science.

Prior to the pandemic, the sisters — who have a 20-year age difference between them — would share notebooks back and forth as a way to connect as siblings and document their experiences.

Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Natalie Baird (left) and Ariel Gordon work on their poetry and visual art project, Pandemic Papers, at Vimy Ridge Park.

Cabaret stages act of protest to Philippines anti-terrorism law

Frances Koncan 4 minute read Preview

Cabaret stages act of protest to Philippines anti-terrorism law

Frances Koncan 4 minute read Monday, Aug. 17, 2020

On July 3, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law new powers to target terrorism. The law’s ramifications have many people from the country’s diaspora concerned, and Winnipeggers are taking to the stage in celebration of their culture and in protest of the new anti-terrorism legislation.

A Filipinx Cabaret, produced by 23-year-old performer and activist Kristina Guevarra is a cabaret billed as a night of comedy, song and performance by the Filipinx — a word devised to avoid the gendered term “Filipino” — diaspora inspired by the motherland.

She was motivated to create tonight’s event in response to the new law, which she says is “very strict but very vague.”

“The bill is a major human-rights violation,” Guevarra says, “because it condemns anyone who criticizes the government.”

Monday, Aug. 17, 2020

Smart Rosales photo
Tabanera performs as Kilusan on stage.

Coronavirus can't keep much-needed live comedy off the stage

Frances Koncan 5 minute read Preview

Coronavirus can't keep much-needed live comedy off the stage

Frances Koncan 5 minute read Monday, Aug. 17, 2020

It’s said that laughter is the best medicine, and if the number of comedy shows back on stage this summer — and the impressive (but still socially distanced) crowd sizes that make up the audience at these shows — is anything to go by, that statement is proving to be true.

It was only a few weeks ago that things in Winnipeg were starting to look up and people began venturing out more confidently to take in all the activities they love during summer.

For some, that was watching the Winnipeg Jets attempt to play something that vaguely resembled hockey. For others, it was heading out to Steep Rock for their annual summer Instagram photo.

And for those missing the joy of laughter in their lives, it has meant taking in a good old-fashioned (by which I mean pre-pandemic) standup or improv show. Here are some of the shows that graced the stages of Winnipeg this month, and a few that are coming up.

Monday, Aug. 17, 2020

Stephen McIntyre, left, Cory Wojcik and Curtis Newton, on guitar, perform in The (Socially Distanced) Improv Supper Club at The Toad In The Hole. (John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press)

Manitoba artists use app to showcase work during pandemic

Frances Koncan 7 minute read Preview

Manitoba artists use app to showcase work during pandemic

Frances Koncan 7 minute read Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020

Love it or hate it, the social media app Instagram has become ubiquitous in the daily lives of more than one billion people across the world.

It’s also an app of contention, where the bad can easily outweigh the good. For all the drawbacks of the Facebook-owned app — like the anxiety and depression caused by seeing an endless barrage of other people’s perfectly curated lives — it is also a great (and free) platform for artists to showcase their work, connect with others, and find inspiration.

Here are five great local artists who have taken to Instagram to highlight their work, accept commissions and connect with the world around them.

 

Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Textile artist Grace M. works on a wall hanging using a weaving loom in her Winnipeg home.

Creative projects, therapy among five things helping local artist navigate pandemic

Frances Koncan 5 minute read Preview

Creative projects, therapy among five things helping local artist navigate pandemic

Frances Koncan 5 minute read Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020

Joanne Roberts is a jack-of-all-trades artist with a passion for self-improvement.

The 29-year-old was most recently seen on stage as an actor in Theatre Project Manitoba’s production of Good Night Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) by Ann-Marie MacDonald and in the Prairie Theatre Exchange/Cercle Molière co-production of Danielle Séguin-Tétreault’s play What to Do with Albert/Que faire d’Albert?

She is also the winner of the 2020 Emerging Filmmaker Pitch Competition hosted by the Gimli Film Festival, where she had three minutes to wow the jury with her idea for a new short film.

Roberts has no shortage of projects to keep her busy during the pandemic but she is also taking the time to focus on her own health and well-being. Here are five things keeping her healthy and happy as she navigates the pandemic.

Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020

Photos by MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Artist Joanne Roberts says the pandemic has given her time to turn her apartment into a comforting space.

First Fridays talk puts post-pandemic Winnipeg in focus

Frances Koncan 3 minute read Preview

First Fridays talk puts post-pandemic Winnipeg in focus

Frances Koncan 3 minute read Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020

There are few aspects of daily life in Winnipeg and beyond that haven’t been changed, in some way, over the past few months by the pandemic — among them how we interact and communicate, get places and buy things.

Urban designer and visual artist Lawrence Bird doesn’t have all the answers, but he does have plenty of ideas that he’ll be discussing Friday with Alison Gillmor, moderator of Building a Post-Pandemic Future, this month’s First Fridays in the Exchange Art Talk.

From bike lanes to open-plan offices, Bird and Gillmor will discuss how prior pandemics have transformed the world and what kind of changes the current one might inspire.

The big question is if Winnipeg — a city that “doesn’t change super-quickly,” says Bird — will do the unexpected and embrace the changes that may be coming, or remain entrenched in its old ways.

Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020

supplied
A shelter concept from Sputnik Architecture Inc. Prior pandemics have changed the world and urban design and architecture have been part of that transformation.

Writing history into the world, together

Frances Koncan 4 minute read Preview

Writing history into the world, together

Frances Koncan 4 minute read Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic hit artist Kandis Friesen hard, but she’s bouncing back with a new solo art exhibit, The Cedar, the Birch, Our Hands at Full-Mast, Behind the After, at Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art, thanks to the help of her friends.

The 42-year-old artist saw most of her exhibitions, talks and research travel cancelled this past March, which left her in a bind.

“I lost income and was left without housing,” says Friesen, whose early days of the pandemic were devoted to figuring out a way to get from Winnipeg, where she’s originally from, to Montreal, where she currently resides.

“A very kind artist in Winnipeg took me in, and I finally made it back.”

Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020

Karen Asher/Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art
Kandis Friesen’s appreciation for making and building manifests through her artwork, which utilize, sculpture, installation, text, video and sound.

Artist, curator convince art exhibit to make unplanned stop at St. B hospital

Frances Koncan 5 minute read Preview

Artist, curator convince art exhibit to make unplanned stop at St. B hospital

Frances Koncan 5 minute read Wednesday, Jul. 29, 2020

A hospital might not be the first place you’d expect to find a calming, peaceful art exhibit about the Prairies, but the Buhler Gallery at St. Boniface Hospital is home to exactly that.

A Prairie Vernacular: Folk and Contemporary Art Narratives of Life on the Canadian Prairies is a collaboration among multiple galleries that examines historical and contemporary representations of the artistic vernacular of the Canadian Prairies.

“Vernacular” is described in the exhibition media release as “a genre of art made by individuals untrained in the visual arts, who may not even identify themselves as artists.”

“The relationship on the Prairies between folk or vernacular art and contemporary art that engages in the vernacular has been complex and, perhaps, somewhat symbiotic, stemming from a shared interest in Prairie experience, culture, environment and sensibilities as compelling sources for artistic practice,” the release says.

Wednesday, Jul. 29, 2020

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Buhler Gallery curator Leona Herzog and artist Bill Lobchuk: the Prairie Vernacular exhibition may be scaled down but is the largest the gallery has hosted.

Lynley Rose painting bright future over bleak past

Frances Koncan 5 minute read Preview

Lynley Rose painting bright future over bleak past

Frances Koncan 5 minute read Monday, Jul. 27, 2020

Lynley Rose turned to art to overcome trauma from her past. Now she hopes to inspire others to use art to find themselves and share their voices in her new art exhibition at Cre8ery called Come Alive and Chase the Sky.

The friendly, talkative 52-year-old began painting at “the young age of 42,” and says art saved her life.

Given her cheerful demeanour — it’s a safe bet she’s smiling warmly behind her brightly coloured face mask — the turbulent details of her life are something of a surprise.

She was adopted as a baby and became a single mom at 19; she also experienced sexual violence and indulged in harmful use of substances as a young adult.

Monday, Jul. 27, 2020

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Lynley Rose didn’t learn how to paint until she was 42. She was afraid to display her work publicly until she discovered her late mother had also liked to draw.

Fringe festival cancellation shifts parody of Victor Hugo classic online

Frances Koncan 4 minute read Preview

Fringe festival cancellation shifts parody of Victor Hugo classic online

Frances Koncan 4 minute read Wednesday, Jul. 22, 2020

Theatres in Winnipeg may still be dark, but that’s not stopping playwright, director and actor Connor Wielgosz from putting his new musical on to the stage and into the light.

LESS Miserable is a musical parody created by Wielgosz for the 2020 Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival. When that was cancelled owing to COVID-19, Wielgosz had to make a difficult choice: put the performance off until next year or find a new way to showcase it.

“When we thought about video,” he says, “we figured out a way of being socially distanced and safe where we could also perform.”

The musical being parodied is the 1980 synthesizer-heavy spectacle Les Miserables, an adaptation of Victor Hugo’s 1862 historical novel of the same name, which traces the redemption of Jean Valjean against the backdrop of a revolution — not The Revolution, this is a different revolution — in Paris.

Wednesday, Jul. 22, 2020

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Playwright Connor Wielgosz (centre) is bringing his parody to life with the cast of LESS Miserable: from left, Willow Harvey, Angelica Reid, Jonathan Stitt, Charlotte Thompson and Erica Mitchell.

Virtual Fringe a challenge

Frances Koncan 5 minute read Preview

Virtual Fringe a challenge

Frances Koncan 5 minute read Thursday, Jul. 16, 2020

Making a fringe show is hard, but making a fringe show entirely online because the world is in the middle of a pandemic and unable to gather in large groups is harder.

Thankfully, plenty of performers are up for the challenge of taking the art of live performance to the next level, because the hottest club in town right now is the internet and its accelerated emergence as new kind of performance venue presents a mix of hurdles and opportunities.

This year, the theatrical event that brings thousands of folks to the Exchange District each year has had to move online, presenting Virtually Yours, #Wpg Fringe in place of the 10-day Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival. The nightly streaming presentation of comedy, drama, improv, sketch and music performances wraps up tonight with a show that gets underway at 7 p.m. (Watch it at www.facebook.com/WinnipegFringe or www.youtube.com/user/WinnipegFringe.)

The Free Press sat down with members of a couple of local improv troupes to see what it takes to make a fringe show in the age of COVID-19.

Thursday, Jul. 16, 2020

From left: Alan MacKenzie, Ed Cuddy and George McRobb of ImproVision. (Supplied)

Artist's watercolour treasure hunt helped him rediscover his passion for painting

Frances Koncan 4 minute read Preview

Artist's watercolour treasure hunt helped him rediscover his passion for painting

Frances Koncan 4 minute read Tuesday, Jul. 14, 2020

In January 2019, Mike Nguyen rediscovered his childhood passion for painting. When the COVID-19 pandemic reached Winnipeg 14 months later, Nguyen wanted to help others rediscover the joy of childhood activities. So, he created a treasure hunt.

Nguyen and his wife, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra violinist Takayo Noguchi, divide their time between Toronto and Winnipeg. He had created an art hunt event last summer in Toronto, hiding his work in the free little library boxes around the city, but he wasn’t sure anyone in Winnipeg would go for the idea.

He took to Twitter and Instagram (where he has 1,600 and 5,200 followers, respectively, under his @mikenguyenart handle), posting shots of the sports-themed work along with clues as to their whereabouts.

“Since I live in downtown Winnipeg and there aren’t any libraries around, we’d walk to The Forks almost every night with our dog, Cookie, and hide my art in different areas,” he says.

Tuesday, Jul. 14, 2020

Mike Nguyen, with his dog Cookie, holds a painting of a TO streetcar. (Supplied)