Good News

Celebrated Winnipeg pianist and teacher looks back on career highlights as she turns 100

Holly Harris 8 minute read Tuesday, Apr. 2, 2019

She’s performed for British royalty and radio, rubbed shoulders with some of the world’s greatest classical luminaries, taught scores of aspiring musicians since the age of 12 and once tickled the ivories for silent movies as a teenager growing up in the city’s West End.

Winnipeg’s grande dame and beloved musical matriarch, pianist and teacher Thelma Wilson, celebrates her 100th birthday on April 12. Members of her equally accomplished clan that include four children, nine grandchildren and 10 great-great-grandchildren are flocking here from across Canada, the U.S., Europe and Iceland to help mark the auspicious occasion.

“I don’t know, but since there’s so much to-do about my 100th birthday, I’m beginning to think it’s rather important,” the humble musician with a dignified, regal bearing, says at a local seniors’ residence where she has lived for the past two-and-a-half years.

Music has been a leitmotif running throughout her life for nearly a century, her treasured grand piano only an arm’s length or two away in her living room.

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The Social Page: World AIDS Day

  1 minute read Preview

The Social Page: World AIDS Day

  1 minute read Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019

Nine Circles Community Health Centre held its Crimson & Cocktails: A World AIDS Day Mixer, a fundraiser for the Manitoba HIV Program, on Nov. 29 at Bailey’s Restaurant & Lounge in the Exchange District.

Every year, Dec. 1 marks World AIDS Day, a time to reflect on what has been achieved in regard to the national and global response to HIV, and what must still be achieved.

Nine Circles is a community-based, non-profit organization that specializes in HIV prevention and care. Nine Circles supports HIV and STI prevention through testing, education and treatment, provides co-ordinated medical and social supports for those living with HIV, and promotes sexual and personal health, including harm reduction to those at risk.

For more information, visit ninecircles.ca.

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Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019

From left: Volunteer Teri Stevens, Christine Bibeau (Nine Circles) and volunteer Dale Schenk. (Jason Halstead / Winnipeg Free Press)

Boy, 8, 'can't wait' to go to camp with older cousin

Stefanie Lasuik  2 minute read Preview

Boy, 8, 'can't wait' to go to camp with older cousin

Stefanie Lasuik  2 minute read Saturday, Jun. 10, 2017

‘Thank you! Thank you, Mom! Thank you!”

Eight-year-old Ondreiz Osborne shouted to his mom when he found out he would be going to camp for the first time this summer.

“He’s very enthusiastic and kind of dramatic, but in a good way,” mom Susie Saville laughed.

Ondreiz has wanted to go to camp for awhile — he almost got to do until his mom welcomed a baby into the family and couldn’t take him.

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Saturday, Jun. 10, 2017

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Cousins Paige Laquette, 10, and Ondreiz Osborne, 8, are heading to Camp Arnes in July thanks to the Sunshine Fund.

Wolseley School students ditch classrooms for the great outdoors

Photos by Ruth Bonneville 3 minute read Preview

Wolseley School students ditch classrooms for the great outdoors

Photos by Ruth Bonneville 3 minute read Friday, Jun. 9, 2017

On June 5, Wolseley School students gathered up their books and school supplies and walked out... with their teachers’ blessings.

It was the start of a two-week project that involved turning the great outdoors into a classroom setting for the nursery to Grade 6 school. Principal Suzanne Mole explains how the idea came together.

Why would an entire school leave the creature comforts of the indoors and move all 171 students out onto the steamy schoolyard?

Because it’s amazing!

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Friday, Jun. 9, 2017

Students gather in the shade of a tree.

Winnipegger takes incredible voyage from childhood curiousity to sunken treasure

David Sanderson 14 minute read Preview

Winnipegger takes incredible voyage from childhood curiousity to sunken treasure

David Sanderson 14 minute read Friday, Jun. 2, 2017

Brent Piniuta readily admits he’ll never be mistaken for a salty dog, a tag given to those who spend an inordinate amount of time sailing the seven seas.Sure, he was fascinated by tales about pirates and naval battles when he was a kid growing up in St. Norbert.

And yes, he enjoyed gluing model boats together in his bedroom, then setting them afloat in the retention ponds that dot the south Winnipeg neighbourhood where his family lived.

But when it came to rollicking in the waves at one of Manitoba’s or northwestern Ontario’s myriad lakes and beaches, Piniuta could never bear the thought of, as he puts it, “stepping into water in which living things might lurk.”

“Even as recently as five years ago, when my wife and I would go camping with our two girls at Rushing River, everybody would be telling me to join them (in the water), and I’d be like, ‘I’m OK, right here on the sidelines,’” Piniuta says, seated in the dining room of his Fort Richmond bi-level.

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Friday, Jun. 2, 2017

An engraving of the HMS Invincible, a 74-gun ship built in 1744 but captured by the British. (Supplied)

Cirque show reimagines the industrial revolution

Erin Lebar  5 minute read Preview

Cirque show reimagines the industrial revolution

Erin Lebar  5 minute read Thursday, Jun. 1, 2017

Last week, the empty lot sitting on the corner of Kenaston Boulevard and Sterling Lyon Parkway got a temporary facelift when Cirque du Soleil delivered their famous Big Top for their upcoming show Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities.

The blue-and-yellow striped tent is impossible to miss. At 19 metres high and 51 metres in diameter with a seating capacity of around 2,600, the venue alone may be enough to lure those who have previously foregone seeing the Montreal-based theatre troupe at MTS Centre, and promises to be an entirely different experience for Cirque regulars. 

“Because this is the first Big Top production coming to Winnipeg, the whole experience will be very different for anyone who may have gone to an arena show,” says Jeff Lovari, publicist for the show. 

“We manage all of our sites, so from the moment the guests park and enter, see the sights and the concessions and the front of house, it’s a much more theatrical environment that we can control in a way we can’t in an arena,” adds artistic director Rachel Lancaster, who has been with Kurios for almost a year, but has worked for Cirque since 2011. 

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Thursday, Jun. 1, 2017

The mechanical hand weighs 340 kilograms and measures 4.5 metres by 2.1 metres. (Photo courtesy of Cirque du Soleil)

My century-old caboose is in rough shape

Laurie Mustard 5 minute read Preview

My century-old caboose is in rough shape

Laurie Mustard 5 minute read Saturday, May. 20, 2017

Yes, we have a caboose in our family. It’s in our backyard, actually.

It’s a 1905 CN Railway caboose that has been a ton of fun since I bought it at an auction in Gordon many years ago. My winning bid was $850. Then I paid Brunger Brothers of Teulon $1,000 to move it. At $1,850, the cost was very nice — it would have been cheap at twice the price.

I have kept it all original except for the seating and oil stove — the latter of which I donated to the railway museum in the VIA Rail Station and replaced with a cook stove.

Even this stove has a notable history as it was the cook stove used in the John Taylor home summer kitchen. I traded a case of beer for it.

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Saturday, May. 20, 2017

The caboose’s roof will need work to survive another winter — and/or my grandchildren.

Urban breweries serving up investment and pride

16 minute read Preview

Urban breweries serving up investment and pride

16 minute read Saturday, May. 20, 2017

Winnipeg’s positive redevelopment efforts and sense of community innovation are major draws for creative people outside the province. Kevin Selch, Braden Smith, Mark Bauche and Shannon Baxter are all non-natives to Manitoba, but each has found a home here, both for themselves and their creative endeavours.

Selch is the owner of Little Brown Jug, a 10,000-sq.-ft. brewery on the fringe of downtown’s Exchange District. He was born in Tisdale, Sask., and raised in Winnipeg. At 18, he left the city for university in Wisconsin and later migrated to Vancouver to further his studies. He worked in Ottawa as an economist for 10 years, then got to work on a business plan and moved back to Winnipeg in 2015. It took nine months to build out the space; now Little Brown Jug has been open for several months.

Smith has been Winnipeg’s chief planner for four years. He grew up in the Kootenay Rockies and then found himself in Tofino on Vancouver Island where he served as the town’s chief administrative officer. Smith marvels at the fact he has an incredible opportunity to work in land-use planning in one of Canada’s fastest growing cities: “Our growth rate has actually exceeded Toronto’s, Vancouver’s, Montreal’s, and Ottawa’s over the past two or three years and so it’s a really exciting time to be in Manitoba.”

Bauche and Baxter both moved to Winnipeg to study landscape architecture at the University of Manitoba.

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Saturday, May. 20, 2017

Kal Barteski's art from this month's conversation.

Rights, camera… moved to action

  1 minute read Preview

Rights, camera… moved to action

  1 minute read Saturday, May. 20, 2017

Last September, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights issued an open call for crowd-sourced images to reflect four themes — freedom of expression, inclusion and diversity, reconciliation, and human rights and the environment.

After receiving 984 submissions, a jury has selected 70 photographs for a new Canada 150 exhibit called Points of View.

Twelve of the images were submitted by nine photographers based in Manitoba.

The exhibit opens a week before Canada Day, on June 23, and runs until Feb 4. However, the images can be viewed online.

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Saturday, May. 20, 2017

Michael Pratt's Sacred Fire, one of 70 photos selected by a jury for a Canada 150 exhibit.

The pricey Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg has even its critics applauding

Philip Kennicott  7 minute read Preview

The pricey Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg has even its critics applauding

Philip Kennicott  7 minute read Saturday, May. 20, 2017

The Elbphilharmonie, a concert hall in Hamburg encased in glass and set upon a giant brick warehouse, is surrounded on three sides by the waters of the city’s bustling harbour. 

Designed by the Swiss architecture firm Herzog and de Meuron, the building cost about US$850 million, took more than a decade to design and build, and was for a long time cited as a joke — a dark joke — among Germans who fretted the project had become an albatross: unbuildable, over budget and wildly out of proportion to what the sensible people of this mercantile city needed.

But the building, one of several projects around the world which aim self-consciously for “iconic” status and have price tags in the billion-dollar range, opened to international acclaim on Jan. 11.

The acoustics, designed by the renowned Japanese acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota, are a marvel of clarity, precision and cool objectivity. Visitors enjoy stunning views of the industrial grit of Hamburg, renewing the city’s relation to the source of its wealth and its cultural window on the larger world. Tourists flock to ascend the Elphie’s long escalator, rising through the old warehouse in a tunnel of white glass and plaster to visit the rooftop terrace, which bustles with activity before and long after evening concerts. 

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Saturday, May. 20, 2017

Critics feared it would be an albatross, but the US$850-million Elbphilharmonie concert hall is the toast of Hamburg. (Thies Raetzke / For The Washington Post)

Churches get a chance to show off at Doors Open Winnipeg

Brenda Suderman   4 minute read Preview

Churches get a chance to show off at Doors Open Winnipeg

Brenda Suderman   4 minute read Saturday, May. 20, 2017

EVERY Sunday morning, members of a church in the heart of the Glenelm neighbourhood climb to the top of their roof to sing and pray.

It’s not quite as dramatic as it sounds, since the red brick building housing Gordon-King Memorial United Church was built on top of a high basement used as the worship space for two decades, building manager Dan McCulloch says.

“The floor is actually a tar roof with all the drains in place,” he says of what’s underneath the sloping hardwood floors of the building completed in 1927.

That’s just one of the hidden details on display at the 700-seat modern Gothic building during next weekend’s annual Doors Open Winnipeg.

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Saturday, May. 20, 2017

The view from the balcony in the Gordon-King Memorial Church on Cobourg Avenue. (Wayne Glowacki / Winnipeg Free Press)

Tales of canine heroism will have you busting out the kibble

Doug Speirs  10 minute read Preview

Tales of canine heroism will have you busting out the kibble

Doug Speirs  10 minute read Saturday, May. 20, 2017

It's the kind of heart-tugging tale of devotion that leaves readers around the world feeling warm and fuzzy.

Unless you spent last week in a coma, chances are you saw the viral photos of a loyal dog in Argentina that refused to leave his injured master’s side, hugging him and nuzzling his face until help arrived.

The doggie drama began when Jesus Hueche, 28, was pruning branches outside his home in Bahia Blanca, Argentina, and fell about two metres out of a tree, cracking his head on the concrete pavement.

When paramedics arrived, they discovered the unconscious Hueche was not alone — his faithful dog Tony was “hugging him,” perching astride his master’s chest and never leaving his side. 

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Saturday, May. 20, 2017

Jesus Hueche's dog Tony stays with him after Hueche fell while pruning a tree. (Def Civil B. Blanca / Facebook)

This year, encourage Mom to be a basket case

Wendy King 7 minute read Preview

This year, encourage Mom to be a basket case

Wendy King 7 minute read Thursday, May. 11, 2017

Mother’s Day doesn’t always have to start with pancakes and eggs. It doesn’t even have to mean getting Mom out of a comfy bed on a Sunday morning to battle a crowd at brunch.

It could mean letting her sleep in and then waking up to a basket stocked with enough yummy things to nibble on all day and a couple of magazines to read while sipping from a wine glass.

Filling a gift basket for Mom is easy-peasy. You can get started with that right now. Depending on your household, letting her sleep in might be more difficult. You should work on that.

Here is a list of basket stuffers made up almost entirely of local items with just a couple from outside of Manitoba’s boundaries. The gift-giving guidelines come from a simple rhyme I found years ago in a 1999 book called The Benevolence of Manners: Recapturing the Lost Art of Gracious Victorian Living by Linda S. Lichter. I’ve used it ever since whenever gift-giving is in order:

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Thursday, May. 11, 2017

Filling a gift basket for Mom is easy-peasy. (Trevor Hagan / Winnipeg Free Press)

End of the world is on the minds of Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer

Erin Lebar 4 minute read Preview

End of the world is on the minds of Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer

Erin Lebar 4 minute read Friday, Apr. 7, 2017

What would do you if an apocalypse were on the horizon? Hunker down and hope to survive or live it up like there’s no tomorrow?

Vancouver-based blues-rock duo the Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer lean toward the latter option on their new record, Apocalipstick, which explores some intense lyrical ground while still living up to their raucous, soulful and dance-inducing reputation.

“We live in pretty uncertain times, and not that the end of the world is necessarily inevitable, but there’s a lot of crap going on that certainly isn’t pleasant. There’s a few references to that in the lyrics of songs, like Get Ready is — even though it doesn’t seem like it from the beat and major key of it — it’s actually a song about the end of the world. The idea of it started as it being a warning song to our kids, actually… like, just get ready because the world is not always awesome,” says Matthew (the Axe Murderer) Rogers of the record.

“Musically we kind of translated that as well into more end-of-the-world-style sonic landscapes, so sort of more gritty, psychedelic stuff that reminds me of the end of the world…

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Friday, Apr. 7, 2017

Shawn Hall (left) and Matthew Rogers of Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer. (Jodie Ponto photo)

To everything there is a season…

1 minute read Preview

To everything there is a season…

1 minute read Saturday, Apr. 1, 2017

Brian Bowman discusses new austerity measures at City Hall

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Saturday, Apr. 1, 2017

Cameron Batista (front) and others help push a delivery van stuck on Ellice Avenue on Dec. 6, 2016. (Joe Bryksa / Winnipeg Free Press files)

How Manitoba will handle legalized pot: A primer

Larry Kusch 5 minute read Preview

How Manitoba will handle legalized pot: A primer

Larry Kusch 5 minute read Monday, Mar. 27, 2017

Participants in the annual 4/20 event at the Manitoba Legislative Building are likely to be in an even more celebratory mood this year as the federal Liberal government is poised to introduce legislation to make good on its promise to legalize pot.

The April 20 bash, which extols the consumption of cannabis -- especially the smoking of it -- may also have a more political undertone as local medical marijuana advocates protest a lack of consultation by the Pallister government before introducing a bill last week setting out new rules to deal with cannabis when legalization occurs.

Over the weekend, the CBC reported that Ottawa is to introduce legislation the week of April 10 that would see cannabis legalized in Canada by July 1, 2018. The feds would license producers and ensure the country's marijuana supply is safe, while the provinces would decide how products are distributed and sold.

Medical marijuana users are upset that Bill 25 (The Cannabis Harm Prevention Act), the proposed provincial law, doesn't appear to discern between recreational users and those who consume cannabis as medicine to treat various ailments.

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Monday, Mar. 27, 2017

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Influx of migrants invites Mennonite comparison

John Longhurst 4 minute read Preview

Influx of migrants invites Mennonite comparison

John Longhurst 4 minute read Saturday, Mar. 25, 2017

How should Manitobans respond to the over 200 asylum seekers that have crossed into Manitoba from the U.S. since the start of the year? That question has been on the mind of many people over the past few months.

Since most of these asylum seekers have entered Canada at Emerson, a small town of about 650 people, I found myself wondering: what are the churches in that community doing?

I decided to try to find out. The four churches in Emerson — Lutheran, Baptist, Catholic and United — are small and, it seems, served by part-time clergy or clergy who look after two or three churches in southern Manitoba.

When I called St. Andrews United Church in Emerson, I got a message from an answering machine indicating that the church had received lots of calls about how to help the migrants and refugees.

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Saturday, Mar. 25, 2017

The headline on the June 9, 1922, edition of The Daily Record newspaper in Kitchener-Waterloo: "Mennonites Now Free To Come Into Canada"

Project reconnects indigenous students to oral history, artifacts

Photos by John Woods 1 minute read Preview

Project reconnects indigenous students to oral history, artifacts

Photos by John Woods 1 minute read Saturday, Mar. 25, 2017

The Manitoba Museum recently delivered a dozen educational kits to two northern indigenous communities — Garden Hill First Nation and Norway House Cree Nation.

The kits are part of a project called Spirit Lines, which is designed to reconnect students to their local oral history and artifacts.

The artifacts are from the museum’s collection, but originated from the two communities. They include embroidered mitts, watch pouches and rock sculptures.

Language retention is a key focus of project, which involved consultation with elders, native language specialists, artists, educators and other experts.

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Saturday, Mar. 25, 2017

The kits are designed to reconnect students to their local oral history and artifacts. (John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press)

Voice prints provide a road map to how Manitobans speak English

Melissa Martin 18 minute read Preview

Voice prints provide a road map to how Manitobans speak English

Melissa Martin 18 minute read Friday, Mar. 24, 2017

In the summer of 2000, Sheena Fougere and two friends hopped a plane bound for London. The trip was no work, all play: just a fun girls’ getaway, a chance to play tourist in England and have some laughs on the way.This was the year after Notting Hill, the blockbuster 1999 rom-com starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts. Inspired by the movie, Fougere wanted to visit the titular, prim West London district and peek at its pretty private gardens.

So that’s where she and her friends were, and what they were doing, when they got slightly lost. This was in the dark days of travel before Google Maps. Fougere flagged down a passing bobby, or police officer, to ask for directions.

The conversation didn’t go quite how she expected.

“Are you from Canada?” the bobby asked.

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Friday, Mar. 24, 2017

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Transcribing an audio interview in the the U of M language lab.

Broadway's design and cuisine scene create reasons to gather

Jason Syvixay 11 minute read Preview

Broadway's design and cuisine scene create reasons to gather

Jason Syvixay 11 minute read Saturday, Mar. 18, 2017

Amanda Kinden, local shop owner of Oh Doughnuts, sat down with HTFC Planning & Design’s Glen Manning and Rachelle Kirouac to whip up a new batch of ideas for Winnipeg’s downtown – from what Broadway could look like in the next five years to how food and urban design can support social gathering.

What they couldn’t agree on, however, was the flavour for a Winnipeg-inspired doughnut. With tastes inspired by Winnipeg’s climate and native flora, the trio dreamed up flavours ranging from Manitoba-grown rhubarb pie to blueberry-stuffed polar bear claws smothered with a white-chocolate glaze.

Kinden, an Environmental Studies graduate, likens her life to a Choose Your Own Adventure book, with her personal motto being: “Just go with it.”

With a passion for cycling and alternative transportation modes, Amanda found herself managing the widely successful Commuter Challenge at Green Action Centre. As a way to acknowledge the contributions of the many volunteers and community members, she baked all sorts of flavoured treats. With encouragement from satisfied friends and family, Amanda turned her pastime into what is now a Winnipeg doughnut institution.

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Saturday, Mar. 18, 2017

Kal Barteski's image of the doughnut and design discussion. (David Moder Photography)

Asylum-seekers cross into Canada with few belongings, but hearts full of hope

Melissa Martin  7 minute read Preview

Asylum-seekers cross into Canada with few belongings, but hearts full of hope

Melissa Martin  7 minute read Friday, Mar. 17, 2017

We met Ali on a comparatively balmy Monday morning. We were searching for three asylum-seekers who had crossed the border a few days before; he was scrubbing dishes in Salvation Army’s second-floor open kitchen. 

That morning, Ali and other asylum-seekers made breakfast together. He volunteered to wash up. 

“If people welcome us in Canada, then we have to clean the stuff they gave us,” he said cheerfully. “If you eat (from) a plate and you don’t wash, then you’re not kind. Keep them clean, put them back in a good place. It’s a must.”

My colleague, photographer Phil Hossack, showed Ali a photo of the men we were hoping to find. Ali was apologetic; he hadn’t seen them. But it was early, he pointed out helpfully: most asylum-seekers weren’t out and about just yet.  

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Friday, Mar. 17, 2017

Ali and his wife crossed into Canada last month. His fate is still left to the Immigration Refugee Board, but he’s determined to be a successful Canadian. (Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press)

Grant Park students overcome incredible life challenges to deliver splashy musical triumph

Kevin Rollason  33 minute read Preview

Grant Park students overcome incredible life challenges to deliver splashy musical triumph

Kevin Rollason  33 minute read Friday, Mar. 17, 2017

It’s a wintry January afternoon, but Graham is dressed for the water.Wearing a sailor uniform, the Grant Park High School student peers through the curtain at the Gas Station Theatre and excitedly turns to rejoin the others.

“My entire family is here,” he says with a huge grin.

His classmates are a nervous bunch. Willy could barely sleep the night before. Allison usually can eat a fair amount of pizza, but today she couldn’t finish one slice. But, like Graham, they are buzzing with excitement.

Graham takes one last peek through the curtain and exclaims: “The place is filled!”

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Friday, Mar. 17, 2017

Joshua as Sebastian the Crab in Grant Park Life Skills' student performance of The Little Mermaid.

Tanya Tagaq takes on issues by the throat

Erin Lebar 4 minute read Preview

Tanya Tagaq takes on issues by the throat

Erin Lebar 4 minute read Thursday, Mar. 16, 2017

In Canada’s current music landscape, there are few, if any, artists who challenge quite like Tanya Tagaq.

She challenges through her dizzying and intense arrangements that combine traditional Inuit throat singing with innovative, almost punk-rock inspired ideas to create art that needs to be heard and not just listened to. Her music isn’t always pretty, and it doesn’t always feel good to listen to, which is why some are unwilling to put in the effort necessary to reap the benefits.

But despite the auditory harshness, there are important dialogues being started.

In fact, Tagaq was appointed to the Order of Canada three months ago for “contributions to Canadian culture through her avant-garde Inuit throat singing.”

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Thursday, Mar. 16, 2017

Mikaela MacKenzie / Free Press files
Tanya Tagaq brings a fearless message from her new album, Retribution, to the West End Cultural Centre concert Saturday night.

When the going gets tough, women turn to other women in song and in life

Randall King  10 minute read Preview

When the going gets tough, women turn to other women in song and in life

Randall King  10 minute read Thursday, Mar. 16, 2017

You can’t really describe the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre production of Bittergirl: The Musical as a romantic comedy, because the romance side of the equation is decidedly curdled.

Call it a comedy of coping. The play presents us with three women, dubbed A (Rebecca Auerbach), B (Sarite Harris) and C (Alana Hibbert), bonding over freshly failed relationships. Actor Michael Torontow plays the multiple roles of D, the it’s-not-you-it’s-me heartbreaker in each of the women’s lives.

For the musical side of the equation, their collective stories of tribulation are accompanied by a playlist of songs from the ‘60s and ‘70s that sees the four actors accompanied by an all-female four-piece band. The playlist includes songs that represent both sides of the love experience, the highs (Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, I Hear a Symphony) and the lows (Walk on By, I Will Survive).

The pairing of songs and story seems like a marriage that was meant to be. In fact, Bittergirl: The Musical is the third iteration of work by Annabel Fitzsimmons, Alison Lawrence and Mary Frances Moore.

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Thursday, Mar. 16, 2017

Three actor-writers turn their collective heartbreak into a hit play, bittergirl, opening at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre. (istock)

Art imitates life in journalist’s verbatim stage play

Randall King 4 minute read Preview

Art imitates life in journalist’s verbatim stage play

Randall King 4 minute read Wednesday, Mar. 15, 2017

Reporters are generally uncomfortable when their own first-person experiences start to bleed into the third-person narratives they're creating.

That is evidently not the case with journalist-playwright Annabel Soutar of the Montreal theatre company Porte Parole when it came to her play The Watershed.

Like her work Seeds (seen last year at Prairie Theatre Exchange), the two-hour-and-45-minute opus (including intermission) is a verbatim play, in which the dialogue has been transcribed from real interviews, or real life.

By necessity, Soutar inserted herself into Seeds on occasion in a necessary acknowledgment that the story of Saskatchewan farmer Percy Schmeiser's battle with agri-giant Monsanto did not happen in a vacuum. The character of Annabel Soutar was duly seen arranging and conducting interviews, and also interjecting here and there to helpfully correct any inaccurate or misleading statement uttered by a character.

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Wednesday, Mar. 15, 2017

The two-hour-and-45-minute opus (including intermission) is a verbatim play, in which the dialogue has been transcribed from real interviews, or real life. (Boris Minkevich / Winnipeg Free Press)

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