Archives for posts with tag: Brooklyn

I know New York. I need New York. I know I need unique New York.

“Hello, poor people!” cried Alan Cumming as the MC, waving his hand at us all the way up in our balcony seats.”This can’t be much fun for you.” We chuckled and we were actually having much fun, but being in New York on a budget can sometimes feel like you’re missing something.


Broadway can be beautiful and cheap.

During a long weekend in the big apple I must admit that I thought how nice it would be to be rich in NYC.

Having spent my entire budget on somewhere to sleep (and ok, fine, a ticket to Sleep No More– just things related to sleep then), I decided that in New York, like everywhere else, the best things in life should be (and are often if you open your eyes) free.


Look! A new, sharp, shiny building being a bit moody.

It helped that I was there because I had $25 Cabaret tickets (Roundabout Theatre has cheap tickets reserved for people under 35 at each performance) and to meet up with this guy I like.

I resisted a cashmere sweater with an elephant holding a pink ball with its trunk and didn’t even set foot into the Kate Spade stationery store.

Instead, I watched couples kiss and practice a few shy dance steps in Grand Central Station while I waited for my Baltimore boy to arrive.


Grand Central Station is a good place to sit down and weep in, but it’s an even better place to dance in.

Instead, we walked in the rain and avoided rats in Central Park.


Walking in the rain and discovering secret gardens is free!


Taking multiple pictures of ducks is a cheap and entertaining way to spend a few minutes in New York’s Central Park.

We riffled through antique shops in Chelsea and Williamsburg and window shopped at my new favourite (or only favourite) jewellery store, Adorned by Love in Nolita (I thought we were in SoHo).


Window shopping in impossibly cool and expensive places.

We found cheap breakfasts and had falafel in the park, splurged on coffees and walked until our feet fell off.


Walking across the Williamsburg Bridge at sunset… what could be more romantic?


View from the bridge.

I love New York. I need new York. Know I need unique New York.


While I wait to know my fate, it doesn’t hurt to start/keep dreaming, does it? It kind of does.

Turns out that if you don’t feed it, the travel bug starts to act up and you begin to exhibit symptoms such as itchy feet and an insatiable lust for (unattainable) wandering.

Side effects include googling backpacks (what do you think of this one?) and checking flight prices obsessively.

One remedy? Vicarious travel.
Here are a few suggestions on how to do this:


Some of my favourite travel blogs right now include:

Lateral Movements Lauren’s amazing blog about working her way around the world is terribly inspiring and well-written.

Plan A  I love reading about Heather and Duncan’s travels. And all the descriptions of yummy food.

nod ‘n’ smile This NYC blogger is going around the world and has great articles, pictures, and tips to show for it. Love her!

There are loads of great travel writers out there (and they seem to be multiplying recently). Here are a few books that I’ve read recently that have had an impact on my life and dreams (in terms of travel).

Mary Kingsley on a stamp.

Mary Kingsley’s Travels in West Africa (1895) I re-read this brick while re-writing my play Virginia Aldridge, BSc last year and was reminded of how adventurous and surprisingly hilarious Mary Kingsley was. After her parents died, she travelled to many places no European had been before and apparently changed some of the perceptions about Africa at the time. She wrestled a crocodile.

Rachel Friedman’s A Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost (2011) I really loved this coming-of-age travel memoir. I related to the ‘good girl’ label sticking a little too firmly and making it hard to just let go. But then she does follow her heart to Ireland and that’s where it all starts… Funny, engaging, and inspiring.

The Lost Girls (2010) by Jennifer Baggett, Holly C. Corbett, and Amanda Pressner.  Although it wasn’t as jam-packed with adventure or revelations as I expected, kudos go to these women for going for it, writing about it, and using their savvy business skills to brand themselves as the ones to follow.

Susan Jane Gilman’s Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven (2009) Not to name-drop or anything, but this memoir was suggested to me by Rachel Friedman (over Twitter).  This is a page-turner about two American girls naively exploring the People’s Republic of China in the 1980s. It’s so engrossing that you won’t mind reading it on the subway, even though the cover is embarrassing (naked girl hiding behind her backpack. Really? Note: the paperback edition cover is much, much better.)

Just realised this is very close to the backpack I want...

Graham Greene’s Travels with my Aunt (1969) Not only will this novel make you laugh out loud, but you will get to travel through Europe, then on the Orient Express from Paris to Istanbul and finally to South America with an 70-year-old woman.  Apparently the only book Greene wrote “for the fun of it.”  You can tell.

Colm Tóibín’s Brooklyn (2009). I’m not sure if this novel about an Irish girl moving to Brooklyn in the 1950s counts as a travel novel, but it’s one of my all-time favourite books and everyone should read it.  The end.


A few songs to dream about travel by (turns out they’re all folky and about America):

City of New Orleans by Arlo Guthrie

Harrisburg by Josh Ritter

California by Joni Mitchell

America by Simon and Garfunkel


Away We Go

I Went Down

L’auberge espagnole

Lost in Translation

Into the Wild

The Motorcycle Diaries

Before Sunset

In Bruges

March 27th is World Theatre Day!

Even with translations, theatre festivals like the World Stage in Toronto, and theatre companies touring the globe, it’s sometimes possible to get a glimpse of the theatre that is happening around the world.

But theatre is a live event, and you have to actually be in a place, during a time, to experience it. And thing is, with the Internet, we know what shows we’re missing in the places we are not.

So it got me thinking: if I were somewhere else in the world on March 27th, which play would I attend to celebrate World Theatre Day?

Here are a few of my picks (turns out the world is big and there’s a lot going on).  Maybe one of you could go check these out for me and report back?

I’m going to start with my top pick (because it’s a festival of international theatre, so I’m totally cheating) and the rest is in no particular order.

BOGOTÁ, Colombia
Festival Iberoamericano de Teatro
The Latin American Theatre Festival is like the best of the entire world of theatre crammed into one city. Theatre will literally be spilling out of traditional theatre spaces and into the streets. 33 countries are represented, but Romania is featured this year, which should mean there’ll be a lot of bold, theatrical stuff out there. Such as:

BROOKLYN, United States of America
‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore  by John Ford, directed by Declan Donnellan
At the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Harvey Theater
Because it’s a 17th century play about incest (ie: controversial), produced by one of the coolest large theatre companies in the UK, Cheek by Jowl.

Lydia Wilson and Jack Gordon in ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore, at BAM
Photo by Richard Termine

LONDON, England
Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical  by Dennis Kelly (book) and Tim Minchin (music+lyrics)
At the Cambridge Theatre
Because I adored the book so much as a child and that my doubts about this one were squashed by people who know what they’re talking about. It’s got swings! And it doesn’t seem to have washed out too much of Roald Dahl’s irreverence and joy.

The RSC Production of Roald Dahl's Matilda The Musical. Photo by Manuel Harlan

BERLIN, Germany
Lulu by Frank Wedekind, directed by Robert Wilson.
At the Berliner Ensemble
Because I don’t know where would be better to see this twisted, gritty, expressionist play about the rise and fall of a femme fatale than at the theatre founded by Brecht in 1949.  And with the legendary Robert Wilson at the helm and music by Lou Reed, I’d be there in a heartbeat (knowing full well I wouldn’t understand a word). Just look at it:

Photo © Lesley Leslie-Spinks

Peninsula by Gary Henderson, directed by Jane Waddell
At Circa Theatre
Because it’s about a kid who sleeps on a volcano.


SYDNEY, Australia
Every Breath written and directed by Benedict Andrews
At Belvoir St Theatre
Because I’m obsessed with Benedict Andrews (check out the production photos on his website and you’ll see what I mean) and I’d be curious to see a show written by such an imaginative, innovative, courageous director.

Every Breath

NEW YORK, United States of America
Once– the musical. By Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová (music+lyrics), Enda Walsh (book), directed by John Tiffany
At the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre
This is a Broadway musical based on one of the most subtly romantic, charmingly unpretentious films, so my initial reaction upon hearing this play existed was a terrified guffaw. I love the movie. But then I saw that the book was written by Enda Walsh.  So it couldn’t be too bad. I’d go because it could be good.

Photo: Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Mary’s Wedding by Stephen Massicotte, directed by Bob White
At Martha Cohen Theatre, Alberta Theatre Projects
A beautiful script full of things Canadians love (horses, weddings, the First World War…), staged at one of Canada’s most exciting theatres (which I have never been to).

CAPE TOWN, South Africa
Brothers in Blood by Mike van Graan, directed by Greg Homan
At Artscape
This one looks explosive, taking on as many taboo topics as will fit in one award-winning play: xenophobia, religious arrogance, the drug trade, fatherhood…

Brothers in Blood

Midsummer (une pièce et neuf chansons)  by David Greig and Gordon McIntyre, translated by Olivier Choinière, directed by Philippe Lambert
At La Petite Licorne/La Manufacture 
This “play and nine songs” was a hit at the Edinburgh Fringe a few years ago, and that it’s being staged at my favourite theatre in Montreal (which happens to have a long history of staging amazing translationsof new Scottish, Irish, and British plays), so it’s bound to be awesome.

Isabelle Blais and Pierre-Luc Brillant
Photo credit: Suzane O'Neill

PARIS, France
The Suit by Peter Brook and Marie-Helène Estienne, based on the story by Can Themba
At Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord
Because it’s a musical by Peter Brook.

TOKYO, Japan
Condors “Hungry Like a Wolf” directed and choreographed by Ryohei Kondo
At the Setagaya Public Theatre
A children’s show that combines dance, theatre, skits, and puppetry. I’m in, if a kids’ show looks like this:

photo by HARU

VIENNA, Austria
Das blinde Geschehen by Botho Strauß, directed by Matthias Hartmann
At Burgtheater
I can only get so far with Google translate, so I’m not too sure what this is about, but it’s really just the images of this play that make me want to jump on a plane and go to Austria.

Alexandra Henkel, Christiane von Poelnitz, Adina Vetter, Regina Fritsch, Hermann Scheidleder, and Sabine Haupt.
Photo copyright: Reinhard Werner, Burgtheater

Photo copyright: Reinhard Werner, Burgtheater

Diving in the Moment directed by 張藝生
At the Hong Kong Repertory Theatre
I’m not sure exactly what this play is, but it looks cool. [Stay tuned for more fascinating and informed insights like this one- subscribe to my blog.]

Diving in the Moment

Krishnan’s Diary by Jacob Rajan
At  the Singapore Repertory Theatre
Apparently this play takes two of the most universal Indian clichés – the Taj Mahal and the corner store – and fuses them into a funny and touching love story. An Indian play about a couple who moves to New Zealand, staged in Singapore: perfect for World Theatre Day!

Krishnan's Diary

Dybet by Jon Atli Jonasson
At Teater Får302
Because “The Deep” is an Icelandic play based on a true story of  the sinking of a fishing boat being staged in Denmark. I have a think for Danish acting.

ROME, Italy
I Masnadieri by Friedrich Schiller, directed by Gabriele Lavia
Teatro di Roma
Because why not see a Schiller play in Rome?

Photo: Il Rossetti

I haven’t even scratched the surface of all the exciting theatre happening in the world this week. What will you be doing to celebrate World Theatre Day on Tuesday?

In October 2007, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta added a public holiday in the middle of February called “Family Day.”

2008 was an election year in Canada and the holiday may or may not have been a shiny distraction from the scandal surrounding Alberta’s Conservative Premier Don Getty. See, his son had been arrested for possession and use of cocaine.  And why do you think this happened? Because Getty didn’t spend enough time with his family.

That’s a bit of history there for you, and a long weekend for me.

So, a couple of months ago well past my bedtime (I mention that because it somewhat explains some of the not-very-thought-through details of the trip), I opened up a bunch of windows on my computer and simultaneously bought tickets to Sleep No More, Richard III, and the bus.

Were 24.5 hours on a bus worth it for 2.5 days in New York City?

SOHO, New York City... Pretty enough to endure the bus?

Well, after 12 and a half hours on a ridiculously uncomfortable bus and absurd wait at the border, I got to what would be a sunny and warm weekend in New York throughout which I would manage not to pass out in the middle of anything.

Wait, no, I did pass out, but only for seconds at a time- turns out Richard III is long and theatres are dark.  But I’m sure following who was dead and who killed them was not actually that important anyway, right?

So, after jumping off the bus on 8th avenue, I went around the block a couple of times looking for the right subway entrance before getting myself to Brooklyn.


My lovely friends and hosts were out (Megabus was mega-late), so I wandered around a bit to find BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) where I would be attending a matinée of Shakespeare’s Richard III (That’s the one about the winter of our discontent and a horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!- that one).

But I was early and desperately needed to find a washroom and some coffee.  Apparently I had stumbled into real America: I could only find fast-food joints and Appelbees, which I stepped into because:

1- it looked like its bathroom would be clean
2-it looked like it would be an ok place to spend an hour to read my book and eat lunch slowly (considering the alternatives)
3-it seemed very American, and I wanted to immerse myself in the culture

After ordering the cheapest thing on the menu (not cheap) and a coffee (quickly!), I slipped off to the washroom to put my contacts in, change my shirt, and splash some water on my face. I felt a little like a sleepy-eyed vagabond.  And by the looks of those two ladies who walked in on me, I looked like one too.


So that afternoon, I went to BAM to see Richard III.  This is the trailer from that show:

People are raving about this production.  And as you can see from the video, the drums, visual design, and cast are amazing.  Sam Mendes is a personal hero of mine for having founded  The Donmar Warehouse in London and for basically making theatre “cool.”  And it was because he was directing this piece that I bought a ticket.  It didn’t hurt that Kevin Spacey and Gemma Jones were in the cast.

I don’t know if anyone should go see a 3 1/2 hour play after no hours of sleep in a theatre’s whose coffee (which is really just water dressed in brown, as Ani would say) costs $3 a cup.

So I may not have been blown away because I wasn’t in the right state, but I can tell you that it was an impressive production and that Kevin Spacey has a great voice and remarkable presence on stage.  His curtain-call bows, however, are terribly dorky.

I loved loved loved the Harvey Theater at BAM.  It was worth the price of admission to be in a place so full of history and unique aesthetic. (More about the theatre and its design can be found here.)

The interior of the Harvey Theater (image stolen from the Time Out NYC website)

Can you imagine being around as Peter Brook and BAM’s executive director Harvey Lichtenstein snuck into the abandoned theatre through a broken window only to discover a beautiful crumbling space perfect to stage Brook’s crazy-long The Mahabharata?  (9 hours. Seriously.  I love theatre, but 90 minutes is perfect thank you very much.)

They’ve kept the shell of the auditorium and run-down look.  They embraced shabby-chic before it was even trendy.  A theatre ahead of its time in more ways than one.

After the play, I was glad to step into fresh air, meet my friends for an amazing home-cooked meal of lamb and salad and the best potatoes anywhere.  And then we were off to catch Rhododendron‘s intimate jazz performance. It was the kind of music that I don’t necessarily grasp, but that I can feel slowly stretching my mind and that little place inside your ribs that feels music.

Rhododendron at iBeam

This post is starting to get long, so I’ll save what happened next for next time.  Spoiler: I went to see Sleep No More, so that’s what I’ll write about.