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Theatres of Resistance

Dario Fo, the great Italian playwrite, director and actor, died a on October 13, 2016.  He was 90 years old. Fo was an agitator.  He was someone who fought and was sympathetic to others  who fought for the working class and the poor. Dario Fo worked with his partner, the Italian actress Franca Rama.

Even though I have  had limited opportunity to see Fo’s work, although I was on the Board of the Great Canadian Theatre Company, GCTC when Fo’s play Open Couple (titled for the GCTC production Open Marriage (Wide Open) was presented in the 1986/87 season I have always admired the personality of these two people who devoted the full force of their creativity to fighting for the liberation of working people.

So when I heard about Fo’s death  ( Franca Rama died in 2013 ) I started thinking about who Canada and in particular, Vancouver’s Dario Fo &Franca Rama would be.

Here they are right in my back yard.  Terry Hunter and Savannah Walling, founders and on going Executive and Artistic Directors respectively of the Vancouver Moving Theatre, home of Vancouver’s Heart of the City Festival

In the West Coast Canadian context, I can’t help but think of Terry and Savannah when I read about Dario Fo and Franca Rama. Both couples have built their relationship and their theatre practice over the last 30 years working in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver with ideas born there and in similar communities and with people who live and work there. Together they use theatre, music  and all forms of art to tell stories of the people and communities who make up the downtown east side  (DTES).

The DTES really is the heart of Vancouver–its historical centre.

The DTES forms part of the traditional territories of the SquamishTsleil-Waututh, and Musqueam First Nations.[8] European settlement of the area began in the mid-19th century, and most early buildings were destroyed in the Great Vancouver Fire of 1886.[9] Residents rebuilt their town at the edge of Burrard Inlet, between Cambie and Carrall Streets, a townsite that now forms Gastown and part of the DTES.[9] At the turn of the century, the DTES was the heart of the city, containing city hall, the courthouse, banks, the main shopping district, and the Carnegie Library.[9] Travellers connecting between Pacific steamships and the western terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway used its hundreds of hotels and rooming houses.[10] Large Japanese and Chinese communities settled in Japantown within the DTES, and in nearby Chinatown.[11] So, too was it a centre for Vancouver’s Jewish, Ukrainian and Russian Communities — citizens who were very involved in supporting the thousands of unemployed who fought the injustices brought on by the depression and its itinerant poverty and racism.

In 1942, the neighbourhood lost its entire ethnic Japanese population, estimated at 8,000 to 10,000, due to the Japanese-Canadian internment. Most did not return to the once-thriving Japantown community after the war.[14]

The stories of the historic communities of the DTES as well as more contemporary issues including poverty, gentrification, community, neighbourhoods and reconciliation are the focus of the the community-engaged art of Terry and Savannah and the Vancouver Moving Theatre (VMT)!  They definitely work in the spirit of Dario Fo & Franca Rana not to mention the many artists and activists from the communities with whom the VMT works everyday.

Let the Carnival resume

Here, as in a thesis I finished in 2003 for a Master’s in Communications at Simon Fraser University,  I am going to define “Carnival” as a mediation space where the everyday concerns of ordinary people, especially resistance to authority, can be expressed in a myriad of ways.

I guess we could say Canadians were displaying a little bit of that resistance when we booted Harper out of Office in 2015.  Unfortunately results have been topsy turvy!

Junior Trudeau, Canada’s replacement PM, describes himself as  a feminist and a friend of Canada’s Indigenous people and  expresses his great concern for the environmental future of our country.  But actions are stronger than words. More dams, more neoliberal trade agreements, more fracking and probably more oil pipelines.  Not to mention the denial of entry to Canada that activists from Europe, Africa, Palestine and other places have faced.

Among the scores of people denied entry to Canada during last summer’s International Social Forum held in Montreal was Aminata Traoré, Mali’s Minister of Culture.  Just the other day the Council of Canadians announced that José Bové, the french activist farmer and member of European Parliament was denied entry to Canada ostensibly for being arrested when he protested against both Macdonalds and the use of GMO’s in France in the late 1990’s. But in reality it was clear that his denial of entry was due to his opposition to  yet another trade agreement. That decision was overturned as a public brouhaha!  And that is what the carnival is all about.

The focus in this space will be the carnival of resistance.  I’ll be seeking out resistance stories from all over the world — the more creative the better! Stay tuned!

Where to next! Stick around!

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My Boss, the Fact-resistant Human

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My Boss, the Fact-resistant Human

The only cure is to dispense with Steve from the seat of Canadian Government and to begin re-branding our country. It will take a while and it will require one or more governments to do so. However, in the end, Canadians will surely find themselves — once again!

Humans vs Harper

Apparently our PM may believe the world is 6,000 years old. Apparently our PM believes Earth is only 6,000 years old.

The other day, while waiting for the Caucus to convene, I read an article in The New Yorkerby Andy Borowitz, who reported on a new strain of fact-resistant humans. These are people who cannot absorb facts.

As soon as I read the words “fact-resistant humans,” I knew that our own dear leader Stephen Harper had been afflicted with the disease. I wanted to warn him immediately and advise him to see a doctor, but I knew it would be useless.

Because, you see, Stephen doesn’t realize that he has the disease. Since he can’t absorb facts, he doesn’t know that he can’t absorb facts. Thus, he can’t see the effect of his policy decisions.

For example, even though over 800 scientists documented the results of human-caused climate change, Stephen abolished almost the whole body of Canadian legislation protecting our environment…

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Steven Harper Hates Me

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Steven Harper Hates Me

How can anyone resist!

Humans vs Harper

Here’s Cathy Cook running down the list of people Harper hates. She has a long list and a great voice! Millions of Canadians will be singing this tune before October 19, and you’ll think of her words whenever you remember that Stephen Doesn’t Care about You.

In this post we proudly present the first in an occasional series of pointed and often hilarious tunes from boundary-breaking music makers who know it’s way past time to break up with the tone deaf Harper government.

If you or your group has a song you’d like on our site, please give us a link in the comments, below.

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Harper militarizes again and Justin Trudeau thinks that’s ok!

Shocking media reports today!  Harper is sending soldiers to Ukraine and he is sending uranium to India. Once again we have it? On the heals of his undying support for Netanyahu, Harper is aligning himself with the most rightwing leaders in Europe and Asia.  And it would appear, from Mr. Trudeau’s comments today in which he refuses to engage in a coalition with the NDP under Thomas Mulcair because their politics are so different, and his published support of the Harper move to send soldiers to the Ukraine that Trudeau and his party are now definitely seeking to embrace ultra conservative politics. It’s time for anyone who has been thinking “strategic voting” to realize that including Trudeau’s liberals in a strategic voting plan will do nothing to invigorate the process of reinforcing and expanding  peace and equality in Canada and around the world. While Harper is singing the same tune he’s been signing since arriving on the political scene Trudeau brings shame to the memory of Lester Pearson and others.  Will Elizabeth May and Thomas Mulcair consider forming an alliance?

Gwen Giesbrecht

 

Gwen Giesbrecht

Gwen GGwen Giesbrecht is a parent, owns a small business and is an active advocate for public education and strong communities. She is a longterm resident of Grandview-Woodland.

Gwen’s involvment with Public Education includes working with other stakeholders in the Vancouver School District as member and past chairperson of the Vancouver District Parent Advisory Council ( DPAC ), the COPE education committee, and the Justice not Charity working group.

Currently Gwen is President of the Britannia Community Services Centre board of management and Chair of the Britannia Secondary Parent Advisory committee. Britannia has an integrated model for community service delivery and works closely in partnership with the VSB, the VPL, the COV, and many local organizations. She is a leader in the Public Education Project, and stands up for families and community.

In her role as a parent representative to the VSB, Gwen has consistently worked to ensure that the voices of families, especially those that have barriers to advocating on their own behalf, are heard.

Ms. Giesbrecht truly believes that the best opportunities for lifelong learning and support for all students should be available, accessible and equitable. She believes that there is not a more important achievement for a society to aspire to than working to provide the means for every individual to the reach the fullest potential of their abilities.