Posts Tagged: "Jeff Culbert"

Chicken Feather Examines the War on the Home Front

Theatre Space By Adam Corrigan Holowitz - - Theatre & Film
The London Yodeller

The titular subject of this play is the white feather movement, where young women would pin a white chicken feather on a man’s lapel to shame him into enlisting”


When Jeff Culbert was commissioned to write a play about World War One for Fanshawe Pioneer Village he first went to the back issues of The London Free Press. He looked at newspapers from just before the war started. This was to understand what Londoners would have been reading during that time and what the perceptions and opinions on the coming war were. “When you read a newspaper you get all kinds of cultural information, as well as getting the news of the time. I wanted to know what a person who lived in London would think about the war because the Free Press would have been their main source of information” says Culbert.

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The Right-Wing Drift from Sunny to Scared

Jeff Culbert - - News & Politics
The London Yodeller

CULBERT sir_wilfrid_laurierHave you noticed a reversal in North American politics?

Back in the 1980s, Ronald Reagan was the darling of the right wing Republicans in the U.S. and the Conservatives in Canada. He was famous for his optimism and for making Americans feel good about themselves. That could be why they made him President for eight years.

It drove his lefty opponents crazy. They howled that a heartless and heavy-handed US foreign policy was immoral and destructive. A nascent and still humourless environmental movement was sounding the alarm that rampant industrial expansion was fouling our nest and jeopardizing our future. It didn’t hinder the Reaganites. They were feeling good.

After he left office, Reagan was asked how he wanted to be remembered, and he said, “Whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears, to your confidence rather than your doubts.”

It’s striking how different Reagan’s attitude was from the right wingers of today. What happened to that optimism? When did the right wing in North America get so scared and angry?

They are freaked out about terrorism; they want their guns near at hand at all times and they want to build walls, both figuratively and literally, to keep the bad guys away. They even call them “bad guys”. It’s bordering on infantile.

In Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper kicked off the 2011 election campaign by saying that “a sea of troubles is lapping at our shores”, and he repeated this relentlessly throughout the campaign, citing a “fragile economic recovery” at home and “chaos”, “disaster”, and a smattering of “very serious challenges” abroad. He wanted to scare Canadians into electing a majority Conservative government, and it worked.

But that was then. Continue Reading

To Ashes: A Classic London Play Revived

Adam Corrigan Holowitz - - Theatre & Film
The London Yodeller

toashesJason Rip has come to a point in his career as a writer where his earlier works are being revived in London.

When Jeff Culbert was approached to direct the revival of Jason Rip’s play To Ashes one of his first thoughts was that he needed to somehow use the song Ace of Spades by Motörhead in the play. The song was used in the original 2004 production of To Ashes which Culbert acted in. For Culbert the song sets the tone of the play. Jeff saw Jason Rip soon after being asked to direct the play and Jason said, without knowing Culbert’s own thoughts, “you got to use Ace of Spades.” The new wave, heavy metal song matches up with the high energy and aggressive nature of To Ashes.

To Ashes is a two person play about two men who are both named Thomas Ash. One goes by Tom, the other Thomas. The play’s conflict comes from what should be a minor nuisance, but is instead the spark that lights the fuse. Tom Ash begins to receive calls from a collection agency looking to collect from the other Tom Ash, the one who goes by Thomas. Continue Reading

Harper Should Have Resigned two Years ago

Jeff Culbert - - News & Politics
The London Yodeller

“This is not a guy who should be in power; his thinking is too crude.”

Jeff CulbertConventional wisdom has it that the long-term goal of the Conservative Party of Canada was to destroy the Liberals and replace them as the ‘natural governing party’ of Canada. Stephen Harper proved that he was the one who could take them to the top, but it’s not at all clear that he is the one who can keep them there. In fact, the ‘strong, stable, national government’ that the Conservatives promised is looking tired, corrupt and incompetent.

I for one am glad to see this development and I hope that Harper’s style of politics gets swept away forever. But I can’t help thinking that the Conservatives simply screwed up on this one. Had they gotten rid of bad-cop Harper and installed a new good-cop leader, they’d have had a better shot at keeping their big blue momentum going.

Take Jim Prentice, for example. He quit the Harper government in 2010 and I always suspected that he didn’t like where Harper was taking the federal Conservatives. Prentice had been the minister dealing with First Nations and environmental issues, and in the grand scheme of making Canada an ‘energy super-power’, First Nations and environmental issues were obstacles.

I thought that after Prentice quit Harper’s cabinet, he’d stay out of politics for a few years, and then swoop in to take over the Conservatives when Harper resigns. Bad cop out; good cop in. Continue Reading

Is it Time for Another Ballyhoo?

Adam Corrigan Holowitz - - Theatre & Film
The London Yodeller

“Having more London plays published helps foster an awareness of our own theatrical canon.”

CORRIGAN HOLOWITZ BallyhooOn my bookshelf among the other books of plays sits a green and black book about an inch thick. It’s title, Ballyhoo 2001. Ballyhoo is one of the few, or only, collections of London plays that has been published. As someone who directs mostly local plays and stories it is a volume that I come back to many times. It has also raised the question for me time and again; when we will get our next anthology of London plays published? I think it is certainly about time and we have a fine crop of plays to choose from. So in these next paragraphs I will muse a bit on what a London play anthology would look like today.

Ballyhoo 2001 was truly a Jeff Culbert project. Jeff compiled ten London plays that were “popular, well written or innovative”. James Reaney Sr. wrote the foreword to the book. Jeff, in his introduction, describes Jamie aptly: “He’s the spiritual leader of all these playwrights- whether they know it or not.” The selected ten plays were all written or produced in 2001. Ballyhoo is a celebration of the groundswell in playwriting that happened in that year. As I think about plays that should be included in a new anthology of local plays I wonder if one could find ten new plays all from the same year. I think it says more about the excitement of 2001 in the theatre, than a current decline in productivity. But maybe we can aim to have ten new plays produced in a single year again. Could we produce a few less plays from the catalogues of Samuel French and a few more from London’s catalogue of theatre?

Plays that were included in Ballyhoo 2001 provide a wonderful sample of London’s theatre renaissance. Two plays by Jayson McDonald start off the book – an episode from my favourite ‘radio’ serial The Boneyard Man and his children’s play Subterrain. Also included are Jonathan De Souza’s Theseus in the Labyrinth, Niall Cooke’s Tongue-Tied andtwo Hannah Feiner plays: The Geminis and Supine. London had two serial plays for a while; along with The Boneyard Man included in Ballyhoo was an episode from Rod Keith’s parody of television cop shows, Chelsea and Boggs. Jeff Culbert’s political comedy Running Rude appears right before another play that focuses on the Thames River, Leith Peterson’s historical drama, Amelia at the Forks of Ayzhkanzeebee. Appropriately the book concludes with Jason Rip’s city comedy Core, a beautiful and colourful panorama of London Ontario night life. Continue Reading

Letters to the Editor

- - Everything Else
The London Yodeller


One Step Beyond – London’s Theatre Future [Theatre Space, Mar. 5, Jeff Culbert]

Absolutely great points made here by Jeff. I’d really enjoy more plays about this actual city and the people whether documentary, historical, present, future or imaginary, and sketch comedy on the same topics. Something I love about the Blyth Festival is the local specifics of the plays. I guess that tradition began with The Farm Show. Where’s the comedy show about the Fontana Ate, for example? Too late now maybe, but last year it might have been a sensation. – Art Fidler Continue Reading

One Step Beyond: London’s Theatre Future

Jeff Culbert - - Theatre & Film
The London Yodeller

Original Kids is no small part of what makes London a “fantastic theatre town for kids.” A teenaged Rachel McAdams (back row, second from left) appeared in the 1993 OK production of Juvie.

The London theatre scene is pretty good. But maybe it’s time it got better.

What’s good about it? Continue Reading

A Regional Superstar

Jeff Culbert - - Theatre & Film
The London Yodeller

nest1“This was the first Canadian full-length colour movie and the first to be adapted from an original Canadian play. That would not happen again in English Canada for thirty years.”

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