THE FLAMES THEY FOLLOW JOAN OF ARC

George Bernard Shaw wrote the classic play about her - St.Joan. Eco-feminist, warrior, truth teller, compassionate heart. But it was the first time I heard Leonard Cohen’s song, Joan of Arc, that really got me hooked on her story, and his extraordinary work. I once gave a volume of his poetry to someone as a gesture of love. Then later shared a poem from that same collection as a goodbye. That’s the amazing scope of his writing - from cradle to tomb.

The Flame (Penguin/Random House) is a new collection of Cohen’s previously unpublished poems, and selections from the piles of notebooks he kept during his lifetime. A labour of love, curated by his son, Adam Cohen. Poems, drawings, and the reflections of a man who lived and wrote with equal parts audacity and grace. It’s a beautiful collection - full of humour and so much humility. To lose him and Gord Downie in the same calendar year is kind of unthinkable. But like Downie’s albums, we have Cohen’s volumes to hold on to, and revisit over and over. Like I’m doing now. Seriously good shit…

Buy it. Read it.

RECENTLY:

  • Workshop of John Lyly’s Galatea. Lyly was a contemporary of Shakespeare’s - and rumor has it the Bard helped himself to Lyly’s characters and plot lines and penned them as his own. That bitch ripped everyone off. Galatea is the first known play of the period to put a queer love affair between 2 women, front and centre. The collaborative efforts of Bard on the Beach, SFU, UBC, and a room full of actors, directors and dramaturgs - trying to figure out if the play stands on it’s own and could be produced in the future.

  • Halfway through shooting the first season of the new Citytv/Muse series The Murders. Really great writing. Really great folks. 100% Can-con. Yaasssssss.

And…Hives for Humanity.

CURIOUS INCIDENTS

Last night, the company of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time presented the first ‘relaxed performance’ at The Stanley Theatre. This modified performance was an inclusive experience for patrons of all ages, sensitivities and abilities. An amazing night. What a privilege it was, to share this piece of theatre with this audience. Reminded us all that nurturing community through art is for everyone. And that embracing difference is what keeps us expansive and curious and joyous. One week left. If you haven’t yet, come and see the show. It’s a real beauty.

Upcoming:

Arrow; season 1 of The Murders - a smart new local crime drama; voicing the audiobook of Anita Rau Badami’s The Hero’s Walk.

Noteworthy:

The Collected Poems of Amy Clampitt , got me like… This American poet published her first volume, The Kingfisher, in 1983 at the age of 63 (yeah - for reals). Her poetry is simply gorgeous. Please support the publishing industry and pick up a copy.

Vancouver based figurative realist painter Jay Senetchko. His paintings are like the love child of Andrew Wyeth and some Dutch master. Check.This.The.Fuck.Out.

Bhad Bhabie. Guilty, guilty pleasure…

And to the little forager bee, who, disoriented by last weeks warm weather tease, careened her way across the street from Cedar Cottage Community Garden apiary and into my living room: I hope I carried you back gently enough. I hope you found your way back to the hive, to huddle with your dowager Queen and the rest of the ladies for the winter. Thank you for your summer riches. Rest up girl - you’ll need all your energy for springtime.

LORCA MOON

As the fires continue to rage across BC, weeks of haze and red moons here on the coast.  Please donate to the Canadian Red CrossUntil October 12th, the Province of BC will match all individual donations. My thoughts have been with all the people in my life who earn their living outdoors: colleagues at the Caravan Farm Theatre, Brian Campbell @ Blessed Bee Apiary, Kevin MacDonald's team of skilled home renovators, and all the good farmers at Trout Lake Market working their tails off to put wholesome food on my table. Thank you all for toughing it out.

And now the rain has come to turn the tide. There's a cool in the air, and my thoughts turn to old wool sweaters, roasted red squash, gently nudging my teenage daughter to hop on her bike just 5 minutes earlier to make it to school on time, warm arms to fend off the chill.  And work.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Simon Stephens goes into previews at The Stanley Theatre, on September 6th, 2018.  Currently in rehearsal,  Arts Club artistic director Ashlie Corcoran and choreographer Kayla Dunbar have been putting us through the gears. Sore muscles and brains crammed full of intricate details, this crack ensemble of artists looks forward to sharing this beautiful story about a 15 year old autistic boy, and the world he inhabits. Tickets available now through the Arts Club box office.

More Arrow episodes.  My thanks to the producers of this top notch CW show, for continuing to bend over backwards to accommodate my theatre schedule.  Not everyone does that.  These guys are a cut above.  

In research mode for the Arts Club production of The Orchard (After Chekhov) by Serena Parmar.  Rehearsals begin January 2019. Running at The Stanley Theatre from March 21-April 21, 2019.

ART MATTERS

Vancouver Mural Festival.  Would have given this a miss, assuming it was another generic Main Street corporate festival. Someone dragged me out. And what I actually walked into was a thriving, back alley warren of creative magic. Fuelled by art, supported by an enormous community spirit.  The real deal. 

From the graffiti artist spraying his heart and mind onto concrete in front of our eyes (fuck Instagram), to the guy from  Phantoms in the Front Yard taking the time to answer my questions about the stunning collective piece that covered an entire block, to the brothers from Schwey, sending out their sweet soul vibe, to the multitudes of parents meandering through back alleys with their curious kids and teaching them that art doesn't just live in galleries, to the cool kids breakdancing in the beer garden, to the friends encountered by chance, all of us chatting excitedly about what we were witnessing, laughing at the sheer joy of being in each other's company.

An afternoon to remember. At a festival that reminded me that art is life affirming, in all it's incarnations. That it has the power to heal and galvanize and mobilize communities. That It encourages us to think and feel and question everything.  Compassionate and tolerant in it's very nature.  And It is the ultimate equalizer, because it is by the people, for the people.  

Experiencing this festival filled me with gratitude and humility to be an artist in this beautiful city.  And reminded me that, yes, hell yes, ART MATTERS. 

Thank you Vancouver Mural Fest.  See you next year...

 

 

 

ANYWHERE BUT HERE

Currently workshopping Anywhere But Here, a new commission piece by Electric Company Theatre artist in residence Carmen Aguirre, in collaboration with Canadian hip-hop artist, Shad.  In development with Playwrights Theatre Centre, this kick ass new play, set along the US/Mexico border, follows a family on a journey backwards towards Chile from Canada.  Anywhere But Here confronts the cost of exile, and the true nature of home, through the Latinx lens.  Full of humanity, humour, and music, the show will premiere in 2020 at The Vancouver Playhouse.

Free staged reading: 

Friday August 3, 2018

3:00-5:00pm

Shadbolt Centre for the Arts

6450 Deer Lake Avenue

Burnaby, BC

*Clothing donations for the Inland Refugee Society of BC will be accepted at the reading.

 

 

 

 

JUNE 2018

A busy spring, summer on the coast, exciting projects on the horizon.

Recently: 

Search and Destroy.  A 1/2 hour Hulu network pilot for the new Carrie Brownstein (Portlandia) series. This smart, edgy show, based on her novel 'Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl' is set in Portland amidst the west coast punk music scene of the late 90's.  Yeah - Ms. Brownstein rocks it. Proud to be a part of this one.

- LEAP Playwriting Intensive.  Workshopping new plays by young writers. These fearless, young voices are the future of Canadian theatre. Names to watch out for.

- More audiobook narration. Madeleine Thien's Certainty  is a formidable novel by a seasoned author. Available for download on Amazon.  

- On faculty at On The Mic studios, teaching Intro to Acting for Voice-Over. An impressive, state-of-the-art facility in Gastown, entirely dedicated to VO training.  Classes ongoing.

Upcoming:

- 2 shows at the Stanley Theatre next season:  A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time  by Mark Haddon & Simon Stephens, directed by incoming artistic director Ashlie Corcoran; The Orchard (After Chekhov) by Sarena Parmar, directed by Jovanni Sy - currently playing at The Shaw Festival.

Notable:

Organic gardening and beekeeping at Cedar Cottage Community Garden.  Our beautiful garden is celebrating it's 10th anniversary of volunteer driven sustainable growing.  On July 21, 2018,  we will be hosting a pop-up long table community dinner.  Laara will chef! - with plenty of help from our members. Culled mostly from our own gardens - this communal meal will be a gorgeous evening of food, wine, and stories. Under the stars, in our own back yard.  Please join us.  Tickets available through Eventbrite.  

THE NEW YEAR

January 2018 - the year off to a good start.

The Breadwinner continues on its journey.  In addition to a Golden Globe nomination, this beautiful animated film has been honoured with 6 Canadian Screen Award nominations, including Best Motion Picture.  And... an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature.

This weekend, Laara joins the creative team in Los Angeles for the 45th Annual Annie Awards.  Follow the events on Twitter @BreadwinnerThe.  Congratulations to all of our nominees.  

Next up: shooting an episode of USA Network's sci-fi series Colony.

Sending strength and support out to Patricia Fagan, Kristin Booth, Diana Bentley and Hannah Miller in Toronto, who have recently filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Albert Schultz and Soulpepper Theatre. Across the country, your community supports you. #MeToo.

DECEMBER 2017

The year in review:

-Much Ado About Nothing (Dona Jona) A Winter's Tale (Camillo) for Bard on the Beach 2017

-Happy Place (Nina) by Pamela Mala Sinha for Touchstone Theatre

-Jessie Richardson Theatre Award for Best Supporting ActressBrothel #9

-Recurring roles on Arrow (CW) and Heartland (CBC), guest starring role on The Crossing (ABC)

-Animated feature The Breadwinner (Fattema), written by Deborah Ellis, directed by Nora Twomey, produced by Cartoon Saloon/Jolie Pas, now playing in theatres across Canada and the US.  Winner of the 2017 LA Critics Circle awards for Best Animated Feature.   Nominated for 10 Annie Awards - including Best Voice Actor for Laara.  Nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature.  

And...to all the women in this industry who are mobilizing against institutionalzed mysogyny #MeToo.  THANK YOU. To those who have had the courage and grace to speak out. And to those who haven't yet.  Because every single one of us has experienced sexual harrassment, violation and intimidation, at some point in our careers.  Because blacklisting, shaming, slandering, threatening and rampant abuse of power have gone unchecked for too long.  Because 'spectrum of behaviour' is irrelevant - thank you Minnie Driver.  Because  katykatikate.com isn't a ballbusting bitch - she's a goddess.  And to all the men (not the good ones - and they are legion)  but to all the ones who think they can continue to abuse women in our industry, and seek protection from the institutions that are complicit in their abuse  - we're coming for you.  Because #MeToo = #FuckYou = #NoMore.  

 

 

 

 

 

MARCH 2017...

2016 came and went in a flurry.  Interesting projects, a lot of cross country flights, and a strong pull from the west coast.

Summer at the Caravan Farm Theatre, performing in Thornton Wilder's classic Our Town was a beautiful, rewarding experience.  October and November brought Laara back to Vancouver, playing the role of 'Jamuna' in Touchstone Theatre's critically acclaimed production of Anusree Roy's Brothel # 9, directed by the incomperable Katrina Dunn.  Notable TV projects in 2016 included roles on Eyewitness (USA Network), The Arrangement (NBC), and a recurring role on Arrow (The CW).

This summer, Laara will join the ensemble company of Vancouver's Bard on the Beach Shakespeare festival, performing in Much Ado About Nothing and A Winter's Tale.

 

FEBRUARY 2016...

2015 was a very busy and action packed year for Laara.  While the cancellation of Global's Remedy was puzzling and disappointing  to all involved, it was a great 2 year run.  Thanks to the fans who tuned in every week -there are no hit shows without you...

In the past 10 months, projects have included: Rogue (E1), the return of Dr. Tricia Virani on Heartland (CBC), The Baroness Von Sketch Show (CBC/Frantic Films) - what an awesome bunch of smart women helming that one), Guillermo Del Toro's The Strain (FX), Jason Priestly's seriously funny new series The Code (Global), the latest Ricky Gervais feature Special Correspondents, Roma Roth's indie feature, Stepchild, and voice over for a beautiful animated feature based on Deborah Ellis' best selling young adult novel, Breadwinner.

Upcoming:  June 2016 workshop with dancer/choreographer Noam Gagnon and director Peter Hinton, as we continue to develop our multidiciplinary piece.  And - Laara will be spending the summer in Armstrong BC at The Caravan Farm Theatre, performing in a production of the Thornton Wilder classic Our Town.

 

 

SPRING 2015...

Recent happenings:

January residency at the Scotiabank Dance Centre in Vancouver to continue developing 'WE ARE MAKING FICTION', with dancer/choreographer Noam Gagnon (Vision Impure) and director/dramaturg Peter Hinton.  5 days of stimulating creation, culminating in a public showing of work in progress.  Great feedback.  More to follow...

Shot an episode of the Netflix original series 'HEMLOCK GROVE', directed by Russel Fine.

Currently running the world premiere of Daniel MacIvor's new play 'CAKE AND DIRT' at the Tarragon Theare in Toronto. A nasty, chewy play about urban and social decay.  Directed by Amiel Gladstone  and Richard Rose, CAKE AND DIRT runs till Sunday April 12, 2015.

Dr. Cara Summers is back.  Global TV's hit series 'REMEDY' returns for Season 2:                          Season premiere  Monday April 23, 2015.                                                                                                  9PM EST on Global.                                                                                                                                       Tune in...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FALL UPDATE

August in Vancouver.  Laara finished off the summer on the west coast for a good dose of sun, salt, mountains and a fascinating 2 week multidisciplinary intensive curated by Vancouver's Theatre Replacement.  The New Aesthetics intensive brought together 16 artists from Canada and the US, for an exchange of ideas and practices.  Leading the intensive were directors/creators Mariano Pensotti  (Argentina) and Toshiki Okada (Japan). A wild and stimulating experience...

Directly following the intensive, Laara spent several days in studio at The Scotiabank Dance Centre with COLLISION co-creator Noam Gagnon, continuing development on the piece, now titled 'We Are Making Fiction'.  A residency at The Scotiabank Dance Centre in early 2015 will be the next phase of development.

In the film/ tv world, Laara recently shot an episode of SYFY network's new series Killjoysguest starring in the role of 'Mother Sal'. Watch for air dates in 2015.  And Greg Spottiswood's excellent series Remedy  has just gone into production for season 2.  Laara reprises her recurring role of 'Dr. Cara Summers'.  It'll air on Global TV spring 2015.  

Upcoming:  In March 2015, Laara will premiere Daniel MacIvor's new play ' Cake and Dirt' at the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto.  Stay tuned for details...

 

UP TO SPEED…

2013 was indeed an exciting and creative year. A bit of this, a bit of that, and a lot of travel points racked up.

Hard on the heels of the initial creation phase in the spring for COLLISION, a new multidisciplinary piece Laara’s been developing with West Coast dancer Noam Gagnon, came the Guest Starring role of ‘Dr. Tricia Virani’ for CBC’s hit series Heartland. Spring and summer were spent commuting back and forth to Calgary to shoot 3 episodes.

In September Laara attended the TIFF 2013 premiere of her latest Bruce Sweeney feature, The Dick Knost Show, playing the role of ‘Sadie’ with fellow Sweeney alum Gabrielle Rose and Tom Scholte.

October was another commuter month, this time to Sault Ste Marie, where she shot Joan Carr Wiggins’ new film If You See Her for Paragraph Pictures, playing the role of ‘Vendana’ alongside Peter Firth and Alex Kingston.

These days you can catch Laara in the recurring role of ‘Dr. Cara Summers’ on Global TV’s new medical drama Remedy, starring Enrico Colantoni. This first season of Greg Spottiswood’s excellent series premiered on February 24th. It’s exciting, fast paced and funny. Tune in to Remedy, Monday nights on Global @ 9PM EST, or watch it online.

Upcoming: with the support of the Ontario Arts Council and Nightswimming Theatre, COLLISION goes into the next phase of development in April @ the Dancemakers studio in Toronto. More details to come.

2 things to catch in town if you’re looking for a good art fix: anything and everything at Buddies in Bad Times, consistently the most interesting and dynamic theatre the city has to offer. AND, a tiny exhibit of Alex Colville sketches and paintings at the Mira Godard Gallery in Yorkville.

WHAT'S BEEN HAPPENING

2013 promises to be an exciting and creative year. Laara and dancer/choreographer Noam Gagnon (Vision Impure, Holy Body Tattoo) were awarded a Creator’s Reserve grant by Nightswimming Theatre courtesy of The Ontario Arts Council, for their multidisciplinary project, Collision. Much gratitude to Nightswimming for their support.

The first phase of the creation process took place from March 31st – April 6th. A very productive week of explorations in the Ernest Balmer Studio in Toronto’s distillery district, followed by a wild and wonderful day in Montreal working on sound design with composer/scratch artist/musical savant, Kid Koala. Next phase involves some interesting residency possibilities to continue developing the piece. Definitely more to come…

Other recent projects in the can:

-  The Listener: ‘Angela’ in House of Horror, Shaftesbury/CTV, directed by Harvey Crossland.

The Patels (Pilot): ‘Priya’, CBC, directed by Keith Samples.

-  West Coast premiere of Anton Piatigorsky’s pithy Eternal Hydra, playing the role of ‘Vivan Ezra’. Produced by Touchstone Theatre, directed by Katrina Dunn. See the PRESS page for reviews.

And – it looks like Electric Company Theatre's multimedia production of Jean Paul Sartre’s No Exit will return to its origins and run in Vancouver this fall. Stay tuned for details…

RECENT & UPCOMING

Laara finished off a great summer of work and play with an episode of the smart new CBC series Cracked, playing the role of ‘Ria Kush’, directed by Brett Sullivan. Slated to premiere in early 2013, this series is going to be very, very good.  Watch for it… www.cbc.ca

In October, Laara will head to Vancouver to play ‘Vivian Ezra’ in Touchstone Theatre’s production of Anton Piadigorsky’s Eternal Hydra.  This incredible play explores literature, sex, authorship and the question of genius.  Running from November 1st – 11th 2012 @ Studio 16.

Also starring: John Murphy, Cherissa Richards, Andrew Wheeler

Director: Katrina Dunn

Design Team: Owen Belton, Adrian Muir, David Roberts, Farnaz Khaki-Sadigh

www.touchstonetheatre.com

SPRING 2012

Laara’s been busy shooting a bunch of interesting projects in Toronto.  Great writing, great shows…

  • Greg Spottiswood’s excellent new series KING.  Playing the role of ‘Jillian Saunders’ in the season 2 episode Wendy Stetler. Dir: Don McBrearty.
  • DEGRASSI: playing the role of ‘Dr Yardley’ in Walking on Broken Glass. Dir: Stefan Brogren.
  • Currently shooting John Grisham’s THE FIRM.  Playing the role of prosecutor ‘Helen Figgis’ in the episode Chapter Eighteen. Dir: Holly Dale.

Stay tuned for air dates…

THE PENELOPIAD IN VANCOUVER

Laara is currently in previews for the Arts Club Theatre’s west coast premiere of Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad, playing the role of Helen of Troy. Running at Vancouver’s historic Stanley Theatre, The Penelopiad features a cast of shit hot women, including Meg Roe, Megan Leitch, Colleen Wheeler, Dawn Petten and Lois Anderson.

Direction by Vanessa Porteous, Artistic Director of ATP. 

Movement Design by Denise Clarke, Associate Artist at One Yellow Rabbit.

Don’t miss this beautiful, bold production…

Opening Night: Wednesday October 26th, 2011.
Running till November 20th, 2011.

http://www.artsclub.com/20112012/plays/the-penelopiad.htm
https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=162322153860682&context=create#!/event.php?eid=162322153860682

BUSY SUMMER, NEW PROJECTS!

It's been a busy summer. A few noteworthy projects to mention:

- Guest starring on USA Network's hit series Covert Affairs. Catch the episode 'Sad Professor', directed by Miller Tobin, on Tuesday August 2nd, 2011 @ 10/9C

-Workshop of Peter Brook's classic adaptation of The Mahabarata with Toronto's Tarragon Theatre, directed by Richard Rose.

-Upcoming: shooting an episode of Don McKellar's new comedy series Michael - Tuesdays and Thursdays, directed by Patricia Rozema.

**Hot tip: don't miss Cat on a Hot Tin Roof @ the Shaw Festival this season. Spectacular performances, particularly Moya O'Connell and Gray Powell as Maggie & Brick.

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LEO AWARDS 2010

Laara was the recipient of a Leading Actress award for her performance in Bruce Sweeney's feature film Excited. at the Leo Awards Gala, held in Vancouver at the Westin Bayshore on June 5th 2010. The film also picked up awards for Supporting Actress, Best Director and Best Feature Film. In 2009, Excited had its world premiere at TIFF, opened the Canadian Images program at VIFF, and has been making its way through the film festival circuit in Canada & the US. Commercially released by Union Pictures, Excited will open in Vancouver on June 14th at the Ridge Theatre. For details and screen times, go to www.excitedmovie.com.

NATIONAL ARTS CENTRE 2010-2011

Laara will be heading to Ottawa this fall to join the Resident Acting Company at the National Arts Centre. She will appear in Romeo & Juliet, Nativity - A Coyote Christmas, and St. Carmen of the Main (co-produced with the Canadian Stage Company).