Front Row Centre – Christmas Queen 2 is a Holiday Delight

I’m not a very Christmas-y person – but I love to laugh. And there are plenty of those to be had at Vancouver Theatre Sports League’s Christmas Queen 2 – You Better Watch Out.

This year’s production is set at the North Pole and Santa’s Workshop, where the final preparations for Christmas Eve are in full swing – until Santa returns from vacation with a new girlfriend  – and all hell breaks loose.

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The happy (?) couple.

What happens? Well, in this improvised fairy tale, it’s largely up to the audience, who determines where the story goes at every performance, which, of course is part of the fun. The rest is up to a stellar cast, including the beautifully evil Pearce Visser as Queenie, who delivers an over-the-top performance and steals the show. And I loved the twists and turns that resulted in Santa (Andrew Barber) and Marty the Elf (Nathan Clark) borrowing heavily from Back to the Future to save the day.

My recommendation – go for the quirky story lines that you can contribute to, go for the laughs, and sit at the tables right next to the stage and become the object of the Christmas Queen’s scorn. I was!

Christmas Queen 2 – You Better Watch Out runs at the Improv Centre on Granville Island Wednesday through Saturday nights at 7:30 p.m. now through December 19. Book your tickets here.

And Happy Holidays!

World AIDS Day is Over – Now What?

“The willingness to share does not make one charitable; it makes one free”
– Robert Brault

Yesterday was World AIDS Day, a global event designed to increase awareness of HIV, the fight to eradicate the disease, and the people living with it every day. I marked World AIDS Day by attending AIDS Vancouver’s Red Ribbon Awards honouring pioneers in HIV research, and those people who for years have been dedicated to supporting the HIV community.

It was a lovely, moving event. And it’s over.

But the need to help this vulnerable community isn’t.

AIDS Vancouver will be holding its annual Holiday Grocery Day on Tuesday, December 15th from 9:30 am – 3:30 pm, with the goal to provide festive food to 700 people, on this single day.

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How can you help?

Volunteer your time. There’s a need for Holiday Grocery Event Day Volunteers  on December 14th for set-up, and again on the 15th during the event.

Make a donation online, by mail, or in person. Cash donations ensure that the AIDS Vancouver Grocery Program can continue to operate all year round.

Donate in-kind, or become a sponsor. Contact Heidi Morgan, Grocery Coordinator, by email at heidim@aidsvancouver.org, or phone: 604-696-4678.

AIDS Vancouver is located at 803 East Hastings St., Vancouver, British Columbia, V6A 1R8. Hours of operation are 9 am – 4 pm Monday – Friday.

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I plan to be there, camera in hand. Can you spare some time, or give to this cause?

A Nod to the TEDxVancouver Performers

Well, here we are. My first #NaBloPoMo project is at its end, so I thought I’d end with a bang and highlight the awesome performers at this year’s TEDxVancouver.

There will be actual videos of the speakers’ presentations forthcoming, and I’ll be posting them with their awesome backstories – but these people were fantastic!

I wanted to acknowledge them with my camera.

So, here’s a bit of a TEDXVancouver montage. Enjoy. And thank you, as usual for your ongoing support. It’s greatly appreciated.

Photo by Cathy Browne

Photo by Cathy Browne

Photo by Cathy Browne

Photo by Cathy Browne

Photo by Cathy Browne

Photo by Cathy Browne

Photo by Cathy Browne

Photo by Cathy Browne

I can’t wait to photograph the next TEDxVancouver!

 

TEDxVancouver Memories – Mohamed Fahmy

I’ve been a fan of TEDxVancouver for several years now. I also photographed the event for fun a few years ago. This year, I offered to join the small group of volunteer photographers for two reasons. First, I always welcome the opportunity to showcase my photos. But I also wanted to hear Mohamed Fahmy speak. I’ve been drawn to this brave, passionate and articulate man and his struggles over the past few years.

Mr. Fahmy, you may recall, is the award-winning Egyptian-Canadian journalist and author, and former Egypt Bureau Chief of Al-Jazeera International who in 2013 was wrongly imprisoned in Egypt for more than 400 days for allegedly collaborating with and airing “false news” on the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood. He was finally pardoned by the Egyptian government in September of this year.

Here’s his conversation with host Riaz Meghji.

And here’s what I was able to capture on camera.

Photo by Cathy Browne

Photo by Cathy Browne

Photo by Cathy Browne

Photo by Cathy Browne

Photo by Cathy Browne

Photo by Cathy Browne

The capacity crowd was mesmerized, and Mr. Fahmy was given a standing ovation at the end of the interview. But it wasn’t all seriousness.

Near the end of the session, Riaz asked whom Mohamed would like to play him if a movie were to be made on his life. Knowing that George Clooney’s wife Amal Clooney was one of his lawyers, the audience broke up. Mr. Fahmy smiled, and said that he was grateful for everything the Clooney family has done for him – and left it at that. Riaz got a further round of laughter by offering to stand in if George was too busy! It was a welcome moment of light-heartedness during an intense discussion.

I’m thankful that this man who has suffered so much trauma can now enjoy a new life here in Vancouver, where he’s a Global Reporting Journalist in Residence at UBC. And I’ll never forget what a privielge it was to be there to capture these moments.

But there’s more!

This was hands-down the best TEDxVancouver I’ve attended, so I’ll also be showcasing some of the other speakers who enthralled me, motivated me and moved me to tears and laughter.

Stay tuned.

Help CBC Help the Hungry

I’m a self-confessed CBC Radio nerd. I figure I’ve been listening non-stop for at least the last 40 years! The voices of CBC legends Peter Gzowski, Bill Richardson, Arthur Black, Vickie Gabereau and Barbara Frum still make me smile, even though I haven’t heard them on-air for years.

And I love my local CBC heroes in Vancouver – I never miss Rick Cluff on Early Edition, Gloria Macarenko on BC Almanac and Stephen Quinn on On the Coast during the week. It’s those people I and so many of my fellow Vancouverites will flock to see on Friday December 4 at CBC Vancouver’s annual Open House in support of Food Banks BC.

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There’s never, ever been a more important charity to support.  Did you know that in BC, 100,086 individuals are relying on a food bank each month – and one out of three of these people is a child?

Last year through the national food sharing system, Food Banks BC distributed more than 1.8 million pounds of food worth close 4.5 million dollars to its 97 food banks throughout the province! Additionally through its BC Share program each year, Food Banks BC receives more than 1 million dollars of fresh fruits, vegetables and dairy products.

So, come down to the CBC Vancouver studio at 700 Hamilton St., meet your favourite personalities, enjoy live entertainment throughout the day and tour the CBC studios.

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And donate, please. You can donate online any time starting now.

The pledge lines will be open on Dec. 4 from 5 a.m. – 6 p.m. PT
Onsite donations will be accepted at CBC Vancouver: 6 a.m. – 6 p.m.

I’ll be there for most of the day – with my camera, of course.

Hope to see you there, Vancouver!