Giving green artistic life: Pearl partakes in Eco-Jest-Us

Glenn Nuotio performs at Eco-Jest-Us

Pearl Pirie is a local arts enthusiast who arrived in Ottawa about 20 years ago for university. She blogs about the city’s literary events — in both word and image.  Her second full-length poetry collection is coming out this fall.

Eco-Jest-Us, a multi-art variety show put on by BearAmI Theatre to anticipate Earth Day (April 22), had two shows last Saturday, featuring afternoon and evening events. The 2 pm matinee featured films by teens, improv and music performances. There was also a craft table set up for kids to make art — which was put to use before the children showed up.

Photo Credit: Pearl Pirie

Did you know that these ladies at the Ottawa Art Gallery have Creative Sundays each week from 1-3 pm? Behind them is art for sale by the Manotick Art Association, who had a show of art on various media including acrylic, glass and ceramic. Between shows there was a photo show with music.

Photo Credit: Pearl Pirie

Here, a picture of A Hundred Foot Line, is one of the Dendroid series of scultures by Roxy Paine.

“For him, the Dendroids represent an attempt to observe trees as a language governed by rules and structures and reflect his thoughts on human encroachment on the environment. “

In the evening, from 7 pm to nearly 11 pm, there was a packed-schedule of musicians, dramatic readings, poems, improv comedy and, in the entry room, an art show, tables about theatre groups, books for sale, displays by groups including WaterCan and a silent auction. Hosting was Sterling Lynch of Ottawa Sneezers.

There were dozens of performers in all including a few musicians, about a dozen readers and two speakers, including Beatrice Olivastri. She talked about the conundrum of the local, how it can impede our information flow on common issues — when laws affecting Halifax could collaborate with comparable conflicts in Victoria. She has been working for environmental responsibility for 40 years in the public discourse. She now looks at it from the position of CEO of Ecojustice.

Jennifer Vallance

And as a new Ottawa transplant who came to town and joined Sanita’s Playback Theatre in 2009, Jennifer Vallance gave a dramatic monologue about the perplexing puzzle of how to make people attend to small things. Do we only have an eye trained for catastrophe?

LM Rochfort

Local writer LM Rochefort lent some poems to the stage, including a poem about these plastic islands the size of Texas floating around our oceans. That poem was selected for one of the prizes in the Jackpine sonnet contest. She also read a surreal poem about an iceberg and tear in time space in the fridge. What time does a busy suburban working mom have for dealing with such an environmental rupture?

Carol Stephen, read her poem about the expansion of Hwy 7, Alligators — No Swimming, which starts:

You could call it swamp, you could call it “Wetlands” — that small stand of trees bulrushes and water. A sign said, “ Alligators — No Swimming.” It was an inside joke.

Phil Genest’s troupe, Insensitivity Training also brought comedy to the stage including audience participation for their improv. And Alastair Larwill gave a high-energy reading.

Insensitivity Training, a comedy troupe

Alastair Larwill

He’ll be next on stage in a sound poetry performance as part of Messagio Galore VIII at the Writers Festival on May 1. Glenn Nuotio closed the show resoundingly with some light and poking songs, covered in more detail on my own blog.

David Chernushenko

And there’s a lot going on all April for Earth Month. The Ottawa International Writers Festival is bringing in Tim Flannery to talk about a natural history of our planet on April 14. And on April 23-24, at the R.A. Centre, the Eco Expo takes place with a focus on green, local and healthy living. (Entrance by donation. Open from from 10 am – 4 pm.)

David Chernushenko’s film, Powerful: Energy for Everyone, is a hundred-mile film about people grabbing some empowerment with the hydro power and bringing some living lightly to the environment. A short version airs with a discussion time on April 27 at the Mayfair Theatre.

Going green has never been so fun — or beautiful! Thanks, Pearl. And don’t forget to check out the 1st annual cupcake challenge, with Hilary Duff, at the upcoming Eco Expo!