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Elly on the Arts: Recapping a busy weekend of events

"What a wild and wonderful weekend we just had in our fabulous Flin Flon. We certainly hope some of you were able to enjoy it with us."
P15 Shrug 3
The crowd at Johnny's Social Club watches a performance of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (Shrug) live April 9. The show was also livestreamed via social media for remote viewers.

What a wild and wonderful weekend we just had in our fabulous Flin Flon. We certainly hope some of you were able to enjoy it with us. Many of your friends and neighbours certainly did, judging by the crowds at the Ukraine fundraiser event at the Community Hall Sunday. The events of Friday and Saturday evenings were online and hybrid in nature, so they are more difficult to judge in terms of the attendance numbers, but unbelievably good all the same.

Friday night was the National Poetry Day celebration, which has in past years been held at the Flin Flon Centennial Library, but over the past two years needed to be held online. The 2022 event was by far the largest in recent memory, with 28 readers from Flin Flon, Creighton and Denare Beach, but also readers and presumably audience from many points in Manitoba and Saskatchewan and even the United States participating by Zoom. The show was organized by Harry Hobbs and the Flin Flon Toastmasters group. Doreen Roman served as emcee for the evening and she kept things moving right along with the barest minimum of technical glitches. Hearty congratulations to all involved - it was a fine night.

Saturday night brought us ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (Shrug), which was the hybrid part of the weekend mentioned earlier. We talked a bit about this production in our last column, but until we saw it, we really had no idea - it was fantastic. The show was available online at a cost of $10, which “bought” you an access code with which you could tune into the program, or you could attend the watch party at Johnny’s Social Club for $20 - of course, you could imbibe there, so that made it quite appealing. Also, you didn’t have to confess that you were not confident that you could do the online thing and still see the show. This option was a challenge for us on two levels: one, the physical use of technology and two, the creator is actually our son. so the level of explanation necessary if we somehow missed it was not to be contemplated.

So, off to Johnny’s we went, along with about 30 other intrepid souls and we saw a real treat. The cast of Susan Gunn Saray, Alain Lachapelle, Miranda Bowman and John Bettger and pre-taped cameo appearances by Raphael Saray, Dallas Clarke, Jelisa Kerfont Wiegers and Trent Hill were perfect. The four main cast members not only had to remember their lines, but also work their puppet characters in real-time from the next room (in this case, from the NorVA Gallery right next door). The characters on the screen that the audience saw while sitting in Johnny’s were moving their mouths and eyes at the same time as the actors sitting next door. They were being filmed each on their own computers, then that was fed into the main computer being operated by creator Mike Spencer and translated into the cartoon characters we could see on the big screen in Johnny’s Social Club.

The “real” characters are sucked into cyberspace by their phones, then meet a series of challenges in the form of internet advertisements to get out again. It was as wacky and goofy as only a script by Raphael Saray can be - and very, very funny. All of the puppet/cartoons and all the background “scenery” were drawn by Mike Spencer, who conceived the project. It was so inventive and such a cool way to use technology. Flin Flon is absolutely punching well above its weight in the arts and cultural life of our country.

Sunday brought us the Ukraine fundraiser and showed once again just how incredibly generous the people of the area can be. Crystal Kolt and her legion of helpers raised over $17,500 for the Red Cross’ Ukrainian humanitarian effort to assist the people struggling in that war-ravaged country while the world looks on helplessly. Many members of the arts community lent their musical talents to the afternoon and the Community Hall was filled with songs of protest and of hope. Kudos to Mark Kolt for arranging the performances and for accompanying many. Of particular note were the teenagers who sang - they have not had a great deal of experience with performance yet but they all sounded lovely. We are in good hands, people.

Next weekend will bring another stellar event our way. ImrieAnnaJones with Emily Sparling will perform an evening of original music at Johnny’s Social Club April 16. These young women are so immensely talented and have taken advantage of several opportunities that came their way during the pandemic to hone their songwriting skills. Now, we will all have the pleasure of hearing what they have mastered. Tickets are available at the Orange Toad. It will be wonderful.

Till next time, stay safe!