Tag Archives: anarchists

Play Review: Yippies in Love

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Bob Sarti's "Yippies in Love" at the Cultch until July 3rd

The play Yippies in Love had its preview on Wednesday, June 22 at the Cultch, Vancouver’s east-side theater and “Culture Lab.” On until July 3rd, perhaps it would have been better named “Yippies in Confusion.” Done by Theatre in the Raw, this low budget musical had a minimalist set, which didn’t bother me as a play is more about the dialogue and the story. With a few black blocks, a tickle trunk of props, two coat racks of costumes and a screen that showed old footage of the Yippie culture, we kept our attention on the actors.

Yippies, it turns out, were revolutionary hippies. They didn’t just believe in peace and love but in rabble rousing, provoking and marching on the US embassy and Oakalla prison. They had about a two-year heyday in Vancouver’s early 70s culture, which saw police heavy handedly beating and arresting dozens of people. This was something I didn’t know about my city’s tarnished past and the play was enlightening in this aspect.

The confusion in this play happens on several levels and I confess that sometimes I just don’t get musicals. Is it a comedy musical, or a drama musical or perhaps just a venue for songs? I don’t think producer/director Jay Hamburger or composer Bill Sample knew themselves. It felt as if the tone of the Yippie values might be too serious or radical for the audience so they softened the views with songs. The songs, with lyrics by playwright Bob Sarti, were derivative, with some being of the 50s, others with tones of “Crocodile Rock” or other hits of the past. But they didn’t  have the feel of the ideals of the era being portrayed. How did  a song more suited to Grease fit into provocateurs in the 70s? The music was executed well, and the songs “Reach Out and Touch” and “It’s So Hard” were the best, while others like the incredibly goofy dancing marijuana joints singing “Dancin’ Doobies” seemed gratuitous without much substance.

Costumes pretty much amounted to someone going through people’s closets or thrift stores and getting what sort of, maybe, not always looked like 60s/70s era clothing and a few props like jackets or police hats. Makeup looked like it was left up to the actors, which meant none for the men. Now it’s a small venue so you can see their faces but one of the men (possibly Bing Jensen though the actor doesn’t match the picture in the program book) was much older than the rest of the cast who are playing people in their 20s. Though he had the deeper voice used in the music (baritone?) he was as white as a sheet, seemed to react to every hat placed on his head with red splotching, and for having such a deep voice he was hardly heard. Some makeup would have made him look like he wasn’t half dead. While he seemed animated enough he was also expressionless and a bit wooden for much of the play. The other actors (Emily Rowed,  Rebecca Shoichet) were competent and sung well but the material wasn’t something where they could shine. Danielle St. Pierre (Julie) has done a fair amount of theater and she was the strength of the piece. Steve Maddock (Andy) was good though I felt he overacted a bit.

We have to remember that this play is called Yippies in Love but even that was confusing. While Andy seems to love Julie all she wants is a special friend and the play ends with everyone going their separate ways, leaving you with the thought that they raised a little hell but accomplished nothing but living on welfare and tossing bricks through bank windows. Not much love there. Sarti says all the actions are based on true facts, and the play meanders from “be-in” to housemate chatting, to smoking pot,  to a trial, to sort of running for mayor. Perhaps this wandering very well exemplifies the way of the yippie but it only seemed to highlight the overall reactionary and militant actions of this group. This was also a little unfortunate in timing, one week after the riots that happened during the Stanley Cup finals. So, when the Yippies invade Blaine and throw bricks through a bank window it was hard to get into their exhilaration.

After the play concluded and the cast took their bows (Vancouverites will clap for nearly anything) they sang a rap song about doing it from the bottom or some such, encouraging radical protests from the grass-roots perspective. They named a lot of different social protest groups in Vancouver including Black Box. These yahoos were responsible for trying to cause riots during the Olympics and marching down the street, wearing black hoods with their faces covered. Such protests don’t actually further a cause but just cause anarchy for anarchy’s sake. This romantic romp through Vancouver’s past anarchic protesters got across the point of how pointless it all is. Maybe that’s the message. If so, it succeeded.

I went with three other friends and two wanted to leave at the intermission. I wanted to stay so I could write a complete review. The other person was hoping for some closure. I’m being generous and would give Yippies in Love two peace signs out of five.

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What to Do With Vancouver’s Rioters

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Creative Commons: Mike Carlson, Reuters (The Calgary Herald)

It’s already made news throughout North America and farther; the rioting in Vancouver over the Canucks’ loss of the Stanley Cup. While countries like Yemen and Libya have people fighting for their lives and freedom, rioting where they are dying, we have a bunch of goofs rioting because a sports team didn’t win the Cup, because they have too much time on their hand, because they have no respect for anyone else.

A million dollars could not have got me downtown last night where over 100,000 people gathered, and as CBC news reporter Priya Ramu said, many of the people were drunk before the games began and the streets were littered with beer cans and mickey flasks. She heard people saying, if the Canucks lose, riot. There were even people interviewed saying they were down there for the riots. While the percentage of rioters would be a small amount of the total people attending, the fact is that many pictures show gangs overturning cars and fighting with police while many more onlookers cheer them on.

Are these our modern heroes? Is this what’s important in the world? The issue wasn’t just the crowd during the game. There were crowds of people harassing the Bruins at the hotel where they were sleeping, with cars driving through the parking lot all night honking horns. As well a s twitter flash mob gathered in the hotel parking lot to scream and try to keep the Bruins awake. Wow, what a proud record Vancouver holds. I’m sure the Canucks are ashamed to call Vancouver home with this sort of attitude. I guess the term good sportsmanship means nothing to fans and “sore loser” has become the order of the day. People wonder why I don’t watch hockey. With this kind of attitude, which included booing the presenter in Roger’s Arena being so loudly that he couldn’t be heard when handing out the trophies, it’s no wonder I can’t find the sport in these games.

But I have an answer on what to do with the rioters, the looters, the thugs who threatened people and tore apart our city. Like the picture above, many people are recognizable and many of these people will be caught. Here’s some of the things these people should have to do; be charged with the crime, pay for the damages and do volunteer work (that’s no pay) cleaning the city and feeding the poor. But what would be best, since these yahoos have way too much energy and aggression and no sense of what’s important, is to draft them. I’m not fan of war and the draft but it seems to me that if these guys were sent into the army and made to serve without pay (that pay equaling the cost of the damages they inflicted) that at least their aggressions could go to a purpose, a good purpose. I have no sympathy for these jerks, whether men or women. Let them taste what riots are really like from the other side when people’s lives are at stake.

After a rant by one person elsewhere I want to say, it’s not to unleash dynamos of war, rape and torture on unsuspecting victims in other countries but to bring discipline and purpose to these people. Most of them are men with too much time and aggression. Maybe it’s anger, maybe it’s lack of structure. Few of those are going to be sociopaths. Most are able to be trained and I bet that many of them would be crying like babies by even having to face a boot camp, let alone follow army discipline or get blown up. If this seems too hard-edged for some, then give them a choice: five years in jail or two years in the army. They’ll come out of the army with a better perspective than sitting and stewing bitterly in jail, and not contributing to society, which is what they’re doing already.

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