Lake Flashback: Crack cocaine, salmon, theatre apartment

Lake Flashback: Crack cocaine, salmon, theatre apartment

Welcome to Lake Flashback. Reporter Lexi Bainas has been combing through oldnewspaperswiththeassistance of the Kaatza Station Museum and Archives so we can jog your memory, give you that nostalgic feeling, or just a chuckle, as we take a look at what was making headlines this weekaround Cowichan Lake in years gone by.

This week around the Cowichan Lake area…

10 years ago:

Town council wants more information about the distribution of mouthpieces and push sticks for crack cocaine pipes before deciding whether to support such a program in Lake Cowichan.

The issue arose last week in a letter from the Vancouver Island Health Authority, which notes that nearly 70 per cent of drug users smoke crack cocaine, with many sustaining burns and contracting diseases such as hepatits C because they share the pipes.

“I first need to know just how serious the problem is in our town,” said Coun. Pat Foster. “I would certainly agree to meet with them.”

Foster suggested a meeting should also include Cowichan Lake Community Services and local organizations that deal with drug addiction.

Coun. Tim McGonigle said he agrees with the idea of trying to stop the spread of disease caused by drug huse, but he’s not sure handing out free paraphernalia is the answer.

“My concern is it may contribute to the use of drugs,” said McGonigle, who added that money for drug detox might be a better way to go.

“If you’re handing them free equipemt, are you really helping them?” wondered Mayor Jack Peake.

25 years ago:

Mayor Earle Darling was worried about salmon in March 1993.

According to The Lake News of March 31, 1993, he was trying to organize “a major meeting” that would include not only the Cowichan Lake area but also CVRD directors whose areas have waterfront property.

“He also hopes to have there representatives of affected ministries including forestry, fisheries, and municipal affairs. He told council last week that the fish need help and it is necessary to restore lost habitat for the salmon. Control must be gained not only over Cowichan Lake and River corridor but the estuary as well.

“I’m going to take the initiative,” he said. He wants to form a body which he called the Watershed Management Commission.

“It’s not going to be easy and it will take a lot of time but it’s the way to go,” he said. “If we look after the habitat, the fish will look after themselves.”

40 years ago:

The ongoing tale of the theatre that wanted to become an apartment continued in The Lake News at the end of March 1978.

Under the slightly ambiguous headline “Three strikes against theatre-apartment”, the story said “Village administrator Bill Chappell told council last week the proposal to convert the Lake Theatre to an apartment building has ‘three strikes against it’.

“Chappell said there are three areas where the proposal fails to meet requirements of the village’s zoning bylaw: parking, site coverage, and side yard width. It appears the number of units in the building will have to be reduced from 12 to eight if the proposal has any hope of gaining the approval of the municipal affairs ministry. Council was to hold a special meeting Thursday to discuss the proposal further.

“It was decided after a public hearing several weeks ago to proceed with the rezoning from commercial to residential to allow the development to go ahead.”

Lake Flashback: Crack cocaine, salmon, theatre apartment

Restore Regasi cries out to Mnangagwa

Restore Regasi cries out to Mnangagwa

AWARD-winning theatre practitioner Charles Munganasa has urged President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to ensure that artists are free to express themselves because fear often hindered creativity in their work.


Speaking on the sidelines of the staging of his controversial play — Operation Restore Regasi — which chronicles the ouster of former President Robert Mugabe in a soft coup, Munganasa said their play had few takers at the beginning because of its sensitive nature.

“When we were auditioning for the play, we had very few people coming up for auditions, as they were afraid of doing a political play. Artists have been afraid of politics because of the previous Mugabe regime that was so strict when it comes to artists expressing themselves,” he said.

Munganasa said so far, they have not had any problems with the Mnangagwa regime and expressed hope that artists would continue to do their work without political hindrance.

“From the look of things now, it appears artistes will have freedom to exercise our creativity without limitation and intimidation,” he said.
“In this play, we have worked very well with the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, starting from Masvingo. That is why we have no difficulties in donning some of our customs such as the army ones.”

Munganasa features as the former Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander General Constantino Chiwenga.

He urged the government to consider the future of local arts and culture industry, which he said was capable of contributing towards the growth of the country’s economy.
“Government is losing a lot of money because for a long time, it has been silencing arts and culture in Zimbabwe, as they think it is anti-government, but arts and culture can be pro-government. It is high time the government starts contributing towards arts and culture emancipation,” he said.

The play focuses particularly on events that took place at the Blue Roof mansion, Mugabe’s private residence in Harare, and employs an imaginary and satiric style.
It is guided by actual events that took place during that week of immense suspense.

Munganasa said the play would be staged at Theatre in the Park until tomorrow before it goes on tour across the country.

The cast includes other seasoned actors namely Carol Magenga, who features as Grace Mugabe, Farirai Mukumba, Mike Khetani Banda as Mugabe, Dereck Mapfumo, Donovan Takaendesa, Sydney Taivavashe, Rose Zivanai, Marayne Mtetwa and Tatenda Makava.

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Coalition renews call to transform Vancouver’s Hollywood Theatre into non-profit venue

Coalition renews call to transform Vancouver’s Hollywood Theatre into non-profit venue

On April 16, the City of Vancouver is closing the door on public comments about a new plan to restore the iconic Hollywood Theatre.

Opened in 1935, the art deco-style cinema on West Broadway was closed and sold to a development company in 2011.

A previous proposal by the developer to convert the former single-screen theatre into a gym did not push through.

A new application has been filed with city hall, which ties the renovation of the Hollywood Theatre with a condo development on an adjacent lot to the west.

As part of the plan, the theatre will be run as a for-profit venture, hosting live music performances, stage plays, movie screenings, and other functions.

According to the business design included in the development application, the operators will offer discounts for non-profit and free events.

A group that has advocated for the preservation of the Hollywood Theatre has yet to decide whether or not to endorse the plan.

Mel Lehan is a spokesperson of the Save the Hollywood Theatre Coalition.

Three years ago, Lehan’s group released a business plan calling on the city to acquire the 3123 West Broadway property and lease it to an organization that will operate it on a non-profit basis.

The city did not go with the coalition’s suggestion, but Lehan believes it still can.

“The city has chosen not to do, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the power to turn around and do that,” Lehan told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.

According to Lehan, the city can offer the developer extra building density in another property in exchange for the theatre.

He recalled that a few years ago, the developer expressed willingness to trade the theatre for a density transfer on a Granville Street property.

Lehan was referring to Dino Bonnis, one of two siblings in the family-owned Bonnis Properties.

“He was trying to get a very, very high density transfer, and the city turned him down,” Lehan said. “But the point is that at some point, he did offer to give it up. So there is that fine area there. That’s the sweet spot where he is willing to give it up and the city is willing to negotiate for it.”

The proposed development involves a six-storey mixed-use building on the adjacent lot at 3133 West Broadway.

The building will have 40 condo units on top of retail spaces on the ground floor.

According to the business proposal for the theatre, the venue will be run by David Hawkes and Sean Mawhinney.

Hawkes is associated with the Kerasiotis family, which has interests in entertainment and food. Mawhinney, for his part, is a long-time employee with the Bonnis brothers.

The development application is not subject to a public hearing by council. It will be decided by the city’s director of planning.

Play mirrors Mugabe’s last days in power

Play mirrors Mugabe’s last days in power

Play mirrors Mugabe’s last days in powerA scene from “Operation Restore Regasi”

Vongai Mbara Arts Correspondent
A Fully-packed Theatre in The Park was left in stitches after witnessing a comical production that retraces events that transpired during the last days of former president Robert Mugabe in power.

Dubbed “Operation Restore Regasi”, the play follows events, real and imagined, that took place mainly at Mugabe’s private mansion popularly known as Blue Roof following a military intervention codenamed “Operation Restore Legacy”. The crowd was amused by the remarkable display of talent by the cast of mainly young actors who gave an amusing glimpse of what was happening behind the scenes in the wake of the military takeover that took place a few months ago.

Although most of the action is fictional, the story is guided by actual events which took place during the week of suspense. The hilarious account was written and directed by Charles Munganasa and it premiered in Masvingo a few weeks ago. The cast is made up of seasoned and upcoming actors, with Mike Banda playing Mugabe and veteran actress Carol Mpofu as his wife, Grace. The writer also features as the no-nonsense General Chiwenga whilst Dereck Mapfumo, Donovan Takaendesa, Sydney Taivavashe, Rose Zivanai, Marayne Mtetwa and Tatenda Makava make up the rest of the cast.

The play opens at Blue Roof with Grace Mugabe rehearsing her next public tirade against those perceived to be opposed to her ascendency to the presidium, with her domestic worker cheering her on. She is then interrupted by a distressed Mugabe who enters the room followed an angry Constantino Chiwenga with his armed bodyguard. Mugabe is caricatured as a jittery character who however tries to cunningly keep his position despite the military intervention, but is left dejected after finding out that events have overtaken him.

“I am your Commander in Chief and you have no right to deploy yourselves without me giving you the order. You are violating the constitution,” a livid Mugabe tells General Constantino Chiwenga.

Grace is also satirically portrayed as a character with no self-control and as suffering from severe emotional instability, causing her to cry herself unconsciousness when she realises that power has suddenly slipped from her family’s hands when it had just seemed like she had it all under control. The play ends with the public celebrating Mugabe’s resignation, with a flustered Grace crying herself out.

This is one of the best theater staged in a realistic set with great soundtracks. However the play is too long and might lead to loss of audience concentration in some scenes. The director should compress the storyline to shorten the production for future staging.

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Capital Repertory Theatre Has A New Home

Capital Repertory Theatre Has A New Home

One of Albany’s leading arts institutions is moving to new digs, but staying downtown.

Since its inception in 1981, Capital Repertory Theatre has occupied a former supermarket at 111 N. Pearl Street.

Now, on the strength of a $1.8 million Restore New York Communities Initiative grant through Empire State Development, the company is heading to a new Livingston Square space in December 2019.

The National Biscuit Co. building, at 251 N. Pearl Street, will become the new home, with a 300-seat main stage,  full time café and box office.

Producing Artistic Director Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill:   “For me, having a new theater space is all about what we can do on our stage and behind our stage. For the first time, we won’t have columns for people to stare through. Every seat in that theater is going to have a perfect view of the stage, and our backstage people will be able to bring a whole new world of technology to the theater that we can’t right now because of the limitations in our facility. And on top of that, there’s going to be a 70-feet black box theater so that we can do experimental work, we can do some things for children, and we can really develop our new plays in a way that we can’t now.”

Spokesman Michael Eck says the 30,000-square foot former bakery will also house new administrative offices, rehearsal rooms, an event space and dedicated costume and prop shops.   “Now that we’re going to be under our own roof and we can make changes that we desire, we’re gonna be able to have a full-time cafe, a full-time box-office, so we’ll really be open all the time. People could come in and visit. We have great neighbors around the corner with Albany Distilling, Ida Yarbrough Homes across the street, so we’re really gonna make an effort to invest ourselves in the community around Livingston Square.”

Jean Leonard, chief-of-staff at Proctors, theREP and Saratoga Springs’ Universal Preservation Hall, says they’ve been working for a long time to secure a permanent home and theREP intends to be the community centerpiece.   “You know we love the idea of reaching more people. We love the idea of having more space so that we have some options for the kinds of things we do with folks in the neighborhood and beyond. It certainly gives us an opportunity to do more educationally, which is excellent. We already reach more than 17,000 students from 64 schools in the area, but the opportunity that we could reach even more and do it with some different programming is exciting. We love the idea that we’ve become a part of something greater, a piece of the puzzle in Livingston Square, which looks like it’s gonna have some really fun things happening.”

It’s anticipated that during the construction phase, the Livingston Square project will create up to 70 new jobs and have an $11 million impact on the Albany County economy. Officials say once fully operational at Livingston Square, theREP will create 47 permanent jobs and have an annual impact of $4.5 million on the local economy.

A second phase of the Livingston Square transformation will focus on creating on-campus artist housing near Livingston Avenue and Broadway.

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