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What Ottawa police officers wish you knew about distracted driving

Even if it’s at a stoplight, or just for a second, or to answer a call, using your phone while you’re behind the wheel is illegal. Distracted driving is now the leading cause of fatal vehicle incidents and in response, police are stepping up their surveillance efforts. We went behind the scenes on a ride-along […]

Even if it’s at a stoplight, or just for a second, or to answer a call, using your phone while you’re behind the wheel is illegal. Distracted driving is now the leading cause of fatal vehicle incidents and in response, police are stepping up their surveillance efforts.


We went behind the scenes on a ride-along with Ottawa police Const. Sean Ralph to see how police catch texting drivers.


Source: What Ottawa police officers wish you knew about distracted driving
2
Egan: Looks like LRT actually works. But did $2B buy a nickel of excitement?

The first LRT train travelled through the downtown tunnel on the weekend, right to the edge of Tunney’s Pasture. One would have thought, $2 billion and five-plus years later, this would be cause for celebration. Where was the magnum of champagne being rapturously smashed on the bow (the bumper?) of the train — the ribbon-cutting […]

The first LRT train travelled through the downtown tunnel on the weekend, right to the edge of Tunney’s Pasture.


One would have thought, $2 billion and five-plus years later, this would be cause for celebration. Where was the magnum of champagne being rapturously smashed on the bow (the bumper?) of the train — the ribbon-cutting by Watson-Naqvi-Chiarelli-McKenna Inc., the appearance of the town crier and Dave Smith?


Instead, we had a tweet from the mayor on a Saturday afternoon. Then — hang on — some retweets!


This was a lost opportunity, in other words. But this has been the story with the whole building of the LRT. There has, I think, been a failure to engage the public in pride-building in the biggest project the city has ever undertaken. Mass humility, dearest Ottawa, is overrated.


You know, people love watching things being built. This is why they cut holes in hoarding when a highrise goes up, because everyone has a little kid inside them. We want to see. When they did that rapid bridge renewal on the Queensway, for Pete’s sake, they had to instal bleachers for all the curious.


During tunnel construction, I wondered why someone didn’t mount a webcam so we could peek at daily progress. Why not tell us how many feet they crunched through every day? Where was the boatload of hoopla when the tunnel was finally finished? I mean, I once watched an entire documentary on the making of the Chunnel from England to France. Fascinating.


Where was our riveting story of human achievement by mighty machines? Untold.


These people have ripped up downtown (for years), gummed up Scott Street (for years), rerouted our daily flow. Can’t we have the odd high-five?


Why, too, isn’t there a train-facsimile on display somewhere so people can at least have a look inside?


(I see by the web — where we’re to learn everything —  the train has 14 doors, carries about 300 but with only 120 seats and will travel an average of 35 km/hour.) Why, too, isn’t there an LRT office downtown that brags about the great stuff we’re doing, with models and mock-ups and answers to every question we might possibly have?


Oh, for the days of Guy Laflamme and his heart-stopping, fire-breathing Godzillas to chase the bores away!


And it isn’t just me. Here was a followup tweet from Graham Richardson at CTV Ottawa to the transit commission boss, Stephen Blais: “How about allowing a camera down there and we will do a live show? I have been asking for months.”


Instead we had this tweet from His Worship: “An incredible and exciting view from inside the LRT tunnel! A train has gone underground just after uOttawa station, travelled through Rideau, Parliament & Lyon stations and emerged at the West portal, just before Pimisi station! It’s on it’s way to Tunney’s!”





David Jeanes is president of Transport Action Canada and a pretty wise man when it comes to all things rail. He agreed the city missed a chance to put on braggy boots and blast its own horn on the weekend.


“I agree. You’d think when there’s a good news story, it would be good to have the media and the public aware of it.”


He’s been watching the construction of LRT pretty closely, partly by relying on weekly updates from the Confederation Line website (sign up here http://www.ligneconfederationline.ca).


“It’s not really engaging the public as well as it could. And I think for a project of this cost, you could certainly afford to have a lot more public information.”


After the fiasco of the Rideau Street sinkhole, one might have thought completion of this tricky section — and the tunnel itself — would be a milestone worth a holler or two.


“The actual day that they broke through was never announced,” Jeanes said.


In the east end, he said, the Blair and Cyrville stations are virtually complete, as are the Belfast yards. Would it be so hard to have public tours one weekend? In 2017 we had Kontinuum, after all, during which tens of thousands managed to take an underground acid trip through the partially built Lyon station without actually perishing.


Public safety is obviously an issue and there may be an abundance of caution being exercised by Rideau Transit Group, which is building the system under contract. It may suit them just to finish the job and hand over the keys, foregoing the dog-and-pony part.


But a thing to remember about a paying audience: We love a dog, we love a pony, we don’t love a tweet.



The city responded to our inquiries with the following statement:


“An O-train Confederation Line train was moved from the eastern alignment to the western end over the weekend. This move was part of the testing and commissioning of the train, tracks and guideway. As testing schedules shift due to a number of factors, it was not possible to hold a media event at a precise time. Testing from Tunney’s Pasture and the West Portal will now occur on a regular basis, as has been underway for several months from Blair to uOttawa Station.


The City of Ottawa and RTG are focused on meeting the revised Revenue Service Availability date and launching a reliable, efficient and environmentally friendly LRT system in November of this year.


Updates on the progress of construction and testing are provided at the Finance and Economic Development Committee. The next update on the Confederation Line will be presented on May 1, 2018.” — Steve Cripps, director, O-Train construction


To contact Kelly Egan, please call 613-726-5896 or email kegan@postmedia.com


Twitter.com/kellyegancolumn


Source: Egan: Looks like LRT actually works. But did $2B buy a nickel of excitement?
3
Cappies review: Ridgemont High's We'll Be Better Later presented with effortless poise and grace

Show #12: We’ll Be Better Later Where: Ridgemont High School Director: Jessie Lavallee Tory Woodhead, Critic Elmwood School Ping! You hurriedly look for your phone. What was it? A text? A Snap? An Instagram comment? A Twitter notification? You search and search and you cannot find it. And then you remember you are in rehab […]

Show #12: We’ll Be Better Later


Where: Ridgemont High School


Director: Jessie Lavallee




Tory Woodhead, Critic


Elmwood School


Ping! You hurriedly look for your phone. What was it? A text? A Snap? An Instagram comment? A Twitter notification? You search and search and you cannot find it. And then you remember you are in rehab for your Internet addiction. For six teens, this horrifying tale is a reality. In Ridgemont High School’s production of Laura Jacqmin’s We’ll Be Better Later, this timely cyber comedy was brought to life.


At a rehabilitation centre for teenagers obsessed with the internet, things are what you would expect: Boring. The prisoners, however, are anything but that. There are the twins, Brianna and Beatrice, two soccer fanatic sisters who cannot live without their Manchester United stats; Fiona, a girl of coarse character who is obsessed with an online role play game; Sari, a girl obsessed with everything Japan; and Maycayla, the shy one of the bunch, who would rather talk to people online than IRL (in real life).


Every day, this eclectic group is cooped up and ordered around by a stern General and his Minion, who both insist that the teens pedal their addictions away, until Lauren walks on the scene and everything changes. Lauren, a boy obsessed with algebra, decides to start a revolution against the tyrannical General, and with the help of the other prisoners, maybe, just maybe, they will finally get their phones back.


Ridgemont High School portrayed this hyper relevant piece with effortless poise and grace. Although only a cast of eight, every member’s stage presence and talent was enough to fill the whole auditorium.


Johnny Ramsay shone as Lauren, perfectly embodying the awkward character with ease and ingenuity. Even when he did not speak, his stage presence was undeniable. From frog puns to his crazy dance moves, when he was on stage, hilarity ensued.


Gabriela Cubar stunned as the shy Maycayla. With her body language and constant movement, her performance seemed natural. She gracefully assumed this quiet role, but through her portrayal, her character was never stuck in the shadows.


This performance was enhanced by the minimalist set comprised of a few tables, chairs, and rust-stained walls. The set perfectly depicted stereotypical prison-like conditions and brought the story to life. The stage crew also added to the show. Each member of the stage crew was wearing janitor-like jumpsuits to make them seem like a part of the detention centre itself. The stage crew was able to seamlessly transition between scenes, and the sound and lighting crew were always right on cue.


Ridgemont High School put on an amazing rendition of this timely play. It was so entertaining that I didn’t even feel the need to check my cellphone once.





Allison Anderson, Lead Critic


St. Patrick’s High School


“I present to you a revolution!” Ridgemont High School’s production of We’ll Be Better Later was a conceptual and entertaining story of antisocialism and teenage empowerment.


Written by Laura Jacqmin, this present day technological dystopia tells the story of a ragtag gang of antisocial teenagers. Obsessed with the internet to the extreme, their parents send them all away for rehabilitation. When newcomer Lauren arrives, he shakes things up and starts a revolution! Changing lives and giving the inmates more help than they could have received from the General, Lauren uses his quirks to save the day.


Playing the part of the quirky hero of this story, Johnny Ramsay as Lauren effectively portrayed the character. Using exaggerated movements and facial expressions, Ramsay always stayed in character and held up the illusion of the show. His comedic delivery was evident in the algebra battle between his character and the General, portrayed by Thomas Pilson.


Pilson used his total control of voice to set the mood of the scene. In his monologue, dedicated to the daughter who left him, Pilson showed his versatility when he snapped right back into the fear-imposing General. Gabriela Cubar as Maycayla was consistent with her character. Constantly twiddling her thumbs as a nod to her inhibiting shyness, Cubar showed characterization even without speaking. Also, when the character finally comes out of her shell, Cubar gave good enunciation, making her thoughts and emotions very clear.


The sets were minimalistic and worked well with the show. As a rehabilitation centre is the location for every scene, the set team adequately designed and realized their ideas for the sets, finishing them with detail and creativity. The voice over of what was meant to be a calming voice to the inmates gave an interesting effect. The lighting also added to the show, helping to portray the different emotions of the characters. The sounds chosen for the background of the scenes, including music as well as sirens, fit the scenes very well.


Ridgemont High School’s production of We’ll Be Better Later gave a criminally good performance. Giving 110%, the cast and crew were successful in their performance of this dystopian comedy.





Grace Goldberg, Critic


Elmwood School


Confinement and no electronics are hard enough for any teenager, but when a bunch of internet-addicted and online-obsessed adolescents are put into one detention camp, a revolution is brewing. Ridgemont High School’s intriguing rendition of the humorous dark comedy We’ll be Better Later, proved that just because you may be a social outcast, does not mean that you are socially hopeless.


Laura Jacqmin’s We’ll be Better Later, originally published in 2012, has become a captivating play as the idea of technology over-taking teenagers is much more prevalent in modern day society. Having been abandoned by their parents at a reform camp for online-obsessed teenagers and forced to make small talk about the weather, the adolescent inmates are miserable. The ever-bickering twins, Beatrice and Brianna, cannot check up on their soccer stats, intimidating Fiona shall not destroy in her online fantasy world, captivated Sari is isolated from immersing herself in Japanese culture, and quiet Maycayla will not conquer her shyness. However, when the new kid, algebra loving Lauren, is “enrolled” here by his parents, he fearlessly revolts against The General with the help of the other imprisoned teens. Through a straightforward performance of We’ll be Better Later, Ridgemont High School captured what it means to be a band of misfits yet still prevail.


Johnny Ramsay in the geeky role of algebra-wiz Lauren truly embodied the character. Ramsay conveyed Lauren’s awkwardness with an outgoing take on the character through his voice and physicality. He instantly displayed the character’s personality as he reluctantly gave up his calculator and phone from his pockets. With deliberate movements and facial expressions, he displayed hesitance as he sheepishly gave up one electronic and then the next. Ramsay also took full advantage of the spotlight while he delivered jokes about frogs and laughed at his own quips in order to further develop the social inadequacy of the character.


As the dynamic and commanding General, Thomas Pilson created an atmosphere of hilarity as well as compassion. From his voice and stance to his heartfelt monologue about his missing daughter, Pilson moved seamlessly between the layers of emotion and expertly used his sunglasses and jacket to convey many of the character’s inner feelings.


Lighting also played an important role in creating the atmosphere needed in order to allow the set to come to life as a detention camp. Chris Commons, Lighting Designer and Operator, used a white light illuminating The General’s platform and ceiling, which truly resembled a correctional facility’s watch light. During the final scene, Commons utilized coloured, flickering lights to symbolize the inmates’ victorious escape. Commons did not falter once and used lighting to convey a realistic set.


Costuming and hair done by Kierra Mendonca further assisted in connecting the actors to the inmates. The actors were adorned with orange t-shirts, making them look like prisoners. The General also had a very distinctive costume, which set him apart from the rest of the characters by symbolizing his authority. Hair was not only accurately fitting under the circumstances of the camp but was also designed to enhance character traits. While the soccer-loving twins each had two French braids, The General had gelled and neat hair, typical for an authority figure. The misunderstood and Japanese loving Sari wore two buns atop her head displaying her passion for Japan.


Ridgemont High School’s We’ll Be Better Later called attention onto itself, due to the well-thought-out design of the lighting, hair, and costumes. Also, its small cast expertly delivered relevant humour to convey the theme that even the socially awkward are not socially hopeless.





Rachel Konkal, Critic


Notre Dame High School


Everyone is telling the younger generations that they are addicted to their phones! But what is being done about it to help the pixel prone people of the world? We’ll Be Better Later by Laura Jacqmin takes a comedic approach to the problem with a story of a prison-like camp meant to fix the antisocial, backward youths of today. Ridgemont High school performed with a creative flourish, making their play unique.


When Lauren, another internet-obsessive teen, comes to the General’s rehabilitation camp, the methods used there perplex him. The puppy video hours, pedaling, and talking exercises seem futile to him. But any resistance to the General’s orders are met with yelling, intimidation and solitary confinement. Lauren is then driven to help his fellow screen-starved inmates plan a revolution, and hopefully a realization by the adults, that there’s nothing wrong with having different passions. Along the way the teens also realize that maybe some things, like friends, are better made outside of the internet.


The Ridgemont crew, led by Artistic Director Kierra Mendonca, set the dark but humorous mood with all their creative adaptations to the play. The feeling of oppression was heightened by the imposing set, with the watchtower and rust stains on the prison walls. The whole set was turned from a scary inescapable jail, to a ridiculous daycare-like place by all the stuffed animals strewn about, and the aggressive but friendly demeanour that Thomas Pilson and Tyrone-Wesley Marcotte directed towards the other actors. Another creative flourish they added was a rap song for the finale, written and performed by Kamar Edwards. They all did a fantastic job of making the whole play funny, and relatable.


There are many good things to be said about Johnny Ramsay as Lauren, the newcomer into the camp. He never lost character and was always interesting to watch due to his moving, reacting, looking about in bewilderment and implementing his own geeky gestures. He seemed genuinely excited about his algebra and frog jokes. Ramsay knew exactly what to do to be the comedic epicentre of the show. He also played well off of Gabriela Cubar as the shy girl Maycayla. She reacted to everything in a way that displayed the struggles Maycayla has without the confidence the internet gives her. By jumping away from the chair she flipped, and always avoiding the gaze of others, Cubar was constantly reacting, a skill that all actors should master, and Cubar has


Layla Kairouz and Lama Hammoud as the twins, Beatrice and Brianna, made such a perfect pair, with their almost matching hair and shirt customizations. It was hard to tell them apart, they acted so in sync. It was if they were both one character. Another pair that did well was Pilson and Marcotte as the General and Minion. These two however, were the opposite of each other, with Marcotte being the strong but soft hearted one while Pilson played the resolute, commanding figure. As with opposite ends of a magnet, they stuck together well.


Thanks to the creativity of the cast and crew at Ridgemont High School, they produced a thoroughly funny show that was relevant to the youth of today. They approached the very real issue of internet addiction with humour and compassion. If at first there seems to be no solution to a problem, laugh at it, then maybe it will be easier to deal with. That is the message that Ridgemont High school gave with their production of We’ll Be Better Later.


 





Reona Wilcox, Lead Critic


Colonel By Secondary School


Take out your ear buds, turn off your phones and get ready for a revolution. Ridgemont High School’s rendition of the darkly comedic play We’ll Be Better Later was entertaining and reminded us to never give up on our potential.


We’ll Be Better Later depicts the story of a group of cell phone-addicted teens who are living their days in a detention centre, forced to make small talk and completely isolated from their phones. This is all done in an attempt to rehabilitate them. But how long must they stay here? Days, weeks, months, years? When Lauren, an algebra obsessed teen, enters into their ranks, he reminds them of life outside the detention centre’s walls, and how they are not as odd as everyone makes them out to be. With his help, is their dream of escape possible?


The cast of We’ll Be Better Later made an admirable effort, with expressive, detail-oriented performances. The creativity aspects put into the play, specifically a rap written by Kamar Edwards, allowed for the principle theme of We’ll Be Better Later to stand out – technology and its impact on our lives.


Johnny Ramsay personified the oddball teen, Lauren. Ramsay commanded the stage, with his consistently animated movements that brought out just what made Lauren so unique. This, coupled with a natural entertaining quality to his voice, enhanced the comedic nature of the role.


As the shy but supporting Maycayla, Gabriela Cubar did a fantastic job. She effectively brought out the timid nature of the character with subtle movements. Whether it was a simple taping on her leg to demonstrate her unease or fearing the sound of her chair falling over, Cubar was a compelling sight.


Amongst a cast of wonderfully amusing actors, Lauren Pennington stood out as the MMORPG gamer, Fiona. Pennington demonstrated a large range of emotions, and the moments where her character was angry were well executed and always enhanced the energy of a scene.


Kierra Mendonca and her team designed costumes that were simple but well executed, with little touches of detail on the prison jumpsuits that brought to life every character, distinguishing each one from the rest. This cohesiveness was effective in bringing solidarity to the main group of prisoners. Chris Commons’ direction of stage lighting was impressive and always on time, never missing a cue. Likewise, the sound effects were fun and imaginative. Many different sounds were used throughout We’ll Be Better Later, everything from ringtones to disco music to drums at the end of a joke. Duthi Deb’s choices allowed for a riveting production.


Ridgemont High School’s production of We’ll Be Better Later was unusual and expressive, bringing about a thoughtful discussion on our use of technology and our interactions with others. This absurd production showed us just how un-absurd are the actual lives we live without technology.




About the reviews:

The production at Ridgemont High School was reviewed by 24 critics representing 9 schools. The critic discussions were mentored by teacher Wendy Gunter-Woods of Woodroffe High School and student reviews were edited and selected for publication by teacher Deborah Grinnell of Glebe Collegiate Institute, who could see only the reviews, not the names or schools of the reviewers.


Next review: Woodroffe High School’s production of The Pajama Game.


 About the Cappies


The Citizen and 24 high schools are participating in the Cappies, a Washington, D.C.-based program that uses high school critics to review high school theatre. The program is a unique partnership between the Citizen, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board and the Ottawa Catholic School Board. Two schools from other boards in the region and two private schools have also joined. The four winners of the lead acting categories will receive a bursary provided by the international law firm Gowling WLG Canada LLP. Follow the Cappies on Twitter @OttawaCappies. 


Source: Cappies review: Ridgemont High's We'll Be Better Later presented with effortless poise and grace
4
Police lay 54 charges in commercial vehicle inspection blitz

Ottawa police teamed up with the ministries of transportation and environment to lay 54 charges in a commercial vehicle inspection blitz in the city’s west side Wednesday. The inspections focused on the safety of commercial vehicles and their drivers. Following 36 inspections, police said 10 vehicles were deemed of out of service and 54 charges […]

Ottawa police teamed up with the ministries of transportation and environment to lay 54 charges in a commercial vehicle inspection blitz in the city’s west side Wednesday.


The inspections focused on the safety of commercial vehicles and their drivers.


Following 36 inspections, police said 10 vehicles were deemed of out of service and 54 charges were laid as a result of poor maintenance, improper load securement, missed annual inspections or moving violations.


Among the defective vehicles, police found a commercial truck with a cracked frame and a number of vehicles that didn’t respect environmental regulations.


Source: Police lay 54 charges in commercial vehicle inspection blitz
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Aga Khan Academies partner with Ryerson University on training for innovation

The Aga Khan Academies and Ryerson University have established a partnership to help develop Academies students as part of the next wave of socially conscious young innovators. Ryerson is providing 12 fellowships over three years for Academies students and faculty to attend the Ryerson summer programme. The collaboration between Ryerson University and the Academies gives talented students the opportunity to accelerate their learning and hands-on experience with innovation and entrepreneurship at one of Ontario’s premier universities.



Source: Aga Khan Academies partner with Ryerson University on training for innovation
6
Defence Watch / Police arrest man for carrying a knife downtown
« Last post by One Veteran One Standard on April 10, 2018, 09:00:25 PM »
Police arrest man for carrying a knife downtown

Ottawa police have arrested a man for carrying a knife at the corner of Albert and Elgin streets Tuesday afternoon.  Const. Chuck Benoit said a suspect was in police custody. No further information was released, including whether charges had been laid. An officer was on site to investigate.  

Ottawa police have arrested a man for carrying a knife at the corner of Albert and Elgin streets Tuesday afternoon. 


Const. Chuck Benoit said a suspect was in police custody.


No further information was released, including whether charges had been laid.


An officer was on site to investigate.


 


Source: Police arrest man for carrying a knife downtown
7
Veteran MPP Chiarelli tells supporters to prepare for election battle

Bob Chiarelli expressed cautious optimism at his nomination rally in Ottawa West-Nepean on Saturday, telling supporters they will need to fight hard to retain the provincial government on June 7. The political veteran reminded his supporters that back in 1987 he was the first Liberal to win the riding since Confederation and, “I’m not letting […]

Bob Chiarelli expressed cautious optimism at his nomination rally in Ottawa West-Nepean on Saturday, telling supporters they will need to fight hard to retain the provincial government on June 7.


The political veteran reminded his supporters that back in 1987 he was the first Liberal to win the riding since Confederation and, “I’m not letting go.”


“We’re going to deliver the bacon,” the cabinet minister told a packed sports pub on Merivale Road.


Several Ottawa-area Liberal candidates, including Attorney General Yasir Naqvi, attended the boisterous event.


Chiarelli, the minister of infrastructure, wasted no time taking on his political rivals, charging that while the NDP is stealing the Liberal platform, Tory MPP Lisa MacLeod in neighbouring Nepean-Carleton riding is stealing the Liberal record. Standing on stage with Premier Kathleen Wynne looking on, he referred to a MacLeod brochure that said she had opened 20 schools since elected to Queen’s Park.


“(Lisa McLeod) may have cut the ribbon, but Kathleen Wynne delivered the cheque,” Chiarelli said to much applause.


MacLeod responded to Chiarelli’s remarks when reached by this newspaper on Saturday.


“Bob Chiarelli, just like the Wynne government, has passed his best before date,” she said. “If all they can do is attack me, then they have absolutely no ideas left.”  


Wynne also addressed the crowd Saturday, telling them Ontario has a stark choice on election day — either vote back in the invest-now-and-pay-later Liberals or face great uncertainty with across-the-board cuts under a Tory government that will leave Ontarians fending for themselves. The premier praised Chiarelli’s record as a “proven fighter.”


Wynne and Chiarelli warned that a Tory government could jeopardize their spending promises, which locally include a $1.8-billion super hospital. 


The Liberal pre-election budget also injected $38 million into the annual operating budgets of seven local hospitals.


Chiarelli has held public office for decades, and before that he practised commercial law for 18 years. And while he stopped practising law years ago, he still uses the same system he refined at his old law office. Someone comes in the door with a problem, and he opens a file and tries to help.


“And I do whatever needs to be done to help. I enjoy serving the public and nobody’s second fiddle, everyone is treated equally … I enjoy serving the public,” he told this newspaper.


Veteran Ottawa West Nepean MPP Bob Chiarelli with his wife randi Hansen at Chiarelli’s nomination meeting Saturday, April 7. Gary Dimmock, Postmedia


And why should Ontarians vote in another Liberal government?


“I think the message is that we’re delivering for the people of Ontario in a financially responsible way,” said Chiarelli, noting that the Liberals have increased spending for mental health and hospitals.


Chiarelli  heaped praise on his leader, saying Wynne is like Wayne Gretzky because she’s always one move ahead of the puck.


The former Ottawa mayor, who grew up near Preston Street, played university hockey in the 1960s.


gdimmock@postmedia.com


www.twitter.com/crimegarden


 


Source: Veteran MPP Chiarelli tells supporters to prepare for election battle
8
Defence Watch / Omari Newton brings hiphop-inspired play to NAC
« Last post by One Veteran One Standard on April 06, 2018, 04:00:02 PM »
Omari Newton brings hiphop-inspired play to NAC

Omari Newton is the creative force behind The Lamentable Tragedy of Sal Capone, the tale of a hiphop crew that loses its DJ in a police shooting. Triggered by a real-life police shooting in his hometown of Montreal, the 38-year-old playwright, now based in Vancouver, tells a story that touches on issues of misogyny, homophobia […]

Omari Newton is the creative force behind The Lamentable Tragedy of Sal Capone, the tale of a hiphop crew that loses its DJ in a police shooting. Triggered by a real-life police shooting in his hometown of Montreal, the 38-year-old playwright, now based in Vancouver, tells a story that touches on issues of misogyny, homophobia and injustice, but also contains plenty of music. “It’s not a full-on musical,” says the former MC for the Montreal acid-jazz outfit, Kobayashi. “It’s a play with a lot of live music and a lot of hiphop performances.”  Here’s more from a recent interview with Newton. 


Q: This is your first full-length play. How did you arrive at being a playwright?  


A: I’d always been involved in theatre as an actor. I became an Equity member when I was 19 years old. When I was starting out, I was strictly involved in being on stage. But I’ve always been naturally curious and I’ve always done non-dramatic writing. I write essays, had a blog for a while. I write a column in Vancouver called YVR Screen Scene. I’ve been a writer for a while.


Q: What inspired this script?


A: The 2008 incident, where a young person of colour in Montreal, Fredy Villanueva, was shot and killed by police. This was before the Black Lives Matter movement started in the United States, and before the issue of police brutality was ubiquitous in mainstream media. I felt pretty frustrated. I didn’t feel there was enough being said about these shootings, and there were others I’d heard about. I didn’t have a way to express this. My friend and mentor, (director) Diane Roberts, encouraged me to put my thoughts into a play.


Q: What was the process like for you?


A: Because of my experience as an actor, I was somewhat familiar with playwriting structure. Initially I attempted to write a one-person show, and soon realized it really was not working. So I wrote a really horrible first draft back in 2008, and Diane helped dramaturge the play. We worked very closely in the beginning to develop it together.


Q: That was 10 years ago. Did you have concerns that the issue would lose relevance by the time it got to the stage?


A: When you write a play or any creative endeavour, you never really have the endgame in mind, you just want to get the story out and get it told. I kept writing it and kept developing it. Once we thought it was in a good place, we started shopping it around to different companies, and sadly, by the time Black Theatre Workshop and Urban Ink agreed to produce the show, there was this spate of police shootings. Trayvon Martin happened, Mike Brown happened. There were too many to name, and sadly, it became even more relevant as the years go on.


Q: The play also addresses some of the negative aspects of hiphop culture. Why was that important to you?


A: As a longtime fan and also a performing hiphop artist, I’ve been immersed in hiphop culture for a very long time. I think hiphop culture is one of the main influences on me as a person and an artist. The way that I construct plays is influenced by hip hop in that it’s the art form that draws from different cultures and melds things together. I wanted to both explore the subject matter that inspired the piece and do an homage to this culture that I felt meant so much to me. But in doing this homage, I realized I had to address some of the faults as well as the things I admire. Things like misogyny and homophobia can be pretty widespread in hip hop, mainstream hip hop in particular. I wanted to address that part of the culture in my piece.


Q: Has the play changed since it was first staged?


A: The script was written mid-Harper regime, pre-Trump, and right on the cusp of Obama being elected. It was a very different landscape politically and from a social justice standpoint. We’ve adapted the script to exist in a post-Trump, Justin Trudeau, Black Lives Matter world. We try as much as we can to update certain references so that they’re relevant to the cities we’re playing in. The city it’s set in is called Real City, Canada, so it’s not a real place. It represents inner cities you’ll find in most major cities in Canada and the U.S.


Q: How big of a deal is for you to have your play staged at the National Arts Centre?


A: It’s a great honour for a kid from Côte-des-Neiges, Montreal who started acting when he was young. From a personal standpoint, as an artist, it’s flattering to think that your play is respected enough to show at the NAC, but as an artist of colour, it’s inspiring to me that audiences will get to hear the concerns and some of the fears, and the culture that I grew up influenced by, given a platform as big as the NAC. One of my frustrations starting out was that I didn’t see many people like me on stage or I didn’t see stories that were particular to my culture on stage. I love it, even if it’s just one or two kids sitting in that audience, go ‘Yeah, it speaks to me, it relates to me.’ The impact can be huge. It means a great deal to me.


Q: What’s your next theatre project?


A:  I’ve been commissioned to write a companion piece to Sal Capone that tells the story from the point of view of the police officer involved in the shooting. One of my goals is always to tell a balanced story. It’s not an anti-police play. I don’t hate cops. But it’s a play that recognizes that systemic police brutality is an issue.


The Lamentable Tragedy of Sal Capone

When: April 10-21, 8 p.m., Saturday matinees at  2 p.m.

Where: Azrieli Studio, National Arts Centre

Tickets: available at nac-cna.ca, ticketmaster.ca or the NAC box office


Source: Omari Newton brings hiphop-inspired play to NAC
9
Ottawa skip Steve Kot leaves legacy of curling prowess, highway luck

As a decisive curling skip, Steve Kot left little to chance. One morning on the downtown Queensway, though, luck was his saving grace, giving Kathleen and Steve Kot the gift of another 19 years together. That precious time ended last Thursday, March 29, when Kot died at home of pneumonia, surrounded by family with love […]

As a decisive curling skip, Steve Kot left little to chance.


One morning on the downtown Queensway, though, luck was his saving grace, giving Kathleen and Steve Kot the gift of another 19 years together. That precious time ended last Thursday, March 29, when Kot died at home of pneumonia, surrounded by family with love in their hearts and a prayer hymn in their voices. He was 93.


The Kots made local headlines on Feb. 3, 1999, when their Ford Taurus wagon was struck by a pickup truck, flew off the Queensway near Bronson Avenue and plunged about 10 metres onto Catherine Street, flipping over twice before landing upright. A movie crash shot. Kot was 74 at the time, his bride, 71. Their incredible fortune was that the car struck a storage building, interrupting their fall.


On the scene, news photographer Errol McGihon captured an amazing image of Kathleen’s face, framed by a broken windshield. Now 90, Kathleen says she wore the “purple seat belt imprint” for a long time following the crash. Her husband suffered a broken collarbone, but was released from hospital.


Their son, Jim, was at work when a colleague said he’d just witnessed a car flying off the Queensway. Jim said, “I guess those people are gone?”


“Oh definitely.”


A minute later, Jim’s phone rang. It was the police, telling him his parents had been taken to hospital following a car crash. THE crash. The OPP officer who interviewed the Kots about it was none other than Lyndon Slewidge, known for his anthem renditions at Senators hockey games.


Steve Kot with wife Kathleen.


Slewidge said at the time he had never known a more spectacular highway crash. Today, the newsprint coverage is part of the Kot memorabilia, along with nearly 70 years of curling hardware and pins from a life on the pebbled ice.


Steve Kot was born on his family farm in McTaggart, Sask., in 1924. He missed Grade 11 to help his dad work the fields, but that didn’t stop him from earning a Governor General’s Academic Award as the top student in Grade 12. With a university education, he came to Ottawa in 1948, age 23, to work as a patent examiner, and joined the Glebe Curling Club at Lansdowne Park with some colleagues.


Kot spent 41 years at the patent office, including as a judge on the patent appeal board.


In his personal life, like all great love stories, this one began … in an elevator?


Seems Kot had seen a vision on the lift one day and asked around. Kathleen Bull, the woman who caught his eye, was working for a Crown corporation in the same government building, and had a friend in Kot’s office. They got introduced. The first date was memorable.


“He took me to the Exhibition, and I saw all the lovely farm implements,” says Kathleen, laughing.


In 1985 Steve Kot, Dick Wilbur, Bob Mackenzie and George Ward won the Ontario Seniors and went to Canadian Seniors at Yorkton, Sask. They came second and lost on the last rock to Saskatchewan.


They married, had six children — Mary Ellen, Kathleen, Patricia, Theresa, Jim and Stephen — most of them still clustered today not far from the Kot abode on Cowley Avenue in Champlain Park, a stone’s throw from the Ottawa River.


The Kots have been on Cowley for 62 years, after living three years at the Bull home on Spencer, a few blocks to the south. Kathleen has lived her entire 90 year-life within a radius of about one kilometre in Ottawa’s west end.


Kot was beyond capable, whether directing a curling team or under the hood of a car. He repaired autos and did plumbing, electrical and carpentry for all his children, as needed. He would return each fall to Saskatchewan to help his parents with the harvest. Hardwired for hard work, at 92, he was still mowing his lawn in 30-degree heat.


In 1969, the Glebe Curling Club closed and Kot moved to the Navy club near Dow’s Lake. Len Fluet was Kot’s partner on the back end from 1962 until a few weeks before his death. Kot was still curling on two replaced knees in late January, age 93. About five years ago, Kot asked Fluet to throw skip rock while he shifted to third. Over the years, they went through numerous front-end players.


Kot’s first city of Ottawa Bonspiel is believed to be 1955. Fluet joined up several years later. They had their moments, representing Ontario in two senior Canadian curling championships, finishing second with a 9-2 record in 1985.


Len Fluet started curling with Steve in 1962. Tony Caldwell/Postmedia


 


Memorabilia and photos of curler Steve Kot. Tony Caldwell

Memorabilia and photos of curler Steve Kot. Tony Caldwell/Postmedia


“He was very competitive and read the ice well, right up to the end,” Fluet says. “His strategy was always solid. He didn’t try anything real fancy.” Or, what Kot would call “circus shots.”


A little unsteady on the ice in later years, he fell and hurt his right arm. Without missing a beat, he threw stones with the left, making 70 per cent of his shots.


On Monday, Fluet played a game at the Navy Club in Kot’s honour. There was a moment of silence. He quietly cleaned out his friend’s locker and brought his broom and other effects to the family.


“He was a well liked man,” Fluet says. “People would always come up and talk to him, sometimes they hadn’t seen him for years. They always remembered Steve.”


Kot played all over the region, Kingston, Thousand Islands … always noting the closest Catholic Church for mass on Sunday or Saturday eve.


Kathleen’s mother used to say she could tell by the sound of Steve’s feet on the steps if he’d won that day.


A humble, quiet man, he would have scoffed at any fuss over his passing.


The family will remember his devotion and spirit of adventure, never more apparent than during an epic tent-trailer car trip to California in 1968: 8,000 miles in six weeks, six young kids, with frequent stops for ice cream. During the Depression in the Prairies, Steve’s mother once made ice cream using hailstones. He thought it was the best thing going.


He will be missed, all over town, but especially on Cowley Avenue.


“I wish it was all a dream,” Kathleen said, as all around grew silent.


Along with his beloved wife of 65 years, Kot leaves six children, 10 grandchildren and two great-grandkids. Visitation is 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. Thursday at Hulse, Playfair & McGarry, 150 Woodroffe Ave. Funeral mass is 11 a.m. Friday 11 at St. George’s Parish, 415 Piccadilly Ave., where the Kots were married.


wscanlan@postmedia.com


Source: Ottawa skip Steve Kot leaves legacy of curling prowess, highway luck
10
Aga Khan Academies partner with Ryerson University on training for innovation

The Aga Khan Academies and Ryerson University have established a partnership to help develop Academies students as part of the next wave of socially conscious young innovators. Ryerson is providing 12 fellowships over three years for Academies students and faculty to attend the Ryerson summer programme. The collaboration between Ryerson University and the Academies gives talented students the opportunity to accelerate their learning and hands-on experience with innovation and entrepreneurship at one of Ontario’s premier universities.



Source: Aga Khan Academies partner with Ryerson University on training for innovation
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