Chronicle: New TV stars; a stampede to Russia; book on crows
JOAN ALIEN,ANTONY FERRY,SANDRA GWYNJanuary261963
Chronicle: New TV stars; a stampede to Russia; book on crows
The CBC's talent scouts have been doing most of their scouting lately at the National Theatre School in Montreal, and already they’ve come up with some of the brightest young performers to emerge in years. Three of the new faces belong to students in their third and final year at the school: Heath Lamberts, 21, of Toronto; Diane Leblanc, 21, of Montreal; and Donnelly Rhodes, 24, of Winnipeg. The people responsible for their discovery are two of the CBC’s best producers, Harvey Hart and Paul Almond, and the CBC casting director. Eva Langbord, who helped organize the National Theatre School three years ago.
What they like about the newcomers are the same things they look for in all prospects: talent. a certain dedication, and sound basic training. The National Theatre School, which set out to prepare a corps of Canadian actors for the theatre, has already proven to the professionals that it can at least operate as a firstclass training ground for TV.
Diane Leblanc, whom Hart calls “a raw talent with a fine future,” switched from the French to the English-speaking section of the school during her second year, in the certain belief that an actor who works in both Canadian languages has a higher chance of survival. She appeared in Almond's production of The Broken Sky last November and got the demanding role ot Hedvig in Hart’s production of Ihsen s The Wild Duc. , scheduled for telecast Feb. 25. Lamberts and Rhodes were also in The Broken Sky, and both will appear under Harts direction in David. Chapter II. an original ninety-minute Festival by M. Charles
Cohen, to be shown Jan. 28. Rhodes was upgraded from a minor part to the star role in David when a Hollywood actor, originally assigned to play it, backed out on the first day of rehearsals. “It was a break for both of us.” says Hart, meaning for both him and Rhodes. Rhodes also appeared (with his wife, Martha Henry, an NTS graduate) in the Almond production of Christopher Fry’s Venus Observed. scheduled for Jan. 7.
All three students still carry their full load of classes at the school, taking time out to commute to Toronto for their TV parts. But if they continue to please Hart and Almond they may well be national TV stars before they get diplomas proving they can act.
Ill an art market that sometimes seems totally dedicated to abstract painting, a young Victorian suitably named J. Fenwick Lansdowne has proven that the gentle art of painting beautiful birds can still make big money. His three-exhibition show of 123 paintings—it opened simultaneously in New York. Montreal and Toronto last month—sold out within a week for a total of $25,000. or about $200 a picture.
The three-city success confirmed what some critics and most ornithologists have known ever since he was discovered six years ago: that Lansdowne is one of the world's best bird painters. Crippled by childhood polio. Lansdowne began painting without a single art lesson. When he was 19. in 1956. his pictures were seen by John Livingston, the president of the Audubon Society of Canada, who recognized at once the quality that makes great bird painting: imagination combined with absolute accuracy, down to the last pin feather.
The Audubon Society sponsored Lansdowne’s first exhibition in Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum in 1956. The pictures drew some good reviews and sold for $10 and $15. They also attracted a shrewd dealer in art. M. F. Feheley. a partner in the Toronto firm of TDF Advertising Artists. Feheley prebought Lansdowne’s entire output by agreeing to pay him a minimum yearly salary of $4.000 in return for forty pictures. Since then Lansdowne has been quietly painting his birds and flowers in Victoria. B.C.. and Feheley has been quietly salting them away in his Toronto vault. When the time came to let them out Feheley also published a portfolio of six Lansdowne reproductions, for $9 a copy.
The Lansdowne-Feheley enterprise has more ambitious plans for the future: a show in London next spring and another in Switzerland a year later. Lansdowne would also like to do a couple of books—one on hens and one on crows, which he feels other painters have neglected. “If he wants to paint crows or hens, it’s all right with me." Feheley says. “I like birds.” JOAN ALLEN
The cultural czar of Montreal—if anyone can claim the title—is a temperamental son of the Black Sea coast named Nicholas Koudriavtzeff. Koudriavtzeff, who sports a white goatee, is temperamental in the grand manner of old world impresarios: in Toronto recently he scrapped 25.000 programs for a Bolshoi Ballet appearance because the programs gave more prominence to Sol Hurok's name than to his own. Hurok. the New York impresario, persuaded Koudriavtzeff twenty years ago to join him in the business of trading internationally in the performing arts. The two have worked closely together ever since. But, as Koudriavtzeff says, he has his own firm— Canadian Concerts and Artists — and his own North American scoops. He brought the Peking Opera, the Red Army chorus and the
Moscow Circus to Canada without the help of Hurok or any other American impresario.
Right now Koudriavtzcff's wildest dream is to send something sensational the other way: he'd like Moscow to see the RCMP Musical Ride plus the entire Calgary Stampede. He says the idea has been accepted “in principle” by Soviet cultural authorities. Whether they’ll actually accept all those horses and chuckwagons is still in question, but Koudriavtzeff is confident of eventual success.
For Montreal—and for Koudriavtzeff—the culture business has never looked brighter than it does now. He'll supply concert stars, ballet, and European drama for the three new theatres (4.900 seats, all told) in the multimillion-dollar Place des Arts when it opens late this year. He also plans to bring important foreign extravaganzas to help make Montreal’s 1967 World's Fair the biggest art festival in North America. To do it he recently went off to Europe to negotiate. So far his likeliest bets for '67 are the Comedie Française and the Théâtre National Populaire of France.
Most film festivals show art films: the next Canadian film festival will be devoted entirely to the highly developed field of films on art. In Ottawa, from May 23 to 25. people who make films about painting and sculpture, people who use them in their work, and people who just like watching them will all attend the first international festival of films on art ever held in Canada.
The idea came originally from UNESCO headquarters in Paris, which has sponsored similar festivals in Moscow, Madrid, and Bergamo. It was taken up here by organizations like the Film Board and the CBC. which are now co-operating with UNESCO in organizing it. About 100 delegates from North America and Europe (most of them art curators, teachers. adult educators, etc.) wall attend a threeday seminar on the proper use of films on art. In the same period, showings of some of the world’s best films on art will be open to everyone who wants to attend. Aside from spreading knowledge of the field, the Canadian organizers hope to achieve three specific aims: ( 1 ) Improve the distribution of films on art. which is still pretty sketchy. (2) Convince more European film producers that they should provide 16mm prints (which can be showm in schools and galleries) as well as 35mm prints (which can usually be shown only in theatres), thus making the films more available to North American art-lovers. (3) Convince more Canadian corporations they should sponsor films
on art, as Imperial Oil and a few others already have. If any corporations arc looking for subjects, plenty of suggestions are available. There is, for instance, no film on early Quebec religious wood-carving, and many Canadian art-lovers think this is a crying need.
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