Operning NOTES

NICHOLAS JENNINGS February 15 1999

Operning NOTES

NICHOLAS JENNINGS February 15 1999

Operning NOTES

D'ARCY JENISH

Repaying the Bard

In her long and stellar career, Dame Judi Dench has acquired an intimate knowledge of the works of William Shakespeare. The distinguished British actress has performed in so many of the Bard’s plays, in fact, that he is known in her household as “the gentleman who pays the rent.” Dench now has the opportunity to repay that debt. While portraying Queen Elizabeth I in the widely applauded but largely fictional Shakespeare in Love, she became enamoured with the film’s full-size reconstruction of the Rose Theatre.

“I was so taken with the whole thing that they actually gave me the replica,” Dench explains. The set, built at London’s Shepperton Studios, was designed to imitate the half-timbers and tiered galleries of the original Rose Theatre, where Shakespeare’s early productions were staged before the more celebrated Globe Theatre was constructed in 1599 in Southwark on the south bank of the Thames. Dench, who first won notice for her portrayal of Ophelia in a 1957 production oí Hamlet, is on the artistic board of the new Globe located close to the site of the original Shakespearean theatre. She hopes that something

similar can be arranged for the film set from Shakespeare in Love. “I am now paying for it to be stored,” says Dench. “I want it to be used as a working theatre and I am in negotiation for a site.”

CAPITAL CONFIDENTIAL

Growing up in Hamilton, Sheila Copps was an enthusiastic fan of the local Tiger-Cats of the CFL. And even as the federal heritage minister, she proudly displays a Ticat helmet in her Parliament Hill office.

But on Jan. 31, Copps set aside her preference for Canadianstyle football to attend a Super Bowl party at the Ottawa residence of Gordon Giffin, the American ambassador to Canada. She also left behind the hottest file on her desk—Bill C-55, the legislation that would prohibit U.S. magazine publishers from skimming off Canadian advertising revenues in splitrun editions sold only in Canada and containing little domestic editorial content. The bill has enraged U.S. trade officials who see it as an unfair restriction on American products. But it was not

discussed during the game, the minister’s spokesman, Jacques Lefebvre, told Maclean’s. “You couldn’t characterize the party as an official meeting,” he says, “but the Canadians sure got a taste of the American way of life.” They may be in for another taste if C-55 passes, as expected, during the current sitting of the Commons. U.S. officials have threatened to impose restrictions on Canadian exports, such as steel. But on Super Bowl Sunday all the jostling was onscreen. Several senior level bureaucrats, as well as officials from the Prime Minister’s Office, attended the ambassador’s party. The heritage minister cheered for the underdog Atlanta Falcons, who lost 34-19 to the Denver Broncos, a wise choice given that Giffin is from Atlanta and a rabid Falcons’ fan.

EMPORIUM

Historians trace the custom of sending an affectionate note to a friend or loved one on Feb. 14 to the Middle Ages. They say medieval Europeans took their cue from birds, who were thought to begin mating on that day Whatever its origins, the practice has not only endured but become a bonanza for the greeting-card industry.

Some Valentine’s Day facts:

^Canadians give out an estimated 50 million Valentine’s cards annually, compared with 300 million Christmas cards and 160 million birthday cards.

^Teachers are the number 1 recipients of Valentine’s Day cards.

VMore than 80 per cent of men buy cards for girlfriends or partners at the last minute.

GOLDFARB POLL Canadians may spend several months a year complaining about winter, but the fact remains that, for most, there is no escape, not even a brief respite under the southern sun. When Canadians take vacations, by percentage of 1,400 adults:

Total B.C. Prairies Ontario Quebec Atlantic Spring 20 27 16 25 14 14 Summer 73 75 81 78 66 73 Fall 25 47 24 27 13 18 Winter 30 38 27 33 27 14 SOURCE: GOLDFARB CONSULTANTS LIMITED Coldlarh Consultants l imited DATA COLLECTED JANUARY-FEBRUARY, 1998

DOUBLE TAKE

The Diodes

When punk rock first raised its spiky-haired head in the late 1970s, The Diodes were the heroes of Canada’s leatherand-safety-pin set. Art students from Toronto, the four members made their performance debut with little musical experience, opening for New York City’s Talking Heads at the Ontario College of Art. Almost immediately, The Diodes were signed to a major record deal. In the fall of 1977, they became one of the first punk bands to release an album—at the same time as The Clash and several months before the Sex Pistols. The group’s raw, rewedup version of Paul Simon’s Red Rubber Ball became the first punk single to make the Canadian charts. Even bigger was the band’s own anthemic Tired of Waking up Tired, which became a hit the following year in both England and the United States.

The Diodes spawned the whole punk scene on Toronto’s Queen Street West, converting their rehearsal space into a club—the Crash V Burn. Critics applauded The Diodes’ thoughtful lyrics, which Maclean’s described in

1977 as being about “the psychic horrors of the suburbs.” And they acquired a reputation as troublemakers after several shows ended in fights and one in a riot. ‘We were nev-

er violent,” insists Paul Robinson, “just a bunch of really nice art students who played very loud music.” The high volume ultimately caused Crash V

Burn to be shut down, when the landlord received complaints from the Ontario Liberal party, another tenant. After three albums, The Diodes disbanded.

Although the group has not played together for more than 20 years, it reunited briefly last month in Toronto for the CD launch of Tired of Waking up Tired, a collection of their recordings, and to perform on CTV’s Open Mike with Mike Bullard. But their punk days are now behind them. Robinson, an art dealer, and former guitarist John Catto, a computer consultant, are both married with children and living in London. Bass guitarist Ian Mackay, now a computer software executive, and drummer John Hamilton, a teacher, settled in Toronto. A second ex-drummer, Mike Lengyell, lives in London, Ont., and plays professionally for a blues band. How would the band like to be remembered? “The Diodes were there when punk began,” says Robinson. Adds Catto: ‘We were a band that had something to say and said it.”

NICHOLAS JENNINGS