Daily Archives: May 13, 2010

Sir Arthur Sullivan


Today is Sir Arthur Sullivan‘s birthday (1842 – 1900).

Here is an excerpt from Frye’s student review for Acta Victoriana of the Music Club’s April 1933 production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore.

But here, in the calm hush and cloister-quiet of Gate House, the artistic conscience of the Music Club rises to defend itself.  If there ever was a time when Pinafore could be well done, it argues, that time has long since passed.  Considered as a whole the farce is clumsy and ill-conceived, besides being unendurably hackneyed, and it simply cannot be sustained on its own momentum.  No human power can prevent that unspeakable finale from dragging painfully to a limping and inept close.  All the standard actors of the Music Club are good for lots of entertainment, says the conscience, but they could do nothing with their parts; they had to kick them off the stage and substitute themselves.  The cast of characters in Pinafore are all stuffed shirts and artificially bulged chemises, O critic, but those who took their places are wholesome happy youngsters who are all friends of yours, and you for one know that the fairy changelings are infinitely more attractive. (CW, 17. 233-4)

Frye’s doubts about the contemporary appeal of Gilbert and Sullivan notwithstanding, after the jump there’s a delightful version of “The Sun, Whose Rays Are All Ablaze” from Mike Leigh’s Topsy-Turvy, a wonderful film about the creation of The Mikado.  Yes, and okay, there’s a performance of “Three Little Maids From School” from the same film too.  (If you haven’t already seen this movie, put it on top of your list.)

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Janet Ritch: “Crucified Woman Reborn: Current Responses”


When the organizers of the conference coming up at Emmanuel College on May 14–15 first got together to discuss possible responses to Almuth Lutkenhaus-Lackey’s sculpture Crucified Woman, we tried to lay the field open. We invited responses from women and men of any faith, value, or belief system. Yet when it came down to it, we all agreed that our rising awareness of degradation to the environment, of the sex trade, and of the prison system was linked to both a feminine consciousness and to Aboriginal issues in Canada.

Marjory Noganosh, an Ojibwe elder who will open and close the event, is preparing a keynote address on the theme “Mother Earth and Women.” At the time of writing, the Federal Metal Mining Effluent Regulations of the Fisheries Act has redefined lakes as “tailing impoundment areas,” which allows the dumping of toxic waste into Sandy Pond, Newfoundland, and the destruction of land sacred to the Tsilhqot’in in British Columbia. The tailing ponds laced with arsenic, mercury, and cancer-causing benzene at the Alberta Tar Sands will, by 2020, have extended to one billion cubic metres of toxic sludge, continuing to destroy land the size of England and threaten the lives of the Chipewyan people – to name just some of the people adversely affected. If the white man cannot be at peace with the land, perhaps women can bring them to it, but it is hard to see how Marjory, or anyone else, might invoke the necessary miracle.

As for the prison system, Marian Botsford Fraser recently published a few stanzas of a poem by Renée Acoby, an Anishnawbe métisse from Louis Riel country, who has been incarcerated in the Edmonton Institution for Women for over ten years on a sentence now extended to over twenty years. The sub-committee gathering poetry decided to request permission to include this poem in our collection. Marian even encouraged me to write to the prisoner-poet myself. Renée’s response begins:

Thank you very much for your support and positivity.☺ This is the first time I have heard about the sculpture by Almuth Lutkenhaus-Lackey; I find it intriguing, uplifting, and empowering. Is this a yearly gathering? What a wonderful way to raise awareness and pay tribute to the suffering and strength of women … I am extremely honoured and humbled by your invitation to present my poem.

Such courtesy from a “dangerous offender”! We are equally honoured to include her poem and two others she has written in our compilation.