The Extractionist – Theatre Thursday

On Theatre Thursdays, I discuss topics related to theatre. I also write about local productions that I think #yyc should see. Today I’m talking about a new play that I haven’t been able to stop talking about – The Extractionist.

The Extractionist by Michaela Jeffery - Photo Credit to Tim Nguyen
Image lovingly stolen from Vertigo Theatre. Photography credit to Tim Nguyen.

Calgary has been filled with new theatre this month! I don’t know if it’s because they were inspired by High Performance Rodeo or if it was just a coincidence, but our professional companies have been filled with world premieres this February. And as an artist who pretty much exclusively creates new works these days, I am hyped to see it. That said, it has led to a few little complications for my blog. Either the shows have had short runs (The F Word) or the buzz made its way to me late (Little Red Warrior and His Lawyer), but either way I didn’t have the opportunity to cover them before they closed. But you know what I did love and is still open? Vertigo Theatre’s The Extractionist, written by my very own Michaela Jeffery! 


You got it, friends. Michaela Jeffery is a part of our club. She is a dear friend of mine from university, a fantastic playwright who I feel so lucky to know. Her way with words is truly magical – I sometimes still bust out a monologue that she wrote for Helen of Troy in an adaptation of The Trojan Women we created together during our senior year. She writes sparkling contemporary works that can be equal parts poetic and “real” (if realism is what you want in your dialogue, of course). 

And What About The Extractionist?

To let the official summary speak for itself:

“Asha Ray is the last option for desperate people who have reached the limits of what law enforcement can do for them. With no business card and no mailing address, she’s an expert deprogrammer who specializes in getting people’s family members out of cults. When a vulnerable woman disappears, Asha is asked to investigate the top suspect: a political young man who is a rising member of the powerful and secretive organization called Luminia. With the help of retired detective Rueben Medina, Asha slips into this dangerous world, making new enemies and exposing old secrets – including a few of her own. Can Asha find the answers she needs in time, or will history repeat itself?”

The Extractionist is very much a contemporary mystery, with a dash of film noir sprinkled over it. If you love modern crime tv shows or are into true crime, this show will feel familiar to you. There is a grittiness that I see in so many of my mom’s favourite thriller shows. (It probably goes without saying that she enjoyed the show as well.) 

That said – this play won’t be for everyone. I figured out the “whodunnit” element fairly early on so, for me, it became much more of a “how done it” type mystery… which is equally valid. It’s fun to feel like you’re so clever that you figured it out and then wait for someone to tell you how what you figured out actually played out. Traditionalists may not be into a different type of mystery, though.

I’m Sold On the Script. What Else Will I Like?

Perhaps you’ll like blog favourite, Mike Tan, playing retired cop Reuben Medina (a very different role than Bouc)? 

Perhaps you’ll be as obsessed as I am over the electric female cast – Tara Beagan (who last played Marmee in Little Women – a very different role!), Vanessa Leticia Jetté (also last in Little Women as Meg… again, very different), and Monice Peter (who hasn’t been on Calgary stages in almost a decade and has had an insane career).

But most likely, you are going to be captivated by the set and projection design by Andy Moro. The set is two levels of moving panels with constantly changing projections both in front of and behind the action. (As in there are some scenes that take place behind the panels. Obsessed.) The way that this constantly evolving environment creates such a strong sense of space is truly magical.

Final Thoughts?

Of course, your mileage may vary. Personal taste is personal taste and, though this show is very good, it might not be your taste. But it’s definitely worth checking out and deciding for yourself. The Extractionist runs until Sunday, February 26. Tickets can be purchased by visiting their website or calling (403) 221 3708.

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What I Read: January 2023

What I Read in January 2023

Ahhhhh! OMG, my friends, it feels so good to be doing a “What I Read” in a month post. I love hearing about the books that other people are reading – big into BookTube these days – and I love the opportunity to do the same for you all. Just a quick housekeeping note: for these posts, I plan to stick to the quick one or two lines about my thoughts on each book thing. I will do longer reviews for any newer release books (or ARCs because… yes! I get ARCs now!). Your time is precious, I’ll keep it short, sweet and organized. And so, that said, let’s get right into What I Read in January 2023.

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Mozart’s Birthday and Classy Heels: A Tale of Snow, Seats, and Symphony in Calgary

Last Friday, Calgary was hit by a surprise massive snowfall. (Actually, I’m sure meteorologists knew it was coming, but we had experienced fairly mild weeks prior to this so it still caught everyone by surprise.) By midday Saturday, things had settled down a bit… and thank goodness for that, because Claire and I had picked out our classiest heels to make the trek out to Balzac. And why were we driving to Balzac? Because we were being extremely classy and going to the Rocky Mountain Symphony Orchestra’s Mozart’s Birthday concert!

For those who followed along during Blogmas, you may remember when I attended A Rocky Mountain High Christmas at the Grey Eagle Casino and mentioned that I would love to see the RMSO doing what they usually do in their home venue. Well! Something incredible happened – the RMSO reached out to me and offered me tickets to come see them at the Polaris Theatre. It was honestly so nice and sweet and y’all know that I love to support local artists. So we hit the road!

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2023 New Book Releases I’m Excited About

2023 New Book Releases that I am excited about

I have to admit something that is maybe going to get me canceled as an artist who vocally advocates for supporting art you love. (Especially with your dollars.) I don’t track new releases. I’m always coming to things late – books, Netflix shows, Broadway musicals, whatever. I may accidentally stumble upon the next big thing before it pops off, but trust me… it is truly by accident. But this year, this year of being Intentional, I’m trying to change that. I want to know what’s going on in the spaces I navigate in. So, without further ado, here are the 2023 new book releases that I am excited about.

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Rocky Mountain Symphony Orchestra (Theatre Thursday)

On Theatre Thursdays, I discuss topics related to theatre. I also write about local productions that I think #yyc should see. Today I’m talking about something tangentally related to theatre that I absolutely loved – The Rocky Mountain Symphony Orchestra.

Rocky Mountain Symphony Orchestra - A Rocky Mountain High Christmas publicity image
A Rocky Mountain High Christmas (image lovingly stolen from: Rocky Mountain Symphony Orchestra)

This week on Theatre Thursday, I want to share something just a little bit different. Normally I’m right within my comfort zone with these posts. I know the theatres, I know the artists, I know what to expect when I walk into the space. But this time? This time was something very new to me. On November 29, we braved the cold, bundled up, and headed over to the Grey Eagle Casino to take in an experience that I didn’t even know existed in Calgary… The Rocky Mountain Symphony Orchestra!

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Festive Kindle Unlimited Books

Festive Kindle Unlimited Books for this holiday season banner

We’ve officially hit the halfway point of Blogmas (unless I’m going to continue it until Dec 31), and it’s time for another book post. Because y’all love book posts and I love book posts and the holiday season is all about love. And festive Kindle Unlimited books. And also cheese. (Will there be a cheese post forthcoming? Who knows?! Actually… that’s not a bad idea…)

In my Best Books I Read in 2022 post, I briefly mentioned the Wild West of Kindle Unlimited. This is a wild and uncontrollable land that I have definitely gotten deeply lost in over the past six months or so. Like many people, I was tempted with the offer of two free months and the fact that most of the Percy Jackson-verse books are available through it, which made my re-read this summer a snap. And then I realized so many of the books you hear buzz about online are also available on Kindle Unlimited. So here I am… writing about Kindle Unlimited, lol.

Quick Kindle Unlimited Details

  • After your intro trial, it costs $10/month in Canada.
  • You can borrow up to 20 titles at once and can switch them out at any time.
  • It’s a real grab bag between bigger names (such as Rick Riordan, as alluded to above) and indie or newer authors. There are tons of self-published books. I think that’s what makes it wild and fun!
  • Because of this, a lot of the book blurbs will actually identify which tropes are going to appear in the book. I also think that’s fun.
  • You don’t need a Kindle to read – you can download a kindle app onto your phone or tablet, or even just read in an internet browser.
  • You can cancel your membership and then re-sign up at a later time, just like all of your favourite streaming services.

And now to illustrate my point, here are a few festive kindle unlimited books I’ll be reading this holiday season. I’m diving head first into the book version of Hallmark Christmas movies this year!

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Santa Gifts Hot Takes

Santa Gifts Image

Happy Day 11! I am actually quite surprised to be writing this post tonight. I had something else vaguely in mind and it isn’t a topic that I particularly thought I had opinions about. But today was a busy day (as alluded to yesterday) and I saw something on social media that made me incapable of keeping my mouth shut. So here I am… a single lady without kids… talking about Santa gifts.

The Santa Gifts Hot Take That Triggered Me

Okay, so I literally just stumbled upon this on the wild west of the internet… but someone anonymously shared an opinion that when parents don’t want the “big gift” to come from Santa (slash, they don’t get the credit from it), it’s gross. Well, I think they are gross!

Okay, maybe that is an overstatement, but I do think it is a fairly narrow-minded and not nuanced point of view. Allow me to explain.

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Best Books I Read in 2022

the best books i read in 2022

It is December, and I haven’t done a single “what I read in this month” post since February. You may think I haven’t been reading… but no. According to Goodreads, I’ve read almost 100 books this year. I even took some of the pictures! Sometimes! But ultimately, I just haven’t been writing. I fell behind and then there was just no catching up so I made a decision. I am going to do one post, talking about the best books I read in 2022 and then I will start fresh in 2023. (Will I for real? Who’s to say!?)

So, without further ado – let’s get into the best books I read in 2022!

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Murder on the Orient Express – Theatre Thursday

On Theatre Thursdays, I discuss topics related to theatre. I also write about local productions that I think #yyc should see. Today I’m talking about one of the many holiday productions currently running – Murder on the Orient Express.

Murder on the Orient Express poster
Poster lovingly stolen from Vertigo Theatre. Photography credit to Tim Nguyen.

Guess what everyone? It’s December 1! And you know what that means? It’s Blogmas!!

Unlike last year, I did stunningly at Nanowrimo this year. I clocked in at 50,5871 words at about 11pm on November 30. I am so hyped about my book and ready to keep grinding at it. Mostly because I just really need to know what happens next to my characters. 

I am also excited to keep my practice of writing every day going, but refocusing a little bit to sharpen my non-fiction writing skills. And I had so much fun doing Blogmas last year, how could I not do it again? Once again, I can’t promise everything I write will be Christmas related, but y’all know it will all be fun! 

Especially because this year December 1 is a Thursday, so that means we get to start out with an old classic – Theatre Thursday! And you read it above – I’m talking about Vertigo Theatre’s production of Murder on the Orient Express.

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Cipher – Vertigo Theatre

On Theatre Thursdays, I discuss topics related to theatre. I also write about local productions that I think #yyc should see. Today I’m talking about a show that I was supposed to see almost two years ago – Vertigo Theatre’s Cipher.

vertigo theatre cipher
Poster lovingly stolen from Vertigo Theatre. Credit to Tim Nguyen.

Cipher was originally set to open just a few days after what almost everyone I talk to cites as the “start” of the pandemic in Canada. (March 13, 2020, if you were wondering. Though there were cases in the time leading up to this, March 13 is when everything really came crashing down around us.) And, yes, I had tickets to opening night.

Almost two years later on January 20, I had tickets to opening night once again. And, yes, it was well worth the wait.

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