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Hoodoo Voodoo is a violent and hilarious hoot

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If Kevin Smith and View Askew productions (Dogma, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back)  produced an action film, the result would be something like local action film “Hoodoo Voodoo,” which has been screened at the university over the past week and which concludes tonight and tomorrow night at 8 p.m.

The premiere last Thursday, Sept. 21, was sold out and featured most of the cast and crew in the audience, who cheered wildly as every name flashed across the screen.

Hoodoo Voodoo, produced by Rambunxious Skuter Productions Inc.,  directed by Aaron Kurmey and written with star Ryan Hatt and Kevin Johnson,  starts simply enough with a stakeout which is followed by a multiple shooting at the hands of a pair of corrupt cops, who are likable, yet homicidal policemen, who trade Tarantino meets Kevin Smith style  dialogue.

Unfortunately the murders are witnessed by a washed up detective, played by New West Theatre veteran Scott Carpenter, which is where things start to get bloody as the detective records the incident.
Cut to the badlands, and this is where the action begins.

While there is no justifications for the original murders, that doesn’t matter, it’s the action that counts.


Theatre Xtra explores Muse Control

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Muse Control starts Sept.30. Photo by Richard Amery

For many years, Theatre XTra  has been an outlet for students who want to put on their own plays, however,  to begin their season this semester, they will actually be putting on a play one of the students wrote themselves.


“Muse Control,” written by James Wade, won first prize  in the University of Lethbridge Plays and Prose Competition, March 18, will take the stage at the David Spinks Theatre, Sept. 30-Oct. 1.

“I’m pretty excited about it,” said  Wade.


“I just like the concept of  the muse. The Greeks used them pretty seriously,” he continued adding we don’t hear much about muses inspiring  art and music in modern times.

“It’s a pretty simple concept — a muse who inspires creativity. I thought if I made the muse an actual creature, it would make for a pretty funny play,” he continued.


Director Katheryn Smith, wanted to direct the play as soon as she read it.


“Basically it’s about a struggling artist named Roy who is in his  early 20s whose best friend is an artist who gets all of his inspiration for creativity  from a  creature called a muse,” Smith said  as actors Brett Gortley, Devon Brayne and Camille Pavlenko ( who also appears in locally shot films, “Dilemma” and “Hoodoo Voodoo”) run through a scene.

“He goes in search of his muse, which changes his life, mostly for the worse,” she continued, adding it will be her debut directing a performance.



For The Pleasure of Seeing Her Again an homage to mothers

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If you recognize actor Marek  Czuma as  the lead bad guy in local action film Hoodoo Voodoo, playing at the University of Lethbridge this week, you might be surprised to see his more tender side in New West Theatre’s new two person production of Michel Tremblay’s comedy “For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again” which runs at the Sterndale Bennett Theatre, Sept. 30-Oct. 9.

Marek Czuma and Karen  Johnson-Diamond rehearse. Photo by Richard Amery


“I get to play a good guy in this one,” said Czuma who is no stranger to New West Theatre as he was in last year’s production of “Sitting  On Paradise.”


“It (For The Pleasure of Seeing Her Again) is about an artist, an autobiography of author Michel Tremblay who wanted to bring his mother back from the grave because she was his biggest inspiration and supporter when he was trying to become a playwrite,” described, who earned his MFA from the University of British Columbia and has been acting for the past 20 years in a variety of projects on the West Coast.


“She was a wonderful person and a great storyteller. It’s a very heartwarming photo album of events in his life,” he continued adding he is glad to be back with New West Theatre.


“I love the folks here. I like working with New West. They are very warm and kind people. And there’s no pressure,” he continued.

Director Grahame Renyk, who is usually  the witty and affable MC of New West’s summer music/ comedy revues, took the Fall off from his day job, as a drama professor at Queen’s University in Kingston to direct “For The Pleasure of Seeing Her Again.”

“It’s been a delightful experience because these are two really great parts for actors,” Renyk said.



Lethbridge movies starting to take off

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Several local film makers have found their muse in Lethbridge.

One of them, director/writer Gianna Magliocco, who goes by her director’s name, Gianna Isabella, just wrapped up 

shooting on a new 15 minute short to be called “Dilemma,” which is based on a true story about a bar fight which ended fatally in Lethbridge.


“It’s about  a girl, Abby, who comes over from England to visit her cousins and accidentally kills a guy outside a bar. That results in her dilemma— should she stay or should she go,” she described, taking a break at Average Joes/ Joe’s Garage where her crew were shooting the nightclub scene, over the Labour Day long weekend while  a couple dozen volunteer extras chow down on free pizza and beer.


“It’s based on a real event iDilemma director Gianna Isabella discusses a scene with her crew on set. Photo by Richard Ameryn Lethbridge about eight or nine years ago. I read an article about a guy who was punched once and hit the ground and died. So I thought I’d write a back story about it,” related the University of Lethbridge new media graduate. She wrote the story back in February, but not the script for the production. Her group has been working on the film since June and expect it to be released by October.


“It’s gone really  well. You expect a certain amount of things to go wrong,” she said adding some lights fell during the murder scene, the Saturday night before.


“And It’s difficult to deal with a film on little or no budget,” she said adding her brother, local realtor Riccardo Magliocco, fronted her most of the $2,200 budget to make the film, plus they held two fundraisers and corporate sponsorship kept the extras in pizza and beer.

Actors film a scene in Dilemma. Photo by Richard Amery

They plan to release the film online and plans are in the works to submit it to film festivals. They have already submitted it to the Sundance Film Festival in Park City Utah, which takes place Jan. 20-30 next year.


“I’ve enjoyed everything. Being able to be around a bunch of  great people who are committed to reaching a common goal,” she continued.

“We are trying to make a name for ourselves and want to make a few more films in Lethbridge,” she said.

Hoodoo Voodoo, a full length action film  filmed by a group of local film-makers using Lethbridge cast and crew in the community of East Coulee, near Drumheller mostly last summer, premieres this week at the University of Lethbridge beginning, Sept. 23.


“It started out as an action film, but we don’t have a Hollywood budget, so it ended up  a little more Evil Dead than Die Hard,” said director Aaron Kurmey, who spent two years of his life, all of his life savings and a $10,000 Alberta Foundation for the Arts grant to make his first full-length action film with  co-director/writer and star Ryan Hatt and writer Kevin Johnson.


“It was a $30,000 budget, which is a lot to us, but nothing to Hollywood. They pay that much just for their food budget,” he said adding he is looking forward to seeing how audiences react to the film.

“I didn’t think we’d get grant money for it  because it isn’t what you usually think of as ‘art’ in the traditional sense,” Kurmey said.

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