Ghosts of the Plaza are alive

New interactive theatre is entertaining and educational

Sarah Smith (left) and Sadie Forbes (right) wrote Ghosts of the Plaza, produced by Rosie Bitts (centre) .

If you want to know what life was like for a working class woman over the last century in Victoria, check out Ghosts of the Plaza, a new piece of interactive theatre which made its world premiere last week.

Produced by Rosie Bitts’ Best Bitts Productions, in connection with The City of Victoria’s 150 People and Places: Addressing Arts and Culture Grant, this show explores the history of the 101-year-old Plaza Hotel through a series of vignettes from each of the hotel’s reincarnations — The Westholme with its luxurious Songhees Grill; the risque Stranger’s Rest rooming house in the ’20s and ’30s; the Century Inn with its Arabian Nights and harem room dancers; and its current re-imagination as a cheap hotel with a bad reputation and one of Victoria’s only stripper bars — all from the female perspective, shedding some light on what it would be like to be a dancer, a cocktail waitress or even a prostitute in the City of Gardens.

And some of the stories are far from rosie — suicide, extortion and the supernatural all make an appearance, but they’re counteracted by the sheer entertainment factor of shimmying bodies, song and dance numbers and a stellar cast.

And instead of lurking around the bowels of the Plaza Hotel — with its cracked mosaic tiles from longtime defunct Songhees Grill — the production is located at the Odd Fellows Hall, using its bars, lounges and billiards rooms as the set with only minor additions, like a stripper pole and a set of purple glass tiles inserted into the ceiling, just like the ones in the Plaza’s basement ceiling.

In lieu of rent, their hosts asked they make a donation to a charity of their choice. The producers chose PEERS — a fitting choice considering the hotel’s history with the sex trade and Smith’s women’s studies major — not to mention that the show was written, choreographed and produced by burlesque dancers, the early cousin to what you can now find at Monty’s Exotic Showroom Pub on its ground floor.

Ghosts of the Plaza is a fun out-of-the-box theatre experience that not only entertains, but educates as well.

These lovely ladies have put the city’s grant money to good use, because the sale of the hotel is pending and just as the charismatic narrator James (Alex Carroll) says, “After [they’re] gone, who will tell these stories? Who will look? Who will find them?” M

 

Ghosts of the plaza

Odd Fellows Hall (1315 Douglas)

Fri., Nov. 23 at 7:30 and 9:30pm,

Sat., Nov. 24 at 4:30, 7:30 and 9:30pm

Tickets are $10 at Chronicles of Crime (1048 Fort) or

gotp.eventbrite.com

 

Please note: Tickets are very limited!

Just Posted

Argentine tango kings to play two shows in Victoria

You can listen, or dance the night away with Orchestra La Juan D’Arienzo

Victoria hotel trashes Channing Tatum in favour of B.C.’s Ryan Reynolds

Tatum’s picture left in recycling bin, replaced with photo of Ryan Reynolds

Still making a good impression: Andre-Philippe Gagnon and his cast of thousands take over Sidney

French-Canadian vocal impressionist first hit it big mimicking every singer from ‘We Are the World’

Powerfully Piaf: Musical tells chanteuse’s life story

Multimedia French cabaret show March 20 at the Royal Theatre part of a worldwide tour

CRAFT BEER COUNTDOWN: Victoria Beer Week 2019 nearly upon us

Monday beer columnist Mathieu Poirier revels in this learning and tasting extravaganza

What is Democracy? takes another crack at Sooke

Awareness Film Night feature set for Feb. 28

Chanel: Iconic couturier Karl Lagerfeld has died

He spent virtually his entire career at luxury labels catering to the very wealthy

Seedy Saturday blossoms at Victoria Conference Centre this weekend

Speakers cover wide range of topics, including how to utilize small spaces for gardening

Port Alberni production tells real stories of casual racism

Divided We Fall coming to ADSS and the Capitol Theatre

Most Read