Saturday, August 30, 2008

"If Cows Could Fly"

Beth Jacob Synagogue on Aberdeen Avenue was the setting for a wonderful theatric production on August 28th. The production features a solo performance by Allan Merovitz who is also the author of "If Cows Could Fly". This is the humorous, though sometimes bittersweet, account related in story and song of growing up Jewish in the Ottawa Valley. It is based on the author's own family history and his life experience as a boy in Smith Falls, Ontario. (Learn more about this production at: www. if )

This sounds like it was a one man show but that would not be an accurate way of describing it. Integral to the presentation of the story is the contribution of a wonderful klezmer trio. Ronald Weihs (fiddle), Henri Oppenheim (accordion) and Frank Rackow (clarinet) were the talented musicians who formed the versatile on-stage Klezmer band that knit the whole presentation together with great musical skill.

This was an Artword Theatre ( production directed by Ronald Weihs with design and stage management provided by Judith Sandiford.

The wonderful Hamilton connection in all of this is that the Artword Theatre, which has been in operation since 1993, has recently relocated to Hamilton from Toronto. Artword has joined forces with Barbara Milne and Gary Santucci of Hamilton's The Pearl Company ( and will be presenting their fall season's offerings in the newly reconfigured theatre on the second floor of The Pearl Company (16 Steven Street in downtown Hamilton).

Artword describes its objective as being to "create art that provides a critical view of contemporary life. makes use of a range of art forms (music, dance, visual art, multimedia), reflects the diversity of the modern world, and honours the human spirit." If this weeks production of "If Cows Could Fly" is characteristic of what is on their agenda for the future then we in Hamilton will be richly rewarded by their arrival in our community.

Of course, the whole concept of The Pearl Company and its growing contribution to the arts in Hamilton is another story to which I hope to return often. I am delighted to welcome Artword Theatre to Hamilton as it seems to represent another bright spot on our horizon.

Bob Bernhardt

Friday, August 29, 2008

My Hamilton

I was not born in Hamilton nor was I educated here. Instead, my relationship with Hamilton began early in my employment career. I arrived in the early 1970s with some pessimism. To me Hamilton was famous for its industrial productivity not for its livability. However, as a new Mountain resident, I soon became enamoured of its quiet neighbourhoods, generally friendly populace and its wonderful parks and hiking trails.

Admittedly, the industrial sectors of the city looked and felt more gritty. In those days the air pollution index did not usually need to be announced it was there to be seen and tasted. But my overall impressions of the city and its people were warm and positive.

That early affection has not dissipated but it certainly has been tempered by some stern realities. Community leadership seems more often to be struggling in a quagmire than leading a parade. We seem to have a capacity for making even the more mundane activities of administration complicated and divisive. But, as events have repeatedly demonstrated, the solution is not to be found in finger pointing and critique. Somehow, we have to find ways to work more cooperatively in carving out some new beginnings.

So, I hope to use this blog to celebrate some of the positive things that I see and feel in this community about which I have come to care very deeply. Perhaps I can also encourage the efforts of at least some of the people who are making some good things happen. So, if an explanation is required, that's what "Hamilton Happenings" will be about!

Bob Bernhardt

A New Beginning

I have been around the web for years now, but I confess to a shoddy record as a Blogger. An earlier effort at blogging produced one of those hit and miss sites conspicuous for its gaps between posts. I began blogging anticipating a sense of fulfillment but instead reaped a sense of chagrin at my frail efforts.

So, what makes me think that it will be different this time? My previous effort lacked a clear focus. However, simply clarifying my focus won't necessarily result in success. My earlier efforts also lacked a disciplined commitment. I guess only time will confirm whether "Hamilton Happenings" will lead to a different outcome.

Bob Bernhardt