These are tardy! Sorry! Only 4 days left in the SummerWorks festival so if you haven't been, you're missing out. Go! Today. Or tomorrow.
The vibe is so special in the audience that it is really something to be experienced. www.summerworks.ca
Written by Jason Hall; Directed by Ashlie Corcoran; Starring: Kristian Bruun & Kaitlyn Riordan
Let's be honest; I know most of the people involved in this production. This might lead me to be biased in my opinion of the show, but since I'm pretty judgemental in all facets of life, I think I'm pretty good at being at least more objective (or unnecessarily critical) than most.
Have you ever seen a show by friends or acquaintances? It's terrifying. If you don't like it, it's basically the most awkward thing ever. You don't want to lie to anyone, but you HAVE to say something positive about the show or risk your friendship. Fortunately, my fear of false post-show compliments was eradicated in the first 10 minutes of the show. I loved it. I'd read an earlier draft of the script and was totally taken with it, but Kristian Bruun and Kaitlyn Riordan. (as any good actors would), brought life into the words that I hadn't foreseen and I laughed and cringed (the intended emotional result) at new moments. Best parts: Jung Hye Kim.'s set design; a fab mix of abstract design and functional set-pieces - and it was pretty to look at. The Direction (Ashlie Corcoran) and Writing (Jason Hall); just when you think you've gott he story figured out, you don't. Getting wacked over the head with a plot twist you didn't see coming, is the BEST in theatre.
Highly recommend the show. HIGHLY. And that's a judgemental, objective viewpoint I swear.
I had a gaggle of non-theatre friends who went to see it and they RAVED about if over dinner and drinks for the rest of the night. That is my idea of progress. Love it! www.knowyourneighbour.ca
THIRD FLOOR is on at the Lower Ossington Theatre, Thurs. Aug. 11 @7pm; Sat, Aug. 13 @7pm;
Sun, Aug. 14 @2pm
YOU SHOULD HAVE STAYED HOME
Director: Michael Wheeler; Written & Performed by Tommy Taylor (based on his facebook note of his G20 arrest)
I don't know about you, but I'm OVER hearing about the G20. Totally over it. So I was wary about going to see this show; I didn't think I could hear anything about the G20 that I hadn't already heard, nor did I want to hear more about it.
I was wrong. Tommy Taylor had an instantly charming nature that disarmed by cynicism. He seemed so darn swell. When I listened to his tales of arrest and police brutality, I was in shock that this could have happened in our city, and in awe that he survived it so well. I was also wrong because although I had heard a lot about the G20, I hadn't heard a story of a person falsely arrested and imprisoned during it and I needed to hear the inhumanity of it. Everyone needs to hear the injustice of it. It's important. Although we like to think we're among the most "civilized" countries in the world, we're still a very fine line away from living out "Lord of the Flies" and YOU SHOULD HAVED STAYED HOME proves that.
Side note: The more I learn about Praxis Theatre, the more impressed I am. They make a concerted effort to push the boundaries of a theatre experience, and modernize it in innovative and unique ways. ie. upon entry to the show, audience members all got pink wrist bands like those arrested in the G20 did - this is a small but very cool element to enhance audience experience and bring them closer to the subject matter. I also sat in the designated "tweet-seats" so I could tweet my experience during the show. Praxis was very open that this tweeting was an experiment and that feedback was welcome; they had no idea if live-tweeting during a performance would work but they're not afraid to try it and have it fail. Perhaps this is the secret to their success.
YOU SHOULD HAVE STAYED HOME is on at The Theatre Centre Fri, Aug. 12 @12pm (midnight);
Sat, Aug. 13 @10pm
Written by Hannah Moscovitch; Directed by Natasha Mytnowych, Cast: Michelle Monteith & Joe Cobden
Have you ever been in those haunted houses where it’s completely dark and you have to navigate yourself by following a red laser-dot through the rooms? You don’t know where you’re going, or how you’re going to get out but you DO know that there are people who are going to jump out and scare you along the way, except you have no idea when or how, so you’re excited, but stressed the entire time?
That was like watching LITTLE ONE.
The show starts and BLAMMO, you’re in the middle of a shitstorm of emotions, psychological issues and great performances. Michelle Monteith and Joe Cobden played off of each other flawlessly and I hung on every word they said. Some of the directional choices I didn't fully understand, but that didn't take away from one of the tightest, seamlessly produced pieces of theatre I've seen in a long time. There is A LOT going on in LITTLE ONE, and it's all done in 50 minutes.
I knew very little about this show going in and that added to my excitement in watching it. I won't divulge much but will tell you it's a dark, DARK comedy with highly dramatic moments and you will never know what to expect next. Awesome.
LITTLE ONE is on at Theatre Passe Muraille Thurs, Aug. 11 @10:30pm; Sat, Aug 13 @8pm;
Sun, Aug. 14 @3pm
Written by Sarah Ruhl, Directed by: Kristina Nicoll,Starring: Caitlin Driscoll, Justin Rutledge, Jesse Aaron. EURYDICE is about music, and the power of love…I think. Those are just guesses because most of the time I was watching it thinking, “What the hell is going on?!”
God bless the talents of Caitlin Driscoll who plays the title role. I was utterly charmed by her innocence. The show has loads of great elements – the ‘chorus of stone’ is very funny…until it isn’t anymore. Jesse Aaron, who plays the lord of the underworld, has great physicality and I have the utmost respect for him making the most of his OTT (over-the-top) dialogue, but the show-stopper was the solo by musician Justin Rutledge who plays Orpheus. I didn’t love Orpheus’ character, nor really understood much about him, but as soon as J.R. opened his mouth and sang, I didn’t care about anything other than what I was hearing and I didn’t want it to end. It was peaceful and haunting and just so beautiful Overall the show had several elements of greatness and if they were brought together to clarify the narrative and tighten the storyline, it would have made for a much stronger show. But the music was fantastic, and I guess if the director, like Orpheus, wanted to demonstrate the power of music, it was a job well done.
EURYDICE is on at the Theatre Passe Muraille Fri, Aug. 12 @3pm; Sat, Aug. 13 @5:30pm
1. Where did the idea for the show come from?
The idea for the show came about after I read Charlotte Corbeil-Coleman's short story about her experience travelling to Africa, getting bitten by a mosquito and becoming infected with malaria. I have been interested in creating theatre that merges with dance, and trying to tell stories in a physical way, and the images from the short story jumped off the page.
2. What was it about Charlotte Corbeil-Coleman's short story that made you want to choreograph a performance about it?
I had a vision of the mosquitos and thought it would be interesting to try to create a military of mosquitos on a solitary mission to infect the girl in the story. So, this "greek chorus" of mosquitos escorts the main character through her story, playing various roles in this wild tale, including the robotic stewardesses on the plane, the propellors, the military of infected mosquitos, and even the nightmarish chickens having their heads cut off outside her hospital room window!
3. From conception through to the end of rehearsals, how long did the project take to conceive? What obstacles, if any, did you encounter along the way?
I started to choreograph sections of this in 2009 with my students in the dance program at George Brown College. Then Charlotte, Trish Fagan and myself did a 3 day workshop at The Canadian Stage Company's Festival of Ideas and Creation. But most of MALARIA LULLABY was created especially for the SummerWorks Festival this year.
We have had some obstacles - since there is a lot of Aerial trapeze work, Holly Treddenick (our Aerial designer and rigger) had to spend many hours figuring out the rigging and how it would all work in only 4 hours of tech time in the theatre!
3. Why this production for SummerWorks? What is it about the SummerWorks platform that made you want to be a part of it.
SummerWorks is the perfect platform for this show. We were able to take many big risks and incorporate a lot into this show. Dance, Aerials, and stunning Projections and Sound by Beth Kates and Ben Chaisson of Playground Studios. I was really excited to create a hybrid dance/theatre piece for the SummerWorks audience. SummerWorks is an exciting festival and it is an honour to be a part of it.
4. Does your approach as a choreographer differ if you do or do not dance in the show? If yes, how so?
My approach as a choreographer doesn't differ if I am in the show, but it takes a little more time to create if I am also in it. I decided not to dance in MALARIA LULLABY this time around because we were limited for time in the rehearsal hall so I felt pretty strongly about staying on the outside.
5. What other shows at SummerWorks are you looking forward to seeing?
I am looking forward to seeing LITTLE ONE. I am a huge fan of Michelle Monteith and Hannah Moscovitch and Natasha Mytnowych (and they are my friends!) And I am looking forward to seeing COMBAT which also fuses dance and theatre.
MALARIA LULLABY is on now at Theatre Passe Muraille (16 Ryerson Ave). Showtimes:
Sun. Aug. 7 @10:30pm; Thurs. Aug. 11 @8pm; Sat. Aug. 13 @10:30pm; Sun. Aug. 14 @8pm
Visit the website: www.companyblonde.com & the Facebook page
1. The idea of the play stemmed from a post-it note on a garbage bag; can you elaborate on how you got from that moment to the story of the play? Why was that note of so much interest to you that it stemmed an entire story?
The garbage bag was in the hallway of a brand new building in which I'd recently bought an apartment and the post-it note said something like, "Could you please not leave your garbage out as it really smells," followed by a smiley face. I thought it was funny that the post-it note leaver would go to the trouble of writing that anonymous note instead of just knocking on the door of his/her neighbour. That got me thinking about what kind of people I live with and what effect condo-dwelling has on those who live there. I started asking myself questions about what kind of person leaves a garbage bag in a hallway, what kind of person leaves a post-it note, and who really, truly, knows their neighbours these days. Once I started answering those questions I could immediately see the potential humour - and darkness - in neighbourly relations gone awry. And so THIRD FLOOR was born.
2. You grew up in Toronto but now live in London; how do you think the theatre audiences, in the two cities, differ?
I think London audiences probably see more theatre and as a result have a richer vocabularly for understanding, appreciating and discussing work. But let's not forget that London is a much bigger city, with a much bigger population, and therefore has more theatre to see. I also think theatre is a vital part of London's cultural understanding of itself in a way that it will never be in Toronto - Shakespeare may be from Stratford-Upon-Avon but he went to London to work.
3. Why did you want this play to be produced at SummerWorks? What can the festival atmosphere at SummerWorks provide for your new play?
Having lived abroad for so many years, I wanted to re-introduce myself to Toronto's audiences and arts community. Since SummerWorks is a juried festival renowned for the quality of the work presented, it seemed like a fantastic forum in which to premiere my latest play. The energy and buzz of a festival like SummerWorks where the city's - and the country's - finest theatre artists are participating seemed like the perfect opporunity to meet people and to learn and share. It's also a little bit more intimate and perhaps less crazy than The Fringe...although I hope it's still going to be a good party!
4. THIRD FLOOR is going to be mounted in London's West End this coming fall; how does that experience differ from the present SW experience?
SummerWorks is a juried festival so we had to put together an application pack and wait to see if we'd been selected. Once we found out we were successful, it was then a matter of putting together our team - the venue and some of the marketing is provided by the festival, which is a great help. For London's West End the process was quite different. I organised a showcase reading of the play in January in an attempt to attract producers, which I eventually did. Working with the producer, then, we did a complicated dance with actors and theatres to try to lock down a production. The West End process was more protracted but it was also more hands-on; I had to do a lot of persuading, wheeling and dealing to get the thing off the ground. With SummerWorks, it was down to the jury to decide whether we were in or not.
5. What other SW play(s) are you looking forward to seeing?
There are so many shows that look great it's almost impossible to choose but here are two: 'Little One' by Hanna Moscovitch, because I've heard she's such an amazing talent and I've never seen any of her work and 'Exit, Pursued by a Bear' because their poster is amazing and the play sounds wonderful and nuts.
Surprise! Toronto has TWO Theatre Festivals each summer!
Just when you thought you were in-the-know with Fringe, you have another theatre festival to attend.
WTF? Why are there two? What's the difference?
They're similar; but the main difference, for an audience (I think), is that the Fringe festival line-up of 140+ shows is chosen by a lottery procedure - they literally pick shows out of a hat.
SummerWorks has a jury of chosen theatre practitioners who read through each submission and choose (this year) 35 works to be mounted. SummerWorks is on a much smaller scale than Fringe, and so less people have heard of it, but, generally, the calibre of theatre is better. Although everyone knows that you can see some damn good theatre at the Fringe, and both theatre festivals have their pros and cons.
SummerWorks is on for 10 days each year at the beginning of August. This year it's on from August
4-14 and there are some seriously good shows in the line-up.
Not sure what to see or how to do it?
Visit their website: www.summerworks.ca
You can check out the line-up of shows as well as schedules, find out what's happening with the festival's music series and their Art Bar. Buy a pass so you can save $$! Get one for 3 plays, 7 plays or 10 plays. Click here to get 'em and get more info. The passes are really so handy.
Still in the dark about what to see because all of the shows sound intriguing?
Some sure-fire succeses will be:
THIRD FLOOR at the Lower Ossington Theatre
FREDA & JEM'S BEST OF THE WEEK at the Factory Theatre Studio
LITTLE ONE at Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace
EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR at the Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace
YOU SHOULD HAVE STAYED HOME at the Theatre Centre
If dance is more your bag, check out the fun show by Company Blonde, MALARIA LULLABY at Theatre Passe Muraille.
Like, Fringe, it's best to get a program or use the SummerWorks website and download it. Find a few shows you want to see and catch them at the beginning of their runs - tickets are always harder to come by at the end of the runs because EVERYONE goes at the end and it's not ideal to wait in line for an hour in the blazing sun to get rush seats.
SummerWorks is dynamite! So much great theatre at cheap prices; what more could you ask for?
The 2011 Dora Mavor Moore Awards took place last night at the Bluma Appel Theatre and it was a lovely occasion filled with members of the Toronto theatre community.
Although there are plenty of cynical cynics who have a hate-on for the Doras, and think that they're political, etc. etc., I do think it's important to celebrate Toronto theatre, and, yes, also to give awards to the select performances deemed worthy. I think it helps to increase the calibre of theatre in our fair city.
For a full list of Dora Award winners, click here.
The Doras also allow Toronto theatre practitioners a forum for networking and comraderie that isn't readily available and given the scandal of the SummerWorks festival losing it's $45K in Heritage Funding 39 days before the start of the 2011 festival, the Dora Awards could not have been more aptly timed. Ben Chiasson, winner of the Pauline McGibbon Award, which is given to an artist at the early stage of his/her career, went even further with his support and promised some of his award money to SummerWorks to help bridge their financial gap. What a peach.
When I heard that I felt good. Really...good about life. Mr. Chiasson made a simple, sincere gesture that reminds us of what we, as humans, are capable of, and that sharing the wealth IS, in fact, in our nature no matter how hard we try to pretend it isn't.
Thank you Ben Chiasson for reminding us of what we need to strive for and thank you Dora Awards for providing a venue for the rivalry, gossip, politics and 'drama' to be put on hold, at least for one night.