Hi Folks,

It’s that fund-raising time again for CIUT fm. From November 15-21, 2021.

This is my shameless plea to donate to keep the only independent radio station going and to give you radio that covers the arts, unlike any other outlet. The mainstream media has drastically cut down its arts coverage, not CIUT FM.

There are four mainstream daily newspapers that covered theatre regularly. Now there is only one.

On my show, CRITICS CIRCLE  on Saturday mornings 9 am to 10 am (formerly CIUT FRIDAY MORNING,) 89.5 fm we do theatre and film reviews every week, plus interviews. I review theatre around the city and the province. I have supported and championed the marginalized voices through their plays for decades.  For me, theatre is vital in reflecting the world we live in.  

CIUT 89.5 fm gives voice to those who need to be heard.  Our shows are all volunteer. Please go to https://ciut.fm and donate so we can continue to provide needed arts coverage. Thanks.


Quote for the week: “Don’t pick a fight with a woman over 40! They are full of rage. And sick of everybody’s shit.”

Monday, November 15—Sunday, November 21, 2021.


Monday, November 15, 1-2pm ET


Written by Breton Lalama
Directed by Sedina Fiati
Starring Xavier Lopez, Allister MacDonald, Natasha Negovanlis and Neta J Rose 
Stage directions read by Gus Monet
Captioning available

“Good morning. You have 201 days til the end of the world. Have a nice day.” The world is ending, and the countdown is on. But hasn’t your world already ended? Everyday, a million times?

Please click here for more details.

Monday, November 15, 3-4pm ET

Pitching Your Play Workshop
This event will have captioning and ASL Interpretation available

Learn how to create an impactful pitch package for your play. Join Write From The Hip Program Director Donna-Michelle St. Bernard and 2020 WFTH playwright Shelley M. Hobbs for this active work session offering some prompts and structure for sharing your work with producers, presenters and beyond.

Please click here for more details.

Tuesday, November 16, 1-2pm ET

Messy: a Chaotic Black Femme Rage Musical

Written by Kitoko Mai
Directed by Sedina Fiati
Starring Alia Ettienne, Maryan Haye and Djennie Laguerre
Stage directions read by Jahnelle Jones
Captioning available

Messy: a Chaotic Black Femme Rage Musical is a musical, a play, a scavenger hunt, a concert, and a group therapy session playing with ideas of mental health, lineage, queerness, and public persona. As the piece continues to develop, Kitoko is asking questions about form and content, playing with social media to interrogate the role of the audience and further blur the lines between fiction and reality, character and autobiography.

Please click here for more details.

Wednesday, November 17, 1-2pm ET


Written by Anahita Dehbonehie
Directed by Marie Farsi
Starring Frank Cox-O’Connell, Qasim Khan, Ahmed Moneka, Tahirih Vejdani and Bahareh Yaraghi
Stage directions read by Rahaf Fasheh
Captioning available

Soraya takes place over the course of a winter evening at the home of a Canadian history professor, Neil and his half-Persian wife Tara.  A surprise guest shows up just before a small gathering to celebrate his promotion. Over the course of the evening the tensions between the different cultures build until they can’t anymore, and each of the five characters is forced to grapple with the question: who do we save and why?

Please click here for more details.

Tuesday, Nov. 16-20 at 8:00 pm

Un Poyo Rojo

5 Points Theatre, Talk is Free Theatre,

Barrie, Ont.

Jealousy, rivalry and desire erupt between two men in a gym locker room, which becomes an arena that pits masculine identity against spiritual potential.

Argentina’s Un Poyo Rojo has toured and performed to sold-out audiences internationally for over 10 years with their provocative crossover between acrobatics, dance and humour. Un Poyo Rojo takes body language to new heights and explores the limits of modern language that invites the audience into a new world of possibilities.

This production is wonderful.


Wednesday, Nov. 17—27, 2021, 7:00 pm


From Native Earth.

On Line

27Native Earth invites you to   Weesageechak Begins to Dance 34
  Our annual development festival celebrating new Indigenous works from 
November 17 – 27, 2021!     Weesageechak Begins to Dance is back! The 34th festival will once again be presented virtually, and feature multiple artists exploring land-based creation processes. Join us for a hysterical night of the IndigE-Girl Comedy FEest, immersive dance films, and the culmination of the Animikiig Creators’ work in their final year. Many of these pieces will be produced nationally next year, so don’t miss your special preview(s) now!     Join to celebrate #Weesageechak34.
See below for the full schedule line-up of our talented creators!

Live Presentation Events: 
Each night’s live presentation will stream at 7:00 PM EST. They will be available on their premiere date until December 4, 2021, at 11:50 PM EST. 

Register for access to all eight presentation nights. Once you have signed up, you will receive the direct link to the night’s presentation, allowing you to watch it live and converse with fellow audience members in the live chat window. Or, save the link to enjoy the performances throughout the festival. 

Festival presentations will not have captions on their premiere dates as they are broadcasting live. However, our team will do our best to have the captions within the next two days.
  I will be attending, take me to register

Thursday, Nov. 18—28, 2021. 7:30 pm.

Cast Iron

By Lisa Codrington

Audio drama from Factory Theatre.

From the sun drenched cane fields of Barbados to the sub-zero temperatures of Winnipeg, Cast Iron follows Libya Atwell, a Bajan immigrant, as she wields acerbic wit and humour in an attempt to appease the ghosts of her past. Alone in her Winnipeg nursing home, Libya receives an unexpected visitor from Barbados. Past repression resurfaces, until the tragedy that shaped her life spills from her soul.


Saturday, Nov. 19-27, 2021. 8:00 pm

No Change in the Weather

Mirvish Productions


No Change in the Weather – A Newfoundland Musical

Peggy O’Brien has died. Her family and friends sneak her corpse out of the funeral home (and tanning salon) and back across the water to her family home, on the unsettled island of God’s Back Pocket. As this brood of body snatchers wake Peggy into the light a wandering American and a newly stationed RCMP Constable from Quebec find themselves in the middle of a family racket that exposes decades of pettiness, secrets, and enough familial bad blood to ruin every Christmas for eternity. Estranged brothers, a child of unknown parentage, and a slide show of Newfoundland and Labrador’s most farcical political blunder, Churchill Falls, collide with the supernatural in this outlandish east coast musical that is sure to have you tapping your toes, and shaking your bewildered head.



 Live and in person, at various locations in an immersive journey, co-presented by TO Live and DopoLavoro Teatrale (DLT)

Plays until Nov. 14, 2021. (I saw this late in the run)


Creator, writer and director, Daniele Bartolini

Video/VR director and creator, Bruce McDonald

Co-director, technical director and sound designer, Matteo Ciardi

Choreographer and dancer, Esie Mensah

Poet and writer, Luke Reec

Set by DLT

Costumes by DLT

Lighting by Marco Santambrogio

Composers, Andrea Gozzi and Fred Péloqin

VR videographer, Ian Garrett

Additional written scenes by Megan Williams, Luke Reece, Bruce McDonald, Corrado Paina, Nicole Dufoe, Fred Péloqin

Cast: Sophie Bender

Said Benyoucef

Jordan Campbell

Nicole Dufoe

Eugenia De Jong

Tyler Graham

J.D. Leslie

Nolan Molfetta

Caitlin Morris-Cornfield

Antonio Ortega

Lucy Sanci

Iliana Spirakis

Madelein Storms

Dilay Taskaya

Michael Wamara

Maddelena Vallecchi Williams

Daniele Bartolini is a gifted theatre maker who has been enticing audiences to get up and immerse themselves in his various site-specific theatre creations for several years through his theatre company, DopoLavoro Teatrale (DLT). The creation of The Spectators’ Odyssey is his most ambitious creation.

From the programme information: “Delve into an interactive adventure inspired by Dante’s Inferno and Homer’s The Odyssey.  Immerse yourself in an epic world that blurs the line between reality and fiction.

((NOTE: Dante’s Inferno describes Dante’s journey through Hell, guided by the ancient Roman poet Virgil

Homer’s The Odyssey is an epic poem that recounts Odysseus’ 10 years fighting in the Trojan war and then the next 10 years as he tries to sail home, but meets disasters and enticements that keep delaying him. In the meantime, his wife Penelope waits patiently cleverly fending off the many suitors who have come to court her.)

“TO Live presents The Spectators’ Odyssey – o dell’Inferno, an immersive,
contemporary multimedia theatrical experience that takes the audience behind the scenes of two of Toronto’s most iconic buildings making the audience the central character in the narrative they experience. The Spectators’ Odyssey – o dell’Inferno is an adaptation of Homer’s The Odyssey and Dante’s Inferno. Both the term ‘Odyssey’ and ‘Inferno’ are used as metaphors and re-imagined to be two distinct epic journeys for the audience.

Beginning their voyage at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, audience members will voyage either to remote parts of the backstage area of the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts –, or to the St. Lawrence Market, depending on which journey they choose. While moving throughout the different spaces, the audience interacts with a variety of art disciplines including, dance, music, sensorial landscapes, new immersive technologies, virtual reality filming, installations, and others.

Audience members have the chance to experience one or two journeys. In one (Blue) they voyage to the remote parts of the backstage areas of the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts – across the stage, dressing rooms, auditoriums, rehearsal halls, fire exits, and other unexpected and secret locations. The second journey (Red)  takes them out of the theatre space and onto the streets of the surrounding neighbourhood as they make their way towards and then enter St. Lawrence Market – a place of exchange where worlds meet through stories.”

It’s not necessary that the audience be familiar with either The Odyssey or Inferno to enjoy the journey(s). If you are familiar with either poem it would add a layer of depth to the journey, and of course then the audience feels clever that they know what an allusion might be.

I took both journeys in one night and began with the Blue Voyage. Fascinating. As we go through the backstage areas of the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts for the Blue Voyage, we meet a dancer sitting on the floor, bent forward until she feels we have all filled into the small area. She then rises and silently leads us through the backstage.

Occasionally the group of eight voyagers is divided up and some of us go into various rooms where we listen on headphones to what I recognize as snippets of The Odyssey. We are then lead to a place called ‘Café Emotion’ with an exotically dressed Dilay Taskaya negotiates the various poles in the space and talks about emotions such as ecstasy, grief, vigilance etc. This got me thinking whether these were in fact emotions or reactions. Part of the Vigilance room was putting on headgear and experiencing Virtual Reality—in my case it was like being in the middle of an aquarium with sharks and other large sea creatures. Caitlin Morris-Cornfield represented Vigilance  and asked me what I thought that meant—we do interact occasionally with the actors. I wonder if some of our voyage echoes that of Odysseus as he meets the Sirens who try to lure him and his fellow sailors onto the rocks.

It’s an interesting experience as we travel through the theatre, seeing a video of the wonderful Esie Mensah dancing; and hear Luke Reece on audio recite a poem. Because we are experiencing many and various art forms-dance, music, movement, flickers of light etc. there is no time to reflect on any one instance. One of the last experiences is being on the stage of the Town Hall Theatre and listening to a man talking to us while a technician made sounds from his console.

The Red Voyage began in the lobby of the Bluma Apel Theatre of the St. Lawrence Centre. Nicole Dufoe gave us a primer on some of the texts used for the two voyages. In one we learned about the patience Penelope who kept waiting for Odysseus to return home. She weaved as she waited. Then we were asked to comment on people walking by the theatre, where they were going etc. A woman (JD Leslie) approached the theatre window, stopped and looked at us. We were asked to find out her story. We left the theatre and followed her as she lead us along the street, down a dark alley and onto the Esplanade.

NOTE: The Red Voyage is more energetic than the Blue Voyage. At times we are expected to run along the street or down an alley way. There is some climbing of stairs in the market.

JD Leslie silently opens a door to the market and we in. We are led around the aisle. We follow a woman in a yellow dress holding an illuminated florescent tube. She sits and repeats that she is a piece of art. And she is. A woman in a red dress (Maddalena Vallecchi Williams)  gives an im impassioned speech in Italian and then collapses on the floor. We are beckoned by a clown (Said Benyoucef)  wears a red plush ball on his nose) to climb to the upper level where he speaks French. He opens a fridge and takes out the pot inside and eats what’s in the pot with a wooden spoon. He gets sick and rushes around a corner where we hear the noise of expelling (either from one orifice or the other.) He appears again, relived. But then a jolly man (Nolan Molfetta) in a full light brown body stocking appears. He says he is the resultant excrement from the clown’s purging of the bad soup. The voyage is taking on a surreal, farcical tone. Hilarious. From behind a counter, “the poo” brings out a guitar and begins to play as he cheerfully leads us downstairs, opens a door for us, and bids us good night, as we leave the St. Lawrence Market.

I’ve had many memorable theatre experiences in my life, but I think being graciously bidden good-night by a piece of poo is one of the more memorable.

The Blue section of The Spectators’ Voyage around the backstage of the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts is more routed in The Odyssey in that I can see corresponding moments on our voyage. The point of the Blue Voyage is harder to establish. Is this the static life of Penelope as she tried to keep a grip on her situation at home? Are the random, erratic wanderings along the street and through the deserted Market corridors like Dante’s Inferno? I don’t know since I don’t know the work.

It was an interesting experience as all DLT experiences go. I have a feeling the point is deeper than having an interesting experience. If that is the case, I missed it. Still glad of the journeys.

TO Live and DopoLavoro Teatrale (DLT) present:

Plays until Nov. 14. 2021.

Running Time: Each voyage is 1 hour.



Review: ANGEL

by Lynn on November 9, 2021

in The Passionate Playgoer

A film premier available until November 12, 2021.


Conducted by David Fallis

Directed by Marshall Pynkoski

Choreographed by Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg

Choreographer, performer, contemporary solos, Tyler Gledhill

Translator, Grace Andreacchi

Resident set designer/Art Director, Gerard Gauci

Costume designer, Michael Legouffe

Costume designer, Michael Gianfrancesco

Composer Edwin Huizinga

Filmmaker, Marcel Canzona

Audio production by Matthew Antal

Additional music: Overture from Here all they active fires diffuse by William Boyce;

Curtain Tune from The Tempest by Matthew Locke,

“Summer 1 and Winter 1 from Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi The Four Seasons/Max Richter

Cast: Colin Ainsworth

Mireille Asselin

Jesse Blumberg

Measha Brueggergosman

Meghan Lindsay

John Tibbetts

Douglas Williams

Plus Artists of Atelier Ballet, Tafelmusik (Music Director, Elisa Citterio), The Nathaniel Dett Chorale (D. Brainerd Blyden-Taylor, Founder/Artistic Director).

NOTE: As with all Opera Atelier productions that I review, I will be focusing on the theatricality of the piece which is where my ‘expertise’ is and not commenting on the dancing and singing.

Opera Atelier co-artistic directors, Marshall Pynkoski and Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg have named the 2021-2022 season, “Wings of Desire.” This filmed piece is entitled Angel and has been in development for four years.

From Marshall Pynkoski’s programme note: “Angel explores timeless themes of heroes versus atni-heroes, loss of innocence, isolation and redemption. The story—although loosely chronological, is not meant to be linear. The texts selected from Milton’s Paradise Lost and Rilke’s mystic poetry have been chosen ‘not so much for their clarified straightforwardness as for their richness, suggestiveness and harmonious resources.’ (NOTE:  The epic  poem Paradise Lost concerns the biblical story of the Fall of Man: the temptation of Adam and Eve by the fallen angel Satan and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden.)

The action of Angel is broken down as follows: Angel, Separation, Creation, Sacrifice, Harbinger, Incarnation. It is our hope that the music, text, dancing and staging of Angel will wash over you like a dream—giving you a brief respite from the rather fraught world we currently inhabit.”

In truth Angel is so full of Opera Atelier’s trademark attention to detail in creating beauty and artistry that we are totally engaged and enlivened by the results. This tingling engagement also offers “a brief respite from the rather fraught world we currently inhabit.” Angel is a crowning achievement of composer Edwin Huizinga who was commissioned by Opera Atelier to compose the piece.

The pandemic might have provided obstacles to co-artistic directors, Marshall Pynkoski and Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg in producing their usual in person productions, but these artists are resourceful and ‘leapt’ over the obstacles.  They adapted without missing a step to produce this film by Marcel Canzona of the fully staged production by Marshall Pynkoski. It was filmed at St. Lawrence Hall. The Opera Atelier creative team has branched out in their endeavors to now embrace film which captures the elegant theatricality of their productions. Angel is the first production conceived exclusively as a film. Opera Atelier’s previous two on-line presentations: Something Rich & Strange and Resurrection were hybrid creations as the company coped with the ever-changing COVID restrictions.

Angel is a cohesive collaborative affair between director Marshall  Pynkoski, the full corps of Artists of Atelier Ballet with choreography by Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg and additional solo contemporary choreography created and performed by Tyler Gledhill, and featuring the renowned Tafelmusik conducted by David Fallis.with The Nathaniel Dett Chorale, under the direction of D. Brainerd Blyden-Taylor.

Designers Gerard Gauci for sets and art direction and Michael Gianfrancesco and Michael Legouffe for costumes have created an ethereal look and feel to the production. Mist billows out in eerie light that creates a sense of both heaven and hell. Gerard Gauci’s floor design echoes the configuration of the stars when they first began filming and that too adds to the atmosphere.

There is a sense that the billowing costumes worn by the dancers and singers are choreographed as well as the material flows as if on a breeze, as characters flit quickly from one point to another.

The singers are stellar: soprano Measha Brueggergosmantenor Colin Ainsworth, soprano Mireille Asselin, baritone Jesse Blumberg, soprano Meghan Lindsay, baritone John Tibbetts and bass-baritone Douglas Williams. The artists of Atelier Ballet choreographed by Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg with solos choregraphed and danced by Tyler Gladhill are also stellar.

As always one gets an education in music, dance, singing, grace, harmony, history and art by experiencing a production by Opera Atelier, whether in live production or now film. Angel is an example of such artistry. Bravo.   

Created by Opera Atelier

Streams: until Nov. 12, 2021.

Running Time: 70 minutes.

Tickets and information at OperaAtelier.com

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Live and in person at St. Anne’s Parish Hall, 651 Dufferin Street, Toronto, Ont. until Nov. 14, 2021.


Directed by Jacquie P.A. Thomas

Set design by Michael Gordon Spence, Sujania Uthaya Shankar

Costume design by A.W. Nadine Grant

Lighting and media design by Laird MacDonald

Sound by Thomas Ryder Payne

Ensemble: Heather Marie Annis

Sierra Haynes

Alexandra Lainfiesta

Michael Gordon Spence

Nabil Traboulsi

A beautiful, deeply thought, embracing production that welcomes the whole audience to partake of this wonderful tonic.

From the Theatre Gargantua Programme:

“Emerging from a global state of isolation and uncertainty, Gargantua presents a vital exploration of hope: A Tonic for Desperate Times.  This world premiere, two years in the making, investigates our instinct for optimism, and the surprising places hope can be found — in the fractal patterns of nature, the swing of a pendulum, the murmuration of starlings in flight.  Merging dynamic physical movement with sound and video installations, this live and in-person performance is at the forefront of Toronto’s return to theatres.

 A Tonic for Desperate Times is a communal experience of resilience and courage. A balm for injured souls.”

Imagine it, Artistic Director Jacquie P.A. Thomas and her ensemble began working on this production exploring hope before the pandemic hit and shut down everything, dampening hope and shattering optimism as the isolating shutdown lingered.

Over her creative life Jacquie P.A. Thomas and her terrific Theatre Gargantua company have been perceptive enough to see the world in which we live and create a production that not only reflects it, but also improves it. A Tonic for Desperate Times is that and much more.

The trademarks of a Theatre Gargantua production are front and centre: movement that is balletic and muscular; original music that is played and sung by the cast (a quibble is that the amplified sound system distorts the words of the first song—we should hear clearly the words of hope); a provocative set of a steel tree on which are suspended boxes that look like they are made from dappled material; an initial soundscape of chirping birds and insects making the air seem like it is brimming with life; video projections of the murmuration of starlings that is nothing short of amazing; and stories.

A Tonic for Desperate Times is full of stories of hope, optimism, positive attitudes and passing them on. Alexandra Lainfiesta tells of being an immigrant from Guatemala, living in Vancouver and befriending a man named Bill, over a stale cupcake. We learn that Bill had the most optimistic, positive outlook on life in spite of crushing difficulties. He passed on his positive philosophy of life to Lainfiesta and she has passed that on to us.

Perhaps the most poignant and moving story is from Nabil Traboulsi. He talks of his heartbreak at what has become of his beloved Beirut after the explosion of two years ago. He also talks of his anger and rage at the corruption in the city that prevented any rebuilding to take place. He talks of how his family had to move to Berlin to be safe. Just as he rages he is quickly distracted and charmed by his gurgling infant nephew Nasim. Traboulsi dwells on the generational rage and trauma that is passed on and again is distracted and disarmed by the joyful baby. And there is the secret; rage and anger are passed on because they are taught to the next generation. As the song “You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught” (from South Pacific) says, anger, rage, racism etc. has to be carefully taught. And here is Nasim, innocent and sweet, whose name means ‘breeze’ and is as gentle, Nasim can teach his uncle and us, that there are other things that can be taught besides rage—like hope, optimism and love.

The production was not performed on the raised stage of St. Anne’s Parish Hall but on the floor in front of it. That proximity to the audience cut down on the distance between them. The production ended with the cast extending their arms to embrace those in the room—speaking of “we” as a collective and a community, and not dividing it into “us” and “you”. In these angry, desperate times, this deeply felt, thoughtful production was indeed a hopeful tonic.  

Produced by Theater Gargantua

Plays: until November 14, 2021.

Running Time: 70 minutes.



At the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto, Ont. runs until Dec. 12, 2021


Live and in person.

Written, directed and narrated by Jordan Tannahill

Set design by Andy Berry, Tom Paris

Sound design by Gareth Fry

Illustrations by Teva Harrison

Additional illustrations by Ollie Kay

Senior developer, Motion capture, Lukasz Ruminsky

Cast: Caroline Gillis

Maggie Huculak

A fascinating piece of theatre by Jordan Tannahill, one of our most provocative playwrights.

The Story.  from the program note: Draw Me Close blurs the worlds of live performance, virtual reality, and animation to create a vivid memoir about the relationship between a mother and her son charting twenty-five years of love, learning, and loss. Weaving theatrical storytelling with cutting-edge technology, the performance allows the audience member to take the part of the protagonist, Jordan, inside a live, animated world.”

The Production.

This is really a one-on-one experience so will describe it from my point of view. I arrived at the theatre at the specific time indicated on my ticket. I was asked to leave my belongings and later my shoes in a container that would be kept safe for the show.

I entered a space where I met a stage manager who gave me an audio device I wear around my neck and virtual reality head gear that will allow me to see the virtual world that will be created once I entered the space. I am are told the experience will be in two parts: part one is the virtual reality world of the play/story. The second part is the actual world and I will observe other people experiencing the same story I did.

When I put on the audio neck device and the virtual reality head gear I carefully enter the space by turning a ‘virtual reality doorhandle”. This leads me into what looks like a brightly lit, white room.  What I see around me is a white room with animated lines that outline the area, space, window as I look around the area. The lines fill in the space as I look around it. The experience is very “live” and “active.”

I also hear the voice of Jordan Tannahill narrating the story. He talks about the house he lived in from the time he was very young to the time he moved out at 18. He talks about his mother and his relationship with her over the years.  At times the participant—I—will be a standing in for Jordan. Right on cue, an animated outline of a perky woman with eyes that twinkle enters the room. (Bravo to illustrator Teva Harrison) This is Jordan’s mother and at the time he is a young boy. Her voice is comforting, soothing, loving. The mother instructs me/Jordan to go to the window (that was animated in dark lines) and open it because Jordan’s socks smell so bad.  I reach out tentatively to the window and there is indeed something I could move up. I see the animated window rise. His mother has brought some brown paper and markers from work so we can draw. She lays the paper on the floor. We kneel.  She hands me a ‘virtual’ marker that I take and am now holding something in my hand that is a marker.  It’s weird and intriguing kneeling on the floor and drawing virtually.

It’s then bedtime and miraculously an animated outline of a bed appears to my side. I’m invited to get into the bed, ready for bedtime. I feel my way to the outline of a bed, and darned if there isn’t a bed right there, nice comforter etc. I’m invited to get into the bed and under the covers. As the mother is telling me a story, we hear a door open. The father/her husband has come home and she leaves to greet him. It’s clear the marriage is not happy. I hear a man yelling on the other side of the door. Later I see that the mother is crying in another animated room.

There is interaction between me and the virtual mother besides if she asks me to do something. She might ask me a question as if I’m Jordan and I answer. At one point she indicates that Jordan had gone to the window to look out and see her working in the garden, but I didn’t go to the window to check. There is a section where she tells Jordan some serious news and the dialogue suggests we/I put a hand on her shoulder. How one choses to do that is also part of the engagement. There are subtle ways to make this personal rather than awkward and tentative.

The ‘virtual’ world is so strange if one is used to the ‘real’ world. Great care is taken of the ‘participants.’ I was asked if I minded being gently touched during the performance—a stage manager might guide one around the set. At times I’m tentative in my movements but I felt safe. There is always someone there to help if you feel uncomfortable. I must trust that when I was asked to go to an animated window it would be there for me to open.

This is totally wheelchair accessible but they don’t recommend it for anyone with epilepsy, vertigo or are claustrophobic and have cochlear implants.

The second part was ‘wild’ considering I saw the same thing only with other people in the real world. I’m instructed to take off my head gear and audio device and give it to the stage manager who then disinfects it and the whole set for the next participant. I sit outside the simple set and watch the next participant be prepared.

Note: so as not to spoil any of the ‘reality’ I won’t describe it but the technological details needed to realize this virtual world seems like something from outer space, rather than the new technology. The set by Andy Berry and Tom Paris is spare and simple.

The actress playing the mother in my performance is Caroline Gillis (at other performances it might be Maggie Huculak). It was interesting seeing the choices the next participant made during the virtual reality section (I can hear Jordan Tannahill giving the same narration).

Comment. One wonders, is this theatre the new reality? I will say that for the time being, it’s an intriguing situation that melds reality, virtual reality and animation. It’s a fascinating experience. But without real engagement, in which you are sure of your responsibilities in the enterprise, it seems more awkward that involving. It’s still a new experience, but without connection it’s technodazzle.

One also wonders, does it work at theatre? I will say yes because of that second part, where we see how this technology works; what goes into the creation of the performance of the mother; the multiple technologies that are employed for the effects. Where we see how the virtual character is created is hugely theatrical. There are moments at the end where one does subtly engage with Caroline Gillis  I found that connection to the live actress when she looked at me at the end of her stint or when she guided me where to go to leave, that connection to a person and not a digital creation is very moving. I loved how writer/director Jordan Tannahill blurs the lines between virtual reality and reality.

Also interesting is wondering if we are actually engaging in Jordan Tannahill’s story and his mother’s–he has written about her before in Declarations and Liminal—or if we are hearing a story about fictional man named Jordan and his mother who told him some serious news about her health. Again, Tannahill blurs the lines. Not in question, is that Jordan Tannahill is a playwright who keeps deepening his work/craft. He writes elegantly and beautifully about weighty matters and he makes us question all sorts of things including our idea of reality.

I like that, and the ‘pun’ in the title of ‘draw me close’ as we live in that animated world.  Fascinating piece.

Presented by Soulpepper and the National Film Board of Canada. A National Film Board of Canada and National Theatre of Great Britain; original co-production with the National Arts Centre.

Plays until: December 12.

Running time: 60 minutes.


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Martha Henry

I’ve known Martha Henry for decades, first as a theatre-smitten theatre student standing in the theatre parking lot giving her Tootsie Pops, the talisman of thanks for making the theatre so special for me, then as a friend and my mentor.


Martha Henry never rushed, hurried or raised her voice. She didn’t have to. She commanded attention by being still and quiet. Her voice might sound like a low growl to suggest anger, but never louder than that. She knew the power of making the audience listen to her rather than raising her voice to make them hear her. She was a masterful teacher at that and so much more.

Martha Henry was born in Detroit, Michigan. Early in her career Martha was part of illustrious theatre companies in the U.S: the Arena Stage Company in Washington, D.C. with Jane Alexander and part of the Lincoln Center Theater Company with Blythe Danner. But it was Canada that won Martha’s heart and loyalty. She fell in love with the Stratford Festival when she visited it when she was a stage-struck kid. She said that any country that had a place like Stratford was where she wanted to live.

I was so fortunate to see Martha Henry act and later direct, mostly at the Stratford Festival, but also across the country. I first saw Martha at Stratford in Measure for Measure (1975). She played Isabella. She was thrilling. Isabella was a novice nun. She was asked to compromise her beliefs and her chastity to Angelo a powerful man in charge of governing at the time, in exchange for her brother’s life.  Angelo was smitten with her. She was saved by The Duke but then he, too, wanted her, as his wife. Her life as a novice was over.

The last scene was of Isabella wearing a nun’s head covering and simple glasses, looking stricken over her shoulder to the audience, slowly taking of her glasses and sliding off the head-covering. Devastating. What a perfect beginning to seeing the brilliance of Martha Henry on stage. The director was Robin Phillips.  

That stunning performance was followed in 1977 by her determined, strong performance as Lady Anne in Richard III with Brian Bedford playing Richard III. Again, Robin Phillips directed. There was a scene when the Duke of Gloucester (later King Richard III) propositioned Lady Anne as she followed her husband’s casket for burial. Martha Henry as Lady Anne furiously spat a gob in his face. He smirked and wiped it off with his hand, then licked his hand. The production was full of such power.

Martha Henry and Robin Phillips often worked together and the results were stellar. Phillips’ directed the film of The Wars (1983) by Timothy Findlay. It was a huge achievement in Canadian film starring William Hutt, Martha Henry, Brent Carver and Jackie Burroughs, among other fine actors. Martha Henry played Mrs. Ross, the troubled mother of Robert Ross played by Brent Carver. The scene people always talk about is the one when an equally troubled Robert Ross is in the bath tub, taking a bath. Mrs. Ross is sitting behind him, on the closed toilet seat, quietly smoking. His back is to her. The scene is full of pain, angst, despair and is absolutely heart-breaking—quietly done. And again, devastating.

As much as Martha worked with other directors: often with Antoni Cimolino (her towering Prospero in The Tempest, a forceful Volumnia in Coriolanus and a wickedly impish Lady Bountiful—especially with a large zucchini–in The Beaux’ Stratagem) at Stratford; with Ann Hodges  directing her as a fierce Violet in August: Osage County (2012) at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre in Winnipeg; Stewart Arnott directed her in Marjorie Prime (2020) at the Coal Mine Theatre in Toronto, to name only a few, Martha had a special relationship with director Diana Leblanc.

They had been friends since they both were both acting students at the National Theatre School in Montreal. Diana Leblanc directed Martha Henry in some of the best work I’ve seen anywhere:

Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Stratford, 1994 and 1995) considered by many to be the definitive production of this play. Martha played Mary Tyrone and was astonishing as was William Hutt as James Tyrone. Mary’s lilting voice of enquiry and yet concern of “What are you looking at? Is my hair coming down?” Mary’s voice was also fiercely quiet in how she could manipulate and shoot off a dart of a line of her own. Mary rocked in a rocking chair, sliding her hands back and forth along the arm rests and how the fingers were deliberately entwined to look gnarled like they were crippled with arthritis. The memory leaves me breathless.

Three Tall Women (1996) at the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton in which Martha played “A” for the first time, a warm-up for Stratford, 25 years later. “B” was Fiona Reid and “C” was Jennifer Wigmore.

Wit also at the Citadel playing Vivian Bearing, a university professor fighting cancer.  

Rose (2005) at the Saidye Bronfman Theatre (now the Segal Center) in Montreal. Playing Rose,   a one-woman play of a woman sitting shiva for her grandchild and to a larger extent, the 20th century.

Sweet Bird of Youth (1996) at Stratford. Diana Leblanc directed this steamy, sensuous production of lost chances starred Martha Henry, Geordie Johnson and Bernice—Bernice was the ‘pet-name’ given to the deep-wine-red satin bed covering under which a lot of physical action took place. Bernice was a sensual presence in this production of sex and desire. The chemistry between Martha Henry and Geordie Johnson was undeniable.  

Death of a Salesman (1997) at Stratford. Al Waxman played Willy Loman, Martha Henry played Linda Loman. In the first scene, when Willy came home after a disastrous road trip,  Linda followed him around the set, holding on to the back of his coat like a lost child needing to be lead. It was a heartbreaking performance of a dutiful wife who was not appreciated.

The Cherry Orchard (1998) Stratford. Martha Henry played Lyubov the deluded owner of the Cherry Orchard, who was both frustrating in her not wanting to face reality and endearing because she was so needy in wanting to be liked.

The Glass Menagerie at the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto. Playing Amanda Wingfield, resilient, and determined who loved her children by willing them to try and do better.  

And Three Tall Women at Stratford, 2021. Martha played “A”, Lucy Peacock played “B” and Mamie Zwettler played “C”. More on that later.

Martha Henry illuminated every character she played and every play she directed. Lots has been written to try and capture her artistry. Suffice it to say, there is Martha Henry and then there is everybody else. 


Martha wanted to direct and said that she would start small, by directing a one person play. It was Brief Lives (1980. Stratford) by Patrick Garland about John Aubrey a 17th century chronicler and gossip of the times. It starred Douglas Rain. The set was a rat-pack’s delight, a conglomeration of stuff that would defeat even Marie Kondo. The staging, direction and acting were a terrific. The same rigor that Martha Henry applied to finding the clues to her characters in her acting she applied to finding the clues of the play in her directing.

The Grace of Mary Traverse (1987)at Toronto Free Theatre, in which Martha Henry used the huge space of Astrid Janson’s set to great effect.

Martha Henry went from directing strength to directing strength, heading the Grand Theatre in London, Ont. as Artistic Director from 1988-95. Her casting was always inspired. Martha was incorporating ‘colour-rich, colour-conscious casting before it was de rigueur. She directed David Mamet’s incendiary play Oleanna(1995) about a pompous, but clueless, teacher named John and his dealings with a hapless, but easily manipulated, student named Carol. John was played by Rod Beattie. Carol was played by a young Korean-Canadian actress making her professional debut named Sandra Oh. The casting added another layer of complexity to the play. The results were electrifying.

Blood Relations (1989),Grand Theatre, London, Ont. A fantastic set by Astrid Janson set the stage for the bloody acts of Lizzie Borden—a bloody psychological thriller. Diana Leblanc played Lizzie, Frances Hyland played her actress friend. Martha Henry’s direction illuminated the depths of the play.

Fire (1990-91) Grand Theatre. Martha Henry directed Michael McManus as a character loosely based on hard-rocker, Jerry Lee Lewis, in a wild, daring production.

All My Sons (2016, Stratford).  Martha Henry directed an exquisite production. It was as delicate as a spider web and as fraught with danger. The revelations of how deep the betrayals and deceit go gripped you more and more tightly.

Henry VIII (2019), Stratford. (The last production Martha directed). She created a court of political intrigue and secrecy with Jonathan Goad as Henry VIII. Characters have cloistered conversations with others sharing their mendacious plans; others stand on the ‘balcony’ above the stage and observe private conversations and imagine what is being said; rumour abounds.


Martha shared her wealth of experience, first as the Director of The Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Training, which she headed for several years and then as the Director of The Michael Langham Workshop for Classical Direction. Her mentorship was revered by the next generation of actors and directors. They saved her missives, post-it notes with advice, e-mails full of suggestions and letters full of encouragement.

And I revered her mentorship too. When I was starting my Slotkin Letter of my reviews of theatre I’d seen locally, nationally and internationally, Martha Henry was on the list to receive it, in multi-pages of hard copy. She said it was an invaluable resource. She was talking about the letter in glowing terms to Pat Quigley, then the Director of Education at the Stratford Festival. Pat said she wanted to be on the list. Martha said that was not possible as the list of who received it was so long (about 40 people at the time) “…that Lynn said no one new can come on the list until someone on the list dies.” Pat Quigley then said, “I’ll pay.” What a concept. So Pat Quigley became a paying subscriber. More subscribers followed. When I went digital with the letter I did not charge. But more often than not the morning the letter was on my website I’d receive wise, thoughtful words from Martha Henry who suggested a comma here or correction of a spelling/and or grammar there. Martha often said that ‘editing was my life.” I believed her and was grateful. 

Christmas and Marilyn Monroe

Martha, Diana Leblanc and I have been celebrating Christmas together for about 20 years. For a few years choreographer/director Valerie Moore joined us but for the last several years it was Martha, Diana and me. We alternated who would host and cook.

Martha loved Marilyn Monroe, I did too. I always gave Martha a Marilyn Monroe calendar. She so looked forward to that. She gave me books and a purse with Marilyn Monroe on it. For Martha there were books on the sayings of Marilyn Monroe, a book of photos over the years and other memorabilia. She opened every present carefully and received them with glee.

Martha said that when she was a kid her idea of the perfect time was reading a book while eating a peanut butter and jam sandwich with a glass of milk. And popcorn was involved too. So every Christmas, besides the regular presents, I gave Martha a shoe box inside which was: a raffia box into which would fit a small carton of milk; another raffia box the precise size to hold a wrapped peanut butter and jam sandwich; a package of Orville Redenbacher microwave popcorn, and a book. If she came in from Stratford she reported back when she got home that she ate the sandwich and drank the milk and they were delicious. Always the perfect message. Then when we saw each other the next time, she gave me the empty raffia boxes to be used the following Christmas.


Martha Henry was wonderfully kind and thoughtful. It was intermission of an opening at Stratford years ago. Martha never went out to schmooze. She sat quietly in her seat. Also sitting quietly in her seat down front was a beloved long-time supporter of the Stratford Festival. This woman always went out for intermission but not this time. It was a hard time for her family. The woman and her husband had just lost an adult son to illness. Martha walked down the aisle to the row where the woman was sitting, quietly slipped into the seat beside her and put her arm around her shoulders, I imagine offering words of comfort and condolences. The woman melted into Martha. It was achingly personal and private. I felt like I was intruding seeing this from across the theatre from my seat. But that offer of comfort was pure Martha.

We often went to dinner in Toronto, Stratford or out of town if she was acting out of town. If I invited her for food between/after a show there was always a ‘conflict’ for the bill. Martha always paid the bill. She never accepted a contribution to the bill. She flicked the money away as if it was somebody else’s used Kleenex. And she did it with flair.

The last time we went to dinner was in Stratford, at Foster’s. We (Martha, Diana Leblanc and I) were at Martha’s table—the round one in the window. A waitress (Martha knew her name, I didn’t) quickly brought Martha a glass of her favourite chardonnay with ice. They knew what she liked and how she liked it and gave it to her without asking.

I was determined to pay the bill. After we got settled, on the pretext of going to the bathroom, I quietly went to the waitress at the entrance to the restaurant saying that when it came time for the bill I wanted her to give it to me. She blanched visibly. I have learned about subtext from watching Martha Henry act all these years, I knew what that blanching meant. The waitress said, “She won’t like that (meaning Martha).” I said, “I know. I don’t care. Occasionally people should be able to take Martha Henry to dinner. I know that Martha will make a fuss, but I want the bill.” The waitress said she would do it but she was going to leave the table quickly after that.

When the time came the waitress gave me the bill and quickly left and I just as quickly and quietly got out my wallet.

Martha: “What are you doing?” Martha asked quietly but with that look of horror as if a crime had taken place.

Me: “I’m paying the bill,” I said.

Martha: “No, you’re not,” (“not” was stretched to three syllables)” Martha said it in that musical, elegant voice, with a hint of edge. A look of surprise/disbelief.

Me: “Martha Henry, I am entitled to take you to dinner once every two years and pay the bill (the previous time was two years before. The time before that was never). You always, always take me to dinner and pay and it’s my turn. I’ve got the money and I want to take you to dinner. I think that’s a reasonable request.”  (My heart was thumping).


Martha: “Ok. (pause) (I exhaled in relief). But I’m going to tell the waitress that I am never coming here again.”

And we burst out laughing.

A Lasting Memory.

Of course, the production that will stay with me always, is Martha Henry in her last production, and particularly her last performance (Oct. 9, 2021) in Three Tall Women at the Stratford Festival. Diana Leblanc’s production was beautifully nuanced, subtle and riveting. The production was unforgiving yet graceful, hard yet funny and heartbreaking. And it showed Martha Henry determined and at the top of her theatrical powers; the fluttering hands that looked like ribbons floating on a breeze; the sultry voice making every syllable count; it was Martha Henry who had a deep understanding of her character and illuminated the pure command she had over her audience to make them feel uncomfortable, unsettled, but beguiled.

It was about a woman at the end of her life although I was sure this was not the end of the woman playing her, even though I knew Martha was ill. Not THAT Martha. But there is that line at the end of the play, “There’s a difference between knowing you’re going to die and knowing you’re going to die.” And she knew.

Martha started the run of the play in August using a walker. She finished the run using a wheelchair. Director Diana Leblanc kept re-staging the production to accommodate these ambulatory changes. Martha had been in failing health for two years and was stoical about it. It was reasonable to believe this was her last show. But, but, but, Martha Henry was so determined that it’s also reasonable that she could find the strength to do another production, next year, in Richard III as had been scheduled before COVID cancelled everything.

Her final bow Oct. 9 was electrifying. I’ve never seen such joy and defiance that she got through it. The standing ovation was instantly spontaneous and totally earned. Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino was there to give her a huge bouquet of yellow roses. He knelt on one knee and handed her the bouquet. It was so touching. Then Martha turned the wheelchair, waived and went off. It reminded me of William Hutt, also a great actor who would wave as he exited, indicating he was not coming back for more bows because he was tired. With Martha Henry this was different. This was final. I thought, “Don’t you dare wave like that as if it’s the end. Don’t!

I knew there were festivities backstage. I waited for Martha when they were finished. She came out the stage door with her daughter Emma pushing the wheelchair and Diana Leblanc with them. I gave Martha her traditional Tootsie Pop as thanks for such a gift of a performance. She was glad/surprised to see me saying she sent me a card and if she knew I was going to be there, she would have given it to me.

I had given Diana a bottle of champagne to give to Martha for her past birthday in February. I always gave her a bottle of champagne for her birthday, but because of COVID was not able to this year. The three-hour break between Act I in the afternoon and Act II in the evening was a perfect time to pass on the bottle. I figured that was quick—to have written a card of thanks for the champagne and mailed it—was pure Martha.

Martha was tired. I squeezed her hand—because of her fragile health I dared not kiss her cheek, thanked her again and said good-bye. It was the last time I would see her.

On Tuesday night Diana e-mailed me and said that Martha was sleeping most of the time and being given her pain killers intravenously. By a nurse. I was stunned. “Is she leaving us?” I e-mailed back. “Yes” was the reply. Emma, Diana and a few other close friends kept vigil by Martha’s bedside.

I received Martha’s card on Oct. 15. It wasn’t a card thanking me for her birthday champagne. It was a card saying good-bye in the most elegant, sensitive, funny ‘Martha way’ without actually using those words. And a smiling, joyful Marilyn Monroe was on the front of the card. I sobbed reading it. Typical of Martha, thinking of others right to the end.

Martha Henry died a little after midnight, Oct. 21. She was 83.  

When Diana e-mailed me at 12:38 am that Martha was gone, I went to the fridge to find something to drink to toast her. At the bottom of the shelf at the back was a bottle of wine. I was stunned when I read the label. It was chardonnay. I don’t drink chardonnay. But Martha Henry does/did. I think I might have bought it to give to her the next time we met for dinner. Martha Henry, gone but not really gone, always there even when we don’t realize it.  

Here’s to you and thank you, dearest Martha, for a life filled with the finest art; being the most supportive, encouraging, guiding friend and being an example of what a truly special human being really is.




Wednesday, November 3-Dec. 12,  2021. 8: 25 pm

From Soulpepper

Draw Me Close by Jordan Tannahill

Immersive live theatre experience.


After captivating imaginations around the globe, this pioneering work makes its Canadian Premiere.

Draw Me Close blurs the worlds of live performance, virtual reality, and animation to create a vivid memoir about the relationship between a mother and her son charting twenty-five years of love, learning, and loss. Weaving theatrical storytelling with cutting-edge technology, the performance allows the audience member to take the part of the protagonist, Jordan, inside a live, animated world.


Thursday, November 4-6 2021.

Emma Rice:

Wise Children’s “Wuthering Heights” (Nov. 4-6)

Streaming. Note the time change from Britain.

Thursday, Nov. 4-14, 2021

The Spectators’ Odyssey

From TOlive.

This unique show consists of two distinct experiences – Blue and Red:


Inspired by Homer’s The Odyssey, in this journey you will embark upon a multidisciplinary voyage across art forms including radio documentary, dance, playwriting, poetry, virtual reality filmmaking, and augmented immersive concerts. Travel through the backstage of the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts and make choices that will influence the narrative you experience. 


Inspired by Dante’s Inferno, in this journey you will lose yourself in an underworld hidden among the real-life streets of Toronto and the St. Lawrence Market at night. Visit a world suspended between ancient and contemporary, sacred and profane, and experience close encounters with your inner mysteries and the ones of those around you. 

Please be advised:

• This piece contains explicit language and mature themes.

• At times, during the piece, there are intense flashing lights, those with photosensitivity, are advised.

• During certain sections of the piece, audiences may find themselves in dark and/or small spaces

• As this work is interactive, you may come close to an actor. Please do not actively touch the actors. They will also not actively or intentionally touch you.

Please note that audience members will be on their feet throughout the event and will need to move through a variety of spaces. It may not be possible to accommodate all accessibility needs, and those with questions about accessibility should contact us as soon as possible.

The Spectators’ Odyssey – o dell ’Inferno will be performed with timed entry. Groups of 8 will begin their voyage every 15 minutes for one of two different journeys,

each approximately one hour. Audience can choose to do journey A or B or both.

Tuesday, Nov 2, 7PM – 10PM

Wednesday, Nov 3, 7PM – 10PM

Thursday, Nov 4, 7PM – 10PM

Friday, Nov 5, 7PM – 10PM

Saturday, Nov 6, 7PM – 10PM

Sunday, Nov 7, 1PM – 4PM & 6PM – 9PM

Wednesday, Nov 10, 7PM – 10PM

Thursday, Nov 11, 7PM – 10PM

Friday, Nov 12, 7PM – 10PM

Saturday, Nov 13, 7PM – 10PM

Sunday, Nov 14, 1PM – 4PM & 6PM – 9PM

TICKETS: $50 per journey or combined ticket of $75 for both.

Tickets are available online at www.tolive.com, by phone at 416-366-7723 & 1-800-708-6754, or by email at boxoffice@tolive.com.

TO Live box office phone and email support operates 1pm – 6pm Monday to Friday. On-line sales operate 24 hours per day

Thursday, Nov. 3, 2021. 8:00 pm

Theatre Gargantua presents;

Live and in person:


NOVEMBER 3RD – 14TH, 2021

Emerging from a global state of isolation and uncertainty, Gargantua presents a vital exploration of hope: A Tonic for Desperate Times.  This world premiere, two years in the making, investigates our instinct for optimism, and the surprising places hope can be found — in the fractal patterns of nature, the swing of a pendulum, the murmuration of starlings in flight.  Merging dynamic physical movement with sound and video installations, this live and in-person performance is at the forefront of Toronto’s return to theatres.

Premiering in the heart of Toronto’s vibrant west end at Historic St. Anne’s Parish Hall, A Tonic for Desperate Times is a communal experience of resilience and courage. A balm for injured souls.


Performances run November 3rd to 14th, 2021 at Historic St. Anne’s Parish Hall (651 Dufferin Street).

A Tonic for Desperate Times (Preview)Wednesday November 3, 2021 – 08:00 PM EDT

SelectA Tonic for Desperate Times (Preview)Thursday November 4, 2021 – 08:00 PM EDT

SelectA Tonic for Desperate TimesFriday November 5, 2021 – 08:00 PM EDT

Join the Waiting List

SOLD OUTA Tonic for Desperate TimesSaturday November 6, 2021 – 08:00 PM EDT

SelectA Tonic for Desperate Times (Pay What You Can)Sunday November 7, 2021 – 02:00 PM EDT

SelectA Tonic for Desperate TimesSunday November 7, 2021 – 08:00 PM EDT

SelectA Tonic for Desperate TimesTuesday November 9, 2021 – 08:00 PM EDT

SelectA Tonic for Desperate TimesWednesday November 10, 2021 – 08:00 PM EDT

SelectA Tonic for Desperate TimesThursday November 11, 2021 – 08:00 PM EDT

SelectA Tonic for Desperate TimesFriday November 12, 2021 – 08:00 PM EDT

SelectA Tonic for Desperate TimesSaturday November 13, 2021 – 02:00 PM EDT

SelectA Tonic for Desperate TimesSaturday November 13, 2021 – 08:00 PM EDT

SelectA Tonic for Desperate TimesSunday November 14, 2021 – 02:00 PM EDT



Saturday, November 6, 2021. 2:00 pm

Streaming for free:

From the National Arts Centre in Ottawa

Copenhagen by Michael Frayn.

Free Video-on-demand available

Add to Calendar


Workman Arts Presents
RENDEZVOUS WITH MADNESS 2021 . Oct. 28-Nov. 7.
Featuring Maev Beatty, Layne Coleman, Beau Dixon, Ingrid Doucet, Shannon Taylor

The 2021 festival runs from October 28 – November 7 and presents 18 feature films and five short programs – a total of 68 films from 18 countries – in a hybrid format of virtual and in-person screenings.  As always, films are complemented by thought-provoking post-screening Q&As and curated panel discussions, extending the uniquely meaningful conversations that define Rendezvous With Madness. 

In addition to this year’s robust film program, the festival includes its annual visual art exhibit IN(SITE), featuring innovative work made in various media; this year presented on a dedicated online portal. Film and visual art programming are complemented by a new production of acclaimed playwright Rosa Laborde’s TRUE featuring Maev Beatty, Layne Coleman, Beau Dixon, Ingrid Doucet, and Shannon Taylor. 

The 2021 festival will inaugurate Workman Arts new permanent home at CAMH, in the McCain Centre for Complex Care and Recovery – bringing them back home to Queen St. West, where the festival first began.


Workman Arts’ new location at CAMH, at the McCain Centre for Complex Care and Recovery at 1025 Queen Street West, Workman Arts is now fully wheelchair accessible.  ASL interpretation will be provided for select programs. To learn more about accessibility initiatives at Rendezvous visit www.workmanarts.com 
Tickets for Rendezvous With Madness events will be available for online booking beginning 
Friday, October 8 at 10am. All tickets are pay-what-you-wish. Please note that this year there are no walk-up sales due to COVID-19, so tickets must be booked online. 

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Monday, Oct. 25, 2021. 7:30 pm. William Shakespeare’s PERICLES
From Red Bull Theatre

A poet returns from the dead to tell the tale of Pericles, Prince of Tyre––the touching and hopeful tale of loss and reconciliation about a hero whose adventures take him through the turbulent waters of both the literal seas and the tumultuous challenges of life itself. His odyssey is an epic journey of discovery, loss, and, ultimately, redemption. 
This online benefit reading of Shakespeare’s PERICLES is directed by Kent Gash and features a company of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) artists, including Shirine Babb, Kimberly Chatterjee, Caroline Clay, Grantham Coleman, Callie Holley, Mahira Kakkar, Jordan Mahome, Anthony Michael Martinez, Edward O’Blenis, Bhavesh Patel, Michele Shay, Timothy D. Stickney, and Craig Wallace. GET DETAILS

Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021

From the Almeida Theatre in London, England


On Line, streaming.

Priority booking for live streamed performances of The Tragedy of Macbeth Starring James McArdle and Saoirse Ronan, click the link below.

Five performances of Yaël Farber’s production will be streamed between Wednesday 27– Saturday 30 October, with the actors performing live from the theatre each night. The film will be produced by North South Culture following their work on the acclaimed live stream run of Hymn in February.

Almeida Artistic Director Rupert Goold said, “We’re delighted that so many people have booked to see The Tragedy of Macbeth in-person at the Almeida. However, there are still large numbers of audience members for whom getting to the theatre is impossible, either because they are shielding or because they can’t travel to London. Through streaming, we can take the show to them.”

Please use the link below to book.

Book live stream TICKETS

Wednesday, Oct. 27-Nov. 14, 2021

Kingston Grand Theatre

Live in person.

The Sylvia Effect

The Sylvia Effect is written and directed by Peter Hinton. Using Sylvia Plath and her poems as inspiration, this play speaks to the emotional confessions of four characters simply named: The Daughter, The Poet, The Mother, and The Son.

“Sylvia Plath became famous, partly because of the manner of her death. But as often the case with artistic success it was also a case of timing. Writing against time. This relationship to time makes her an ideal subject for the theatre. The challenge for me is to get past the tragic story to whatever core of experience or truth might wait on the other side.

For Plath privacy was something her death made public and something her life denied. Privacy involves time and space rather than any concept of secrecy. I think the facts of artists’ lives are misused but it can’t be helped. Maybe because we invest what we think of as the best of ourselves in our work – it’s disconcerting to think that anyone would be more interested in the lives we so often, in one way or another, neglect, in order to get the work done.
The play is intended to be played simply and directly. It is written in 5 scenes with a prologue and epilogue. A terse and precise and quick delivery is best. Pauses and breaks in the text indicate beats, not unlike stanzas in free verse. Italicized lines are quotations, and text culled from the letters, journals and poems of Sylvia Plath. The characters are isolated in a world of darkness and light, a sort of Purgatory/Inferno of a mid-century Divine Comedy.”
– Peter Hinton

Tickets: https://www.kingstongrand.ca/events/the-sylvia-effect

Thursday, Oct. 28-30, 2021

Talk Is Free Theatre


Live, in person

Winter Garden Theatre, Toronto.

Stephen Sondheim/James Lapine’s wonderful musical of fractured, intertwined fairy tales of searching for love, happiness and beans in the spooky woods.

This has been given two stellar productions in Barrie. Now Toronto gets a chance to see what the brilliance is all about.

Thursday, Oct. 28- Nov. 12, 2021.

Opera Atelier


Live Streaming


Streaming Premiere Thursday, October 28, 2021 at 7:00PM ET 
Streaming Tickets $30
Streaming from October 28, 2021 – November 12, 2021

In-Person Film Premiere at TIFF Bell Lightbox
Thursday, October 28, 2021 at 7:00PM ET 
In-Person Premiere Tickets $99



Angel is a multi-disciplinary storytelling event that explores themes of creation, loss of innocence, isolation and redemption through the texts of John Milton’s Paradise Lost and the mystic poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke.

Marking the culmination of OA’s commission for new music for baroque instruments by Canadian composer Edwin HUIZINGA with Christopher BAGAN – created over the past 4 years and featured in performances in Toronto, Chicago, and Versailles – Angel will also showcase musical excerpts by Matthew Locke, William Boyce, and Max Richter’s Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons*.

Featuring Colin AINSWORTH, Mireille ASSELIN, Measha BRUEGGERGOSMAN, Jesse BLUMBERG, Meghan LINDSAY, John TIBBETTS, and Douglas WILLIAMS with the Artists of Atelier Ballet, members of Tafelmusik, (Elisa CITTERIO, Music Director) and D. Brainerd BLYDEN-TAYLOR with The Nathaniel Dett Chorale

Angel is dedicated to the memory of Jeanne Lamon, C.M., O. Ont., D. Litt. (1949 – 2021), Tafelmusik’s longtime Music Director and Music Director Emerita, and Opera Atelier’s beloved friend, treasured colleague and collaborator for more than 35 years.

Composer: Edwin HUIZINGA 
Conductor: David FALLIS
Stage Director: Marshall PYNKOSKI
Choreographer: Jeannette Lajeunesse ZINGGFilm Director / Editor / Director of Photography: Marcel CANZONA
Set Designer / Art Director: Gerard GAUCISolo Contemporary Choreographer: Tyler GLEDHILL Translator: Grace ANDREACCHI Associate Composer / Assistant Conductor: Christopher BAGANHead of Wardrobe / Costume Designer: Michael LEGOUFFE Costume Designer: Michael GIANFRANCESCO Audio Production: Matthew ANTAL Resident Photographer: Bruce ZINGERProduction Stage Manager / Script Supervisor: Melissa ROOD*“Summer 1” and “Winter 1” written by Max Richter. Published by Mute Song Ltd. and Rough Trade Publishing. By Arrangement with Bank Robber Music.

Thursday, Oct. 28-30, 2021.


Streaming at the Young Vic.

Cush Jumbo. She’s brilliant.  She’s playing HAMLET. Times will differ but don’t miss this chance.

28 Oct 2021 – 30 Oct 2021


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