Lynn

Tuesday, July 13, 2021 7:00 for two weeks.

The Stratford Festival in Stratford, Ont. is OPENING! with a group of Cabarets: LIVE AND IN PERSON, under a Canopy.

Why We Tell the Story: A Celebration of Black Musical Theatre.

Curated and directed by Marcus Nance, with music director, Franklin Brasz.

Featuring: Marcus Nance, Robert Markus and Vanessa Sears.

www.stratfordfestival.ca

Wednesday, July 14-25.

The Hamilton Fringe.

Lots of digital offerings. Eclectic, challenging, entertaining.

www.hamiltonfringe.ca

Friday, July 16, 2021. 7:00 pm

A digital reading of

Innocence Lost by Beverley Cooper

About the Steven Truscott case. Stunning play.

Done by the young company of 4th Line Theatre Company

https://www.4thlinetheatre.on.ca

Sunday, July 18, 2021, 3:00 pm for two weeks.

Continuing at Stratford, as part of the Stratford Festival Cabaret Series:

You Can’t Stop The Beat: The Enduring Power of Musical Theatre.

Curated and directed by Thom Allison, musical director, Laura Burton.

Featuring: Alana Hibbert, Gabrielle Jones, Evangelia Kambites and Mark Uhre.

www.stratfordfestival.ca

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Performed live and in person at the Here for Now Theatre, New Works Festival, Stratford, Ont. on the back lawn of the Bruce Hotel, under a lovely canopy.

Written and performed by Roy Lewis

Music composed and played by Ben Bolt-Martin

Roy Lewis is an accomplished actor in his own right and has acted for many seasons at the Stratford Festival and around the country. Gifted, accomplished poet is now added to the list. Last year he presented his piece, I See The Crimson Wave about Nat Love, a cowboy who love haiku. This year we have Moments with You.

Because this was the first performance of this reading of Roy Lewis’ Moments with You, I will comment rather than review (because comment was welcome).

This is the published description of the show: “Moments with You is a modern Psalm; a dialogue offered in two voices chronicling the death of love, the ensuing struggle to understanding, and the peace found in grace and redemption. A poetic journey across the landscape of the heart written and performed by Roy Lewis with cellist Ben Bolt-Martin.”

In prose and poetry Roy Lewis tells the story of falling in love with Katarina known as ‘K’ and she with him and how quickly that changed. There are references to other lovers for context—Romeo and Juliet, Odysseus, Persephone, Don Juan. But it’s Roy Lewis’ words about his relationship, his love, that is so vivid to the listener.

His description of the love affair with ‘K’ initially is sensuous, sensual, and intoxicating. One gets the sense of the headiness of it all because of Lewis’ description. One almost gets the sense of being an intruding voyeur the words are so personal, but we can’t turn away (“I loved the turn of her leg and she loved my rough beard on her thigh”).  We are compelled to listen. The words are complex; the perception of what is happening is almost like dissecting a living thing, without destroying it. Rather we get a closer, keener look at how the relationship happened, formed, was shaped and eventually fell apart. Lewis’ sense of awareness and perception and his mastery of language makes this relationship and his descriptions of it so compelling.

And there is this description of the man: “And if I asked you to look at my face, would you see the dark eyes, the proud forehead, the nose with its flared nostrils, the dark cocoa of the flesh.”

The sentence is so simple and so vivid in noting that Roy Lewis is a Black man. Not to acknowledge it leaves out a vital component of who he is.

And then there is Roy Lewis’ voice. The words are delivered in a bright, deep baritone, each word crisp, precise, a gem of clarity. He is microphoned, not because he needs it, but because it offers a balance with Ben Bolt-Martin’s cello (which thankfully is not microphoned).  Bolt-Martin’s music is at once lush and often jazzy when the relationship is flourishing and discordant when it’s not. The music and the words serve each other perfectly.

I do have a bit of a quibble. Towards the end of the piece Lewis introduces stories of his parents, their relationship and his observing of them. I found that reference to their relationship—long lasting to be sure—to seem an add on from the main relationship with Lewis and “K”. Perhaps if the reference to his parents and their love could be woven into the narrative at an earlier part in the story, it would seem seamless and not disjointed. I can appreciate this adds context, it’s just that it seems tangential to the main story.  

Roy Lewis is on the stage as the audience files in as is Ben Bolt-Martin who is playing quietly. Lewis is affable and greets everybody. At about fifteen minutes to curtain time, Bolt-Martin plays a few chords of the Stratford Festival fanfare. It’s impish, funny, sweet, and so moving because we are reminded of how much we have missed that ritual, even if it is ‘the other’ festival in Stratford at the moment.  

Moment with You is based on his published book (2011), With You The Moments Of My Life Are Fading which is composed of the poems and stories of the relationship. (and for sale if one want to buy a copy).

I found Moments with You wonderfully poetic, linguistically intoxicating, telling a deeply moving emotional story. Roy Lewis does not let you sit back and relax and let the story wash over you. Rather he makes you sit forward, alert, anticipating the next vivid description, story and poem. Good theatre does that.  

Moments with You plays until August 1.

www.herefornowtheatre.com

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The Ghost Watchers is an Augmented Reality Theatrical Experience blending live theatre and augmented reality.

Written by: Mary Barnes

Rochelle Reynolds

Emily Adams

Rhiannon Hoover

Trudee Romanek

Based on a concept by Michael Whyte

Directed by Iain Moggach

Composer, Josh Doerksen

Video Editor, Michael Whyte

Videography, Greg McFadden

Costume and props designer, Brenda Thompson

Cast: James Dallas Smith

Candy Pryce

David Evans

Alinka Angelova

Sarah Warren

Breanne Tice

Heather Dennis

Tour Guides: Sabrina Merks as Travy

Alyssa Bartholomew as Susan McDonald.

Iain Moggach is the whip-smart, creative artistic director of Theatre by the Bay in Barrie, Ont. I have found his productions inventive, unusual but still embracing theatre. If anything he strives to attract an audience that might not necessarily go to the theatre.

The Ghost Watchers, his latest show, is a case in point. Audiences are invited to gather at a certain point by Barrie’s Bay, bringing their cell phones, a good data plan with internet connection, ear phones and lots of curiosity. Initially it looks like a tour celebrating 150 years of Barrie’s establishment as a town. But Susan McDonald, the City of Barrie Historian, is interrupted by Tracy, who is on the trail of paranormal activity along the route. Tracy is a ghost ‘hunter’. Tracy wears a ghost-attracting hat and carries a ‘wand’ (that looks like a kitchen utensil—kudos to Brenda Thompson for the Costumes and props), that reacts when a ghost is near.  Together Susan and Tracy lead the group around various notable spots in Barrie’s downtown and along the way the group is ‘introduced’ to seven ghosts, each with their own story.

Through the wonderful state of the art “Spectrovision” that is made available to our cell phones we are able to ‘conjure’ up the seven ghosts individually on our screens. To a techno-nerd like me, this was quite impressive. Truth to tell, I had difficulty getting ‘connected’ so the always helpful Iain Moggach took the tour with me to see that I remained connected. He is the Artistic Director of Theatre By the Bay, the director of The Ghost Watchers and offers technical help to the tech-challenged. A multi-tasker to be sure.  

The ghosts, all with their own level of unrest and lack of peace, are a cross-section of cultures, ethnicities, ages and gender. These include ‘Hector’ an indigenous man who is trapped in his anger remembering what happened to him and his family all those years ago at the beginning of Barrie’s history. There is a young girl with a love of fire with terrible consequences. There is a lonely man named Thomas Baggs who has spent his whole life without friends, it seems, but with one exception. The stories are usually associated with areas of interest we see along the tour.

While all the stories are poignant in their own way the last scene, in Memorial Square, was the most moving to me. Our screens captured all the ghosts we had met along the way. But in the background was the memorial to the young people from Barrie who died during the war, with a statue to the unknown soldier in the middle. And behind that were the flags of the country at half-mast to commemorate the dead children from residential schools whose remains have been discovered over the last several weeks. Devastating.

The Ghost Watchers is a fascinating endeavor that is part history, part technological wizardry, and totally entertaining and moving. It’s a terrific way of easing into theatre going using the digital tools that are second nature to many in the population. It’s a good walk of 90 minutes and both Alyssa Bartholomew as Susan McDonald and Sabrina Merks as Tracy are wonderful, enthusiastic guides.

The Ghost Watchers plays in Barrie until August 28, 2021.

www.theatrebythebay.com/shows

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The live audio broadcast.

Written and performed by Katherine Cullen and Britta Johnson
Original music by Britta Johnson
Original lyrics by Britta Johnson and Katherine Cullen
Directed by Aaron Willis
Set and costumes by Anahita Dehbonehie
Lighting by Jennifer Lennon

Stupidhead! is a musical comedy about dyslexia. It has wonderful music, clever lyrics and two beguiling performances by Katherine Cullen, who tells her story and Britta Johnson who beautifully supports her at the piano and in many other ways.

Background. Stupidhead! has had many iterations since it debuted in 2014 at VideoFag. I saw it live in 2017. Now the always resourceful theatre company, Outside the March is bringing it back first as a live audio broadcast and later this summer in a live in person production perfect for a private porch or back yard. The script has been tweaked for this latest iteration to reflect the changes in our world and in the lives of the creators.  

The Story. Actress-playwright-theatremaker Katherine Cullen has always had a dream of being in a musical. By her own admission two things might have stood in her way towards realizing this dream: lack of training and ability. These are mere triflings when you consider the sheer force of nature, personality and determination that is Katherine Cullen. Added to this determination is that Cullen has been painfully aware she is dyslexic since grade three when insensitive teachers and ‘friends’ have indicated she was different because of it. Naturally Cullen considers her dyslexia a perfect subject for a musical.

Katherine Cullen takes us through her angst-ridden journey of coping with dyslexia. Hers is unusual because her reading is not that affected. She has difficulty with maths and spatial situations. She has no sense of direction. Finding the bathroom in public school posed a dilemma which she thought about and solved in her own way. Her best friend Dannie (sp?) lived next door when she was a kid, but Cullen often lost her way home from Dannie’s because she, Cullen was not sure to turn left or right to go home. There is the fear of making mistakes and being wrong. There is also the Cullen quirky sense of humour and determination that helps her cope when matters go off the rails.

The Performance. It is so interesting to hear this production as a live audio broadcast rather than seeing it in a theatre. What is so vivid about this production is the pure joy that comes across from Katherine Cullen and her creative partner, Britta Johnson. They riff off each other. They are constantly laughing at each other’s jokes. I remember during the live production that Britta was always smiling. This version takes that joy to another level (That will also be the last time I compare previous productions of Stupidhead! because it’s not helpful to the reader hearing the show now).

Katherine Cullen’s performance is also fearless She is not afraid or tentative to sing the songs full throttle just because she does not have the ‘ability’ to sing them. This is her life, damnit, and she is going to present every note with total commitment.   Her performance is beguiling as well as compelling. While Cullen has dark memories of dealing with her disappointments because of dyslexia she tells her story in a funny, irreverent, whimsical way. Britta Johnson not only accompanies Cullen beautifully on the piano, but you know she supports her in other ways, emotional, psychological, intuitively.  Both artists wrote the lyrics and Britta Johnson also wrote the music. The songs detail difficulties for Cullen, disappointments, triumphs and inspirational advice (“Don’t Give Up). The lyrics are wonderfully clever. As when I first saw this show in the theatre, I wish there was a song list. (just a quibble).

Director Aaron Willis directs Cullen with a smart sense of when stillness is effective and when wildness is better.  We can’t see how Cullen fills the space but we can hear her and imagine the rest.

Comment. While Stupidhead! is a musical about dyslexia, it does not define Katherine Cullen. After listening to this live audio broadcast it’s clear Cullen is gifted, impish, funny, irreverent, confident, successful, composed, joyful and a thousand other things more important that a diagnosis of dyslexia. Stupidhead she is not. The show continues to be wonderful.

Stupidhead! is available by live audio broadcast until July 16, 2021

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Live and in person under a canopy on the back lawn of the Bruce Hotel, in Stratford, Ont.

Bravo to Fiona Mongillo for getting us back to the theatre. She is the Artistic Director of the Here for Now Theatre Company and has curated the 2021 New Works Festival, composed of ten original works written, created and performed by artists from Stratford, Ontario.

For the second year in a row the festival will be performed on the back lawn of the Bruce Hotel, this time under a beautiful open-air canopy. All seats are properly distanced for safety; strict health protocols are followed and everybody arrives wearing a mask (Although we can take them off in the tent.

Ms Mongillo bounded onto the stage, smiling, said “Hello” and we were hers. What a thrilling, moving experience it was to be with a like-minded group of people applauding a resourceful young woman, who won’t let a pandemic stop her from creating theatre.

She said that the recurring theme of the 10 plays was ‘togetherness’; how the characters (and I would believe those watching the plays) crave to be together, connected. After seeing the first two plays, she could also say that “tenacious” is a theme.  H\

The Tracks

Written by Mark Weatherley

Music and Lyrics by Kale Penny

Directed by Monique Lund

Cast: Lauren Bowler

Kale Penny.

https://www.herefornowtheatre.com

The Tracks is billed as a musical comedy. The blurb on the show explains it this way: “worlds collide when a street corner busker encounters a classical violinist who finds herself at a crossroads.”

The Story and comment. There was no formal program so I’m not sure of the character’s names so I’ll use the actor’s name. Kale is the busker and provides the songs and his own guitar accompaniment. He sits on one of the two buckets on stage as a seat.  As he’s playing we see in the distance a smartly-dressed woman coming down the path, cross the grass into the canopy and cross the stage and look up stage into the distance. This is Lauren. She has an appointment for a job interview in one of the bank buildings in the area (the financial district of this city).

She sees Kale there and tosses a coin into his open guitar case. (there is a lovely bit of business when he puts on a rubber glove, snapping the latex, picks up the coin and sprays it with disinfectant). Kale informs Lauren that those bank buildings are closed because of the pandemic—the only time the pandemic will really be referenced.

They strike up a conversation with Lauren being prickly and Kale replying but not as pointedly. She notes that he is playing to a disserted corner. He says that this is his space, his ‘pitch’ and playing his music is what he does about eight hours a day.

Lauren is applying for an entrance level job—and really has an interview but she’s early. She hopes to be hired if only to serve coffee so that she can take the securities course and exams and then make lots of money. She is/was a classical musician, playing the violin in an orchestra. She had a dream of being the first violin of the orchestra and practiced and worked for that dream but something got in the way and she left music to try and make money.  Kale senses something else at play here and the conversation turns decidedly philosophical.

While The Tracks is described as a musical comedy the play is deeper, more thoughtful than that. The Tracksis a love-letter to creating art, music, following your dreams and not giving up. While the pandemic is referred to slightly, I think the play is about not giving up on your art when the world has shut down or when the audience seems to disappear as it has for Kale.

With Lauren she thought so deeply about one part of her playing that she lost the larger picture and was ready to quit because of it.  Mark Weatherley’s play beautifully captures the worlds of these two musicians. With Kale his words to Lauren are funny and impish but they are also reflective and philosophical of a man who is alone with his music and thoughts for the whole day. He has had time to ponder what is important and singing his words and music are uppermost.  He has that pitch and regardless of an audience he will be there creating and ‘sharing’ his music. With Lauren, Weatherley creates a classical musician who plays a violin worth a fortune, that is itself a work of art. She delves deeply into the music and how to create and interpret it. Both are different characters of course and their difference is vividly created in this play. But their love of music connects them.

The Production and comment.  The production beautifully realizes the depth of the play and these characters. It’s about needing a connection as Lauren and Kale make their connection with banter and music. At times she joins him in his music and is as invested in the songs as he is. Her blazer is unbuttoned and she experiences a freedom through his songs, thanks to Monique Lund’s thoughtful, detailed direction. And of course it’s funny—that wonderful business at the beginning with Kale snapping on the latex glove to disinfect that coin then tossing it back into his case is priceless.

The play is performed with great chemistry by Kale Penny as Kale and Lauren Bowler as Lauren. The banter is easy and natural. His singing is soul-stirring. His lyrics are smart. She gradually eases from being buttoned up and formal to free and relaxed because of the music and the company.

To add another note of togetherness: Monique Lund and Mark Weatherley are married to each other. And Kale Penny and Lauren Bowler are married to each other.

The Tracks is a terrific way to begin the New Works Festival and get people back together to watch it in person.

goldfish

Written and directed by Steve Ross

Cast: Laura Condlln

John Dolan.

The Story and comment. Steve Ross a terrific actor in his own right and now he can add writer and director to that list. goldfish is the story of Walter and Shannon.  Walter is an irascible senior citizen with a hazy memory. He lives with his daughter and spends his day sitting in a chair, watching the world from the porch. Shannon has just moved across the street with her husband and two young boys. She runs a daycare and meets Walter when a beachball accidentally flies across the street and hits him in the head.  He’s not hurt by this starts their friendship, except she has to remind him every time that her name is Shannon and he keeps introducing himself to her as well, forgetting he has done it every day they see each other.

Over the course of a year, she learns about Walter’s late wife, his temper, his love of corny jokes and that he’s a true friend. We learn that Shannon is a harried, caring mother who is sensitive to her children and their needs—one of her boys wants to wear a princess dress and Shannon is ready to let him while her husband is more rigid. We also learn that her marriage is in trouble and what kind of a considerate, thoughtful woman she is. These are two characters navigating difficult waters as they try to muddle through with their lives and lean on each other to do it forming an unlikely friendship.

Steve Ross has written a sweet and heart-squeezing play. He deals sensitively with dementia, loneliness, gender issues, relationships, friendships when you least expect it and generosity of spirit.  I loved the kindness of Shannon in dealing with Walter’s hazy memory and dealing with his groaner jokes.  And while Walter is dealing with a world that is closing down, he is able to see her need for a friend who will listen.

Laura Condlln as Shannon and John Dolan as Walter are wonderful. The dialogue is easy banter of people who are actually listening to each other. Condlln plays Shannon as an outwardly buoyant person, watchful of her children and those in the daycare, sensitive to the changing world of gender and identity. Shannon giving instructions to the kids playing across the street are vivid. Condlln also conveys Shannon’s loneliness, loss, confusion and she digs deep to cope with it all. She finds solace in her friendship with Walter. John Doyle as Walter is a mix of charm and irascible. He loves telling a good joke as long as he’s not interrupted and if he is his temper comes in. Walter soldiers on but we sense there are demons that have haunted him and that comes out naturally in the play.

I also thought Steve Ross does a lovely job directing his own play. He  knows the value of a pause, silence, a knowing look or the touch of a hand without being cloying and sentimental. There are a lot of scene changes that are accomplished with each character taking a prop of a jacket, or a ball or a CD out of a box—all done with efficiency and clarity.

goldfish is such an engaging play and compelling production that I was not too distracted by the bunny rabbit that appeared in the distance, hopping across the lawn.

Loved both The Tracksand goldfish (and the bunny).

The Tracks and goldfishplay at the Here for Now Theatre Company’s New Works Festival in Stratford, Ont. until July 25.

https://www.herefornowtheatre.com

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Tuesday, July 6, 2021.

The wonderful HERE FOR NOW Theatre begins in Stratford, Ontario, on the back lawn of the Bruce Hotel under their spiffy marquis. Live, in-person with other theatre lovers present!

The plays are:

Here For Now Theatre

About

About

A Note from the Artistic Director

Past Productions | 2020

Board of Directors

Productions

The Tracks

goldfish

Moments with You (Reading Series)

Janet and Louise

Post Alice

Pegeen and the Pilgrim (Reading Series)

So, how’s it been?

The Wonder of it All

In Search of Catharsis (Reading Series)

Kroehler Girls

Venue

The 2021 New Works Festival

Here For Now Theatre Company is thrilled to announce our 2021 New Works Festival comprised entirely of world premiere productions. Local artists are coming together to create a season that will include ten shows with small, socially distanced audiences, under an open-air canopy at the Bruce Hotel.

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BUY TICKETS

The Tracks

“It’s hard to move forward when you keep lookin’ back.” In the premiere of this witty musical featuring the original songs of singer / songwriter Kale Penny, worlds collide when a street corner busker encounters a classical violinist who finds herself at a crossroads.

Book by Mark Weatherley with music and lyrics by Kale Penny. Directed by Monique Lund, starring Kale Penny and Lauren Bowler.

Learn More

goldfish

Walter Norman is a retiree living a quiet life in a small town. Not much happens in his day; he’s content to sit in his chair on the front porch and watch the world go by. Enter Shannon. A busy mother of two who moves in across the street and opens a daycare. An unlikely friendship develops between these two and soon their visits become a daily ritual. Join Walter and Shannon as they sit and talk about everything from life to love to death to egg rolls. If only he could remember her name. Or what happened the day before. A year in the life of two lonely people who didn’t know how much they needed each other. Until they did.

Written and directed by Steve Ross, starring Laura Condlln and John Dolan.

Learn More

Moments with You

(Reading Series)

Moments with You is a modern Psalm; a dialogue offered in two voices chronicling the death of love, the ensuing struggle for understanding, and the peace found in grace and redemption. A poetic journey across the landscape of the heart written and performed by Roy Lewis with cellist Ben Bolt-Martin.

Learn More

Janet and Louise

Janet is determined to get over her mysterious ailments and keep her custodial job, so she’s agreed to take doctor-prescribed art lessons. Louise’s art studio is floundering; there is endless roadwork outside and her prickly personality chases people away. Janet arrives but thinks she might quit. Louise can’t afford to lose another student. Then Janet finds a man’s tooth inside a jar. . . At turns funny and heartbreaking, this new play asks what happens when two strangers confront what they’ve tried so hard to keep hidden.

Written by Deanna Kruger and directed by Jeannette Lambermont-Morey. Starring Brigit Wilson and Peggy Coffey.

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Post Alice

Inspired by four haunting characters from four iconic Alice Munro stories, Post Alice is a stunning new contemporary play which asks the question: what really happened to Mistie Murray? And what happens to all our missing girls? Come sit around the fire with four bright and hilarious Huron County women as ghost stories emerge, songs fill the air, family secrets are revealed, and mysteries unravel into those wonderful contradictions which live inside us all.

Written by Taylor Marie Graham and directed by Fiona Mongillo.

Learn More

Pegeen and the Pilgrim

(Reading Series)

Sponsored by Loreena McKennitt

Tickets to this free event will become available July 30th and must be booked online.

Twelve-year-old Pegeen O’Hara lives in the quiet town of Stratford, Ontario. She helps her mother run a boarding house after the death of her father and they are putting her brother Kerry through university. There just never seems to be enough time or money, and Pegeen’s dreams of becoming an actress seem hopeless. Then an extraordinary thing happens – a Shakespearean festival is planned for Stratford. As the festival develops, so does Pegeen. She learns a great deal about Shakespeare, the boarders at home, and she develops a new circle of friends, including a mysterious pilgrim. Adapted for stage by Brigit Wilson from the beloved novel by Lyn Cook.

Written and directed by Brigit Wilson with assistant director Stacy Smith.

Learn More

So, how’s it been?

Songs and Stories from our town

In the summer of 2020, theatre artist and Stratford resident Liza Balkan first began interviewing people who live and work in this town, asking after how they were doing through the fulsome and challenging  initial months of the pandemic. She met withbusiness owners, employees, artists, nurses, retirees, actors, parents, kids, farmers… The months became a year and the interviews continued. So many stories.

So, how’s it been? is a song cycle co-created by writer / director Balkan and composer / musical director Paul Shilton, inspired by – and using – the words from these recorded conversations. The songs and poetry are moving, surprising, funny, harsh, wild, curious, and empowering. And true. With music composed by Paul Shilton plus an additional song or two by Katherine Wheatley, Bruce Horak, and others, join extraordinary performers Marcus Nance, Barb Fulton, Trevor Patt, and Evangelia Kambites as they share a reflection of this highly particular time in this highly particular town. It’s a concert. It’s a conversation. How’s it been for you?

Learn More

The Wonder of it All

If marriage is the right to annoy one special person for the rest of your life, then Charmaine and Kingsley have the perfect marriage. That is until a surprise from their past meddles with the certainty of their future. But after 25 years is it too late for them to discover the redemptive power of love?

Written by Mark Weatherly and directed by Seana McKenna. Starring Monique Lund and Mark Weatherley.

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In Search of Catharsis

(Reading Series)

Wouldn’t it be nice if life came with a manual? This ‘making sense of living’ thing is hard, no matter who you are. Join our protagonist as she candidly wrestles with the grand improvisation of being human. It has something to do with a ferret. And space. And being in love.  

Written and performed by Jessica B. Hill and directed by Rodrigo Beilfuss.

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Kroehler Girls

It’s the bottom of the inning, a full count with two down. The Kroehler Girls socked two hits and their heavy hitter is a star with the willow, is it enough to bring the title home? 

Furniture and Softball. It’s the early 1950’s and Stratford’s all girls softball team is known for building furniture by day and dominating the ball diamond by night. Can the Kroehler Girls live up to their reputation after a devastating loss the previous season? Times are changing at a breakneck speed in these post-war days and this team, along with their hometown, have to prove they have what it takes. 

A new comedy that celebrates all that is Stratford in the early 50’s: the remarkable furniture company and their legendary softball team.

“We’ll sing you the song of our ball team, it’s the finest team in all the land.
We’ll tell you about all the players and we’ll tell you the truth if we can.” 

Co-created and performed by Kelly McIntosh, Stacy Smith and Andy Pogson with co-creator and director Severn Thompson, assisted by associate director Keira Loughran.

Learn More

Wednesday, July 7, 2021 2:30 pm (Toronto time)

From the Old Vic

Streaming:

THE DUMB WAITER by Harold Pinter

OLD VIC: IN CAMERA – THE DUMB WAITER

BY HAROLD PINTER

DIRECTED BY JEREMY HERRIN

The Dumb Waiter in camera - lead artwork

TICKETS: PWC £10 TICKETS, £20, £30, £40

Running time: approx. 50 minutes

All performance times are British Summer Time (BST). These performances are live streamed using Zoom.

Read our OLD VIC: IN CAMERA FAQs

Suitable for ages 12+

All live streamed performances will be captioned and audio described.

GET TICKETS

WATCH ONLINE

The Dumb Waiter will be live streamed as part of our OLD VIC: IN CAMERA series – you will be watching from home if you book a ticket for this production.

ABOUT THE SHOW

‘We send him up all we’ve got and he’s not satisfied. No, honest, it’s enough to make the cat laugh.’

Ben and Gus are seasoned hitmen awaiting details of their next target in the basement of a supposedly abandoned cafe. When the dumbwaiter begins sending them mysterious food orders, the killers’ waiting game starts to unravel.

Daniel Mays and David Thewlis star in Harold Pinter’s darkly funny, insidiously menacing The Dumb Waiter for the sixth production in our globally live streamed series, OLD VIC: IN CAMERA.

OLD VIC: IN CAMERA performances are streamed live from the iconic Old Vic stage with the empty auditorium as a backdrop.

THANK YOU TO OUR SUPPORTERS:

The Old Vic: In Camera series is made possible thanks to the unwavering support of Royal Bank of Canada as The Old Vic’s visionary Principal Partner. Since the beginning of Matthew Warchus’ tenure in 2015, RBC has sponsored over 30 main stage productions and now, in the face of such challenging times, RBC continues to stand alongside us and support our theatre and our audiences by enabling the delivery of this series. And, thanks to PwC’s steadfast generosity through this crisis, we’re delighted to be able to make this artistic initiative widely accessible with a number of PwC £10 Tickets offered across all performances.

Royal Bank of Canada – Principal Partner

PwC – PwC £10 Previews Partner

The Public Fund – Productions Partner

Garfield Weston Foundation – Reopening Partner

The Huo Family Foundation – Reopening Partner

GET TICKETS

Wednesday, July 7, 2021 8:00 pm

Audio version of

STUPIDHEAD

  STUPIDHEAD! to hit Airwaves, Porches and Backyards in July!   A white cis woman with blond, shaggy hair, wearing an enormous hot pink brain costume. She is sitting in a chair and trying to sit a latte, but can’t quite reach it with her mouth because of the big brain costume. Also, there are two GIFs laid on top of the image, of a girl in heart-shaped glasses banging her hands on an electronic keyboard.   ANNOUNCING THE RETURN OF STUPIDHEAD!, the hit musical comedy about dyslexia, failure and friendship.

Reimagined by Creators Katherine Cullen and Britta Johnson, Director Aaron Willis and Production Designer Anahita Dehbonehie for our current moment.  Gather your household ‘round the wifi router for
a limited number of live “radio” broadcasts. Or book your very own intimate IRL serenade for your family and friends to enjoy on a porch or backyard.

With musical gems like “Dobermans and Nutella”, “Is This Where the Puppet People Get Picked Up” and “What If I Never Find My Way”, we guarantee that you won’t be able to get this show out of your (stupid)head.  CLICK HERE to listen to an audio-only version of this announcement from Katherine Cullen herself.    “…riotously funny, musically charming, and emotionally resonant… a perfect blend of humour, heart, and soul. – Kingston Theatre Reviews  

BOOK NOW     A white cis woman with blond, shaggy hair, wearing an enormous hot pink brain costume. She is sitting in a chair and trying to eat a muffin and sip a latte, but can't quite reach it with her mouth because of the big brain costume.   There are Two Different Ways to Experience STUPIDHEAD! Live      1. Live Digital Radio Broadcast
(July 7th – 16th)    “Modelled on your favourite radio variety shows from times of yore. It’ll be like we’re performing in your living rooms… but we won’t be, because we respect your health and wellbeing, and also we’d get fined by the Ontario Government.”  – Katherine Cullen   All you need is a wifi signal, a feel-good beverage and your favourite emotional support stuffed animal to tune in to this run of six “live-to-air” audio performances.    Limited Capacity for Each Live Broadcast Tickets: $15   BOOK NOW     2. “At Your Place” Performances
(July 19th – Aug 1st)      “Stupidhead is all about not being alone. With that in mind, we’re hoping that small groups of families, friends and neighbours will book these intimate outdoor performances together.” – Mitchell Cushman, OtM Artistic Director     STUPIDHEAD! will also play a select run of a dozen in-person performances – available for booking on decks, porches and other private outdoor spaces across the GTA.

For Torontonians who are badly missing the presence of live theatre in their life, this is a chance to bring a show right to your very own front (or back) door!  

Outside the March will work with each group to ensure that each performance is conducted per provincial health and safety guidelines.

  Presentation Fee – $400 to book a private performance for friends n’ fam!
(100% of which goes directly to the artists working on the show)  
  TALK TO US ABOUT BOOKING     A white cis woman with blond, shaggy hair, wearing an enormous hot pink brain costume. She is sitting in a chair and trying to sit a latte, but can’t quite reach it with her mouth because of the big brain costume. Also, there is GIFs laid on top of the image, of a girl in heart-shaped glasses banging her hands on an electronic keyboard, and another GIF of a microphone with pink sparkles coming out of it..   OtM’s production of STUPIDHEAD! will also enjoy a two week run in Barrie, Ontario in August as part of Talk is Free Theatre’s “Bees in the Bush” Outdoor Theatre Festival.   

Wednesday, July 7—2021

Theatre By the Bay, in Barrie, Ont. opens its new season with The Ghost Watchers.

THEATRE BY THE BAY ANNOUNCES 2021 SEASON Barrie, ON. After taking the time to plan and regroup in 2020 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Theatre by the Bay (TBTB) is excited to deliver a safe and strong return to theatre, offering dynamic programming of four plays based on local stories.

The season will run from July until October 2021 and will include both in person and digital ways to engage with the works.

The Ghost Watchers. Summer, 2021. Presented in partnership with Tourism Barrie. Based on a concept by Michael Whyte. Written by Emily Adams, Mary Barnes, Rhiannon Hoover, Rochelle Reynolds, and Trudee Romanek. Join us on an Augmented Reality Walking Theatre Experience directed by Iain Moggach.  Follow a mysterious Ghost Hunter through downtown Barrie using state of the art ‘Spectrovision’ to discover the ghosts of Barrie’s past and find out what is keeping these spirits in our realm.

The Simcoe County Virtual Theatre Initiative Featuring the RBC Emerging Artists Program. August, 2021 (date TBD). The RBC Emerging Director Project provides two emerging directors from the Simcoe County community with the opportunity to receive unprecedented training in theatre directing, culminating in the creation and presentation of two new plays:

Juncture. Directed by RBC Emerging Director Alexandra Gaudet and written by Mary Harris, Juncture follows Christine, a widowed woman in 1930’s Barrie, Ontario. Christine recalls her life and how exactly she ended up in the arms of George Rogers, the man who derailed the life she once knew.

Two Girls, One Corpse. Directed by RBC Emerging Director Keara Voo, Two Girls, One Corpse is written by Michelle Blanchard and Marissa Caldwell. This goofy comedy-mystery follows two girls who attend the wedding of an ex-boyfriend, drink until they blackout, and wake up in their apartment with a dead body.

Mno Bimaadiziwin. Fall, 2021. Based around the experiences of a group of Indigenous people entering a sweat lodge, Mno Bimaadiziwin (meaning, ‘A good way of living’) is a story about the resiliency of love, healing, and of community in the face of trauma. Written by Ziigwen Mixemong and directed by Herbie Barnes. Mno Bimaadiziwin will be presented live at the Orillia Opera House as well as filmed for digital viewing.

http://www.theatrebythebay.com/

Friday, July 9, 2021 7:00 pm

Live streamed the Young Company from 4th Line Theatre

THE WOLVES

4th Line Theatre and Trent University’s Traill College Announce 2021 Young Company 

From 4th Line Theatre’s 2018 production of Judith Thompson’s Who Killed Snow White?, directed by Kim Blackwell. Photo by Wayne Eardley, Brookside Studio. 

4th Line Theatre and Trent University’s Traill College are excited to announce the 2021 Young Company, a group of young, diverse regional artists and performers, who will work with industry professionals to produce livestream virtual play readings and performance pieces this summer. As part of its Emerging VOICES Youth Apprenticeship Program, rural community youth volunteers and apprentices have always played a major role in 4th Line Theatre’s iconic history. From the first play at the Winslow Farm in 1992 to last year’s Bedtime Stories & Other Horrifying Tales, young community actors have captured authentic voices within their plays, allowing the theatre to continue to create epic productions for the past three decades.

Managing Artistic Director Kim Blackwell explains, “This summer’s Young Company is a chance to fill the gap for regional young people with the theatre being unable to offer its normal artistic opportunities. We will be affording local youth the chance to work with some incredibly creative artists on skills development including acting, directing, playwriting, clown, music and puppetry. The Young Company, in partnership with Traill College, will be a unique training experience.”

In order to expand its youth apprenticeship training opportunities, 4th Line Theatre have partnered with Trent University’s Traill College to launch this exciting, new Young Company initiative. Young Company members will train with industry professionals Maja Ardal, Brad Brackenridge, Brianna Hill, Lisa Ryder, Patti Shaughnessy and Hilary Wear to bring scripts to life and create original work.

Dr. Michael Eamon, Principal of Catharine Parr Traill College and Director of Trent University’s Continuing Education states “Trent University’s Traill College and 4th Line Theatre have enjoyed a long and fruitful association supporting dramatic expression in the community. We are excited to offer a home for the activities of the Young Company and look forward to expanding our support with the construction of the Jalynn Bennett Amphitheatre next year. Both Trent University and 4th Line Theatre are committed to education, particularly of local youth. Situated in Peterborough’s downtown, Traill College offers the perfect spot for young actors to refine their craft. We hope that this partnership will strengthen the University’s unique bond with 4th Line Theatre as we share the value of expression, community engagement, and self-betterment through learning.”

 The 2021 Young Company is led by Young Company Coordinator Madison Sheward (Bedtime Stories & Other Horrifying Tales) and its members are: Mohamed Abi, Kate Bemrose, Zachary Chiagozie, Maude Rose Craig (Who Killed Snow White?), Molly Dunn, Mosunmola Fadare (The Other: A Strange Christmas Tale), Huseyin Halil, Laurin Isiekwena, Sahira Q, Emma Khaimovich (Bedtime Stories & Other Horrifying Tales), Aisling MacQuarrie (Carmel), Alison Mcelwan, Frances Milner, Aisha Fazilahmed and Ty Cohen.

LIVESTREAM PERFORMANCE DETAILS

Admission is free and all live stream events begin at 7:00 PM EST.  Register for each event via the Eventbrite links below and receive reminder emails prior to the livestream. The live stream events will be broadcasted on 4th Line Theatre’s YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3ZMAyjpmSq_jviIb7_7bLg

July 9, 2021 at 7 PM

The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe

Directed by Lisa Ryder

In this contemporary slice-of-life play, The Wolves, a girls’ indoor soccer team, practice drills as they prepare for a succession of games. As they warm up and talk about life, the girls navigate the politics of their personal lives. Each team member struggles to negotiate her individuality while being a part of a group. The team seems as if it may disband after the sudden death of one of the girls, but they manage to come together. In the end, the surviving team players prepare to play yet another game together – closer, stronger, wiser, and fiercer.

Register to Attend

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Review: VOICE

by Lynn on June 29, 2021

in The Passionate Playgoer

Streaming on the Prairie Theatre Exchange website until July 11: https://www.pte.mb.ca

Written by Ismaila Alfa

Directed by Cherissa Richards and Thomas Morgan Jones

Set concept by Cherissa Richards and Thomas Morgan Jones

Costumes by Joseph Abetria

Lighting by Jaymez

Sound by Deanna H. Choi

Original music by Ismaila Alfa

Ice River Films

Director, Sam Vent

Cast: Ismaila Alfa (voice over)

Melissa Langdon

Ray Strachan

Voice is a father’s love letter to his daughters on how to be a confident, useful citizen. It’s also a careful guide to being a devoted, caring father.

The Story. Ismaila Alfa is a radio broadcaster from Winnipeg. The catalyst for Voice was a job opportunity in Toronto. He went to Toronto for two weeks to audition for the job. He had to leave his daughters in the care of his ex-wife. He missed his daughters and lamented that they didn’t contact him regularly in the two weeks he was away. Were they ok? Would they forget him? They had their own lives to occupy their time, but still it rankled when he didn’t hear from them in calls or e-mails.

He got the job—as the host of CBC’s radio show Metro Morning although this is not actually said.  Ismaila Alfa would have to relocate from Winnipeg to Toronto and he would not be able to bring his daughters with him, at least not right away. Voice is a means of noting what made Ismaila Alfa the man he is today, his ethics, beliefs, struggles, thoughts and character. It’s also a condensed means of passing on that wisdom to his daughters.

Ismaila Alfa was born in Nigeria and came to Canada as a young boy with his family, via Sydney, Australia. There is a warning to the streamed production that says that the production contains descriptions of racism and police brutality. Ismaila Alfa is Black.

Alfa was guided in his life by his father’s teachings and wisdom and now he is passing that on to his daughters. In his bracing, compelling play, Alfa says: “My Dad told me that if I didn’t feel like this year was way more challenging than last year, I’m not making progress…

“I was born knowing who I am. I didn’t know that I also had to figure out who everyone else thought I was. That was a lesson I learned when I came to Canada…I had an identity thrust upon me even before I needed I.D: who are you and where are you from?”

Race is obviously important to the narrative of Voice. Ismaila Alfa says, “I’m rich with race…Our identity isn’t who made us, it’s what we have made of ourselves with their guidance. My ancestors hold me up but I decided my direction through the maze we call life.” Culture was passed down from generation to generation.  

Alfa has passed on that wisdom to his own daughters. “Lead by example. Adapt. Take every step with confidence but know when to change direction….Patience. Focus. Follow through. You are a gift. Family over anyone…I learn ‘cause I listen.”

I found Voice to be loaded with such wisdom I wanted to write it all down, or at least have a copy of the text with me. You get the sense of how important and urgent it was for Ismaila Alfa to pass on this wisdom to his girls in his absence, even though we know there is the phone, Facetime etc. to stay in touch.

The Production. Voice is performed on two round wood platforms. On one platform there are neat rows of milk crates piled one on top of another, full of neat notebooks and the occasional piece of clothing. They represent Ismaila Alfa’s packing to move to Toronto.  A young woman (Melissa Langdon) in jeans and a casual, top surveys, the boxes. She represents Alfa’s three daughters. We hear the voice over of Ismaila Alfa speaking sometimes in personal musings, sometimes in poetry sometimes in the style of hip hop. The voice is rich and quietly compelling. Ismaila Alfa also composed the music for the piece, various rhythmic drumming, that added an urgency and heartbeat to the piece.

The young woman flips through the notebooks, selecting one by random and reading, then another then another. It’s as if she is getting a different idea of her father through his writings and this leads her to other crates and other notebooks. Almost by some innate sense she removes crates that are piled on top of each other to find one that has his sweatshirt in it. She takes it out carefully and smells it to get the scent of her father into her lungs. Co-directors Cherissa Richards and Thomas Morgan Jones have created in that image a sense of the daughter’s longing for her father and how she will miss him and how much she loves him. She finds another crate with his jean jacket in it and she puts it on. At another point she finds a pair of earrings that she puts on—they look like they might have been passed down from generation to generation. In any case these earrings seem apt for this character who is in embracing her identity.

On the other round wood platform is Ray Strachan as the father in comfortable pants, a zip-up sweat shirt over a shirt and shoes. He uses his own voice to express different aspects of his character.  His platform is bare. We know the character is moving to another city. The mixed sense of longing and missing his daughter, mixed with the adventure of the new job is there in Ray Strachan’s face, body language and voice.

For most of the duration of the production both spaces are separate. When one platform is illuminated, the other is in darkness. The viewer wants the two characters to interact but first each character must navigate his/her own journey of discovery. The father has to express his feelings and the daughter has to discover her feelings by making her many discoveries of her father through his writing and thoughts. Only after each character has made their journey do they interact.

The sense of longing between father and daughter is so palpable in Voice, the love and bond between the two is so strong. Another wonderful piece of theatre from Prairie Theatre Exchange.

Voice streams on the Prairie Theatre Exchange website until July 11:

https://www.pte.mb.ca

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Monday, June 28-July 11, 2021.

VOICE

By Ismaila Alfa

A love letter from a father to his daughters. Ismaila Alfa has recently moved from Winnipeg to Toronto to become the host of the CBC radio’s morning show, “Metro Morning.” He was not able to bring his daughters at this time. The show is a mix of poetry, spoken word, hip-hop, musings, music, and brilliance and he passes on the good advice he got from his father, now to his daughters. Beautifully done.  

Streaming on the Prairie Theatre Exchange website until July 11. https://www.pte.mb.ca

Wed. June 30, 2021. 7:00 pm

Streamed

A concert + conversation about Dixon Road, an upcoming musical by Somali-Canadian playwright Fatuma Adar.

ABOUT DIXON ROAD

Dixon Road tells the story of a Somali family who immigrate to Canada in 1991 as the civil war begins to tear their homeland apart. They settle in Dixon Road, in a neighbourhood near Pearson airport that is still the heart of Toronto’s Somali community today.

Somali-Canadian playwright Fatuma Adar brings the history of Dixon Road to life with this new musical.

Join us to take in some performances from the upcoming musical, as well as a conversation between Fatuma Adar and Director Kimberly Colburn about Dixon Road and the inspirations behind the pieces as well as the play.

Dixon Road is A Musical Stage Company & Obsidian Theatre Company Co-Production. Originally developed as part of Obsidian Theatre’s Playwrights Unit and commissioned by The Musical Stage Company with funding from The Aubrey & Marla Dan Foundation’s Aubrey & Marla Dan Fund for new musicals.

Musical arrangements: Adam Sakiyama

https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/myseum-intersections-2021-dixon-road-tickets-157826492287

JULY 3- 25, 2021.

There’s a Canary in the Coal Mine!


COAL MINE LOGO_BIRD.png

The Coal Mine, Toronto’s Off-Off Broadview Theatre, is all aflutter to officially announce the opening of The Canary Pop-Up Shop in support of local theatre artists, located at the Coal Mine Theatre, July 3-25, 2021.

Showcasing the off-stage talents of Toronto theatre makers, The Canary Pop-Up Shop offers a curated collected of unique handcrafted goods. Shop a collection of handmade jewelry; upcycled clothing and accessories; home décor and original art; natural skincare and wellness products; macramé, embroidery and quilts; kids stuff, pet beds, stationary, and a variety of delicious nosh.

The Canary will feature the creative side gigs of more than 30 Toronto theatre artists including actors and designers Kevin BundyDiana CoatsworthDeanna ChoiOliver DennisSharon DiGenovaKen MacDonaldMichelle MontiethRena PolleyAnna Treusch, and stage manager and star baker Arwen MacDonell who will be creating an exclusive Canary Cookie available for three weeks only at The Canary Pop-Up Shop!

The Canary will adhere strictly to all COVID-19 public health protocols and workplace safety measures while welcoming visitors. The community’s health and well-being is the Coal Mine’s number one priority.

“The Canary is about reopening our doors to the east end community that we’ve so sorely missed, and simultaneously celebrating the resilience and creativity of theatre artists in this city.” – Diana Bentley Co Chief Engineer 

The Canary’s eclectic selection offers a friendly meeting place in the community, contributes to the livelihood of local artists anxiously awaiting their return to the theatre, and promotes the production of sustainable and beautiful local goods.

THE CANARY POP-UP SHOP

In Support of Local Theatre Artists

Coal Mine Theatre, 1454 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON

THREE WEEKS ONLY

July 3 – 25, 2021

Tuesday – Sunday, 10am – 3pm

www.coalminetheatre.com

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Streaming on the Against the Grain Website www.atgtheater.com

By Gustav Holst

Directed by Miriam Khalil

Conducted by Simon Rivard

Director of Photography, Dylan Toombs

Sound design and engineer, Pouya Hamidi

Costumes by Ming Wong

Cast: Vartan Gabrielian

Andrew Haji

Maher Pavri

Against the Grain Orchestra and Chorus

Arnad Chakrabarty, Sarod and composer

Shahbaz Hussain, Tabla and composer

Sāvitri is a chamber opera by Gustav Holst that had its first performance 100 years ago to the day this began streaming for Against the Grain Theatre, June 23, 2021. The opera is based on an ancient Hindu legend from the Mahābhārata about a wife’s total love and devotion for her doomed husband. 

As I have done with opera etc. in the past, I’m commenting on the story and the production’s  theatricality, not on the music or singing.

 Sāvitri is a contemporary 40 minute film of the outdoor chamber opera by Gustav Holst. The princess Sāvitri, meaning gift from the gods, was born to her parents after they prayed every day for 18 years for a child. The Sun God rewarded their devotion with a daughter, Sāvitri. She was cherished and blessed. She was also very beautiful and that seemed to intimidate men when it was time to marry, so Sāvitri took it upon herself to find her own husband.

She fell in love on first sight with Satyavān a forest-dwelling prince whose family was exiled from their kingdom and forced to live a life of seclusion and hardship. Satyavān  made a living chopping wood. Satyavān is destined to die one year into his marriage. He doesn’t know this

but Sāvitri does. She marries him anyway. She is totally devoted to her husband for that year and they are blissfully happy, but her thoughts are occupied by images of the dark clad God of Death named Yama who is coming for her husband.  Yama is so taken with Sāvitri’s devotion that he grants her a wish, as long as it’s not to spare her husband’s life. She is grateful and also wily. How she gets more life is a wonderful turn of events in the legend.  

The piece works a treat as a filmed outdoor chamber opera. It’s directed by Miriam Khalil, an opera singer in her own right, in her directing debut. Khalil beautifully uses the lush countryside of Prince Edward County, Ontario to create images of Sāvitri, and Satyavān in their beautiful traditional Hindu wedding costumes (kudos to designer Ming Wong) of rich silks in vibrant colours.

Khalil uses arial shots effectively as well, as the loving couple twirl each other in a circle, their costumes flaring out in the air. The devotion and love between the couple is beautifully established as they walk close together along a lush path or gaze at each other as they sit on the ground and talk. The juxtaposition of the loving couple with the imposing figure of Yama coming for his next soul, is quite impressive. This of course makes the proposed final outcome after a year, hard to consider. The shots of Yama, alone in a field, beckoning, his arm out with his open palm extended,  seem gentle and delicate in a way, as a gracious invitation to follow.

The couple are shot in clean focus, devoted to each other and seemingly inseparable. Foreboding is suggested when Yama is captured in shot after shot out of focus, an image whose presence is suggested rather than clearly there. Sometimes Yama appears emerging out of smoke. It’s all very compelling.

I thought the acting by the three singers was fine: Maher Pavri played Sāvitri, Andrew Haji played Satyavān and Vartan Gabrielian played Yama.

Against the Grain is a gutsy opera company that does chamber operas from other cultures. Keep them in your radar.

Sāvitri streams on the Against The Grain website www.atgtheatre.com

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A web series streaming on www.sunnydrake.com

Created by Sunny Drake

Web series directed by Sunny Drake and Peter Riddihough

Cast: Raven Dauda

Sunny Drake

Sam Khalilieh

Jani Lauzon

Maria Ricossa

Child-ish is a deceptive title. It is because it sounds like ‘childish,’ suggesting ‘immature and silly.’ This show is anything but silly. Sunny Drake, writer-director-actor, created the show in which we hear the exact words of children about their lives and concerns, but said through the mouths of adults. Drake has been developing the show for four years.

It’s described this way: “Adults speak children’s exact words about love, life, and the world in this fresh verbatim work. Drawn from interviews with over 40 whip-smart and brutally honest children between the ages of 5 and 12-year-old, a dynamite adult cast allows an adult audience to hear kids’ ideas and experiences anew. The results are surprising, hilarious, and moving.”

I saw a workshop of Child-ish at SummerWorks in 2019 and loved it. The piece has grown. It’s now a 4-part web series, filmed out doors in and around a school yard and in an open field, but the premise is the same. We hear the kids’ words said by adult actors as they discuss, kissing, marriage, friendship, death, being shunned by a friend you trusted, climate change, racism and consent.

Drake’s intention was for the words of the kids to be said by adults and not the kids, because he wanted to see if having adults say the words change how we listen.  Do we listen and consider the words more seriously if it’s an adult saying them? The actors don’t perform their dialogue as if they are talking like kids. They say the lines seriously as adults. Perhaps it’s the knowledge that they are speaking for children that make us listen in a different way, more accommodating, more willing to suspend disbelief and accept that we are listening to the wit and wisdom of kids.

We’ve all heard the line, “out of the mouths of babes.” Kids are just funny and smart because they are so serious about what they think and how they express it. I’m old enough to remember Art Linkletter’s TV show, “Kids Say the Darndest Things.” Linkletter talked to and questioned a group of young kids and asked them serious questions and they answered seriously. Invariably they were hilarious answers but we considered and respected what they said. If an adult doesn’t think they can learn wise things from a kid, that adult is a fool.

How does Child-ish work as a web series? I think it works very well because the basic premise from the play is still there, even though I had reservations. As I said, kids are just naturally funny. Their observations are quirky to us but serious to them. They naturally frame their thoughts and observations in incongruous ways and that’s funny. Humour comes from juxtaposing the incongruous. And there are many more observations going on in this four-part series.

Each segment is about an emotion or an idea, like love and all that goes with it, death or loss etc. One segment involved a child who came with her family from Syria and all the difficulty that implied. There was a comment in the same segment about how land was stolen from people and children were taken from their families. The horrors of residential schools are uppermost in our minds of late so this sentence stuns.  This is very moving, and made more so because Jani Lauzon spoke the words. She is of Métis heritage and so the words have particular resonance. 

I loved Episode 3 entitled: You Need To Ask. As in, you need to ask someone if it’s ok to hug them, or kiss them; consent, in other words. Then there is the whole idea expressed by kids about not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings by saying NO! If someone wants to kiss the kid and asks but the kid doesn’t want to be kissed, will the person who wants to kiss them be mad at them and not be friends again? These are huge issues to kids (and adults, come to think of it).

But episode 4 is devastating in its pointedness. It’s called “HELLOOO!!” and it’s kids trying to get the attention of their parents and actually be seen. As in “HELLOOO!!! Get off your cell phone and listen to me!” One kid liked her mom before the mom got an iPhone.  Kids have a lot to say about this and attention must be paid.

The cast of five actors was wonderful, and putting them on swings, see-saws, in sand circles (enclosures) added to the notion they were in the kids’ world. Clever work by directors Sunny Drake and Peter Riddihough. Sunny Drake and Sam Khalilieh play quietly in a sand circle discussing important issues such as what they love in their world, thoughtfully and quietly. Raven Dauda expresses the hurt she feels when a boy she likes, named Antonio, says he doesn’t like her anymore— (there is a running motif of children looking into a toilet asking if Antonio is down there, because when a boy is that cruel, being flushed down the toilet seems fair). Jani Lauzon and Maria Ricossa go up and down on a see-saw, confiding. The camera takes a close-up of Lauzon’s boot and then Ricossa’s heeled shoe (both the kids’ world and the adult world meld in that camera shot).

As for my reservations about the streamed event…. Because I watched the ‘grand opening’ of the series there was all sorts of extra stuff that I found distracting or unnecessary.

I appreciated that a small selection of the 40 kids who were interviewed for the project over the years were represented on camera in various segments. We saw them individually express their gratitude at being included, seen and their opinion valued (lovely). I didn’t understand why most of them wore what looked like party hat/cones on their heads. That blurred the point of taking them seriously. Sunny Drake was in several shots sitting in a comfy chair looking out in a field trying to catch flipped pieces of popcorn in his mouth? Why? This looked childish, rather than child-ish. Odd.

There was a four-part section called “Questions for Adults” in which kids asked adults such questions as: “What would you name a unicorn?” “What makes you giggle?” Why is this here? What does it add?  I thought that was unnecessary, the point was confusing and distracted from the point of the series.

The cast of five actors was a cross-section of different ethnicities with two being perceived as white. I initially perceived that the children-co-hosts were majority white. I have been informed that four of the seven children-co-hosts are people of colour. I welcome the correction and the opportunity to address such an important subject. What a wonderful opportunity to bring kids of different ethnicities into the theatre through this project.

I did love the four episodes of the series. I think the project has grown and what it says about kids and their thoughts is important to hear.

Child-ish streams on www.sunnydrake.com

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