The Passionate Playgoer

Workman Arts Presents
 
RENDEZVOUS WITH MADNESS 2021 . Oct. 28-Nov. 7.
 
ANNOUNCING HYBRID FESTIVAL LINE-UP OF FEATURE & SHORT FILM PROGRAMS 
PRESENTING FIRST FESTIVAL IN WORKMAN ARTS NEW PERMANENT HOME AT 
1025 QUEEN ST WEST
 
FESTIVAL OPENS WITH A SCREENING OF ELLE-MÁIJÁ TAILFEATHERS’
KÍMMAPIIYIPITSSINI: THE MEANING OF EMPATHY
 
IN-PERSON PRESENTATION OF ACCLAIMED PLAYWRIGHT & DIRECTOR ROSA LABORDE’S TRUE,
Featuring Maev Beatty, Layne Coleman, Beau Dixon, Ingrid Doucet, Shannon Taylor
 
VIRTUAL VISUAL ART INSTALLATION – IN(SITE) 

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.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL PROGRAMMING GUIDE HERE.
 

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. 

{ 0 comments }

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

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
GET TICKETS

Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021

From the Almeida Theatre in London, England

MACBETH

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

INTO THE WOODS

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

ANGEL

Live Streaming

Angel

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

BUY STREAMING TICKET

BUY IN-PERSON FILM PREMIERE TICKETS 

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.

HAMLET

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

HAMLET BROADCAST

Book now

{ 0 comments }

The CAMINOS 2021 Festival is a huge endeavor of works-in-process produced by Aluna Theatre taking place Oct. 12-24.  CAMINOS 2021 is a multi-arts celebration of 32 works-in-process involving over 100 artists. These are on-line, in audio form or in person instillations.

Beatriz Pizano, the fearless Artistic Director of Aluna and this festival has said in the festival’s introduction, that many worlds and visions bridge cultural divides, connecting North and South America and elsewhere through the arts. Aluna theatre is joined with Native Earth and Factory Theatre to present this festival.

Because these are works in development or process, formal reviews are not really wanted. A reasonable request. But general comments are accepted.

The first week of works was a wonderful cross-section of creativity, invention and story-telling using various techniques and even an irreverent TikTok piece in which a wedding planner is planning a wild wedding.

I’ve already commented on works I saw in the first day: http://slotkinletter.com/2021/10/comment-on-the-caminos-2021-festival

What was particularly striking in the first week were the number of filmed/performed pieces that pushed borders of confinement and definition.

Some pieces made filming seem like ballet. La Mujer Fragmentada (a bilingual performance piece exploring state violence/forced migration in El Salvador). Lines of a long poem changed shape and sharpness as the camera angle changed. Watching the change was like watching an elegant ballet. That juxtaposed with the stark subject matter made a very effective piece of theatre/art/film.

Se Forman Grietas/Cracks Form: A poetic portrait of America Latina was a beautifully artful film of shots dissolving into and around each other.

Taos 2.0: The Art of Storytelling: An artistic offering. The beauty of the piece is that it takes storytelling in a different direction and makes us reimagine what we thought about storytelling.

The CAMINOS 2021 Festival provides a fascinating cross-section of ideas, stories, experiences and performance styles. I look forward to the others as they are revealed as on line for the most part. All the offerings on line are available for free until Oct. 31.

{ 0 comments }

Monday, Oct. 18-24, 2021.

Caminos Festival of Works-in-Process

TransAmerican Multi-arts Festival

This is a wonderful festival.

ALUNA THEATRE ANNOUNCES 4TH ITERATION OF TRANSAMERICAN MULTI-ARTS FESTIVAL ‘CAMINOS’  – In partnership with Native Earth Performing Arts and Factory Theatre, CAMINOS 2021 will present a combination of digital and live performance/installations featuring 32 projects involving the work of over 100 artists, as well as a series of in-depth conversations about performance from across the Americas from October 12-24, 2021.

Since its first iteration in 2015, CAMINOS has become an important platform for diversity and inclusion in Toronto’s theatre community. This year the festival looks to broaden its reach across the country and continue to provide opportunities for artists of diverse backgrounds to showcase and develop their works alongside a supportive community.

Aluna’s TransAmerican vision is a tapestry of cultures, backgrounds, and the identities of the many diasporic communities that all live, breathe, work and create on this land. The works-in-process that will be featured as part of this year’s line-up expand across a variety of mediums, languages and communities, and each provides a uniquely immersive experience for its audience.

“CAMINOS was envisioned as a platform that would allow artists to explore and experiment; dismantle eurocentric performance traditions; devise their own way of telling stories; develop new creation processes that speak to who they are; create presenting opportunities for artists; and create bridges between artists and their communities.

The artists this year challenge our perceptions of what, how, for whom, and with whom we create through theatre, dance, performance, photography, installations, and digital explorations. From stories that begin here in our neighborhoods all the way to the south of the continent, artists explore the many languages of love, gender and identities.” – Beatriz Pizano, Artistic Director

Full programming available at www.caminos.ca

Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021 at 7:30 pm

Studio 180 Presents:

4 Minutes 12 Seconds by James Fritz

Studio 180 Theatre
Inside: 4 Minutes 12 Seconds • October AT HOME • In The Community
View this email in your browser
 
7:30 PM  •  Thursday, October 21  •  Online   WARNING: Boys who will be boys become men. Di and David have devoted their lives to giving their son Jack every opportunity they never had. But a startling incident outside the school gates threatens to ruin everything they’ve striven for. As events begin to accelerate, Di and David begin to question whether they can trust Jack, his closest friends, or even themselves. James Fritz’s deeply provocative and topical drama explores issues of consent and privilege and sheds light on the insidious opportunities new technology offers.

4 Minutes 12 Seconds features discussions of sexual violence. If you would like more specific information regarding the content of the play, please contact our Director of Youth and Community Engagement, Jessica Greenberg.   REGISTER NOW

Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021. 9 am to 10 am.

On CIUT.89.5 fm  CRITICS CIRCLE

I’m reviewing the book “Bigotry on Broadway; an anthology edited by Ishmael Reed and Carla Bank.

Some of the shows covered in the book are: Oklahoma, South Pacific, The Book of Mormon, West Side Story, and Hamilton.

{ 0 comments }

A salmon ‘going home’

King’s Mill Park North, 21 Old Mill Rd, Etobicoke. Playing Sunday, Oct. 17, 10:00 am and 2:00 pm. FREE! Ages 5-10.

www.theatredirect.ca

Created and performed by Alexandra Simpson and Morgan Brie Johnson

Directed by Rebecca Northan

Original compositions by Anders Azzapardi, Stefan Hegerat and Sabine Ndalamba

Puppet design and creation by Alexandra Simpson, Morgan Johnson and Nina Keogh

Wonderful. Wise. Uplifting.

From the play’s information: “Finding Home is the story of two best friends, who also happen to be salmon from Lake Ontario. Beagle and Sojo do everything together (as true best friends always do) – until one day Beagle starts to change and gets the urge to set off on an adventure upstream, whether Sojo wants to come or not. It’s tough to swim against the current of the Humber River and the two face all kinds of challenges together: fishermen, pollution, sharp rocks, and rapids. Along the way they learn what it means to ‘reach maturity’, what it means to be a real friend, how beautiful it is to complete your life cycle, and why salmon really are the rockstars of the fish world!”

This wonderful production takes place, outdoors, on the grass of this park, just down a road to the side of the Old Mill Inn. I arrived very early.  Alexandra Simpson and Morgan Brie Johnson were sitting on one of the sitting mats, applying their make-up for the show, using a simple hand-held mirror (ah the glamour of the theatre). They moved to behind the covering of their band to get into their salmon costumes. (Kudos to the designer!)

Sojo (Morgan Brie Johnson) and Beagle (Alexandra Simpson) are energetic, frisky, irreverent and have their own special code of communicating. Their special code involves flapping hands and bumping bums with stuff in between. Their philosophy of life is simple and direct: “Swim fast. Lay eggs. Leave a beautiful corpse.” It sounds dark but it isn’t. When Beagle begins to change Sojo doesn’t know what’s happening. She knows that she must be there for her friend. Now Beagle is ravenously hungry so Sojo tries to help here. Beagle wants to go on a trip from Lake Ontario up the Humber River. She doesn’t know why. She just does. Sojo follows her. Along the way the friends are separated. Sojo is desperate to find her friend. An unlikely ‘elder’ explains what has happened. Beagle has gone to lay her eggs. Sojo is a bit too young at that point. The ‘elder’ explains this in the kindest, gentlest way. It is the miracle of life and it’s beautifully told without a hint of sadness or regret.   

Finding Home: A Salmon Journey up the Humber River is a wonderful show about life, friendship, love, maturity, birth, death, decay and renewal. It is directed with joyous vitality and imagination by Rebecca Northan. Sojo (Morgan Brie Johnson) and Beagle (Alexandra Simpson) slowly waive their arms behind them suggesting fins moving in the water. Beagle gives birth with Sojo coaching her and supporting her, as loved ones do. Fertilizing the eggs is a thing of beauty. All of this bubbling imagination comes from Rebecca Northan and her gifted creators.

It’s inspired to present this mere meters from  the Humber River where kids can see the salmon swimming/jumping up river or a “beautiful corpse” in the water that replenishes the river banks and air.  

Kudos to Animacy Theater for creating such a gift of a play and for Theatre Direct for bringing it into vibrant life.

Theatre Direct presents an Animacy Theatre Collective production:

Plays until: Oct. 17, 2021 at 10:00 am and 2:00 pm

Running time: 1 hour: 40 minutes for the production and then a short Q and A.

www.theatredirect.ca

{ 0 comments }

ANNOUNCING BIGGER THAN BIG AND ORGANIZATIONAL RESTRUCTURING AT TIFT
Today Artistic Producer Arkady Spivak announced a consortium program of emerging voices in artistic direction and curation, as well as a restructuring for Talk Is Free Theatre.

Bigger Than BIG Over the last year, together with our Artist BIG cohort (40 artists who are receiving a minimum financial guarantee over the next three years), we have had many conversations about requirements for new types of leadership and new governance structures through which to build a stronger, healthier theatre ecology. And although we have provided a number of artistic producing internships over the years, we needed something bigger that would not only give the next generation of curatorial leaders a welcome environment to formulate their voice, but, together, affect a much bigger change – says Artistic Producer Arkady Spivak.

  Bigger Than BIG will provide seven emerging artistic leaders with an opportunity to work together on new managerial visions, and fresh ideas of governance structures and support systems. At the same time, each participant will develop an artistic practice, a company, or a program of their own. For example, they may also wish to develop their own theatre company under the auspices of the Bigger Than BIG program, be equipped to join an existing organization as an artistic director, or choose to apply the knowledge in a different career path altogether. Artists will be supported with professional salaries in their work, and additional budgets as may be required by their projects.

Organizational Restructuring Taking advantage of this project, TIFT will also re-assign its own staff structure, for the first time since the company’s founding 20 years ago. Michael Torontow will step into the role of Artistic Director of TIFT’s existing scope of work. Torontow is a long-time leading actor, director and project manager with TIFT and beyond, who is also one of the seven inaugural Bigger than BIG artists. Torontow will report to the Founding Artistic Producer, Arkady Spivak, who will move into a CEO role, responsible for the overall strategic direction of Talk Is Free Theatre and Bigger Than BIG.

  Our Board of Directors is thrilled to support the Bigger Than BIG program and to welcome this cohort of artists. This project is another example of TIFT’s commitment to celebrating artists as the multi-faceted creators that they are, and providing platforms for an important diversity of voices. With these artists working in tandem we are confident that Talk Is Free Theatre will not only remain one of Canada’s most innovative theatre companies, but will further transform the paradigm of all that a theatre company can be, and can encompass. -Betony Main, TIFT Board of Directors
Seven Inaugural Artists of Bigger Than BIG include:

Noah Beemer “For me, what is really exciting about this initiative is the opportunity to explore new ways of working and ultimately producing theatre/the arts. I’m interested in investigating how we can best support one another both in the room and onstage, and in doing so make the most thrilling art we are capable of!”

Alexis Gordon
“My hope, my dream – through my own experiences, moments, and obstacles as a performer in this industry – is to strengthen our community with better tools of communication.  If communicating an idea or story is the base of most art, we, in the theatre industry, deserve so much more support. Working with TIFT on the beginnings of our Two-Way Mentorship Program and Community Safe Space Project Initiative the past few months, has grounded me in goals that are based in the humans in our rooms, our community, alongside the art. What happens when we make an investment in the group, in kindness, in giving and in sharing together? What can we create if our leaders, and if each member, is strengthened with communication tools and better support? That is the leader I want to learn to be through this initiative: to bring together, to listen more and learn, to support and to share with each artist and creator I meet.”

Gabe Maharjan “I hope we will trade the comfort and security we find in established systems in exchange for the vitality that is the continual process of reconstructing the structures.”

Joe Pagnan “I am elated to be given this opportunity of creativity focused on eco-poethos; our inextricable relation of space and identity. I hope through explorations centred on rural and environmental experiences to reinvest appreciation of natural phenomena not always easy to witness within a theatrical framework. I cannot wait to begin the journey with this esteemed cohort of creators and learners.” 

David Andrew Reid “The role of an Artistic Director comprises at the core: curation and leadership; the art and the people. Through this program I look forward to developing my voice as an artistic leader: learning how I may use myself to facilitate a brave space of artistic expression and development for others and also a brave space of operating and existing in the theatre industry.”

Merlin Simard “What are the ways that we can reimagine structures of artistic leadership from the ground up? For me, taking part in this program is a means to seek alternative ways to conceive of what it is to curate from a place of equity and care. It’s a commitment to develop a newfound sense of self-awareness over my existing practice.”

Michael Torontow “My journey with Talk Is Free Theatre began nearly eight years ago. In that time, as a TIFT artist, I have quite literally pounded the Barrie pavement, sung operatically as a sheep, played the gutters of London, UK, won awards in Australia, and coaxed crows to caw on cue. My amazement at what TIFT artists can do just grows and grows. I am thrilled to be able to help guide the journey forward and take Arkady’s innovation and care of artists to new heights.”

{ 0 comments }

The CAMINOS 2021 Festival is a huge endeavor of works-in-progress produced by Aluna Theatre taking place Oct. 12-24.  CAMINOS 2021 is a multi-arts celebration of 32 works-in-progress involving over 100 artists. These are on-line, in audio form or in person instillations.

Beatriz Pizano, the fearless Artistic Director of Aluna and this festival, has said in the festival’s introduction, that many worlds and visions bridge cultural divides, connecting North and South America and elsewhere through the arts. Aluna theatre is joined with Native Earth and Factory Theatre to present this festival.

Because these are works in progress, formal reviews are not really wanted. A reasonable request.

But I can comment on the huge cross section of stuff in that first day. An audio piece called Savage is a Word in the English Dictionary by Brefny Caribou is about an Indigenous experience of a young student in school.

A Brazil flag emoji. 47 is a monologue about aspects of gay sexual relations, between a younger man and older man.

Taura is a dance piece imagining if three people were in fact bulls. The piece seemed complete to me. It was vibrant, muscular, graceful, elegant and powerful.

There is even a hint of a tiktok piece called One Perfect Day about a wedding planner planning a wild wedding.

The CAMINOS 2021 Festival provides a fascinating cross-section of ideas, stories, experiences and performance styles. I look forward to the others as they are revealed as on line for the most part.

{ 0 comments }

I often see productions with people I admire more than once.  This production of Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women certainly fit that bill. In the play we see the three women at three stages in their lives, playing A, B and C. 

It was directed by Diana Leblanc whose work I admire for its sensitivity and depth.  It had Lucy Peacock in the cast  whose work I’ve loved over the years, playing B with subtle understatement and wonderful humour. (Mamie Zettler played C and Andrew Iles played “The Boy”—both of whom I want to see act again).

But at the centre of this production was Martha Henry playing A. I knew this would be something special. She is a towering presence in the theatre in this country and certainly at the Stratford Festival. Every performance of hers is an education in acting, theatre and being human.

I had my review tickets for the beginning of the run, but knew that I wanted to see it at the end as well. The run was sold out. I put myself on various wait-lists for several performances and got lucky when I got a ticket for the very last one. As thrilling as the early performance was, this final one was more so: gut-wrenching, luminous, dangerous and full of spirit and guts, all because of the woman at the centre of it.

One is aware of the passing of time when one sees a veteran like Martha Henry. She played Prospero in The Tempest three years ago when she was 80. She is now 83 and she just finished this run of Three Tall Women. I fluctuate thinking she can go on forever playing whatever part she wants, to wondering, is this the last time I’ll see Martha Henry on a stage.So I went again, for her last performance in this play.

Was it much different than when I first saw the show? It certainly was deeper, richer. A is a cantankerous, obstreperous, pampered, paranoid, racist woman.  She holds racist beliefs about many ethnicities and is bold about expressing her racism in offensive language.  She says that her son has scolded her for that language but she seems perplexed by that.  So in that performance we see that arrogance of class against minorities as if that’s what she knew and didn’t know any better. But her son was from that class and presumably of the world and he learned that racism was reprehensible and told his mother directly—where no one else did. Such quiet scenes just leapt out.

Watching Martha Henry as A was watching a master manipulator, as A brow-beat the underlings there—the two women in her employ. It was a masterclass in watching how language can be used to play tricks, games and tell jokes when you least expect it. And a masterclass of how a great actress uses that language in different ways. You expect a word to be said a certain way, and she changes it up for the same or better effect.

When I first reviewed this production, Martha Henry? The character? used a walker to maneuver the stage. And she was dexterous in shifting it around.  In this last performance she was in a wheelchair. Not a motorized one but one in which she pushed the wheels and maneuvered the room.

In one scene, A’s son has come to visit and he’s lying on a divan with his knees folded along it. Martha Henry drives that wheelchair towards that divan and rams it on purpose to get the silent son to be startled and move his legs. Then she backs up and rams it again. She is showing him her contempt. It was frightening, combative and true for the character.

At the bow, the audience was rapturous with applause and Martha Henry glowed with triumph. Antoni Cimolino, the artistic director of Stratford was there, and presented Martha Henry with a huge bouquet of yellow roses and went down on one knee, like a courtier, to give her the bouquet. She beamed at that.  Then she waved to the audience as she was wheeled off.

You wonder, is that a wave of good-bye? An evening full of such brilliance and emotion. I was so grateful I was there.

Here is the link to my review of Three Tall Women:

{ 0 comments }

Live and in person at the Firehall Theatre of the Thousand Islands Playhouse, Ganaoque, Ont. until October 30, 2021.

www.1000islandsplayhouse.com

Written by Marcia Johnson

Directed by Marcel Stewart

Set and costumes designed by Rachel Forbes

Sound by Andrew Penner

Lighting by Echo Zhou

Cast: Shannon Currie

Jordin Hall

Marcia Johnson

Makambe K Simamba

Andy Trithardt

The Story. The story takes place in two time periods in two places: 1952 in Kenya and in 2015 in London, England. In 1952 in Kenya, Mercy a restaurant owner, is hired to cook for the impending visit of Princess Elizabeth (soon to be Queen) and the Duke of Edinburgh.  

 In 2015, in London, England, Tia a young Kenyan-born Canadian, is working as an intern on a TV drama series about the British royal family (think The Crown) – while also pursuing a writing project of her own.

In both the 1952 section and the 2015 section the story initially is being told and managed by white voices to the exclusion of black voices. And then Mercy in Kenya1952 and Tia in London in 2015 decide to correct the exclusion.

Comment. In his program note, director Marcel Stewart writes: “Our play…explores many themes—roots and inheritance, family loss and succession, female leadership, to name a few. Perhaps the most interesting though is that of perspective. This story could be about Princess Elizabeth’s visit to Kenya, where she would ultimately become queen, and it can also be about a country on the precipice of a liberation movement in the quest for independence from its colonial oppressors.

Serving Elizabeth challenges out thinking by showing us a world where the past is present and the present is past. Tia’s journey forward taking a stand against Maurice Gilder runs parallel with the story of Mercy and Faith’s service to Elizabeth. By telling this story Marcia critically examines the significance of liberating ourselves through imagination, a notion not often afforded to marginalized people living in the western world. This play uses representation and imagination to reconsider how we tell stories about colonialism.”

In her programme note, playwright Marcia Johnson explains where her idea for the play came from. She was watching an episode of The Crown. “I found out about the Thousand Islands Playhouse Playwrights’ unit colonial-themed Call for Submissions the day after I saw The Crown’s Kenya episode where African characters were firmly in the background. Writing a play was just what I needed to vent my frustration while giving voice to under-represented people. My hope is that audiences will question what we have all accepted as the official story.”

Serving Elizabeth has been nurtured, developed and now programmed by the Thousand Islands Playhouse. The journey comes full circle with a few stops along the way, one being at the Stratford Festival for the 2021 season.

The Production. I was intrigued to see this production at the Thousand Islands Playhouse because playwright Marcia Johnson was playing Mercy. She certainly brings a wealth and depth of emotion to the part. Her playing of Mercy is spirited, feisty and full of dignity.

The audience sits on three sides of the playing area. Rachel Forbes has created a set in which there are two arched entrances, one upstage and one downstage. There is a table and chairs downstage right (if one is sitting in the centre of the house) which look like they would be for the Kenya (1952) scenes. There is also a ceiling fan that revolves in the Kenya scenes. Upstage left, (if one is in the centre of the house) is a table and sturdy office chairs suggesting these would be for the London (2015) scenes.

At first I thought that director Marcel Stewart and lighting designer Echo Zhou were going to indicate the different time periods and locations with lighting cues on the different areas of the set. This would have simplified matters rather than re-arranging furniture for each scene. However the latter was the way of changing locations etc. The cast did a lot of moving of tables and chairs for different locations.

Also, I thought it would have been helpful for there to be some notification in the programme of the two different time periods and the locations, or lighting cues with that information flashed on the three sides of the set. The issues are so important that even a second of confusion takes away from them.

The cast is confident and compelling. Makambe K Simamba as Faith in the Kenya scenes and Tia in the London scenes establishes her characters’ attitudes and convictions with clarity and economy. Andy Trithardt  plays Talbot in the Kenya scenes with the respectful diplomacy, as a representative of the Royal Family. Marcia Johnson has written him with compassion. Trithardt also plays Maurice Gilder in the London scenes, and he plays him with that touch of arrogance and condescension. Jordin Hall plays both Montague and Steven with distinct definition. Shannon Currie is a regal, cool Princess Elizabeth until Mercy breaks through that coolness to reveal a woman who wants to listen and make a difference. She also plays Robin in the London scenes, as an ambitious woman who seems to want to give Tia an opportunity to get ahead.    

Comment. Serving Elizabeth asks provocative questions worth exploring but by setting the play in two time periods that shift back and forth with each scene, the story becomes confusing and the weight of the issues is weakened. It did get me thinking that if the two time periods were separate on their own the arguments would be made and context established clearly. Still, I am glad I saw this production and hope more people see it as well.

Produced by Thousand Islands Playhouse:

Plays until Oct. 30, 2021.

Running Time: 90 minutes, no intermission.

www.1000islandsplayhouse.com

{ 0 comments }

Tuesday, Oct. 12- 24,  2021.

TransAmerican Multi-arts Festival ‘Caminos’

This is a wonderful festival.

ALUNA THEATRE ANNOUNCES 4TH ITERATION OF TRANSAMERICAN MULTI-ARTS FESTIVAL ‘CAMINOS’  – In partnership with Native Earth Performing Arts and Factory Theatre, CAMINOS 2021 will present a combination of digital and live performance/installations featuring 32 projects involving the work of over 100 artists, as well as a series of in-depth conversations about performance from across the Americas from October 12-24, 2021.

Since its first iteration in 2015, CAMINOS has become an important platform for diversity and inclusion in Toronto’s theatre community. This year the festival looks to broaden its reach across the country and continue to provide opportunities for artists of diverse backgrounds to showcase and develop their works alongside a supportive community.

Aluna’s TransAmerican vision is a tapestry of cultures, backgrounds, and the identities of the many diasporic communities that all live, breathe, work and create on this land. The works-in-process that will be featured as part of this year’s line-up expand across a variety of mediums, languages and communities, and each provides a uniquely immersive experience for its audience.

“CAMINOS was envisioned as a platform that would allow artists to explore and experiment; dismantle eurocentric performance traditions; devise their own way of telling stories; develop new creation processes that speak to who they are; create presenting opportunities for artists; and create bridges between artists and their communities.

The artists this year challenge our perceptions of what, how, for whom, and with whom we create through theatre, dance, performance, photography, installations, and digital explorations. From stories that begin here in our neighborhoods all the way to the south of the continent, artists explore the many languages of love, gender and identities.” – Beatriz Pizano, Artistic Director

Full programming available at caminos.ca

Tuesday, Oct. 12-17,  2021

Finding Home

From Theatre Direct

For school runs and for public runs.

CLOWN, LIVE MUSIC AND PUPPETS AT FINDING HOME!
A hilarious and heartfelt new “salmon-y” site-specific show staged overlooking the Humber River–home to the annual salmon run–from Animacy Theatre Collective!

Theatre Direct is so excited to present Finding Home: A Salmon Journey up the Humber River created by Alex Simpson and Morgan Johnson and directed by Rebecca Northan (Blind Date, Canadian Comedy Award and Dora Award winner).

School Run:
Tuesday October 12 to Friday October 15, 2021 
10am | 2pm 

Public Run:

Saturday October 16 and Sunday October 17, 2021
10am | 2pm

All shows including school bookings are FREE!
RESERVE A SPOT FOR YOUR FAMILY
BOOK A SCHOOL SHOW

Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. 6:00 pm EDT.

Playwrights Canada Press

Press Play Reading Series

Join Playwrights Canada Press in a showcase of readings from newly published playwrights and translators! Featuring Olivier Sylvestre and Bobby Theodore (The Law of Gravity), Marie-Claude Verdier and Alexis Diamond (Andy’s Gone), Andrea Mapili & Byron Abalos (Through the Bamboo), and Cat Walsh (Do This In Memory of Me).

Register to attend here.

Saturday Oct. 16 at 8:00 pm and Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021 matinee

FOLLIES IN CONCERT

Koerner Hall, Royal Conservatory of Music.

SEASON GALA: Follies in Concert

October 16, 2021 | 8:00 PM

BUY TICKETS

  • Starting at: $99.00
  • Venue: Koerner Hall
  • Series: Special Performances
  • Genre: Jazz, Pop
  • Presenter: The Royal Conservatory

Season Gala: Follies in Concert

Starring Cynthia Dale, Ma-Anne Dionisio, Eric McCormack, and Marcus Nance
with Jenni Burke, Mary Lou Fallis, Denise Fergusson, Lorraine Foreman, Ben Heppner, Roger Honeywell, Charlotte Moore, Jackie Richardson, and Avery Saltzman and featuring Gabriel Antonacci, Tess Benger, Katelyn Bird, Andrew Broderick, and Kimberly-Ann Truong


Marcus Nance, Ben
Cynthia Dale, Phyllis
Eric McCormack, Buddy
Ma-Anne Dionisio, Sally
Charlotte Moore, Carlotta
Jackie Richardson, Stella
Lorraine Foreman, Hattie
Denise Fergusson, Solange
Jenni Burke, Emily
Avery Saltzman, Theodore
Roger Honeywell, Roscoe
Ben Heppner, Dmitri
Mary Lou Fallis, Heidi
Andrew Broderick, Young Ben
Tess Benger, Young Phyllis
Gabriel Antonacci, Young Buddy
Kimberly-Ann Truong, Young Sally
Katelyn Bird, Young Heidi
 
Book by James Goldman
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Directed by Richard Ouzounian
Music Director Paul Sportelli
Designer Nick Blais
Choreography by Genny Sermonia
Produced originally on Broadway by Harold Prince
Orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick
By special arrangements with Cameron Mackintosh and Music Theatre International

{ 0 comments }