I’m a published author!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Who would’a thunk it, but I’m a published author now!

It was over a year and a half ago – almost two years now – that Sky Gilbert called me asking for a few samples of my writing as he was putting together an anthology of gay playwrights … so I sent him a few things I had written, didn’t hear anything for a few months, gave up, and then got the call that he was going to be using a few of my monologues and scenes in the anthology! Colour me surprise …

So the book has finally been published and there’s a launch party on Tuesday at the Gladstone. If you’ve got nothing else to do that night, c’mon out and enjoy some gay dramatic fun!

Playwright’s Canada Press announces the arrival of
Gay Monologues and Scenes: An Anthology
Edited by Sky Gilbert

Join PCP as we celebrate the publication of Gay Monologues and Scenes, an anthology edited by Sky Gilbert.
This exciting collection of contemporary gay Canadian theatre will be launched at the Gladstone Hotel Art Bar on Tuesday, October 16th, at 8pm.

rief readings from Gay Monologues and Scenes will be performed by Edward Roy, Peter Lynch, David Bateman, Salvatore Antonio, Tony Berto, Jefferson Guzman and Sean Reycraft. The ever-genial RM Vaughan will host the evening, and the even more genial Sky Gilbert will be in attendance, along with the authors, to sign books.

Gay Monologues and Scenes: An Anthology features work by
Salvatore Antonio
David Bateman
Tony Berto
Ken Brand
Gavin Crawford
Julian Doucet
Paul Dunn
Blair Francey
Jefferson Guzman
Peter Lynch
Michael Lewis MacLennan
Jordan Patterson
Sean Reycraft
David Roche
Edward Roy
Colin Thomas
RM Vaughan

For further information, please contact Annie Gibson at 416-703-0013 or at editor@playwrightscanada.com

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NO CUTS TO OUR ESSENTIAL SERVICES

Monday, September 17, 2007

NO CUTS TO OUR ESSENTIAL SERVICES
because it’s tough as hell to swim in empty pools?

Gathering at Nathan Phillips Square
Wednesday, September 19th
4 – 6 PM
please circulate widely

On WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 19TH, 4-6PM we are calling on ALL MEMBERS OF THE ARTS COMMUNITY AND ANYBODY ELSE to convene at NATHAN PHILLIPS SQUARE to make it clear that we will not tolerate cuts to our essential services and that we support the Land Transfer tax.

IT’S URGENT: the councillors will be meeting on the 20th to discuss this and we need to show our city officials that we are organized and strong in numbers and that we are horrified by the city’s deteriorating quality of life.

Please show your concern by attending WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 19th!
because it’s tough as hell to swim in empty pools.

please circulate widely

If you have suggestions for speakers, activities or want to help organize please contact:
Heather Haynes – heather@torontofreegallery.org
Darren O’Donnell – darren@mammalian.ca
Lisa Pijuan-Nomura – girlcancreate@yahoo.ca

– the land transfer tax is a one-time 2% cost payable only when you choose to buy a house; if implemented it will avert large annual property tax increases payable each and every year
– first time home buyers will receive a rebate for the land transfer tax
– only 6 cents of every tax dollar you pay goes to the city. The remaining 94 cents goes to the provincial and federal governments.


Queen West Arts Crawl – The Art of Community

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Another press release that happened to fall into my inbox today … I’ve never actually been to the QWAC, but this looks like a lot of fun!

Take the famous 501 Queen streetcar, stroll through Trinity Bellwoods Park, discover the hidden treasures of Parkdale and join us for a major launch party at the Gladstone Hotel. Enjoy all of this and more at Artscape’s 5th annual Queen West Art Crawl – a weekend-long celebration of the art of community.

The QUEEN WEST ART CRAWL kicks off with a LAUNCH PARTY at the Gladstone Hotel on Friday, September 14, starting at 7pm. You can take in all of the Gladstone events and party until the last person is left standing!

Artscape is rolling out a series of Welcome Mats along Queen Street West for the weekend of the Queen West Art Crawl. The Welcome Mat Project is a festive way of marking key programming locations, welcoming visitors to our community and demonstrating the hospitality of Queen West.

TRINITY BELLWOODS PARK
Outdoor Art Show & Sale
Saturday 15 and Sunday 16, 11am – 6pm
250 artists, artisans, arts and community organizations transform Trinity Bellwoods Park into an outdoor art gallery/market and community meeting place.

Art That Binds curated by Shannon Cochrane
Saturday 15 and Sunday 16, 11am –6pm
A wild and hilarious performance art series featuring some of Toronto’s best loved artists. Meet Canadian royalty, kick back with the top 40 beats of a cross-dressing boychoir, play a game of zombie-tag at the supermarket and take an intimate walking tour with local personalities.

ING DIRECT Interactive Kids Zone
Saturday 15 and Sunday 16, 11am – 6pm
Two non-allergenic peanut butter and jam packed days of creative action and interaction for kids including chess, yoga, cartooning, bicycle eccentrification, drumming, jewellery-making, theatre and more!

PARKDALE VILLAGE
PLAY/GROUNDS curated by Elaine Gaito and Chris Reynolds
Saturday 15, 10am – 11pm and Sunday 16, 10am – 8pm
Start your adventure at Parkdale Town Square, home base for PLAY/GROUNDS’ site-specific installations and performance art taking place in Parkdale.

GLADSTONE HOTEL
The QUEEN WEST ART CRAWL kicks off with a LAUNCH PARTY at the Gladstone Hotel on Friday, September 14, starting at 7pm. You can take in all of the Gladstone events and party until the last person is left standing!
Variation One – created and performed by the Gladstone Cooperative
Show Me Yours featuring Queen Street By Numbers, House Call, The Transformative Moment, Artscape Tenant Group Show

CAMH CAMPUS
Annual Being Scene Art Exhibition & Sale produced by Workman Arts
Creative on Queen

ALONG QUEEN
Participating businesses, galleries and art lovers include: Art in the Fall at 401 Richmond, Artscape’s 900 Queen at Crawford St., Artscape’s 1313 Queen at Cowan Ave. ,Good Catch General Store, Woolfitt’s Art Enterprises Inc.,Stephen Bulger Gallery ,IT’S NOT A DELI ,Propeller Centre for Visual Arts Chau Le above the Hong Phat Variety Store, Planet Kid ,Fresh on Crawford, The Paper Place, Tern Art Supplies, Dufflet Pastries, Response, Rumah Inc

For more information, please visit www.torontoartscape.on.ca/qwac

ABOUT ARTSCAPE
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Artscape is a not-for-profit enterprise engaged in culture-led regeneration. Its work includes anchoring creative communities within affordable spaces and building authentic and dynamic places by connecting creative and cultural resources. Visit www.torontoartscape.on.ca for more information on Artscape.


Back to school with Cirque …

Thursday, September 6, 2007

This came across my inbox yesterday … thought it would of interest to you students who want to see a great show at the beginning of the school year!

Cirque du Soleil is celebrating “back to school” by inviting college and university students to experience KOOZA at a special discounted fare. Category 3 tickets are offered exclusively to students and faculty members for all performances in Toronto at $25 and can be purchased at www.cirquedusoleil.com/studentdiscount.

KOOZA, described by The Globe and Mail as “just plain brilliant” is currently performing at the Port Lands (At Cherry and Commissioners streets, south of Lakeshore Blvd. East) for a limited engagement through October 7, 2007 under the trademark blue-and-yellow Grand Chapiteau.

“KOOZA, accomplishes that magical feat time and time again”
Richard Ouzounian, Toronto star

The Show
KOOZA is a return to the origins of Cirque du Soleil that combines two circus traditions – acrobatic performance and the art of clowning. The show highlights the physical demands of human performance in all its splendor and fragility, presented in a colorful mélange that emphasizes bold slapstick humor. Between strength and fragility, laughter and smiles, turmoil and harmony, KOOZA explores themes of identity, recognition and power. The show is set in an electrifying and exotic visual world full of surprises, thrills, chills, audacity and total involvement.

KOOZA performance schedule for Toronto:
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays at 8:00pm
Fridays and Saturdays at 4:00pm and 8:00pm
Sundays at 1:00pm and 5:00pm

*Schedule is subject to change without notice


Back to the basics – Cirque du Soleil, Kooza

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

KoozaIt seems like yesterday I saw Cirque du Soleil‘s masterpiece, Corteo. But that was two years ago now … my how time flies. It’s enough time, however, to make me jones for another spectacular show that only Cirque du Soleil can deliver.

When tickets for Kooza, Cirque’s latest touring show, went on sale back in the spring, I was online, credit card in hand and ready to pay a good penny for premium seats. Cirque is one of the few things I will pay top $ for without knowing anything about the show.

I’m a Cirque fanatic and proud of it. I’ve seen every touring show that has made it’s way through Toronto – dating back to 1986, I believe.

So on Friday night, my boyfriend and I headed down to the Portlands – where Cirque has planted itself this year after years at Ontario Place. I always get a rush when I see the Grand Chapiteau set up in all it’s blue and yellow striped glory. One of my favourite parts of going to Cirque is walking up the stairs into the tent and seeing the set for the first time. Corteo changed the entire seating of the tent by running the stage horizontally across the width of the tent, but Kooza has placed the circular stage back in the centre. There were no huge mechanical set pieces hanging from the top of the tent like Varekai, no set pieces coming out from the back of the stage. At first glance, this show looked much simpler than previous Cirque shows.

As per usual, the clowns came out into the audience before the show began causing mayhem and laughter as they interacted with the unsuspecting onlookers. I always enjoy this part of the show as it puts everyone in the mood and breaks down the fourth wall.

And then, “Mesdames et monsieurs. Welcome to Cirque du Soleil!” The announcer officially began the show and then blackout. The world we were transported to once the lights came back up on the stage was a mysterious, child-like world of innocence, hilarity and heart-pounding exhilaration! I’ll justs give you a few highlights here:

The contortionists were mind-blowing! I’ve never seen anyone bend and twist in so many different ways. These three young girls were absolutely jaw-dropping. They moved across their rotating platform bending around each other and creating beautifully symmetrical shapes with such ease and agility – they made it look like this was the easiest thing in the whole world. As the first act, they certainly set the standard for the rest of the show.

Act 1 ended with the most amazing tight-rope walkers I have ever seen. There were two tight ropes – one about 20 feet off the ground, the other, about 40 feet. Four men ascended to the various levels and began jumping and skipping rope with no safety net or safety harnesses … but the most terrifying part was when the four of them ended up on the top rope. Two bikes descended from the top of the tent and were placed on the tight rope one at each end. One man got on the bike and rode backwards to meet up with the other bike rider who attached himself to the backward biker via a shoulder harness with a 10 foot bar between them. Then, a third man climbs on top of the bar with a chair in hand, balances the chair on the bar, connected to the men sitting on bikes on a rope 40 feet in the air … confused yet? The third man sits on the chair and the three of them ride out into the centre of the rope when the chair man then stands up on the chair balancing on the bar … and sits back down. It was terrifying. The woman sitting next to me put her face in her hands and was shaking her head mumbling “No no no …” I don’t blame her. I couldn’t believe what I was watching myself. Especially with no safety net or harnesses. The applause when they finished their act was deafening.

Act 2 began with a bang as two brave souls conquered the Death Wheel. The two massive cylinders, attached on an axis in the middle, was lowered from the top of the tent. One of the performers jumped into one of the wheel and ran back and forth inside it causing the entire contraption to begin to spin from the stage floor to the top of the tent in one giant circle. After getting the whole wheel moving, the other performer grabbed hold of one the spinning wheels and jumped in helping the wheel to spin the wheel faster and faster. Eventually the performers were jumping up as the wheel hit the crest and went into a free fall on the descent finally catching themselves as the wheel spun around and began climbing up again. It was a sight to behold. Of course, they didn’t stop there. To heighten the tension a tad, one of the performers swung out and onto to the top of said spinning wheel, walking on top of the cylinder and then, of course, skipping rope, doing jumps, free falling … you know, the usual.

They received a well deserved standing ovation at the end of the act.

Overall, the show was wonderfully entertaining, but very simplistic in comparison to past Cirque shows. The performers were more front and centre and the acts were well chosen. The music was wonderful and really added to the excitement of the performances.

My only criticism, if any, was after all the exhilarating acts, the last act of the show ended on a rather “ho-hum” note. The final act – the teeterboard – has been used in other Cirque shows. While performed wonderfully by the acrobats, it lacked the sense of finality of many other Cirque performances like Varekai or Quidam.

Having said that, I still walked away with a feeling of exhilaration and excitement after having witnessed the magic that is Cirque. For those of you who have never seen a Cirque show – go! For those of you who have but haven’t seen Kooza – go! The show’s been extended until October 21, so there’s still time, but tickets go fast!


A hilarious Dream in High Park

Sunday, August 19, 2007

CanStage Dream in High ParkFriday night, a group of 5 of us took a seat on the hillside at the Dream in High Park around 6pm. It’s important to get there early in order to stake out a place to sit and make sure you have enough space for the people in your group. This is a summer tradition I hadn’t done in quite a few years – I used to go all the time when I was in high school and earlier … but the summer’s had always passed by lately without a wander to The Canadian Stage’s Dream in High Park.

We spread the blanket down, third row centre and brought out the various salads and pastas and chips and dips which made up the picnic we were going to eat for the next two hours before the show began. A nice box of French Rabbit wine made the evening’s feast complete. It was a bit windy that evening and the sand storm that came from the path lead a bit to be desired, but overall, it was a beautiful night for a picnic.

This year’s Shakespeare selection was the ever classic A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I’ve seen this play a gazillion times, studied it in school, acted in it etc. but I never seem to tire of it. When done properly or with an interesting twist, this can be a hilarious comedy. This year’s production achieves ‘hilarity” status.

Director ahdri zhina mandiela set the Bard’s comedy in a modern day, urban Athen. The Athenian costumes were understated but effective while the faeries garb was anything but.

Puck was punk complete with tattoos from head to toe. Titania’s 3 faerie servants were dressed in magnificent colours – a sort of updated modern take on the 80’s (what the 80’s would look like if we dressed like that today).

But the most striking of all were the faerie King and Queen themselves. Titania, played by the ever amazing Karen Robinson (if you haven’t seen this woman on stage, you must – she is a force on stage to be reckon with) strolled onto the stage in a patch-quilt dress of oranges, greens and white followed by these amazing circular bouncing wings that looked like coils from a train conductors watch.  As playful as Titania’s costume was, Oberon’s was equally proud and larger than life. Outfitted in a blue tuxedo-type jacket, there were enormous leaves like peacock feathers protruding from his back, sticking straight up a good 10 feet into the air. Watching these two celestial figures walk on stage definitely gave the audience the impression that these characters were larger than life.

The Mechanicals – always the scene stealer – hammed it up and had me in stitches with their rendition of Pyramus and Thisbe at the end of the play. But when you have actors such as Steven Gallagher (last seen in CanStage’s The Rocky Horror Show) as Peter Quince and Andrew Kushnir (Hair) as Flute in the mix, you are sure to be in for a laugh. Everyone in the Mechanical ensemble was perfectly cast. Matthew Brown as Snout, Sarah Dodd playing a bitterly funny Starveling, Emberly Doherty as the shy Snug, and Matthew Kabwe as the know-it-all Bottom were all fantastic in their roles.

The Lovers, Hermia, Helena, Demetrius and Lysander, were also very well cast. I have to say that Maev Beatty stole the show out of the four of them with her brilliant comic timing and embodiment of Helena’s awkwardness and longing for Demetrius’ love. Lysander, played by Antonio Cayonne was very well acted including some wonderful rapping using the text provided. Holly Lewis and Richard Harte also performed exceptionally well in their role as Hermia and Demetrius respectively. Sarah Dodd, who doubled as Egeus, played this role perfectly as the executive suburban female constantly on the phone and full of contempt for practically everything. I do have to say though, it seems that she has worn the same skirt in the past three shows I’ve seen her in (the other two being Marion Bridge and A Whistle In The Dark).

The three ladies playing Titania’s faeries were a funny, energetic, mischievous trio of singers. Most of their text were sung with beautiful harmonies. And the master of mischief, Puck, played by Colin Heath, did a most excellent job in the role. His acrobatics alone really gave the character that faerie-like quality intended for the role. He seemed to fly through the air at parts or blend in to the scenery only to pop out later on.

There are times when watching Shakespeare can be tedious and tiring, and even in a comedy such as this, the play can drag. But thanks to the amazing direction from Ms. mandiela there is never a dull moment, never a lag. The almost 2 and a half hour show seems to whiz by and leaves you with a huge smile on your face. It really did seem magical that evening.

My friends and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and I would suggest to anyone looking for a really enjoyable evening to check out this production. Bring some snacks, a blanket and get there early. It is one of the summers traditions in Toronto that is definitely worth checking out.

The Dream In High Park is on until September 2.


The Royal Alex turns 100!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Royal Alex is 100!Toronto – The Royal Alexandra Theatre was officially opened on August 26, 1907. One hundred years later, on Sunday August 26th, the beloved Grande Dame of King Street, the oldest continuously operating legitimate theatre in North America, will celebrate the milestone with a public street party and open house. Activities get under way at 11 am and continue until 6 pm. At 2 pm, on a specially erected stage in the middle of King Street, the official ceremony will take place.

The Royal Alexandra Theatre Centenary Celebrations will include self-guided tours through both the public and private spaces of this fabled building. Members of the public will be able to stand on stage and know what it feels like to look out into the gorgeous auditorium of 1,500 seats. They will be able to visit the backstage areas, including all four levels of dressing rooms, the legendary “paint room” (said to be haunted) at the top of the fly tower, and the wood-paneled Manager’s Office in which the famous leather-bound clipping books list all of the theatre’s past productions. In the theatre wings, members of the crew will demonstrate how stage riggings and scenery are handled.

The official ceremonies will feature a medley of songs performed by Camilla Scott (who starred in both CRAZY FOR YOU and MAMMA MIA!), and accompanied by Rick Fox, from many of the big musicals that have played the theatre. And 16 members of the original 1969 cast of the landmark Canadian Premiere production of HAIR will reprise some of the famous songs from that show. Dignitaries and special guests will offer tributes and share memories of the theatre. Sunday August 26 will be proclaimed Royal Alexandra Day, and Heritage Toronto will unveil a commemorative plaque.

At the street party in front of the theatre there will be free cake, ice cream and refreshments. Entertainment will be provided on the outdoor stage with Toronto All-Star Big Band and musicians from the Toronto Musicians’ Association. (King Street will be closed to vehicular traffic from Simcoe to John Streets.) Heritage Toronto will lead a walking tour of the neighbourhood.

A new website will be launched. Featuring a complete and searchable database of all productions and musicals that have played the Royal Alexandra, anecdotes from some of the performers and audience members, a timeline of the theatre’s history and a guest book in which the public can add their own memories of the building, the website will be companion piece to the handsome book, The Royal Alexandra Theatre: One Hundred Years by Robert Brockhouse, that will be published by McArthur & Company in October 2007.