Category: do

toronto theatre: up the garden path

I had the opportunity to see Obsidian Theatre’s 2nd show of the season, Up The Garden Path, last night at Theatre Passe Muraille.

The story starts in Barbados in the 1960s as a woman makes the decision to travel to disguise herself as a man and travel to the Niagara region to work picking grapes. When she arrives, she discovers that she is the only one who can see a ghost from the war of 1812, trapped in a type of purgatory and decides that if he helps her keep her job on the farm, she’ll help him crossover the the other side.

The play is often funny and sweet and the acting is quite good. I am constantly impressed by the level of talent in the shows I see at small theatres across the city. Up The Garden Path runs at Theatre Passe Muraille until April 10th. Tickets start at $25 with a discount for students, seniors and art workers.

little black afro’s carbon

I just got in from seeing Little Black Afro’s Carbon, if you missed my previous posts on the show you can find them here and here.

I had never been to a poetry show before, so like many times I venture out to check out the arts in this city, I didn’t know what to expect. In my mind, I kind of pictures what I had seen on tv in the 90s of coffee shops and people snapping their fingers – this was not that.

The show consisted of 16 poems, all written by the performers. They were all about something different although many of them were about growing up, adolescence and love. Some of the poems were sad and moving while others were laugh out loud funny. Through the “narrator”/”emcee”, we the audience decided the order the poems went in. The set was simple, a woodbox box/shelf, a sheet and a set of pulleys that between each poem/scene was rearranged to create a new backdrop for the poem. It was really quite impressive how seamlessly the show moved between each of the poems without knowing what order they were going to be in. I also really enjoyed that even though the poem was just written by one person, it was often performed by many. I personally found that easier to follow as it told more of a story than reading poetry. I must confess, I am an English major who never fell in love with poetry but this show just might have changed my mind.

The show only runs until Saturday at Aki Studio in the Daniels Spectrum. You can get tickets here. Also, 10% of the box office goes to Louder Than a Bomb: Youth Poetry Festival in Hamilton, so get out there and support the arts!

upcoming show: carbon Q&A

I mentioned last week that Carbon is showing this week in Toronto. I got the chance to ask some of people involved some of my favourite questions to ask about Toronto and theatre. Here’s what some of them had to say:

 

Luke Reece- Artistic Director/Performer:
How did you get involved with Carbon?
I decided to produce this show early in 2014, just over two years ago now. I was still finding my way into the poetry scene, and doing a lot of independent theatre producing. This show seemed like the next step, and it’s been exciting to see what it has now grown into.

What excites you most about this show?
The fact that everyone’s stories are authentic. You are hearing the words come out of the person who wrote them, and I think that’s something special.

What do you love most about performing in Toronto?
The audiences that are going out to poetry performances and theatre are starting to grow…slowly, but surely. Every time I have an opportunity to perform for new people in Toronto it’s a chance to continue this growth. It’s a chance for us to feed their soul with our art. I want to give them a taste of my work, and I want them to like it, so they’ll continue to see more shows in the city.

Cass Brennan – One of the Poets/Performers:
How did you get involved with Carbon?
My involvement with Carbon dates back to 2014 when I was assistant directing a show called Slammed at York University’s playground festival. After that show, our group of poets expanded to produce Carbon Copies with Little Black Afro Theatre Company. Carbon then resulted after thinking there was still more to explore with this group of artists.

What excites you most about this show?
The fact that even we as performers have no idea how the show will progress each night, is so exciting to me! There is no prepared, all encompassing emotional arc that we can bring the audience along with us on throughout the show- instead we as artists must work diligently to convey the story and feeling of each poem individually. This requires a lot of excitement and energy from both the cast and the audience who chooses the progression of the show!

What do you love most about performing in Toronto?
I love the diversity of experience that exists in Toronto. Every few days I hear about the birth of a new theatre company  with a new group of artists and am given more fuel to keep creating theatre.  The theatre community in Toronto is one that is willing to explore, to get messy, to fail, to blend mediums… And I feel honoured to be a part of that.

Jordan Laffrenier – Director:
What excites you most about this show?
What excites me most about this show is the risk involved. Jordan Tanahill in his book Theatre of the Unimpressed argues, “risk and failure [are] preconditions of a transformative live event.” We can not “fail better” as artists if we do not take risks. I understand, the nature of young artists: not seeing plays and then debating about ‘how theatre needs to change.” We are not doing this. We are playing with, but building on, ideas that have been done before. We are examining questions like: what happens when the neo-futurist aesthetic (using people who do not primarily identify as performers, having them play themselves, no set linear structure) meets slam poetry?

What do you love most about performing in Toronto?
The aspect I love most about directing in Toronto is the amount of support. We have an amazing community here in Toronto and experienced directors are accessible. I recall a conversation I had sitting in the basement of the Obsidian office across from Philip Akin. He talked about the importance of building young artists on the shoulders of season artists, that when he was young he did not have many theatre artists that he could look to for support, certainly none that “looked like him” (and were black). I am lucky, because of artists like him, there is a support system in Toronto. And I hope to continue that support.

I love asking people how they get involved in these awesome productions and projects going on in the city and because I’m such a Toronto nerd, I love hearing what others love about this city.

Carbon starts Wednesday, March 16th at the Aki Studio Theatre and runs until the 19th, tickets are available here, starting at $16.

coming soon: carbon

I’ve mentioned it before how I’m always blown away by the amount of theatre available in this city and now there’s another show I want to share with you.

Carbon: A Workshop Performance is coming to Toronto. This show was originally “Carbon Copies” at the 2014 Hamilton Fringe Festival (who knew Hamilton had a fringe – so. much. theatre.) and with the support of the Ontario Arts Council, it has now been developed into Carbon.

This show features five poets from the GTA. The show aims to heighten the theatricality of poetry performance and storytelling through Slam Poetry and Spoken Word. The show has a short run at Aki Studio Theatre at 585 Dundas Street E from March 16th-19th. Tickets start at $18 and there is a discount for students and art workers with 10% of the Box Office going to support Louder Than a Bomb Canada, a poetry festival in Hamilton, organized by the Hamilton Youth Poets and Nea Reid.

Tickets are available online now.

theatre in toronto: venus’ daughter

I wrote last week about getting to meet with the cast and the writer of Venus’ Daughter and last night I had the privilege of seeing the show. I did manage to avoid reading too much about the play before going to see the show, but for those of you who like to read the back of the book: Venus’ Daughter is a play about how women and their bodies are viewed and how we work so hard to cover it up, or change it to fit what we think everyone else wants to see.

The play is told from a number of perspectives, focusing on one woman’s story looking at her childhood and her ancestors and weaving them together to see how she became the woman she is today. I’m sure most women (and maybe even more men then we realized) would be able to relate to struggles Venus’ Daughter addresses. Most people have had at least a time in their life where they wish they could change something about themselves, they wear different clothes trying to hide or disguise something, they wear bras to make it look like they have more breast than they do or use make up to try to perfect a specific look.

This creative play was really remarkable and the talent was unbelievable. It has been a very long time since I’ve been on stage but I can always empathize with how difficult it is to put yourself out there and in this case, the writer is also standing on stage. I’ve said it before but I’m always blown away by the great talent we have in this city and it was great to see young and talented actors last night in this show. I can’t wait to see where their careers take them next, I know I will definitely want to see it.

Venus’ Daughter runs until February 28th, tickets range from $25-$35 with discounted tickets for students, seniors and arts workers.

 

dee snider’s rock and roll christmas

Wednesday night I was invited to the Winter Garden theatre to see the Christmas spectacular, Dee Snider’s Rock and Roll Christmas. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, was it a musical with a storyline or just a Christmas rock concert.

It was indeed the former. A story of a hairband trying to keep rock and roll alive, selling their souls in order to make their dreams come true. Doesn’t sound like your typical Christmas story, does it? It certainly was not, but had all the wonderful elements of a great Christmas story: a little cheesy humour, great music, glitter and Santa. The show was fun, funny and had people singing along and laughing out loud.

If you’re a fan of twisted sister, hairbands, rock and roll or Christmas spirit, you’ll have a great time at the show. Have you been to Dee Snider’s Rock and Roll Christmas?

detox to retox: rainhard brewing

This weekend, it’s time for another detox to retox! We’re heading to a fairly new brewery this time, located in the Junction called Rainhard Brewing. The lovely Marnie Luck will once again be our teacher and I can’t wait to get bendy for beer in this beautiful space. In case you’ve never been to a detox to retox before, you can expect a fantastic (and relaxing) yoga class, delicious beer and awesome people! The first hour is a yoga class, followed by a beer tasting hosted by Rainhard brewing. Here’s some photos from past events. You can get tickets here, hope to see you there!

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evening at the market

This past Thursday, I went to Evening at the Market at St. Lawrence Market. I bought the tickets as an anniversary gift for my boyfriend because I know how much he loves St. Lawrence Market.wpid-img_20151112_223213.jpgThe event was in support for FoodShare Toronto and essentially the market was transformed into a tasting market, with virtually every vendor offering something delicious to try. I realized that I didn’t take a ton of photos of the actual venue, it was just the things I ate (and only a portion of them) but they had circus performers walking throughout the event and in the middle of the market, they had an aerial artist performing. The event was busy but not insane, and line ups weren’t too long to get food or drink..

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Our first stop was Paddingtons, where they were sampling a few drinks they offer all the time, including Hogtown and Waterloo (I did not know you could get beer at the market!) and delicious cheese pies and baklava.

Throughout the rest of venue, Amsterdam beer and Union wines were on offer, some of my favourites.

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As I mentioned, I ate a lot of stuff, mostly cheese and pasta things (of course). I had fresh ravioli, fondue and risotto out of the parm wheel. The parm wheel!!

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I think my favourite dessert I had was the french macarons from the lower level. They also came with little chocolate nuggets.

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I didn’t take photos of everything I ate because it would just look excessive but I promise it was all great. It was actually one of those times I wish I liked more food because there was a huge seafood section that was basically wasted on us. It was a great event, that I hope they run again next year (this was the first year they hosted it, this way). It also reminded me how much I love the St. Lawrence Market, I’ve been a little more often (again, because my boyfriend is in love with it) but it makes me want to come back and buy more cheese, pasta and fresh meats!

Did anyone else go to the Evening at the Market? What was your favourite part?

talking art: warhol revisited

Last Thursday I was lucky enough to be invited to hear a speaker as part of the rotating lecture series at the Warhol Revisited exhibit at Bay and Bloor.

The speaker was Tavis Coburn, an illustrator with a colourful (sorry for the pun) career. He has worked in advertising, album covers and is frequently hired by magazines and newspapers for his art. As someone who knows basically nothing (read: absolutely nothing) about art, it was really interesting to hear how his career developed. Not only do I know very little about art, I’m also terrible at it, and so I’m always so impressed by someone with artistic ability.

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The gallery isn’t very big but it is full of impressive art by the famous Andy Warhol. I’ve never seen any of his pieces in real life and some of the pieces were remarkable. I’ve of course seen the soup cans and the Marilyns but there was lots of portraits and characters that were beautifully done in his style.

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The exhibit runs Tuesday-Saturday until the end of the year with a number of lectures happening, check the website for details. Tickets to the lectures include entrance to the gallery and is only open to lecture attendees.

behaving gentlemanly at the gentlemen’s expo

This past weekend was the 3rd annual Gentlemen’s Expo. I’ve been to a number of expos designed for women, so I was excited to see what the gentlemen’s version would entail.

I headed down at noon at Saturday, bought some drink tickets and hit the floor with my boyfriend. I quickly realized there was a lot of drinks that I was going to want to try, including craft beers (and not so craft but still delicious beers), whiskeys and wines. I promise that those will be showing up in Thirsty Thursdays over the next couple of weeks.

It’s no secret that I love “shopping local”. I love seeing what people in this city are doing and this was a great expo to learn about local merchants including “steak” jerky, an all-beef, nitrate-free jerky from table mountain curing company and thank you toronto, with sweet hats and cute dog leashes. I loved the opportunity to speak with the owners and operators of so many great places in the city.

There were lots of options for maintaining a beard, staying dapper and well lubricated. There were a number of presentations on the main stage (most, I unfortunately missed just based on timing) but they included drink pairing guides, hypnosis and concerts. My favourite part of course was the variety of drinks, as much as I love my beer festivals, it was great to be able to sample so many different brands of beers and other drinks that I’m not familiar with. As I said, check back over the next few weeks to see all the great stuff I tried.

I had a great time at The Gentlemen’s Expo, I would recommend checking it out next if you’re looking for a fun day out, there is plenty for the ladies (I may have started my Christmas shopping) as there is for the gentlemen!

Have you been to the The Gentlemen’s Expo? What was your favourite part?