Tag: do

must see: #hiddenfigures

I would say happy Sunday, but you probably don’t want a reminder that you’re going back to your first full week of work in a while. I stayed pretty busy this weekend (as usual) and had to share with you a movie that I absolutely loved.

If you have not heard of it, it is the story of 3 black women that worked at NASA during the 60s as “computers”. I was excited to see this movie, I had first heard about it because IBM is a big sponsor of the film and I work very closely with them in my “day job”. The movie stars Janelle Monae, Octavia Spencer and Taraji P. Henson and each of them were amazing. I don’t want to give away too much of the movie, but I want to tell everyone that it is definitely worth the $15 to see and I think that they should show it in every high school math class, I even joked with a teacher that I met this weekend that it should be in her next lesson plan. I’m very glad that it did extremely well at the box office. I was afraid that it wouldn’t garner a lot of interest, since it is about a topic that doesn’t get a lot of attention. So, if you’re looking for a great, funny and feel-good movie, definitely check out Hidden Figures. And, if you’ve already seen it, I’d love to know what you think!

gentlemen’s expo 2016

My boyfriend and I headed to the Gentlemen’s Expo this past weekend because we had such a great time last year! I thought this year’s event was even better than last year, I thought there was a better mix of vendors and sessions and so had been looking forward to it for a few weeks. Here are my highlights:

Although, probably makes more sense to save this for a Thirsty Thursday, this was definitely my favourite drink of the show. Auchentoshan, a single malt scotch was served over ice with a bit of IPA and grapefruit juice, it was dangerously delicious.

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I was also excited because my friend Bourbon Thing was presenting a Bourbon 101 session. If you don’t know Jamie, you’re really missing out. She hosts whiskey events in the city as well as has a blog and podcast dedicated to the drink.

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There was also lots of non-booze related things, awesome socks, cute ties and fun cufflinks. There was even a place where you could try out virtual reality headsets, I lasted about 28 seconds on the VR roller coaster before I felt super dizzy, it was really cool but not for me. To be honest, I’m surprised I lasted that long.

So, there was lots to see and do at the show this weekend and I had a good time… until…..

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RICK MERCER WAS THERE AND HE INTERVIEWED US AND I’M STILL BLUSHING!!!!!!!!!!

We knew he was at the show because we had seen it on instagram but despite our best efforts, we couldn’t find him. We were wrapping up our day, having a quick snack and we see his cameras and notice it’s him. And he just starts interviewing us, no intro or anything just starts talking. So, there’s a small chance we’ll be on the Mercer Report this week – it’s a pretty small chance because I was fan-girling so hard the tape may not even be usable.

So, it was an amazing year at the Gentlemen’s Expo, I’m already looking forward to next year!

monster rock orchestra

I love finding out about amazing events that are coming up in the city and when they’re free – it’s even better! Next Friday night, Monster Rock Opera will be taking over Yonge-Dundas Square for another year, in a music-laser show unlike any other. MRO Miss Pops Branded.png

Starting at 7pm, three different music groups will take the stage in combination with lasers for a crazy experience. You can expect to hear hits from the 70s, 80s, 90s and today and include songs from bands like AC/DC to Taylor Swift. This 55-piece (yes! 55 piece!!) band will play an array of music we all know and love, all with classical instruments – and with lasers! I’m pretty exciting for the lasers.

So, if you’re looking for something fun and cool to do, that won’t cost you a dime – head to Yonge-Dundas Square next Friday night!

 

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?

relax: salt cave at the windsor arms

I am one of those people that is addicted to being busy. I need to feel like I’m constantly being productive. If I’m at home, it’s very easy for me to have three screens going (phone, tv and computer) like I do right now, I’m even one of those people who sleeps with the TV on to have the background noise. I find silence a little eerie. So, there is not many times when I just turn off everything, maybe at the occasional yoga class or massage but those are pretty infrequent occasions.

So, when I was asked by The Windsor Arms to try out their salt caves, I was curious and even a little anxious about it. Sit in a room for 45 minutes, without speaking to anyone, or checking my phone, or really doing anything? Seemed crazy. But that’s what I did on Saturday, for 45 minutes it was just going to be me and the salt cave.

I arrived at The Windsor Arms to be greeted by the loveliest lady at the front desk, she showed me to the change rooms where I got on my robe and flip flops (I also had called ahead to ask, what does one wear to the salt cave? appparently, just about anything you want is fine). She then showed me to the salt cave, a cool, dimly lit room with rock covered walls and salted floors.

Salt Cave

It had a very cozy feel, it is meant to mimic caves found in Europe. It is believed that regular use of the salt caves can help with allergies, to relieving stress, to helping skin conditions and more. On each of the chairs, there is a blanket as it does get pretty cool in the room. I got in to a lounger, reclined and cozied up with the blanket and did, nothing. It was crazy! Absolutely nothing. If I was someone who napped, I definitely would have fallen asleep, I even came pretty close but I’m just not a napper. It was relaxing to just shut everything off and just listen to the white noise of the room.

A single session in the cave is $50 for 45 minutes, 5 sessions are $200 and 10 sessions are $350. The Windsor Arms hotel also currently has a promotion until the end of the year if you spend $150 on spa treatments or products (exclusions apply), you receive a free 45 minute session in the salt cave. It would be a nice addition to a well-deserved day at the spa, it’s a busy time of year so it’s nice to just unplug and relax.

Have you been to the Windsor Arms Hotel?