TIFF Promises to Love Godard Forever
“Photography is truth,” Michel Subor’s young draft-dodger announces in Jean-Luc Godard’s Le Petit Soldat, “And cinema is truth 24 frames per second.” Though that statement is often misattributed to the French filmmaker himself rather than to his character, the sentiment seems to hold true enough for Godard. On the strength of his wide-ranging, by turns playful and socially committed, and equal parts aesthetically and politically revolutionary filmography, one might even say that Godard’s life’s work has been dedicated to elevating the cinema to the esteemed status in which philosophers hold first principles like truth.
That effort to haul the cinema out of its infancy and into a kind of artistic maturity is the subject of TIFF Cinematheque’s newest and fullest retrospective in some time, a two-season programme entitled Godard Forever, which is intended to span the length of the filmmaker’s remarkable, varied career—from the jazz-infused improvisation of Breathless to the Marxist montage of recent work like Film Socialisme. The first half of that retrospective, a fifteen-film programme dedicated to what most consider Godard’s golden age—the period from 1960’s Breathless to 1967’s apocalyptic, decade-capping Weekend—runs this season, highlighting the period in which Godard famously moulded existing genres like Hollywood gangster pictures and musicals into his own unique creations.
Descant 163: The Brink and the Break
Descant Magazine mourns endings and celebrates new beginnings with issue 163, The Brink and the Break. Join contributors George Elliott Clarke, Rocco de Giacomo, Cathy Petch, John Ryan Scrivener, Sharon Overend, and Lori Vos for the launch party, where they will be sharing their works of poetry and fiction on the topics of love, tension, and family.
The Original Mad Men: Lover Come Back
Before Mad Men made the ’60s ad industry look sexy, misogynistic, and rife with alcoholism, there was Lover Come Back. A 1961 film featuring Rock Hudson and Doris Day, it sees two ad agency representatives compete for a prestigious account, using very different tactics. The Revue Cinema presents a screening of this classic, followed by a discussion with industry veteran Terry O’Reilly on how the ad business is portrayed (and sometimes misrepresented) by screenwriters.
BookThugs and Troubador Slaves
We’re going to go out on a limb and assume that you enjoy music, poetry, or chocolate (at least a little bit). Well, guess what? BookThugs and Troubador Slaves has all of these things! Aisha Sasha John, Mark Truscott, Stephen Cain, and Jay MillAr will all be reading their works, with music provided by Mark Martyre, and SoundSkapes by Michael Menegon. Let’s not forget that this will all go down at a chocolate shop, so you can indulge in homemade organic chocolates and other desserts while you enjoy the performances.
There’s a lot going on in this city, but we bet this is the only clown and chamber music fusion event you’ll find. Arlecchino Allegro, a cabaret presented by the Toronto Masque Theatre, is best described as “a glittering musical fête gone awry.” Exploring themes of love, laughter, and celebration, the show is a peculiar but amusing mixture of improv, clowns, dance, and music.
CineMacabre: Frankenstein Created Woman
For one night only, Rue Morgue is giving life to the restored Frankenstein Created Woman with their January CineMacabre screening. In one of Hammer’s more strange endeavours, Peter Cushing plays Baron Von Frankenstein. Having discovered how to isolate the human soul and transfer it between bodies, he plays God—or perhaps the devil—and transplants a wrongly executed man’s soul into his lover’s body. The result: bloody revenge. As usual, attendees will be treated to a glut of gory prizes.
BeerProv presents The Draft
There’s improv, there’s beer, and then there’s BeerProv. A curious combination of these two fun elements, The Draft pits a slew of amateur improvisers against each other in a series of elimination games. The winner gets the distinct honour of drinking from the Mini-Mug of Champions.
The Guggenheim Comes to the AGO
Virginia Woolf once remarked that “on or about December 1910, human character changed.” Whether it actually did is debatable, but the curators of “The Great Upheaval: Masterpieces from the Guggenheim Collection 1910–1918” use that year to start their exhibition of works from a tumultuous decade of innovation in European fine art.
Toronto Design Offsite Festival
A week-long visual art and design bonanza taking place at venues across the city, the Toronto Design Offsite Festival features exhibitions, screenings, parties, talks, and tours—all of which showcase “the best in Canadian design.” It’s a not-for-profit festival, so most of the programming is free; you’ll want to check out the festival schedule for a full list of events, locations, and participating artists, companies, and galleries.
Dark Lady: The Musical
Glendon College presents the second stage production to come out of its newly formed drama club, Lionheart Productions Coeur de Lion. Written by Justin Ruttan, Dark Lady: The Musical is a fantastic romp through the life of a drag performer, set to the music of Cher. More than just a theatrical glitterbomb, the story sees the protagonist grapple with loss, love, and self-discovery.
Go Hear the People Sing in Les Misérables
Every revolution needs a leader. And though the movement to bring the classic 1980s musical Les Misérables back to Toronto is markedly different than the quest for political accountability and social equality, it has its hero just the same. After the official opening performance at the Princess of Wales Theatre, the audience likely would have followed London-based, Richmond Hill-raised performer Ramin Karimloo (as the story’s golden-hearted protagonist, Jean Valjean) anywhere he would lead.
The Way Back to Thursday
Cameron and his grandmother share a special tradition: every Thursday night, they escape into the golden age of film together. A musical about unconditional love, The Way Back to Thursday takes us through the changes in this relationship as Cameron grows older and more distant.
Getting to the Pith! of Play (and a Play)
You can surmise a couple of things from the title of Stewart Lemoine’s play, receiving its Toronto debut 18 years after its Edmonton premiere. Like The Exquisite Hour, which producing company the Theatre Department launched with in 2012, Pith! is not much more than a hour—brevity being the soul of wit, after all. Pithy does in part mean concise, but “pith”? Well, it can mean “the essence,” and this play is concerned with getting to the essence of play, and by extension, a play.
Jack Vail (Ron Pederson) is a sailor and adventurer who, on a whim, decides to see what sort of adventures can be had in Providence, Rhode Island, in the summer of 1931. He’s just disembarked from a long sea voyage, and craves more genteel company, which he decides he’ll find at a Sunday church service and social. His attention is quickly drawn to a woman in mourning cloth and to her slightly less subdued companion, whom he finds sobbing over a plate of pie outside after the service. She introduces herself as Ms. Nancy Kimble (Amy Matysio), and shares the sad tale of her employer Mrs. Virginia Tillford (Daniela Vlaskalic), who has held out hope for a decade that her husband will return from a trip to South America, where he vanished.
Heartbeat of Home
The producers of Riverdance have spawned yet another on-stage extravaganza. With a talented cast of 38, Heartbeat of Home is a high-energy show, combining Irish, Latin, and Afro-Cuban music and dance. Torontonians get the honour of seeing the production’s North American debut—take it in before it’s gone!
As You Like It
Rarely Pure Theatre brings Shakespeare’s As You Like It to the Storefront Theatre, one of the city’s new alternative presentation spaces. The company gives the story, which sees love and friendship complicated by sexual tension and gender confusion, a distinctly Canadian twist by moving the action to a wintery wonderland.
Avenue Q’s a Cure for the Blues
Let’s face it: being a twenty-something can kinda suck. Pumped full of confidence and aspirations, we flee the family nest…and fall flat on our faces. Avenue Q uses songs (written by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx) and puppetry both to lament and poke fun at this difficult time. Much like Sesame Street, it has a cast made up of human actors who interact with a variety of furry creatures, who themselves have hands up their butts. Think that description is tasteless? This might not be the show for you—these puppets are crude and lewd, and have a taste for alcohol and porn. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
The Keith Richards One Woman Show
With a minimalistic set, some vintage guitars, and a rock n’ roll soundtrack, Deanna Jones takes on the persona of one of music’s most notorious figures. Humourous and introspective, The Keith Richards One Woman Show leads audiences through the highs and lows of the Rolling Stones guitarist’s often ridiculous life.
In 2006, the quiet town of Ipswich, England, was turned upside down by the discovery of five dead women. During this time, playwright Alecky Blythe recorded extensive interviews with the nearby residents. Set to music, these audio clips form the script to London Road, a raw piece of theatre illustrating tragedy’s ability to fortify a community.
Once On This Island
The Acting Up Stage Company brings the French Antilles to Toronto audiences with its new musical, Once On This Island. Set to an exuberant Caribbean score, we see the gods test the dark-skinned Ti Moune by sending her on a quest after she falls in love with a higher-class, light-skinned man.
The Ugly One Plays Both Faces Well
German theatre has gone over really well in Toronto in recent years. Playwright Roland Schimmelpfennig’s contribution to Volcano Theatre’s Africa project was widely praised, and twinwerks//zwillingswerk’s production of Felicia Zeller’s Kaspar and the Sea of Houses earned the company an outstanding production award at the 2011 SummerWorks (and a trip back to 2012’s festival). Now, Theatre Smash returns with Marius von Mayenburg’s The Ugly One, a clever slice of absurdism that works well on several levels. There’s light humour when the titular character discovers that everyone finds his face repugnant, and darker tones when his new, beautiful face becomes coveted obsessively by those around him.
Flesh and Other Fragments of Love: A Rocky Production
In Tarragon Theatre’s current mainstage production, Flesh and Other Fragments of Love, there are both a marriage and a body on the rocks, and the prognosis isn’t good for either of them. While the human figure appears pale, cold, and lifeless, the marriage is slightly more alive, and the play chronicles its last dying breaths. Surprisingly, though, the young female cadaver is by far the more interesting of the two.
The Wedding Singer Evokes ’80s (and Sandler) Nostalgia
It seems like the 1980s are an odd, distant time here in the middle of the second decade of the 21st century. It also feels like it’s been almost as long since Adam Sandler was making good comedies, instead of recent dreck like the Grown-Ups films or Jack & Jill. Films like The Wedding Singer and Happy Gilmour were sweet (and only slightly profane) comedies where the screw-up always gets the girl.
Hart House Theatre’s production of The Wedding Singer is set a year shy of 30 years ago in Ridgefield, New Jersey, and trades on the nostalgia for a film that was already trading on nostalgia with neon lighting (plenty of purple wash), retro fashion, and familiar songs—the ones created for the film, anyway. (Classics like “You Spin Me Right Round” and “Love Stinks” would have made the licensing astronomical.) The 2006 musical adaptation came up with some similar (and period) sounding numbers that, in some cases, actually improve on the original. It also streamlined some of the characters: for instance, the most memorable supporting characters in the film, sleazeball Sammy (Matt Pilipiak) and keyboardist George (Scott Farley), are now both Robbie’s best friends and bandmates.
The musical also does a better job of balancing out Robbie (Isaac Bell) and Julia’s (Ashley Gibson) scenes, as she gets some songs to sing too, instead of being just a love interest. Julia’s scenes with her cousin Holly (Romina Cortina) and her mother won’t pass film’s Bechdel test, but then the boys only talk about women as well—save for a few throwaway lines about their band and an act-two number where Julia’s jerk fiancé Glen (Howard Davis) tries to sell Robbie on the world of finance.
The ensemble is spirited and, despite some persistent sound tech issues relating to the body mics, the show sounds all right too. Of course, a show likes this succeeds on the charisma of its leads and character roles: Bell, Gibson, and especially Farley are all likeable and on-point with their comedic timing. The book dutifully checks off all the memorable moments (and lines) that people are likely to recall from the film, which is, we suppose, sort of the point. You’re more likely to leave the theatre humming one of the songs from the pre-show or intermission music than from the score, but you probably will leave humming rather than grumbling.