Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could redo parts of your life with the knowledge you have now? The Open Book Literary Salon is exploring this idea with Advice for Myself, gathering three Torontonian authors—Stacey May Fowles, Brian Francis, and Michael Winter—to talk about what pointers they would give their younger selves. Whether you’re an amateur writer yourself or a book lover just looking to take in an interesting conversation, this is an event worth attending.
We Happy Few has taken the best elements of William Shakespeare’s work and thrown them into a metaphoric blender. The result: a completely improvised play. Considering the playwright’s penchant for murder, unrequited love, and cross-dressing, Shakespeare Forgive Us: The Third Act will be anything but boring.
There’s a new monthly music showcase in town! Offering more than the typical music-and-beer nights across town, Liberty Live! pairs performances by up-and-coming Torontonian artists with presentations on various music industry topics. This inaugural event features music from Steve Lewin, Erin Carter, Oliver Pigott, and Beth Moore, and keynote presentations by Zack Leighton, Executive Director of the Canadian Independent Recording Artists’ Association, and Sean Hayden, a composer at Daisy Dog Music Productions and Eggplant Collective.
Believe what you will about love at first sight, but that’s apparently what happened when Brighton, England, artist Victoria Melody met a basset hound puppy she soon named Major Tom. He was twice the size of his littermates and the last one to find a home; she was in a committed relationship and wanted to see if she and her partner Mitch could handle the responsibilities of parenthood. But the two instantly clicked over their shared stubbornness, among other things. He not only found an owner in Victoria—he found a collaborator.
Melody and Tom’s epic stubbornness is now on stage—we said stubborn, not shy—in the show Major Tom, on now with World Stage for a limited run at the Enwave Theatre. (Major Tom does seem to prefer limited runs, sometimes refusing to walk even a few paces to get his favourite treat.) Melody’s stubborn streak comes out in her storytelling: in this one-woman, one-dog show, Melody explains how it was that she and Tom became immersed in the world of dog shows and beauty pageants, and persevered despite the odds stacked against them.
While the Toronto International Film Festival may have shifted into a more relaxed mode, it’s still offering plenty of opportunities to gawk at movie stars—they’re just a little more spread out. Midweek, fans could catch the premieres of Good Kill (Ethan Hawke as a drone pilot), Maps to the Stars (David Cronenberg’s new bit of oddness), The Imitation Game (Benedict Cumberbatch as World War II cryptographer Alan Turing), Jauja (Viggo Mortensen, and we don’t know much else really), Laggies (Sam Rockwell and Keira Knightley in a comedy about people taking their sweet time to grow up), October Gale (Patricia Clarkson and Scott Speedman in a thriller/drama set in a remote cabin), Pawn Sacrifice (about the chess duels between Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer), The Cobbler (Adam Sandler’s latest) and Escobar (Benicio Del Toro is the famous drug kingpin).
It’s 1931 in Berlin, and the Nazis are on the brink of supremacy. But there remains another side to the city—one that’s decadent, permissive, and artistic. And that’s the world we meet when we’re beckoned into the extravagant and sleazy Kit Kat Klub by eccentric Emcee and his troupe of saucy dancers, performing “Willkommen.”
Cabaret’s primary plotline begins with the arrival of American writer Cliff Bradshaw (David Light). Without a real agenda, he’s come to Berlin to work on his novel and teach English. A patron of the Kit Kat Klub, he catches the eye of the star performer Sally Bowles (Kylie McMahon). A natural stunner, Sally is a bubbly young Brit with a powerhouse voice, a dancer’s grace, and a reputation for flitting from man to man like a bumblebee in a flowerbed. It’s not long before she and Cliff fall in love—though the question of whether he’ll be able to satisfy her wild side constantly hangs over their heads. The sweetness lacking in their relationship can be found in the romantic pairing of the boarding house landlord Fraulein Schneider (Adeen Ashton Fogle) and Jewish shop owner Herr Schultz (Don Berns). As appealing as they are, though, these middle-aged lovebirds are just as susceptible to trouble and heartbreak as their younger counterparts.
Ichimaru—once one of Japan’s most famous geishas—left the profession in the 1930s to pursue a career in entertainment. Never really leaving her past life, she became known for adorning herself in the traditional geisha garb when performing in concert or on television. “From Geisha to Diva: The Kimonos of Ichimaru” exhibits several decades’ worth of outfits and personal effects, shedding light on the woman behind the makeup.
The word “idiot” was originally used in ancient Greece to describe a person unconcerned with public affairs like politics, but dedicated to following private pursuits. The setting of Robert E. Sherwood’s 1936 romantic comedy Idiot’s Delight, a failing luxury hotel in the Italian Alps called the Hotel Monte Gabriele, initially seems to be full of idiots: newlyweds on their honeymoon, a group of burlesque singers and their manager, a blissfully genial waiter, and a couple of ornery managers sour over the lack of business. And when a spark flies between a beautiful and mysterious Russian and a smooth-talking American showbusinessman, while the other guests dance, drink, eat, and sing, there’s another piece of juicy plot that can be used to distract themselves, and the audience, from the war that’s literally raging outside the hotel windows.
Bollywood is the force that brings two stories of self-exploration together in Same Same But Different. After her mother’s life is changed by a run-in with the world of Indian cinema, Aisha—a Canadian-born actress—realizes that she must face her prejudices about nationality and skin colour in order to rise to stardom.
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!
Told through South American music and dance, Arrabal is the story of a young girl desperate to find out what happened to her father after the Argentine military made him disappear when she was just a baby. Her search leads her to the Tango clubs of Buenos Aires, where she discovers both the truth, and herself.
Even though Billy was born deaf, his family strived to raise him the same way they would have a hearing-able child. Tribes sees him learn what it is to hear and be heard when he meets Sylvia, a young woman who is gradually becoming deaf herself. Presented by A Theatrefront Production, Canadian Stage, and Theatre Aquarius, this emotional play stars Stephen Drabicki and Holly Lewis.
Sterling Studio Theatre calls issues of morality into question with its production of George Bernard Shaw’s Mrs. Warren’s Profession. When Kitty Warren’s daughter Vivie finds out just how her mother has been supporting their family, she must re-evaluate her views on sex, money, and power.
The image most commonly associated with Franz Kafka’s most famous work, the 1915 novella The Metamorphosis, is that of a giant insect trapped inside a bare, dirty room with a rotting apple lodged in his back—the bug was formerly a man named Gregor Samsa, and the room was formerly his bedroom. As we all know, this distressing and inexplicable transformation from man to bug happened in an instant, although its emotional and literary after-effects have been haunting English students ever since.
The stage adaptation of The Metamorphosis by the Icelandic company Vesturport Theatre and London’s Lyric Hammersmith, on now at the Royal Alexandra Theatre with Mirvish Productions, is much more watchable than this introduction would suggest. The only bug you’ll see in this version is a trick of light and shadow. And that’s not the only trick up this show’s sleeve (or perhaps antenna?).
What would happen if two characters from different books were to meet up outside their narratives? This is the basis of Brian Friel’s Afterplay, which explores the hypothetical relationship between two Anton Chekhov creations—Sonya from Uncle Vanya and Andrey from Three Sisters. For the price of admission, you’ll also get to indulge in authentic Russian tea during the performance, courtesy of the Campbell House.
Recently, the Storefront Theatre (which received an honourable mention in our 2013 Heroes section) found itself literally underwater when a water main break dumped seven feet of water in its basement. A campaign to help the indie venue recover from the flood is ongoing, but in the meantime, the show must (and will) go on: its production of SHREW, a witty adaptation of Shakespeare’s comedy of the sexes using puppets and a Klondike Gold Rush setting, will close out its run at Theatre Passe Muraille.