Independent Creators Cooperative: The Best Things Come in Threes
What makes the already difficult task of starting an indie theatre company in Toronto seem even more intimidating, if not impossible, is the number of other indie artists and companies who have also decided to take on this difficult and seemingly impossible task. Though it’s encouraging to have a healthy wave of young artists practicing and producing their own work, the number of small companies in the city brings its own set of challenges: increased competition for audiences, resources, space, and time—so much so that last year the Toronto Fringe Festival held a tent talk entitled Please Don’t Start a Theatre Company.
The Theatre Centre has responded to these challenges with its BMO incubator space and the Independent Creators Cooperative, which provides three emerging companies with six weeks of development, as well as funding and administrative support from The Theatre Centre and two other established companies, Theatre Smith-Gilmour and Why Not Theatre. This spring, the result is an intriguing trio of approximately one-hour shows: Business as Usual, Ralph + Lina, and Death Married My Daughter. All three will be in rotation at The Theatre Centre until May 18, and all have been heavily influenced by physical theatre and the Jacques Lecoq School in Paris—but that said, they have very little else in common.
Learn about a little-known bit of Toronto’s history with a theatre installation on the very spot where it all began in 1804. The Speedy tells the story of HMS Speedy, its passengers, and its doomed trip across Lake Ontario. When a Chippewa man is murdered by a white fur trader, the justice system is slow to react. The victim’s impatient brother Ogetonicut exacts revenge, killing the fur trader. Justice moves more quickly this time, and 20 members of the court system board a ship that will take them to the trial in Newcastle—but it sinks en route, leaving the case forever unsettled.
Simply the Best Live Podcast
We here at Torontoist only want what’s best for you, and that’s why we suggest you attend Simply the Best Live Podcast. There you’ll see a first-rate collection of stand-up comedians, musicians, character actors, and more. It promises to be the best of times! Heidi Brander, Bob Kerr, Todd Graham, Kathleen Phillips-Locke, Suitcase Sam, Dan Bingham, and Christina Walkinshaw are just a few of the many featured acts.
CineMacabre: Wolf Creek 2
Just when you thought it was safe to go to the Outback, someone starts offing campers and hikers again. Rue Morgue goes back Down Under to get slashy with the amusingly psychopathic Mick Taylor (John Jarratt) at this month’s CineMacabre screening of Wolf Creek 2. This isn’t your typical night at the movies—there will be prizes, drinks (of the alcoholic variety), and gory goodies at the concession stand. Stick around afterwards for a special Skype interview with the filmmaker!
A Journey Into the Forbidden City
If The Forbidden City: Inside the Court of China’s Emperors has a mascot, it’s Emperor Yongzheng. The image of the 18th-century Chinese ruler dominates the promotional material of the exhibition, which is one of the centrepieces of the Royal Ontario Museum’s centennial year. His portrait certainly has visual appeal, but Yongzheng is also a figure associated with surprising elements of life within the former imperial palace.
Vulnerability, Suffering, and Strength
“The greatest art always returns you to the vulnerabilities of the human situation.” – Francis Bacon
“In the human figure one can express more completely one’s feelings about the world than in any other way.” – Henry Moore
These quotations, which welcome visitors to “Francis Bacon and Henry Moore: Terror and Beauty,” immediately establish the exhibition’s tone and focus. Each artist’s distortions of the human figure, shaped by their wartime experiences, capture the vulnerability of our mortal forms.
Forest of Reading, Festival of Trees
In the Ontario Library Association’s Forest of Reading program, children are encouraged to read and then vote for their favourite books in their age category. The competition culminates in the Festival of Trees, a two-day event that will see the announcement of each winner as well as many fun book-related activities, including workshops with featured authors.
Vitals: Immersive Theatre That’s Close to Home
Outside the March seems to be Toronto’s favourite indie theatre company. Director Mitchell Cushman built up quite a buzz after consecutive hits Mr. Marmalade and Terminus, both of which were praised for their unconventional use of space (the former was set in a kindergarten classroom, the latter placed both the actors and the audience on the stage of the Royal Alexandra Theatre), so his next project had been highly anticipated. Vitals, written by Rosamund Small, was the first script for Outside the March developed specifically for a site-specific space, and its original run had to be extended even before opening night. Then, only a few days into the run, it was extended again to June 1. And though Vitals isn’t the best show in Outside the March’s history, there’s a reason that tickets have been flying.
Of Human Bondage Is Striking, but Not Subtle
As the world premiere of a stage adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham’s famous novel, Soulpepper Theatre’s production of Of Human Bondage is the jewel of the company’s 2014 season. Not that it’s a perfect play—but it does flex the strength of Soulpepper’s acting ensemble, design team, and, well, budget. The arresting opening scene sees the play’s main character, Philip Carey, well-played by Gregory Prest, enter by rising through a trapdoor centre stage while other members of the cast appear to dissect a cadaver (they’re actually crossing bows across a double bass, which is lying horizontally on an operating table). A spotlight casts Philip’s shadow against a red-brick wall, so that the bows appear to saw through his stiff, upright body. Setting the tone for the rest of the production, the scene is striking, but not incredibly subtle.
A God in Need of Help Gets Some From Its Friends
We’re nearing the end of Tarragon Theatre‘s 2013/2014 season, and it appears we’ve also arrived at the final stage of its theme: love, loss, wine, and the gods. But that doesn’t mean the Tarragon, which has seen some major hits this year in Lungs, The Double, and The Ugly One, is phoning it in. Sean Dixon’s ambitious new script, A God in Need of Help, has produced not only one of the longer plays in the Tarragon season, but also easily the most dense and layered, mixing as it does historical fact and fiction with timeless issues of art, religion, and politics. Fortunately, that makes it the strongest mainstage show of the season thus far (we’ll see how Tarragon’s final show, The God That Comes, co-created by and featuring Hawksley Workman, performs in June).
Talk about striking while the iron is hot—David James Brock’s Snow Bride is hitting the stage just in time for wedding season… and some other stuff in the news. When no one shows up for Helena’s bachelorette party, she turns to her oldest and most trusted friend: cocaine. Using humour, the play touches on the difficulties surrounding a life of addiction and its effects on interpersonal relationships.
Big Ideas Festival
What’s brewing in Toronto’s theatre community? We’re glad you asked! The Big Ideas Festival is showcasing works-in-progress from the aspiring playwrights in the Alumnae Theatre’s New Play Development Group. Over the course of five days, the work of eight writers will take the stage—some full-length plays, and some selected scenes from upcoming productions.
The Last Confession
If you’re in the mood for a murder mystery with a religious twist, you’ll want to check out The Last Confession. David Suchet (Poirot) and Richard O’Callaghan star in this play about the mysterious death of Pope John Paul I in 1978. After only 33 days in office, and having warned three cardinals that they would be replaced, he is found dead. Though the Vatican refuses to open an official investigation, Cardinal Benelli goes out in search of the truth.