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Posts tagged ‘Aim for the Tangent Theatre’

In Conversation with Wesley Colford & Nicole Power – Playwright & Performer of Heart of Steel at the Next Stage Theatre Festival

Interview by Ryan Quinn

RQ: I’m here with Wesley Colford, producer, as well as writer of book and lyrics for Heart of Steel on now at the Next Stage Theatre Festival; as well as Nicole Power, who is playing Amelia in the production. The show is directed by Luke Brown and presented by Aim For the Tangent Theatre. So, do you want to tell me a little bit about the show?

WC: Sure! The show deals with a group of women working at the Sydney Steel Plant in Cape Breton during World War II. Sydney was the biggest steel plant in Canada at the time, it produced more than fifty percent of Canada’s steel during the war, and this was the first time women were allowed to work in these conditions, working in industrial labor. They were working in all sorts of positions in the plant. And it’s presented as a full musical comedy! So if that doesn’t get your toes tappin’…

The story deals with Nicole’s character Amelia who is a young lady who has grown up in Cape Breton and desperately wants to leave the small town and spread her wings a little, but is forced to stay and work at the plant in order to support her family and save their house. She goes through a huge journey, meets several other ladies who she forms a bond with and we get to see all of them grow. We see the effect of them getting more independence. We see how the war affects not just the people who’ve left, but also those who’ve stayed behind. Everything changes.

How World War II was a catalyst for change is something that’s been addressed in a lot of literature and film, but I think that from a musical theatre standpoint, this is a story that’s never been told. I think the form of the musical is a way to present that’s quite exciting. There’s a lot of fun to be had with it. The music certainly plays on the heartstrings as well as leaving a lot of room for comedy and dance.

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RQ: It’s a big show with a huge cast. You’ve got a lot of musical numbers. It’s very visually expansive and exciting. What do you think is the benefit doing this for a story that wouldn’t normally get told about women in Canadian history, about the working class in Canadian history, about the Maritimes in Canadian history, or about Canadian history in general! These stories aren’t normally told in a form like this.

WC: I think it’s something that I both love and am frustrated by about Canadians is that we’re so humble. All of our achievements, all of our heroes are very understated. And I do love that, as a human. However, as a nationalist, I wish we had a little more of what the Americans are so good at. That kind of propaganda, beating the drum and waving the flag. Of course, that’s an exaggeration, but I think there are so many things in our history that we don’t celebrate or know about outside of a heritage minute. So, being able to tell this story is a privilege and it’s a way to show this great history in a format that’s more palatable than an essay. It’s very accessible and fun, but there’s a lot of details that soak through.

NP: Wes, Hillary Scott, and Sam White (who were all also a part of the original production) would talk about doing the show in Sydney and having women come and speak to them who had worked at the steel plant. They were in their eighties and they never dreamed that their story would be told on any platform. So, when it’s done in such a way that celebrates women, and the work force, and the East Coast lifestyle, it’s so rewarding to be a part of. I’m from Newfoundland. I’m an East-Coaster myself and I feel that it’s a hard thing to capture, the essence of East Coast culture and mentality, the welcoming vibe. The music in this show has such an East Coast feel to it. It feels like the folk songs that everybody knows.

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RQ: Yes! I wanted to ask you about the music in this show being “kitchen music”, the kind of music you’d play at a party in someone’s kitchen out East. What do you think is the importance of that in Maritime culture, to these people?

WC: Music, culture, and community are so intertwined there, that they’re the same thing. That’s something I definitely tried to do with this show.

NP: Music goes hand in hand with everybody from the East Coast, I feel. When I moved to Toronto, and I’d tell people I was from Newfoundland, they’d ask me if I played seventeen instruments, and I don’t, unfortunately!

WC: Only fifteen.

NP: Exactly. And luckily this cast is full of people who are so musically talented; who can play accordion, Rosie Dykstra can play a fiddle by ear and she’s twelve! Music at that time was so important to help people get through tough situations, and I think Wes really uses that in the show. Before the soldiers ship off to war, we have a big ol’ kitchen party. What I love about it is that it’s not a traditional musical in the sense that everything pauses and there’s a dance number, it’s more organic. It comes out of the characters, and there’s no apologizing for it, and there’s no sense of perfection in the movement. It’s very free, and I feel like it really resembles East Coast life.

WC: There really aren’t many moments where everyone is doing the same thing. At one point we’ve got twenty people onstage, but everyone exists in their own ecosystem. We’ve got highland in this corner, and there are other people doing a polka over here, there’s a chain weaving through the middle. Amanda Nuttall, our choreographer, has done an amazing job of capturing those different styles and making it very personal for each character.

I think that’s why it works to tell this story as a musical, because everything is so inseparable. The music, the lifestyle, they just make sense together.

RQ: Nicole, what can you tell me about your character, Amelia?

NP: Amelia is the oldest of four kids. Her father passed away a few years ago, and he worked at the steel plant in Sydney. We see Amelia at the beginning of the play expressing that she needs to get out of the small town. There must be something more than going to school and becoming a mother and wife. She longs for something else. But then she gets the news that she has to stay and help her family, which she’s happy to do, and working at the steel plant helps her find a new love for her home. She meets women who inspire her, shock her, who are nothing like she’s ever encountered before. I think that her journey is fueled by love: love for adventure, love for her family, love for friendships, love for experience. That’s what pulls her in so many different directions. Eventually, she decides that she does love home. It’s not the small-minded town that she thought it was. The experience propels her forward in life, but keeps her rooted at home.

RQ: This show was first produced in Sydney, where the actual steel plant is. Do you want to tell me a bit about that process?

WC: About a year and a half ago, I moved back home to Sydney to take over as Artistic Director of a brand new theatre space that was previously a church. I thought I was going back for one show, but we’ve done nineteen major productions in the last year and a half. So, when I was home and looking for ways to engage people and showcase theatre to this community that had never had a professional theatre, this was a story I stumbled on in my research. I was amazed that nobody had talked about this major social development where women came and took over for a few years. It was a very fast writing process, I put pen to paper for the first time on January 1st of last year and we opened the first production at the Highland Arts theatre on March 23rd. That was all the music being written, the book, all the rehearsals, all with community theatre performers. I was very lucky with all the talent out on the East Coast. It ended up being extremely well-received and sold out once it opened, so we brought it back through the summer, which was wonderful. Again, it was so great to see this whole community excited about something in their past that nobody was talking about. These women in their eighties were coming up to us after the show saying that they never thought they’d be acknowledged. It was very moving.

Although it was a great experience within that community, I didn’t know if it could necessarily stretch beyond that, because it is so personal. However, I was looking to do something in Toronto again, so I submitted to Next Stage, and it was accepted! I called them to make sure they knew what the show was, a two-hour musical with a forty-person cast! I was certainly scared, but very quickly we got Luke Brown on board to direct, we got a team around the project that I knew could handle it, and we got an incredible cast, a mere twenty-one actors this time. Because of my responsibilities out East, I’ve been out there most of the Fall, but I knew this show was in great hands.

I’ve known Nicole since 2007. We were in the same class in the musical theatre performance programme at Sheridan. I’m so excited to have her on board. The whole cast is amazing, and it’s been so great to have more time to work on it, and with really wonderful people: EJ Scott, Jan Smith, people who have been at Shaw, Stratford, Mirvish, Soulpepper, Charlottetown. It baffles my mind. We’ve really worked on tightening up the show. The script has benefited hugely from getting this second production, and from these people.

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RQ: What are your hopes for the new year, theatre-wise?

WC: (laughs) More funding!

NP: I’m really excited to get involved in more productions of new Canadian work. I’ve really enjoyed that in the last year.

WC: I’m very privileged in my position, to have an outlet in Cape Breton to promote theatre in my hometown. I get to help people there see things they’ve not been able to see. Though it’s been great to be back in Toronto for this show. I hope to continue to be back for projects, and I’d love to travel to other parts of Canada, for that matter.

I’d love for something else to happen with this show, beyond Next Stage. I know it’s much easier in a festival setting where people will work on something just because they believe in it, but I’d love if someone else decided to work on it.

I spoke earlier about Canadians being timid to tell our own stories, and I think that’s especially true in musical theatre. Americans use that art form as a way to champion their own history, and their heroes. Canada does that in smaller ways, for example with Billy Bishop Goes to War, but we need to continue to do that or else these stories will get lost. We’ll end up consumed by Netflix, American cinema, even European cinema; and we’ll lose track of who we are. That’s something I believe in.

RQ: Thanks so much, and congratulations on the show!

WC: Thank you!

 

Heart of Steel

Presented as part of the Next Stage Theatre Festival

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Who:
Presented by: Aim for the Tangent Theatre
Book, Music, Lyrics: Wesley Colford
Director: Luke Brown
Musical Director: Marion Abbott
Choreographer: Amanda Nuttall
Featuring: Nicole Power, Jan Alexandra Smith, Eliza Jane Scott, Mercedes Morris, Rose Napoli, Greg Campbell, Hilary Scott, Richard Lam, Sam White, Amy Marie Wallace, Vicktoria Adam, Dan Abrahamson, Kenton Blythe, Hilary June Hart, Toshi Murohashi, Rosie Dykstra, Ducolon Banville, Geoff Whynot, David DiFrancesco, Benjamin Camenzuli, Courtney Fiddis
Set/Lighting Designer: Joe Pagnan

What: 1943: the boys are overseas and it’s up to Cape Breton’s female force to hold the fort! Hear the tale of the Sydney Steel Plant told through a blend of traditional East Coast Folk and ’40’s swingin boogie woogie.

Where: Factory Theatre Mainspace (125 Bathurst St.)

When:
January 12 06:45 PM*  buy tickets
January 13 08:45 PM  buy tickets
January 15 09:45 PM  buy tickets
January 16 06:15 PM  buy tickets
January 17 06:45 PM  buy tickets

* Talk Back after the show

Tickets: $15.00

Connect:

www.aimforthetangent.com

@AimForTheTan

@MrRyanQuinn

 

On Our Radar TO: Fall in Love with Toronto Theatre this Month

 

Whether it’s with your family, friends, lover, significant-other or you’re treatin’ yo self, we’ve listed our different date suggestions for these lusted-after February shows plus some February events we’re swooning over! These shows are On Our Radar, Toronto, and we think you should Fall in Love With Theatre all over again this February! 

Genesis & Other Stories

Written by Rosamund Small, presented by Aim for the Tangent Theatre

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Did the nudie promo pictures convince you yet? If you didn’t catch Genesis & Other Stories in their sold-out run in last summer’s Fringe Festival, lucky for you they have brought it back for a February re-mount in the Red Sandcastle Theatre after a revised run in the Hamilton Fringe. If you did catch it, you know you’ll want to see it again! Laugh-out-loud funny, thought-provoking and feel-good family fun… well… It’ll get you talking!

This is our On the Laugh-track to Love date recommendation.

Check out our interview we did with playwright Rosamund Small to find out more about the show. https://inthegreenroom.ca/2013/06/25/we-chat-with-rosamund-small-writer-of-genesis-other-stories/

“After his father’s death, Christopher, a theology student, leads a misfit cast of amateur actors in a production of his late father’s play: a hyper-sexed version of Adam and Eve set in 1960’s USA.  Slapstick, satire, and meta-theatre frame a surprisingly complex story about lonely people trying to fill roles that do not suit us. Christopher tries to convince everyone including himself that he is committed to his religion and its strict views on sexuality, and capable of directing and producing his father’s bizarre script. Despite everyone’s best intentions, a break up, forgotten lines, and a crisis of faith conspire to sabotage the production. The primary focus of Genesis is on laughter, but the show is only funny because of the pain and struggle of Chris and the other characters. A hilarious romp that is sure to get you thinking, whether you’re religious, theatrical, or somewhere in between.”

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“Comically disastrous… very funny. Things could only go worse if the theatre collapsed.” – Jon Kaplan, NOW Magazine

Where: RED Sandcastle Theatre (922 Queen Street East)
When: February 5th-15th Wednesday-Friday 8pm, Saturdays 7pm & 9pm
Tickets: $15 at the Door, $10 in Advance at www.totix.ca or call (416) 845-9411
For more information, visit: www.aimforthetangent.com

Shrew

Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare, presented by Red One Theatre Collective

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Killer cast, intriguing promotional poster, “puppetry & Vaudeville charm” set in the Klondike? After being big fans of After Miss Julie, we’re excited to see what Red One Theatre brings us next and Shrew seems to be just the ticket.

This is our Rowdy Buddies at the Shakespeare Show date recommendation.

“The beautiful and gentle Bianca has no shortage of admirers, but her mother insists that she will not marry until her older sister, Katharina, is betrothed. The only problem is that Katharina is the wildest, loudest, maddest shrew in the Klondike. It’s a low-down showdown with honky-tonk, puppetry, slapstick, and Vaudeville charm, and one of these gunslingers will either go broke or strike gold.

In his directorial debut, rising Stratford Festival star and RedOne Theatre veteran Tyrone Savage gathers together Toronto’s premier emerging talents for the first time in this one-of-a-kind production.”

Where: The Storefront Theatre (955 Bloor Street West)
When: February 15th – March 2nd, 2014 8pm (Sunday PWYC Matinees – 2pm)
Tickets: $19.99 Advance tickets available @ www.secureaseat.com

The Way Back to Thursday

Written by Rob Kempson, presented by Theatre Passe Muraille

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Call your Grandma, call your mother… Hell, call EVERYONE and take them to the theatre this month. Rob Kempson has written a charming, funny and moving musical about unconditional love that will have you beaming one minute and reaching for a box of tissues the next.

This is our Reconnecting With Family date recommendation.

“Inspired by the traditional song cycle form, The Way Back to Thursday is a musical about unconditional love that crosses generations, genders and lifetimes.

Cameron and his Grandmother have a special tradition – movie nights every Thursday.  Together they escape into the glamour and romance of the Golden Age of film.  But as Cameron grows, so does the distance between them.”

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Where: Theatre Passe Muraille (16 Ryerson)
When: Now to February 8th
Tickets: Pwyc-$32.50. 416-504-7529

The Ugly One

Written by Marius von Mayenburg, translated by Maja Zade. Co-production by Theatre Smash and Tarragon Theatre

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Sharp, odd, hilarious and the tightest staging, design and performances that we’ve seen in one show in a while – The Ugly One is a must-see before it closes mid-February. We can’t and we won’t stop chatting about it. Theatre Isn’t Dead said it perfectly: “Non-theatre folks will dig it too. I can almost promise that.” –Blog Theatre Isn’t Dead.

We deem this our Theatrical Rejuvenation date aka. Win-over-that-friend-who-is-too-cool-for-theatre-with-the-cool-theatre-show date recommendation.

“You can’t sell anything with that face.” A razor sharp satire about getting ahead in the world. With mesmerizing speed, this award-winning work by one of Germany’s hottest playwrights catapults us into a narcissistic world obsessed with beauty, image and plastic surgery.”

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Where: Tarragon Theatre Extra Space
When: Now until February 16th
Tickets: http://tarragontheatre.com/season/1314/the-ugly-one/

Of Mice and Morro and Jasp

Created and performed by Heather Marie Annis and Amy Lee, presented by U.N.I.T. Productions and Factory Theatre

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U.N.I.T. Productions is excited to announce the remount of Of Mice and Morro and Jasp!

Morro and Jasp feel the pinch of the recent economic downturn and decide to try to make ends meet by staging John Steinbeck’s classic tale Of Mice and Men. Can the clown sisters stick to the story? Will they both make it out alive? This winter, find out for yourself!

This is our Friends Until The End date recommendation.

Where: Factory Studio Theatre
When: Jan 28 to Feb 8, Tue-Sat 8PM, Thur 1PM, Sat 2PM
Tickets: $25 Regular Price / $20 Student, Senior, Arts Worker PWYC Preview Jan 28 www.factorytheatre.ca 416-504-9971

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Read our latest interview with Co-creators & performers Heather Marie Annis and Amy Lee here: https://inthegreenroom.ca/2014/01/29/of-mice-and-morro-and-jasp/

Idiot’s Delight

Written by Robert E. Sherwood, presented by Soulpepper Theatre

Courtney Ch'ng Lancaster, Hailey Gillis, Gregory Prest & Dan Chameroy. Photo Credit: Cylla von Tiedemann

Courtney Ch’ng Lancaster, Hailey Gillis, Gregory Prest & Dan Chameroy. Photo Credit: Cylla von Tiedemann

With 1920’s flair, song, dance and love amongst wartime, this is our Indulging in Delights date recommendation.

“A cast of wonderfully eccentric and international guests – countesses, arms dealers, showgirls, revolutionaries, charlatans and lovers – spend a fateful weekend in a resort hotel in the Italian Alps. While songs are sung and dances danced and loves rekindled, the dark clouds of war come rolling in.”

Where: Young Centre for the Performing Arts
When: January 29th – March 1st
Tickets: http://soulpepper.ca/performances/14_season/Idiot’s_Delight.aspx

Read our latest Artist Profile with Paolo Santalucia & Courtney Ch’ng Lancaster “From Academy to Company in Soulpepper’s “Idiot’s Delight” here: https://inthegreenroom.ca/artist-profiles/

the dreamer examines his pillow

By John Patrick Shanley, presented by JR Theatre Company

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the dreamer examines his pillow is a surreal, intimate look at the beautiful and dark forces of love. The play explores the aftermath of love, whether it’s after an explosive affair between two lovers, or the dwindling, harsh lack of love from a widowed father to his daughter. Poetic, lyrical and rough – the dreamer examines his pillow is one of contemporary theatre’s finest looks at intimacy and need. It sounds to us like the perfect antithesis to Hallmark’s version of Valentine’s Day!

This is our Dark Surrealist Valentine’s Day date recommendation.

Where: The Box Toronto (89 Niagara Street)
When: February 7th-16th Fridays & Saturdays 8pm, Sundays 2pm
Tickets: dreamer.brownpapertickets.com 

LABOUR

Written by Eric Welch and Ryan Welch. Based on the original short story by Ryan Welch with further realization by The Coyote Collective Company, presented by Coyote Collective

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LABOUR looks at the Sisyphean life of factory day-workers, who see no choices but to go to work every day, and have resigned themselves to a life of the same. For these four characters, commodification has completely changed the way they think about life, love, and happiness.

This is our Socially Conscious date recommendation.

Where: Theatre Passe-Muraille Backspace
When: February 5th to the 9th. 5th-7th 7:30pm, 8th 2pm & 7:30pm, 9th 2pm
Tickets: $20, Student/Senior $15, PWYC: Saturday, February 8th 2:00pm, Opening and Media Night: Wednesday, February 5th
Tickets available for purchase at artsboxoffice.ca or at the door. 

Events We’re Crushin’ On:

The 35th Rhubarb Festival

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Buddies in Bad Times Theatre presents their 35th annual festival of new works in contemporary theatre, performance art, dance, and music. For two weeks artists transform the Buddies neighbourhood into a hotbed of experimentation, sharing new works in contemporary theatre, performance art, dance, and music with adventure-loving audiences.

New to the festival this year is a new series of Open Space Projects will animate unexpected spaces around the Buddies neighbourhood and make new artistic connections between five historic queer institutions here in Toronto.

When: February 12th-23rd
Where: Buddies in Bad Times Theatre & around the neighbourhood
Tickets: Open Space Projects & Artist Talks – Free
Young Creators Unit – PWYC
Week One Mainstage Projects – $10
Week Two Evening Passes – $20

Roar

Written & performed by Spencer Charles Smith, presented by Straight Camp

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“Roar – a solo play about beefy, burly, brawny love”

SYNOPSIS – A boy’s campy quest for furry love, Spencer will explore his unapologetic desire for ‘bearish’ men, critique the problematic spectrum of identities within the Bear community (Bear, Cub, Otter, Panda, Muscle-Bear, etc.) and hopefully deconstruct notions of hegemonic masculinity.

Above all, it’s a love letter.

This is a staged-reading of Spencer’s latest draft of Roar and he is eager to hear your feedback. A talk-back will follow the presentation. And drinks. Featuring a special pre-show presentation: “Kid: A Queer Fable”, written, illustrated and performed by Katie Sly

Where: Videofag (187 Augusta Ave)
When: Wednesday February 5th 8pm, Thursday February 6th 8pm
Tickets: PWYC (at the door)

Theatre on a Theme: Love

Conceived and Directed by Drew O’Hara, presented by Everybody to the Theatre Company

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“Six actors, 18 theatre pieces that vary in length from 10 minutes to 10 seconds. What do you get? A hilarious, heart-wrenching, fast-paced, occasionally musical, exciting night at the theatre. Following the success of Theatre on a Theme: FAILURE, the Everybody to the Theatre Company gang will bring you Theatre on a Theme: LOVE, just in time for Valentine’s Day.”

Where: Unit 102 Theatre (376 Dufferin Street)
When: Sunday February 23rd 2pm & 8pm
Tickets: http://www.eventbrite.ca/o/everybody-to-the-theatre-company-4737180757?s=20682528

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope”

Written by Ian Doescher, presented by Red One Theatre Collective and Confessions of a Redheaded Coffeeshop Girl

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A one-night only staged reading of the classic sci-fi epic told in the Bard’s style.

“This sublime retelling of George Lucas’s epic Star Wars in the style of the immortal Bard of Avon. The Saga of a wise (Jedi) knight and an evil (Sith) lord, of a beautiful princess held captive and a young hero coming of age, Star Wars abounds with all the valor and villainy of Shakespeare’s greatest plays.” This is the play you are looking for. Lightsaber fights included! Themed drinks/food/entertainment too – say whaaat!

Where: The Storefront Theatre (955 Bloor Street West)
When: February 7th Doors at 7pm, Show at 8pm
Tickets
: $10 in advance online www.secureaseat.com or $15 at the door. 

The Howland Company Reading Group – February:

February 9th Charles Mee’s “Big Love”, February 23rd Jez Butterworth’s “Jerusalem”

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“Bi-weekly, The Howland Company hosts an open event called The Reading Group, where artists are encouraged to gather, meet, reconnect and work with fellow members of the Toronto theatre community and ultimately read a play together.

The readings are a laid-back, social way to work with peers and continue to develop our craft. Scripts are provided and parts are assigned and exchanged on the fly. All are welcome to participate in reading or sit back and listen.”

Check out the history of The Reading Group, including all plays past and future, at: http://howlandcompanytheatre.com/the-reading-group/.

For event updates: https://www.facebook.com/TheHowlandCompanyTheatre

When: Sunday February 9th & Sunday February 23rd 7:30pm
Where: Location is posted on the Facebook Event page: https://www.facebook.com/TheHowlandCompanyTheatre
Tickets: Free

On Our Radar TO: Get Stoked for Theatre this November!

Why is theatre relevant? Whether it allows you to re-connect with your inner child, be exposed to a new perspective, challenges your pre-conceptions or allows you to let your guard down, whether you’re looking for a sexy night out, a night to sing and dance with childish glee without feeling out of place, or simply looking to be entertained and connect with those around you through classic love stories and a beer in hand, these productions are On Our Radar, Toronto, and we think you should get stoked for theatre this November!

Savage in Limbo

Written by John Patrick Shanley, presented by Bob Kills Theatre

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With a newly extended run, we’ve heard nothing but exciting things about this production. Bold, brave work, exciting use of a new venue to the Toronto scene (The Downstage), and some incredible talent that must be noted!

“John Patrick Shanley is an Oscar, Tony and Pulitzer prize-winning writer of stage and screen. He is best known for the 1988 film Moonstruck, and the 2004 play Doubt, which was also adapted into an Oscar-nominated film in 2008.

Bob Kills Theatre is an experience in visceral theatre. Founded by Melissa D’Agostino and Diana Bentley, the company strives to present unique, often surreal, texts in interesting venues. With an emphasis on bold stories and the virtuosity of performance, Bob Kills Theatre aims to challenge, engage, entertain and instigate.”

Various 32-year olds seek love, sex and a way out of their dead-end lives.

Where: The Downstage, 798 Danforth

When: **Extended Run** October 22nd – Thursday November 7th 8pm.

Tickets: $20 savageintoronto.com

The Double

A TheatreRUN production presented by Tarragon Theatre

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Adapted from the novella by Dostoevsky, created and performed by Adam Paolozza, Arif Mirabdolbaghi and Viktor Lukawski, we’ve heard this production described as hilarious, whimsical, psychologically complex, haunting and magical. If that doesn’t catch your interest, maybe this delightful trailer will. Catch this gem of a remount before it closes!

“When are you no longer yourself? The anxious government clerk Golyadkin is plagued by a stranger who looks just like him but is more daring, romantic and brash. Inspired by Dostoevsky’s novella The Double, this theatrical triangle between a neurotic, his doppelganger and a stand-up bass transports us to 19th century Russian high society and Golyadkin’s labyrinthine search for his identity.

After a hit independent run last season that saw a Dora Award win for lighting design, Tarragon warmly welcomes this dark satire about our deepest fears of losing our identity.”

Where: Tarragon Theatre Extraspace

When: October 15th-November 24th

Tickets: 416-531-1827 Tarragon Box Office

Dirty Butterfly

Written by Debbie Tucker Green, presented by Bound To Create Theatre as part of Obsidian Theatre’s 2013/14 Presentation Series

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If there is one production we have been excited about for its first professional Canadian Theatre debut, it’s Bound to Create Theatre’s production of Dirty Butterfly as part of Obsidian Theatre’s 2013/14 presentation series. Since its first run at the 2012 Toronto Fringe Festival, we’ve heard nothing but incredible things of this arresting play by British playwright Debbie Tucker Green and after seeing its opening, this hypnotic play is not to be missed!

“This drama explores voyeurism, power and guilt by confronting the collateral damage of domestic abuse and racial economic divide.”

Where: Aki Studio Theatre, 585 Dundas E.

When: Previews Oct. 30-31st, Opens November 1st and runs to November 17th. Tues-Sat 8pm, Sun 2pm

Tickets: $20-$25 Preview 15$, November 10th PWYC. www.boundtocreate.com

Moss Park

Written by George F. Walker, presented by Green Thumb Theatre/Theatre Passe Muraille

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There’s a new George F. Walker in town and with some pretty incredible young Canadian talent as its leads, local talent Haley McGee and Vancouver native Graeme McComb, and we’re into it!

“Moss Park is an intimate look at two young people as they confront an uncertain future.  In this follow up to Tough!, George F. Walker takes Bobby and Tina on a journey as they fight to map a life that doesn’t include poverty.”

Where: Theatre Passe Muraille, 16 Ryerson

When: Previews Runs November 5th-16th, Tues-Sat 7:30pm, Mat Sat 2pm.

Tickets: $15-$32.50, Matinee PWYC, 416-504-7529, passemuraille.on.ca.

Alligator Pie

Featuring poetry by Dennis Lee, presented by Soulpepper

Soulpepper's Alligator Pie in rehearsal, Raquel Duffy, Mike Ross, Gregory Prest. Photo Credit: Nathan Kelly

This needed a remount in the most heart-felt way. We saw this last fall and what a treat it was to watch this talented group of artists weave the children’s poems of Dennis Lee together with heart, humour and glee-inducing creativity. This family-friendly production is definitely enjoyable for all ages on so many levels as it celebrates imagination and invention.

Where: Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 50 Tank House Lane
When: Opens November 3rd and runs to December 1st
Tickets: $23, Rush $5-$22 416-866-8666, www.soulpepper.ca

Romeo and Juliet

Written by William Shakespeare, presented by Shakespeare BASH’d

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If you know anything about Shakespeare BASH’d it’s the long line-up of Fringe hopefuls trying to snag the last few tickets at the door of their two sold-out Fringe hits with both their 2012 production of Taming of the Shrew and Much Ado About Nothing this past Summer at the Victory Café. If you managed to get your tickets early, then you got to see what all of the hype was about – a clean, story-focused Shakespeare, chalk-full of boisterous local talent, all of which you could enjoy with a drink in hand. Well BASH’d is about to present their first tragedy outside of the Fringe circuit and bring us to the incredible 3030 Dundas West in the Junction, inviting us to grab a beer (perhaps from one of the 3030’s many local craft beer selections) and reconnect with Shakespeare’s greatest story of original young love-at-first-sight.

Where: 3030 Dundas West in the Junction

When: November 19th-23rd Tuesday-Friday 7:30pm, Closing Saturday at 4pm

Tickets: $16-$21 with advanced purchase highly recommended* http://www.shakespearebashd.com/tickets.html

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Mature Young Adults

By Wesley J. Colford, presented by Aim for the Tangent

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We had the pleasure of catching this gem at the Atlantic Fringe Festival on a visit to Halifax this September and we’re very interested to see it in its next stage of development in Toronto at the intimate Videofag space. Andrea Nemetz from the Chronicle Herald expresses our thoughts on Mature Young Adults perfectly: “Everyone has been a teenager in love, or will be. …an astonishingly real look at that most complicated of emotions.”

“This tragi-comic love story continues the theatrical tradition of East Coast playwriting greats David French and Daniel MacIvor with a contemporary twist for the Facebook generation. In a world where labels and gossip fly through cyberspace like lightning, is it possible to love without giving up your identity? Can you escape the container your community places you in?”

Where: Videofag, 187 Augusta Ave.

When: November 20th-24th: 19th-22nd 8pm, 23rd & 24th 4pm & 8pm

Tickets: $15 at the door. Advance tickets available through T.O. Tix www.totix.ca

After Miss Julie

Written by Patrick Marber, presented by Red One Theatre Collective

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If you are looking for a crazy, sexy performance to spice up your life as the temperatures drop… we’re looking to After Miss Julie presented by Red One Theatre Collective. After Miss Julie is a version of Strindberg’s Miss Julie by Patrick Marber, where Marber amps up the power play between Julie, John, and his fiancée Christine to a deliciously dangerous level. The result, a steamy and at times manic and even hilarious power play amongst the class structure of 1945 England. With David Ferry as the director and a cast of some exceptional young local talent (Claire Armstrong, Christopher Morris and Amy Keating), we can’t wait to see what Red One brings to the Storefront this November.

Where: The Storefront Theatre, 955 Bloor Street West

When: November 15th-30th (Preview November 14th) Tuesday-Saturday 8pm, Sundays 2pm

Tickets: $20/ Tuesdays $10/ $15 Preview)

The Sacrifice Zone

Written by Suzie Miller, presented by Theatre Gargantua

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If you’ve never been to a Gargantua performance, now is your chance to catch their world premiere of their 10th cycle of work The Sacrifice Zone. Created through their unique process, Theatre Gargantua is artist driven and works as a creative ensemble, producing projects in two-year cycles. We’re overflowing with excitement to see their latest creation, blending physical theatre, vocal soundscapes and unique storytelling and staging and we think you should be too!

“An industrial explosion shatters lives in an isolated resource town, rocking the balance of the community. While Alex and Hannah struggle with the loss of their partners, Laura and Patrick renegotiate the boundaries of a love affair, and newcomer Elly watches the emotional landscape change as arrestingly as the physical environment does. When everything is at stake, what would you sacrifice to make things right?

The Sacrifice Zone cuts right to fundamental questions of who and what are our responsibilities? And is balance, indeed justice, ever possible? Gargantua explores real world issues of individual, corporate and environmental accountability through their signature physical and critically acclaimed contemporary visual style in this gripping production based on a script by celebrated Australian playwright Suzie Miller.”

Where: Factory Studio Theatre
When: November 13th-30th Wednesday-Saturday 8pm, Saturday November 16th & November 20th 2pm.
Tickets: $19-$25, Buy tickets at www.factorytheatre.ca 

The Gay Heritage Project

Created and performed by Damien Atkins, Paul Dunn & Andrew Kushnir, presented by The GHP Collective in association with Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

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We just caught a glimpse of this promo video, and we can’t wait to catch it mid-November! A collaboration between acclaimed theatre makers Damien Atkins, Paul Dunn, and Andrew Kushnir, The Gay Heritage Project offers audiences a unique chance to discover, celebrate and connect to our queer heritage. Once again, Buddies in Bad Times provides Toronto with relevant, thought-provoking, socially-conscious theatre.

“Three of our country’s most gifted creator/performers set out to answer one question: is there such a thing as gay heritage? In their search, they uncover a rich history not often shared and shine new light on contemporary gay culture. The result is a hilarious and moving homage to the people who came before us and the events that continue to shape our lives.”

Where: Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander Street, near Yonge & College

When: November 17th-December 8th, Tuesday-Saturday 8pm, Saturday & Sunday 2:30pm, Preview Performances 8pm

Tickets: $20-$37

Know something that should be On Our Radar, Toronto? Connect with us through Twitter & Facebook using the hashtag #OnOurRadarTO or send us an email to inthegreenroom.ca@gmail.com. What’s on your Radar? 

A Play-Within-a-Play-Within-A-Church: We Chat with Rosamund Small, Writer of Genesis & Other Stories at the 2013 Toronto Fringe

Interview by Hallie Seline

I met up with Rosamund Small, writer of Genesis & Other Stories, one of the site-specific productions that you can (and should) check out as part of the 2013 Toronto Fringe Festival July 3rd to the 14th. Contrary to what the promo pictures might suggest, should you have seen them tantalizing your facebook walls and twitter accounts, she was fully clothed in a lovely summer outfit, with no cheekily-playful shrubbery keeping her modest. We talked craft beers, excessive amounts of hummus and the world of theatre school and life after on the patio of Grapefruit Moon in the Annex. And then when our hummus plate finally was left bare, we talked about the play she’s been developing for four years and is still apparently re-writing a week before show-time, Genesis & Other Stories…

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HS: Let’s begin. Talk to me about Genesis & Other Stories.

RS: Genesis is a show that I actually started writing when I was really young. I started writing it when I was seventeen. I had just written my first show that I was really proud of, which is hilarious because I was about fifteen/sixteen at the time, but it had like three jokes in it and people really, really laughed and I thought…

HS: “Am I funny?”

RS: Yeah! Exactly. And I mean, you know, it wasn’t some work of genius but that was in high school and I had never really experienced that very specific high of sitting in an audience, and the moment when every body laughed, you could really know, “oh wait, they are really listening”. So I determined that I wanted to write a really balls-to-the-walls comedy. (She laughs.) It was a really long time ago when I wrote the first version of Genesis & Other Stories and did a performance of it in high school. After that, I continued to work on it for the first time through the Paprika Festival with Damien Atkins as my mentor, who, may I say, is just the most wonderful person. He has such a specific sense of humor, which makes me laugh so much all while he’s being incredibly serious. He was such an inspiring person to work with. All of this was, believe it or not, about four years ago. We did a staged reading at Paprika and the improvements I had made on the script and having done the staged reading with a really solid group of actors, meant that I felt like there was something I could clock about that success.

After that I put it away and didn’t really read it, in fact I didn’t read it for about four years. When I finally looked at it again, all I could think was, “Ah, this doesn’t make any sense. This is dreadful!” I had thought it was so funny and cleaver and then four years later you read it and you’re just like “oh god!” But still, we did a table read of it and by just sort of happenstance, Vivien Endicott-Douglas, who was in the table read playing the main character, who is actually supposed to be a man, (she was great, obviously), was really enthusiastic about it. I don’t know, just her response to it… the fact that she, who is so smart and able to analyze scripts in a very thoughtful way, still really loved it… which for someone who thought after four years that this play didn’t make any sense, it was incredibly inspiring.

So I decided that I would ‘fix’ it, and that’s why we brought it back to Paprika. We teamed up together, Vivien and I. It was really her enthusiasm that made this show go back into development. We worked on it last summer and did another staged reading in January and a production with Paprika in March and even now we are still…

HS: Re-writing?

RS: Yes.

HS: Still?

RS: Yes! Oh my gosh, the obsessive re-writing of this show is… crazy. Like it’s crazy. It’s crazy!

HS: And the show is going up in the next week?

RS: Yup.

HS: Alright!

RS: Well it’s really different now. At first it was like, new scenes and new elements, but now it’s really just about clarifying little tiny moments. I think it’s a testament to the actors and to Vivien and to the fact that we’ve all worked so long on this project together, that usually when the change happens we all think “Oh, good! There it is. That makes more sense” and everyone is on the same page about it.

The Cast of Genesis & Other Stories: Jared W. Bishop, Tess Dingman, Hayden Finkelshtain, Katie Housely, Wesley J. Colford

The Cast of Genesis & Other Stories: Jared W. Bishop, Tess Dingman, Hayden Finkelshtain, Katie Housely, Wesley J. Colford

HS: So the cast you have now, you’ve been working with them throughout your development with the show for the past year?

RS: Yes, since November, so they’ve played a really valuable part of the show’s development of where it is today. I think when you trust your actors, I mean you always have to let them try things out and see what works, but when they ultimately don’t know what they are doing, it’s incredibly helpful for the development of the script.

HS: It gives you a chance to see it fleshed out in front of you and realize when the script really isn’t working.

RS: Yes! Totally.

HS: So, let’s talk about the origin of Genesis & Other Stories. Where did the idea for this play come from?

RS: You mean, why would I write about a Christian play within a play? Well, religion and theatre, I think, are really the two obsessive, kind of crazy, kind of amazing things that I see people really dedicate their whole lives to, so I thought, why not put them together. (She laughs). For example, the idea that when you go on stage, you know, if you fail it’s just terrible and it’s often thought of as being just the worst for an actor. So I thought, well great, let’s talk about that. We have some characters who are all about that, who think “Oh I’ll just look stupid” and that fear underlines everything for them, while we have other characters who are working on this play and thinking “Well if I fail, it’s for the grace of God” and “I care about this play because it’s a part of the other thing that people really dedicate their lives to”. The idea of really having to put yourself on the line and having faith in something is a real unity between a lot of the ways that artists think and the ways that many people who are religious think.

HS: You know, I have never really thought of it like that, but it’s kind of true. It’s funny, we were discussing earlier how theatre can be a little cult-like sometimes and it can almost consume you.

RS: Totally.

HS: Well and I guess with both that and religion, there can be a fine line.

RS: Yeah, I think there is. And I also think that there is a really great parallel of following a script, you know, following text, which you don’t realize as having that kind of power. Which is so funny, because I’m a writer, and in our rehearsal room, the writer is present, you can ask me about the text. But ultimately, the writer isn’t present for most theatre and you’re just supposed to trust how you think and interpret it for your time, which is very similar to a lot of bible conversations. So for this to be a bible play, and for the characters to be arguing about how they should literally be following this bible play was just a very appealing little dynamic for me.

HS: So in a description of the show, it’s labeled as a “romp to get you thinking”…

RS: Oh my. Sounds exciting!

HS: Very! Specifically it’s described as follows: “Slapstick, satire and meta-theatre frame a surprisingly complex story about lonely people trying to fill roles that do not suit us.” Can you talk to me about the roles that humor and pain play in Genesis & Other Stories and about your thoughts on using humor to get to something a little more poignant in your writing?

RS: For sure. I mean up until very recently, and I really mean like February, I thought that comic relief was important in a dark story or it’s important to have pain and comedy next to each other, like there should be a moment of pain and a moment of comedy. We went through these drafts of Genesis & Other Stories where everything would just sort of stop, all of the ‘funny’ would stop and we would have our moment of ‘pain’, then the comedy would start again, and I’ve just really shifted my thinking on that. I think that a real comedy is pain, like it’s all mixed in together. It’s not like you inject the drama or place it in other scenes. Anything that really makes someone laugh from his or her gut is probably about pain. So I’m not equipped or interested in, at this moment in time, writing something that makes anyone in the audience want to cry. That’s not where I’m at right now, particularly. But at the same time, I don’t think comedy is a real escape, at all. It’s like facing something in a way that you feel you actually can face it. It’s the fun-house mirror version of reality, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not completely real.

So the fact there there’s a lot in the play about being in the wrong place, not being able to live up to expectations, not being able to be who you are, like there’s queer themes and gender themes and a lot of things about people being in the wrong role and then literally, on stage in a role where they don’t fit or can’t do, those situations can be funny, even though they can be awful or poignant at the same time.

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HS: So you are performing at Trinity St. Paul’s United Church. Are you rehearsing in the church, as well, or are you just performing there for the duration of the Fringe Festival?

RS: We’ve rehearsed on and off a few times in the church, but we haven’t been able to be there every day.

HS: Being labeled as a site-specific show, how has being in the church with the show affected your actors or the play, itself, as you’ve said you’re still re-writing?

RS: I think it forces you to face exactly what you’re talking about, you know? I mean it makes you think, “What church is it? Where are you? What’s out the window? How old is it?” All of those hyperrealism elements come into play with site-specific and that has been really great. But it’s also meant that we can’t get away with anything cheap. I’m not interested in making fun of all religion and I’m not interested in making fun of Christianity, in particular, even. You really want to make fun of a very specific moment and a very specific character with a specific belief and so performing in an actual church has really heightened that kind of specificity for this story. In terms of the actors, I think to have them doing a play in an environment where plays aren’t really ‘supposed’ to be done, they’ve had to work so hard just to make that work, which they do, I think. It’s going to be totally theatrically valid, especially because of Vivien’s work, but it’s just because they are so used to thinking “Well, the lights will light me in a way that draws attention to me” and now it’s like, no, if you’re not good enough, no one will even know what you’re doing. So, yeah, they’ve really risen to that challenge in a fantastic way.

HS: What do you think someone can hope to get out of seeing Genesis & Other Stories that that they, perhaps, might not be expecting?

RS: I think probably that it will be really inclusive, I hope. I only say this because Performing Occupy Toronto, which was my last play, most of the response that I received from people is how they really expected it to be incredibly preachy or politically, it would be really one-sided, and I didn’t speak to anyone who felt misrepresented or angry or that their perspective was really left out of the show, so I hope that I am able to repeat that. I really hope that this play incorporates respectful perspectives from very religious people, from atheists, from somewhat religious people. I hope that will be what people can walk away with, unexpectedly, maybe… that everyone feels included. I think when you’re satirizing something, especially something like religion, or politics et cetera, it gets people’s backs up quite immediately, and I really like people to be surprised by the fact that you can have a thoughtful conversation in art and it doesn’t have to be anger-inducing. It can be thoughtful and enjoyable. I really think this is the case.

HS: Fantastic. Lastly, what song would you encourage your audience members to listen to before coming to see Genesis & Other Stories?

RS: William Tell Overture.

HS: And with that, we’ll see you at the Fringe in a church!

RS: See you at the Fringe in a church.

Genesis & Other Stories - Promo Pic #3

 
What: GENESIS & OTHER STORIES by Rosamund Small, directed by Vivien Endicott-Douglas, a production by Aim for the Tangent Theatre
 
When: The Toronto Fringe Festival – July 3rd to 14th, Weeknight and Saturday shows at 9pm, Sunday shows at 8pm
** With a special Pay-What-You-Can Preview Performance Friday June 28th at 8pm.**
 
Where: Trinity St. Paul’s United Church, 427 Bloor Street West
 
For more information visit http://www.aimforthetangent.com/genesis-other-stories/
 
Tickets: Purchase by phone or online – 416-966-1062 or http://fringetoronto.com/ 
 
Check out the trailer for Genesis & Other Stories here: