Archive | July, 2012

Fringe Picks: Part 2

12 Jul

With the final weekend of the Fringe just around the corner, here are some more picks for the last days of the festival:

Help Yourself: Winner of the New Play Contest, Kat Sandler’s taught, compelling, and often laugh-out-loud funny piece on human morality features dynamic dialogue, dangerous humour, well-honed characters, and a storyline that has left audiences reeling. Pitch-perfect performances from Tosha Doiron, Daniel Pagett, and Tim Walker only serve to bolster what is already one of this year’s most clever shows.

Dirty Butterfly: An intentionally ambiguous and fragmented script touching on themes of physical abuse is tackled with great success by the talented team of director Jack Grinhaus (whose other work in the festival, Release the Stars is also getting a lot of buzz) and cast members Kaleb Alexander, Lauren Brotman, and Cherissa Richards. Precise performances and simple yet devastating visuals make for a challenging viewing experience – and that is meant in the best way possible.

TICK: High energy, colourful, and charmingly subversive, this Fringe gem is a bucket of fun. The show centres around Tick (played by the always delightful Jessica Moss), a headstrong ten year old whose answer to the planned closure of her local library is all out war on the adult world. The spirit of both revolution and childhood are captured perfectly by playwright Matthew MacKenzie (who also wrote the outstanding The Particulars and in General), making this truly a show for children of all ages.

Sundance: At 40 minutes, this surreal wild west show-down laced with contemporary philosophy is one of the shorter pieces at this year’s festival  – but that doesn’t mean you won’t get your money’s worth. It’s an intelligent, if unexpected, blending of contrasting form and content done justice by a solid creative team. Jason Siks gets special mention for his role as Sundance, a nihilistic and automaton-like gunslinger whose chilling deadpan leaves the audience thoroughly creeped-out.

Fringe Picks: Part 1

9 Jul

It’s the end of the first weekend of the Toronto Fringe Festival, and we’ve been busy running from theatre to theatre, sampling everything the festival has to offer. Here are some highlights so far…

PornStar: Fringe regular Chris Craddock offers his trademark dark and imaginative humour to Toronto’s audiences in this thoroughly entertaining story about sex, religious zealots, and hell (it’s not as preachy as you might assume). Bringing Craddock’s script to life is the always impressive trio of Heather Annis, Amy Lee, and director Byron Laviolette – best known as the trio behind ‘Morro and Jasp’. This quirky and contemporary fable is both a tight piece of writing and a great reminder that Annis and Lee are versatile and talented actors in any genre.

Of Mice and Morro and Jasp: Speaking of Annis, Lee, and Laviolette, these recent Dora Award winners are double fisting this year with their own hysterical take on Steinbeck’s classic. Tackling this sacred cow of theatre and literature is yet another creative step forward for the clown sisters who first made a name for themselves with kid-friendly shows at the Palmerston Library. As with any ‘Morro and Jasp’ production, one can expect a porous fourth wall, some gentle ad-libs at the expense of audience members, and palpable chemistry that could only come from a fruitful eight year partnership.

A Funeral for Clowns: This colourful but unobnoxious clown show is a successful example of what happens when style meets substance. Set within the clown universe (if such a thing exists) this work is not so much a story as a somber reflection of a clown’s life via the reminiscence of his family and a few brief but poignant flashbacks. Arrive early as the Funeral Director’s (played by Marcel Dragonieri) pre-show deadpan interactions with the audience are a highlight, as is Kat Letwin’s innocent and tender performance as the deceased’s brother.

Mahmoud: Those allergic to the “over zealous one person show” may be thrown off by the first few minutes of this energetic piece by performer Tara Grammy and director Tom Arthur Davis, but bear with it. As the piece moves forward, an insightful and emotionally honest picture of what it means to be both a first and second generation Iranian-Canadian is revealed, and seemingly unrelated story-lines are cleverly woven together culminating in a powerful conclusion.

The Other Three Sisters: The “dysfunctional family drama” is a common presence at the Fringe Festival, but when filtered through the mind of culture-nerd playwright Johnnie Walker, familiar territory feels refreshed. Issues of death and abandonment dot the thematic landscape, but it’s creative touches like eye patches, cupcakes, and ugly-as-sin dresses that define the flavour of this show.

 

Fringe Preview: Tick

4 Jul

Your Name:

Jajube Mandiela

Your Fringe Show:

TICK

Your Role (writer / director / cast member, etc):

Director

Tell me about your Fringe show in 75 words or less:

Ten-year-old Tickailia ‘Tick’ Summers is convinced that city council’s cost saving measures amount to a war on kids. When her local library is about to be closed, Tick leads a revolution against adult rule!

This comedy has laughs for everyone: gags, wordplay, physical comedy, pop culture references, and serious drama mixed in to make this story soar!

TICK‘s sharp and witty writing will enthral adults & teens, while 8-12 year olds will love the fast-pace!

Okay, now do it as a haiku:

four ten year olds fight
library must not be closed
comedy you’ll like!

Your favourite Fringe Festival memory (Toronto or elsewhere):

Doing a photo-shoot in an abandoned lot next to my 2010 venue for the show SIA; we were “top of the heap” on the cover of Eye Weekly.

Fill in the blank:

10-year-old revolutionaries: The Musical”

Fringe Preview: PornStar

4 Jul

Your Name:

Chris Cradock

Your Fringe Show:

PornStar

Your Role (writer / director / cast member, etc):

Writer/co-producer

Tell me about your Fringe show in 75 words or less: 

Esther Kirkenchuk is a small town librarian with a yen for something more. “Something more” arrives in her email inbox, in the form of an invitation to a pornography awards ceremony, where, unbeknownst to her, she is nominated for “Best Amateur Performer”.  Sharon is a popular TV preacher in her adopted America, and remains head of the “Sarah Palin for President” committee. When the media hears her daughter is a porn star, she does not react well. Kate killed herself at fourteen and finds hell to be a total drag. Can she escape? And Clarice Dubois is a female Dan Savage. Can a heart‐broken celeb find love at a porn awards ceremony?

Okay, now do it as a haiku:

Porn is always strange
more so when you are the star
Love heals all the wounds

Your favourite Fringe Festival memory (Toronto or elsewhere):

Every festival has a moment when that is the memory of that festival. Some party, some show, some pair of eyes. It’s been too many topic just one. Fringe has blessed my whole life.

Fill in the blank: “______: The Musical”   

The Murder of Steven Harper by the Vengeful Ghost of Jack Layton: The Musical

 


Fringe Preview: Vic Harbour

4 Jul

Your Name:

Andrew Gaboury

Your Fringe Show:

Vic Harbour by Peter Counter

Your Role (writer / director / cast member, etc):

Director

Tell me about your Fringe show in 75 words or less:

Jimmy Jones and Alice Shelley must confront their own personal demons, while navigating a town haunted by ghosts, plagued by drugs, and frozen in isolation from the rest of the world. Under the guidance of Frank, the old lighthouse operator, they hope to change the town that imprisons them, or escape before they are forgotten like the rest of Vic Harbour.

Okay, now do it as a haiku: 

A ghost haunts the town
The lighthouse stands, flames burning
Two kids search for hope 

Your favourite Fringe Festival memory (Toronto or elsewhere):

There is an energy in the air. I don’t feel it any other time other than during Fringe. It’s palpable; I imagine it waving its way through the air, connecting one person to the next. It’s an energy of pure excitement, of pure creation. Everyone is talking about theatre, and you know it. That. That is what I think of when I think of the Fringe.

Fill in the blank: “______: The Musical”

“David J. Phillips: The Musical”

Fringe Preview: S-27

4 Jul

Your Name:

Yolanda Ferrato

Your Fringe Show:

S-27

Your Role (writer / director / cast member, etc):

Director

Tell me about your Fringe show in 75 words or less:

May earned her job as prison photographer through sacrifice. Now as the regime’s enemies pass in front of her lens, she must choose what more she can sacrifice for someone she loves. S-27 is a searing drama drawn from testimony of events in the Khmer Rouge’s S-21 prison, now the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Cambodia. Photographs of former prisoners now covering the museum’s walls inspired the characters and story of this historic fiction.

Okay, now do it as a haiku:

Passport photos to death
Sit still so I can take it
You leave through that door

Your favourite Fringe Festival memory (Toronto or elsewhere):

Audience members clutching programs in front of faces when we made their jaws drop.

Fringe Preview: Then He Wakes Up

4 Jul

Your Name:

Matthew Sarookanian

Your Fringe Show:

Then He Wakes Up

Your Role (writer / director / cast member, etc):

Writer/Actor

Tell me about your Fringe show in 75 words or less:

Then He Wakes Up is an absurdist comedy about a man trying to catch a bus and having his daily routine altered by a strange assortment of characters.  It’s a fun and wacky show that will set your imagination free. Playing at Theatre Passe Muraille – Mainspace. Visit www. thenhewakesup.tumblr.com for more details; and join us on Twitter: @thenhewakesup; #thenhewakesup. And find us on Facebook.

Okay, now do it as a haiku:

Ringing alarm clock
Wakes, waits, works, wakes, waits, works – again.
It’s time to get up!

(The second line has 8 syllables, not 7. Expect a knock at your door from the Haiku Police. -Ed.)

Your favourite Fringe Festival memory (Toronto or elsewhere):

Outside of beer? And the beer tent? And drinking beer for twelve straight days? I would have to say that my favourite fringe memory is my first time coming to the Toronto Fringe and seeing four shows in one day and how exciting it was to be a part of all of it.

Fill in the blank:

Sign Language: The Musical”

Fringe Preview: Sex, Bollywood and Other Lies

4 Jul

Your Name:

Ashima Suri

Your Fringe Show:

Sex, Bollywood and Other Lies

Your Role (writer / director / cast member, etc):

Director, writer and choreographer

Tell me about your Fringe show in 75 words or less:

The whirlwind story of two Bollywood hopefuls (wannabes) Raj and Trish, and their drunken one night stand that hurtles them through love, denial, passion, fights, lies, fear and of course the shame and guilt of their feelings… THANK YOU, BOLLYWOOD! This is an empowering dance drama about living truthfully and being proud about it.  Featuring Indo-Contemporary Ballet, Indian Classical, Contemporary Dance and Bollywood dancing.

Okay, now do it as a haiku:

We prefer to dance it out for you 🙂

However, our facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/#!/events/218491994937670/

(A haiku is only 12 syllables and you couldn’t come up with anything? Boo. -Ed. )

Your favourite Fringe Festival memory (Toronto or elsewhere):

This is when we first performed at the Toronto Fringe Theatre festival in 2011.  Our show was titled “Forbidden Fruit: Evolution” and our second show received a standing ovation.  We also received rave reviews from EVERY media reviewer (Toronto Star, Mooney on Theatre etc.) for that show and we hope to do it again this year.

Fill in the blank:

“Sex, Bollywood and Other Lies: The Musical”

 

Fringe Preview: [ZED.TO] ByoLogyc

4 Jul

Your Name:

Trevor Haldenby (one co-founder of five at The Mission Business)

Your Fringe Show:

[ZED.TO] ByoLogyc: Where You Become New

Your Role (writer / director / cast member, etc):

Futurist, and Co-Creator with David Fono, Martha Haldenby, Byron Laviolette, and Elenna Mosoff.

Tell me about your Fringe show in 75 words or less:

Join ByoLogyc’s Versatile Intern Program, and get ready for a twelve-day celebration of innovation during the Toronto Fringe. While ByoRenew, ByoLogyc’s newest and most futuristic healthcare service, is unveiled see what you can learn about what’s really going on behind closed doors…

Okay, now do it as a haiku:

The future is now
Mouths swabbed on escape
Where you become new

Your favourite Fringe Festival memory (Toronto or elsewhere):

Last night, standing in line waiting to get into the Fringe Club, and realizing that the young woman controlling flow at the door was the original creator of ByoLogyc’s jingle music. It’s a small world, after all.

Fill in the blank: “______: The Musical”

Future Shock: The Musical!

Fringe Preview: Soulo & snug harbor

4 Jul

Your Name:

Tracey Erin Smith

Your Fringe Show:

snug harbor & SOULO

Your Role (writer / director / cast member, etc):

Writer/Actor/Producer/Director  (2 shows)

Tell me about your Fringe show in 75 words or less:

snug harbor:

Tracey & her Dad did everything together.
Canoed, partied, volunteered.
After an unspeakable magic trick,
he disappears.

Forever.

SOULO:

A magical soul-circus starring three Queer identified.

A sparkly funny-boy turned guardian angel, a Gorge-ganic Queen who devours convention & poops glitter, Terry the Fairy saved by applause & a sexy female dragon tamer as their Ring Master. There ‘s only one thing better than running off and joining the circus…starting your own!  It does get better.  But it doesn’t get better than this.

Okay, now do it as a haiku (Actual Haiku from the show!):

Neil Diamond Concerts,
Camping and chocolate pudding,
Lost a part of me.

Your favourite Fringe Festival memory (Toronto or elsewhere):

When two Rabbi’s wives walked out of a performance of my show, “The Burning Bush!”  I knew this about them because in the talk-back after their friends, who stayed, told on them!

Fill in the blank:

“Suicide Support Group : The Musical”

Fringe Preview: The Other Three Sisters

4 Jul

Your Name:

Johnnie Walker

Your Fringe Show:

The Other Three Sisters

Your Role (writer / director / cast member, etc):

Writer/Director

Tell me about your Fringe show in 75 words or less:

It’s a little bit like Chekhov’s The Three Sisters. But sillier. And with cupcakes. And plastic surgery. And paranormal activity. A family of adult siblings finds themselves stuck in their family home in Etobicoke and, despite their best “efforts,” can’t seem to make their way back downtown.

Okay, now do it as a haiku:

Chekhovian angst
Etobicoke bungalow
Too many sisters.

Your favourite Fringe Festival memory (Toronto or elsewhere):

When we did A Maude-Lynne Evening back in 2010, we actually auctioned off bootlegged copies of Cruel Intentions 3 on DVD. People didn’t believe us, but they were real, working DVDs and we got people to bid real money on them. Sometimes they would try to return them at the end of the show, and we’d be like ‘No! Take them home! We don’t want them!”

Fill in the blank:

To the Lighthouse: The Musical”

Fringe Preview: The Taming of the Shrew

4 Jul

Your Name:

Rob Kraszewski

Your Fringe Show:

Shakespeare BASH’d Presents: William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew

Your Role (writer / director / cast member, etc):

Producer/Wunderkind

Tell me about your Fringe show in 75 words or less: 

Shakespeare’s rambunctious, farcical and contentious comedy about courtship, marriage and love finds new life in this staging by Toronto’s Shakespeare BASH’d. at the Victory Café.  The stage will be set for the original battle of the sexes, but in the end, love may triumph.

Okay, now do it as a haiku:

Petruchio tries
to tame wild Katerina
bulls lock horns; love blooms

Your favourite Fringe Festival memory (Toronto or elsewhere):

Stumbling into the Fringe club in London, Ontario in summer 2006, covered in police tape after performing in a library. That, or anything to do with Shakespeare BASH’d and the Victory Cafe!

Fill in the blank: “______: The Musical”

Shrew-Brew and Other Means of Imbibing Shakespeare: The Musical

 

Fringe Preview: 21 Days

4 Jul

Your Name:

Alexandra Mealia

Your Fringe Show:

21 Days

Your Role (writer / director / cast member, etc):

Cast Member (I play Dorothy, Julie’s best friend/coworker)

Tell me about your Fringe show in 75 words or less:

Julie will only ever live 21 days that are truly extraordinary. Things get complicated when Ben offers her a chance at true love. On the strictest of all time schedules, Julie must choose whether to truly live or merely stay alive before her numbered days are up. In this fantastical original musical, follow Julie on her journey as she learns about love, time, and the timing of love.

Okay, now do it as a haiku:

21 days to truly live
Life of happiness or slow death?
Love conquers all

Your favourite Fringe Festival memory (Toronto or elsewhere):

The Beer Tent of course! It’s a fantastic way to meet other ‘Fringers’ and to relax during the festival. I absolutely LOVE the St-Ambroise Apricot beer which is another reason why I go there!!

Fill in the blank: “21 Days: The Musical” (of course!)

Fringe Previews!

4 Jul

The Toronto Fringe Festival is nearly here! We have our own predictions and best bets for this year’s line up, but in the spirit of letting the creator speak for themselves, we have sent out a creative questionnaire for companies participating in the festival to fill out and return. The next few posts are the verbatim replies we received (even when the spirit of the question was ignored). For more information about the festival, including the full line up of shows, head over to the Fringe website here.

Happy Fringing!