Archive | August, 2016

Preview Questionnaire: Life Records

19 Aug

tumblr_inline_oaz5x84IRf1re4fig_540Last year, writer, comedian, and story-teller Rhiannon Archer caught the attention of the many with her critically-lauded Fringe show, Life Records; a musical and biographical trip through some of Archer’s most memorable life moments. Good news for those who missed it: Archer, with the support of Pressgang Theatre, is presenting a revamped edition of the show at Bad Dog Theatre. In anticipation of this remount, we had the pleasure of asking Rhiannon a few questions about her show and the themes that inform it.

Tell me a about your show.

Life Records is a comical, heartwarming and honest solo show about the songs that make their way into our life and become the “soundtrack” to our memories. This eclectic show is filled with true stories and the songs that bring them to life. From poetic revenge for a bully to merciful theft – laugh, cry, and reminisce with these classic hits from a silly life.

Do you feel the piece has evolved since your 2015 Fringe Production?

I am not sure if it has evolved but I have. When I did Life Records in the 2015 Fringe, I was 4 months pregnant. So you can imagine I am a changed person. I feel I am more relaxed and less scripted. I have learned to embrace myself and be true to myself. However, I have swapped out some stories because I feel I have more fun telling the new ones.

Why do you feel music plays such an important part of our emotional memories?

It plays an important part because music can affect your mode or tone instantly.  A melody can make you feel something faster than words I feel. And since music is everywhere and sometimes we have no control over it, I feel its a great tool to convey the randomness and silliness of life.

What’s on your playlist right now and how is it reflective of your life?

Ha ha! I really have 2 playlists going. 1) All the music that go along with my 8 month-old’s toys and 2) My son’s night time sleepy music which is Andrew Bird, Chris Bathgate, Wilco, Ella Fitzgerald……. and Raffi.

What’s your #1 guilty pleasure song?

Ugh…… Sorry by Justin Beiber. My sister in law got me hooked and ugh I just love it.

Life Records only runs three nights (August 19th, 20th, and 21st) so catch it while you can! Details are available at


Summerworks 2016 Kudos

12 Aug

It has been our modus operandi for some time now to support and highlight what we feel are above-average festival productions with capsule reviews of said productions. Since we are only able to attend a handful of Summerworks productions this year, we are taking a slightly more informal approach, and highlighting whatever elements of those limited shows we feel deserves kudos:

Daughter-400x500Adam Lazarus’ Magnetic Misogyny: The co-creator and solo performer of the provocative and cringe-inducing Daughter, starts off sweet enough but gradually reveals the dark underbelly of his character. Theatre is often guilty of preaching to the choir, so a work like Daughter, which uses a seemingly innocent father-daughter relationship to explore the inner workings of the so-called woman-hating man from his sole perspective is a bold and distinct choice. His performance is so dedicated that one feels a genuine disgust for him by the end of the 60 minutes. Thanksfully a post-curtain call addendum makes it very clear that Lazarus himself does not share his character’s worldview – even if he is unsettlingly convincing.

DontTalktoMeLikeImYourWife-400x530Andrea Scott’s Two-Sided Argument: Writer Andrea Scott’s Don’t Talk to me Like I’m Your Wife is ostensibly about alleged WW1 spy and seductress Mata Hari, but it is Scott’s use of the iconic figure as a means to discuss historic and modern feminism, its evolution and definition, that stands out as her work’s greatest takeaway. This discussion plays out as a present-day conversation between a progressively-minded white male history professor (David Christo) and a female student of colour (Lisa Karen Cox); it’s dense and intellectual, and manages to present a remarkably well-rounded summary without betraying a strong bias towards any single argument or point of view. It’s the kind of artful and pointed ambiguity that practically demands post-show discussion among audience members.

412ignobletruths-400x500MyNightmaresWearWhite-400x267Thomas McKechnie and Grace Thompson’s Comedic Bravery: McKechnie and Thompson, the writer/performers of  4 1/2 (ig)noble truths and My Nightmares Wear White respectively, each put their raw personal battles front and centre; McKechnie shares the realities of living with depression, while Thompson evokes the challenges of surviving a debilitating auto-immune disease. Where they share common ground is in their use of humour to tell their stories; while each is essentially tragic at its core, their ability to lace their performances with comedic moments creates an artful balance that is demonstrative of the resilience of these two remarkable artists.

InUteroOut-400x267The Three-Dimensionality of IN UTERO OUT: From experimental shadow-puppet company, Drawing with Knives, IN UTERO OUT is a pensive docu-theatre examination of human birth. The piece itself is thoughtful and accomplished, but it is the multitude of creative ways in which the company add literal depth to what is often a very two-dimensional medium of story-telling that makes it stand out aesthetically.


Summerworks Preview Questionnaire: 4 1/2 (ig)noble truths

2 Aug

412ignobletruths-400x500Your Name: Thomas McKechnie

Your Production: 4 1/2 (ig)noble truths

Your Role: Writer/Performer

Tell me a bit about your show: 4 1/2 (ig)nobles truths is a performance lecture on clinical depression. It’s not a educational pamphlet that your doctor gives you. It is an attempt to be something more and different than that. The language of medicine halts at the provable. In the theatre we start with the ineffable, the metaphorical, the spiritual. The show is an attempt to express depression, not how it is, but how it feels, what it’s like. It’s an attempt to take the screaming, incoherent, anger and fear inside of me and give it enough form that it can be understood. To name it. There is a belief in certain folk customs that if you know the true name of a demon you have power over it. The show is trying to “Name” depression.

What else are you excited to see at this year’s festival? Trompe la Mort; or Goriot in the 21st Century, No Fun, Plucked, Naked Ladies, This is August

One of the great challenges of the independent performing arts is arguably to reach and engage the general public. If logistics and budget weren’t a consideration, what would be the craziest scheme you could think of to attract new theatre-goers?

Free tickets for everything. Theatre that pays equity wages, that has a meaningful design budget, that has sufficient rehearsal time often doesn’t come anywhere near recouping. What’s the point in charge $20 for a ticket in order to make 10% of your budget in ticket sales. Make everything free, let folks who don’t have access otherwise see theatre. Let people who think they know what theatre is from one bad experience in high school see what theatre can be.

Summerworks pieces are often socially and politically minded. If you had to write a musical about Donald Trump but could not include any part of his name in the title, what would it be called?

I refuse to answer this questions as it will simply add one more hit to his name online which I don’t need on my conscious.

Summerworks Preview Questionnaire: Daughter

1 Aug

Daughter-400x500Your Name: Jivesh Parasram

Your Production: Daughter

Your Role: Co-Creator

Tell me a bit about your show:

You know those friends you have? Pretty nice guys… but something’s just not right. Daughter is about a guy like that. He’s done so many bad things in his life, and gotten away with it. But he loves his Daughter, and just wants to do right by her. But so what? Does that mean he’s changed?

Despite all the privilege men maintain – do they actually need to change? Where are the consequences for not changing? Boys will be boys, right?

We stopped asking the question – why is this a thing? Focusing more on how is this a reality?

What else are you excited to see at this year’s festival?

There’s a lot. Certainly I’m biased on Situational Anarchy by Graham Isador, which Pandemic is co-producing and I’m collaborating with Tom Arthur Davis on the Direction.

Gabriel Dharmoo’s Imaginary Anthropologies. Absolutely must see. I saw this at PuSh this year, and it was 100% my Jams.

Keith Barker’s This is how we got here put on by Continuum and New Harlem – Keith is a phenomenal writer when it comes to speaking with real heart.

Andrea Scott’s piece Don’t talk to Me Like I’m your Wife – A piece about Mata Hari, plus I’m always interested to see Andrea’s work.

Bleeders – This is a big collaboration including d’bi young & Waleed Abdulhamid (who both worked Emancipation of Ms. Lovely with Ngozika & Pandemic last year)

Mr Shi and His Lover, this is the first Mandarin performance at Summerworks. Super psyched for that. I’ve yet to get to see Njo Kong Kie’s composition work yet, despite the fact that we run into each other literally everywhere.

Extremophiles, Georgina Beatty’s new piece. I heard the concept. Read the concept. It’s amazing.

Two Indians by Falen Johnson – I saw an early version of the idea at Wrecking Ball a while back. It was awesome then, so as a full play I can’t wait.

The Unbelievers by LACE productions. I’ve had a chance to check out a couple early workshops and it was great then. Shadi Shahkhalili is performing in it, and I had a great time working with her while we were workshopping They Say He Fell at Canadian Stage.

Naked Ladies – again, I read the concept. I loved it. I’ve heard amazing things about this show.

4/12 ignoble truths – Great subject matter. Great team. We were joking with them that based on the promo image he should join up with us and we can have 3 shows covering every bodily fluid possible.

In UTERO OUT – I saw some of the images from these folks. It’s some stellar shadow work. And I LOVE shadow work.

And a lot of the ancillary stuff that Joe Recinos and SLIP is putting on. A lot of it is very forward thinking. The Pecha Kucha in particular.

Did I list everything? There’s a lot. Those are even just the ones off the top of my head. I’m making my full list tonight. It’s really a solid line up.

One of the great challenges of the independent performing arts is arguably to reach and engage the general public. If logistics and budget weren’t a consideration, what would be the craziest scheme you could think of to attract new theatre-goers?

Well if we wanna get full out unbridled – it would be a travelling cart and pony show. All the time. I remember when I was a kid in Trinidad, this South Asian Dance company rolled in and put on this amazing Ramayana performance with just flood lights and these massive cut outs as props. I loved it. My family very much has been in the thick of that style for a while, though not for theatre per say. More as Pandits and religious singers. I think if I could have a ton of cash I would focus on just that. The art, and the ritual of art, should ideally be free or as accessible as possible – so, I’d bring it to communities. Roll up with the necessities and do the show in a courtyard. Or backyard. Or side of the road. Wherever, really.

But if we’re talking not unlimited money, I’d dedicate a lot of the time to finding like minded organizations working on organizing around the themes we’re exploring. It’s kind of like what we’re doing with the White Ribbon Campaign on Daughter. Ultimately we were against just fundraising so we wanted a portion to go to an organization that was proactively doing the vital work that we can only touch on through the art. We’ll be continuing to collect for them throughout the show.

Further to the ideal though. We’d wanna work with them to find the right times to do it, and provide necessary transport and accessibility options. Next time hopefully, since this is still a workshop production, so I’m glad that Adam Lazarus has started the conversation.

Summerworks pieces are often socially and politically minded. If you had to write a musical about Donald Trump but could not include any part of his name in the title, what would it be called?

I’d rather not even throw that guy any more attention than he gets. But if I had to, I’d probably go with something like Xenophobic Ignorant Neoliberal Contradiction: a musical tragedy