Sunday, January 30, 2011

Taj Weekes Brings Roots Reggae to Joe's Pub NYC Feb 5

From a media release:

Taj Weekes Brings Roots Reggae to Joe's Pub NYC

Joe's Pub, NYC - Saturday, February 5 at 9:30 PM

An enigma on the reggae scene, Taj Weekes is on the one hand deeply serious and intensely passionate about his worldviews and on the other hand, a gentle and humble man with a quick and easy smile. Driven to inspire conscious thought and provoke discussion through his poignant poetry and lyrics, Weekes says, "I write from the heart and I speak about issues that move me. I believe that’s what really matters."

Born and raised on the island of St. Lucia, Weekes grew up the youngest of ten children in a musical family. "My musical influences were quite varied, 'cause the radio stations played all kinds of music. There were no formats, so we grew up listening to everything from reggae to calypso to classic rock and classical music."

Taj Weekes and Adowa released their much-anticipated third CD, A Waterlogged Soul Kitchen, in October 2010. Their stunning new release presents a set of fresh reggae songs laced with acoustic strings, guitar, violin and cello, and splashes of soulful harmonica for an album that challenges listeners to redefine common perceptions of reggae and where it's heading as a genre. The group's first two full-length albums are Hope and Doubt and Deidem, which won "Best Reggae Album" at the Just Plain Folks Music Awards and was shortlisted for a Grammy Award.

Always striving to bring awareness to the issues he is passionate about, Weekes founded his charity, They Often Cry Outreach (TOCO), in 2007 to improve the lives of underprivileged children in the Caribbean through sport, enrichment, educational and wellness programs.

photos by: Monica Hoenig

Joe's Pub, 425 Lafayette Street between East 4th and Astor Place in New York's East Village
Saturday, February 5 at 9:30 PM; $14

• Tickets can be purchased 24 hours a day online at
• Between the hours of 10am and 9pm, tickets can be purchased by phone at 212-967-7555.
• You may buy tickets in person at The Public Theater box office, located at 425 Lafayette Street from 1:00 pm to 6:00pm on Sundays and Mondays and 1:00pm to 7:30pm from Tuesday through Saturday.
• Tickets are also available for purchase in person at Joe's Pub from 6:00pm to 10:00pm, seven days a week.

Music Africa Toronto & the Gladstone Hotel Team Up for Free Friday Concerts

From a media release:

MUSIC AFRICA & Gladstone World celebrate Black History  Month every Friday night throughout February with a series of FREE concerts
Thanks to CIUT-FM 89.5 FM

Featuring some of the top African artists living and working in the city. Music Africa, presenters of AFROFEST, is a community organization dedicated to promoting African music and culture. Discover Africa in the Heart of Toronto!

FREE at the Gladstone Melody Bar, every Friday from 7 to 10 p.m.

February 4th – Blandine
Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and raised in Canada, Blandine has been exposed to the best African, American and European music all her life. It partly accounts for her ability to mimic such great singers as M’bilia Bel, Chaka Khan and Mariah Carey. During her teen years in Toronto she developed her distinctive classical/ R&B/ Afropop vocal style, and by age 20 had performed at festivals throughout North America. She later landed a role as a backup singer on tour for Canadian artist Melanie Durant. In 2009 Blandine made the decision to venture out as a solo artist, her debut CD will be released later in 2011. She says her album will contain songs in all the different African, pop, R&B and dance genres she loves. Expect to hear an earful from Blandine in the very near future, this talented young singer-songwriter is here to stay.
February 11th – The Resolutionaries Marimba Band
The Marimba is a traditional Zimbabwean instrument that combines sweet melodies with African rhythms. But there’s nothing traditional about the way the Resolutionaries play it. This 4-member, Peterborough-based band performs in an up-tempo, innovative style while still being able to perform the age-old African tunes they draw their inspiration from. This musical mix mirrors perfectly the eclectic talents of group founder, Chaka Chikodzi. Inspirational, life-affirming, fantastic!

February 18th – Waleed Abdulhamid Kush
You’d need to search far and wide in the city to find a singer or musician who doesn’t rave over Waleed’s abilities. Born in Sudan, he has been a fixture on the Toronto music scene since 1992. Equally adept on the guitar, bass, flute, drums, and any number of African instruments, he is also an accomplished composer. Waleed was a founding member of the award-winning bands Radio Nomad and Balimbo, and later the African jazz-fusion band Kings of Kush. Onstage he is known for his striking vocals, his innovative bass technique and his speed and precision on percussion. He and his band play a driving, dance-oriented, percussive blend of pan-African music that delights a crowd and gets everyone hitting the dance floor. A real treat.

February 25th – Kae Sun
Kae Sun is of the generation of performers who seem equally at home anywhere in the world, whose music reflects their multi-layered personal histories. Born in Ghana, he grew up listening primarily to hip-hop. An Ontario resident since 2001, his music is equal parts soul, pop, reggae, and of course hip-hop – a sound sometimes described as urban folk . His debut EP Ghost Town Prophecy was so well received it gave Kae Sun the freedom to self-produce most of the songs on his follow-up CD, Lion On A Leash. Released in 2009, it made many critics’ lists of top indie releases of the year. The songs are socially conscious without being preachy. The singer is talented and charismatic. The band is tight and high-energy. The show is not to be missed.
The Gladstone Hotel is located at 1214 Queen Street West, Toronto (One block east of Dufferin): (416) 531-4635

Music Africa gratefully acknowledges the support of the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Toronto Arts Council and Ontario Arts Council.

For more information:
• Call 416-469-5336
• Contact
• Or check

Canadian Opera Company Premieres Nixon in China Feb 5 - 26

From a media release:

COC Premiere of Nixon in China relives five days that changed the world

Toronto, Ontario – A defining moment in modern-day history takes centre stage this winter with the Canadian Opera Company premiere of John Adams’ Nixon in China.  Richard Nixon’s historic five-day trip to China in 1972 was a media phenomenon viewed simultaneously by millions at home on their television sets.  Adams’ unique lyrical score for Nixon in China intertwines occasions of grand, public spectacle with moments of quiet, private reflection to transform a political event into a story with universal appeal and significance.  American James Robinson returns to the COC to direct this highly-lauded and widely-seen production with award-winning Spanish conductor Pablo Heras-Casado making his Canadian debut leading the COC Orchestra and Chorus.

Sung in English with English SURTITLES™
• Nixon in China runs for eight performances on Feb. 5, 9, 11, 13, 19, 22, 24 and 26, 2011.

Nixon in China had its world premiere at Houston Grand Opera in 1987, followed quickly by performances at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Netherlands Opera.  One of the major operas of the 20th century, Nixon in China has spawned numerous productions that have been received all over the world, and, along with Philip Glass’s Einstein on the Beach, is considered one of the cornerstones of American Minimalist music.

The COC premiere of Nixon in China brings together several cast members who have appeared in this production since its first staging at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis in 2004.  Hailed by critics in his “sensational portrayal of Richard Nixon” (Houston Chronicle) is leading American baritone Robert Orth, last seen with the COC in 1990’s The Barber of Seville, and American soprano Maria Kanyova revisits her critically-acclaimed role as Pat Nixon in her COC debut.  New to this production, and the COC, is British tenor Adrian Thompson as Chairman Mao, who previously sang this role with English National Opera.  Baritone Chen-Ye Yuan appears with the COC for the first time, revisiting the role of Premier Chou En-lai.  American bass-baritone Thomas Hammons makes his COC debut portraying Nixon’s diplomatic advisor Henry Kissinger, a role he created for the opera’s world premiere, and subsequently performed in Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt and Los Angeles.  Making her COC and role debut as Madame Mao is American soprano Marisol Montalvo, whose stage and vocal presence has made her a regular performer with many of the world’s finest opera houses.

Ensemble Studio graduate mezzo-soprano Lauren Segal, who can also be heard in this winter’s The Magic Flute, is Nancy T’sang, First Secretary to Mao.  Ensemble Studio member mezzo-soprano Rihab Chaieb is Second Secretary to Mao and mezzo-soprano Megan Latham, Marcellina in the COC’s 2007 The Marriage of Figaro, is Third Secretary to Mao.

Making his Canadian debut is young Spanish conductor Pablo Heras-Casado.  An exciting newcomer on the international conductors’ scene, Heras-Casado is admired for the versatility of his repertoire (from early music through to cutting-edge contemporary scores) and was unanimously voted winner of the 2007 Lucerne Festival Conductors’ Competition by a jury headed by Pierre Boulez and Peter Eötvös.  James Robinson, who most recently provided a searing version of Turandot for the COC, directs this ground-breaking co-production by Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Minnesota Opera, Portland Opera, Chicago Opera Theater and Houston Grand Opera.  Collaborating with set designer Allen Moyer, costume designer James Schuette, choreographer Seán Curran, lighting designer Paul Palazzo, sound designer Brian Mohr and video designer Wendall K. Harrington, Robinson’s interpretation of Nixon in China is a vision of opera never before seen on the COC mainstage.  News media footage and historic photos literally become the set as televisions continually loop news footage of the actual events, while those same events are simultaneously re-enacted on the stage.  Moyer last worked with the COC on The Flying Dutchman in 2010 and Norma in 2006.  Schuette, Curran, Palazzo, Mohr and Harrington make their COC debuts with this production.

Check their website for additional programmes and pre-opera talks.

Images come from the Opera Theatre of St. Louis' 2004 production © 2004 Ken Howard
• Tracy Dahl as Madame Mao
• Robert Orth as Richard Nixon
• A scene from the St. Louis Opera Theatre’s production of Nixon in China.
• Maria Kanyova as Pat Nixon

• Available online at
• Or by calling COC Ticket Services at 416-363-8231
• Or in person at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts Box Office, located at 145 Queen St. W.

NEW THIS SEASON: Standing Room
• Standing Room tickets for only $12, go on sale at 11 a.m. on the morning of each performance at the Four Seasons Centre Box Office.
• Limit of two tickets per person.
• Subject to availability.

Young People
• Special young people’s tickets are priced from $31 to $95 plus applicable taxes.
• These ticket prices apply to those who are 15 years of age or under, accompanied by and sitting next to an adult.

Opera for a New Age
• Patrons between the ages of 16 and 29 may purchase $22 Opera for a New Age tickets as of Saturday, January 15, 2011 at 10 a.m.,
• Details & tickets available online at

Rush Seats
• Rush seats, starting at $22 and subject to availability, go on sale at 11 a.m. on the morning of each performance at the Four Seasons Centre Box Office.

Visual Arts at York Quay (Toronto) Winter 2011

From a media release:

Visual Arts at York Quay Centre opens new exhibitions Jan. 28, 2011
Neighbourhood Maverick moves into the architecture gallery,
Jan. 28 through April 3

TORONTO, ON (Jan. 26, 2011) – Harbourfront Centre presents an eclectic collection of new projects at York Quay Centre this fall, including a new architecture exhibit entitled Neighbourhood Maverick, exploring Toronto’s patchwork neighbourhood aesthetics.

Featured artists in York Quay Centre include Jesse Boles, Harbourfront Centre artist-in-residence Alisha Marie Boyd, Brothers Dressler, Murmur (Robin Elliot), Caitlin Erskine-Smith, Lana Filippone, Ann Marie Hadcock, Sin-Ying Ho, Peter MacCallum, Shawn Micallef, Sorrel Muggridge, Laura Nanni, Howard Podeswa, Sandra Rechico, James Redekop, Seth Scriver, Sandra Smirle, Despo Sophocleous, and Rachael Wong. A photo exhibit on rodeo culture by Peter Sibbald also premieres in a new exhibition space in the Fleck Dance Theatre lobbies.

Neighbourhood Maverick in the architecture gallery features design firms Reigo & Bauer, Drew Mandel Architects, studio junction inc., and Luke Painter.

Main Gallery Exhibition Hours: Tuesday, Thursday through Sunday, 12-6 p.m.; Wednesday 12-8 p.m., closed Mondays except holidays, 12-6 p.m.
Craft Studio Regular Hours: Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Winter 2011: Visual Arts

Brothers Dressler (Lars & Jason), Caitlin Erskine-Smith, Sin-Ying Ho,
Despo Sophocleous and Rachael Wong
Curated by Melanie Egan and Patrick Macaulay
The craft world is experiencing a reinvigorated interest in the relationship between making and thinking. Six artists present their individual perspectives on the reciprocal relationship between ideas and the act of creating art. Their work epitomizes the synthesis between communication and materials, past and present, here and there, thought and process. Exhibition catalogue is available in the main gallery.

Brothers Dressler (Lars & Jason), Caitlin Erskine-Smith, Sin-Ying Ho,
Despo Sophocleous and Rachael Wong
Curated by Melanie Egan and Patrick Macaulay
Organized in tandem with Making Thinking Thinking Making. This exhibition expands the idea of a sampler (traditionally associated with embroidery and used to highlight an artist’s mastery of materials) to view it as a segment of an artist or designer’s overall creative practice.

Alisha Marie Boyd & Lana Filippone
Lana Filippone and Harbourfront Centre artist-in-residence Alisha Marie Boyd collaborate on a look at the history and traditional materials of their respective crafts.
Playing with form and function and expanding on conventional practices, they present a re-contextualization inspired by contemporary ideas.

Do-it-Yourself Section
Seth Scriver
A selection of step-by-step sculpture and video designed to show how to make use of all the garbage around you, transforming it into precious craft objects.

Plotting a City
Peter MacCallum, Shawn Micallef, Murmur (Robin Elliott), Sorrel Muggridfe & Laura Nanni, Howard Podeswa, Sandra Rechico, James Redekop and Sandra Smirle
Curated by Patrick Macaulay
Eight artists document the city through various means, examining buildings, streets and the human beings around them to explore how people understand and connect with their surroundings. Some artists reveal preoccupations with human geography and site-specificity, others are more interested in map work, satellite imagery and geographic tracking patterns.

Ann Marie Hadcock
Influenced by cross-disciplinary art-making processes that blur the lines between sculpture, installation, drawing and craft, Ann Marie Hadcock presents a spatial structure made of unrecognizable, inexpensive craft materials.

Jesse Boles
Toronto-based photographer Jesse Boles investigates industry as landscape, reducing it to its simplest form: a pile. The pile becomes a symbol for the broader imprint of human economic and cultural activity through industry and consumer culture.

Rough Stock: A Photography Exhibition About Rodeo Culture
Peter Sibbald
(Fleck Dance Theatre –Access to exhibition by ticket holders only)
This series explores the contemporary North American small-town rodeo culture through portraits of the lives of people who participate in this tribal sub-culture. Rodeo culture now thrives in the countryside surrounding Toronto, helping sustain a rural way of life for many who produce our local food.

Winter 2011 Architecture

Drew Mandel Architects
Reigo & Bauer
studio junction inc.
Luke Painter
Neighbourhoods are largely defined by the houses that are situated within their boundaries. In Toronto, Corktown is known for its turn-of-the-century workers’ townhouses and Leaside for its post-war bungalows. As the city transforms, these neighbourhoods evolve with both old and new residences, and existing buildings with bolder architectural pursuits. Why should the existing streetscapes be maintained? What considerations do architects take into account when designing for an existing streetscape? What effect does the intervention of maverick architecture have on the design character of a neighbourhood?
Participating firms explore the insertion within the Toronto streetscape of those houses which are designed of our times in contrast to the existing neighbourhood aesthetic. Architects were asked to explore the challenges, the benefits and negatives to neighbourhoods and the possibilities for creative expression.

Beyond Lines
Drew Mandel Architects
Beyond Lines maps a typical residential Toronto streetscape on which five Drew Mandel Architects houses have been modeled.
Five string-models emphasize our interest in the three-dimensional experience of architecture rather than a focus on a two-dimensional image of a house. Like three-dimensional sketches, they express the dematerialized building. It is architecture, not about assembling cues adding up to "house" or the image of the thing only, but rather the slow, unfolding experience of a place.
The string line drawings underline the interconnected spatial relationships that reach outside the boundaries of the building envelope and into the sites, the sky and to the landscapes beyond.
The base of the exhibit describes the figure-ground relationship and highlights the urban design aspects of the projects. Unlike the now-common McMansion developments, these projects resist the convention to simply fill the maximum zoning envelope with an object-building largely undifferentiated from site to site.
TEAM MEMBERS: Drew Mandel, Jowenne Poon and Rachel Tameirao

Developer X
Reigo & Bauer
Developer X is an installation piece that chronicles a fictional philanthropic, vigilante development endeavor that anonymously drops prefabricated modern houses on empty lots throughout the city overnight.
Troubled by the disconnect between our present day lifestyles and new housing that emulates the past, Developer X believes that, given the chance, Torontonians will embrace houses of today – houses that adopt new and innovative technologies in construction and design and express our new ways of living.
Residential architecture that looks forward, not backwards, is a plausible alternative.
TEAM MEMBERS: Merike Bauer, Stephen Bauer and Ryan Trinidade
COLLABORATORS: Group Two Design Inc. and Studio 8 Graphics

studio junction inc.
Mid-block properties are properties located in the middle of the urban fabric or city block. These properties are without a traditional street frontage or a backyard, and thereby without a traditional face to the city. These under-utilized, residual lots are surrounded on all sides and are accessed by a public or private laneway, or a right-of-way across a neighbour’s property.
Spaces for living can come from various environments, and increasingly the desire to live downtown is often reconciled with a less-than-ideal lot. mid-block discusses the idea of infill housing as small insertions into a dense urban fabric. The unique site conditions of these properties are associated with difficult issues such as reduced size, view, privacy from your neighbour, access and legal challenges.
Without a traditional streetscape, exterior facades become less important. mid-block explores creative ways to introduce light into an enclosed space and thereby form new connections to the outdoors. In addressing small space living, mid-block housing presents viable alternatives for contemporary urban dwelling while developing new, rich layers and relationships with the existing streets, neighbourhoods and city.
TEAM MEMBERS:  Peter Tan, Christine Ho Ping Kong, Joe (Che Yu) Lin, Thomas Barker, Mazier Shafiee and Andrew Waller

Fiction and Intervention: Utopic Visions for the 21st Century
Luke Painter
Luke Painter contributes to NEIGHBOURHOOD MAVERICK with a series based on the intensive fictional architectural scene-making he has been creating in a variety of media.
His animations depict sites in both Toronto and Montreal that have experienced heavy condo development and gentrification over the last decade.
This component of the exhibition is presented by Visual Arts at Harbourfront Centre as part of an ongoing interdisciplinary focus.

BEYOND IMAGININGS 2: Eight Artists Encounter Ontario’s Greenbelt
Becky Comber, Keesic Douglas, Martie Giefert, Mark Kasumovic, Rob MacInnis,
Erin Riley, Meera Margaret Singh and Garett Walker
This project’s second phase includes a new selection of breathtaking images of the Greenbelt taken during the summer and early fall seasons by participating artists. Supported by The Greenbelt Foundation.

• Seth Scriver, Do-it-Yourself Section (detail), 2011.Mixed media. Image courtesy of the artist.
• Alisha Marie Boyd, Succession of Pearls, 2009. Freshwater pearls, sterling silver, copper, enamel. Photography by Paul Ambtman
• Peter Sibbald, Andre, bull rider, Lindsay, ON, 2009. Image courtesy of the artist.
• James Redekop, Drawing Toronto: Downtown, 2009. Computer generated image Image courtesy of the artist

For additional information and complete event listings, the public may visit or call the Information Hotline at 416-973-4000. Harbourfront Centre is located at 235 Queens Quay West, at the heart of downtown Toronto’s waterfront.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

ReelAbilities Film Festival Feb 3 - 8 NYC

From a media release:

The Third Annual ReelAbilities: NY Disabilities Film Festival
February 3 to 8 in 20 venues throughout the five boroughs, Roosevelt Island, Long Island and Westchester.

ReelAbilities is dedicated to promoting the awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories and artistic expressions of people with different abilities. Discussions and other engaging programs will bring together the community to explore, discuss and celebrate the diversity of our shared human experience. Films this year will have an increased focus on manmade disabilities and mental illness.

Presented by the JCC in Manhattan, with the support of UJA-Federation and over 40 partnering organizations, ReelAbilities will feature 11 films showcased in 20 venues, opening and closing night receptions, special non-film programs (performing arts, live music, theatre performances and more), panel discussions with guest filmmakers, and educational programming in various locations.

The third edition will mark an even greater focus on accessibility. All festival printed materials and the ReelAbilities website were designed according to the most recent accessibility guidelines. Festival information will be available in Braille, all films will be captioned or subtitled, and Live Audio Description and ASL interpretation will be made available.

“This is a festival whose goal is to foster culture change. The impact of last year’s festival was great. We reached a large, diverse audience, and people left the screenings saying how they felt changed by what they had seen”. Says festival founder, Anita Altman of UJA-Federation.

Festival director, Isaac Zablocki adds: “Our films this year are of the highest international quality and play for a mainstream audience. The films do not just stay on the screen. Our programs and conversations allow a further opportunity to impact the community, and transform cultural taboos.” 

Marcos Carnevale’s 2009 film ANITA, will kick off the festival. Anita, a young woman with Down syndrome, gets separated from her mother after a bomb explodes at their Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires. As she wanders the city searching for her mom–alone for the first time ever–she discovers an inner strength few could have expected.

Several countries will be represented this year through film such as WANDERING EYES (Israel), which tells the story of a former Orthodox Jew and manic depressive, Gabriel Belhassan, who is the next big thing in the music world.  THE RED CHAPEL (Denmark) was a 2009 Sundance favorite, following a journalist with no scruples and two Danish/Korean comedians—one a self-proclaimed “spastic” with cerebral palsy— that travel to North Korea under the guise of cultural exchange. Antonio Naharro’s ME TOO (Spain), focuses on a recent college graduate with Down syndrome who forges a strong bond with a vivacious workmate.

Ten years ago, Paul Nadler was a creative maverick: an extreme sportsman, award-winning TV director, and a veritable Casanova to boot. When a car accident leaves him with a traumatic brain injury he sets out to reaffirm he still is all of these things in BRAIN DAMAJ’D…TAKE II (Canada).

American director Ken Paul Rosenthal creates a visually stunning account of artist-activist Jacks Ashley McNamara’s transformation from troubled childhood to psych ward patient to pioneering mental health advocate in CROOKED BEAUTY (USA). This poetic tale reshapes mental health stigmas while re-approaching madness as a tool for creativity, inspiration and hope.

Also screening at the festival are British films THE LAST AMERICAN FREAK SHOW and REEL ENCOUNTERS.  THE LAST AMERICAN FREAK SHOW, by Richard Butchins, is a documentary that exposes the bigotry and bucking expectations of the American freak show. REEL ENCOUNTERS is a series of groundbreaking short films made by and about different deaf communities from around the world.

China is also represented with MY SPECTACULAR THEATRE, a remarkable cinematic work portraying a love story developed in a Beijing theater for the blind; and WARRIOR CHAMPIONS in which four Iraq veterans turn the nightmares of war into Olympic dreams.

The festival’s closing night film, WRETCHES & JABBERERS (USA) is about two men with autism who embark on a global quest to change attitudes about autism and intelligence.

“It is gratifying to see how these exceptional films attract a diverse audience of film lovers and engaging the community. This year is especially significant as we launch a traveling program, bringing this ground-breaking festival to five major cities during 2011” adds Ravit Turjeman, festival co-director.

At the core of the festival’s mission lies the importance of conversation and interaction.  Award winning filmmakers and esteemed guests join the roster of films to create meaningful conversations and engagement beyond the films.

Guest speakers at this year’s festival will include renowned documentary filmmakers, Craig and Brent Renaud.  At the upcoming festival, the Renaud brothers will be presenting their film WARRIOR CHAMPIONS, following four Iraq War veterans training to compete at the Olympics after losing limbs and suffering paralysis fighting for their country in Iraq.

Two of the athletes portrayed in the film will attend the festival as well - Melissa Stockwell, the first female American soldier in history to lose a limb in active combat., and later to become the first wounded Iraq War Veteran to make the U.S. Paralympics Swim Team; and Scott Winkler, who became paralyzed from the chest down during his tour in Iraq, and in 2008 set out to become one of the first Iraq War Veterans in history to make the Paralympics Games in Beijing.

Additional speakers include Academy Award®-winning documentary producer and director Gerardine Wurzburg who will participate in the festival alongside Larry Bissonnette and Tracy Thresher; protagonists of her documentary film WRETCHES & JABBERERS. Her films have had a major impact for social change. Major awards include an Academy Award® for the documentary Educating Peter, an Academy Award® nomination for Autism is a World, and the Cable ACE for Documentary Directing, among others.

CROOKED BEAUTY, the visually stunning account of artist-activist Jacks Ashley McNamara’s life journey, will be introduced by McNamara and the documentary’s director Ken Paul Rosenthal. Joining them will be Sascha Altman DuBrul, founder of the groundbreaking Icarus Project.

Special events will include the following:
Diversity on Sesame Street: 40 years of the seminal TV show screened for kids in one room, while adults are treated to clips and a conversation with show writer Emily Perl Kingsley, whose son has Down syndrome.
Flame: A spectacular show from the NY-based band, comprising 11 musicians/performers with developmental and physical abilities.
FREE Players: Family Residences and Essential Enterprises’ (FREE) jazz ensemble of performers with mental and developmental disabilities.
IF, created by Heidi Latsky Dance: Excerpts from IF, a breathtaking community-based dance performance which transcends physical differences with a diverse cast of 20 that is multi-generational, multiracial and of mixed ability.
Music for Autism: An interactive, “Autism friendly” concert featuring Broadway’s Jersey Boys’ Dominic Nolfi, Dominic Scaglione and Deborah Hurwitz. Open for individuals with autism and their families. Advance registration required.
Navigating Disability: An Exploration by four artists: Fountain Gallery, the premier venue for artists with mental illness, and VSA, the international organization on arts and disability, present 4 artists (Jacks Ashley McNamara, Martin Cohen, Emily Eifler, and Scott Ligon) who are navigating unique relationships between disability and creative expressions. ON VIEW February 3 - April 28 at The Laurie M Tisch Gallery at The JCC in Manhattan, Sat. Feb 5, 6pm - Reception and talk with Artist Jacks Ashley McNamara
Our Time Theatre Company: Original work by the talented members of Our Time, a non-profit organization that uses the arts to improve the confidence and communication skills of young people who stutter.
Seeing with Photography: A striking exhibition of photos from artists who are visually impaired, partially sighted, and totally blind. On View Feb 3-8 at The Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library.

For more information about the festival, go to or contact 646-505-4404.

Comedy & Beer on Special with Julia Hladkowicz & Matt O'Brien in Toronto

From various sources - comedy and beer on special this month in Toronto:

Comedy in Toronto
Grindhouse Comedy February 3 with Julia Hladkowicz
Comedy Records Presents: Comedy At Czehoski February 15 with Matt O'Brien

Who is Julia Hladkowicz? She is a comedian and actor who has won numerous awards in the world of comedy, including the Hogtown Comedy Festival Directors Award, a 2008 Fresh Meat Showcase Nomination, the prestigious Brian Linehan Scholarship Award and was crowned Last Comic Smoking. This blonde dynamo is a rising star at YukYuks and she recently returned from a California tour.

Grindhouse Comedy is a bi-monthly show hosted and produced by Julia making its debut February 3rd. This show will run the 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month is at Grindhouse Burger Bar at 365 King Street West (King and Bluejays Way), and Julia's promising a hot line up.

It starts at 10PM
• A PWYC show
• Amazing burgers which will be served all night and Mill Street beer specials!

The first show includes:

SARA HENNESSEY-Video on Trial, Laugh Sabbath
MATT O'BRIEN-XM Radio Canada's Next Top Comic
STEPH TOLEV-Ladystache
DOM PARE-Just For Laughs Home Grown
and HEADLINER: ROB PUE!- Punk'd, Just For Laughs, Comedy Now, XM Radio and more!

Next Show February 17th with Headliner SANDRA BATTAGLINI!

Follow Grindhouse Comedy on twitter! @grindcomedy
For bookings email

After her own gig on the 3rd, Julia joins a cast of several at Matt O'Brien's stand up on Czehoski on Queen on the 15th, where Matt O'Brien is hosting:

Comedy Records Presents: Comedy At Czehoski 
With Matt O'Brien
Tuesday, February 15 at 9:00pm

Comedy Records Presents the first of a monthly stand-up showcase at Czehoski on Queen!

• $4 Bottles of 50 and $4 Jaeger Shots

Nick Reynoldson (Absolute Comedy, Comedy Records)
K. Trevor Wilson (Absolute Comedy, Comedy Records)
Monty Scott (Absolute Comedy, Comedy Records)
Barry Taylor (Absolute Comedy, Comedy Records)
Julia Hladkowicz (Yuk Yuk's, Last Comic Smoking 2010)

MATT O'BRIEN (XM Radio Canada's Next top Comic 2010)

Showtime at 9pm 
• Pay What You Can at the door recommended $5 cover


Turning 32 Documentary Toronto Premiere February 4

From a media release:

16 years later . . . what have they become?
Turning 32 Toronto theatrical premiere
Follow-up to award-winning TV series opens Feb. 4

Toronto, Ontario, January 20, 2011 – The National Film Board of Canada documentary Turning 32, a sequel to the 1992 television series Turning 16, will have a Toronto theatrical engagement February 4 to February 10 at the NFB Mediatheque. Produced by Adobe Productions International in co-production with the NFB, this powerful film revisits the subjects of the TV series 16 years later and explores two universal themes: the journey to adulthood and the role of family. Co-director Robbie Hart will be in attendance for a Q&A following the screenings on February 4 and 5, while Turning 32 participant JR Messam, whose birth was captured in Turning 16, will attend on February 8.    

Screening information
• Turning 32 (2010) – 104 min
• NFB Mediatheque – 150 John St. at Richmond St. W.
• February 4 to February 10
• Daily screenings at 7 p.m.
• $6/$4 for students, seniors, partners and Front Pass members

About the film
What characteristics do we have in common despite our cultural, geographic and economic differences? Filmmakers Robbie Hart and Luc Côté travelled the globe to explore this intriguing question, encountering an extraordinary group of men and women, all in their early thirties. The result of their journey is Turning 32, a feature documentary that transcends borders and offers a compassionate look at growing up around the world.

Back in 1992, Hart and Côté interviewed thousands of teenagers from Jamaica, Brazil, Thailand, Niger and India as part of the research phase of their documentary series Turning 16. From that group, five teens, one from each country, were chosen to be the main characters. The filmmakers delved into the stories, challenges and dreams of these young people and asked them to envision their lives at age 32. The series was nominated for four Gémeaux, garnered numerous international awards and has been distributed in over 50 countries.

In 2008, exactly 16 years later, Turning 32 picks up where the documentary series left off. Rosie, Pintinho, Puttinan, Idrissa and Sonam recount the events that have marked their lives since we last saw them. We revisit their teenage dreams, see who they’ve become and discover how their worlds have evolved. Turning 32 is a touching and hopeful film that travels across the globe and over time to provide a captivating portrait of five very distinct people.

Photos by Robbie Hart , Luc Côté

About the filmmakers

Robbie Hart – Director
President and founder of Adobe Productions International, Robbie Hart is a veteran filmmaker who has been making documentaries since 1986, often alongside Luc Côté. He has shot over 50 films, including many social portraits such as Nos amours: The Saga of the Montreal Expos. With Luc Côté, he co-authored the documentary series Turning 16 (winner of the Japan Prize) and Rainmakers. Many of his works and productions have garnered awards at the Prix Gémeaux and such festivals as Hot Docs, Chicago International, Banff Mountain, NHK and the North-South Media Festival.

Luc Côté – Director
Documentary filmmaker and producer Luc Côté has been making films since he was 14. For the past 35 years, he has travelled extensively making social documentaries. In the early 1980s, he founded the New York production company On Track Video and later teamed up with Robbie Hart in Montreal to launch Adobe Productions. His film Crash Landing, on post-traumatic stress disorder, picked up an award at the Hot Docs Festival in 2005. With Patricio Henríquez, he recently co-directed You Don’t Like the Truth: 4 Days Inside Guantánamo, which employs a surveillance camera aesthetic to reveal the initial interrogations of Omar Khadr.

About the NFB Mediatheque
The NFB Mediatheque is a one-of-a-kind multimedia facility in the heart of Toronto’s Entertainment District, a centre for media literacy and a public access point for films from the NFB and around the world. We offer over 5,000 NFB titles on digital viewing stations, screenings of great films in our theatre, educational workshops, special events and a boutique with NFB DVDs to buy or rent.

• For more information, visit or call 416-973-3012.

Kuumba - Black History Month Festivities at Harbourfront Toronto

From a media release:

Kuumba presented by TD
Feb. 5-6 & 12-13, 2011

Two weekends of fun to celebrate Black History Month at Harbourfront Centre 

TORONTO, ON – The 15th annual Kuumba festival presented by TD returns to Harbourfront Centre with two entertaining and educational weekends commemorating both the history and the future of black culture.

This winter, Harbourfront Centre presents programming that questions the BIG iDEA of witness. Join us Feb. 5-6 and Feb. 12-13, 2011 to witness black history through audio installations, visual arts, theatre, dance workshops, film screenings, music, comedy, family activities and more!

Kuumba is one of Toronto's longest-running and largest Black History Month festivals. This year features two jam-packed weekends of fun that the whole family can enjoy. The first weekend explores ideas surrounding the past, present and future of the black diaspora, while the second weekend focuses on the fusion of art and history in Caribbean culture.

“Kuumba” is the Swahili word for creativity and has become synonymous with showcasing the best local and international artists from the African and Caribbean diaspora. All programming is FREE (except the Ebony & Ivory Comedy Bash $15 & Beat the Street Dance Showdown $10) and runs each day from 1 p.m. into the evening.

All events take place at Harbourfront Centre located at 235 Queen’s Quay West. 
• For more information and to purchase tickets, call 416-973-4000 or visit

Kuumba event listings:


James King
Feb. 5, 3-4:30 p.m. (Brigantine Room)
Toronto-based James King delivers a melodic and lyrical fusion of pop, rock and neo-soul. Each member brings different skills and passions to the group, and together they create a unique mix of old school R&B with a modern pop twist.
Kuumba Unplugged featuring Natasha Waterman
Feb. 6, 2:30-3:30 p.m. (Studio Theatre)
Natasha Waterman began writing music at the age of 11 and recently released her first CD, Long Road. Her album is a blend of soulful songs that will have listeners grooving to her warm, sultry tones.

Pablo Terry y Sol de Cuba
Feb. 6, 5-6 p.m. (Lakeside Terrace)
Pablo Terry's dynamic stage presence and musical dexterity comes from years of training in the Cuban Army (as a member of the Cuban Military Band) and at the renowned Escuela de Artes in Havana. Terry has played with many great Cuban artists including Celia Cruz, Compay Segundo of Buena Vista Social Club, Omara Portuondo and Los Papines.

Kuumba Unplugged featuring Carlos Morgan
Feb. 12, 2:30-3:30 p.m. (Brigantine Room)
Carlos Morgan, a talented singer/songwriter/producer based in Toronto, is poised to break on a global level. Feelin' Alright, his debut album, is a collection of soothing love ballads and R&B club jams with a pinch of hip hop flavor. The album showcases the diversity of Morgan’s singing style, from seductive ballads to more upbeat R&B and hip hop grooves.

Kuumba Gospel Fest 2011
Feb. 13, 2-6 p.m. (Brigantine Room)
Kuumba Gospel Fest 2011 features a who’s who of local gospel music including the U of T Mass Choir, Brian Hamilton & Divine Worship, Echoe Of Praise, Rochelle Hanson, Jaren Jules and Winston Dayal and Chris Lowe.


Jaivah Nouvel Exposé African Dance Troupe
Feb. 5, 1:30-3 p.m. (Lakeside Terrace)
Toronto’s Jaivah Nouvel Exposé African Dance Troupe specializes in traditional and contemporary dance from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Congo, Southern Africa and Egypt. They pair original choreography with lively African music to showcase rare African dance styles.

Amadou Kienou
Feb. 6, 2-3 p.m. (Lakeside Terrace)
Born in Burkina Faso, Amadou Kienou comes from a family of renowned praise singers. Praise singers are considered to be the only professional artists in traditional African society. Kienou’s repertoire consists of Mandingue songs and dances that he adapted for the djembe (African drum).

Cadence Dance Academy Workshop
Feb. 5, 4:30- 5:30 (Lakeside Terrace)
Cadence Dance Company offers lessons, classes and performances in salsa, cha-cha, bachata, and Afro-Cuban dance. During his demonstrations, Patrick Danquah will teach participants easy and sexy moves that look great on the dance floor!

Afro-Cuban Dance Workshop - Irina Bravo
Feb. 13, 1:30-2:30 p.m. (Lakeside Terrace)
Cuban-born Irina Bravo will teach a high-energy Afro-Cuban dance workshop for all skill levels. With a focus on the Orisha (Yoruba deities) dance style, this class teaches students the fundamentals of Afro-Cuban folkloric dance.

Beat the Street Dance Showdown
Feb. 6, 3-6 p.m. (Brigantine Room)
Ticketed event $10
Witness the transformative power of dance! Watch as 18 post-secondary, high school and street dance teams from around the GTA compete for the top spot and $500!

Cirque Afro-Cuban featuring Eduardo Dorticos
Feb. 12, 4-5 p.m. (Lakeside Terrace)
This demo and interactive workshop is taught by Cuban Olympian and cirque performer Eduardo Dorticos. Combining dazzling acrobatics and expressive dance, Dorticos draws audiences into the awe-inspiring world of contemporary circus. With his expertise in gymnastics, contemporary dance and professional circus training he has created a daring and elegant act you don’t want to miss!

Magia Negra Candombe
Feb. 12, 5-6 p.m. (Brigantine Room)
Magia Negra Candombe is a local Afro-Uruguayan group that plays candombe music. The candombe rhythm is created with three drums also know as tambors – the tambor piano, tambor chico and tambor repique. These instruments have been an important part of Uruguayan culture since they were first introduced to the South American country through the African slave trade.

Afro-Brazilian Drum and Dance Workshop – Capeoira Camara
Feb. 12, 3:30-4:30 p.m. (Lakeside Terrace)
Capoeira (Ca-po-era) is a 400 year-old Brazilian martial art that combines self defense with energetic music and acrobatics. This workshop (led by a top Capoeira master from Capeoira Camara) teaches the basic movements of the art form that exercises both the mind and body.

Hip Hop Dance Workshop - Leon Blackwood
Feb. 13, 1:30-2:30 p.m. (Lakeside Terrace)
Leon Blackwood is a self-taught dancer and choreographer who’s been featured in the blockbuster dance movies Honey and How She Move! During his workshop, he will teach a variety of basic hip hop moves and create a fun and unique dance routine.


Mama Africa
Feb. 5, 1-2 p.m. (Studio Theatre)
Directed by Ale Braga, Mama Africa is a documentary that gives African children a voice to dispel African stereotypes and the forum to talk about issues that affect their daily lives including religion, culture, development and nutrition.

Black Mother Black Daughter followed by The Black Family…Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow
Panel discussion
Feb. 5, 4-6 p.m. (Studio Theatre)
The short film Black Mother Black Daughter (a part of Ontario Black History Societies Black International Film Fest) explores the lives and experiences of black women living in Nova Scotia. The film examines the contributions the women make in their homes, the church and their community. It also takes a look at the strengths they passed on to their daughters. The film is followed by The Black Family…Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow panel discussion that assesses the structure of the black family from the past, present and the future. Panelists include Dalton Higgins (music programmer, pop culture critic, author, broadcaster and journalist), Rosemary Sadler (President of the Ontario Black History Society) and more.

Inside Carnival & Kiddie Carnival
Feb. 12, 2-2:30 p.m. (Studio Theatre)
A selection of short films tracing the history of Trinidad & Tobago’s spectacular Kiddie Carnival from 2003 to 2010 and the larger adult Carnival from 2008 to 2010 (Courtesy of the Trinidad & Tobago Tourism).

Bravo! FACT shorts for Kuumba 2011
Feb. 6, 1-3 p.m. (Studio Theatre)
Fifteen Canadian-made Bravo! FACT short films (that cover a range of subject matter and styles) will be screened to celebrate the contributions of black Canadian filmmakers.


Feb. 12, 8- 9:30 p.m. (Studio Theatre)
Kwame Stephen’s Man2Man follows the love story between two men as they navigate a bumpy road to love. This theatrical production challenges stereotypes while exploring how religion, family, love and sexuality play a role in the character’s lives. *I'll have more about this play soon...


Ebony & Ivory Comedy Bash – hosted by Kenny Robinson
Feb. 5, 8:30-11 p.m. (Brigantine Room)
Ticketed event ($15)
For over 25 years, Kenny Robinson has engaged audiences with his raucous, cheeky, profane and opinionated style of comedy and social commentary. At Kuumba, he hosts the Ebony & Ivory Comedy Bash featuring a slew of local comedians.


Black in History Exhibit: Voices from Days of Slavery
Feb. 5, 12-10 p.m., Feb. 6, 12-6 p.m. (Marilyn Brewer Community Space)
The Voices from Days of Slavery audio installation features the remarkable oral accounts of former slaves (on loan from the Library of Congress). There are only 26 audio-recorded interviews of ex-slaves that have ever been found. This collection captures their stories and gives listeners a chance to hear first-hand accounts about what it was like to be a slave and to gain freedom.

*Images of seven former slaves featured in this audio installation are also on display.

Black in History Exhibit: Motown Museum Digital Display
Feb. 5, 12-10 p.m., Feb. 6, 12-6 p.m. (Marilyn Brewer Community Space)
The Motown Museum Digital Display (on loan from the Motown Museum in Detroit) traces the history of this soulful era and highlights the indelible impact Motown has had on popular culture and music.

Black in History Exhibit: Enslaved in Upper Canada
Feb. 5, 12-10 p.m., Feb. 6, 12-6 p.m. (Marilyn Brewer Community Space)
The Enslaved in Upper Canada photo exhibit (courtesy of Archives of Ontario) depicts the existence and practice of slavery in Upper Canada between the years 1760 and 1834. The exhibit focuses on the lives of enslaved Africans and the actions they took to resist servitude in Upper Canada.

Black in History Exhibit: On the Road North
Feb. 5, 12-10 p.m., Feb. 6, 12-6 p.m. (Marilyn Brewer Community Space)
The On the Road North photo exhibit (courtesy of Citizenship and Immigration Canada) tells the story of Canada’s black communities through the lens of people, places and events recognized as nationally significant to Canada’s history. The exhibit was developed by the Parks Canada Agency in collaboration with the Multiculturalism Program of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Mas Camp Centre
Feb. 12, 12-10 p.m., Feb.13, 12-6 p.m. (Marilyn Brewer Community Space)
Mas Camp Centre is colourful showcase of carnival costumes from the past and the present. Visitors can learn about the history of carnival and view the intricate designs of 10 flamboyant carnival costumes and headpieces.


Box of Crayons
Feb. 5, 2-4 p.m., Feb. 6, 1:30-3:30 p.m. (Miss Lou’s Room)
This children’s activity is based on Shane Derolf’s poem The Crayon Box that Talked. During this activity, kids will learn that when we all work together the results are much more interesting and colorful!

Mas Camp Central
Feb. 12-13, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Kids can make their own colourful and unique carnival headpiece!

Kuumba Carnival Parade
Feb. 12, 6-6:30 p.m. (Lakeside Terrace and site)
Families and kids can participate in a carnival parade around the Harbourfront Centre site!


Motown Mixer featuring DJ D. Brown
Feb. 5, 8 p.m. on The Natrel® Rink
The first-ever DJ Skate Saturday Nights Motown Mixer features Detroit’s DJ D. Brown. Join us for a funky skate as we celebrate Motown’s rich history and contribution to the music industry.

Soca on Ice featuring Dr. Jay de Soca Prince
Feb. 12, 8 p.m. on The Natrel® Rink
DJ Skate Saturday Nights explores hot Caribbean rhythms at the first soca party on ice! Join us as Flow 93.5 FM’s Dr. Jay de Soca Prince heats up the ice with spicy soca and calypso tunes.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Review: Factory/Crow's Theatre Eternal Hydra

continues to February 13, 2011

"These days, writing is a very small part of being an author."

Eternal Hydra is a play of ideas fleshed out by the foibles of its very human characters, crisscrossing through time, fact and fantasy to pose questions of morality and truth and a whole lot else. That it succeeds in this quite captivating production is due to brilliant writing and a strong cast that takes on a total of 11 roles between the four of them.

Just as a spare but striking set and cast of four flit back and forth, so does the story trip back and forth between the present, where scholar Vivian (Liisa Repo-Martell) brings a long lost manuscript she's unearthed to be published, and Paris of the 1930's, where its author(s) lived and drank prodigiously. It also slips between the "reality" of the present day publishing transactions and the various fictions represented on the page, from one author to another to another... Along the way it asks the questions about the nature of genius, and just how much writing an author is supposed to do these days. The tangled storyline mirrors the complexity of the issues. Aren't all artists simply rearranging what is already there? Dashes of smart humour pepper the scenes.

David Ferry does a nice turn as Gordius Carbuncle (aka...?) the Irish/Jewish writer with a glorious concept for the novel of the century. It will contain 100 chapters, each written from the voice of a completely different protagonist, and each representing the unheard voices of history. The search for unheard voices - along with a combination of self-hatred and an overweening desire for literary immortality - is what leads him to cross paths with young black American writer Selma Thomas. In the modern storyline, author Pauline Newberry, championing Selma's unrecognized oeuvre, locks horns with Vivian and her romanticized version of Gordius. Cara Ricketts, playing both Pauline and Selma along with a freed slave in post-Civil War New Orleans, is an able chameleon.

The production as a whole switches modes between past and present seamlessly and in a way that felt both noticeable and authentic. Liisa Repo-Martell has a real gift for accents, going from English to Scottish and then Louisiana. Her portrayal of Vivian Ezra really conveyed the passion and devotion of scholarship - even if those passions did go too far. Sam Malkin is publisher Randall Williams both Jr. and Sr., and boss/lover of the slave girl who is Selma's great grandmother, with a bit of a larger than life persona that suits the comedy. A multi-purpose set and striking lighting design by John Thompson do a lot to add depth to the performances, which include segments of narration and aside comments to the audience. It's a story within a story within a story, a classic mystery, but the whodunnit is actually a philosophical question.

Gordius grows on you. At first he's something of a caricature, presented in terms of the conceptions conjured up by Vivian and Pauline. He solidifies as a real person in segments of his diary. Eternal Hydra, the many-headed snake of Greek mythology, is a kind of metaphor for the very questions - and constantly mutating answers - that the play itself poses. What is morality when it comes to artistic creation? What is truly "original"? In this era of sampling and mashing up, it seems a particularly relevant question.

Last night's packed opening night audience included former GG Adrienne Clarkson and John Ralston Saul, author André Alexis and Philip Akin, whose own production of Ruined is currently on stage just east of downtown.

• Liisa Repo Martell, David Ferry and Cara Ricketts
• Anton Piatigorsky
• David Ferry and Liisa Repo Martell by Monica Esteves

Directed by Chris Abraham, with set and lighting design by John Thompson, costume design by Barbara Rowe, sound design by Richard Feren and stage management by Merissa Tordjman, featuring cast members David Ferry, Sam Malkin, Liisa Repo-Martell and Cara Ricketts.

The Details:
• Show times are Tuesday to Saturday, 8 p.m., and Sunday, 2 p.m. (exception Sunday preview, 7 p.m.).
• Tuesday to Thursday tickets are $28 ($23 for Students and Seniors); Friday, $35 ($30 for Students and Seniors); Saturday, $40 ($35 for Students and Seniors); and Sunday, advance tickets $28 ($23 for Students and Seniors) or Pay-What-You-Can tickets.
• RUSH tickets are subject to availability on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday performances.
• The box office opens at noon on Sunday and has a limited number of P-W-Y-C tickets, available at 1 p.m.
• The box office is open for in-person/phone sales Tuesday to Saturday, 1 to 8 p.m., and Sunday at 12 noon to 4 p.m.;
Online sales are available 24 hours a day.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Elia Suleiman's The Time That Remains Opens in Toronto Feb 4

From a media release:

eOne Films presents

A Film By Elia Suleiman

*World Premiere at the Cannes Film Festival 2009
*North American Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival 2009

Opens in Toronto on Friday, February 4th, 2011
Bell Lightbox Theatre

Screenplay written by Elia Suleiman
Produced by Michael Gentile and Elia Suleiman
The film stars Elia Suleiman, Saleh Bakri, Samar Qudha Tanus, Shafika Bajjali, Tarek Qubti, Zuhar abu Hanna and Ayman Espanioli

THE TIME THAT REMAINS is a semi-autobiographical film in four episodes about a family, my family, from 1948 until recent times. The film is inspired by my father’s private diaries, starting from when he was a resistance fighter in 1948, and by my mother’s letters to family members who were forced to leave the country. Combined with my intimate memories of them and with them, the film attempts to portray the daily life of those Palestinians who remained and were labeled "Israeli-Arabs", living as a minority in their own homeland.

Drama, Feature Film
105 minutes
Image is of Director Elia Suleiman, courtesy of eOne Films.

Art of Time Ensemble's Take This Waltz - Feb 4-5 Harbourfront

Art of Time Ensemble  presents Take This Waltz
the waltz explored throughout the last 150 years
February 4-5, 2011.

Toronto - The acclaimed Art of Time Ensemble, under the artistic direction of Andrew Burashko, presents Take This Waltz, a diversely rich and compelling program that explores the waltz throughout the last 150 years, running Friday, February 4 and Saturday, February 5, 2011 at Harbourfront Centre's Enwave Theatre, sponsored by BMO Financial. CBC Radio Two is recording the concert for future broadcast.

A stellar lineup of outstanding classical and jazz musicians along with celebrated singer Steven Page perform:

Les Allt - Flute/Sax
Rachel Mercer - Cello
Benjamin Bowman - Violin
Doug Perry - Viola
Andrew Burashko - Piano
Jonathan Goldsmith - Piano
Rob Piltch - Guitar
Stephen Sitarski - Violin
Joaquin Valdepeñas - Clarinet
George Koller - Bass
Peter Longworth - Piano

The evening is book-ended by two legendary waltzes: the late 19th century Emperor Waltz from Johann Strauss (1825-99), the "king of the waltz," in a version for string quartet (Bowman, Mercer, Perry, Sitarski), piano (Burashko), flute (Allt) and clarinet (Valdepeñas); and La Valse by Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) for two pianos (Burashko and Longworth that marks the demise of the Strauss age.

Also on the varied program is:
• a movement from Alfred Schnittke's (1934-1998) Piano Quintet written in the 1970s in memory of his then recently deceased mother. This haunting, dissonant waltz is performed by Burashko and string quartet.
• a movement from Dmitri Shostakovich's (1906-75) Jazz Suite No. 1, a bluesy, playful piece (Bowman, Mercer, Burashko, Koller, Piltch and Allt).
• A short set of four waltzes by Chopin, Brahms and Pedro Saenz for solo piano, performed by Andrew Burashko.
Mephisto Waltz, a pyrotechnical solo piano piece by Franz Liszt (1811-86), performed by Peter Longworth, full of devilish chords and dark sounds.
• The second movement from Erich Korngold's (1897-1957) densely lyrical and romantic Suite Op. 23 for piano (Burashko), cello and two violins.
Waltz for Debby, a jazz standard composed by legend Bill Evans (1929-80), this musical portrait of Evans' niece is performed by Jonathan Goldsmith on piano and Rob Piltch on guitar.
Steven Page sings four contemporary songs based on waltz rhythms, explored in different ways. Note that all of the songs have new arrangements, except for A Singer Must Die as Art of Time previously commissioned the arrangement for the Songbook 2 program in 2008 with Page when it debuted. The same combination of jazz and classical musicians from Jazz Suite No. 1 accompany him.

Steven Page was the lead singer and songwriter of the Barenaked Ladies from 1988-2009, one of Canada's most enduring success stories (15 million albums sold, numerous Juno awards, two Grammy nominations, two Gemini awards). Now on his own, his solo album, Page One, was released this past fall. He has also composed music for three productions for the Stratford Festival, most recently Ben Jonson's Bartholomew Fair in 2009. Page and his band are touring North America in 2011.

Art of Time Ensemble presents
Take This Waltz
the waltz explored throughout the last 150 years
Friday, February 4 - Saturday, February 5, 2010 at 8 PM
Harbourfront Centre's Enwave Theatre, 231 Queens Quay West
Tickets: $25, $49, $59
Box Office: 416-973-4000 or online at

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pistolera's Brooklyn-Mexico Dance Party at Joe's Pub NYC February 4

From a media release:

at Joe's Pub, 425 Lafayette Street, NYC
Friday, February 4 at 9:30 PM; $15

Pistolera's accordion-driven melodies invite you to a dance party at the Brooklyn-Mexico border. Fans around the world are dancing cumbias to the group's socially conscious songs--en español--about immigrants' rights, war, racism, feminism, and life on the border.

• Get tix online at

Pistolera's two albums, Siempre Hay Salida (2006) and En Este Camino (2008), were produced by Grammy-winner Charlie Dos Santos. The band has toured in the U.S., Belgium, Holland, Portugal, and Mexico, and has shared the stage with Los Lobos, Lila Downs, The Mexican Institute of Sound, Kinky, Ely Guerra, Los Amigos Invisibles, Vieux Farka Toure, and Ozomatli, among others. Billboard Magazine said it was "...glorious and galvanzing. If this is homework, it gets and A."

Directed by Haroun Ibn-Mock and filmed in Brooklyn, NY, "Policia" was the first music video for Pistolera's sophomore album "En Este Camino".

"Pistolera melds the sass of indie rock with traditional Latin sounds to create compelling pop melodies, all of it sung entirely in Spanish." -Billboard Magazine

"...a foot-stomping sound that's one part ranchera and one part indie-pop." -The New Yorker

"Listening to Pistolera's self-released debut, "Siempre Hay Salida" ("There's Always a Way Out"), or watching lead singer and guitarist Sandra Lilia Velásquez stamp out a beat in her boots to bandmate Maria Elena's accordion melodies, you inevitably feel as though you've landed in the heart of Mexico. The blend of soulful ranchera, peppy cumbia, and Spanish lyrics evokes a feeling that's distinctly south of the border, yet not too far south."-The Boston Globe

• Online at
• Phone 212-967-7555,
• In Person At the Public Theater Box Office (1 PM to 6 PM), or at the Joe’s Pub Box Office from (6 PM to 10 PM) both located at 425 Lafayette Street, NYC

Denis Villeneuve's Incendies Garners Academy Award® Nomination

From a media release - I did an interview with actor Allen Altman about his role in the film last September when it premiered at TIFF - the kudos haven't stopped since.

For Immediate Release
Entertainment One film INCENDIES granted Academy Award® nomination

Entertainment One and Les Films Christal is pleased to announce Canadian feature film INCENDIES directed by Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve has been nominated for Best Foreign Film by the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences for the 83rd edition of the annual Academy Awards to be held in Hollywood, California on February 27, 2011.

After the news was announced this morning, Denis had this to say,

"This is one of the most intense nights and mornings in my life. This nomination feels like a very big Christmas gift to a 6 year old.  I want to share this honor with Wajdi Mouawad whose incredible play and ideas are the basis of the film.

I am proud that the film conveys the same message of reconciliation as the play, a message that is quite important in 2011."

Produced by Luc Déry and Kim McCraw of micro_scope Productions, INCENDIES is a riveting exploration of two parallel stories within one family torn apart by years of secrets and heartbreak. After their mother Nawal's death, twins Simon and Jeanne embark on a journey to the Middle East that shines a disturbing light on their mother's past and culminates in a shocking revelation. INCENDIES is based on the acclaimed play by Wajdi Mouawad and directed by the Genie and Jutra award-winner Denis Villeneuve (Polytechnique).

“We are incredibly happy, a bit overwhelmed about this nomination.  We are blessed to be working with Sony Classics, who led this campaign like the masters that they are. We also want to acknowledge the great support we got from Telefilm Canada, Sodec and Entertainment One in this process.” Says producers Luc Déry and Kim McCraw.

“On behalf of everyone at Entertainment One, I want to extend our congratulations to Denis, Luc and Kim for this well deserved nomination,” said Patrice Theroux, President Filmed Entertainment, at Entertainment One. “We were early fans of this sweeping drama and have watched the film win over audiences and capture awards at festivals around the globe. We hope this nomination exposes an even wider audience to Denis’ haunting and tragic tale.”

This nomination caps the continued success of the film, playing at a number of international film festivals, starting with its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival in 2010. The film has gone onto achieve critical acclaim, winning Best Canadian Feature at the Toronto International Film Festival, Best Canadian Feature at the Vancouver International Film Festival, Top 5 Best foreign films by the U.S. National Board of Review, to recently being awarded Best Canadian Feature from the Toronto Film Critics Association  and Best Canadian Film, Best Director in a Canadian Film (Denis Villeneuve), and Best Actress in a Canadian Film (Lubna Azabal) at the Vancouver Critics Circle Association.

Entertainment One holds the international sales rights for INCENDIES which has been sold in more than 30 territories. The film was funded by the Feature Film Fund Telefilm Canada. The Canada-France co-production was produced by micro_scope (Montreal) in association with IHP Group (Montreal) and TS Productions (Paris).

About Entertainment One
Entertainment One (LSE: ETO) is a leading international company that specializes in the acquisition, production and distribution of entertainment content. The company’s comprehensive network extends around the globe including Canada, the U.S., the UK, Ireland, Benelux, France, Germany, Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

The film is currently in playing in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.

Toronto :
• Bell Lightbox Theatre
• Varsity Theatre *opens this Friday, January 28th

• International Village Theatre

• Cinéma du Parc
• Cinéma Beaubien
• Cinéma Cartier (Québec)

Opens this Friday at the Bytowne Theatre in Ottawa

Future Dates include:
• Eau Claire Theatre, Calgary on Feb 11
• Odeon Theatre, Victoria on Feb 18
• Princess Theatre, Edmonton on Feb 18
• Additional markets will be added shortly

Screenplay written by Denis Villeneuve
Based on the stage play by Wajdi Mouawa
Produced by Luc Déry and Kim McCraw
The film stars Lubna Azabal, Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin, Maxim Gaudette, Rémy Girard
Drama, Feature Film
130 minutes, French & Arabic with English subtitles

Monday, January 24, 2011

Road to Qatar Opens Off-Broadway January 25

From a release - sounds like fun:

The Road to Qatar

The York Theatre Company
Presents by special arrangement with Paul F. Burchett
In association with Coltrane, LLC
Book and Lyrics Stephen Cole • Music David Krane
Choreographer Bob Richard • Music Director David Caldwell • Director Phillip George

James Beaman • Keith Gerchak • Bill Nolte • Sarah Stiles • Bruce Warren

January 25 to February 27

Use code BEST47 for $47 tickets (regular price $67.50)

THE ROAD TO QATAR! is a new true musical comedy about two American musical theatre writers commissioned to do the impossible - write a larger-than-life Broadway-style mega-musical for the Emir of Qatar including 100 actors, 40 camels, 17 fire-eating jugglers and Muhammad Ali. Surprises abound as the quirky self-professed "short Jewish writers" leave New York and begin trotting the globe.

Performances Begin January 25th!
• The York Theatre Company ∙ 619 Lexington Avenue (Corner of 54th St.) ∙ New York, NY 10022
• Box Office: (212) 935-5820 ∙ Box Office Hours: Monday-Friday 12-6pm
Online here 

What happens when two American musical theatre writers are commissioned by the Emir of Qatar to create the first American musical to premiere in the Middle East? Five years ago, Stephen Cole & David Krane each received an email that read: "We want you write musical. How much?"

Thus began a truly unbelievable journey that introduced the two "short Jews" to an alien world of camels, "safari" rides in the desert, and Middle Eastern theatrical producers. During the course of this madcap adventure, Stephen & David starred in their own personal Bob Hope-Bing Crosby road picture that took them to Dubai, London, Bratislava, and ultimately to Qatar, where they presented an epic original musical for the Emir and 1000 of his closest friends. (The premiere is pictured.)

When they returned, they had no other choice but to write their story in the only way they knew how: AS A MUSICAL!! The names have been changed to protect the innocent...but the story is TOTALLY TRUE!!!

Cast & Creative Team:

JAMES BEAMAN (Michael) is thrilled to make his York debut! Recent credits include Annie Get Your Gun and How to Succeed... at Goodspeed Opera House. James played Sir Robin for two years in the First National Tour of Monty Python's Spamalot. Visit James, and his popular blog, at

KEITH GERCHAK (Jeffrey) The great-grandson of Russian Jewish vaudevillians, Keith started performing in 2nd grade, standing on a milk crate during recess and singing two songs his mother taught him, "High Hopes" and "Does Your Chewing Gum Lose its Flavor on the Bedpost Overnight?" TV: "The Middle" and "House MD."

BILL NOLTE (Mansour) On Broadway, he's appeared in La Cage aux Folles, The Producers, Amour, Jane Eyre, 1776, A Christmas Carol, King David, Joseph… Dreamcoat, The Secret Garden, Me and My Girl and Cats. OTHER: Paper Mill, Goodspeed, La Jolla, the Alley, Pittsburgh Public, Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and the NYC Ballet.

SARAH STILES (Nazirah) comes directly from New World Stages where she reprised the Kate/Lucy role in Avenue Q, after playing the role in the Broadway company in 2008 and 2009. Broadway/First National Tour: Logainne in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

BRUCE WARREN (Farid) is pumped to reprise the roles he originated in the Lyric Stage world premiere of The Road to Qatar! NYC: The Wizard of Oz at MSG, Crazy Head Space, Treasure Island, Civil War Voices. National Tours: The Wizard of Oz, Cats (25th Anniversary), Oklahoma! (First National) and A Christmas Carol.

STEPHEN COLE (Book and Lyrics) Produced musicals include After the Fair (CD; Lyric Stage: 5 Dallas Theatre Awards; York Theatre Company: nominated for the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical; produced in London). The Night of the Hunter (CD; World Premiere San Francisco; NYMF 2006; Lyric Stage 2010 with full orchestra), Saturday Night at Grossinger' (Dallas starring Gavin McLeod; Long Island; LA and Florida). Stephen is the recipient of the Edward Kleban Award and a Gilman-Gonzales Falla Commendation for musical theatre

DAVID KRANE (Music) created the dance music and additional score adaptation for the Oscar-winning movie Chicago, and wrote all new music arrangements and additional score adaptation for the film version of Nine.

PHILLIP GEORGE (Director) Off-Broadway: Shout, Forbidden Broadway: Rude Awakening (Drama Desk Award), Forbidden Broadway SVU (Drama Desk), Forbidden Hollywood, Whoop-Dee-Doo (Drama Desk Award, Best Musical Revue), Forbidden Broadway Cleans Up Its Act, Forbidden Broadway Strikes Back, Forbidden Broadway 2001: A Spoof Odyssey (Drama Desk). In 2006, Forbidden Broadway won a special Tony Honor.

BOB RICHARD (Choreographer) Broadway/International: Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas. TV: "The Tonight Show," "Today" and "Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade." Other credits: Resident choreographer for 13 years at Sacramento Music Circus (staging over 28 productions).

MARTIN E. VREELAND (Lighting Design)
CHRIS KATEFF (Projection Designer)

The York Theatre Box Office Information
Hours: Monday - Friday, 12-6pm
Telephone: (212) 935-5820
Fax: (212) 758-4380
Address: 619 Lexington Avenue (at 54th), New York, NY 10022
Online here

The York loves its students and seniors! For students, we offer rush prices without the rush. Student tickets are only $20 to all weekday performances and $30 to all weekend performances‚ regardless of purchase date. For seniors‚ we offer “senior rush.” Simply show up one hour before the performance you wish to see, and as long as there are tickets available‚ we’ll sell you a ticket for just $20.