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Showing posts from April, 2010

Wingéd - A Multimedia Performance

I just got back from seeing Wingéd, a really fascinating and thought provoking take on three of the major icons of classical myth - Icarus, Lucifer and the Phoenix. I'm doing a review and interview piece for Lucid Media Magazine - the print version - but it doesn't come out till the June issue and I wanted to pass along the information. Check it out if you're in Toronto - this is from media releases:

Whetstone Productions presents the world premiere of
Written & Performed by David Tomlinson
Directed by Diana Kolpak
(remaining credits below)

April 29 - May 8, 2010 - The DeLeon White Gallery, 1139 College Street
Wednesday- Sunday 8pm.
Tickets: Wed-Sat $20 ($18 for Students/Seniors/CAEA); Sunday Pay-What-You-Can.
Box office: 1-800-838-3006 or
Warning: adult themes and language

Poetic, surprising and irreverent, the world premiere of Wingéd inspects and dissects relationships between fathers and sons, friends and lovers, predator and prey and serv…

The Devil Operation - a Hot Docs Review

The Devil Operation
Written & Directed by Stephanie Boyd
Cinematographer(s) : Ernesto Cabellos Damian

Screenings as part of the Hot Docs Festival - check for times here

There's no doubt that Oshawa filmmaker Stephanie Boyd has her heart in the right place with The Devil Operation. In it, she traces a conflict between the mostly indigenous and impoverished farmers in the Andean regions of Peru and the gold mining companies - and their goons - who look at the land only as the storehouse of their future wealth.

The early parts of the film focus on one Father Marco Arana, a simple parish priest in one of the country's poorest regions. He stands up for the people as they organize against the gold mining conglomerate that's attempting to explore and then mine the mountain that looms above them. Father Marco, named a "Hero of the Environment" by Time Magazine in 2009, tries to keep his parishioners safe by keeping order and trying to face the onslaught of commercial int…

The Royal Conservatory's 2010-11 Season

From a Press Release, a dizzying array of music to fill your ears with next season, and I assure you that my enthusiasm for the RC's line up has absolutely nothing to do with the smoked salmon or the french toast soufflé thingies at the official launch (mmm...)

They say Yo-Yo Ma heard about the incredible acoustics at Koerner Hall, and called them himself with an offer to play - as he will at the season opener.

the Royal Conservatory
Announces the 2010.11 season at Koerner Hall

Yo-Yo Ma WILL open the second season with a gala concert
Oscar Peterson's legacy will be explored
American superstar violinist Hilary Hahn will make her Koerner Hall debut

Following on the immense success of the inaugural Koerner Hall season at the TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning, The Royal Conservatory (The RCM) President, Dr. Peter Simon, is thrilled to announce more inspiring and diverse concerts for 2010.11. Mervon Mehta, Executive Director, RCM Performing Arts, has once again assembled a wide …

Toronto Lawyers to Star in Shakespeare

From a Press Release
If your lawyer seems unusually hard to get hold of in the next little while, it may all be for a good cause.

“Lord, what fools these mortals be!” – A Midsummer Night’s Dream

The Lawyer Show
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Kelly Thornton
Set and Costume Design by Denyse Karn
Stage Managed by Monica Esteves
Starring a cast of 28 Toronto lawyers and legal professionals

June 11 & 12, 2010 at the Berkeley Street Theatre Downstairs

Produced by Nightwood Theatre

Toronto, ON… Nightwood Theatre is proud to present the Toronto premiere of The Lawyer Show. This unique event, which will raise vital funds for Nightwood, sees a cast of 28 lawyers on stage performing in William Shakespeare’s classic comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Directed by Artistic Director Kelly Thornton, Nightwood is thrilled to be partnering with Toronto’s legal community on this new fundraising initiative. As Thornton stated in a recent interview with law and style magazin…

Saturday Night Cabaret at Toronto's Young Centre

From a Press Release - at $15 a pop you could hardly do better for a Saturday night's entertainment.

Saturday Night Cabaret Series at the Young Centre begins May 1st

Toronto, ON – April 21, 2010 – Albert Schultz, General Director of the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, today announced a Saturday Night Cabaret Series, an evening of music and storytelling at the Young Centre starting May 1st.

The Kevin and Roger Garland Cabaret in the Young Centre is transformed into an intimate, club setting for the Saturday Night Cabaret Series with table seating and a fully licensed bar. The series features multi-talented artists ranging from jazz, world music, spoken word to traditional torch songs. In true cabaret style, the performances are up close and personal creating a musical dialogue between performer and audience.

The Saturday Night Cabaret Series will feature many artists who have participated in the highly acclaimed Canwest Cabaret Festival, which returns to the Young Centre for the…

Fritz the Cat

Fritz the Cat (1972)
Produced by Steve Krantz
Written & Directed by Ralph Bakshi.
With Skip Hinnant, Rosetta LeNoire, John McCurry
Based on the comic books by Robert Crumb
Midnight screening as part of the Toronto Jewish Film Festival

There was a wide range of films at this year's Jewish Film Fest, including important documentaries, dramas, and the 2009 restoration of 1948's Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today. So naturally, I chose to end my TJFF experience with... Fritz the Cat.

Fritz the Cat was the first X-rated animation feature, (I clearly remember the big stir when it came out - as a mere child of course,) and was for a time the highest grossing animated movie of all time, raking in a cool $100 million. Written and directed by Israeli born Ralph Bakshi, it follows the adventures of callow Fritz the Cat, a character developed by comic book luminary Robert Crumb. More about that later - first the film.

It was made in 1972, after all, and it's a film supposedly about the 1960…

Tilahun Gessesse, Sweet Charity & Things African in Toronto

Tilahun Gessesse, Sweet Charity and Things African in Toronto

The late Tilahun Gessesse is often called the Father of Ethiopian music. He and his music became famous during the 1960's and 1970's with danceable polyrhythms that held sway under large ensembles with horns, guitars, back up singers, and "The Voice" (as he was dubbed) that layered above it all in Arabic style, sung largely in Amharic and Oromo.

It wasn't only his voice that made him special to his fellow countrymen, however. He sang songs of everyday life, of justice, peace, war, and some of the tumultuous events of his time, including the coup d'état of 1960 and the famines of 1973 and war in 1974. His own personal story intersected with that history at times - he was playing with the Imperial Bodyguard Band in 1960 when the coup occurred, and was imprisoned for a time because of it. His recordings raised large sums of money for famine victims, and cemented his place in the nation's heart.

He pa…

American Splendor (The Movie)

American Splendor (2003)
Directed by: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini
Starring: Paul Giamatti, Hope Davis
Part of the Toronto Jewish Film Festival

The film American Splendor screened at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival with none other than Harvey Pekar to give opening remarks and a Q&A after the film. He was rather grandly described as a pivotal figure in the history of comics, the first to popularize the autobiographical illustrated novel, namely American Splendor, written about his own life as a file clerk at the V.A. Hospital in Cleveland.

It was a notion the irascible cartoon artist hastened to dispell. "I'm not used to this kind of star treatment," he said. He reminisced about his introduction to comics, and their typical superhero world. "If you wanna call that Superman, you can call me Schlepperman." When it came to the film that chronicles his life, he was equally candid. "This movie really saved me." As he confided, he found that couldn&…

Comic Art Forum - Toronto Jewish Film Festival

The Comic Art Forum
With Harvey Pekar, Ben Katchor & Paul Buhle
April 18 - Al Green Theatre
part of the Toronto Jewish Film Festival

Note - Ben Katchor will be reading live from his work April 19 8:30pm

There was no clear agreement on the role of Jews in comics, whether there was ever a golden era of Jewish involvement in comic books in or about 1939, or even if there was a significant, purely "Jewish" role in comics to be spoken about. There were, in fact, as many opinions on the subject as there were panelists at the Comic Book Forum.

The introductory remarks did seem to be leading in a particular direction, including references to left wing Yiddish American scholar Irving Howe and the early history of Jews in America - the tenement world, a Yiddish world that still has a connection to today. Harvey Pekar was described as one of the early underground cartoonists, one of the first whose work was personal and autogiographical, detailing his life as a file clerk in American…

Mensch - Toronto Jewish Film Festival Review

Canadian Premiere at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival
in French with English subtitles
Director: Steve SuissaC
Cast: Nicolas Cazalé, Sami Frey, Anthony Delon, Maurice Bénichou

The gentleman who introduced the film told the audience Mensch is a French caper film about a Jewish safecracker, and that pretty much sums up the plot. Sam is a good looking guy from a 'good' family in the produce business who gets off on living a life of crime.

It begins with a chase gone wrong and a young man dead, the explanation of which contains the twist in the story. Otherwise, the outlines of the story are familiar - the 30 something career criminal with a son who keeps getting drawn farther and farther into the big job to end all big jobs. The guy who supposedly wants out.

The film is shot in Euro-style realism in that not everyone is model good looking, (although Sam sure is easy on the eyes,) a sense of reality that extends to a script that portrays the drudgery of crime, those long hours of …

A Jew Grows in Brooklyn - Coming to Toronto

A Jew Grows in Brooklyn
Panasonic Theatre Toronto - April 28 - May 16

"I'm very happy to be back in Canada - just in time for the Olympics," quips Jake Ehrenreich, writer and performer of the hit one man play A Jew Grows in Brooklyn. After a run of well over a year at New York's venerable Lamb's Theatre (and breaking some box office records in the process,) the well reviewed show will be hitting Toronto later this month. "I drove from New York last night - took me 7 hours," he claimed to laughs (from those of us that have ever driven that torturous 10 hour route) at a recent media event.

Billed as "a rock'n roll true story, Holocaust family, Borscht Belt comic musical", Jake's autobiographical show clearly has a Jewish theme, yet he describes issues and ideas that can be appreciated on a universal level. "I wrote the show about my journey of self discovery. I wanted to be anything but like my parents." Amen to that.

The Holocaust…

Ballet Creole's Sankofa

Ballet Creole's Sankofa
Fleck Dance Theatre - Harbourfront Toronto
continues to April 17

(see full credits below)

Dancers are often called upon to flex their dramatic muscles along with all the others in their physical bodies. Sankofa, Ballet Creole's new spring show is really a showcase for the talents of their company in both respects, from feats of athleticism - which were impressive enough - to a real sense of emotive expression.

Ballet Creole are currently a mostly young company of engaging and athletic dancers whose total commitment not only to the individual pieces but the overall artistic vision was obvious from the opening piece, Dancing Spirits. Dressed in white, the dancers explored Afro-Caribbean traditions in a lively flow that included live drummers on stage and the vocals/spoken word of Consuelo Herrera, who told a story about the gods in Yoruba. (It helps to have Nigerian friends!)

That piece was neatly contrasted by the solemn and meditative Requiem for my Parents, …

Scrabble with the Stars for PAL

Scrabble with the Stars for PAL
April 12 - Toronto

The Performing Arts Lodge (PAL) is a haven for artists, providing affordable housing for people making, or who did make, their livings in performing arts professions. Some are still working, some might be disabled, others retired. More than just a housing complex, PAL is about community, about the industry looking after its own.

Last night a veritable cornucopia of Canadian talent got together to play Scrabble for charity, including auctioning off the helpful services of Robin Pollock-Daniel, the highest scoring woman in Scrabble in Canada for $1K, and a silent auction of artwork by Marilyn Lightstone, Dave Broadfoot (I liked his amusing collage the best, and he's very friendly by the way,) and landscape paintings by Jayne Eastwood and Karl Pruner.

The Mexican food was good, there was free beer going around - you get the picture.

I just wonder, what will they do for all us bloggers as we enter retirement age?

Pics, top to bottom:
- Jeann…

Baaba Maal - the interview piece

Baaba Maal - the interview piece

I was able to interview Baaba Maal after the show on April 6 - here's a link to that story here.

If you're in the Toronto area, you'll also be able to catch a slightly longer version in print in the African World newspaper that comes out this Thursday, April 15.

Aszure Barton & Artists and the National Ballet School

Aszure Barton & Artists
present Busk & Blue Soup
April 17 & 18
at the Betty Oliphant Theatre, Toronto
in collaboration with the National Ballet School

There's been a seismic shift in the dance world in recent years, one that echoes across all the creative disciplines as they work to readapt to the changed financial landscape. As a major national institution, the National Ballet School in Toronto it taking the bull by the horns, so to speak, in an effort to educate their students not only in the art of dance, but in the art of running a creative business. To that end, they've entered into a brand new mentoring programme with star alumna Aszure Barton.

You could hardly think of a better and more inspiring example for students of dance than Aszure Barton. The Alberta born dance sensation, a protégée of Mikhail Barishnikov, is currently based in New York City with her Aszure Barton & Artists company as both choreographer and dancer. She's defnitely carving out a dis…