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Showing posts from September, 2010

Review: Ronnie Burkett's Billy Twinkle: Requiem for a Golden Boy

Billy Twinkle: Requiem for a Golden Boy
created & performed by Ronnie Burkett
Factory Theatre Toronto - continues to October 24

I have a bit of a confession to make. I have this thing with puppets - particularly marionettes. They creep me out. Even as a child, although I did play with them, (it's what one does as a little girl,) it was always with an edge of distaste and unease. So first off, I'll credit Ronnie Burkett with creating enough theatrical magic that I actually forgot about my longstanding aversion. In fact, I found myself reacting to a hand puppet as if it was actually a character separate from the hand inside it, so well was he able to embody the illusion.

Billy Twinkle begins with a crisis that unfolds quickly. Billy's performing his show - Stars in Miniature - on a cruise ship where, weary of inattentive patrons, he has a bit of a meltdown that results in his getting fired. More than a simple job loss, it sparks a midlife crise where he's lost faith in…

Me and Nuit Blanche

Me and Nuit Blanche
I Cried For You - Julia Loktev
October 2 - Viewing area will be Bay Street, south of King Street West

I'm pretty excited to be part of Brooklyn based artist Julia Loktev's video installation/performance piece, I Cried For You, 2010. In it, a series of actors (where I come in) do an unrehearsed 10-15 minute audition where the goal is to evoke tears. The live feed will be visible on a screen on Bay south of King, I believe it's Exhibition Area C.

Julia's award winning work (including the award for best documentary direction at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival for Moment of Impact) is based in film and video, and she's the recipient of a 2009 Guggenheim Fellowship.

So, if you're still up at about 6:30am, come and watch, and afterwards you can help me get my make-up back together - I have to work at 10!

Sony Centre Toronto Grand Re-Opening Oct 1 with Cirque Eloize

The Sony Centre reopens October 1 after renos with a hiphop circus/West Side Story mash up, oodles of high end Sony gadgetry and more. From a media release:


(TORONTO, ON)…Finishing touches are being made as theSony Centre For The Performing Artsprepares to unveil its thrilling new renovation as part of its 50th Anniversary Season celebrations on Friday, October 1st, 2010.

“It’s been an incredible undertaking”, said Dan Brambilla, CEO of The Sony Centre For The Performing Arts. “We’re eager to welcome Torontonians into the venue to see the exciting new technologies integrated with the magnificent architectural beauty of this historic building.”

From June 2008 to October 2010, more than 200 local trades people were employed to restore the elegance and grandeur of architect Peter Dickinson’s original O’Keefe Centre which opened on October 1st, 1960 (picture below is of the foyer in its incarnation as the Hummingbird Centre). Phase Two o…

Opera Atelier Launches 25th Season with Handel's Acis and Galatea

From a media release:

Handel’s ravishing pastorale Acis and Galatea launches
Opera Atelier’s 25th Anniversary Season

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Toronto, ON (September 21, 2010) …Opera Atelier will open its 25th Anniversary season with a sumptuous new production of Handel’s pastorale, Acis and Galatea, at Toronto’s Elgin Theatre (189 Yonge Street). Sung in English with English SURTITLES™, performances run October 30, November 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7, 2010 beginning at 7:30 p.m. with the exception of the November 7, Sunday matinee at 3 p.m.

Based on Ovid’s tale of the water nymph Galatea and her doomed love for the Arcadian shepherd Acis, Acis and Galatea is one of Handel’s best loved works, and considered the pinnacle of 18th century pastoral theatre.  The opera weaves together a story of startling sensuality and humour blended with moments of heartrending poignancy – all told through some of Handel’s most sublime music for singing and dancing.

Gerard Gauci, OA’s resident scenic designer has designe…

Sampling Small World on the Street

Small World on the Street
Queen's Park, September 26, 2010

With only a couple of hours to spare, I walked right by the hefty lines at Word on the Street on Avenue Road and straight into Queen's Park to see what I could catch on the stage.

I'll mostly let the video clips fill you in on the performances - tight playing, cool vibes - this city certainly plays home to a lot of great musicians - but the two bands I saw have interesting stories to tell too.

Njacko Backo is a native of Cameroon. Along with traditional Cameroonian drumming, he studied music under various masters all over West Africa. "You can hear Senegal, you can hear Guinea - you can hear Canada - in the music," he told Garvia Bailey of CBC Radio One's Big City, Small World Show in a bit of a Q&A after the show. I think you can hear a little soukous in there too.

"White people came from the sky - on planes," he joked, "I wanted to see where they came from." His music is always…

131 Opens at O'Born Contemporary Gallery, Toronto

131 opens at the O'Born Contemporary Gallery
131 Ossington St., Toronto
September 25 - October 23

Featuring works from Robert Canali, Liam Crockard, Alex Fischer, Rafael Goldchain, Kate McQuillen, John Monteith, Dominic Nahr, Ed Ou and Noel Rodo-Vankeulen.

I was lucky enough to catch this exhibition that inaugurates the O'Born's new digs on chic Ossington Avenue, with many of the pieces already sporting the red dots of acquisition even at the preview show on Friday. With their focus as photography, the show puts together a wide variety of approaches to image making in an artistic vein, with some impressive inclusions. Here are some of my notes.

Ed Ou
Striking in their clear sightedness, his images depict Somali child soldiers like 12 year old Mohamed Adan Ugas, a member of the Transitional Federal Government's forces in Mogadishu, in an image of him assembling a gun. What they capture - heartbreak- ingly - is their very childishness even in the harsh realities they occupy.…

Apollo Theater Salon Series

An innovative series at Harlem's venerable Apollo Theatre. Here's a look at what's coming up in October - from various sources:

Apollo Salon Series

Since 2006,  the Apollo Salon Series has an incubation and performance program for mid-career artists working in diverse genres of the performing arts, including music, theater, spoken word, multimedia, and movement. Artists receive one week of time on the Soundstage and access to Apollo resources to develop new works. Projects culminate in two performances with audience discussion after each presentation. The Series involves up to 10 projects per year. The Salon Series allows the Apollo to nurture works of high artistic value. This is part of a comprehensive programmatic shift to integrate artistic performance as part of the Apollo's core offerings.

KICK-OFF EVENT: The Artists and Their Work
Apollo Soundstage
Friday, October 1, 2010 at 8:00PM

Please join Apollo artists and friends for the …

A Season of Africa at the Royal Ontario Museum

Anchored by the world premiere retrospective exhibit of the work of Ghanaian born and world renowned artist El Anatsui, the Royal Ontario Museum has some really great things planned for this fall.

By the way, you can check out the El Anatsui show free during Nuit Blanche - October 2, it's opening day. From a media release:

News Release

A Season of Africa at the ROM

New Acquisitions, exhibitions and stirring events this fall

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) celebrates a Season of Africa this fall, with a thought-provoking series of exhibitions and events inspired by African art and culture. Featured are two new exhibitions, El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote to You about Africa and Position as Desired/Exploring African Canadian Identity: Photographs from the Wedge Collection, both opening October 2, 2010. Later this fall, significant new African acquisitions to the ROM’s permanent collection will be unveiled. A full slate of related public events delves into the complex cultural, social and …

Return to El Salvador - Documentary Opens In Canada

From a media release about what sounds like an important documentary being released in Canada, including some special screenings with the director in attendance. Jamie Moffett will also be meeting with Canadian government representatives including Peter Julian and John McKay before the vote on a newly proposed Bill C300 - proving my theory that you can learn a lot more about what's really happening in the world from art than from the news.

If you're not familiar with Bill C300, it has to do with corporate accountability for the activities of mining companies who operate internationally - what a concept!

For Immediate Release

Return to El Salvador
Directed by Jamie Moffett
Narrated by Martin Sheen

Opens in Theatres Across Canada - details at the bottom of this post

(Toronto – September 23, 2010) - Whatever happened to the human rights hot-zone known as El Salvador? It’s still there. It’s the media that got distracted. Others - including Martin Sheen - refused to turn away.  Well know…

RCM & CFC Present Jazz vs Classical for Toronto's Nuit Blanche

From a media release. It's worth noting that when it comes to Nuit Blanche, the ROM next door is also hosting artist Laurel McDonald's exhibition  - making Bloor Street a definite must see on your Nuit Blanche list!


Toronto, ON, September 20, 2010 – From dusk to dawn, on Saturday, October 2, 2010, during Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, The Royal Conservatory’s Bloor Street courtyard at the TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning will glitter with sound and energy. Visitors can interact with MUSICAL RUMBLE, created in partnership with TELUS, The Royal Conservatory, and the CFC Media Lab.

Larger-than-life images of eight musicians will be rear-projected through the soaring Bloor Street windows of the TELUS Centre, creating an arena of outdoor screens where directional speakers will surround the audience in an intimate sound experience in the…

Toronto Run of Love, Loss and What I Wore Extended to October 30

Another update on the show that definitely has legs - in more ways than one (you'll understand if you've seen it!) From a media release:

L O V E,  L O S S,  A N D   W H A T   I   W O R E



Toronto, September 22, 2010  - Producers Michael Rubinoff and Daryl Roth proudly announce another extension through to October 30 with a brand new cast for their hit Toronto production of the award-winning Love, Loss, and What I Wore by Nora Ephorn and Delia Ephron at the Panasonic Theatre.

Award-wining writer and actor Trey Anthony ('da Kink in my Hair), Gemini-winning operatic comedienne Mary Lou Fallis (pictured on the left - Primadonna shows for theatre and CBC Radio, Bravo TV's "Bathroom Divas"), rising star Stacey Farber (CBC-TV's "18 to Life," "Degrassi" alum) and Gemini Award-winning Leah Pinsent (CBC-TV's "Made in Canada," &q…

I Fioretti in Musica - New Opera at La MaMa ETC. NYC

From a variety of sources:

Pioneers go East Company presents
I Fioretti in Musica - Opera in Danza
September 30th -October 17th 2010
Ellen Stewart Theater- La MaMa ETC
74/A East 4th Street, NYC Box Office: 212-475-7710

Brand new Italian opera based on a 14th century story and set in modern day New York - that's the bare outlines of what you can expect at the upcoming production of I Fioretti in Musica - Opera in Danza. It's presented by Pioneers go East Company, or La Compagnia Teatrale I Pionieri dell'Est. Founded in 2005, they're dedicated to producing Italian theatre and opera in America, and operate in residence at La Mama ETC.

Musically, I'd describe the piece as showing its 14th century inspiration in textured, contrapuntal works with soaring, ethereal melodies and harmonies, juxtaposed against an electronica score that uses live voice processing and music inspired by the noises of New York's streets. It's staged as a Medieval era madrigal comedy, with fiv…

Tet Trung Thu: Mid Autumn Celebration in Toronto

From a media release:

Tet Trung Thu: Mid Autumn Celebration
Sept. 25, 2010
Harbourfront Centre Toronto

A one-day festival celebrating the end of summer harvest.

TORONTO, ON (Sept. 16, 2010) – The Tet Trung Thu: Mid Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival or the Lantern Festival, is celebrated throughout South Asia (specifically Vietnam). It is the second-most important holiday (aside from New Year’s Day) and occurs around the September equinox.

This year, Harbourfront Centre is pleased to host this one-day festival where families can gather to celebrate the end of the summer harvest and plan a special day devoted to children’s activities. In Vietnamese folklore, parents were so preoccupied preparing for the harvest that they left the children playing by themselves for long periods of time. To make up for lost time, parents would use the Mid Autumn festival as an opportunity to show their love and appreciation for their children.

From 3-7:30 p.m., come and celebrate the Tet Trung Th…

Iranian Musical Rebel Mohsen Namjoo comes to Toronto

From a media release:

Mohsen Namjoo Comes to Toronto
Sony Centre - October 16

TORONTO – THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 9TH, 2010 – A cultural phenomenon and one of Iran’s most controversial and influential musicians today, Mohsen Namjoo gains worldwide appeal with his visionary take on traditional Persian music fused with Western blues and rock. With his band and full live orchestra, Namjoo takes the stage at Toronto’s prestigious and newly renovated state-of-the-art facility at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts on Saturday, October 16.

Hailed as "the Bob Dylan of Iran" by the New York Times, Mohsen Namjoo is a cultural wonder and visionary artist who speaks for, and touches the souls of, today's younger generation in his home country. With his non-conformist slant on classical and neo-classical Persian music, the master vocalist, composer and setar player breaks the mold where originality is concerned. By seamlessly blending western blues and rock influences with his outrageo…

R. Murray Schafer Appointed Composer-in-Residence at The Royal Conservatory School

From a media release:


Dr. Peter Simon, President of The Royal Conservatory, and James Anagnoson, Dean of The RoyalConservatory’s Glenn Gould School (The School), are pleased to announce that pre-eminent Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer has been appointed to the position of Composer-in-Residence at The School.

“I believe that every artist has an obligation to assist the next generation in the advancement of their career,” says Mr. Schafer. “This is why I am especially looking forward to assisting the students at The Royal Conservatory in their approach to new music from a variety of cultures. I also look forward to writing works for these excellent performers.”

In this role, Mr. Schafer will coach many of the performing ensembles of The School, including the Royal Conservatory Orchestra, compose new works for faculty and students of The School, and teach a course in 20th- and 21st-century music for its post-secondary Performance Di…

VideoCabaret Remounts The Great War in time for Armistice Day

From a media release:

Lest We Forget
VideoCabaret remounts
The History of the Village of the Small Huts, 1914-18
Previews from October 26, Opens November 3 for a Limited Run
The Cameron House, 408 Queen Street West, Toronto

Toronto, September 8, 2010  In time for Armistice Day and the season of Remembrance, VideoCabaret remounts Michael Hollingsworth's acclaimed production of The Great War, which saw sold-out houses every night of its initial run this past spring.

The Great War focuses on the mid-ranking officers and infantry-men who are named in no history book -- their stories link the front line with the home front, and intensify the tragedy in this play as far as satire can go. In VideoCabaret's magical staging-style, seven actors play more than 40 characters whose stories take the audience from the golf courses of Canada's political elite to munitions factories where widows work, to the front lines of Ypres, the Somme, Vimy Ridge and more. The Great War elicits…

Robert Schumann 1810-2010 - Art of Time Ensemble

Robert Schumann 1810 - 2010
The Art of Time Ensemble
Enwave Theatre at Harbourfront
September 18, 2010

The Art of Time Ensemble aims to open up the world of classical music, examining its power and range via a combination of performance and contextualized readings, with a couple of twists along the way. They opened their 2010/11 season with a presentation of the work of Schumann.

Given the size of the ensemble, they naturally left out the larger orchestral works, but instead performed a survey of pieces for solo piano, voice and chamber works, including the Andante from his Piano Quartet Op.47, selections from Kreisleriana, a selection of lieder, and the entire Piano Quintet Op.44. The instrumentalists (listed below) were flawless and very expressive in their execution of Schumann's gorgeous repertoire. If nothing else, I was reminded of just how beautiful his work was.

Art of Time performances proceed with a casual kind of sensibility. It was jeans and jacket for Artistic Director An…

The Studio Museum, Harlem- Zwelethu Mthethwa & other current shows

The Studio Museum
144 West 125th Street, Harlem, New York

All of the exhibitions mentioned continue to October 24, 2010

Zwelethu Mthethwa:  Inner Views

This show of South African photographer Zwelethu Mthethwa's evocative work puts together three collections. "Interiors" and "Empty Beds" take us into the domestic lives of migrant workers in and around Johannesburg, South Africa. "Common Ground" presents views of houses in post-Katrina New Orleans alongside those of Cape Town, SA, after a series of wildfires ravaged the area.

Zwelethu's work is collaborative rather than that of the dispassionate observer. I think you can see his early training as a painter in the lively use of colours in his photographs, and in their intimacy with their subjects that goes beyond documentary towards a sympathetic portrait. The walls may be cobbled together from unfinished sheets of board or plywood, or unevenly painted concrete, in some of them papered over with magazi…