re alas, I'm not hamlet and cast Ing Aspersions (NOW, August 28-September 3). Indeed, people's attitudes about casting in "traditional plays" need to change. About 10 years ago, when I was a student in a university theatre program in Winnipeg, I proposed to direct a short play by a Nigerian playwright. My proposal was rejected on the grounds that there were not enough black actors in the theatre program to play all the roles. I was advised that casting white actors in a play about an African dictatorship would be unpopular, politically speaking.
Unfortunately, the logical outcome of this way of thinking was that any play written by a non-white playwright and set outside North America or Europe was probably off-limits to the theatre program. I was surprised, since I took it for granted that I would simply cast the best actor in each role.
Malcolm Rogge, Toronto
Missing the bigger picture
I read the articles on visible mi nority casting in the theatre by Andrew Moodie and Steve Jones with great interest. I wonder, however, if by focusing on the plight of actors we are missing the bigger picture. The theatre refers to itself as a "community," and there are more than just actors in it. One of the key members of this creative community is the playwright. If playwrights of colour are produced, it's safe to assume that actors of colour will be working and that they'll be given roles that rise above animal, whore or symbol.
I wonder why the actors (mentioned in these articles) are focusing on places like Stratford and Shaw, which clearly have no interest in promoting work that speaks to a crucial and life-sustaining (segment) of the theatre community. By supporting smaller and largely underfunded organizations like Cahoots, Obsidian and Native Earth, which possess inclusive mandates that support their community's artistic development, wouldn't they be making more effective change?
Michael Miller , Toronto
Shameful waste of talent
I have just finished reading cast Ing Aspersions, and I want to say that I am glad someone has taken the time to address a very relevant and important issue in Canada's theatre and film industry. As an actor of Latin American descent (Chilean Canadian), I find myself facing the same roadblocks and invisible walls. I have found that the only way to get to act onstage is to write or produce my own stuff. Otherwise, I'm cast as prostitutes, cleaning ladies, gangsters or drug-addicted women. Our city is a multicultural melting pot with more people from "elsewhere" than not. To appeal to greater audiences, doesn't it make sense to produce shows that speak to more people?
There is a talent pool of performers, writers, directors and producers from all nationalities and ethnicities that is not being tapped into. It's such a shame to let this talent go to waste.
Marilo Nunez, Toronto
Too fat for our own good
thanks for overstuffing last week's issue (NOW, August 28-September 3) with flyers and booklets promoting the Toronto International Film Festival and Toronto Symphony Orchestra's upcoming season. Not only was it hard to get it out of the box, due to the ugly mess it created inside, but half the material in there fell onto the street - not really a brilliant way to get information out. As much as I love and support the arts, it isn't really good to have that much paper inside one issue. You can always tell people to pick up more info online or to go where programs are available. Julian Bynoe, Toronto
Count your lucky Ns
stephanie alexander's whiny let ter (NOW, August 21-27) in response to the 2N review of her show, Hemlock, made me want to laugh. True, Jon Kaplan remarks that her "script is sometimes far-fetched," but he also makes a point of complimenting the actors' "fine performances." Then she gets huffy because Kaplan compares her characters to "prime-time Fox TV material," which she interprets as a put-down of her "talent as a theatre writer." Wow. We should all be so lucky as to have well-paid jobs as writers for network TV!
I'm glad to see that NOW has finally discarded the humiliating practice of lumping all shows with less than a 3N rating under a Don't Bother headline. Stephanie's darn lucky. She could've ended up there instead of in the much more egalitarian alpha listing.
Tina McCulloch, Toronto
Guilt by association
a letter in last week's paper (now, August 28-September 3) suggests that our sending a speaker from the Federation of Metro Tenants Associations to the People's Forum means we endorse certain right-wing views of the event's organizer. That conclusion is silly and completely wrong. On the panel on which we spoke were speakers from Evergreen Drop-In Centre for Homeless Youth and a low-income advocate from the Parkdale community. Our mandate and our views are clear. Our online discussion board had an item about the forum, but that is not an advertisement or an endorsement of the organizer's political views. Tenants can be assured that the FMTA has only one agenda - working hard with tenants to achieve a better system than the one we are currently burdened with. Dan McIntyre , Program Coordinator, FMTA, Toronto
Poor being left in the dark
despite ernie eves's promise that there will be financial compensation for those affected by the blackout, food banks, social service support groups, activists and clients are having a terribly difficult time getting a correct and consistent answer from Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program offices. Some Ontario Works offices say that people are being assessed on a case-by-case basis (line up for a worker) and that food vouchers are limited.
ODSP offices have made no commitment to compensate people for lost food. The need is immediate, especially given that food banks themselves as well as their donors have been hit hard with food losses.
Ken J. Wood, Toronto
The "new normal"
let's learn from the blackout that centralized energy generation facilities are yesterday's technology. They pollute and are unreliable and expensive. Yet Ernie Eves wants to build a big fossil-fuel power plant on our waterfront without seriously looking at conservation and renewable opportunities!
Are we going to set ourselves up to fall again, or will we start to plan for "the new normal"?
Greg Bonser, Candidate for city council, Ward 30 Toronto
re fear of the sun (now, august 21-27). Maybe NOW could do some fact-checking? The sun is about 4.5-5 billion years old. (The Earth is 4.5 billion years
old, too.) Somehow, 4.5 billion became 45 million in your piece. You've also understated the energy output of the sun by a factor of 1 billion. And made some very dubious assumptions about photovoltaic panels and their use in Canada, stating as fact - "We could all get along with X square meters of solar cells" - where the real issue is a lot more complicated.
Zvi Gilbert, Toronto
A little compassion, please
psychics are in the business of giving hope. Your cynicism about Psychics for Charity's fundraising Psychic Fair for the Humane Society was cute and made us chuckle (NOW, August 7-13). And we know predicting another term for the provincial Tories gives anything but hope. But let's hope we share common ground: compassion for the underdog, under-cat and under-hamster. That said, how about earning yourself a few juicy karma points with a proper plug? Ralph Hamelmann, Psychics for Charity
It seems that hardly a week goes by without NOW taking a potshot at the Canadian Jewish Congress. Why rag on the CJC for wanting to defend its community against aggressive Christian missionaries who target Jews for Christian conversion (NOW, August 14-20)?
Last time these missionaries attempted to set up headquarters in Thornhill, pushing, shoving and even some arrests followed.
Instead of belittling the CJC's efforts, perhaps you would do better to tell these evangelical proselytizers to leave us alone. That you would find ways to defend their work is disgusting.
Bob Goodman, Thornhill
Pro-Zionist hope for peace
re you yachna (now, august 28-sep tember 3). I'm an old Jewish guy who lost my paternal grandfather when Zionist terrorists the Irgun blew up the refugee ship Patria in Haifa harbour. And I lost my maternal grandmother when the Nazis murdered her at Dachau. It's an ironic, tragic heritage that teaches that racism, violence and extreme nationalism are no solution to anything, are traumatizing and dehumanizing for everyone, lead to ever greater enmity and perpetuate the cycle of violence.
So I'm heartened by Avi Zer-Aviv's courage, and that he stands up to the old generation and offers a much better way.
The current Israeli leadership turns its back on this humane and enlightened approach to the peril of everyone in the region, Israelis and Palestinians alike. I hope his father reads his letter and the column and is proud of his son. Shame on the Israeli consulate for being so defensive and punitive. Avi is part of a growing wave of the future, the post-Zionist hope for peace in the Mideast.
David Schatzky, Toronto