There's no better way to get the flavour of a script than by having it interpreted by its creator. That's what makes the semi-annual Playwrights Canada Press launch such a treat.
This fall's writer/performers include Brad Fraser (Five @ Fifty), Catherine Hernandez (Kilt Pins), Ravi Jain and his mother, Asha Jain (A Brimful Of Asha), David Yee (paper SERIES) and Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt (2 Pianos, 4 Hands).
The reading from 2 Pianos becomes a trio, for the writers will be joined by a piano. Only makes sense.
The free launch, hosted by NOW's Susan G. Cole and Jon Kaplan, is Monday (November 12) at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.
Dancing at 25
There'll be lots of celebrating as well as dancing at Native Earth Performing Arts' (NEPA) Weesageechak Begins To Dance Festival, which turns 25 this year.
The company, marking its 30th anniversary, begins the season in its new home at Regent Park's Daniels Spectrum and the Aki Studio Theatre.
The fest has proven a fertile place for playwrights, choreographers and other artists to develop new works.
The current festival features indigenous creators from across the country, among them Vancouver dancer/choreographer Daina Ashbee, playwrights Andréa Ledding and Drew Hayden Taylor and a collaboration between South Asian-Canadian artist Sharada K. Eswar and Cree artist Rosary Spence.
Ledding's Dominion is a satiric one-act inspired by a native response to the 2008 residential school apology, while Taylor's Heat Lightning deals with a woman whose husband has gone MIA during the Vietnam War; even years later, her grief overwhelms the other people in her life.
Ashbee's Unrelated looks at "the struggle of aboriginal women to reconstruct their identities in a cultural setting hostile to self-definition." Spence and Eswar's storytelling piece, When The Fish Met The Turtle, blends and transcends cultural identities in a musical look at creation myths.
Also on the bill are works by young members of NEPA's Animikiig and Thundering Voices programs, the former devoted to new and the latter to emerging playwrights. The writers include Emilie Monnet, Dakota Hebert, Justin Many Fingers and Cathy Elliott.
Finally, NEPA and Seneca College launch Turtlesback, a web portal that focuses on the indigenous stories of Turtle Island (North America). Through the website, you can watch videos from productions, access a blog and play interactive games.
Thomson gets Siminovitch
Lighting designer Robert Thomson is winner of the 2012 and final Elinore and Lou Siminovitch Prize in Theatre.
For the past dozen years, the high-priced award - the winner receives $100,000, a quarter of which the recipient gives to an up-and-coming protege - has alternated between playwright, director and designer.
Thomson's a prolific and award-winning creator, having worked 11 seasons at the Stratford Festival and 27 at the Shaw Festival, spent a dozen years as resident lighting designer at the National Ballet of Canada and worked for companies around the world.
Just as important as the main prize is the award to the protege, in this case two designers. Usually working as assistants or in the indie community, these people gain a higher profile as well as a welcome financial boost with the Siminovitch.
Thomson's given the nod to a pair of designers whose work is regularly seen in Toronto.
Raha Javanfar created the atmospheric projections for Opera Atelier's spooky Der Freischütz and designed lighting for Miss Caledonia, the current hit at the Tarragon. Jason Hand earned a Dora nomination last year for The Ugly One and has also worked on productions for Against the Grain and The Thistle Project.
One test of a good stand-up comic is how he or she deals with hecklers. In a perfect world assholes wouldn't shout out stupid comments, interrupting the timing of a joke someone's taken weeks or months to perfect. But since when has this world been perfect?
At the Friday, November 2, late-night show at Yuk Yuk's Downtown, Mark Forward, a comic who relies a lot on pauses and reversals, was a minute or two into a joke when a woman blurted out "Is this really your shtick?"
Forward quickly lost it, saying, "It'd be better if the dumb bitch didn't interrupt. If I pause, it's for a reason, fucking cunt."
That sounds extreme, but the crowd roared their approval, even more so after Forward laid into the heckler's boyfriend, who protectively put his arm around her as she continued to talk.
Forward quickly switched gears and seemed to improvise a bit that involved "looking through" the comedy club's backdrop of window-like squares and commenting on what he was seeing. When he paused, not even deigning to look in her direction, he raised his middle finger to the offending woman and got another big laugh.
He ended up his set with a fine bit involving bees, a riff of sorts on an earlier joke of his involving squirrels. In a few minutes he went from blurting out the "c" word to getting the crowd on his side.
Headliner Lee Camp, a fine political satirist/ranter, had his own encounter with hecklers near the end of his set. Oddly enough, Tim Steeves, the first comic on, had no problems, maybe because his superb act relies on his a hyper-energetic, cocky delivery that only leaves time to laugh.
We blame the night's MC, Richard Lett, who failed to feel out the crowd at the start of the show and identify potential problem areas. An old-school comic with tired material, Lett was barely understandable with his scratchy voice, and his intros to each comic felt perfunctory, perhaps allowing audiences to feel they could step all over the performers' jokes.
Duelling singers share the bill in In Adagio, a new play by Jessica Salgueiro that opens the second season for arts & lies productions.
Set in Paris during the unrest of the Algerian War, the script takes place just before the 1961 Paris Massacre, in which several hundred Algerian protesters were killed.
At the Paris Opera, a pair of contrasting singers - one an opera star, the other a celebrated fado performer - plan their evening's sold-out concert. The anticipated attendance of Paris's chief of police has put their show at risk, but the performers are determined to carry on.
Salgueiro and Danie Freisen play the two singers, and the production, directed by Rosanna Saracino, features musical works from two stylistically different but equally emotional worlds.
In Adagio opens Tuesday (November 13) at the Sterling Studio Theatre.