Ever wonder about the link between creativity and mental health? Beginning Friday (March 21), Madness And Arts 2003, an arts festival devoted to just that connection, brings together more than 100 artists from around the world to explore mental health issues. In addition to speakers, panels and workshops, nine theatre and dance performances address the subject.
Check out Tokyo's Ryuzanji and Company's Educating Mad Persons, an operetta about a family trying to identify which of its members is mad, or Climps At The Crossroads, a local improv/clown collaboration between Climp Players and Workman Theatre Project (WTP) coordinated by John Turner (of Mump and Smoot) and Second City's Kate Ashby. Germany's Theatre Sycorax offers the best-known work, Georg Büchner's Woyzeck.
A pair of shows target young audiences. WTP offers an adaptation of Gayle Grass's book Iris The Dragon, about the early warning signs of potential mental illness in an eight-year-old; Ellen-Ray Hennessy plays the title character. London's Y Touring Company brings Cracked, which deals with a teenager's depression and attempted suicide. See listings for details.
The standout in this year's Paprika Festival is a nasty little piece -- and that's a compliment. David Rendall's Lorenzo And The Day Pass focuses on two former schoolmates, teens Gavin (David Sazant) and Lorenzo (Rendall), who meet on a subway car. What begins as a quirky comedy -- it's clear from the first that Lorenzo's dealing with lots of emotional baggage -- turns dark as the guys' shared history comes to light. Director Mitchell Marcus increases the tension as the subway moves from one stop to the next around the University loop.
Rendall turns in a vibrant, often fascinating performance, both innocent and intense, while Sazant provides him with a good foil. Paprika, featuring a trio of works by under-21 theatre artists, runs until Sunday. See listings for details.
Caught our first Schmigeggy, the latest of director Adam Lazarus's productions created collectively in 36 hours. Nightmare is its title and theme, and, given the short composition time, it's not surprising that it uses a sketch format. We wish the show were darker -- the material often seems more like the stuff of anxiety than of nightmares, and the comedy and clown could have been more wicked -- but the company (Keith Fernandez, Becky Johnson, Lazarus and Dale Boyer) offers some good moments. Best scene? Teacher Johnson finds herself in front of a student-packed auditorium without her pants on, and each time she exits behind the curtain she finds herself back at centre stage. Best line? Boyer dismisses the transit paper Metro Today as Coles Notes for the Toronto Sun. See listings for details.