Need proof that theatre artists can party? Be part of the ninth annual Harolds, a celebration of Toronto’s independent theatre and dance world Monday (May 12). In addition to the presentation of the Harold Awards – they’re named after late theatre fan and heckler Harold Kandel – to a dozen or so deserving people in the community, there’s DJ-spun music and lots of entertainment. Hosting this year are David Gale and musical co-host Randy Vancourt. Before Gale started visiting grandmas’ kitchens for the TV show Loving Spoonfuls, he and Vancourt had a stage hit in Chutzpah A Go-Go. Maybe they’ll reprise a number from the show. See listings for details.
Workshopping works. We saw proof when we caught 3-parts-harmony at rock-paper-sistahz, b current’s series of developing theatre works by black women. The SummerWorks version last August didn’t hold together, but here writer/performers Raven Dauda and Ngozi Paul, working with third performer d’bi.young, musician Alejandra Nunez and director Weyni Mengesha, gave real power to the tale of a woman who has trouble harmonizing her mind, body and spirit. With Paul as the neurotic, overly verbal mind, Dauda as the singing spirit and the mesmerizing young as the visceral body, it’s now a theatrically effective show about integrating the parts of the self.
Also on the bill was Vancouver writer/actor Mercedes Baines’s june bug and other poetic tales, a series of character sketches of women dealing with love, sex and desire. The writing – rhythmic verse, storytelling and comic snapshots set to davidson r. elie’s drum accompaniment – was often stronger than the performing. Rotating five different works, the series continues to May 18; see listings for details.
Rick Sacks deserves a lot more credit than he usually gets. The composer and performer brings inspiration to the theatre pieces he scores (Sibs, Dib And Dob, Pinocchio, Danny, King Of The Basement), and he’s a driving force in Red Sky’s Caribou Song, which we saw as part of Soundstreams Canada’s music-theatre fest for young audiences, Musicools. A dance/theatre piece with text by Tomson Highway and choreography by Peter Chin, it features Sandra Laronde and Carlos Rivera as a Cree brother and sister who celebrate life and the caribou who are their link to the world. Sacks’s music – a blend of natural and percussive sounds – resonates as powerfully as the performances. Can’t wait for the companion piece, How Raven Stole The Sun, which is in development by the same artists.