There's no better venue for training young theatre artists than the annual Paprika Festival .
Natasha Mytnowych , who had a piece in the inaugural fest, becomes the new artistic producer for Paprika's fourth year. New this time around is an extended collaboration process that gives up-and-comers a chance to work with established theatre artists like Morwyn Brebner , Erika Hennebury , Keira Loughran , Daniel MacIvor , Jovanni Sy and Beatriz Pizano . This year's full-length presentations are by Michael Albert , Hannah Cheesman , Emma Healey and Johnnie Walker , all four presented at each performance. Also check out a series of excerpts from works in progress, including a script by playwright-in-residence Daniel Karasik , another Paprika alum. There's a workshop by Nova Scotia playwright Lee-Anne Poole set for the final day of Paprika, March 27. See Openings, page 77.
Crumbs crack up
Glad we caught two shows at Catch23 's Tournament Of Wonders improv fest that wrapped up on the weekend. The big discovery was tournament winners the Crumbs , a solid troupe from the 'Peg consisting of Lee White and Stephen Sim .
White and Sim share an indefinable chemistry that catapults their comic creations into the realm of art. They took the difficult competition format - on the night we caught them, they were competing against the very strong Slap Happy and the energetic Wexford Improv (high school students!) from Scarborough - and effortlessly added enough details to make us care for their improvised characters.
Other highlights included Edmonton's Rapid Fire , who presented a completely improvised night at the movies, and MC Graham Wagner , who may be Toronto's most nimble and likeable host.
Over the past 20 years, Platform 9 has offered thoughtful, engaging and sometimes upsetting theatre - Steel Kiss, White Trash Blue Eyes, Five Fingers - that uses a strong emotional thread to weave together social and political issues. The company's latest is Robin Fulford 's Tunnel , in which a man plans to be a romantic suicide and blow himself up on national TV during a leadership debate.
But fear, issues of control and his alter ego conspire against him as he makes his plans.
Directed by Mark Cassidy , the production features Hume Baugh and Patrick Conner . See Openings, page 78.