Expect a sprinkling of fairy magic around High Park this summer. Canadian Stage is remounting one of the most popular of Shakespeare’s plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Director ahdri zhina mandiela’s version, which adds an urban hip-hop sensibility and Caribana sensuality, has some new cast members, including Xuan Fraser as Theseus and Oberon.
But while Fraser’s a fresh face here, he’s played the role twice before.
“There’s always something to learn when you perform Shakespeare,” he says before going off to rehearsal. “The text has such complexity that you can explore and find something different each time.
“The world of the play is usually patriarchal, but ahdri brings a woman’s sensibility to the story. The male characters, fairy and mortal, are fallible and fickle, forced to use magic or a drug to recapture lost love.
“There’s a sense of regret in both the mortal ruler Theseus and the fairy king Oberon, and I think Oberon’s world especially revolves around his heart. He realizes that the disorder around him comes from his own and his queen Titania’s actions. Seeing the four human lovers quarrel brings home the fact that how we treat others affects everything in our environment.”
Having performed Shakespeare outdoors before, Fraser knows that it’s not being large that makes the Bard successful in a park setting.
“What’s more important is being clear about your intention. You can bump up the volume, but you have to keep the intimacy.”
A few weeks ago we reported the closing of Equity Showcase because of the withdrawal of funding for the organization, which provided training and developmental resources for the theatre community.
Well, the community won’t let go of Showcase.
On Friday (June 27), the collective I’d Rather Dance hosts a funder for Showcase to help the relaunch of the Professional Development Program, which this summer offers workshops in voice, movement, acting, audition technique and scene study.
Special projects include a summer training conservatory and actors forum. In September, Showcase will bring in guest artists from London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and the Drama Studio.
The pwyc evening includes DJs spinning discs for dancing and a cash bar.
Saturday (June 28) will mark the final show for the Laugh Resort, the 18-year-old institution that started off on Lombard Street before moving in 2000 to its more intimate space in the basement of the Holiday Inn on King.
Although acts had been booked until the end of summer, the hotel’s renovations require that the club vacate by Saturday.
According to manager Jake Labow, there are no current plans to relocate.
Over the years, the Laugh Resort featured comics like Ellen DeGeneres and Adam Sandler, often before they made it big.
More recent comics include talented Canadians like Ryan Belleville, Harry Doupe, Debra DiGiovanni, Winston Spear, Ron Sparks, Alex Nussbaum, Steve Levine, Tim Steeves, Frank Spadone and Adam Growe.
The closure leaves a void for independent comics looking to perform regularly. Other venues include Absolute Comedy and the recently opened Comedy Bar. The club Comedywood closed several years ago.
Saturday’s headliner is U.S. comic Kevin Flynn, but if we’re lucky some of the club’s past comics will drop by for a laugh or two.
Given the chemistry generated by participants in this year's Cooking Fire Theatre Festival, you'd think you were in a lab rather than a park.
The fifth annual fest last week in Dufferin Grove Park proved that in outdoor performances, a strong relationship between performers can buoy a slight script.
Take Golgi Apparatus's Ahoy!, in which a clownish trio (Sandy Gribbin, Christina Serra and Dan Watson) find themselves adrift at sea in a rubber dinghy. Calisthenics, gargling and fishing fill their leisurely days, until the innocent, rubber-faced Serra causes problems with the team's bait.
The kids in the audience laughed a lot, and we'll bet they didn't even notice the nice pacing and smooth transitions from one episode to the next.
Hellooo, with Scrapheap Theatre's Sarah Cormier and Kiersten Tough, takes us down a hole and back out again, as a demanding ruler and a determined traveller become embroiled in a battle of wills. Using Alice In Wonderland logic and an actual hole in the park, Cormier and Tough become mirror images of each other before settling down to a cozy party.
Teatro Arado, visiting from Portugal, benefited from the strong acting relationship between author Pedro Saraiva and director Rosário Costa, though the text itself isn't always engaging. It's not that the show is partly in Portuguese, but rather that it goes on too long. The audience's attention wandered despite some charming moments involving a box of magical objects, several musical instruments and a variety of puppets.