Have trouble sleeping when a good idea's running through your head? Put that sleeplessness to good use at the Fringe's annual 24 Hour Playwriting Contest. You can make money and get a staged reading if your script's a winner. On July 5, applicants are given four objects, ideas or locations they must work into a play that's due the next day. First prize is $1,000 and a reading at the closing Fringe cabaret. Only 40 applicants can participate -- there's also a $25 fee -- so get a form soon. 344 Bloor West, suite 507, or call 416-966-1062.
Second City First-Rate
Wow. What a cool comedy night. And what a great idea. I'm talking about last Friday's till-the-wee-hours showcase of Second City alumni as a fundraiser for Gilda's Club. Watching folks like Robin Duke, John Hemphill, Bruce Pirrie, Deb McGrath and Colin Mochrie perform classic sketches from the past, you wouldn't know some of them haven't stepped on a live stage in over a decade. Highlights included Duke and Jenny Parsons as an obnoxious shop clerk and customer; Ed Sahely, Kathy Greenwood and Chris Earle in the best parent-teacher skit I've seen; Marc Hickox and Doug Morency in the notorious Mick-and-Keith-in-a-hotel-room skit; and Bob Martin, Melody Johnson and Jack Mosshammer doing The Glass Menagerie by way of David Mamet. All smart, all classy. Too bad the current cast's sketches don't hold up against the old pros'.
all lit up
Award-winning designer Paul Mathiesen's been handling stage lighting for years, but never in quite the literal sense he did for Queen of Puddings' show Echoes last weekend. Moving around the interior of St. George the Martyr Church in view of the audience, constantly rejigging lights, switching gels and using reflectors, Mathiesen demonstrated how he creates one of theatre's subtlest arts. And the show -- a collection of songs performed by Jane Archibald and Tamara Hummel, with pianist John Hess, had the same shimmering quality. Its highlight? Hummel singing Harry Somers's musically taxing Shaman's Song, which rose to a point of dramatic and emotional ecstasy.