Monday (May 10) marked the 10th annual Harold Awards , named for the late Harold Kandel , a fixture in the front row of many productions who didn't mind telling artists then and there what he thought of their work. Though he could be equally endearing and annoying, Kandel was committed to the cause of theatre in Toronto. The Harolds recognize people with a similar dedication who've made a major contribution to the alternative theatre and dance scene, onstage or off. The awards night, hosted by Nigel Shawn Williams with music by Reuben Cherry , was a great party.
This year's Haroldees include Theatre Gargantua 's Jacquie P.A. Thomas and Michael Spence , writer/director Hrant Alianak , dancer/choreographer Kate Alton , theatre pioneer Amah Harris , hair and makeup artist Jacqueline Robertson-Cull , designer Wendy White , designer/stage manager J. P. Robichaud , stage manager Kate Macdonnell , arts writer Robert Crew , director Weyni Mengesha , actor/director Diana Belshaw , administrator Cheryl Landy and director Kelly Thornton .
The Ken McDougall Award to an emerging director went to fu-GEN Theatre 's Nina Aquino .
Columbus commits Mayhem
By its very nature, 20-year-old Theatre Columbus is an exploratory company, but never more so than in its cabaret series Mayhem . The series lets audiences in on the process of creating theatre. We caught an evening of last weekend's series, dubbed Mayhem & The Naked Play, and were impressed with both the writing and storytelling of Brooke Johnson in two stories about Pierre Trudeau; the chemistry between Diane Flacks and Richard Greenblatt in Care , about various forms of care-giving; and musical hosts John Millard and Martin Julien playing, among other things, an ironing board.
A few years ago Columbus did a splendidly creative version of Ibsen's Peer Gynt, and the centrepiece of this year's Mayhem was a serio-comic excerpt from their latest creation, Playing Around With Ibsen . Drawing on lesser-known works like The Wild Duck and Little Eyolf, director Leah Cherniak and actors Tom Barnett , Claire Calnan , Martha Ross , Michael Simpson and Waneta Storms gave us a look at the playwright and his ongoing themes.