Are you interested in starting up a theatre or dance troupe, or are you new in the business? This weekend's Indie Trade Forum , hosted by the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts and held in conjunction with Buddies ' Rhubarb! Festival , can provide some useful pointers.
Running Saturday and Sunday (February 18 and 19), the forum includes a keynote speech by playwright John Mighton and seminars on branding, grants, administrative structures, private sector fundraising and other topics.
See Opening Listings.
Ch-ch-ch-changes on the scene
Several groups have added talented artists to their companies. Actor/writer Marjorie Chan (China Doll) is Cahoots Theatre 's new associate artistic director. She'll help coordinate a staged-reading series of Chinese-Canadian plays in Hong Kong, create a new youth initiative and, as writer-in-residence, develop a play set against the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
Over at Necessary Angel , director Chris Abraham becomes the company's first associate artist. He'll collaborate with artistic director Daniel Brooks , co-directing a workshop of The Eco Show and helming a new production of 1998's Insomnia , both by Brooks. Also, Abraham and playwright Anton Piatigorsky will work on a new show scheduled to be a co-pro between Necessary Angel and Abraham's own troupe, Go Chicken Go .
Two other directors are this year's participants in the Shaw Directors Project , coordinated by Theatre Ontario . Liza Balkan , who's recently directed Trying, Skylight and Enemies (see below), and Lee Wilson , a co-founder of Resurgence Theatre , will each assistant direct a pair of shows at the Shaw Festival.
In a Jeffy
Jeff McEnery is on a roll. A few months ago, the 21-year-old stand-up walked away with the Cream Of Comedy Award for best up-and-coming comic. Sunday he was crowned the winner of the first annual Yuk Yuk's Great Canadian Laugh Off .
The Acton, Ontario, comic beat out seven other funny guys -- some with as much as 13 years in the biz under their belts -- to take home the $25,000 prize. The competition began earlier last week. Eight finalists were selected from 64 comics in eight shows.
McEnery's act keeps getting better. He added a bit about white wannabe rappers in Acton to his solid material about his lack of success with women. With his slightly mumbling delivery, he comes across as the opposite of slick -- which endears him to the audience. There's also a formality about him that makes him seem young and old at the same time.
Trevor Boris , originally from Winnipeg, was a worthy runner-up, effortlessly delivering his fresh, honest material about his sexual orientation (he's gay) and farming background. He's definitely one to watch, along with talented finalists Peter Anthony and Ian Peet -- Peet's remarkable in that he hasn't even been doing comedy for a year.
The audience included The Aristocrats director Paul Provenza . Kudos to host/organizer Mark Breslin and the many stand-ups who probably won't be seen when the show airs in the spring on the Comedy Network.
Lou Eisen worked his ass off keeping us entertained before and after the taping sessions, and a special shout-out of compassion goes to Dave Hemstad , who had the unenviable task of performing to a hot, loud room while the scores were being tabulated.
Russian rights and lefts
Jason Sherman 's sure drawn to Russian literature. Last summer he adapted The Brothers Karamazov for Stratford, and in the fall offered a riff on The Cherry Orchard at the National Arts Centre. Now he's adapted Maxim Gorky 's Enemies for the graduating class at Ryerson Theatre School .
Set at the start of the 20th century, the play deals with the conflicts between a group of factory owners and their angry workers. A look at both large-scale politics and private relationships, Enemies takes time to warm up but offers a literally explosive second act.
Liza Balkan 's sympathetic direction lays out the multitude of characters with care. Workers far outnumber management, but of course the latter hold the power. Even in the top ranks, though, there are differing viewpoints on how to handle the poorly paid employees. Zakhar ( Chad Connell ) is liberal and compassionate, while lawyer Nikolai ( Nils Hognestad ) and his brother Mikhail ( Michael Hogeveen ), the factory manager, have stricter views.
It's the female characters who provide the play's emotional life, and the dramatic tensions are finely tuned when they're onstage.
The cast includes a number of strong performers. Janick Hébert -- memorable in all three Ryerson productions this year -- finds all sorts of nuance in the flirtatious actor Tatanya, worshipped by several of the men. Laura Burns makes a touching, idealistic and innocent Nadya, in some ways the most Chekhovian of Gorky's characters, and Lauren Ferraro has some good moments as Cleopatra, the distraught, self-serving wife of the manager.
See Continuing Listings.
The Tarragon Theatre seeks applications for the Urjo Kareda Residency Grant , which allows a theatre artist to spend up to 20 paid weeks at the Tarragon working in a self-created program in collaboration with artists in the applicant's field of interest.
Geared toward emerging professional theatre artists in writing, directing, design or the technical arts, the $10,000 grant -- funded by the Youssef-Warren Foundation -- runs between next August and June 2007. Applicants must have worked in their field for two to five years and participated in the presentation, production or publication of at least one work. Deadline is April 28. For more information, e-mail Andy McKim , associate artistic director, at email@example.com .
For the past several years, Sometimes Y Theatre's been staging some first-rate Canadian theatre in Japan. Under artistic director Robert Tsonos - who was last in Toronto with the Passe Muraille co-pro of his script William & James - the company's produced Morris Panych's Vigil, Michael Healey's The Drawer Boy and Michel Tremblay's For The Pleasure Of Seeing Her Again.
Tsonos has two more productions in the works, to be presented at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo. George F. Walker 's Problem Child , directed by Matt Lagan , goes up in March, and Matthew Edison 's The Domino Heart , with Tsonos at the helm, takes the stage in May.
Richard Brinsley Sheridan 's 1777 comedy The School For Scandal is one of the wittiest plays in the English language. The George Brown Theatre School production captures much of piece's smartness, still topical today in its exposure of society's hypocrisies.
Much of the barbed fun revolves around Lady Sneerwell and her gossipy scandal club, whose members destroy anyone's reputation, friend or foe. But there's also comedy in Sheridan's portraits of Sir Peter and Lady Teazle, a December-May couple, he from the town and she a country-born innocent who becomes drunk on London's freedom. Add a pair of brothers, one a smooth-faced schemer and the other a big-hearted profligate who knows true right from wrong, and you have the makings for several interconnected plots.
Director Miles Potter 's production keenly exploits the play's language, and the graduating class offers a clear reading of the sometimes convoluted text. Though young actors aren't always convincing as characters older than their years, and the script has a level of nastiness that's barely touched, we're still treated to several fine performances.
Jennifer Harding makes a playful Lady Teazle, alert to the pleasures of the town but with a soft spot for her cantankerous husband ( Derek Paradiso ). There's also fun in John Bryans 's smarmy, Machiavellian Joseph Surface, a seemingly moral man who tries to ruin the reputation of his brother Charles ( Jamie Spilchuk ).
See Continuing Listings.