Who says the arts can't have political clout? Just ask Josh Bloch, director of ARCfest, an acronym whose first three letters signify Art for Real Change.
Beginning Sunday (October 22), a series of events show off what Bloch calls Toronto's "amazing community of socially and politically committed artists. A festival like this, the second we've held, shows that the intersection of arts and politics can be beneficial to both communities.
"We also believe that the relevance of the arts depends on its being political," adds Bloch, who runs a youth group called the Circle Playhouse. "Too often artists are marginalized because of the way they work, their lack of resources or what they have to say. ARCfest redresses the balance with its blend of emerging and seasoned artists, and in some ways it's a celebration of an arts community that allows the two groups to work together."
Director Ross Manson has organized the theatre section of the festival, which runs to October 29. He's scheduled a remount of d'bi.young's blood.claat as well as premieres of Judith Thompson's The Palace Of The End, about the war in Iraq, a site-specific play being staged along a block in Parkdale and works by youth troupes the A.M.Y. Project and Circle Playhouse.
Manson has brought together a mixture of musicians, dancers and poets for Children Of Our Era, with contributions by Andrew Burashko, James Kudelka, Kate Alton, Karen Robinson and others.
Also look for a staged reading of Bobby Del Rio's Professionally Ethnic, about ethnic casting in local theatre, followed by a discussion with fu-GEN's Nina Lee Aquino, Obsidian's Philip Akin and NOW associate entertainment editor Glenn Sumi.
The fest concludes with the latest edition of The Wrecking Ball, always politically aware, with new works by Daniel MacIvor, Hannah Moscovitch, Morwyn Brebner, Jonathan Garfinkel and a recent play by Harold Pinter.
See Opening, page 70, for details, or for the entire festival calendar go to www.arcfest.org.
You know the producers feel queasy about a show when they let it run for weeks before inviting critics to see it - just before its final week. Legends stars Joan Collins and Linda Evans, who played duelling divas so many eons ago in Dynasty and here play aging Oscar-nominated (!) actors who reunite for a Broadway play.
James Kirkwood's clunky script debuted in 1986 with Carol Channing and Mary Martin, two of the last entertainers who could have been called legends. Collins and Evans aren't bad, they're just boring. And I have a feeling that even in 1986 the fact that the show's two African-American actors play a maid and a stripper would have been insulting.