The two central characters in Tony Hall 's Twilight Cafe are more than a man and woman whose relationship has deteriorated. Infused with Trinidadian folk culture, they're both individuals and archetypes.
"They're called simply Man and Woman in the script; they're universal figures," explains director Rhoma Spencer , whose Theatre Archipelago presents the piece.
"Hall, whose earlier hit Jean And Dinah played Toronto several times, revolutionized theatre in Trinidad with what he calls the Jouvay popular theatre process, which draws on characters from carnival and invites the audience to participate emotionally and sometimes physically with them."
Twilight Cafe's key figures, Stanley and Sarah, have broken up several years before, and Sarah has left the Caribbean for New York. She's back visiting and finds Stanley at the cafe he owns. Attempting to rekindle their relationship, the two journey into a not always happy past and revisit what might have gone wrong between them.
One of Spencer's strengths as a director is to give life to a script's non-naturalistic elements, and here she relies on ritual and movement to explore figures who morph into such archetypes as the Soucouyant, an old woman who changes into a night-flying ball of fire, and Batonye, a wily stick fighter.
"I see the play as a blend of Strindberg and Pinter in contemporary Trinidad," laughs Spencer, "but carnival and mythological figures are never far beneath the surface of the human characters. I think we all live with archetypes, and I'm hoping audiences will find parallels to their own lives in the play."
A key theme of the piece, argues the director, is the difference between male and female love, with the Man unable to accept that he doesn't have to take care of the Woman.
"Female liberation has given the Woman the notion that she can be equal to the Man and the tools for achieving it, but Man hasn't been given the materials to deal with that equality. Twilight Cafe shows what happens when a man can't fulfill what he sees as his duty.
"The play demonstrates that gender relationships in the Caribbean have moved on. Some people from the islands who have been here for years might not know it, but they have."
De end of DQ
It's been one of the most popular and outrageous theatrical events of the past two decades. And now DQ , the fundraising drag celebration for Casey House , comes to an end with its final presentation, Diva Oz Vegas .
Where else would you find a version of camp classic The Wizard Of Oz translated to a Las Vegas setting, with a sexy Scarecrow, a glittering Tin Diva and a shy Rubenesque Lioness helping a Judy Garland type try to find her way home?
Don't look for the classic tunes from the MGM musical - this is a drag queen's delight, and there'll be lots of disco songs, diva numbers and queer comedy.
Back in 1986, the first DQ raised money to complete the purchase of what would become Casey House Hospice, and to date the shows have collected over $900,000. With the glitzy Diva Oz Vegas, directed by Graham Maxwell , the hope is that DQ will raise over $1 million in total for the volunteer-run organization.
Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes at our local theatres?
The Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA) holds Backstage Toronto 2007 , a new one-day event on Saturday (May 12) that allows you to visit a number of the venues whose auditoriums (we hope) you sit in on a regular basis.
Three tour packages give a glimpse of the inner workings of several Toronto theatres. Tour A includes the Royal Alex , Factory , Diesel Playhouse , St. Lawrence Centre and Tarragon . On Tour B you'll look inside the Four Seasons Centre , Buddies , Diesel, Walter Carsen Centre and Harbourfront Centre , while Tour C packages the Princess of Wales , Canadian Stage at Berkeley , Elgin and Winter Garden and Diesel.
All three packages have two morning departures and include lunch at the Diesel Playhouse.