Night's Swift Dragons by Daniel Karasik, directed by Soheil Parsa, with Michelle Polak and Kevin Rees-Cummings. February 11-15 at 8 pm.
Now in its 26th year, Buddies in Bad Times' alt theatre fest serves up tasty faves from the past and introduces a bumper crop of tart new works. Here are four plays to make your mouth water.
A festival of new and revived works. Buddies in Bad Times (12 Alexander). Runs through February 22, with weekly program changes, Wednesday-Sunday 8 pm. $15, week pass $20, festival pass $40. 416-975-8555. buddiesinbadtimestheatre.com/theatre_retrorhubarb.php
Daniel Karasik just turned 17, so it's no surprise that most of his theatre memories come from books. "I've never seen Daniel MacIvor's work, but I love it on the page," he says. "Same with Naomi (One Flea Spare) Wallace. I haven't seen as much as I'd like to."
Not to worry. He's got lots of time.
These days, besides premiering his play Night's Swift Dragons in Rhubarb!'s Under 21 Series, Karasik's busy taking public transit from his home in Thornhill to act on local stages.
Last summer he played a sensitive Gregor Samsa in a fine adaptation of Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis, titled Ungeziefer [vermin], at SummerWorks. Later, he played a boy in the powerfully suggestive ensemble work Stories From The Rains Of Love And Death.
"The kind of theatre I'm interested in changes weekly," he says.
"I love the traditional possibilities of two people talking in a room. But then I'll see something by Kevin Rees-Cummings and Sean McMahon, this amazing sort of free expression."
His new play takes its title from one of Puck's speeches in A Midsummer Night's Dream; Karasik played Lysander in a high school production.
"I was taken by the idea that the moon was pulled by dragons," he explains. "I thought that was a beautiful image to work from."
The play began as a simple love story with a mythical bent. Since then it's become more metaphysical, exploring the idea of déjà vu - how perhaps someone you love is someone you've known forever.
He's working with Soheil Parsa, who directed him in Stories.
"Soheil's helped refine my visual instincts," he says. "He's got a tremendous visual vocabulary. I feel more comfortable now in an environment that's not kitchen-sink realism."
So far, Karasik's had few troubles being taken seriously. Past writing credits include last year's Rhubarb! and an award-winning turn at the Tarragon Spring Arts Fair.
As for his parents, they're supportive - and always ready to give him a ride downtown.
"But they'd prefer my plays to be uptown so they don't have to drive in the winter slush." RETRO RHUBARB! A festival of new and revived works. Buddies in Bad Times (12 Alexander). Runs through February 22, with weekly program changes, Wednesday-Sunday 8 pm. $15, week pass $20, festival pass $40. 416-975-8555. buddiesinbadtimestheatre.com/ theatre_retrorhubarb.php