Teresa Pavlinek plays it unsafe at Wrecking Ball. Photo Courtesy of Shaftesbury Films
The ballot box isn't the only place to attack Harper.
The occasional Wrecking Ball series, which began producing sharp-edged political theatre in Toronto a number of years ago, returns just before the election with another one-off. This time, though, it's a national event, with seven other cities in addition to Toronto - from Victoria to Halifax - taking part.
Each city's event features brief works written in the past week by local playwrights and others from across Canada, inspired by the election: the candidates, their policies and their missteps.
The Toronto Wrecking Ball features plays by Judith Thompson, Teresa Pavlinek and Rick Roberts, directed by Vikki Anderson, David Jansen and David Ferry.
It's at the Tarragon on Monday (October 6). Pwyc, with proceeds going to the Department of Culture, an artist-driven group that's taking its politics to the street as well as to the theatre.
Get there early; the performance is sure to be SRO.
Fleck's first night
Harbourfront's Premiere Dance Theatre celebrated its 25th birthday last week by taking on a new name. Here on in it's the Fleck Dance Theatre, named after arts patrons Jim and Margaret Fleck, who were present at last Thursday's anniversary show and received a bouquet of flowers by a respectfully bowing Veronica Tennant.
Hosted by Karen Kain, the memorable show, repeated Friday and Saturday (with different hosts and some variation in the cast), included 25 dance artists who told stories about their lives.
Some of these memories took place in the PDT itself. Kate Franklin spoke of one embarrassing injury that came about by confusing her entrance, while Graham McKelvie got some of the biggest laughs of the night by recalling an unexpectedly raunchy conclusion to the family show Court Of Miracles.
Not everything was funny. Lucy Rupert told of a crippling accident that took away her nerve, while Arwyn Carpenter reflected on childhood, the Tiananmen Square incident and issues of body image. Lata Pada recalled performing her groundbreaking piece inspired by the death of several members of her family in the Air India tragedy.
Photo By R. Jeanette Martin
Laurence Lemieux helped usher in the renamed Fleck Dance Theatre.
Others told general dance anecdotes. David Earle drolly compared New York and Toronto, while Laurence Lemieux delivered a French-accented recollection of a momentous post-show dinner party that changed her personal life forever.
The show was created with From the Horse's Mouth, which blends storytelling with structured improvisations. During any given story, three dancers performed and interacted, showing what they're best known for. The strategy proved inspiring at times but could be distracting.
Some multi-faceted dance artists did more than storytelling. A few sang. Hari Krishnan put a Bharatanatyam spin on Fred Rogers's Won't You Be My Neighbour song.
But the turn of the night belonged to Peter Chin, whose haunting, gibberish-filled speech included respectful nods to the theatre's new namesake, a shout-out to Harbourfront's dance programmer Jeanne Holmes and - best of all - a Stephen Harper dig delivered with an ultra angry expression.
Daniel Léveillé Danse performs their show La Pudeur Des Icebergs at the newly refurbished theatre October 2-3. See Dance Listings.
Cab can do
Want a heady evening of cabaret? You won't go wrong with a visit to the Canwest Cabaret Festival, running for four days at the Young Centre.
With more than 50 performances by some of the country's best musicians, it looks like a pretty thrilling event, including an evening of Kurt Weill songs featuring Mary Margaret O'Hara, Patricia O'Callaghan, Sarah Slean, Mike Ross and Albert Schultz, with John Millard as musical director.
Susan Henley and Diane Leah organize a musical theatre salon featuring some of the city's classiest performers, while Queen of Puddings Music Theatre offers an all-Canadian classical cabaret in which sopranos Shannon Mercer and Carla Huhtanen sing numbers by classical composers James Rolfe, Rodney Sharman, José Evangelista, Melissa Hui and Christopher Butterfield. Tom Diamond directs, with John Hess at the piano.
Kaeja d'Dance gets involved, too, with live music and 10 contact dance improvisers, and O'Callaghan has her own solo show and performs in The Leonard Cohen Songbook.
Need more convincing? How about the participation of Jackie Richardson, John Alcorn, David Sereda, Maryem Tollar and d'bi.young.anitafrika in various solo and group events?
Think cancer's nothing to laugh at? Not in This Is Cancer?, Bruce Horak's satiric solo show in which the actor turns cancer into a character who hunkers down and talks with the audience about his experiences.
A cancer survivor himself, Horak's toured the show around the country and brings it back to Toronto for a one-night performance. Funny and moving, the piece gives viewers a chance to confront one of our most fearsome illnesses.
Directed by Rebecca Northan, This Is Cancer? plays Wednesday at the Comedy Bar.
See One-Nighters for more info.