You don't have to wait for a town hall forum to hear what other Torontonians think about our city.
In This Must Be The Place: The CN Tower Show, the Architect Theatre Collective provides a cross-section of views both researched and live.
The production is part of Theatre Passe Muraille's fall season, which looks at Toronto from different perspectives.
"In talking with dozens of people over 18 months, we kept hearing how important civic pride is and how interested citizens are in what makes this city unique," says Architect co-artistic director Georgina Beaty.
The company interviewed people from all walks of life, including former mayors and councillors, and had more casual conversations with others on the street. The material is presented by actors Greg Gale, Ingrid Hansen, Thomas Olajide and Beaty, collaborating with director Jonathan Seinen and dramaturge Charlotte Corbeil Coleman.
"Because we're not working with a narrative structure, we're able to set portraits next to each other so that the result has the satisfying feeling of an arc or journey. We've balanced perspectives so that no single voice dominates."
This is the company's second show devised in this interview style. Last year they presented Highway 63: The Fort Mac Show, in which the actors morphed into the residents and workers in Fort McMurray, Alberta, voicing their opinions about the oil sands town and how it was seen by the rest of Canada. The production has since toured the country.
"Of course, we can't represent everything in the current show. We're a young company, and several of us are new to Toronto. A lot of what we've done is to dig into the city as we settle in to live here and learn about its history; we want to be honest about that process and allow our discoveries to come into what we present."
The script is still in flux, but expect segments on the CN Tower (officially opened 36 years ago on October 1), a council meeting in which members argue the plastic bag tax, Scarborough, the TTC, Jane-Finch, Jane Jacobs and the voice of at least one homeless person.
But the audience doesn't just listen to other voices; members can get involved by playing the participatory Scruples Game or making anonymous confessions about Toronto.
"We're aware that each night we'll have a microcosm of Toronto in the theatre, so that will influence what that performance will be like. It's a chance to see what other people are thinking, not in terms of big-city things like politics or urban planning, but just what makes someone tick, how people exist in Toronto and what's important for them about living here."
Beaty admits that the company's creative process is an unusual one.
"Playwright David Mamet has said going to the theatre should be like going out on a great date. We've tried to construct our show that way, making it an exciting and unexpected night out."
Playing the GG Literary Awards
The Canada Council for the Arts announced the short lists for the 2012 Governor General's Literary Awards on Tuesday (October 2).
The five nominees in the English-language drama section are Catherine Banks's It Is Solved By Walking (Playwrights Canada Press), Trina Davies's The Romeo Initiative (Playwrights Canada Press), Karen Hines's Drama: Pilot Episode (Coach House), Cathy Ostlere and Dennis Garnhum's Lost: A Memoir (Scirocco) and Anusree Roy's Brothel #9 (Playwrights Canada Press).
Playwrights Canada Press also picked up two other nominations in the French-to-English translation category: Carole Fréchette's The Small Room At The Top Of The Stairs and Thinking Of Yu, translated by John Murrell, and Jennifer Tremblay's The List, translated by Shelley Tepperman.
Winners will be announced November 13.
The Quickening Theatre's production of Mister Baxter is on track most of the time. The show is part of Theatre Passe Muraille's Bring The Buzz.
Kate Fenton's play, which ran at the 2011 Fringe, returned for a second run last month, this time around including an art installation and photo exhibit.
The TTC is central to the narrative, which involves three sets of characters whose lives start to weave together as we near the tale's climax.
On the High Park subway platform we meet the title character (Christopher Stanton), a high school teacher, and a teen (Kaleb Alexander) he starts talking to; they each, we learn, have had problems with the education system. Then there's Paul and Rebecca (Alex Dault and Ewa Wolniczek), a couple (at least in Rebecca's mind), and students at Mr. Baxter's school, whose actions have a major impact on the teacher's life.
Finally we're introduced to married couple Joe and Sarah (Mark Gibson and Ginette Mohr). A welder, Joe's been travelling outside of Toronto for work and, suspecting Sarah has a lover, plans to leave her for good.
Fenton's writing draws tighter and tighter as the stories play out, though Paul and Rebecca aren't as fleshed out as they might be. Director Adam Seybold makes fine use of the various playing levels at Theatre Passe Muraille.
There are some sensitive performances in the show, which closed Saturday (September 29), notably Alexander as the troubled and sometimes defensive guy on the platform and Mohr as the equally off-balance Sarah, who tries to use liquor to drown some upsetting memories. Tying the whole together is Stanton's philosophical Mister Baxter, given the play's best speeches. The casual conversations he has with everyone he meets, we discover, cover a multitude of insecurities and desires.