The Shape of Home is a show about the life and works of Al Purdy currently being presented by the Festival Players in the Studio Theatre at the Streetcar Crowsnest. Actually I think it’s about a lot more than Al Purdy. It does tell his story and use his poems as song material but in the creative process something a bit magical happened. It was created during lockdown using Zoom with the creator/participants messaging back and forth with ideas, snippets of songs and (mostly dark) thoughts. The creative process must have been gruelling and at times disheartening but the final result is a show of high energy, and humour. But above all it’s life and art affirming. Performed in the tiny Studio Theatre it’s also very intimate. For the first time since the theatres reopened I felt I had got my old life back.
From September 11th to 25th Crow’s Theatre has a show; The Shape of Home: Songs in Search of Al Purdy. This is a sort of staged song cycle exploring the words and ideas of “Canada’s unofficial poet laureate”.
Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya is the sort of play that makes one wonder why the Russian Revolution didn’t happen much sooner. If the land owning class were living such miserable lives it must have been absolute hell for the peasants. Maybe they just couldn’t afford a guillotine? Anyway it’s playing at Crow’s Theatre right now in a production directed by Chris Abraham which runs until October 2nd.
It’s still pretty quiet but there are some things still going on:
August 16th to 20th, the National Ballet has free performances at Harbourfront incorporating a number of partners and an eclectic mix of dance styles. Details.
August 28th at pm in the Music Garden at Harbourfront Lawrence Wiliford and PhoeNX Ensemble are performing Alec Roth’s Songs in Time of War. This one is free and outdoors so “weather permitting”. Continue reading →
Singulières, written by Maxime Beauregard-Martin, is a French language (more or less) coproduction of Le collectif Nous sommes ici, le Théâtre Catapulte and La Bordée. It'[s currently being presented jointly by Crow’s Theatre and Théâtre français de Toronto at the Streetcar Crowsnest. It tells the stories of various Québecoises who are stlll single at a certain age. Women who would once, especially in Quebec, have been referred to as “old maids”.
How far will people go in the effort to survive? How can they preserve some sense of self respect and dignity in that survival? I think these are the questions underlying George F. Walker’s play Orphans for the Czar which had its world premier last night at Crow’s Theatre in a production directed by Tanja Jacobs.
Brandon Jacobs-Jenkjins’ play Gloria, directed by André Sills is currently playing at Crow’s Theatre. It’s a hard play to describe as spoilers must be avoided and it works at many different levels. The initial setting is the offices of a New York “culture” magazine where we meet various members of the highly dysfunctional workforce. A shocking event happens and the rest of the play explores how various parts of the media industries relate to such events in the internet age along with issues related to who really “owns” an experience and in what sense does that “ownership” validate or privilege their version of events versus any other. One of the ideas here is that the “product” has become in every way secondary. The magazine is little more than a prop for blog posts. Book publishing is largely geared around selling the movie or TV rights. Movie and TV production is largely about providing a package for prefabricated celebrities to feature in. The irony of a print and internet reviewer writing about all this is not lost on me!
There’s not exactly a flood of events in my calendar for march yet but there are a few. Running March 1st to 20th at Crow’s Theatre is Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ satirical play Gloria about a Manhattan magazine staff seeking fame and glory as the internet turns the industry upside down. It’s not an opera but it’s directed by the very talented André Sills which is reason enough for me.
2021 was another year of parts. Pretty much no live indoor performances before September then a few chances to get to the theatre and now, well who knows? So what stood out for me in 2021? Here’s a round up by category.
Not much of course but there were some good shows, though opera didn’t really figure. The Home Project from Native Earth and Soulpepper was a thought provoking look at the the idea of “home”. MixTape at Crow’s Theatre explored the variegated nature of relationships through the medium of the once ubiquitous mix tape. And on a more conventional note there was a rearranged at short notice recital at Koerner hall that showcased the extremely talented Davóne Tines. Continue reading →