Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Light seeps under my eyelids

red haze, blue haze
we move in slow motion
dark, vertical liquid forms
that shape and reshape
I was thinking of you
            talking with you as I often used to 
butterfly touch, kiss your skin
soft, blood-filled tissue
salt and gardenia
Through a deafening sleep
I wake to a cool bed
soft quietness of an empty room
the unused space beside me flat
I ache
as if a part of my body is cleaved away

light seeps under my eyelids
the emptiness will undo me
so I curve into the imagined contours of your back
a jigsaw puzzle of pieces
a blanket of skin . . . 

breathe green
freesias, stargazers, peonies
heady, custard aroma intertwines
with the iron smell of sex
left in my lover’s hair
the evocation twists my soul
and bitter coffee coats my tongue like a memory
excerpt from Paris,by poet and spoken word artist Jill Battson

I like minimalism, but only when it’s excessive. A bare stage with a few inventive props can go a long way. Add two sexy dancers, some scattered segments of live dialogue and lush recorded spoken word by acclaimed poet Jill Battson, a final hourglass sequence complete with sand and flower, and you have a piece of dance theatre performance that takes a bit of time to warm to but is worth the effort by the climactic end of a thoughtful, evocative, at times explosive interrogation of romantic entanglement.

Paris 1944/Gallery, running until April 28th as part of Harbourfront Centre’s World Stage, is a richly textured showcase for performative movement as it meets the frequently abstract, faintly expressionist aesthetic that the Dietrich Group explores in this hour long meditation on life, death, love and a touch of nudity.

The male body that is fully exposed near the end of the piece illustrates most graphically the element of incompleteness that the overall program seems to possess. When Tyler Gledhill embraces the semi-nude body of Danielle Baskerville there is a staggering sense of corporeal fragmentation that has been dabbled in throughout the program. The onstage sinks turned into lamps quirkily bespeak this displaced, unfinished quality, along with a haunting, suspended bag of sand that twirls until it has emptied itself on top of a single blossom.

Gledhill’s ability to combine supple rhythmic contortions with vibrant explosive water-spouting moments are matched by Baskerville’s ability to join her partner in lithe sensual duets that hint at a form of full blown sex that never quite comes to fruition. Perhaps the most engaging part of the evening occurs when both dancers rhythmically circle the performing space and shout a single line that simply and powerfully states their relationship to mortality.

D.A. Hoskin’s direction and choreography bears the mark of a kind of post-modern staccato form of sharp impressionistic scenes glued abruptly together through the use of costume change, props being placed and put in motion, and moments of cinematic self-reflection shot through with seemingly disconnected and metaphoric competition - replete with handsome, enthusiastic spectators and exhausted marathon runners.

The gallery setting positions the overall composition as a kind of moving installation that, like spare pieces of sculpture dwarfed by a large white gallery, become mammoth commentaries on time, memory, and space. Ultimately Paris 1944/Gallery is at once soothing, stimulating, thought provoking, sexy - qualities made beautiful by a kind of full scale assemblage of disparate, incomplete parts that create a finished meditation - like love, like death, like art, like life. 

Paris 1944/Gallery runs until April 28th 
at the Enwave Theatre 
as part of Harbourfront's World Stage


ON TOUR THIS WEEK ALL AROUND TOWN!!! April 24th on Rusholme Road 


mechanic at work

cafe pit stop with colour coordinated umbrellas to match 
snazzy shower curtain spinnaker sail

brief academic sojourn to acquaint student masses with scholarly details of 
'Queer Failure Theory' and the ins and outs of wandering intellectual pursuits

photo shoot in front of the ROM after meeting with Museum officials to finalize plans for the installation of Deep Gay Apparatus as part of the permanent collection in the new QUEER IS HERE wing (architect Frank Lloyd Wrong)

avant garde sidewayze shot (damn iphoto!) in front of Helicionian Society (Yorkville) waiting to be inducted into the deep gay hall of fame

tinkling the ivories in posh Hazelton Avenue condo after deep gay apparatus is bought by billionaire for the new DEEP GAY theme park in the Haliburton High Camp-lands



"The goal of my life is to unify serious music and light music, even if I break my neck in doing so."
Alfred Schnittke

"Music consists of tonal sequences, tonal forms; these have no other content than themselves. They remind us once again of architecture and dancing, which likewise bring us beautiful relationships without content."

Content and Form, from German Essays on Music, Eduard Hanslick, 1854

      Igor Stravinsky has been credited with writing music that “electrified the 20th century.” The Art of Time Esemble’s ongoing commitment to assembling a wide variety of musical themes and styles, in Russia In Exile, and their varied seasons of diverse musical traditions from classical to pop, Italian opera, and jazz continues to electrify Harborfront’s music programming with  inventive and exciting performances by a range of the finest among Canadian and international musicians.

        The recent run of Russia in Exile at Harbourfront’s Enwave theatre was a wonderfully eclectic evening of classical music, beginning with Stravinsky’s L’HISTOIRE DU SOLDAT: SUITE and ending with Prokofiev’s OVERTURE ON HEBREW THEMES: OP. 34. Between these gorgeous sets artistic director Andrew Burashko placed two pieces that provided a profound, engaging contrast. The melodic unified style of Mikhail Glinka’s (the father of Russian classical music) Grand Sextet in E Flat Minor - described by Burashko as “the greatest cheese ever made” - was followed by a musical form that has been termed polystylism, and represented by Burashko through the use of Alfred Schnittke’s 1970 Piano Quintet. Burashko considers the quintet to be “possibly the most haunting thing ever written.”        

      Due to the complex mixture of a variety of genres, the polyist composition produces an amazingly jarring, infrequently soothing effect as many styles merge, collide, and fleetingly break into very brief melodic strains. Through allusions to Tchaikovsky and  Shostakovich, the Schnittke selection, written in memory of the composer’s mother, has been considered the most Russian among his mature works. This is due in part to the citational element in the piece regarding Schnittke’s admiration for Shostakovich.

      In the final offering of the evening the presence of evocative film backdrops by Tess Girard presented a black and white montage-like segment representing Jewish life on the lower East side in 1918, furthering the eclectic quality of Art of Times mandate, and providing a brilliant example of the ways in which silent narrative action can appear to eagerly follow musical rhythms in a slyly syncopated, at times jarring way. In his 1854 essay Eduard Hanslick argues that instrumental music has no meaning beyond the notes themselves. The inclusion of film segments added an open form of narrative meaning to the overall evening, giving spectators yet another example of Art of Time’s crowd pleasing, complex way of bringing theatre to music, and music to theatre in a powerful, entertaining, and evocative manner.


For Russia in Exile, Burashko, on piano, performed alongside Benjamin Bowman and Barry Shiffman on violin, Steven Dann on viola, Thomas Wiebe on cello, Joseph Phillips on double bass and James Campbell on clarinet.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Esmeralda Enrique’s Aquas/Waters at Harbourfront

         "Training with Esmeralda is learning both technique and cultural theory. She believes that flamenco can shape your life, 
that it can empower you."
    Paloma Cortes (dancer in Aguas/Waters)

The image of male and female voices in flamenco has evolved over time: although loud and low female voices were already significant in Muslim Spanish culture, today’s tradition of an “archetypically” low broken male voice has existed for merely forty years. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the most popular male voices of the genre, Antonio Chacon, for example, were clearly linked to the refined image of the opera virtuoso. Moreover, homosexual relationships in flamenco circles, as well as male transvestism, were always present despite censorship.

Music and Gender: Perspectives from the Mediterranean
edited by Tullia Magrini

Flamenco has a broad, diverse history reflecting forms of gender and cultural theory that your average spectator may not choose to acknowledge during an evening of sensual, high spirited dance. Veteran dancer and choreographer Esmerlada Enrique, a fourth generation Texan with Hispanic roots, lays bare these cultural traditions and crafts a beautifully deceptive movement through female gender and sensuality in her recent creation Aguas/Waters.

Citing water as a powerful life source in the program notes, Enrique proceeds to take the viewer through an incredible evening of flamenco, populated by mostly female dancers and an all male musical ensemble that provides a thrilling accompaniment that could stand on its own as a brilliant concert of voice and instrumental segments. But the power of Enrique’s creation demands a fully integrated spectacle that features the female body as it responds to thundering life forces ranging form the deep song vocals of two gifted singers (Manuel Soto & Chris Church) to huge ambient filmed seascapes by Jacob Niedziecki. These gorgeous elements move seamlessly, often simultaneously, to the strains of diverse musical traditions - all assembled in order to frame the deeply articulated steps of a dancing ensemble of five women and a single man.

Juan Ogalla has choreographed his solo pieces in the program and is featured throughout as a mostly lone male presence that emerges from the group of women from time to time, periodically stepping into shafts of sharp contained lighting by Sharon Digenova as he displays incredible characterization and exquisite skill. The rhythmic, tightly syncopated pounding of his feet and the penetrating intent of his face create an astounding sense of passion as he dances alone.



Choreographed by Enrique, the women’s ensemble take the stage at the outset, at times separating into solo moments as the essence of the water theme emerges as a kind of primary life force that allows a powerful masculine presence to frequently rise from among them. This is where the deceptive sensuality and the complex gender theory around shifting cultural mythologies surfaces and begins to create a deceptive path through gender equity. As an audience we see the costuming of the lone male dancer, unadorned by the vibrant colour and the long regal train of the women’s dresses. Ogallo is able to display all four limbs in a breathtakingly fluid fashion that initially appears to separate itself from the flowing agility and frequently abrupt staccato power of the gowns. Gradually we begin to see the women’s bodies emerging, in the brief calculated rise and fall of the fabric, from beneath the skillfully manipulated layers of their historically influenced costumes. This is where we start to experience the equally powerful roles within flamenco choreography that feminine presence occupies, and that Esmeralda Enrique has so skillfully woven into her work. 

Ideas around dominant forms of machismo begin to fade and blur among bodies as the evening ultimately speaks of the ebb and flow of heavily gendered life forces as they simultaneously align themselves with - and sharply defy - stereotypical expectations around the commingling of masculine and feminine prowess within a single dancing figure. Simply speaking, the women, together and apart, are as skilled and as powerful as the single man. Virtuosity becomes a joyful test of spirit and endurance, passion and celebration, as the overall group moves in waves of choreography that display a diverse array of flamenco skill and technique.

A curtain call bursting with camaraderie among the entire ensemble casts a final light upon Enrique’s brilliant play of gender forms as solo numbers and brief duets occur. The presence of same sex union, although faint and deeply subtle through the presence of the group of dancing women, and the frequently auto-sensual figure of the lone male body among them, alongside the homosocial presence of the musicians and singers, speaks unconscious multitudes regarding the fact that gender history writes and re-writes itself through a myriad of cultural forms. The origins of flamenco, moving rapidly through various cultural traditions, began to position women through “a more liberated style of dance, asserting in this way their power and authority and simultaneously evoking their…roots…[and] origins in order to satisfy the desire for exoticism of their masculine audience.”* Esmeralda Enrique’s modern flamenco brings all of this together in Aguas/Waters as it displays a life force as changeable, as erratic, as fluid, and as beautiful as sexuality, sensuality - and the sea.

Aguas/Waters ran at the Fleck Dance Theatre from April 19th until April 22nd

* Music and Gender: Perspectives from the Mediterranean
edited by Tullia Magrini

Monday, April 23, 2012


You're a teaser, you turn 'em on
Leave them burning and then you're gone
Looking out for another, anyone will do
You're in the mood for a dance
And when you get the chance...

You can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life
See that girl, watch that scene, diggin' the dancing queen

Are we ever really happy if we don’t hear ABBA’s Dancing Queen, or at least read the lyrics online, at least once a week? Perhaps this is an unanswerable, unethical ‘gay’ query, given the much needed mode of omni-sexual identity that embraces everything from gay to lesbian, trans, bi, metro, and even the odd straight acting straight looking straight man who likes to dress up every now and then and promptly return to the suburbs without a frock in sight. But how does any of this relate to Sky Gilbert’s latest funfest on the nature of love, romance and post-modern queer entanglements? Not much. But it is divinely relevant to the essential premise of the ABBA lyric, “having the time of your life!!!!”

Dancing Queen, currently running at Buddies In Bad Times Theatre, and lusciously choreographed by the ever fabulous Keith Cole, is a beautifully strident and cunningly intricate piece of dramaturgy-cum-dance that borrows from old film scores and classic dance sequences in order to create entertaining and thought-provoking glimpses of gay relationships as they reach out toward a world of youth, clubs, dancing, drugs, and non-monogamous desire.

Gilbert’s knack for edgy fast paced dialogue, and his directorial prowess as an artist keenly aware of the detailed nuances of brilliantly physicalized conversation, shines in this production. He is blessed with a three-tiered cast that delivers his heart tugging conversational whimsy with the speed of light, coupled with a very insightful and moving look at three fags in search of a brand of romance that allows for fun and loyalty among the unfaithful.

As Alan, the neophyte newcomer, Nick Green’s witty, enthusiastic performance seamlessly presents passionate speeches about how ‘real’ relationships don’t allow for the kind of promiscuity that the some gay couplings embody. David-Benjamin Tomlinson as Bart is able to counter these pleas with a cool, convincing subtlety that makes him a very appealing, provocative, and sympathetic character despite the non-traditional sexual equation he lives by. 

As Calder, Ryan Kelly crafts an incredibly nuanced performance both physically and emotionally. His writer character runs the gamut from Alan’s fumbling neurotic would-be paramour, to the compromised, love struck wise old fag baffled by a variety of internal conflicts. Bart's  career as a mathematician, Calder's role as an author, and Nick's desire to write, conspire to construct a metaphoric sub-narrative on the creativity and common sense that lasting relationships often rely upon.

As a vastly entertaining and comical adjunct to the script, Keith Cole’s choreography has the cast engaging, between dialogues, in silent, scored arrangements that strike one as a cross between vaudeville, musical comedy, and a Busby Berkeley extravaganza - except everyone has balls and there are no gowns or high heels, just men in boaters and summery clothing (beautifully designed by Sheree Tams) enacting everything they have been denied for decades by conservative elements of impolite heteronorrmative culture. A sweeping staircase and a variety of clever props by Andy Moro complete the dance sequences with iconic finesse.

Gilbert hits upon a diverse array of social and political issues around queerness without ever really making the script into a ‘gay play’ - whatever that is. And this is perhaps the beauty of a show and a piece of writing for the theatre that strikes home in a queer'ish world where the specifics of sexuality are being subsumed under the cloudy horizon of an all-embracing form of queerness. All of the sexual equations he devises end up representing very wise, empowered, and ‘normal’ living strategies that grapple with big life questions around romance, fidelity, longevity, and ways in which we might consider including multiple love interests as part of our individual lexicons of sexual and romantic abandonment. What the play ends up giving us, in movement and conversation, is a lovely, warmhearted, sexy, tale about fear, love, and the pursuit of every body we desire.

Ultimately this two hour, one intermission piece of pure theatrical delight drives home the point that, paradoxically enough, we are as different and as similar to normative conjugal union as we allow ourselves to be. Gilbert deftly lays bare the structures we have been denied, and have sometimes resisted (i.e. same sex marriage), showing us that all of our lives can include all of the sublime, the ridiculous, and the joyful offerings anyone in search of a night on the town, in pursuit of the ideal dancing queen, has ever desired.



Saturday, April 14, 2012

(photo of Crazy Smooth)

Danceworks presents Toronto debut of Ottawa’s


“Dance speaks to the mind, body, and soul in a way that goes beyond the power of words and its social impact and its capacity to engage should be celebrated. As an art form dance can be impressive but expression is its fundamental nature.”

Crazy Smooth, founder of Bboyizm dance company

“Dance to express! Not to impress.”

Bboyizm company motto

The DanceWorks presentation of Bboyizm at the Enwave Theatre was a daring and explosive confrontation between audience and artist that pushed the boundaries of theatrical expression - through dance - to the edge of post-modern consciousness. Ranging from ensemble sequences to a series of starkly presented moving tableaus of solo artists displaying beautiful athletic movements, the program also included snippets of cultural theory and a Hollywood Musical sequence in order to expose and highlight the gorgeous mixed bag of choreography, discourse, and powerfully improvised physical gesture that complex forms of street dance can embody.

At one point during the program words take over and movement subsides as dancer and founding member Crazy Smooth, with a finesse for a direct verbal expression of cultural theory, addresses the “authenticity and historical understanding of his medium.” Later in the hour-long presentation a brief 1971 black and white television clip from Canada’s Pierre Berton show appears and the audience is given a glimpse of a rare interview with Bruce Lee where he clearly articulates his philosophy of martial arts. In the context of Bboyizm, Lee contributes a layer of discourse that explicates an essential impulse within street dance. Lee discusses the need to express one’s self through forms of anger and determination as an art from - “the art of expressing the human body.” He concludes with the very telling notion that “to express one’s self honestly is very hard to do…to keep your reflexes, when you want it it’s there!” Like Lee’s philosophy, Bboyizm’s general mandate appears to be an honest expression of one’s self through aggressive and empowering movement.

As a profoundly urban expression of movement as art, street dance has had a long history rooted in forms of cultural marginalization and popular entertainment. As the first artist to receive Canada Council funding for this form of dance, Crazy Smooth, in his current show, elevates aesthetic consciousness around the divisions between more traditional forms such as ballet and Broadway choreography. By including a recording of Judy Garland singing That’s Entertainment - replete with break dance movement interspersed with classic kick lines, followed by balletic pirouettes and leaps - Bboyizm hits the cultural context head on and reveals the layered skills of the dancers as they take on a diverse array of choreographed and improvised movement. Audience response and ensuing applause becomes an eager, staccato effect that hesitates, explodes, and ends in standing ovation - generally morphing in and out of telling moments tinged with a kind of awkward comfort between artist and spectator.

Designed to inhabit a theatre through evocative lighting and costuming, yet tear away at the boundaries of conventional theatrical presentation, the overall show is a truly boundless exercise in immense skill and artistic talent as it takes on iconoclastic proportions.

“The work [IZM] develops an interplay between the artists’ intentions (which influence the viewer), and the viewer’s desires (which influence the artist). This interplay touches on the subtle aspects of dance, expressing the intricacy and passion of street dancers.”

Described as “a challenging piece both for the dancers and the audience…that brings together 10 of Canada’s most talented performers to evoke the essential nature of street dance,” IZM is a very complex piece of performance that simultaneously flirts with tradition and brazenly resists it. Through direct audience address via facial expression, and moments of physical hostility that speak indirectly of Bruce Lee’s philosophies regarding the aesthetic expression of anger and determination as a very controlled and impeccably-tempered art form, the name and the term Crazy Smooth becomes a concise signifier for the diverse rhythms being presented by ten incredible artists.

“As an art form dance can be impressive but expression is its fundamental nature…”

“Dance to express! Not to impress.”

As the entire ensemble of dancers shine in solo and group segments, the company creates a paradoxical union of the impressive and the expressive that both belies and clarifies their general mandate. Putting the human body on display often involves an essential, unavoidable meeting of physical and emotional schisms that cannot help but come together in a variety of complex ways - Bboyizm does just this with a breathtakingly beautiful and action packed athleticism.

Perhaps Bruce Lee said it best in the full version of the 1971 interview when he remarked that his chosen art form cannot be perceived as “pure naturalness.” Rather, like street dance, his measured and intricate movements embody a kind of “natural unnaturalness” - a superb form of “unnatural naturalness.” Shot through with an elegant virtuosity that dazzles the eye and mind with a frequent array of seemingly impossible bodily contortions, Bboyizm is an amazing Canadian cultural tour-de-force within the world of dance.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Clybourne Park

"There ain't no colored people in Clybourne Park!"

A Raisin in the Sun (1961)

There can be the tendency, in some Pulitzer-Prize winning plays (e.g. Doubt, Proof), to represent social concerns in a sharply naturalistic way that sheds light on the some of the most complex things we experience in life, but the light frequently appears to be less self-reflective, and more glaringly enigmatic and placating as it implicates its audience in a rather amiable and complacent manner. Clybourne Park is a case in point as the script dwells on conversational entanglements about exotic climes and problematic suburban neighbourhood conflicts, but never fully addresses any workable way of actually dealing with some of the most complex issues that arise. A barrage of racist and sexist jokes is perhaps the most complicated and uncomfortable part of a script that cleverly creates a first act set the during nineteen fifties, with the aftermath of the Korean War looming large upon the narrative horizon, and culminates within a more contemporary setting where the same conflicts still seem to lurk within a landscape where resolution seems more and more difficult as time passes.

A very clich├ęd and sentimental ending, depending upon the proverbial tormented letter from a distraught tragic figure, appears too neat and tidy given the expectations around very serious racial issues that are presented at the outset. But all in all, these convoluted narrative strains work together to create a profoundly entertaining and mildly thought provoking piece of theatre.

The current studio 180 theatre production of the acclaimed Bruce Norris dramedy, seamlessly directed by Joel Greenberg, does justice to a clever and sharply worded script that runs the gamut from cliff-hanging stories and jokes that don’t always get fully told, to bickering neighbours who frequently lapse into cleverly conceived transitions from race politics to tourism and place names. This is the strained beauty of Norris’ script as it reveals the superficial wanderings of some suburban lifestyles. But the ending doesn’t quite fulfill that dramaturgical task at hand.

A superb ensemble never falters as Michael Healey leads the cast through his paternal nightmare about the tragic circumstances of his son’s profoundly conflicted experience as a solider in the Korean war. Norris has woven the personal and the political into a tightly layered, closely knit package of serio-comic mayhem. Healey’s mannered and engaging performance becomes the sticky glue that holds everyone together within a form of collective chaos as the second act doubling of all the characters from the first act turns him into a subservient subject who literally unearths the key to an anti-climactic finale.

Sets by Jung-Hye Kim add a powerful television-like naturalism to the plot, reminiscent of a sitcom environment suitable for an episode of All in the Family or Maude. Jeff Lillico, Sterling Jarvis, and Mark McGrinder deliver seamless performances as an array of characters ranging form Lillico’s brash member of the clergy to Jarvis’ protective husband and McGrinder’s bumbling concerned citizen intent upon a misidentified form of political astuteness.

Kimwun Perehinec gives a virtuoso performance in the dual parts of the indignant housewife and the hearing impaired, over-protected spouse as she approaches very difficult roles with an emotional intensity and subtle charm that turns to disgruntled outrage in the second half. Maria Rocssa’a grieving mother and brittle lawyer match Perheninec’s skill for distinct characterization as she jumps from the archetypal emotional confines of a fifties housewife to the dubious liberation of a very direct caricature of a modern working woman.

As a response to Lorraine Hansberry’s acclaimed Raisin In the Sun, Norris has created a scathing commentary on the ways in which some things don’t change all that much over a period of fifty years, in life and in the theatre. A 2010 Guardian reviewer said it best with words that strike home in the blanched frequently under-subscribed seats of many Toronto theatres:

Ironically, there is no clearer reminder of the fact minority communities have yet to enter the middle class than a trip to the theatre. To watch a play about what happens when black people enter a white environment and yet to still be one of only a handful of black people in the audience, is a doubly disarming experience. As long as theatre remains so white and middle-class it will continue to be a deeply flawed medium for communicating a message about what white people have, and black people don't.

The Guardian 2010





a post-Easter parade of performance possibility

Harborfront Centre’s exciting myriad of cultural programs enables artists and audiences to take part in unique and innovative arts activities. Designed to give performing artists the opportunity to develop new work, this year’s installment of HATCH sports a generous number of queer, and queer-friendly artists involved in projects ranging from a drumming, tap-dancing, cheerleading, band, to ghosts from faded seafaring tales, Liberace inflected dramas, and a series of connected stories about several strangers who share the same bed in the same hotel room at different times.

Operating as a performing arts residency, HATCH is comprised of four proposals that are accepted annually. Each project is then each given a one-week residency at Harbourfront where the availability of space, resources, and a guest curator contribute to a valuable work-in-progress element of the overall process so crucial to the development of new work. Each week ends in a Saturday night public presentation, followed by a talkback session facilitated by the curator. These sessions punctuate the whole program as a much-needed opportunity for artists and spectators to respond to each other as the project meets its first audience.

This year’s guest curator, and acclaimed performance artist Jess Dobkin “loves that as artists and audiences [we get] the privilege of seeing something where the focus is on process. “ She feels that this is something largely unavailable to artists on a public scale, and considers the Harbourfront program to be a valuable and much needed resource for the community at large. Her own solo performance piece, Everything I’ve Got, was developed as part of HATCH in 2010, went on to become a full production at Buddies In Bad Times Theatre, and the script has been recently published in a special volume of The Canadian Theatre Review.

Dobkin elaborates on the program when she explains that “part of idea of HATCH is to do some experimenting, to take the week in a space and kind of come in with some specific questions and inquiries.” She feels that “while there are similarities and points of connection and links [the projects] are all quite different.” Audiences are given the rare opportunity to see something being worked through, as opposed to a finished project, thereby giving the spectator and the creator a unique interactive experience facilitated by talkback sessions following the presentation.


Jenn Goodwin & Camilla Singh

aggression and enthusiasm, kindness and rage, pride & regret

April 14

Starring Jenn Goodwin and Camilla Singh, Mortified adopts the format of a band in order to encompass a range of activities. Creating a sonic experience through movement and mayhem, the performance results in a “concert” that explores aggression and enthusiasm, kindness and rage, pride and regret, through tap dancing, cheerleading and drumming.

Goodwin is from Burlington, Ont., where she fell out of a window of a speeding car and walked away. She grew up playing with Barbie, listening to Black Sabbath, hosting make-out parties in her parents’ basement, and falling in love weekly. Her academic and performance credits include a BFA at Concordia University in Contemporary Dance with a minor in Video. Her dance work has been performed all over Canada, NYC, Amsterdam, Australia and Brussels.

Camilla Singh left her role as curator of Toronto’s MOCCA to experiment with materials in her studio and probe the questions that had formed around the experience of working in an office for a decade. She is currently researching and producing a series of uniforms for curators called Uniforms for Non-Uniform Work which will comprise a solo exhibition at the Art Gallery of York University in 2013.

The Empty Whole Group


“nothing that has made contact with the sheets can ever be fully bleached away”

April 21

Governor General Award-nominated playwright and actor Salvatore Antonio will be developing, as part of HATCH, a new performance creation exploring the expression – or lack thereof – of intimacy in all its banality, disconnectedness and solitude. A revealing and unsparing foray into the human need for emotional connection, sexual release and tactile contact, THE SHEETS, THE… lays bare the incongruities and intricacies of intimate relations between individuals both together and alone. At once sexually raw, dark, emotionally complex and fragile, the stories that unfold in THE SHEETS, THE… link together several strangers who share the same bed in the same hotel room at different times. While the sheets may be washed, and the surface stains removed, nothing that has made contact with the sheets can ever be fully bleached away.

Writer, actor and director Salvatore Antonio founded The Empty Whole Group as an i

nclusive extension of his independent creative work; bringing together other progressive performers and creators – both established and emerging – in a collaborative spirit with the purpose of exercising their artistic strengths, and stretching newer branches of their creative expression. The end result is a fresh, yet informed, new vocabulary for theatrical performance. Around a central idea or story, Antonio brings together well-suited artists to help build and “flesh out” a new work, with the specific focus of blurring the line between theatre, music, dance, and visual art. The end result is a more experiential performance extending past the perceived boundaries of most traditional artistic disciplines.

Paper Laced with Gold - Paper Laced Productions

truck stops, daydreaming, and waiting tables

April 28

Paper Laced Productions is writer/co-director Maggie MacDonald and producer/co-director Stephanie Markowitz. They focus on themes of gender, physical difference, class, and environmental issues, pursuing social justice through art that communicates passionately, and without irony. Their choice to work with artists from a mix of disciplines as performers is one of the ways they achieve a raw, innocent, performance style that minimizes the feeling of separation between audience and performer. 

MacDonald and Markowitz first collIn 1959, the St. Lawrence Seaway opened the heart of North America to seafaring ships, and the river lost its rapids and twisted where it used to turn. The young people who lived on its banks saw their roots washed away in the current. Now that the industries that asked the river to reroute are crumbling, the ghosts of the Seaway’s lost towns mingle with the living, forever looking for a place to settle. Paper Laced with Gold is a new musical about two of these lost characters, living on the banks of this once thriving part of Ontario. For 10 years, Betty has been waiting tables at a truck stop, day-dreaming her life away. One night, Kevin, a young thug with a familiar face, tries to steal her car. While awaiting the police, Kevin recognizes Betty as his old babysitter, and she recognizes him as a frightened, closeted teen. Slowly they reveal their mutual recognition, and Kevin tells the story of what brought him to the truck stop.

2005 with their post-apocalyptic musical, The Rat King Rock Opera, which was successfully mounted three times – at the Alchemy Theatre in Toronto, Indie Unlimited Fest at Harbourfront Centre and at the Lucille Lortel Theater in New York City. This year, Belle and Sebastian's Stevie Jackson joins the duo as musical collaborator on Paper Laced with Gold.

Pantheon - Kids on TV

“an apocalyptically gay band”

May 5

Kids on TV emerged from the Toronto party Vazaleen in the spring of 2003. John Caffery, Minus Smile and Roxanne Luchak have collaborated with musicians such as Boy George, Man Parrish, Shunda K of Yo Majesty, Julie Faught, Katie Stelmanis of Austra, and Diamond Rings. Throughout its history, the group has made short films and videos that have screened at festivals internationally. In addition, Kids on TV transform environments with live video projections. The party-starting band has played in clubs, warehouses, farms, festivals and bathhouses. Kids on TV have worked in schools as music teachers in collaboration with Mammalian Diving Reflex as well as facilitators at Converge, an annual conference in Toronto dealing with gender and sexuality. Since its inception, the group has toured Canada, the US and Europe, has played over 250 shows, and released music on several labels, most notably Chicks on Speed Records and The Co-operative of Blocks Recording Club. Kids on TV honours local roots planted by General Idea, Fifth Column and Will Munro. Kids on TV is an apocalyptically gay band.

Combining bouncy house music, old-school hip hop, Liberace piano drama, mutant super-hero roller-disco battles, love songs between closeted 20th-century artists and epic choral arrangements, Pantheon celebrates the historical and fictional figures of Kids on TV’s personal and collective mythologies. It explores inspiring, strange and obscure figures of resistance and sexual revolution. The works liberate and create positive space, and do so by referencing queer history, struggle and culture through music, dance, film, performance, and politics.


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