Thursday, March 22, 2018

Factory presents
Written by Colleen Wagner | Directed by Jani Lauzon
Performed by Augusto Bitter and Tamara Podemski
March 10 – April 1, 2018


Jane Lauzon's re-imagining of Colleen Wagner's The Monument is an incredibly powerful rendering of a play about war - the kind of war played out not on specific, faraway national battlefields by specific military machines, but on the geographic sites and the individual bodies of marginalized communities  within our own country - communities still struggling through the horrific effects of colonization and its depletion of entire cultures. 

How much action is enough for a people who have been mistreated for centuries? For a people who have inhabited this land for more than a millennia, but have been struggling to live on the same land? A war has been waged upon them for living in their own home. Canada has been a part of this ongoing war for over 150 years! Thousands of indigenous women and girls have been murdered or have gone 'missing' in Canada. Mothers, sisters, daughters, grandmothers of this land have had no action taken for them...Our action as theatre artists was to tell their story...The road to reconciliation can only begin if we take action.
                Himanshu Sitlani - Assistant Director, The Monument

My vision of Colleen's play doesn't negate the fact that rape as a war tactic has been used since time immemorial and is taking place "over there." But it is also happening "right here."

                Jani Lauzon - Director, The Monument

In Nina Lee Aquino's opening night address she referred indirectly to Lauzon's sense of this  ongoing war. This is an essential and timely addition to an ongoing conversation about a battle that has yet to be won. By bringing this sense of permanent war into a specific context that the original play did not address, the production sheds a tragic light upon a national and global penchant for constant conflict and the murder of innocent women. 

Rape, an all too frequent product of war is placed within the site of reservations where indigenous women have been killed. The interaction between one woman's attempt to gain justice is powerfully staged and performed. Augusto Bitter's  portrayal of a weakened, bewilderingly tortured product of toxic, murderous, masculinity plays off of Tamara Podemski's powerhouse of emotion with a kind of timid terror. Bitter belies, with a kind of high vocal pitch, the traditional forms of lower tones allocated to masculine forms. Podemski embraces the space and the rapist with a vocal and physical presence both menacing and interrogative - gaining empathy and sympathy in complex ways. It is difficult but increasingly necessary to watch this relentless play of varied and contrasting emotion. As Lauzon states in her program notes - "What does reconciliation look like? My suspicion is that what you are about to witness could be construed as one version of that process: sometimes violent, sometimes loving, and sometimes brutal."

The setting suggests a timeless space for the aftermath of horror to play out in an endless relay of physical terror. Designed as an almost surreal and necessary exercise in honouring the names of the dead, a non specific site suggests both symbolism and naturalism as empty red dresses drive home the bloody products of warring acts and abject emotions enacted by a killer/rapist and his captor. By the end of a ninety minute marathon of back and forth high pitched conflict, there comes a sad, harrowing sense of loss that begins to honour the memory of women found within diverse situations and forcibly named as individuals who deserve to be recognized. 

As an important and essential part of an historic acknowledgement of all kinds of war - wars all too permanent and all too unnecessary in their scope and tragic consequence - Wagner's text and Lauzon's re-imagining adds to ongoing attempts  to unravel, to bear witness, and to continue to utilize the horror of catharsis in the theatre as it takes shape both onstage and off - continuing to question and interrogate a country's history that should never have played itself out in such blatant and murderous disregard for the lives, the traditions, and the lands of far too many....

The Monument runs at 
Factory Theatre until April 1

Factory Theatre is proud to present THE MONUMENT, Colleen Wagner’s classic, dark and powerful war play, directed by Jani Lauzon and running in the Mainspace March 10 – April 1, 2018.
THE MONUMENT tells the story of a soldier desperate to escape death for his war crimes who agrees to give himself to the complete servitude of an unknown woman. A harrowing and visceral journey of two people forced to confront the atrocities of war; this Governor General’s Award-winning play asks questions that remain painfully familiar on our front pages today.
Considering THE MONUMENT through a lens of the 500-year war that has been waged against the people of Turtle Island since European colonization, this newly reimagined production will confront many of the dark and uncomfortable truths of Canada’s complicity around missing and murdered Indigenous women.
The cast of THE MONUMENT features Venezuelan-born actor, singer, and writer Augusto Bitter (Rope Running Out, lemonTree creations; El Retorno / I Return (Why Not Theatre/Riser Project 2017; Our Town, Theatre Rusticle), and the award-winning Ojibway actor, dancer, choreographer, and singer/songwriter Tamara Podemski (Dance Me Outside, dir: Bruce McDonald; The Edward Curtis Project, Vancouver Cultural Olympiad; Rent, Canadian and Broadway companies; and television series The Rez, North of 60 and Heartland).
THE MONUMENT, written by Alberta-born Governor General’s Award-winning playwright Colleen Wagner, was published by Playwrights Canada Press in 1996, has been translated into numerous languages, was adapted for the big screen, and continues to be performed internationally. Other notable plays by Wagner include The Morning Bird, down from heaven, Home, and The Living, a documentary play which premiered at SummerWorks Festival 2015 and won the Audience Choice award.
Director Jani Lauzon, a multidisciplinary artist of M├ętis ancestry, is an award-winning film actor, six-time Dora Mavor Moore-nominated actress, Juno-nominated singer/songwriter, and Gemini Award-winning puppeteer. Directing credits include: Alien Creature (Theatre Passe Muraille), two short films eu·tha·na·sia and Just One Word (which she also wrote and produced) and Waiora (Centre for Indigenous Theatre).
THE MONUMENTWritten by Colleen Wagner
Directed by Jani Lauzon
Performed by Augusto Bitter and Tamara Podemski
Set and Props Design by Elahe Marjovi
Costume Design by Samantha McCue
Lighting Design by Louise Guinand
Composition and Sound Design by Deanna Choi
A Factory Production
March 10 – April 1, 2018

OPENING NIGHT: Thursday, March 15, 2018 @ 8pmTuesday – Saturday @ 8pm, Sunday @ 2pm, Sunday Preview @ 7pmSingle tickets start at just $20 for previews and range from $30-$50 for regular performances
Student, Arts Worker and Senior prices also available
Purchase in person at Factory, 125 Bathurst Street, visit or call 416.504.9971

Toronto Dance Theatre's 50th Anniversary Season - Glass Fields

Glass Fields is a beautiful and vibrant re-imagining of classic Canadian choreography. Christopher House was inspired, 35 years ago, by Ann Southam's Glass Houses No. 5; a classic of Canadian contemporary music. He choreographed his take on  Southam's music, and Glass Houses, an historic collaboration, was born out of an articulate response to rhythm and melody between two artists;

Truth be told, I was as excited by the structure of Glass Houses No. 5 as by its melodies and rhythms. The score itself is only two pages long: an ostinato for the left hand, a series of tunes for the right, and a chart that describes the progression in which these two elements live together. It all looks very choreographic just sitting on the page! In the fall of 1983, in partnership with Merle Holloman, Helen Jones, Benoit Lachambre, Grace Miyazawa and Luc Tremblay, I began work on what became a signature work for TDT for a dozen years.

                                                                                                Christopher House

The program for the opening of TDT's 50th season is a kind of homage, by five choreographers (including House) to the original Southam/House collaboration. Glass Fields reveals, in five short works, a brilliant artistic continuum within Canadian contemporary dance, culminating in the original piece (Glass Houses). The balletic quality of House's work is distilled - and all but disappears - within four works that recall what Anna Kisselgoff of the New York Times described, in the 1985 production of Glass Houses, as a "spewing forth [of] kinetic brilliance in the form of energy and continuum." 

Each work displays the incredibly concentrated ensemble work the music and the choreography depend upon. There is a flight like quality to both the dance and the melody as dancers utilize more non-balletic movement throughout, yet cite the more balletic formalism seen in the original. Almost always in groups of swarm-like magnetism, the dancers fly amongst each other with great agility and vibrance. All of the works succeed as independent sections of an overall succession. 

The placement of each piece gradually moves, form start to finish, with degrees of developing energy that thrills throughout and paves the way for the final re-enactment of Glass Houses. Brightly coloured costumes, in frequently gender blending form, compliment the movement for the most part. The first two pieces suffer slightly from garments that do not quite support the choreography with an obvious connection to the dance and the bodies at hand. But later in the program full length colourful, almost tubular attire, provides a sleek and evocative structure for the dance to present itself within - allowing skilled bodies to display their fine tuned collaboration within a thrilling corporeal splendour.

House's eye for an eclectic narrative and cultural base allowed him to investigate a variety of sources in the original. Glass Fields, as his current return to these sources, with the aid of five choreographers, re-imagines all of this - "the source material [House] used (club dancing, Robert Longo's Men in the Cities) and the zeitgeist of 1983 itself offered much for the five choreographers to work with." - Christopher House - program note

His generosity of spirit toward other choreographers, and the inclusion of his own 35 year old classic piece, gives Toronto Dance Theatre, and Canadian contemporary dance, another brilliant moment to acknowledge and to experience the effect of a continuous history of thrilling music and movement  for over a half century of artistic excellence receiving international acclaim.

for further information on the overall project see -

Sunday, March 4, 2018


A youthful and playful production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, mounted by The Chekhov Collective, bears all the signature trademarks of a company devoted to breathing new life into old work. The clearly spoken simplicity of the performances, and the colourful costumes, appropriate to a history of Shakespearean dress that recalls the hodgepodge of garments used and re-used by actors, often comprised of contemporary dress of the time, is reflected in costume designer Shannon Lea Doyle's exquisitely hodgepodge collection of Value Village like treasures. 

A pervasive hint of glitter on a players dark clothing, in the form of a simple contemporary pullover, or the simplicity of Pucks casual 'ladies'/wear under neutral slacks and long sweater coat, give the overall design a wonderful sense of frivolity and play that overlays the extremely serious and tragic tone of a play built upon the premise of a stolen Indian child.* 

Jealousy and romantic confusion, mixed with the charm of a fairy's magic and a King's amorous chauvinism, is propelled forward by an elegant white curtained setting that frames the stage, at first glance, for the bold, bright, and delightful unseemliness of the adventures about to unfold.

Without exception, the ensemble handles the language with expert clarity and skilful physical rambunctiousness. Standout performances by Michael Man as Demetrius/Quince and Zach Counsil as Bottom display intricate physical comedy throughout. 

Counsil's fumbling Bottom becomes hilariously and exquisitely acrobatic, while Man's Demetrius/Quince utilizes facial expression in engaging ways that bring life and vigor to every onstage encounter he takes part in. 

Director Richard Sheridan Willis has used his performers and setting with a great sense of playful abandon that enlivens the action yet slightly overshadows some of the serious overtones of the narrative. Nevertheless, this is achieved subtly as Paul Amos (Oberon/Theseus) manages to insert a sly demonic sense of manipulation via devious tones and sensual prowess. His aggressive handling of Elizabeth Saunder's delightfully elegant Puck clearly articulates, physically and vocally, the relationship between a King and his wily cohort.

Running until March 11th, The Chekhov Collective's Midsummer Night's Dream is an immensely entertaining production that allows Shakespeare's delightful comedy to embrace the blend of play and deception so crucial to a narrative dependent upon love's complicated equations and the warring powers that unfold. 

L-R Rena Polley as Titania/Hippolyta with  Zach Counsil as Bottom

L-R - Natasha Greenblatt as Hermia/Snug with Michael Man as as Demetrius/Quince

L-R - Elizabeth Saunders as Puck with Paul Amos as Oberon/Theseus


"The Puzzle of the Indian Boy in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” challenges interpretations of the play which posit an east Indian prince and an east Indian location for Titania’s lengthy description of “India” in Act Two, Scene One. Such interpretations appear to have originated in Purcell’s late 17th century opera The Fairy Queen when English trade with India and the east was well under way, but at the time of the first performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1595-6 there is no connection with the east Indies. At the time of the first performance of the play “India” still signified America or the west Indies, as it does in many Shakespeare plays and in contemporary discourse -- a fact overlooked by the dogma of an eastern Indian boy which actually has no definitive textual authorisation in the play itself. At the time of the play the English desire for the west Indies is paramount, and this is manifested in Sir Walter Ralegh’s voyage to Guiana in 1595 when he returns with a real Indian prince. America as “India” in the play therefore grounds it in its historical context, places Titania’s description of “India” as an early modern English perception of the New World, and radicalises centuries of received wisdom on its interpretation: pixie-dust trivialisations of Oberon, Titania and fairyland are set aside in favour of historical analysis of England’s hopes for American empire which was made possible by Ralegh’s return with a real Indian prince."



Fierce by George F. Walker 

February 15 - March 3, 2018
All shows at 8pm
Red Sandcastle Theatre 922 Queen Street East, Toronto 
**PWYC Matinee on Sunday February 25 at 3pm**
4 SHOWS ADDED!! March 7, 8, 9 and 10

"Two women. Both have broken the law. Both are troubled by their pasts. One is a psychiatrist. One is a patient. At least, that's how it all starts out. 75 minutes of edgy comedy. And painful revelations."

Directed by Wes Berger
Starring Marisa Crockett & Emmelia Gordon 
Produced by Kate Walker

Stage Management by Laura Lakatosh

General $25
Artsworkers/Students/Seniors $20
Youth 25 & under $15


George F. Walkers' new play has the potential to be just what the title suggests. Somewhat more manic, expressionistic direction could add to the fierce'ish interaction of two strong, conflicted women on the verge of a kind of a troubled  yet necessary form of emancipation. 

Like a grittier episode of the acclaimed HBO series In Treatment, Fierce is confined by the walls of a psychiatrist's office. The set however resembles a dismal living room of yesteryear furnished with slightly more upscale leather'ish therapy couch and chair  - walls unadorned by the gloomy set dressing of a spare and depressing attic-like room.  A simple grey set with an evocative print above the couch might have enhanced the high energy dialogue that scrambles throughout. Within this squalid prison-like space (the setting seems unclear, in dire need of simple object-character that frames complex human characterizations, the two women become interchangeable versions of varied persona as they move in and out of false narrative that protects the patient and the doctor from the real pain of the real trauma at hand.


Marisa Crockett and Emmelia Gordon effectively play the two women embroiled in a case of classic and cagey transference. Marissa Crockett's calm edgy therapist bounces well off of Emmelia Gordon's frequently frenzied prisoner - both in need of liberation from life narratives ranging from substance abuse to philandering and grave familal heartache. 

Walker's dialogue is crisp and effectively deceptive as it moves over the course of  75 minutes toward a startling and eloquent conclusion. There are tragicomic moments throughout as raw emotion unwittingly strikes the spectator's funny bone. But nothing prepares one for the cleverly constructed poignancy of the final moments. 

Despite a slow somewhat non-fierce beginning and middle that engages a touch too slowly, the sum of all the parts equals a captivating universal catharsis bespeaking what Walker's writing elegantly refers to, with a tinge of perhaps unintentional camp wit, "a journey of sorrow." An elegant denouement and finale predicting a tourists view of European atrocities becomes a surprising and unlikely possibility for these women. Which of course lays the perhaps unintentional intimation of a  sequel for this fiercely compromised duo (a possible coupling of Thelma and Louise proportions) freeing themselves from personal trauma via universal sightseeing.

Sites of historic global horror becomes the landscape for what these characters may choose to stroll among as they administer to the pain of their own personal journeys. Fierce is a calculated and necessary hodgepodge of imagery and emotive chaos in need of fiercer direction in order to succeed entirely. But as it stands it is a brief and starting glimpse into the chaos and the order of lives constantly on the edge of derailment and induced rejuvenation.

February 15 - March 3, 2018
All shows at 8pm

Red Sandcastle Theatre 
922 Queen Street East, Toronto 

4 SHOWS ADDED!! March 7, 8, 9 and 10

Saturday, March 3, 2018





Bunny is a troubled love letter written for the past and present, bringing two  seemingly disparate timelines together in a single character. From the Brontes to Jane Austen - a flow from Victorian sexuality to current struggles to emancipate marginalized sex/gender roles from ongoing double standards. The script breathes new life into conflicted choices infused with emotional chaos, provocative affirmations, and profound friendships that question the nature of conventional romantic and sexual boundaries. 

A pitch perfect cast, directed by Sarah Barton Stanley to exhibit emotional and sexual vigour,  allows even smaller roles to resonate with jigsaw like significance as the full import of this sexualized dramedy gradually unfolds over the course of ninety powerful minutes. And the comedy found in this script becomes a delicate and skilful blend of superb writing and a powerful range of emotion and vocal variance by the title character.


Maev Beatty's immense skill for bringing incredible nuance and charismatic charm to any given character makes Hannah Moscovitch’s title role into the complex and self interrogating individual that an exquisitely bold and beautiful text demands. Structurally the ninety minute piece strikes a balance between expressionistic and impressionistic tones as Bunny's audience-direct monologues move seamlessly in and out of ensemble interaction, leaving just enough to the imagination yet provocatively suggesting both the best and the worst of outcomes.

Matthew Edison's Carol is delivered with a simply stated, suave and casual demeanour in the form of a privileged loving husband and brother. Mixing charm, intellect, and vivacious elegance Rachel Cairn’s portrays Carol;s sister Maggie with the style and grace needed for a pivotal supporting role. 

Gabriella Albino’s youthful and genuinely played Lola (Maggie's daughter) creates a generational connection to all of the roles with potent energy and discomfiting poise. Jesse Lavercombe’s Angel, a kind of distorted contemporary link to Thomas Hardy's Angel Clare, responding to a maturing and ever changing Tess, matches Lola’s boundless presence with a brand of male charisma that is at once charming and unsettling. 

Cyrus Lane’s hesitant yet exuberant manner as the lusty, regretful professor furthers the complexity of current conflicts regarding student/teacher rapport with a finely tuned sense of the complex nature of boundaries and personal/individual responsibility.

Tony Ofori’s Justin - at once heartbreaking/at once playful - in a relatively small opening role, sets the stage for the romantic relay race to come, and rounds out an ensemble cast that possesses a superb sense of a community of characters creating collective narratives that mesh and intersect over the course of a play and a lifetime.

Michael Gianfrancesco’s set, a simple circle with an unlikely grassy sea - yet decidedly faux lawn-like demeanour bespeaking the recurring symbolic ‘green’ of human and pastoral nature - acts as an inside/outside environment playing with the symbolic circumference of interwoven lives. The unique elegance of the space stands in for all of the sites of play and remorse the narrative embraces, lending an almost Beckett like, slightly surreal, monumentally minimalist elegance to the playing space. Unlike the preferred, euphuistic excess of this reviewers play with words and language. 

Gianfancesco's simple and effective costumes subtly compliment the set as they suggest time changes with the aid (in the case of Sorrel) of a nostalgic stole and various shoe styles. aided by clever direction that has the male members dressing Sorrel like she is an object of their affection - a doll - when in fact her escalating agency belies this 'dressing' choice in a powerful and complicated way,

Stanley's direction of this daringly crafted script uses a hand full of small significant gestures throughout, reminding viewers of past moments and related sequences of dialogue and action. Memories retold and rejuvenated by a simple nod or smile from the background - all composing bittersweet physical nuance in the face of life's exhilarating tragicomic parade of carnal action, emotional pleasure, and conflicted  denouement. 

And there’s a canoe and a jovial Canadian reference that brings it all home to roost within the wealthy, manicured wilderness of cottage country - as a kind of indirect connection to Austen’s infamous lake country and the beloved ‘men to mountains’ comparison/analogy from Pride & Prejudice.

It all comes together in a gorgeous and spare woman-to-woman affirmation that simultaneously supports and complicates current #metoo sentiments that provide essential, painful, and complex modes of personal and professional survival. 

Moving through a historical continuum that has both oppressed and unshackled sexual behaviour and gender in various marginalized bodies, Bunny affirms sexuality as a mutable adult playground, mixing vitality with potential consent and apprehension that must be carefully re-negotiated with each new act and opportunity. 

Ultimately, Bunny exposes, through linearity that flirts with past events, the arduous often fretful experience of navigating human boundaries over the course of a single lifetime. As noted so eloquently in an online epigraph, through the words of Emily Bronte - “I wish I were a girl again, half-savage and hardy, and free.”

Bunny runs at Tarragon Theatre 

until April 1st