Toronto actor Stephanie Carpanini, above, is treading the boards this week, not in a theatre but in a College Street café where she and a few kindred spirits are staging Were Lovers (December 11 – 15), a compilation of scenes from New York dramatist Charles L. Mee.
Inspired by Mee’s multifarious takes on love, Carpanini stitched the work together then conscripted Rarely Pure Theatre to help her stage the piece at Aziza Café (962 College Street West).
“I’ve had a strong desire to be, not just an actor, but a theatre artist and create my own work,” explains Carpanini. “It’s very hard to be an actor in Toronto. I feel like if you’re not going to get paid, or you’re getting paid very little, you might as well be doing something you’re passionate about.”
‘Tis the season for giving and Aileen Hill, founder of the Precious Gems Project, is hoping people will open their hearts and wallets to help send underprivileged Scarborough kids to art camp. Hill has established an IndieGogo campaign with a goal of raising $7,500, which will buy a lot of spaces in Cedar Ridge Creative Centre‘s after-school, March Break or summer camp programs.
Hill started Precious Gems eight years ago in response to a leadership course that challenged her to find a place in the community where she didn’t have a voice. A lover of children and a photographer and jewellery designer, Hill was working as a reservations manager for a major hotel chain, feeling just a little cut off from her own creative spirit.
“At first I wanted to start my own camp but I thought, why reinvent the wheel? So I started looking at what was out there and found Camp Expressions at Cedar Ridge. It’s a tremendous program!”
That first year Hill convinced Cedar Ridge to set aside 10 places and she committed to raising the funds — $300 for each child – to send 10 kids to camp. She reached her goal and has been working with local schools and businesses ever since to bring creativity to kids who otherwise could not afford to take part. Since 2005 Hill has made the Creative Expressions camp possible for more than 150 children.
Khendry is to Indo-Canadian narrative dance what Marius Petipa is to story ballet (Nutcracker, Swan Lake) – a creator using dance to tell tales, in some cases, vast, sweeping tales. In the three-and-a-half hour Ganga (2009) Khendry considered 4,000 years in the history of India’s holiest river; in Paradise Lost he tackles Milton’s masterwork, the story of Adam and Eve’s original sin, a work he has been pondering off-and-on since first reading the work as a young man.
Khendry brings his audience a two-and-a-half hour opus for 17 dancers combining traditional Indian dance styles with a modern aesthetic (Fleck Dance Theatre, December 6 – 8).
“My dances are contemporary in spirit but they all relate back 5,000 years,” says the choreographer.
Khendry is trained in Kathak, Bharatanatyam, Manipuri and recently, Satria dance. He combines elements from each depending on the needs of his story: “Each subject demands a different approach,” he says. “It depends on the music, it depends on the story. I choose the choreography accordingly.”
Nathan Phillips Square will be rocking Saturday night as the City’s annual Cavalcade of Lights celebration showcases a wealth of local talent alongside the lighting of the City Hall Christmas Tree and a fireworks spectacle courtesy of Circus Orange.
This year’s Cavalcade presented by Great Gulf, features musical performances by Tyler Shaw, Cold Specks, Divine Brown, Carvin Winans and Diamond Rings (left, photo by Norman Wong), followed by an open-air skating party with DJ Dopey under the glow of thousands of lights in Nathan Phillips Square.
For Diamond Rings, left, playing the big stage on NPS isn’t so much a dream come true as it is a what am I doing here? kind of moment.
“This gig is a really nice culmination,” says the artist. “To go from playing the backroom at the Rivoli or upstairs at Sneaky Dee’s to doing a big, free show in front of City Hall with fireworks is quite surreal. It’s not what I would have imagined was even possible for me in music.”
The graduating class of Ryerson Theatre School takes on the age-old tradition of pantomime beginning tomorrow night when it unleashes the fun and frolick of Cinderella, a contemporary panto from Paul Whitworth with book by Kate Hawley and original music by Geoff Coffin.
Peggy Shannon, chair of Ryerson Theatre School and director of Cinderella, was a little aghast when she discovered her students had no familiarity with pantomime, a centuries-old form that stretches right back to 16th century Italian commedia dell’arte.
It was Shannon’s idea to stage a holiday panto in the 1,100 seat Ryerson theatre, something the school has not done before. The shows are all but sold out making the production a hit right out of the gate.