Posted in Theatre
Contributed by Christopher Jones
09/19 2011

Warm-up For War Horse

Master puppeteers Basil Jones, left, and Adrian Kohler, right, touched down at the TIFF Bell Lightbox this morning to kick-start the buzz on the Mirvish production of War Horse, opening in February at the Princess of Wales Theatre. Based on a novel by Michael Morpurgo and adapted by Nick Stafford in association with Handspring Puppet Company, War Horse explores the role played by horses in World War 1. The life-size horse puppet, above, requires three operators and is staggeringly realistic in its movements, its ribs even expand and contract to mimic breathing. Conceived and created by Britain’s National Theatre, the show went on to capture five 2011 Tony Awards, including Best Play. Single tickets for the Toronto run go on sale September 26.

Posted in Art, Street Culture
Contributed by Christopher Jones
09/15 2011

Queen West Crawling with Art

Queen West is always buzzing but never more than during the annual Queen West Art Crawl (QWAC), which hits Trinity Bellwoods Park and beyond into Parkdale beginning Friday (Sept. 16) and running throughout the weekend. Studio tours, curator walks and talks and a major juried art sale and exhibition are all in the cards both day and evening. One of the highlights of the Parkdale Nightcrawl is a special edition of Art Battle featuring “cage matches” where two painters go head-to-head and only one painting survives to be auctioned while the other is ignominiously destroyed.

“We’ve got a ton of stuff happening,” assures QWAC Associate Director Lanie Treen. “Everybody’s getting involved and it’s really, really exciting this year.”

Posted in Dance
Contributed by Christopher Jones
09/14 2011

Wedding Hi-Jinx on The Esplanade

The photos don’t capture the sweep and swirl of this winning new production from Toronto dance/theatre company, Corpus. Creatively staged in the round at Casa Loma‘s Carriage House, the highly interactive performance features three pairs of brides of grooms clowning and dancing around a central cabinet from which the hi-jinx emanate. The show may be called  Machina Nuptialis but the name of this game is FUN, all caps.

The dancers engage with the audience from the get-go, greeting spectators as if meeting friends and relatives at a wedding reception. Later, each member of the audience is ushered through the cabinet to present a token and be toasted; many of the guests are pulled into the actual dance.


Posted in Festivals, Film
Contributed by Christopher Jones
09/13 2011

Art, Not Commerce, Driving Veninger

Ingrid Veninger in I Am a Good Person, I Am a Bad Person
Local filmmaker Ingrid Veninger is under no illusions about the commercial prospects for her latest feature, i am a good person, i am a bad person, even though Toronto critics have been unanimous in praising the film. The Toronto Star called the movie “a sure-footed film about finding yourself off balance” and The Globe and Mail said it’s “a realistic, funny, touching picture of life’s ‘in-between’ moments.”

Yet Veninger is here at TIFF enjoying the buzz, revelling in the laurels and not doing a darn thing to actually “sell” her picture.

“It’s crazy to say, I know, but I don’t want to sell this film,” she tells me. “I’d love it to expose me to people I wouldn’t otherwise meet – industry people, other film people – and maybe open the door to collaborations that might not have happened otherwise. But this film is very much a festival film, it’s an art piece, a limited edition. It was born out of travelling to film festivals and I want it to be seen at film festivals and that’s it.”


Posted in Festivals
Contributed by Christopher Jones
09/8 2011

urbanNOISE Fest Against Violence

flipSMIt will be a rush for Flip Watson to perform at urbanNOISE on Saturday (September 10), to put his talent out there in the neighbourhood that helped to shape him.

Watson is an especially good choice for the bill, which is focused on fighting violence in the community: the rapper’s father and uncle were shot dead in Lawrence Heights in 2001. That tragic event changed the course of Watson’s life; a sports-playing 10-year-old at the time of the shooting, he responded to the loss by acting out, skipping school and generally getting into trouble.

By age 19, he’d been in and out of jail twice. His second sentence included two years of house arrest during which he had nothing else to do but sit and write.

“Instead of taking out my anger on people and the world, I started writing it down on paper,” he says. “I really found a talent.”

In jail, Watson met some of his father’s friends: “They taught me that I can’t be trying to take out my revenge on the world, I can’t be keeping up with the badness. Deep down I was a good kid but the death of my father and uncle really changed my whole demeanor.”