Ryerson’s innovative Digital Media Zone was the first stop on today’s tour of Toronto arts and media hubs by Canada’s Governor General David Johnston, centre. The GG and his wife, Mrs. Sharon Johnston, were treated to demonstrations of DMZ mobile and web applications, as well as the cutting-edge bionics apparatus above. Following Ryerson, their Excellencies visited community arts hubs SKETCH, Spongelab Interactive and Workman Arts.
“This is a very interesting time,” stated the Governor General. “It took the printing press over three centuries to reach the majority of the population; the internet has taken less than a decade to reach the world’s population. What you’re doing here at the Digital Media Zone is the next generation of the use of computers.”
Taking inspiration from Ed Burtynsky’s Oil show, members of Toronto’s DK Photo Group document the lifecycle of a different commodity in their latest exhibition, Steel, currently on at Twist Gallery (1100 Queen Street West) until March 28. From iron ore mining through steel production, manufacturing and recycling, the show ably fulfills DKPG’s “urban exploration” mandate and the group’s commitment to revealing unseen and forgotten architectural spaces.
Since 2005, photographers Sean Galbraith, Russell Brohier, Steve Jacobs, Mathew Merrett and Laurin Jeffrey have been gaining access to abandoned factories, institutional buildings and industrial sites with the explicit goal of bringing those images to a larger audience. The acronym DK is a homophone for decay so it’s no mystery why some of the collective’s work has been lumped in with the suddenly fashionable genre known as “ruin porn.”
When I put the description to Galbraith he laughs it off with the observation, “that’s like saying a landscape photographer is shooting tree porn.”
There’s a notice board in the lobby of the Tarragon Theatre where audience members are encouraged to leave comments about what they’ve just seen on stage. Preview audiences for The Small Room at the Top of the Stairs – opening tonight and running thru April 8 — have obviously enjoyed the play but there’s a small contingent confessing that they just “didn’t get it.”
The play, by Quebec’s Carole Fréchette, is a bit “abstract” concedes director Weyni Mengesha, left, and it requires the audience to do a bit of mental heavy lifting. “I wanted to keep a balance between the literal and the visceral,” says Mengesha, who had to decide from the outset how much to reveal and how much to leave to the audience’s imagination.
In the play, newly married Grace (Nicole Underhay) is settling into a lavish 28-room mansion with her handsome, successful husband Henry (Rick Roberts). She has the run of the house, the garden, the greenhouse, and only one room, a room at the top of a secret stair, is ordered out of bounds by Henry who forbids his wife from ever crossing its threshold. Like the apple in Eden, Grace is tempted beyond reason to betray her husband’s trust and discover what lies behind the doorway at the top of the stairs. READ MORE
Hot Docs has a home of its own at last, Toronto’s first dedicated documentary cinema. Festival Executive Director Chris McDonald, above left, kicked off a media event yesterday to introduce the newly refurbished and renamed Bloor Hot Docs Cinema (506 Bloor Street West), which opens March 12 & 13 with free public screenings of hit doc Waste Land (7 pm).
Joining McDonald for yesterday’s site tour was architect Siamak Hariri, centre, and angel investor Neil Tabatznik (Blue Ice Group), right, whose support helped save the historic old vaudeville house. With 710 seats the Bloor is Toronto’s largest cinema and one of the only documentary-focused cinemas in the world. “These are difficult times for the arts and culture in this city but I think this is one of the good news stories of the year,” declared McDonald.
Hot Docs returns for its annual feast of the world’s best documentaries April 26 – May 6.
Photo by Joseph Mi
An emotional, opening night audience leapt to their feet last night as the lights came up on the Mirvish production of War Horse at the Princess of Wales Theatre. Featuring an all-Canadian cast and the remarkable, life-size animals of South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company, War Horse tells the deeply affecting story of a young English lad (played by Alex Furber, above) and his profound connection to a horse named Joey. Simply but effectively staged, the play was adapted for Britain’s National Theatre by Nick Stafford from a novel by Michael Morpurgo. Inspiring tears, laughter and joy from its audience War Horse is, in a word, stupendous.
Photos by Brinkhoff / Mögenburg