Good things #2

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It’s been a crazy couple weeks of going out and seeing things: Conte D’Amour (and internet brouhaha); the very good Sufferettes (rumours of a June show for those that missed it or just want to go back because funny); Dancemakers; Trampoline Hall; Minotaur at YPT, and 2 book launches (get to a local bookseller before they are all gone.)

I might slow down for a bit and enjoy sunshine - but here are somethings on my radar:

I do a fair amount of legacy theatre company bashing - even if just by calling them legacy companies. So to praise when there’s a chance to praise:

Tarragon Theatre continues to do their mandate very well and with rigour.

  • Erin Shields’ new play Soliciting Temptation opens tonight. Adhering to the Three Unities, it’s a two-hander about sex tourism that does a good job of the difficult task of staging the ambiguities and complexities of a specific encounter. If you’re not into watching people act like they’re other people, maybe it’s not for you – but you’re missing one of my favourite that-kind-of-play playwrights.
  • In other good Tarragon news - Sean Dixon’s A God in Need of Help starts previews on my birthday (April 16) and opens April 23. I’m pretty excited to see it.
  • Erin and Sean had a conversation about Gods HERE

VideoCabaret continues to be one of the best things about Toronto ever. Their journey through the Village of the Small Huts is a remarkable work. The newest edition - TRUDEAU and the FLQ is apparently selling out quickly down at Soulpepper. So get on that.

In the big and splashy - Luminato released the full line up. Excited to see Mammalian Diving Reflex, The Roots, Buffy St. Marie and the return of Jason Collett’s Basement Revue.

Further off the mainstream path - something for this Thursday. Amelia Ehrhardt has been running a series called Flowchart about which I’m curious – even if I’ve been unable to attend. Be better than me and check out the last edition (and see the Shaw Street school Artscape reno if you, also like me, haven’t.)

Also - the only thing harder than being an out of town company visiting a city for the first time or being an indie producer is being an indie producer visiting a city of the first time. I know nothing about Shadows - in town from Ottawa -except that it’s playing at Videofag, which shows some good taste. Maybe it’s the thing you’ve been waiting for.

In Small Wooden Shoe news:

  • I just recorded an episode of the SWS Podcast with Adrienne Wong and guest Rupal Shah talking Diversity in various forms. Catch up on old episode while spring cleaning and that episode will be up in a few days.
  • We’re in exciting prep for The Summer Spectacular at the Toronto Fringe Festival in July.

Good things from other folks

Recently someone asked if there was a place to go to find out about interesting work going on in Toronto – the internet and weeklies are just too unspecific. There’s not really. But it reminded me of the importance of spreading the good word:

  • Dancemakers Around opens TONIGHT and the runs this week and next Wednesday to Saturday at 8pm with Sunday matinees. Get tickets here. I’m involved with this one as a dramaturge, so there’s that – but Dancemakers continues to make worlds unlike any others in the city.
  • Especially for the 3penny and Kurt Weil inclined, there’s a perfect chance to go to the new Theatre Centre that just opened and runs this weekend: L’Orchestre d’hommes-orchestres | Cabaret brise-jour March 25–29. I’m going Friday.
  • A bunch of great artists from all around are leading a workshop in June. Luminato is hosting a crazy interesting Copy Cat Academy – and the deadline has been extended.
  • Two of the funniest folk ever, Kayla Lorette and Becky Johnson, are available on Thursday April 3rd. The Sufferettes are doing a solo show at the Comedy Bar. Buy your tickets HERE
  • Tuesday, April 8 at 7:30pm (FB event) at the Monarch Tavern, Carl Wilson is relaunching his amazing book Let’s Talk About Love - now made even more amazing by amazing contributors. Amazing.
  • Misha Glouberman is leading one of his great Negotiation Courses starting May 7th. Very helpful for life. More info HERE

The Spice of Omnivore.

WWAS-photo My calendar is prompting this post.

It’s the kind of variety that is the gift of Toronto and this current moment in history and that gift is important to appreciate.[1]

Watching / Attending

Last Tuesday to next Tuesday:


This week: office work, taxes, research, pitching and prep for 4 different Small Wooden Shoe projects:

Next week:

This isn't to brag, complain or fall into the busy trap. It's to say that I like when I remember to take advantage of the possibilities. I also like my garden and kittens.

Garden1 Kittens-13-05-23

  1. It’s also unsustainable time-wise and financially - only possible because I am exchanging labour (box office, documentation, reflective writing) for tickets in every case and being supported as a teacher and consultant. The balance of finding what works and what can sustain. But these are ok problems, cause there’s some great art and great people there.  ↩
  2. I almost went for a Nova Scotia “b’y” joke but decided to pass.  ↩

Material surprise

I caught two programs at the Images Festival this weekend and wondered if –The nature of surprise is different in analog and digital

(for the sake of a very digital either/or I’m including live performance in analog and - importantly for my experience at Images - including film as opposed to digital video)


In analog, we (the audience) can be happily1 surprised by content and by material.2

In both analog and digital we can be surprised by content of course - something unexpected happening in the thing we’re seeing. Structure, events, language, image, context, juxtaposition etc… The common elements can all be a part of this. Experimental or classical, academic or populist etc… all play this game.

In analog work, the material can also surprise - first the artists and then the audience and this surprise can be central to the meaning making. The body can do the unexpected, the language slips, the paint behaves in unpredicted ways, the celluloid does something different. These productive mistakes are then integrated into, or become, the content.

But material surprise is not something I, as an audience member, look for or experience with digital. When it exists it's only jarring (I'm thinking of digital noise, broken code, dropped frames)

2 pieces by way of example:

In Sugar Beach, it’s the in camera processing of film that surprises - Mark shoots through a small hole, rewinds the film and does it again – resulting in a “same but different” that’s beautiful and bound to the material of film.

On the other end of the spectrum: Simon Quéhiellard’s Maître-Vent is a piece of him setting up discarded materials (broken umbrellas, boxes, skin ply) by the side of the highway and recording their reaction to the wind of passing trucks. So much surprise, delight, tragedy, expectation and narrative ensue from watching his desire and the reactions of plastic bags and pop cans. It’s the best Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton film made last year. The surprise, though, isn’t in the material of video. Digital accidents would be out of place and much less meaningful.

This probably isn’t a new thought in the world - and I’d love to be pointed towards the exceptions - but it was lovely to experience it first hand.

Images Festival is on until April 20th two things other things I want to catch:

  • Rope  - FADO co-presention at the Theatre Centre Pop-Up. April 16th is your last chance.
  • Ants at Interaccess - Oh!m1gas is a tribute to the sophistication and organization of ant colonies

  1. “Happily” for me is a pretty open term I use for a response that one is glad to have had - this, of course, can include a wide range of responses. ↩
  2. Another insufficient but helpful dialectic. ↩

Populism, Affect, but mostly How?

I've been quiet here, recovering from Antigone Dead People (even successes take time to recover from), dealing with the change in daylight and working on this:Last Thursday I did a talk at the University of Waterloo (big thanks to Jay and Andy for having me out.)

I was happy with how it turned out, and (you're hearing it here first) I will be doing the full thing in Toronto at Dancemakers as part of Study Group Thursday December 13th at 6:30pm in the Michael J. Baker

Since I'm going to do some work on it before then, I won't post the whole thing from Waterloo - but here's a 12 minute of the Freemind talk, focusing on how I'm trying to work on populism and affect in my work with collaborators at Small Wooden Shoe, Public Recordings and the afore mentioned Dancemakers.

Enjoy! Thoughts welcome in the comments.



Tonight we read and sing

Small Wooden Shoe Reads Difficult Playsand Sings Simple SongsTHE NUIT BLANCHE / KOERNER HALL EDITION

Very late tonight - September 29 (well, September 30th, technically) 1:30 AM - 4:00 AM (you're free to come and go - staying the full time or not)

Royal Conservatory of Music - Koerner Hall273 Bloor St. West (Bloor and Bedford) FREE

Normally we’re all secret and stuff, but this one is so exciting that we just can’t be: pictures from sound check.

In the sometimes chaos of Toronto’s all night art thing, Small Wooden Shoe and the Royal Conservatory are pleased to provide a respite of beauty and space.

Join us in the dark hours as we read Gertrude Stein and sing simple songs. Come and go, enter into Stein’s language, rich, challenging, funny and stunning: a landscape that we can visit and depart from.The room will be dark, letting your ears open as your eyes settle on the outlines of the architecture and music stand lights.

With special appearances from the 3penny Choir and many Small Wooden Shoe regulars.

Please join us.