Live Theatre in Toronto

Discussion in 'Out & About' started by Benc7, Jan 29, 2009.

  1. Benc7

    Benc7 Active Member

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    Thanks Urban Shocker, but I think I'll separate the theatre scene from your own, glorious, musical neighbourhood. :)

    I went to see "Ubuntu" , the first new production at Tarragon for 2009. It’s all about identity, secrets, cultural differences, our resposibility to those who have come before us and how they continue to affect us, whether we know it or not. The play has been in the works for close to four years, both here and in South Africa. Unfortunately, it's STILL not ready for prime time. The set is quite interesting, constructed of what appears to be suitcases, and concealing revolving doors, cupboards, closets and niches that are used to set up the different scenes. Used too many times, I'm afraid, with too many scene changes. Short cut scenes work well on film but not on stage, where the set up can take longer than the scene itself. The performances run from good to not very; a lot is demanded of the five member cast. A dance element is introduced at the beginning but not maintained through out the play; too bad about that. I’ve seen some great work at Tarragon; last year’s “The Black Riderâ€, “Moliere†and “East of Berlin†were outstanding. This production can’t be classed with them. The theatre continues to present a variety of new work and, in my mind, is one of the great treasures this city has to offer.
    http://www.tarragontheatre.com/
     
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  2. Urban Shocker

    Urban Shocker Doyenne

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    I'm so proud of you, possum. Go for it. Spread your wings and fly. We will all bask in your reflected glory.
     
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  3. taal

    taal Senior Member

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    How full are these performances you attend typically?
    Either way, sounds great!
     
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  4. Benc7

    Benc7 Active Member

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    The two theatres that comprise The Tarragon are quite....intimate; "The Mainspace" seats about 200, "The Extra Space" seats 100. The performances I've attended have always been full or near full, probably because the tickets are one of the best deals in town and because they put on such interesting work. The building itself is quite the ramshackle affair: charming approaching dilapidated. They do need to do something about crowd control: the lobby is small, and with line-ups for the two theatres and the box office sharing the same space, things can get confusing. But all of that is nothing to the quality of the work presented. Again, let me reiterate: the tickets are cheap!
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2009
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  5. Benc7

    Benc7 Active Member

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    I went to see "Medea" last night at the Cannon. I was happy to see a near-full house so late in the run (the play closes on Feb 8th). The Cannon is such a large, beautiful theatre; I make a point of entering it from Yonge Street just to walk through that grand hallway.

    The play is, in my modern, stripped-of-mythology opinion, about divorce gone terribly, terribly bad, something we 're familiar with from the gruesome headlines that appear all too often in the newspapers. The sort of divorce where no price is too high to pay for the destruction of the offending spouse. This is meaty stuff for the stage, as relevant now as it was when Euripides wrote the first version of it over two thousand years ago. And SEANA McKENNA, as Medea, misses it completely, as does her director-husband, Miles Potter. Drama lies in the silence as much as in the spoken word and there's too little of that. Rage, hurt, and hate is broadcast best when it's controlled, when it's leashed, but Mckenna’s performance, save for a few moment here and there, is all one, shrill note. ( A word about contractions: you can always tell when people are either pretentiously ancient or aliens from another planet by their inability to use contractions :“cannot†versus “can’tâ€. It makes speech ridiculously stilted, and only serves to distance the speaker from the audience.) The chorus is overdone and laughable; they only impede whatever emotional storm is brewing on stage. The set is spare and fine; nothing wrong with it. The male actors are fine, nothing wrong with them. I spent a great deal of time in my seat re-writing , re-casting and re-directing this play and while that’s fun, I should have been lost in the gruesome tale unfolding in front of me. My partner beat a retreat at intermission and two friends I encountered after the show confessed they’d dozed off in the second act. Rats!

    http://www.mirvish.com/medea/
     
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  6. Tewder

    Tewder Senior Member

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    Benc7, I wonder to what degree a little formal 'artifice' is part of the aesthetic they were going for in terms of the whole 'Classic Greek Theatre' thing?
     
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  7. Benc7

    Benc7 Active Member

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    The "artifice" was absolutely deliberate and they were true to it for the entire production; I can't fault them on their continuity of vision. However, the audience isn't a passive participant in a live performance; we brings all our own thoughts, emotions and experience to the event and what a play stirs in us depends as much on what we're thinking about as what goes on stage. "Medea" resonated with me on a particular note, having just read about that woman on the east coast who had strangled her daughter in favour of her lover. That terrible incident reminded me of the man who entered a Christmas party dressed as Santa to murder his ex, their children and anyone else unfortunate enough to have been in the house. This led me to think about the marriage break ups in my own circle of friends, none of them (thank god) as violent as the ones in the papers or on the stage, but ugly in their own way. What passion, madness, blindness does it take it takes to destroy not only the mate who has betrayed you, but the CHILDREN of that relationship? How does one get to that place? I wanted to see "Medea" come to that awful decision. I wanted to FEEL how she got there, not hear lines being recited, or the formal warnings of a chorus.
     
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  8. Urban Shocker

    Urban Shocker Doyenne

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    There's nothing worse than going to see a familiar work - expecting a new interpretation - and getting the same-old-same-old. Time drags. All you're aware of is faulty technique. Sometimes it's better to cut your losses and leave.
     
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  9. Benc7

    Benc7 Active Member

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    And now for something completely different, LOL! I went to see "Happy Days: The Musical" last night at the Elgin, the first offering in Dancap's pretty meagre second season. It's based (obviously)on the TV series, a series, I might add, I never watched. Judging from the audience reaction last night, I was in the minority. Garry Marshall, the creator of the series (and other 70’s hits), joined with Paul Williams (music composer) to produce this effort and has been flogging the idea for sometime. It's no more than it pretends to be; a rollicking good time, a cartoon of a cartoon of an era that never existed except on TV. There's a lot of talent on that stage doing what they can with characters that are sacred idols to some and can’t be messed with. Joey Sorge channels the Fonz in a way that even I, (a non-fan) can appreciate. Felicia Finley makes a wonderful Pinkey Tuscadero (I don’t know who that was, but I LOVE the name!) . It was ridiculous fun. It was a silly blast. It was savaged by the local critics. Never mind, I’ve seen too much over too many years to take anything they write seriously.

    As an aside, at intermission I spoke to a couple of women sitting next to me; to my surprise they’d renewed their DanCap subscriptions this year for the same reason I did; to show support for what Aubrey Dan is trying to do to rather than on the merits of his current offerings. There wasn’t a single production he presented last year that I wouldn’t have gladly seen again and if his sophomore year is nowhere near as stellar, well, let’s hope for a better offering next season.

    With both “Rob Roy” and Buddies in Bad Times “Gay for Pay” biting the dust (thank you, New Depression!), any support for any theatre group will be needed now more than ever.

    http://www.dancaptickets.com/home
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2009
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  10. Mustapha

    Mustapha Senior Member

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    I saw it too as I have a Mirvish subscription. It was -- ok. I haven't seen enough live theatre to form opinions as to what is really good or bad or see subtleties like you.
     
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  11. Arob

    Arob New Member

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    Is Shakuntala considered theatre?

    [​IMG]

    The mythical Indian story of Shakuntala is playing at Harbourfront Centre as part of their World Stage 2009 program.

    The story of Shakuntala is perhaps the most famous Sanskrit play in existence.

    But what confuses me is that it's being held at the Fleck Dance Centre?
     
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  12. Benc7

    Benc7 Active Member

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    I'd certainly say it's theatre! Thanks for posting this; I may not have remembered it otherwise.

    I wish they'd stop changing the name of the theatres; "the Fleck" is a marvellous little theatre in Queen's Quay that used to be known as "The Premiere Dance theatre" and before that, "The Du Maurier Theatre" (I think).

    I'm going to try and see some of these. Arob, are you going? If so please let us know what the produciton was like.

    Thanks again.
     
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  13. Urban Shocker

    Urban Shocker Doyenne

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    The Chinese Dance Workshop, which my late partner danced with, performed there in the early '90s ... but I can't remember what it was called then.

    I saw Shakuntala on Saturday. As with the gallery scene, where you wander in off the street and look at what's on the walls, sometimes it's nice to go to the theatre unprepared. This was one of those nights.

    The set was quite alarming - five white columns covered with white curly "hair" ... and a white ball atop each. Oh my. White doily things hung from the ceiling. As the evening progressed, the actors moved the columns around - apparently for some decorative effect.

    It was a very long evening, and a timid telling of the tale - as if they were scared to cut and edit in case the magic of the thing escaped. At half the length, with a lively stylised telling, it might have been much more engaging. It had some charm, though, a Romeo and Juliet sweetness that was most engaging in the first half. It was well lit.

    The acting was patchy, quite hammy at times, the humour irritating too ... and sometimes quite unintentional. One cast member had to wear some simply awful wigs, poor man, including a purple/silver bobbed number that made him look like James Brown, and he did some jive-talkin' thing now and then that was most odd. At times he seemed to be parodying Larry Olivier. To add to this, the left side of the youngish audience started laughing at inappropriate times and had coughing fits towards the end of the ( shorter ) second half.
     
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  14. Benc7

    Benc7 Active Member

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    I'm glad you saw this, Urban Shocker; I won't be able to see it. I agree with you, it's fun to go and see something unprepared. I figure if the writer, director and actors are doing their jobs then they'll reveal to me all I need to know about the production. That sometimes doesn't happen. I come away from those "sometimes" happy that, at least, the actors and the crew got paid that week, that they may have learned something to further their craft. Happy that the playwright got the opportunity to stage the work and may gain from the experience. The theatre offers, usually to the most insecure people, the most insecure profession; it's itinerant in nature. One goes where the work is...if there is.
     
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  15. Benc7

    Benc7 Active Member

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