Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Thank You for Supporting TmTm

Thanks to everyone who showed their support for Tmtm on Saturday, October 25th. I really appreciated you for donating your hard-earned funds to keep this little arts show on the air. Thanks to Heidy M. Gord for staffing the phones, and to Kirk Cooper for sharing the air waves with me. Thanks also to Sistah Lois for sharing her spiritual engery with me as she conducted her civic duties elsewhere. Staty tuned for the thank you gifts, everyone!

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Please Support The More the Merrier Arts Radio

I know you love listening to The More the Merrier on CIUT 89.5 FM every Saturday afternoon from 1-2pm. And I know that when you can't tune in live you listen to the latest podcast. I also know you enjoy reading this blog to find out about things that I can't share with you in my one-hour radio show. I don't want to go off the air, but Station Management will do just that if I can't justify the fact that I have listeners who will put their money where their ears are.

Trust me, I have seen shows disappear for lack of listener support. I don't want to be one of those shows because I truly enjoy sharing with you. I love your feedback, and I welcome your criticism. So, on Saturday, October 23rd, between 1-2pm please call 416-946-7800 or toll-free at 1-888-204-8976 and make a pledge (any amount welcome) to The More the Merrier. You can even donate any time on line. Just click here to donate on line. Thank you for your support of the arts, and for community radio. Feel free to email me if you have any questions.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

The New Electric Ballroom: Irish Theatre Company Scores a Hit

I was introduced to Irish playwright, Enda Walsh, through the production of his play, bedbound by MacKenzieRo, The Irish Repertory Theatre of Canada. I like the dirty, grimy, grimly funny, play about two characters stuck in a bed, sharing their lives with the audience. There’s just something about Walsh’s unflinching look at the lives of the downtrodden that draws me in. I felt satisfyingly wrung out by the end of bedbound, starring Richard Greenblatt and MacKenzieRo co-founder, actress, Cathy Murphy; at the end of The New Electric Ballroom, I felt bleakly content.

The play features, Cathy Murphy (Ada), and Dora Award winners, Rosemary Dunsmore (Breda), and Sarah Dodd (Claire) as sisters living in a tide-brown Irish fishing village in a dishwater-coloured house that they rarely leave. Unable to let go of the past, Breda and Claire have relentlessly inoculated their younger sister, Ada, against loving and living. The three are caught in a world and a house that recycles fear and stunts communication among them. Director, Autumn Smith has confidently captured the discordant harmony of the sisters and brings out the best in her more than competent female leads. Murphy, Dunsmore and Dodd play off one another like a strident trio of brass players spewing Walsh’s gritty, poetic dialogue with just the right note. Even in their individual silences their energies are connected by an ambient chord.

Dora-nominee, Christopher Stanton (who is also the plays sound director), is the lone male in the piece. A rambling, socially deficient, fishmonger, Stanton’s character, Patsy, is the tragic-comic break the audience needs after listening to the dismal recollections of the distaff household. Stanton’s boyish face, and the slumped, closed-in posture he adopts for his character makes the audience want desperately for Patsy to fit into the sisters’ world. Unfortunately for Patsy, though he belongs in the hopelessly bound world of the sisters’, like a jigsaw piece being forced to connect in the wrong space, he will never quite fit.

The New Electric Ballroom by Enda Walsh
October 8th-24th 2010
Opening: Friday, October 8 at 8PM
Performances: Monday to Saturday at 8PM Sunday matinee: 2:30 PM
Tarragon Extra Space 30 Bridgman Avenue
Tickets: $26, Sundays PWYC Box Office: 416-531-1827 tickets.tarragontheatre.com

b current's RADIANCE Does Not Shine

I wish that I could say that b current’s production of RADIANCE (directed by the award-winning, ahdri zhina mandiela), was as stellar success, especially since the company is celebrating its 20th Anniversary. Unfortunately, none of the performances in the play live up the interesting story that Australian playwright, Louis Nowra, has penned.

Set in Queensland, Australia, the story is about three half-sisters who reunite for the funeral of their mother, their only connection. b current’s rAizn Ensemble cast includes, Maxine Marcellin as the opera diva, Cressy, Amanda Nicholls (as the embittered Nurse, May), and Meghan Swaby as the promiscuous Nona, who shares their mother’s love of sex and revolving-door boyfriends. The sisters are strangers to one another, and their reminiscences of the past paint a story of a neglectful mother (fighting her own demons), whose choices have had a painful impact on her daughters.

I understand that the rAizn Ensemble is a professional development program for emerging artists, so I was fully prepared for performances by budding actors (everyone has to start somewhere); what I wasn’t prepared for was the lack of energy displayed the actors. I could see the colour in Nowra’s words, and the dynamism with which he imbues the three characters, but all of this is on the page and nowhere to bee seen on the stage. Marcellin’s lacklustre performance is at odds with her opera-singer character, Cressy. When she refers to her roles and touring, the words are not delivered with any shred of credibility. Nicholls tries in her role as May, the sister who found her mother dead in her chair, and with a bit more rehearsal she could have been more convincing in the part. Meghan Swaby’s portrayal of the flighty Nona brings some humour to the piece, but hers is a one-note performance without any depth. As for the Australian idoms, they did not roll trippingly off anyone’s tongue, halting the flow of dialogue and the already slow pacing of the play.

The highlight of my evening was the work done by the crew: set design by Jung-Hye Kim, lighting by CJ Astronomo and sound by Rehaset Yohanes. The raked wooden floor of the house, the flashes of lightning that portend a storm, and the echo of off-stage dialogue all serve to set a wonderful stage for Nowra’s work. With actors that didn’t give me anything to invest in emotionally, I could only make it to the intermission of the two-hour play.

RADIANCE by Louis Nowra
Presented by b current (http://www.bcurrent.ca/default.asp)
Directed by ahdri zhina mandiela
October 12 - 15
Theatre Direct's Artscape Wychwood Barns
601 Christie Street (1 block south of St. Clair Avenue West)
Reserve or Buy Tickets: only $10

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

TIFF 2010: Guest Blogger, Moen M. Shares His Faves

donna g: One of the things that happen during and especially after TIFF are discussions about what has been seen and what are the personal favourites. I asked Moen M.* my friend and fellow film lover, to share his faves with you. Here is what he had to say:

MOEN M.: TIFF 2010 proved to be a wonderful year, yielding insightful films that one hopes the public will get to see more of either at the Lightbox and local arthouse cinemas. It was very difficult to choose which films are my favourites of the festival, but it must be done. Here are my favourites:


1. Poetry (Korea) in photo below
2. Look, Stranger (USA)
3. Nostalgia for The Light (Chile)
4. Attenberg (Greece)
5. Blessed Events (Germany)
6. The Four Times (Italy)
7. Mysteries of Lisbon (Portugal)
8. I Wish I Knew (China)
9. Incendies (Canada)
10. Confessions (Japan)
11. The Strange Case of Angelica (Portugal)
12. Trois temps apres la mort d'Anna (Canada)
13. Meek's Cutoff (USA)
14. Leap Year (Mexico)
15. Tears of Gaza (Norway) in photo below

16. The Ditch (China)
17. The Majority (Turkey)
18. The Housemaid (Korea)
19. A Screaming Man (Chad)
20. Of Gods and Men (France)
21. A Useful Life (Uruguay)
22. My Only Sunshine (Turkey)

23. Neds (Scotland)
24. 22nd May (Belgium)
25. Norwegian Wood (Japan)


Trois temps apres la mort d'Anna (Canada) - One of the most honest portrayals of grief and loss I have ever seen. The quiet moments and the frigid landscape scream soundlessly the pain and suffering of the protagonist. A heart-breaking film that is also hopeful. If this is not part of Canada's Top Ten, there is no justice.

My Only Sunshine (Turkey) - A film I saw as I could not get into the Ceausescu documentary and what a discovery it was. Then again, it's director of the wonderful Times and Winds. A film about a young girl's loss of innocence and how the absence of a decent family structure can play havoc with a young child's life.

The Majority (Turkey) - A disturbing and honest portrait of a father and son. It depicts those with money and power (the majority) and their treatment and influence on the others (the minority). This film is not just about contemporary Instanbul, but it could be transplanted anywhere.

Leap Year (Mexico) - A film that may easily be dismissed as sexual violence gone awry, however, the winner of the Camera d'or at Cannes 2010 is not sensational material, nor is it titillating, nor sexy one bit. At least not to me. This is a diary of the month of February as we observe, almost clinically, the activities in a young, native Mexican girl's apartment. Yes, it is violent, and yes, there is a lot of rough sex. However, as the film goes on, it is quietly revealed, not in words, as to the reasons the young woman made those choices. And her family plays a very important role in her choices. Look closely, and you will also see how she feels about being dark-skinned and what she considers to be beautiful. This film is not for everyone. Be warned.

22nd of May (Belgium) - A remarkable achievement, stunning and original. After a suicide bombing at a mall, the security guard (who may have apparently survived or perhaps not), is flung into a dreamland purgatory as he navigates the empty streets searching for the victims and trying to find answers to their questions as they demand answers. Not for one second does this film feel false even though we know we are in a parallel world. It is done with realism and anguish. Kudos to the director for pulling off an ambitious and difficult project.

The Housemaid (Korea) - A sophisticated and sexy thriller that is classy and intelligent. A naive young woman gets more than what she bargained for as she enters the service of a wealthy family. Superb acting and controlled mise-en-scene.

Mysteries of Lisbon (Portugal) - A beautiful poem to literature, art, history, love and ancestry. This rigorous film does not feel long at 4 1/2 hours. It's that good. For me, the realisation of what I had just seen as the film approaches its climax is not only revelatory, but truly inspiring.

The Strange Case of Angelica (Portugal) - Charming, poetic, romantic, Oliveira employs his usual theatrical style to great use in this lovely film about a young man's nightmares and fantasies of the deceased Angelica.

Norwegian Wood (Japan) - Everyone I spoke to who has seen this film did not like it. But I liked it very much. This isn't The Scent of Green Papaya nor does it resemble The Vertical Ray of the Sun, nor is it gritty and realistic as Cyclo. As such, it should not be compared to those films. Norwegian Wood is about grief, death and the loss of innocence. Contrary to what I have heard, this film is not pre-occupied with sex, panting and moaning. Sex is used as the only way the characters can stay connected with each other. As there is no love and feeling, they think sex may be the last resort of any kind of link. There is a lot of crying during the sex scenes - this is not gratuitous fumblings and groping. Great use of 60s music, impressive costume design of that era, beautiful photography and wonderful performances by the three leads. A sadly misunderstood film. But then again, I seem to be the only person who liked it.

The Ditch (China) - Wang Bing's painful exploration of the labour camps and their outcome during the famine. This film is so painful to watch, so gut-wrenching in its unendurable suffering, that I never, ever wish to see it again. But I am grateful for having seen it once.

COMPARISONS - Why do we compare a director's current film to his/her previous film? Or his/her body of work? A director has the freedom to do whatever he/she deems to be artistically best for the project at hand. Not every film will resemble or should be like the previous masterwork. Case in question is the superb Poetry by Lee Chang-dong. Over and over during the festival, I heard that "it was just not as good as Secret Sunshine." We should accept a film for what it is and should not attach prerequisites and standing orders. My two pennies.

The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu
The Sleeping Beauty
Essential Killing
Black Ocean

Guest Blogger* Moen M. is frequents film festivals of all kinds in Toronto and Montreal. He's mad about Japanese cinema and can watch those films all day and night without coming up for ait. I forgive him for this because we both adore Italian actress Anna Magnani, and we love seeing films on the big screen--where they should be seen.

A Sweet Liar: Theatre Francais de Toronto's Le Menteur/The Liar

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