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.
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Conte D’Amour and self-aware problems

Conte D'Amour

Conte D’Amour – which ends it’s run tonight at Harbourfront Centre has been the cause of much chatter on the internet. From a zero-star review in the Globe to reviews not worth linking to, with lots of Facebook stuff thrown into the mix.

If you like this discussion, you might like the CopyCat Academy that’s happening at Luminato this year. A pretty great opportunity. Applications are due Monday.

Personally, first I spent an afternoon writing 2,200 rambling words about why I didn’t want to see it (excerpted below) and then I went to see it and then I made a mind map in Scapple. (updated for this post)

I still have artistic and social differences with the ensembles approach which I will try to clarify at some point, and bunches of Cultural Industry issues with everything about the current creation and presentation modes of large scale ambitious work in Toronto and Canada that I also hope to continue to work out (some of which is happening with Adrienne Wong at the SWS Podcast.)

But Conte D’Amour is a serious and rigorous work that is well aware of it’s own horror and boringness and problematics – and is more aware than anything I’ve ever seen in Toronto about the problematics of northern white male liberalism and the construction of privilege and the projection of fantasies on the Other (whether people or continents.)

Conte D'Amour

download PDF

Written Wednesday pre-show:

so I wasn’t going to see Conte D’Amor and I was going to write about why.

I’m still going to do that – even though I now know I’m going to see it tonight.

I’m going to see it because a) Lilya from the Theatre Centre posted on Facebook about an extra ticket and I thought “She will make the experience better.” B) It was a comp. I’m broke and impacts the amount of shows I see. And is breaking the way I see shows, especially shows like Conte D’Amor. But more on that latter.
And C) because I thought I might write about and so should see it or risk being told I wasn’t qualified to comment.

Why I wasn’t going to see it:

It’s been a hard winter contributing to pretty intense case of “the blues.”1

And so, I just don’t want to have my “heart ripped out” or my “guts wrenched” because life is doing that just fine thanks.

I am very well aware of the horror of living in this world and I don’t need to pay $50 to watch a bunch of well funded white artists from Europe being paid a substantial amount of money to “make” me feel.

There’s a lot to unpack in that paragraph. Some about Art – it’s purpose and aesthetics; some about the Cultural Industry in this context; some about Society; and tons of just personal shit that I carry. And all that overlaps and blends together.

  1. Or depression, if we scrape away the euphemism. ↩
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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
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Public Funding – Mixing stability and agility p2

I’ve got some interesting feedback / questions for clarity from the last post in the comments and off line. Thought I’d post some more thoughts here, on whether 5 years is too long

The reason I like 5 is that I think it’s hard to know (sometimes) whether something is going well or not until year 3, and I’m nervous about constantly writing big grants.

and yes, 5/3 cycle funding would be a replacement for “operating”
multi-year project grants (2-4 years) are a different good idea.

Maybe the whole package is something that looks like:

  • Short turn around micro grants / recommenders: There are little ($500-$2,000) things that need to get done quickly.
  • Project Grants: Pretty much like what we have.
  • Multiyear project grants: Covering 2-4 years and focused on a single “project” but including some operating expenses (covering activity outside of the single project like admin and ancillary projects)
  • Operating Cycle Funding: Described in the post. Allows for flexibility and stability and isn’t as focused on a single project, but on a breadth of activity.

Also I’m in favour of radically changing peer jury system – changing especially how disciplines and scales are thought of. Right now most of my frustrations are about the decisions being made by the juries, not the system. But the changes in the system could help. Again, there’s more detail on options in Shannon Litzenberger’s Metcalf paper, Choreographing our Future.

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