It's Canada Day! The CBC is blasting Can-pop and Can-rock. Fireworks went off last night at Harbourfront and my Fringe billet, and I watched the shimmering rain dust the heavens.
The sky looks kind of threatening. It hasn't been the warmest summer so far. Rain or shine, I anticipate spending a crazy amount of time inside a theatre over the next 10 days. The Toronto Fringe opens tonight, and along with cheap beer, and cupcakes, they have over 150 shows on offer.
Tonight, I'll head off to the festival site behind Honest Ed's, pick up my pass, and commence one of my favourite rituals of summer: twelve days at the most democratic theatre festival in town.
After combing through my Facebook event invites, press releases and tweets, scouring the program, and chatting with some hard core Fringe watchers, here's a list of a few things I'm planning to see this week.
JEM ROLLS: THE INVENTOR of ALL THINGS TARRAGON MAINSPACE
Jem just picked up the SPIRIT OF THE FRINGE: LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD in Montreal for his distinguished career as a performance poet. If you've seen Jem before, I hear this is a great show. If you've never seen Jem, performance poetry doesn't get much better than a Jem Rolls show. NB: He's not in the printed program, as he got a late slot. What this means is someone else dropped out and he took their times. Check the festival website (at the bottom of this post) for dates times of performances.
DANIEL TOBIAS: THE ORCHID and THE CROW www.orchidandcrow.com AL GREEN THEATRE
As one half of the comedy duo, DIE ROTEN PUNTE, Aussie export Tobias regularly sells out in Western Canada, but it is his first time in Toronto. I have loved all of his previous outings, and can't wait to see this tale of wit in the face of adversity tomorrow night.
FOOL'S GOLD www.metaphysicaltheatre.com RANDOLPH THEATRE
I love commedia dell'arte, it doesn't get done very often anywhere these days, and Stephen Lafrenie, who is a Keystone Theatre regular, is a skilled physical comedian. If the rest of the company as accomplished as he is, this should be a treat.
ANATOLIA SPEAKS http://www.poiemaproductions.com ST VLADIMIR'S THEATRE
Last time Ken Brown came to Toronto, from Edmonton, he brought SPIRAL DIVE, which 5 starred two days before they closed. It sold out across the rest of the country. Here, he and the wonderful Candice Fiorentino bring a Bosnian war refugee in an ESL class to the stage. This show has already been a hit in Winnipeg and Edmonton.
THE PHILANDERESS ANNEX THEATRE
Some bunch of bright young things have decided to turn a GBS chestnut about philandering on its head. I'm going to gamble on this one.
MEET CUTE erinnorahthompson.tumblr.com ANNEX THEATRE
Boy meets girl: this rom-com features two good actors, and is the brain-child of Erin Thompson, creator of last year's run-away hit, SLUT. If you're looking for date-night theatre, this might be the show for you.
YEATS: A CEREMONY of INNOCENCE ROBERT GILL THEATRE
Daniel Giverin is taking a run at one of the greatest poets in the English language. I'm there.
THE WEAKER VESSELS: PUBLIC DISPLAYS of NARCISSISM theweakervessels.flavors.me
THEATRE PASSE MURAILLE BACKSPACE
This show gets my vote for best title in this year's Fringe program, and the Weaker Vessels are generally pretty hilarious.
CAWS & EFFECT mindofasnail.org FACTORY THEATRE MAINSPACE
Mind of a Snail, a Vancouver troupe of puppeteers have arrived with their hit show about a couple of crows who re-imagine the world. I've met these performers, they are lovely, and all the other performers I know who saw this show on the road, raved about it, and that doesn't happen often. It got five stars from the CBC.
The DINNER TABLE http://www.failbettertheatre.com Site Specific 918 Bathurst
Fail Better Theatre seats 12 people a night. They feed you, and some very well regarded theatre practitioners (Sky Gilbert, Nina Aquino, Judith Thompson) tell stories at the dinner table. I suspect this will be the toughest ticket to get this week.
Oh yeah, SAM MULLINS and PETE 'N CHRIS are in town. So are MORRO and JASP. But you knew that already. I hope to see them too.
I need to get out of here, and go grab some tickets. See you in line!
The TORONTO FRINGE runs from July 1st -12th at theatres across the city.
Tickets to the Toronto Fringe are available in person, at the box office in the parking lot behind Honest Ed's, 581 Bloor Street West, by phone at: (416) 966 1062 or at: http://fringetoronto.com/