“Isitwendam” Is a powerful Indigenous journey of discovery Reply

Review by Ellen S. Jaffe      Mar.  20, ‘19

Isitwendam, written and performed by Meegwun Fairbrother  is a powerful, emotional, and beautifully-crafted play , well worth seeing.  The play, a Bound To Create Theatre (B2C) Production, is having its world premiere in Toronto, presented by native Earth Performing Arts at the Aki Studio. It was co-created and directed by Jack Grinhaus. Isitwendam means “an understanding,” and this one-act play shows how theatre, with its blend of physicality, emotion, language, and appeal to our senses, can give us a deeper, fuller understanding of, and empathy with, a complex situation. The play begins with a mysterious, graceful dance performed by Fairbrother, against a background of changing light and shadow – ending with a flashing light and a sense of terror. More…

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“A Ghost of a Chance”; #33 advising #39 Reply

Review by Terry Gaisin

Disclaimer: there IS bias here because playwright Judith Robinson is also a respected contributor to our ARTS REVIEW. So; as objectively as I can be – a critique of her political comedy in which a deceased Harry Truman (the haberdasher) advises President Jimmy Carter (the peanut farmer) on how to get reelected in the 1980 presidential campaign.
The format is concert-style with the characters seated while reading their dialogue from scripts. Incidental giggle; #39 is missing some pages until a ‘lines request’ is countered by an audience member running up with her version! The incumbent is recited by John Hewson while Walter Young is his ethereal campaign manager.

Dekar; Woodside; Sheehy; Young & Hewson interpreting U.S. politics

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“We Are All Treaty people”: play asks meaningful questions Reply

Review by Ellen S, Jaffee

To be or not to be – friends?” That is the question confronting two contemporary children in Calgary, Alberta. Girl #1, Alanna, played by Elizabeth Ferguson-Breaker (Naaton Ainihki), a Blackfoot, and Girl #2, Maya, Lara Schmitz, who has English-French-Irish heritage. They meet on the first day of school; it is A’s first time in a city school, with few if any Indigenous students. They are about to shyly say hello when the Trickster, a traditional Blackfoot character, strides down through the audience and leaps on stage to interrupt them. “NO, you can’t be friends.” Why not? “Because of the story.” *

Scene from We Are All Treaty People

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“O.A.R.’s TOP TEN for 2018 ” Reply

Opinion by O.A.R. administrators
Dec. 22, ‘ 18
Can’t fight progress, so this year there will be a major change… a Toronto Fringe offering is to be included, even though we previously relegated these 1-hour efforts to the ‘Honourable Mention’ category. However, the criteria for overall inclusion remains unchanged- memorable; educational; entertaining and definitely professionally staged!

HAMILTON PHILHARMONIC. This superior orchestra under the direction of Gemma New offered a full series of superlative concerts whose eclectic selections ran the gamut from the seriously classical to fun pops and contemporary compositions. Given the high caliber of the HPO, choosing just one as a standout proved too difficult; so, a 4-way-tie.

A dramatic on-stage interrogation moment in JOURNEY’S END

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“Its’ a Wonderful Life”; not a wonderful play Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin
Disclaimer- I’ve never been a fan of Capra’s 1946 movie starring Jimmy Stewart. Actually, same can be said about The Greatest Gift’, the story on which the movie was based. That said, staging it at this particular time of year is [almost] engraved in the U.S. Constitution (34th Amendment). The story about an average guy and how much effect he’s had on others seems syrupy treacle. Like the metaphysical butterfly causing tornadoes, or the aphorism about even the smallest pebble making a ripple; – my opinion – “Bah, Humbug!”
That said, W.E.S.T.’s talented cast and production team have made the best they can of the situation.

The Bailey family having a ‘Happy Ending’

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McLuhan’s message revived in a powerful medium Reply

Review by Ellen S. Jaffe
THE MESSAGE” a bold new play by Jason Sherman, now in its world premiere at the Tarragon Mainspace, is a must-see theatrical experience – whether or not you are familiar with Marshall McLuhan’s work. R. H Thomson is outstanding in a tour-de-force piece of acting showing great depth, power, and beauty. Walking away from the theatre on opening night, I felt I had seen McLuhan himself. Amazing, as he died in 1980.
McLuhan, born in Edmonton in 1911 and raised in Winnipeg, taught at the University of Toronto for most of his career, at the Centre for Culture and Technology.  Photo by Cylla von Tidemann

Orenstein, Lancaster & Thomson in a dramatic on-stage moment

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