Sunday, January 7, 2018

TorQ at York and Other Upcoming Events

I mentioned briefly at the end of the 2017 concert wrap-up post that I missed a few concerts by TorQ, and I'll try to do a better job of tracking upcoming events.  (I also am kicking myself for not booking tickets to Abdullah Ibrahim at Koerner Hall, as the event is now sold out, but maybe one will become available closer to the date.)  In actuality, most of the events that interest me are theatre-related, but there will be a few concerts.  I was reasonably pleased that I had put most of these plays listed in this article on my to-see list, with the notable exception of Fun Home, which is a musical that Mirvish is presenting.  I don't really go to a lot of musicals, though I will be catching Come From Away in March, so I will read more reviews and think more seriously about going to Fun Home in the spring.

I did see the remount of The Wedding Party at Crows' Nest last Thurs.  It was a lot of fun, though it is largely a study of inter-household dynamics and not really a play per se.  All the actors play multiple parts and virtually all gender swap as well, though perhaps the actor playing mother of the bride plays a dog rather than a male character (I can't quite recall).  It runs through Jan. 20.

There is a gender-flipped Lear at Harbourfront in January.  It is also notable as the Fool is played by Colin Mochrie.

Hart House is doing Arthur Miller's The Crucible from Jan 19-Feb. 3.  The only matinee is Feb. 3, so that's when I will be going.

Shakespeare Bash'd has a short run of Richard III at the Monarch Tavern in early Feb.  I expect to go to this, but haven't landed on a specific date.

Jordan Tannahill is back with a new project at Canadian Stage.  Declarations is apparently an "ode to mortality."  This runs Jan. 23-Feb. 11.

Almost immediately afterwards Canadian Stage has the Canadian premiere of Karam's The Humans.  This is one of my most anticipated shows of the season, and I only hope my expectations are not too high.

I'm not sure whether I will like it quite as much as some of these other plays, but I will be checking out Kat Sandler's newest play Bang Bang at Factory in February.

Feb. is starting to get a bit tight, but I'll try to squeeze in a new version of Candide in during Feb., mostly so I can get a 3-show subscription for George Brown's season.  (Apparently, the faculty strike has not derailed the spring season.)  In April, I will check out Vanbrugh’s The Provoked Wife and Brecht's Fear and Misery of the Third Reich, neither of which I've seen before.

For any theatre goer in Toronto, the news coming out of Soulpepper is very sad, though not really that surprising.  Quite a few directors and artistic directors seem prone to abusing their authority.  It really isn't clear what the impact on the rest of the season will be.  The production of Amadeus, which was due to start next week, is completely cancelled.  As far as the other shows, some of the actors who resigned may return to their respective productions, but there is probably still time to recast if they won't.  I don't think A Delicate Balance by Albee or Ma Rainey's Black Bottom by August Wilson will be affected at all.  Idomenus and A Chorus of Disapproval may be.  Those are the 4 show that I had considered watching.  I may try to book tickets today actually.  I certainly don't want to minimize what the actors who are accusing Albert Schultz suffered, but I also don't think it is fair for the entire company to go down the tubes, at least not until everything has had a chance to settle.

On a more positive note, one of the bigger events of the year is that Mirvish is bringing back Come From Away for a longer engagement after its very limited pre-Broadway try out.  It will be running from mid Feb through early September, and I managed to get a ticket in March.

Speaking of limited engagements, there is such a buzz around Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors at the AGO, since the mirror rooms are set up so only four people can be in each for 20-30 seconds maximum.  This means a very limited number of people can be funnelled through the exhibit.  I managed to get my tickets (without waiting for hours like some members apparently), but I hope there are some other things to see (than the mirrored rooms), or this will definitely be a huge let down.

Not quite as buzz-worthy at the moment, but Crows' Nest has the Canadian premiere of Jez Butterworth's Jerusalem in Feb-March.  This is a 3 hour play that sort of investigates the idea of England and what happens when a modern-day (or at least self-described) Robin Hood-type character runs up against modern-day nanny-state agents of the Council.  I've read the play and don't actually care for the main character at all (as I am simply not an anarchist at heart), but it is worth seeing how they pull this off.  I would kick myself had I missed it.

In early March, the TSO is doing John Adam's Doctor Atomic.  That should be fun.

I'm not quite sure this will be my cup of tea, but in March or April, I will be checking out Bloom at Buddies in Bad Times.  This piece is somewhat inspired by T.S. Eliot's The Wasteland.  It is also the only thing I expect to see at Buddies this season.  Two or three of their productions are actually remounts, which I find a little disappointing.  It always strike me that a company that leans on remounts is floundering a bit or at least retrenching.

I'm going to completely give Alumnae a pass this season.  And even The Irish Players, who do one or two plays a season there.  In the fall, I may check out Friel's Dancing at Lughnasa, though I've already seen it once in Chicago.

I'm leaning towards seeing Simon Stephens's Punk Rock at Crows Nest.  It is pretty much the same starting point as my play, Final Exam, but there is far more conflict on display, whereas conflict is muted and repressed in my play.  I suspect mine is more realistic (well, except for the aliens), but the more externalized conflict between characters may make for a more engaged audience.  Hard to tell.

Out of town, I'll try to get to Hamilton in March to see Akhtar's The Invisible Hand.  Late April-mid May, Annie Baker's The Aliens is playing Buffalo.  Part of me is tempted to go, but part of me thinks I won't ever see another production as good as the one I saw at Coal Mine, and I shouldn't let two productions blur in my head.  I don't think there is anything I really want to see at the Albright-Knox right now, which would probably be the determining factor.  Interestingly, this summer there was supposed to be a production of Frances Cowhig's Lidless in Chicago, but that seems to have vanished for the moment.

A possible phantom production of Will Eno's Thom Pain (based on nothing) may run for a few shows in early April, so I'll keep an eye on that.  This is the opposite problem with Stoppard's Arcadia.  UC Follies has announced they'll do it in the spring, but there are no details at all, and, in fact, they haven't even applied for the rights at Samuel French.  That doesn't mean it won't happen, but it does suggest they are not completely on top of their game.  Still, I hope they go ahead and put it on, since it is one of my favourite plays of all time.

Finally, to TorQ, as promised.  They have a couple of concerts in Toronto (at 918 Bathurst St) on Jan 21 and May 18, and I'll try to get to those.  They are doing something with the TSO on Feb 5-8, though I saw this program a couple of years ago.  There is some concert called "Notes from Home" on Feb 20, and I may go to this.  On April 8, they are performing up at York University with the York University Wind Ensemble.  I probably will go with my son, and try to leave for the show early, so that we can test out the Spadina Subway extension and maybe even get in and out at the various new stations (so we would clearly need a day pass).  TorQ will be out in Kitchener(!) with the Penderecki String Quartet to present the world premiere of a new octet by Nicole LizĂ©e.  As fascinating as this would be, I looked into the schedule, and it is just not feasible for me to get to Kitchener.  One of the TorQ members said they would almost certainly perform the octet again in Toronto, presumably in the summer or fall, so that is something else to look forward to.

I'm still sorting through what I will do for Stratford and Shaw (and this post is quite long enough as it is), so that will be covered in a separate post.  Clearly this winter and early spring has quite a bit to try to convince us art-lovers to get out of the house.  And on that note, I have delayed long enough.  I have to go out and get the groceries.

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