Preview: Monologue Slam, Season Five Finale (Toronto Monologue Slam)

Monologue Slam Participants Photo

The Toronto Monologue Slam started in 2011, and is one of Canada’s largest acting showcases, where local actors perform live monologues and compete for the coveted Heavy Weight Champ title belt.

The Season Five Finale will not only give audiences a chance to enjoy an evening of live performances at The Den, but also offers participants a night to share their talents and network with industry professionals.

I spoke to co-founder and executive producer Andre Newell about the event, and here’s what he had to say:

For those unfamiliar with the Monologue Slam, can you briefly explain what it is?

Toronto Monologue Slam is monthly acting competition aimed at fostering a collaborative, competitive, and creative environment for artists. The ultimate goal is to for actors to push each other as colleagues, while also supporting each other as friends. It’s also a networking event that brings together people from all areas of the industry. 

We’ve previously spoken about the TIFF Edition Monologue Slam (readers can check that out here ), which was an incredible night chock-full of talent and entertainment. Can you talk a bit about the season 5 finale, and about season 5 in general?

This has been a pivotal year for Toronto’s acting community in my opinion. I really feel we’re poised to make a significant impact globally. Because of that, we’ve really pushed the envelope in season 5 with a record 16 events. We’ve also experimented with new ideas such as tag team slam and the jukebox slam. The finale is really a culmination of all those different ideas plus a few surprises. 

What can audiences expect with this event? Any surprises or changes in the works?

I don’t want to ruin any surprises, but anyone who’s been to a slam knows to expect that anything can happen. We’ve really set the bar high with the challenges we gave the actors, and combined the theme choices of song lyrics AND poetry. We’ve also got some pretty crazy second round twists for the finalists and some surprise guests. 

We know that the #TOSlam has some well-known alum (Kristian Bruun, Emmanuel Kabongo, and Tattiawna Jones to name but a few). Can you talk about some lesser-known talent that has caught your eye over the years?

Honestly, so many wickedly talented actors get up on that stage, it’s hard to keep track. What sticks out for me are the personal stories of the actors that come through the slam. Matthew Gouveia, who’s the reigning champ with 3 wins this season, having an incredible year. He was nominated for a Dora, accepted into the CFC Actors Conservatory and is the actor everyone wants to work with right now.

Obssa Ahmed, who came to an event with no acting experience, but had the courage to get up and perform. Sudz Sutherland just happened to be judging that night and a year later he’s acting in the hit CBC series “Shoot the Messenger.”

Farid Yazdani, one of the most driven actors I’ve met, connecting with super agent Bryan Misener at an event and eventually landing a role on “Suits.” He’s also the current host of the slam and recently produced and starred in his own TV series pilot called “Day Players.” This is what the slam is all about. It’s a platform to overcome your fears and build the support and confidence to pursue your dreams.

Finally… any changes, visions, or goals for #TOSlam going forward? Where can people learn more about this amazing event?

The slam has really provided a platform not just for actors, but for myself to create various projects. The latest project is Dream Scenes, which encourages actors to produce their own work. In 2016 alone we were able to produce over 25 scenes. We’ll also be working with YEAA Creates on their program to help YEAA members develop quality material. Going forward we want to develop more programs and platforms to empower actors. I believe 2017 is going to be a breakthrough year and we look forward to being a part of that movement. You can look out for slams in Montreal and Vancouver, as well as competitions between cities such as New York and LA. We also have a few surprised that we can’t wait to announce in 2017.

Also, check out our annual yearbook!

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Photo of 2011 Monologue Slam provided by the company