All posts by S. Bear Bergman

S. Bear Bergman has great faith in the power of theatre to make change, and has been putting his money where his mouth is on that one for some time. A writer, performer, and lecturer, Bear works full time as an artist and cultural worker and loves to see as much live performance as possible – making this a fantastic gig for him.

Monsters By Nature (Kindling Collective) 2017 Toronto Fringe Review

photo of cast of Monsters by Nature

Before seeing Monsters By Nature at the 2017 Toronto Fringe Festival, I described a different show (Blink’s Garden) as being like a camp play, but a very good one. I somewhat wish I hadn’t, because I would now like to describe Kindling Collective’s Monsters By Nature as being like a camp play, but…one that tries to do way, way too much considering the time and space.

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Pineapple Club (Robin Henderson Productions) 2017 Toronto Fringe Review

Perhaps you were not aware, as I was not before going to see Pineapple Club, that “comedic dance” was a thing. After Robin Henderson Company’s 2017 Toronto Fringe show, I can tell you for sure that it is, and that it’s both delightful and hilarious, and that I have almost no idea what Pineapple Club was about, and I don’t really care.

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She Grew Funny (O’Sullivan Lane Productions/Brett McCaig Productions) 2017 Toronto Fringe Review

She Grew Funny at 2017 Toronto Fringe Festival is the work of a comedian and television writer working in a new idiom, and that’s more or less my favorite thing about Fringe. I like when talented people take risks. I like seeing the new, fresh things they make while they’re still wobbly and damp as colts, though I know they may be uneven. This was, but I still found it worthwhile.

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This Is Not She (The Simian Assembly) 2017 Toronto Fringe Review

photo of Julia Haist in This is not SheNot enough people are going to see This Is Not She , a site-specific offering of the 2017 Toronto Fringe Festival, and that is a shame. It’s great nerd-fun, well conceived and acted, understated and affecting. But between “Shakespeare” and “audience participation” in the program, I think people will imagine themselves forced to do terrible humiliating English-class things and stay home. They should not. This is good.

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Blink’s Garden (Fat Blue Productions) 2017 Toronto Fringe Review

Poster image from Blink's GardenHere’s the first thing I liked about Blink’s Garden at the 2017 Toronto Fringe Festival: the kids in it, of which there were a fair few, looked excited. I love when children’s theatre has actual children in it, and this multi-character epic delivered on that and much more during the completely delightful show.

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Fables From Faraway Lands (Merlene’s Impact Project) 2017 Toronto Fringe Review

Poster image from Fables from Faraway LandsEleven-year-old Aviv Cohen, star of Fables From Faraway Lands as part of the 2017 Toronto Fringe Festival, is a smallish human with a lot – like, several people’s worth – of performance charm. As the lead of Fables From Faraway Lands, she carries the performance on her slight shoulders. It’s a lot for her, but she carries it with just a few stumbles.

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Review: Bearing (Luminato)

Bearing is an eye-opening opera about residential schools, part of the 2017 Toronto Luminato Festival

The hero quote on the Luminato page for Michael Greyeyes and Yvette Nolan’s Bearing is Michael Greyeyes searing comment: “Every person in Canada is surviving residential schools, because if you’re Canadian you’re part of it.” My relation to residential schools is not personal – there are no residential school survivors in my family – but the need to learn about them, and to engage in reconciliation comes through ethical and treaty obligations. I am a treaty person, because I live on land that was part of the Toronto Purchase.* With this in mind, I went to see Bearing expecting to be implicated, to learn, and be moved. I did not have the experience I expected.

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Review: Morro and Jasp in Stupefaction (Kabin and U.N.I.T. Productions)

Morro and Jasp failed to connect with our writer in Stupefaction, on stage in Toronto

Off the bat I should tell you: I am a tremendous Morro and Jasp fan, and I looked forward to Morro and Jasp in Stupefaction like any kid counts down to an especially desirable event. I prattled on with glee the whole way to the new Streetcar Crowsnest theatre to my two companions about how much I have loved every single Morro and Jasp show I have ever seen.

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Review: Louis Riel (Canadian Opera Company)

0241 – (l-r, foreground) Russell Braun as Louis Riel, Michael Colvin as Thomas Scott and Charles Sy as Ambroise Lépine in a scene from the Canadian Opera Company’s new production of Louis Riel, 2017. Conductor Johannes Debus, director Peter Hinton, set designer Michael Gianfrancesco, costume designer Gillian Gallow, lighting designer Bonnie Beecher, and choreographer Santee Smith. Photo: Michael CooperLouis Riel is a glorious think piece, on stage at the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto

Even mid-performance, reviews of Louis Riel at the Canadian Opera Company were being expressed all around me. The individual sitting behind me chewed gum loudly and sighed repeatedly, exasperatedly, during all of the second and third acts. Beside me, a young woman sat rapt and motionless, her face slack with pleasure. It’s a rare opera that inspires such extreme reactions, but even the cheerful bar manager at the first-floor bar commented that she had heard so many opinions and none of them were tepid. “Everyone has something to say about this one,” she said. “It’s quite different.” And so it is.

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Review: Munschtime! (Young People’s Theatre)

Young People’s Theatre’s play brings the stories of Robert Munsch to the Toronto stage

With a pair of seven-year-olds and a stalwart spirit I ventured to Young People’s Theatre on a sunny Saturday for their new show Munschtime! Adapted from four classic Robert Munsch tales by longtime YPT director Allen MacInnes and collaborator Steven Colella. The stories are framed by a granddaughter who keeps asking for just one more story and her grandparents who, of course, indulge her. I wasn’t ready for another after the show on Saturday, but I liked the ones I got just fine.

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