All posts by Jess Gillis

Jess is an East coast transplant to Toronto who stumbled into her love of theatre via her social media gig at Ballyhoo Push Pin Media, and stumbled into review writing via an open call to cover the 2015 Fringe Festival for MoT. In addition to writing for MoT, she also blogs about dating, white supremacy, fat politics, theatre, graphic design, and sex at thejessgillis.blogspot.com. She’s a self-taught freelance graphic designer by trade, and a visual artist by passion. She sells and displays her wares at jessgillis.com. She’s passionate about laughter, anti-oppression, sex workers’ rights, body positivity, vegan food, cycling, good TV, and swimming. If you want to follow her foodie, nail art, and pet sitting posts, you can follow her on Instagram and Twitter @TheJessGillis

The Seat Next to the King – Toronto Fringe 2017 Press Release

Seat Next to the King Fringe 2017From the press release:

NEW PLAY AWARD WINNER TAKES KING-SIZED SEAT AT THE FRINGE

“You could go whenever you wanted. I ain’t holding you back.”

TORONTO, May 26, 2017 | In September of 1964, a chance meeting in a public washroom between two men – one white and one black – reveals the bond they share and the ties connecting them to America’s most powerful leaders in Minmar Gaslight ProducIons’ presentation of THE SEAT NEXT TO THE KING, written by Steven Elliot Jackson and playing at Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace, July 6th to 16th.

Behind the door of a public washroom in a Washington, D.C. park, two lives linked to the country’s most influenial figures collide when a white man seeking a sexual encounter meets a black male stranger. Winner of the 2017 Toronto Fringe Festival New Play Contest, this bold, affecting piece tackles race, sex, the meaning of ‘manhood’, and the cost of reconciling each for two disparate human beings with a shared innate need. Featuring blistering performances by Kwaku Okyere and Conor Ling, The Seat Next To The King is directed by Tanisha Taitt, following her extended hit production of Sister Act for the Lower Ossington Theatre and returning to the Toronto Fringe for the first time since 2010’s stirring The Whores.

“I didn’t plan to do the festival again,” Taitt says. “I’d done six shows in three cities and was content with my Fringe experience. This beautiful piece brought me back. Steven’s script is raw, with an external simplicity that belies its internal complexity. The characters are real historical figures, but the story is fact-meets-fiction. It’s an unapologetic, sexy, heartbreaking, relevant work that holds me in its hands.”

Jackson believes it is this relevance that impacted the New Play award jury, and will do the same to audiences. “Plays do not win prizes by separating us from times long ago, but by helping us connect with a time that may be closer to our current world than we realize,” the playwright asserts. “By exploring issues of masculinity, racism and sexuality, this play searches for the connections between us in times when we feel lost, frightened and bewildered – reminding us that we are not alone and will persevere.”

Details

  • “The Seat Next to the King” plays at Theatre Passe Muraille (16 Ryerson Avenue)
  • Tickets are $12. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
  • Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Scadding Court, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
  • Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
  • Content Warnings: Unsuitable for Minors, Mature Language, Sexual Content, and Nudity.

Performances:

    • July 6th, 06:30 pm
    • July 8th, 11:30 pm
    • July 10th, 07:15 pm
    • July 12th, 12:00 pm
    • July 13th, 08:45 pm
    • July 14th, 01:45 pm
    • July 16th, 01:00 pm

Photo by Steven Jackson.

The Life Henri – Toronto Fringe 2017 Press Release

From the press release:

Still Your Friend Presents

The Life Henri
A Fantastical Trip to Paris and a Bygone Era at the Toronto Fringe

Written and Performed by Adam Bailey

“Adam Bailey’s third play is the art history lesson that you didn’t get in uni, blending those slides with equal parts comedy and existential angst”

★★★★ Vue Weekly

History’s greatest house party and the invention of modern plumbing collide in the unlikely story of Henri Rousseau’s climb from art zero to art hero. Dubbed “Lovely and Entertaining” by Vue Weekly when the show previewed last year at the Edmonton Fringe, The Life Henri, marks Adam Bailey’s third original play since penning The Assassination of Robert Ford and Adam Bailey is On Fire. Once again finding surprising insights and humour in an almost unbelievable true story.

After touring the critically acclaimed Adam Bailey is on Fire across Canada, The Life Henri is a second emersion into what it means to be an outsider and what it takes to “fit in”. Blending the life of Henri Rousseau with one of Stephen King’s most famous creations and a dash of the performers own insights the show aims at revealing the universal struggle to belong. Told by Adam Bailey in the intimate (and licenced) Pierre Leon Gallery, this show will entrance art lovers of any age.

Adam Bailey has won two Patrons’ Picks and a Best of Fringe Award. As a performer he has been describe as “agreeably user friendly” (Liz Nicholls, Edmonton Journal) as well as “a quick-witted and flexible storyteller” (Vue). His writing both “sobering” and “clever” (Steve Fisher, Torontoist), “inventive and honest” (Vue), “smart, witty, and funny” (Sam Mooney, Mooney on Theatre). Director Laura Anne Harris of Pitch Blonde, is also a Fringe darling whose last outing in Toronto, The Homemaker, earned her an “Artist to Watch” nod and a NNNN review from Now Magazine. Together they hope to be one of your top picks at this year’s Fringe.

Details

  • The Life Henri plays at l’Alliance Francaise. (24 Spadina Rd.)
  • Tickets are $12. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
  • Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Scadding Court, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
  • Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
  • Content Warning: Mature Language.
  • According to the paper program, the Festival does not consider this venue wheelchair-accessible.

Performances

  • July 6th, 07:00 pm
  • July 7th, 07:00 pm
  • July 8th, 07:00 pm
  • July 9th, 07:00 pm
  • July 10th, 07:00 pm
  • July 11th, 07:00 pm
  • July 12th, 07:00 pm
  • July 13th, 07:00 pm
  • July 14th, 07:00 pm
  • July 15th, 07:00 pm

She Grew Funny – Toronto Fringe 2017 Press Release

From the press release:

Eleven years after they first teamed up for the 2006 show Any Second Now (“Wryly and sometimes brutally funny”, Edmonton Sun), WGC Award-winner Joanne O’Sullivan (This Hour Has 22 Minutes) and Dora Award-winner Chris Earle (Radio:30) are putting the band back together for O’Sullivan’s new play, She Grew Funny. The one-woman show will run at the Factory Theatre Studio as part of Toronto Fringe.

Once again, O’Sullivan knew Earle was the only choice to direct her. Already known for wringing wry comedy from everyday life, with She Grew Funny, O’Sullivan goes deeper and darker than ever.
“This show is the sometimes hard, often funny, true story of how my life changed when my daughter turned 6, the same age I was when my own mother died,” she says. “A pivotal moment that sent me on a journey to try answer the question I see in everyone’s expression the moment they find out about my loss – “What did you become having lost your mother so young?”

Earle, who has a reputation for helming revues at The Second City with the hardest satirical bite (Sixteen Scandals, The Hotline Always Blings Twice) was a perfect fit for She Grew Funny. “Chris has a great eye for finding comedy in truth,” says O’Sullivan, “and he honours the story, rarely leading me towards the cheap laugh.” With Brett McCaig, (Waiting for Trudeau: Return of the King, and Rob Ford: The Musical) as producer, we’re all working towards that same balance of dark and funny.”

Fresh off a stint as a contributing writer for season 3 of the Baroness Von Sketch Show on CBC, O’Sullivan is looking forward to sharing her story, if only to get a chance to let everyone know she’s doing fine. “Every time I tell people my mother died when I was so young, I end up having to reassure them, like ‘I’m okay. Don’t be upset. I’m fine. Are YOU okay?’” But she’s also keen to share a story that can resonate with anyone. “Anyone who’s experienced any kind of loss will see themselves in this journey.”

And while her daughter is too young to see it, O’Sullivan says there’s a message for her in the show. “I want her to know we can come back from tragedy and even find what’s funny in a difficult situation – given enough space and time. People are resilient, we’re strong…which means she’s strong, too.”

 

Details

  • “She Grew Funny” plays at the Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst Street)
  • Tickets are $12. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
  • Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Scadding Court, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
  • Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
  • Content Warnings: Unsuitable for Minors, Mature Language.

Performances

  • Fri July 7, 1:15pm
  • Sat July 8, 9:00pm
  • Sun July 9, 1:00pm
    Tues July 11, 2:45pm
  • Wed July 12, 11:15pm
  • Thurs July 13, 6:00pm
  • Sat July 15, 7:30pm

Photo provided by company

The “F” Word – Toronto Fringe 2017 Press Release

From the press release:

Toronto Fringe Festival announces its biggest show lineup in its 29 year history! Over 730 shows entered for the 160 places available – SaMel Tanz was one of the lucky ones!

Through Contemporary, Latin and Hip Hop dance forms, The “F” Word is a powerful dance performance that explores the struggles of facing feminism.

Founded by Samantha Schleese and Melissa Hart, SaMel Tanz is a Toronto-based contemporary dance company that is recognized for its versatility and vibrant stories of the human experience. Samantha and Melissa have been the #friendshipgoals that people only wish to find. They have been best friends for over 10 years, studying together at York University and abroad in England, travelling the world, teaching various dance programs and living the performing artist’s dream.

SaMel Tanz recently filmed CBC’s “Interpretive Facts” segment and choreographed “Die Another Day” for H.J Pfaff’s Newmarket Audi Valentine’s Event. They have performed together for major corporations such as IOGO, Samsung and Bud Light Sensations and are also part of an all female Hip Hop crew, DEUCEnDIP. With the crew they have performed for World Pride, Canada’s Walk of Fame Festival and WE DAY.

Samantha completed her Masters Degree in Performance Dance in England and performed on a UK Tour with MAP Dance Company. After completing her BFA from York, Melissa went on to dance for recording superstars such as Hedley, Jason Derulo and Sean Paul. Samantha and Melissa were also the official dance instructors for the 2013 WE DAY held at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

Last November the duo completed their second full-length show entitled, “words from my Mother,” a multi-disciplinary performance investigating anecdotes and words of guidance from inspiring women in their lives. The show ran for 3 successful nights at the Winchester Street Theatre in Toronto.

Fringe Festival is the perfect platform to reach many different audiences and to showcase SaMel Tanz as rising Toronto stars. The “F” Word promises to be a powerful, invigorating and comedic performance from a diverse group of women who aren’t afraid to say it like it is.

Details

  • “The “F” Word” plays at The Al Green Theatre (750 Spadina Avenue)
  • Tickets are $12. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
  • Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Scadding Court, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
  • Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
  • Content Warnings: Unsuitable for Minors, Mature Language.

Performances:

  • July 6th, 10:30pm
  • July 8th, 3:30pm
  • July 9th, 8:30pm
  • July 10th, 5:00pm
  • July 11th, 2:45pm
  • July 13th, 1:45pm
  • July 15th, 6:15pm

 

Nithy, Ace Detective – Toronto Fringe 2017 Press Release

From the press release:

Toronto, Ontario – Opening July 7, as a part of the Toronto Kid’s Fringe Festival, Jump Star is pleased to present Nithy, Ace Detective: a show that celebrates creativity, imagination and unexpected friendships, all while dealing with a profound loss in the family.

Nithy is on a roll. As writer of mysteries with an endless imagination and a special hat, she is going to take the literary world by storm. Well, some day. She is only a kid after all, and not very good at endings. Just when it seems like nothing can go wrong, everything does. A loss in the family sends her world crashing down, and Nithy is left with a puzzle she can’t solve. With the help of a few well-meaning weirdos, Nithy learns that endings aren’t the important bits. It’s the stuff in between that counts.

Nithy, Ace Detective is written by wife-husband duo, Arlin Dixon and Matthew Gorman. Usually found in separate corners of the room, typing away on their computers with music blaring through their headphones, Arlin and Matt decided to look up from their individual projects, and collaborate. And you know what? It was pretty fun. The character of Nithy was inspired by a young girl they saw two summers ago whose confidence they have never forgotten.

Details

  • Nithy, Ace Detective plays at the George Ignatieff Theatre. (15 Devonshire Pl.)
  • Tickets for Kidsfest shows are $5 for kids (age 12 and younger); adults pay $12.
  • Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Scadding Court, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
  • The George Ignatieff Theatre is wheelchair-accessible, and has wide aisles for easy mid-show exits.
  • Don’t miss the Kidsfest club located on the lawn adjacent to the venue! Free activities for children (3-12) and caregivers run every day of the festival: see website for details.
  • Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.

Performances

  • July 7th, 10:30 am
  • July 9th, 01:30 pm
  • July 10th, 03:00 pm
  • July 12th, 11:45 am
  • July 13th, 01:15 pm
  • July 14th, 01:15 pm
  • July 15th, 04:45 pm

Lover Lover – Toronto Fringe 2017 Press Release

From the press release:

Lover Lover is a story on an old theme with a new spin. It is a story about unrequited love, but it is also a story about identity, sexuality, polyamory, and about the limitations and possibilities of love. It is a story about two people who cannot fall in love and cannot fall out of love. It is a story full of surprises. This site-specific piece is an intimate conversation between strangers in a public space. At Nightowl, a new and exciting bar in Little Italy, audience members can have a drink and watch the story unfold without feeling guilty for eavesdropping.

This play was written as an exploration of modern romance. The playwright endeavoured to write a play that, stylistically, struck a balance between David Mamet and Annie Baker. The
script was workshopped with actors in New York through staged readings and audience discussions. The theatre company itself, Subverting Something, was created with the belief that
theatre is the most human of art forms, and that the stories we tell must be truthful and brave.

[…]

Lover Lover is a play that unfolds in real time, in real space. Audience members can listen in on private lives in the way that we all yearn to when we’re in public, suddenly captivated by a conversation on the street, or in this case, in a bar. The audience will be witness to something heated and unexpected that they can become involved in from a safe distance, perhaps with a drink in hand. This is the story of two lovers that have never met, until now. Allow us to subvert
your expectations.

Venue: Nightowl Toronto – 647 College Street

Details

  • “Lover Lover” plays at Nightowl (647 College Street)
  • Tickets are $12. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
  • Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Scadding Court, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
  • Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
  • Content Warnings: Unsuitable for Minors, Mature Language, Sexual Content.

Performances:

  • July 5th, 8pm
  • July 6th, 8pm
  • July 7th, 5:30pm
  • July 8th, 5:30pm
  • July 12th, 8pm
  • July 13th, 8pm
  • July 15th, 5:30pm

Playlistings in Toronto for the week of June 19th

Shows That Caught Our Eye in Toronto the Week of June 19th, 2017

Stories and history are major themes in Toronto’s theatre scene this week! And of course, with Pride month well under way, there is no shortage of queer-centred offerings. Our assistant editor Jess is on hand to highlight a few of her top picks in red. Check them out below the cut:

Continue reading Playlistings in Toronto for the week of June 19th

Cheap Theatre in Toronto the Week of June 13th

Five Shows Under $25 in Toronto this Week

Live theatre shows in Toronto with ticket prices of $25 or less, playing the week of June 13th, 2017. Perfect for the budget-conscious theatre-goer. For your wallet-conscious viewing pleasure this week, we’ve selected some Black woman magic, an Ojibway lens on Turtle Island, Shakespeare, and much more! Check them out below the cut:

Continue reading Cheap Theatre in Toronto the Week of June 13th