Review: Fifth Annual InspiraTO Festival (a festival of ten minute plays)

By Adam Collier

From June 13 to 19, 2010, Alumnae Theatre was home to the InspiraTO festival of ten-minute plays. Sixteen plays went up as part of the festival. “Each play is based on the theme of ‘touch’,” the program says.

The work was divided into two categories: blueTouch plays (“intriguing and mysterious”), and redTouch plays (“passionate and expressive”).

Amongst the eight redTouch plays – to take three at random – a vivid eulogy on a dead soldier, titled Stupid, And Terrible; a bedroom scene between a woman stricken with cancer and her partner, titled Stay, and; The Kiss in which two friends smooch one another and attempt to figure-out what it means.

My friend swore to me that she had seen The Kiss as a high school production but this seems very unlikely. InspiraTO has a stated mandate to encourage new work.

Amongst the eight blueTouch plays – again, to take three at random – a son’s recollection on moments with his father, titled Bungalow; a dispute between two scientific colleagues over the controls on a machine, titled Push, and; A Simple Snow in which a young woman is caught in a snow globe.

Though I saw the blueTouch and redTouch categories on separate nights, it was also possible to see all 16 plays in one evening.

I thought the InspiraTO festival had a few standouts: William Borden’s Ledge features terrific performances by Cary West and Ashlie White; Mister Baxter by Kate Fenton is genuinely disturbing (and I applaud its risky premise), and; Close Enough offers two very likable characters played by two very likable actors (Daniel Clark and Christina Lazarou).

Those three were the most emotionally engaging and intriguing to me. Two of them were funny too, and I’m a sucker for humor.

The InspiraTO festival is in its fifth year. It’s brainchild of its artistic director Dominik Loncar, and now includes Lumar Hladik as associate director. And I, like my friend, applaud the logistical effort it took to get seventy artists to come together to make it happen. This festival is undoubtedly doing a huge, huge favor for Toronto’s community of emerging actors, playwrights and directors.

On the nights I went, I noticed quite a few families in the crowd. It’s a relaxed night of smart, occasionally funny and sometimes risky theatre in a big-but-not-too-big space.

All and all it’s a festival that has great potential, which I’ll return to next year.