Review Round-Up: The 2013 Next Stage Theatre Festival

The new year has just begun and the first theatre festival of 2013 is already well underway. The Next Stage Theatre Festival, a twelve-day festival that runs through January 13, is produced by the Toronto Fringe as a showcase for local and national independent theatre artists. 

You can think of it like a mini Fringe festival in the winter. Like the Fringe, it features a collection of independent theatre shows that you can pick and choose from. Unlike its summer sibling, Next Stage features a smaller number of shows (ten in total this year) curated by a festival jury (whereas Fringe shows are chosen by lottery).

Next Stage also takes place within a single location; the Factory Theatre. Performances take place in the Factory Theatre’s three performance spaces; the mainspace, the studio and the antechamber, and the festival hub is the heated McAuslan Beer Tent in the Factory Theatre courtyard.

Next Stage is a great way to kick off a new year. The centralized location and manageable number of shows, affordable ticket prices as well as the great community atmosphere make it a great experience and we highly encourage you to check it out.

Our Mooney on Theatre team attended the opening two days of the festival and have reviewed all ten shows, we’ve included links to the reviews as well as ticket information below.

So go out and see some great independent theatre at the Next Stage Festival, we’ll see you at the beer tent!

FACTORY THEATRE MAINSPACE:

AWAKE (Expect Theatre/ Spark Collective) – Awake takes the true stories of Toronto area youth growing up in the grimy inner city and explore the trials and tribulations they face day in and day out. Told through the true testimonials and interviews from their mothers, this production casts an introspective light. Read our review.

THE PEACE MAKER (Pomme Grenade Productions) – The Peace Maker follows the parallel stories of one woman, Sophie – a Canadian-Jewish musician, and her highly enthused and idealistic desire to forge her own bridge between two warring nations. Using elements of live music, song, and comedy to offset what could be a controversial tale, this is a performance that will get you laughing in your seats while being continuously moved. Read our review.

SUDDEN DEATH (Pyretic Productions) – Sudden Death is based on the tragic life of hockey enforcer John Kordic. At first sight of the set, we’re transported into Kordic’s world, on his last night on earth. Read our review.

THRONE OF GAMES (Bad Dog Theatre Company) – Throne of Games takes improvisation to the realm of fantasy with a slightly different portrayal of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. Read our review.

FACTORY THEATRE STUDIO:

MEMORIAL (Next Step Productions) – In Memorial, a play by Steven Gallagher, Dylan (Mark Crawford), a terminally ill cancer patient is simultaneously planning both his wedding and his funeral. Read our review.

POST EDEN (Suburban Beast) – Post Eden is a multi-media show set on the aptly-named Neighbourly Lane in Richmond Hill, Ontario. This is a real street, and the program claims that while Post Eden is “a work of fiction from the imagination of the playwright” (Jordan Tannahill) it also is “inspired by, and incorporating verbatim excerpts from, interviews with five families” who actually live there. Read our review.

SALT BABY (Salt Baby Productions) – Salt Baby has left her home on the Six Nations reservation to live in the city and has started dating a Caucasian man. She feels these things pulling her away from her heritage and desperately wants to stay tied to her ancestry. She is so desperate that she takes advice from quacks, risks alienating her father, and sets her relationship on fire. Read our review.

WITH LOVE AND A MAJOR ORGAN (QuestionMark-Exclamation Theatre) – If you’ve ever dabbled in love, heartbreak, the physical manifestations of feelings, therapy sessions, speed-dating, social media and/or public transit, you will have no qualms surrendering yourself for an hour to playwright Julia Lederer’s whimsical With Love and a Major Organ. Read our review.

FACTORY THEATRE ANTECHAMBER:

LIZA LIVE (Total Betty Productions) – Liza Live! is conceived, produced and performed by Jennifer Walls. It is a 30-minute cabaret backed by a two-man band and it includes 5 songs, a trivia contest and some anecdotal history. Read our review.

PITCH BLOND (Convection Productions) – Pitch Blond is based on the life ofJudy Holliday. Holliday made a career out of playing dumb blondes. She won an Oscar and several other prestigious awards doing so. Meanwhile, she possessed an almost super-human intelligence. Read our review.

TICKETS

ONLINE – Click here!

BY PHONE – 416.966.1062
10am – 5:30pm MON-FRI (Nov. 19th – Jan 2nd) 1pm – 7pm MON-FRI (Jan. 2nd – 19th)
Visa or Mastercard only.
*Gift Vouchers are available (by phone only)

AT THE DOOR
NSTF Tickets can be purchased at the Factory Theatre one hour before the first show of the day, January 2nd – 13th, 2013.
Cash, Visa and Mastercard accepted (NO Debit or Amex).

TICKET PRICING
$15 Evening Performances (7pm onwards start-time)
$12 Afternoon Performances (6:59pm or earlier start-time)
$10 Ante-Chamber performances

PASSES

$48 – Four Play Pass: Good for 4 tickets, redeemable in advance by phone or at the door. Maximum of one ticket per play. Non-transferrable.

$88 Eight Play Pass: Good for 8 tickets redeemable in advance by phone or at the door / Maximum of two tickets per play per pass. This pass can be used by two patrons.

Photo of David Shelley, Lauren Brotman, Quanceta Hamilton, Richard Stewart, Beryl Bain, Peyson Rock and Muoi Nene by Steve Carty