InspiraTO Festival brings seven strong 10-minute plays to the Toronto stage
Sometimes you get a gift that you weren’t expecting. After a long and frustrating day, I went to the opening night of the 10th season of the InspiraTO Festival at Alumnae Theatre to see blueShow, a show comprised of seven ten-minute plays in 70 minutes.
This was the first time that I had been to InspiraTO, and I think I was expecting something a bit like Fringe. Sort of ‘you pay your money and you take your chances,’ but it wasn’t like that at all.
The theme of this year’s festival is the Urban Jungle, so all of the plays deal with urban life in one form or another. One of the things that holds them together are the projections designed by Lumir Hladik. They act as a transitional background between the plays, as well as the backdrop for each play. They’re like art installations, beautiful and a bit mysterious.
Hladik also designed the sets. I didn’t think to count, but the main parts of all the sets are comprised of two or three shapes that fit together like Lego pieces. Add tabletops and some props, and they become whatever is needed for any given play. They’re the reason that seven plays can be staged in 70 minutes.
DJ Parker Nowlan mixed the transitional music for blueShow and it’s fabulous.
The plays were all impressive, but one of them, Caity-Shea Violette’s Save the Date, was perfection. Seriously. If I scored plays, I’d give it 10/10.
Directed by Josh Downing and featuring stand-out performances by Amanda Pereira (Emily) and Marissa Spada (Andrea), the play explores what happens between two ex-lovers when they meet in a park hours before Andrea’s wedding.
Will Andrea go ahead with the wedding? Is she still in love with Emily? Is Emily in love with her? On the surface, the questions might seem clichéd, but the tension between the two women was palpable. The silences between them added as much to the story as the words did. I like plays where the dialogue sounds natural and the timing seems right, and everything about Save the Date felt right.
Every part of blueShow is polished and professional. Creative director, producer, and festival founder Dominik Loncar has gathered a talented team and set the bar high. Each play was a gem in its own right.
I wasn’t taking notes during the Q and A after the show, but I think he said there were 350 plays submitted from around the world for consideration to be part of the festival.
Other parts of the evening that I keep thinking about were the surreal absurdity of Josh Downing’s play Intersection; Kevin Chew’s magical performance in Of a Feather as an absolutely believable and incredibly graceful bird; Madeline Leon and her straight, dry, funny delivery as Ginger in Poison Control by Rebecca Gorman O’Neill; Sheree Spencer’s singing as Disco in Last Night at the Paradise; Danny Parkes as Boy and Madeleine Brown as Girl playing with an invisible basketball in Meghan Greeley touching play, Brother Brother; and the way that three one-sided, unrelated phone conversations told a story in Phillip Gerson’s Roaming.
These are just the highlights. The entire evening was a gift. Tonight I’m going to see redShow and am really looking forward to it. Maybe I’ll be able to see one of the quickies as well.
I highly recommend the InspiraTO Festival.
- The InspiraTO Festival is at Alumnae Theatre (70 Berkeley Street) and site specific venues until June 6th
- See the website for performance dates and times
- Tickets are $5.00 for quickies, urban art, and urban music, and $20 for redShow, blueShow, theatreSafari and theatreCarrousel. There are passes available – see website for details
- Tickets are available online and at the box office
Photo of Danny Parkes as Boy in Brother Brother.