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.

Review: The Marriage of Figaro (Canadian Opera Company)

(l-r) Erin Wall as the Countess, Emily Fons as Cherubino and Jane Archibald as Susanna in the Canadian Opera Company’s production of The Marriage of Figaro, 2016. Conductor Johannes Debus, director Claus Guth, set and costume designer Christian Schmidt, lighting designer Olaf Winter, video designer Andi A. Müller, and choreographer Ramses Sigl. Photo: Michael CooperThe Canadian Opera Company presents Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro in Toronto

There are two reasons that The Canadian Opera Company and I get along so well: fashion and spectacle. I enjoy and appreciate the COC in its daring displays, its peacockery and preening; from the fashion-infused annual gala to the richly appointed productions well-stocked with talent and excitement.

It’s hard to say that this production of The Marriage of Figaro, directed by Claus Guth, was disappointing, that seems unfair – everyone involved was certainly talented and turned in a solid performance. The set was fine, as were the costumes and the lighting. The orchestra sounded pretty good, and so on. But at the opera, I expect to be stirred (especially at 3.5 hours long). I expect to be moved out of thinking “this staging is interesting” and into delight, or despair, or the difficult recognition of universal truth. This Figaro felt like the taupe raincoat that Figaro himself wears in the opening scene of this staging: perfectly serviceable and quite practical.

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Review: The Gay Heritage Project (Buddies In Bad Times)

The Gay Heritage Project engages Toronto audiences, on stage at Buddies in Bad Times

As a gay in my early 40s who has been out for 25 years now, I have begun to notice that my primary affinities are not necessarily with other people of my chronological age, but people who are the same queer age. I came out in the era of ACT UP and Queer Nation, chained myself to buildings and sat in on major thoroughfares; I remember television without a single LGBTQ-identified character and life before Gay/Straight Alliances were a thing.

As a piece, The Gay Heritage Project at Buddies In Bad Times moved me particularly and profoundly in part because I remember – I remember when coming out necessarily meant joining a multi-generational community; I remember when we danced all night and went right to direct actions still smelling like the club and the home fries of afterwards. I am not sure that my memories are what made me love this show so wholeheartedly, though.

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Review: TRACES (Mirvish/7 Fingers)

10traces-articleLargeEnergetic acrobatic show, TRACES, arrives on the Toronto stage

The phenomenon of the acrobatic, thrilling (but non-animal) circus has been enjoying a delightful proliferation in North America of late, as the success of such largely wordless acts as Blue Man Group and the venerable Cirque du Soleil have exploded. In this tradition comes the charming, stylish 7 Fingers’ original production TRACES, playing at the Panasonic Theatre until January. Arriving just in time for you to take your out-of-town relatives, this will give you ninety minutes of something lovely to watch (while not talking) followed by a further chance to talk about whether there’s any universe in which you might be able to accomplish what the acrobats/dancers/generally quite springy humans in TRACES are able to accomplish (no spoilers, but: probably not).

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Preview: Weesageechak Begins To Dance 28 (Native Earth Performing Arts)

Perhaps you have always thought of this landmass as being called North America, and have never heard it called Turtle Island, as is common among First Nations and Metis communities. If that’s so, perhaps you are not familiar with the always-exceptional work of Native Earth Performing Arts. And if that’s so – or even if it isn’t – then gosh oh golly are there wonders in store for you this weekend during the last weekend of Weesageechak Begins to Dance 28.

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Preview: Centre Stage Gala (Canadian Opera Company)


In a world of American Idol and Canada’s Got Talent, The Voice and X Factor, it’s easy to imagine that everyone in the world is angling for their fifteen minutes of fame whether singing or juggling pumpkins or performing feats of acrobatics. In the case of the Canadian Opera Company‘s Centre Stage gala competition, eight rising young Canadian opera singers will vie for a spot in the renowned Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio – giving them a great deal more than fifteen minutes of fame.

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