All posts by Ilana Lucas

Ilana Lucas has been a big theatre nerd since witnessing a fateful Gilbert and Sullivan production at the age of seven. She has studied theatre for most of her life, holds a BA in English and Theatre from Princeton and an MFA in Dramaturgy and Script Development from Columbia, and is currently a professor of English and Theatre at Centennial College. She believes that theatre has a unique ability to foster connection, empathy and joy, and has a deep love of the playfulness of the written word. Her favourite theatrical experience was the nine-hour, all-day Broadway performance of The Norman Conquests, which made fast friends of an audience of strangers.

Feature: The Corona Variations (Convergence)

Photo of a telephone by Fei Peng Hu

In the past several years, a phone call has begun to seem almost invasive, the unhappy middle between in-person nonverbal cues and the ability to carefully craft one’s sentences in text. Now that we can’t be in the same place, and screens are tiring and omnipresent, perhaps it’s time for a resurgence. Convergence Theatre’s The Corona Variations, written and directed primarily by Julie Tepperman, is theatre inspired by our current anxieties about the world around us and the changes to our lives as we knew them. It’s theatre that “phones home.”

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Preview: Converge Against Corona & The Corona Variations (Convergence Theatre)

Photo of red phone handset with cord by Negative Space

How will you participate in this “Phone Play”?

Every industry has been hit hard by COVID-19, and the performing arts are no exception, with a projected $500 million loss in ticket sales for arts organizations in Toronto alone. Seasons are cancelled, artists are out of work, and people are scared. Conversely, however, there has been an explosion of innovative creation since the lockdown, with livestreamed sing-alongs, balcony concerts, writing challenges, and virtual rehearsals.

Convergence Theatre, generator of such theatre events as Worry Warts (Summerworks 2019), The Unending (Fringe 2016), and The Gladstone Variations (Fringe 2007), is responding to the pandemic with Converge Against Corona, and has issued a call for participants and patrons alike.

Continue reading Preview: Converge Against Corona & The Corona Variations (Convergence Theatre)

Review: The Runner (Tarragon)

Photo of Gord Rand in The Runner by Cylla von TiedemannPowerful, complex remount of Dora-winning play arrives in Toronto

***NOTE: The rest of run has been cancelled to respect social-distancing requests around COVID -19

In The Runner, a remount of the 2019 Dora winner for Outstanding New Play presented by Tarragon Theatre, Jacob (Gord Rand) wakes up in a liminal space of shadow and spotlight, confused, unable to remember what has happened to him. As the pieces fall back into place, the space appears more and more to be one of judgment. Jacob attempts to remember, and to justify his life and actions, while constantly in motion on the eerie white stripe of a treadmill that bisects the darkness.

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Review: Sunday in the Park with George (Eclipse)

Photo of the Company of Sunday in the Park with George by Dahlia KatzSite-specific Sunday in the Park arrives on the Toronto stage in a “beautiful canvas”

Sunday in the Park with George, Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s brilliant, century-spanning musical meditation on the place and value of art, gets a site-specific production from Eclipse Theatre at The Jam Factory for six short days.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning show celebrates the magic of the process of creation, which fits nicely with Eclipse’s ethos; professional actors are supported by fourth-year Sheridan students in a ten-day rehearsal process, to fashion something between a staged reading and full production. The result here is closer to the latter than the former.

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Review: Brain Storm (Lucid Ludic/Why Not Theatre)

Photo of Shayna Virginillo, Hayley Carr, Maïza Dubhé, and Alexandra Montagnese by Dahlia Katz

A cathartic and hopeful delving into the philosophical questions about who we are at our core

Lucid Ludic’s devised production of Brain Storm, a hit at the 2017 Toronto Fringe (winning that year’s Tosho Knife Cutting Edge Award) returns in a production at Dancemakers Studio in association with Why Not Theatre. The show shares vignettes from a young woman’s frustrating attempts at recovery from the literal cutting edge of brain surgery. Kate (Shayna Virginillo) was a playwright; now she can’t read, and the simplest tasks, like riding the subway, are fraught with discomfort and peril.

One phrase plays on repeat in Kate’s mind, linking her to her deceased spirit medium grandmother (Hayley Carr), who acted as a writing vessel for the words of spirits. One of these spirits, fittingly, is that of renowned Canadian neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield (Alexandra Montagnese and Maïza Dubhé) – yes, the Heritage Minute gets a reference – who proclaims his belief that death is not the end, but consciousness on a different frequency.

Continue reading Review: Brain Storm (Lucid Ludic/Why Not Theatre)