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.

Review: The Mush Hole (Kaha:wi Dance Theatre/Young People’s Theatre)

Photo of Semiah Smith, Montana Summers, and Julianne Blackbird in The Mush Hole by Ian R. MaracleLife in the Residential School system is told through dance at the Young People’s Theatre

The cultural – and literal – genocide perpetrated against Indigenous communities via the Residential School system is one of our country’s most shameful actions in a history with no shortage of shame. Taken from their parents, Indigenous children from toddler through teenagehood experienced conditions similar to those at a prison labour camp allowed to operate without any concern for human rights. Beaten and starved, sexually abused and isolated, they were there to have their culture forcibly removed and replaced with degradation and servitude.

Young People’s Theatre’s 2019-2020 season, based around the Seven Ancestral Teachings of the Anishinaabe, opened with The Mush Hole, a dance-theatre piece by Kaha:wi Dance Theatre which is attached to the teaching of Truth. Truth (Debwewin), separate from Honesty, is symbolic of principle and the basic law of nature; it represents a commitment to speaking about one’s experience, and exhibiting resilience, evolving without being fundamentally changed.

Continue reading Review: The Mush Hole (Kaha:wi Dance Theatre/Young People’s Theatre)

Review: Ghost Quartet (Eclipse Theatre Company / Crow’s Theatre)

Photo of Beau Dixon and Kira Guloien in Ghost Quartet by Dahlia Katz

Beautiful and little spooky, Ghost Quartet makes a prefect Halloween month treat

Ghost Quartet, a hipster-inflected song cycle by Dave Malloy, is described as being “about love, death, and whiskey.” As you enter Eclipse Theatre’s grotto-like space at Streetcar Crowsnest, whiskey shots are on sale, and a thick haze hangs in the air.

With reality sufficiently altered, you’re then treated to a puzzle of a story that’s cyclical, freewheeling and a bit scattershot, mixing together the tales of Rose Red and her sister Pearl White, Scheherazade and the One Thousand and One Nights (with references to Thelonious Monk), The Fall of the House of Usher, and a modern fable about a tragedy that befalls a woman waiting for a subway train. Characters weave in and out in a dream-like dance, and the world bends at its seams. It’s a spellbinding and spooky evening of song, perfect for Halloween month.

Continue reading Review: Ghost Quartet (Eclipse Theatre Company / Crow’s Theatre)

Review: The Flick (Outside the March)

Photo of Colin Doyle, Durae McFarlane and Amy Keating in The Flick by Dahlia Katz

‘The Flick’ is “captivating, funny, and real”.

It’s true that, for the three-hour-and-fifteen-minute running time of Outside the March’s production of Annie Baker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Flick, not very much actually happens. It’s also true that, were its characters working those three hours, each of their paycheques, minimum wage in Massachusetts, would total only about $25.

Baker’s play, dealing in empty space, desultory popcorn-sweeping, and freewheeling conversations, details the interactions between three employees at one of the last theatres to use 35mm film projectors instead of going digital. Not much happens, and yet, it’s a genuinely thrilling theatre experience that deals humanely and sensitively with the kind of people whose lives never appear on the big screen.

Continue reading Review: The Flick (Outside the March)

Review: Yaga (Tarragon)

Photo of Claire Armstrong, Will Greenblatt, and Seana McKenna in Yaga by Cylla von Tiedemann

Yaga is a 3-dimensional exploration of myth as a cyclical being that lives forever.

We are steeped in a culture that tends to categorize women in one of three ways: the sexy young ingénue, the nurturing mother, and the invisible crone. The last category can be frustrating, but also very freeing: once a woman is no longer seen to be consumable, she can finally begin to consume. Kat Sandler’s Yaga, now playing at Tarragon Theatre, takes the Slavic legend of Baba Yaga and turns it into a supernatural small-town detective story, with delightful results.

Continue reading Review: Yaga (Tarragon)

Review: Actually (Harold Green/Obsidian)

Photo of Claire Renaud and Tony Ofori in Actually by Joanna AkyolRacial tensions run high on Princeton’s prestigious campus in Actually

When I was accepted to Princeton, a family friend I’d perhaps met once took it upon himself to send me a message. He urged me not to go, despite my dreams, due to the school’s less-than-stellar history with minority students and Jewish students in particular. Believing that the events he referred to were in the distant past, I disregarded his note and matriculated, and I fell madly in love with my school and the brilliant people populating it. That didn’t mean, however, that the journey was completely smooth.

Take an elite college full of self-reflective, high-achieving teenagers under pressure to succeed, mix in insecurities, alcohol, hormones, and class tensions, and you have a recipe for angst and bad decisions. It was with that background that I was eager to see Anna Ziegler’s Actually, a production by the Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company in association with Obsidian Theatre Company, now playing at the Greenwin Theatre at the Meridian Arts Centre in North York.

Continue reading Review: Actually (Harold Green/Obsidian)