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: Porch View Dances (Kaeja d’Dance)

Photo of Amarai, Leslie and Lori Endes by Shana Hillman

Site-specific dance show brings performance to Toronto’s front porches

Site-specific shows don’t get more specific than the front porches of your friends and neighbours. That’s the idea behind Porch View Dances, a series of short contemporary dance works developed by Karen and Allen Kaeja of Kaeja d’Dance: it enlists community members and their porches and front lawns, the public-facing aspect of their living spaces.

These brave neighbourhood volunteers perform choreography by professional dance artists. Now in its fourth year, the award-winning show has branched out to Ottawa, Kitchener, and Moncton. It’s very approachable, being run by donation, and takes the audience on a charming walking tour through Seaton Village, a cosy neighbourhood just steps from busy Bathurst and Bloor.

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Listening Songs: Listening Choir (Christopher Willes and Adam Kinner) 2015 SummerWorks Review

Photo of Listening Songs: Listening Choir logo courtesy of the company

I’m not good at making noise in public. I’m always the person in a group who gets uncomfortable when the noise level gets too loud, worrying that we are bothering the people around us. So, when I was given a homemade, portable speaker to carry around during Listening Songs: Listening Choir, a Live Art event at the 2015 SummerWorks Performance Festival, my anxiety was heightened and I was initially hesitant to push “play.” There were rewards to be had, though, in being loud and quiet at the same time.

Continue reading Listening Songs: Listening Choir (Christopher Willes and Adam Kinner) 2015 SummerWorks Review

The Hum (Theatre Gargantua) 2015 SummerWorks Review

Photo of Jenny Aplin, John Gzowski and Julia Aplin provided by rockitpromo

The Hum (A Theatre Gargantua SideStream Cycle with the GzAp Collective), playing at SummerWorks 2015, is a sweet family show about the magic inherent in the natural environment around us. It’s presented by venerable Toronto company Theatre Gargantua, created by and starring Julia Aplin, John Gzowski, and their ten-year-old daughter, Jenny Aplin.

The show was inspired by Jenny’s paintings, and tries to tap into the hum of the Earth. Much like a ten-year-old kid, though, it’s a show that has high aspirations (and a promising opening monologue) but doesn’t quite know what it wants to be yet.

Continue reading The Hum (Theatre Gargantua) 2015 SummerWorks Review

The Unpacking (7th Cousins) 2015 SummerWorks Review

Photo of Pennsylvania map by rockitpromoThe Unpacking (7th Cousins), playing at SummerWorks 2015, is the culmination of a month-long walking trip undertaken by Erin Brubacher and Christine Brubaker–or perhaps it’s just the first step in a new journey. When it seemed like everyone wanted to know if they were related, they began to joke that they were “7th Cousins.” Turns out that was a misnomer – they may actually be 6th cousins – but as they looked into their heritage, a long voyage by an ancestor from Pennsylvania to Ontario sparked their curiosity.

They wanted to recreate the trek, walk through their own fields, ford their own rivers, scare off their own bears (okay, that last one was more a necessity than a desire). Soon after the idea emerged, the planning began, and they were on their way. They gave themselves a limit of thirty days. Last night they returned home, and The Unpacking began.

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The Tall Building (It Could Still Happen) 2015 SummerWorks Review

Photo of Molly Flood by rockitpromo

The Tall Building (It Could Still Happen), now playing at the 2015 edition of SummerWorks, takes place in a building that keeps growing floors. Meanwhile, a city much like our current Toronto (but run by a mysterious “lady mayor”) slowly devolves into a coyote-strewn, apocalyptic wasteland of fire and wind.

In a series of intriguing vignettes, three characters – a closed-off, suspicious woman named Sulla who owns a single pair of magical, fraying pants (Molly Flood); a credulous and sweet 12-year-old boy with absent parents, his own street newspaper, and a 7-11 obsession (Philip Nozuka); and a pompous, ineffectual assassin (Clinton Carew) – reach an uneasy détente as the world outside burns.

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the marquise of O- (the red light district) 2015 SummerWorks Review

photo by rockitpromo

the marquise of O- (the red light district), adapted and directed by Lauren Gillis and Ted Witzel for SummerWorks, is loosely based on an 1808 short story by Heinrich von Kleist, filtered through Kant’s ideas on reality and knowledge, and the remix culture of Reddit.

This story, about a widow whose life and honour are saved from an encroaching army by an instantly-besotted count, and who later mysteriously falls pregnant, is both devotedly retold and revised into a modern exploration of how we treat rape, and how belief and rationalization can be tenuous and dangerous things.

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Review: The Short Short Play Festival – Cassandra, Table For Two, Salty Bachelors (Social Capital Theatre)

Director Kerry Ann Doherty rehearses with Allan Price and Randy Read

Last night, I reviewed three of the twelve plays being presented at The Social Capital Theatre as part of The Short Short Play Festival. It’s a great idea: present four different groupings of three plays twice each over four nights in a casual setting with a bar.

As the adorable, tiny shorts hanging from a clothesline on the ceiling indicate, these are short works of theatre, twenty minutes tops, that don’t often get to see the stage. After my second night, and having seen half of the festival, I’m inclined to agree that good things come in small packages.

Continue reading Review: The Short Short Play Festival – Cassandra, Table For Two, Salty Bachelors (Social Capital Theatre)

Review: The Short Short Play Festival – In Frame, The Park, Grow Up Juliet (Social Capital Theatre)

Anand Rajaram, Taylor Trowbridge, Sunnie James, and Tahirih Vejdani

The Short Short Play Festival delivers bite-sized plays on stage in Toronto

The Social Capital Theatre serves up a buffet of short plays in an intimate Toronto setting in The Short Short Play Festival — a perfect evening for those who find hour-long plays to be taxing. It’s snack-size theatre, full of variety; a 20-minute play has to make its point quickly, and leave us with one indelible impression.

Plays of this length rarely get a chance at performance and so an appetizer menu of 12 plays over four days is a treat. As Shakespeare might say, though, they be but little, they are fierce.

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The Dinner Table (Fail Better Theatre) 2015 Toronto Fringe Review

I’m not sure ifThe Dinner Table poster The Dinner Table (Fail Better Theatre) entirely needs a review. There are only twelve seats at this site-specific Toronto Fringe Festival production that promises dinner and a show, with a rotating cast of two storytellers, so the run is a sell-out, save a stray ticket here or there. The two storytellers change every night, so no two shows are at all alike, except thematically. Even dinner, freshly cooked and served to all guests, is different each time. Was my reviewing presence superfluous? Possibly. Am I glad I had a chance to be there? Absolutely. Continue reading The Dinner Table (Fail Better Theatre) 2015 Toronto Fringe Review