All posts by Istvan Dugalin

Apart from his (pathological?) obsession with airplane disasters, Istvan is a filmmaker and film enthusiast, but began his creative adventures in theatre. Starting out as an actor, he soon discovered a preference for life behind-the-scenes. He has experience in lighting design, stage management and production management, but his passion is writing and directing. With several short films and an indie feature under his belt, film has been his focus in recent years, but theatre has been calling him back. You see more of his critical writing at his film reflection blog: http://captiveviscera.wordpress.com/

Review: Isitwendam (Native Earth Performing Arts)

In 2008, on behalf of the Canadian government, Stephen Harper gave an apology to the First Nations for the suffering that resulted from the Residential School system. Noble enough in its supposed intentions, it represents little more than a placeholder, a tepid acknowledgement of the need for reconciliation—a muddy, fraught concept that Canada is still struggling to wrap its head around.

In the midst of harrowing testimony finally brought to light, we meet the young and eager Brendan—an aspiring politician. He is a half white, half Ojibwe man, desperate to prove himself and get his foot in the door of the Conservative government. Following his hilariously pandering letter of introduction, he is hired by Aboriginal Affairs. His first task? To discredit a Residential School survivor’s reparation claim. And so begins Isitwendam (presented by Native Earth and B2C Theatre), Meegwun Fairbrother’s breathtaking solo performance that both warmed and broke my heart. Continue reading Review: Isitwendam (Native Earth Performing Arts)

Review: CHICHO (Theatre Passe Muraille)

A new solo play in Toronto explores the turmoil in Venezuela through a queer lens

Presented by Pencil Kit Productions and Aluna Theatre, Augusto Bitter’s one-person show, CHICHO, is currently playing at the Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace. Full of whimsy and insight, it is a grand feat of showmanship, packing in an astounding amount of characterization, Venezuelan trivia and sexy, playful antics. Continue reading Review: CHICHO (Theatre Passe Muraille)

Review: School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play (Obsidian/Nightwood)

Tensions flare in an all-girl boarding school, on stage now in Toronto

Obsidian Theatre, in association with Nightwood Theatre, presents Jocelyn Bioh’s School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. That title sure is catchy and has, no doubt, already hooked you in with the promise of young women behaving badly. I assure you: it does not disappoint, serving up plenty of flaring nostrils and raging egos. It’s the aching heart underneath, though, that drives this story.  Continue reading Review: School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play (Obsidian/Nightwood)

Review: Death and the Maiden (Red Sandcastle Theatre)

Intense dramas in tight spaces are a treat for me, and there is one currently playing at Red Sandcastle Theatre. Ariel Dorfman’s political thriller, Death and the Maiden, gets a modest and intimate staging at this cozy Queen East venue.

Set in an unnamed South American country after the fall of a dictatorship, the play unfolds in an isolated beach house. This is the home of Paulina, a former political prisoner and torture survivor, which she shares with her lawyer husband, Gerardo. He has recently been appointed the head of a commission tasked with investigating human rights violations from the previous regime. Continue reading Review: Death and the Maiden (Red Sandcastle Theatre)