All posts by Jess Gillis

Jess is an East coast transplant to Toronto who stumbled into her love of theatre via her social media gig at Ballyhoo Push Pin Media, and stumbled into review writing via an open call to cover the 2015 Fringe Festival for MoT. In addition to writing for MoT, she also blogs about dating, white supremacy, fat politics, theatre, graphic design, and sex at thejessgillis.blogspot.com. She’s a self-taught freelance graphic designer by trade, and a visual artist by passion. She sells and displays her wares at jessgillis.com. She’s passionate about laughter, anti-oppression, sex workers’ rights, body positivity, vegan food, cycling, good TV, and swimming. If you want to follow her foodie, nail art, and pet sitting posts, you can follow her on Instagram and Twitter @TheJessGillis

Review: Hangman (Storefront Theatre / The Scapegoat Collective)

Hangman promotional image with entire cast

Hangman‘s Rootin’ Tootin’ Cowboy Show Could Go Deeper

So, ya wants to see a theatre show set in the Old West, about them moral type dilemmas facin’ all sort’a menfolk? Men who think they good ’cause they “the law”, and them who think they bad cause they ’bout to hang, when ain’t none of ’em innocent? Well then, you best bring ya’self down to The Storefront Theatre to see The Scapegoat Collective’s Hangman.

Continue reading Review: Hangman (Storefront Theatre / The Scapegoat Collective)

Review: Anne of Green Gables The Musical (LOT)

Anne of Green Gables by Seanna KennedyThe Lower Ossington Theatre brings to life Canadian classic, now on stage in Toronto

Tonight at the Lower Ossington Theatre, a part of my childhood came alive during Anne of Green Gables The Musical. I’m an East Coast native who’s been to Prince Edward Island countless times. It’s where the story of a red-haired spitfire orphan named Anne Shirley – who comes to live with a hesitant-at-first family – is set. I’ve even been to the Green Gables house.

I, along with my companion Violet, were a bit concerned that we’d be resistant to a different Anne. In our minds, Megan Follows – who so thoroughly owned and embodied that role – is Anne Shirley. Luckily, we were mostly pleased with tonight’s Anne, and the show generally.

Continue reading Review: Anne of Green Gables The Musical (LOT)

Preview: DiverCity Weekend (Second City)

Photo of DiverCity weekend 2015 Bob Curry fellows

DiverCity Weekend – part of Second City’s Diversity & Outreach program – aims to open doors and cultivate local talent who may not otherwise get the chance to experience improv. Over 3 days in Toronto, various events and workshops will take place, culminating with the NBC scholarship auditions .

I had a chance to ask Dionna Griffin-Irons, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, and Klaus Schuller, Producer and Executive Director of Second City Canada a few questions about this event, and diversity in Toronto generally.

Continue reading Preview: DiverCity Weekend (Second City)

Review: Reckoning (Article 11)

Reckoning explores the effects of the Residential School system at Toronto’s Theatre Centre

Article 11‘s Reckoning, on now at The Theatre Centre, is the kind of show I wish was on a huge, mainstream stage. It’s the kind of show everyone living on this land should be required to see in school.

Reckoning is a triptych, telling the story – within three stories – of Canada’s violent, racist Residential School system, and the residual effects that system still has on everyone – especially those who survived it. It’s not easy to watch, but it feels very necessary.

Continue reading Review: Reckoning (Article 11)

Preview: Ultimate Theatre Championship (Theatre Passe Muraille)

Ultimate Theatre Championship by Taku Kumabe

The Ultimate Theatre Championship – billed as fight night meets theatre – is a 3-night, rock ’em sock’em drama-extravaganza featuring some of Canada’s roughest, toughest theatre, television, and comedy talent. It’s all happening ring-side at Theatre Passe Muraille April 14, 15, and 16th.

Through monologues, scene work, and “stage combat”, the 2nd annual UTC aims to make fierce acting legends out of welterweight, middleweight, and heavyweight contenders, and to give the audience a glimpse at what professional actors may face out there in the wild.

Creator Rebecca Northan took the time to answer a few questions about this unique theatre event:

Continue reading Preview: Ultimate Theatre Championship (Theatre Passe Muraille)

The Death of The King (Modern Times / The Theatre Centre)

Photo of Bahareh Yaraghi and Jani Lauzon in The Death of the KingThe Death of the King by Iranian playwright Bhram Beyzaie plays Toronto’s Theatre Centre

I had the chance to see The Death of The King by Iranian playwright Bahram Beyzaie last night. Co-produced by The Theatre Centre and Modern Times Stage Company, it tells the story of an impoverished family accused of treason and the killing of their King.

The show’s description talks about exploring the vulnerabilities of people in the most difficult of circumstances. I, unfortunately, had a very difficult time grasping most aspects of the show.

Continue reading The Death of The King (Modern Times / The Theatre Centre)

Review: In Search of Cruise Control (Gangland Productions)

Photo of James Gangl in In Search of Cruise ControlToronto’s James Gangl gives us “the sex talk” in his hilarious solo show In Search of Cruise Control

In In Search Of Cruise Control, James Gangl‘s one-man comedy show, a sexually complicated uncle tries to have “the sex talk” with his awkward young nephew. I had a chance to see it tonight at the John Candy Box Theatre, and it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. Continue reading Review: In Search of Cruise Control (Gangland Productions)

Preview: Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival

Toronto Sketchfest PosterThe Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival – AKA “Comedy Christmas” – is on from March 3 – 13, 2016. It’s the “main event” in a group of other festivals: The Best of the Fest Encore Show (June); and Sketch ComAgeddon (October).

This year’s lineup includes over 70 troupes from across North America, promising to make audiences laugh at three Toronto venues: The Theatre Centre, Comedy Bar and Randolph Theatre. Twitter users can follow the action using the #TOSketchFest16 hashtag.

We spoke to Julianne Snepsts, co-founder and managing producer of the The Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival a few questions about the festival, and what audiences can expect to experience.

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Review: Contempt (Storefront Theatre)

Photo of Khadijah Roberts-Abdullah and Prince Amponsah in ContemptContempt, now on the Toronto stage, is “impressive on many levels”

When I heard about the subject matter of Contempt, on now at The Storefront Theatre, I immediately knew I had see it. The premise – a woman hiring someone to have sex with her disabled, virgin, adult son – is one close to the heart of a sex workers’ rights activist like me.

So, once again this week, I went in to a theatre with high hopes. However, given the other representations of sex work I’ve seen in both film and theatre, I was very cautious with my optimism. I was right to be cautious, but I was also very satisfied by the end.

Continue reading Review: Contempt (Storefront Theatre)

Review: Venus’ Daughter (Obsidian Theatre Company)

Akosua Amo Adem by Lyon SmithVenus’ Daughter is near-perfect theatre, now gracing the Toronto stage

I have a confession: I’m always a bit afraid after a show, because I know I have to write a review, and as a writer, I’m always a bit afraid I won’t find the right words. After seeing Obsidian Theatre Company’s Venus’ Daughter tonight at The Theatre Centre, I’m a few notches below terrified.

After all, how does one even begin to describe seeing what may quite possibly be the most incredible piece of theatre in their personal theatre-going experience? Venus’ Daughter – a play about the intersections of history, objectification, pop culture, self-love, and the way women’s bodies are viewed – may be that play for me.

Continue reading Review: Venus’ Daughter (Obsidian Theatre Company)