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Archive for the ‘Festivals’ Category

“The best theatrical experience I’ve had since New York 2011 and the Book of Mormon”  MAUREEN LIPMAN

 

sap thinEXEUNT MAGAZINE ★★★★

“Uncommonly exhilarating”

“Jessica Ruano’s direction focuses so keenly on the physical, that it’s as much a piece of choreography as a text; I believe Sappho, a great proponent of both the direct and the sensual in poetry, would unreservedly approve. No part of the space is not explored, no shape of the body not attempted.”

“Victoria Grove, who is surely some kind of professional enchantress, with the husky voice of a Dench or a Bacall and the poise of a young Vanessa Redgrave. Her characterisation of Sappho is simultaneously haughty and earthy; imagine Penelope Keith’s voice in Felicity Kendal’s body.”

FEMALE ARTS ★★★★

“Sappho… in 9 fragments is written, directed and executed with passion”

THE LADY ★★★★

“Stunningly athletic and entirely sensuous… fluidly directed”

REMOTE GOAT ★★★★

“a spectacular visual and physical piece”

“a gracious dance between an improvised energy and choreographed poignancy”

“Victoria Grove is fantastic, she is magnetic and mysterious, dominating…”

“like a fireworks display that you are glued to and every jet of sparkling light explodes with a wonderful climax”

BRITISH THEATRE GUIDE

“What a performer!” … “A bravura display of technique and emotion”

“Remarkable balances and acrobatic gyrations”

“Victoria Grove makes this aerial choreography seem second nature”

UK THEATRE NETWORK

“Don’t miss this unique production!”

“highly sensual and intelligent piece… charged with eroticism”

“inspired direction” “outstanding performance”

A YOUNGER THEATRE

“Both intellectually stimulating and intensely compelling”

GAYDARGIRLS

“Intimidatingly intimate … a totally mesmerising production”

N16 MAGAZINE

“Victoria Grove is magnetic and compelling… A unique production and a chance to catch an impressively talented actress at close quarters.”

HACKNEY HIVE

“brilliantly staged” “utterly riveting performance”

DESTINATION HACKNEY

“bewitching Victoria Grove” … “strong direction by Jessica Ruano”

VENTS REVIEW

“Spellbinding… This dramatic meditation on identity, filtered through a classicists appreciation of the great Sappho, is a triumph for everyone involved.”

MONKEY POET REVIEW

“The show won a standing ovation from me, the fourth in 25 years…yes, it’s that f*cking good!”

~

SAPPHO …in 9 fragments by Jane Montgomery Griffiths. Directed by Jessica Ruano and featuring the Victoria Grove as Sappho/Atthis, this production is designed by Ana Ines Jabares with lighting by Sarah Crocker and sound by Luca Romagnoli. 

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London performances

Just a quick list of performances I’ve caught in London so far. Especially looking forward to attending The Globe Theatre’s Spring festival that will feature every single play attributed to William Shakespeare, each produced in a different country and performed in a different language.

The Golden Dragon by Roland Schimmelpfennig | dir. Ramin Gray | ATC Theatre | The Arcola Theatre | Monday, September 19th

Saved by Edward Bond | dir. Sean Holmes | Lyric Theatre | Wednesday, October 12th

The Veil by Conor McPherson, dir. | The National Theatre | Friday, October 28th

The Playboy of the Western World by J. M. Synge | dir. John Crowley | The Old Vic | Wednesday, November 9th

Yerma by Federico Garcia Lorca| adpt. Anthony Weigh | dir. Natalie Abrahami | The Gate Theatre | Wednesday, November 16th

Poe: Macabre Resurrections | dir. Andy McQuade & company | Second Skin Theatre | St. Mary’s Church | Friday, November 18th

Piaf by Pam Gems | All Star Productions | Ye Olde Rose and Crown Theatre | Wednesday, November 23rd

Reasons to be Pretty by Neil Labute | dir. Michael Attenborough | Almeida Theatre | Saturday, November 26th

Hamlet by William Shakespeare | adpt. (German) Marius von Mayenburg | dir. Thomas Ostermeier | The Barbican | Sunday, December 4th

Stewart Lee (comedian) | Leicester Square | Wednesday, December 7th

Juno and the Paycock | The National Theatre | Friday, December 16th

La Chunga | Second Skin Theatre | Phoenix Artist Club | Jan-Feb 2012

Travelling Light | The National Theatre | Saturday, January 28th

Comedy of Errors | The National Theatre | Saturday, February 4th

The Kreutzer Sonata | The Gate Theatre | Saturday, February 11th

Daniel Sloss (comedian) | Soho Theatre | Friday, February 17th

La Casa de Bernarda Alba | Almeida Theatre | Wednesday, February 22nd

She Stoops to Conquer | National Theatre | Saturday, February 25th

Bingo (with Patrick Stewart) | The Young Vic | Wednesday, February 29th

The Barber of Seville | English Touring Opera | Hackney Empire | Saturday, March 10th

The Bomb – Part 2 | Tricycle Theatre | Sunday, March 11th

Being Shakespeare (with Simon Callow) | Trafalgar Studios | Wednesday, March 14th

After Miss Julie | Patrick Marber | dir. Natalie Abrahami | Young Vic | Friday, March 16th

Can We Talk About This | DV8 dir. Lloyd Newson | National Theatre | Saturday, March 17th

The Duchess of Malfi | The Old Vic | Wednesday, March 21st

Moon on a Rainbow Shawl | National Theatre | Friday, March 23rd

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VERSeFest kicks off in ONE WEEK. Who’s excited???!!!

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It’s raw and it’s freakin’ addictive.

In case you haven’t noticed, the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word is in town. WHAT!

That’s right: 100 of the best poets from across Canada are here in Ottawa this week to participate in workshops, showcases, poetry in the streets, and the biggest slam competition in Canadian history. Example? In 2004, we had 8 teams on board. This year we have 18. Spoken word is huge in Canada right now. Remember Shane Koyczan at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver? Did you know Ottawa’s own Ian Keteku is the World Slam Champion?

Yes, I can throw facts at you. I’m the festival publicist, and it’s one of the best gigs I’ve had. I get to spend all my time with brilliant poets and eager media personalities who are enthusiastic about these brilliant poets. I get to speak in hyperbole all day long; cheer loudly; fawn obnoxiously. I’m in my element.

But maybe you’d like to hear from people who aren’t me: people who are attending a slam poetry competition for perhaps the first time; people who can offer a new set of eyes, a critical perspective, perhaps even their own poetry! Check out OttawaTonite.com for full coverage of the festival so far, from numerous perspectives. There’s a comments section, so feel free to post your own thoughts.

The Canadian Festival of Spoken Word continues until Saturday. Tonight you can catch shows at the Velvet Room and the Marriott Hotel: both bouts kick off at 7pm and tickets are only $10. Semi-Finals are on Friday, and the Finals are on Saturday. For the full schedule, check out http://www.cfsw.ca

It’s all-you-can-eat “sushi” night all week long… Enjoy!

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The Canadian Festival of Spoken Word (CFSW 2010 Ottawa www.cfsw.ca) returns to the capital for the first time since its inception in 2004 with the largest slam-focused spoken word event in Canadian history. From October 12 to 16, 2010, Ottawa will be treated to a wide-ranging display of Canadian slam poetry and spoken word featuring over 100 of the best spoken word poets from 15 communities across Canada.

Capital Slam: John Akpata, PrufRock, Chris Tse, OpenSecret, and Brandon Wint

Over the course of five nights, 18 teams participate in highly competitive poetry slams that will determine this year’s Canadian Slam Champions. Home of the defending champions, Ottawa has two teams – Capital Slam and Urban Legends – attempting to keep the title in the capital this year.

Truth Is...

CFSW 2010 Ottawa features some of the biggest names in spoken word, most notably Dwayne Morgan with Toronto’s Up From the Roots, Truth Is… with the Burlington Slam, RC Weslowski from Vancouver, El Jones from Halifax, and John Akpata on Ottawa’s Capital Slam team.

CFSW 2010 Ottawa opens with a Francophone Showcase featuring Outaouais poet Marjolaine Beauchamp and closes with performances by the festival’s Poets of Honour Anthony Bansfield a.k.a. ‘the nth digri’ and Shauntay Grant.

CFSW 2010 Ottawa’s Daytime Programming is entirely FREE! Poets and poetry enthusiasts are welcome to attend workshops and panel discussions on poetry writing, spoken word in schools, and connecting with other arts organizations. There will also be a Last Chance Slam on October 12 to determine the festival’s ‘Wild Card’ Team, a Youth Showcase on October 13, and a Steve Sauvé Memorial Nerd Showcase on October 14. The poets will hit the streets of Ottawa ‘Guerrilla style’ on the afternoon of October 15 to perform random acts of poetry in the downtown core.

Following the slams, there will be late-night events highlighting the poetry of music: the Poetry & Music Cabaret featuring Scruffmouth, Moe Clark, and SPIN on October 13; the Slam After-Party with Montréal’s DJ Cosmo on October 14; and Toronto’s Kobo Town and Ottawa’s John Carroll & the Epic Proportions will grace the stage on October 15.

Shane Koyczan

Spoken word poetry in Canada has boomed over the last few years with numerous achievements across the country and around the world. In January of this year, Shane Koyczan introduced spoken word to the world at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver when he performed his poem “We Are More” at the Opening Ceremonies. This past summer, Ottawa’s Ian Keteku, member of the spoken word group The Recipe and one of the workshop facilitators at CFSW 2010 Ottawa, won the World Poetry Slam Cup in Paris, France.

The Canadian Festival of Spoken Word takes place in numerous venues in downtown Ottawa (see the attached CFSW 2010 Ottawa press release and schedule for details) from October 12 to 16, 2010. For more information, please call the CFSW 2010 Ottawa hotline 613 301 8648, email info[at]cfsw[dot]ca, or visit www.cfsw.ca.

Tickets and Passes

Tuesday FREE ALL DAY | Slams Wednesday and Thursday $10 at the door

Semi-Finals Friday $10 adv./$15 door | Finals Saturday $15 adv./$20 door

Festival Pass $40

Advance Tickets and Festival Passes available

East African Restaurant | 376 Rideau Street | 613 789 7397

Compact Music | 190 Bank St. | 613 233 7626 | 785½ Bank St. | 613 233 8922

Vertigo Records | 193 Rideau Street | 613 241 1011

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I don’t think I’ve quite mastered the art of being a tourist. Some people are really good at it: my grandmother, for instance, plans frequent holidays for herself and her friends and always manages to visit dozens of sites and take hundreds of pictures and never fails to bring home a souvenir magnet. While I admire her dedication to the art, I’ve always preferred to take a different approach and – as I mentioned a couple of posts earlier – just pretend that I live in the city and go about my day as though it were just another day living in… Paris, for instance.

There are some major flaws in this plan. Namely, I don’t know the city. So pretending I do just makes my ignorance of my surroundings all the more obvious. Refusing to carry around a map or ask for directions just means I will get horribly, horribly lost. Not having a concrete plan for the day means exhausting myself wandering around aimlessly.

Eiffel and I can't get up

I was listening to this show on BBC Radio about a husband and wife who take separate vacations because they have different styles of ‘vacationing’. While the wife was content to relax on the beach, the husband always wanted to set goals for himself and go on ‘missions’ to keep busy. And I thought: I am just like that guy! Despite my determination not to do touristy things in Paris, I began to seek out the Moulin Rouge, the cafe when the film Amelie is set, Notre Dame, that really delicious Bethillon ice cream… and I found myself surrounded by tourist shops selling J’aime Paris mugs and Eiffel Tower figurines in all sizes. I went to museums in an attempt to ‘learn something’ – because, hey, that’s productive! I practiced speaking French because I knew, in the back of my mind, that it would be ‘good for my career’. What is wrong with me??

Over the last few years, all of my trips have been ‘working vacations’, meaning I was attending a festival and sometimes doing research, which would pretty much keep me occupied twelve hours a day every day. However, this summer’s trip to London was only a ‘working vacation’ for the first week and a half. After my visiting theatre troupe returned to Tunisia, I still had a month left to do whatever I liked – when I wasn’t working on my thesis (just submitted yesterday, by the way!) or writing job applications. So I went to Paris.

I feel like there’s always this expectation while on vacation to ‘have an experience’. Especially in Paris. In all the popular Amercian sitcoms, at least two episodes are dedicated to a visit to Paris. The lead character goes there for love, for work, for family, for a change, and comes back (see, no one actually stays in Paris – it would make America look bad) a new and revitalized person thanks to some life-changing event that occurs in this magical, yet challenging city. Often this life-changing event occurs when you’re just wandering the streets, which, frankly, puts an awful lot of pressure on wanderers like me.

Am I supposed to fall in love in Paris? Have some scandalous affair with some gorgeous person in a beret and striped shirt who will serve me baguettes and brie for breakfast following our hot nights of passion? Would I even want that? Am I actually resorting to insulting cultural stereotypes? Heck, the only people who actively hit on me were street vendors, and I’m pretty sure they were selling something. Ahem.

Marketplace

I’m really fond of the idea of being a word-traveller, a ‘jet-setter’ as some of my friends have put it. Is that like a ‘trend-setter’ – paving the way for new and exciting things, though through travel rather than fashion? It’s not as though I’m going to discover anything terribly new. I mean, the only important thing I learned in Paris is that ‘bistrot’ is actually spelled with a ‘t’ at the end, but they remove that extra letter outside of France because people pronounce it incorrectly so frequently. There you go.

Either way, if I’m going to do a lot more traveling in the near future, I think I’d better learn how to go about it properly. The problem is, I have ridiculously high expectations for myself and for the places I visit. Again, I blame sitcoms. Or maybe I just prefer the familiar: riding around on my bicycle down familiar streets, seeing familiar faces, knowing the best places to buy fruits and vegetables, being able to visit friends right around the corner.

Come to think of it, I might be a little homesick…

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I’m not sure which title is more accurate. Probably the latter. Though I like to think of myself as a Londoner while I’m living in the city. I try not to unfold maps and wave them around in public (in fact, I’ve resisted buying a map to avoid that temptation altogether), and I try not to ask for directions too frequently. This, of course, has resulted in my getting lost on several occasions. But, hey, at least I’m wearing cute outfits while wandering around desperately searching for the underground.

I feel like I’m way overdue for a blog entry. My reasons for the delay are three-fold:

  1. LIFT Festival kept me busy! Oh my goodness, we’re talking about 12-17 hour days. Part of that is travel time: living in Upminster means it take 1-2 hours to get anywhere in central London. Also, there were a few complications with the company from Tunisia: set pieces and props arriving late, trying to organize rehearsal space, and arranging for media interviews in our few spare hours. Even after the company returned home, I was keen to attend other LIFT shows, including Home Sweet Home, Music for Seven Ice Cream Vans, Beloved and Haircuts by Children.

    Music for Seven Ice Cream Vans

  2. I’m still working on my thesis. Nuff said.
  3. I’m applying for jobs in London. Man, I hadn’t realized what hard work that can be! I haven’t actually applied for a job in about 5 years: in Ottawa, people have been nice enough to offer them to me based on my prior qualifications. Also, I’ve been in school, so I haven’t had to worry too much about having a full-time job that actually pays a full-time salary. I’m really hoping for this Assistant Producer job with the Gate Theatre in Notting Hill. Check out the description: isn’t it so perfect for me? They have a mini outdoors festival on this week, and I definitely plan to attend/participate in some shows.

Gate Theatre presents DOMINI PÚBLIC

So yes, if I do find an arts job, I plan to live here permanently for at least one year. I’m looking forward to this adventure, but there a few things I’ll have to get used to. I’m going to provide a list of London quirks for anyone thinking of visiting or living here in the near future. Perhaps some fellow Londoners would like to add some items in the comments section. But for now:

  • People see theatre. Like, it’s not a completely niche thing. There is an audience for professional theatre. There is an audience for community theatre. There is an audience for children’s theatre. And there is an audience for weird little site-specific outdoor pieces that take places in obscure corners of the city. I love that people are aware of the arts around them. It is very inspiring.
  • The underground (and all associated forms of transportation) is both a blessing and a curse. Yes, the trains are frequent and generally reliable — except when there is construction, which happens every weekend and some weekdays. In those cases, some lines are closed entirely and you have to reroute your trip. And then the tube stops running just after midnight, even on weekends! Thankfully there are night buses that are in operation across the city. Unfortunately, as I mentioned, I’m living in Upminster, which requires a long train ride to get home… which means my nights end before 11pm. Not much time for a post-show drink.
  • There is little to no public recycling. Plus most of the little Italian cafes charge extra if you want to “eat in”, so everyone gets take-out and just throws the waste in the garbage afterward. It makes me cringe so much.
  • Don’t bother asking for directions. Most people hardly know where they’re going, let alone where you’re trying to go. Just check the detailed maps at bus stops.
  • Bang Said The Gun satisfies my need for awesomeness every week. This loud and rambunctious series focuses on spoken word, but welcomes every other kind of art form and every kind of artist. The organizers were incredibly sweet with me, and they even added my name to the (competitive) open mic list even though I arrived a bit late – again, thanks to changes on the underground. Through this series, I found out that London is brimming with poetry shows, and I plan to attend as many of them as possible! Props also to Poetry Unplugged at the Poetry Cafe.
  • It doesn’t actually rain that much. Uh, knock on wood.
  • Very few people have commented on my accent. It seems like everyone in London has a slightly different accent, depending on the neighbourhood, or because they come from Ireland or Wales or Scotland or some other part of the world. Each accent is as individual as the people who carry them. It’s kind of beautiful, actually.
  • London to Paris by train takes just over 2 hours and costs £130 return trip – that is, if you book only two weeks in advance. Oh, by the way, I’m going to Paris for a few days in August. Yippee!

I plan to return to Ottawa on August 16. Until then, I’m going to discover some London hot spots! Keep you posted.

Shakespeare's house for rent. Anyone?

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When she spoke Arabic, her eyes lit up and her face glowed and her arms swayed with the musicality of her words. The language, to my ear, combines the smooth rhythm of Italian, the guttural sounds of German, and the serpentine hum of soft-spoken Hindi. Her instructor, a strong-willed young woman, stops the actress mid-speech to give her feedback on her performance; they slide between Tunisian (an Arab dialect? its own language? there is some debate over that) and French seamlessly. This is not naturalism, she says. Let your body dance.

Hobb Story - members of the company

I picked them up from Heathrow airport only a few days ago. Ten Tunisians belonging to or associated with the company APA that created the show entitled “Hobb Story : Instructions for Arab Love” presented this month at the London International Festival of Theatre. Many of the company members were visiting London for the first time, and boy were they excited. I want to visit the Big Ben! one of them tells me in French, which they all speak fluently. I have been recruited as a volunteer interpreter, host, guide, liaison to the festival. Within minutes, I doubt my qualifications for the position: which place has the best exchange rate? where can we find food at 11pm on a Sunday night? how do we get a taxi in this city? why are your French language skills so poor?

They never vocalize that last question, but my neurotic self knows that is just what they’re thinking.

I am reminded of this poem that I saw performed recently, and it hurt me to realize that I am the same:

I, too, only speak English. And it hurts me because, for all intents and purposes, I am Canadian. Born and raised in Ottawa, a city that calls itself by bilingual, where one’s livelihood depends on being bilingual because that’s where the good jobs are. Sure, I can say on my resumé that I was in French immersion for 11 years, that I have taken a directing seminar in French, that I directed a “bilingual” play; and all that is true. I understand French, yes, but do I speak the language? Perfectly, fluently, comprehensibly. Could I write a spoken word poem in French? Could I participate in French debate without stumbling, searching for words every few seconds?

And what about Spanish. I am Canadian. I am English. I am Spanish. My father was born and raised in Spain and teaches Spanish, writes in Spanish, speaks Spanish for a living. I can say that I received a Spanish subject award in high school – but that says more about my tendency to complete my homework assignments than it does about my fluency in the language. And I could blame my parents for not teaching me a second language when I was younger. I could blame my bilingual friends for speaking English around me to make things easier. But I could – and should – just as easily blame myself for not putting in the effort.

I’m currently writing one of those lists of 101 things to accomplish in 1001 days. Two of those items are: write a poem in French and write a poem in Spanish. That may sound simple enough, but the idea behind it is that I must become acquainted with both languages well enough that I can fabricate a well-written poem in each language, not simply an anglicized version of each.

I want to be able to tell that strong-willed instructor (also an actress, a producer, and supportive partner to the playwright) that I think she is extraordinary, that I admire her ability to do interviews in English even though she insists she doesn’t speak the language very well. I also admire all the things that she and her company are trying to accomplish with this play: by touching on issues of love, sexuality, and relationships, they hope to show a different side of the Arabic culture, one that is not often seen in the Western world. This is documentary theatre that includes real testimonials from Tunisians, with hints of fantasy and lyrical theatre weaved in.

And the Arabic dialects really are beautiful.

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Bye bye Canada!

Right now I’m sitting at the airport preparing for yet another trip to the old world. This time I’m visiting the UK for a really fun gig: I’m going to be playing “Host” to this theatre company from Tunisia that is participating this year in the London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT). I’m meeting with the festival organizers on Saturday to sort out all the details. They’ve asked me to meet them by some “van” near the National Theatre. Sounds suspicious.

I return to Ottawa on August 16, and until then I’ll be spending time in London, acquainting myself with the theatre scene. And I may take a trip to France for the Avignon Festival and then check out the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland.

I’m going to rely on the power of the internet for suggestions, so here are a few questions I’ve been asking myself and haven’t yet had the chance to find the answers. If you are able to respond helpfully to any of the following items, please post your advice in the comments section below. Thank you!

  • I need a phone while I’m in London. Is there someway of “renting” a phone for just these six weeks and “borrowing” a UK phone number? Pay-as-you-go with text messaging would be perfect for me. I do have my Motorola phone from Ottawa, and I have canceled my regular plan with Rogers: is it possible to apply what I need to that phone? Could I also use this same plan in France and Scotland?
  • I’m supposed to take this Tunisian theatre company to some cool places in central London. Any ideas of places to go / things to see that aren’t too costly and would be interesting to French-speaking visitors?
  • I’ve bought an Oyster pass (weekly) for the underground. Is that the cheapest and most efficient way of getting around?
  • Am I allowed to take a bicycle on the underground, or is it merely frowned upon?
  • Is it crazy of me to think I can get away with biking in Central London?
  • I guess I need to find myself a bicycle first…
  • What are the regulations for busking in London? I’m thinking of trying my luck as an amateur flautist.
  • I don’t know anything about Avignon. Enlighten me.
  • I don’t know much about Edinburgh either. Except that they have this awesome Fringe festival.
  • Is it easier / cheaper / more convenient to travel by bus, by train, or by plane within Europe?
  • Should I refrain from speaking with a faux English accent? Sometimes I can’t help myself!

* I’m not actually a female pilot. I just think that it’s a really sexy term, and I’ll favour alliteration over correct definitions any day.

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So it’s the last weekend of the Ottawa Fringe. Not sure what to see? Not sure how to best spend your time? I highly recommend checking out FullyFringed.ca for a complete list of reviews. That’s right: we fifteen theatre critics have successfully reviewed every single show at this year’s Fringe. Woot!

I reviewed five shows, which can be seen by clicking the following links:

Every Job I’ve Ever Had

Love and Hate in the Post Modern Age

Edge

It’s Just a Stage

7 (x1) Samurai

Also, I would highly recommend the following shows:

Shadows
featuring local talent Margo MacDonald (also the playwright) and Sarah Finn

Cactus – the Seduction…
featuring Fringe veteran Jonno Katz, who is taking this show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer

7 (x) Samurai
featuring David Gaines (just read my review)

The Duck Wife
Inuit myth narrated by a live rock band and illustrated by erotic duck choreography. Need I say more?

Six: At Home
site-specific magic created by Emma Zabloski and the cast

Mixing Boal: Kitchen of the Oppressed
an interactive cooking show conceived by Bronwyn Steinberg

The Beer Tent Reflux
because Kel and David mention me in the show, and I’m vain like that

The Capital Poetry Collective presents ‘The Adorkables’
uh, I’m in this show, and no, I’m not biased; it will be truly awesome

I have also heard great things about:

The Peter and Chris Show!

The Sputniks

The Last Straight Man in Theatre

Purely Cabaret

Phone Whore

Men Telling Stories

Multinational gRape Corporations

A Day in the Life of Miss Hiccup

Oh heck, just see all of them. You have four days left. GO!

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