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Showing posts from 2015

Precisely Peter Production of Alan Bennett's Talking Heads Dark And Hilarious

Thank you John Shooter for leaving England and coming to Canada, or to be more precise Toronto. Because of your desire to create theatre in your new city, I have been delighted to attend plays by Mike Leigh (Abigail's Party) and Alan Bennett (Talking Heads).

Shooter is back with Talking Heads 2 and as the program notes state: "Step into the lives of six ordinary people, each concealing a far from ordinary secret!"

The 6 monologues have been divided into Part A and Part B. If you are able, I recommend  you see both parts.  At $25 per evening, $50 is all you will pay to see very talented Canadian and English actors performing the brilliantly witty, darkly-edged dialogue of Britain's preeminent author, playwright, and actor Alan Bennett (The Uncommon Reader, The History Boys, The Madness of King George).

I saw Part A last year, and recently took in Part B. The major contrast between the two parts is the difference in tone. The monologues in Part A are more dramatic, al…

Writer Spotlight: Julia Hart on her script for The Keeping Room

I missed "The Keeping Room" when it was an official selection of The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) last year, so was happy that the film was recently released and is presently screening at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. The film tells the story of three women (two white sisters and their black slave) defending themselves against rogue soldiers at the tale end of the American Civil War. I love westerns and was intrigued by the female perspective of this film, especially since it brought back memories of my university days writing papers about women in the US south during this time period. When the opportunity arose for a quick interview with screenwriter, Julia Hart, how could I resist?

donna g:  Could you please tell me more about your script being selected for the Black List in 2012? This is not an area that the average film-goer is familiar with.

JULIA HART: A bunch of people in our industry - executives, producers etc... are asked to vote for their favourite unproduc…

From Weekly Radio to Online Coverage!

Hey, tmtm fans! I am on hiatus for the next couple of weeks, as I move from connecting with you on a weekly basis at CIUT 89.5 FM, to sharing arts-at-large coverage via social media. Until then, please make sure to follow me via




TIFF15 Review: A Patch of Fog

I don't watch Game of Thrones nor Boardwalk Empire so walking into "A Patch of Fog", I didnt' have any pre-conceived notions of what to expect from Conleth Hill and Stephen Graham. Hill stars as Sandy Duffy, an author famous for a seminal work that's celebrating it's twentieth anniversary. Duffy is also a creative writing professor, a regular contributor to an arts television show and a shoplifter. Unfortunately for Duffy, he gets captured in the act by security guard, Robert (Stephen Graham), who blackmails Duffy into a one-sided friendship.
The tension between Duffy and Robert is skillfully maintained by director, Michael Lennox, who knows when to go for the close up and when to pull away and let the action unfold. The script by John Cairns and Michael McCartney is smart, well-crafted, and delivered with credibility by the two leads. Watching the successful Duffy, who is so imposing and opinionated in his own world of television and academia, red…

TIFF '15 Interview : Director, Sanna Lenken on "My Skinny Sister"

  My Skinny Sister (Min Lilla Syster) screens as part of TIFF Kids, but this Swedish film about eating disorders is far from being an after-school special. I was especially impressed by the casting of this smart, realistic film with its portrayal of sisterhood and family dynamics.

donna g:You are so right in your Director's Statement that eating disorders are as common in families as alcoholism, yet the subject is never given equal attention.  Based on this lack of awareness, did you have any problems getting this film made or was funding readily available for this project?
SANNA LENKEN: It  wasn’t as hard as I had expected even though we, of course, had some meetings without luck. The main problem was distribution in Sweden. The distribution companies didn’t believe in the film as a commercial product, mainly because of the cast, two young girls, and the heavy subject. I was really scared for a while because in Sweden you can’t get all the money before having a distributor. In t…

Why is Rockabilly Photographer Liisa Morton All Hopped Up?

donna g: Your debut show and Zine are called All Hopped Up!, so we have to talk about the cars. How did you capture the shot entitled Highway, in San Francisco?

LIISA MORTON: I was travelling with the Swanx car club of Vallejo, CA. We had been at the Billetproof car show inHayward, CA earlier that day and were heading back home to San Francisco. I was riding along the highway with Swanx member, Guido, when I heard Steve O coming up from behind us. I quickly scrambled to get my camera and took a few quick shots. It was really tricky to do because we were all driving so fast! This photo was later used for the cover of the Royal Crowns' CD, "After Dark"
dg: Maya’s Ford Fairlane is a classic, and she looks so cool driving it. Do you know how long she’s had it, and does she drive it all the time or just at conventions? 

LM: Maya has owned her beautiful 1964 Ford Fairlane Sport Coupe 500 since about 1985. She did all of the bodywork and paint on this car, which she calls, "K…

SummerWorks Interview:The Templeton Philharmonic's An Evening in July

donna g: In your program notes you write that An Evening in July was “Inspired by the cult documentary Grey Gardens and Helene de Rothschild’s 1972 Surrealist Ball." Could you please elaborate  for those not familiar with those works?

Gwynne Phillips: Of course! Grey Gardens is a 1975 American documentary about two reclusive upper class women, a mother and daughter named Edith and Edie Beale, who lived in a decaying mansion in East Hampton. They were the aunt and first cousin of Jackie Onassis. We were very much inspired by their story and relationship, and our venue fit the aesthetic perfectly. The Surrealist Ball was hosted by socialite Helene de Rothschild in 1972, and was essentially an elaborate star-studded ball with celebrities like Salvador Dali to Audrey Hepburn in attendance. Look it up online you will not be disappointed!
dg: Briana, how would describe May? Briana Templeton: She's June's sister, and they live together as recluses in a strange, crumbling mansion. T…

SummerWorks 2015: Women!

Missing the Toronto Fringe Festival, well, satisfy your love of theate and add some dance, live art and music to your days and or evenings at SummerWorks 2015! The 11 day festival kicks off tonight at various venues west of Yonge Street, and branching north and south of Bathurst. The festival is in its 25th year, and plays are selected by jury. 
There are a few plays by women that caught my eye. Here are a few that I intend to check out. Be sure to share your thoughts on these and other plays, by commenting on this post or at, or on twitter at @tmtmshow. Let's inspire and engage each other.

AN EVENING IN JULY Written and Created by Gwynne Phillips and Briana Templeton; Performed by Gwynne Phillips , Briana Templeton and Thom Stoneman; Stage Managed by Vanessa K. Purdy 
Yes, July has passed, but what intrigues me about this play is I like to mix things up when it comes to my venues, and if I can see something set outside, then I'll giv…

FringeTO: The Women of Tu-Na House Deserve a Warm Welcome

Even in death, Nancy Eng's beloved cat lives on. Eng conceived The Women of Tu-Na House as a therapeutic medium to cope with the loss of her  pet after their nineteen year relationship. The piece has since evolved from its three actor stage to a solo show that has played to appreciative audiences in the US and now Canada, thanks to the Toronto Fringe Festival.

Exploring the private world of sex and massage trade workers, Tu-Na House focuses on the lives of several women and one man. The stories are varied and fascinating, and Eng plays them all with the individuality and clarity that is demanded of a solo show. With the ring of a bell, a quick costume change and interspersed with recorded poetry that lends further insight into the lives of each character, Eng moves from one persona to the next with ease.

All the characters resonate with me, but a personal favourite is the tea server with Peking Opera roots. His reminiscences about his artistic past made me long to hear more abou…

FringeTO: Twelfe Night or What A Romp...

William Shakespeare's Twelfe Night, or What You Will is one of my favourite plays, so naturally it was on my To See list for this year's Fringe. Then, when director Joshua Stodart revealed on my show that they were presenting the play on a thrust stage, I was sold.

It was a packed house tonight at St. Vlads Theatre, and as the actors tread the boards (literally in this case), there was laughter and applause aplenty. The manipulative triumvirate of Sir Toby Belch (Tim MacLean), Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Matt Shaw) and Maria (Andrea Massoud) with the aid of Feste the clown (Jake Vanderham)  generate mirth with their on point line delivery and physical antics as they plot  mischief against the pompous Malvolio (Tal Shulman. The boisterous drunken "riding" scene, for example, induced belly laughs that filled the house.  As for Tal Shulman's Malvolio: priceless. Fooled into thinking
that Lady Olivia (Hilary McCormack) is in love with him, he makes a complete ass of him…

FringeTO: Becoming Burlesque is All Strip And No Tease

I was really looking forward to seeing Becoming Burlesque tonight, anticipating a rowdy titillating experience that I would be sharing  with a Fringe Festival audience--theatre goers who are up for anything; sadly, I have to report that the show just did not work.

Right away, upon walking into the Al Green Theatre, I wondered why director, Jackie English had decided to place action in the pit while the stage remained bare. In my seat near the back of the theatre, I was even more at a loss because I couldn't hear the pre-show dialogue that was happening in the pit/dancers' backstage dressing room. It was the equivalent of a cell phone call cutting in and out. As the house lights came down and the spotlight came up on the stage, I felt relieved that backstage was going to be just that--an area where the dancers would go after performing. Well, I was partiality right: they used the stage for the dances, but there was action in the pit as well. My guess from what I could pick up …