(left to right) Miranda Calderon, Adam Paolozza, Rob Feetham, Viktor Lukawski. Photo by John Gundy.

The inspiration for both the  Italian Mime Suicide and Three Red Days springs from real-life events. In the hands of ordinary artists, the ideas embodied in these two distinct shows might come off as silly or so abstract, no one could understand them. But in the hands of Adam Paolozza and Viktor Lukawski, two of Canadian theatre’s most original talents, these two plays provide a pathway to a startling visual world that enters our senses like dance, sculpture, painting, or even jazz music. Watching Italian Mime Suicide and Three Red Days is like catching sight of a beautiful person, and recalling their image throughout one’s whole life.

In Three Red Days, the stage is dominated by a towering portrait of the Russian dictator Joseph Stalin. The monstrous icon is beautiful, hypnotic; oppressive.


Three Red Days. Photo by John Gundy.

The play is loosely based on a real-life incident in which the famed composer Shostakovich was denounced in the Soviet press, including his musical creations. Under Stalin’s iron-fisted regime, the terrified artist was summoned for interrogation. In Three Red Days, three men in suits representing Shostakovich, await interrogation in a government office. While the men sit, a sadistic official in uniform watches them, doodling on paper, relishing the fear of those about to undergo questioning. The whole work is a portrait of what living in a totalitarian state is like, a study in seamless paranoia. All this is communicated efficiently through face, demeanor, movement, sound, and music. It’s spellbinding.


Rob Feetham (l) and Liktor Lukawski (r). Photo by John Gundy

Italian Mime Suicide deals with a distraught mime artist, realizing no one appreciates his art. As well, his lover has deserted him. His art is about the imitation of speech, action, of intense emotions expressed wordlessly. For all of his hard work, he feels isolated, his life of no value. He is approaching despair.

Viktor Lukawski, Miranda Calderon, Rob Feetham, and Adam Paolozza appear in both shows and they are splendid. Although all the mimes play different parts, watching them on stage is like watching synchronized swimmers in a pool. Their arms, legs, faces, hands—their individual bodies are really one. Looking at them on stage is like watching a swarm of birds in the sky, rolling in coordinated waves, one direction, then another. The action of each work is  bolsters by wonderful musicians, playing everything from instrumental to classical music.

Really, it’s so sweet to sit and watch a show that grabs you on an intuitive level, nudging your thoughts into deeper insights. Both these shows are fun, frenetic, and delightful to watch. But there is always a faint and lasting shadow in mime. In both of these works, we are reminded death is our absurd companion. Death is always waiting to take us if we have bad luck, or by other means. We enjoy and laugh at the grandiose antics of the mime artist, but there is always something threatening in the work. We see humankind for what it is, slight bodies gesturing in a vast empty space. Behind the clown’s face, we see the skull. Mime reminds us how precarious; how preposterous life is.


These plays are not your average entertainment. It requires an audience that enjoys the unusual, the unexpected. It’s for an audience that can delight in brilliant circus at its very best. I truly hope whoever reads this will make the effort to see these wonderful shows before they close October 23.


Italian Mime Suicide. Photo by John Gundy



Wednesday, October 19 – 8:30pm
Thursday, October 20 – 8:30pm
Friday, October 21 – 8:30pm
Saturday, October 22 – 8:30pm
Sunday, October 23 – 3:30pm


The Theatre Centre, 1115 Queen St. West
October 8–23, 2016



Book your tickets for free, watch the show, and decide afterwards what you want to pay based on your experience/income/etc.

Directed by Adam Paolozza

Created by The Company


Featuring: Miranda Calderon, Rob Feetham, Viktor Lukawski, and Adam Paolozza

Live Music & Arrangements for Italian Mime Suicide by Arif Mirbaghi, Bruce Mackinnon, and Justin Ruppel; Set & Projection Design by Anahita Dehbonehie (based on an original design by Lorenzo Savoini)

Costume Design by Allie Marshall; Sound Design for 3RD by Samuel Sholdice; Lighting Design by Andre Du Toit ; Stage Management by DylanTate-Howarth ; Associate

Director/Dramaturge: Kari Pederson;Producer/Publicist: Karen Knox; Production Manager: Deborah Lim; 3D Poster Photo by Omar David Rivero


All photos by John Gundy


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Jeremy Lapalme and Shaina Silver-Baird. Photo by Jordan Probst

On the surface, Alex Dault’s play Turkey Shoot is about how the Europeans, especially the British, swindled the native people of Ontario out of their land. The drama focuses on the lands surrounding Toronto, in particular the rich farmland belonging to the people called Mississauga.  There is little new in the subject of the “whites” grabbing land from the indigenous people. But Dault is too fine a playwright to offer up another formula tale about “victims” getting a raw deal from the mean-spirited Brits.

Instead, Turkey Shoot suggests deeper, more interesting clashes. The Europeans see land as “property”, something that requires “ownership”.  Simply put, who owns this tract of land? If it belongs to the native people, they can then “sell it to” the British.  A deal is struck, a compact is signed. But do the tribes who hand over legal ownership even understand the concept of “sell”?  After all, according to their perspective, the land gives all life. It is the primordial “Mother”. One cannot divide and sell the Mother.


Richard Beaune(left) and Stewart Arnott (right). Photo y Jordan Probst

The conflict that lies at the centre of Turkey Shoot is the inability of one culture to understand another. Their respective world views are too different; their cultures grate against each other. Tensions build, especially as the British dump their large surplus population into Canada.

In both the past and present, some “whites” feel guilty about cheating the Mississauga out of their historic homes. Others don’t. Most of human history can be divided into the success of the conquerors, and the ruination of the conquered. But should the conquerors feel guilt for any wrong-doing?  Should they atone? Should they offer reconciliation? And just how far back into time should this go? A few years, decades, centuries, millennia? These questions permeate this drama.

Turkey Shoot works primarily because it focuses on the crisis of one man, David Gibson, a Scottish surveyor who comes to Canada, and finds employment surveying the land. Here, he makes friends with a native named Kahkewaquonaby or Peter Jones. Peter Jones is in fact the son of Augustus Jones, a surveyor who preceded David Gibson in the mapping of native lands.


Waawaate Fobister. Photo by Jordan Probst

As friendship develops between David Gibson and Peter Jones, Gibson comes to realize the farm land he is hired to survey for British settlers rightfully belongs to the natives. Attempting to extricate himself from what he sees as a wicked scheme, he becomes even more embroiled.

Turkey Shoot sports some very fine acting. Jeremy Lapalme, as David Gibson, the surveyor, has a wonderful warmth and resonance, transitioning from innocent immigrant to daring rebel. He is perfectly matched by Shaina Silver-Baird, playful yet hellbent on providing her husband with a safe home, while seeing herself as the guardian of his heavenly soul.


Richard Beaune. Photo by Jordan Probst


Richard Beaune is confident and engaging as Colonel James Givins, who works closely with Archdeacon Strachn, applying the iron will of the Church of England over the colonists and native people, alike. Stewart Arnott plays the Archdeacon. Arnott is utterly delicious in this role, giving us a political man who is both strict and glaverous. Arnott also plays the solemn Augustus Jones, who feels personal guilt for what he sees as his betrayal of the natives, who saved his life and that of his family when he fled northward, during the American revolution. Perhaps the most difficult job falls to Waawaate Fobister in the role of Kahkewaquonaby or Peter Jones, who must transform himself from a native who embraces the beliefs of his ancestors into a Christian evangelist, full of guilt over his “sins”.  In this, Fobister reaches moments of real pain, confusion, and dignity. The drama works well, directed with a sure hand by Leah Holder.

I personally feel Turkey Shoot could use some intelligent pruning and still get the job done. But I suspect that Alex Dault is moving towards a larger canvas for his stories. He may well have outgrown the tidy format of the “drawing room” drama and needs a more expansive framework.

Dault is one of the few writers who can pen interesting historical plays, while avoiding a didactic tone. He is a meticulous researcher and can easily pen a compelling drama, drawn from any period, ancient or modern. A writer this talented should never feel confined to Canadian history, alone.

Turkey Shoot has only a few performances left. Tickets prices are low, and there is limited seating. I hope many will make the effort to see it, and make reservations, quickly.


Jeremy Lapalme. Photo by Jordan Probst

Stewart Arnott
Richard Beaune
Waawaate Fobister
Jeremy Lapalme
Shaina Silver-Baird

Directed by Leah Holder
Set and Costumes designed by Rachel Forbes
Lighting design by Chris Malkowkski
Stage Managed by Michael Panich
Assistant Stage Managed by Brina Romanek
Produced by Daniel Liadsky & Alex Dault

Tickets at:

at https://gibsonhousemuseum.streamintickets.com/purchaseProductSP.aro?sum=Turkey+Shoot


All photos by Jordan Probst

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Media mogul Moses Znaimer and hit playwright Kat Sandler have teamed up to offer Toronto the hottest ticket in town. Sandler’s new play, Late Night, a wild comedy about several career meltdowns during a live TV broadcast, is actually staged inside a real television studio. The results are hilarious and nerve-shattering. What is supposed to be a fond farewell to a revered TV personality quickly turns into a on-air scandal triggering seismographic ratings.

Late Night is the story of veteran late-night TV host Marty O’Malley (think Jay Leno) who is being ‘eased’ into retirement. He no longer fits the demographics of a younger audience and this is his last show. On live TV, he is to hand over the reins of The Early Late Show to a younger anchor, and a woman. O’Malley is not happy about his leaving. He is being shoved out to pasture by a new generation, and his leaving represents a shift in taste, custom, and gender.


Kat Letwin (left) and Alon Nashman (right) in Late Night by Kat Sandler. Photo by John Gundy

O’Malley’s departure and the crowning of his protégé is a expected to be a television milestone. It is, but NOT as intended.  All goes smoothly, and then with the slip of the tongue, and a few drinks, things go terribly wrong. Imaginary scandals trigger real ones. Finally, it’s all hands on deck for damage-control. On one hand, the show’s sponsors love the ratings which they monitor, moment to moment, with bated breath. On the other, they are horrified at the what is now a public-relations nightmare in real time (think American presidential elections).


Alon Nashman. Photo by John Gundy

In this production, ZoomerMedia‘s television studio is used brilliantly. We get to see a play about a “live broadcast” in the same space used for real broadcasting.  At the same time we get to enjoy the huge flatscreens that encircle the room, showing us what any TV audience might sees at home. During Late Night, we watch the technicians working studio cameras.  As well, we get to witness what goes on “during the commercial breaks ” and all the incredible arguments that explode when the TV camera aren’t on. This staging is hypnotic, because you’re constantly feeling you’re in a reality show, not just watching one!

Alon Nashman plays Marty O’Malley, who is forced to share the host chair with his comedic protégé Sarah Goldberg (Kat Letwin) after a long reign as TV’s late night king. Maria Vacratsis stars as Alana, the veteran show’s producer who has made the fateful decision to broadcast the show live in front of a studio audience, composed of all those who come to the play. Michael Musi, is Alana’s hapless intern, endlessly embarrassed, used, and one might say, tortured, by the producer. With the antics of guest “movie star” Kevin Lee Hicks (Nigel Downer) and an unexpected visit by O’Malley’s glamorous wife, played by Rachel Jones, the evening soars into the surreal dynamics of unfolding  tabloid exposé.  Late Night is a whirling cocktail of pure social disgrace.

Everyone is this show is picture perfect, but I have a special fondness for Kat Letwin’s funny, heartfelt performance as a woman operating in a tricky industry, where there’s a fine line between getting people to laugh with you, only to wind up becoming the brunt of cruel jokes. And Nigel Downer is terrific as the guest movie star, promoting his series of cliché ridden flicks.

Late Night is fabulous entertainment for everyone, but I’m sure it will have special appeal for a young audience, waiting for an older generation to “retire” and open up the field for new blood.  So if you’re a 20-40 something, see this show! And if you’re older, see this show!  You’ll laugh your socks off. But you’ll also recognize the dangers of living in a world that both deplores scandal while feeding off of it.


Kat Letwin. Photo by John Gundy

Late Night, written and directed by Kat Sandler.

Starring: Alon Nashman, Kat Letwin, Maria Vacratsis, Michael Musi, Nigel Downer, & Rachel Jones.

Executive Producer: Moses Znaimer
Dramaturge: Tom McGee
Producer: Benjamin Blais
Publicity & PR: Karen Knox
Sound Design: Sam Sholdice
Costume Design: Holly Lloyd

October 7th-23rd
Wed-Sat – 8:00PM
Sun -2:00PM


70 Jefferson Avenue, in Liberty Village



All photos by JOHN GUNDY


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Simon Mizera (left) and Michael-David Blostein in Itamar Moses’ The Four of Us.           Photo by Burke Campbell


One of the reasons I like going to the Attic Arts Hub is the total experience. It’s in Leslieville, one of Toronto’s nicest neighbourhood, bespeckled with shops and restaurants and pubs, like The Roy Public House. The Attic Arts Hub is itself located above a wonderful restaurant, The Queen Margherita Pizza. So you could enjoy a great dinner there, and also see a play. The Attic is such a lovely space, with a tent like wooden ceiling. The whole room has a lovely warmth to it. It seems to embrace you and make you feel welcome, no matter the season.

On the weekend, I went to see the Attic’s latest offering, The Four of Us, by American playwright Itamar Moses, produced in Toronto by Foxglove Theatre. In The Four of Us, we see, primarily, Simon Mizera (as David) and Michael-David Blostein (as Benjamin), two writers at various stages of their friendship. Mostly, the action centres around David trying to deal with Benjamin’s early and incredible success. The whole play is a study of their relationship.


Director Samantha Holland. Photo by Burke Campbell.

The work is very well directed by Samantha Holland. I find this interesting as Holland is a woman, and this is an all-male play, including  Chistropher Fulton and Mike Ruderman. Historically, most theatre directors have been men, but there has been a steady rise in the number of females, and the results in this case are very good.

As the leads, Simon Mizera and Michael-David Blostein are engaging actors, and I for one hope to see them in other works. In fact, the main reservations I have about this production is  the text itself. The play lacks any real danger or conflict. Conflict is the life blood of drama, even if it’s all just under the surface. But Itamar Moses doesn’t really write that well. In fact, Canadian playwright Kat Sandler can conjure male characters who exhibit far greater vitality and intimacy. But again, the director, the actors, and overall viewing is well worth the experience. In particular, there is something malevolent and mysterious about Michael-David Blostein. I have a hunch one day he’s going to pop up a villain in a famous yet-to-be-written film. Or perhaps as a saint who suffers martyrdom with exceptional bravery. One doesn’t just go to a play to watch what’s on stage. A play is also an appetizer for the imagination.


I could get into trouble for saying this but everyone even remotely associated with this production is pleasing to the eye. Is it wrong to admire male and female beauty? Note to myself: I should say more about why there are four cast members for what is really a two-character play, but I won’t. I feel that’s part of the mystery or secret of the play. And there ought to be things you must judge for yourself.


The Attic Arts Hub, 1402 Queen St. East

Ticket Prices:

$20; Available through eventbrite.com or at the door


September 17 to 26, 2016.

Saturday-Sunday at 8:00 pm (matinee at 2pm on Sun Sept 25); Industry Night Monday 26 at 8:00 pm.

What Others Have Said About This Play:

Reviews from past productions of The Four of Us: Four stars. An extremely clever and enjoyable study of friendship…funny, touching, and wickedly smart. – Time Out New York. A clever comic drama with a nifty twist…a touching, appealing play. – The New York Times. A smart, sharply observed, and exceptionally enjoyable affair. 90 minutes of humor and painful truths that really zip along. – Chicago Tribune.

The Four of Us is produced by Šimon Mizera. The design team for the production includes David Costello (lights), Andy Lajeunesse (sound), Isaac Robinson (set), Zuzana Benesova (graphics) and Tomas Andel (composer). The stage manager is John Murphy.

All photos by Burke Campbell


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Vincent Custom Tailoring

A lot of times, you buy an outfit that requires quality alterations. Or, you own clothing that needs taking in or letting out, re-styling, or repair.

You might even want a custom-made suit, dress, or other apparel.

Vincent Custom Tailoring

Whatever you need, I’d just like to recommend Vincent Custom Tailoring, centrally located at Yonge and College in downtown Toronto. Vincent is a master tailor, someone who can make, mend, or alter anything having to do with fabric. There’s no one better. He’s at 2 College Street West, Unit 107. Telephone: 416-921-5294.

Fall is coming and your wardrobe probably needs an update. Please save this posting for when you’ll need it.

Vincent Custom Tailoring

Vincent Custom Tailoring


2 College Street West

 Map to Vincent Custom Tailoring:


All photos by Burke Campbell

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AMS Sept

MILF LIFE CRISIS, written and performed by Anne Marie Scheffler, is a comic romp through the stress of a woman, with children, getting a divorce. Appearing alone on stage, Scheffler becomes the husband who rejects her, her various girlfriends, and the numerous characters she meets as she seeks to find sex after marriage.  MILF is frank and funny, and as the show goes on, it becomes an interesting snapshot of a society where divorce is increasing commonplace, as male and female roles change dramatically.

MILF appears inspired by Scheffler’s own life experience, at least that’s the impression we get. What starts as her desire to fulfill her career ambition, along with her husband’s symbolic gesture of buying a king-size bed, triggers the process of marriage derailment. As in any relationship, what people say and what is actually going on may be two different things, and one does wonder how much most couples really talk to each other. Or listen. But whatever the reason for divorce, the aftermath is often a dark comedy.

If anyone has ever tried “dating”, it’s pure torture. You go to bars, you go to events, you go anywhere you might meet another person searching for love or carnal engagement. And a divorced woman looking for sex has to re-learn all the rules of this mindless game. Also, with modern phone apps, there are thousands of men looking for sex with women round the clock, with pictures and profiles, and this adds endless opportunities.

But do such relationships end in one-night stands or evolve into those of depth and endurance? That is the question. Anne Marie Scheffler doesn’t offer answers. What she does offer is a lot of zany fun and observations, and the audience has a very good time.

Personally, I like going to the Red Sandcastle Theatre. You can drop by, buy a ticket, and be thoroughly entertained for over an hour, and come out feeling great. Leslieville is a wonderful neighborhood, too, where one can have dinner or drinks at fine places like The Roy Public House or Braised. MILF Life Crisis is perfect for this weather, too. It’s light, sunny, and full of laughs. Actually, it’s a great date play. You can make it super interesting by inviting your “ex”. (hehehe).

MILF doesn’t run very long, so go now.


Red Sandcastle Theatre


922 Queen Street East


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© Burke Campbell 066 - lips

I’m late in posting about Pride Toronto. But, you know, it’s never late to share a good thing, is it?

This year, 2016, Pride Toronto was mostly wonderful. I personally encountered nothing but good cheer. And the police did a tremendous job of keeping us all safe.

Pride Toronto is no longer an exclusive “gay” affair.  It’s grown so vast, so inclusive, and so much fun, folks of every age, gender, and sexual persuasion attend. Gays, straights; teens and grown-ups fill the downtown to overflowing. While Pride had its start in the gay liberation movement, by now, the event has evolved into a massive public Mardi Gras, where free expression reigns. All sexual persuasions  mingle freely, and have a ball.  It’s totally pagan!

© Burke Campbell 014 - Group shot

While I photograph people during Pride Week, I really enjoy the last day. I tend to avoid the huge parade down Yonge Street, and focus on the smaller crowds that fill nearby Church Street. On Church, it’s far easier to move about, approach people, chat, and take pictures.

© Burke Campbell 035 - bartenders


© Burke Campbell 088 - we open beer bottlesDecades back, Pride Toronto was a political celebration focused primarily on promoting gay rights. But now, “gay pride” has been superseded by broader societal forces.  Sex, once viewed as a “sacrament” reserved for marriage and procreation is seen more by a younger generation as a biological fact.  Sex is just one of humanity’s normal appetites. And as people in general become less repressed about sex, and less fearful of it, gay sex seems a natural part of  humankind’s wider sexual spectrum.

© Burke Campbell 237 - for TV

© Burke Campbell 042 - ice cream

Gay liberation is a by-product of urbanization. When gays began moving into cities in numbers, they had to create places where they could find each other. In Toronto, gays congregated in the downtown area, and throughout the 1990s, a visible gay village emerged on Church Street, full of shops, restaurants, bathhouses and bars. This density of gays gave rise to a community with political clout, one that could push for protection under the law. But in recent history, something of even greater significance has unfolded. The Internet has increasingly diminished the role of “location” and now, gays can get in touch anytime, anywhere, no matter where they live.  New technologies such as iPhones, online websites and apps like Grindr, make it easy for gays to locate each other, match up interests, and make contact directly.  Today, in Toronto, gays live all over the city and work in every profession, openly. This new freedom and mobility has faded the need of living in a protective “ghetto”.

© Burke Campbell 279 - perfection - crop

But the great success of Pride has led it directly into precarious waters. Years back, Pride started as a small festival to promote specifically gay causes. At present, Pride has grown so large, attracting thousands of tourists and millions of dollars, it has become an essential component of Toronto’s tourism industry. Tourists, however, come for a good time, not to find themselves entering a political firestorm. And because Pride attracts extraordinary coverage, in every media, this means any group can grab enormous attention simply by showing up and sharing kinship with the “gay oppression” of the past. All persecuted groups should show solidarity, right?

© Burke Campbell 225 - Banking

So what goes up may well come down. The festival that began as a political movement may eventually sink in its own political legacy. Hopefully, those who organize and manage Pride can find solutions to what is clearly one of Toronto’s most high profile events.


Perhaps, as the larger society grows more comfortable with sex in general, human intimacy and sexual fantasy are things we can all celebrate and share.

© Burke Campbell 046 - 3 at PRIDE

© Burke Campbell 028 - on a roof

© Burke Campbell 047 - Tarzan the Great close up

© Burke Campbell 264 - Sweating 1


© Burke Campbell 252 - Trojan ManPhotos by Burke Campbell


Posted in Uncategorized, Toronto, Gay, Entertainment, culture, PRIDE | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment