THE MAGIC OF PRIDE

Burke Campbell 003

Pride. In Toronto, Canada. 2017. What began years ago as a small political event on Church Street has grown into one of the most massive carnivals in North America, with well over a million attendees. Historically, it’s a “gay pride”, but it has morphed into a gigantic extravaganza where people of every race, color, creed, and sexuality fill the downtown to dance, party, and feel the groove. It’s proud and pagan.

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Tens of thousands of people flood Yonge Street, Toronto’s Main Street, for Pride.

Originally, it was a public display, a show of force, and an attempt to secure homosexual and lesbian equal rights under the law. It was a call to end fear, and to free gays from having to live their lives in a closet, their relationships hidden from view.

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Now, at least in Toronto, Pride has become solidly mainstream. The downtown is filled to overflowing with celebrants— gay and straight couples, single men and women, kids, and even pets wearing rainbow flags.

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While the Pride Parade is often viewed at the “big spectacle”, it’s really the fun of just walking around the downtown, especially Church Street, which is cordoned off for three full days. There, crowds wander up and down, checking out the information booths, shopping, buying meals at food wagons, and gawking at the incredible costumes. There is even public nudity which is accepted without a word.

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While many cities still shun gays, the money generated by gay events is staggering. In Toronto, Pride dumps millions of dollars into the local economy. And favourable word-of-mouth keeps them coming.

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Marketers have noted that gay tourism is “recession proof” and is, in general, quite steady through economic ups and downs. Friendships are made here, which encourages return trips and personal networks blossom.

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I took a few pictures. Thought I’d post them. Hope you like them.

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MAN IN GASMASK

Burke Campbell 001 - fireman

 

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© Burke Campbell. All rights reserved.

 

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Posted in Canada, culture, Gay, Media, Ontario, Photography, PRIDE, Toronto, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

EVEN MORE PRIDE

 

Burke Campbell 001 Trojan group

Trojan models at PRIDE in Toronto, Canada. Photo by Burke Campbell.

 

Pride. In Toronto, Canada. 2017. What began years ago as a small political event on Church Street has grown into one of the most massive carnivals in North America, with well over a million attendees.

Burke Campbell 003 - rainbow

Historically, it’s a “gay pride”, but it has morphed into a gigantic extravaganza where people of every race, color, creed, and sexuality fill the downtown to dance, party, and feel the groove. It’s proud and pagan.

Burke Campbell 001 - closeup
Originally, it was a public display, a show of force, and an attempt to secure homosexual and lesbian equal rights under the law. It was a call to end fear, and to free gays from having to live their lives in a closet, their relationships hidden from view.

Burke Campbell 001 - Faerie
Now, at least in Toronto, Pride has become solidly mainstream. The downtown is filled to overflowing with celebrants— gay and straight couples, single men and women, kids, and even pets wearing rainbow flags.

Burke Campbell 004 - Nathaniel
While the Pride Parade is often viewed at the “big spectacle”, it’s really the fun of just walking around the downtown, especially Church Street, which is cordoned off for three full days. There, crowds wander up and down, checking out the information booths, shopping, buying meals at food wagons, and gawking at the incredible costumes. There is even public nudity which is accepted without a word.

Burke Campbell 001 - men in uniform
While many cities still shun gays, the money generated by gay events is staggering. In Toronto, Pride dumps millions of dollars into the local economy. And favourable word-of-mouth keeps them coming.

Burke Campbell 010

Marketers have noted that gay tourism is “recession proof” and is, in general, quite steady through economic ups and downs. Friendships are made here, which encourages return trips and personal networks blossom.

Burke Campbell 001 - Tall guy
I took a few pictures. Thought I’d post them. Hope you like them.

 

Burke Campbell 003 - TD shot

Burke Campbell 003

 

© Burke Campbell. All rights reserved.

 

Posted in Canada, culture, Gay, Media, PRIDE, Toronto, tourism | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

THE ALL CAME FOR PRIDE

Burke Campbell 013 - crowds

Massive crowds fill Toronto’s downtown core for the Pride Parade 2017. Photo by Burke Campbell

Pride. In Toronto, Canada. 2017.

What began years ago as a small political event on Church Street has grown into one of the most massive carnivals in North America, with well over a million attendees. Historically, it’s a “gay pride”, but it has morphed into a gigantic extravaganza where people of every race, color, creed, and sexuality fill the downtown to dance, party, and feel the groove. It’s proud and pagan.

Burke Campbell 007

Originally, it was a public display, a show of force, and an attempt to secure homosexual and lesbian equal rights under the law. It was a call to end fear, and to free gays from having to live their lives in a closet, their relationships hidden from view.

Burke Campbell 013 - hot girl

Now, at least in Toronto, Pride has become solidly mainstream. The downtown is filled to overflowing with celebrants— gay and straight couples, single men and women, kids, and even pets wearing rainbow flags.

 

While the Pride Parade is often viewed at the “big spectacle”, it’s really the fun of just walking around the downtown, especially Church Street, which is cordoned off for three full days. There, crowds wander up and down, checking out the information booths, shopping, buying meals at food wagons, and gawking at the incredible costumes.

Burke Campbell 012

There is even public nudity which is accepted without a word.

Burke Campbell 005

While many cities still shun gays, the money generated by gay events is staggering. In Toronto, Pride dumps millions of dollars into the local economy. And favourable word-of-mouth keeps them coming.

Burke Campbell 006 - two strong guys

Marketers have noted that gay tourism is “recession proof” and is, in general, quite steady through economic ups and downs. Friendships are made here, which encourages return trips and personal networks blossom.

Burke Campbell 004

I took a few pictures. Thought I’d post them. Hope you like them.

Burke Campbell 001 - police

Burke Campbell 006

Burke Campbell 003 - jockstrap

© Burke Campbell. All rights reserved.

 

Posted in Canada, culture, Gay, Media, Ontario, PRIDE, Toronto, tourism, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

BRIGHT POCKET OF MUSIC

© Burke Campbell 044 - Hands of Donavon LeNabat - b&w

The hands of Donavon LeNabat on keyboard at Statler’s, Toronto, Canada

 

Statler’s is a bar on Church Street. Recently, I started to hang out there. The place is especially amazing on Monday and Thursday nights, around 10:00 pm. Monday night is SINGular Sensation, a show hosted by Jennifer Walls, with Donavon LeNabat on keyboard and Jamie Bird, on percussions. SINGular Sensation focuses mostly on Broadway songs. On Thursdays, LeNabat runs his own “Open Mic”, which lets anyone get up and sing. But usually, only the best voices in Toronto show up and entertain brilliantly. Occasionally, both evenings are “subbed out” to different hosts and musicians. For example, recently, Monday nights are headed by Jenna Warriner, who can belt out any song and acts as a glamorous ringmaster. But whichever of these two nights you go, there is stellar entertainment. The place just rocks!

© Burke Campbell 006 - Statler's Sign

I should mention that Donavon LeNabat is a brilliant pianist, and along with Jamie Bird, they make a phenomenal combo. Both are wonderful singers in their own right. In addition to these two, incredible musicians often just show up, and you’ll find yourself listening to a full band sound, spontaneously conjured. Statler’s is a window on Toronto’s complex network of musical talent. And if anyone is a true talent scout, this is the place to install a permanent chair.

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Donavon LeNabat at Statler’s, Toronto, Canada

Statler’s sits in the middle of the gay village, but music accepts all, on Monday and Thursday nights, the crowd is a mix of attractive men and women. The whole tone of the show is light, sophisticated, and SO much fun!

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MeL Côté – Chanteuse at Statler’s, on Church Street, Toronto

Toronto is splitting at the seams with gifted performers, and Statler’s is an easy showcase for both established and new singers. The type of music is all over the map. You can hear newly-written songs, pop, Broadway, and every type of classic, no matter the style. It’s all good and the atmosphere is cheering.

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Daniel Abrahamson, singing up a storm at Statler’s

 

So I do urge you, if you like to listen to the best in Toronto, live, you must go to Statler’s and try it. Summer is coming, and the sound will spill out onto the street, scribbled in neon. Warm nights and hot music. Who could ask for anything more?

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Scott Neary at Statler’s, Toronto, Canada

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Jahlen Barnes singing at Statler’s

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Jeff Beauchamp at Statler’s, in Toronto

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Matt Dell at Statler’s, Toronto, Canada

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Jamie Bird at Statler’s

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Statler’s owner, Michael James MacDonell

Check out Statler’s

http://statlers.ca/

All photos by Burke Campbell

Posted in Canada, Entertainment, Gay, Music, musical, Ontario, tourism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A TURN OF THE PAGE

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Closing party of The Storefront Theatre at its 955 Bloor West location. Photo by Burke Campbell

After a few brief years, The Storefront Theatre closed at its location, 955 Bloor Street West, near the Ossington subway stop. Rather scruffy looking, and on a corner, the small space become home to some of the most talented directors, actors, and designers of the independent theatre movement. In its short life it staged playwrights, ranging from Shakespeare, to David Mamet, to amazing new talents like Kat Sandler. The little theatre came to represent all that was fresh, and wonderfully youthful in the Toronto entertainment scene. Sadly, The Storefront was in mid-season when its lease came to an end and the place was rented to others.

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The Storefront is just part of the desperate plight that threatens Toronto right now, as rent and housing prices soar everywhere. The city is now carpeted with sterile condos and there is a lack of affordable space for small businesses and those offering entertainment.

© Burke Campbell 001 - Rosemary & Adam

 

The closing at 955 was a shock to the various budding companies that have produced at the location, including the Red One Theatre Collective, Theatre Brouhaha, and others. There is a search for new venues going on now. Hopefully one can be found.

The Storefront had a major closing party in January, and just about everyone showed up. I took some pictures, and rather than write about its history, productions, and personalities, I just wanted to post a few images of that last great night of revelry.

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© Burke Campbell 204 - Amanda - & poster

© Burke Campbell 102 - Benjamin & gang - Copy

All photos by Burke Campbell.

 

Posted in acting, actors, arts, Canada, Entertainment, Ontario, Photography, theater, Theatre, Toronto, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ANTON & OLGA

 

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I Take Your Hand in Mine… is a drama, based on the letters exchanged between the Russian literary giant Anton Chekhov and his wife, the important actress, Olga Knipper.  In a script created by Carol Rocamora, and directed by Dmitry Zhukovsky, we view the intimacy of their marriage. We also glimpse moments of when and how some of the greatest drama ever created came into being.

Anton Chekhov was already famous when he met Olga Knipper. Though still young, he had only eight more years to live, and was to die at age 44, in 1904. Consumption would finish him, but his life was far from tragic. The play is inspirational because Chekhov’s decline was also his most productive. His love of Olga and his own insight into human life triggered a great volley of masterworks. In those closing years, he created The Sea Gull, Three Sisters, Uncle Vanya, and The Cherry Orchard. Any good writer is humbled by Chekhov’s subtlety, how he uses the ordinary door to open onto a panoramic view of human nature.

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Rena Polley and Richard Sheridan Willis in I Take Your Hand in Mine…

I Take Your Hand in Mine… is wonderfully cast with Richard Sheridan Willis as Chekhov and Rena Polley as Olga Knipper. Willis gives us the look of a man who sees more than he tells, a wise observer of people, and how they use words to hide their true feelings, even from themselves. Chekhov was of course a practicing doctor, and Willis plays him as a man who is both warm, and yet maintains a certain clinical detachment. Willis also portrays a shy man, who continues to hide his affair with Olga until she finally gives him an ultimatum. Then and only then does he offer to tie the knot.

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I should confess I have a special fondness for Rena Polley, especially when we see her rehearse a scene from Three Sisters. In the scene, she plays Masha, a woman who is in love with a married man she cannot have, and she does so with a lightness that tears your heart out watching her. Whether you know anything of Chekhov’s life or his works, I believe you’d still enjoy watching these two fine actors communicate this marriage, through the couple’s own words. I Take Your Hand in Mine… is a play that has a strange resonance to it, of sadness and a larger joy.  It’s a perfect “date drama”.  Like fine wine, it’s a drama to savour.

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This play is running now at Tarragon Theatre Extraspace. April 6-23, 2017.

Tuesday – Saturday, 8:00 pm

Saturday and Sunday matinee, 2:30 pm

You can order tickets at:

thechekhovcollective.com

 Tarragon Theatre

30 Bridgman Avenue

Toronto, Ontario

Presented by:

The Chekhov Collective in association with Theatrus

Produced by Yulia Rubina and Rena Polley

 

Posted in acting, actors, Canada, culture, drama, Literary, Ontario, playwright, theater, Theatre, Toronto, tourism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

THE RED LACQUERED BOX

© Burke Campbell 014 - Aleksandra Maslennikova 5

Alekandra Maslennikova as Madame Giles in Burke Campbell’s new drama, The Red Lacquered Box

Love. Yes. Madame Tullée was an expert in matters of the heart. She could listen to any man, or any woman—to their problems.

Initially written as prose, my play, The Red Lacquered Box adapted easily to the stage.

In late fall, I submitted the work to the New Ideas Festival, in Toronto. Held annually at the Alumnae Theatre, the festival showcases new plays of every type, especially those of interest to women. Shortly thereafter, my psychological thriller was selected as one of the fifteen plays scheduled for performance, March 8-26, 2017.

The Red Lacquered Box is set in Paris, France, in the late 1880s, and explores an event that scandalized polite society. The play is in fact a dramatic monologue, spoken by Madame Giles, secretary to Madame Tullée, a woman known by men of power and influence.

But how could I have foreseen—how could anyone have foreseen that such a tragedy could play out in that room, so far from this house! And no one can say for sure what happened!

At the Festival, I matched up with director, Lynn Weintraub, who in turn recruited actress Aleksandra Maslennikova for the role of Madame Giles. It is through Madame Giles that we are offered an insider’s view of how the disturbing events unfolded.

Rehearsals went well, and I was lucky to have stage manager, Ksenia Sabulua.

The Red Lacquered Box premiered on March 15. Honestly, I could not have hoped for a better production. It is a special treat for a writer to realize what he has penned in private can hold an audience spellbound. And I was fortunate to have an actress as captivating as Maslennikova, who appeared so at home in my words. I also felt blest to have a director as accomplished as Lynn Weintraub, who worked so hard to illuminate and illustrate the text. In many productions today, men play women and women take male parts. But what astonished me was how instinctively women knew the role of Madame Giles, and understood implicitly the contours of her logic.

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“Madame Tullée was in perfect health. No, there were no medications of any kind. What are you thinking—she was hardly an invalid! The occult? A witch? Madame Tullée was not a witch!”

What an audience finds so compelling about The Red Lacquered Box is that it’s not so much a “who-done-it”.  Rather, it’s more of a “how this happened”.  Set in a period of intense sexual repression, the play showcases how the human mind can work. I doubt if this drama will date, and at its core is a fascinating character.

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Director Lynn Weintraub

Hopefully, my play will enjoy productions elsewhere. It is an ideal solo for any seasoned actress, especially a woman past the stock “ingénue” roles.  In the meantime, there are plans afoot for a production of my rather profane comedy, The Lady in Shoes From Hell, at the Red Sandcastle Theatre. For me, this is turning out to be a very interesting year.

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Alumnae Theatre, Toronto, Canada

All photos by Burke Campbell

 

Posted in arts, drama, Entertainment, Literary, Ontario, play writing, playwright, Theatre, Toronto | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment