What a vast array of acting and writing and directing talent. I was in awe, I was laughing, and I was certainly paying attention to all the details that went into each short play.
What does a rabbit, a rope, someone leaving home, and a tunnel all have in common? If you were not in Toronto at the 8th annual InspiraTO festival this past week, you may be lost up in the clouds with confusion – but don’t worry, let me take you down from your perch and give you Silverpoint’s behind-the-scenes ground view.
InspiraTO is a theatre festival run by Artistic Director Dominik Loncar and Associate Artistic Director Lumir Hladik. The festival is organized into four themed colours: blue, red, yellow, and orange. An entire show is devoted to one theme – four shows in total. Each show is comprised of six ten-minute plays that
portray their version of the theme. Therefore, there are a total of 24 plays in four shows.
For the past few years, Silverpoint has worked alongside Dominik and Lumir to help them build anticipation and excitement for the festival. This year, Keith filmed and
interviewed a variety of directors, playwrights, and actors from several plays.
What was really exciting for the entire SP team is that last week, we went down to Toronto two days in a row and watched all 24 plays (*we did not watch the white show –
click here for more exciting details). What a vast array of acting and writing and directing talent. I was in awe, I was laughing, and I was certainly paying attention to all the details that went into each short play. At the end of each show, the audience was asked to vote for their top three InspiraTO plays. I am going to modify this and take a few from all the shows that really hit home for me:
“Metallica is the Last Straw”
playwright: Tim Plaehn
directed by: Nick Dipchand
A quirky and romantic tale about two people named Dillon/Dylan who meet on the top of a slopping hill with an ancient windmill lazily turning in the wind. CLICK the video above of the director, Nick, who discusses the interchange between characters in greater detail. The reason this play is so funny is in large part to the actress, Sara Price, who plays the windmill. She played the all to familiar theatre character littered throughout history that can’t help but meddle in other people’s affairs: the jesters in Shakespeare or Puck in “A Mid Summer Nights Dream.” Having a background commentary that critically expresses an opinion outside of the action and outside of the characters control really provides a new perspective for the audience. It also prevents the audience from becoming too invested in
the characters on stage as we are made aware of their every fault and mistake. A play that takes a situation that I am sure everyone has experienced – whether
it is talking to yourself in the car or at the gym – and puts a clever creative twist on the story. A play that is littered with knee slapping laughter and full belly chuckles – it was definitely one of the funniest skits I have ever witnessed live.
“The Blue Balloon”
playwright: Angie Farrow
directed by: Nicole Wilson
I am going to draw my summary of the play from the InspiraTO website to really do it justice: “The city wakes up to discover a huge balloon is covering it. What is the source of this balloon? And why is Hugo walking aimlessly as if in a dream? Poetic. All the spectacle that theatre deserves.” The major point of interest that really grabbed my attention was the stage direction of all the actors. This play had six actors, all of which were made up in the style of Cabaret (Bob Fosse). Their actions, voice cues, and the way they delivered their lines all drew together a really vivid image of what the play was about. As much a play about action as it was about sound: the attention to phonetics in the writing of the play as well as the actors who delivered the lines was perfectly in sync. While I would love to get into the meaning behind the balloon, I think I am still trying to figure it out – which is why this play is so intriguing, it makes you think. Congratulations Angie Farrow, this play is very deserving of your InspiraTO Playwright contest winner recognition.
There are three plays that really had me laughing throughout the entire performance: “Id Id Ood” (by Ashley Park), “One Decision” (by Stanley Brown), and “Strange Bedfellows” (by Peggy Dougherty). The first is about a man who separates his Id from his Ego, only to discover how powerful his inner animal-brute-desires really are; the second about two hit man, one on the verge of retirement and the other a young energetic thinker that starts to realize how his choices in life affect other people; the final of the three about an older man who is harassed by a woman that we at first think is his wife, but turns out to be his somewhat blinded neighbour.
Each of these plays is an inversion of the conventional story: CLICK above for details from the playwright herself, Ashley, the gangster plot with two
criminals seeking an out (rather than an in) of their careers as hit-men, and the troublesome marriage plot reaching its climatic point of frustration and in need of a resolution (or not). It was this new perspective on these stories I already know so well that really had me forgetting convention and welcoming this breath of fresh air and comedy.
The plays that I think really went out of their way to think outside the box and introduce a different narrating voice are “Autobiography of a Fluke” (Lindsay Cochrane) and
“When a Tree Falls” (by Garret Johnson). CLICK below on Part I and Part II for a synopsis from the author herself, Lindsay. The latter is about an aging tree about to die and his annoying but loyal companion, a squirrel, that seems drunk on fermented berries. I really liked the fact that Lindsay attached human thoughts/feelings/actions to the lancet fluke, a parasite, which creates sympathy for a normally unsympathetic and generally dislikable part of nature. Similarly, I liked the dialogue between the tree and squirrel for one specific reason: I always imagine what animals or trees are thinking and if they had a voice, what they might sound like. This play brought my thoughts to life in a tree-splitting adventure of a nutty squirrel and an irresolute tree that stay together until the end.
As you can gather from my brief allusions above, this festival is packed full with talent and creativity. The reason this festival stands out in my mind is because the
plays are short and there is such a variety, that you are left liking at least one of six in any show (most likely all six though). I think it is truly inspiring that Dominik and Lumir invest their time in such a wonderful festival that allows creative theatre enthusiasts from around the GTA to come together and enjoy a variety of shows!
Until next year,0