August 28, 2014

0 The International Essencia Water Festival

Toronto's Essencia Arts Collective presents the International Essencia Water Festival. The festival celebrates artistic and educational tools for cultural and community empowerment, and holds a focus on one of the four elements representing Mother Earth. This year's festival is dedicated to Water, with the intent of exploring what this theme means to all of us, as community members.
The festival includes three components:

Large scale mural creation 
Exhibition & Performances 

This year, all three components are dedicated to water, they involve community, and have been taking place throughout Toronto since August 18th and culminating this Saturday, August 30th, with a musical event, and a conference.

This year's Mural Project celebrates the importance of water as a vital source for all life forms, and bring consciousness to its conservation on a local and global scale. The theme of Water affects everyone, and it has impacted our social, political, physical, spiritual, and cultural existence since the beginning of time. One of the objectives of the mural process is to create a space for learning awareness of how our individual actions can make an impact and how they are intertwined with a global communal responsibility.

Currently, about a billion people around the world routinely drink unhealthy water. Poor water quality and bad sanitation are deadly; some five million deaths a year are caused by polluted drinking water. A report, issued in November 2009, suggests that by 2030, in some developing regions of the world, water demand will exceed supply by 50%.

Co-founding members, and sisters, Gilda & Elisa Monreal (Fiya Bruxa & Shalak Attack), shared with me how Essencia Art Collective uses art as a tool for social change and community empowerment. Essencia believes that an artistic voice has the power to communicate, educate, transform, inspire and unite. Based out of Toronto, the collective focuses on artistic community initiatives, putting an emphasis on education, empowerment and building environmental consciousness. They work with local as well as international artists, and this year they will have the participation of artists and speakers from Toronto, Montreal, New York, Brazil, Chile, and New Zealand.

By creating collaborative processes where community members, youth, and a variety of local and international professional artists can come together to create positive actions and monumental works of art with meaning, it brings positive attention to the project, community, and artists.

I now encourage that you make your way to Jane Street and Highway 400 underpass to check out the Mural Project.

This Saturday, August 30th, learn all about the importance of Water at the Water Conference. There will be speakers and musical guests from 1pm to 3pm at Lula Lounge with suggested donation $5.

That same evening, head over to Studio Bar for the Concert and Exhibition portion of the festival. The lineup of artists will introduce you to some local and international talent. Party begins at 10pm with suggested donation $5.

For more information on the Essencia Art Collective, its members, initiative, and future directions visit

August 20, 2014

0 Doctor Who’s New Season Worldwide Premiere on the Big Screen Across Canada

BBC Worldwide North America and Cineplex Entertainment’s Front Row Centre Events are teaming up again for two special theatrical screening events of Doctor Who Season Premiere: Deep Breath, on Monday, August 25, at 7:30 pm (local time) and Saturday, August 30, at 12:55pm (local time).

The hit BBC series marks a new beginning, as award-winning actor Peter Capaldi (In the Loop, World War Z) takes on the role of the iconic Time Lord for adventures through space and time. This new episode will be shown in 85 cinemas across Canada and will include 15 minutes of bonus content!

From acclaimed director Ben Wheatley and award-winning lead writer and executive producer Steven Moffat, the beginning of the new Doctor’s era is a pulse-racing adventure through Victorian London. Peter Capaldi stars as the Doctor, Jenna Coleman as his companion Clara Oswald and the episode sees the return of fan favourites The Paternoster Gang - Madame Vastra (Neve McIntosh), Jenny Flint (Catrin Stewart) and Strax (Dan Starkey).

“We look forward to providing Canadians this first opportunity to see Peter Capaldi as the Doctor on the big screen, with stunning theatre surround sound,” said Bradley LaDouceur, Vice President, Alternative Programming, Cineplex Entertainment. For Dr Who fans, this big-screen event is nothing short of nerdtastic!

Doctor Who has received numerous awards, including last year’s Institutional Peabody Award. The series has enjoyed success off-air with more than 10 million DVDs and 8 million action figures sold globally. Peter Capaldi is the twelfth actor to play the role of The Doctor in the series’ over 50-year history. Twelve years makes for some good television! Doctor Who is a BBC Wales production for BBC One.

Showtimes and tickets for Doctor Who Season Premiere: Deep Breath are available now at participating theatre box offices and online Synchronize your tardis now!

August 19, 2014

0 Scotiabank BuskerFest 2104: New And Returning Local And Global Acts

Epilepsy Toronto brings their signature fundraising event, Scotiabank BuskerFest, back to Toronto.  In partnership with the Downtown Yonge BIA, they have announced an outstanding roster of international and Canadian acts, both new and returning, for the 15th edition of the festival. Scotiabank BuskerFest runs Thursday, August 21 to Sunday, August 24 throughout the Downtown Yonge Neighbourhood, from Queen to College Streets and surrounding areas (including Trinity Square Park and Yonge-Dundas Square).

How does it work for the artists? 

Buskers retain proceeds from "the hat" passed after their performances except for shows on the Scotiabank Stage in Yonge-Dundas Square: for the first time ever, each performing act will be doing one performance on this stage over the course of the weekend, and all proceeds will go to Epilepsy Toronto!

Who will be in town?

Joining the previously announced FlameOz (returning) and Reuben DotDotDot (new) from Australia, and NoMaD Cirquel (new) from Austria and Les Frères Taquins (new) from Belgium, are several outstanding international acts, including:

From Australia: Bendy Em (returning), a pint-sized former gymnast with a wicked wit who bends and contorts her body into freakily mind-boggling positions.
From Ireland: Jack Wise (returning), a Molotov cocktail of comedy and magic - including swallowing a real 24" steel sword!
From Japan: Ikeda Yosuke (new), a unique style of performance blending mime with graphic and acoustic arts - the lyrics of a song appear in many different ways with the music.
From Spain: Ale Risorio (new), an eccentric, absurd clown with a bag full of unusual and unexpected props.
From the United Kingdom: Billy Kidd (returning), one of the few female magicians in the world who hosts Discovery Channel's Breaking Magic: the Magic of Science. She reads people's minds, turns paper to money and produces the most unsuspecting things out of nowhere.

Among the various talented, returning local performers from the GTA are:
Hercinia Arts Collective entertain with their hilarious act "Money Fish" - synchronized swimmers out of water and looking for audiences everywhere.
Mental Floss Side Show, a vaudevillian duo that brings exhibits from the five corners of the globe - all with a little dash of snake oil.
The Silent Violinist combines balloons and mime dressed in her visually stunning balloon dress with a gigantic wing spread.
Max T. Oz, a sleight-of-hand magic favourite who has been at each and every festival since its inception;
And, of course, the veteran festival busker Silver Elvis, a mechanical metal man who moves for money, honey - "thank you, thank you very much."

Silver Elvis
Photo: Buskerfest

Also, new from Quebec:
Chasseurs de Rêves: a tribe of larger-than-life stilt puppets shines in colours and movements, with an elegant bird and majestic elephant.
CiRcO LoCo: Argentine tango dancers, circus artists, knife thrower and tribal belly dancing make for an awesome concoction of circus, stunts & mystery!
Les Vitamines: a colourful, high-energy duo that dazzles with acrobatic feats punctuated by improvised acts during which the public is invited to join in the fun.

Photo: Buskerfest

Admission to Scotiabank BuskerFest is by voluntary donation to Epilepsy Toronto, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping more than 40,000 Torontonians with epilepsy, and their families, through counselling, employment support, advocacy and education.

Between you and I, I am not a fan of clowns... But I do enjoy a good magic or circus performance. I think there is plenty to choose from at this year's Scotiabank BuskerFest. Bring down the family, and make it a weekend of pure fun... all for a great cause! 

For a full list of artists performing at this year's festival, venue, and other information, visit:

August 10, 2014

0 SummerWorks 2014: Free Performances/Events

Although SummerWorks includes many paid performances and events, there are several others that are FREE admission. This is a chance to enjoy the festival at no cost, and also a perfect way to sample the festival, if you have not attended before.

Here is a list of all FREE events/performances, starting with one taking place today.

Zong! Meets Garrison
Sunday August 10th, 6pm-10pm
Trinity Bellwoods Park, Corner of Queen St,West and Gore Vale Ave
Live Art Series
(Audience may come and go at any time)

On November 29th, 1781, somewhere on the Atlantic Ocean between the coast of West Africa and Jamaica, 150 enslaved Africans are thrown overboard on orders of the captain of the slave-ship Zong. In 1881, Garrison Creek would be “straightened” between Queen West and the Western Stockyards, beginning a process that would result in the entire river being eventually buried.

Composed from the text, Gregson vs. Gilbert, audience members immerse themselves in the erased history of the Zong and Garrison Creek. Bring your voices, blankets, cushions or chairs and wear white if possible.

Hye Note: I noticed the story will be told by Poet Setaey Admau Boateng with M. Noubese Philip, also a poet. I met Ms. Philip a few years back at an arts festival. I became aware of her writing, which I think other Toronto poetry fans would appreciate. And, of course, I would very much like to be part of sharing this story.

Sunday August 10th-Saturday August 16th, 1pm-9pm 
Surprise locations along Queen Street West
Live Art Series
(Audience are welcome to come and go as they wish)

For seven days of the festival and eight hours each day, Katie Kehoe will sit on a wooden dock she’s built and installed within the SummerWorks zone, engaging with people passing by and inviting strangers to sit with her; treating the dock as a platform for reflection and exchange. A buoy attached to the dock will be marked with the projects social media addresses, inviting people to upload pictures and post comments sharing their experience of Pier.

Hye Note: I think this sounds like an interesting way to engage with festival audience members, and those who are not aware of the festival. It is also a means to engage in dialogue and connect with someone new. If you see Katie on Queen Street, stop and say hello...

Art on the Ballot/Reverse Mayoral Debate 
Theatre Centre Main Space
August 12th, 2pm
This event is part of The Conversations Series (see below)

SummerWorks and ArtsVote Toronto offer a policy hack for prospective mayors. Listen in as leaders in the arts and design community debate the function and value of the arts in Toronto, responding to questions posed by the candidates who want to represent you at City Hall. Moderated by Kathleen Sharpe. Mayoral candidates to be confirmed.

Hye Note: Well, given the upcoming Mayoral election, I think important to hear where the candidates stand when it comes to the Arts. Toronto is a city full of great arts and thus, the new Mayor should and needs to be supportive, in my opinion. Let's hear what the candidates have to say...

Saturday August 16, 1:30pm
The Theatre Centre BMO Incubator 
In Development

Reading of the new work in progress by Cliff Cardinal. Follow the story of Dave, a drug and sex addicted fraudster, and Madly, the bulimic and klepto chef. When they break up, Madly announces she is pregnant. Enter the spark that ignites the flame- Rochelle, the transgender crack addict who is fighting to clean up when she falls addicted to fear.

Hye Note: This reading is part of My Picks at the festival. I cannot make the reading, but I am hoping some of you will attend. I am a fan of both Cardinal and d'bi young (actor/spoken-word artist) involved in this reading.

Ecoute Pour Voir
Sunday August 17, 8:30pm
The Theatre Centre
National Series

Equipped with headphones attached to an iPod, dancers and viewers share a choreographed face-to-face over the course of music.Audience members are free to wander from one dancer to the next and observe the subtle intricacies of dance up close.

Hye Note: This performance is also part of My Other Recommendations at the festival. I have become a fan of these immersive and interactive performances at SummerWorks. Hope you take a chance and partake in this one, too.


August 7th-25th, 8am-8pm
Artscape Youngplace Hallways Galleries 

An exhibition exploring local graphic design and poster art for the stage. This year, in collaboration with Artscape, viewers can explore the relationship between graphic design and performance through an exhibition featuring a selection if impressive local graphic designers for the stage. Co-curated by Michael Rubenfeld and Natasha Mytnowych. Featuring the work of Doublenaut,Roxanne Ignatius, Jonathan Kitchen (Light Up The Sky), Tad Michalak, Monnet Desing, Kilby Smith-McGregor, Soulpepper Theatre Company designs curated by Jacob Whibley.

The Conversations
Aug 9th - 16th

To continue promoting investigation through performance, these are a series of public conversations asking SW14 artists to engage in discussion around elements of performance. Prolific performance makers have curated these conversations by choosing a topic to discuss   and a group of artists to chat with.

The Re-View Project 
The Theatre Centre

Host Linnea Swan reveals the best and worst reviews of the festival. Daily installments online and screening continuously at The Re-View Booth. Festival patrons can submit reviews at boxes in all SummerWorks venues.

With these FREE options and the many other plays and performances, SummerWorks is one of the festivals to experience in Toronto. For full listings, scheduling, and box office details, please go to

August 7, 2014

0 Music: Indie Fridays Continues At Yonge-Dundas Square

Yonge-Dundas Square (YDS) transforms into Toronto’s biggest indie venue when Virgin Mobile presents Indie Fridays takes place every Friday night from 8-10pm until September 5, 2014.

Throughout this month, the fun continues at YDS. This Friday, August 8, Sam Cash and his band The Romantic Dogs will wow crowds. He and the band recorded his latest songs over a few days at Dale Morningstar's Gas Station Studio on Toronto Island. Sounds like

On August 15, from Victoria, British Columbia, Current Swell, will bring their roots rock sound to Toronto. The band has some of the most dedicated fans in the music industry, which makes it no surprise that they sold-out headlining tours in Brazil and Europe and are a force to be reckoned with.

On August 22, Young Galaxy will fill YDS with their sounds of an indie rock and dream pop duality. Originally a twosome from Vancouver, the band has grown in members as well as in sound, having been compared to the likes of Pink Floyd and Spiritualized.

On August 29, take in the hard-hitting rock-and-roll experience of Bella Clava. They are reminiscent of 90s alternative rock while channelling the energy of their heavy classic rock forebears.

On September 5, daughter of 54-40 frontman, Neil Osborne, Kandle will show Toronto what she is made of.

Taking the stage after Kandle and closing out the Indie Fridays series will be Pop Artists/Group or Duo of the Year winners at this year’s Indie Awards, Fast Romanticswhose music has been featured in TV shows and films including Shameless, Breaking In, Vampire Diaries, and Pretty Little Liars.

With the variety of musical talent coming to YDS, there is no reason to stay indoors on Friday nights. And if music is not enough to draw you in, for your pleasure, The Beer Garden, provided by the Hard Rock Cafe will be open every Friday of the series from 4pm-11pm. There is also free WIFI for Virgin Mobile Canada members. Select WIFI@YDS and enter your Virgin Mobile Canada phone number to hop online. Not a bad bonus, if I may add.

Admission is FREE to all these events at Yonge-Dundas Square presented by Virgin Mobile. For more details and a full schedule of events, please visit

August 6, 2014

2 SummerWorks 2014 Review: Yarn, A Web Of Stories

Last night, I had the opportunity to attend a preview of Yarn, opening at SummerWorks this week. The show is described as a "one-human show, performed in an urban rose garden". I also had it listed as part of My Picks at this year's festival

The Majlis Art Garden
Photo: HyeM
Part of the reason I was interested in Alex Eddington's (writer, composer, performer) work is that in his website, he described the almost "1,000 instruments, props and yarns involved" in the show. On that description, off I went to the Majlis Art Garden, where the show will be held for the duration of the festival.

Prior to starting, Eddington introduced us to Tyler Seguin and Helen Juvonen, the director and assistant director, respectively. The setting makes for a comfortable and friendly evening of storytelling. The audience is free to participate throughout parts of the show, but there is never any pressure to do so.

Eddington takes us on a tour of Scotland during one of his summer trips there. The point of the trip was to compose a pigeon opera, but he also needed a way to finance this endeavour. Here is where things get more interesting...

With the use of musical instruments, word play, a sheep puppet known as Buttercup, and creative body expressions, Eddington's memories become stories. His brain likes music. His brain likes stories. Mixing his own recollections with some folk stories of female selchidhs (a.k.a. selkies), superstition about standing stones, and even stories from psychological research, we are transported into Eddington's mind.

For 80 minutes, I sat there very attentive not wanting to miss a word, a sound... Listening to Eddington share the musings/thoughts of his "overactive inner monologue" made me smile, laugh, ponder about my own inner monologue, and how "memories are stories".

Yarn is a charming and witty piece of storytelling, which takes us to a foreign land, and while there we come to know the inner workings of Eddington's layered self. It is through our sharing stories of ourselves, that we share part of ourselves with one another. It is also through our recollection of past memories that we can create said stories. Yet memories "are not facts"; they are stories, remember that.

As Eddington clearly stated, "we are the stories we tell ourselves". We can choose to believe the negative stories our inner monologues create, or we can choose to believe the more positive ones. The important part is to share these stories... share of ourselves.

I like stories. I like music. And I also like Yarn. For those of you who are curious and would like to join in this storytelling adventure, you can catch the show beginning Thursday, August 7th. For full schedule and times, visit the festival's listings here.
Photo: HyeM

August 5, 2014

0 SummerWorks 2014: I Also Recommend...

Continuing with my suggestions at this year's SummerWorks Performance Festival, I have narrowed down more selections from the Music Series and the National Series. I am also adding one other show to the list, for good measure.

Lido Pimienta/Natasha GreenBlatt - The Secret Garden Of Lido Pimienta
Lower Ossington Theatre Mainspace - Aug 13th, 9pm

Summary: This is an "immersive installation and performance of electronic and experimental pop by Lido Pimienta". Audiences will sample new, unreleased music from Lido’s latest album La Papessa and artwork and projections by multidisciplinary artist Gustavo Cerquera Benjumea.

My thoughts: I have come to know Lido's music over the past year and a bit, and I like her style. Taking risks with her music by incorporating installation art is something I am curious about. Lido is also Latina, so of course, I will be there to support.

Brendan Canning/Brendan Healy – One Night, Two Brendans
The Theatre Centre Mainspace - Aug 8th, 9pm

Summary: Brendan Canning (Broken Social Scene) and Brendan Healy (Buddies in Bad Times Theatre) will "transport you into a haunting, psychedelic dreamscape of music and video, mashing up Canning’s trademark layered sounds with spectacular live video art".

My thoughts: I am new to the work of the Two Brendans, so I say, why not check this out too? Sounds like fun.

Against Gravity
Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace - Aug 7 to Aug 16

Summary: This show is "a shadow theatre performance that plays at the intersection of visual arts, clowning and live music. Unlike a traditional shadow puppet show, the two performers are both visible throughout the show – one projects colourful imagery using an overhead projector while the other creates a live soundtrack with guitar loops, beat-boxing and help from the audience".

My thoughts: They had me at puppets... The summary above sounds rather cryptic, but if you take a look at the video below, you'll understand why I am suggesting this performance as well.


Écoute Pour Voir 
Friday Aug 15, 6:00pm - Trinity Bellwood's Park- 155 Crawford Street
Saturday Aug 16, 6:00pm - Around Theatre Passe Muraille
Sunday Aug 17, 8:30pm - The Theatre Centre

Summary: This performance consists of a variety of solos, scattered throughout the space and performed simultaneously. Equipped with headphones attached to an iPod, dancers and viewers share a choreography face-to-face over the course of the music. Audience members are free to wander from one dancer to the next and observe the subtle intricacies of dance up close, as well as the moving, colourful whole from a distance.

My thoughts: Not for the shy-type. I like the idea of challenging yourself and stepping out of your comfort zone. This immersive experience will hopefully demistify some of the ideas of what modern dance is. This reminds me of another immersive performance from last year's SummerWorks, and I totally enjoyed it. I will certainly aim to partake in this one, too.

from Danse Carpe Diem/Emmanuel Jouthe on Vimeo.

Rielle Ritchie & Sarah Irankhah - The Devil You Know
Photo: SummerWorks
Youth Programming: The Devil You Know
Scotiabank Studio Theatre - Aug 7-10

Summary: The Devil You Know was selected at the Toronto Regional Showcase (Hart House Theatre) of the Sears Ontario Drama Festival to perform at SummerWorks. You will forget you are watching high school students as these young actors take you through this heartbreaking story of an incest survivor and is trying to come to terms with the abuse she suffered at the hands of her older brother.

My thoughts: Although this piece deals with serious and mature content, I think it is important to support young talent. Theatre is also another medium which can be used to have discussions about sensitive topics.

SummerWorks begins Thursday, August 7th and runs until August 17th at various venues across Toronto. Tickets are available online, by phone, and in-person at the festival's box office. For information on box office hours, venues, and show schedule visit

August 1, 2014

0 FAN EXPO Canada™ Announces 2014 Programming Line-Up

Taking over the Metro Toronto Convention Centre August 28 to 31, FAN EXPO Canada™, the all-ages, pop culture extravaganza will welcome fans to geek out over comics, sci-fi, horror, anime, and gaming. This year, fans can also enjoy the many attractions it has to offer including everything from a Darth Vader Roast to a special event with the cast of Doctor Who.

I have previously shared with this year's Celebrity Line-up, which looks rather exciting. This year's programming is looking just as fun and exciting. Here are some highlights:

The 1966 Tv Batmobile
The original Batmobile debuted on January 12, 1966. Now fans can see a full-size, George Barris design replica of the Batmobile that is still one of the most iconic and popular cars in the world!

Star Gazing
Get up close and personal with your fave celebrities. Whether getting something autographed, their photo snapped or asking a question at one of the special Q&As, fans always have a chance to interact with some of their celebrity idols.

Steampunk is the fastest growing sector of sci-fi culture! Learn how to make a steampunk costume, the gadgets to accessorize it and become an expert in the art of pistol, parasol and tea dueling!

Cosplay Masquerade
This exciting event is the largest of its kind in Canada and features creative fans showcasing original costumes from caped-crusaders to hot anime characters. Be awed as a spectator or strut your stuff on stage.
'Artist Alley'
Photo: HyeM
Artist Alley
Indie meets pro in this special area where fans will find all of their fave pencillers, inkers and writers. This is one of my personal favourites, as I have friends who are comic book artists, whom I get to support and have fun at the expo with. This is a "must experience area" for anyone interested in meeting rising stars who work the front lines of the industry. From comics, graphic novels, limited edition prints and best of all, original art and sketches!


1st Annual Superhero Ball – Fri. Aug. 29 @ 7pm
The Fairmont Royal York will set the stage for a night of celebrities, super heroes and costumes! All in support of SickKids Foundation and Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation. Juno Award-winning artist, Lights. Hosted by CBC's Q, Jian Ghomeshi.

Cast Of Doctor Who Special Event – Sat. Aug. 30 @ 6pm
Matt Smith is bringing some companions to a Doctor Who cast special ticketed event! Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill join the 11th Doctor at FAN EXPO Canada™.

The Roast Of Darth Vader – Sat. Aug. 30 @ 7pm 
Empire Comedy Live and FAN EXPO Canada™ present The Roast of Darth Vader. Comedians Greg Proops, Sean Cullen, Darrin Rose and more take turns skewering the big daddy of the dark side.

I'd say all of these highlights are sounding rather nerdtastic, yes? You can find the complete list of programming, guests, info and tickets at Time to start planning!


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