|Posted by creative maniac on September 8, 2012 at 11:40 AM||comments (0)|
Dead Europe, an Aussie film featured in the TIFF, brings us not only to the dark underbelly of Athens, Paris, and Budapest, but also closer to a novel of a gay Greek Orthodox author. Its director, Tony Krawitz, and lead actor, Ewen Leslie, sat down for a fab briefer.
What drew you to this project?
Krawitz: It’s based on a book by Christos Tsiolkas. It was really unsettling. It was about the sins of the past, guilt, and secrets.
What do you like about your adaptation?
Krawitz: The film is quite different from the book. When people like the film, they can read the book. It’s not like Harry Potter.
What should people know about the book before they watch the film?
Krawitz: The film goes to very dark places but it goes there with a very big heart.
What interesting parts of the novel didn’t make it to the screenplay?
Krawitz: It was about three generations. We just focused on the contemporary story. In the book Isaac has a boyfriend, Colin. As he is travelling, Isaac is having sex with other men but he’s feeling bad about that. But the film is a bit of a rollercoaster about his psychological descent so having a character in another continent wouldn’t have helped as much dramatically.
What did you like about the film’s treatment of the gay lead?
Leslie: I like it in the film that it’s not like we have to establish quickly that he’s gay. It’s only when he goes off with that guy in the park that the audience will realize he’s gay. It was just part of the character and that’s that.
How did you tap into the psyche of gay photographer Isaac?
Leslie: One of the first things that Tony told me when I was cast was that “I am going throw you at the deep end as much as possible and you can play the role through all of that.”
How did you approach the explicit scenes?
Krawitz: I tried to deal with those things more psychologically and not be exploitative. It’s more interesting psychologically to have a scene that looks like it’s going to be exploitative and hope that the audience in their minds are going, “Oh no please, don’t let this happen” - but that actually doesn’t happen. Then there’s the ethics. Not to give too much away to people who haven’t seen the film, but it deals, in one stage of the film, with young teenagers being sold into sex slavery.
How did you work around the issues of anti-semitism and shady homosexuality in the film?
Krawitz: I thought my responsibility in those areas, is to be as true to Christos’ ethos. People have commented often when there’s a gay character in a film their sexuality is part of the problem. The sexuality is dramatized. What I really liked about the book is that his sexuality is just a part of him and his sexuality is not an issue.
Cate Blanchett raved about the diversity of the work that you can do.
Leslie: I’d like to try and play as many different kinds of films with as many different filmmakers as possible.
Would you play a woman?
Leslie: Maybe I can play Cate Blanchett.
Dead Europe screens on Sun, September 9 at noon at the Cinemaplex Yonge and Dundas 2, and on Sat, September 15 at 6pm at Scotiabank 3,
|Posted by creative maniac on August 10, 2012 at 8:35 PM||comments (0)|
Zack Russell, a young gay theatre director in Toronto and playwright stages Ajax (por nobody) - a play written by written by Alice Tuan - for SummerWorks 2012 . In our interview with the director, he answers questions about his play, which unravels the tale of a booze-and-drug-fuelled night of sex that spins out of control, and the tragedy of modern society and its destructive nature.
Brian Bantugan: What pushed you to stage this play?
Zack Russell: It was more like a theatre dare since it has never been done before. One of the things that really attracted me to it was just the challenge and difficulty of staging something that was so out there – so explicit sexually.
What was did you find most challenging in the material?
Sex. I think that just the sex of it – being physically comfortable. Getting the actors to a place where they are physically comfortable with each other and willing to perform, not actual sex, to be sexual around each other, is one of the biggest difficulties on the physical level. And then I think on the emotional and intellectual level, the biggest challenge for me is not to judge the characters, not to judge what we’re doing, and think that it’s amoral, or bad, or wrong - to try to approach it every day as though it just is what it is – there’s no right and there’s no wrong.
Tell us something about the characters.
The characters are totally. . . l don’t know if the word is bisexual. . . but the characters are just sexual – there’s a lot of gay and straight content. I think what is interesting in the play is that with the women, the way that they relate to eachother sexually feels a lot less dangerous than the men (because they’re both “straight guys” there’s a danger to that homosexuality). In our culture, two women getting together, especially if you think of it in pornography land, is really easy and fun and very acceptable. While men getting together, there’s a danger there. Here, the characters have sexual urges for each other - men, women - and the gender doesn’t really matter.
You were a resident director at The Flea in New York when you found the script. What were the initial reactions of gay New Yorkers when it was first staged?
In New York, where they did it, the gay audiences just found it really hilarious. If it were mostly a gay audience, they would laugh and laugh. There’s a lot of straight sex in it but there’s a distance between gay men and straight sex that they can see the comedy and the irony in a lot of the gender dynamics. The straight audiences thought it was a very serious tragedy.
What reactions do you hope to get from Toronto audiences?
What I’m hoping is that we really do get a mixed audience – that there is that push and pull. I wanted to do something for SummerWorks because I think the audiences are really great and the history of the festival is one where it pushes boundaries. People go there expecting to see works that will challenge them, and expand their idea of what one can do on a stage with an audience.
How does this play resonate with your previous productions?
Big spectacular scenes. There’s a lot of physicality. In every play that I do I always I always have a big party thing where there’s water and alcohol and things are getting nasty. Like my other works, it is less interested in making a point than it is in providing an experience for the audience. It’s not didactic, it’s not trying to teach something.
How different is this from your other works?
It’s the first time in several years that I’ve done something that I didn’t write, so that has been a big shift – it’s a testament to how great the play is and how exciting its ideas are, and the dialogue is.
How will this play shape people’s perception of you as a theatre director?
I’m a little worried. It’s a very intense play. When Alice (Tuan) wrote it, she put it away for two years. I know I have to be fearless about it but I am definitely concerned about how people think about it. If I think about it that way then I will definitely freak out. Hopefully, they will think of me as very honest. I value honesty, and being straight up about things, and being blunt about things. The play is very blunt. It’s to the point and very in your face.
What do you hope the audience will bring with them after watching it?
I want it to sit with them for a while. Everybody really needs to have their own personal reactions to it. I am hoping to create a piece that would elicit a hundred of different reactions and the hope is that it is not something that is not easily forgotten – that the experience doesn't weigh on them but (creates) an after-taste that doesn’t go away quickly. I want it to simmer and cook with them for a while.
Ajax (Por Nobody) runs from Thurs, August 9 to Sun, August 19 at the Theatre Centre, 1087 Queen St W. $15. summerworks.ca
|Posted by creative maniac on August 10, 2012 at 7:35 PM||comments (0)|
After a Toronto tour of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream by Driftwood Theatre, three actors, all Toronto regulars, remain in the spotlight. All accomplished and proud, we line them up to see what makes them three of the hottest gay actors in Toronto’s midsummer and thereafter.
(playing Bottom in Driftwood Theatre’s Midsummer Night's Dream)
“I am so grateful to be able to do what I do.”
Are you a Shakespeare virgin? No. I have done six – four comedies with Driftwood.
Complete the sentence:
1. Shakespeare had me at… Midsummer Night’s Dream.
2. My intimacy with Shakespeare… is like driving the most beautiful car or wearing a beautiful suit! It makes you look good and feel good.
3. My midsummer Night’s (wet) dream (role) is… Bottom.
4. The word that describes my intimate moment with Bottom is… “connecting.” It’s the kind that pulls people in.
5. The character that had the most challenging tongue action (lines) is… Puck. It’s connected to a lot of magic!
6. Midsummer blew me away when… two kids approached me and told me their favorite parts.
7. The scene that felt like the big O was… the part when Bottom learns how to love.
8. Between me and Demetrius, the more desirable one is… Me. I hope I am not insufferable as Bottom can be. He can be over the top and a little bit bombastic. I’m more of an introvert and I think people can relate to it better.
9. Between me and Shakespeare, the more romantic one is… Shakespeare. I’d love to think I’d get there one day.
10. My next appearance after Midsummer will be… In Halifax (Eastern College) to do his first Sondheim musical – Sweeny Todd - in September!
“I love doing musicals.”
Are you a Shakespeare virgin? No. I’ve done 15.
Complete the sentence:
1. Shakespeare had me at… The Tempest.
2. My intimacy with Shakespeare…challenges me to strip away all I know and start from a clean place.
3. My midsummer Night’s (wet) dream (role) is… Puck.
4. The word that describes my intimate moment with Puck is… “joy.”
5. The character that had the most challenging tongue action (lines) is… Bottom.
6. Midsummer blew me away when… they made it a musical.
7. The scene that felt like the big O was… when I get to watch from a distance the play within the play.
8. Between me and Demetrius, the more desirable one is… Puck is pretty sexy… in his own weird way.
9. Between me and Shakespeare, the more romantic one is… Shakespeare. No one can beat Shakespeare.
10. My next appearance after Midsummer will be… In a play for young audiences about homophobia and bullying called “Outside.” Another is the Gay Heritage Project.
“I try to be really vulnerable whenever I can.”
Are you a Shakespeare virgin? No. This is my 2nd professional Shakespeare play (plus one in theatre school and one in high school).
Complete the sentence:
1. Shakespeare had me at… Midsummer Night’s Dream.
2. My intimacy with Shakespeare… made me think of theatre acting as a career.
3. My midsummer Night’s (wet) dream (role) is… Demetrius.
4. The word that describes my intimate moment with Demetrius is… “exhilarating” - It was just really new and exciting – like first love.
5. The character that had the most challenging tongue action (lines) is… Demetrius. He plays three roles!
6. Midsummer blew me away when… it responds to a childhood need for-play.
7. The scene that felt like the big O was… when everything became so confused and ended in a big fight.
8. Between me and Demetrius, the more desirable one is… Me. Demetrius is a bit of a jerk. He isn’t the nicest in the play. He is a bit like me but a little bit more mean.
9. Between me and Shakespeare, the more romantic one is… Shakespeare. I am definitely a hopeless romantic. But Shakespeare is the all-time romantic.
10. My next appearance after Midsummer will be… at the Harbourfront Centre in a play called The Corpse Bride, in the Ashkenaz festival.
The Corpse Bride runs from Thurs, August 30 to Sun, September 2. Enwave Theatre, Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay W. $25 advance. askenazfestival.com
|Posted by creative maniac on July 15, 2012 at 5:25 PM||comments (0)|
“When you look at pictures of Gerry Arpino as a young man, it is obvious that his body was perfect for ballet,” describes Sarah Anawalt, author of the book The Joffrey Ballet, in the film Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance. Arpino was initiated in the art of ballet by Robert Joffrey. “Joffrey and Arpino formed a partnership that would last a lifetime,” Mandy Patinkin narrates in the film. “They loved each other and they called each other cousins for a while there but everyone knew they weren’t,” Anawalt adds.
In 1948, Joffrey and Arpino moved to New York and founded a dance company that rivaled European ballet-inspired American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet, and created a truly American ballet company (that is now based in Chicago). “I always felt it was important to represent our country and that we have ballets created by Americans, our American themes, and when possible using American music” shares Joffrey in a 1977 radio interview included in the film.
Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance runs from Fri, July 27 to Tues, July 31 at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, 506 Bloor St W. $8 members, $11 regular. bloorcinema.com
|Posted by creative maniac on July 15, 2012 at 5:15 PM||comments (0)|
Royston Tester, a well-traveled British-Canadian, will be launching his book “Fatty Goes to China” in Toronto. The anthology of 11 short stories set in various locations around the world, including Toronto (Canada), Berlin and Buchenwald (Germany), England, and Romania, reveals the shaky life of an accident-prone Chinese construction worker with a dark and violent secret, and a Chinese couple’s shocking last-minute decision about their adoptive child, among others.
Tester speaks about his own story as a gay writer.
Tell us about your book “Fatty Goes to China”.
I’ve lived in China. I wrote (stories about China) from Chinese points of view. I really tried to live like an ordinary Chinese in an apartment building for Chinese. That was a very exciting way get to know the city. I started to meet English-speaking Chinese. From that I built a group of friends. That’s probably where I stayed the longest (outside of England).
How did you become a writer?
I think it came out of my circumstances growing up. I was an only child. I was adopted. I was left alone a lot. I used to read and I used to play on my own. I would sometimes write stories. My dad, when I was little, made a little theatre out of plywood. I found myself really drawn into that.
My family was typically British. They were very poor at expressing feelings and emotions. It’s cliché but it’s true. My parents lived through a war. They lost friends every week. So they were toughened. My parents didn’t go to university. So I really did what I wanted to do. I studied English literature. I really wanted to go to art school but they really put their foot down. Then I did it on my own after that.
The big wake up was when I went to Spain in 1975 and that was when General Franco’s regime collapsed. It was a very exciting time to be there because you knew that there was going to be a tidal wave of revolution. Since then it has become a cultural center. I lived there for two years.
I came from industrial city of Central England and then there I was in the Mediterranean living with a very bohemian family or artists. I was living with a woman. Her mother, a publisher, encouraged me to write. There I wrote my first book of children’s stories. Her father was a painter. Every weekend we would go to the north of Barcelona where Salvador Dali lived. That was very much an artists' colony. That was the time I realized that writing and painting can be real life activities. It was so exciting. That was what really launched me. I felt right.
What’s your “gay” story?
My father never knew when he passed away. My mother knew. She knew before I told her.
I went to an all-boys school in England. I kinda started out early. I kinda knew when I was 10 or 11. When I was in university, around 20 or 21, I experimented with women. But we all know how it ended.
Tell us something about you being a gay writer.
It’s funny how gay stuff creeps into my writing. I never said to myself I’m going to write a gay story. I just write a story first and the protagonist just ends up being gay or not. I don’t feel any pressure to be gay in my writing. I just do what comes to me. I think that’s what’s fabulous about it. You don’t really know what’s going to happen. I do subscribe to the idea that characters will take you to places, and you should let them. But it takes time to trust yourself. I’m probably biased. I probably want more gay characters but I certainly don’t impose that on my writing.
How long did you work on Fatty?
You have moved a lot, and it seems to be your way of life. Do you think you will stay in Toronto?
I am never sure. But the more I go away, the more I realize what a wonderful place this is.
Fatty Goes to China was published and distributed by Tightrope Books in Toronto.
|Posted by creative maniac on July 15, 2012 at 11:20 AM||comments (0)|
"We've got issue #50 of the Astonishing X-Men in store now, which has the (marriage) proposal. I'll also have lots of copies of #51 on hand on its release date of June 20th," shares Christopher Butcher, manager of The Beguiling. Issue 51 features the much anticipated wedding of Northstar with his longtime boyfriend Kyle Jinadu.
Notable comics that put a spotlight on gay characters are The Authority #29 in 2002, where Apollo and Midnighter were married, the Young Avengers featuring Hulkling and Wiccan, and Archie Comics, which introduced the gay Kevin Keller. Kevin Keller had his own 4-issue mini-series on June 2011 after premiering in Veronica #202. "We have collected editions which feature all of those issues in trade paperbacks," assures Butcher. "We've got more gay superhero material as well, including the gay-bashing issue of Green Lantern, the queer/trans parts of Runaways, and Patrick Fillion's adults-only superhero series," he adds.
The Beguiling is located at 601 Markham St and open 11am daily. beguiling.com
|Posted by creative maniac on July 15, 2012 at 11:00 AM||comments (0)|
Aaron Rothermund, the only gay cast member of Soup Can Theatre’s Fringe Festival production Antigone, speaks his mind about being a prolific gay theatre artist in Toronto.
What makes Soup Can Theatre's version of Antigone which you are a part of worth seeing?
It’s very exciting because you don’t really know what’s coming next. I personally think that this is a very useful story that is speaking to our times – the G20, Occupy Movement, and the things plaguing our media. We’ve updated it - we’re using the text and we’re speaking it very naturally - and it’s coming off the pages in a beautiful way with the images that we’re creating with our bodies - we’re infusing dance compositions, physical theatre, improvisation, clowns – making stories visually. We’re not just speaking words. It’s a spectacular piece of work and the actors are fantastic. The ones who do speak are amazing. If you’ve seen their work before, you can just imagine what they’re gonna do. We’re working very hard.
What makes this production different from the ones you’ve done before?
I really enjoy dancing. I really enjoy moving and being physical and active. The show will give you all those things.
What makes your role exciting?
As a gay person I usually walk into an audition or I usually am in a show and I’m looked at as weak or people have judgments on me. Here, I’m the only gay person that I know of but I’m the one doing all the muscular work. I’m lifting women. For me it is empowering. Usually I don’t get that opportunity.
What are the perks of being a full-time performer?
It’s wonderful. I get to play all day. I get to be creative. I get to hang out with very fun people who enjoy the same things I do. It’s such a blessing to be able to do what I wanted to do and finally be able to do it a lot and be recognized by doing it.
And what are your struggles?
I really haven’t had a break since February. As soon as I finish one, I go right into the next. Or I’m rehearsing two shows at once. It’s a difficult process because I don’t make tons of money. I don’t have benefits. I have a boyfriend and we’d never see each other.
Is it an advantage to reveal your sexual orientation during auditions?
Normally, when I go to an audition I wouldn’t talk about my sexuality because it isn’t really about me. It is about the story that the director wants us to create. I can play gay. I can be straight. So I don’t find it useful to say it, especially since when you say it people judge you. I try to be as malleable and flexible as possible and not really just put myself in a certain area.
Are there a lot of opportunities to play gay parts in plays here in Toronto?
There’s not a lot of gay parts out there for me. Sometimes they’re looking for a very strong muscular gay man. Can’t I just be a gay man? Why do I have to be of a certain physical quality? But I think it is changing. For me, I create that work. For me it’s important to tell these stories (of gay men). Usually, if I don’t see the stories out there, I will create them.
How do you approach gay roles?
I have to think about what makes gay characters different and not just play a caricature of a gay man.
Antigone runs July 4-15 at the Randolph Theatre, 736 Bathurst St. $10. FringeToronto.com
|Posted by creative maniac on June 24, 2012 at 9:35 PM||comments (0)|
Here are a couple of videos I stumbled upon in youtube as I was trying to entertain myself this weekend. Enjoy!
|Posted by creative maniac on June 11, 2012 at 10:10 PM||comments (0)|
British Columbia’s Darcy Michael, one of the fastest rising comedians in Canada and the star of “The Gayest Show on Earth” shows his comic superpowers as he faces off with 10 fab questions.
1. What’s the worst thing about being a married comedian?
Every hot guy in the audience knows I’m married. To the guys I say, “Yes, I’m gay and No, you can’t sleep with me as much as I want you to.” It’s a sad, sad state of affairs.
2. What gay joke did you regret ever doing?
I don’t regret any joke that I’ve done. I regret a lot of gays that I’ve done over the years. As for jokes, I smoke too much weed to remember what I said.
3. What is overrated about being gay in Canada?
Probably the amount of time I get invited to bachelorette parties and baby showers. I’m not one of the girls. I don’t wanna go.
4. What’s overrated about being a comedian like you?
Everything. Have you seen my act? It’s all bullshit. No! There’s nothing overrated about being me. I’m fantastic!
5. What’s the next frontier in gay comedy?
Puppetry of the penis!
6. What would you rather be, gay or comedian?
Gay! To me, being a comedian doesn’t get you laid as much as being gay does.
7. What makes your show the gayest show on earth?
See answer to number 5.
8. What does your “wife” complain about your work?
Probably every time we talk about our sex life because he and I both know we’re not actually having sex anymore.
9. If you were not a comedian what would you be doing now?
Trying to find a job that consists of working one hour a week!
10. What’s the success story behind your weight loss?
I haven’t eaten anything but toilet paper and hot sauce in a year and a half. I’m so fucking hungry.
The Gayest Show on Earth runs on June 26 and 27 at the Gladstone Hotel-Melody Bar, 1214 Queen St W. $20 advance, $25 door. gstoneblog.com/events-list/
|Posted by creative maniac on June 11, 2012 at 6:55 PM||comments (0)|
I grew up as a teenager with Madonna playing in every stereo casette until my peers woke up and danced to more head banging punk music. I never liked Madonna really. Maybe just the melodies of her song and her videos - but not Madonna the performer. Until she did Frozen and Nothing Really Matters! Those songs were deep, I thought. Then she went psychedelic and all those techno sounding music that followed - and I looked far and away for new distractions.
For me, Madonna is synonymous to scandal. I recognize her guts and her ability to re-image herself endlessly which we could all but be envious of in our younger years. Twnety years after, I meet Lady Gaga's music and videos - and I realized that she actually makes me think, not just feel cheesy. And I bought her persona immediately. Her music is not really as bubblegum as Madonna's, but they're catchy all the same. So, you could consider me a bit of a monster - a pseudo-monster since I'm not really a fanatic! And then, Madonna revives her acreer claiming that Lady Gaga took too much inspiration from her. It made me think.
Madonna, if she considers herself as a legend, should find her brand way beyond Lady Gaga's. For her to compete with Gaga is a bit too much. And then, I see this video from her recent concert - baring her nipples for mass tickets! (Looks like Girl Gone Desperate than Wild).
So, has Madonna become a porn star in her 50s in Turkey? Did the Turks really need to see that - the nipple of a 50 year old woman? I have nothing against 50 year olds being sexy but shouldn't she capitalize on her legendary status now instead of doing tabloid sensationalism? What else will she show next time to further amp her career? If anything, she surely outdid Cher's plastic surgery with this one.