This Week in Theatre: FELA!, The Rez Sisters, Orpheus and Eurydice, The Normal Heart, Buzz Festival
This week in theatre rounds up the most noteworthy live theatre playing right now in Toronto. It includes just-opened shows as well as productions that are about to close.
FELA! / Canon Theatre / 8:00pm/2:00pm / $35+
When a Bill T. Jones choreographed production is in town, you know you're in for something special. Not only has Jones choreographed to the rhythm of FELA!, but he also directs the musical. It follows the path of legendary Nigerian musician Fela Kuti, whose soulful Afrobeat ignited a generation. Kuti defied an oppressive military government and devoted his music to the struggle for freedom. This is about as uplifting as they come, and it looks to be a lot of fun too.
The Rez Sisters / Factory Theatre / 8:00pm/2:00pm / $20
Thomson Highway's play The Rez Sisters, a staple of the Canadian canon, is a feature of the Factory Theatre season. With direction by Ken Gass and a strong cast, the play follows seven women on Wasaychigan Hill Indian reserve who dream of winning The Biggest Bingo in the World. Amidst the backdrop of recent economic struggles, it will be interesting to see if the themes have become more relevant as the gap between rich and poor widens.
Orpheus and Eurydice / Bluma Appel Theatre / 8:00pm / $24 - $79
This is the third piece on Toronto stages in five months to take its inspiration from the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. This time, it's a dance piece from acclaimed Quebecois choreographer Marie Chouinard. After an international tour, the dance arrives at Canadian stage for a one-week run. With O&E, you can expect sex, heartbreak, and loss, but what should set this piece apart is the comedy found on the journey of these two lovers.
The Normal Heart / Buddies in Bad Times Theatre / 8:00pm/2:30pm
This week is your last chance to catch Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart, presented by Studio 180 and Buddies. The play debuted in 1985 at a time when AIDS was claiming the lives of a generation of gay men in New York and around the world. It now holds a place in the canon of contemporary theatre. Seen through the eyes of activist Ned Weeks, the founder of a prominent HIV advocacy group, the play's themes are still relevant over twenty-five years later.
Buzz Festival / Theatre Passe Muraille / 7:30pm / PWYC
The definition of a mixed bag, the Buzz Festival is a tri-annual initiative by Theatre Passe Muraille that offers artists fifteen to thirty minutes to present work-in-progress. The innovation doesn't end there — the artists ask questions of the audience to which they write responses, placing them in the dramaturigal driver's seat. Best of all, the creative session is PWYC for anyone who would like to join. For a complete list of participating artists, visit the Theatre Passe Muraille website.
Photo of Melanie Marshall and Sahr Ngaujah in FELA! by Tristram Kenton