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February is RHUBARB

February is not a month known for being particularly lovely,  here in Toronto.   But one thing that makes it better than the everlasting slush and winter-not-yet-over feeling is the Rhubarb Festival at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.   I love Rhubarb.  It’s a festival of new, experimental work by new and established theatre-makers.   Everything in it is short – 25 minutes – so if you don’t like something, it’s gonna be over soon, anyway. And there are some wonderful discoveries that leave you wanting more.   No critics are allowed to review…which makes for a special atmosphere of wild abandon and true experiment for the artists involved.  This year is the 30th Rhubarb Festival. Impressive.

So we’re now into Rhubarb 2009, week 2.  My absolute highlight of the first week of the festival was “The Be(a)st of Taylor Mac”.  This show is actually an exception to all the rules I just stated about Rhubard:  it’s  not new,  not Canadian, and not 25 minutes long.  But it was incredible.  Taylor Mac is a New York artist, and his show was a special presentation for the festival…and truly, special.  Actually one of the most wonderful performers, and most moving, hilarious and inspiring shows that I have seen in a long long time. I saw it twice.    It;s one of those shows that I want to go dancing through the streets singing about, buying a ticket for everyone that I love to go and see it.  It’s playing this week in Montreal, and if i didn’t have my hands full of three other Rhubarb productions, i’d be getting on the train to go and see it again.

But let me tell you about the other shows that I have something to do with during the remainder of the festival.

This weekend and next, the presentations of the Young Creators Unit at Buddies.  I am the director of this program, and I am super proud of the four young artists who are showing their one-person shows over the next two weeks.  They run as a pre-festival treat, 6:30 pm on Feb 14 & 15 (Rob Salerno and Tawiah M’carthy), and Feb 21 & 22 (Kim Crosby and Cole J. Alvis).  Political comedy, poetic narratives, great writing, hard-hitting personal storytelling, beautiful performances and even evangelical folk singing…all this in store, and for free if you’re 25 and under.  Regular festival price applies to everyone else!

Finally, in week 3 of the festival, Feb 18-22, i’m playing the part of Susan Sontag in Ecce Homo’s newest creation, “Leni Riefenstahl vs the 20th Century“. Brought to you by the same company that produced “The Pastor Phelps Project: A Fundamentalist Cabaret“, this newest show is also a sexy little musical…about the many faces of fascism. I’ve written a song for the show based on Sontag’s famous essay “Notes on Camp”.  There is other beautiful music written by the lovely Bryce Kulak.  Also singing and dancing by half naked dudes, and gorgeous design by Matt Jackson. I think it is going to be a provocative production-not-to-be-missed. gives you all the info to cheer up your february.