World Theatre Day



A sampling of bits and bytes to celebrate #WorldTheatreDay.

How the Smash–Bombshell Concert Became the Most Successful Theater Kickstarter Campaign Ever 

UNIQLO’s new fashion line inspired by Kabuki theatre.

Fifteen fantastic theatres from around the world.

Top ten facts about the theatre.

The BBC asked readers about their favourite theatres.

Selected facts on assorted topics related to the performing arts in Canada from Stats Can to celebrate World Theatre Day.

Part two: 2015 summer theatre in Ontario


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As promised, a follow up to the post last month. Here are a few more productions that will be hitting stages this summer in Ontario.

Outside Facade Of A Movie Theatre In LondonMillbrook, Ontario’s 4th Line Theatre is offering two comedies as part of its 2015 season. The plays are presented in a truly unique way. All performances are held outdoors at the Winslow Farm, located on the Zion Line about an hour East of Toronto. In July, the theatre presents the world premiere of Alex Poch-Goldin’s The Bad Luck Bank Robbers. The comedy, based on real events, tells the story of a brazen daylight robbery that occurred in 1961 at bank in Eastern Ontario. In August, Gimme That Prime Time Religion, a satire about an evangelistic ministry’s exploits in small town Ontario takes the stage. Insider tip: Seating is first-come, first-serve and patrons are welcome to bring their own picnic to enjoy before the show.

Thousand Islands Playhouse in Gananoque, Ontario has seven productions on its 2015 schedule. The playhouse operates at what Toronto Star theatre critic Richard Ouzounian has called “the most breathtaking location in the province.” Productions are staged at two fully-renovated historic venues on the banks of the St. Lawrence River 30 minutes north of Kingston. This year the playhouse offers a farce, three musicals, a comedy for kids, an improv piece and the world premiere of Bed and Breakfast, a comedy about leaving the big city for small town Ontario. Insider tip: Sail your boat to the playhouse and dock your boat for a performance or the night. Bring your passport and visit a castle as part of a 1,000 islands boat tour.


Theatre co. reaches out to handyman Holmes


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A theatre company is reaching out via social media to TV handyman Mike Holmes with an appeal to fix-up their historic rehearsal space.

This month, members of the Salon Theatre Acting Company in Kingston posted a YouTube video with the intention of wooing the famous handyman to turn his attentions to St. Andrew’s Manse. The historic building, reportedly one of Sir John A. Macdonald’s favourite haunts, is in need of upgrades to its plumbing and heating systems — not to mention its decor.

The video features actors from the theatre company portraying Canada’s first Prime Minister and his rival Oliver Mowat, the third premier of Ontario, as they tour the building and point out the areas in need of repair. They are encouraging viewers to tweet the video link to @Make_it_Right (Holmes’ twitter handle) to show their support.

A well-conceived bit of social media PR, the video also serves to create online buzz about Sir John Eh? the theatre company’s national school tour commemorating the bicentennial of the birth of Canada’s first Prime Minister.

It’s Popcorn Lover’s Day!


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Today is Popcorn Lover’s Day!


For me, no trip to the cinema is complete without this crunchy snack. I must confess that unless I’m sharing with a friend, I usually go for the kid’s size. It’s just enough to satisfy my craving, but not enough to cause that sickly too-much-fake-butter-feeling (getting it without the butter is not an option – too dry!).

Popcorn and the movies have a long history, but in the beginning theatre owners wanted nothing to do with the stuff. After all, who wants to spend their days cleaning ground up bits of popcorn from seats and carpets?

It has gotten a bad rap from patrons too – both for its calorie count and price. It’s estimated that movie theatres make as much as an 85% profit at the concession stand and a large tub o’ corn can add up to a day’s worth of calories and fat. In the United States, the FDA now requires theatres to post the calorie count of foods on their menus to help movie goers make more informed choices.

Some argue that the insane mark-up on concessions is what has kept movie theatres in business over the years and that the inflated prices actually benefit theatre goers by keeping ticket prices low. Others claim that crunching away on snacks can increase your immunity to those annoying pre-show advertisements.

All I know, is that the stuff tastes good (just salted with butter, no strange flavours!). Call me a popcorn lover if you must. I’ll have one kiddie combo please, you can keep the toy.


Show quotes


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quotes“The theatre is so endlessly fascinating because it’s so accidental. It’s so much like life.”
Arthur Miller, playwright

“Theatre is a verb before it is a noun, an act before it is a place.”
Martha Graham, dancer and choreographer

“Actors are agents of change. A film, a piece of theatre, a piece of music, or a book can make a difference. It can change the world.”
Alan Rickman, actor

“But theatre, because of its nature, both text, images, multimedia effects, has a wider base of communication with an audience. That’s why I call it the most social of the various art forms.”
— Wole Soyinka, playwright and Nobel laureate

“Theatre has an incredible capacity to move people to social change, to address issues, to inspire social revolution.”
Eve Ensler, playwright, performer, feminist and activist

“I have always wanted to work in the theatre. I’ve always felt the glamour of being backstage and that excitement, but I’ve never actually done it – not since I was in 5th grade, really. But I’ve had many plays in my films. I feel like maybe theatre is a part of my movie work.”
Wes Anderson, film director and screenwriter

Stratford Festival launches Shakespeare in HD


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If you weren’t able to make it to Stratford last season to see a Shakespearean production, all is not lost.

shakespeareThe Stratford Festival captured three of its productions in high-definition video for distribution to cinemas in the Canada and around the world. King Lear, King John and Antony and Cleopatra are the plays featured this year.

The concept is not a new one. Since 2006, the Metropolitan Opera in New York has been transmitting satellite simulcasts of its operas to movie theatres. Britain’s National Theatre Live HD program is now in its sixth season, delivering British theatre to cinema-goers around the globe. It’s high time Stratford got in on the act.

Tickets for Stratford’s HD version of King Lear starring Colm Feore went on sale today. Tickets for the other productions will be available in April and May.

Intermission: sandy cinema, future theatre and ice


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Explore an abandoned desert cinema.

What’s seeing a movie in a Japanese movie theatre like?

Cineplex launches Sensory Friendly Screenings for people with autism.


Canada 300 explores the country’s future through theatre.

Montreal’s vanished theatre row.

Why being a playwright in Canada is like being an ice sculptor.

Brick by brick: demolition of New York’s Star Theatre


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In 1901, workmen began the process of demolishing the Star Theatre located at the northeast corner of Broadway and Thirteenth Street, just south of Union Square in New York City. The theatre first opened its doors in 1861 and was built by James W. Wallack, a noted actor and theatre manager of the time. Originally known as Wallack’s Theatre (one of four in NYC to bear his name), it was once considered one of the finest theatres in the United States.

Over the years, changes in ownership, a neighbourhood now focused on the garment trade and newer theatres in other parts of the city kept theatre goers away. The theatre eventually closed and was demolished to make way for a clothing manufacturing company.

The Star was located across the street from the American Mutoscope—an early motion picture company. The company captured the demolition for posterity,setting up a camera to take images every four minutes during the day as the demolition progressed and releasing the images as the short film “Demolishing and Building Up Star Theatre.”

In a strange twist of fate, today a 14 screen multiplex now stands at the Star’s old site at the corner of Broadway and Thirteenth.


Setting the stage for the Oscars


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The Academy Awards, or the Oscars as they are more commonly known, celebrate excellence in cinematic achievements. In today’s hyperactive online world, twitter feeds and blogs are buzzing with predictions about the best movies, actors, fashion and just about everything else leading up to (and during) the awards broadcast. Last year, host Ellen DeGeneres’ selfie became the most re-tweeted message of all time.

It wasn’t always this way. Throughout their history, the awards have transformed from a relatively small private dinner for 270 guests to a massive media spectacle that attracts about 40 million viewers worldwide. The awards weren’t even televised until 1953 and now include red carpet pre-shows and backstage coverage in addition to broadcast of the ceremony itself.

During its history, the event has been held at a variety of venues. Since 2002, viewers have tuned into a broadcast from the Dolby Theatre (previously known as the Kodak Theatre), the first permanent home to the ceremonies that was designed specifically with the Oscars in mind. The venue boasts one of the largest stages in the United States and a front entrance with Art Deco columns displaying the names of past recipients of Academy Awards for Best Picture and space for future winners. In the off season, the Dolby is a venue for concerts, symphony performances and other events. The show American Idol is also filmed there.

The first Academy Awards weren’t held at a theatre at all, but at the Blossom Ballroom at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in 1929.  The hotel and the ballroom in particular, have an interesting story. Unexplained cold spots in the ballroom are thought to be a sign of paranormal activity. Some also claim the hotel is haunted by former guests like Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Montgomery Clift and a mysterious little girl in a blue dress.

Ghosts or no ghosts, the event was never held there again. Over the next ten years or so, it alternated between two Los Angeles venues, the Ambassador Hotel and the Biltmore Hotel. Rumour has it that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was founded at the Biltmore in 1927 at a luncheon banquet in the Crystal Ballroom, though references to the Ambassador Hotel as the founding site of the academy can also be found (online accounts also differ as to who originally came up with the name Oscars for the awards). The Biltmore still stands, but the Ambassador is long gone, a victim of changing neighbourhood demographics and an unfortunate legacy. Robert Kennedy was assassinated in the pantry area of the Ambassador’s kitchen in 1968.

In the mid to late 1940’s, the awards were held at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre or the Shrine Auditorium, before finding a home at the Pantages Theatre for the following decade. Pantages is an Art Deco venue built by vaudeville giant and early motion picture producer Alexander Pantages, as part of the Pantages Theatre Circuit. The first of these “circuit” theatres was the Pantages Playhouse was built in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1914. It is still in operation today.

In the following decades, the awards bounced between Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and the Shrine Auditorium, before finding a permanent home at the Dolby.

A visit to Los Angeles doesn’t quite seem complete with out a visit to some of these historic (and not so historic) award venues. I know I’ll be thinking about the Dolby’s Art Deco columns, ghosts and the history of these awards when I tune into the show.