James Ryan Gobuty
What does one do with a lovely theatre space in the “off-season?” Well, if you’re the Canadian Stage Company you throw an interactive art party: welcome one and all the first iteration of Intermission.
Intermission Vol I is the first of a series of unique events that Canadian Stage will be hosting at their landmark Berkeley Street Theatre throughout the summer. Complete with live music and projection art, this event allows theatre and music lovers alike to mingle, schmooze, and take the opportunity to play in a space that one is usually expected to sit quietly in. Combine all this with the bar sponsored by Iceberg Vodka and Grolsch Premium Lager and food from local Sky Blue Sky Sandwiches, and you have an evening not to be missed.
The night kicked off with a free-style jazz performance in the Lobby of the Berkeley Street Theatre by King Weather with D. Alex Meeks (Hooded Fang) on drums and Steve Ward (Caribou, Minotaurs) on Trombone. This act was followed by singer/songwriter Michael Rault, whose stylings got the crowd moving (a feat for Toronto audiences). Throughout these performances, guests could weave in and out of the lobby into the theatre space, with the stage converted into a conversation space/dance floor, all while being bombarded by the projection art of Adam Carlucci. The stage area remained fairly tame during the first two performances, with the guests reconciling their reverence for the stage and their love of a good time. All of this changed, of course, when DJs Bangs & Blush started mixing their tunes and the stage dwellers embraced the space as a dance floor. There’s something totally novel and enjoyable about the idea of the audience taking over a theatre space and just having a good time.
Perhaps the most exciting part of the evening was the cameo appearance of renowned Canadian playwright and performer Judith Thompson. Though Thompson wasn’t an official feature of the event, a few lucky guests (myself included) were lucky enough to bump into her and snag a photo or a quick chat. Thompson was at the Berkeley Street Theatre because of her new play Watching Glory Die, which is playing in the theatre’s upstairs space. Thus, the world of drama/performance found its way into this event that was supposed to be anything but, and I don’t think anyone minded at all.
The concept behind Intermission is brilliant: what if that brief period of time when theatre lovers get to mingle mid-show was four hours long? This event seeks to bring the audience together as a community that enjoys one another’s company, rather than as individual adjacent bodies – a venture we should all be supporting. Canadian Stage promises no two versions of Intermission will be alike, but I’m willing to venture that they will all be a great time.
Intermission Vol II will be taking place on June 6 and Intermission Vol III on July 31 at the Berkeley Street Theater (26 Berkeley Street). Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door and can be purchased online at canadianstage.com or by phone at (416)-368-3110.
photo credit: James Drobik