Tuesday, February 03, 2009


Torontonians will not be deterred by weather.

Snow and cold come what may, we walked through bustling streets, overflowing shops and bulging restaurants. Floors wet with the dirty snow of a million boots being stamped as they entered, Toronto seemed to barely register the subzero temperatures and the snowy sky.

Here’s how crazy-wonderful Torontonians are: they have a festival in the dead of winter called Winter City where they have performances and events OUTDOORS. It feels as much an act of endurance as anything else. We happened upon a cirque-like performance that blew us away (see the picture on the right)

After the stilt walkers was a salsa band. I can only imagine them thinking, “we’re a long way from South America…”

All of this is to say that what seemed to us like arctic blizzards had no effect on the attendance of the theatre we saw. We may have caught shows on popular nights, but every show was overflowing with patrons, spilling crowds out doors into the wet, snowy nights.

One of those shows was a Friday night performance at Theatre Passe Muraille, a space just off the vibrant and eclectic bustle of Queen Street. You Fancy Yourself was a one-woman show created by Contrary Company and was a “guest production” at the theatre. The theatre is housed in a cool old space - a designated historical building – that feels a little like an old brick school house.

Passe Muraille means to pass through walls and speaks to the company’s mission to “work collaboratively with fresh voices and new partnerships.” We got our tickets and went around the corner to their second space to see the result of one of those partnerships.

You Fancy Yourself by solo performer and playwright Maja Ardal was a multi-character, fast paced juggernaut of a show in which she slipped in and out of characters with ferocity. It was an interesting take on the nuances of playground politics thru the eyes of a little girl--a transplant from Iceland to Scotland. The multi-layered one-woman performance was funny, emotional, filled with songs and stories, often drawing from fairy tales and myths. The playground became a battleground of sorts, reminiscent of Icelandic sagas, full of violence and pride. Ardal's story was universal enough to draw the audience in, yet her experiences were unique enough to keep it interesting - a strange and haunted immigrant who is always on the outside looking in.

Because we're so behind on blog posts for our trip, I'm going to post our next entry in mere moments!

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