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Toronto theatre heavyweights boycott the Factory Theatre following Ken Gass’s dismissal

Atom Egoyan, Judith Thompson, Seana McKenna and George F. Walker are only some of the prominent members of the Toronto theatre community who have banded together to boycott the Factory Theatre—both as performing artists and patrons—after the abrupt firing of long-time artistic director Ken Gass last month. According to a petition to reinstate Gass (which has amassed an impressive 3,600-plus signatures and plenty of impassioned comments), the 25-year theatre vet was let go over a dispute with the board regarding how public funds would be used to develop the theatre. (The board cited the Factory’s need to move in a different direction as the reasoning behind his dismissal, while Gass’s own version of the story can be read on the boycott site). This could get interesting.

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Today in Toronto: Divisadero, Hanson, War Horse and more

Divisadero: A Performance Michael Ondaatje’s 2007 novel got the theatrical treatment last year, with Daniel Brooks directing Maggie Huculak, Tom McCamus and Liane Balaban in a stage adaptation, which gets a remount this month. Acting neophyte Justin Rutledge—a very fine singer-songwriter and Ondaatje’s muse for the project—turns in a solid performance as itinerant gambler Coop, but it’s Amy Rutherford as a magnetic, desperate junkie who steals the show. Previews from Feb. 8. Find out more »

Hanson There’s no way to put this that won’t make you feel old: all three members of Hanson, the trio of blond brothers who very briefly owned the top of the charts with “MMMBop,” are married with children. (Yes, even the youngest brother, Zac, who was 12 when they first hit and behaved like the “before” in a Ritalin ad.) Find out more »

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Today in Toronto: Fleet Foxes, the Cecilia String Quartet, the films of John Cassavetes and more

Fleet Foxes This Portland-based band was thrust onto the international stage following the release of its 2008 debut album, and for its sophomore effort, the band has chosen a slightly softer Brit sound for Helplessness Blues. Find out more »

Labours of Love: Visionary Works for String Quartet The Cecilia String Quartet returns to the Music Garden garlanded as the first prize winner in the prestigious Banff International String Quartet Competition. Find out more »

The Films of John Cassavetes Indie giant John Cassavetes gets a full-on retrospective this month at the TIFF Cinematheque with heavy-hitting flicks that include A Woman Under the Influence, in which the late director’s wife, Gena Rowlands (who will appear to discuss their collaborations on July 14), portrays a mentally unstable housewife, and Faces, a portrait of middle-class malaise and the hunt for sexual fulfillment. Find out more »

Titus Andronicus Shakespeare’s most vicious work tracks the murders, mutilations and rape set in motion by the capture of Goth queen Tamora, her sons and her lover by the titular Roman general. Previews from June 23. Find out more »

Tou Comme Elle (Just Like Her) Fifty of Canada’s finest female actors—Maggie Huculak, Allegra Fulton and Fiona Reid among them—fill the stage in this English-language premiere of the show about mothers and daughters that wowed Montreal audiences in 2006. Find out more »

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The one thing you should see this week: 50 of the city’s leading ladies on one stage

(Image: Michael Cooper)

This week’s pick: Tout Comme Elle

Most plays can usually only scrounge together one or two headliners for the marquee, but Tout Comme Elle (Just Like Her) is bold enough to demand 50. Five years ago, Louise Dupré’s play opened in Montreal under the direction of the National Arts Centre’s Brigitte Haentjens. Featuring an all-female cast ranging in age from 26 to 90, the show’s poignant look at the tender and often thorny relationships between mothers and daughters quickly made it a French-language hit.

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A Fine Bromance: Michael Ondaatje returns to the stage after more than 20 years, in a collaboration with an untested star

Adapting any novel for the stage is a tricky thing, a task the British writer Sebastian Faulks recently likened to “trying to turn a painting into a sculpture.” Stories that unfold over hundreds of pages must be recreated in just a slim script; whole worlds must be confined to a patch of boards. Adapting the 2007 Governor General’s Award winner Divisadero—a meandering book that abruptly leaves main characters midway through their narratives and appears unconcerned with dramatic thrust—would seem a maddening, impossible job, but it’s what Michael Ondaatje has chosen to do with his first theatre project in more than two decades. Divisadero: A Performance is produced by the ambitious company Necessary Angel, directed by Daniel Brooks, and stars film actor Liane Balaban and the excellent Tom McCamus and Maggie Huculak. The piece’s success, however, hangs on the chemistry between Ondaatje and Justin Rutledge, the young singer-songwriter who will be making his theatrical debut when the play opens this month.

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