UC Charity Drag Show

Coming into university I knew that there was going to be a mile long list of ‘firsts’:

My first time doing my own laundry, first 500 person lecture, first time spending over 12 hours in a library. 

However I don’t think I could have prepared myself for what came along with last year’s University College Charity Drag Show: my first time watching a friend get dressed up in drag and perform on stage to Beyoncé

My best friend Chim dancing to Beyonce at last year's drag show

My best friend Chim dancing to Beyonce at last year’s drag show

So when I got invited to this year’s 2nd Annual University College Drag show – I knew I couldn’t turn it down! With a killer line up of performers and all the proceeds going to Toronto’s LBGT Youthline it was sure to be a great night. 

Since my first day at University College, the attitude towards diversity and acceptance has overwhelmed me.  Encouraging everyone to love themselves no matter what they looked like, where they came from, or who they loved, has always been one of the things I’ve admired most about my college.

My crazy group of friends supporting Chim after his amazing performance!

My crazy group of friends supporting Chim after his amazing performance!

Events like the drag show are what really inspired me to get involved with my college, and was even one of the events that pushed me to apply for my Life@UofT job.  I wanted to experience more of these amazing events, and help other people experience them too. 

As for the event itself, let me start by saying that these Queens outdid any makeup or hair I could ever do. (I’m also now a firm believer that men wearing skirts and heels should be a daily occurrence, as I have never seen legs look so good in my life)  The Kings were equally impressive, rocking everything from the Beiber flow to baggy pants.

However, the real jaw-dropping happened when they took the stage.  Dancing to everything from 80s fem-rock classics, to today’s top 40, these men and women gave Rue Paul’s Drag Race a run for their money. 

To compliment these amazing performances, the UClit throws quite the party.  The JCR was dimly lit with oversized couches and an enormous amount of food. The performances were broken up with raffles and hilarious commentary by the MCs. 

One of the art instillations created by the AVSSU, that acted as the stage backdrop

One of the art instillations created by the AVSSU, that acted as the stage backdrop

This year the JCR was also covered in art instillations. The Architecture and Visual Studies Student Union created five different stunning art instillations that added another layer of interest and entertainment to the event. 

However the best part of the night wasn’t the beautiful art, the delicious food or amazing performances.  It was the palpable energy that ran through the air.  There was an undeniable sense of carefreeness.  These men and women were up there, dancing and having a good time, without an ounce of worry that someone was going to judge them or laugh at them.  They were supporting an amazing cause while getting one of the most memorable experiences of their life.  But most of all, they were just having fun. 

Living in a big city and going to such a diverse school, it can be easy to forget the rest of the world.  That hundreds of boys and girls live every day hiding who they are out of fear of being punished or ridiculed.  Thats why unique events such as this are so important.  They help make this school and, in a small way the rest of the world, a better place.

Finding a Passion… For Fashion

Last week I attended the annual UFashion Spring Fashion show, held in co-ordination with the UClit and U of T Students for Wishes. 

The event is put on every year by the student-run organization UFashion It showcases different Toronto-based designers and stores, aiming to appeal to a variety of different styles and student budgets. 

This year’s event was held at Fiction nightclub, and proceeds benefitted the Make a Wish Foundation. Tickets to the fashion show were $10 a piece, and included entrance to Fiction after the show was over. 

two university aged girls sitting on a large leather couch in a club-like setting

Ainsley and Ashley getting ready for the show to start

Before attending the show I had never actually heard of UFashion before, so I didn’t know entirely what to expect. Creating fashionable looks that are not only locally accessible, but student-budget friendly, is difficult to say the least. Although I was excited for the experience of the show as a whole, I wasn’t holding out high hopes of seeing anything that I would “just have to have.” 

I couldn’t have been more wrong. 

photo1

The looks were edgy, fashionable, and well put together. There wasn’t a linear catwalk, but instead models walked a path that wound throughout the entire club. The audience was sat on the large velvet couches, and the layout gave everyone a front row view. 

The stores showcased included Toronto locals such as Over The Rainbow, Feroce, Parloque, Sauvage, and Original Penguin It also however, featured an online store created by two University of Toronto students. Haakem Bajwa and Parham Chinikar created their clothing line Cabaret Vesture in the attempts to create pieces that they would wear on a daily basis.  Instead of striving to achieve a certain aesthetic or style, they let their creativity guide them into making whatever pieces are inspiring them at the time. 

photo2

I left the fashion show having had a wonderful night, but also fuelled by a new interest in this aspect of UofT life I didn’t know existed before.  Almost at the end of my second year here, I still feel like I haven’t found something that I’m truly passionate about.  With hundreds of clubs I never expected it would be this difficult. 

However attending the UFashion event opened my eyes up to the world of UofT fashion, beauty, and style. It introduced me to an entire network of other students who share my passion for style, but who share many of the same student-related constraints. 

image via. http://ufashiontoronto.blogspot.ca/

image via. http://ufashiontoronto.blogspot.ca/

If UFashion sounds like something you want to get involved with too, check out their blog www.ufashiontoronto.blogspot.ca, or like them on Facebook here.  I’d love to get any suggestions of other beauty/fashion related clubs in the comments below, or hear your story of how you found your passion at U of T! Until next time, keep up to date with me on the other events I’m attending by following me on twitter at @Rachael_UofT.

My Reading Week #Staycation

Happy Reading Week U of T! If you’re reading this article right now, chances are you’re one of the many students who didn’t go away for reading week. (However if you are – and you’re reading this on a beach in the warmth somewhere, I probably hate you.) 

American television shows and Tripadvisor commercials have all turned reading week into this glamorized week of freedom, where it’s mandatory to go somewhere warm, wear a slinky bikini, and drink a pina colada. 

However for most university students, this isn’t the reality – in fact, it’s not even an option. Not only are vacations expensive, but they also require an entire week of no school work; which always sounds like a good idea in theory, but ends up making your first week back a nightmare. 

The reality it, most U of T students this year will spend reading week at home. Whether you choose to pick up some extra shifts at work, take advantage of the quiet on campus, or sleep in until 2pm every day – it doesn’t make your reading week any less valid. 

That’s why this reading week, I have a full-on “Stay-cation” planned. 

Living close to campus I find it really easy to get into the slump of “home, campus, repeat.” I forget that I live in such an amazing city. During first year, Toronto itself was what made my year so enjoyable. In fact, in my Life@UofT interview, I explicitly mentioned how having a campus in the middle of the city was what I loved most about U of T. 

Somewhere between grocery shopping, laundromats, TTC rides, and paying rent, I seem to have forgotten what I loved the most about U of T – the city that it’s in!

Well forget no more, this reading week for me is all about re-kindling my long lost love for Toronto. It’s about getting out and exploring the little nooks and crannies I don’t have time to see between classes. 

For me, it’s going to look a little something like this; 

Monday: 

Brunch at School in Liberty Village. Classes may be out – but brunch is always in. 

Picture of brunch food sitting out on a school-esque table. Food includes pancakes, waffles, and eggs.

(Image Via. http://sincerelykn.blogspot.ca/2014/08/school-restaurant.html )

Tuesday: 

Free admission to the ROM! Tuesdays are my busiest days, so I never get to take advantage of this during the semester. 

image of inside the rom in the dinosaur room where there are dinosaur skeletons up!

(image via. rom.on.ca )

Wednesday: 

Free admission to the AGO! Ditto on the Tuesday comment. 

(Image via. kentsujimoto.blogspot.com )

(Image via. kentsujimoto.blogspot.com )

Thursday: 

Book Time! Not the boring Robarts-esque books however. I plan to explore as many of these book stores as humanly possible in one day. 

Clean, crisp, modern bookstore

( Image via. http://www.blogto.com/toronto/the_best_bookstores_in_toronto/ )

Friday: 

People watching in Kensington market. Now that I’m not one of the crazy Torontonians running around like a chicken with their head cut off – it’s nice to sit back and watch everyone else do it. Kensington is the perfect place for this. 

Two people walking through Kensington market , passing by a brightly painted building)

( Image via. www.paulkrol.net )

So U of T, that’s my #Staycation plans. Who needs a vacation when you have one of the most diverse and cultured cities in the world at your door step! So U of T, whether you’re hitting the streets like me, or lounging by the pool, have a good reading week – and I’ll see you all back on campus next week. 

Winter break may be Over, but that doesn’t mean a cold slog until Spring.

It is week four of term and I am already missing the chocolate-consuming, snuggled in comfy clothing, social function-filled days of the winter break. Not to mention that I am frozen to my core. Yes I know, it was way worse last year, but a late start to the winter lulled me into a false sense of security and now I am finding my warm bed and cranked heat more attractive than ever.

There is so much to look forward to and do over the next few days and weeks though, and I’d love to impart it all to you so we can enjoy the fun and frivolity and embrace the winter chill together. Winterfest and Frost Week might be over, but that doesn’t put fun to an end.

Get Warm with Exercise

Did you know that the Varsity Center has free skating and pick-up hockey scheduled all term? You can even rent skates! If you’re into outdoor skating, try Nathan Phillips’s Square, where you can also rent skates and a helmet for $10 for two-hour use.

For indoor exercise, don’t forget the drop-In classes at Hart House or the Athletic Center (AC). Registered classes at Hart House and the AC began this week, but I think you can still sign up for them if you’re looking for things like dancing (of all sorts), Pilates, various martial arts, swimming, , or archery (though you might want to leave the Mockingjay pin at home).

Relaxation and Rejuvenation for your Mind and Body

After all that exercise, you might want a massage, and Hart House delivers free mini Shiatsu massages every Monday in the chapel from 12:00 to 3:00 PM.

There are also regular mindfulness opportunities throughout the week to help you get centered and re-energized.

Get Creative

For those of you who appreciate self-expression through the written word, try Write Now!, a weekly drop-in session run by peer mentors. It’s offered three times weekly: at The Multi-Faith Centre on Tuesdays, on Thursdays at Hart House (room locations change so check the link above for specifics), and the Koffler Student Services Centre on Fridays.

Get Crafty! at Hart House returns this term. You’ll have the opportunity to make everything from lip balms to buttons to aromatherapy sprays (among other cool things), so don’t miss it.

Hart House also hosts tons of creative classes, where you can learn everything from clowning to film-making. Why not learn a new skill this term?

Theatre, Art and Music

There are so many great shows this term! Free weekly jazz nights at Hart House, Jesus Christ Superstar and other great plays at Hart House Theatre, and free concerts galore from student groups – you can review the listing of all Hart House musical groups and their respective concert dates above. There are also a ton of events listed at UofTtix.

Feeling your inner performer needs to be unleashed? Hart House’s got you covered with monthly open mic nights.

Last but certainly not least, for those into visual art, there are several exhibitions open at the UofT Art Centre and the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery.

But wait, there’s [probably] more

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it should be enough to get you started towards beating the winter blahs. Have any other events to look forward to that you think everyone should know about? Let me know in the comments!

A Night at the (UofT) Theatre

I can’t count the amount of times that I’ve walked by a poster advertising a new play on campus, and said “oh, I’m going to go to that!”  If you’ve followed my blog posts for a while now, this won’t come as much of a surprise to you; I am the queen of  wanting to get involved in something, and then never actually doing it. 

So this week when my friend invited me to come and see her in the Trinity College Dramatic Society’s performance of the Twelve Angry Jurors – I knew I had to stick to my promise. 

I decided to take this as an excuse to have a night out, a “night at the theatre” so to say.  It’s only three weeks into the semester and I already feel as if I’m clocking more hours at Robarts than in my own bedroom.  I figured this was the perfect excuse to take a well deserved break. 

A picture of me at a table at Gabbie's bar with a plate of delicious food in front of me

We started our night up on Bloor at Gabby’s Bar & Girl to grab a quick bite before the performance, which started at 8pm.  Pulled pork and fries may not be the classiest of pre-theatre meals, but hey – I’m on a student budget here (and it was delicious).

a picture of my delicious food - a pulled pork sandwich and fries

We got to the theatre early to purchase tickets from the door and get our seats in the George Ignatieff Theatre. The stage itself was small, but the theatre filled up quickly with family members and friends of the performers, and a couple campus reporters as well. 

a picture of my theatre program and ticket. The program reads "TCDS presents the twelve angry jurors, with a picture of a screaming head in which the eyes are covered by the numbers 1-12

When the play began I was immediately captivated. I hadn’t done much research about the play before hand, but the general synopsis involves a group of Jurors arguing over the innocence of a man accused of killing his father. 

The entire play takes place on the same set, with no more than 13 characters on stage at one time.  It was intense and dramatic, with the perfect amount of comic relief.  The characters delve into topics such as immigration, racism, prejudice, and the idea of “reasonable doubt”.  Although you never see the accused man, or any characters other than the jurors and a security guard, through the discussion you feel as if you have an clear picture of the entire trial. 

a picture of the performance happening on stage. The 12 characters are sitting in chairs around a large table - on character is standing up addressing the group.

The actors themselves portrayed their characters skillfully, shedding tears at some points and genuine smiles at others. Although the play itself was only an hour, when it was over I felt as if I had known these characters all my life. 

the actors in the play lined up for the final curtain call

When the play was over we waited in the lobby to see our friend, then walked home discussing everything we had just seen.  The best part of seeing a play, movie, or any theatre production, is the ability it has to take you away.  For a given amount of time it transports you into another storyline where the problems of your world don’t seem to matter anymore. 

So I’ve ticked something off my campus bucket list, and managed to find a new favourite past-time in the process.  I would love to hear your experiences with campus productions, including any plays that I have to see. Leave them in the comments below, or send them to me on twitter at @Rachael_UofT. 

If you’ve never seen a play on campus, I would highly recommend it! With numerous on-campus productions happening every year, there’s sure to be a play that interests everyone, and a ticket price to match your budget.  

Closer to the Art

Art is great. I don’t always understand it, but it’s still great. Being able to convey feelings or stories in many ways is a treasure. Even if you’re like me and the best image you can draw is a stick-figure, visual art forms can be fascinating.

The most amazing bagel with tomato sauce, pizza pepperoni, and molten mozzarella cheese you've ever seen (with a bite taken out already by an overzealous Zach)

First Nations House Lunch on Friday Nov. 28: Simple, delicious, a work of art! (Photo by Zachary Biech)

For me, guitar can convey feelings when words just won’t do. But visuals really help me learn best.

String-level view looking down the fretboard of my electric guitar (did I mention the guitar is bright green!)

One piece of my rock n’ roll arsenal (Photo by Zachary Biech)

I visited the Art Gallery of Ontario with my Mom (which I mentioned in last week’s blog) to see the Anishinaabe Artists of the Great Lakes special exhibit. It’s incredibly powerful stuff. There were many stories, some ancient and some about present-day life. And there was me wandering around in deep thought. People probably thought I was just lost and that I didn’t know I was in an art gallery.

The top half of my head, wearing an awesome bright red Calgary Flames toque

The Flames toque I’ve needed to wear all over the place because of the November cold also makes people look at me funny, especially at the AGO (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Music can be just as moving. For instance, my Mom brought me a CD called True Blue, by a pow-wow drum group called Northern Cree. It’s awesome. Those guys can really sing. Such music reminds me how much I enjoyed starting to learn the “N” dialect of the Cree language over the summer at the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto.

A picture of the CD case for the album True Blue by Northern Cree

Awesome Album (Photo by Zachary Biech)

I always enjoy the artwork in First Nations House. The more I look around, the more I find. The paintings on the walls are a nice change from most U of T buildings and I think the birch bark canoe is grand. There’s a Great Lakes Canoe project run through Mizwe Biik, in which they built that canoe and paddled it out onto one of the Great Lakes. It’s a different style of art and I recommend you check out their next project if you’re looking for a really cool opportunity.

A wall mural of a river, forest, and Toronto skyline, with a bear and it's cub, in Indigenous woodland style

Just one of the huge murals that adorns First Nations House’s walls (Photo by Zachary Biech)

At the Native Canadian Centre, you can also do a lot of fun volunteering projects. Over the summer, I helped do the judging for the Young Native Artists 2015 Calendar contest, where kids from reserves all over Ontario from kindergarten to grade 12 submitted artworks (about a thousand in total) for us to choose from. We had a blast. We picked a winning piece for each month, plus one for the cover and one for a small motif which is on all the pages.

The inside cover of the 2015 Young Native Artist's Calendar, with all the names and communities of the winning artists and other contributors

The amazing artists for this year’s calendar! Note my name under the committee member list in the bottom left-hand corner (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Those kids are amazing, they are all winners. Two kindergarten students got into the calendar, they blew me away. Their art is all very beautiful and skillful, and some of the pieces are so witty, we just had to choose them!

The calendars are available at NCCT for 5$ each. They are a perfect gift for the holidays. NCCT is also having their big craft sale on November 29th. I’ll be volunteering there as well, and maybe next week I’ll post pictures of the action!

One last note: First Nations House, The Centre for Aboriginal Initiatives, the NSA, SAGE, IEN, and the Office of Indigenous Medical Education are all working together to host this year’s Indigenous Winter Social at OISE on Friday December 5th from 3:00 to 5:00 pm. Come check it out!

A great whale wall mural in western Indigenous art style

More of First Nations House’s beautiful imagery (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Gearing Up

Brace yourselves: exams are coming. Don’t forget about essays and assignments due soon. I know how daunting these tasks can be, especially in first year. But we’re all in this together!

Street-level view, looking up into a snowy night sky amidst the glowing lights of towers and old Victorian houses

In this crazy huge community, we have to stick together to make it through the hard winters (Photo by Zachary Biech)

It’s all in the way you think about working. When I feel overwhelmed, I tell myself to breathe, not to worry and that there are many hours between me and the tests or due dates. When you see how many hours you have, your subconscious can adjust to the overwhelming to-do list and plan how to use that time. The power of the mind is limitless!

I also try to look forward to the holidays. For my holiday, it means flying home to snowy, frigid Alberta for some serious chillaxation. Winter is a great time. It’s a time of rest, peace, and reflection. We just have to get through the fall semester, our peak mentally focused time, reel in those marks and get those jobs done. Then we’re home-free.

Family support is key. I know too many students who don’t have strong enough family connectivity and it’s heart-breaking. Everybody needs a hand sometimes and everybody (including young people like us working hard on our studies) deserves a hand.

I’m a lucky, lucky guy. My parents and I are best pals and our little family stays connected no matter what. My Dad stayed with me last summer and my Mom came to visit me right at the time that I started this blog post! She and I always have a great time together in Toronto and perhaps we can share some of that fun with you too!

A snowy afternoon sky, surrounded by the massive bright signs on all the buildings at Yonge-Dundas Square, with a large silvery ornamental evergreen tree right in the middle

My Mom and I thought the holiday display at Yonge-Dundas Square was pretty cool (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Once she was settled in my apartment after the long flight, my Mom gave me some amazing gifts from the Tsuu T’ina peoples who live just west of Calgary to liven up my place. We also reorganized and redecorated my bachelor-pad. I can’t take all the credit for my home layout; I’ve had an excellent interior designer helping me.

A large dream-catcher with three bundles of feathers, hanging above the bar in my kitchen

A new Tsuu T’ina dream-catcher, chosen special for me by my parents! (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Four coasters, hand-woven beige cloth with rich dark blue, turquoise, and orange  imagery

My Mom also gave me these beautiful Tsuu T’ina coasters, among many other little items (Photo by Zachary Biech)

You don’t need family to do this, and if you’re lonely, a change is as good as a rest. Even the little things can make a world of difference. Little things, like moving some furniture, sorting, and redecorating, can have a big impact.

Fancy blue and red decorative boxes placed in a row, with a Métis sash draped over one, on top of my TV stand next to hilarious little Lego sets

Some new interior design mastery atop my TV stand (Photo by Zachary Biech)

One of the shelves in the middle of my apartment, no longer in line with it's larger neighbour, thus freeing up much more space

Shifting this shelf 90 degrees may seem like no big deal, but for a guy who’s used to it the other way, this is life-changing (Photo by Zachary Biech)

There’s a lot of wintertime fun downtown. While we were window shopping on Bloor Street in the Yorkville ritzy area (my Mom loves the awesome window displays; you can’t get those back home!) we even caught a glimpse of a big holiday parade.

A giant metal reindeer standing in a hall in Eaton Centre, with the big skylight as the backdrop

Eaton Centre has these giant holiday reindeer to terrify us into shopping faster (Photo by Zachary Biech)

But there’s even more to this winter wonderland. We toured all over snowy downtown. We even made it to the Anishinaabe Artists of the Great Lakes special exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario. It was massive! Each piece of artwork had a powerful story attached to it and each was more moving than the last. I can’t describe the beauty. You have to see them yourself.

The wavy exterior design of the Art Gallery of Ontario, totally draped in snow

Snowy day at the AGO (photo by Zachary Biech)

The ultra-modern, wavy wooden rafters in behind the AGO's crazy glass exterior

Now we know what that crazy glass part of the AGO looks like from the inside (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Giant printing on the gift shop wall which says "This is the mos important place in the museum"

This giant sign is on the wall in…you guessed it…the gift shop (Photo by Zachary Biech)

We’re entering a time of celebration. Even if you’re on your own, remember: celebrate your home, celebrate what you’re working towards.

Reading, Writing, and Relaxation (They Can Go Together, I Promise)

When brainstorming ideas with the rest of the blog crew this week, we were discussing libraries and using academic resources.  I made a joking comment that you could, hypothetically that is, actually get a book out for pleasure reading.  The crew laughed and made comments about all the spare time they don’t have, but it got me thinking.

As a humanities student I spend about 90% of my time reading and writing.  While that’s allowed me to develop great skills, it also takes away the pleasure and novelty of those two activities.  It turns something that provides most people (non-students at least) relaxation and comfort, into a chore or a cause of stress.

So over my last two years here at university, I’ve mad a conscious effort to not let this be the case.  I’ve continued to find time to read and write recreationally. 

Picture of two adorable grey tabby kittens leaning their heads against one another posing on top of  large open textbooks

How could this NOT make you want to read?!
[Source]

Everyone knows that reading has benefits.  Not only does it keep your mind active, but reading expands your knowledge in a natural way.  Even reading works of fiction educates you in certain subjects, or at the very least helps to inspire your creativity.

For this reason, I read every night before I go to bed.  Even if it’s just a few pages, reading a magazine or a book is one of the sure-fire ways to relax my mind and help me fall asleep.  I would have just been spending that time scrolling through instagram or tumblr anyway, and the added bonus of not being on a LCD screen means that I’m also giving my eyes a break before bed.

Picture of book that reads "The Bang Bang club by Greg Marinovich" laid out on a bed spread with a pair of reading glasses on top.

The book I’m currently reading/loving – The Bang Bang Club by Greg Marinovich. I picked up this gem used at the U of T Bookstore!

Many of the U of Libraries on campus carry fiction books, or like at the Laidlaw Library, feature a “new and noteworthy” section of books you may interested in reading for pleasure.  I also find it fun to scour through the College book sales or the U of T bookstore to see what catches my eye.

A selection of magazines stacked on top of one another. Titles include various publications such as vanity fair, vogue, and fashion magazine.

Reading magazines (even fashion magazines) is better for you that taking that last minute scroll through Instagram before bed!

While reading before bed has become a natural part of my routine, incorporating creative writing has definitely been a struggle.  This year, I’ve found two solutions that seem to be working pretty well:

Firstly, I keep a journal and pen next to my bed at all times.  I don’t give myself a schedule or force myself to write in it every night, but I do keep it there for any times I feel inspired.  Sometimes I just write a journal entry about my day, sometimes I write a poem, or other times just a lyric or phrase that’s been stuck in my head.

Picture of two paperback journals stacked on top of each other. They're sitting on a wooden dresser next to a white bed with a bedside lamp shining of them.

My trusty bedside journal and inspiration/work book! I keep it nearby at all times just in case inspiration hits!

It’s amazingly cathartic to write in a journal and realize all of the little things that my mind has been holding onto throughout the day.  Often, I’m surprised by what comes out and how relieved I am to have it on paper.

The other form of creative writing that I do is letter writing.  Every month or so I write a letter to my grandmas letting them know what’s been going on in my life lately, how I’m feeling, and what I’m looking forward to in the next couple of weeks.  My grandmas love receiving them, and love being able to write back.

Picture of hand-written notes next to envelopes and a package of Canadian stamps

For selfish-reasons it also helps me to put my life into perspective.  It forces me to look back at everything I’ve done in the month, good and bad, and decide what the highlights are.  Even better is it forces me to look into the future and prioritize what I need to get done.

Overall, continuing to read and write for pleasure has made reading and writing for school feel like less of a chore. It’s also expanded my vocabulary and now I feel more comfortable participating in conversations, because I feel like I know a little bit about a lot of different subjects.  But mostly, reading and writing has helped me to disconnect from technology and the world around me and create time for myself.

UC Does Rocky Horror Picture Show

This past Wednesday I attended the UC Follies Rocky Horror Picture Show Shadow Cast presented by the UCLit.  Although I’ve seen Rocky Horror Picture Show many-a-times, I’ve never actually been to a live performance or interactive screening of it.  I’ve heard how fun it can be, getting to throw rice onto the stage or yell things back to the cast, but nothing prepared me for the night of shenanigans the Follies had in store for us.

I think a part of me was still expecting things to be toned down the way they were in high school.  They couldn’t possibly re-enact every provocative scene from Rocky Horror… could they? 

Two Photo Set: Photo on the left is of a man standing on a table with a movie projector in the background. He is naked except for a small blue speedo and bandages across his chest. He has a crazy look in his eyes and has just been "created" by the mad scientist. Photo on the Right: one of the party-goer characters being thrown into the air in the middle of a dance routine.

Oh my naive, naive mind. 

To start off the night, my best friend and I came dressed as the main character duo of Brad and Janet – gaining ourselves entrance into the intermission costume contest along the way. The University College JCR was packed full of people in costumes enjoying food and drinks, and discussing all the insider secrets of an interactive Rocky Horror show.

Photo of boy and girl staring at each other seductively, posing heavily for the camera. Man is dressed in a lab coat and white briefs with slicked back hair and nerdy glasses. The girl is hidden behind a large red bed sheet.

My friend Matt and I dressed as our very best interpretations of Janet and Brad!

At 9:30 the lights dimmed, and the show began.  I actually didn’t understand what a shadow cast was until the show had began, but essentially the UC Follies acted in the foreground while the movie played in the background.

Two picture set: Picture on the right is of characters Rocky and Janet laying in bed together. The second picture is of Janet after her "transformation" performing the final number.

At the beginning of the show you could buy a “kit”, the purchase of which went to support the chosen organization SKETCH.  The kit included all of the things you would need to interact with the show such as rope, a sponge, and newspaper.  The narrator behind the screen would announce to the crowd when to get their object ready, and on cue from a line in the show, we would throw the object into the air or out onto the stage.  The first opportunity to use this arose when Janet and Brad were stuck out in the rain, and the chorus came around spraying the audience with water unless you put the newspaper over your head.

The cast was absolutely amazing, and the production was hilarious.  They had the crowd (myself included) laughing, gasping, and even singing and dancing along at some points. The characters would walk through the aisles, dancing with audience members and eliciting involvement, all while staying perfectly in character.

Girl dressed in outlandish costume of leather and fishnets with largely teased hair and over-the-top makeup, throwing her hands in the air dancing.

The cast leading us in the Time Warp dance!

The whole night was a perfect break from midterm stress, and definitely an amazing first Rocky Horror experience.  The UC follies do a variety of performances throughout the year, including musicals such as this, as well as dramas and improv nights.  Any member of University College can join and exercise their acting muscles, or just come along and view one of their shows.  Check out more pictures from the night, and find out more about the UC Follies, at ucfolliestheatre.ca

Getting Theatrical on Campus

I’m a pretty big theatre fan so this weekend I caught not one, but two shows on campus. The first one, on Friday night, was the Trinity College Dramatic Society’s production of A Midsummer Nights Dream and the second was Hart House Theatre’s The Importance of Being Earnest. 

I took a few pictures during the pre-show and show of Midsummer, and a couple of the Hart House Space but couldn’t take any of The Importance of Being Earnest itself. If you want to see pictures from that production you can go to the Hart House Theatre website here.  Keep scrolling for the pictures I took at the shows this weekend!

The TCDS performs “Shakespeare in the Quad” every fall and this year the production jumped out of the quad and made use of three spaces throughout Trinity College: Seeley Hall, the Chapel, and of course the Quad.  Midsummer is probably my favourite Shakespeare play so I was very excited to check this production out (plus my roommate was playing Peaseblossom so obviously I had to go and see her flounce around all fairy-like), and it did not disappoint — it was probably the best Shakespeare show I’ve ever seen! Instead of being in the traditional format, this show had the characters moving around Trinity with action happening in various spots simultaneously so the audience had to physically follow the action around the college, and it worked so well! The acting was of course superb and I was really impressed overall!

a girl dressed as a fairy looking confused into middle distance below the camera. Slightly blurry and out of focus because she is moving.

During the Pre-show all the characters walked around interacting with the audience in Seeley Hall. Here a fairy is very confused and intrigued by my bright orange umbrella. Also it was kind of dim in Seeley and everyone was moving fast so the pictures are all a little blurry – sorry.

a girl dressed as a fairy looks confusedly at a plastic bag in her hands. The bag is a blur because she is moving it.

Plastic bags are confusing

two actors dressed as fairies (The Changeling and Titania from a midsummer night's dream) take a selfie. They both have sparkes and lots of makeup on their faces.

All the fairies were really intrigued by my camera, here The Changeling and Titania took it and took a selfie with it.

a picture of the Trinity College chapel. The pews are filled with spectators watching people dressed as mimes/clowns acting out a play at the front.

Moving to the Trinity College Chapel to see the mechanicals rehearsing one of their plays.

a girl partly hidden in shadows holding up a cut out paper puppet of a monster in front of a light source so it's shadow falls on a sheet.

Inside the Fairy Bower the fairies tell the story of Puck and Titania with shadow puppets. There were also games in the bower which was really fun.

an actor dressed in a pale blue suit acts as if he is sleaping below a tree. Spectators watch from a distace.

Lysander sleeping beneath a tree before Puck comes to mess things up.

The second show I saw was on Saturday, when I went to Hart House Theatre to see the closing day matinee of The Importance of Being Earnest. I’d never seen this show before but I’d heard it was hilarious so I was eager to see it. Hart House Theatre is a really nice space and there isn’t a bad seat in the house. The show itself was really good: the sets, the costumes, and the acting were all top notch.

photo showing the poster for the importance of being earnest outside of hart house theatre. The poster has the name, a picture, and the show dates.

the hallway going into Hart House Theatre. the walls have shadowboxes with theatre posters. at the end of the hall is an arch.

such a beautiful space!

a hand holding out the programme for the 2014-2015 hart house theatre season

These two shows have unfortunately already closed, but there are still lots of upcoming shows at U of T this year, some of the ones that I know are happening are:

  • The Tempest (Hart House)
  • Jesus Christ Superstar (Hart House) 
  • This is for you Anna (Hart House) 
  • Fiddler on the Roof (SMC)
  • The Third Story (Trin)
  • 12 Angry Jurors (Men) Trin
  • Company (Vic)

You can check out what will be put on this year through the U of T tickets website.

What other shows are happening at U of T this year that you think I should see? Let me know in the comments below!