Culture & Conversation

Posts from the ‘Letters from abroad’ category

Travel notes from writers about personal experiences with the arts and spirit of place, outside Montreal.

Raquel Duffy and Diego Matamoros in Soulpepper's Tartuffe

TO does Tartuffe

Soulpepper Repertory Theatre’s brilliant rendition of Molière’s Tartuffe should not be missed by any Montreal theatre enthusiasts travelling to Toronto.


On the road with Anna

That first night we stayed at the Sunrise Motel in Cody, Wyoming, the town built by Buffalo Bill. One year, the Hell’s Angels and Bandidos had both booked into the motel on their way to the Harley Davidson convention. Police from a hundred mile radius had surrounded the motel to keep the peace.

Gone global

We were waiting at the Kenyan border for visas to Tanzania, a line-up of foreigners restless and anxious to get back on the overcrowded vans that would forward us to the next adventure. As happens in such situations, strangers began talking to strangers, and suddenly the subject was Rob Ford.

Sounds like Art

Two a.m. Saturday night, Bay St. is thoroughly occupied. A human island in the middle of the street dances to a thumping rock beat. Line-ups at…

Money Makes the Fringe Go Round

Day two of the World Fringe Congress in Edinburgh had a jam-packed schedule of panel discussions, break-out sessions, and a reception chez the Lord Provost (Edinburgh’s mayor), leaving absolutely no time to attend any shows at the Fringe, Forest Fringe or Free Fringes. The themes I narrowed in on were seemingly contradictory. Fringe producers expressed both a desire to “retain the edge” of their festivals and an obsession to find money – and lots of it!

Fat Cows and Mad Cows

All is not well at the Edinburgh Fringe. As in North America, there is considerable discontent amongst artists on the street regarding an increasingly corporate festival.…

Mad Dogs & Scotsmen

I have arrived in glorious Edinburgh, Scotland, in the midst of both a strong downpour and the world-famous Fringe Festival. The city can only be described as beautiful, with its mediaeval architecture, quaint pubs and shops, and surprising nooks and crannies in every winding lane. While it’s tempting to just soak it all in by wandering endlessly through the ancient town, I have a mission and limited time. I am here for the World Fringe Congress, which begins today, representing the infringement festivals.

Art Inc, Toronto Style

With Robert Lepage, Rufus Wainwright and Philip Glass in the spotlight, Toronto’s Luminato certainly didn’t lack big names. Add Pilon Lemieux 4D Art into the mix, and the multidisciplinary artfest roster was top-heavy with Montreal’s brightest international lights. But make no mistake: it was no Montreal festival.

Érable à la Radio

A cacophony of casserole dishes is heard nightly in this city from Montreal North to St-Henri. The aim is to voice dissent over draconian emergency legislation, like Bill 78 (or Loi 78, if you will). Banging on pots and pans in the street is the poetic way Chileans (home to Pablo Neruda) protested during the Augusto Pinochet regime. And I have to say what a beautiful way to be heard! However, I’m not going to talk about the casserole protest and how creative, non-violent actions such as this have completely discredited protesters and police who use violent tactics to achieve nothing, but even more repressive measures, like Premier Jean Charest’s Bill 78.

Maisy on Queen West

Maisonneuve magazine turns ten this year, and is fêting the decennial in style. Montreal’s eclectic cultural and literary mag took the party down the 401 last week for a packed event held in Toronto’s artsy west end. And if editor-in-chief Drew Nelles’ ambitions are any sign, the magazine’s new swagger is but a hint of things to come.