Entertainment Beat for October 18

Arthur Miller's The Crucible, presented by Kindling Collective.

Kindling Collective, an independent theatre company in the East End, will be debuting their production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible October 28-30 at The Attic Arts Hub.

The production brings new life to Miller’s classic story of the Salem witch trials which took place between 1692-93. The trio of recent George Brown Theatre School graduates have also included portions of text from Maryse Conde’s I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem, allowing Tituba, a Barbadian slave accused of witchcraft, to tell the story from her perspective.

The Crucible runs October 28-30 at The Attic Arts Hub, located on 1402 Queen Street East.

Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2642094 or in cash at the door.

Just in time for Halloween, Mortar and Pestle Productions launches its first show of the 2016-2017 season, William Shakespeare’s King Lear.

For those unfamiliar, this timeless dark tragedy follows a powerful king’s descent into madness after foolishly dividing his kingdom between two of his three daughters based on their flattery. An unrelenting journey that is – perhaps because of its brutal nature – relatable to us mere serfs, Mortar and Pestle’s intimate production aims to remind us that all are capable of making mistakes and none are free from flaws or the nature of life.

Now in its second season, Mortar and Pestle was founded by longtime Beach performer and lifelong Beach resident Melissa Beveridge. The company “is dedicated to challenging ourselves through thought provoking works while sharing our love of theatre and the arts with Toronto’s East End community and beyond.”

Audiences might be surprised with the choice of King Lear, considering the company’s first production, Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit.

“It is a stark contrast,” said Beveridge. Blithe Spirit “was a witty and fast paced farce that introduced us on a playful note. While Blithe was an amazing show to be part of I wanted to make sure that the company explored other genres and periods.”

King Lear stood out because “the subject matter surrounding the title character’s descent into madness touches very close to home. I have watched a few people very close to me make this journey and I have tried to bring elements of that into the characters of Gloucester and, more specifically, Lear.”

To emphasize the dark, foreboding feeling of the text, Beveridge incorporated elements in costume and set of a stark, “almost post-apocalyptic world with harshness and grit surrounding the hardened characters.”

The company’s choice to perform King Lear in such a small space – Gerrard Art Space, which Beveridge says has given the company “undying support” – also presented a challenge.

“I think that most people would shy away from the challenge, and they would be completely justified in doing so,” she said. “However I have always loved to find a way to turn such obstacles into opportunities. For me, the challenges we have faced have been nothing compared to the level of intimacy we have been able to gain, and that is what I wanted. To draw the audience in and make them not only watch this production but feel it. That is worth overcoming any obstacle.”

King Lear haunts Gerrard Art Space from October 25 through October 29, with all showtimes at 8 p.m. except for Saturday, Oct. 29 when the show begins at 5 p.m. Gerrard Art Space is located at 1475 Gerrard Street East.

Promising a production as adventurous as the young theatre company itself, for its final play of the 2016 season, Seven Siblings mounts Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus – arguably the playwright’s most violent and bloody work.

The plot centres on the title actors return to Rome after decades of battling with the Goths – and the other-worldly alliances forged in the pursuit of victory. His return – and the gift he brings – sets off plots of revenge and murder.

Produced by Danforth East’s Madryn McCabe, co-founder of Seven Siblings, and directed by former Beach resident Will King, this is the first attempt at Shakespeare for the company. Brought to life using full-sized puppets as five of the characters, the company describes the production as “high in fantasy, emphasizing the horror and supernatural elements.”

The show opens October 28 at 8 p.m., with a preview the evening of October 27, at The Citadel, located at 304 Parliament Street. More information, including showtimes and tickets, can be found at http://www.sevensiblingstheatre.ca/titusandronicus/.

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