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Toto Too commissions its first new play

Arts & Entertainment

Toto Too commissions its first new play

NAVEL GAZING. Playing on the myth of Pygmalion, Toto Too's latest production tackles the subject of an artist in love with his own (handsome) work. IMAGE 1 OF 1
Gay troupe is in search of the perfect man
In theatre, as in life, we always seem to be searching for the perfect something: the perfect play, the perfect actor, the perfect onstage moment. Local writer and actor Lawrence Aronovitch recently completed his very first play entitled Galatea, which was ideal for Toto Too Theatre's second full season of queer-themed drama.

Over the past couple years, the company has shown its dedication to the gay and lesbian community by producing plays by queer playwrights and building relationships with Ottawa's queer-friendly organizations. This is the first time, however, that the company has premiered a play by a local playwright.

Ottawa's only gay and lesbian theatre troupe, Toto Too, made its grand entrance on the local theatre scene in March 2007 with its inaugural production, William & James, starring Aronovitch in one of the eponymous roles. Since then, the company has garnered a following, and has produced a number of popular — and financially successful — productions at the Arts Court Theatre.

"We sold out our July 2008 production, Memoirs of a Single Gay White Male. We had people waiting at the box office to see if some tickets would not be picked up so they could attend," beams Toto Too Producer Marc Barette.

While Aronovitch is part of Toto Too's reading committee and has written both fiction and non-fiction for a variety of audiences, this is his first time dabbling in playwriting, and he is proud to be starting an important trend within the company.

"I think that, in the long run, part of building a theatre company like this should include the creation of new works, and I'm pleased that Toto Too asked me to contribute its first commissioned play," says Aronovitch.

The title of the play comes from the myth of Pygmalion, the sculptor who fell in love with his ivory statue, Galatea; and the play itself is reminiscent of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray — a licentious novel about another artist-model relationship. Inspired by these classic stories, Aronovitch's new work details the intricate relations between a painter and his male muse, as well as their respective significant others.

"A lot of what this play is about is the relationship between the artist and his creation — and how that sometimes does involve looking in a mirror. This is a play full of mirrors. It's also about falling in love with one's creation, as Pygmalion did, and the narcissism that this can imply," explains Aronovitch.

"It was fun to develop the script knowing the capabilities of the company."

Directed by Joshua McMillan, this production features an experienced cast, including a couple of local favourites. Lawrence Evenchick is a familiar face at Orpheus Theatre, having been involved in 15 of their musicals. Algonquin professor Wayne Nolan has been recognized by the Capital Critics Circle for his directorial work at the Ottawa Little Theatre. TV actor Deryk Devanz has onscreen experience working on the sets of Smallville and Battlestar Galactica, while Dominic Duchesne is a student at the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama.

"I've worked with playwright Lawrence Aronovitch before and knew that I would enjoy the process. He's so funny off-paper, I just knew in my heart that [his humour] would translate into his script, and it did! Galatea is a touching, heartfelt comedy that really plumbs the depths of relationships, both new and old. It also looks at something which is not often seen in the community, and that's a long-term relationship," says McMillan.

It seems that Toto Too has a just as promising a future with Ottawa's queer community. Without government grants, the company still thrives thanks to generous donations from local sponsors and the work of dedicated volunteers. In return, Toto Too financially supports many other gay organizations with profits from their productions.
TAG: Toto Too Theatre's production of Galatea, by Lawrence Aronovitch, runs from Feb 4-7 at the Arts Court Theatre, 2 Daly Avenue. For more information, check out www.tototoo.ca.

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