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November 2011

Julian Richings joins R H Thomson and David Young tonight

November 30, 2011 | Dawn | Comments (0)

Julian RichingsToronto Reference Library is excited to announce that Julian Richings will be joining R. H. Thomson tonight, Wednesday, November 30th, to help us celebrate the new talent emerging from the Playwright-in-Residence program, conducted by David Young.

Julian Richings is an award-winning actor whio has appeared on stage, in film and on television. Most recently, audiences will know him for his appearances on Supernatural, Hard Core Logo 2, and Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.

Mr. Richings and Mr. Thomson will be reading from original works created by the new and talented playwrights and screenwriters who have participated in David's workshops this fall.

Please join us for:

Voices from the Workshops

Wed Nov 30, 2011

7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

90 mins

Toronto Reference Library Atrium

Meet the new talent emerging from the Playwright in Residence workshops. Our Closing Night celebration will feature dramatic readings of new and original works.

Admission is free.

 

R. H. Thomson to perform at the Toronto Reference Library

November 28, 2011 | Dawn | Comments (4)

ThomsonrToronto Reference Library is thrilled to announce that award-winning actor, R. H. Thomson, will appear this Wednesday, November 30th, to help us celebrate the new talent emerging from the Playwright-in-Residence program, conducted by David Young.

Mr. Thomson will be reading from original works created by the new and talented playwrights and screenwriters who have participated in David's workshops this fall.

 

Please join us for:

Voices from the Workshops

Wed Nov 30, 2011

7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

90 mins

Toronto Reference Library Atrium

Meet the new talent emerging from the Playwright in Residence workshops. Our Closing Night celebration will feature dramatic readings of new and original works. Admission is free.

 

Occupy Your Brain!

November 24, 2011 | Dawn | Comments (1)

David YoungLike everyone else, I’ve been watching the ‘Occupy Tsunami’ wash across North America, crashing in the public squares of city after city across this great land of ours.   This rag tag protest movement, as much about building community as it is about the articulation of a coherent set of beliefs or objectives,  has been a marvel to observe.  To their credit our media outlets have been taking it all very seriously, struggling to grab a sound bite that makes this rather shambolic protest movement comprehensible as something other than the generalized whining of unhappy campers who are pretty much making it up as they go along.

Now that things seem to be winding down everyone is asking what comes next? Was this whole thing a hiccup, a viral phenomenon driven by social media? Or was something larger in play, the first evidence of a grass roots social uprising that’s going to keep gaining traction?  I vote for the latter  interpretation.   Ordinary people are starting to find common cause around the inter-connectedness of a whole range of  economic, environmental, social and cultural issues.  At bottom, we’re living in an era of radical disequilibrium.   Our most pressing problems are all global in nature and our  elected representatives can’t see beyond the ends of their own noses. They pay lip service to the higher ideals of democracy while they cater to the interests of the same old elites.  None of this is news.  What’s different now is that the disequilibrium has reached such an intolerable (and dangerous) state that ordinary citizens feel threatened.  The Arab Spring, the political and economic convulsions in the E.U.,  the Occupy Movement, even the Keystone Pipeline brouhaha are all evidence of people in settings all over the world starting to come to a boil together.  The message is we’re tired of the same old-same old bait and switch politics of the status quo.   I predict a lot more sound and fury as ordinary folks fight to take back control of their own destinies.

While we’re on the subject of curing the world’s ills,  there has been of late a flurry of public debate about the traditional healing properties of an Amazonian medicinal tea called ayahuasca a.k.a. ‘the vine of the soul’. Last week David Suzuki devoted an entire program to the work Dr. Gabor Mate has been doing with hard core addicts using this incredibly powerful substance.  Dr. Mate was subsequently contacted by the Mounties and told to cease and desist his experiments because ayahuasca is a controlled substance.  Here is my friend Richard Meech’s response to the RCMP’s saber rattling.

If you want more information there’s a feature article on ayahuasca in the current issue of VANITY FAIR. And here is a piece I published last Spring about my own experiences with it: HUNTER AND COOK, Issue 9, pp 16-17, reproduced here with permission of the author and publishers.

Click on each page to see a large version.

Hunter and Cook Issue 9 015  Hunter and Cook Issue 9 016 Hunter and Cook Issue 9 017

 

David Young

How about a good book?

November 3, 2011 | Dawn | Comments (0)

David YoungIt's no surprise that David Young, Toronto Reference Library's Playwright-in-Residence, is an avid reader and book lover. As part of TPL's Who's Reading What series, David has offered this list of his recent reads and recommended books.

See our Recommended Reading Page for the full list.

 

THE GIFT Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property by Lewis Hyde AUSTERLITZ by W.G. Sebald THE CAT’S TABLE by Michael Ondaatje


THE GIFT: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property by Lewis Hyde
With dazzling references to anthropology, psychology, economics, art and fairy tales Hyde explores the emotional and spiritual nature of gift giving.  Needless to say, the gifts he’s talking about have nothing to do with shopping.

AUSTERLITZ by W.G. Sebald
A deep meditation on time, memory and human experience. A very strange book, perhaps a new literary form – part novel, part memoir, part travelogue – by any measure a literary tour de force.
Also available as an Audiobook on CD

THE CAT’S TABLE by Michael Ondaatje
Ondaatje’s most recent novel is surely one of his very best.  A twelve-year-old boy boards an ocean liner in Ceylon and journeys across three oceans to meet the man he will become.

 

HUMAN CHAIN by Seamus Heaney_small EMPIRE OF ILLUSION by Chris Hedges CHRONICLES by Bob Dylan

HUMAN CHAIN by Seamus Heaney
An essential book of poems. In Heaney’s own words: “When a poem rhymes, when a form regenerates itself, when a metre provokes consciousness into new postures, it is already on the side of life. When a rhyme surprises and extends the fixed relations between words, that in itself protests against necessity. When language does more than enough, as it does in all achieved poetry, it opts for the condition of overlife, and rebels at limit.”  This is a book of poems without limits.

EMPIRE OF ILLUSION by Chris Hedges
If you want to understand the social and economic machinery underpinning the ‘Occupy Movement’ this extended essay (a Pulitzer Prize winner) is just the ticket. Hedges has taken the torch from Noam Chomsky to become the most important public intellectual writing today about the big issues that really matter.
Also available as an eBook

CHRONICLES by Bob Dylan
You knew he could write a great song.  Turns out Dylan can also write a spell-binding memoir of his early years which reads like great fiction.
Also available as an Audiobook on CD, in Large Print, or Talking Book (Restricted to Print Disabled patrons)


The Rule of Three

November 2, 2011 | Dawn | Comments (2)

David Young
Since the time of Aristotle the number three has had magic resonances for all writers.  His ‘three unities’ – of time, of place and of action – have served as a handy template for dramatists for a couple of thousand years.  The Rule of Three essentially dictates that storytellers (1) set up a conflict (2) build tension inside that conflict and (3) release the tension, resolve the conflict and thereby deliver a story with a beginning, a middle and an end that catches the audience by surprise and teaches them something about the human journey.

When you think about it for a moment you’ll find the Rule of Threes is a pervasive feature in every nook and cranny of our culture.  Lights, camera, action! Mind, body, spirit. Wine, women and song. The Three Musketeers. The Three Stooges. The Three Wise Men. The Three Blind Mice. Father, Son, Holy Spirit. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Ready, aim, fire! Location, location, location!

Political speech writers who are in the business of manipulating our minds use the Rule of Three to deploy an idea, emphasize it and then nail it to the back wall of Eternity alongside Julius Caesar’s veni, vidi, vici – I came, I saw, I conquered. There’s even a term for it hendiatris – a figure of speech used for emphasis in which three words are used to express one idea.  And so the Father’s of our Confederation decreed that Canada should adhere to the principles of Peace, Order and Good Government.  Sixty years later a pathetic little psychopath pounded on a podium and shrieked ‘Ein Volk! Ein Reich! Ein Fuhrer!’ (One people! One state! One leader!) in the moments before he put his torch to the world.  And here’s Barack Obama wringing his hands a few weeks back: “Homes have been shed; jobs lost; businesses shuttered.”  You get the idea, the Rule of Three illuminates the public square and gives us all the warm fuzzies while we wait for Superman to fly across the sky shouting: ‘Truth, Justice and the American Way!’

The Rule of Three has been a foundation stone of all verbal humour since the first Priest, Rabbi and Immam walked into a bar together in ancient Mesopotamia.  The comic sets up a premise, repeats it and then twists it to earn the laugh.  Thus, if there’s a genii in the joke offering a sucker some free wishes it won’t be two or four, it’ll be three.  Here’s Jon Stewart rocking the Rule of Three: ‘I celebrated Thanksgiving the old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took all their land.’

Three is a magic number for all writers because it is the minimum number of repetitions required to engineer and empower a progression of thought, and progression of thought is at the core of all great writing.  The real engine of the story lives outside the text in the heart of the reader.  The reader wants to know what happens next. The reader’s need to know drives the story and the Rule of Three is the tool that allows the writer to play with the reader’s expectations so that the story progresses in a surprising fashion that sheds new light on the human condition.  Put the Rule of Three in your writerly tool box, use it every day and the world will be a better place! That’s the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

David Young

Playwright David Young will be blogging in this space from October - November, 2011 as Toronto Reference Library's Playwright-in-Residence.