Toronto Diary
3 min

More Queer Fringe

Someone remarked to me yesterday that they expect that there’s probably a lot more public sex going on in Toronto since the ongoing civic workers strike means there’s fewer people monitoring the parks and beaches. As long as you don’t mind the brewing heaps of garbage all over the place, and you can avoid police (who aren’t on strike), I can see where this logic is coming from. In the meantime, there’s also a tonne of queer theatre going on at the Fringe Festival this week. I’m planning to see Baggage: A Non-Musical Romp Through One Catholic Gay Man’s Dating History (With Breasts for the Straight Men) and Icarus Redux later today for my queer fix.

In the meantime, I checked in with this year’s new play award winner T. Berto, whose play, A Singularity of Being, I caught this weekend. Berto’s queer, as is his director Ed Roy, and about half the cast. The show itself isn’t queer, but it is a gripping tale of one man’s desperate quest for knowledge of the universe. Clinton Walker gives a particularly knockout performance as the Stephen Hawking-like main character. Put this one on your must see list.

 

Rob Salerrno: How does being gay influence your playwrighting sensibilities?

T. Berto: Being gay influences my writing like it influences everything else. It gives me a non-privileged view of life. This is useful as it doesn’t allow for a myriad of assumptions about “the way things are". Being gay therefore allows me a wider vision,  a greater scope of observation.

RS: What’s the gayest thing about having a play at the Fringe?

TB: Well, it is theatre, and theatre is inherently gay – because it’s people performing, accentuating, altering whom they appear to be in order to tell a different narrative. That’s been the story of gays for years.

RS: What’s your show about?

TB: It’s about what happens when one’s focus is so driven that one loses scope of one’s work, it’s about challenging the understandings of the way things are, it’s about love, devotion, and insatiable curiosity.

RS: One of the major themes of A Singularity is the pursuit of an individual’s success and happiness in the face of challenges put forward by organised religion. Indeed, your main character Roland is frequently warned that he is waging a battle against god in his pursuit of science. Has your experience as a gay man influenced how you see man’s relationship to religion?

TB: Absolutely. I’m an atheist, mostly because of the horrible things have to do with ‘god’ or similar constructs they’ve come up with. I have great difficulty with persons who would use their religion or their particular biased interpretation of millenia old writings to enforce their personal version of orthodoxy. Doing so is, of course, threatening to us outside of their orthodoxy. So long as spirituality is a tool of repression, i’m going to be examining it.

RS: Why should Toronto’s gays see your show? If possible, answer in ten words or less without using the letter “h”.

TB: Because it’s intriguing, provocative, and questions the way the world is.

*Sigh* so far only one artist has risen to the “ten words or less without the letter ‘h’” challenge. A Singularity of Being plays in the Tarragon Mainspace and the next show is tonight at 8pm.

And tomorrow, don’t forgot to catch Fucking Stephen Harper: How I Sexually Assaulted the 22nd Prime Minister of Canada and Where It Got Me, my autobiographical solo show about my coverage of last fall’s federal election — a spoof of Canadian politics, the media, and the gay community. It’s playing at the Glen Morris Theatre and the next showtime is tomorrow at 6pm.

Tickets for all shows are available at the doors one hour before the shows start, or can be booked in advance by phone at 416-966-1062, or online. Tickets are $10 and advance tickets are subject to a $2 service charge. Discount passes are available.