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hammertheatre auditions

Hammertheatre is happy to announce a remount of Sky Gilbert’s Commercials for Hamilton at the 2015 Hamilton Fringe Festival, a hit last fall at Hamilton’s Staircase Café Theatre, returns with a new cast, written and directed by Sky Gilbert. Commercials for Hamilton, pits two advertising execs against each other in an office near Jackson Square. Their mission: sell Hamilton to the thousands of potential condo-owners migrating to the city. The question: how should they sell this great city? 

Auditions will be held Monday May 11, from 10:00am-6:00pm, location TBA. 

Roles

Roy: 19-25 year old man, an eager young marketing student, a born and raised Hamiltonian, sees the greatness in the city

Sanders: 30-40 year old man, an experienced ad exec from Toronto, slick and confident persona 

Please email resume and headshot to info@hammertheatre.org

*hammertheatre will be seeing both equity and non-equity actors

ArtWaves interview with Sky Gilbert on 101.5 fm The Hawk - Jan 4, 2015

Sky Gilbert sits down with Bernadette Ryan of Mohawk Radio 101.5 fm The HAWK. 

This interview covers everything from Sky Gilbert's childhood aspirations, his idols and literary heroes, to hammertheatre's upcoming season. 

Click on the link to listen to the full podcast: 

https://archive.org/details/238SkyGilbertJan.42015

 

Why You Need To See Naked Hamilton

This article was originally posted online at CBC NEWS.  By Cory Ruf , CBC News Posted: Nov 15, 2012 12:59 PM ET Last Updated: Nov 15, 2012 12:55 PM ET

Naked Hamilton, the Movie premieres on the screen at Artword Artbar on Saturday, September 20th, 2014

Sky Gilbert is no stranger to controversy. He's used the theatre to rail against social mores, such as conservative attititudes about sex and traditional notions of gender. Now, the Hamilton playwright and provocateur has a new target. Opening on Thursday at Artword Artbar, his latest work Naked Hamilton takes aim at what he identifies as another disturbing trend: gentrification in downtown Hamilton.

CBC Hamilton sent Gilbert a set of questions by e-mail, hoping for no-holds-barred responses. He didn't disappoint. Here's his (mostly unedited) reply:

For how long have you been living and working in Hamilton and what drew you to the city in the first place?

I have been living here for nearly 10 years. I came here with my partner. Like many, we were drawn to the inexpensive real estate values. But we were also drawn to Hamilton because it's an unpretentious working-class town. After running a gay theatre in Toronto for 17 years, I wanted the opportunity to get away from it all, but especially from the too-expensive, upper-middle-class, condo-ized lifestyle in Toronto.

I'm a writer and though I like to be around people, I'm somewhat of a loner (I know, it's odd). But it's the business-oriented, success-oriented city that turned me off in Toronto. In Hamilton we have real neighbourhoods with real people who are not "on their way up." They are either just surviving or enjoying life for what it is, not for how much money they can make by exploiting others, or for how they might make it up the corporate ladder.

The promotional material for Naked Hamilton says that though the city's changed, "much remains the same." In what ways has Hamilton remained the same, and why are those things important to acknowledge?

Hamilton is still a working-class town. Though the work has changed from the steel sector to the healthcare sector, Hamilton still has a lot of poor and working people who struggle to survive. Though there is gentrification on Locke and James, there is still an honesty and brashness that characterizes working-class life. Working-class people lack the hypocrisy of middle-class people. Racism, sexism and homophobia are universal; middle class people try to pretend they are over them, but working-class people still honestly state their prejudices instead of hiding them.

I don't respect racism, sexism and homophobia, but I respect a culture that is at least honest about what it really thinks. Hamilton should embrace its no-nonsense, common-sense honesty, its Goths, its tattoos, its kinky people, its shaved heads, its hookers, its motorcycles. These are all lovely things that come out of working-class culture.

At least ostensibly, the city seems to have become more hospitable to the arts. How do you reconcile your discomfort with how the city's changed with that fact that you work as an artist in a city that's becoming better-known for its vibrant arts community?

Your question displays (if you will excuse me) a common misunderstanding of gentrification. Let me see if I can help. Artists move into neighborhoods that have cheap rents (as I have done) and do their work in cheap studios (as I have done). This is because they don't have a lot of money to do their work, and they want to create. They are not gentrifiers, although they may unwittingly be the first step in gentrification. What happens next is that people who are interested in making a buck see that artists have changed the face of the neighbourhood and decide to take advantage of that to buy up cheap properties — not to work and create art, but to make money. They then buy property, raise rents and kick the artists (and the poor) out. They are the gentrifiers.

I'm doing what I always do, creating art. People will try and make money out of that and everything because this is a capitalist society. I teach at a university to keep body and soul together because I don't have a hope in hell of making money from my art.

Who is your target audience for this play? What do you hope they take away from it?

Anybody. The play will speak hopefully to my barber (who is coming) and to my colleagues at the University [of Guelph] (who are coming, too). I hope my work gives people a glimpse of real life — of shysters, church ladies and local drunks — and reminds them that death and sex are a very important part of life, that we ignore death and sex at our peril. Like all my work, it sits in an odd place between entertainment and ideas, between bawdy and real, between funny and tragic. My work is not really classifiable, other than it's usually somewhat funny and usually has a lot to do with sex. But if you create characters that you love, almost anybody can relate to the work.

I can tell you who won't like it: gentrifiers, very ambitious, pretentious upper-class people, members of the religious right and people who hate sex. Everybody else should probably have a good time.

If the city as a whole could take a path of your choosing, what would it be?

I think I said it. Don't try to be Toronto or anyone else. Just be Hamilton; that means being honest, which is a good thing.

 

REVIEW: Komunka "It is a little bit like watching a Woody Allen movie"

This review was originally published in Raise the Hammer. To view the original please click here: Review of Komunka

Komunka

By Mackenzie Kristjon
Published July 24, 2014

  • Playwright: Collective
  • Director: Sky Gilbert
  • Cast: Andrew Cromwell, Peggy Mahon, Andrew Pimento, Julia Porter, Sean Pratt, Yury
  • Ruzhyev, Matthew Sarookanian,
  • Show Type: Drama, Comedy
  • Audience: Mature
  • Running Time: 60 Minutes

Directed by Sky Gilbert and inspired by the real life stories of actor Yury Ruzhyev (who plays a "too cool for school" Russian businessman), this latest offering from Hammer Theatre addresses so many issues in such an interesting way that it's hard to know where to begin.

It is a little bit like watching a Woody Allen movie with (improvised) dialogue taking you in completely surprising directions. Anyone that has seen any recent world news will quickly see how this play addresses the Sochi Olympics, homosexuality and human rights, the Ukraine, Putin, and (!) the Malaysian plane that is all over the news.

They even snuck in Rob Ford as a tiny tribute to the massive fame and attention that he has achieved even on the other side of the planet.

Admittedly, I was eager to see this as I had never seen anything by Sky Gilbert but was aware of him initially because Bob Wiseman wrote a song about him last year ("mothface@yahoo.ca").

As a result, I contacted him to introduce Bob at his play Actionable last year. Ever since, I've been extremely curious to see something, and I have to admit that this play was one of the most interesting I've ever seen.

The concept is we are all sitting around a communal kitchen table where this cast of characters including a few gay men (two of which are in the closet), a heterosexual couple (in which the woman is clearly abused), and a matronly figure (played by Peggy Mahon) who had experienced many years in the arts and often pontificates on the value of Russian art.

She always plays Tchaikovsky records and finds ways to get to the truth of what the other characters are feeling -often to great comic effect.

Each couple had their own issues. There were two gay characters who were "just roommates" but dealing with their sexual issues in quite different ways - one wanting to fall in love and be part of the pride movement and the other content to keep it in the closet to achieve professional success.

The other couple were heterosexual and she worked (while longing for a better life) but still was picking up after her obnoxious and hilarious "former soccer star" layabout husband.

And then there was the man in the box...

One time I met a fellow who was keeping a live chicken in a cardboard box, which I discovered by carefully noticing this box occasionally shaking and making odd noises.

For most of the play, I had similar suspicions about this odd-shaped box at the WAHC! It turns out there is a refugee hiding out in there who is so happy to live this miserable life in a box that we can only imagine how horrid the state of affairs must be wherever he came from.

The characters various and competing longings and desires - whether for freedom, acceptance, or just another shot of vodka and a laugh - were utterly compelling and richly portrayed.

 

Mackenzie Kristjon is an Icelandic-Canadian singer-songwriter and financial planner. He has published numerous books including the award-winning Culinary Saga of New Iceland. He also has roots in community radio at CFRU 93.3 FM in Guelph. To hear/see/download his music, you can visit www.thismaddesire.com and if you want to talk about finance, life, the universe, and anything else, please contact Mackenzie.jenkyns

REVIEW: Komunka "I definitely want more Komunka"

This review was originally published in View Magazine.  To view the original article, please click here -  REVIEW OF KOMUNKA

KOMUNKA
(Critic’s Choice)

Production Company:
Hooligans Theatre (Toronto, ON)
    The biggest compliment I can give to any Fringe show is that I want more. I definitely want more Komunka. This play deserves a second act and a bigger audience and I really hope it gets one.
    Set in the kitchen of a communal house in modern–day Russia, Komunka is angry, biting, and has the best joke about Chekov I’ve ever heard. The audience is invited to sit directly at the table with the cast and you are fully immersed in their world. All the performances are excellent and the script goes back and forth between the stories with ease, creating a fully–realised world full of real people. Andrew Pimento as Alex and Sean Pratt as Sasha were highlights for me, but they are truly first among equals.
    The weakest element of Komunka is the monologue by Man in the Box, but even this is a case of wanting more. His story of being a homeless Russain–Ukrainian in Moscow is fascinating, but doesn’t really tie into the rest of the characters. In an expanded Komunka I have no doubt that element would be included in a more holistic way.
    Komunka was my favourite piece at Fringe this year, and I hope that Hammer / Hooligans Theatre continues to develop it. I’d love to see where it can go.
Rachel More, View Magazine

KOMUNKA & Russian Politics

            Komunka was the brainchild of Yury Ruzhyev. Yuri is a Russian actor and performer and writer who moved to Canada six years ago from Russia. He approached me about a year ago with the idea for a play about four families living in a communal apartment in Moscow. This is the way many Moscovites live, to this day — in five rooms that share a common kitchen.

            I would never have written a show about Russia, because I have never lived there — but with Yury’s collaboration, I was able to develop a series of scenarios that we used to help actors devise improvised scenes.

            Komunka is very much a play about people, but it also deals with several topical issues,: sexism, racism, homosexuality, and nationalism.

            The issue of nationalism is an important one, especially since we tend to view Vladimir Putin as having  spearheaded what many see as Russian imperialism, by ‘taking over’ the Crimea, and perhaps attempting to annex the Ukraine.

            But the starting point for our play is people and their personalities, and one of the things we try to do is to show that Russians are not that different from us. Americans accuse Putin of imperialism, but I think most people are aware of the fact that Americans have quite a history of imperialism themselves.

            What is the cause of imperialism? Certainly it’s one thing for a country to be proud of its identity. (We’re, most of us, proud to be Canadian, aren’t we?) It’s something else to decide that your country is the best country — and the rest of the world should be invaded, or at least annexed.

            Komunka posits that the root cause of nationalist imperialism can be found in the patriarchy. In other words; cultures led by men have a tendency to be racist, sexist, and homophobic — and linked to fundamentalism.

            One simple way to understand this comes at a key moment in Komunka. One of the characters in the play — Max (a corrupt Russian businessman) — finds a picture of Rob Ford in the newspaper. Max says “I love him! he’s the Mayor of Canada! And he doesn’t take any shit from anybody. He’s like a Russian bear, he does whatever he wants!”

            We put this line in the play because we wanted people to realize that cultures that oppress women and homosexuals tend to be nationalistic and imperialistic.

            It’s very interesting that Russia’s recent laws against homosexuality find their root in Russia’s contention that their values are not ‘western’ values, but eastern ones. In February Russia banned women’s lacy underwear!  The idea for Putin is to link Russian values with conservative eastern values (even Muslim values) rather than ‘decadent’ western values. Similarly, we find conservative politicians in the USA and Canada allying themselves with Christian religious fundamentalism against The East (and Muslim fundamentalism).

            What I’m trying to say is that if Russia is sexist and homophobic, and if Putin is imperialist — well there is sexism and homophobia and imperialism in North America too — and all too often it’s rooted in east versus west polarization, and in links to fundamentalist rhetoric.

            So where does the Ukraine fit into all this?

            It seems to me that the Ukraine has been caught up in the midst of this larger political dilemma and many people living there have become tragic casualties.

            This is represented in Komunka by the ‘Man in the Box’  — a Russian from Lviv (in the Ukraine) who lives in a box in the communal apartment in Moscow. He can’t get work in the Ukraine — because Russians are unable to find work in certain parts of the Ukraine — so he works in Moscow and sends money back to his family.

            Here is a man who is a victim of imperialist, nationalist and capitalist (there is much capitalist corruption in Russia today) machinations.

            There are parts of the Ukraine that feel allied with Russia and seek to ally with Russia and separate from the Ukraine (the way some Quebeckers would like to separate from Canada and ally with France). Then there are other parts of the Ukraine that prefer to remain purely Ukrainian.

            It’s all very complicated, but the thread that runs through Komunka is a thread of humanity. Our play is about people, and about how perhaps a kinder culture — one that is not based in the patriarchy — might be one that does not make victims of its own people or, for that matter, anyone else.

 

What it means to be a Hamilton Artist

Yeah, wow, what an incredibly pretentious title, eh? 

I hope this won’t be.

I moved to Hamilton ten years ago and as more and more people are moving 

to Hamilton (it’s a great city!) and lots of them are artists (writers, painters, dancers, 

actors, etc), I thought it was important to talk about what an artist is.

So.

It’s pretty simple really. 

An artist is a person who makes art and whose primary purpose in life is to 

make art, not to make money. 

That’s it.

That is what separates artists from the rest; that they are dedicated to their 

art.

There are good artists and bad artists, popular artists and unpopular ones, 

those who make money from their work and those who don’t, those who have high 

paying full time non-artist jobs -- and those who live on the street. Artists are like 

homosexuals; you can’t tell what they are by looking at them; you have to peer deep 

into their hearts.

I have nothing against non-artists. Most people are not artists, in that (for 

whatever reason, usually because of the urgency of making a living) they are 

focused on making money – either getting rich, or surviving, or both. They are not 

bad people (most people) but for whatever reason they don’t have the time or 

energy to spend a lot of time making art. In another (better) world, EVERYONE 

could be an artist. But I don’t think there’s any point in talking about a world like 

that, because I don’t think it will get here for quite a while.

That said, why is it that I have lately found myself challenging certain people 

in Hamilton, saying “You’re not an artist. I am! “ Is it because I’m a pretentious old 

fart with a bloated opinion of myself?

I hope not. 

It’s because as Hamilton moves forward and changes -- from not simply a 

great industrial town that is seeing decline, to a burgeoning city outside the mega-
can’t-handle-it-opolis of Toronto, a city with a rich working class heritage, a city 

with a real gritty downtown, gorgeous old buildings and a lot of tattoos, a city where 

people of all shapes and sizes want to BE -- Hamilton runs across the problem (and 

yes I call it a problem) of gentrifiers.

What is the difference between an artist and a gentrifier? 

The difference is this. Artists are people who make art and who are not 

interested in making money (as I said before). In old cities like Hamilton they move 

into old buildings, because the rents are cheap, and they pursue their work. They 

don’t buy up the old buildings and rent them out to other people at inflated rents. 

They are too busy being artists to do that. Gentrifiers are most often the second 

wave, after artists, and they come into beautiful old cities like Hamilton (and 

Detroit, and Pittsburgh and Buffalo) and they buy up the buildings that the artists 

are living and working in, and then charge high rents that are too much for the 

artists, who have to leave their workspaces, because they can’t afford them anymore.

Ughg.

So that’s why I’ve been running around Hamilton saying to certain 

people ‘You’re not an artist, you’re a gentrifier.’ 

Who am I to say? 

I know it’s tough sometimes to tell an artist from a gentrifier.

Here’s a hint. Gentrifiers are generally friendlier, more approachable, less 

frightening, and just more people-friendly than artists (and they usually shave their 

ears -- artists sometimes don’t!). 

But that’s not always true, we artists are a slippery lot.

It’s really all about whether or not your primary goal in life is the big bucks 

or ART (or even small bucks – most artists give up a lot of chances to make money 

and barely survive so that they can do their chosen work).

And it’s not that I don’t want gentrifiers in Hamilton. I just want to make sure 

that -- at the very least -- they are honest about who they are, and don’t pretend to 

be someone like me.

Because I am a Hamilton artist.