Rave: Another Africa

On the fourth floor we have a soft spot for anything art-related. From galleries to performance to film to music. When its good, it makes our souls happy, creates debate and inspires us at work where we represent so many different artists.

Last week, we received an invitation to Canadian Stage‘s season opener, Another Africa. The play takes the audience through several incredibly emotional and expressive stories, which are broken down into three parts: an introductory monologue and two one-act plays. 

We loved each of the one-act plays for different reasons. The first, Shine Your Eye, tells the story of Nigerian princess/computer hacker Gbene Beka, daughter of an assassinated political hero who is trying to determine if her life will continue on a Nigerian path or a Western one. The play is set at an Internet scam company in Nigeria, and uses technology, dance, music and animation to explore the impact Western and African cultures have on each other.

The powerful characters, moments of levity (especially the Soulja Boy-inspired dance routine), and insight into the other side of the “Nigerian prince” spam emails that we regularly receive were great. The difficult inner struggle that Beka goes through as the people in her life pull her towards their goals without considering what choices are best for her, is one of the most compelling parts of the story.

The second play, Peggy Pickit Sees The Face of God, explores African experiences from the cozy living room of a North American home. Two couples reunite at a dinner party, and catch up on their lives from the past six years. One couple spent time working as doctors in Africa, while the other couple stayed in North America, bought a house, and had a daughter. 

The adventurous couple explains their time in Africa, while the couple who stayed at home tries to justify why they didn’t take the risk of traveling abroad and experiencing life in another country.

There’s obvious tension between everyone, which is slowly revealed by stopping the action for each character to deliver an aside directly to the audience. The scene then rewinds to an earlier place, with a new layer of meaning given to the action and dialogue as a result of the information shared. Even though this play is very different from the first, they fit together well, with Shine Your Eye providing a lot of context for the Western issues and setting of Peggy Pickit.

We walked away deep in thought and conversation about our different interpretations of each story. Exactly what we hope for.

If you haven’t seen this play yet, take the Globe and Mail’s advice: run to get tickets and see it as soon as you can.  Another Africa is on stage at the Bluma Apprel theatre until Saturday, October 22. Better yet, buy online with Canadian Stage’s clever “click and save” promotion. Every day, tickets are offered for between ten and 50 per cent off. Score tickets here and thank us later.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts on Another Africa: @rockitpromo @canadianstage.

Images courtesy of Canadian Stage and John Lauener. 

Yum, Yum: Drift Bar and Kitchen

The Bloordale area just scored with a new easy-going joint that hits the spot. Drift Bar and Kitchen is both restaurant and casual bar. It blends a sweet beverage list with an eclectic, little dining menu featuring homemade fare. This is the type of one-two hit that we love. Good homemade food, dive-bar comfort.

This is a wonderful place to have a drink with friends at the end of a long work day. Add a few apps or a gourmet sandwich from the ever-changing menu and you have the makings of a fab Friday night.

We checked out the poutine, starring what co-owner Damian Gaughan calls “18-hour gravy.” It has depth of flavour that goes on forever and when combined with double-fried potatoes and authentic cheese curds, the outcome is perfect comfort food.

Thick, tasty peameal bacon burger, complete with homemade bun.

We also tried the smoky, satisfying peameal bacon burger, and then gave the bean and cucumber salad a whirl. Both were fresh and simple. The made in-house bun on the burger takes it from good to awesome, and the salad was nicely seasoned.

The decor is relaxed and rustic-vintage. Lots of wood, reclaimed materials and a nice sized beer list on a chalk board. 

Delicious bean and cucumber salad with lime and cilantro. 

As for service, the staff members seem truly happy to be there, and the consideration that owners Gaughan and Matt Michowski put into every detail make it an all-around much needed shining star in the Bloor-Dufferin strip. They also serve soups, salads, sandwiches and sides, as well as brunch on the weekend.
Drift Bar and Kitchen (1063 Bloor St. W.).

Rave: Inception

One of the cool things about being a part of a PR company is that we are invited to special previews, tastings and other sneak peeks. Last week, I was invited to the premiere of Christopher Nolan’s Inception (thanks, Warner Bros!).  I couldn’t have been more impressed and immersed in the film. In the not-so-distant future (we don’t quite know when this is happening), thieves are hired by multi-national companies to go into your dreams and ‘steal’ insider information. Cool stuff.
Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), the best dream thief in the world, is hired to enter Robert Fischer, Jr.’s (Cillian Murphy) dreams and plant an idea, instead of taking one. This job is complex, highly dangerous and has never been done before. Naturally, Cobb has a major incentive to take the risk — Why? I won’t reveal for fear of giving away the twist.

At this point in the film, I thought Inception was going to be similar to Oceans 11 or The Italian Job. Not only because it was an “impossible heist” flick, but because of the all-star cast (Michael Caine, Ellen Page, Tom Berenger and many more). I was wrong. I’m calling this film a psychological-metaphysical-sci-fi-action-love story. It’s emotional, fast paced, and well-oiled. Nolan knows what he’s doing.

The rich world he created, made even more stunning with a moving score, is simply explained so that the abstract ideas about our dream world make tangible sense. Rather than a Memento-like riddle, as complex as it is, this film is easily digestible. Translating dream worlds to the big screen is not always easy, and can quickly turn into an incomprehensible mess (Vanilla Sky).

With Inception, you walk out of the film equally excited about the story and by the power of cinema on the big screen.

Matt Austin Sadowski is rock-it promotions’ Creative Director, as well as a successful film director. His most recent documentary, Don’t You Forget About Me, about the late John Hughes, was featured on CNN, Variety, Globe and Mail and many more.  Twitter – @mattyaustin