Shakespeare in Action now hiring

Shakespeare in Action’s performance of the Lorde song, ‘Royals’ as applied to Lady Macbeth.

Shakespeare in Action is looking for new talent to assist in providing programs for young people. They’re looking for people with skills in teaching/education, music, spoken word, hip hop dance, rap, classical text, clown, and more. Those hired will join a roster of talent working in four capacities:

  • Running experiential workshops in schools (with commitments on a day-by-day basis)
  • Leading groups in the TD Shakespeare for Kids Library Club (commitment of 6 Saturdays required)
  • Performing in touring and mainstage productions (commitment of 4 to 6 weeks)
  • Being part of an exciting new program “Shakespeare Hip Hop Fusion” in association with the Toronto Public Library. Participants will serve as instructors and mentors to youth aged 13-17, helping to teach Shakespearean text, rap, hip hop dance, and/or spoken word.

Applicants will be asked to perform two of the following (of your choice):

  • a classical monologue
  • a song or rap
  • an original piece of text
  • a piece of spoken word or poem
  • a contemporary monologue

Auditions will be held on Thursday October 11th, 2018. Successful applicants will be trained on October 23rd and 24th.

For more information, click here.

York South–Weston will be part of ‘cultural hotspot’ next year

The former City of York, which includes Weston and Mount Dennis, will be a ‘cultural hotspot‘ from May through October of next year.

The city’s hotspot program brings “cultural activities, art interventions, development opportunities and legacy projects to the Hotspot neighbourhoods”, and it includes online marketing, events, and exploration guides.

It sounds great!

City of York map
The former City of York

A walker’s guide to Weston

An artist’s concept of the Weston Hub showing the outdoor program space.

Beginning early next year, hundreds of people will be moving to Weston as part of the new Weston Hub. A few dozen will move into the 26 artist live / work residences while the vast majority, will rent in the 30 storey, 370 unit tower and podium currently being built by Rockport Group. At the moment, rental prices are unknown but they should be a lot cheaper than renting a condo. Here is a guide for those considering a move to our community and a possible reminder to those already here.

Your new address at 22 John Street has a walk score of 90 which, according to the experts qualifies as “a walker’s paradise; daily errands do not require a car”. Walking is a great exercise and has dramatic effects on longevity. Here are a few of the places that are within a short stroll of your new address.

Cultural Hangouts:

The Artscape Weston Hub: as mentioned, 26 artists will be living and working in your immediate neighbourhood along with 8200 square feet of indoor program space, 12,400 feet of outdoor program space; UrbanArts and Shakespeare in Action will provide programs for young and old.  Read all about it here.

Weston’s beautiful Art Nouveau library built in 1913.

Housed in a beautiful century building, Weston’s public library was built in 1913 and is one of the libraries originally funded by the Carnegie foundation. This branch has a good variety of activities and opportunities to become involved with the community.

Weston’s outdoor theatre.

A few steps from Weston Road towards the river, there is an outdoor theatre in a beautiful setting on Little Avenue that may see more use now that Shakespeare In Action are relocating here.

Weston Historical Society is active, holds regular historical walks and talks and has a base of operations at 1901 Weston Road.

Weston has its own Santa Claus Parade. and Buskerfest organized by the BIA.

Restaurants:

Restaurants abound in Weston: a highly recommended burger joint, fish and chips, pizza, Chinese, Jamaican, Phillipine and Somali food, a chicken chain, family and a breakfast specialty chain. There are several independent coffee shops and even a Timmies. A superb Mexican restaurant is within a fifteen-minute walk but don’t tell anyone; it’s a secret.

Weston Farmers Market, will be outside your front door every Saturday from May to October.

Retail:

We have few major chains in the heart of Weston; Shoppers Drug Mart being a notable exception, but there are lots of small family owned stores selling a variety of items. Squibbs Stationers has been in Weston since 1927 and is a great place to get school supplies and textbooks. Incidentally, Weston Village has one the the oldest of Toronto’s business improvement areas.

There is a large Asian supermarket nearby but it may be closing soon as the site has been purchased by a developer. Shoppers Drug Mart has quite a large grocery section but you’ll need to go elsewhere for produce when the farmers market is not operating.

Greenland Farms produce section.

If you’d like a haircut / style / manicure, there is plenty of choice, including the ‘world famous’ Peter’s Barber Shop on your doorstep.

In spite of recent trends to close branches, we still have banks, BMO and RBC with branches close by and Luminus Financial credit union is a 10 minutes walk.

Medical:

There are several family doctors, walk in clinics, testing facilities, opticians and pharmacies, all within easy reach.

Sports and Nature:

Family and friends watch as children from across the GTA take part in a soccer tournament on Weston’s artificial turf soccer pitch.

Dog owners, fisher folk and photographers will be in their element in Weston as the Humber runs to the west.

The Humber river is a few minutes’ walk away.

A cycle / walking trail along the Humber leads through Cruickshank and Lions parks, the latter having lots of sporting facilities – an open air pool in summer, baseball diamonds, a FIFA standard artificial turf soccer pitch, tennis courts, a skateboard park and one of Toronto’s oldest hockey arenas with outstanding french fries.

Weston’s outdoor pool.

Commuting:

The UP Express and GO stations are 5 minutes away and will whisk you downtown in 14 minutes while airport workers will get to Terminal 1 even quicker. Weston is the city’s second biggest bus hub so there are many routes to pick from.

So there it is; you truly will be living in a walkers’ paradise.

Readers, did I miss anything? Please comment in the section below.

Weston’s Second Annual Buskerfest – A review

The Weston Village BIA certainly outdid themselves by putting together an incredible Buskerfest 2018.  The event was slated to be a one-time event to celebrate Canada 150, but since it was so well received it is now likely to become an annual event.

Attendees to this years’ event were amazed by a bevy of incredibly talented performers.   As the decadent sounds of pan drums danced through the air, performers captivated onlookers.  Amongst them was a world-renowned fire performer, a Mime and of course Silver Elvis  (photo posted by Roy).

The event was well organized and lots of fun!  It took place Weston Road north and south of Lawrence Avenue from 2 PM – 6 PM on Saturday.

If you missed this year’s event, not to worry, we are hopeful that the Weston Village BIA will host another one next summer.

Riding the 89 – The Old Man in the Trench Coat

Anyone who has lived in Weston has (at least once) had to ride the 89 Weston bus.

The ride is often not a very pleasant one.  Hot and smelly in the summer, crowded in the winter, each passenger jostling for a small piece of personal space.

There are so many stories that can be written about the things that happen on this bus, but today, I am going to tell you a story about the old man in the trench coat.

It was a cold, blustery winter day when I was standing on the bus platform at Keele Station waiting for the 89 Weston bus. The platform, as is typically the case during rush hour was packed. We were all standing so close to one another that you could almost feel the other person breathing, all of us, that is, except for one.

At the corner of the platform stood an old man in a brown trench coat. His back was hunched and his face hidden as he tried to shield himself from the snow that danced around us. When the bus finally arrived he got on and sat down on a seat close to the window, one of those single seats.

The bus began to move and I drifted between thoughts of what I was going to have for dinner and for lunch the next day at work. I was half gazing out the window and listening to my music when the old man once again caught my eye. This time he pulled something out of his coat.  The young women who stood close to him looked shocked and horrified. I noticed them quickly move away from him, trying to find a spot, any spot in the crowd that was away from him.

After they had moved, I was able to see what the old man in the brown trench coat had pulled out; he had pulled out a rat.

The rat was big and brown. Its long thick beige tail hung like a rope.

The old man in the brown trench coat was talking to it and hugging it. It was clearly his companion.  No one dared say a word, they simply looked on in disbelief.

Once my own feelings of shock subsided, I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of empathy wash over me. It is so hard in this lifetime to find someone we can love, someone we can trust and if this rat provided that comfort in this mans life, who was I to judge.

It also reminded me once more, that you never know that you will see when you take a ride on the 89 Weston bus. I would love to hear about your adventures on this bus. Please share your experiences in the comments below.

You’ve got kids: we’ve got solutions

If, like me, you forgot that your kids have the summer off, it’s not too late to keep them busy with something other than nightcrawler harvesting and Amazon warehousing.

The city has a few spots available in CR Marchant’s day camps. Grab them while you can!

UrbanArts also has limited spots in their summer arts camp.


If, on the other hand, your kids are more into STEM, Frontlines has that, and several other other camps, available this summer.

 


The Weston Library has a lot of programming this summer, including game programming, bike maintenance, environmental science, movies, and magic.

 

Documentary, ‘Some Sort of Judas’ explores hidden underworld.

Readers may remember that Scarborough-based thug and aspiring rapper Mark Moore killed two young men in Weston in late 2010 causing a great deal of anxiety. TVO is showing a powerful documentary first broadcast in 2017. Entitled, ‘Some Sort of Judas‘, it explores gun and gang culture while referencing the killing spree perpetrated by Mark Moore. The focus is also on Kevin Williams, the man whose testimony brought Moore to justice. It’s told largely from his point of view and judging by the scenery, Williams seems to be living a new life away from Toronto, fearing retribution after his role as an informant.

The documentary explores the cultural conditions that create violent psychopaths like Moore and equally grotesque hangers-on like Williams.

Williams, an allegedly talented rapper; rap name, ‘Mayhem Morearty’, hung around with the violent and unpredictable Moore (both were from the Lawrence Heights area, aka ‘The Jungle’). In an effort to get street cred for his rap efforts, he accompanied Moore on criminal ventures including a jewellery store heist and two killings. In the perverted world of Moore and Williams, killing someone enhances your reputation.

Event timeline:

August 9, 2010: Moore and Williams hold up Arax Jewellers and take $250,000 – $500,000 worth of items (estimates vary). A clerk was shot when hit by a ricocheting bullet. In the documentary, Williams claims that Moore stiffed him when the loot was divided and that’s why he became an informant. So much for honour amongst thieves.

September 10, 2010: Jahmeel Spence 27 shot in Scarborough. Mother Beverly Spence (this was the second of her sons to be murdered) calls Moore a vampire for spilling innocent blood and the excessive number of shots used. In one scene she is shown beside the grave of her two boys, the joint headstone missing Jahmeel’s inscription because of the $3500 cost.

After the Spence murder, Moore is unapologetic and texts Williams, ‘Watch CP24’ Williams does and replies, ‘LOL you’re funny ‘, but in the documentary, claims he was desensitized to violence thanks to his ‘lifestyle’.

September 29, 2010: Courthney Facey 18 and Mike James 23 (not known to police or Moore) are killed here in a Weston laneway on Sept. 29, 2010. Williams is present for the killings but claims he thought he and Moore were only going to the liquor store. He knew something bad was going to happen. The shooting occurs opposite the building where Moore was shot in the face in 2001. Facey’s mother working nearby, hears the commotion and sees her son placed in the ambulance. Ambulance workers tell her not to look at her son as he is disfigured by the shooting.

November 24, 2010: Carl Cole, 45 is standing in the parking lot at the rear of 65 Greenbrae Circuit, Scarborough. Moore and Cole are acquainted. Moore fires 22 shots at him. Cole dies of his injuries.

October 2011: Williams and Moore are arrested. Moore denies everything but Williams agrees to cooperate with police after 45 minutes of questioning.

April 30, 2013: Williams is inexplicably placed in a courthouse cell with Moore while waiting to give evidence against him. Williams leaves on a stretcher instead of testifying.

March 26, 2014: Mark Moore is sentenced to 12 years for the robbery of Arax Jewellers. Williams testifies against Moore and receives a reduced sentence of 10 years.

May 30, 2015: Mark Moore found guilty of four counts of murder based on Williams’ testimony. He was later sentenced to life in prison.

Williams comes from a fatherless background and seems determined to continue the cycle. He participated in a bank robbery at 15 and bought a gun with his share of the proceeds, using it for solo robberies. He talks of leading a Jeckyl and Hyde lifestyle and needed street ‘cred’ for his music so he hung around with Moore. Williams claims he almost felt responsible for the murders and says if he’d known what was about to happen, he wouldn’t have been in the vehicle with Moore. Later in the documentary Williams’ sentence is reduced as a result of testimony against Moore. Williams is asked if he has killed anyone and declines to comment. He now says he regrets his role as an informant.

Some other characters featured during the documentary:

Detective Hank Idsinga talks about the police viewpoint. Williams didn’t want to be considered a snitch but after 45 minutes of questioning tells police it was ‘Sparky’ – Mark Moore.

Boogz is an 18 year-old orphan living a feral lifestyle in Lawrence Heights and says if he goes to jail, he’ll have nothing to worry about because he’s never snitched.

Phil Dixon, community coach in Lawrence Heights knew both Moore and Williams as children and found them to be good kids with talent. Disturbingly, Dixon admits to possessing a gun, ‘for protection’ in his younger years.

Mike James’ mother who after the verdict says, “Kevin Williams is just as guilty as Moore because he didn’t come forward after the first killing”.

Williams’ naive girlfriend is shown pregnant with his child but she neglected to perform the due diligence that would have uncovered Williams’ more salient criminal background details and also three children with three other women. She unsurprisingly finds herself abandoned by him.

Cindy Bonnick mother of Courthney Facey talks of the fear of having a male child in the black community and the worry of raising a son in such an environment, being harassed by police, other males or killed randomly.

Moore is now serving life in prison for the four counts of murder plus an additional six years for the jailhouse assault on Williams.

The documentary is a depressing, disturbing and compelling look at lives that many children and adults lead here in Toronto. Making connections with children who are abandoned by their parent(s) would be the urgent takeaway from this powerful documentary and one that should be a top priority. How those connections are made depends on the determination of our politicians and community leaders.

We need to remember that these violent and psychopathic criminals begin their lives as innocent children.

Everyone should see this compelling  documentary. It was first shown last year but there are two more chances to see it this month on TVO:

Sunday June 17, 11:00 pm and Monday June 18, 4:00 am

It’s also available online here.