Toronto adds a touch of Irish Humour to the Theatre Scene

imageSince coming to this fine city in April 2016, it is wonderful to see shows created by people of all nationalities and backgrounds, transforming into reality on stage. Each play, musical or even comedy piece has different energies, different atmospheres and of course, different stories to tell.

But once in a while, we Irish feel a loss for home and are forever in search for something to remind us of the Emerald Isle across the Atlantic Ocean. For the Irish have been known throughout history to be quick witted, have a great sense of humour and of course, to be wonderful storytellers, which seems to be deep within our genetic code.

You can only imagine my delight when I found an Irish theatre group, based right here in Toronto, that not only performs stage productions of Irish based shows written here, but also well known plays that we have also grown so fond of back home.

The Toronto Irish Players, from what I have heard through my stage connections, never fail in creating a memorable experience; enjoyed by people from all over the world, visiting Toronto. The one quality that is definitely apparent of them is that they create shows that are appreciated, embraced and adored by all.

So what do they have in store for us this season? Well, I can tell you that you won’t be disappointed. From February 16th to March 4th 2017, the comedy ‘THE NIGHT JOE DOLAN’S CAR BROKE DOWN’ will be sailing out onto the stage at The Alumnae Theatre, 70 Berkeley Street, Toronto.

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This show has already taken Ireland by storm in recent years, with countrywide tours and revivals each season, on some of the Irish capital’s finest stages.But what is it about, why is so popular with the Paddy’s and why is it the perfect show for Toronto?

Have you ever imagined what it would be like to be stranded in the same place as a national legend; someone who everyone is a fan of? What would you do? What would you say? 

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The scene opens in the Glenduff Inn in County Cavan. It is a cold, bitter St. Stephen’s Night and all the pub-goers are attending the 60th Birthday party of an old pub-regular known as Horse MunleyJane and all her friends are the brains of the operation and aim for it to be a memorable night for all. Married couple PJ and Angela have simply come along to escape the confines of their own marital home. Providing the musical entertainment for the party is one man band Steve, whose mind is elsewhere, as he frantically tries to locate cell-phone coverage; with the news of his wife going into labour.

imageYou would think that this night may be quite uneventful for our characters. Well think again! As the storm worsens outside, the pub goers decide to call it a day…but the door opens up and there before them is Irish music legend JOE DOLAN. As the group; including Joe, become stranded in the Glenduff Inn, we soon find out  more about our characters, as their interactions reveal personal secrets and explosive moments follow. All leading up to a final eerie twist.

Written by Padraic McIntyre and directed by Michael Hiller, THE NIGHT JOE DOLAN’S CAR BROKE DOWN, promises to be a fantastic, funny show mixed with the perfect combination of ingredients… COMEDY, DRAMA and MUSIC. Also, with the addition of special guest Hugo Straney, theatre-goers will not only get to appreciate his take on Joe Dolan’s famous character, but also get to enjoy a performance of his well-known songs throughout the show.

imageWhether or not you are familiar with the Irish music legend, it is, without a doubt that you will thoroughly enjoy the play. Performed by both an Irish and Canadian cast, it is touching to see how a comedy created across the ocean has finally made its way to Toronto; for the continued enjoyment of all.

If you wish to see this wonderful show, which will have you talking right into the weeks to follow, tickets can be purchased at the theatre (on the night) or to avoid disappointment, can be reserved online through http://torontoirishplayers.com/wp/

Performances take place at 8pm sharp each evening at the Alumnae Theatre on 70 Berkeley Street.

I hope you all enjoy the show…and as we Irish always say, “sure it’ll be great Craic!”

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Central Coffee: The next stop for your caffeine fix

imageLast Thursday afternoon, as the icy cold air ripped through Toronto and the sun no-where to be seen in the sky, I scurried down Bloor Street West, if an effort to get all my errands completed. With my scarf wrapped around my face and a woolly bobble hat perched high upon my head, I looked like an over-dressed tea-cozy…but who cares about how we look, when Jack Frost is nipping on your skin.

After scratching the last item off my grueling list, I rushed along Bloor with the hope of arriving home in time before visitors arrived later that day. But something caught my eye. There; braving the cold in short sleeves and an apron, stood a girl holding a tray of coffee samples, offering them to the public as they walked by.

I initially pushed away my caffeine craving; telling myself to plow on, but as I stepped further away from the female barista, I told myself… go on, reward yourself with a treat. As I approached the girl, she kindly offered me a sample of the hot beverages upon the tray. With one sip of the SALTED CARAMEL LATTE, I was sold. I had to buy a larger cup.

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Following the friendly employee into the Central Coffee, located at 986 Bloor St West, TorontoI was positively surprised by how much of a hidden gem this cafe actually is. From the outside of the store, you would believe it to be quite small inside, but as Rebekah guided me inside…the open, relaxing and beautifully decorated cafe opened up before my eyes.

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With comfy couches and tables dotted around the warmly lit customer area, single tables and chairs for the lone coffee-enthusiast and relaxing music playing through the sound-waves, the entire ambiance was everything a coffee shop should be.

Looking around, I could see friends chatting, office workers scribbling notes and girls on Facebook using the complimentary Wi-Fi, making me understand why this cafe is the perfect place to relax and unwind. Because when you are sitting there, it feels like you’re not in the city at all. With little noise coming from outside, Central Coffee is not only a place to escape to, but a place where you can have a genuine conversation with people over snacks, and not have to strain your voice over the passing traffic.

imageSo what about my coffee experience? Needless to say, I went for the Salted Caramel Latte as without a doubt is the nicest I have ever tasted. I’ve been to several well-known coffee chains around the world, from England to Scotland, from the USA to Canada and right back to my home country of Ireland, and no Latte has tasted as nice as this one.

Plus, in Central Coffee, I quickly found out that the coffee is not the only reason it is popular. The reception that you receive from the staff as you enter, is second to none. Everyone wants to feel welcomed, and my server did just this. Learning that she too was on a working holiday visa like myself, allowed for a strike-up of conversation, which was was both comfortable and informative.

imageShe spoke of her home country and even took an interest in mine, which was nice to see; as many coffee shops environments sometimes allow for limited communication between staff and customer.

As I paid my server, I thanked her and waved goodbye, taking in one last glimpse of the cafe as I left. I stared hungrily at the delicious selection of sweet and savory treats on sale, but promised myself…next time Sean…next time. As I bundled up my winter wear one final time; taking a gulp of my steaming hot caramel latte, I knew this was not my last time in Central Coffee. Since coming over here in April 2016, I have looked high and low for a cafe to call my favorite. And I think I have finally found it.

If you too are a coffee lover like myself, or are just looking for the perfect place to have a bite to eat and relax, then this is the spot to visit.

CENTRAL COFFEE is located at 986 Bloor Street West, Toronto and more information on opening times can be found by clicking HERE.

Carrie The Musical: Review at The Hart House Theatre

imageHey everyone!!! After a nice winter break, it was great to get back into attending theatrical and musical performances, with a fresh mind, new ideas and willingness to explore unfamiliar avenues.

The first show back on my 2017 run was CARRIE: THE MUSICAL at the Hart House Theatre, Toronto, which is currently running from January 20th until February 4th 2017. I attended opening weekend on Saturday, with excitement and high expectations, as this is both one of my favorite all-time horror movies and book adaptions.

Whether you are a horror fan or not, one cannot deny that it is an incredible concept to come up with…a young bullied girl, an outcast at school…rejected by her classmates, persecuted by her peers and controlled by her over-bearing mother, finally discovers she has telekinetic abilities that are controlled by her emotions and rage.

It is a story of how victims of bullying can only be pushed so far, and when Carrie’s fellow peers take further steps to ruin her life, it results in dire consequences for everyone around, as her pent-up rage is released to wreak vengeance.

So how did the cast, crew and theatre company of Carrie: The Musical perform on the night? First of all, I must give credit to the theatre itself. If no-one has ever attended a show here, you have to; if only to appreciate the decadence of the decor. As we are escorted to the lavish, underground performance area, I felt I was being given the opportunity of seeing something that many do not…a somewhat hidden secret.

But less of that and more of the show! From curtain up to close, I enjoyed the show and appreciated how well the musical numbers were intertwined with the story we know so well.

Tiyana Scott who played our female lead Carrie White, was a delight to watch on stage, as her acting and musical performance  was raw, fresh and believable.

Alyssa Minichillo played the role of one of Carrie’s tormentors, Frieda, with humor and fun, and had the audience laughing at several points throughout. Madison Sekulin embraced the role of the bully leader, Chris Hargenson, and did not disappoint, as she portrayed her devious and unapologetic nature perfectly on stage; remaining true to the original.

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But the 2 performers that were the stars of the show, apart from the wonderful leading lady Tiyana Scott, were Brittany Miranda who played Carrie’s mother Margaret, and Paige Foskett, who took on the role of Norma Watson, the second-in-command bully.

Brittany’s voice soared above the crowds and just showed us how much range and power she has a vocal artist. As well as staying true to Margaret’s over-bearing nature, she was able to transfer those feelings directly to the lyrics of each number, making them extra effective.

Paige Foskett, however, had the theatre-goers in fits of laughter, as she was a breath of fresh air and a comedic delight to the dark storyline. Despite being a supporting actor, I wished she had more dialogue throughout, as her sassy attitude made us want to see more of this great actress.

Saturday night’s show was a SELL OUT performance, which proved Carrie: The Musical’s rightful position on the Toronto stage. The songs were catchy and memorable, and the acting was terrific.

Nevertheless, if I was to express my professional reviewing experience in an unbiased fashion, I would have to give my constructive opinion on a few elements of the show. Firstly, the stage could have been much more eye-catching than what it was. It is important in live theatre to provide both audible and visual stimulation. I personally wished the set designers and stage production had created a set that allowed each scene to open and transform before our eyes. For such a marvelous stage that the Hart House Theatre provides, more artistic creativity could have been splashed across it.

For example, the introduction of props and set design is simple and effective. In scenes like Carrie’s home, it would have been visually stimulating to add a bed or sofa in the background, or maybe a table with religious statues upon it to enhance the scene. Also, scenes such as the school should have had school emblems or posters, even study desks and chairs to depict student life.

Also, the lighting effects during Carrie’s telekinetic experiences could have been a bit more dramatic and vivid; with more added sound effects to make the crowd jump.

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But all in all, I found the show to be a success, which gave a new take on the  classic 1970’s storyline. I would urge theatre fans to get down and see this show, and if you are a fan of the movie, then it will be a double delight. The musical numbers such as The World According to Chris and A Night We’ll Never Forget had me singing into the week to follow, and the cast made me want to see more of their faces in the future. Despite the underwhelming set design, the actors and actresses raised the show to new heights with their stellar performances and ultimately give us… A Night We’ll Never Forget…as the song suggests.

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Tickets can be purchased prior to the show at the Hart House Theatre Box Office, but to avoid disappointment, tickets can be purchased in advance online, by clicking HERE.

For more information on the Hart House Theatre and future shows scheduled, please click HERE.

Until next time my fairy followers. xxx

Out with the ‘new’ and in with the ‘old’: How today’s fashionistas are bringing back timeless styles

imageWhether you are a fully fledged fashion guru or a bit of an amateur like myself, you cannot deny that fashion is constantly evolving. Fashion Blogs, Pinterest, Instagram and all types of social media are constantly showing you new ideas, but what if I was to say that the way to discover new fads and trends is not to move forward…but back.  Many will agree with me that in the past two decades, the runways have been somewhat of a disappointment. The 90’s and 00’s seemed to be absent of a signature style that defined that era; whereas the 40’s-60’s modeled characteristics that will go down in history.

 

Take for instance the 1940’s. With World War 2 in motion, you would think that fashion would be the least of people’s worries, but female styles during this decade are what we remember and recreate today. Much attire took the form of afternoon or tea dresses by some.With shoulder pads becoming popular, and button down or wrap-over dresses becoming the next big thing, ladies sported quite a sculpted, pristine look. Despite the limited use of fabric; due to war shortages, the style remained classy and proper.

The 1950’s soon followed and with it brought the slimline waists and so-called ‘circle dresses, which accentuated the bust and hips, as well as creating a style that could flatter all female shapes and sizes. Colors became more vibrant, creating a dress style that not only could be admired by day, but could be remolded and revamped…to be envied by all at night. It was a timeless characteristic that entered more into the public’s awareness, through the fashion efforts of some of Hollywood’s most memorable female star’s of the 50’s.

Actresses like Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn showcased this style many times; incorporating it into both their on-screen and off-screen wardrobes. Probably the most photographed actress of this time, sporting this trend was Lucille Ball, whose vibrant personality matched her fashion sense perfectly.

Lastly, the 1960’s…what can I say? Figure hugging and accentuating outfits; both casual and formal were all the rage. As hemlines got shorter, hair got higher, and the introduction of solid prints and matching headbands was in full swing. The 60’s were all about discovering yourself, and releasing previous inhibitions. This era created the mini-dresses and classic, pencil dresses favored by icons like model Brigitte Bardot.

So where does that leave us today? My maternal grandmother once said, as I sat by her feet at her sewing machine, “You know what? There will come a day when all these fashion designers are going to run out of ideas and what I was wearing at your age, will all be back in mode once again. You wait and see.”

And she was right. As a lady who could take a needle and tread to anything and make it into a masterpiece, she had a wonderful fashion sense. She appreciated style and elegance when she saw it, and there are others out there who think the same way. Vintage fashion bloggers are taking the media by storm nowadays; showing us how to not only embrace past trends, but also to make them our own. With fashion…there are no rules. These so-called ‘vintage girls’ are taking those pieces, adding a bit of magic and create masterpieces that not only work well, but honor the past also.

Of the many vintage fashion portals I have come across, one that has stood out to me is that of Instagram Vintage fashionista Rebecca Phippen, whose photos, tips and run-through of outfits are posted regularly. Her vintage and retro styles not only emanate elegance and grace, but promote confidence and personality, which empowers all.

When I go to my wardrobe and look inside, I usually sigh with disappointment. Why? Is it because I do not have the latest look modeled within high-street windows….NOPE. Is it because I cannot afford the likes of Dolce & Gabbana…NOPE. It’s truly because I sometimes lack the styles that will get heads turning…an outfit that will catch someones eye. Because that is what we want in the end. We want the public to go WOW!!!

Embracing the vintage styles can be somewhat daunting, and hit-or-miss, but undoubtedly exciting at the same time. And if you pull it off, this just proves that these trends are timeless.

So what do you think? Got a summer holiday planned? How about going searching the stores or even online for a vintage bathing suit, that personifies the style of the 1950’s. You too could be like the beautiful Debbie Reynolds.

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Or how about embracing the style of a 1960’s Maureen O’Hara on a romantic date, by going for a glamorous solid, figure hugging dress, which exudes confidence and sexiness all at once.

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Model and singer/songwriter Lana Del Rey once said:

“Fashion is inspired by both youth and nostalgia, and draws inspiration from the best of the past.”

So lets get shopping girls. And make sure to add @myrockabillysummer on Instagram for upcoming, revived styles. These looks are not only affordable, but easily found. And just think…you may just awaken your inner goddess in the process.

Carrie The Musical: It’s Gonna Be A Night You’ll Never Forget

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Whether or not you have seen the movie or read the book, the story of Carrie White is known all around the world. I can remember my own mother recalling how she went to the cinema in the 1976 to see the horror novel by Stephen King being transformed from book to blockbuster.

But for those who have not heard of this horror legend, I will give you a brief synopsis. Carrie tells the story of a shy, lonely and insecure schoolgirl, who lives her life hiding away from all interactions with the outside world. But this is not Carrie’s fault or her choice. Having being raised by a religious bible-basher, who aggressively forces her opinion on her daughter and treats her like a biblical sinner, one can only imagine the fear and guilt that Carrie experiences.

imageBut as Carrie moves into puberty, natural changes start to occur to her body which are completely alien to her, as her mother sees this area of womanhood sickening and distasteful. After an embarrassing  event involving a group of bullies at school, a freak supernatural event occurs, which finally leads Carrie to realize she has telekinesis (the ability to move things with one’s mind)

Sound neat? Think again. Carrie’s abilities are controlled by her emotions, and as the story develops, we see this shy girl transform as she comes into her gifts. But nothing is as it seems. As the bullies continue to torment Carrie, it finally becomes too much and the darkness in this once timid schoolgirl is released. The pent-up anger and torture becomes a scene of uncontrolled havoc and revenge, in a showdown that you will never forget.

The original movie adaption starring Sissy Spacek was a phenomenal success and garnered fantastic reviews worldwide. So much so, that 47 years later, Hollywood created a remake of the classic horror, starring Chloe Grace Moretz.

But let me tell you all something that will make you excited. Thanks to the amazingly talented people of the HART HOUSE THEATRE, Toronto, we are about to see Carrie White’s story in a whole new light. Thanks to the expertise of well-known director Richard Ouzounian, Hart House Theatre are proud to bring you the musical adaption of this cult classic.

Carrie The Musical stays true to the original tale and brings with it a fantastic musical score composed by Michael Gore and Dean Pitchford. Each number ties together each scene and gives life, character and feeling to this genius storyline. As everyone knows, Carrie’s true self comes to life when she steps onto that infamous prom-stage. So what better way to celebrate, pay tribute to and awaken this moment, than to perform it as a musical LIVE on a Toronto stage?

Playing the lead of Carrie White, will be Tiyana Scott, who is super-excited to be taking this iconic role and making it her own. We can expect a passionate, believable and powerful performance from this young actress.

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Playing the role of Carrie’s ruthless mother, Margaret White, is Brittany Miranda whose stage presence and performance ability will blow you away.

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I personally am looking forward to seeing Jacqueline Godbout take on the memorable character of Sue Snell. Despite being one of Carrie’s original tormentors, she sees the error in her ways and tries to make up for her mistakes. Little does she know the chaos that is just around the corner. After seeing Jacqueline perform in the murder mystery cabaret, Love You To Death, I have no doubt that she will delight audiences this time around, in a very different role.

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People have asked down through the years as to why Carrie is so popular, and when Carrie The Musical’s director Richard Ouzounian was approached with this question, he answered:

It’s the story of the ultimate outsider and what happens when she is pushed too far. Despite all the anti-bullying messages out there, young people are still subject to abuse from their peers; simply because of who they are. That’s why the acting company of Carrie are diverse in many ways. We’re creating a world where everyone wonders how they fit in. We are all Carrie…Truly.

After releasing my previous article on bullying last week, it seemed appropriate to follow this up with a performance that we can all relate to. Make it a MUST on your ‘to-do’ list, during its 3 week run at the Hart House Theatre.

With unique musical numbers, a stellar cast, and a wonderfully creative team of set, costume and lighting designers, this show is destined to give you a night to remember…something you will be still talking about in weeks to follow.

So if you wish to step into the world of Carrie White and see this piece of musical & theatrical excellence, the show will be playing at the Hart House Theatre, 7 Hart House Cir, Toronto, M5S 3H3 from JANUARY 20th until FEBRUARY 4th 2017.

To purchase tickets prior to the show, you can do so by clicking HERE.

Tickets are priced at $28 for Adults, $17 for Seniors and $15 for Students.

Approximate running time including intermission: 2 Hours & 20 Mins

 

Lost: My Struggle with Bullying

imageEver since I started this blog, I wondered my reasons for doing so. Was it to express myself through a new medium? Was it a means to find my calling in life? Maybe I just loved putting pen to paper…or in this case, fingers to keys. But one thing I have come to understand is that I’ve always aimed to give a voice to those in need of being heard; whether it be a upcoming theatrical show, or new-to-the-scene music artist…or maybe, for once…me.

Writing is somewhat like therapy. A part of me likes to escape into tales I create, giving characters back stories, which inevitably end up becoming loosely based on my own life experiences. A part of me wonders why this is, and deep down I find that it is because we cannot move on if we do not speak about the things that worry us.

The story I am sharing with you, is my only way I know how to talk about my struggles. When I try to verbalize my fears, my anxieties, my hurt…a mere squeak escapes into the vast darkness. This story is probably the hardest thing I have ever written, and putting it out for the public to view; rather than scribbled into a notebook, still makes me nervous. But I only do this so others may learn, that they may grow and that maybe…just maybe…I can show you that everything you see is not exactly how it appears.

For many who know me growing up, I was a reasonably, happy child. Days would be spent running in the fields, playing tricks on the adults, helping my grandmothers do their chores and being as bright and bubbly as I wished. Sound fun? It sure was. For when your this age, nothing bothers you and all the worries in the world are not even on your radar.

High school. I remember it, as if it was yesterday. The representatives from high schools in the surrounding areas would flock to your primary school classes like bald eagles, trying to encourage as many of your class to choose them as your preference, as you moved onto your next step in education. I remember listening to the speaker of my eventual institutional choice, as she said quite confidently and proudly, “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Going to this school will open so many doors for you along the way. We pride ourselves as being a good supportive network and a place where our students are happy to study and prosper.”

I was sold, and after final examinations and much deliberation, I decided this was the path I was destined to be on. Now, as an 11 year old child, this new school felt enormous. The building was buzzing, and I felt like a little, worker bee in a vast hive of corridors, classrooms and gyms.

I loved it…it was different, it was fast-paced, but most of all, it was new. I loved new experiences and each day of my first year, I woke up excited for what it would bring. But as the famous Geoffrey Chaucer famously said, “All Good Things Must Come To An End.”

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Second year commenced and with it brought with it 5 consecutive years of utter torment. You hear about bullying in schools via TV documentaries, but you never spend too much time thinking about it. I know I didn’t…that was before my schooling life was turned upside down. I was happy…I was progressing well…nothing was going to stand in my way.

When I look back now, it is simply impossible to pinpoint where the bullying began and the events that triggered it. But with hind-sight, I have come to understand that when someone decides to make your life a misery, they do not need a valid reason to do so.

From Monday to Friday, I had to endure physical and psychological abuse by not only my bullies, but by the many friends who stood back, watched this abuse and even took part in it at times.

imageMy memories of class involved offensive name calling and so-called ‘joking’ comments on my features, my voice and my interests. In the corridors, a group of guys in my year, who had never spoken to me once, decided to join in on the fun. Several days a week, I would get water-balloons thrown at me, when I was on my own; forcing me to sit in wet clothing for the rest of the day. I’d get shouldered in the corridors and get pushed into walls. The physical aspect got so bad one day that I ended up with a lump and cut on my forehead, when this group slammed my head into the wall of a mobile classroom.

With each new year, came new bullies. The old ones got bored and moved on, but not before the baton was always passed appropriately to my next harasser. I went home to my parents, and put on a brave face, often telling them lies about someone else’s day to make mine sound fun and exciting.

If the events within the school walls were not bad enough, the torture did not stop there. The bus rides home were without question the most character destroying time of my life. Any flicker of hope that my confidence and hopes would be safe, were soon snuffed out by people who I once called friends.

imageFor reasons which I will never know, I was a prime target for everyone on the bus ride from Newry to Crossmaglen. Taunts about sexuality were always leading the charge in the outnumbered battle of The World vs Sean. Words like poof, f**got, queer and sissy accompanied whatever they had to say to me. Usually these taunts were shouted from a distance away, as I sat quietly on my own. I never retaliated, as I always had a dislike towards any types of confrontation.

I lost count of how many objects collided with my head for that 40 minute journey. Sometimes it was half filled bottles of water. Other occasions it was a boot or shoe that was propelled towards me. And during all this time, these assaults were not carried out by people from neighboring towns or villages, but by people I grew up with, from childhood.

The particular individuals who bullied me most, were actually people I had once called friends. Somehow in the blur of growing up, our friendship turned into a sport; enjoyed by all. These so-called former friends even gave younger schoolkids a lesson in the art of “aiming for Sean.” At times I felt like a spectator in a cruel game of human darts…10 points if you hit the back of his skull…100 if you smack him right between the eyes. Only, I never was a spectator…I was the target.

imageThe final few weeks of high school seemed to be the slowest I had ever experienced. If worries about final exams before university were not worrying enough, I had to tend to a wound on the back of my head that was caused after my main tormentor convinced a gullible and highly impressionable junior student to fire a capped 2 Litre, full bottle of water at me, just as I was nearing my stop. When it collided with the crown of my head, I can recall to this day that my eyes went white with the impact. I shook it off, but as the pain lingered on, during my journey to my house, it was only then that I noticed my hair damp with blood.

Needless to say, when I said goodbye to high school…I meant goodbye. Secondary Education is meant to be one of the best times of your life. It is there to make character…not break it. Many people reading this will probably ask why I did not speak to someone I trusted; my parents, my sister, my cousins. Maybe it was because I didn’t want to cause them any worry or heartache. Maybe I didn’t want to appear weak. I do not know. But my favorite one always was…why did you not stand up for yourself? That is a hard question to answer.

Truthfully, I was in fear. Fear of what I would look like, fear I would have no support and fear of those who had made me a victim of a problem that continues to ravage our schools worldwide.  It took me a very, very long time to get over my experience of bullying…not just because of the intensity of the acts, which were unquestionably excruciating, but out of confusion, disappointment and a sense of betrayal towards the ones who caused it all.

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My current friends and people I meet every day may not see the scars that still remain. However, they are healing, with each new day. I try to be as humorous and happy in my everyday interactions with everyone, to keep alive that child that was once so naturally bright and bubbly.

However, I must stress to all out there that although I felt I had no-one to turn to…there IS ALWAYS SOMEONE OUT THERE. Whether it is that friend you always confide in, a parent or it could even be the local librarian…there is always an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on. And believe me, it is not a sign of weakness if you ask for help. When I completed High school, I was so closed off from everyone around me that  I felt I had no future. My confidence was diminished and my belief in myself was non-existent. But just as I was about to admit defeat, I spoke to a girl I once went to school with. She spoke to me of her struggle with bullying herself, and as we jointly confided in one another, I found my heart starting to mend, despite its wear and tear.

Like many others victims of bullying, I never wish for an apology off my tormentors. What is the point? They are most likely reading this. What I wish for is that they can grow up and understand what they did was wrong. I hope that they realize that they may not know the extent of their capabilities until it is too late. And most of all, I hope that they raise their kids to never do the same on another child.

But the purpose of this story, is not to speak of these actions of cowardice but to highlight to those suffering, the many online avenues that are now available for support. One particular campaign that I believe in with my whole heart is the fantastic BEING ME CAMPAIGN who have a vast support network of people from all walks of life. They are there to help and guide you, as well offering encouragement to just “be you.”

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Another wonderful campaign that will hopefully be a part of every school system in the future, is the anti-bullying ambassadors of THE DIANA AWARD, which was set up to protect the welfare of all young people; in memory of the late Diana, Princess of Wales.

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Music artist Nadine Coyle, is a regular spokesperson for this campaign. She believes it should be implemented into all schools throughout Northern Ireland, as it encourages both students and teachers to work hand-in-hand to eradicate bullying.

Princess Diana once said, “Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.”

This story, titled Lostis a small glimpse into how hope and belief can still remain possible, even in times when it is most dark.

The Gut Girls: Play revival sure to excite Toronto Theatre Fans

imageSo, first and foremost…how was your festive, holiday season? Did you enjoy it? Did you over-indulge? Are you regretting that last slice of pecan pie? Whether you have the January blues or not, there’s no reason to be cooped up inside, when a whole world of new shows and theatrical adventures lie beyond your front door.

The best thing about live theatre is that it never sleeps. Yes, winter has arrived, but the fantastic performances that await you on stage, are the reason to get downtown. With the new year comes new ideas, new productions, new theatrics, fresh faces and new audiences. And there is one show on the horizon that cannot be missed.

Ever since I first attended the Alumnae Theatre, Toronto, I was blown away by the selection of enjoyable shows for all tastes and interests. This Toronto landmark is not only the longest running theatrical society in Toronto, but it is soon to hit its 100th Year Anniversary. So what better way to celebrate this important event, than to come along to its new season and fabulous lineup.

So what lies in store for us? Let me tell you. From January 20th until February 4th 2017, the cast and crew of THE GUT GIRLS will be making the Alumnae Theatre their home. Set in the early 1900’s, in the town of Deptford in South-East London (UK), The Gut Girls tell us the tale of the working-class women, who were employed within the gutting sheds of cattle markets across London.

imageGlamorous and highly sought after? These jobs were nothing of the sort. But the women who put their hand to this sector of society, had more character, work-ethic and pride than any other industry at the time. Their surprisingly high level of female independence, helped to create their own mini society, which they could call their own. One can only imagine the humorous, unforgettable characters that were formed within these sheds.

However, our story opens with the turn of the Late Victorian Era, and suddenly this industry is badly hit. With the gutting sheds starting to close their doors, each lady sees her only form of income disappear in the blink of an eye. What are they to do? Where are they to go? Yes, their strong work ethic and determination can not be faulted, but how do these independent, big, brash personalities fit into what is seen as a suitable replacement job.

imageFrightened about what is to become of them, they fall into the company of Lady Helena; a well-to-do socialite of London, who aims to turn these marginalized women into respectable ladies. But what is the catch? As each close friend is separated and sent into the “improved” life of a maid, they find themselves in a struggle with the need make this new life work, and their yearning of a return to the strong, true selves they once were.

Described as Surprisingly Funny and Hard-Hitting, this play written by British dramatist Sarah Daniels and directed by Maya Rabinovitch, is set to be a true crowd-pleaser this month. Originally premiered in the town of Deptford, London in 1988, the play was met with extremely, positive reviews and was commended on its beautiful and realistic storyline.

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Starring in this production are the talented Kaya Bucholc, Sarah Thorpe, Alexandra Augustine, Tasia Loeffler-Vulpe, Nicole Arends, Mike Hogan and Brendan O’Reilly. 

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Also, new to the Toronto theatre scene, is actress Claire Keating, who I am looking forward to see. Not only is she a fellow native of the Emerald Isle but a fellow graduate of my university, UCD (University College Dublin).

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If you; alongside me, cannot wait to see this wonderful production, then click HERE to purchase tickets online, in advance. Tickets can also be purchased with cash at the Theatre Box Office, which is located at the following address: Alumnae Theatre, 70 Berkeley Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5A 2W6.

THE GUT GIRLS will be running from January 20th until February 4th 2017, with performances from Wednesday through to Sunday.

If you wish to see a show that still resonates with people today, then this play is meant for you. The Gut Girls reminds the audience that sometimes independence, beauty and truth can be found in the most unusual places, and maybe…just maybe, the perfect life that others want for you, may be the one thing you do not need.

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SPECIAL PRE-SHOW EVENT – Saturday, January 21 @ 6:45pm
Consider attending The Gut Girls on Sat Jan 21 @ 6:45pm in the Alumnae LobbySnacks! Stories! AND Theatre! Arrive at 6:45pm to hear Erin Rodgers, producer of the 2016 Storytelling Festival, as she leads a group of storytellers relating tales of women’s and workers’ rights prior to the 8pm performance.
 “I’ve always loved stories and tall tales. My family has always told stories and since childhood I’ve been drawn to people who can tell a good one. I’m also a performer and performers LOVE to tell each other stories and try to make each other laugh” says Rodgers.

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