Author: Elena Senechal-Becker

How do you use that space?

  We need to include a multiplicity of voices When I talk about spaces, I’m not just talking about the physical. My definition of “space” encompasses anything that can contain our lives. It is the dimension within which all things move and interact. A quick Google search for the word “space” will offer definitions such as: “A continuous area or expanse that is free, unavailable, or unoccupied”. Therefore, a room can be a space, but so can a job opening, a spot in line, a place in someone’s heart. As such, “space” is simply something that can be filled. The question, then, is what do we fill it with? A “space” can be concrete, too, such as an art gallery. This kind of space is made to be filled with people’s artwork, and with those who admire it. It is important, therefore, to be mindful of what is included. White people aren’t usually made conscious of this. I recently attended a small art show put on by students of a local art college. I didn’t notice anything strange, until one of my best friends remarked: “Why do you guys always bring me to these white art parties?” Although they were partly joking, I also knew there was truth to that statement. While it may have been unintentional, my oversight had caused my friend to feel uncomfortable. Mainstream art spaces...

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Six questions with Ann Pornel, the “glamazon” taking over Toronto’s comedy scene

The comedian tells The Strand about her favourite performances, industry tips and her time at Vic Ann Pornel is part of Second City’s Mainstage company. She is a graduate of the Second City Conservatory Programme, Musical Conservatory, Bob Curry Fellowship, and the University of Toronto! The Strand sat down with Ann to learn more about her.   The Strand: What was your first entry into comedy? When did you realize you wanted to be a comedian? Ann Pornel: My first experience of doing live sketch comedy actually came at Vic. In my first year, a bunch of people living on my floor (5th floor MargAd, WHAT UP) were auditioning to be in The Bob, and invited me along. I wasn’t doing anything else, so I went with them, got in, and went on to do The Bob every year in my undergrad and directed it the last two years of my university career. Victoria College is singlehandedly responsible for getting me into comedy—so thanks, Vic! What are your thoughts on the comedy “scene” in Toronto? Is it difficult to “make it” as a comedian?  Compared to other cities like Chicago, the Toronto scene isn’t very big, especially in sketch and improv, but it’s certainly saturated with incredibly talented and funny people. Whether or not it’s hard to “make it” depends on your definition of “making it.” Going out, doing shows, hanging with cool...

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Finding mysticism in modern masters

The Art Gallery of Ontario is currently the lucky host of an incredibly unique exhibit on nature and mysticism. Mystical Landscapes is a gathering of works by iconic artists such as Monet, Van Gogh, and O’Keefe, as well as works from Canadian masters such as Emily Carr and Group of Seven member, Lawren Harris. I had the chance to have a tour of the exhibit led by Katharine Lochnan, the AGO’s senior international exhibition curator. Walking into the exhibit, which is extensive and spans the second-floor special exhibition space of the AGO, I was first struck by the vibrancy of...

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