Toronto Weekly Wrap-Up – 02/09/2018

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After over 25 years of acting exclusively on-screen, Saskatoon-born actor Kim Coates is returning to his theatrical roots in an upcoming Outside the March / The Company Theatre co-production of Jez Butterworth’s 2009 hit play, Jerusalem (on stage at Crow’s Theatre, February 13 – March 10). Perhaps best known for starring in Sons of Anarchy and for his roles in critically-acclaimed films like Goon and Black Hawk Down, Coates began his acting career on the stage, first studying drama as an elective at the University of Saskatchewan and, just a few short years later, becoming the youngest actor ever cast in the title role of Macbeth at the Stratford Festival. Make no mistake, though — going back to theatrical work is far from being easy! In order to prepare for the role of Byron, Coates not only consulted with Mark Rylance (who originally played the role in the show’s West End run), but he also traveled all the way to England to work with a dialect coach to nail the character’s Wiltshire accent. That’s dedication!

Yas, Queen! Medieval Times crowns its first female ruler. (Photo: Medieval Times)

The popular renaissance-themed theatre attraction Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament will soon be placing the crown on a new kind of ruler: a queen! Following in the footsteps of some of its U.S. counterparts, Canada’s only Medieval Times location at Toronto’s Exhibition Place is working towards launching a new female-fronted storyline in 2018, after decades of live entertainment performances featuring women exclusively in supporting roles. Creative director and writer Leigh Cordner noted in a promotional video announcing the new direction of the show that “Having a queen in charge probably sends a message, [but] I don’t feel like we’re jumping on a bandwagon […] now is the time to be able to do that”. A statement recently released by the company confirmed that the change was inspired by guest feedback calling for more significant roles for women in the show.

Robi Reed at a BET event in 2014.

In keeping with Black History Month celebrations, the 6th annual Toronto Black Film Festival kicks off two days before the the highly anticipated theatrical release of Marvel’s Black Panther (the first-ever superhero blockbuster with an African American lead). This year’s festival lineup is bigger than ever, with over 60 films from 20 countries spanning six days (February 14 – 19). As part of this year’s #TBFF18 Black Market of discussion panels and masterclasses, BET’s Emmy-winning casting director Robi Reed — who helped launched the careers of Oscar winners Halle Berry and Denzel Washington, and whose outstanding work on 1992’s Malcolm X earned her an Artios Award for Best Casting for a Feature Film (Drama) — will host a workshop that delves into the casting process, current industry trends and tips for black actors to build successful careers.

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