Art and Literature

Entries about creativity in all its forms, plus original creative material.

Go big or go home

Jack Lenz has been making music for decades, Michael Posner writes. Now he's in the business of promoting Canadian talent with a large new studio facility in Thorncliffe Park

After three decades of success in any field, many artists might start to think about slowing down. Not Jack Lenz.

Overseeing Lenz Entertainment, a company of about 60 musicians, writers, engineers and puppet artists, the fiftysomething Toronto-based composer and arranger is looking to expand.

He claims his broad-based firm is now the fastest-growing in his field in Canada, producing and writing music for television series, specials and feature films, as well as developing a stable of young recording artists.

To bring what had been its disparate operations under one roof, the firm recently bought a 25,000-square-foot facility in Thorncliffe Park, complete with two state-of-the-art recording and engineering studios and a puppet-making shop for the animated children's series it is producing.

{josquote}The film, which will star Keisha Castle-Hughes (Whale Rider), has a projected budget of $7-million to $10-million. He's still seeking a co-production arrangement and some foreign financing.{/josquote}

There's talk of building a TV studio on the property to avoid renting space, and this year Lenz will begin production of a long-nurtured feature film, Mona's Dream.

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Tabula Rasa - where art and spirit converge

Download TabulaRasa Issues 2 & 3 (combined)

Issue 2 & 3 - pdf - 6.9mb

Tabula Rasa, where art and spirit converge … gently, intelligently, meaningfully…

…Tabula Rasa has been created to celebrate the Creator in all of us, to express our pure wonderment and joy at God's revelation of the word 'Fashioner' and to explore its myriad meanings….

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Horrid histories

Medhi Rezvan in Egyptian mode

BIRMINGHAM Stage Company returns to the Grand Opera House, York, from Monday with more gory stories from Terry Deary's Horrible Histories books.

After the success of last year's Terrible Tudors and Vile Victorians, director John-Paul Cherington has adapted The Awful Egyptians and The Ruthless Romans for daytime and evening shows that use actors and the Bogglevision, a 3-D special effect invented by British company Amazing Interactives.

The Ruthless Romans reveals how the Romans made murder into a sport in the Colosseum with more fouls than in a derby football match. The Awful Egyptians uncovers the truth behind Tutankhamun's creepy curse and presents fear-inducing facts about "phabulous" pharaohs, mean mummies and gruesome grave robbers.

{josquote}I'm a member of the Bahai faith, which was being persecuted and still is{/josquote}

Iranian-born Medhi Rezvan will play Rammeses in The Awful Egyptians and a variety of roles in The Ruthless Romans, including a gladiator and centurion. Brought up in Germany, where he co-founded the social theatre project for children, Peoples Theatre, he has since trained at the Webber Douglas Academy, near London, and is now focusing on the British stage.

"I lived in Iran for six years, and because of the Iraq-Iran war, I had to leave for religious reasons. I'm a member of the Bahai faith, which was being persecuted and still is," Medhi recalls.

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Must-read book: a biography of Baha'u'llah

If you haven’t already read it, you should!

Moojan Momen’s Baha’u'llah: A Short Biography (published by Oneworld Publications) is an excellent account of Baha’u'llah’s life. As the publisher’s blurb says:

From his early life in Iran as the son of senior civil servant to his death in exile near Akka, in what is now Israel, this is a carefully constructed account of the eventful life of this influential nineteenth-century religious figure. Drawing on a wide range of primary and secondary sources, some of which have never been used before, Momen offers a comprehensive survey of Baha’u'llah’s life, works and teachings…

Momen writes his account of Baha’u'llah’s life in a neutral style. In other words, he is not trying to persuade the reader of the veracity of the Baha’i Faith nor does he use Baha’i jargon - or if he does, he signposts terms such as “tablet” as language that Baha’is use. He writes as a scholar and a historian (although this is not an academic tome), avoids hyperbole, and tells the story with copious reference to a range of historical sources and the Baha’i scriptures.

Paradoxically, this approach brings out the drama of an extraordinary life and illustrates Baha’u'llah’s spiritual power and his relationships with his family and followers far more effectively than would a hagiography.

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Fringeist: Your Own Paedophile Jesus

Jesus in Montana is a one-man show by Barry Smith detailing his actual experience as a young man of hitchhiking to Missoula, Montana where he moved in with an octogenarian claiming to be the Second Coming who also happened to be a convicted child molester. If that doesn't sound very funny, you'll just have to take Torontoist's word for it that the results are actually often hilarious.

With the aid of an irreverent Power Point presentation, Smith details his experiences with hallucinogens and the Baha'i Faith. It's strange to see someone who seems, well, like a normal enough person who was actually fully indoctrinated into a bizarre cult, but it just goes to show that truly anyone can be brainwashed. 'Cause, no one who had a childhood dog named Tippi could be a complete weirdo, right?

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