Arts News, Arts Review

Arts Preview of the Pages UnBound Festival

Arts Preview of the Pages UnBound Festival featured image

May 7-10, The Randolph Theatre, 736 Bathurst Street
(1 block south of Bloor)

Why is this an arts preview rather than an arts review? Simple—I’m the artistic director of Pages UnBound (PUB) and have been offered this space by my good friends at Classical 96.3 FM to write about a festival, which is my passion project. I’ve always loved literature and film and great conversations. With Pages UnBound, I’m able to share my fascination with the future of our culture by having artists show their work and talk about how their creativity is being generated in the digital age.

The Pages UnBound Festival features award-winning artists from diverse fields: filmmaker Guy Maddin, novelist Heather O’Neill, photographer Geoffrey James, theatre actor and director David Ferry, poet Damian Rogers, urban thinker John Lorinc, and many more. Each event has been curated to create a mise-en-scène, placing writers and other artists into a dynamic, media-rich context. Most PUB presentations are divided into two acts: in the first, the artists present their works on screen while talking about their ideas; in the second, a discussion is held in which all of the presenters converse about themes that naturally arise from their mutual works.

On Opening Night, May 7, filmmaker, author and installation artist Guy Maddin will discuss his unique narrative strategies with Robert Enright, Senior Contributing Editor of Border Crossings. Maddin’s love of surrealism, decadent literature and early cinema continues to influence his work. Featuring clips from Guy’s newest film, Forbidden Room, this event will be an eye-opening experience for literature lovers, film connoisseurs, and storytellers alike.

Friday night, May 8, will feature two events, starting at 7pm with Storytellers: Literature and Film. Pages UnBound’s artists will be Martyn Burke, Ann Shin and Mike Hoolboom, accompanied by moderator Susan G. Cole. What brings these artists together? Well, some artists visualize while others write prose. Some artists—Burke, Shin and Hoolboom–do both. These three artists direct films and write books. In a far-ranging set of presentations and discussion, their creative processes will be explored.

At 9pm, the festival’s theme is What Women Write. The concept of “women’s fiction,” and the categorization of female writers has been actively discussed and increasingly disputed over the past decade. This event will feature a group of talentedand highly uniquefemale authors, who are as interested in the topic of discussion as critics and readers. Hosted by writer/thinker Zoe di Novi, it features Canada Reads award-winner Heather O’Neill, science essayist Zoe Cormier, science fiction writer Sarah Hemstra and novelist/musician Suzanne Alyssa Andrew.

On Saturday night, May 9, at 7pm, PUB presents The Virtual Coffee Table: Photobooks in the Digital Age. Photographers Geoffrey James, Lana Slezic and Vincenzo Pietropaolo will use visual and oral techniques to showcase their stunning work, and participate in a panel discussion about the future direction of one of the most gratifying and viable forms: the photobook.

At 9pm, writer and musician Whitney Smith and I will revive The Cabaret of Wild Culture. A cult event on Queen Street in the ‘90s, the Cabaret is a late-night, vaudeville-esque entertainment, presenting a wide swath of performing art forms – from the culinary arts to songs in other languages, from modern dance to ancient foraging techniques, from poetry to comedy.

Presenters and performances in the Cabaret will include:
Tony Calzetta, David Ferry, Leon Rooke and the students of the Randolph Academy in Fabulous Fictions & Peculiar Practices, wood-walking with Bob Nasmith, StorySlide with Bruce Powe, Andrea Thompson & Marc Hallworth, Lee Maracle and mythmaking, Andrea Thompson in a spoken solo, Zoe Cormier and the Science of Hedonism, horror with Gemma Files, the music and movement of Mexico with Alec Dempster and Café Con Pan, Cathy Petch in drag, a modern dance piece by Nicole Rose Bond, cantora Portuguese with Elizabeth Bettencourt, and comedian Nigel Grinstead.

On Sunday afternoon, May 10, at 3pm, Pages UnBound will present The Sound of Literature. Writer and editor Jessica Duffin Wolfe hosts
a trio of oral as well as written talents: poet and teacher Damian Rogers, CBC radio nerd Tom Howell and spoken word scholar Katherine McLeod. From poetry on stage to literature on the radio, this panel considers—and listens to—the noisy conversation between audio and creative language.


Concluding Pages UnBound at 7pm is The Ward: Slums to Skyscrapers. Hosted by Peabody award winner Gerry Flahive, this event focuses on “the ward” a vanished downtown neighbourhood, which housed waves of immigrants to Toronto—Irish, African-American, Jewish, Chinese and Italian, among others. Stemming from a new Coach House Book, editors and contributors John Lorinc, Michael McClelland, Vincenzo Pietropaolo, and Ellen Scheinberg will take the stage to present The Ward in three distinct ways: as Toronto’s old “arrival city,” as the area where artists thrived (and continue to do so), and as it is now, a legacy. This presentation will offer unique insights into this staple Toronto neighbourhood, why it ceased to be, and its meaning today.

Pages UnBound is an attempt to break down the silos between the arts. It’s a festival that embraces digital technology, screen art, music and, of course, literature. We bill ourselves “the literary festival for the 21st century.” Cheeky, yes—but maybe it’s the truth.

Written by Marc Glassman
Adjunct Professor, Ryerson University
Director, Pages UnBound: the festival and series
Editor, POV Magazine
Editor, Montage Magazine
Film Critic, The New Classical FM
Film programmer, Planet in Focus

Tune in to hear Marc Glassman’s Art Reviews
Friday’s at 9:07am on Good Day GTA.

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