The 2017 Harolds Sham-Cast: A Special Presentation of The Bellows / by Michael Kruse

Detail from a painting of Harold Kandel by Kirsten Johnson

Detail from a painting of Harold Kandel by Kirsten Johnson

On June 13th, Toronto theatre artists were feted again by the irreverent and always random Harold Awards. Established in 1995 by 13 bad-ass independent theatre artists, the awards have wound their way through the theatre community, establishing a timeline of independent theatre creators that have pushed the boundaries and held everything together in the Toronto theatre scene.  The new artists are "Harolded" by the previous year's winners, who look for theatre creators who inspire them professionally, or personally, or surrealistically and come from all aspects of the theatre, on stage and off. Stage managers, producers, educators, administrators designers and yes actors and directors make up all of the recipients of what Daniel MacIvor has called "the most important award a theatre artist can win".

See the Harold's webpage for the history of the award, named after Harold Kandel, an eccentric and vocal theatre lover who became an entrenched theatre super-fan and who was loved and who, when he started talking back to the actors on stage during a show, could instill that cold sweat that let you know you had to pull out all of your acting chops to make it through that performance, or risk being heckled!

The Ken McDougall award for directing, sponsored originally by Platform 9, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, and Theatre Passe Muraille is the only prize that comes with cash and was added in 1996 to honor the passing of Ken McDougall, a leading director in the Toronto Indy scene. In 2012, the year that I was one of the organizing artists as a Haroldee from 2011, we established the Barbara Fingerote Award to honor the great and unswerving volunteers without whom no theatre could operate in Toronto. Barbara Fingerote is a volunteer, now retired but who keeps getting pulled back in, who was to be found at every indie theater in Toronto at one time or another and who stood for the love we all have of theatre. 

The Bellows crew was asked to come and record the show and interview some folks during it, and as you will find out, was a target of a classic Harold's ruse. While in some years the recipients were told they were winning, most years, it is kept a secret, and it is part of the game to see if you can get your Haroldee to the party without them knowing. They can't prepare and the surprise is everything. 

If you work or aspire to work in the Toronto theatre scene, you will not be disappointed in this edited version (at 1:20, it is a might bit shorter than the 2 hrs it usually takes) and you will hear interviews conducted by Pip Bradford and Rebecca Hooton with some past and present inductees into the awards interspersed in the show.

OH! A quick note - in the extro I mention it was recorded at Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto, but that was a mistake - it was recorded at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre!