Every Theatre Community Should Have Its Harold

Not to be confused with “herald”, the Harold Awards are a novel Toronto theatre institution.

I stumbled upon the announcement for the 2016 shenanigans in NOW Toronto and after visiting the web site I said to myself “Oh I have to see this!”

These unique awards to commitment, passion and ingenuity in the labor of love which is indie theatre, have as their inspiration Toronto’s legendary “Theatregeist” Harold Kandel.  After a bit of rousing welcome music by the Uncle Red Foundation the evening kicked off with a video featuring poignantly humorous testimonials by theatre artists who had experienced firsthand the rite of passage which was having Harold Kandel in the audience.

There truly are no people like show people.

Live performance engenders a brand of solidarity very different from any you might find in film or television.  There is an immediacy and a candor in the theatre which you rarely find on set.  This is never more evident than in independent theatre which is something akin to being at sea on an old galleon in a storm: everyone on board is essential.  If you f*&k up you are definitely going to hear about it, but if you do something right you are (usually) going to hear about that too.  Also once you have weathered the storm and pulled into port you will usually be overcome by a deep yearning to do it all again.

The event.

I genuinely feel privileged to have been present at the love fest which was the 2016 Harold Awards.  Nobody knew who the f*&k I was or why the f*&k I was there – but I did, and it was wonderful to be part of it even if only as a “fly” at the bar.  Everyone in attendance was luminous and the mutual admiration, respect and good humor was tangible.

The venue.

Host to this auspicious gathering was the Cadillac Lounge, a funky, honky tonk joint on west Queen west.  The victuals included, among other things, deep fried mac & cheese, a north American delicacy I had not previously had the opportunity to sample.  The service was quick and cordial and the atmosphere jolly, a good time was had by all.

My evening at the Harold Awards definitely ranks very high on my list of experiences one is extremely unlikely to have anywhere but Toronto.  I have no doubt in my mind that Toronto’s independent theatre community is a force not only to be reckoned with, but also to be supported and applauded.

Victoria Andre King is a freelance writer and audiovisual professional her novel The Führer Must Die is available for pre-orders and will be released on November 8th 2016 with Yucca Publications, an imprint of Sky Horse Publishing NYC.

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