Ryerson’s New Voices Festival brings enthralling stories and performances

The nearly sold-out audience is silent. Two women in colourful outfits enter the large stage with clown noses on their faces. They start talking to the audience and the rest is followed with laughs, dancing, and great acting both through physical comedy and with dialogue. Throughout the first several minutes of the performance, you realize this feels nothing like a student-run production. But it is. This was Boy Friendzy, one of the six performances on Monday night at Ryerson’s annual New Voices Festival.

The first night of the festival was diverse in performances. From dances to comedies to dramatic stage plays, there was something for nearly everyone. Some were funny, sad, happy, or sometimes all three and more. But all the performances had one thing in common. They made you think.  They all had a purpose, a message to convey to their audience. Each performance had relevant themes we see in life, whether it was talking about an ex-boyfriend or coming out to your parents.

A hilarious short comedy, Pastor Draya, dealt with transgender issues. This was an obvious standout that had the audience laughing after the first several lines from lead Robert Iannuzzielle. He played a transgender woman, who’s secretly an agent for God trying to perform an exorcism on a woman to get rid of the devil inside of her. The performance was funny and well acted, especially from the lead, while tying in a strong message about acceptance.

All of the performances were anything but traditional in the best possible way. One clever part in Boy Friendzy highlighted the plights of a student-run production by having the music not work properly and the dancers, along with parts of the audience sing the songs that were supposed to play.

Fortunately, this depiction wasn’t a reality for any of the performances. The hard work put into the performances really shone through. There were no awkward lines, poor acting or offbeat dancing.

With six performances in the span of two and a half hours all of the pieces felt like the proper length and never dragged on. Overall, you could really see the time and effort that all of these students put into these performances whether through the acting, directing or writing. Although the show might seem pricey with its $10 per act price tag, it was well worth it. The performances Monday night were 4am, E.V.O.L., Pastor Draya, Boy Friendzy, Douleur and Coyotes.

Featured image courtesy of Maya Findlay