I saw Lesbian Speed Date from Hell this past Sunday and having experienced the emotional rollercoaster of the piece, I was curious as to how it all came about. I had the opportunity to email back and forth with the show’s producer Christina Saliba and she gave me some fascinating insights.

The show was originally submitted to be part of Festival De La Bête Noire, Montreal’s first ever horror-themed festival. One of their writers had an idea for a piece about speed dating.

Saliba’s own experiences with lesbian speed dating events at the popular queer hangout Notre Dame des Quilles and the interesting date encounters she had at them really helped the story come together.

Saliba explains that when she saw the call for submissions for Festival De La Bête Noire, she jumped at the opportunity not only to present something queer-centric, as many working on the production identify as queer, but also to present horror comedy.

“Horror-comedy is a genre that is not commonly seen on stage. The horror aspects of the show are boundary pushing, not only for the audience but for the artists involved. Horror allows you to sit within your fears and anxieties and face them in a safe and controlled environment. There certainly may be some triggering moments for some audience goers as it is a show that tests limitations. However, the comedy aspect to it provides that relief and comfort. It’s a fantastic juxtaposition of genres and a fun medium to work in.”

Many people primarily associate horror comedy with The Evil Dead movies starring Bruce Campbell, so I was intrigued as to what it meant to someone putting on a show of that genre.

“I would say it is more outlandish, over the top, and hysterical rather than gore, terror, and horror. The comedy takes you out of the horror fantasy.”

The cast of Lesbian Speed Dating came from diverse backgrounds including comedy, sketch, improv, TV, and film. For Saliba, this diversity of perspectives elevates the show. While auditions were held, some of the show’s talent were deliberately sought out because of their unique talents.

“The structure and the script are there, but they are all so talented that they bring in the occasional ad-libbing and improv. Half of the team falls under the queer umbrella, as authenticity, particularly with our leads, was essential for me.”

Though the show only ran for two nights during Festival De La Bête Noire, Saliba couldn’t let it die. She had her sights set on it being part of Just for Laughs and a cast member suggested it be part of Pride’s programming. Saliba hopes to eventually take the show on tour internationally.

Lesbian Speed Date from Hell is a true horror comedy. Following a successful run at the Mainline Theatre as part of Off- JFL/Zoofest, it’s back as part of Montreal Pride’s official programming. Presented by Pride along with Christina Saliba, the show is funny and scary, and for abuse survivors, it can be triggering.

The play revolves around Jackie (Katharine King So), a young lesbian who is grudgingly attending a speed dating event hosted by her friend and neighbor Regina (Kathy Slamen). Regina is your typical lesbian cougar. In case you had any doubts, Slamen’s costumes consist of mostly of leopard print, and her portrayal is a hilarious mix of sassy, maternal, and raunchy.

At the event, Jackie meets Amy (Martha Graham), an awkward blonde, Natalie (Alexandra Laferriere), a beautiful black lesbian jonesing for Regina, Kyle (Jeroem Lindeman), a stereotypical dudebro and Ashley (Kate Hammer), a former one-night stand of Jackie’s with a big grudge.

What follows is a display of awkward conversations, hilarious facial expressions, and uncomfortable torture scenes.

Hammer’s portrayal of Ashley is at once horrific and riveting. All the time she’s on stage you never doubt her anger, her malice, or her psychosis. Her madness is believable yet just over the top enough to keep the play from being too real.

King So’s Jackie is a perfect foil for Ashley’s crazy. Her screams are bone-chillingly realistic and her fear and outrage appropriate.

Survivors of abuse will likely find the interaction between Jackie and Ashley uncomfortably triggering as there is blood and violence and accurate portrayals of pain. But there is enough humour in the play to balance it out.

The fight choreography is hilariously done in slow motion and with more courtesy than one would expect in a struggle between a psychotic murderer and a desperate victim. There are murder mystery clichés like the strategic use of on and off lighting, and Jeroen Lindeman’s Kyle is amusingly obnoxious and a reminder of why our culture needs more feminist entertainment like this.

That said, if you’re an abuse survivor go in prepared to be a little uncomfortable and reassure yourself that with the horror comes plenty to laugh about. For everyone else, be prepared to laugh, cry, and gasp in horror.

It’s an emotional rollercoaster of a show, but it’s worth it.

Lesbian Speed Date From Hell runs until August 16, tickets available through Montreal Pride

The theatre is dark, the rules are announced, and the band breaks into America the Beautiful as a solitary figure in a blonde wig and cape approaches the stage. Waiting is the band and a drag king in leather jacket, denim, and do-rag, with the sad-downcast eyes of a domestic abuse victim. The figure approaches the mic and in a reveal reminiscent of FranknFurter in the Rocky Horror Show, the cloak is opened to reveal a facsimile of the Berlin wall, and Hedwig and the Angry Inch’s title character breaks into the show’s first song Tear Me Down.

Following a successful run in November 2018, In the Wings’ Promotions’ production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch was invited to be part of Montreal Pride’s official programming. As director and the show’s Yitzhak Noelle Hannibal put it:

“The show is so iconic in the community, that it’s the perfect fit for Pride.”

The venue has changed from Cabaret Mado to Café Cléopatre, but aside from a few enhancements, the show is every bit as riveting as during its first run.

For those of you unfamiliar with Hedwig and the Angry Inch, it is the brainchild of actor John Cameron Mitchell and musician Stephen Trask, who developed the off-Broadway show which then became a cult film and from there a Broadway show starring Neil Patrick Harris. The show is about a slip of a girly boy from communist East Berlin and is a blend of glam and punk rock, politics, and gender bending, with tunes so catchy even the biggest curmudgeon will be dancing in their seat.

Trask was a major part of the first Montreal run, sitting on dress rehearsals and answering Hannibal’s texts as needed. The result is a show that’s more than just pretty makeup, gender-reversals, and catchy tunes.

In my review of the show’s first run, I noted that the relationship between Hedwig – played by New York based actor Andrew Morrissey, and Noelle Hannibal’s Yitzhak was interpreted as one of domestic abuse. In this rendition that portrayal is enhanced with more passive aggression by Yitzhak – there are muttered curses, and spitting, and Yitzhak’s eyes seethe with the hatred of the powerless for their oppressor.

Morrissey’s Hedwig contains more deference for Yitzhak’s talent, as if the abuse comes from the recognition that her talent is no match for Yitzhak’s and she can only shine by putting him down. It provided more nuance to the characters from a script that by Hannibal’s own admission, had very little to guide them.

Morrissey’s Hedwig is much improved from the November run. Though his German accent is on and off and his voice is occasionally pitchy, you see more madness behind the makeup, more sincerity behind the line:

“I’ll laugh because I’ll cry if I don’t.”

With this more nuanced portrayal is all the sass and sex the part requires, and Morrissey pulls that off beautifully.

As important to the production as its stars are the band and costumes. Hedwig undergoes multiple costume changes during the show and designer Sig Moser clearly understood what the show is all about.

“He was very familiar with the show and the film version and brought in some fantastic ideas that would work with our extremely tight, indie budget. He can whip up a dress in an hour,” said Hannibal, whose own costumes were tweaked to work better for this run.

The outfits are an amazing mix of showmanship, denim, leather, lace, and sequins, a true nod to music genres you’ll live during the show.

The band, made up of Ian Baird, Kevin Bourne, Stephen Menold, and Sebastian Balk-Forcione, are not passive background musicians, but people who must actively interact with Hedwig and Yitzhak on stage. Though I wished the tempo of Tear Me Down was a bit quicker, the band did not disappoint. Decked out in punk rock pieces and colored hair, they are an amazing accompaniment to a show that features glam and punk rock in all its glory.

That said, the show is iconic for a reason, so come with an open mind. You won’t be disappointed!

The current run of Hedwig and the Angry Inch finishes tonight. Tickets available through HedwigMontreal.com

I hold my fist in the air to represent resistance, to show that together we are stronger, hands ready to fight back against oppression and hate. A raised, clenched fist, is a symbol of support and solidarity with others. It expresses power, strength, unity, and defiance.

Fists for freedom! Revolution is now, things must change with a heavy hand. The fist salute dates back to ancient Assyria. It was then and still is a symbol of resistance in the face of violence.

It was used widely in the Black Panther movement, Anarchist and Communist groups, labor unions, civil rights activists, leftists, and other subversive anti-establishment groups that challenge the status quo.

Food Not Bombs uses a purple fist with a carrot in it as their logo. Protesters against Trump’s order to ban immigrants from Muslim countries have also used the fist as a symbol of HELL NO!

Even though the fist is a popular visual signifier of defiance and solidarity, Angela Davis did not throw up her fist at the Women’s March on Washington DC as she did famously during the Black Panther movement of the 60s. She knew that women were holding signs with words that were to heavy to carry the real weight: Black Lives Matter.

Donald Trump decided to throw up his disgusting tiny little limp fist during his inauguration speech and I almost puked. This world appropriates everything, the same thing happened with the swastika.

The fist in the air is meant to be a genuine political statement and not an emogii, not something trivial. This is not a peace sign or smiley face, it is the symbol of a revolt.

American runners John Carlos and Tommy Smith (both people of color) raised their fists in an iconic stance during the medal ceremony at the 1968 Olympic games. It was a poignant salute to civil rights and a bold stance against racism in sports and beyond.

The co-opting of the raised fist as a patriotic symbol is ridiculous. It is ironic when politicians use it, since it is really about fighting white men in suits. Bernie Sanders raised his fist, Gloria Steinem raised hers, so many white people trying to be progressive and intersectional are actually just appropriating and acting like fucking saviors.

We need to stand in solidarity but understand we are different. We have not suffered like the people we raise our fist too. Our struggle must be to dismantle white supremacy and band together, organize and resist. We need to lift up those who have been discriminated against. Communicate resistance now!

The raised fist does not mean aggression or dominance. It is the power of the people united. The manifestation of physical strength.

I carry a rubber fist with me at Pride parades and protests because it is controversial. The fist gets more attention than the flowers in my hair or the glitter on my lips. A giant flopping dildo fist. It’s heavy. I feel like I was going to dislocate my pinky finger just flailing it around. It is an extension of my own proud and filthy fist of fury.

During the Pride parade I always extend the fist so people can fist bump it, which is always a crowd pleaser, especially with little kids, they have no idea. I love when people react to it, like holy shit is that a fist? Yes, it is. Her name is Ivana Punishu.

I bought the fist on Valentine’s day with a good friend of mine. It was in the clearance bin because the package had been cracked, score! We took it home and put fake tattoos all over it. Years later it is still the funniest and most shocking thing I own. I love bringing it out in public as a conversation starter.

Fisting as a sex act is an oddity of the porn world that most of us have rarely experienced in real life. Not all lesbians go elbow deep in each other as one might imagine.

There are safe ways to practice the art of fisting which involve stretching and relaxing, there are certain positions the hand must be in, and definitely a lot of lubrication. I have only done that once, and it was crazy. Not anything I would want to do again to be honest with you.

My gynecologist was definitely perplexed. So I carry the rubber fist to symbolize not only the freedom fist of solidarity but for the disenfranchised and used porn stars, the people who do what they want in bed and explore the depths of each others bodies, the ones who push their own limits and challenge what society accepts as normal, and all that is taboo.

Fisting is about love and trust, a deep bond not to be taken lightly.

Drawing hands is so hard. The intricate bends and puffy parts, the scars and wrinkles, the perfect lighting, strange contortions and artist license. In art a fist represents so much. In life you can bump fists, a popular greeting, or you can throw your fist in the air in protest. Fighters and rioters , olympians and bros, and people at rap shows all throw the fist in the air. Punching at the invisible barbed wire fence over head, reaching toward a god that does not exist. Thrusting through the cold air overhead the fist stands above proudly, regal, and beautiful.

Featured in the Washington Post: Inaguration Day

Fists of fury wild eyed wonderful. Bare knuckle bruiser, fighting, scrapping, pounding, heavy handed hard hitter, smack, and pummel into smithereens. A boxer with fists taped in puffy red gloves, protective mits to ease the blow, lessen the chance of breaking a hand or a face, cracking a skull, causing death or even worse- disgrace.

I want my fists to come in peace. Kind hands, hands reaching out with food and love, hands that caress smooth skin on warm summer sundress afternoons, they pet cats and scratch dogs behind the ear.

Callused, covered in scales, double jointed, strange hands, big hands, pleasure tentacles, appendages that really get the job done, hands that craft things, hands that make art, and love. My hands hold other hands, clenching at flowers and carrots, reaching up to the sky with honor and dignity.

Throw your fist in the air because you care. It matters.

When I think of the word pride I automatically think of the LGBTQ community, I think of the Stonewall activists, I think of my gay, lesbian, transgender and queer warriors that have paved the rainbow brick road for me to love as I see fit. The stone dykes and sweet twinks who have danced and marched to overcome stigma. These sparkly strong freedom and equality yearning hearts beating broken down by a society meant to be straight and white. The fallen brothers and sisters who have been left dead in dumpsters due to crimes of hate.

Denial of rights and basic necessities or even your life due to who you take to bed at night or which bathroom you use? There is nothing easy about this life. How can anybody accuse someone of choosing to be tortured or forcing physically healthy people into cruel, painful conversion therapy to normalize them.

I can’t believe in some ways we have come so far but still trans women of color die by the handfuls each week. Still LGBTQ youth are targeted, still people cannot even take a piss safely. If we can pee in peace we can be in peace.

Pride is a word that has been appropriated by a disenfranchised community of misfits and perfectly fits where hearts and not parts are what matters, love is love is love is lovely. Pride is seeing the Gay Straight Alliance that you helped start in high school with your friends (because there wasn’t one) march in the Pride parade. Pride is knowing that a silly little club is actually a safe place that saves lives. Pride is knowing two trans women that needed to be there.

I know that I am meant to be part of great things. I am proud that I can be part of things that help others. My pride is in my community. We promote visibility, self-affirmation, dignity, accessibility, and freedom from the binding of heteronormativity.


Pride is standing up for what you believe in, it is not backing down when faced with unjust adversity. I will not live in a world where being honest with yourself and simply telling the truth is impossible.

Censorship and evil gender expectations within a racist capitalist system of oppression that dates back to the dawn of government. Pride is a celebration of diversity. Pride should be about love and not about hate.

Many groups fight for their proper slice of humanity. Pride can be used to describe the Native Americans at Standing Rock, being beat down for protecting the water. We should all have more pride in our Earth.

Pride is a single mother surviving and making sure her children are safe and warm. Pride is the immigrant family who didn’t stand down when the brick was thrown through their business, they have seen a lot worse. Pride is connected to culture and struggle, to diaspora and overcoming oppression.

Black Pride is a movement encouraging people to take pride in being black, Asian pride is a positive stance on being Asian, and White Pride is a slogan used by white supremacists, neo-nazis,and racists.

Isn’t it interesting when pride becomes one of those mortal sins that everyone with Christian guilt is so afraid of? Good ol’ american pride is always taken too far, these are the same folks who voted for trump (I am purposefully not capitalizing his name and spell check gives it a pass because trump is a real word).

The American dream is exclusive to those who came here willingly. The American dream excludes those bonded by slavery, those who were raped and pillaged, their hopes and dreams burned to the ground.

White is not something to be proud of. I am proud of my Polish, Irish and Scottish roots for sure, but not proud of what the color my skin represents. Raping Natives of their land and stealing others from their native lands and forcing them into slavery, and then a history of oppressive behavior and supremacy, nah, no pride in that ,bro.

I was always taught to be proud of myself and my accomplishments, but also to practice humility and be humble. The spotlight needs to shine on others once in awhile, but bask in it when the heat is on your face.

Praising and supporting others is crucial. We need each other to survive. Love and a deeper connection to all humanity is the only answer. I am proud to be pansexual, I used to be bisexual but not I do not believe in the gender binary, hearts not parts!

Last year I went on a adventure alone to California. I couch surfed and then eventually ended up at San Francisco PRIDE. It was magical, so much beauty and talent, but I was missing something, MY FRIENDS!

Pride is about lifting each other up and feeding off of the positivity of the ones you love. Pride was dead inside, it was cold without the warm embrace of my people. Pride means standing up with and for others. It means taking off your hat to a diverse and ticking world.

I am pissed that the Buffalo Pride celebration is going to cost $10 to get into. This festival was always free, then last year it was $5, now this? I do not understand how capitalism and gentrification always ooze in and taint the fun. A reminder that we have so much more to fight.

This festival is now not all inclusive. It is a direct disrespect to the poor, to those who already lack in privilege. So lets take the streets!

Get ready for the party, I have 5 shows this week. My boobs are going to be sore from all the tassel revolutions.

I love riding my trike through the sea of bliss. A safe place in a scary world. Pride weekend is like Christmas only better, I love everything that this time represents, rainbow flags and smiling fags, dykes on bikes and queers with booty shirts, unicorns and drag queens, trans men and non binary beauties. This is the time to let your freak flag show.

There will be the haters saying we will go to hell, but I bet hell has a better DJ anyways. There is no conversion therapy here, only a celebration of what makes us unique and the differences that connect and suppress us. Even if it’s sunny this parade always gets rained on, which is fine because we love rainbows.

Forget The Box’s weekly Arts Calendar is back for its early November edition. The chill has definitely returned to Montreal, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to lock ourselves indoors yet! Take a look at these excellent events if you’re looking for fun and inexpensive things to check out!

As always; if you’re interested in going to one of these events and want to cover it for us, send a message  or leave a comment below.

Bareoke presented by Glam Gam

No stranger to performing in local strip clubs with the burlesque troupe Glam Gam, Lipster’s organizers realized this type of venue would surely allow them to transform their karaoke show into Stripster!

Now you can find them the first Saturday of every month at the historic Café Cléopâtre, which comes equipped with a large stage, a smoke machine and crazy lighting which allows people to take their performances to the next level.

Glam Gam’s organizers have made an important step in making the space open for everyone, according to their Facebook event page : “We are thrilled to have performers of all different backgrounds, ages, body types, gender identities and sexualities. Some people will take off just a sock, others will get down to their skivvies and a lot of brave souls prance around in their birthday suits! The best part is that everyone respects and encourages each other’s boundaries with little to no policing on our part.”

Come see what all the fuss is about!

Bareoke @ Café Cléopâtre, 1230 St Laurent, Saturday, November 5, 10PM, $5

FTB is no stranger to Glam Gam!
FTB is no stranger to Glam Gam!

Fishbowl Collective Presents: An Anti-War Art Pop-up

The Fishbowl Collective will be occupying a studio space in Griffintown and filling it with art of all kinds against war/militarism of any kind!

At 8:30, the space will be taken over by anti-war Pierrots in an hour-long version of Theatre Workshop’s Oh What a Lovely War!

From 9:30-11 the space will act as a showcase for local artists to show their work!

Local anti-war organizations will be tabling in the space.

Oh What A Lovely War's Theatrical Poster
Oh What A Lovely War’s Theatrical Poster

Using songs and documents of the period, Oh What a Lovely War! is an epic theatrical chronicle of the horrors of WWI as presented by a seaside pierrot troupe. It was collectively created by Theatre Workshop in 1963 under Joan Littlewood, and over 50 years later remains unique in its innovative satiric way of looking at the difficult subject of war and its futility. Its dismissal of sentimentality and its distinct anti-war-agit-prop flavour highlights the oppression of the working stiff turned common soldier and points to the absurdity involved in war.

141 Rue Ste Ann, Pay What You Can (All Proceeds go to Actions Réfugiés Montréal)

Pride Screening presented by Socialist Fightback!

Socialist Fightback is screening Pride (2014) at McGill University’s Shatner Building in Room 202 this Wednesday. Entrance is FREE, and a spirited discussion is sure to follow. Curious about what “Solidarity” means to the LGBT community? Check this movie out.

Pride offers an excellent example of solidarity along class lines. Between 1981-1984, the British government under Margaret Thatcher had closed around 20 mining pits and coal mining employment continued to fall. The miners’ strike of 1984-85 was a major industrial action to shut down the British coal industry in an attempt to prevent colliery closures.

Also victims of Thatcher’s bigotry and conservative policies, gays and lesbians came together to collect funds and sustain the miner’s strike. Although reluctant at first, the miners accepted the support from the LGSM.

Pride is a great demonstration of how class unity is the best and most effective way of fighting against all types of oppression.

Pride is screening in the Shatner Building Room 202 @ McGill University, November 9, 7pm, FREE

 

Is there an event that should be featured in Shows This Week? Maybe something FTB should cover, too? Let us know at arts@forgetthebox.net. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!