Cheap Theatre in Toronto for the Week of January 28th, 2013

Five for Twenty (Or Less)

Theatre transfixes us. It pushes our buttons, it inspires, transports, engages and enrages us. It prompts us to ask questions and elicits reactions. Sometimes it makes us smile, sometimes it makes us cry, and sometimes it makes us do both at the same time. While any particular work of theatre, in its completed form, can have these effects (and more), there’s still more to learned and understood about the process of creating theatre.

Who are those people standing on stage, speaking poetry and subtext? Throwing themselves into the guise of character after character, sometimes only exaggerated extensions of themselves and sometimes someone entirely different? Our budget theatre picks for the week present our much-loved thespians -that is to say: actors- showcased in all their glory. From pared down solo pieces, to reconsiderings of famous characters, to brand new works, take a little peek into the green room.

Actors! Canadian Actors Up Close And Personal by Melissa Major (The Cheshire Unicorn). A scripted performance unfolds while the audience interacts with the performers to learn the ins and outs of living as an actor. Opens Jan 31 and runs to Feb 9. $10. Winchester Kitchen & Bar, 51A Winchester.

Festival Of Original Theatre (U of T Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies/Drama Centre Students’ Union). The conference and festival features panel presentations, discussions and innovative theatre performances. Feb 1-3. Free. Robert Gill Theatre, 214 College.

Rare by Judith Thompson (Young Centre for the Performing Arts). This collage of real-life stories is put on by an ensemble of co-creators/performers with Down syndrome. Opens Jan 28 and runs to Feb 7. $15-$30. 50 Tank House Lane. 416-866-8666,

Shakespeare’s Nigga by Joseph Jomo Pierre (Obsidian Theatre/3D Atomic/Theatre Passe Muraille). Two iconic black characters, Shakespeare’s Othello and Titus Andronicus’s Aaron, confront their creator. Previews Feb 2-6. Opens Feb 7 and runs to Feb 23. $15-$35. Theatre Passe Muraille, 16 Ryerson. 416-504-7529,

Toronto Monologue Slam (TMS). Up-and-coming actors deliver intimate and electrifying performances. Feb 1 doors 7 pm. $10-$15. Johnny Jackson, 587 College. 647-780-2513,