“The love that dare not speak it’s name has become the love that won’t shut up.”–from TOLLER – Sky Gilbert
Sky Gilbert is a queer writer, actor, director, filmmaker, academic, and drag performer. Born in Norwich, Connecticut, he studied theatre at York University and at the University of Toronto, before co-founding of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, He has written and produced numerous plays that explore sexuality and/or queerness in some fashion. Considered by some to be the ‘grandmother of queer theatre’, Sky’s work is always provocative, often to the point of controversy which has become synonymous with his work, but also gives audiences an entry point into concepts that might normally be out of reach.
Sky’s latest production is TOLLER: A Performance by Toller Cranston, a fictional one-act presentation in which Toller Cranston muses on his life and times. Inspired by Cranston’s 1997 memoir Zero Tollerance: An Intimate Memoir by The Man That Revolutionized Figure Skating.
Toller Cranston died suddenly earlier this year at a relatively young age of 65. The Olympic Bronze medalist, born in Hamilton, was always a controversial personality. Sky Gilbert considers Toller Cranston a historical gay figure much in the ‘old school closeted’ style of Noel Coward and Liberace. Uncomfortable with gay liberation, Cranston instead preferred to position himself as a creative outsider rather than as a homosexual.
The play allows Toller Cranston himself to speak about his life and his sexuality through an artful performance of the famous figure skater’s own devising. TOLLER boldly confronts issues of sexuality, identity, and hypocrisy, ultimately painting the portrait of a fierce, frightened, heroic, and very wounded gay man.
David Benjamin Tomlinson stars as Toller Cranston.
TOLLER: A Performance by Toller Cranston recently played that Hamilton Fringe Festival, and there are plans to have it performed at other venues across Canada as well.