Introducing The Varsity’s Chinese website | The Varsity中文网推介

A letter from the editor

Introducing <em>The Varsity</em>’s Chinese website | <em>The Varsity</em>中文网推介

For years, The Varsity has been catering to a diverse audience. The University of Toronto is home to an array of students of varying nationalities, many of whom speak and read in languages other than English. As the university’s student newspaper of record, we strive to have this diversity reflected in our coverage.

In June we were approached by a recently-developed campus-based not-for-profit organization called the Listeners — a club run by Chinese international students for Chinese international students — with an ambitious proposal for a new way of engaging international Chinese students in campus media.

During the 2016–2017 academic year, the university had 17,452 international students, 9,187 of whom were from China. Despite comprising 11% of the university’s population, rarely is this large group fully recognized in campus media.

So, in tandem with the Listeners, we spent the last few months creating The Varsity’s Chinese website a project dedicated to student journalism written and translated in simplified Chinese.

As of now, the articles posted on the website are ones that were previously published in English and have since been translated by a dedicated team of volunteer students. Following each of our weekly in-print issues, this team of students will translate some of the articles from the most recent issue of The Varsity into Chinese.

We hope to expand this project beyond translations too; ideally, the website will serve as an opportunity for students interested in writing and editing in simplified Chinese to contribute to The Varsity with their original works. 

With this initiative comes a multitude of possibilities. It’s an opportunity to expand the accessibility of our coverage to one of U of T’s largest populations, and, of equal importance, it’s an opportunity to encourage aspiring writers, editors, and journalists to get involved.

We hope you enjoy reading The Varsity’s Chinese edition; undoubtedly, we’ll enjoy bringing it to you.


多年以来,The Varsity 一直服务于不同背景的读者。多伦多大学就像一个大家庭一样,除了本国的学生以外,家里还住着来自五湖四海的留学生。大家国籍不同,其中许多人除了英语外,还使用其他语言。

作为学校官方学生报刊,我们力求在报道中体现出这种多样性。

今年6月,新晋校园非盈利组织解聆人(The Listeners)和我们取得了联系。其由中国留学生发起并运营,旨在为中国留学生服务——他们目标宏大,希望通过一种全新的方式,让中国留学生更加充分地享受到校园媒体福利。多伦多大学有近13800名国际学生,其中中国留学生人数超过10000,然而这样庞大的群体却从未受到校园媒体的全情关注。

因此,The Varsity 联合解聆人(The Listeners)投入数月时间打造了The Varsity中文网,该网站所有新闻均由学生撰写,翻译成简体中文后,向公众投放。

截止目前,该网站上发布的所有文章均为英文撰稿,后经专门的学生志愿者团队译为中文。每周The Varsity期刊排版印刷后,志愿者团队将会把其中最贴近中国留学生的文章翻译成中文。

我们希望The Varsity中文网的职能不仅仅停留在翻译阶段,现在的设想是,通过这个网站为更多对中文写作与编辑感兴趣的学生提供一个机会,让他们直接在The Varsity上发表自己的作品。

这项创举将会引发无数可能性。通过这次机会为中国学生,多大最庞大的学生群体之一,扩宽了接触我们报道的途径;同样重要的是,这也是一次鼓励,鼓励所有母语不是加拿大校园媒体惯用语种但有志向的写手、编辑和记者加入媒体团队的机会。

The Varsity竭诚奉上中文版读物,期待你也能享受其中。

Redefining relationships: students share stories of romance in 2017

Four writers break down traditional notions of sex, love, and break-ups

Redefining relationships: students share stories of romance in 2017

Five months later

A third-year discusses mental health and why he hasn’t had sex in five months

By Avneet Sharma

I haven’t had sex in five months. No, I don’t want pity, and I don’t think of it as a big deal. It’s simply a matter of fact. To be honest, it never occurred to me until I started thinking about it.

Part of the reason I haven’t had sex is that one of the side-effects of my medication involves a decrease of my sex drive, although my sex drive is already low on average. The other part is that I find myself making a decision, almost subconsciously, to only pursue sex with someone I can connect with on a deep personal level.

I’m not looking for ‘the one’ or anything like that. I’m far too cynical to believe in the concept that there is a perfect person out there for me, nor do I believe that I will find this supposed perfect person in my early 20s. I guess I’m looking for a relationship.

One of my biggest priorities lately has been my mental health. I’ve taken time this summer to focus on my health, well-being, and becoming a happier person in general. For the most part, I feel a lot more confident in myself. I want to reach a point where I don’t need a relationship, but want a relationship.

The most difficult part about stating this is that I’m currently tip-toeing the fine line between being hopeful and being desperate, and I’m trying my best to be the former. I have felt a certain pressure, especially within the gay community, to pursue casual or anonymous sex. It has become something of a rite of passage for young gay men to download Grindr, a hookup app for queer men, and pursue a no-strings-attached sexual encounter with an older man.

I did this a few months into my first year. One night, I was drunkenly messaging a guy on Grindr who wanted me to come over to his bizarre apartment in Harbord Village. My most vivid memory of the night was how strange and uncomfortable I felt in his windowless bedroom with a ceiling that curved too low above his bed. It didn’t help that he was wearing cheap Old Navy flip-flops.

It was then that I realized I don’t like having sex for the sake of having sex. The fun and excitement of my sexual encounters in the past have been with people who I have known for a while and had a palpable connection with.

Does waiting for a connection before having sex make me too much of an idealist? It has been five months, but I’m not too concerned about whether it will happen again soon. Sometimes, I do have those moments of weakness where I think about speeding through the process, fixating on one guy and trying to create a connection artificially. I also start to wonder if my expectations are too high and if I should just settle for any guy who is remotely interested in me, even if it’s just an anonymous hookup.

I say this to emphasize that I am nowhere near perfect. I have moments of weakness, self-consciousness, and desperation. But when it comes to something as personal as sex, it’s important to really think about what you want in an honest and realistic manner. And remember that if you aren’t having sex now, it doesn’t have to mean anything.

AVNEET-SHARMA
VIVIAN-XIE

Will you be my metamour?

A student reflects on the intricacy and beauty of polyamory

By Vanessa Perruzza

“So, you’re polygamous?” the white boy asks me, nursing a watery beer and staring at me with inquiring eyes.

“No, that’s when one man takes many wives. I am not a man, nor am I married. I don’t practice polyandry either, which is one woman with many husbands,” I explain, tired of the same, overly simplistic explanations.

“But you said—”

“What I said was: I am polyamorous. You know? ‘Poly’ as in many? ‘Amour’ as in love? My partner and I can have other relationships in a safe and consensual way.”

It’s a conversation I’ve had countless times, and every person in a monogamous relationship has had a similar response. I distinctly recall a heated argument during Nuit Blanche a few years ago, in the very beginning of my current relationship, that truly tested my patience.

“If your boyfriend has another girlfriend, then he obviously doesn’t love you. If he loved you for real, you’d be enough for him,” someone told me. Using self-restraint that I’m still proud of to this day, I simply walked away.

Polyamory is an inconceivably gorgeous thing. Love, when it is pure and unselfish, is life-giving and wonderful. Still, many monogamous people find me dirty and selfish, when all I want to do is share the love I have.

Unlike an open relationship, where there are often no-holds-barred interactions with people outside the relationship, polyamory is more complicated and communicative. A polyamorous couple, triad, or constellation — which is an interconnected web of partners — will always communicate their needs, expectations, and limits in an open and honest way. This helps to avoid feelings of jealousy and resentment that often destroy both monogamous and open relationships.

Truly though, one of the most beautiful parts of polyamory — the part that often goes forgotten — are the metamours. That is, the partner of your partner.

In a monogamous relationship, the partner of your partner is a homewrecker. In an open relationship, the partner of your partner is a jealousy-inducing stranger. But in polyamory, the partner of your partner is the most intimate of friends; the person you can trust to have your lover’s best interests at heart, and with whom you can share things you can’t share with anyone else.

Think girl talk, but on steroids. When metamours meet, and have a good relationship, the support between them is unparalleled. In my own experience, conversations between metamours are some of the funniest you’ll overhear.

“He never used to bite before. Did he learn biting from you? Look at this bruise! I love it!”

“You’re one to talk! Was that tongue-thing your doing? Because, wow!”

Beyond sharing intimacy, having someone to care for your partner as much as you do is beautiful and it makes the stupid comments worth the trouble. If they’re sick or suffering, love is on all sides. To me, this is the best part of polyamory: I’m getting love in more way than one.

Romance, of the virtual kind

What four Tinder dates taught a student about modern human interaction

By Sonali Gill

Finding love is never easy. This little nugget of wisdom is as true today as it was 50 years ago.

Given that we live in a digital age, however, the questions surrounding love and sex have been redefined. We are increasingly relying on technology in all aspects of our lives, which is evident in the proliferation of mobile applications. Because of this I find myself asking the question: does technology improve or destroy our love lives?

My experiences with a variety of online dating apps indicate the latter. To prove my point, I am going to tell my story. To paraphrase Charles Dickens: a tale of one city and three dates.

I was unprepared for the events of Date Number One. After some heavily erotic flirting on Tinder, I met a well-built young man who was part-Iranian and part-Japanese. The awkward conversation came in stark contrast to the significant amount of build-up we experienced virtually. I extended my hand to shake his, which was decidedly unromantic, and an internal war raged inside my head: What does he want? Do we sleep together after we get coffee or before? Do we have to sleep together at all?

To myself, I marvelled at all the people who found their soulmates online. I felt like online courting lacked the spontaneity that a real-life, at-the-bar opportunity, naturally oozed. I also found that it was difficult to set boundaries, physically speaking, with someone I had just met. The pressure was ramped up in a situation that was intended as enjoyable.

While searching for Date Number Two, I got the distinct feeling that I was catalogue shopping on an Amazon-like platform. Going through the profiles of various boys on Tinder greatly resembled flipping through the features of an online catalogue of electronics or clothing. Once again, I was unprepared for the deluge of information that I received from some boys, all of which reeked of desperation. Unsurprisingly, the date didn’t go well.

After the first two disasters, I was certain the worst was over. And, for the most part, it was.

Date Number Three took place at a quaint pub somewhere on campus. I had been careful to avoid any erotic exchanges on Tinder to ensure that the bar wasn’t set high. My date was polite and instigated conversation on topics of mutual interest. We connected intellectually, but I still felt no spark. This date led me to believe that it’s probably better to go to a pub or a club if you want a raunchy night out.

The fact that even the third date didn’t go well served as testament to the hit-and-miss of online dating. When dating online, there’s massive potential to mislead people, given that people tend to portray what they think needs to be said rather than what they want to express. The chances of miscommunication are high since most online daters are busy misinterpreting emojis and punctuation marks. Therefore, it’s best to start conservatively and maintain caution in all virtual romance.

Online dating provides us with more choices than ever before which is both a strength and a weakness. The weaknesses of using technology in our romantic lives outweigh the strengths. Romances should have a solid, real-world beginning with minimum opportunities for deception, no matter what their eventual fate may be.

GABRIELLE-WARREN
VIVIAN-XIE

The breakup

How heartbreak was experienced from the ending of a friendship

By Gabrielle Warren

Music albums are powerful. There comes a moment when albums deviate from their original meaning and somehow mould to your life; they become one with an experience or a period of time.

For me, A Seat at the Table by Solange was one of those albums. When it first came out, I didn’t know what its full significance would be. While the entire album encompasses me, one of its most important features was helping me navigate through a breakup.

University is a difficult period. It’s a time when so many things are changing and you are constantly learning about yourself. In Freshman year, I broke up with one of the first people I might have loved. In sophomore year, I broke up with a person I considered a very close friend.

In retrospect, it was the friendship that impacted me most. Even to this day, I have a strong reaction when I think of that time. Everyone wants to talk about romantic breakups. There are whole genres dedicated to the topic of falling in and out of romantic love but few speak about what it means to fall out of love with a friend. Perhaps it’s because it hurts more. To write about it would mean you would have to encounter it.

Friendship is a slow burn. A flame that only gets stronger each interaction. A burn that moves beyond the mental and reaches the spiritual. Romance can exist without friendship, but friendship cannot exist without itself.

I believe that it is the spiritual nature of friendship that makes that breakup hurt more. The exchange of life experiences means that there is a human who holds a piece of who you are. Even when you are torn apart by circumstance — they’ll always hold you.

A month before the official breaking point, I began to feel a disconnect. When we talked, the subjects hadn’t changed but the spirit had. My mind wandered toward other things and people. The glee of our get-togethers had faded. Now silence and apathy filled the space that joy once occupied. The feeling was mutual.

It was late at night. My nose was running. I was stressed for a test I had the next week. A notification popped on my screen. As I began to read, frustration turned into anger. The content of the text included things that needed to be said, things I knew to be true, and things that could not be taken back.

I began to play “Mad.” Solange crooned in my ear, “You got the light, count it all joy. You got the right to be mad. But when you carry it alone you find it only getting in the way. They say you gotta let it go.”

After the song finished, I stared at the long message. I didn’t know what to do. Could we still be friends after this? Some things are better left unsaid. Where could we go from this point?

“Where Do We Go” began to play; it was as if Solange herself was with me, asking the same questions I was thinking: “And I don’t know where to go. No, I don’t know where to stay. Don’t know where to go. And I don’t know where to stay. Where do we go from here? Do you know? Where do we go from here?”

When the song ended, I found some strength. I responded to her text. It was difficult and long. I apologized if I had been a bad friend and claimed I needed time. In reality, I knew that those things that had been said would always be a wall between us. A wall that would cause insecurity and mistrust. I didn’t want that for them or for myself.

Finally, “Don’t Wish Me Well” began to play. Like a song at the end of an emotional movie, it reassured me: “And I’m going all the way. But I’ll leave on the lights for you…I’m going all the way. And now you’re almost out of view.” That moment felt like the end of a sitcom. A sense of sadness that something so beloved would not return, but also a sense of relief that we can move on to new stories.

A student’s guide to sustainable fashion

How to make ethical and eco-friendly clothing choices

A student’s guide to sustainable fashion

In recent decades, the fashion sector has managed to become one of the most damaging industries in the world on both a social and environmental level. Clothing companies turn over stock at rapid speeds and low prices in what is known as ‘fast fashion’ in order to attract large volumes of business and make the high profits they desire. This tactic results in vast quantities of clothing ending up in landfills.

In order for companies to maintain the low prices that western consumers demand, they outsource manufacturing to the global south to employ workers who earn meager wages and work in dangerous conditions. While many are aware of these injustices, it often feels overwhelming for those of us embedded in fast fashion and consumer culture to address this issue.

Here is a compilation of tips to help you promote a more ethical and sustainable clothing industry through your daily habits, thereby making the process of instigating change a less daunting task.

Care for your closet

The more you put your clothing in the washer and drier, the faster it becomes worn out. Instead of wearing a sweater once and then tossing it in the wash, try hanging it up to air out, then folding it and putting it back in your dresser.

Unless you wore them to a hot yoga class, your clothes can handle being worn more than once before washing. This will help to extend the life of your pieces, and who has time to be doing all that laundry, anyway? Not only is air-drying better for your clothes, it’s much easier on the environment.

By purchasing a simple sewing kit, you can repair small tears and fallen buttons, and by bringing broken shoes, bags, and clothing to a tailor or repair shop, you will get more use out of your items. Overall, if your clothes last longer, you will be less inclined to purchase more — as a result, you’ll waste less, avoid fast fashion outlets, and even save money, which is always a plus, especially for students!

Buy second-hand

If my mother had taken better care of her clothes from the nineties, I wouldn’t need to scour thrift shops to find the perfect vintage overalls and espadrilles. I definitely wouldn’t be browsing Urban Outfitters for high-waisted Levi’s.

Fashion is cyclical, and any trend in fast fashion stores like H&M and Forever 21 today can be found, if not in our parents’ closets, in thrift stores and consignment shops. Second-hand shopping is like a recycling treasure hunt.

Luckily for U of T students, Toronto has some amazing thrift and vintage shops just steps from campus in areas like Kensington Market and Queen West. Purchasing clothing second-hand is cheaper in most cases and also reduces clothing waste. So the next time you need an outfit for a night out, pop some tags. You’ll be able to find more unique pieces and will have a ton of fun searching through racks of one-of-a-kind clothing.

Buy sustainable

Money talks. If consumers begin to make ethically produced and eco-friendly products a priority, clothing companies will follow. With a quick Google search, you can find any number of clothing retailers that advocate for sustainability, including ARC Apparel and Everlane. These companies value the importance of transparency in supply chains and the importance of utilizing sustainable materials for their clothing.

Unfortunately, the clothing these companies produce can be substantially more expensive than the clothing from places like Zara, but purchasing from these outlets means supporting their initiative and sending the message that these issues matter to consumers.

Shop smarter

The perfectly ethical closet is a challenge to maintain, and with our strict budgets and busy lives, it can feel next to impossible. If all else fails, and you find yourself in a situation where you need to visit the mall for some clothes, think ‘quality over quantity.’ You’re shopping for items that will last, will keep you from buying the same thing again, and won’t end up in a landfill within a year.

Although the $7 t-shirt from Forever 21 is the easiest on your wallet, you’ll be lucky to get anywhere near 21 wears out of it. It’s better to spend a few extra dollars on quality material that will last in your closet for years to come. More importantly, it is crucial that the items you buy are not only good quality but also sustainable for you.

Avoid impulse buys like the pleather mini skirt that you know you’re not comfortable in but want to get anyway because it makes you feel like Bad Sandy from Grease. Before purchasing an item, ask yourself if you can imagine three to five different occasions on which you could wear it, or three to five different outfits you could create with it. This way you avoid making purchases that you’ll regret, and you waste less.

Make sure to visit the website Project JUST, a non-profit organization that researches clothing companies’ transparency and environmental practices then puts all the information in one spot. You can examine the efforts stores at your local mall are making with regard to sustainability, and you can see which ones fall short. Being an informed consumer is important and allows us to understand the kinds of products we buy and their effects on both the workers who produce them and the environment.

TIFF film review: Victoria & Abdul

Though Stephen Frears’ film sheds light on a little-known piece of history, at times it favours humour over insight

TIFF film review: <em>Victoria & Abdul</em>

Based on the book by Shrabani Basu, Victoria & Abdul tells the true story of the unexpected friendship that developed between Queen Victoria and Abdul Karim, an Indian man recruited to partake in the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, leaving his home and sailing to England alongside his friend Mohammed to do so.

Though initially only tasked with presenting the Queen with a ceremonial coin, Abdul finds himself given the title of “the Munshi,” or advisor, after Victoria takes a liking to his candidness, which is a stark contrast to her odious staff. Much to the increasing outrage of the xenophobic court staff, Abdul stays in England far longer than expected, teaching the Queen Urdu and recounting things about his home country that she will never see with her own eyes.

Victoria & Abdul is enjoyable in the way it lightheartedly pokes fun at stuffy colonial institutions. The film’s fast-paced opening scenes, which openly mock the extreme lengths the British court staff take in order to abide by court etiquette, make for a brilliant introduction to its plot. Mohammed’s unbridled hostility toward the British Crown is delightfully sardonic and, crucially, complements Abdul’s apparent enchantment with the Queen. The film provides basic critical commentary regarding the many dimensions of the beast of imperialism, and how two people can find themselves totally isolated when they refuse to obey the expectations of those around them.

At the same time, there is only so much history that can be encapsulated in a roughly two-hour film. Audiences get only glimpses of character development: a bitter but brief monologue reveals the Queen’s deep loneliness in relation to the people who serve her, and disappointingly little attention is paid to Abdul’s allegiance to his people and his feelings toward his family, who are brought to England from India at a later date. The true story upon which Victoria & Abdul is based is remarkable on its own — and one cannot help but wish the ramifications of this important relationship had been dealt with in more depth, even within the time constraints of the film.

It is important to remember that Victoria & Abdul is a tragic story in spite of the comic moments that dominate its plot. With the Queen’s eventual passing, Abdul is quickly evicted from his home, and his belongings are set ablaze in an attempt to destroy the mementos of his relationship with Victoria.

It is encouraging that, due to its reach and its exceptional cast, Victoria & Abdul will bring an important true story to the attention of the general population. The closing scenes of the film are heart-wrenching and appear to have been tacked on as afterthoughts to the otherwise cheerful plot. Though its lighthearted tone makes the film enjoyable to watch, perhaps more attention should have been paid to the parts of the history that were not quite as comical.

Campus theatre preview: Love’s Labour’s Lost

Trinity’s Shakespeare in the Quad production focuses on the right to love

Campus theatre preview: <em>Love’s Labour’s Lost</em>

Trinity College’s iconic quadrangle was once home to one of the largest outdoor Shakespeare festivals in Canada. The Trinity College Dramatic Society (TCDS) has continued this tradition with an annual Shakespeare in the Quad production each fall to begin their season. This year, the TCDS is shaking things up by staging a modern musical retelling of the Bard’s Love’s Labour’s Lost, written by Alex Timbers and with music by Michael Friedman.

The musical is set in front of a hotel in a university town, where alumni students from said university are visiting for a school reunion. The King and his buddies swear an oath to stay away from women, which becomes increasingly difficult when girls from their past arrive. In classic Shakespearean comedy style, the story is filled with hijinks, miscommunication, and the chase for love.

Director Nicole Bell, a third-year theatre student, revealed that she was drawn to this show after listening to “Love’s a Gun” off the soundtrack. While the lyrics provide a commentary on heteronormative relationships, she realized that the songs in this show “are so easily steeped in queer narratives” as well. “I picked this show because it’s fun and it’s goofy, but I found meaning in it,” Bell said.

“This show is about love, [but] what I wanted to do with the show is ask the question ‘who has the right to love?’” Bell continued. By casting the show completely gender-blind, the production attempted to show that everyone has that right.

Moreover, most of the show’s five couples are queer and interracial, aspects that were particularly important for Bell to have represented on stage. “I really wanted to try to accent one or both, and I’m very lucky that I got to accent both,” she shared.

Bell mentioned that there are moments when actors break the fourth wall and interact with the audience, and these won’t be the only instances where reality and fiction intermingle. After Bell got a hold of the libretto, she discovered that the original production was also set outside, in New York City’s Central Park, and that the band had doubled as the one for the university reunion as well. This will be replicated in the TCDS production. “I’m glad that I have the opportunity to take some of the original aspects of the show and bring it into this space,” she added.

The Trinity College Dramatic Society’s production of Love’s Labour’s Lost opens Wednesday, September 27 and closes Saturday, September 30.

Hart House Theatre opens the season with Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Leading cast members James King and Lauren Mayer dish on the upcoming performance

Hart House Theatre opens the season with <em>Hedwig and the Angry Inch</em>

This Friday, Hart House Theatre will open its 2017–2018 season with Hedwig and the Angry Inch, a rock musical that tells the story of Hedwig, a front woman in a band from East Germany, who, after undergoing an unsuccessful sex change operation, must live with a scar from the surgery — the titular ‘angry inch.’

The Varsity sat down with James King, who plays Hedwig, and Lauren Mayer, who plays her husband Yitzhak, to discuss the show’s hair, rock and roll, and the love story that unfolds between them.

The Varsity: The first question I have to ask is: have you gotten to try on your wig yet?

James King: Oh yes!

TV: How do you feel in it?

JK: I feel… amazing. It’s very transformative. The voice helps a lot too: the voice that I found for the character — there’s an accent of course, the East German accent — but she has her sort of own little voice too. It’s those things that really helped me to find the character. There are full songs about wigs that are very important to her as a person, and they are part of her make up, literally and figuratively — her kind of ‘mental make up.’ I think it’s something that she — at least when the show begins — needs to feel like herself. Or the idea that she thinks she needs to be of herself.

TV: What’s it like for you, Lauren, transforming into Yitzhak? Both costume-wise and character-wise.

Lauren Mayer: It’s weird! I got weirdly emotional when I put everything on — or elements on, I guess — for the first time. The costume is a really big part of it. I’m generally one of those people who tends to sink a little bit more into the character that they’re playing when the wardrobe is put on, especially for something as transformative as this. I’ve always been told that I have masculine tendencies, so I feel like with that, you’re able to actually visualize a part of yourself that you’ve never physically seen before. The wig and the costume are, for me at least, very integral for the role and for the performance. They complete it.

TV: Hedwig is a really intense show — I understand that you don’t have any breaks at all. You’re just on stage the whole time.

JK: More or less. I might step off for three seconds to do a little quick thing. But basically we’re on stage the entire show.

TV: How do you maintain energy and intensity through that?

LM: It’s a combination of eating, sleeping, warming up, and then also just allowing yourself to be in the story every time. I find that with us, with this show at least, I feel like every time we’re doing it, we’re hearing it for the first time. And so it’s not difficult to stay engaged with it. I guess that’s because we love it a lot as well.

JK: And the music, the rock music, instills you with energy. I feel like I hear it and it’s like ‘time to go.’ It calls you, once you hear it, if you go along with it, it takes you there if you are honest and just listen.

LM: You just have to listen. You just have to listen the whole time. I don’t get a lot of opportunities to sing with a live band.

JK: They give you an energy, you can feel it, and you can feel them playing and it instills it with a drive. It’s like you started a motor when you hear that full band. It’s a thing, rock and roll is all about feeling an emotion. And going back, it started as almost a juvenile sort of thing. Because it was like, this is the music of young kids breaking out of repression in the 1950s. This is rock and roll down the road, punk rock and glam rock and what it evolved into, it was all based in that root.

LM: It’s a guttural thing.

TV: I’m curious how you think the show will resonate with people today and with audiences that will come see your show.

JK: I think this show will always resonate with anyone, no matter what time it’s being played, or where, or when, because while there are many elements in it, about rebellion and about so many different things… I think at its core it’s really a love story. It doesn’t matter [your] race, religion, creed, orientation. I think everyone has felt love, or been in love, or been rejected by love.

TV: Do you have a number from the show that you’re most excited to share with your audiences?

JK: They all play such an important role. There’s no filler songs at all. I love — I know it’s probably such a cliché — “The Origin of Love.” Just because it’s… it’s magic. It’s just a gorgeous, gorgeous song. There’s the opening number and then boom, you’re in. Let’s go! It’s very special to perform it, and it’s an honour that we get an opportunity to sing it.

This transcript has been edited for clarity and length.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch opens September 22 at Hart House Theatre and is directed by Rebecca Ballarin.

TIFF film review: Lean on Pete

The supposed horse drama contains a wonderful lead performance — but not much else

TIFF film review: <em>Lean on Pete</em>

About fifteen minutes in, I decided I didn’t like Lean on Pete, so I spent the rest of the film’s runtime finding things wrong with it. In a conscious attempt to be open-minded, though, I looked for things that I liked, too. I had chosen to see the movie because it was an A24 film, and I had yet to see an A24 film I didn’t like. I wanted so badly to enjoy this movie, but the indie studio responsible for recent critical hits like Moonlight and The Witch let me down.

Narratively, Lean on Pete is billed as a boy-and-his-horse coming-of-age tale, but the film is really more of a winding character study. The horse’s involvement in the plot is over by the first third of the movie. Once Lean on Pete — Pete being the horse — is out of the picture, the audience is left to follow Charley, played by Charlie Plummer, who has left home and is traversing a barren landscape to find his aunt.

The movie has been widely praised, so perhaps the problem was my inability to get past its smaller details. There were a few continuity errors that really pulled me out of the film, and the lack of causality and connection between certain sequences stunted its flow. Although that sort of disjunction is sometimes intentional and used to create unease, I doubt that was the case here.

Nonetheless, there is a lot that was done well in this film. Plummer’s performance is fantastic, and it only gets better as the film progresses. Once I realized he looked like a young Chad Michael Murray, things really took off. The film’s cinematography, courtesy of Magnus Joenck, is also superb.

Beyond that, highlights included a couple of really great-looking horses and a few good-looking burgers. Plus, Steve Buscemi was on screen for a while, and he swore a little, so that was nice.

Three times at the Kappa Alpha Luau

A third-year student explains how he’s changed — and how he hasn’t — through the lens of an annual frat party

Three times at the Kappa Alpha Luau

I arrived at U of T a mere four days prior to the perennially-named 69th Annual Luau. One of my orientation leaders told me about the annual luau, held at the Kappa Alpha Literary Society (KA), which everyone who was anyone would apparently be attending.

Immediately, a few questions came to mind. One: what is the difference between a literary society and a frat? Two: is this a genuine celebration of Hawaiian culture? And three: will there be alcohol?

I was in the same boat as the other first-year students surrounding me, yet I felt as though I was having a more difficult time making friends and connecting with people. It took me a while to feel like I was part of the U of T community — mostly, I just felt weird and uncomfortable. So, needless to say, I had a strange time at the luau.

I spent most of the night standing against a wall, switching off between beer and a vile concoction of beer mixed with Red Bull. I tried to engage in small talk with others but couldn’t shake off my feeling of discomfort. Apparently my discomfort was palpable, since the same orientation leader who had told me about the luau approached me and started talking to me.

“Are you having a good time?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said.

“Do you want to leave?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said.

My second time at the luau was a different type of uncomfortable, given that I can’t remember the event itself very clearly. Going into second year, I felt that I had shown a significant amount of growth. New year, new me. I wanted to build my confidence and prove that I had changed from the awkward and overly emotional mess I was in first year.

But the night ended with me crying over a failed relationship on the front lawn of KA with one of my friends. At least I had friends this time, right?

Despite two years of bad luaus, my tradition of attending prevailed. I knew that, given my past experiences, there was a good chance I would have a bad time again, but what I also realized was that I had never had a bad time because of the event itself, but rather because of my personal circumstances during the event. I had endowed the luau with the symbolic importance of signifying my growth over the year as a human being.

I wanted to become a happier person, to feel more comfortable around others, and to mature into the person I knew I would eventually become. Mostly, I wanted to feel comfortable in my own skin. I wanted to feel like I was becoming the best version of myself. Maybe that’s too much significance to place on a frat party, but there I was doing it anyway.

My third time at the luau was a more positive endeavour, though not by much. Was anything about my life perfect this time? Absolutely not. I’d had a moment of weakness earlier that day and ended up sitting at home crying, journaling, and drinking copious amounts of wine. Somehow, though, I managed to resolve my bad mood in time to enjoy a night out with my friends.

Like many, I fall into the trap of setting expectations for my personal development rather than letting it happen organically. I wanted to reach a goal but ignored the steps it would take to get there. It’s impossible to reach a place of total self-confidence overnight. Hell, it’s impossible to reach it after two years.

Letting go of my anxieties about my lack of confidence was something I thought I would have figured out by my third year, although I’m not completely there yet. But I’m doing better than I was before, and that’s something worth celebrating.

We’re often striving for a state of equilibrium where everything is fine and we have everything worked out, but that’s not how the world works. We’ll always have conflicts, both external and internal, that we need to struggle through.

I maintain that, for those of us struggling with mental illness, being happy is the most difficult thing to do. I suppose the point is to keep trying, keep learning from your experiences, and, despite the universe telling you not to, keep heading to the KA luau.