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Driven to unconventional theatre

By Andrew Hudson • April 29, 2014Beach Metro Community News Your job is life and death.” Given six words, that’s how Rosamund Small gets at the heart of her new play, Vitals. Given two more words, Small might have added “and traffic.”Set in Toronto, Vitals dispatches the audience into a real house where a fictional paramedic, Anna, is on a 911 call.The one-woman play is based on interviews with Kaleigh O’Brien, a long-time paramedic who told Small what it’s like to work emergencies in this city.“She’s driving an ambulance with the siren on, and people are jaywalking,” said Small with a wry laugh.“It was kind of like she was just complaining about traffic, but she is trying to get to someone who’s having a heart attack.”Even before it opened yesterday, Vitals extended its run by a week and that was before the Globe and Mail ran a preview calling the 23 year-old Upper Beaches resident the next big thing in Toronto theatre. That morning, she woke to a proud voicemail from Marguerite Campbell, her Grade 2 teacher at Beaches Alternative School. But Small credits a lot of the buzz to the play’s director, Mitchell Cushman. “He’s really good at turning everyday objects into magical things,” she said, noting how he timed musical kids’ toys to run on stage in a recent show. Cushman also co-founded Outside the March, the site-specific company that is staging the play with support from Theatre Passe Muraille.“They do theatre in unexpected ways and unexpected

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Block Ness teaches Neil McNeil robotics team

By Andrew Hudson • April 29, 2014Beach Metro Community News Three days before a city-wide robotics contest, a freak radio problem had the Neil McNeil team re-thinking fast.The club robot, a.k.a. Block Ness Monster, was mostly behaving – it could carry a hockey puck, slide it on a giant crokinole board, and shoot it with an air-powered piston.(For the uninitiated, crokinole is a parlour game, invented in 1870s Ontario, where rivals flick small wood disks across a circular board, either to land them in a target or knock each other’s disks out, curling style. One robotics coach called it “the great Canadian game that apparently no one has ever played.”)But a radio hiccup from the robot’s remote control caused the piston to fire every time someone hit the ‘on’ button.And the team still had to re-design the robot’s aiming arm so it could scoop new pucks from a loader.“It’s been like this since Grade 9,” said Adam Cyprus, now in his senior year.Watching the team puzzle over ways to shield the robot from radio interference, Cyprus said the week before a competition is always haywire – the robot has so many ways to fail. Just then came a shout from Martin Zielinski, a physics teacher with an engineering background who has coached the after-school club for a decade. “Plan B is now Plan A!” Zielinski said. “We have a plan, and it’s executable.”While they kept the drive and steering systems from last year’s robot (it played Connect Four), Zielinski said

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Paralympian’s story inspires Balmy Beach students

By Andrew Hudson • April 29, 2014Beach Metro Community News When Paralympian Jeff Tiessen arrived at Balmy Beach Public School to give a speech for Spirit Day, he found the gym full of kids wearing white and blue – it was also the Blue Jays’ home opener. Never mind that he grew up near Detroit and cheers for the Tigers, Tiessen is a big baseball fan. As a double-arm amputee, people have asked him what he would do if he could get his hands back, just for one day. “I would play baseball, maybe all day,” he said. “And I would feel the stitches on the ball.” Being able to pack a snowball would be nice too, he said, adding that he owes his kids some payback after the super snowy winter this year. Another question Tiessen gets is whether he would get transplants if he could. His answer is yes, so long as he can keep all the good things that have happened because he’s an amputee. After joining amateur and university track teams in his teens and twenties, Tiessen competed in three Paralympic Games: New York, Seoul and Barcelona. He won silver in high jump, plus a bronze and a gold in his best event  – the 400 metre. His 54.89-second run at the 1988 Seoul Games remains the fastest ever for a double-arm amputee. Back when Tiessen was putting in six- and seven-hour training days for Seoul, he was also taking journalism classes at the University of

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Treemobile bears fruit in the Beach

By Andrew Hudson • April 29, 2014Beach Metro Community News He didn’t plant paw paws or goji berries, but Johnny Appleseed would certainly tip his hat to Treemobile, a volunteer group that delivers low-cost fruit trees across Toronto. Working last Saturday outside St. Saviour’s, an Anglican church in the Upper Beach, Treemobile volunteers sorted 40 fruit trees and 355 fruit- or nut-bearing shrubs and vines that Toronto buyers had ordered online. Most of the trees and some rarer shrubs cost about $40, while asparagus crowns were five for a dollar. Delivery fees range from $1 to $10, depending whether buyers want their order dropped off or planted for them.“In Toronto, lots of people don’t own a shovel,” said Treemobile founder Virginie Gysel, laughing. Toronto is built on some of Ontario’s best farmland, said Gysel. Especially when climate change is such a concern, she said the idea is to grow your apples, pears, and plums right here, where they won’t clock any air miles. Homegrown fruit often tastes better, too, she added.“What orchardists want is stuff that’s hard as a rock, that all ripens at the same time, and they’re not really too concerned with taste,” she said.“What we want is delicious fruit with nice texture and scent, and it doesn’t have to ripen all at once.” A landscape architecture graduate who grew up on a tree farm, Gysel started Treemobile four years ago when she was a student at the University of Guelph. At the time, she was writing

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FYI: Intersection Closure

Drivers will find the Queen Street East and Leslie Street intersection closed from May 11 to June 21 for TTC track work related to the Leslie Barns. Streetcars on the 501 route will run along Gerrard Street East between Broadview and Coxwell, while buses will replace the 502 and 503 streetcars, and travel via Dundas Street. Anyone on foot or walking a bicycle can still cross Queen and Leslie during the five-week closure.
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Happy Mothers Day On Sunday May 11 2014, from 11-12am go to Boston Pizza Beaches and have a "Mom"osa on them! Located at 16-A Leslie St, Toronto. For Reservations Please Call:416-778-4700
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$25 & up -- Acclaimed Comedy 'Dead Metaphor' in Toronto By Kristyn Schiavone "Dead Metaphor," the dark comedy written by one of Canada's most acclaimed playwrights George F. Walker, opens at Panasonic Theatre this month. Walker himself directs the production, which the San Jose Mercury News says "hits a bullseye when it comes to the funny bone."    
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