How do you find out what’s good to see and do in a new city? Surprise surprise, I’m using the internet. The internet pointed me to Trampoline Hall, a regular event started by Sheila Heti, the Toronto writer who now works on the great magazine The Believer. I’d heard of Sheila but not of Trampoline Hall. It seemed too exclusive an event not to be awesome – the night was already sold out and I apparently had to get to the venue a few hours early and secure a place in the line for rush tickets.
So I went to The Garrison on Dundas St West and got myself the ticket.
People, mostly young and literary-looking, were very excited about the whole thing, and rushed in to get a good seat. I was very excited about the program.
The programs and stage designs are organised by different people for each event. The program (as in, the curation of the night and also the paper form of it) was this time put together by Becky Johnson, and the stage design was by her improv group The Sufferettes. It consisted of pantyhose with all manner of objects stuffed down them. It was excellent.
At Trampoline Hall, people give lectures. They are not allowed to be experts on the topic but they obviously do plenty of research, because a key requirement is being able to answer a whole lot of follow-up questions. David Dineen-Porter told us about the “Northern Vowel Shift”, which was really fascinating. Did you know that regional accents are diverging around the world? And that American broadcast media speaks in its own accent entirely? No, neither did I!
Kalpna Patel told spoke with excitement about the extravaganza that is the Scripps National Spelling Bee, and Freddie Rivas gave a heartstringy account of a childhood lacking in material wealth, but not in love and laughter.
I get the impression that there are plenty of spoken-word events happening in Toronto. These people know what they’re doing. But Trampoline Hall is part comedy night, part public-speaking contest and, by putting its speakers on the spot, part performance art. The atmosphere was beginning-of-the-week festive and I met a whole bunch of interesting folks. It was the perfect introduction to a city full of thinkers that is about to burst into life for the summer. See you next time, Trampoline Hall.