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Tuesday, May 12th, 2009
12:02 pm - The Way I See It Awards


I am very excited to announce the debut of the Annual The Way I See It (or TWISI for short) Awards! I wanted to have the opportunity to honor some of the brilliant performances I have seen since starting the blog, and some of the artists that I think all of Canada should be so proud to count as their own. I also wanted to provide an opportunity for my readers to vote on the performances and artists that they feel most deserving of recognition. Therefore, the TWISI awards are sort of like Critic’s Choice and People’s Choice Awards combined. I hope you’ll send in your vote!

Here are the specifics:

  The TWISI Awards seek to honor those who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in their particular craft. They do not denote who is the “best” or the “favourite.” It is going to be massively difficult to pick or even to narrow down, because there has been so much outstanding work done this year in Toronto. However, I hope that these awards will be seen as more of a celebration of all the great talent we have here, rather than a means for competition.

  The TWISI Awards will consider all the shows that I have seen between June 1st, 2008 and June 30th, 2009. That means that shows and actors from all cities that I have seen theatre in between those dates will be considered.

  The TWISI Award winners will be picked by me, and announced on the blog sometime in late June or early July (specific date TBA) 2009.

  I will only award one TWISI award to any one individual artist, to spread the honors around as much as possible. However, the winners of the TWISI People’s Choice Awards are left entirely up to the people.

  There will also be the TWISI People’s Choice Awards- where anyone can send in their votes for each category via email (twisi.awards@gmail.com) and I will tally the votes and announce the winner at the same time that the TWISI Awards are announced. This means that (assuming people vote!) there will likely be TWO winners in each category. If the People’s Choice and I have the same pick, then that winner will get a DOUBLE honor!!

o   Anyone can vote for the People’s Choice Awards, and they can pick artists and productions from any show (even ones that I did not see or blog about) as long as the production occurred between June 1st 2008-June 30th 2009.

o   Artists can vote for themselves, if they so wish.

o   All voting will remain confidential. I give you my word of honor.

o   You may vote from obscure email addresses and using Aliases.

o   You do not have to vote for every category. For example, you could email and just let me know your pick for outstanding achievement in musical direction and leave it at that. You can email some votes now and some later. You can do whatever you gosh darn want!!

o   Please specify which category you’re voting for in your email!

o   You must cast your vote by JUNE 21st, 2009 for it to be considered.

o   The voting is now open!!! So cast your vote today!!        


The 2009 TWISI Award Categories

1.      Outstanding Achievement in the Production of a Play (awarded to the theatre company)

2.      Outstanding Achievement in the Production of a Musical (awarded to the theatre company).

3.      Outstanding Achievement by an Actor in a Play

4.      Outstanding Achievement by an Actor in a Musical

5.      Outstanding Achievement by an Actress in a Play

6.      Outstanding Achievement by an Actress in a Musical

7.      Outstanding Achievement by a Young Actor (under 18 years old) in a Play

8.      Outstanding Achievement by a Young Actor (under 18 years old) in a Musical

9.      Outstanding Achievement by a Young Actress (under 18 years old) in a Play

10.  Outstanding Achievement by a Young Actress (under 18 years old) in a Musical.

11.  Outstanding Achievement by a Director of a Play

12.  Outstanding Achievement by a Director of a Musical.   

13.  Outstanding Achievement in Set Design

14.  Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design.

15.   Outstanding Achievement by a New Theatre Company (one founded after June 2008).

16.  Outstanding Achievement by a Cabaret Performer (female)

17.  Outstanding Achievement by a Cabaret Performer (male)

18.  Outstanding Achievement by a Playwright (the playwright’s work must have had a performance between June 1st 2008-June 30th 2009 but it can be anyone. If Shakespeare wins, I’ll figure out how to get his prize to him later).

19.  Outstanding Achievement by a Canadian Playwright (the playwright’s work must have had a performance between June 1st 2008-June 30th 2009)

20.  Outstanding Achievement in the Production of an Improv, Sketch or Comedy Show (awarded to the theatre company).

21.  Outstanding Achievement by an Improviser (Male)

22.  Outstanding Achievement by an Improviser (Female)

23.  Outstanding Achievement in Musical Direction

24.  Outstanding Achievement in the Production of a Visiting or Touring Show.

25.  Outstanding Achievement on CD by a Canadian male theatre artist (The album must have been released between June 1st, 2008- June 30th 2009).

26.  Outstanding Achievement on CD by a Canadian female theatre artist. (The album must have been released between June 1st 2008- June 30th, 2009).

27.  Special Honor for Best Theatre Programme (as in, the booklet you receive at the theatre).

28.  Special Honor for Favourite Theatre Space (as in, the building that houses the theatre).

29.  Special Honor for Most Audience Friendly Theatre Company.

30.  Special “Just Cuz” Award for Someone in the Theatre Community most deserving of recognition.

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12:01 pm - Yes, Yes, Yes, is a Good Word. Yes, Yes, Yes is a Very Special Word



I remember the moment in seventh grade in the middle of French class in Halifax, Nova Scotia when I turned to a classmate far savvier than I was and whispered, “Broadway’s in New York, right?” At twelve, I had an elusive concept of what this “Broadway” was. It was something printed on my cast albums of Les Miserables and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat but whether it was one theatre or five hundred, on the same street or in the same city, whether a literal place, or something mythological or symbolic, I was unsure. There was one thing that I knew for certain, however; Broadway was the best of the theatre.

            Somewhere within the first twelve years of my life this belief became engrained in my brain and I trusted it with all the innocence of youth. But, is it true? Where did the idea that Broadway is the best come from? Well, it came from Broadway, of course.

            For over one hundred years New York has heralded itself as being the centre of the world. This belief spawned pride and the pride spawned lucrative business ventures which led to the building of some of the world’s biggest or most eminent buildings, enterprises such as The New York Times and Wall Street, and the myth of the American Dream was perpetuated by the accomplishments of such prominent businessmen as Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller and Thomas Edison. New York, with its bright lights and Statue of Liberty, became the beacon of hope and the pinnacle of that dream for the masses that flocked there from small towns in the United States and the millions of immigrants who flooded New York City steadily until the 1950s. These people perpetuated the myth that New York was the best as it subtly wove its way into our cultural history and the myth was appropriated for the stage, into songs, into novels, films and onto television until the myth seemed like fact engrained in the international subconscious.

            In asserting that one’s city is “the best” or indeed “the centre of the world” is an active position for one to take and it is fraught with the potential of realizing dreams, of daring to think big, lofty, grandiose thoughts, to have unconventional ideas, and soon the city is saturated in YES. And so, Sam, Lee and Jacob Shubert and Oscar Hammerstein I built a remarkable amount of new theatres and ushered in a Golden Age for Broadway.

            In the early 1900s George M. Cohan was one of the biggest stars on the Broadway stage and he was utterly draped in the American flag throughout his career. The shows that he wrote, the songs that he wrote and the way he conducted his life were all brazenly touting his patriotism of Broadway, New York and the United States of America. This set the precedent for the American Musical Theatre at a time when London was arguably still, in reality, the theatrical capital of the world. Cohan, Shubert and Hammerstein knew that what they were doing was brilliant, it was new, it was exciting and most importantly, it was theirs, and that would make it great. Their *belief* would ensure that it would become “the best in the world.”

            Theatre is not mathematics, it is not science, it is subjective and personal and qualitative, and it’s slippery to measure and to evaluate. It is art, and although we scramble to herald things as being “the best” and to award those things we see as being “superior”- none of it is truth. It is all opinion. So, Broadway may not actually be the best, but that’s beside the point; look at all the miraculous, beautiful, extraordinary things that have come from the New Yorkers faith in themselves, their pride in themselves; their belief in one another and their artistic community. Frank Rich, a former theatre critic for the New York Times, never criticizes Broadway in general. He doesn’t say, “Americans cannot produce hits from London well.” He doesn’t say, “Americans can’t” he doesn’t say “Broadway can’t.” To do so would be a serious affront to his country. How presumptuous and unpatriotic it would be to put into print the very idea that the United States of America COULD NOT do something or COULD NOT do it well! It would be outrageous. Rich, like all good critics, speaks in specifics. If a show fails it is not Broadway’s fault. It’s not America’s fault. It is a combinations of factors that besieged one particular show. Broadway changes, and it can be compared to its past, its future can be speculated upon, but no one tells Americans that they are, in general, ultimately inferior without sparking outrage.

            It sounds just as outrageous to me when critics say that “Canadians cannot” do anything or “cannot do this particular thing well.” To believe that we are inferior or second-rate to either the United States or to Great Britain is a passive role to take. We therefore do not support our own ventures. We approach everything with cautious criticism and apologies. We preface everything with, “of course it’s just Canada… so it therefore won’t be as good as something done in the States or in England… we’re just trying OUR best… but really, what good is that?” We happen to be just as competent and creative and brilliant and ingenious and gifted and bursting with stories to tell, ideas to share, buildings to build, companies to invent, theatres to found, and art to create as any other country in the world. We need to stand patriotic, glorious and free of all this inferiority nonsense! We need to herald ourselves as being the best and to believe it, because if we can, if we can convince ourselves that we are worth investing in as a country, the most miraculous and exciting and extraordinary miracles will begin to happen in Canada. We just need to say YES, WE CAN.

            There is a great man in the White House in Washington D.C. tonight. And I want to leave you with his words because I feel like this is not a time for apathy, this is not a time for feeling defeated or mediocre. This is a time of change, and invigoration. This is a time of optimism and hope and faith that a belief in these things will bring great rewards. As Barack Obama said a mere few months ago- that fateful historical inauguration day, “where we are met with cyncism and doubts and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: YES WE CAN.” I want to feel Canadian spirit rumble merrily out into the streets, like the day after our Olympic team is victorious in hockey. I want to see pride shining in the eyes of our people as they support the artists, and all the creative ambitions and ventures in this country. I want us to move forward with confidence, bravery and determination to be our own best. And to have that be more than enough.

 I have faith that Yes we can.  

Please also take a moment to vote for the First Annual TWISI awards and honor the theatre artists that you feel are the most deserving in this country. Make your voice heard. Cast your vote before June 21st, 2009. Click here for more information. 

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Tuesday, February 10th, 2009
2:38 pm - Too Cute!


Keanu Reeves, teddy bears, and a 13-year old Stratfordian, back before he was a Stratfordian (well, back before he was a professional actor, anyway).

I'm still giggling....

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Wednesday, September 10th, 2008
3:14 pm - Stratford Mourns the passing of Richard Monette


September 10, 2008 ... It is with profound sadness that the Stratford Shakespeare Festival announces the death last night of Richard Monette, the longest-serving artistic director in its history. Mr. Monette, whose tenure lasted for 14 seasons, from 1994 to 2007, died of a pulmonary embolus in hospital in London, Ontario. He was 64 years old.

current mood: sad

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Friday, June 6th, 2008
11:16 pm - Interesting season...

Stratford seems to really be hitting its stride this season and getting some wonderful reviews. I'll be attending 'Cabaret', 'All's Well That Ends Well', 'Romeo + Juliet' and 'Palmer Park'.

Is anyone else hitting the festival this year? If so, what do you plan on attending? :)

current mood: hot

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Friday, March 14th, 2008
9:10 am - Interesting

Stratford Shakeup: McAnuff Will Be Sole Artistic Director of Ontario Fest; Maraden and Shipley Resign


current mood: curious

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Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007
12:14 am - Rest in peace.

Many of you may have heard already, but the legendary William Hutt passed away last week.

Globe and Mail obit.

I was fortunate to see quite a few of his performances, including his last role at Stratford, Prospero in the 2005 Tempest. His was some of the finest acting I have ever experienced. The way he connected with his audiences was truly remarkable. He will be greatly missed.

current mood: sad

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Thursday, October 5th, 2006
2:35 pm - Here it is!


SO MUCH to be excited about!

current mood: excited

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Tuesday, October 3rd, 2006
10:27 pm - 2007 Stratford Season

Just a heads-up that the 2007 Stratford playbill is going to be announced this Thursday, October 5th! Hopefully it will appear on their website (www.stratfordfestival.ca) sometime that day. Also, a few of Richard Ouzounian's articles in the Toronto Star have mentioned some of next year's plays:


Clicky again!

On a related note, I was finally able to make it to Stratford back in August, and I had a wonderful time. I saw Oliver, Coriolanus, South Pacific, London Assurance, The Glass Menagerie, Harlem Duet, Fanny Kemble, The Blonde, The Brunette, and the Vengeful Readhead, Ghosts, The Liar, and Don Juan. I enjoyed all of the shows, but my favorites were probably Glass Menagerie, Don Juan, London Assurance, The Liar, and Harlem Duet. I'd give a more detailed review of everything but I'm sure most people who had Stratford trips planned this year have already gone! That and I have to work on an English paper.

One last thing -- if you ever find yourself in Stratford in mid-August, I highly, HIGHLY recommend you check out the after-theatre cabarets at the Church. We went three nights in a row this year and had an absolute blast. They're run through Stratford Summer Music (www.stratfordsummermusic.ca), and are probably the most fun you can have outside of the actual Festival productions.

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Wednesday, July 5th, 2006
7:51 pm - Let's get this thing rolling again.

Dude, where has everyone gone?

I'm going through Stratford withdrawal because I've usually been there at least once by this time. This year, though, I've been in New England all spring and summer and won't be going home to Michigan until mid-July. Which got me thinking: let's resurrect this little corner of cyberspace. Sooo, has anyone been to any of the festivals yet this year? Anyone want to gush or vent about a particular production?

I'll finally make it to Stratford in early August for the annual trip with family and friends. So I'd especially love to hear opinions on Stratford productions. :)

current mood: curious

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Friday, March 10th, 2006
7:53 pm - What do do in Stratford?

This doesn't really have to do with festivals, but I know a lot of people talk here about the Stratford Festival in Stratford, ON.

I'm planning a weekend trip to Stratford soon and was wondering if anyone knew of some hot spots to check out. Restaurants, etc. I've never been there before!


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Sunday, October 23rd, 2005
10:42 am - More Male Leads Leaving Festivals

Soulpepper Theatre Company's 2006 season announcement meant that a lot of Festival goers will be missing some more of their favorites if they don't make a side trip to Toronto.

As you probably remember, a number of younger leading men from both Festivals will be in the world premiere musical Lord of the Rings which opens in Toronto in early 2006.

Now, word comes that each festival has lost one of their leading lights. Stratford star Jonathan Goad and Shaw Festival mainstay Ben Carlson will be playing the brothers Gloucester in Soulpepper's King Lear. They will also play brothers in The Caretaker.

The production doesn't start until late August, so it is possible that if there are shows that close early, Jonathan may be at Stratford, but I wouldn't count on it. (During the backstage tour at Shaw, they made it clear that Ben Carlson won't be there next year, which is why I'm not including him in that possibility.)

Also, for Shaw fans, Jeff Lillico is going to Soulpepper for two rep shows.

Let's see, you think you can fit in a matinee Rings with an evening show of Lear?

This is going to be a weird year at both festivals.

current mood: pensive

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Thursday, October 6th, 2005
10:33 pm

Hey all! I just went to Stratford. I saw Into the Woods and the Tempest (oh yes with William Hutt). Just thought I'd give a hey!

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Tuesday, September 27th, 2005
2:58 pm - Shaw 2006 Playbill Announced

Today the Shaw Festival announced its lineup for the 2006 season. No casting has been announced as of yet. Below are the plays, with the directors in parentheses.

Festival Theatre
Arms and the Man (Jackie Maxwell)
High Society (Kelly Robinson)
The Crucible (Tadeusz Bradecki)

Royal George Theatre
The Heiress (Joseph Ziegler)
The Invisible Man (Neil Munro)
Design for Living (Morris Panych)

Court House Theatre
Too True to be Good (Jim Mezon) -- A Shaw play in the Court House ... interesting.
Love Among the Russians (Eda Holmes)
The Magic Fire (Jackie Maxwell)
Rosmersholm (Neil Monro)

current mood: happy

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Thursday, September 1st, 2005
12:45 pm - The Stratford 2006 Season Announcement

The 2006 season announcement was made today. Below is the text of the article on Playbill.com.

Opening the Festival season on May 29, 2006, will be Shakespeare's Coriolanus, directed by executive director Antoni Cimolino and featuring Colm Feore in the title role.

Other Shakespeares on the slate are Henry IV, Part 1, to be directed by Monette; Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Stephen Ouimette; and Twelfth Night, directed by Leon Rubin. In addition, the Festival will present The Duchess of Malfi by Shakespeare's contemporary John Webster, directed by Peter Hinton.

"In all these plays, family has the central role," Monette said. "Prince Hal must choose between the world of his real father, the King, and his adopted father, Falstaff; in Much Ado About Nothing, the story revolves around a wronged young woman who is defended by her father and her cousin. The separation and reunion of the twins Viola and Sebastian is at the heart of Twelfth Night and, in The Duchess of Malfi, we follow the bloodied story of three siblings vying for control over the kingdom, and each other."

Also on the schedule are The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, directed by Miles Potter; Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen, directed by Ouimette; London Assurance, the comedy of manners by Dion Boucicault, to be directed by Brian Bedford (who will also play Harcourt Courtly, a role that won him a Tony nomination in 1997); The Liar by 17th-century French playwright Pierre Corneille, to be directed by Matthew Jocelyn; Molière's Don Juan (starring Colm Feore in the title role), to be directed by Lorraine Pintal; the musical Oliver!, directed and choreographed by Donna Feore and featuring Feore as Fagin; and South Pacific, directed and choreographed by Michael Lichtefeld and featuring Cynthia Dale as Nellie Forbush.

The musicals and Don Juan and Coriolanus were previously announced.

Rounding out the season are two one-woman showcases: The Blonde, the Brunette, and the Vengeful Redhead, a black comedy about infidelity by Australian Robert Hewett, to be directed by Geordie Johnson; and Fanny Kemble by Peter Hinton, a new play emerging from the Festival's New Play Development Programme about the "remarkable 19th-century Shakespearean actress, author and abolitionist."

An additional Canadian play will be announced for the 2006 season later this year.

current mood: excited

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Saturday, August 13th, 2005
10:26 am - Mid-Season Economic Standings of the Festivals

Behind the cut is an article from The Toronto Star on the financial standing of the two festivals mid-way into the season.

TO Star Mid-Season RecapCollapse )

current mood: sleepy

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10:21 am - Another "Local" Boy Makes Good

Adam Brazier, who has appeared at both the Shaw and Stratford Festivals (most recently as Joey in Pal Joey), has been cast as the male lead in the Broadway debut of The Woman in White, the latest musical by Andrew Lloyd Weber.

Also, the reviews from The Lark at Stratford are in ... and mixed. It sounds like an interesting production, though.

current mood: sleepy

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Tuesday, July 26th, 2005
10:03 am - Lord of the Rings Casting Confirmed

On top of what I had posted yesterday, the producers of the Toronto Lord of the Rings confirmed the casting. Brent Carver will be playing Gandalf and the rest of the cast was confirmed as in that story.

In the ensemble, though, is Peter van Gestel, who has done some incredible work this season at Stratford in The Brothers Karamozov and Sticks and Stones. (I had kinda figured he might get a bit of a promotion next year.)

current mood: cheerful

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Monday, July 25th, 2005
11:45 am - Wanted: Young Male Leads for Ontario Festivals for 2006 season

It's not confirmed, but if this is true, both Shaw and Stratford are going to be doing some scrambling for young male leads.

From an article on BroadwayWorld.com:  (and yeah, I will probably  go):

A number of  major roles in the Toronto premiere of The Lord of the Rings have been cast, according to the Toronto Star.

The Tolkien-based  megamusical, which will open on March 23rd, 2006 after beginning previews in  February, reportedly now has a Gollum, Aragorn, Arwen, Saruman, Legolas, Merry,  Boromir and Elrond. However, Producer Kevin Wallace and spokespeople for the  Mirvish organization refused to confirm or deny these reports.

Michael Therriault will  play Gollum, the shrivelled ex-hobbit with eyes on the ring around which the  musical
centers. Therriault currently plays Motel the Tailor in Broadway's Fiddler  on the Roof, and has also appeared  in the Toronto production of The  Producers  as well as in several shows in the prestigious Stratford Festival.

Evan Buliung has been placed in the heroic role of Aragorn; the actor can currently be seen in and Journey's  End and Major  Barbara at  the Shaw Festival. He too has acted at Stratford, and played Edgar to  Christopher Plummer's King Lear.

Carly Street will play his Elvish love interest  Arwen; she is a National Theatre School graduate who has spoken the words of  Shakespeare at the High Park and Newmarket outdoor summer theatres. The dark  wizard Saruman will
be portrayed by Richard McMillan, who also scared the little  children in the audience as Scar in the Toronto production of The  Lion King;  he is also no stranger to the Stratford Festival.

Legolas, the strapping  young elf, will be play by Gabriel Burrafato, who has appeared at the Shaw  Festival, at
Stratford and who currently tours as Magaldi in the national  company of Evita after having been seen  in
Broadway's Bombay  Dreams. The  role of the mischievous hobbit Merry has gone to Dylan Roberts, who can  currently be seen in ShakespeareWorks' The Taming of the Shrew, while the part of the  noble but
ring-corrupted Boromir has been awarded to Dion Johnstone, who is a  Stratford company member and who currently plays Orlando in the theatre  festival's As  You Like It. Finally, Victor A.  Young will appear as Elrond, the stalwart father of Arwen; Young has performed  in Kiss Me Kate at  Stratford and Crazy for You for  Mirvish Productions, among many others.

While the rumors are  only at buzz pitch right now and nothing has been confirmed, theatre wags are  saying that Brent Carver (Kiss  of the Spiderwoman, Parade) might be one of the  actors to headline The  Lord of the Rings; the actor is currently  appearing in Soulpepper's The  Wild Duck.

current mood: excited

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Friday, July 15th, 2005
3:07 am

Hey everyone.. I'm new in this community~ I absolutely love Stratford. I've done 'The Shakespeare School' 3 times, 2 of which were for musical theatre... they were all great experiences. We had the opportunity to meet a lot of the actors.. take workshops... learn alot and experience Stratford a little more intimately than just a regular tourist. Unfortunately for me (and stratford :) ) , I decided not to attend the shakespeare school this year because i'm going off to college at the boston conservatory of music and shakespeare schoool just didn't fit in. ANYWAY, I just got back from stratford and I saw Hello Dolly and Into the Woods (of course both the musicals.. but did want to see more it just didn't fit!). I definitely enjoyed both... anyone have any comments about the musicals this year? I've seen INto the Woods MANY MANY MANY times.. this one was really different... I was sometimes confused w/what the art director was going for, but it definetely kept me not knowing what they would come up w/next.

so Into the Woods. Hello Dolly. Discuss!

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