Artist
Keith Cole

© Keith Cole. High Tea with Keith Cole and Jeanne Randolph, FADO, 2022. Photo Henry Chan.

Canada

Keith Cole is a Toronto-based artist, performer and writer. He holds a BFA from York University (1989) and an MFA from the Ontario College of Art and Design (2012). His interdisciplinary artistic practice is a collision of the forms of theatre, dance, film and performance, and the intersections they create. Cole has appeared in films, television and performance events worldwide and is a recipient of a Harold Award (1999) a National Tap Dance Award (2004), the Roberto Ariganello Award (2007) a Dora Award Nomination for Outstanding Male Performance in a Musical (2008) a Pink Triangle Award (2000), XTRA! Magazine Mouthiest Queer Activist Award (2010). In 2010 Keith Cole was a leading contender in Toronto’s Mayoral Election. He placed 8th in the overall election putting him in the top 10 of well over 80 candidates. He has written for FUSE Magazine, KAPSULA Magazine, The Dance Current, XTRA! dailyxtra.com, Fab Magazine, The BUZZ and has contributed writing to three academic anthologies. In 2014 and 2015 NOW Magazine readers voted him Toronto’s Best Performance Artist. As an independent scholar his research work explores gossip, hearsay, rumours, theft, speculation and appropriation within the contemporary art world. 

Performance
Performance Club 2: Valley of the Dolls by Keith Cole

You’ve go to climb to the top of Mount Everest
to reach the Valley of the Dolls.
It’s a brutal climb to reach that peak
which so few have seen.
You never knew what was really up there,
but the last thing you expected to find
was the Valley of the Dolls.
You stand there, waiting for
the rush of exhilaration
you though you’d feel–but
it doesn’t come.
You’re too far away to hear the applause
and take your bows.
And there’s no place left to climb.

Fifty years ago, Jacqueline Susann wrote these opening lines in The Valley of the Dolls, what would become one of the most successful books of its time (with over 31 million copies sold, and counting) making Susann a household name (even if many still read her book under the covers in secret) and bestowing her with the honour of being the first author in history to have three consecutive books in the #1 position on the New York Times bestsellers list. Some might remember the Valley of the Dolls best as the cinematic vehicle for a pill and booze soaked cautionary tale of female ambition, fame, fortune and failure. Despite this, fifty years later the story is still relevant, telling us as much about celebrity culture today and it forewarned us then.

You’re got to climb to the top of Mount Everest to see the Valley of the Dolls, and you’re invited to take this journey with Toronto’s very own performance provocateur Keith Cole in a 5-session book club-cum-academic master class. The first 4 sessions take place in a sprawling hotel room. In Session 5, book club attendees gather with audience to watch a screening of the 1967 film directed by Mark Robson, listen to a key note speech by a secret special guest, and receive their “V of the D” diplomas.

This Performance Club 2 provides participants with a survey of a range of theories and opinions about how we engage, understand and re-evaluate, literary works of art from the past. How do we talk about, feel and learn from a work of art that is still celebrated fifty years after its first release? Our lives are increasingly dominated by visual images on screens but what about the act of reading? The act of discussion? The act of listening? The act of offering up opinions? Have we globally lost the inter-personal understanding of the importance of ideas, the circulation of information and the importance of coming together to identify, contextualize and analyze literary works of art?

The Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann refers to many performance and non-performance outlets. Namely popular entertainment and academic forms ranging from fine art, television, Hollywood, cabaret, camp, feminism, fashion, musical theatre, drug culture, power dynamics and gender politics. All of which will be analyzed in this participant lead Performance Club.

In order to reach a greater understanding of how meaning circulates through our diverse and hectic lives Performance Club participants must first come to terms with 4 items of importance:

  • reading is crucial
  • participation is mandatory
  • attendance counts
  • opinions matter

There is limited enrolment to attend all 4 sessions. The first eight participants enrolled for all sessions will receive a FREE softcover copy of the book. Each week, there will be a limited number of audited spots to attend a single session. These spots also require registration. These spots are PWYC. Auditors attend single sessions and BYOB (Bring Your Own Book).

EVENT & SCREENING
February 27, 2018
The Commons @ 401 Richmond Street West, Toronto
7:00pm: Keynote by Kristyn Dunnion & Graduation
8:00pm: Screening of The Valley of the Dolls

Series
Performance Club

As a proposition for a performance or the framework for an actual book club, FADO’s Performance Club series redefines the historical and contemporary performance art canon, one book club, and one book, article, essay, or anthology at a time. Invited artists perform the role of book club facilitators, leading the audience through a performance of a reading, a reading performance, a performance about a book, or a bookish performance. This series is on-going. Sometimes we pick the book and invite an artist; sometimes we invite an artist and they pick a book. Just like a real book club, we ask the audience to read the suggested material before coming to the performance. But don’t worry, just like a real book club, no one ever does. 

Performance Club 1: Queer/Play
The book is edited by Moynan King. The performance is by Moe Angelos.
December 14–15, 2017

Performance Club 2: Valley of the Dolls by Keith Cole
January 20–February 20, 2018

Performance Club 3: 9Questions, an artist project by Gustaf Broms
That time we made our own book (2018).

Performance Club 4: Book Club: snowflakes in the echo chamber by Moe Angelos
September 10, 2019

Performance Club 5: The Talking Grave by Hope Thompson
September 12, 2019

Performance Club 6: Art Immuno Deficiency Syndrome, subtitle; Does This Giacometti Make Me Look Fat? by David Bateman
September 19, 2019

Series Purple

An ode to FADO's history, Series Purple is composed of a collection of purple fragrance materials dating back to the Roman Empire. Dense, intense, and meandering, this fragrance tells us non-linear stories.

Top Notes

huckleberry, violet

Middle Notes

cassis, lilac, heliotrope

Base Notes

orris root, purple sage, labdanum