Patti Smith is a proven source of inspiration. Not only did she have a profound influence on the nascent punk-rock scene, but she continues to stoke her poetic relationship with the arts, which is at the helm of culture in Toronto right now. The punk-poet’s photography exhibit, Patti Smith: Camera Solo, opens at the AGO this week, while indie theatre company Heart in Hand’s remount of her 1971 play, Cowboy Mouth, will be playing at Cameron House until February 14.
For Heart in Hand, it was a read of Smith’s 2010 memoir Just Kids that led to their re-staging of the autobiographical Cowboy Mouth (co-written with Smith’s then-love interest, Sam Shepard). The raw, hour-long script tells the tale of the pair’s disorderly affair through Slim, “a cat who looks like a coyote,” and Cavale, “a chick who looks like a crow.” The original 1971 production, starring Smith and Shepard as the unusual duo, was performed with nothing but a bare mattress and an acoustic guitar only a few times before Shepard went MIA (apparently the script hit too close to home), forcing the show to close. This month’s remount is in no danger of an early demise. Actor Jessica Huras stars as Cavale opposite Broken Social Scene‘s Jason Collett in his theatrical debut. Slim and Cavale are born again through the two actors, who use Toronto’s artistic climate to relive the intimate details of Smith’s past.