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Sebastian Marziali: The Ultimate Balancing Act

Sebastian Marziali is an actor.

And a director.

And a producer.

And a world traveler.

And, under his stage name El Toro, he’s also a “boylesque” performer.

In his world, life is a balancing act, both literally and figuratively.

“The program at Humber places a great focus on blending techniques and forms in order to build dynamic performance work on your feet, a principle at the core of burlesque. My own performances as El Toro are known for being highly theatrical while incorporating high energy dance and acrobatics.”

Balancing Burlesque
One of the most interesting aspects of burlesque is a performer’s ability to entertain, inform, and educate in equal measure.

“Burlesque or ‘Boylesque’ is a form that's become incredibly popular and is experiencing its latest revival and evolution. The form itself is incredibly malleable and open for experimentation which is what drew me to it in the first place.

“I play heavily with satire, which is common in burlesque, but even more so amongst ‘boylesquers’ due to the inherent absurdity of a man stripping and the need to provide more than sensuality. Burlesque allows me to cover a wide variety of themes and narratives, from revolution to gender politics to the flipping of classic and pop-culture characters/ narratives.”

Personas in the Balance
In addition to his burlesque persona, Sebastian is also doing a year-long artistic internship with Aluna Theatre thanks to a grant from the Metcalf Foundation. Here, too, he is looking for a way to take disparate elements and combine them into something that is greater than the sum of its parts.

“Part of the work I'm doing in my internship is searching for a way to blend the energy and atmosphere of a burlesque/ vaudeville show with the politics and emotion of theatre to create performance that is high energy, comical, political and cathartic.”

During his time with Aluna, Sebastian has also acted as the assistant director in What I learned from a Decade of Fear and El Refugio de Freidel as well as being a core member in the production of the Pan American ROUTES|RUTAS Pan Americanas festival, which brought four renowned international companies together and presented four national works, two concerts, an extensive conference series and a series of master classes with world-renowned artists from across the Americas.

Balancing Culture and Countries
As an Uruguayan-Canadian, Sebastian has balanced two cultures his whole life. And he’s encountered many more through his extensive travels. Over the last year alone, “El Toro” has performed in the main event at both the New York and Vienna Boylesque Festivals along with a flurry of other performances in Toronto, Ottawa, NYC, Vienna and Montreal. Sebastian also toured with Aluna Theatre, visiting NYC, Colombia, Montreal and Waterloo. To top it off, he participated in an intensive training program in Lima, Peru with the renowned Grupo Cultural Yuyachkani.

A Triple Threat Balancing Act
As a performer-producer-director, Sebastian is a triple threat, striking a balance between participating in other projects and creating his own work. He’s currently directing MORIR DE PIE, a project born in his third year at Humber, and has started his own production company with former classmates Pooria Fard and Kristina Abbondanza.

“Go Play Producing is a production trio with the goal of presenting performance work that is not bound by form or content but by a desire to share stories.”

Balancing Work and Play
Adept at juggling many activities at once, Sebastian admits that he struggled to balance his commitment to school with his commitment to varsity sports during his first year at Humber.

“I was on the varsity rugby team which meant studio classes all day followed by a mad drive from South to North campus for practice every day for the first three months of school. I am happy I did it in the end, but at the time it was really hard because my life was studio and rugby with no time for anything else. It took me a while to actually get to know my classmates because when they were hanging out, I was rushing off to rugby. I felt split but I wouldn't trade the experience.”

And, he says, he still sometimes has trouble saying no.

“Time management is the bane of my existence; I get excited about so many projects but the reality is I can't take part in all of them. It has been a challenge, but now that I’m beginning to get better at it, my work is improving. I comfort myself with the thought that no opportunity is ever gone forever.”

The Business of Balancing Opportunities
Of course, having too many opportunities to choose from is a luxury that Sebastian isn’t complaining about! Though, he admits, he didn’t expect the “outstanding” level of support that came from the artistic community after leaving school and entering the business scene.

“Artists and administrators of all levels and a variety of disciplines have given me opportunities, thrown their full trust in me and helped me build some amazing work.”

Well, we’re not surprised one bit and look forward to seeing more from this amazing young artist, whose life and art demonstrate just how much can be accomplished with the right focus and balance.


Sebastian Marziali is a Uruguayan-Canadian Theatre Artist/ Producer and graduate of Humber College's Theatre Performance program. His passion for all forms of theatre has seen him work as an actor, creator, dancer, burlesque performer, puppeteer, musician, technician and administrator. Since graduating he has involved himself with a range of exciting companies including: The Parahumans, Love Letters Cabaret, Theatre Passe Muraille, Buddies in Bad Times, Aluna Theatre, Alameda Theatre, Small Wooden Shoe and New York's Loco7, to name a few. Sebastian has been an active arts advocate and community engager working with the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts, the CYCTO, Humber College & Friends of the Arts in trying to improve youth involvement and access to the Arts in Toronto. Sebastian is co-founder and co-artistic producer of Go Play Producing; a trio dedicated to nurturing new works from idea to workshop to full production. He is currently spending 2014 honing his directorial vision and producing skills across borders as the Metcalf Artistic Intern with Aluna Theatre.

Find out more about Sebastian on Facebook at Sebastian Marziali or Twitter @SmarzialiEl Toro is also on Facebook and Sebastian’s production company Go Play Productions is on Twitter @GoPlayTO. You can also connect with Sebastian on LinkedIn: Sebastian Marziali

Sebastian Marziali

Photo credit: Angela McConnell

Sebastian Marziali

Photo credit: Drasko Bogdanovic

Sebastian Marziali

Photo credit: Benjamin Ripley