Thursday, February 2, 2012

News: (Toronto) Canadian Stage announces eclectic 2012-13 season

Jonathon Young and Dawn Petten in Tear the Curtain!. Photo by David Cooper.

The season is nothing if not eclectic - it is the 25th anniversary of Canadian Stage set to roar into Toronto next September. The company, which for some odd reason (which only Toronto press knows and will not discuss) has become a controversial house since artistic director Matthew Jocelyn took over. One look at the new lineup and it now seems Jocelyn has embraced the animus!

What jumps off the page is the inclusion of TV actor Jason Priestley in a lead role; double-whammy as Priestley (an agreeable enough actor with one significant film role to his credit: Love and Death on Long Island) will be making his stage debut in David Mamet's Race (first produced on Broadway in 2009). Mamet has recently found profound disfavour among liberals for arch-conservative social views, stated plainly. (He was also a supporter of Sarah Palin.)

The inclusion of play and star may shadow some truly exciting presences in the season: Morris Panych will direct Michael Ball and Fiona Reid in the rarely performed Max Frisch play, the Arsonists and Kim Collier's Tear The Curtain! had a fierce buzz around it on Facebook and Twitter. (GLC)

Press release:

Canadian stage announces 25th Anniversary 2012.2013 season

Featuring Canadian and international artists Jason Priestley, David Mamet, Hofesh Shechter, Morris Panych, Melissa James Gibson and Marie Chouinard alongside Electric Company, Crow’s Theatre, The Company Theatre and The Old Trout Puppet Workshop

Toronto, ONCanadian Stage today announced the details of the 2012.2013 season celebrating the 25th anniversary of the company. Programmed by Artistic & General Director Matthew Jocelyn, the season boasts a dynamic group of contemporary performers, playwrights, directors, choreographers and theatre collectives from Canada and around the world who are creating thought-provoking work that spans every theatrical discipline.

With roots stretching back to the very beginning of professional theatre in Canada, Canadian Stage continues to move boldly forward, presenting the work of a vibrant generation of storytellers whose work is globally-acclaimed. With nine provocative productions and an international Spotlight Festival, the season will play at Canadian Stage’s three venues, the Bluma Appel Theatre, the Berkeley Street Theatre and the High Park Amphitheatre.

The productions and artists on our stages in 2012.2013 will explore some of the big questions about our human experience while pushing the boundaries of what live theatre can be,” said Artistic & General Director Matthew Jocelyn. “To mark our 25th anniversary, we’ve created a season that brings together the best in Canadian and international theatre and dance. The playbill features a mosaic of today’s most talented and thrilling artists – some who are new to our audiences and some who are very well known.”

The 2012.2013 season combines some of the longstanding traditions of Canadian Stage while highlighting the company’s current artistic mandate with five Canadian productions and five productions created by artists from around the world: Australia, Switzerland, the United States, Israel and England, and Japan.
On stage at the Bluma Appel Theatre:
Acclaimed actor and international film and television star Jason Priestley (Call Me Fitz, Beverly Hills 90210), in his first live theatre role since 2000, will be featured in Race, a sizzling new play by David Mamet (the award-winning playwright who wrote Glengarry Glen Ross, the first play featured by the newly amalgamated Canadian Stage 25 years ago).
Performing live on stage is an incredible thrill - especially when given such an exhilarating role,” said Priestley, who will play Jack Lawson in Race. “I am very excited to return to the theatre in Canada with Canadian Stage.”
Director and Siminovitch Prize-winner Kim Collier and Vancouver’s Electric Company return to Canadian Stage to open the season with Tear the Curtain!, a mixed-media production that blurs the boundaries between film and theatre. UK-based Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter brings his electrifying dance work, Political Mother, to Toronto as part of the premiere North American tour. Director Morris Panych and set designer Ken MacDonald, the creative team behind Canadian Stage’s 2009 hit Art, reunite to present the first Canadian production of The Arsonists by Max Frisch in a translation by Alistair Beaton. This wildly funny political farce stars two of Canada’s favourite actors, Michael Ball and Fiona Reid and Toronto-based songwriter and musician Justin Rutledge will compose original music for the production, performing live on stage with a full band. Matthew Jocelyn directs This, a laugh-out-loud comedy about love, loss and letting go from talented Canadian playwright Melissa James Gibson. Montreal choreographer Marie Chouinard gives her strikingly creative new dance piece, The Golden Mean (Live) its Toronto premiere.
At the Berkeley Street Theatre:
Innovative artistic partners The Company Theatre present Speaking in Tongues, a tantalizing thriller written by Andrew Bovell and directed by co-artistic director Philip Riccio. Calgary’s world-renowned troupe The Old Trout Puppet Workshop explore Ignorance in a documentary-style performance with their visually stunning puppets. Artistic collaborators and new Berkeley Street Partner, Crow’s Theatre, share a poignant new play written by Kristen Thomson and directed by Chris Abraham called Someone Else. An international festival, Spotlight Japan, will offer a rare opportunity to see thrilling high-tech contemporary theatre and dance from Japan’s leading playwrights, choreographers and performers including avant-garde hip-hop dancer Hiroaki Umeda, the cutting-edge Android Robot Theatre, grande dame of butoh dance Carlotta Ikeda and absurdist playwright Toshiki Okada.
In High Park, award-winning director Richard Rose celebrates the 30th anniversary of the summerlong, outdoor Shakespeare in High Park production with A Midsummer Night’s Dream featuring a talented local cast.   
To mark the company’s 25th anniversary, Canadian Stage will offer patrons additional savings with subscriptions available at a cost of 25% less than single-ticket prices (a savings of more than 5% over past seasons). To give audiences more flexibility in their theatre-going schedules, especially over the weekend, Canadian Stage will introduce Sunday matinees at the Bluma Appel Theatre for the first time ever.
2012.2013 Subscriptions are on sale beginning today, February 2, with 4-show packages starting from $98, 6-show packages starting from $144 and 10-show packages starting from $228. Subscriptions may be purchased by phone at 416-368-3110 or in-person at the Canadian Stage Box Office: Bluma Appel Theatre (27 Front Street East) or Berkeley Street Theatre (26 Berkeley Street). Single tickets will be on sale in early September 2012. Full details on the productions, casting and subscription packages are available online at
In addition to the work presented on stage, Canadian Stage continues to support the artistic community through a variety of professional development initiatives and invests in cutting-edge artistic creation. The company offers artistic and learning opportunities for children, youth, educators, young professionals and adults in schools and communities year-round, including the York University MFA Program in Stage Direction in collaboration with Canadian Stage, a two-year program that allows students to integrate studio work at York with involvement in artistic projects at Canadian Stage.
At the Bluma Appel Theatre

Tear the Curtain!  
October 7 to 20, 2012    
By Jonathon Young and Kevin Kerr
Created with and Directed by Kim Collier
David Adams, Scott Bellis, Craig Erickson, Hiro Kanagawa, Tom McBeath, Dawn Petten, Gerard Plunkett, James Fagan Tait, Jonathon Young
An Electric Company production in association with Vancouver’s Arts Club Theatre Company presented by Canadian Stage  
Alex is a jaded theatre critic in a gritty film noir rendition of 1930s Vancouver. When he falls for the screen siren Mila, he's caught dangerously between two warring mob families – one controlling the city’s playhouses, the other its cinemas. At the dawn of the Talkies, can Alex tear through the artifice of these art forms without selling his soul – or losing his mind?
In this new production of the genre-bending West Coast hit, the action moves from screen to stage and back again, resulting in a groundbreaking hybrid theatrical experience. A penetrating examination of art and our human need to both create and consume it, Tear the Curtain! blurs the boundaries between film and theatre in a stylish psychological thriller brought to life by director and Canadian Stage Resident Artist Kim Collier.
“Beautifully, dazzlingly cohesive... the staging is undeniably breathtaking” – Vancouver Courier
Political Mother
October 24 to 28, 2012 
Choreography, direction and original music by Hofesh Shechter
A Hofesh Shechter Company production presented by Canadian Stage
UK-based Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter’s electrifying new work has taken the dance world by storm, sweeping through Europe, Asia, Australia and the United States, leaving breathless reviews in its wake. In 2012, Shechter’s touring production stops in Toronto for a 6-performance run.
Part dance spectacle, part rock gig, Political Mother has been called everything from an extended metaphor on political oppression to a “howling beast of a dance show.” An intoxicating, full-throttle, immersive experience that is sure to be the dance event of the year.
“A marvel of son et lumière, as ambitious and as heads-down, hair-prickingly exhilarating as modern dance gets.” – Daily Telegraph

The Arsonists
November 11 to December 9, 2012

By Max Frisch in a translation by Alistair Beaton
Directed by Morris Panych and set design by Ken MacDonald
Starring Michael Ball and Fiona Reid with an original score composed and performed by Justin Rutledge

A Canadian Stage production
Gottlieb Biedermann has a problem. Two strangers have weaseled their way into his home and he’s pretty sure they’re the arsonists who’ve already torched much of his small town. Perhaps by turning a blind eye what he doesn't want to see won't happen. Or will it?
Wickedly funny, Swiss playwright Max Frisch’s famous post-World War II farce about our all-too-human ability to ignore acts of despicable evil (even when they occur under our own roofs) gets its Canadian premiere in this not-to-be-missed production from the director and designer of Canadian Stage's 2009 runaway hit Art.
“It’s almost impossible to withstand the theatrical pull of the narrative” – New Statesman
February 3 to March 3, 2013 
By Melissa James Gibson
Directed by Matthew Jocelyn
A Canadian Stage production
Jane’s husband died over a year ago but his ashes are still sitting on top of her fridge. Struggling to raise her young daughter alone, Jane isn’t really okay. Her friends try to cheer her up with party games and blind dates but they’re desperate for fun themselves, juggling a sleep-deprived new baby and a relationship strained to the breaking point. Their wisecracking and wine-drinking gay friend tries to help while a sexy, French Doctor-Without-Borders incites temptation – and perspective.
This witty un-romantic comedy by Canadian playwright Melissa James Gibson offers an honest and hilarious portrait of a group of “30-something” friends navigating their way through death, parenthood, and adultery – while pointing out with wit and searing grace the absurdities of modern life. You might spot someone you recognize among these precarious adults – maybe even yourself.
“Melissa James Gibson graduates into the theatrical big leagues with this beautifully conceived, confidently executed and wholly accessible work” – New York Times

April 7 to May 5, 2013

By David Mamet
Starring Jason Priestley
A Canadian Stage production
Wealthy white businessman Charles Strickland is lawyering up: accused of raping a young black woman, he seeks representation from the only firm in town willing to take on such an incendiary case. Fortunately, this firm boasts two ruthless, whip-smart attorneys – one white, one black. Unfortunately, Strickland’s case exposes much more than a vicious crime. International star Jason Priestley (Call Me Fitz, Beverly Hills 90210) tackles the leading role in this new Canadian production.
With his trademark crackling wit and shocking dialogue, acclaimed playwright Mamet lays bare both a corrupt legal system and a simmering racial/sexual rage that permeates North American culture, even in a post-Obama world.
“Gripping, stimulating, and perversely enjoyable! Mamet’s toughest, tautest, and most compelling dialogue in years.” – San Francisco Chronicle
The Golden Mean (Live)
May 8 to 12, 2013 
Choreography by Marie Chouinard
Original music by Louis Dufort
A Compagnie Marie Chouinard production presented by Canadian Stage
In math, the “golden mean” is a ratio that both describes and reflects balance and beauty in the cosmos. In dance – more specifically, in Marie Chouinard’s new work of the same name – it is an astonishing tribute to the poetry of the human body, and an unforgettable journey to a place of pure enchantment.
Everything about this piece – choreography, music, set, costumes; even the long catwalk that extends into the audience – is stunning. Following Chouinard’s Orpheus and Eurydice as part of Canadian Stage’s 2011.2012 season, another of her internationally-acclaimed shows arrives for a one-week run in May 2013.
The Golden Mean (Live) is another in a long line of challenging and visually arresting pieces. Silly and profound, chaotic and expressive… a quite wonderful 80-minute oddity.” – The Globe and Mail

At the Berkeley Street Theatre
Speaking in Tongues
October 29 to November 24, 2012 

By Andrew Bovell
Directed by Philip Riccio
A Company Theatre production in association with Canadian Stage
When a woman goes missing, four marriages fall into a mess of sex, lies, and neglect. Through it all, each couple desperately searches for fulfillment and the line between right and wrong becomes dangerously blurred. Speaking in Tongues is a thrilling play fresh from Australia; a multi-faceted adventure that reveals the darker side of human nature.
The Company Theatre, the Berkeley Street Partners who presented 2011’s critically-acclaimed The Test, return with this intriguing and intelligent play in which nine parallel lives are interlocked by lust, infidelity, and one mysterious stiletto.
“Over the past six years, Toronto audiences have learned a simple lesson: When it comes to theatre, to be in the company of The Company Theatre is to be in good company indeed.” – Toronto SUN

November 27 to December 8, 2012

By The Old Trout Puppet Workshop with anonymous contributors
An Old Trout Puppet Workshop production presented by Canadian Stage

The creators of the wildly popular Famous Puppet Death Scenes and The Erotic Anguish of Don Juan create cavemen, beastly primates, and various sabre-toothed rodents that lock wits and horns in this completely adult puppet show from Calgary’s world-renowned Old Trout Puppet Workshop. A documentary about the evolution of happiness, Ignorance is searching for our lost bliss – trying to find out where joy came from and where it’s gone. Sure, we’ve got microwaves, airplanes, and a nagging sense of dissatisfaction – but our grunting, howling prehistoric ancestors might just have felt more at home in the world.
Wildly inventive, visually stunning and by turns poignant and hilarious, Ignorance explains where we went wrong, and how we might find our way once again.
“Mind-blowing originality... boldly reshaping puppet theatre into sophisticated adult entertainment.”
– Fast-Forward Weekly

Someone Else
January 7 to February 2, 2013 
By Kristen Thomson
Directed by Chris Abraham
Starring Kristen Thomson and Tom Rooney
A Crow’s Theatre production in association with Canadian Stage
Cathy is a standup comedian in a creative slump and Peter is a doctor at a community clinic. They've been married for eighteen years but it feels like five hundred and couples therapy isn't helping. They seem bound for heartache when an intimate and sobering encounter with someone else forces them to recognize the fragile foundations that their life is built on. Careening between hilarity and disaster, this play is a naked examination of marriage, middle age, and the delicate nature of change.
Kristen Thomson, who starred in Volcano Theatre’s critically-acclaimed Another Africa at Canadian Stage in 2011.2012, teams up with collaborator Chris Abraham of Crow’s Theatre, Canadian Stage’s newest Berkeley Street Partner.
“If there’s anyone who can lay bare her emotions onstage, it’s Thomson” – NOW
Spotlight Japan
February 26 to March 9, 2013

Japan’s performance artists are creating some of the most exciting work ever seen on the international stage. The biennial international festival offers a rare opportunity to sample this work in Toronto. 
Japan One: February 26 to March 2, 2013 

Haptic and Holistic Strata
Two pieces by digital choreographer/dancer Hiroaki Umeda
A star of Japan’s avant-garde hip-hop scene, Umeda combines street dance, soundscape, and video/light effects in two utterly hypnotic performances.

(in a double bill with)

 Sayonara and I, Worker
Two short plays by Oriza Hirata of Android Robot Theatre
Hirata, Japan’s leading contemporary playwright, creates two works exploring the intersection between human and artificial intelligence. Featuring both human and robot actors.

Japan Two: March 5 to March 9, 2013

Choreographed and Performed by Carlotta Ikeda
The great Carlotta Ikeda, grande dame of butoh dance, in a powerful and poignant exploration of Euripides’ tragic heroine, Medea.
(in a double bill with)
Hot Pepper, Air Conditioner and the Farewell Speech
A one-act play by Toshiki Okada

Okada’s intelligent and disarmingly funny look at disillusioned Japanese youth - hopes dashed by a decade of economic turmoil, yet compelled to soldier on in a soul-destroying urban office.
***** (out of 5) “Combined with an industrial-strength, techno soundscape, [Haptic and Holistic Strata] left one… generally speechless with admiration.” – The Telegraph
“A sly tour de force of absurdist vaudeville.” – New York Times, on Hot Pepper, Air Conditioner and Farewell Speech
“Carlotta Ikeda, the high priestess of butoh… has been dotting the landscape of dance for twenty years now with crazy, hypnotic creations of unrivalled power.” – Un fauteuil pour l'orchestre

At the High Park Amphitheatre

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
June 26 to  September 2, 2012

By William Shakespeare
Directed by Richard Rose
Starring Dmitry Chepovetsky, John Cleland, Mark Crawford, John Dolan, Gil Garratt, Sophia Kolinas, Richard Lee, Ali Momen, Eric Morin, Tamara Podemski, Sarah Sherman, Pierre Simpson
Canadian Stage presents William Shakespeare’s classic comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream as the 30th anniversary Shakespeare in High Park production (formerly called Dream in High Park). This lighthearted tale follows the adventures of four enchanted lovers and a group of amateur actors as they stumble through a mysterious and enchanted evening. Featuring a talented, local cast, this production will showcase the best of Shakespeare and our city. Performed under the stars in High Park, this pay-what-you-can, family-friendly, summer long event is one of Toronto’s favourite traditions.

A cherished part of Toronto summers” – Toronto Star

Canadian Stage Major Sponsors:

BMO Financial Group, CIBC, BMO Harris Private Banking, TD Financial Group, Scotiabank Group, National Bank Financial, Manulife Financial, RBC Foundation, Sun Life Financial, and One King West.

About Canadian Stage:
Founded in 1987 with the merger of CentreStage and Toronto Free Theatre, Canadian Stage is one of Canada’s leading not-for-profit contemporary theatre companies.  Under the direction of Artistic & General Director, Matthew Jocelyn, the company presents multidisciplinary theatre with a focus on emerging performance styles that integrate theatre with other artistic mediums such as dance, film, visual arts and more. Sharing innovative and vibrant theatre from Canada and around the world, the company stages an annual season of work at three major venues (the Bluma Appel Theatre, the Berkeley Street Theatre and the High Park Amphitheatre) and runs a series of artist development and education initiatives, as well as youth and community outreach programs.
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