Christian Murray and Dennis Fitzgerald (photo by Cylla von Tiedemann)
Theatre shines a light on the desire for life’s reset button. by Christian Baines
Could an evening with Chekhov change a man’s life? Some would say yes, only insofar as tempting him to end it, a criticism slyly referenced in And Slowly Beauty… A clever, inventive and transparently post-modern piece of work, it lays bare one of theatre’s most common goals: that it might hold a mirror up to our own lives in a way that provokes and entertains.
For a good chunk of its time, And Slowly Beauty… achieves that outcome handsomely, fleshing out the mundane, instantly recognizable aspects of Mr. Mann’s (Dennis Fitzgerald) life with humour and a strong kinetic energy that brings a wonderful lightness to its absurdities. The audience longs for a disruption to this cycle as much as Mann does, as he endures tiresome co-workers literally speaking in gibberish, a failing marriage, directionless children, dying friends and desire for a woman he cannot have.
Enter the Dramaturg By Stuart Munro @StuartMunroTO
Smash is back!
Last week’s episode opened with a pretty generic sounding pop/Vanessa Carlton-esque (does anyone remember her?) tune from this season’s new musical, Hit List. Somehow, between the season premier and this week, Karen has managed to not only record a few demos for the show, but is referring to a role in it as “my character.” I’m not exactly sure how we got here, but I’m willing to roll with it. The song doesn’t have the kick that the premiere’s “Broadway here I come” did, but it’s pop quality actually gets convincingly explained away later on (spoiler: it’s a pop song in the context of the new musical). At the end of it all, Derek agrees to meet with the show’s writers and see what its potential is.
The main plot this episode is, as the title suggests, about a dramaturg (a kind of script doctor) who gets brought in to help fix Bombshell’s broken book. This, obviously, doesn’t go over will with Tom and Julia, who feel ambushed. Julia, especially, takes it personally (since it’s her book that needs the work). Nonetheless, his pushing manages to inspire some new scenes and songs that everyone on the production team loves, but I thought were kind of dull. Still it’s a bit fun watching art imitate life a little as the creators of Bombshell try to improve their show at the same time the creators of Smash try to improve on theirs.
Keey Dandomirsky, Patrick Sanbongui (photo credit: David Cooper)
The Haunting Past by Jay Catterson
Coping with loss and grief is what is explored in the new play Haunted by Daniel Karasik, winner of the 2011 Canadian Jewish Playwriting Competition. This is the premiere production of this work, produced by Touchstone Theatre in association with the Vancouver Chutzpah! Festival.
The story centres around Abby Shiner (played by Kerry Sandomirsky), a relatively non-religious English literature professor whose husband had suddenly died of a heart attack. To cope, she attends synagogue where she meets David Green (Patrick Sabongui), a young handsome rabbi whose physical exuberance Abby finds attractive. As Abby and David explore their unusual relationship, Abby's headstrong daughter Sarah (Carmel Amit) coping with the loss of her father, reveals to her logic-driven girlfriend Raina Maclaine (Kayla Deorksen) that the reason she had revisited her passion for painting after a yearlong hiatus is because her deceased father visits her at night.
l-r Jesse LaVercombe, Shannon Currie (by: Maxime Coté)
To Take a Different Tack by Caitlin Murphy I think I’ve reached a theatre-going quota. A sort of saturation point. I feel sated, full. Perhaps so much so, Mr. Creosote, that it is indeed a good time for that bucket. The source of this indigestion: high-concept, low-return subversions of Shakespeare. The National Theatre School’s graduating class’s production of Twelfth Night, under the direction of Jason Byrne, falls sadly into this category.
The stage here is very consciously stripped back to its bare bones – the doors and exit sign, costume racks, and actors waiting ‘in the wings’ are on view throughout. The minimal set consists of a round platform with chaise longue, streams of white material hung at stage left, clay faces littered on the ground, and an over-used and under-integrated projection screen. Costumes seek to provoke: Orsino topless in heels and leopard-print tights, Olivia seemingly dressed for a naughty figure skating routine.
Jean-François Casabonne, Stéphane Jacques and Isabelle Roy(Photo credit: Matthew Fournier)
The Mighty Pen A play on the primacy of words. by Nanette Soucy
In a room that is hazy and warm, in a timeless dark age of a far-flung Scottish countryside, we meet a young unnamed woman and her labourer husband William. The singular and most immediately striking feature of La Veillée’s primal and sparse Des couteaux dans les poules is the language employed, or perhaps invented by Scottish playwright David Harrower. Elevating the principle of class markers in a speaker’s language to poetry, he shows us the dynamics between William and his wife, their station in the village, the superstition and taboos of their culture, in large part, by the language they use. The first few moments of our time with them reveal volumes about their world. Their exchanges are visceral, and economical. They share a limited vocabulary to express their thoughts and experience, and as per their time and place, William has many more words to draw from than his wife. Their conversation topics are limited. The day’s toil. Their sweetness and lust. The animals. The property. Practical vocabulary lessons for the curious and perceptive girl. When a skittish pregnant filly requires William’s undivided attention, he instructs his wife to take the grain to the miller in his place.
The Conversation of Silence by Edgar Governo Canada is a country fixated on its own past.
As a nation, we have never become very adept at discussing contemporary issues because we're constantly trying to look at everything through a historical lens. Our government would rather dwell on the War of 1812 than focus on any current conflict—but the rest of us are no better, complaining that the movie Argo doesn't give Canada enough credit while virtually ignoring the presence of Canadian soldiers in a Muslim country right now. Wars are always something taking place Over There, or which took place Long Ago.
for non-theatre people...It’s a play about life. by Christian Baines A Canadian original about the power of theatre to change a life, Michel Nadeau’s And Slowly Beauty... opens this week at Tarragon Theatre. We caught up with Director Michael Shamata ahead of the show’s Toronto debut.
CHARPO: So, tell us a little bit about And Slowly Beauty... How would you describe the show?
SHAMATA: It’s basically about a man in middle age who goes to see a production of Chekhov’s Three Sisters, and as a result starts to re-examine his life.
CHARPO: In what way?
SHAMATA: In various ways. Different themes and speeches from the play start to resonate for him and in some instances it takes him down a dark path, and eventually it makes him become aware of the beauty of life that he already has.
Let’s Agree to Disagree by Valerie Cardinal @vscardinal
A few weeks ago, I looked at how reviews can differ even if the authors have similar opinions. This week, how can two reviewers go to the same show and come out with completely opposing things to say about it?
The divisive production in question is Soulpepper Theatre’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead in Toronto. Tom Stoppard’s riff on Hamlet, featuring two of its bit-players, was first performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1966. It remains a classic, especially known by people my age due to its film adaptation in 1990. It’s so beloved within my circle of friends that I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never actually seen it!
Staging a production of such a well-known play can be tricky, as shown by the following reviews. These critics saw the same show, presumably on the same night; Richard Ouzounian at The Star loved it, and Christopher Hoile at Stage Door wasn’t quite so keen. They do agree on a few elements, including the staging in the round, Dana Osborne’s Elizabethan costumes and Kevin Lamotte’s complimentary lighting. That is mostly where the similarities end.
Before I saw my first real play, at 14 or so, I had been to the opera several times. My first was a production of La Bohème (what else) at the gorgeous Palais Montcalm in the heart of Quebec City. People dressed up in furs and suits and even tuxes (me in my blazer, grays and clip-on tie - I was 8). I was hypnotized by Act I. But if you know the opera you also know that the test of a company happens in Act II - Christmas Eve in the streets of Paris in front of Café Momus. Now you'll remember there were no surtitles in those days. You read the story in the program or even followed along in librettos sold at the door. Act II of La Bohème seemed invented to rip the society snobs, the bored and the eight-year-olds from their programs and onto the stage. It is 30-odd minutes of BIIIIG! It was when that curtain rose, on Act II, that this l'il Charlebois fell hopelessly in love - with opera, theatre and BIIIG! (Decades later, when I wanted to seduce my Significant Other into an opera house I promised him splendid surprises and dragged him to the Met, La Bohème, directed by Zefferelli and an Act II that is so goddam huge you have to be made of ice not to gasp.)
A Week in Theatre by Chris Lane @ChrisLaneTweets Who’s doing well right now: Robert Lepage has been awarded the 10th Glenn Gould Prize, for his lifetime contribution to the arts in Canada . And québécois director François Girard is making a splash in New York with the première of his staging of Wagner’s Parsifal at the Met. Over in Toronto, Factory Theatre has announced that they’re keeping Nina Lee Aquino and Nigel Shawn Williams as co-artistic directors. The pair had been in the role on an interim basis since last September, shortly after the ousting of Factory’s founding artistic director Ken Gass.
Palmer (photo: David Cooper)
You, too, could do well: National Theatre School artistic director Alisa Palmer is embarking on a cross-Canada audition tour next week. And across the border, the National Yiddish Theatre – Folksbiene (led by former Segal Theatre artistic director Bryna Wasserman) is asking for submissions for a new prize for Yiddish plays.
Doing better, but not doing good: Garth Drabinsky could be furthering his storied career again after being released from prison on day parole last weekend. The film and theatre mogul, who founded Livent with Myron Gottlieb, served 17 months after a bankruptcy filing (and lengthy court battles) shed light on years of fraudulent books.
If You Show Up On Time, You're Actually Late by Estelle Rosen Orlando Lopez, was born in El Salvador, and is currently finishing his BFA in Film Studies at Concordia University. He was part of Infinitheatre's "Trench Patterns" as an apprentice stage manager. He was also stage manager for Theatre Plant's "Triple Cross" presented at last year's Montreal Fringe and contributed a short film intro for Brave New Productions "The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later". He’s also helping promote their latest project “ART” at this year’s Montréal En Lumière Festival. You can follow him on Twitter (@link2lando)
CHARPO: Why do you want to become a stage manager?
LOPEZ: It was a rainy day sometime in late 2011 when I received a call from Anna Fuerstenberg. I was on the bus, and I couldn’t hear her properly, but it was a call I was happy to answer. “Orlando, do you remember me?” Of course, I said! How could I ever forget Anna? She’s an amazing playwright and theatre director, talented, funny, and always ready with a story. “I called because I wanted to ask you if you wanted to be my stage manager for my Fringe show, it’s called Triple Cross. It’s a farce, and that means every entrance and exit must have a laugh!” I was about to miss my bus stop, but Anna’s enthusiasm over the phone won me over, and I said yes. Of course, I really didn’t know what I was getting into.
Serving up a classic with a side of confusion
by Gregory Bunker
In The Dumb Waiter, Nobel Prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter creates a suspenseful, one-act play centred on two hit men discussing the mysterious nature of their next job. Completely character-driven, the script carefully ratchets up the tension with each line to its eventually obvious but still unbearable conclusion. This tension was sadly missing in the Two Wolves production, replaced instead by general confusion.
The Against the Grain team: L-R Joel Ivany, Nancy Hitzig, Cecily Carver, Christopher Mokrzewski and Caitlin Coull
Voices from Kafka and The Disappeared [PUBLISHER: We gave Against the Grain a tall order as they prepared for their upcoming production Kafka/Janáček/Kurtág. Instead of pestering them for the usual first-person piece going inside their process, we said: How about several people taking us inside - artists from different aspects of the production, administrators, you name it? Once again the company, and their fearless leader Joel Ivany, proved why they deserved the 2012 CharPR Prize for best indie company PR. What you have today is truly a most fascinating piece. GLC]
Colin Ainsworth, tenor in Janáček’s The Diary of One Who Disappeared Twitter: @ColinAinsworth web: www.colinainsworth.ca
Approaching Janáček is no easy feat. There’s the obvious language barrier, since Czech isn’t my first language or even one of my peripheral languages, but also there’s the sheer volume of songs. For me, it’s like singing Schubert’s cycle Die Schöne Müllerin except in completely unknown territory. Once that is done, then it’s time to figure out what each word means, what each song is about, and how it fits into the bigger picture of the entire cycle. Then, there is Janáček’s unique musical language, which takes time to learn.
Thankfully, I have had the opportunity to do this piece once before and have been thinking about it for a while. That being said, one shot at this mammoth cycle is just skimming the surface. It’s like a mini-opera; a journey for the protagonist. So once you’ve begun to grasp the language and what you are saying, it’s all about telling the story of this young man. It’s as close to real life as it gets as Janáček had his own encounter with forbidden love. He wrote all his raw emotion and meaning into his music - sometimes so simply but quite effectively.
The great thing about Janáček is he is equally brilliant at storytelling with both words and notes. He gives you everything that you need to know in the story through the music: narrative, character, emotion—it is all seamlessly folded in. As a performer, all you need to do is be attuned to Janáček’s guidance and the story sings itself.
Sucks to be us, but not when we’re together… Behind the scenes with a monster and a slut by Cassie Muise (photos via Facebook)
Editor's Note: Due to an unintentionally misleading price point, it should be noted that the average price of the ticket is actually significantly lower than what was listed in this article ($60). While intended to highlight the difficult position of artists in the city, its inaccuracy should be noted so as to not compromise the reader's opinion of the Lower Ossington Theatre.
When CharPo offered me the opportunity to write about life on Avenue Q, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to. I came late to this production, opening this re-mount with the cast on December 13, 2012. The show, however, has been running for over a year (although not throughout), and to this date has had over 120 shows, to full houses. Even with snowmaggedon (which, let’s be honest, wasn’t that bad), the house was still about half full. It is currently the longest running production in Toronto.
So what’s it like, living with puppets? The simple answer is, it’s a joy. In Avenue Q, I play Kate Monster – the sweet, hardworking, feisty muppet-esque character – and Lucy the Slut. Her name says it all, really. Rarely in a show do you get to play the good girl and the bad girl. Switching back and forth between the characters, occasionally in the same scene, has been as rewarding as it is challenging. Avenue Q has offered me the opportunity to work with an amazing cast and creative team (all of whom are young, emerging artists), to dabble in puppetry (an incredible medium whose complexity is undervalued), and be in front of wonderful, welcoming audiences (getting recognized around Toronto is nice, even when it’s at hot yoga and my shins are sweating).
In 1968, the musical revue Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris was first mounted Off-Broadway and ran for more than four years. Now Point B Theatre, in association with Presentation House Theatre in North Vancouver, have remounted this show for a new audience.
Rock of Ages CharPo sits down with Danny McHugh, one of the many hard-working young actors cast in the current national tour of the hit Broadway musical Rock of Ages, and rediscovers an age-old truth: Hard work pays off …
by Richard Burnett
One of the things I do enjoy about national tours of Broadway plays and West End musicals is interviewing the veteran actors in their casts, actors who have accumulated a lifetime of entertaining anecdotes from sharing a stage with some of the theatre world’s living legends.
Like 68-year-old Ryan Hilliard – part of the 2012 journeyman cast of Mary Poppins – who told me his all-time favourite production was co-starring with Broadway legend Chita Rivera in Anything Goes at The Paper Mill Playhouse for six weeks back in 2000.
“What a thrill that was!” Hilliard told me. “I really enjoyed watching her work, and she stood in the wings watching other people work. We were very tight. She was very gracious and her humour was never cruel.”
Back to Nothing by Cameryn Moore It’s funny how this column thing works out. Last week I’m doing some thinky-thinking about auxiliary events to supplement theatrical presentations—that is totally what I was thinking about, really and truly!—and this week, my head is in a whole different space. I’m back to the personal, back to “here, let me break open my rib cage and let you in”. Because things are starting to come together for Phone Whore, the Movie, and it is freaking me right the fuck out.
It’s the film adaptation of Phone Whore, so it’s not, you know, from scratch, but it’s still pretty intense. Writing the screenplay. Rounding up meals for the crew. Learning how to put on makeup so that it doesn’t look like makeup, even through the exacting eye of the camera. DECONSTRUCTING EVERY THING THAT I MANAGED TO LEARN FOR MYSELF OVER THE LAST 13 YEARS ABOUT PERFORMING AND WRITING FOR PERFORMANCE.
INTERNATIONAL CABAL CREATES GLOBAL MAGIC joel fishbane @joelfishbane
The art of collaboration is getting a whole new definition thanks to a new initiative being spearheaded by a feisty group of international directors, all of whom seem intent on making one of the world’s loneliest professions a little less lonely. The World Wide Lab is a global collective of 13 directors who are intent on exploring what happens to theatre when one directorial vision is replaced by two – or three or six, as the case may be. “I hate competition in art,” says Evan Tsitsias, one of WWL’s founding members. “To be in a room of directors and to really want everyone to succeed…. it’s all about creating magic.”
A Toronto-based director / playwright, Tsitsias helped found WWL after participating in the Director’s Lab at Lincoln Center in 2011. An annual retreat for international directors, the Lab allows artists to collaborate on techniques and share their individual approaches to the art of putting things on stage. Traditionally, directors return to their individual projects having adopted new skills - but the founders of WWL wanted to try something different. “We wanted to create an annual festival focusing on collaboration,” explains Tsitsias. “No show would ever be directed by less then two directors.”
If only theatre could be seen by those who really need to see it.
Zee Zee Theatre is quite a remarkable little company; director/performer Cameron Mackenzie and his husband writer/performer Dave Deveau have been producing works about the marginalized on a shoestring for the past couple of years.
My Funny Valentine is an important character study based on the tragic case of Lawrence King. The flamboyant gay teen was shot twice in the back of the head by 14 year old Brandon McInerney the day after King gave McInerney a Valentine’s Day Card. This happened in the school computer lab. Lawernce was taken off life support on February 14th.
Little One with Joe Cobden and Michelle Monteith (photo: Nir Baraket)
MOSCOVTICH SHOWS HER METTLE joel fishbane
Hannah Moscovitch continues to prove why she’s one of Canada’s most produced playwrights with a pair of contemporary one-acts now playing at Tarragon Theatre. The effect the children of others have on our lives is the theme of both Little One and, appropriately, Other People’s Children, two sharp pieces of writing that are well served by stylish productions. Best of all, each show features different casts that are perfectly suited to the work they have been given.
Of the two plays, Little One is the clear champion, an eerie thriller that proves horror can work in the theatre when it’s in the right hands. Aaron (Joe Cobden) recounts his childhood with his abusive adopted sister Claire (Michelle Monteith), a girl he describes as a monster. Cobden is pitch-perfect in the role, his laconic demeanour making us sympathize with him even as his behaviour becomes less sympathetic. Full disclosure here: I went to school with Cobden and have long been a fan of his work. Here, it seems as if he was made for the role, smoothly transforming from the modern day, affable Aaron into his moody teenage counterpart.
Shawn Macdonald, Diana Coatsworth, David Marr (photo by David Cooper)
Without a Hitch by Jay Catterson
The hugely successful "Hitchcock meets Hilarious" stage romp The 39 Steps gets the Arts Club Vancouver treatment for the second time; this time the show hits the road for a small tour around British Columbia's Lower Mainland.
The stage show is lovingly adapted from the iconic Alfred Hitchcock film of the same name by Patrick Barlow, which is based on the novel by John Buchan. The charm of this show is that it is entirely performed by four actors, and the creative use of lighting, props, and set pieces to illustrate the various quick scene changes, and the many role changes that these actors have to embody, is a delight in itself.
Patricia Racette: Diva on Detour is a fun album of the standards done by one of the best American opera stars. Set in a cabaret environment, this record is like spending an afternoon with a talented singer who has taken a detour from Opera to pursue another one of her passions, vocal jazz.
Her very personal transitions from one song to the next make for an intimate setting: this could be a recording from a lounge bar of a nice hotel in Syracuse, New York. Ms. Racette introduces the songs with stories and biographical anecdotes to create an intimate and casual atmosphere with the live audience. For example, she describes how her mother, Jackie, wanted her to pursue opportunities with popular music instead of a career in opera and could not understand why “Pattie” was not singing every song with her “chest voice”.
This week has been quite a week for The Charlebois Post. The type of lively discussion that I relish, provoked by Gaëtan Charlebois's op-ed column about being shunned by Mirvish Productions is exactly the type of debate that you want. Perhaps this is not the preferred springboard, but it does show how much readers care and are engaged. But sometimes engagement is not a welcome thing. A person in the theatre, a heckler or someone that talks loudly to their theatre partner, “Why did that happen? What’s going on now?” can be irritating to the other patrons.
The obvious evolution of theatre is already extending to virtual performance and podcast. While I hope this never replaces theatre that includes a living breathing audience, it is a welcome addition to artistic expression but will inevitably bring us the theatre chat bar. When I was young there was no such thing as a chat bar unless you count a local emporium where one would drink and try out new one-liners and pickup lines.
Our primary criterion for Picture of the Week is this: does it make you want to see the play. This Keith Barker photo of Joseph Pierre and Sascha Cole from Obsidian's Shakespeare's Nigga certainly fills that bill. It has two elements which, to be blunt, are sure sells for a production: sex and violence. But it goes beyond and presents an unpleasant commingling of the two elements and adds themes of slavery (and, not to put too fine a point on it, sado-masochism), miscegenation and throws in a steam punk sensibility (look at Ms Cole's costume and Mr. Pierre's bonds). Now all of these motifs may be in the script, yes, but what goes beyond the text is how Mr. Barker has corralled them and then added an aesthetic. The white hand on the black chest, the mauve colours of the dress reflected on the skin of both actors, and all of it played out on a perfect blackness.
About the Actors by the Actors Donald Rees, Sean Curley and Nir Guzinski talk ART
DONALD: Welcome to a unique interview between the cast members of Brave New Productions 'ART'. My name is Donald Rees and I'm here with Sean Curley and Nir Guzinski to talk about the show which opens February 28th at Theatre Ste Catherine. We seem to have such great conversations when the three of us are together, and although there have been lots of promo for the show, we haven’t had a chance to do any of it together. We already know the best questions to ask each other, so let’s start at the beginning:
How did all of this get started? Do you guys remember how you initially approached the project?
SEAN: Well, it was Donald who approached me with an idea for the next project following The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later. I brought up a couple of plays that I thought would be fun to put up, both are written by John Patrick Shanley; 'Where's My Money' and 'Psychopathia Sexualis.' While he was busy reading those plays, he had suggested I take a look at 'ART,' which eventually won out over the others. By then I already knew which character I was wanted to portray.
DONALD: That's right. Sean is full of suggestions. Once he and Clarisse Desire (our make-up artist for Callistro The Great) cornered me and tried to persuade me that Brave New Productions next play should be a futuristic war piece. They almost had me convinced, but then Sean fell off the stage and somehow the subject was never touched upon again. I really wanted to do Psychpathia Sexualis. That's the one with the socks right? I was trying to figure out a way to do both Art and that one. I remember Sean got back to me and said he wanted to take on Yvan and I was a bit shocked. Only because Yvan has a two page monologue. I still want to do Psychopathia Sexualis. There's just too many projects I'd like for us to do together. If only we had more (any) funding. We (BNP) don't normally go around letting people pick their roles, but Sean was just so incredible in last years Callistro The Great (unbelievably professional and an all around joy to work with) that a joyous exception was made.
SEAN: Hey 1984 is still on the table as far as I'm concerned, I just haven't located a script. And as far as falling off the stage goes, I spoke to some audience members following the show and the majority of the comments hinted that it looked part of the performance....that's all I gotta say about that.
NIR: It was during our drive to our Toronto presentation of The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later that I found out about Brave New Productions next project: ‘ART’. While driving with Emma, Sean and Kenny Wong, I overheard that auditions were being held for one character in this three man show! Emma had hinted that they were looking for a fresh new face.. and as my wrinkly face had just appeared in their last two plays... I assumed I had to let this one go! But at the Laramie wrap/cast party, a tipsy Donald approached me and insisted I audition! ... So i did! Coming into the audition i have to admit I was pretty nervous, but auditioning alongside Sean and Donald made it much more comfortable! And to my surprise, my wrinkled face became fresh again and I was offered the role of Marc!! I was thrilled to portray such an obnoxious, egotistical, pompous character, being such a prick myself, it was right up my alley!! ... In all seriousness, I was looking forward to the challenge of playing a very different personality than my own, and in a comedy with two other incredibly talented, hilarious individuals!
The MAP-Project Where have we been? by David di Giovanni
We’ve taken a break. We had a hiatus. And during this time, December and January, I hadn’t been to one performance, read any reviews, nor thought much about theatre, and, I’m telling you, it’s been liberating.
Before last week, the last time I was in a theatre was watching our remount of Play it Again, Phaedra in the first week of December. And after three months of working and reworking this one piece, we decided to go against our original plan this season to mount three shows. Instead, we decided that two was much more manageable. For four people to keep their day jobs, and commit to creating an original work by night, whilst keeping the Facebook Fan pulse pumping, hibernation makes sense. Rest makes so much sense.
Macbeth meets the Great War The Scottish play caps off a season of classics at Players by Sarah Deshaies @sarahdeshaies
You couldn’t do a season of classic plays without touching on the Bard.
McGill Players’ Theatre has been revisiting and refurbishing the great plays throughout their whole season, beginning with Waiting for Godot. For the final feature production before the McGill Drama Festival begins, director Martin Law and his cast and crew cast Macbeth in World War I-era Scotland.
The transition to this time period is half-baked. The mid-1910s costumes are sweet and reminiscent of Downton Abbey: mismatched officers’ jackets cinched at the waist and slim evening gowns.
The Mystery of The Theatre Nut When we got on Twitter, we automatically started to follow people like Kelly Nestruck at the Globe and Mail and Glenn Sumi at Now in Toronto, but being good Twitter denizens we also checked to see who THEY were following and noticed that not only they but damn near everyone who was important in Canadian theatre was following Tapeworthy. From the miniature picture on Twitter (above, at Carnegie Hall), we thought Tapeworthy was a girl. He is not. We also thought he was short. He is not...at all. There was speculation he was independently wealthy, but that was brushed away when he started to talk about deals he was nabbing for seats at shows around the world. It wasn't long before we became fans of the quirky, funny blogger who sees damn near everything everywhere. So it just seemed natural that we would try to unravel the mystery...by email, of course. (BTW: he's @tapeworthy) CHARPO: We follow you avidly on Twitter (as over a thousand others do) because - as is your slogan - "You like to watch." You see it all and everywhere. Tell our readers how many plays you saw last year.
TAPEWORTHY:It actually started out as a blog for TV with a friend/co-worker but she dropped out, I started including film and music, and then I started seeing more theatre and now it has sort of morphed into a theatre Twitter (as everyone has switched over to Twitter). Last year I saw 159 stage shows (but that includes Plays, Musicals, Circus - basically Cirque - and other stuff; but not concerts except the Symphony that had a musical lean on it). Last year was my record year, beating 2011 by 1 show, around 112 the year before that. Three years ago it was only around 60, and before that, maybe like 10-30/year at most. I've gone a bit nuts.
The company behind Le iShow wanted to talk about Facebook, Twitter - all of it. But what to say, exactly? "What do we have to exhibit that is so essential, so urgent, so general? Maybe just our skin..." So Les Petites Cellules Chaudes dove in and their extravaganza is getting a viewing this week at Montreal's Usine C.
...what to do when a big producer throws its weight around
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois
As a critic I have so been there/done that: refused reviewer's privileges by a specific company. This means no tickets for opening night (or any other night) and, in some cases, being cut from the mailing list. I've been down this road with Centaur Theatre, Espace Go, Cirque du Soleil and productions involving lyricist Luc Plamondon. In most of the cases, bridges were rebuilt and cordiality returned with the new season.
Now I'm a publisher and there's Mirvish, in Toronto, and the gentleman I've been trying to deal with there, John Karastamatis (or, as he is known in the city's theatre circles, John K.). I must name John K. because the operative word in the previous sentence is "trying".
This week, I’m going back to my hometown: Montreal. One of the most remarkable things about the city is its bilingualism. Coincidentally enough, this is also one of the most remarkable things about me!
The fact that Montreal has flourishing theatre scenes in French and English leads to all sorts of interesting crossovers. Many publications post reviews of French theatre in English and vice-versa, which I find fascinating. Even The Charlebois Post occasionally gets in on that action. It’s interesting to see how a production is interpreted outside of the language of its performance. Even though I’m sure these reviewers are perfectly bilingual like me, do things still get lost in translation?
Take the following reviews of Still Standing You, for example. One is from the English-language The Rover, while the other is from French-language MonThéâtre.qc.ca. What’s more Montreal than two-man experimental theatre that makes people laugh through making them uncomfortable?
This week in theatre by Chris Lane @chrislanetweets [PUB: We are very pleased to be introducing another weekly column today. Chris Lane, our Editor-in-Chief for our Vancouver division, will be sharing the national theatre news stories with you each Monday. If you have news, by all means send it along to us with the heading "Lane's Week" and we'll make sure Chris gets it! Or follow him on Twitter!] Seasons Announced:(Toronto)Mirvish Productions has announced the lineup of its 50th anniversary 2013-2014 season. The three big shows will be: Les Misérables, featuring West End star Ramin Karimloo; Aladdin; and the Canadian premiere of Once. Opera Atelier has also announced their 2013-2014 season, which will start with their fall show of Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio. The spring 2014 opera will be Lully’s Persée, which will also be travelling to France, for Versailles’ first production of Persée since being the inaugural show of the Royal Opera House in 1770. (Source)(Vancouver)Vancouver Opera has announced that its next season will open with Puccini’s Tosca in the fall, followed by Benjamin Britten’s Albert Herring (as seen this month in Victoria). Their spring 2014 shows will be a pair of Dons: Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Verdi’s Don Carlo.
Welcome to:(Toronto)Jennifer Tarver has joined Necessary Angel Theatre Company as their artistic director. (Gananoque, Ontario) The Thousand Islands Playhouse has launched a Playwrights’ Unit, and selected five playwrights for residency: Jessica Anderson, Lawrence Aronovitch, Douglas Bowie, Sarah Dennison, and Craig Walker. (Source)
Hats off to:(Toronto)Soheil Parsa, artistic director of Modern Times Stage Company, has been awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. (Vancouver)PuSh Festival wrapped up a big year, with a 45% increase in attendance from last year. There were over 34,000 tickets sold to over 190 performances by 275 different artists. (Source)
More than “translationese” by Estelle Rosen Elizabeth Ten-Hove, a Classics student in her final year at McGill, is currently directing the McGill Classics Play’s 2013 production, Sophocles’ Philoktetes. In previous years, she played Kassandra in Aeschylus’ Agamemnon and Hippolytos in Euripides’ Hippolytos. Beyond McGill, she has served as stage manager for Oimoi Productions’ Hippolytos (2012 Montreal Fringe), and most recently appeared as a member of the Choir of Theban Women in Scapegoat Carnivale’s October 2012 production of Euripides’ Bacchae.
CHARPO: I was intrigued to learn about McGill Classics Play. Tell us about the background and why Sophocles's Philoktetes for the 2013 McGill Classic Play's presentation?
TEN-HOVE: I was fortunate enough to arrive at McGill at the same time as Lynn Kozak, a professor of Ancient Greek whose interests include Greek drama and its reception. She had been involved in productions of ancient tragedy elsewhere, and wanted to start a similar program at McGill. Everyone in the department was on board with the idea, and the result was our February 2011 production of the Agamemnon.