Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday Feature: Cristina Iovita on The Dispute, The Colony and The Slaves' Island

Marivaux Recovered
by Cristina Iovita

Cristina Iovita Director, Playwright, Founder and Artistic Director of Le Théâtre de l’Utopie, student in the PhD Humanities program, Concordia University, Montreal. After her graduation with honours from the UNATC I.LCaragiale at Bucharest, Romania (1984), Ms Iovita developed a decade-long career as a director, author in residence and artistic director of various theatre companies in her native country. She was awarded the Best Director Prize at the national and international festivals of Braila (1989) and Skopje (1991). Between 1993 and 1996 she studied and worked in Boston, and, along with earning her Master’s Degree from Emerson College and directing and teaching at various theatre schools in Massachusetts and Maine, obtained awards for playwriting at the New England and Emerson One Acts festivals. In Canada she continues to direct and write for le Théâtre de l’Utopie, the independent company she founded in 1999, to which she has given eighteen successful productions.

Why Marivaux?

Because he’s a great comic  author, sadly, neglected by  his contemporaries, and by the modern times. And when he’s not, it’s for the wrong reasons such as the famous marivaudage, something akin to boring conversations about love and relationships, which he would not have written to save his life. Some would say that textbooks and the French (francophone) stage keep him alive. This makes him a museum piece, a monument to the French language to be enjoyed only by connoisseurs. But  Marivaux  is much more than that : it’s theatre at its best, 'popular' by definition, full of spirit and joy, educational and entertaining at the same time. A great object of study for our students, and an invitation to the Montreal public to rediscover a classic - these are the main reasons prompting the project.

Why a trilogy?

Because The Dispute, The Colony and The Slaves’ Island  deal with the 'origins of man and society' each in its own way but with the same purpose : to expose the mechanisms of love and lust and power that govern the world.  Are we inclined to love or merely to possess other people and things? Is human nature naturally bad? Or is it good but easy to corrupt? Given half a chance, would you choose love over money and the power it gives you? It is a hot dispute that echoes today’s ideologic quarrels and the public is challenged to give their own answer to the matter. 

Material  reasons are, of course, involved: large casts and extended design and production teams are a rare occurrence in the world outside academia. It is a great opportunity for the Concordia students to experiment with classic repertory while still free of the material worries of the real world. And of course to understand the makings of a good comedy, free of vulgarity yet entertaining and so popular by definition.

I like a challenge, always did, and dusting off the classics is the biggest challenge a director can face, especially when working with aspirant actors. The Islands of Love is to me a wonderful opportunity to see if young artists can believe in the old masters as much as I do. I think they do believe and will prove it to all who will come see our show. 

Runs Nov. 27 - Dec. 1

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