Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Review: (Montreal) En Français Comme en Anglais, It's Easy to Criticize

It’s easy to criticize; it’s harder to do something about it.
National Theatre School celebrates 50 by getting together  
by David Sklar

NTS’ (National Theatre School of Canada) 50th anniversary is coming to an end.  After a year of showcases and promoting itself and its students, the party will come to an end next week with the reunion and Homecoming Cabaret. This week however, the third year graduating class is presenting, En Francais Comme En Anglais, It’s Easy to Criticize. It is hard to believe that this show is the first time both the English and French departments are working together on the same piece. A collaborative effort molded together from three earlier works by Jacob Wren and updated for the 21st century. The piece is designed to explore the place of theatre in the future and what, if any. impact it can still have on us.

Clearly this was not going to be a boring night at the theatre.  

Not knowing what to expect, and only hearing rumours the show was going to be “experimental”, I began to cringe. I’m not someone who likes seeing actors bang on tin cups while repeating arbitrary words and then run off screaming about the injustices of capitalism. And while the show might have touched on those moments, it was something entirely different. Actors breaking the fourth wall at the top of the show, balloon poppings, roller-skating and fortune cookies grabbed our attention and didn’t let us go.  It might have also given people heart palpitations. Clearly this was not going to be a boring night at the theatre.  

..beyond the miscommunication and yelling matches, something else was going on...

The dialogue ran continuously in French and English, often causing the two solitudes to bicker and even get into a physical fight. It was interesting to note how many or rather how few people decided to stand up for the singing of O Canada in English only. Art imitating life, perhaps? But beyond the miscommunication and yelling matches, something else was going on: the need for dialogue and openness; the criticisms we all have about theatre and whether it is a dying art that only old grandmothers continue to support.   

Simon Brault, director general of the school, said, “this is what theatre can become…(and so) we need theatre more than ever”.  Whether this show transforms the art form is another question but I would love to see more collaborative efforts in the future from the two sides of the school.  Nico Racicot, a French-language actor studying on the English side, said, “This is what theatre could become…we are ambassadors to the future”.   

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated. Please read our guidelines for posting comments.