As of January 7, 2013, this website will serve as an archive site only. For news, reviews and a connection with audience and creators of theatre all over the country, please go to The Charlebois Post - Canada.

Search This Blog

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Blog: Processed Theatre's Fringe Journey, Part I

We asked Processed Theatre to share their journey to Fringe 2011 with their piece, EDGES: A Song Cycle. They will be blogging from time to time, before, during and after this year's edition of the Fest.

Week 1: Why Fringe?
At one point, Fringe crosses my mind and everything begins to point us in that direction.
by Nichole Carlone and Christopher Pineda

We are Processed Theatre. Last September we produced a very successful “Reefer Madness: The Musical” at Mainline Theatre, and are now preparing for the debut of our second show, blindly hoping that we can continue to produce the quality and popularity of “Reefer Madness: The Musical.” 

The pressure is on. 

CharPo's Picture of the Week, March 31, 2011

From The Penelopiad, John Abbott College Theatre Workshop
Read director Andrew Cuk's first-person piece here

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Oddition: CharPo's Second TweeAtre play

A TweeAtre play by François Vincent, David King, Jonathan Fournier and Matt Raudsepp
Edited by Gaëtan L. Charlebois
(All rights to this work - including performance - remain with the authors. Please contact CharPo to secure permissions)

An empty stage. Zee, a solid looking woman in her late 40s, enters clutching a script.

Zee (nervous)
Hi! (beat) Hello? (beat. still nothing): Um, HELLO? HELLLLLLLO?
(Quentin, 30, scrawny and smug, enters. He glances at Zee, uninterested and sits in his director's chair.) Hi. Sorry I'm early. I'm usually late... I'm... Do you want me to start? (no reply) Alright... Um, this piece, written by me, is called, "My Face Is My Window."

Beyond the Fourth Wall, March 30, 2011

Smokin' Hot by Davida Kidd (Galerie d'Este)

Dates of interest for your agenda
Literary/Copyright Seminar/Art
by Estelle Rosen

To Apr. 3
En Trois Temps

Mar. 31
Open Mic Literary Event

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Video, FTA 2011, Press conference

Video by David King

Montreal Fringe, 2011, Aggregator

You'll find links to all our coverage of the 2011 edition of the Montreal Fringe here. You can comment on every article and, below each company's event listing, discuss what you think about the show or pose questions you have.

FTA, 2011, Aggregator

You'll find all our coverage of the 2011 edition of Festival TransAmeriques here. (Most recent article on top)

News: Festival TransAmeriques 2011 Press Conference

(l-r) Karine Denault, Marie-Hélène Falcon, Martin Faucher
(photo: David King)

More Eclectic Than Ever
31 shows, including five world premieres
by David King

The fifth Festival Transamériques (FTA) of theatre, dance, and performance kicked off yesterday with a press conference conducted by Artistic Director Marie-Hélène Falcon alongside artistic associates Karine Denault and Martin Faucher.

At the busy press conference, the eclectic nature of this year's presentations was perhaps most evident as productions branch out from theatre and dance into new exploratory installation work and multi-media technology. That technology was made available to most of us journos at the conference via a DVD of promotional excerpts from the FTA's productions, broadcast in segments by Falcon and her entourage as the trio reviewed each of the festival's 31 shows, including five world premieres, four free performances around the city and the festival's always exciting "meet-the-artist" discussions and symposiums.

Theatre for Thought, March 29, 2011

A Musi-Call to Arms
Canadian artists have a burning desire to be a part of musical theatre why aren't we?
joel fishbane

The musical is a much maligned art and nowhere has it been more maligned than Montreal, a city which supports the creation of new musicals but has little desire to train its artists in how one actually works. Students who come to one of our many theatrical training programs are not trained in either performing or creating musicals; and if we have been blessed with one or two unique musical events (will Schwartz’s: The Musical be another?) then we have only fortune to thank. Because the schools have certainty not been doing their job. 

Simply put, it is deplorable that that none of Montreal’s many theatre schools offer specialized musical theatre training. Nowhere is this more the case then NTS, which claims to be a national theatre school but remains uninterested in teaching its actors, playwrights and directors about an artform that remains a part of our national theatrical identity.

After Dark, March 29, 2011

Why am I painting this miserable picture? Because it's election time...
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

Now that the lovely haze of World Theatre Day has lifted, the last Tweet of CharPo's second TweeAtre event passed, the happy vids (including ours) watched, it's back to the real world.

It's not a pleasant place: the chaos in Libya, the horrors of Japan...survival, what? Though we are not fleeing a despot's bullets, nor waiting for a nuclear plant to irradiate us, Canadians we all know - especially artists - also fight for survival. It is not a day to day fight to live; rather it is a (sometimes) an endless grind to do not only what we want but also what is necessary to any democracy: the various expression of ideas in the form of art. Artists, simply, create the breath of a nation. Collectively, they define a people and—especially here in Canada—one by one, their voices are leaving the collective choir for jobs to feed the children, to pay the rent, to eat, even. This is no exaggeration.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Videos: Festival TransAmeriques

The Upstage Interview: Sabrina Reeves

Sabrina Reeves and Paul Hopkins in Hollows of a Dream
(Photo credit: Dominique Chartrand)

Sometimes I find plays are balanced so tightly to narrative structure at the expense of other elements which could make the experience feel more live.

The Upstage Interview, each Monday, is a result of CharPo's media partnership with Upstage: Theatre on Radio on CKUT.

Upstage and CharPo contributor Sarah Deshaies spoke with Writer/Director Sabrina Reeves about The Hollows of a Dream. Below is an abridged version of the interview transcribed by Estelle Rosen, CharPo Editor-in-Chief.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

CharPo Celebrates World Theatre Day, 2011

Among other events today is CharPo's second outing of Twee-atre, tonight at 7 p.m. You can follow the play, created on the spot by Jonathan Fournier, Matt Raudsepp, François Vincent and David King, on Tweeter @gcharlebois. The play begins at 7 pm, lasts about 45 minutes and is followed by questions and comments on Twitter for 15 minutes.

Read the official speech for WTD For Canada
See other events, worldwide, today

Saturday, March 26, 2011

First Person: Andrew Cuk on The Penelopiad

The chorus at the heart of Andrew Cuk's production of the Penelopiad

The Chorus Takes the Final Bow
They have become strong and a force to reckon with in their unity, one of Atwood’s very clear and not so subtle messages.
by Andrew Cuk

There comes a moment towards the end of every rehearsal process when the director must block the curtain call. Many leave this to the last dress rehearsal, as there is an old adage that it’s bad luck to do so beforehand. Others, like myself, feel the bows should be clean and well-rehearsed. Still, the staging happens at the end and not the beginning of the process. The bows are a statement of the pecking order of the actors, the last person taking the prime spot. It’s usually determined by the character—Hamlet always bows last, unless, of course, you are doing Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.

As I contemplated the bowing order for the John Abbott College production of The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood, I went through my repertoire of possibilities. I could stick with the traditional: the lesser characters in small groups, followed by a string of single bows ending with Penelope, the central character. As indeed, she is. Atwood adapted her novel of the same name, and the play is heavy on literary narration. Penelope tells her story of marrying Odysseus, the hero of the Trojan War, and the long twenty-year wait for him to return home. Through Penelope’s words, Atwood blows away the cobwebs from the myth and refashions it as a story for our own time.

Memoir/Share: My Own Private Tennessee

by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

Today is the 100th anniversary of Tennessee Williams' birth and it is truly something to celebrate. Please share, in the comments section below this article, your first exposure to a Tennessee Williams work.

Mine was in French: a production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in Quebec City. But my first English-language production was at Centaur Theatre and it was Streetcar Named Desire. I wish I could tell you more than it starred Elizabeth Shepherd as Blanche and Nick Mancuso as Stanley but after the very hunky Mancuso took his shirt off during the play, I went blind and deaf for the rest of the show.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Review: La Sagouine

Slide show of production shots from La Sagouine

Opportunity of a Lifetime
Viola Léger still takes her time to enter into character every night
by Sarah Deshaies

After 40 years and over 2,000 performances, you can be forgiven for forgetting about the formidable actress in a one-woman play. You forget you’re seeing Viola Léger, actress, performing La Sagouine, character, and get immersed in a story that’s part of the Canadian canon.

A washerwoman stands before you and she’s ready to share with you her life’s wisdom. La Sagouine is a 72-year-old who’s seen everything - loss, war, good and hard times - without having left her small Acadian fishing village.

News, March 25, 2011

- The second production from CharPo's Twee-atre company will be performing for World Theatre Day, Sunday, March 27, 7 pm. Playwrights slated to participate include: David King, Jonathan Fournier, Matt Raudsepp and François Vincent. The play will last 45 minutes, with questions - via Twitter - for another 15. The feed is @gcharlebois

The cast of I am I,
- Mike Czuba's I am I, which performed at the last edition of WildSide at Centaur, will be performed in Calgary by Theatre Transit, from April 20-23. See more details here.

- Processed Theatre's production of Edges, slated for performances early April, has been moved to be part of this year's edition of The Fringe. More details here.

- Steve Galluccio's international smash, Mambo Italiano, will be performed in Vancouver at the prestigious Firehall Arts Centre, April 13-30. Details here.

The Friday Five, March 25, 2011

Steve Diamond (l) as Gynt and me as the Buttonmoulder - 
before I lost my eyebrows

We are experiencing technical difficulties...
Five personal theatre catastrophes
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

I have been to all sorts of theatre over four decades and have seen my share of technical problems on stage (mostly in the kind of shows so wacko you wonder if they're "part of the play"). Each time something went wrong in a play I was watching, a flood of memories would do a little zing-zing-thing in my brain. Been there...done that...the horror...the horror.

1) The Crucible
I was playing the Buttonmoulder in a production of Peer Gynt at theatre school. As I conversed with Gynt, I was to be melting buttons in a crucible which flamed away as I spoke. It was a metallic bowl with a small jar of Sterno at the bottom. At the end of the scene, I was to pop in a pinch of flash powder causing a small and colourful explosion, scaring Gynt and making the audience go, "Oooooh! Aaaaah!" Problem...the residue of several performances'-worth of flash powder had formed over the days and during one show the explosion was considerably less small and considerably more colourful. It nearly blew my motherfucking head off. As I walked off the stage, wobbly-legged, I could see and hear the orchestra laughing their asses off as my hair and eyebrows continued to smoke.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Beyond the Fourth Wall, March 22, 2011

Writers out Loud Goes Graphic

Go beyond theatre 
Graphic Writers, Storytelling, Recognizing Artists, Digital Collection
by Estelle Rosen

Mar. 24

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Theatre For Thought, March 22, 2011

Here Today, Here Tomorrow
Filming the occasional production is a novelty but filming every production would be an act of historical significance. 
joel fishbane

Centaur’s new season proves that although plays get a second life, productions are not so lucky. Of the four remounts, only one (Haunted Hillbilly) will reunite the original creative team - God of Carnage will not feature the original Broadway cast, nor will the new version of Pierre Marivaux’s 18th century farce be resurrecting the dead. In this we have a subtle reminder: only text is forever. Actors have known this for years: the thrill of live performance comes from the knowledge that each show is one of a kind. If there is certain poetry to this idea, that poem is bittersweet. How can we not mourn all the productions we have loved that have disappeared forever? 

Fortunately, technology is making it possible for this to change. For years now, the Stratford Festival has been releasing films of specific productions, an endeavour which culminated in last year’s national screening of The Tempest. It was a charming event, but it begged a thorny question: why should only certain plays receive such treatment? Filming the occasional production is a novelty but filming every production would be an act of historical significance. 

After Dark, March 22, 2011

One Down, Another to Go
In theatre, spring assumes various shapes
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

While I wasn't looking (ie: reviewing TV or lying in a hospital) Centaur got itself an artistic director who has his shit together. Simply, the upcoming season at the Old Stock Exchange is pitch perfect.

Roy Surette may not have created the perfect year of theatre for everyone, but with the option to pick and choose and create mini-season subscriptions, virtually every kind of theatre-goer can find satisfaction. For instance, I appreciate the sweetness of Colleen (True Nature) Curran's writing, but otherwise it's not for me. Yazmina (God of Carnage) Reza's work is always interesting though her concerns are middle-aged and middle-class; I am at least one of those. Morris (In Absentia) Panych is one of the most lucid and exciting writers in the country and he has the edge I need in a play. If you're going to go classic, you could do worse than Marivaux (The Game of Love and Chance) and you could do far worse than a coproduction with CanadianStage. Lynn (Intimate Apparel) Nottage offers a period piece too, yes, but she's a woman of colour writing about a woman of colour—pretty exciting for a house that once did a version of Twelfth Night that posited that the culture of Gone With The Wind was a good thing. Finally, what better way to end a season than with a revival of a highly-praised, hit indie production from a company that is not up-and-coming but fully arrived: Sidemart Theatrical Grocery's Haunted Hillbilly. Add to this mix the WildSide Festival, Brave New Looks and Urban Tales and you have a reason to party!

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Upstage Interview: John C. Dinning

We can’t, as an audience, be sitting and waiting for something to change in front 
of us. We have to see it morph into something else.

The Upstage Interview, each Monday, is a result of
CharPo's media partnership with Upstage: Theatre on Radio on CKUT.

Upstage and CharPo contributor Sarah Deshaies spoke with Set Designer John C. Dinning about Schwartz’s The Musical. Below is an abridged version of the interview transcribed by Estelle Rosen, CharPo Editor-in-Chief.

Deshaies began the interview by thanking Dinning for coming into studio.

Any chance I get to talk about designing for the theatre is always exciting for me because lots of people don’t know what we do.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

First Person: Sabrina Reeves of Fée Fatale on live theatre

Sabrina Reeves and Paul Hopkins in Hollows of a Dream
(Photo credit: Dominique Chartrand)

The Ecstasy of Not Knowing
by Sabrina Reeves

One of the simplest definitions of dramatic tension that I’ve ever heard is: not knowing what’s going to happen next. The kind of theatre that I like takes this definition literally. It creates an experience for the audience that is not only mental but also physical. It seeks to immerse the audience in the world of the piece. In this kind of theatre, not knowing what is going to happen next is a visceral experience.

I went to Carnegie-Mellon University. It is a rigorous theatre-training program. However, upon graduating, 80% of the students go to Los Angeles to work in filmI think it is as far back as this training that a question lodged in my brain.

Why go to see a piece of theatre instead of a film?

The obvious answer is: because it is live.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

First Person: Jonathan Fournier on e-publishing

Production photo from The Boy and the Wrapper

The Growing E-Book Industry and Why We Should Be Part of It
The benefits are immediate. You have a product easily available online.
by Jonathan Fournier

As some of you may have heard, I recently had my one-act Christmas romantic comedy, The Boy and the Wrapper, published… well self-published… as an e-book. After working on it for 2+ years and watching it play to enthusiastic audiences at the last Montreal Fringe Festival, I knew that putting it into a form where it could be discovered by a wider audience would be the next logical step. I did briefly entertain the notion of sending it around to publishers, but it’s very intimidating; first having to pick out the few publishers among North American publishers who accept plays, then coming to the sad realization that no one would want to publish a single one-act (40 page) play… you’d have to wait for them to want to make an anthology. I decided pretty quickly to go it alone and the booming “e-book” market makes that all too easy to do.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Friday Five, March 18, 2011

Friday Five Wants You! This week on Friday Five, we want your top five choices for Friday Five itself! Whether it's theatre etiquette, silly anecdotes or your all-time five favourite shows in Montreal, tell us your suggestions for "Top Five" topics in the comments section below. We'll jury your suggestions, and not only publish our top five picks from you, the readers, but we'll go ahead and create them for you! Meanwhile...

Theatre of Cruelty
Five anarchist phrases to get your rehearsal back on track
by David King

Let's face it, whether you're exploring all your animals in the rehearsal hall or creating a lighting cue for a scene while everyone's whispering around you, the power of silence and listening are often underestimated in the theatre. 

Eventually, you'll need to speak with that costume designer about the five buttons he hates on the actor, get the lighting designer to refocus a light or let the actress know you'll squeeze in extra time for the scene in the rehearsal schedule tomorrow. For now, it's silence time! And there's nothing like taking it to the extreme with five phrases you can always count on to kill a room!

Opinion: Crystle Reid on Audience development

Why them? Why Not Us?
If one company draws in new audiences, chances are those same individuals will start exploring other local theatre companies as well.
by Crystle Reid

Last summer at Magnetic North Theatre Festival I attended a discussion panel about the arts in Canada.  One of the younger emerging artists' questions for the panel of more experienced artists was: “What can we do to improve the audience sizes in theatre?” The immediate response from the panel: “Why are you asking us?”

I agree with that response wholeheartedly.  Why are we asking older, established theatre artists to figure out how to appeal to people in our own age bracket?  Shouldn’t we be able to determine how to entice our peers?   I really believe we can.  First of all, many of our peers are already theatergoers, they just don’t know it yet.  For example, a Lady Gaga concert or WWE match are instantly recognizable as theatrical events.  I think that by broadening our perceptions of what defines a theatrical space we can increase interest in our artistic work. This notion has led me to presenting the ArtHere! series with my company Astra Theatre.   ArtHere! events take place in found spaces: a house, a hotel, even a crypt.  At each event there is a main area in which to relax, see lots of great visual art and listen to music.  This space serves as a launch site for various interdisciplinary pieces happening in repetition all night long.  The audience members can see as many of the 15-20 minute pieces as they like, choosing their own adventures.  Each piece is in a radically different space ranging from a hotel room, to a church tower, to a parking lot or a pool deck.  It’s exciting for the audience to see how the artists will choose how to use these new unexpected spaces.  Working in a non-traditional space is both a challenge and a thrill for participating artists.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

CharPo Twee-atre, First script: One Voice

One Voice

A Twee-atre play by François Vincent and David King
Edited by Gaëtan L. Charlebois
(All rights to this work - including performance - remain with the authors. Please contact CharPo to secure permissions)

CharPo Picture of the Week, March 17, 2011

The superb promo art for The Shape of Things

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Review: The Shape of Things

The cast of The Shape of Things
(l-r Michael Daniel Murphy, Sandra Lee, Yanik Ethier-Phillip, Josyln Rogers)

The Play's Not the Thing
Labute's The Shape of Things may add you to his detractors
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

The main problem is the play....among many problems.

Fact is, xposed—now staging Neil Labute's The Shape of Things at 4001 Berri—did not have a good opening night. It seemed that many of their "friends" were pissed drunk or just noisy or maybe they're fucktards all the time. But with the banging of doors and dropping of drinks which accompanied the first and most delicate scene of the play, the evening was not off to a roaring start. 

The play was under-rehearsed, for another thing, and rhythms were aimless for most of the first half. Too, the second half was not helped by the intermission (which saw audience and at least one critic flee)—the pace which was just starting to build was broken and took 15 minutes of part two to recover. 

News: Centaur Season Launch

a paradise found
Tony- and Pulitzer- winners and work aplenty for local artists (especially women)...but the season’s crowning jewel has to be Haunted Hillbilly, a revamped version of Sidemart Theatrical Grocery’s musical

joel fishbane

I have never been so happy to eat my words. In an earlier column I spoke out about this city’s need to for a producer who will help artists develop their shows. Not 24 hours later, Roy Surette and company took my words, baked them into a humble pie and served them to me on a Centaur-shaped platter. And a tasty pie it is too – Centaur launched its 43rd season and it is unequivocally the most exciting one to date.

The theatrical world is far too often dominated by white men and their stories, so a very big nod of approval must be given to Mr. Surette for a season that includes three female playwrights, two female directors and an army of Montreal’s finest female performers – Gemma James-Smith, Felicia Shulman and Lucinda Davis, to name a few. Then there is the fabulous Ellen David, who will be starring in Yasmin Reza’s Tony award winning God of Carnage, which dazzled Broadway last year. And one cannot help but get twitter-pated about the inclusion of Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer-Prize winning play Intimate Apparel, a play about an African-American seamstress that one would  normally expect to find under Black Theatre Workshop’s marquee.