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.

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Saturday, April 30, 2011

EVENT: Teaching Hamlet (Fringe 2011)

Review: Mary's Wedding

Wedding in Blue
like young love, the play is sweet and supple, but can be inconsistent and rough around the edges
by Sarah Deshaies

The origin of Mary’s Wedding lies in a romance that didn’t last. Playwright Stephen Massicotte first intended to write a play on war, but in a bid to both forget and cherish a lost lover, he scripted a story about remembrance and moving forward.

The Mary in question is wrapped in a dream the night before her wedding, recalling her romance with Charlie. The story cuts back and forth from the idyllic scenes of their courtship to his time in the trenches.

Mary is a young British immigrant in Canada and seeking refuge from a thunderstorm one night she meets Charlie, cowering in barn. She soothes his nerves over the barrage of thunder and lighting, foreshadowing his time under fire. Once the sky clears, the strapping young farmer, in a Canadiana fairy tale moment, debonairly pulls Mary up on his horse and brings her home.

Feature: Tales From The Fringe

Fringe is year-round in Edinburgh, where it all began
(photo: Bruno Lajeunesse)

a (truly) personal history of Montreal's most important festival as we head into the last month before the 2011 edition 
joel fishbane

I’m standing in the beer tent, on the receiving end of a partially-thunderous applause. It’s the 18th Annual Montreal Fringe and I’ve just been named the worst playwright in Montreal. The event is called Dramaturkey and calls for playwrights to submit their worst material. Quickly, it has become clear to me that I misunderstood the assignment. In preparation for the event, a lot of writers purposely wrote bad plays. But I had just printed some old file from my computer. 

The prize, provided by Playwrights Workshop Montreal, is a little tin bird. I am told that it isn’t mine to keep – I have to hand it over to the new winner the following year. This means that for a whole year this gaudy trinket has to sit on my bookshelf. It’s as cheap as it is ugly. People who visit me stare at it in wonder and I am not be able to decide whether to tell them the real reason it’s there or if it’s better to let them think I simply suffer from a sublime lack of decorative sense. 

* * *

Friday, April 29, 2011

EVENT: A Different Woman (Fringe, 2011)

Review: Book Club

l-r: Johanna Nutter, Paula Costain, Alexandria Haber, Paula Jean Hixson
(photo: Darren Ell)

Who Brings a Gun to a Book Club Meeting?
Book Club’s actual plot and themes are pretty uninteresting
By Émilie Charlebois
When Ned Cox's Book Club promised “sex, drugs, violence and betrayal” I presumed I was going to sit down for an evening of lighthearted chick-lit satire. Wrong. While the first half  is definitely more of a comedy, and although cute jokes (particularly Paula Costain’s Kristel’s) are used to break up the tension actors craftily drag the audience into, there is a lot of drama and it is not as delicious as the Melrose Place or Degrassi Junior High variety. Due to the cast’s undeniable talent and the intimacy of the Freestanding Room venue, the Book Club experience is quite like being at a party when the only person you truly know has left for the bathroom or another serving of hummus and you find yourself talking to someone with loose lips who makes it their mission to either gossip about everyone else in the room, or volunteer very personal details about their life. You either listen eagerly and want to know more…or you get a little antsy. The emotional outbursts of all four characters in Book Club made me so uncomfortable that I found myself looking away or fiddling with my program. Despite the tension and feeling like a child watching adults fighting in front of me, to quote an exchange overheard between two fellow attendees: “Holy Acting!”

No Script? No Problem! (Part IV)

Montreal Improv: l-r Bryan Walsh, Kirsten Rasmussen, François Vincent, Marc Rowland (photo credit: Jeremy Bobrow)

A Guide to Improv Terms 
by Kirsten Rasmussen Of Montreal Improv

Interested in hanging with improvisers, or taking a few improv classes or just like learning new languages?  Well then this guide is for you. A guide to improv terms includes my pick of the most used improv vocabulary that will keep you up to speed in any nerd-out improv session. 

Here they are in no particular order with examples and each word used in a sentence. Enjoy.

Offer- An offer is any info given in a scene that helps define the scene, or any contribution to a scene. Can be as simple as, “Hey Mom.” The offer would be that the relationship is mother/child. Or as complex as “King Reginald the townspeople are so angry that you have raised the taxes yet again!”   An offer can also be physical like skipping into a scene, or being a tree in the background, or stirring a coffee.  

Benny’s offer of being an invisible cat was an odd one.

The Friday Five, April 29, 2011

Kyle Gatehouse (r, with Daniel Brochu in Centaur's Stones
in his pockets, photo:

Five MELT actors (or more) we should be watching more closely
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois and Estelle Rosen

They're not all theatre noobs, but we had another one of our late-night email confabs and decided these five actors (some who do a whole lot of other stuff) should be getting you all as excited as we are. (And, of course, you should add to this list in the comments section below.)

Kyle Gatehouse
He stole hearts (female and male) in Centaur's production of Stones in His Pockets, but he is also the Kyle in MattandKyleandMatt, the terrific comedy team that churns out videos that are silly as they are surprising.

Emma Lanza
As Helen in Neil LaBute’s Fat Pig was simply outstanding. New on the Montreal theatre scene, we’re likely going to see her in many more productions.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

CharPo's Picture of the Week, April 28, 2011

A very simple but effective photo from Mary's Wedding
(the colour vs. b&w effect can be created with
at least one easy-to-use app: ColorSplash)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

EVENT: Village Theatre 2011 Season


EVENT: John, Paul, George, Ringo

News: Mike Birbiglia's Busy Awards season

Mike Birbiglia, whose new work, My Girlfriend's Boyfriend, played here in January (brought up here by Just For Laughs) has been nominated in the solo category for two of New York City's most prestigious awards: The Lucille Lortel Award and the Outer Critics Circle Award.

Read our review of Girlfriend...

Beyond The Fourth Wall, April 27, 2011

Gore Vidal at Blue Metropolis

Not-Necessarily-Theatre dates for your agenda
by Estelle Rosen

Apr. 27-May 1

Apr. 28-30

Review: Sleepwalk With Me (album)

Mike Birbiglia

Not just for laughs
Sleepwalk is not just very, very funny it is also scary and profoundly moving.
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

I like Mike Birbiglia. (See my review of his last presentation in Montreal.)

Birbiglia, simply, looks and talks like a human. In this way he is like three other of favourite comics: Patton Oswalt, Eddie Izzard and Louis CK. What makes him different from Oswalt and CK is the lack of rage and from Izzard is the lack of surrealism. But Izzard understands and likes Birbiglia (as he said in his iTunes session, Live From London) and I think  it's because the two men share a comic trait: the tangent. Both start by telling a story (Izzard, say, about the Last Supper and Birbiglia, say, about his girlfriend seeing another man) and before they get to the end of the tale, they have veered all over the place. They're not the only two comics who use the tangent as an integral part of their work (Dane Cook has tried it - as he has tried everything - and still isn't funny) but they are both unerringly hilarious when they do.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

News: Geordie Season Launch

Daniel Brochu in Geordie's Little Prince 
(photo: David Babcock)

the company has rebranded itself as theatre for all ages
joel fishbane

Some years ago, a little company named Pixar issued a challenge to anyone interested in the business of family entertainment. With their army of criminally talented writers, the folks responsible for Toy Story, Wall-E and Up showed that family-friendly films did not have to be full of treacle and cheese: they could be irreverent, whipsmart and emotionally riveting entertainments with an appeal that spanned the generations. Here in Montreal, this call to arms has been routinely answered by Geordie Theatre who, under the direction of Dean Patrick Fleming, has rebranded itself as theatre for all ages.

Getting Your EVENT on CharPo

EVENT: Imaginez Montréal

Click to enlarge

Review: Eight Words That Ruined My Relationship (Podcast)

Stuffing it...
C'est La Vie lets the actors take over
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

On its second outing into Podcasting theatre—Patrick Gauthier's Eight Words That Ended by Relationship—director Sarah Mahoney presents a 12-minute gem that captures a moment in a couple's life—the last moment; the one where she comes to get her stuff at his place.

This time around it's all about the acting and the two leads, CharPo contributor Joel Fishbane as the guy and Megan Stewart as the girl, have a great time with the rhythms and repetitions and even the subtext; they capture the humour, contained rage and even the incipient sadness of these devastating points in couplehood.

Theatre For Thought, April 26, 2011

What’s a Political Artist to Do?
There’s nothing sexy about debating artistic policies so it’s likely that nothing will change.
 joel fishbane

Whatever happens on May 2, two things are clear: this country will once again be run by a white guy in a suit; and the opinions of artists are not really much of a concern. Coalition, corporate tax cuts, health care, the long gun registry: all these issues have taken centre stage at various points in this election. But it probably won’t surprise anyone to learn that the words “art” and “culture” have rarely been heard. This isn’t because our politicians aren’t concerned about the arts; they simply aren’t concerned about artists, or rather the artists’ vote. The ethnic vote, the senior vote, the immigrant vote: these demographics have all become the focus of our scrambling would-be leaders. The artists have been left in the cold.

It’s all pretty ironic, given the pains each party has taken to include the promotion of culture in their respective platforms. Artists are traditionally pegged as left-wing intellectuals. It’s not surprising, then, that the Conservatives - otherwise known as the Only Party in the History of the British Commonwealth to Be Found in Contempt of Parliament – are promising an Economic Action Plan designed to seduce artists to the right side (that’s right politically, remember). It’s interesting to note that their budget includes $7.5 million to the Royal Conservatory of Music, $100 million to the Canada Media Fund and $15 million to the Canada Periodical Fund. 

After Dark, April 25, 2011

Hugh, Mike, Sex, Art
...trying to say a certain form of sexual/cultural expression is wrong (ie: pornographic) is to slide, slide, slide down that slippery slope...
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois
I was watching HBO's brilliant documentary about Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy Magazine, and I was listening to Mike Birbiglia's new album, Sleepwalk With Me and realized: You've come a long way, Charlebois.

Sound odd? The two things are strangely entwined in my life. 

When I was on the national Board of Directors for ACTRA, we had a huge and ugly debate on pornography and censorship. What we were worried about was the rise of the locally-made blue film business and it slowly transforming, as it did in then States, into a massive hard-core porn mega-industry - one that might have a direct effect on an actors/writers organization. Needless to say, issues of feminism, censorship and even Gay rights were all dragged - kicking and screaming - into this messy and ultimately pointless debate. Pointless in that nothing was resolved. However the discussion - usually hideous - did shake people out of an intellectual torpor that is always threatening an artistic community that is busier merely trying to survive. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Upstage Interview: Daniel MacIvor

A Beautiful View at Centaur (photo: Tim Matheson)

Interview with Playwright/Director Daniel MacIvor about A Beautiful View
...Beautiful View is what we see when we look at someone we love...
by Sarah Deshaies; edited by Estelle Rosen

Tell us about  your play, how did Michelle and Liz meet?

Ultimately  this play is about a friendship. Two women meet randomly in a camping goods store which is the beginning of a 20 year friendship, though not quite that simple.

In the Prologue, two women enter  the space, not sure what they’re doing there – nor is the audience sure. Audience plays the role of witness to this friendship.

The story of  their friendship is interrupted by the women agreeing or disagreeing about how accurate previous scene was to what actually happened – a meta element to the way the story is told.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sunday Feature: Processed Theatre's Journey to The Fringe Part II

Week 2: Our Rehearsal Process and EDGES: A Song Cycle
We are Processed Theatre. Last September we produced a 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.”
By Nichole Carlone 
Rehearsing is a tricky bitch. 

You have some directors who demand performances from day one. You have directors who recognize that this is a time for growth, play, discovery and that it's a process. A huge part of our mandate is "process over the product,” because a strong process yields a strong product. This core value was present in our decision postpone our show EDGES: A Song Cycle to the 2011 Montreal Fringe, rather than try to pump something out last minute with a new cast member. 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Ford's Focus: Peggie Hopkins

The two sides of Peggie Hopkins (one does theatre...)

The Point is Community
She has lived in Point St. Charles (The Point) for twenty-six years, though she considers herself a relative newcomer...
by Barbara Ford
(photos by Rick Robert and Joe Adona)
Community: a welcoming, feel-good, warm & fuzzy kind of word. It can’t be denied that our local theatre community is tight, especially with the bulk of it crammed into a few square miles of the Plateau and Mile End districts. When mobilized, it can accomplish some pretty amazing things: case in point is the ever growing annual Fringe Fest and its incumbent spirit of mutual support and camaraderie. How about the fundraiser for CKUT Radio host and theatre supporter Estelle Rosen after her serious car accident or the memorial for Centaur’s long-time Wardrobe Mistress Mary Thomas this past winter? We’re a cozy bunch and this week I discovered an amazing woman who is living proof of the Capra-esque belief that each life has a ripple-effect on countless others.

Peggie Hopkins has lived in Point St. Charles (The Point) for twenty-six years, though she considers herself a relative newcomer compared to most of her neighbours. She is a well-established real estate agent in Westmount, which is where she caught the highly contagious acting bug. Friends approached her to get involved with an amateur production. At first, she had all kinds of excuses: “I go to theatre … I don’t act in it. I don’t have time.” However, showing properties evenings and weekends didn’t conflict with the rehearsal schedule, so without a reason to stand on, she agreed.

Friday, April 22, 2011

News: Gordon McCall in Buffalo

Ex-Centaur artistic director Gordon McCall is making news in Buffalo with his upcoming production of Shining City for The Irish Classical Theatre Company.

Read the article.

Review: A Beautiful View

(photo: Tim Matheson)

Missing Jessica Stein
Love, laughter and lesbian clichés in A Beautiful View
by Amy Barratt

I keep reading that A Beautiful View, the Daniel MacIvor play closing out the Centaur season, is inspired by today’s generation of 20-somethings. Something about how they are free to hook up with partners of either gender and not have to define themselves as gay or straight. I’m skeptical about this premise, but it doesn’t really matter because  the characters on stage in this play are not of that generation. The two women, Linda and Mitch – names that are used in the programme but not once in the dialogue - are kicking forty when we meet them, presumably in the present day. 

The Friday Five, April 22, 2011

The great Lee J. Cobb as Willy Loman
in Death of a Salesman

Dramaturgs "r" us
Five plays ripe for a local revival
By Estelle Rosen and Gaëtan L. Charlebois

Late one night, we had a back-and-forth email exchange about plays we haven't seen in a long time. They're works which mark the more recent history of theatre which we felt should be reminded back to audiences - especially new audiences - every so often. We limited ourselves to five works (though we reeled off a list of 20 or so in no time flat). Criteria included that they had not been mounted professionally in our critical memories and, also, that we could do some basic casting. We also wanted to get you talking and we've noticed, through various Friday Fives, that nothing generates discussion like proposing a best of...

Death of a Salesman - Father/son conflict plays are always relevant and this great, great Arthur Miller work says it all. We can see Roy Surette directing this one with the great Tony Nardi as Willy (though he's too young). Joanna Noyes would be a heart-breaking Linda and we know our colleague Joel Fishbane could do Biff in his sleep.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Review: Cowboy Mouth

Aaron Turner in Cowboy Mouth 
(photo: Jeremy Bobrow)
Confusion Says
Girl Got Lost Productions do, indeed, get lost
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois
My first impulse when I returned, tonight, from Cowboy Mouth was to Google the fuck out of it. The play, by Sam Shepard and Patti Smith, was unknown to me, the director and her cast had deviated, they admitted, from the original, and I just wanted to know how much. But then I thought: no. This production must stand on its own legs, be understood by its own rules. 
I was apprehensive when I went in. The PR photos for the show have the cast in clown-face and I am getting incredibly tired of clown being used as a theatrical metaphor for everything. The director, Chelsea McIsaac, indicated, in her program note, that this was a choice she had made. Also, she had decided that the mute character, Lobster Man (played by Aaron Turner), was now going to be the central figure of the piece. 


Beyond The Fourth Wall, April 20, 2011

The original trailer for Equus

Not-Necessarily Theatre (for your agenda)
by Estelle Rosen

Apr. 20 – Doubt – TMN
Apr. 21 – Chicago -  MPix
May 8 – Equus - MPix

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Theatre For Thought, April 19, 2011

A Few Words on Auditioning
Auditioning is sort of like me hiring a lawyer after watching the way she washes my car. 
joel fishbane

Winter is turning into spring which means it’s audition season in Montreal. Look to your left and you’ll see a fellow auditioning for the Fringe Festival; over on your right is a girl gearing up for her audition for Concordia Theatre. Centaur is already making audition calls and before long BTW and Geordie will do the same. So perhaps it’s a good time to discuss the Audition, the actor’s version of the job interview. Most people go on relatively few job interviews; most actors go on them their entire lives. 

Everyone hates auditions, including the people who run them. Unfortunately, in four thousand years, no one has come up with a better system. For theatre schools it’s a necessary evil; for directors, it’s a last resort. Directors will always prefer hiring people they know and, barring that, people whose work they’ve seen. This is because auditions are a terrible indication of a person’s talent and everyone knows it. 

After Dark, April 19, 2011

Playing on the Web
Twitter, Facebook, the net and the plays we're not seeing in our theatres.

by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

This week, twice, I wondered why I was better informed than many artistic directors.

Let me go back.

I am an ardent Twitter follower. I also have a Facebook profile, separate from the ones I have for CharPo. In both cases, I am fairly restrictive about whom I follow and beFriend. I make sure that if there is a critic I admire on Twitter and FB, I want to hear from them. I also want to follow small companies. I will also read mountains of reviews in the New York Times, The Globe and Mail, The Guardian, The Telegraph. I won't spend too much time reading about the nth production of a show that won the Pulitzer years ago (Proof, Doubt and on and on and on). I want to know what's at ground level. The critics I beFriend and follow, make an effort to see those shows. The theatre blogs I read take their time to write about them. Simply, I want to know the future - not  just what's new but also what is rising to the top. (New for the sake of new is as tedious as revivals which bring nothing new to the theatrical conversation.) 

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Upstage Interview: Jeremy Segal and Natasha Trepanier

Ship of Fools
There are 3 Elizabeths in the play; young girls who entered a contest for everyone named Elizabeth.

Upstage  and CharPo contributor Sarah Deshaies spoke with Actors Jeremy Segal and Natasha Trepanier about Dawson Theatre School production of The Coronation Voyage by Michel Marc Bouchard. Below is an abridged version of the interview transcribed by Estelle Rosen, CharPo Editor-in-Chief.

Asked about the story, Segal replied. 

In 1953, a boat leaves from Montreal to England to attend the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. On board is an important Mafioso called The Chief fleeing Montreal. A bad business deal, in danger of being killed if he doesn’t leave, his plan is to start a new life in England with his two sons. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Sunday Feature, April 17, 2011

by David King

On April 9, the staff and alumni of HOUR Magazine reunited at Mainline
Theatre for a toast to the magazine. Closing its pages after two decades,
the writing went on the wall: HOUR became as thinned out over the last year as its contributing staff. A former theatre critic for HOUR (just before Gaëtan Charlebois, in fact), it's been a nostalgic week for me, particularly reading the massive outpouring of anecdotes and memories from staffers on Facebook, many of whom kicked off their journalism careers in the alt weekly.   

Kevin Laforest is the new Editor-In-Chief of HOUR Community, HOUR's print and online replacement. After several rumours circulated that HOUR would simply become a supplement within the pages of its parent VOIR, Laforest puts that to rest.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Ford's Focus: Gabrielle Soskin

Gabrielle Soskin in The Loves of Shakespeare's Women 
(Photo courtesy of Persephone Productions)

Risky Woman
Working with the actors, giving notes, blocking, etc. felt right but she let the stirrings lie dormant until 1996...
by Barbara Ford
Gabrielle Soskin was born in a little cottage on a farm in Bedfordshire in the East of England region. Once WWII was over her family, who had evacuated London during the worst of the air raids, moved back to the war-ravaged city.  Coming from an educated Russian Jewish family, the Soskins were passionate theatre-goers. Throughout high school Gabrielle participated in many plays, the bulk of which were the Bard’s. 

From an early age, Soskin knew she wanted to work in the performing arts, but growing up in an era when women were groomed for marriage and motherhood regardless of their higher educations, her ambitions were not taken very seriously by her family, despite the fact that Soskin’s own mother was a drama teacher. Nonetheless, Soskin attended the renowned Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, founded by Sir Laurence Olivier, where the likes of Miranda Richardson, Jeremy Irons and Patrick Stewart trained.

Review: Equus

Photo courtesy of Village Scene
We forever know that we are watching a play and, because of this, the mystery of Alan Strang cannot matter to us.
by Rachel Zuroff

Village Scene Productions is currently presenting Equus at the Rialto Theatre. Equus tells the story of the disillusioned psychiatrist’s, Martin Dysart, quest to understand the reasons that lead the 17 year old Alan Strang to blind six horses. In seeking the answer, Equus deals with the themes of religion, sexuality and what it means to be normal.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Friday Five, April 15, 2011

Really! It's Tennessee Williams!

The Play's the Thing?
Theatre and cinema - not always a match made in Heaven
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

This week we're going to have a bit of fun.
We all like theatre. Most of us like film. But do the two work together? How about when it's made for TV?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Sometimes you see a movie—like Boys in The Band, say—and think, "This must have been a play because it pretty much still is." Other times you see movies that have little or nothing to do with their theatrical source material (was Othello more interesting when it became O...or worse?). And then there is the Goldilocks moment: source and medium are juuuuuuuust right.

Here are three (highly personal) lists of five. They go all over the place because, as usual, we want you to discuss.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Review: For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is enuf

Ntozake Shange's For Colored Girls...
The work that changed everything comes to the city again
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

I admire Tyler Perry. I think I'd even like him. But is is not Tyler Perry's For Colored Girls...

No! From the first moment of its existence, it has been Ntozake Shange's For Colored Girls. From the poem, to the poem adapted to theatre form for a bar in California, to New York and a Tony nomination, to the publication of that play version, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf has always been Ntozake Shange's work. I say this because history has a strange way with this kind of wondrously fragile material...before you know it is just a movie made by Tyler Perry that is being remembered and not the the woman—Ntozake Shange—who gave us this lush, violent, heart-breaking and often very funny series of verses about the lot of women of colour in North America. I have known of the work since I was in my teens; I read it (devoured it) when I was in my early 20s. I, simply, adore this work.