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Monday, October 31, 2011

Review: The Play's the Thing

Paul Hopkins (l) and James Kidnie
(photo: Andrée Lanthier

This Play Is Indeed The Very Thing
Broadway production values at Segal
By Byron Toben

The Play's The Thing provides a humorous antidote to the Segal Centre's last show, the gripping but intense Equus.

In the early years of the 20th century, Ferenc Molnar reigned supreme among Continental European playwrights as did Ibsen in Norway, Chekov in Russia and Shaw in England. He wrote some 40 plays, became rich and lived high on the hog until encroaching Nazism forced this witty Jewish Hungarian  writer to flee to New York, where the movie version of his play The Swan starred Grace Kelly and Carousel, the musical version of his play Liliom, became a stage and cinema hit.

The Upstage Interview: Christian Lapointe

(En français... "I just Facebooked your mother.")

...turning 50...

Upstage Contributor Alison Louder  spoke with  Co-Director Christian Lapointe  about National Theatre School’s current bilingual presentation of En français comme en anglais, It’s easy to criticize. Below is an abridged version edited by Estelle Rosen, CharPo Editor-in-chief.

With us in studio is Christian Lapointe Co-Director of En français comme en anglais, It’s easy to criticize, a  freely adapted work on writings of local writer and performer Jacob Wren being presented by the National Theatre School French and English graduating classes in a first ever collaborative project.

For the last year, the school has been celebrating its 50th anniversary. They  wanted to close the celebrations with a collaborative work which has never happened in 50 years. When the school started I think classes were together but productions were not done together. With the two schools being separate, it was like two different schools under one roof.

Chris Abraham and I were asked to co-direct a piece with the graduating students. Though we looked at many options, we decided on  Jacob Wren’s En français comme en anglais, it’s easy to criticize. We wanted the play to talk about our reality as a group of performers who have to work together with the challenge of translation and getting to know each other.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Ford's Focus: Johanna Nutter

Dreams Do Come True for Johanna Nutter
by Barbara Ford

A couple of days after our interview, I got an e-mail from Montreal actor/playwright, Johanna Nutter, sharing an obscure fact that the word career has the same root as the word careen. Our meeting at a local café-Laundromat in her beloved Plateau had been lengthy, winding our way through one of the most singular childhoods I’ve heard of to her present day coup: My Pregnant Brother on stage in French at Montreal’s La Licorne. How could she have known, lying there on her kitchen floor one fateful night a few short years ago, that a life which had careened and bumped its way to that dark moment would eventually deliver her to such a miraculous destination?

“My father was a beatnik and my mum was a hippie.  I came along ‘unexpectedly’ before most of their friends started having kids so I grew up surrounded by adults, who thought the best way to raise children was to treat them as equals.”  There were obvious pros and cons to the approach: she felt valued as a person with equal rights but had to parent herself much of the time. It did, however, breed strong survival skills at an early age which have come in handy as you shall see.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Theatre For Thought, October 29, 2011

Until this week, Whedon’s legion of fans were salivating over the recently released preview for The Avengers...
joel fishbane

This being a theatre column, I don’t usually get to talk about Joss Whedon, which is a shame, since he’s one of my favourite artists. Unfortunately (at least for me) he’s working in film and TV, which means that I don’t get to bring him up in theatrical conversations. I’m sure Joss knows this and I’m equally sure that this is why he just finished shooting a film version of Much Ado About Nothing. 

Joss Whedon, for those not in the know, isn’t the most obvious person for the hardy Shakespeare fan to rally behind. He’s better known as the creative force behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse, four television shows known for the mashing of genres and the defiance of a single label that TV execs find remotely comfortable. The Cult of Joss is widespread across the world, not the least because of his characteristic writing style and his self-imposed mandate to create strong, unconventional female characters – in 2006 he was even honoured at an Equity Now benefit devoted to championing men who promote gender equality. He’s also revealed himself to be a fan of musical theatre, composing a musical episode of Buffy and the score for the award-winning Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, one of the best musicals written in the last ten years.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Blog: Christine Rodriguez on The Arrangement (Part V)

The Whirlwind
By Christine Rodriguez

For two months, the production was running along quite smoothly.  That is until we lost one of our actors to the TV gods two weeks before opening night.  I stepped into the role.  I was the most logical choice.  I wrote the play.   I’d been to most of the rehearsals.  I can act.  

It’s been a whirlwind ever since: interviews, load in,  last minute errands, Q to Q, dress rehearsal/preview night, opening night, managing reservations, seeking volunteers, acting, counting up box office, more acting.  Did I mention getting my son to school on time (darn!); getting his homework done (where is that homework agenda?!); and parent-teacher interviews?

The Friday Five, October 28, 2011

File under: Top Secret (filed under Bottom Secret).
by Matt Raudsepp of Matt and Kyle and Matt

Theatre was invented by an alien race
Long ago, just prior to the time the great pyramids were built, an alien race settled on Earth. While they had publicly enslaved us to build massive monuments to their gods, they had secretly come here to create an ancient-times “reality show” for their weekend entertainment. These aliens watched us in our newly built slave-homes behind the veil of an invisible “fourth wall”. Human interpreters were present in the alien viewing rooms to translate or expand upon things said or done by the unsuspecting ”performers”, and as such, developed an eye for the drama of human existence. Theatre was born.

CharPo's Real Theatre!, October 28, 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

EVENT: The Last Hollandaise Sauce

Review: The Arrangement

(Photo credit: Jaclyn Turner)

Five women, five friends, and lots of fidelity issues.
...a proposition will either rip the group apart, or solidify it.
by Sarah Deshaies

The Arrangement, written by Christine Rodriguez and directed by Jacqueline van de Geer (both Montreal fixtures) invites us into the world of five, diverse middle-aged women, a group supposedly tight-knit since university.

Empathetic, lovely Faye (Rodriguez, filling in last minute) is dying, and her actions threaten to polarize her group. Two of them are already at each other’s throats most of the time. Barbara (Marie-Noëlle Dufour)  is a rigid, perfect stay-at-home mother and is a natural clash to the flamboyant, working woman Inez (Julie Barbeau). On the fringes are Jaya (Michaela Di Cesare) and Anca (Luiza Cocora), who both have secrets. 

EVENT: Goodbye Picadilly

CharPo's Picture of the Week, October 27, 2011

Jacklyn Turner's beautifully lit theatre photo which tells a story all by itself.
Julie Barbeau in The Arrangement

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Review: 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.

Beyond Our Fourth Wall, October 26, 2011

Cabaret Horror Theatre 
Oct 26-29  Grand Guignol
MainLine Theatre

Theatre…en français
by Estelle Rosen

Cabaret Carnivalesque

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

After Dark, October 25, 2011

The Sickness of Home
It's everywhere and it's killing the culture
By Gaëtan L. Charlebois

Forgive me if I go Québécois on you for a moment (and Gay into the bargain).

My significant other and I watch a lot of French-language television (read: Radio-Canada). What this means is that we began the television season with an orgy of televisual self-congratulation on the network's 75th anniversary and endless hours of "The Way We Were." Okay, I get it - we were all there with the live plays, the badly-produced soaps, the awful wigs and costumes and weird film colouration and I don't mind a dip into the waters of the past from time to time. (I explained to the SO that my past was Chez Hélène, Friendly Giant, Mr. Dressup and Ed Sullivan.) 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Review: Far From The Madding Crowd

Lea Berry, Lucas Chartier-Dessert and Jeremy Segal  (photo credit: Rebecca Croll)

The energetic actors are a tribute to the theatre programs at Dawson and John Abbott...
By Byron Toben

Far From the Madding Crowd, a wonderful theatrical version of Thomas Hardy's classic novel, is made truly intimate by the clever staging of this play. Thirteen actors playing twenty one roles in nineteenth century costume emote, sing and dance before - and throng through - the audience, reciting the heightened Victorian language of the day.

The Upstage Interview: Daniel Beresh

Both are meta plays; almost vacuous.
Upstage Contributor Alison Louder  spoke with  Director Daniel Beresh about McGill Players Theatre current presentation. Below is an abridged version edited by Estelle Rosen, CharPo Editor-in-chief.

In studio  is Daniel Beresh. We’ll be speaking about an Edward Albee double bill The American Dream and The Sandbox playing at McGill Players Theatre. How was opening night? 

Fantastic. The actors really pulled the show together in a good way; I’m excited about the rest of the run

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Thread, October 23, 2011

The Thread

Occupy Wall Street is as much a cause for MELT as it is for anyone else (are artists part of the 99% or not?). However, some commentators have suggested that when it comes to causes, MELTers love to talk the talk but very rarely walk the walk. (Listen to This is The CPC episode 1 and 12) Should OWS activists stop wasting their time trying to interest MELT artists in the cause? Discuss.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Blog: The MAP Project - 2011 (Part III)

We got a real weird thing going on.
By David di Giovanni

When I tell people I work for a theatre troupe, The MAP Project, I am then asked, do you do comedy or drama? I always feel stuck at this question - what was passing small talk must now become a bit more than that.  An explanation is needed.

Review: Coma Unplugged

Glenda Braganza and Éloi ArchamBaudoin

Into The Head of Another
A bizarre journey reveals truth about real life and imagination
by Estelle Rosen

What would we see if we were Daniel Martin (Éloi ArchamBaudoin)  living a life inside a coma?  At times he encounters people from his life, other times people who are figments of his imagination. Daniel is at a crisis point, questioning his values. 

Review: The American Dream and The Sandbox

Finding Sense in The Absurd
Albee at McGill is challenging
by Rachel Zuroff

McGill Players Theatre is currently presenting The American Dream and The Sandbox by Edward Albee, two one-act plays with recurring characters, both written within the tradition of the Theatre of the Absurd.  The plots are not at all straightforward; instead, they are oblique and filled with vague references rather than explicit declarations. Indeed the plays announce that they are "plays" and yet don't conform to the expectations of theatre. The most I can say of their plot is that they follow the story of a married couple, a grand-mother, a professional woman and a stranger.

Theatre For Thought, October 22, 2011

...the canon is a symbol for the ultimate possibilities of artistic thought and for the universality of the human condition.
joel fishbane

Hate laws are being re-examined in this country, but I’m going to come out and say it: I hate the movie Anonymous and I don’t care that I haven’t seen it. The film, which opens October 28, is to the movies what Keir Cutler’s  Teaching Hamlet was to the Montreal Fringe: a story that springs from the perpetual and irritating Shakespeare authorship debate. As if Shakespeare’s work wasn’t abused enough, now its very parenthood is being called in question, which is sort of like discussing whether Alexander the Great lied on his entrance exam to the Greek army. Even if you could prove it, which you can’t, it amounts to little more then a historical footnote. Attributing authorship would be a valiant task if there were any descendants left to sue for royalties: since there are not, discussing who “really” wrote Shakespeare’s plays is nothing but a parlour game for intellects. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Friday Five, October 21, 2011

For an actor, looking out into the audience during a performance can be perilous. You do not want your eyes to suddenly happen upon the wrong person, an unwelcome acquaintance, a confused or unenthused face. That’s why, over the years, I’ve learned to slightly unfocus my eyes, glazing them over, but without looking completely dead inside. Still, the wrong audience member can easily throw off even a seasoned actor like myself. 
by Matt G of Matt and Kyle and Matt

CharPo's Real Theatre!, October 21, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Blog: Christine Rodriguez on The Arrangement (Part IV)

Role models?
By Christine Rodriguez

I tweeted Steve Galluccio on Twitter the other day to let him know about The Arrangement.  To my 
surprise, he replied.  He told me that he was familiar with Espace 4001 as he had self-produced shows in that space many times before.   Me  :)

Am I being a sell-out for wishing for the same kind of success Steve Galluccio’s had – from self-produced theatre to films seen all over the world?  Of hoping for the same kind of success as Trey Anthony whose Da Kink In My Hair went from Toronto Fringe to a Global television series?

Review: Ogoki Nights II (LIFER)

The Debauchery Continues... LIFER Ogoki Nights II 
by Chad Dembski

LIFER (Ogoki Nights II) is the continued story of tree planting that in this version takes place up in Northern Ontario near Wawa ("so nice they named it twice" is one of the funnier lines of the play) and other tiny Ontario towns where they travel to plant.  I did not see the first version of this play (Ogoki Nights I) but I can imagine it having quite the same type of premise; a large cast on a small stage, lots of transitions (black outs, set changes, props), and tons of references to the life of a tree planter.  I have never been a tree planter myself so when at the door I could hear them asking if each member of the audience coming in had been a tree planter ($10.00 a ticket, the only discount they offer) I could tell this piece was made by and for a very specific audience.  

CharPo's Picture of The Week, October 20, 2011

Coma Unplugged, from Talisman - a terrific video with great actors

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

EVENT: Stori Ya

Beyond Our Fourth Wall, October 19, 2011

Palestinian printing death notice poster learns shocking news…
L’Affiche – Nov. 8-26
Espace Libre

Theatre…en français
by Estelle Rosen

Family held prisoner rebel…
From Theatre de l’Opsis
Theatre Prospero

On stage: a table, a chair, a glass…
Récits de juin – Oct. 26-28
Usine C

Playwright Pierre-Michel Tremblay wrote Au champs de mars 
English version of Au champs de mars presented last season.
Current production of Coma Unplugged written by Pierre-Michel Tremblay.
Au Champs de Mars – Nov. 1-12
Theatre du Rideau Vert

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

First-Person: Andrew Cuk on The Heidi Chronicles

Katherine Russo as Heidi

“Weejuns, John Lennon and White Rabbit—I dig it ”
by Andrew Cuk

There is perhaps no more appropriate place to follow Horace’s dictum that theatre should teach and please than in an educational environment. Each production has references to political, geographical and cultural history, whether those histories are in the present, two thousand years ago or in the made-up references of fantasy. This term at John Abbott College, I am directing the two-year cégep students in a production of Wendy Wasserstein’s The Heidi Chronicles, a play that gives the opportunity to teach seventeen to nineteen year olds about a time period their parents were born into and lived through.

After Dark, October 18, 2011

How long are theatre artists going to tolerate an underclass in the underclass
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

My old leftist heart has been beating a little faster, these last weeks, from the joy at seeing that the Occupy Wallstreet movement is holding on. I have learned through other movements (notably the anti-war movement of the 60s and 70s) that it is all about time: the longer it goes, the stronger it grows, with more people rallying to the cause. Yes, right now, that cause seems vague but at its source is this very clear message: there is an underclass which is being crushed by poverty, debt and unemployment and the mega-rich are profiting from this with the utter complicity of governments.
Now let's make this a wee bit more personal.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Upstage Interview: Jennifer Cressey on The Explorer

Franklin and the Hyperboreans
Upstage and CharPo contributor Sarah Deshaies spoke with Dramaturge Jennifer Cressey about Concordia Theatre Department presentation of The Explorer. Below is an abridged version edited by Estelle Rosen, CharPo Editor-in-chief.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Blog: The MAP Project - 2011 (Part II)

The Thread, October 16, 2011

The Thread

Once again, this week, we had a flood of openings which fell during the same week and, even, on the same night. Though this is not a problem in and of itself, it does pose a problem in terms of what shows get the attention in advance of their openings. One has to fill that hall until the desired raves come in from the various media. Why can't MELT get its act together vis à vis scheduling those opening nights? Or perhaps it can. How? Discuss.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Review: The Little Prince

Daniel Brochu and Harry Standjofski (photo: David Babcock)

Beyond The Young Audience
The Prince may be little, the effect not
by Estelle Rosen

I love theatre for young audiences. Their honest reaction leaves no doubt what they like, more specifically what they don’t like, what is boring. They loved The Little Prince – as did I. Never having seen the play or the movie, I was truly impressed by a touching story told with great sensitivity.

Review: Obsession: Tales From Edgar Allan Poe

A Journey Into a Troubled Soul
Death delivered in time for the Samhain and to perfection
By Byron Toben

“Lord save my troubled soul!” exclaimed Edgar Allan Poe as he died in a delirium on October 7, 1849. On a rainy, windy Friday 162 years (and one week) later, three of his most disturbing first-person narrated stories chillingly opened for a brief theatrical run at the intimate Freestanding Room.

Theatre For Thought, October 15, 2011

Politicians, murderers and feminists all have something to offer
joel fishbane

Artists should always keep their ears open for advice from unlikely sources, lest their development becomes dependent on the same cotillion of friends, colleagues and kindly aunts. I’d suggest giving the critics the benefit of the doubt, but for most artists admitting that a critic might be right is a lot like someone on Fox News admitting the folks occupying wall street might have a point: it seems to go against something in the blood. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Friday Five, October 14, 2011

Five Comments Actors Love To Hear After a Performance
Just saw someone you know perform in a play? Struggling to think of something to say about it? Well turn that struggle upside down into a smile, because I'm coming to your rescue with five foolproof comments that will leave the recipient thinking, "Wow, this person's comment was so good that they should consider writing an article about how to talk to actors after shows and then post it on the internet."
by Kyle Gatehouse of Matt and Kyle and Matt

CharPo's Real Theatre!, October 14, 2011

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Review: Closer

Challenging Closer
smolder and fizzle
by Sarah Deshaies

The producers of a play that has been adapted into an acclaimed movie have an extra challenge on their hands. Like literary fans watching the film adaption of of a beloved book, the audience comes with strong preconceived notions of the show they’re about to see. It's up to the cast and crew to create something that not only is not a carbon copy of what already exists, but also to build upon what came first.

Review: Into The Woods

The Woods Via Sondheim (and a little Freud)
A musical here is a pleasure to watch and hear
by Chris Lane

Montreal’s newest theatre company scores a hit with their first production, performing the bitingly funny and engaging Into the Woods. The musical, by Stephen Sondheim (music and lyrics) and James Lapine (book), is an original tale that plays on the stories of Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel.

CharPo's Picture of The Week, October 13, 2011

The Bitter End (Photo: Ian MacMillan),
appearing tonight at MPROV which runs through
the weekend and features several top improv troupes

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

EVENT: Coma Unplugged

Album: Launch - Steve Galluccio's In Piazza San Domenico

Steve Galluccio autographing his book

By Richard Burnett (Photos: Richard Burnett)

Montreal playwright Steve Galluccio – best-known for scripting the films Mambo Italiano and Funkytown – launched the paperback version of his hit 2010 play In Piazza San Domenico at Montreal's Centaur Theatre on September 11.

Beyond Our Fourth Wall, October 12, 2011

One should write as though writing for the first and last time 
Oct. 26 – Dec. 3
Compagnie Jean-Duceppe

Theatre...en français.
By Estelle Rosen

La Triennale Québécoise - Le DJ Qui Donnait Trop D’Information
Oct. 12 – 18h
Musée d’art contemporain

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Blog: Christine Rodriguez on The Arrangement (Part III)

First-Person: Andrew Zadel on Closer

Looking Closer
when a choice of a play should have been obvious
by Andrew Zadel

No matter how starkly obvious it seems to me now, the decision to mount Patrick Marber's Closer was not made overnight. I read dozens of scripts, as did Lydia Zadel, the co-artistic director of Chesterfield Productions, and Inka Malovic, a young Bosnian actress who trained at the Lee Strasberg Film and Theater Institute in New York. We made lists, had meetings, debated over spicy Thai food, made shorter lists, and had meetings in which previously shortened lists were made long again.