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.
I was just a teeny bit terrified when I first began delving into Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
by Crystle Reid
For each show that I direct, I take a different approach. I spend time with the script reading it over and over, imagining all the things I could do with it in my head. Then I begin thinking about the tone I want to set in the rehearsal room: what kinds of exercises will assist the performers in getting where they need to go? What kind of table work would serve the text? What questions should I pose in discussion to help us dissect the work?
Enigmatic and challenging, Zuppa Theatre Co’s The Debacle is in many ways the quintessential FTA show. Now in it’s sixth year, the Festival TransAmérique is an international, multidisciplinary festival renowned for importing the unique and experimental. Most shows at the FTA will defy convention and that’s precisely what The Debacle does, situating its plot-free narrative inside a cramped and cluttered crawlspace that may be real or may be a mere representation of our heroine’s mind.
Fritzed! Politics is exhausting by Gaëtan L. Charlebois
In a discussion on politics and Queer culture, a woman once said to Larry Kramer, "I have been on the forefront of the civil rights movement. I was then an active feminist. Now I fight for Queers. When do get I to sit down?" Kramer said, "You don't." Kramer, who - in my humble opinion - is a Queer prophet, can also be incredibly tiresome.
I realized last Thursday (again!), that even when you agree with and even revere people, you wish they would just fucking sit down sometimes and realize, too, that they really should. If only for the good of the cause.
they were on the edge; they have no safe place to go to; and were forced to put up with each other
Upstage and CharPo contributor Sarah Deshaies spoke with writer/director Jonathan Fournier and actor Santiago Espinosa about Miner Inconvenience. Below is an abridged version edited by Estelle Rosen, CharPo Editor-in-Chief.
UPSTAGE: We were talking about the Chilean miners; was that the inspiration for you to write this story?
FOURNIER: Yes it was. We were given an assignment in an English class in 2010 to write about the Chilean miners. I wrote about two pages but I wanted to see if I could make it into a play.
UPSTAGE: What was it that made you want to continue to make it into a full length play?
FOURNIER: Well I guess because they were on the edge; they have no safe place to go to; and were forced to put up with each other. Not always a fun situation.
Musical Chairs – moving from director to actor in a solo show
The jarring jars
by Ann-Marie Kerr
Sue Leblanc-Crawford of Zuppa Theatre in Halifax approached me a few years ago to direct her in a solo show. We would co-create it and with any luck it would tour the world. When we started, we waded into intimate territory immediately. We found that we had 100 things in common including coming from families of 7. We realized a mutual obsession with death and dying, our own and others, how it would happen and when. Like with lots of theatre made from scratch, the process had us soaring and falling daily. We’d try ideas for days and weeks at a time only to cut the heart of them knowing they didn’t work or they weren’t taking us to the centre of the piece. We scraped away at the surface for a long time and then finally began to see what might be the core of the show. It was our abject terror of being the only one left, being the end of our family line. The show became about a woman finding the courage to crash through the immobilizing fear of losing everyone but needing to go on.
Jake, Amy and Iris are aspiring actors and good friends. Over the past three years, their lives have been recorded on behalf of the MAP Project. Since September 2011, each month Jake, Amy and Iris have been bringing their stories and interactions to the stage.
As the group’s director and the editor of MAP Project’s video projections, I have the very distinct pleasure to be the keeper of some 600+ hours of video footage of Jake, Amy and Iris; hours and hours of hanging out with friends, and talking candidly to the camera about their experiences and thoughts. Every Monday I cull the weekly footage searching for storylines for the next episode, and as I sit in my dark editing studio watching and re-watching these three individual’s faces, I fall in love with them more and more. There is a spectacular intimacy to the process, and I have come to believe that it lies in the reciprocal generosity of watching, and giving oneself to be watched.
I just finished filming some short-short promo videos for my upcoming presentation of Phone Whore in the Zoofest Festival in Montréal, and it’s all getting a little meta. The promo videos are from an imaginary webcast series called Cooking with Cameryn Moore the Phone Whore. The amount of coordinating and dishes and shifting shit around was a little discombobulating, and yeah, the whole time I worried about the phone ringing with an actual caller.
The filming was challenging enough, it’s a whole new project. But the kitchen situation, well, that’s a chronic issue: the kitchen is not my own. I’m on tour, remember? So I have found out that here there was only one pan large enough to handle the baking of the bacon, and the tongs are weird, and I couldn’t really tidy up the kitchen because I don’t know where all that mail on the table needs to go, and even though I firmly believe that everyone likes the smell of bacon except vegetarians and people who keep kosher or halal, that’s just a belief, not an actually proven or prove-able fact. And there’s no jarred crushed garlic in the fridge, and I’m not sure about the freshness of the olive oil, and etc. etc…
Were one to judge novelist John Irving’s new book by its cover, it would seem to have little to do with theatre. Perhaps best known for The World According to Garp, Irving’s latest book, In One Person, concerns a bisexual whose coming of age begins in the repressed 1950s. Yet the novel begins with an epigraph from Richard II (“Thus play I in one person many people / and none contented”), moves on to a deft exploration of Ibsen’s women, pauses to poke fun at amateur theatre and then bases an entire plot thread around a production of The Tempest. “What I really think,” the director tells the main character, “is that gender mattered a whole lot less to Shakespeare then it seems to matter to us.”
The director is pretty wise about most things in the book, but I’d argue that on this particular point he generally misses the mark. Gender mattered a lot to Shakespeare – this, along with sexual politics, is one of his most pervasive themes. As we sit on the eve of another summer of Shakespeares on the stage, in the park and by the sea, we find that the vast majority of our summer fare will be the very plays where Shakespeare’s sexual politics take centre stage.
Michaela di Cesare and her director find the soul of a play
by Chris Lane
“I compiled a list of the lies my mother told me.”
Lies, or myths, or half-truths, or lies that you tell yourself, or the ever-elusive truth. These all colour the narrative of Michaela di Cesare’s life, centred around the pervasive family belief that her mother was immaculately conceived, thus maintaining her grandmother’s virginity before marriage. 8 Ways my Mother was Conceived is – as the playwright-performer puts it – an autobiomythography about di Cesare’s experience growing up dealing with her Catholic Italian-Canadian family’s mythology and her own Virgin Complex and expectations of herself.
The actor’s journey for any production, for those who aren’t already aware, always starts in the same way: with a mild freak-out. What am I going to do with THIS? I don’t even understand this thing… Maybe I won’t be suited to it? Maybe they’ll fire me. How could they even do that? I’m not even getting paid… Hey! Get a hold of yourself! This is a challenge just like any other production… Just… more challenging… So what am I going to DO with this? And round it goes. Or maybe that’s just how it is for me, the Neurotic Young Professional. (Coincidentally also the name of my one-man punk-Celtic-polka crossover band, now playing at a dive bar near YOU!)
Sometimes, when the dust has settled, it is nice to go back
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois
I was walking my dog a few days ago when off in the distance, coming toward me, was a man and his dog. In a few seconds a profound malaise came over me. A critic's nightmare: you are about to run into someone to whom you gave a negative review. The someone coming toward me was Andrew Shaver, director of Haunted Hillbilly now playing at Centaur.
Now Andrew probably does not remember this but before I started the whole CharPo business I had run into him at a depanneur - I was recovering from a very long illness - and he said, "When are you coming back." So he is, to some extent, responsible for the existence of The Charlebois Post. Since then our meetings on the street have had more to do with our two crazy dogs. His is big, mine is small and they both have a chip on their shoulder. It culminated with my dog attacking his and me getting so pissed at my idiot animal that I did a César Milan trick: I lifted my Jack Russell up by the scruff of the neck and presented his gonads to Andrew's dog. When I put my dog down, he got on his hind legs, put his front paws on the shoulders of Andrew's dog and they kissed. Good times.
MainLine offers a scintillating Poutine despite sightline problems
by Zoe Erwin-Longstaff
Poutine Masala, which entangles a runaway Indian dancer with a kind of nondescript Québécois bloke, bills itself as an intercultural love story, unique to Montreal. In fact, with the lovers, Mini and Gabe, cautiously stalking each other in both English and French, the running gag of poutine as kind of an emblem of Quebec culture falls a little flat. Poutine can’t cut it! Poutine needs spicing up! Aimless love affairs are demeaning! Independence in love, as in so many other things, is overrated. But never mind. As the lovers trip over the numerous ceremonies and clichés of each other’s culture, it is Bollywood to the rescue.
From one-woman (in every sense of the word) FRINGE show to true team effort
How this remount changes everything
by Michaela di Cesare
I was asked how the input of a new director, Tamara Brown, has taken 8 Ways my Mother was Conceived from a FRINGE production to something “more mainstage.”
This is going to be a little metaphysical. I can’t help it. Everything to do with this show has come about through a series of drastic life-changing events that have unfolded over a two-year period from the fall of 2009 to the fall of 2011 (roughly) which could not have fallen into place in a more literary fashion if they were being written into a novel. I’m only going to list the uncanny events that have to do with Tamara (because I think people are tired of hearing the story about how I fell in love and got married). I’ll begin by saying that in some ways her influence has been there from the beginning.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the little creature comforts of my home turf, stuff that I was going to miss when I went out on tour. I re-read that piece now and I feel like a whiny little baby. I bet you were thinking that, too. It’s okay. You can say it. Or I can say it for you. Suck It Up, Cameryn! That’s Showbiz! That’s Being an Adult! That’s What You Get for Thinking that Solo Performance Art Is Where It’s At! You Can’t Have It All!
Yes, I can. And I do.
Maybe not all of everything. I definitely can’t have a thriving 25-stop tour every year AND a three-season raised vegetable garden (my primary partner doesn’t pull weeds). I don’t see me maintaining a deeply personal relationship with a coffee shop, when that coffee shop may change every two to four weeks. But after I was done wallowing in my latest bout of “oh god I’m hitting the road again” angst, I realized that many of the things I enjoy running across while touring are a little bit of domesticity on a smaller scale, in a more discrete amount. These are things unique to my billet or neighborhood or foster city that I fall in love with quickly and look forward to when I come through again next fall, next spring, next year:
I don’t usually take issue with comments waged by Gaëtan Charlebois, our eponymous editor, but this week I couldn’t resist. Last week, in his own weekly editorial, Gaëtan did not lament the lack of production of “the classics” and remarked that he’s satisfied with the idea that these plays can still be read. “Because theatre is also literature,” he wrote. Sorry, Gaëtan, but here I have to object. Theatre is not literature: the mark of a truly great play is that it cannot be read.
As someone who dabbles in both plays and fiction, I’m deeply aware of the great divide between the two genres. With literature – which here I’ll define as any written prose, fiction or non - nothing separates author and audience. The enjoyment of the text is dependent on nothing but availability of the material and one’s ability to read. Further, the author knows this and tailors the writing accordingly. Hemingway, for instance, often structured his dialogue to ensure the audience knew what the characters were doing without the narrative voice having to explain. Other writers rely on descriptive prose, heightened language and other rhetorical styles. But the point is that in the end there is only one voice - the author’s – and one listener – the reader.
Alice in Wonderland is a really old story; Carroll first penned it as a novel in 1865. Since that time, the tale has been explored countless times in books, on the stage, in film, even as a video game. Why tell the story again? Why tell the story again at a Fringe Festival where the shows that usually do best have serious sex appeal?
Questions. Answers? Discuss by Gaëtan L. Charlebois
- Louis CK does a bit on the words "nigger", "faggot" and "cunt" - Bill Burr does one in which he wonders about sports commentators' careers which have gone up in flames because the commentators have mentioned race as a reason for sports talent - David Cross suggests God is a pedophile in one piece and that Jesus is a faggot in another - David Sedaris reads from a story in which he visits the Anne Frank hideaway in Amsterdam and admires its real estate potential - Dieudonné denies the Holocaust, praises Hitler and is relentlessly anti-semitic in his comedy
This week, the Corona Theatre in Montreal cancelled a Dieudonné gig citing contractual difficulties. The French comic is picketed at nearly every venue in which he appears. So what is the difference between them and Dieudonné?
There’s a ringing phone on the floor which she can’t reach.
Upstage and Charlebois Post Contributor Sarah Deshaies spoke with Director/Actor Ann-Marie Kerr. Below is an abridged version edited by Estelle Rosen, CharPo Editor-in-Chief.
UPSTAGE: On the line with me is Ann-Marie Kerr. She’s both performing and directing The Debacle being presented as part of Festival TransAmérique (FTA). The story revolves around Margaret who has to uncover secrets of her past and try to recreate memories. How did it come about that you’re performing and directing?
KERR: I was the Director and Co-Creator,with Susan Leblanc Crawford, of the project. When we were invited to perform at the FTA, Susan became pregnant. So we switched roles.
As we were creating this show, we had talked about the possibility of having two productions of it; one in which I would perform and one in which she would perform. And suddenly it came true. She’s on the outside and I’m on the inside. It’s been a thrilling experience to collaborate in this way.
On collaborations, handling the spice and writing a Bollywood play à la Québécoise called Poutine Masala
by Stéfan Cédilot
Deepali Lindblom walked up to me one evening last Autumn, after one of my performances of All I Want is U2 at MainLine Theatre, introduced herself, said she was a dancer/choreographer, that she had liked the show, and that she would be interested in working with me on a future project. No further explanation. No attempt to sell the project to me. She simply asked for my email address and said she would contact me.
Next thing I know, a few days later, I’m sitting in MainLine Artistic Director Jeremy Hechtman’s office with Deepali, and they’re telling me that they are going to produce a Bollywood play and that they want me to write it.
“Sure. No problem. I can do that.”
Wait. Rewind. What did I just say? What just happened? This conversation can’t be happening:
You’re never going to see this Mother’s Day letter, but I’ve got a column to write, and I figure if ever there were a prompt that sprang from a true place, this one would be it, for me. And if ever a mother understood what a “prompt” is, it would be you.
I’m writing this in Medford, MA. That’s about seven miles north of where I lived in Boston for the last four years. I’m here for another three and a half weeks, and then I head out on tour again, but you can still send mail to my old Boston address until September; that’s when my lease is officially up. I guess I’ll need to get a PO box after that. Or you can send things to S in DC, I won’t be there until mid-November, but he’ll hold it for me, at least.
I was never supposed to make this show. As a teenager, I turned to magic, acting and theatre to escape these memories, not to delve into them further. Although the Art I was about to make had something different in mind. In 2008, EXIT Theatre in San Francisco (where I am an Artist in Residence) and I agreed that I would make a new hour long show we could submit to the new FRIGID Festival in New York City for the Winter of 2009. This was a huge challenge, for my shows of dark stories, strange antiques that fill a theatre, and experiences where the audience becomes the center of the show had always been nearly two hour epics. Now, I had to cram my style into an hour, and worse, into one carry-on case.