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

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Beyond The Fourth Wall, October 31, 2012

MAP Project - Part 1 of performance trilogy
November 6 &7 - 21h
MainLine Theatre

Shows of Interest
by Estelle Rosen

Third in Quarantaine triptyque Danse-Cité
Nov. 14 –24 - 20h
Ateliers Jean-Brillant

Book/CD launch
Nov 11 Launch: 15h-17h / Concert: 20h30 
La Sala Rossa

Bluegrass and Folk
Friday Night Hootenanny
Nov. 9 - 22h
MainLine Theatre

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

After Dark, October 30, 2012

Why We Must Care
An election is coming and it could hurt
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

It was an awful time. Ronald Reagan was president and Margaret Thatcher and Brian Mulroney were prime ministers. Moreover, the three loved each other. There was a pall over the world. When we were not preparing for the end of the world, small-l liberals were watching everything they cared about go into the toilet.

What was worse was the utter lack of organization on the left and by the opponents of the unholy trio. Lesbians and Gays were fighting, feminists and free-speechers were fighting - each other! It was all over the issue of pornography. Miners in Britain were treated like Mongol hordes and sometimes acted like that. The IRA was blowing up innocents when they weren't starving themselves to death in prison. A play about Margaret Thatcher caused consternation - even on the left! - because it was called Ditch the Bitch. (This before a play called The Happy Cunt toured the Fringe circuit.)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Review: Harlem Duet

Photo Credit: Rodolfo Moraga and François Dupraz

Othello's Cast-off
by Anna Fuerstenberg

Harlem Duet is a wonderful piece written by a master playwright,and deftly directed by Mike Payette. Lucinda Davis gives a terrific performance, she has grown into a strong and subtle artist who can make you laugh and then wrench your heart. Nothing compares to the weft and woof of this complexly woven drama. From the proposition of a black woman who must have been abandoned by (the traditional) Othello, the play posits a mythopoetic tale interweaving the speeches of Martin Luther King, Maya Angelou, and Malcolm X with the stories of slaves who plan to escape to Canada, a house that is passed from a rich Dutch New Yorker to a black slave, and a father-daughter reconciliation which is heart breaking. 

The Question, October 29, 2012

Picture Perfect
by Estelle Rosen

Joseph Ste. Marie is a graduate of Dawson College's Professional Photography program and Vanier College's Communciations program. He was the recipient of the Spirit of the Fringe award at 2011 St. Ambroise Montreal FRINGE Festival, and has since performed in the Montreal Shakespeare Theatre Company's productions of Titus Andronicus (2011) and most recently Macbeth. Over the past few years, he has put his D.E.C. in Photography to good use by photographing the QDF's calendar launches, the Montreal Improv Festival (MPROV), the 2011 Montreal Sketch Comedy Festival, Freestanding Room's Maydays 2012 and has done press photos for Blackbird (Shadowbox Productions) as well as the press & poster image, rehearsal and show images for Macbeth (M.S.T.C.). He has also taken improv classes through Montreal Improv and at Theatre Ste. Catherine, and has taken acting classes at the M.S.O.P.A and currently at I.O. Acting Studio.

What makes the difference between a good theatre shoot and a bad one?

To me a good theatre shoot has always been about capturing the moment, capturing the facial and the best physical expressions of the performers whether it's a dramatic scene or a comedic scene, without that it's just not worth presenting.

Lighting is always a key issue especially when the action is fast-paced because if you don't get a good light source, all you get are blurry shots and even if you do get them in focus, you'll run the risk of getting a lot of colour noise on your pictures. Never use flash. Not only is it distracting to the actors, in addition the results are not good if you use the pop-up flash on your camera.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

First-Person: Iris Lapid on the return of MAP

Pencil Shavings and the Fat Vogue...then Phaedra
by Iris Lapid

Although I have been out of school for two and a half years now, I think I will always associate September with new Beginnings. Something about the smell of pencil shavings and the extra big edition of Vogue always fills me with anticipation. Well, It's officially autumn, I've turned the heat on in my apartment, and MAP is back in rehearsal! 

Last season The MAP Project fused Theatre with Reality TV to bring a monthly episodic serial to MainLine Theatre's Mini-Main. Throughout the eight episode arc, Season One followed the lives of three Montreal actors and their crass alter ego personas. MAP, however,  has long been known more for its form than its content. The project began several years ago when we decided to introduce a camera into our social gatherings; the genesis of the project was taking verbatim scripts from our lives and finding ways to stage them. 

Tour Whore, October 28, 2012

Pride and prejudice
by Cameryn Moore

Last weekend I was out on Frenchmen Street in New Orleans, just as I will be by the time anyone reads this, plying my trade, as it were, with the Sidewalk Smut. My two-night run of slut (r)evolution isn’t for another week, and sidewalk pornography is bangin’ business here, in the middle of one of the busier nightclub streets of this 24/7 party town. 

As usual, tourists from around the world are astonished, in that loud, tipsy way of people given license to drink on the streets. They are amazed at what I do, and proclaim it a marvel of this debauched city. “Only in New Orleans!” they yell appreciatively and stagger on down the street, narrowly missing the puddle of puke that one of their debauched colleagues has neatly deposited in the gutter. When a partier does stop and talk, I will happily correct their assumptions and tell them that Sidewalk Smut in fact happens anywhere that it’s warm enough and I have time enough on my tour. But if they don’t stop, I let them roar and let the mistake go. Let them think I’m from here. I’m fine, in fact I’m kind of flattered, about being considered part of the local color, a quick Instagram on a score of smartphones, a drunken tweet featuring my tits and the typewriter.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Review: Trench Patterns

Much, but not enough
by Nanette Soucy

You've gotta keep your humour, if you're going to keep your wits. When IEDs are exploding all around and you're at the antipodes of home, with the lives of others in your hands, being able to make a crack gets you through the day, and, hopefully, back home, alive. 

Captain Jacqueline, a wounded veteran in Alyson Grant's Trench Patterns, is an expert at the healing powers of sardonicism. We meet Patricia Summersett's healing officer shortly upon her return from Afghanistan, in hospital, where she is slowly learning to walk and talk again after the loss of her leg and her men. Jaqueline is at once tough and supremely vulnerable, a situation that both her mother and her visitations take ruthless advantage of. Her vulnerability is poked at by her psychiatrist, who asks corny questions as though he received his degree from the Wikipedia School of Psychology. What her psychiatrist lacks in skill, Summersett more than makes up for in performance. 

Theatre For Thought, October 27, 2012

joel fishbane

About ten years ago, I wandered into a production of Company, Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s seminal musical that was hailed as the first plotless musical. It was electric, so much so that the following week I went back to the theatre, stood in the cancellation line and scored a ticket after someone’s date didn’t appear. A decade later, it remains one of the most engaging productions of Company I’ve ever seen. 

So who was behind this theatrical miracle? A regional theatre? Some scrappy independent company? Actually, it was McGill Players' Theatre, McGill University’s student-run theatre company. That’s right: one of the best productions I saw in fifteen years of Montreal theatre was produced by a bunch of twenty year olds, most of whom have gone on to become doctors, lawyers and aging hipsters with degrees they never use.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Image, October 25, 2012

It takes a moment, but take a look at what actor Patricia Summersett is leaning against. A flight through past and present, truth, guilt and survival, Trench Pattern, a first play by Alyson Grant, looks through the prism of the war in Afghanistan.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Beyond the Fourth Wall, October 24, 2012

Colonial (2012)
Oct. 25-27

Shows of Interest
by Estelle Rosen

Throw Poetry Collective
Oct. 28
Divan Orange

Halloween Party
The Ratchet Orchestra
Oct. 31
La Sala Rossa

McGill Schulich School of Music
Jazz Performance students
Nov. 1, 6, 8, 13  5:30-7:30pm
Upstairs Jazz Club

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

After Dark, October 23, 2012

What are the limits?
One critic revives the debate
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

In my third year of acting school, one of my teachers - an inveterate bastard - decided to tell us the facts of life. He told us what we would play when released into the real world. "You," he said to one handsome boy, "would play Prince Hal." To a lovely young thing, "Juliet," to a less lovely one, "Mistress Ford." And on and on. It was a harsh lesson. In the real world, beyond our talent (or lack of), we would get roles based on our looks. (For the record: I would be Richard III...fucker.)

Let's face it (no pun intended) when an actor walks onto a stage his or her first job is to create the illusion. That's the work. If you are playing older, younger, uglier or prettier (or smarter or dumber) than yourself, you will spend a few long minutes of your first few on stage convincing the audience otherwise and then pulling them more deeply into the play. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

But here's the thing...

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Question, October 22, 2012

Peggie Hopkins as Miss Mockridge in Dangerous Corner

Pulling them in
by Estelle Rosen

Peggie Hopkins is Founder and Artistic Director of Point St. Charles Community Theatre. Since its inception in 2005, she has combined her Real Estate Broker duties with theatre including Producer, Director and Actor. 

Since you started The Point St. Charles Community Theatre in 2005, in addition to presenting plays, PSC now offers free acting courses to young actors age 8-18, as well as PSC Youth Theatre Acting Out. What was your motivation to start PSC and have expectations been met? 

My motivation to start PSC Community Theatre was a simple one (or so I thought). I wanted to bring people in the community together and felt the theatre would be a good conduit. The plan was that the adult play would bring good affordable live theatre to the neighborhood, as well as act as a fund raiser for a free youth theatre program. This whole idea  came to me as I  started rehearsals for my first play in 2004.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

First Person: Djanet Sears on writing for theatre

Notes Of A Coloured Girl
32 Short Reasons Why I Write For The Theatre
by Djanet Sears

1  For me, writing for the stage reflects the hybridity of my lineage.  I am bi-cultural: African Canadian.  My practice is both oral and literary.  In the poem Talking Drums #1, African American author, Khephra, puts it this way :

     Carved from that same tree
     in another age
     counsel/warriors who
     in the mother tongue
     made drums talk
     now in another tongue
     make words to walk in rhythm
     ‘cross the printed page
     carved from that same tree
     in another age
          Talking Drums #1 (Khephra 125)

2  I was having lunch with Nobel laureate Derek Walcott.  We were mostly talking about a play of his that I'd directed called A Branch of the Blue Nile.  Towards the end of the conversation I said to him, "Can I ask you a stupid question?  His eyebrows crawled up to his hairline.  But he didn’t say no.  Not that I gave him much of a chance.  I quickly kicked all hesitation out of my mind,  and asked, "Why do you write?  What compels you to put pen to paper; finger to key?"  Derek Walcott retreated to the back of his seat, allowed his eyebrows to return to their original position, and looked at me.  Silence.  He seemed to be staring at me; almost looking right through me.  Realizing that I'd probably insulted him, I quietly set about plotting my escape.  Then all of a sudden a torrent of words spilled out of his mouth.  
“I don’t know why I write.”  That's what he told me.  
He said that for him writing wasn’t a choice.  From as far back as he could recall, he had written.  He described it as a kind of organic desire.  He didn’t know why he wrote, but when he experienced that urge, he felt compelled to act on it, whether he was on a plane,  whether it was first thing in the morning, or last thing at night.  He had to write.

Tour Whore, October 21, 2012

I’d call it networking, except...
by Cameryn Moore

It is exceptionally easy to get stuck in Producer’s Mind out here: How many tickets have I sold? How the hell am I going to get those posters up, and where? Who is my tech person for Austin, Nashville, New York? Even on the Canadian Fringe circuit, when these questions are easy to answer, or are already answered for me, I get into it, crunching the numbers, plotting the schedule, doing the interviews, hell, finding the great Secret Parking Spot. (Oh, yes, they exist in every Fringe, in every city. I haven’t found them everywhere, but that just means I haven’t spent enough time in that city yet. I’ll find them.)

These are important questions. I would never want to ignore them. But I have noticed that when I pull my attention back a little, away from the micro-management, room opens up for some truly serendipitous stuff. I realized a few days ago that I’m experiencing it more this year, probably because my Producer’s Mind feels a little more comfortable running as a background loop. Or I’m more comfortable moving it to the background. Whatever it is, it frees up the rest of my consciousness for connecting.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Theatre For Thought, October 20, 2012

joel fishbane

I’ve been in New York for five minutes when I meet Jennifer Lopez. Sitting on the F train, trying to make sense of the colored lines that zig zag from Manhattan into Brooklyn, I am interrupted by a heavyset woman with dark frizzy hair. “I’m Jennifer Lopez,” she tells us. “But not that Jennifer Lopez. I’m the homeless one. Will someone give me a dollar?” 

Meanwhile, in the pages of the New York Times, a more genuine entertainment story is breaking. Rebecca, a musical based on the book by Daphne du Maurier, was set to be the big opening on Broadway this Fall. Rehearsals were set to start the week I arrived but less than 24 hours before the first read-through, the production had been scuttled. According to the NY Times, stockbroker Mark C. Hotton likely invented four crucial investors who were set to bring in $4.5 million dollars of the show's $12 million dollar budget. The show had other troubles, having suffered cancellations and the death of a major investor earlier this year. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Beyond The Fourth Wall, October 17, 2012

Essay Writing Boot Camp
Oct 21 

Shows of Interest
by Estelle Rosen

International films, multi-media installations,performances, conferences, events
Festival du Nouveau Cinema
To Oct. 21

PWAC Quebec Pub Nite 2012
Schmooze with writers
Oct. 29
Hurley’s Irish Pub

Once Upon A Time Impressionism
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Oct. 13 - Jan. 20

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

After Dark, October 16, 2012

We Need to Talk About The Kids
Out of the mouths of babes...
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

I was having a conversation with a bunch of much-younger-than-me film students, a few years back. We were working together on a movie project and I mentioned that the style we were shooting it resembled what I had heard and read about the shoot for Midnight Cowboy - very guerilla. To a person the group of four looked at me with a blank stare. I was confused. Yes, I realized that guerilla art was a fad of my own youth.

But Midnight Cowboy!! They had never heard of it. I blustered. Midnight Cowboy! I repeated over and over again, like the repetition itself would make this film iconic to them. It gets worse...except for Dustin Hoffman, all the names linked to this film (director John Schlesinger, actor Jon Voigt) meant nothing to them.

This was the moment my attitudes about art changed - I thank the four youngsters for this. I realized, later, that these young people were not a bunch of baboons - they had given me the same look I gave my older sisters and brothers when they talked about Rickie Nelson (pop star and star of the TV show Ozzie and Harriet, and cute - my sisters insisted). The roll of the eyes I gave my elder siblings was exactly that given me on Midnight Cowboy and for the same reason: this is not

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Question, October 15, 2012 - Jennifer H. Capraru on The Seventh Seal

Bergman on Stage
by Estelle Rosen

Acclaimed director Jennifer H. Capraru will direct Concordia University Department of Theatre’s presentation of Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal. As Artistic Director of Theatre Asylum, she also has extensive experience directing contemporary theatre for human rights.

What is it about Ingmar Bergman's Seventh Seal that attracted you to present it as a play? Particularly explain  your description of the Seventh Seal as "an interrogation into the nature of faith" and your comment about Bergman's intense questioning of what makes us human - in the face of strife - resonating today as much as it did in the 15th century.

It has been years that master artist Ingmar Bergman's  film The Seventh Seal and its story, with its powerful and universal characters, have haunted me.

Bergman's cinema is intrinsically linked to his work as a stage director, which he never left throughout his 60-year career. His ensemble of theatre actors graces his films, and his use of language, composition and blocking are all richly informed by his long life in the theatre. He had faith in the theatre, where, unlike in film, one does not "work all day for three minutes of result," as he put it. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Tour Whore, October 14, 2012

The Tour Whore FAQ
by Cameryn Moore

As I’m nearing the end of this year’s tour, it seems a good time to get some questions answered. Some of it is kind of a summary from previous columns; some is fresh, just for you. I know y’all are responsible enough to hang onto this for next year and come up with other questions.

Where are you from?
My car, the Toyota Corolla over there. Most recently from Boston; I gave up my lease there in April and have been travelling ever since. My winter clothes and my cat are in Montreal, so that’s obviously where I’m going when this tour is up in five weeks. The rest of my shit is in a storage pod somewhere in central Massachusetts. I was born and raised near Portland, OR, and spent 10 years in and around San Francisco. I identify most strongly with the East Coast, but I am rapidly becoming a citizen of the world. I am having a sampler made for the ceiling of the Deerinator: HOME IS WHERE THE KEYS FIT.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Review: The Bacchae

Alex McCooeye

Sons and Songs of God
by Nanette Soucy

There is no better known tale in the Western world. A man is born, supposedly the son of a God. His arrival flanked with revellers and worshippers brings forth a wave of religious fervor, song, and adulation to the city that threatens its ruler and to spread chaos, blood, and barbarism throughout the land. The God-Man is persecuted, his following ruthlessly suppressed. The story ends with the sacrifice of a son and the ultimate suffering of his mother.

Taking a page from the Coen brothers playbook, Scapegoat Carnivale’s presentation of Euripides’s final work, The Bacchae, is set in a nostalgic era of the deep south of the United States remembered most fondly for its music. Venturing a few decades past O Brother Where Art Thou’s Blues roots, we find ourselves in the early 19th century in the decades preceding the American Civil War, when expansion into the promised land of the American West unleashed a wave of missionaries and their choruses of call-and-answer gospel choirs in a religious revival that could be thought of as the seeds of the Evangelical America we know today. The similarities between the figure of Dionysus and that of Christ, the former myth, according to scholars, and likely a source of the latter, makes the setting all the more appropriate.

Theatre For Thought, October 13, 2012

Eloi ArchamBaudoin and Jennifer Morehouse

joel fishbane

Emma Tibaldo has never been shy when it comes to her thoughts on Medea, the famed murderess of Greek myth. “She’s always been a hero to me,” says the Artistic Director of Playwrights Workshop Montreal, one of Canada’s longest-running play development centres. It’s a bold statement, given that Medea murders her own children to enact revenge on a faithless husband. But Emma Tibaldo sees it as something more then just an act of infanticide. “She’s a hero to me because of her willingness to do something extra-ordinary to get justice.”

Her ability to sympathize with a woman who commits a heinous act may be what makes her the ideal choice to direct Nadine Desrocher’s English translation of The Medea Effect, originally penned by Québécois playwright Suzie Bastien in 2005. Both a modern tale of trauma and an emotional tug-of-war between two lost souls, the piece stars Jennifer Morehouse and Eloi ArchamBaudoin. It’s the latest show by Talisman Theatre, the Montreal based company that produces English language premieres of Francophone plays. Founded by both a director and a designer, its shows always find a way to incorporate design into the narrative. Designers often start a year in advance and Tibaldo works in conjunction with them to make sure that both text and design work together to highlight the play’s themes. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Review: Guys and Dolls

Tracy Micailidis with ensemble (photo credit: Andrée Lanthier)

by Jessica Wei

Warm lights, jazzy American pop music, and New York in the 1940s – is there any better setting after walking around in cold Montreal wind and rain? 

After having seen the Segal Centre's production of “Guys and Dolls”, I'm convinced there isn't. Marking Diana Leblanc's directorial return to the Segal Centre and starring seasoned CanCon musical theatre vets Scott Wentworth, Frank Moore, Susan Henley and others, this musical tells the tale of star-crossed lovers in the Broadway everyone dreams about (underground gambling, sassy showgirls, snappy rhetoric and even a few zoot suits). Nathan Detroit (Moore) mans a news stand by day, runs a floating craps game at night, and when he's not doing either, he's trying to keep his showgirl fiancée Adelaide (Henley) happy with evasive promises of marriage. Having encountered some financial problems – enough to threaten his circuit – he makes a bet with fellow gambler Sky Masterson (reprised by the dashing Wentworth) a bet that seems almost fully guaranteed in his favour. A thousand buckaroos says Masterson can't convince a beautiful Christian missionary to go to Havana for a date. But as any man with a pair of dice in his pocket knows, life is a gamble. 

CharPo's Real Theatre! October 12, 2012

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Picture of the Week, October 11, 2012

Keir Cutler will be delivering a talk at the Segal (St. James Literary Society), October 16, on the Shakespeare authorship controversy. As the picture suggests, it is called "Why am I a 'crackpot'"

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Review: Private View

(photo credit: Victor Tangermann of Victor Tangermann Photography)
The Good Life
by Caitlin Murphy

Vaclav Havel died last year.  I don’t remember hearing anything about it.  Not that I would have noticed, as I had no idea who he was until last night.  And I’ve been feeling a little ashamed.  After all, few CVs likely boast the credits of poet, essayist, playwright, AND President of Czechoslovakia. Add to these the fact that his life inspired the creation of an Award for Creative Dissent, and you get something of the man’s eclectic legacy.  It’s a legacy that’s being very well served by Tuesday Night Café Theatre’s production of Havel’s one-act play, Private View.

Set in Czechoslovakia in 1975, Private View features Fred and Vera, a married couple who welcome Michael (whom they repeatedly insist is their best friend) over to admire their newly renovated and garishly outfitted home – choice objects on display include a scimitar, a Madonna and a re-purposed confessional.  We quickly discover that our hosts are fetishists:  they are obsessed with collecting and showing off symbols of the (ill-defined) “good life.”  Beyond this though, they are bent on skewering ‘best friend’ Michael for his wrong-headed choices (working at a brewery, not having a child, or frequent enough sex even!), imploring him to be more like them.  For his own sake, of course.

Review: Les Femmes Savantes

(photo credit: Yves Renaud)

Two Sides of Love
by Élaine Charlebois
Les Femmes Savantes, brilliantly directed by Denis Marleau at the Théâtre du Nouveau Monde, tells the story of a family divided by the marriage choice of youngest daughter Henriette, played by Muriel Legrand with great energy and emotion. 
On one side of the debate we find Philaminte, the matriarch of the family (played by Christiane Pasquier with authority and spot-on severity), Armande, the eldest daughter (Noémie Godin-Vigneau), and Bélise, sister-in-law of Philaminte, a character brought to life with great humour by Sylvie Léonard. They all promote female intellectual emancipation over physical and emotional love. On the other side of the family feud with Henriette stands Chrysale, the passive father figure (played by a charismatic Henri Chassé), Clitandre, Henriette's fiancé (François-Xavier Dufour), and Ariste, Chrysale’s brother (played with subtle yet effective comedy by Bruno Marcil). This group values the simple satisfaction of romantic love. 

Beyond Our Fourth Wall, October 10, 2012

The brilliant It's Not You It's Me, part of MPROV
Oct. 10-14

Shows of interest this week
by Estelle Rosen

Dom Juan – Uncensored
La Chapelle
Oct. 23  - Nov. 10

Divan Orange
Oct 19-26

Four Palestinian and Israeli dancers and actors free their demons.
Oct. 12-13

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Flopsweat, October 9, 2012 MPROV Preview

The Festival of Scriptlessness
by Kyle Allatt

Well, it’s happening again.  Get ready to shout out non-geographical locations and debate whether or not any of this crap was written ahead of time because this week MPROV: The 7th Annual Montreal Improv Festivals returns to... er... well, Montreal, I suppose.

Where has it been all this time?  I’ll hazard a guess and say the ether.  That mystical, intangible place where all improv ideas come from.  That’s right, none of these performers are actually thinking any of these things off the top of their heads, they’re all just witches.  Thankfully, we’ve called an amnesty on burning them for the time being, and instead will just sit in the audience and laugh at their antics.  For now.

Blog: Donald Rees on The Laramie Project - Ten Years Later Part III

by Donald Rees

If you were asking me if I felt discriminated against in my day to day life, I would answer no. The truth (much like recipes in cookbooks) is much more complicated. The truth is I live my life in such a way as to avoid situations that could provoke discrimination. I don't hide who I am, but I don't live my life without being aware of my surroundings and how I should act in them. But really, is that so different from anyone else? And is that fair? 

A popular quote says that anti-gay bigotry is the last acceptable form of discrimination. While that's true, I would also argue that racism is also quite common in today's society. Sure, it doesn't take the form it used to - but it's still there, in the language people use and the tendencies many of us share.

After Dark, October 9, 2012

The strength is there...if we can get past the laziness
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

It's easy - if you're willing to go beyond signing petitions and saying you'll boycott and bewailing - after the fact - the injustice of it all. It is the use of the power of groups to change things. It's why ACTRA, CAEA, PACT and other groups representing an active mass, work, and groups representing non-joiners - the lazy mass - do not work.

There are two issues in the news, lately, that require theatre artists to do more than shriek an (ever-tedious) outrage on Facebook. They require people going beyond saying they are in a boycott (or not).

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Question, October 8, 2012

Anna Fuerstenberg, playwright, director, performer, critic, and educator
by Estelle Rosen

Anna Fuerstenberg was one of the founding members of the Playwrights Guild of Canada. She is currenty working on a film script, A SHIP IN THE ANDES, and a play, THE GUERRILLA CAREGIVER.

Do women over 40 have increasingly less opportunities to work in theatre?

When I started my studies in directing at Sir George Williams University, Norma Springford told me that in spite of a decade of training as an actor, I was actually a director and should pursue my education in her department. At that time I had met only one woman director on a kibbutz in Israel. (I had also met a woman general… ) but the main theatre production on that Marxist collective was directed by a man who was brought from the Habima Theatre in Tel Aviv and I was outraged. 

That was a pattern… It never mattered that there were competent and talented women around; in the 1960’s we were invisible. For a time in the U.S.A., I was hired to run a theatre in Chicago, was the first graduate student to be allowed to direct professionally in Boulder Colorado, and directed and performed in Nashville Tennessee. All this was in the era of affirmative action. When I came back to Canada in the mid 1970’s I went into a kind of time warp. In Quebec French Canadian women were making enormous strides as directors, playwrights and performers. In Toronto where I had to move if I wanted to eat, not so much.

The artistic directors, who had begun to shape the new Canadian theatre world, were almost exclusively men and the plays they chose spoke to them of manly issues. In the 1980’s Rina Fratecelli asked me to gather a few professional women in Toronto where she was passing through to add to her study on The Status of Women in Canadian Theatre. Instead of the 40 or 50 I had been expecting when I got the Tarragon to give us the theatre for our meeting, there were over 300. Can you say “grass roots”?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Interview: Alison Darcy on Scapegoat Carnivale's The Bacchae

intense, dramatic, harsh and notoriously hard to stage

Alison Darcy is a living legacy. She has gone far beyond being the daughter of directors Maurice Podbrey (Centaur founder) and Elsa Bolam (Geordie founder) to becoming one of the finest director/artistic director/actors in the country. Her company, Scapegoat Carnivale, scored huge with their production of Medea, and is once again tackling the Greeks with The Bacchae.

CHARPO: What is your role for this production?

DARCY: My role this time around is solely as producer. It is my first time stepping out of a Scapegoat production creatively. It's a super odd feeling for me. I haven't even been to the rehearsals yet.

CHARPO: The Greeks again...why?

DARCY: We're not done with them. There's too much good stuff there. Andreas and Joe [Shragge, co-translator and co-director for the production] felt compelled to do the script and eager to do another translation of Euripides because he was such a master of pure theatre. Also I think their idea to set it during the Great Awakening is inspired. And we had such a great reception to Medea, I think Montreal audiences are excited to see new interpretations of classics, especially ones not often done. The Greeks are the originators of Western theatre, these are our fairy tales, the founding of the Judeo-Christian theology and our society. What better well to pull from? Maybe a trilogy could be in the making.

Theatre For Thought, October 7, 2012

(photo credit: Ashton Doudelet)

joel fishbane
The first thing composer / lyricist Joseph Aragon thought after hearing about 19th century serial killers William Burke and William Hare was “that would make an awesome musical!”. Infamous in their own time, Burke and Hare were a pair of Irish immigrants who supposedly sold the bodies of their victims to medical schools who used them as cadavers. “The story had large emotions and large stakes,” said Aragon. “At the same time [it had] sophisticated themes, like class struggles, medical ethics and the value of human life.”
And so Bloodless was born. A new musical that isn’t based on a popular movie or book is a rare thing today. Rarer still is a new Canadian musical being given a plum spot in the Mirvish’s new season: Bloodless will appear in Toronto’s Panasonic Theatre throughout October.  “It's more than a little overwhelming,” admitted Aragon. “This production represents a lot of firsts for me: my first fully professional production, my first major production outside of Winnipeg." 

Tour Whore, October 7, 2012

Booking (The Process)
by Cameryn Moore

A lot of Fringers, both audience members and other performers, are kind of amazed by my touring itinerary outside of the Fringe. I tell them about TLoTH, that I’m barely getting by, and sometimes it’s just more of a pain in the ass than it’s worth, but they still are impressed. “Do you have an agent?” they ask. “How do you find your venues? Who handles your bookings?”

I don't, obviously. A professional agent wouldn’t make so many mistakes.

I make fewer mistakes than I did at the beginning, or at least have learned how to research so that my misadventures are at least well-educated ones. But holy shit, y’all, YES I BOOK MY OWN SHOWS AND QUITE FRANKLY I WOULD LIKE TO BE DONE WITH IT.

“How do you find your venues?” is the next question that comes, even if I’ve tried to head it off  by rolling my eyes, screaming, and/or frothing at the mouth in response to the first inquiry.

I see where this is going. You wanna know the whole process, don’t you? You think you’re going to do that for yourself, right?

Sigh. Okay, I will give you all of it.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Flop Sweat, October 6, 2012

Captain Spaceship and the Stars
Does reviewing improv make sense? ... Maybe?
by Kyle Allatt

Captain Spaceship’s premise is a fairly solid one.  Take all the kitsch, low-production, one dimensional characters, special effects, robots, aliens and ray guns of yesteryear’s greatest and/or crappiest Science Fiction TV shows and films and throw it all together in an hour long improvised epic.

A solid premise that produced a somewhat shaky, but ultimately fulfilling long-form improvised show.

Before going any further, perhaps an important question to ask is “Does it even make any sense to write a review about an improv show?  A show that will be completely different each time.”  Answer:  Maybe?

Ford's Focus: Chip Chuipka

(Lonely Cowboy)

Chip Chuipka: The Play’s the Thing
by Barbara Ford
(production photos courtesy of Sidemart Theatrical Grocery)

Thirty seconds into my interview with Chip Chuipka, sipping tea in ASM’s bay window overlooking a blustery afternoon on Stanley Street, it was obvious that we weren’t going to spend much time talking about Chip. He dove right into quotation-worthy theories and thoughts, injecting hilarious, touching and deliciously devious episodes to discuss his overwhelming passion: truly inspired theatre. What is that exactly? For Chuipka, it is a well-written story that surprises an audience, disturbs them, provokes them, moves them, and the director, actors and designers are the conduits through which that story is told. 

Chuipka grew up in Capreol, Ontario, a small community that is now part of Greater Sudbury. A mining town, it was also an important railway channel, where the east and west systems converged. Most summers were spent working the rails in some capacity: digging cable, up north with the real toughs, as the manual swing bridge operator or a train order operator communicating, by hand, with both engineer and caboose as the trains roared by. 

The railroad supported Chuipka through to the end of his stint at the University of Toronto where, similar to many artists I’ve interviewed, he studied science- specifically parasites and viruses. Once a month, to take a walk on the right side of his brain, he splurged to see whatever was playing at the Adelaide Court Theatre. That world intrigued him, called out to him, but seemed too distant and remote to penetrate.