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

Friday, November 30, 2012

Review: Red

Randy Hughson (photo credit: Andrée Lanthier)

Art about an artist doing art
by Jessica Wei

The first thought I could successfully pull together after coming out of seeing RED by John Logan at the Segal Centre: I want a fucking cigarette

To simplify this play would be to say that it's about a more-than-mildly disturbed artist in the '50s who waxes on prosaically, manically, to his young protegé/assistant while smoking furiously and pacing around his New York studio. To add some specific context, it's about Mark Rothko (most famous for his paintings of bright squares) at the height of his fame, knee-deep in red paint, working away at a series of murals for the wildly expensive Four Seasons restaurant. 

This play is a piece of art about an artist who is creating art and also coming to terms with what art is. 
And it's impeccable. Logan's script succeeds in its two primary functions of helping the audience understand the thought process behind these bright squares on canvas and sending us out those clearly marked exits feeling like philosophers (as Rothko says, “Painting is 10% putting paint on the canvas – the rest is waiting and thinking.”). We walk out murmuring, “Oh that's interesting”, we debate the luxury of art, we realize that money is not the villain and nor is the pursuit of it, and we muse, understanding, at least theoretically, the sacrifice of compromised integrity, feeling as if we could have been on that stage and in that studio pacing around with arms dripping with paint and a red-stained cigarette dangling from our lips, ranting and raving. This reaction, for the playwright and also everyone else backstage, is the endgame. 

Interview: Rachelle Glait (Les belles soeurs, Yiddish Theatre)

The Life of a Sister
by Anna Fuerstenberg
(Rehearsal shots by Ron Diamond)

Rachelle Glait is currently directing Les Belles Sœurs at the Segal and she graciously consented to be interviewed after casting me as Rose. 

CHARPO: Were you born here?

GLAIT: Yes. We lived on Clark Street. My parents survived the war in the Soviet 
Union and my father was attacked in the  notorious postwar pogrom in 
Kielce, Poland. They thought he was dead and they had put him on a cart with
bodies on it, and then a doctor found him still breathing.  My mother had already 
given him up for dead. My mother survived in Uzbekistan.
CHARPO: What did your dad do?

GLAIT: He was a foreman at a children’s wear factory. He thought that way
 I would always have clothes to wear. 

CHARPO: This is what is known as weird Jewish geography. My mother was 
from Radom, near Kielce, and she was on her way home when she met the people running away from the Kielce pogrom. She also survived with my older brother in Uzbekistan and Kirgizstan. 

How did you begin acting?
GLAIT: I had been playing with costumes and roles from childhood, I even
wrote to Disney asking for a part in a movie. I tried ballet and tap for a year, but I wasn’t cut out to be a dancer.  

CharPo's Real Theatre! November 20, 2012

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Review: Satrangi

Gold Dust
by Caitlin Murphy
The season’s first snowfall was serendipitous yesterday, at least for one local theatre opening.  Satrangi, written, directed, choreographed and performed by Deepali Lindblom, implores Montrealers to come in from the cold and move toward the light:  “7 Stories of Light” in fact.  And though the show offers a bright, cozy atmosphere and some delightful Indian dance, all that glitters isn’t quite gold.
The production quickly serves up several visual treats: the set, created by Claire Renaud and Charlotte Hoffman, is compelling in its simplicity: colourful sheaths of fabric are elegantly draped, and strings of twinkly lights gracefully hung to create a highly inviting proscenium in the Bain St. Michel. Alycia O’Keefe’s lighting design is inspired and evocative; and the many shiny, flowing, adorned costumes (changed often) create kaleidoscopic effects.  

The Image, November 29, 2012

Andrée Lanthier's photo of Jesse Aaron Dwyre reaches the heights of the work of the artist who is the subject of Red, at Segal Centre: Mark Rothko.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Beyond The Fourth Wall, November 28

An excursion into collective psyche
Dec. 7 – 15 
Théatre La Chapelle
Shows of interest
by Estelle Rosen

Artists, Music, Torchlight Walk
Xmas on Avenue Mont-Royal 
Dec. 8  - 31
Place Gérald-Godin (métro Mont-Royal)

Come to ze...
Dec. 2 – 20h

Blow Up
To Jan. 12
Joyce Yahouda Gallery

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

After Dark, November 27, 2012

Lemons, Lemonade and The Sour Taste That Stays
Dutchman hangs around for a bit
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

I have invited the contributors at CharPo to, when the mood strikes them, write what we are going to call "Reconsidered". The idea is that, after thinking about it, many people will revise opinions about a work of art. We come out of a play with friends, we go to a café, and over the carrot cake we parse what we have just seen. The others put ideas into our head, we into theirs and then - hours, days, weeks later - we are hit by a new idea about the show. Those ideas remain largely unexpressed. However, I feel they form the foundations of future considerations not just of the piece seen but of the art itself.

The "Reconsidered" pieces will not be, "I thought it was shit, but now I think it's great!" - though that's okay too. It will be along the lines of a comment a colleague made last year when he was considering his top ten for the end of the year. He said that the plays that he was remembering for his list were, more often than not, the ones he had not raved about. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Question, November 26, 2012

The twin loves of theatre and literature grew up together
by Estelle Rosen

An incontournable of Montreal’s spoken word scene since the early ’90s, Catherine Kidd has forged a reputation as one of the nation’s most surprising and inspiring voices for page and stage. Her award-winning multimedia poetry performances have toured in Europe, Asia, Africa, UK, US and Canada. Published works include the poetry collections Sea Peach [2002] and Bipolar Bear [2004], and the novel Missing the Ark [2007], all from Conundrum press. Her latest poem series was launched as the solo show Hyena Subpoena last Fall in Montreal.

CHARPO: You've been straddling spoken word and theatre for many years. I well remember the Sea Peach process for example. Do you know from the start whether a piece will be presented as spoken word or theatre, or is it a process that falls into place naturally at its own pace?

KIDD: I’d say the latter – it’s a process that falls into place naturally at its own pace. I write poems that lend themselves to theatrical presentation; they employ props, costumes, characters, and they’re performed from memory. But my goal has never been to deliberately fiddle with genre, it’s more organic than that. 

The writings that become performance poems are destined to be performance poems from the start. They’re usually inspired by a luminous zoological discovery, which becomes an allegory for some human situation, often my own. I’ll write a prose narrative of 10-20 pages, then prune and condense it into to a four-page, eight-minute poem in verses with shifting metre and rhyme scheme. That’s just how they turn out.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Tour Whore, November 25, 2012

Ado and Farewell
by Cameryn Moore

As I write this, I have been in Boston for two days. It feels all the more unreal because of the way I left New York City, at 4am on the day before American Thanksgiving. I had intended to leave at 4pm, after finishing my phone hours for the day, but the more I thought about the massive pre-holiday exodus that would slam the entire five-borough metropolis into first-gear-all-the-way gridlock, the more I realized that is not the way I wanted to finish the tour. So I packed up my shit, and creaked quietly down the stairs, accelerated out onto the expressway, smiling the whole way. I wanted to fly onward, fast, go go go, ride the momentum a little further.

There was momentum, still. I didn’t think there would be. I expected a shitty turnout for my one full-length presentation of Phone Whore, and I expected to just come down from that with a sad little thud. It could have been that way, too. There were seven people in the audience, counting the bartender and not counting the technician. But five of those people had not seen it before, which made the Q&A session lively still, even at 10:45 at night. Three of those people I really wanted to see it, Fringe friends of mine who had seen at least one of my other shows but not the first. One of those people was a programming decision-maker at the venue and really enjoyed the show, which meant that coming back to this lovely venue should be easier next year; they know what I can do. So that was good.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Review: Loucho

Circus in a small space
Loucho doesn't always succeed, but it's amibitious
by Sarah Deshaies

I’ll admit that at first I wasn’t getting it. Maybe it was me, but it was hard to slip into a fantastical little trip down a rainbow. 

Nice, simple story: a villain steals a multi-coloured machine, and our hero, Loucho, endeavours to save it, the colours and the girl all in one go. Cute. 

But somewhere between the acrobat antics in shades of blue and green, and the louche juggler Claude and some hula-hooping, my heart started to soften. 

Loucho: The Multicoloured Machine is an exercise in small-scale circus within a small space. It’s an earnest little show, the second clown-circus spectacle put on by new theatre company Le Nouveau International.

Theatre For Thought, November 24, 2012

joel fishbane

Last month, while killing time in New York, I decided to get lost in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. After taking the subway to 86th Street, I enjoyed a New York breakfast of street food and coffee on those iconic steps before heading inside to look the painting “Grey Weather” by Georges Seurat. Along the way, I plugged in my iPod and listened to the only musical worth listening to when you’re lost at the Met: Adam Gwon’s song cycle Ordinary Days.

“The Met’s the only place in New York City where the traffic patterns don’t make sense,” sings Deb, one of the four characters in this quirky musical about the crossroads of youth. The show is made up of two completely separate storylines, but the scene at the Met is one of the few times when all four characters manage to break into each other’s lives.  “The show is about how one small thing that one character does creates a domino effect on everyone else,” explains Kayla Gordon, who’s directing the Canadian premiere. “It’s a show about asking ‘what is my big picture? What am I doing with my life?’”

Friday, November 23, 2012

Opinion: Rob Salerno on The Montreal Fringe

Montreal Fringe announces its lineup, milks artists
by Rob Salerno (reprinted, with permission, from Mr. Salerno's blog)
[Publisher: I have decided to reprint this article, which went into circulation last night, to encourage dialogue between artists who have appeared at our Fringe and the Fringe organization. Mr. Salerno's opinion reflects those of several veteran Fringe artists I have talked to off the record. When posted on Facebook, last night, there was a very interesting discussion on the article's many points. I encourage that discussion to continue here. NB: Mr. Salerno has made corrections to his original post. In the interests of clarity, we have removed the strike-outs. GLC]
The Montreal Fringe has announced its lineup after throwing its lottery party earlier this week. I’m not going to do synopses of all of the Fringe lineups, because that would be nuts, but I thought it would be worth looking at Montreal Fringe’s list because it’s the first big one to announce its lineup and also, it reveals some of the less-than-awesome things going on in Montreal Fringe.
The Fringe drew 84 companies in the lottery — 29 local francophone, 28 local anglophone, and 27 Canadian and International companies. This is slightly down from last year’s total, but the Fringe says more companies will likely be bumped up from the waitlist as they figure out the schedule and possibly add more venues. And of course, BYOVs will be added to this list. So it doesn’t appear as if the Fringe has actually learned lessons from last year, and is going to continue to expand beyond its capacity to draw an audience.
You’ll also note that they’ve posted the wait list for each category: 13 International companies are waiting for 13 spots. I guess that’s fair. It means performance poet Jem Rolls in spot #13 is hoping that every other international company drops out of the Fringe so he can get a spot.27 Canadian companies are waiting for the 14 Canadian spots.

CharPo's Real Theatre! November 23, 2012

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Review: Mary Poppins

Madeleine Trumble and Con Oshea-Creal (photo credit: Jeremy Daniel)

A Jolly Holiday
by Élaine Charlebois
I will be honest. 
While getting ready to go see Mary Poppins at Place des Arts last night, I was mentally preparing myself to ignore the whispering of young children I assumed would comprise the majority of the show’s audience. 

As it turns out, most seats were occupied by middle-aged couples and friends who had seemingly come to the show for a nostalgic experience. And they definitely got what they paid for. Not only was the show itself wonderfully performed, but the set design and costumes were exciting and unexpected. 

Review: The Exonerated

The Promise of authenticity
by Caitlin Murphy
I have often thought that the greatest existential torture I could ever experience would be false imprisonment.  How would you possibly sustain yourself when your inner truth and imposed reality were so diametrically, diabolically opposed?  The Third Eye Ensemble explores this very question in The Exonerated, a piece of documentary theatre by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen.  With a cast of 11, the play is a symphony of voices, and though it hits a few notes very well, the range is limited.  What it does, it does quite well, but I don’t think it does enough.
 “Culled from interviews, letters, transcripts, case files and the public record,” The Exonerated, directed by Kent McQuaid, gives voice to six death row inmates who were eventually acquitted.  Their stories of false imprisonment for the most specious of reasons serve largely as a history lesson in America’s racist, homophobic past.  Third Eye Ensemble, founded primarily by recent Dawson and Concordia graduates, first presented this play last year in a limited sold-out run, and chose to do a full re-mount this year, in part to honour the script’s tenth anniversary.  

The Image, November 22, 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Beyond The Fourth Wall, November 21, 2012

Madeleine Trumble (photo credit: Jeremy Daniel)
Broadway in Montreal
Nov. 21 – 25 
Place des Arts

Shows of Interest
by Estelle Rosen

First year students in Concordia Theatre Department will present a Site-Specific performance event celebrating Corona Theatre’s One-Hundred Year History
Les petite filles aux allumettes 
Dec. 3 and 4   19h 
Corona Theatre

25th Anniversary
Image+Nation Cinema Festival
Nov. 22 – Dec. 2

Author Charles Foran gives a talk on Mordecai Richler
Atwater Library

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

After Dark, November 20, 2012

On The Eating of One's Own Head
Can critics' dislikes and the internet be creating precisely what theatre needs?
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

This week Andrew Dickson, one of The Guardian's many very able theatre critics, tweeted thusly: 

"Invitation arrives for Kiss Me, Kate, dir by Trevor Nunn. No, no, thanks awfully, very kind, really don't think so #wouldrathereatmyownhead"

I laughed out loud because I knew what he was talking about. There are productions I get invited to that I would rather eat my own head than spend an evening seeing let alone reviewing. Kiss Me, Kate would be in my top ten for sure, along with Annie (and a lot of musicals), anything by Ionesco, a lot of Albee, mime, a lot of Greek theatre, tons of Shakespeare, most French opera...need I go on?

The fact is, we all have tastes. My uncle loves opera but when I told him I had seen the Ring at Covent Garden he said, "Better you than me." He is, says he, "Saving Wagner for my old age." He's 75.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Question, November 19, 2012

If I can Make it There...
by Estelle Rosen

Playwright/Actor Michaela Di Cesare is the recipient of several awards including MECCA for Best Text for 8 Ways My Mother Was Conceived,  and  the Launchpad Award for Emerging Artists. She is currently Actor-in-Residence with Black Theatre Workshop’s Youthworks Program. She has been performing her one-woman show 8 Ways My Mother Was Conceived in Toronto and Montreal. She is currently presenting this show at the United Solo Festival in NewYork.

CHARPO: How does the experience of presenting 8 Ways My Mother Was Conceived at the United Solo Festival in New York compare with presenting it in Montreal?
DI CESARE: The first word that popped into my head was "pressure." Surprisingly, I feel less pressure performing my solo show in New York City than I ever have in Montreal. I suppose there are many reasons for this:

  • I always believed that my future career depended on Montreal's response
  • Many artists whose work I admired and revered during my formative years and training would see the show in Montreal
  • And-- last but not least-- everyone represented in the play could walk into a Montreal performance at any time.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tour Whore, November 18, 2012

Not with a Bang but with a "Should"
by Cameryn Moore

This is how my tour ends, these last four weeks, not with a bang or a whimper, just a “jeezus fuck, really?” Because the tail end of my tour, for the last three years, has been comprised almost entirely of Should Shows. I don’t want to do them, but I Should. Or so says my inner artist, the one who really wants to perform, spread the good word, you know, get Out There. It keeps telling me why I Should…

“You should definitely do X City. I know no one gets audiences in X City, but you’re passing through, you might as well, it looks good on your list of past gigs!”

“You should do Y City, I mean, yes, it’s in, ahem, a very rural state, but it’s a college town, and look, you always talk about how you want to take your shows everywhere, you’re such a fucking missionary, well, Y City is definitely taking it out there.”

Or the one that I never know how to fight, because after three years of touring to many of the same towns, this one is coming up more and more often:

“You should do Z City because you’ve done them already two years in a row. Yes, you had shitty audiences and a slack producer the past two years, and yes, you’d have to rent a venue this year, of course that’s less than ideal. But you know you like to finish the trilogy!”

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Theatre For Thought, November 17, 2012

joel fishbane

Both the Conservative government and a slew of Canadian artists each got a chance to enjoy their favourite hobby this week. The Conservatives got to provoke the anger of the artists and the artists had a good time getting angered. This time around, the issue was the unglamorous Bill C-427,  a private members bill introduced by Tyrone Benskin, the former artistic director of Montreal’s Black Theatre Workshop. The bill was an attempt to rewrite the Income Tax Act to allow for income averaging for artists.

In layman’s terms, income averaging allows individuals who have a varied annual income to spread out their tax liability over a period of time. I won't bore you with the math – which, I assure you, is really boring – but the point is the bill was defeated and, as always, a few artists got their undergarments in a twist. I have a hard time taking it seriously whenever artists come down hard on the Conservatives. It strikes me as a Pavlovian reaction: at some point, artists were trained to think that the Conservatives don’t support culture and so whenever they ring the bell, the arts community begins to froth at the mouth. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Review: Les Mutants

(from the company website)

The Lesson
Les Mutants is everything...
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

It's a Thursday evening, curtain is 7pm, and the house is packed with precisely the kind of audience every artistic director dreams of: young (in their late teens, early 20s), respectful, and open to a new experience. To this non-opening-night crowd - as revealed by the standing ovation at the end - this was a new experience.

The actors - all seasoned hands including the delightful Sophie Cadieux who co-conceived the show - were bursting with energy. They sang, they danced, they even played instruments. Dressed in school uniforms (c. 1958), they illustrated the evolution of Quebec with a series of important pamphlets and speeches (for instance, Le Refus Global), poems (one from Leonard Cohen), clips from documentaries, scenes from movies, and a vast array of snippets with, as general theme, cultural strength and - yes - nationalism.

Review: Julius Caesar

To The Top...and back
by Caitlin Murphy

Shakespeare is hard. A banal thought, but perhaps the fairest foot to put forward in reviewing a student production of Julius Caesar. The plays are long, the language is old, and sword-play is required.  Despite all of this, as well as the frustrating lack of female roles, Shakespeare remains the bench-mark of doing theatre, the Mount Everest for budding thespians. And though some make it to the top of that mountain, flag in hand, others get left at base camp, sucking back oxygen. Dawson Theatre’s Caesar has got both kinds.

In this third-year class’ production, scenic elements and design choices, though intriguing, felt under-integrated:  from the screen of static at the play’s opening, to the rapid-fire sound-bite montage of world leaders, to the Occupy Movement footage shown through intermission, to the wartime footage inserted to launch the battle scenes, and the often jarring use of projections throughout, the staging felt hodge-podge. The set appeared to offer a lot more versatility than was exploited, and the few movements it underwent felt somewhat lethargic and inelegant.  It was actually the simple creation of a tent – through several actors holding a sheath of cloth to denote its perimeter – that worked best.

The Image, November 15, 2012

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Beyond The Fourth Wall, November 14, 2012

McGill’s Schulich School of Music undergraduate and graduate jazz performance students perform sets of music they’ve prepared as part of their jazz combo course.
Upstairs Jazz Bar

Shows of Interest
by Estelle Rosen

What impact do new technologies have on the concept of architecture?
Protéiforme: architecture paramétrique
Nov. 23 – Feb. 17 – Vernissage Nov. 22 18h
Maison de l’Architecture du Québec

Subjects including creativity, innovation, resources and networking form part of Global Entrepreneurship Week.
To Nov. 15 
Dawson College

A post-modernist classical collection.
Open Contours
To Nov. 30   
Galerie NuEdge

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Review: Inherit the Wind

Clarence Darrow (wikipedia)

Yesterday is Today
A rousing, if slightly flat, rendition of a courthouse Holy War reminds us that the teaching of evolution is still in question
by Sarah Deshaies

“After Tuesday’s election, four new members will join the Kansas State Board of Education, but one thing likely won’t change — students will continue to learn about evolution,” reads an opening paragraph in a news article. “That means Intelligent Design isn’t likely to return to Kansas science standards anytime soon.”

The dateline on this article in The Topeka-Capital Journal is Nov. 7, 2012 - a questionable near 80 years after the sensational Scopes Monkey Trial, a case in Tennessee where a teacher was prosecuted for teaching evolution. Inherit the Wind is the 1955 theatrical retelling of the Scopes trial, but set in the town of Hillsboro - “the buckle on the Bible Belt.” 

In Montreal, where the hot education debates mostly revolve around at which age the government should mandate language in classrooms, and funding one of the cheapest post-secondary education on the continent, it’s hard to imagine that beyond our borders, questions of science pedagogy are still brewing. 

Oddly enough, while intelligent design in Kansas is apparently on the out, legislators in Tennessee easily passed the “Monkey Bill” earlier this year. It allows teachers to discuss the “alternative” theories of science like evolution and cloning, but only if students question them.

Some old debates, like religion vs. science, die hard. 

After Dark, November 13, 2012

My First Time
The importance being exposed
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

My mother died when I was 13. You need to know that because it is important to the story of my first time.

My mother was the kind of Catholic who, if Christmas fell on a Sunday, would bring us all to church twice - once for Christmas, once for the Sunday. When my mother died my father - profoundly in love with his wife of 25 years and the mother of his six children - went mad with grief and got through it two ways: by falling in love with another magnificent woman and by blaming the Catholic Church for my mother's death. My mother had not been a well woman since being hit with rheumatic fever as a child and so her seven pregnancies (she lost one) had been hellish. My father thought she had died so young because they had never used birth control because of my mother's Catholicism. (Stay with me...there is a point to this.)

My father, relieved, I believe, of my Mother's staunch Catholicism, became a lot more liberal. When I was 15 he allowed me to start the house...with him. (His own father was an alcoholic and he preferred I do my drinking at home so he could see how I handled it.) He brought me to my first x-rated film at about the same time. (I have always looked like I was 30 so he suspected I was already buying nudie magazines. He was right.)

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Question, November 12, 2012

I see the design as being the visual translation of the text
by Estelle Rosen

Eo Sharp is a Set and Costume designer who has been working for just over 20 years.

CHARPO: One wouldn't usually expect a correlation between set and costume design, even though all design elements in a play, to a certain extent, interact.  Did your becoming a set and costume designer result as part of a specific plan, or as often happens, it evolved?

SHARP: My original plan  was to be a costume historian. I began studying art history at the University of Toronto with the intention of doing a Phd in Costume History and working in a museum.

While getting my BFA I realized that I did not want to just  accumulate knowledge but that I wanted to transform it, to create and build things based on my knowledge. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Ford's Focus: Cat Lemieux

The Courageous Cat Lemieux
“It’s only now that I’m daring to call myself an actor.”
by Barbara Ford
With Dad at three
When you have the pleasure of meeting Catherine (Cat) Lemieux, do not be fooled by her somewhat bashful, apologetic manner. This is one plucky and talented artist on the rise and well she deserves it.
An an only child born in NDG, the family moved to St. Lambert on Montreal’s South Shore when she was one but by the time she was six her parents separated. Lemieux and her mom found new digs in the same area, granting Lemieux more quality time with mom than she’d enjoyed previously as she was pretty tight with her dad, a great hulking man of 6'4" who ran a bailiff business. Coincidentally, a year after leaving her childhood home, Lemieux’s mother heard that the property was on the market  again and bought back the homestead and the two returned to the place Lemieux associated with happier times.

Tour Whore, November 11, 2012

by Cameryn Moore

“What’s your ideal living environment, like, your perfect city?”

My Alabama host looks at me expectantly. She doesn’t have renters in her house right now, which is why she was able to host me, and I think she might be missing the regular human company a little, because she wants to talk. She likes people, something she repeatedly mentioned when describing what she likes about her perfect city—New York City. She loves that I’ve traveled so much, she wants to hear all about it, and she wants to make me choose.

I stall a little. I like a lot of the cities that I go to, I say. One of the things that touring has given me is an appreciation for a bunch of different regions and cities that I would never have visited before. I tell her I could make it work living in any number of cities.

“No, no,” she interrupts, “when you say ‘make it work’, that sounds like you are settling. What do you really want?”

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Review: Der Fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman)

Hundeling and Gazheli (photo credit: Yves Renaud)

In Dutch
Opéra de Montréal did itself no favours with its new production
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

You know within the first 20 minutes from the beginning of a performance of Wagner's Der Fliegende Holländer if many of the key elements of a successful production are in place. So, tonight, at Place des Arts, with Opéra de Montréal's import from COC in Toronto...

Overture, robust, clear as a bell, lyrical and lovely...check. Conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson (profiled tomorrow by Richard Burnett at CharPo-Canada), helmed a solid Orchestre Métropolitain through an evening that showed assurance for both a conductor and orchestra whose histories don't suggest huge familiarity with the stubborn German. Wilson, especially, surprised for some of the musical moments later in the evening which were even bold and revelatory.

Next on our list, set and lighting...check. And what a wondrously disturbing set Allen Moyer offered - all skewed lines and closed spaces which, to some extent, allowed the voices to tame the hideous accoustics of the hall.

Theatre For Thought, November 10, 2012

joel fishbane

“I didn’t want it to be an issue play,” said Claire Burns. “Just a play that deals with certain issues.” She’s referring to Hatched, her new play that was inspired from her own experience as an egg donor back in 2004. Produced by Toronto’s Triangle Co-Op Productions, the show aims to be less about the moral / legal issues surrounding in vitro fertilization and more about the ripple effect our choices have on generations to come.

It’s hard to discuss Hatched without resorting to puns, so I’ll get them out of the way now. The show was “conceived” after Burns donated her eggs, it “gestated” while Burns conducted research, interviewing egg donors, recipients and donor children. After its initial “birth”, it was “nurtured” by Burns with some dramaturgical help from the people at Triangle Co-Op. And last week, the show finally arrived, aged and mature, at the Toronto Free Gallery.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Review: Good People

Paul Hopkins and Johanna Nutter (photo credit:
Southern Comfort
by Rebecca Ugolini
Good People aren’t hard to find, but it might be hard to say how they’re forged. In the hard-up neighbourhood of South Boston, a single mother, Margaret (Johanna Nutter), struggles to find work after losing her job. Left with bills to pay and a mentally-handicapped adult daughter to support, Margaret acts on her friend Jean’s advice (Catherine Lemieux) and asks an old flame for help. As the gap which has grown between Mike (Paul Hopkins), who is now a doctor, and Margie becomes apparent, Good People deftly explores issues of social class, economic disparity and personal choices.
Nutter spent some time in South Boston, simply referred to as Southie by its residents, and it shows in her performance. Her accent is spot-on, and her gait and weary mannerisms communicate a femininity that has been worn-down by years of hard work and disappointment. 

CharPo's Real Theatre! November 9, 2012

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Image, November 8, 2012

Mark Rothko, the central character of Red, certainly inspires - as he does in this lovely preview video from the Segal Centre's production.
(For another take on the same play, see the Manitoba Theatre Centre's poster)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Beyond The Fourth Wall, November 7, 2012

Barbara Lewis brings the best of a classical voice to popular music. She will perform songs from her new show.
Nov. 17 – 19h30
Fiddler’s Green Pub

Shows of interest
by Estelle Rosen

In memory of Lhasa de Sela, an evening of dance, words and music celebrating life in serenity.
Danse Lhasa Danse 
Nov. 9 & 10 – 20h
Théâtre Outremont

A documentary about the life of Ethel Kennedy told by her family.
Nov. 7 – 17h30

Contemporary Cathedral Concerts
Nov.17 – 16h30
Christ Church Cathedral

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

After Dark, November 6, 2012

The (Sacred?) Image
What are an actor's responsibilities?
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois


I apologize, but I am obsessed by American politics and that has been reflected on this site. Last week it was about the dangers of a Romney presidency on our culture, this week it's about image.

Not Romney's image (as I'm not sure anyone could define that), but on all our images. Let me tell you how I got to here from there...

As I have a fairly steady diet of CNN and other American networks, I am submitted to a fairly steady diet of political ads too. Moreover, an overwhelming majority of these ads are negative (on both sides). In each ad, we are treated to a number of people who are - through the very act of appearing in the ad - firmly defining their images. In a world of YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Jon Stewart, those images never go away. So while Romney is doing photo ops of bagging groceries for Sandy victims, we are inundated by replays of the clip of him saying he hates FEMA and would get rid of it. Obama is forever remembered as saying he would close Guantanamo, tarnishing his first term as he doesn't do it.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Question, November 5, 2012

The Composer (?)
by Estelle Rosen

Rob Denton is an independent theatre artist. Coming to theatre from a background in the music business as a sound engineer, he got his start in 1997 mixing the Yiddish musical The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz. He has since tried his hand in most aspects of theatre from technician, to sound, set and lighting designer, director and producer. In 2006 Denton translated, directed and produced his translation of Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit under the title Out There and in 2009 offered his own Tryptich, three short plays presented at the Theatre Ste. Catherine. He received a MECCA for his Sound Design for Satchmo’ Suite in 2007 and shares a MECCA with Tsultrum8 for his design contribution to Jesus Hopped the A Train in 2004.

Besides probably loving music which likely was the impetus for getting involved in sound design, has being a sound designer (currently referred to as composer) lived up to expectations, despite no doubt always facing challenges with each production?

As the son of a math professor I must first address the parentheses before attempting to solve the rest of the problem. Just for fun, let’s put the parenthetic phrase in quotes, “currently referred to as composer”. There. Now it seems a lot more important, doesn’t it?  I think so and here’s why.

First, I have been fortunate to work with directors, like Mike Payette,  who have given me the opportunity to actually compose original scores. This is my preferred way to work and is most fulfilling on a personal level. For the current production of Harlem Duet,  all the guitar, piano and harmonica parts were played by me. Certain instruments were virtual i.e. drums, bass and synthesizers but all were triggered by my fingers and arranged by me... For better or worse.