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, December 31, 2010

News: Inishmore hits out

The upcoming production of The Lieutenant of Inishmore is making noise.

Read the Broadway World article here.

Sunday Feature: A Space Odyssey

4449 blvd. St-Laurent (Fox Shoes)
photo: Michel Villeneuve

By Anna Papadakos

A semi-fictionalized account of an interview with myself on the eve before New Year’s eve 2010 – 2011

SPACE ODYSSEY: Confessions of a Montreal theatre artist (who could have been a rich Real Estate agent in NY) with a proclivity toward both site-specific and site generic theatre

My attraction to site-specific theatre is not an incidental act. I have been enthralled by the beauty and uniqueness of spaces from the time I was a child. While growing up in New York with my father and brother, I remember regularly going through the free weekly “The Pennysaver”, looking for homes, run down farmhouses and industrial buildings to fix up and live in. I was particularly attracted to structures in remote areas of town. I was lucky in that my father, a man with the bug to be constantly on the move didn’t need any coaxing from his little daughter and that we had rather similar tastes…up to a certain point. 

Video News: Tableau D'Hôte in trouble

A Twitter notice brought us to this video which describes the financial situation in which the celebrated company finds itself.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

CharPo's WildSide Photo Album

CharPo's WildSide Aggregator, 2011

All our articles and pics about and around the WildSide Festival at Centaur. (Check back often...there will be more first person articles, reviews and pics!)
Review: Neon Nightz
Review: Rant Demon
Review: ...the itsy bitsy spider...
Review: Miss Sugarpuss Must Die
Ford's Focus: Holly Gauthier-Frankel of Miss Sugarpuss Must Die
Review: Hamlet (solo)
Review: I am I
Review: Duplicity Girls
Video: Raoul Bhaneja talks about Hamlet (solo) 
Review: Hypnogogic Logic
Photo:'s here, baby!
Video: CharPo Editors' Choices, WildSide, 2011
First Person: Towards a Rock & Roll Theatre; I am I as seen by its author, Mike Czuba
Ford's Focus: Ned Cox author of Duplicity Girls
News: The arrival of ...itsy bitsy spider... creates news outside of Montreal.
Video: Keir Cutler in a clip from Rant Demon
Album: CharPo's WildSide Photo Album
Interview: Raoul Bhaneja of Hamlet (solo)
PictureThe ladies of Neon Nightz
VideoKeir Cutler (Rant Demon) on the Shakespeare question
InterviewAlexandre Marine, director of ...itsy, bitsy, spider...
ArticleKeir Cutler (of Rant Demon) talks about the art of the solo
Picture: The goofs of Uncalled For (Hypnogogic Logic)
PictureHolly Gauthier-Frankel, of the one and only Miss Sugarpuss Must Die, helps at the MECCAs

CharPo's Picture of the Week, December 30

Women with Guns
Carmen Cartterfield in The Lieutenant of Inishmore, at the Segal Centre, opening next week (photo: Antonio Starnino)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

After Dark, December 28, 2010

by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

At this time of year I remember how I used to feel at the end of one acting school term and before the beginning of the next. Forget Christmas or New Year's hap-hap-happy. My guts used to churn.

When I watch young actors, fresh out of acting school, even before they open their mouths or do a goddam thing on stage, I admire them. They have been through the grinder of training and from all the stories I've heard from actors, new and veteran, about their education, not much has changed in the teaching of the trade.

You still have the improv, voice, movement, dance, text, makeup and interpretation classes. I also had fencing and mime, which some schools have, some don't. It's work. It's classes all day, rehearsals for the term play at night and on weekends. It's work. Sometimes it's pulverizing because time has to be snatched away from sleep for history of theatre papers, theatre lit reading and learning lines. It's work...

...and it's teachers.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Interview: Raoul Bhaneja of Hamlet (solo)

(photo credit: Andrew Kenneth Martin)

By Estelle Rosen (CharPo Editor)
(through partnership with Upstage - Theatre on Radio)

Hamlet (solo)  being presented by Repercussion Theatre  and performed by Raoul Bhaneja will be among the plays in the Centaur Theatre WildSide Festival. First seen in Montreal in 2006 participating in The New Classical Theatre Festival, they were awarded a MECCA for Best Visiting Production.

CKUT Upstage contributor Alison Louder spoke with Raoul 
Bhaneja,  who plays 17 parts in Hamlet (solo) without costumes, props or set. Hamlet stripped down to its essence. For Raoul Bhaneja, the architecture of whatever space they’re in becomes the set.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Be wise...

Party season! Be wise. Call Nez Rouge. Happy holidays from CharPo!

Ford's Focus: GG-winner Kent Stetson

Kent Stetson: Tip of the Iceberg
By Barbara Ford

As I entered Kent Stetson’s study I felt as if I was stepping onto hallowed ground.  This is where the Governor General Award-winning playwright, appointed to the Order of Canada, sits down at a monster of a desk to create some of Canada’s best theatre, bridging several genres and decades and working with some of the most notable names in the industry.  As one fascinating story after another unravelled in that cozy room, I was enthralled by the richness of his life, his unbridled curiosity and expansive knowledge of Canada’s diverse people and history.  Sipping Earl Grey tea and munching on the muffins he had run out to buy at the last minute, it was abundantly clear that between the research I’d collected to prepare for the interview and the material that was surfacing in the course of our exchange, squishing it all into one measly article was going to be a challenge, but I was up for it.  

Here follows the account of the prolific PEI baby-boomer who grew up in a home without electricity (until he was thirteen) on one hundred and forty acres of farmland, sharing cow-milking and other assorted chores with his three siblings and attending a one-room schoolhouse.

Once Stetson graduated, with a B.A. in Literature, with honours, from the Prince of Wales College, he embarked on the “de rigeur” hippie tour of Europe where he came upon Lunchtime Theatre in Edinburgh.  As soon as he returned to PEI, he started his own in Charlottetown but was abruptly scouted for the director’s program by CBC/BBC while John Hirsch (Artistic Director of the Stratford Festival) was the head of the drama division.  Almost as quickly as he had got into theatre, he was propelled out of it and plunked into television where he made a decent living directing short dramas until early one morning in October, without warning, he sat down to write.  Several hours later, lost in time, he had seven pages of his first play, Warm Wind in China, the first Canadian play to address the AIDS issue at its peak in the mid-eighties.  

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Gifting Theatre: CharPo Contributors help you finish your shopping

Gaëtan Charlebois
The Lieutenant of Inishmore
When I saw the raw, unpleasant, hilarious power of Martin McDonagh's first play to be presented here, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, and then his brilliant film, In Bruges, I knew he was writing for me. This, from all reports, is a similarly difficult night of theatre but I bet you won't leave the theatre unmoved. Absurd Person Singular Going to a play by Alan Ayckbourn is like opening a Christmas present from a dear friend; it will always be a surprise, sometimes make you laugh until you cry...or just cry but it will always be something you really wanted.
(BTW: You still have a chance to win tickets to this show)

It’s a no-brainer … Centaur’s Wildside but don’t ask me to choose one play out of the lot!  Just buy that special someone a pass so they can go nuts and see everything … best deal in town AND you can work off the turkey, mash potatoes and gravy walking up that hill from the Place d’Armes Metro to get there!  If I HAVE to choose, either Miss Sugarpuss Must Die or Hynogogic Logic to inoculate against the inevitable onslaught of winter blues.

Neon Nightz at WildSide. Give your loved one a table dance at Centaur!

CharPo's Picture of the Week; December 22, 2010

The Ladies of Neon Nightz - once described as "where fantasy, feminism, sexuality, art and athletics meet in the world of stripping" - are at WildSide.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

News: NTS students in Ottawa top ten

Ottawa Start blog has named the NTS's Romeo and Juliet in a top ten.

"9) The National Arts Centre’s English Theatre Company collaborated with the National Theatre School’s graduating class in the production of Romeo and Juliet. Twelve students from Montreal worked with the professional actors of the NAC’s English Theatre Company and Artistic Director Peter Hinton to produce a gorgeous rendition of Shakespeare’s classic."

Read the entire list here.

After Dark, December 21, 2010

By Gaëtan L. Charlebois

Holiday season approaches and CharPo has much to celebrate, after a mere three weeks. Barbara Ford's column is a huge success, becoming the third most popular feature at the site...on its first day. After Steve Galluccio's hilarious piece, Keir Cutler's fascinating article last week, we got Kate Bligh to share her story on her work. Meanwhile the page view count for the whole site, so early in its life, is phenomenal (even compared with the last hugely successful site with which I was involved, Best of all, people are talking.

It's party time! 

CharPo's Aggregator, Year-end, 2010: Theatre things

-The Guardian looks at Richard Eyre's production of A Flea in Her Ear and calls it "heartlessly funny"
-The Guardian's controversial Michael Billington discusses The Greatest Actor Ever
-A stage version of It's a Wonderful Life.
-If you can get past the culturally incomprehensible first sentence, we think this is a rave. Get Santa at London's Royal Court.
-Because we like Facebook or real life. Julia at LA's Pacific Resident Theatre
-Brook does Magic Flute...sold out. (Needless to say) Flûte Enchantée at Paris' Bouffes du nord

-The top-? lists continue...

Video: Keir Cutler on the Shakespeare Question

Keir Cutler, who offered CharPo a terrific First Person piece, has allowed us to post this video here. It is his take on the question of authorship.

Monday, December 20, 2010

News: Gordie goes Indie

Ex-Centaur artistic director, Gordon McCall, is about to present his production of Norway in Indianapolis' Phoenix Theatre.

Read the interview here.

Interview: Alexandre Marine

We are presenting this interview as part of CharPo's new partnership with Upstage—Theatre on Radio on CKUT.

By Estelle Rosen

Adapted and Directed by Alexandre Marine,  …the itsy bitsy spider.. is based on Fyodr Dostoevsky’s Demons. Intending to show that Russia was being destroyed by radicals, Dostoevsky was overcome by wanting to fictionalize personal experiences associated with a real-life political conspiracy murder.

In an interview with Alexandre Marine, conducted by CKUT Upstage contributor Alison Louder, Marine said.  “The play revolves around a missing controversial  chapter from Demons that had been censored for decades in Russia.”

News: Upstage and CharPo become media partners

The Charlebois Post is happy to announce its media partnership with Upstage—Theatre on Radio on CKUT.

The fruits of that partnership will be clear in the upcoming days.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday Feature: Toward Inishmore

Thomas Preece (Padraic in ...Inishmore)
(photo credit: Antonio Starnino)

By Kate Bligh 
(Special to The Charlebois Post)

I first saw The Lieutenant of Inishmore in New York five years ago.  I had seen McDonagh’s work before, and thought I knew what to expect.  Five minutes into the play, I was laughing and crying at the same time: this piece was darker, funnier, more insightful, and more brutal, than any of his previous offerings.  In this very tightly written and apparently simple piece, McDonagh takes a scalpel to the Irish psyche, slicing off the top layers of flesh and smearing the resultant mess all over any sentimental notions of ‘Irishness’ his audience members might have.

I knew from about half-way through the performance that I wanted to direct the play myself, sensing that its preoccupations with identity in so many of its forms – national, gender, and sexual - would have resonances with the unique cultural reference points of Montreal theatre-goers.  I also felt that the play would provide an ideal vehicle for some of the young and incredibly talented performers that I work with.  Last and not least, it’s a spectacular piece of theatre written in a knowing, virtuoso style, that really lends itself to stage performance, by someone who knows that live theatre can really pack a punch, even at the beginning of the 21st century.  How could I not take it on?  

Friday, December 17, 2010

Second Opinion: Silicone Diaries

(Editor's note: The Charlebois Post encourages its contributors to share opinions even on productions for which reviews have appeared on the site.) 

by Richard Burnett

For audiences outside Toronto, the hometown of Canada’s most celebrated transsexual Nina Arsenault, the thrill of seeing Nina step onstage for the first time is pure voyeurism. This thrill cannot be duplicated with mere videos or photographs. Observing Nina’s body and what she has done to it is a voyeuristic sensation completely rooted in the real. And by god, with her eye-popping 36D-26-40 figure, Nina Arsenault could pose in Penthouse.

News: Galluccio's Mambo hits West Coast in April

Steve Galluccio's mega-hit Mambo Italiano will be playing Vancouver in April. Galluccio, a CharPo contributor, has seen the play performed worldwide. It was a hit here both in French (Cie Jean-Duceppe) and English (Centaur)

Details of the Vancouver production here.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The French-language Press: Silicone Diaries

"In the mouth of your average drag queen, the superficiality, the futility, the gossiping would be funny, folky even. But Silicone Diaries, despite some smothered laughter here and there, disturbs, especially by its terrifying currency."

Sylvie St-Jacques, La Presse (translated by GLC)

News: Stratford Star, Domini Blythe, dies in Montreal at 63

Domini Blythe, a favourite of The Stratford Festival, has died.

Read the Toronto Star article.

CharPo's Picture of the Week; December 17, 2010

Nina Arsenault in Silicone Diaries. Read all about it in CharPo: reviewed by David Allan King; profile by Richard Burnett.

The Post-ian Question - December 15

The prize: The winner will receive one pair of tickets to Griffintown Theatre opening night of Absurd Person Singular by award winning playwright Alan Ayckbourn. 3 couples - 3 Xmas Eve's - 3 hysterical disasters. In the 1970s Absurd Person Singular became the longest running comedy on Broadway. Directed by Corey Castle. Opening Night Fri. Jan. 14 The Rialto 5723 Park Ave. Tix will be left at door. Play starts at 7:30; winner should pick up tix 7pm.

The challenge: In 140 characters (Tweet-length) write a rave review pull-quote for a play that would keep the audience away in droves. (Example: I was particularly fascinated by its dissection of Zoroastrian theology and how it led to the conclusion that God is a construct. Go!)

Add your entry as a comment to this post
with your real name. You may also comment on other nice. The deadline is midnight, Monday, January 6. The winner will be announced along with the next challenge Wednesday, January 8, along with the next challenge. Judges are CharPo contributors.


First Person: Anna Papadakos

Dear Montreal Theatre,

The year is coming to a close.  This is the time to reflect, to make promises for what we will both do and will never do again in 2011. Today, I would like to take a pause in the hectic life of a Montreal artist to write about all the English Montreal plays I have not seen.  

Obviously, I would not have made a good critic in 2010 since one has to see the work to critique the work, right? Although, I must admit that at times I have read critiques, of works that I did indeed attend and the reviewer appears to have seen a very different play.

News: Robert Lepage slated for Metropolitan Opera premiere

Radio-Canada reported Robert Lepage - whose Ring Cycle is unfolding this season and next - is returning to the Metropolitan Opera to stage an operatic version of Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The CharPoll results, December 15

We asked you how you would rate this last year's English-language works as a whole. 17 of you answered the call with 8 saying "shaken not stirred," 6 offering the slightly more enthusiastic "tweet-worthy" and three saying the year was a good one. No one said they wanted to kill themselves over it nor called it Nirvana.

What does this mean?

That it was a generally satisfying year with the memory of no one show polluting the year or making you hum through the crap.

This week's CharPoll is considerably more serious. Please take the time to tell us where you get your news about English-language theatre in Montreal.

Discussion: THEATRE IN THE ROUND - why very little opportunity in Canada?

by Kevin Kibbey (special to The Charlebois Post)

A small Independent theatre company in Montreal regards ‘in the round’ theatre as the preferred method of staging plays whenever possible - even when there is a stage at the venue.

I was doing some research on 'theatre-in-the -round' because our latest play was written specifically for this form of theatre. 

Review: The Silicone Diaries

The Art of Artificiality

by David Allan King

It hurts to be beautiful. And in Nina Arsenault's one-woman show The Silicone Diaries, that's both literal and figurative.

After a successful run at Toronto's Buddies In Bad Times Theatre, Arsenault takes the Montreal stage this week for a performance that has captivated critics and earned itself a run in Ottawa's upcoming Magnetic North Theatre Festival (celebrating the cream of the crop in contemporary creation). All rightly so: The Silicone Diaries, written and performed by a transgendered beauty well beyond 'passable', takes on that last bastion of queer theatre we still haven't fully explored: trans, post-op life and culture. And as Arsenault nails it, the notion of a 'woman 'trapped in a man's body' barely scratches the surface of the transgendered experience.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The French-language Press: Urban Tales, Centaur

"...Yes, the stories anger, disturb, perturb. But they also occasionally make one smile and even burst out laughing. Bottom line, what is important, is they don't leave us indifferent. So it's mission accomplished, for Centaur. And we cross our fingers they will repeat the exercise for many years."

Geneviève Germain (Translated by GLC)

Monday, December 13, 2010

News: Fiona Reid to be honoured by ACTRA

Fiona Reid, who has played in this city several times (notably at the Segal Centre in Soulpepper's Streetcar Named Desire) will be honoured by ACTRA.

Read the CBC story here.

One-act play writing competition (theme: the Irish diaspora)

Byron Toben has launched a one-act play-writing competition. The theme for play entries is the Irish diaspora. Full details here.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday Feature: Come Blow Your (Own) Horn

By Gaëtan L. Charlebois (with Barbara Ford and Estelle Rosen)

As small, indie and young companies get ready for Centaur's Wildside Festival and, soon after that, the Fringe—I remember, a few years ago when I was toiling at Hour, being asked for advice about how these kinds of companies should go about getting the word out.

I remember a few things I suggested (some of which sound puerile but which are, nevertheless, reflecting sad facts):

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Discussion: Is Raisin the best?

Rover Arts's Anna Fuerstenberg said Raisin in The Sun is the best written American play ever. I was nodding as I read until I remembered Death of a Salesman and Angels in America. (Both awaiting decent new productions here.) What say you?

Read Anna's review.

First Person: Keir Cutler on The Solo

Why Solo?

Rant Demon, which will be remounted at the 2011 Wildside Festival at Centaur Theatre in January, is my eighth original solo show.

I have performed my monologues so often, in so many places, it seems that one-man shows is all I ever intended to do.  But in reality, I started out wanting to be a playwright of traditional plays, to be performed by multiple actors.  I even got a diploma in playwriting from the National Theatre School.  For years I sent out my writings throughout the English-speaking world.  Occasionally, I would receive back a nice letter of encouragement, or someone would arrange a reading. Nothing ever got fully staged, but I do have a nice collection of letters from artistic directors asking me to be sure to send them my next play. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

News: Cirque du Soleil / James Cameron go the extra dimension

It's official: Cirque du Soleil and maker of all things blockbuster, James Cameron (Titanic, Avatar) are in bed together to work on 3D projects.

Read the CBC article.

News: Rick Miller at Sydney Festival

Rick Miller, star of Fringe, film and big stage (notably many works with Robert Lepage) is making noise in Oz with his own piece Bigger Than Jesus. Read The Australian article here.

CharPo's Picture of the Week; December 10, 2010

Four Hairy Fellers
Uncalled For's Hypnogogic Logic (Photo by: Jeremy Bobrow)

Sitting: Mike Hughes; Standing l-r: Dan Jeannotte, Matt Goldberg, Anders Yates
The show plays the Wildside Festival, starting January 4

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Be wise...

Party season! Be wise. Call Nez Rouge. Happy holidays from CharPo!

Interview: Nina Arsenault of The Silicone Diaries

by Richard Burnett in Hour (with permission)

It is pure synchronicity that I am blabbing with Nina Arsenault - the most celebrated transsexual in Canada - on international Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day set aside each Nov. 20 to memorialize those murdered because of anti-transgender hatred or prejudice.

Nina, star of her critically-hailed, autobiographical one-transwoman show, The Silicone Diaries, is very aware of this too.

"The hardest part of my transformation was when I was living as a woman but still looked very masculine and people would make fun of me on the street," Nina says. "They'd yell things out of their car. I realized there is a double standard for transsexuals, because if you're a beautiful transsexual, people will accept you more easily. If you 'pass' you will be more accepted. You may not even be noticed. But if you don't pass... That's what really hurt me - people don't see you as human."

Truth is, after 60 cosmetic surgeries over eight long years, Nina doesn't look very human.

Similarly, last winter when I asked famed NYC tranny (and photographer Dave LaChappelle's muse) Amanda Lepore what she thinks she looks like, Lepore replied, "There is something alien about my face - there is something spacey about me. If I dressed like Lady Gaga, [my face] would get lost. But because I dress retro, vamp and classic, the [alien] qualities come out more."
Nina Arsenault is equally frank. "I look like a cyborg," she says, unafraid to showcase her eye-popping 36D-26-40 bombshell body in her first play, the aptlynamed I Was Barbie, which was a hit during Barbie's 50th anniversary at Toronto Fashion Week in June 2009.

But it wasn't always so.

Review: Raisin in The Sun (Archived)

By Richard Burnett, from Hour, with Permission

Lorraine Hansberry`s landmark play A Raisin in the Sun takes its name from the Langston Hughes poem Harlem. Then in 1959 it became the first-ever play written by a black woman to be produced on Broadway, starring Sidney Poitier, who’d also go on to star in the 1961 Hollywood adaptation. More importantly, A Raisin in the Sun was the first cross-over play that portrayed African-Americans as they saw themselves. While much has changed in society since 1959, A Raisin in the Sun still resonates deeply today, as black folks still deal with identity politics, and as disproportionate numbers of black men are still shut out of the job market and black women remain the glue of their family units. Black Theatre Workshop’s remount stars a solid cast of locals, notably Montreal jazz legend Ranee Lee who owns the stage every time she opens her mouth or lifts an eyebrow. Lee gives the cast and production that extra gravitas, and the soundtrack (notably Dinah Washington`s This Bitter Earth) adds to the period atmosphere. My one complaint is the cast`s voices didn’t carry well - the actors need to speak  louder or BTW needs to mic the stage. Hopefully this problem was corrected after opening night. Other than that, this is a sterling production of a classic play. Don’t miss it.

Black Theatre Workshop’s A Raisin in the Sun plays at the Centaur Theatre until December 5)
(Richard Burnett, Hour, by permission)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

CharPo Poll Results; Tuesday December 7

We asked visitors to the site if they had seen a play in English in Montreal in the last year. Thirty answered. Twenty-six said yes, four said no.

What this might mean:
That you don't have to go to theatre to enjoy reading about it.
Those four went to a play in French or some other language.
I go, I read, I think, I talk, I write...I don't vote, leave me alone.

Nevertheless, have a look at our newest poll and accord the average score you'd give the English-language plays you've seen in Montreal this year.