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.

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Monday, February 28, 2011

BY OUR CONTRIBUTORS: Blogs and articles published elsewhere

Here are links to blogs and articles written by our contributors but found outside the CharPo site. (Not all are related to theatre, and some content is adult)

The Upstage Interview: Larry Tremblay

The Dragonfly at Espace Go (photo: Danny Taillon)

Dragonfly is English; Chicoutimi is American, syntax is Franco; we have the three candies in the same box.

The Upstage Interview is a weekly feature at CharPo and is a result of The Charlebois Post's partnership with Upstage: Theatre on Radio on CKUT.

Upstage contributor Stephanie Breton spoke with playwright Larry Tremblay about The Dragonfly of Chicoutimi. Below is an abridged version of the interview transcribed by Estelle Rosen, CharPo Editor-in-Chief.

Playwright, actor, director, Larry Tremblay is one of Quebec’s most produced playwrights. Additionally, his work is recognized internationally.

The Dragonfly of Chicoutimi is about a purebred francophone man, Gaston Talbot from Chicoutimi, who experiences a trauma that leaves him capable of speaking only English, or rather French expressed in English words.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Sunday Feature, February 26, 2011

Although they share the same waters, Magdalene Islanders swear
their lobster is better than PEI-ers'!

Quebec’s English-language regions want a taste of our anglo Montreal theatre. So how do we get there, and how do we get them here? 
by David King

Ten years ago, an Interim Executive Director at the Quebec Drama Federation, I had the amazing opportunity to represent QDF and our English-language theatre at the Quebec Community Groups Network. At the time, Sheila Copps was Heritage Minister; Dyane Adam was newly-appointed Commissioner of Official Languages; the Quebec Farmer's Association's Hugh Maynard was QCGN President, and Alliance Quebec was doing an internal shuffle to re-establish its voice and place within the newer, QCGN network.

My travels while representing our English-language arts community led me to Hull and Parliament Hill; to rapid-fire meetings in Montreal and Québec City; and to an important Annual General Meeting in Les Iles-de-la-Madeleine. Connecting with representatives of Quebec English-language communities in and outside of Montreal, I was amazed to see a side of Quebec I had only witnessed in franco-Canadian regions: pockets of official-language minority communities (in this case English-language minorities) fully integrated into Quebec society yet starving for at least an occasional cultural reflection of themselves in their first language. "Theatre would be great!" I heard time and again, "but how can we help bring it here when our school has no budget for it and our auditorium only has two lights?" My taste of anglo arts and culture outside of Montreal was more than just limited. The Community Association for Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean (CASL) was selling cookbooks at the time, featuring recipes by members of its community (it's a cookbook I still use today for Tortière, Banana Nut Loaf and a chocolate chip cookie recipe stolen from Neiman-Marcus.) In the Maggies, or Magdalene Islands, I checked out the intricate sandglass designs of locals on one developed side of the island, before heading over to the "anglo" side, where I stayed with a lobster fisherman renting out rooms in his off-season (it appears a fisherman's struggle to make ends meet is not dissimilar to our own, except that their Employment Insurance system is a little better set up in the off-season). 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ford's Focus: Randy Davies

(photo credit: Shane Kelley,

Hoofer Extraordinaire
If you've seen musical theatre here in the last decades, you've probably seen Randy Davies' work
by Barbara Ford
When you interview someone like Randy Davies, who began his career at age 8 with tap classes from Mrs. Black and is still directing now as he approaches his 72nd birthday, you pray you’ll be able to squeeze everything into just the one article. Shy at first, (unless the spotlight’s on him) as Davies slowly warmed up about his true passion, musical theatre, the more animated he became, his love and respect for the art and its practitioners so sincere, not to mention contagious.  Refreshingly, whenever he referred to his own accomplishments, he spoke of them with true modesty, as team achievements, not solo limelight moments.  

Randy was the only child born to a Welsh father (from whom he inherited his lyric baritone) and a mother with mixed British/French-Canadian roots, orphaned as an infant and who grew up on a farm with an Irish family in Gaspé.  In those days all the Catholics named their daughters Marie, which she hated, so she referred to herself as Andrée.  As a young woman, she modelled for Holt Renfrew and though not involved in the performing arts, she had a definite dramatic flair, favouring all things Spanish (Randy’s middle name is Ricardo!), and is likely the wellspring of Randy’s theatrical gifts.  He inherited his love of animals (his house is never a pet-free zone) from his mom as well, recounting the most fantastic tale of her picking raspberries as a child and encountering a bear who followed her home and all the way up to the third floor of her house before huge, burly men were able to coax him down again. 

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Friday Five, February 25, 2011

Five Ways to Get Your Play Produced
by David King

You want to write a play. You're writing a play. You've written a play. 

During your process, how many times did the following thoughts roll around in that hamster wheel of your brain and distract you from your writing?

"Is this produce-able?"
"Nobody's going to produce this."
"EVERYONE is going to want to produce this."
"Who's going to produce this?"
"I wonder who would be interested in this?"
"I wonder what this play needs for its next draft."
"I really have to get on this."
"I think I need a deadline."
"I need a dramaturge or someone to help me with this."

Open letter from Patrick Goddard

10 things I Hate About Theatre Post-Script
by Patrick Goddard

Last week, I touched off a firestorm with the introductory post to this series. Although I knew it would be provocative, I naïvely didn't expect that my personal opinions would be taken as representative of the views of the Quebec Drama Federation as a whole. The question of how personal an opinion the President of the QDF could express, and in what forum, is a large one, and was addressed by the QDF's Board of Directors. It was pointed out that we did have a policy in place that journalists could not sit on the Board of the QDF, borne out of the concern that one member of the Board could unduly influence the livelihood of other QDF members. With that in mind, I can no longer be a contributor to what has very quickly become one of the most important and vital media outlets in Montreal English Theatre. Although I'm hardheaded enough to withstand controversy personally, I don't want to risk the reputation of the QDF, an organization that is growing more and more exciting and relevant.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

News: Michael Langham dies

Michael Langham, a director who marked the history of Canadian theatre (notably with his work at Stratford) has died at 91.

Read the Guardian obituary here.

Profile: Salvatore Antonio

(Photo credit: Pierre Gautreau)

The Voice
Actor Salvatore Antonio is no whirling dervish
By Richard Burnett (from Hour with permission)

“I paid off my student loans by doing all kinds of TV commercials,” says Canadian actor and playwright Salvatore Antonio, whose mug you’ve seen all over television, in shows like Paradise Falls, ReGenesis and Queer as Folk. “There was nothing I wouldn’t do! So my agent sent me off to audition for a Deepak Chopra video with weird new-age visuals and I was told to appear at the audition in my underwear or in Speedos."

Antonio – who has performed at the Segal Theatre and Monument-National in Montreal, was playwright-in-residence at Toronto’s Buddies in Bad Times Theatre in 2004, and was a finalist for a 2007 Governor-General’s Award for Literary Drama (for his play In Gabriel’s Kitchen) – arrived and peeled off his clothes.

Review: Circo Hiverno

Full Circo
...I really wouldn’t mind getting stuck in a blackout with the cast as my neighbours...
by Valerie Cardinal
Circo Hiverno isn’t a linear play; it’s a circus. Its various acts, which range from yo-yo demonstrations to clowns, are tied together with one very loose narrative thread. The performers are all living in the same building, and the audience is witnessing their performances as their neighbours would.
It really puts into question how well you know your own neighbours. For all you know, that guy next door could be an amazing trapeze artist. At least, that’s Circo Hiverno’s theory, and I really wouldn’t mind getting stuck in a blackout with the cast as my neighbours; at least you know you’d be entertained. 

No Script? No Problem! (Part II)

Montreal Improv: l-r Bryan Walsh, Kirsten Rasmussen, François Vincent, Marc Rowland (photo credit: Jeremy Bobrow)

Why do improv?
(part II of a series)
Those times of divine inspiration where an improviser makes it work despite all odds are what we live for.
by Marc Rowland of Montreal Improv

In nature there are pecking orders amongst socially organized species. Bigger chickens peck at smaller chickens and assert their dominance to take the choicest grains and roosting spots. In the chicken coop that is the comedy world, improv may well be the smallest chicken there is. In Canada, stand-up and sketch keep improv in its place, but all over the country high school students are practicing improv, performing shows and competing to prove who’s the best at spontaneous make-em-ups. In fact, Canadians have an international reputation for being particularly good at improvisation. So, if improv is the runt of the comedy litter, then why are so many Canadians doing it?

CharPo's Picture of the Week; February 24, 2011

Circo Hiverno, now playing at Theatre Ste-Catherine (Photo Eric Amber)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wednesday What's On, February 23, 2011

Art, Film, Workshops, Photography and more 
Broaden your horizons
by Estelle Rosen

Friday, February 25
9:30 to 5pm
New Perspectives on Qin Archaeology
Much Ado About Nothing Feb. 25 
Glengarry Glen Ross Feb. 26 
(Tennessee Williams 100th birthday March 26)
Streetcar Named Desire Feb. 27 MPIX

First Person: Simone Nichol of Left of Centre Theatre

On Panto
Forty children ages 4 – 10 were standing, intently watching the last moments of the show. The parents were amazed how involved their children were throughout the entire performance.
by Simone Nichol

Aladdin is a popular children’s story that has been adapted to the stage by James Barry who is very successful veteran panto writer and director from England. Although a story for children, James Barry ensures that there is enough double entendre’s to keep the older members of the audience interested.

Pantomime is fascinating because it is paradoxical. It is a theatre style that is innocent on the one hand and naughty on the other. It mixes the old with the new and both can sit comfortably side by side. It is eccentric yet it is normal too. So it is able to combine two diametrically opposite elements at the same time. All in all there is great creative freedom in pantomime.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Review: The Dragonfly of Chicoutimi

Photo: Danny Taillon

Back, Back, Back
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

A dozen or so years ago, I got into a lot of trouble at Espace Go when I yelled, "C'est d'la merde!" at the end of a particularly awful production. I found it necessary, subsequently, to explain the convergence of elements that led to that moment. In a kind of manifesto written for Hour, I explained that French-language theatre in Montreal had developed a kind of aesthetic sameness. That no matter the play, a certain school of directors found a way to render the evening lovely to look at—well lit, beautifully dressed and designed—but utterly empty.

A decade has past. However, tonight, back at Espace Go, I felt like I had never been away. A director I had named in that article, back then—Claude Poissant—had taken a difficult text and turned it into a series of empty pictures, choral recitations, semi-danced movements and whispered-on-the-wind, airy-fairy poetry that, once again, proved to be utterly soulless.

Theatre for Thought, February 21, 2011

An Open Letter to Patrick Goddard
Your remarks, and the subsequent discussion, has shone a very bright spotlight on a very big problem in the MELT community: namely, its continual fear of self-examination.

by joel fishbane

Dear Patrick,

I was all set to write a brilliant column that would use the Academy Awards as a way of discussing the value of creating a hierarchy of merit for something which is inherently subjective, namely art. Then you wrote a certain article discussing the ten things you hate about theatre. Here, in case you’ve forgotten, you charged Tableau d’Hote’s recent production of Humans with the unthinkable crime of being bad.

I’m assuming you’re not surprised at the vehement response – you probably expected it. It has become routine for MELT artists to champion the independent theatres while simultaneously attacking the rest. The myth perpetuated over drinks at La Cabane is that Centaur and Segal produce generic theatre designed only to appeal to their subscription base while the independent productions are “edgy”. I won’t debunk this myth – today – but I would suggest that it is one of the reasons for the nature of the reaction to your article. I would also suggest that no one would have been too upset (or surprised) if you had said that you and your wife hated Stones in His Pockets. 

After Dark, February 22, 2011

On Anonymity
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

When I was at the Mirror I wrote a review that mentioned a female actor—working in the alternative theatre scene—in glowing terms. I got an anonymous letter afterwards the gist of which was, "Why are you wasting column inches on her." The punchline I remember vividly: "She's a cunt."

I thought at the time: my God! These people (the indies) eat their young! I have never been able to figure out the agenda of the letter-writer. Maybe she was a nasty person, or he a jilted lover. But what did it matter? It was not germane to the discussion. It struck me as sinister. Stalker-shit.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Upstage Interview: Yael Farber

It’s both humbling and comforting to know we’re as human as [the ancient Greeks] were, and no less no more.

The Upstage Interview is a weekly feature at CharPo and is a result of The Charlebois Post's partnership with Upstage: Theatre on Radio on CKUT.

CKUT  Upstage Producer Estelle Rosen conducted an interview with Director Yael Farber. Below is an abridged version of the interview.

Yael Farber is a multiple award-winning Director and Playwright. Montreal audiences were fortunate enough to see her play, Molora, at Place des Arts last year. She was recently appointed Head of the National Theatre School Directing Program.

She will be directing Kadmos Damned Be The Hands That Did This Thing, her adaptation of The Theban Plays by Sophocles.

Farber was asked to elaborate on her opening comments in the NTS press release: "The Greek tragedies have a remarkable way of showing just how far we haven’t come in 4000 years – this is both distressing and comforting."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Sunday Feature, February 19, 2011

The boys of Uncalled For

Digital Drama Queen (Part II): 
How Uncalled For Hijacked My Inbox
by Liesl Barrell

In this instalment we’ll be looking at email marketing strategies, with a few insights to get you thinking outside the junk mail box. If you like what you read and want to hear about more strategies for artists, you’re in luck because I’ll be a panelist at QDF’s Marketing & Social Media Workshop on February 21. It’s gonna be the best thing since sliced internetz, so hope to see you there!

I’ll tell you a little secret: I hate emails.  I’ll tell you a little secret: As a marketer, I love emails. As a user, I hate them. 

Marketer love:
Email is still one of the most cost-effective methods to spread the word, despite social media titans proclaiming its death or the blogosphere constantly feeling for its pulse. When effectively deployed and paired with good, timely, useful content it can be an amazing tool to build awareness and keep people in the loop.

User hate:
I feel the same way you probably feel about bulk emails: I’m bombarded with constant, bite-sized information, and here come these cumbersome, awkward chunks of dull, stock-photo-ridden meh-inducing content. Often pointlessly seasonal (It’s Valentine’s Day so buy socks!) and needlessly long-winded, I confess to having no fewer than 12,353 unread emails in my primary account inbox. That’s a whole heckuva lot of ignored emails!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ford's Focus: Ted Dykstra

Classic Renaissance Man
"...every time is your first time and you've got to break through all over again."
by Barbara Ford

This week’s feature presented a bit of a dilemma: what could I possibly write about Ted Dykstra that hasn’t already been covered, with all the ink he’s received since making his professional debut at 15? How about starting with the years leading up to his stage launch in Frank Moher’s The Broken Globe?

Born in Chatham Ontario in 1961, Ted moved with his Dutch immigrant parents (who grew up under the Nazi occupation) to St. Albert, Alberta while still very young.  His dad was a telephone repairman and his mom took on various jobs, full or part-time, to scrape enough money together to provide piano lessons and regular trips to the symphony for Ted and his 3 siblings. Not surprisingly, all but one of the Dykstra children migrated into artistic livelihoods, with the fourth, “the black sheep of the family” becoming an engineer, though he now admits that he wished his parents hadn’t let him quit his musical pursuits.  Kids … as a parent you just can’t win!  

Friday, February 18, 2011

Review: Moans

A Work in progress
Catch the rough cut before Fringe

by Sarah Deshaies

Everyone’s got that place where they go to drink and boozily forget their problems. Some people opt for loud sports bars, others choose pool halls, others pick swanky boutique hotel lounges. Alain Mercieca’s favourite place to do that is the dive bar. And so, at a moment of exhaustion and desperation (I imagine) at 2 a.m. one night, he decided to whip up a dramedy based around his love for the dive bar, where everyone knows your name.

Mercieca, of course, didn’t just write his show on any old night. He came up with the idea during last fall’s 24-Hour Play festival, where theatrical geniuses have all the hours in one day to come up with an original play. This time, the twist was to produce a musical - no easy task. Mercieca was inspired by all the times he’s sat in in a Hochelaga or St. Henri bar; he can wax poetic about the writing he’s done, the quiet moments he’s had with friends. 

Review: Billy Bishop Goes to War

Eric Peterson (photo: Cylla von Tiedemann)

History, Legend and Great Storytelling all Rolled into One
Peterson leaps around the stage almost like a man half his age
by Valerie Cardinal

I have to admit – before seeing Soulpepper Theatre’s production of Billy Bishop Goes to War, I knew Eric Peterson only as grumpy old Oscar Leroy on Corner Gas.

Of course, Billy Bishop Goes to War has been alive much longer than I have; it was written by Peterson and John Gray over 30 years ago, when they were in their early thirties. Gray and Peterson’s show has been performed in New York, London’s West End and more, and has won a Governor General Award.

Now, both men are well into their sixties, and the show has changed as a result. It’s told from the perspective of old Billy Bishop, reflecting on his long-ago actions as a WWI flying ace who became a colonial hero in a time when Canada had a serious inferiority complex. 

The Friday Five, February 18, 2011

(This week we're giving you a Friday Five times two which is actually the beginning of a news series)

by Patrick Goddard

My experience watching Tableau d'Hôte's recent production of Humans really messed me up. From the first moments, I was filled with hate and rage and wondered what the hell I was doing in a room full of people who were head over heels in love the show. Was I crazy? My wife didn't think so; in fact, she was relieved that I agreed with her, and we booked out of there as fast as possible without sticking around to applaud. But neither of us could get the show out of our heads. At brunch the next day, we were still talking about it. And I realized that Humans had struck me to the core: it was (as I somewhat nastily Facebooked later) everything I hated in theatre in one show. 

Now, if you're going to make a statement like that, it behooves one to follow up on it. What I propose is to spend the next ten weeks breaking down those elements and publicly working out just what the hell it is I actually do hate about theatre -- and why.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

News: CharPo's Oscar Twitterama

February 27 is Oscar night. Join Charpo contributors for a live night of bitching, moaning, mockery and cheering. Join the feed @gcharlebois. Great tweets get retweeted. Best tweet, as judged by CharPo's people, get two tickets to a show currently playing in Montreal!

CharPo's Picture of the Week; February 17, 2011

The cast of Marat/Sade at McGill Players (credit: Kate Sketchley)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wednesday What's On, February 16, 2011

Catherine Kidd

Readings, Music, Art, Film, Workshops and more
Broaden your horizons
by Estelle Rosen

Feb. 16
8pm- Casa del Popolo Catherine Kidd, Kaie Kellough plus others