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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

After Dark, March 22, 2011

One Down, Another to Go
In theatre, spring assumes various shapes
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

While I wasn't looking (ie: reviewing TV or lying in a hospital) Centaur got itself an artistic director who has his shit together. Simply, the upcoming season at the Old Stock Exchange is pitch perfect.

Roy Surette may not have created the perfect year of theatre for everyone, but with the option to pick and choose and create mini-season subscriptions, virtually every kind of theatre-goer can find satisfaction. For instance, I appreciate the sweetness of Colleen (True Nature) Curran's writing, but otherwise it's not for me. Yazmina (God of Carnage) Reza's work is always interesting though her concerns are middle-aged and middle-class; I am at least one of those. Morris (In Absentia) Panych is one of the most lucid and exciting writers in the country and he has the edge I need in a play. If you're going to go classic, you could do worse than Marivaux (The Game of Love and Chance) and you could do far worse than a coproduction with CanadianStage. Lynn (Intimate Apparel) Nottage offers a period piece too, yes, but she's a woman of colour writing about a woman of colour—pretty exciting for a house that once did a version of Twelfth Night that posited that the culture of Gone With The Wind was a good thing. Finally, what better way to end a season than with a revival of a highly-praised, hit indie production from a company that is not up-and-coming but fully arrived: Sidemart Theatrical Grocery's Haunted Hillbilly. Add to this mix the WildSide Festival, Brave New Looks and Urban Tales and you have a reason to party!

They're all safe classics. Old fogey classics.

With a couple of brilliant little brushstrokes, Surette has responded to the concerns of several theatrical schools (especially the one well-represented on this site) without putting in peril the fiscal soundness of the company.


This is the kind of season you used to see at the Segal. But, while I wasn't looking, the Segal became the house déja-vu built. Don't get me wrong; all the plays there this last season are classics. But they are all classics not truly in need of revival. They're all safe classics. Old fogey classics. I was a boy when I first saw La Sagouine. Literally...a boy. I was a theatre noob when I saw Billy Bishop. And here they are again and, fercrissakes!, with the same actors! Bryna Wasserman, Segal's boss, is announcing her new season in the next weeks and this last season does not bode well for the next.

I have looked over the last seasons at Centaur (the ones while I wasn't looking) and each of Surette's was a building block towards this one. Looking at the Segal's 2010-2011, there is little if any reason to get excited for what's coming at that house.

Ms Wasserman. Please prove me wrong.


  1. While I agree that Roy has pulled off a beautiful thing with Centaur's next season I don't think we should doubt the value of the work that Bryna and the Segal have done for Montréal theatre since the opening of their studio space.

    Their willingness to work closely with younger companies as they develop their work has been instrumental to our collective growth. The Centaur would not be closing their season with Haunted Hillbillly had The Segal not offered SideMart residency in their studio space first.

    We all know the MECCAs are not a perfect means by which to judge the work of MELT, but if you look at the 2010 recipients a vast majority came from company whose work came to life in the studio.

    Some may not be satisfied by their mainstage offering but I am still confident in the model they are developping in making the segal a true 'centre' for the performing arts.

  2. Yes, I do believe I WAS talking about the mainstage season at Segal and although I commend both companies for making their facilities available to indie companies and the general direction of the Segal Centre as a whole, I lament the lack of adventurous spirit that the mainstage company has shown this last season; a season which compares not at all to the work Ms Wasserman was offering in the past and which was justly cited by the self-same MECCA organization when she was honoured for the body of her work. I am sorry to say that the growth of theatre - the future of it - cannot be marked by this constant harking back to the past. We must be aware of theatre's history, yes, but we must balance that with a strong mistrust of pure nostalgia.


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