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Thursday, April 7, 2011

News: Segal Season Launch

The Segal team (Bryna Wasserman, AD, centre) (Photo: Randy Cole)

if you liked past seasons, you’ll love this 
joel fishbane

Not much will change at Segal Centre during the 2011 – 12 season. The only theatre not dark on Monday nights will continue to present seasoned classics well into the spring of 2012, featuring the usual assortment of established writers, directors and stars. Centaur has opted to challenge its subscribers with world premieres and musicals about haunted hillbillies, but Segal has chosen to offer their audience much more familiar fare. Put succinctly, if you liked past seasons, you’ll love this. 

The strengths of Segal Centre has always been its commitment to all artistic disciplines and it’s new season features a slew of dance, music and cinematic offerings which I’d encourage everyone to explore. Theatrically, their studio space offers the most intriguing possibilities: Tableau d’Hote will present Timothy Findley’s astounding Elizabeth Rex while Scapegoat Carnivale (Segal’s new resident company) will be presenting a new play by Joseph Shragge, The Heretics of Bohemia. I can’t tell you anything about it, other that it involves puppets, fairy tales and that it’s producers are the same people who gave us Medea - which, as I continue to tell Artistic Director Alison Darcy every time I see her, was the best show I saw in 2010.

Thanks to Segal, Montreal will also continue its love affair with Morris Panych, Andrew Shaver and Sidemart Theatrical Grocery.

Across the hall, the mainstage season has been selected around plays that use a central relationship to explore larger universal questions. Anyone not interested in seeing Village Scene Productions upcoming production of Peter Shaffer’s Equus will be able to see the Segal's version when it opens their new season in September. I have a special love for Equus (it was one of the first plays I was ever in) and I am happy to see it will star the always engaging Jean Marchand, who presumably will not be playing one of the horses. The show will be directed by Israeli wunderkind Domy Reiter-Soffer, known in Europe for being the sort of Renaissance man that would make James Franco blush. 

Thanks to Segal, Montreal will also continue its love affair with Morris Panych, Andrew Shaver and Sidemart Theatrical Grocery. As a warm up to their production of Haunted Hillbilly at Centaur, Andrew Shaver and Sidemart Theatrical Grocery will present Scientific Americans, John Mighton’s play about science and morality. And no sooner will Centaur close Mr. Panych’s new play In Absentia, then Segal will open his dark comedy Vigil. Produced in partnership with Theatre de Rideau Vert, the production was rightly hailed as a bridge between les deux solitudes. “We dare to go where the politicians can’t,” said Ms. Wasserman at the season launch (a strikingly professional event complete with jazz trio, an audio/visual presentation and all the finger sandwiches you can eat.)

As I said, it’s the usual fare, which means we’re getting both the good and the bad.

Actor Éric Bernier (top), with
Wasserman, Jean Marchand and
Sgeal CEO Manon Gauthier
(Photo: Randy Cole)
The season is rounded out by a pair of popular comedies. Fernec Molnar’s The Play’s the Thing, translated by P.G. Wodehouse will be followed by Same Time, Next Year, a Tony-award winner by Bernard Slade that has long been a favourite of summer theatre (it was at Hudson a few summer’s back). The Play’s the Thing will star the ever talented Paul Hopkins and be directed by Shaw festival favourite Blair Williams. As for Same Time, Next Year, it has the dubious distinction of being the only play directed by a woman (Diana Leblanc). 

It is here that we reach the usual blemish in the Segal season. As I said, it’s the usual fare, which means we’re getting both the good and the bad. Segal has a terrible track record when it comes to involving women and people of color, especially as playwrights. I have always appreciated their mandate to revisit theatre’s modern classics - where else can I see new productions of Inherit the Wind, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf or All My Sons? But Segal’s seasons have always been a boy’s club - and a white one at that. Memo to Segal’s selection committee: Athol Fugard, Linda Griffiths, August Wilson, David Henry Hwang, Ntozake Shange and Carol Churchill have all written modern classics too. Try reading one of them.

1 comment:

  1. Memo to Joel: Athol Fugard is a white male... though inspite of that impairment still manages to be a good playwright.


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