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, December 31, 2012

CharPo-Montreal's Photo of the Year, 2012

Can we just say how much we love this promo art for Macbeth?
The Montreal Shakespeare Theatre Company has always had good images to sell their productions but why is this one of Alex Goldrich and Stephanie von Roretz as taken by Joseph Ste-Marie especially good? What do you think? Sex and violence. The colours (i.e.: skin tones) hover between arousing and just slightly off (a little like the Macbeths themselves) and the eye hovers between the actor's bare chest and the bloody handprint, making von Roretz an integral part of the composition.
[Each of our principal sites - CharPo-Montreal and CharPo-Toronto - will be presenting their photo of the year today. Tomorrow we will be presenting THE photo of the year for all sites.]

Sunday, December 30, 2012

CharPo-Montreal's Pictures of the Year, 2012, Runners-Up

From December 22-28 we will be presenting the best photos of the year at CharPo-Toronto, CharPo-Montreal and CharPo-Canada (different photos on each site so check them all out). On December 29 we will announce the finalists for the first CharPR Prize (for best PR) including best photographers. On December 30, 2 runner-up photos will be presented on each site (separate from finalists). On December 31 the best photo of the year for each site will be presented. On January 1 the single Photo of The Year will be announced. Finally, on January 2, the CharPR winners will be announced including best photographer, best PR (small, medium, large and indy). 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

CharPR Prize Nominations, 2012

Nominations: CharPR Prize, 2012

The Charlebois Post is in a unique position in the Canadian cultural landscape. First, we are small, so there are only about five of us who have direct contact with publicists at the various companies we deal with. Secondly, with reviewers in Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg, Calgary, Vancouver and Quebec City, we are in almost continual contact with companies large and small, and because we publish articles about and from many companies outside of those centres, we have a fairly large reach. This is why we decided to create the CharPR Prize (pronounced Sharper).

It would be unfair to say that the PR of some companies makes the PR at others shine all the brighter. But it would be absolutely fair to say that the companies nominated below represent the best for reasons very specific to new media. You won't find any companies among the noms, for instance, who ask new media outlets like CharPo to prove and reprove their credentials every step of the way. You will also find no companies who have been reticent to put us in contact with their artistic directors, managers, technicians or artists. All of them understand the value not just of working with CharPo but - ask around - with new media in general. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

CharPo Pictures of the Year, 2012, Finalists

From December 22-25 we will be presenting the best photos of the year at CharPo-Toronto, CharPo-Montreal and CharPo-Canada (different photos on each site so check them all out). On December 26 we will announce the finalists for the first CharPR Prize (for best PR) including best photographers. On December 30, 2 runner-up photos will be presented on each site (separate from finalists). On December 31 the best photo of the year for each site will be presented (separate from finalists and runners-up). On January 1 the single Photo of The Year (all sites included) will be announced. Finally, on January 2, the CharPR winners will be announced including best photographer, best PR (small, medium, large and indie). Two special awards will be announced at that time as well.

Monday, December 24, 2012

CharPo-Montreal Pictures of the Year, 2012, Finalists

From December 22-25 we will be presenting the best photos of the year at CharPo-Toronto, CharPo-Montreal and CharPo-Canada (different photos on each site so check them all out). On December 26 we will announce the finalists for the first CharPR Prize (for best PR) including best photographers. On December 30, 2 runner-up photos will be presented on each site (separate from finalists). On December 31 the best photo of the year for each site will be presented (separate from finalists and runners-up). On January 1 the single Photo of The Year (all sites included) will be announced. Finally, on January 2, the CharPR winners will be announced including best photographer, best PR (small, medium, large and indie). Two special awards will be announced at that time as well.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

CharPo-Montreal, Photos of the Year, 2012, Finalists

From December 22-25 we will be presenting the best photos of the year at CharPo-Toronto, CharPo-Montreal and CharPo-Canada (different photos on each site so check them all out). On December 26 we will announce the finalists for the first CharPR Prize (for best PR) including best photographers. On December 30, 2 runner-up photos will be presented on each site (separate from finalists). On December 31 the best photo of the year for each site will be presented (separate from finalists and runners-up). On January 1 the single Photo of The Year (all sites included) will be announced. Finally, on January 2, the CharPR winners will be announced including best photographer, best PR (small, medium, large and indie). Two special awards will be announced at that time as well.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

CharPo-Montreal Picture of the Year, 2012, Finalists

From December 22-25 we will be presenting the best photos of the year at CharPo-Toronto, CharPo-Montreal and CharPo-Canada (different photos on each site so check them all out). On December 26 we will announce the finalists for the first CharPR Prize (for best PR) including best photographers. On December 30, 2 runner-up photos will be presented on each site (separate from finalists). On December 31 the best photo of the year for each site will be presented (separate from finalists and runners-up). On January 1 the single Photo of The Year (all sites included) will be announced. Finally, on January 2, the CharPR winners will be announced including best photographer, best PR (small, medium, large and indie). Two special awards will be announced at that time as well.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Review: Village de fous

(l-r) Antoine Durand, Claude Prégent, Émilie Bibeau, Pauline Martin (photo credit: François Brunelle)

Fool's Gold
by Élaine Charlebois

Un village de fous, the adapted and translated take on American playwright Neil Simon’s 1981 play Fools, tells the story of the village of Kulyenchikov and its inhabitants who have been cursed with the plight of ignorance and stupidity for 200 years. 

Though it was initially difficult to get into the story and its characters - namely Antoine Durand’s performance as Léon Tolchinsky, the new professor in town who is determined to release the villageois from their curse after falling in love with Sophia Zubritzky, played by Émilie Bibeau - the play’s entertainment value grew as the piece progressed. 

CharPo's Real Theatre, December 21, 2012

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Beyond The Fourth Wall, December 19, 2012

Saturday nights in Old Montreal, fireworks light up the sky.
Dec. 29 – 20h
Old Port

Shows of Interest
by Estelle Rosen

Celebrate the holiday customs of the world.
International Traditional Christmas Village
To Dec. 24:
Place Jacques Cartier

Craft sale and exhibition, local artisans, sculpture, art, fashion.
Salon des metiers d’art du Québec 
To Dec 22
Place Bonaventure

The Words and Music show will beat the cold weather.
How to Survive the Winter 
Dec.16 – 20h
Casa del Popolo

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

After Dark, December 18, 2012

Lucky '13
Moving ahead by looking back
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

There are goin' to be some big fuckin' changes around here!

That is the battle cry at The Charlebois Post, ltd., as we slide into our third year of life. But as we face our futures we look back at the past and try to make sense of it. That is a puzzle for the ages, dear friends.

One of the things we've done is try to figure out what draws eyes to these websites. We do that quite simply by checking out the stats for which articles, each day, draw the most readers. It didn't take long for us to realize that one thing that pleases readers are reviews. It's tempting to write raves all the time because then the production house receiving the praise will tweet and FB the heck out of the review and sometimes, even - jackpot! - quote a rave in their online and print ads. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Question, December 17, 2012

Hit the Waves!
by Estelle Rosen

Jana van Geest received a BFA in theatre studies from Concordia University. She has directed several plays, including The Vagina Monologues, No Cycle by Harry Standjofski, The Importance of Being Earnest, and The Potato Conspiracy, which she also co-wrote. Most recently, she has assisted Emma Tibaldo on Talisman Theatre's productions Rock, Paper, Jackknife and The Flood Thereafter.

CHARPO: I understand you've recently begun producing 10-minute radio plays. What is the attraction and goal for 10-minute radio plays, and will these plays be adapted for social media, podcasts for example?

VAN GEEST: I'd like to say that there was some profound artistic reason for my interest in radio plays, but truly, it was just the ease of production that attracted me initially. 

However, the more I thought about it, the more interesting the idea became of working with the actor's voice alone. I began thinking about how gesture and posture and the body in general influence delivery of vocal expression, and how those aspects can be subtly understood in the voice even when the listener can't see the person who is speaking. I'm interested in working with and around the restriction of being deprived of the body as a tool of artistic expression, and relying on sound alone to tell a story. 

Also, my day job is in the video game industry, and I'm very intrigued by the evolution of entertainment from its origins in storytelling, through more codified forms of theatrical presentation, up to the modern-day video game, which creates a true multimedia experience. 

Theatre has a fair bit in common with video games, but the one place where they intersect most clearly is in the use of actor’s voices. Set design can be replaced by level design and costumes can be rendered using 3-D software, but technology is nowhere near being able to replace the richness of expression found in the actor's voice, so we still use humans to supply the speech of otherwise virtual characters. 

In terms of podcasts - yes, I'd like to make these plays available to as broad an audience as possible! We've just begun development on our first project, but once we have a few broadcasts under our belts, it would be fantastic to put the plays online as a collection that can be discovered and listened to by new people every week. The BBC has some great radio dramas available on their web site which I've quite enjoyed listening to, and the ideal is to do something similar, albeit on a smaller scale.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Ford's Focus: Elsa Bolam

(photo credit: Dory Reimer)
The Pioneer
Elsa Bolam IS the history of Montreal English-language theatre
by Barbara Ford

Elsa Bolam grew up in Newcastle upon Tyne (known as Geordie country) in Northern England. Both parents worked office jobs unrelated to the arts but her sister, Margaret Dale, was a ballet dancer with the Sadler’s Wells Company, later the Royal Ballet, and Bolam remembers going to the theatre often from a young age.

She studied English Literature at the University of Leeds and while there, became involved with the student theatre group making sets and doing a bit of acting and directing.  After Leeds, she continued her education at Durham University and then received her Master’s degree in Drama from Syracuse University, New York, thanks to a Fulbright Scholarship. 

After returning to the UK, she continued to learn her craft working for two seasons at the Royal Shakespeare Company, first as an Assistant Stage Manager at Stratford, and later as an Assistant Director at the Aldwych Theatre (London). When ABC television ran a competition for young theatre directors, Bolam entered and won the prize: a year in repertory working as Assistant Director at the Theatre Royal, York.  Following York, she free-lanced around the British Isles and directed and taught at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. For a year and a half she also directed television plays at the BBC in London. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Theatre For Thought, December 15, 2012

Or What to Get the Struggling Actor in Your Life
joel fishbane

Snow is falling, carollers are singing and cities everywhere are a-glow with lights. The politically correct people of the world are wandering around with “Happy Holidays” on their lips, but let’s call a spade a spade: it’s Christmas-time and everyone knows it. And whether you're giving someone Hanukah gelt, Kwanza contributions, or winter solstice souvenirs, chances are you’re wandering through the stores with your hand on your wallet.

So without further ado, here’s six suggestions for theatrical gifts for the performer in your life who doesn’t have everything…

6. Headshots
All actors need new headshots all the time. This is an expensive fact of life for the busy artist – so why not help them out? Find out who their favourite photographer is and surreptitiously get a gift certificate – they’ll thank you, I guarantee it!

5. Food
Artists are physically incapable of turning down a free meal. So now’s the time to take them out for dinner or, better yet, cook them one of your own. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Review: Urban Tales

The Dark Side of Xmas
by Caitlin Murphy

A Montreal tradition with an anarchic mission, Urban Tales, presented by Theatre Urbi et Orbi in association with the Centaur, brands itself as ‘anti-holiday’ storytelling.  This year’s sixth edition once again subverts the expectations of the season by ditching the cozy for the caustic, the sacred for the sarcastic and the holy for the hellish.

It’s a little delightfully ironic then that the Centaur space has never looked warmer or more welcoming.  The leftover set from their production of Good People serves as a perfect base; decked out with wreaths, twinkly lights, garland, and even Santa’s boots peeking out from the fireplace, the setting’s ambience is like a big hot cup of cocoa.  And with added cabaret seating and a bar right on stage, it’s fun to watch the first brave patrons – like teenagers venturing out onto the dancefloor – decide to actually sit on the stage.  The setting not only echoes the topsy-turvy world of dark holiday tales, but it’s always fun to do things in the theatre you’re not supposed to.  Spirited musical accompaniment – mutations of well-known carols, playfully provided by Nick Carpenter on keyboard – perfectly rounds off the evening’s yuletide vibe.

The Image, December 13, 2012

We like everything about this deliciously theatrical photo by Kevin Fauquembergue for Andrew Cuk's production of his Three Witches at John Abbott College. We like the lighting, the expression on actor Saraah-Ellise Hicks and we like the profound blackness around it which screams "Macbeth!", the inspiration for the play.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Review: Three Sisters

(from NTS website - Shannon Currie and Stephane Garneau-Monten)
Moscow or Bust
by Caitlin Murphy

Anton Chekhov, that titan of dramatic literature, once ventured that “Any idiot can face a crisis – it’s day to day living that wears you out.”  A master at highlighting the irksome paradoxes of human existence, Chekhov wrote about themes that aren’t only universal but boast a damn decent shelf-life.  Though the National Theatre School’s graduating class’ production of Three Sisters often gets weighed down in the playwright’s less contemporary appeal, the company still rallies to find the play’s resonance.

Directed by Vikki Anderson, and presented at the beautiful Monument National, Three Sisters is about Olga, Masha and Irina, who, in the opening scene, are lamenting the first anniversary of their father’s death.  Quickly we are introduced to the women’s all-consuming desire to return to Moscow – the home of their youth, and the mecca of meaningful, sophisticated and satisfying life.  In the meantime, they toil away in their dull little town, living on promise, and diverting themselves with jovial visits from locally stationed soldiers.

Beyond The Fourth Wall, December

Solo, duos, trios choreographed by Marie Chouinard
Dec 14 – 20h
Théatre Mirella et Lino Saputo  
Shows of interest...
by Estelle Rosen

10 Montreal artists participate in Fleurbains first anniversary celebrating those good things that come in small packages.
Small Works Too
460 St. Catherine St. W. Suite 917

Sing-along Messiah
Christ Church Cathedral

Fundraiser for the Montreal Children’s Hospital
Chuckin’ Guffs by Kirsten Rasmussen 
Dec. 13 – 20h
Segal Centre for the Arts

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

After Dark, December 11, 2012

Dirty Work
Lessons we've learned and here comes The CharPR Prize!
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

I love it when old movies have terrific quotes. In Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte, Bette Davis, playing the crazy Charlotte, bellows at her elegant cousin, played by Olivia de Havilland, "Let me see, what is it you call your job? Oh yes: Public Relations. Sounds like something pretty dirty to me."

Well, it is dirty. It's a dirty job. It is setting the foundation of a show, keeping the plumbing clean and making sure that the company's next show gets eyes on it. It is the job of making sure critics and directors and actors don't go to war. It is one of the most important - if not THE most important job- linked to every production and it is the one thing small companies think they can do without. And they learn the hard way...

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Question, December 10, 2012

Arm them with a strong work ethic, stubbornness, and dreams of producing their own work
by Estelle Rosen

Crystle Reid is a theatre artist and educator working in the Montreal English Theatre scene.  She is one of the founders of ArtHere!, a series of interactive theatre adventures in and around Montreal.  Selected directing credits include: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Chamber Music, Slaughterhouse Sisters with Astra theatre, and Fool for Love and The Rocky Horror Show with Redshift Productions in Vancouver.

CHARPO: Last year, you presented the highly creative ArtHere! series where most presentations took place in a hotel with a different performance in each room. Any plans to continue ArtHere! this season?

REID: ArtHere! is currently on hiatus.  A combination of things happened that led to that decision: a few key people moved onto other projects, money became too tight and a lot of us–myself included–were feeling just a little burnt out. The constant struggle of making your own work is figuring out how to also make a little money; or at the very least how to break even so that you’re not losing money.  This was something we have never been able to figure out with ArtHere! At a certain point the project is no longer viable because it’s too costly.  My various part time jobs simply weren’t bringing in enough to support my theatre habit. We decided to take some time to reflect and consider what our next steps with Astra would be. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Review: Robin Hood

Eric Davis, Matthew Kabwe and Tamara Brown

Sherwood Forest 2.0
by Nanette Soucy

Legends and folklore are manna for tellers of children’s tales. Since we understand that any facts in their narratives and characters are stretched at best, at worst, entirely made-up, and often appropriated from whatever influences were blowing in the wind through which the last teller told them, the stories that are passed to us through books, place names and ballads continue to resonate with us throughout the centuries precisely because of, and not despite, the circuitous telephone game involved in their relaying.

There are lots of bits to Robin Hood. Since this is not a story that is passed down to us with a clear beginning, middle, and end, but more in bits and pieces gathered from rituals, songs and tradition, like a Pantomime, there are a couple of basic elements necessary to make it recognizable: We’ll need bows and arrows, trees, a merry band of misfits, a puckish rogue, and an evil sheriff bent on ruthlessly suppressing the peasantry. That’s it. The rest is just detail, bits and pieces added on and altered over the course of the near millenia that this hero has been a part of western consciousness. The moor, the maid, the King, the Friar, the Crusades, the details of Robin’s noble bloodline,  are all elements that have been woven into the tale at different times in order to make it appeal to the audience to which it was presented. It is in these details that director Dean Fleming and playwright Paula Wing bring the tale of this Prince of Thieves, this Man in Tights, to the urban, 21st century stage.

First-Person: Stephen Vincelli on A Christmas Carol

(photo credit: Sabrina Reeves)

Combining Worlds
A director has been all around a production
by Stephen Vincelli

Working on the same show for the last three years has been very interesting to say the least! Going from associate producer to actor and now the privilege of directing A Christmas Carol, has been a huge learning curve packed with very fond memories. Starting in 2010 and leading up to the moment that I am writing this piece, it has been an experience I will cherish for the rest of my life. If someone told me three years ago that I would be directing this piece today, I would not have believed them. The path has had its ups and downs but it has always been extremely gratifying. Let me recount the different roles I’ve had and the experiences I have both learned from and treasure. 

Associate producing this show was the first hat I wore for this production and for the Rialto Theatre too. I certainly have respect for producers who take immense risks on a daily basis to create theatre that will sell tickets while trying to adhere to their artistic goals. Combining the two does not always prove easy and using other people's money to make important fiscal and artistic decisions comes with a fair amount of stress.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Theatre For Thought, December 8, 2012

joel fishbane

Raised on a literary pedestal, hailed as the greatest playwright that ever lived, poor William Shakespeare has long been a victim of his own reputation. Traditionally seen as the domain of the theatrical elite, it usually takes a gimmick or a radical re-interpretation of the text to get the average audience involved in his work. Last year, the Stratford Festival shoved Seanna McKenna into the title role of Richard III while down in New York, audiences can still see Sleep No More, Punchdrunk’s site-specific, immersive re-telling of Macbeth. 

Now, for those who don’t fancy a night in the theatre, there’s a new adaptation in town: To Be Or Not to Be: That is the Adventure, a choose-your-own-adventure version of Hamlet by Canadian comic book writer Ryan North.

The idea is as simple as it is brilliant: readers can opt to be Hamlet, Ophelia or the ghost of Hamlet’s father and then follow that character through the story (Yes, Hamlet’s father dies right away and, as a ghost, you are tasked with solving your own murder). While readers can follow the same choices as Shakespeare’s counterparts, there is plenty of leg room to change everyone’s fate. “You can battle pirates or invent indoor heating or both,” says North on the video found on his fundraising page at Each storyline is written by North, who founded Dinosaur Comics and co-edited the bestselling short story anthology Machine of Death

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Production Diary: Andrew Cuk on Three Witches

Production Diary Written on the Eve of Opening Night
by Andrew Cuk
6 December 2011

5 December 2012
Tomorrow night we open.

29 July
First night that my anxiety woke me up at three in the morning. What was I thinking? A devised theatre piece based on Macbeth with a group of third year acting, design and technical students in the Professional Theatre program at John Abbott College. Am I crazy? I’ll have three weeks to improv and devise a 90-minute non-linear script, but most of the decisions about cast and production must be made by the beginning of the school term in August. Whose idea was this? Oh yeah, mine. Good thinking, Andy.

29 August
The night before my first meeting with the set and costume designer. No script. My colleagues tease me by asking how’s the script going. There is no script. It’s a “devised” piece. It will be written with the actors. The student designers are worried. No script. How can they design a set and costumes for 21 actors with no script? They will hang on every word I say. They want me to have all the answers. I don’t have all the answers. No script. Still waking up almost every night in a panic.

29 October
Set and costume design presentation and the first day of rehearsal. We have a set design and maquette. Costume renditions for 33 characters and 12 theatrical masks. A preliminary props list. Three songs written by Montreal composer Janet Warrington. And a structure of 13 scenes. How appropriate for a play entitled Three Witches...13. No script.

The Image, December 6, 2012

More and more the Segal Centre is turning out good videos for their productions and this behind-the-scenes for Red is no exception.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Beyond the Fourth Wall, December 5, 2012

Christmas Concert including Quatuor à cordes K156, Allegro assai et Presto…
Dec. 9 – 16h
L’École Vincent D’Indy

Shows of Interest
by Estelle Rosen

Alaclair Ensemble: hip-hop, rappers, singer, and beatmaker.
Les Vendredis Nocturne 
Dec. 7 – 19h 
Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal

From Dom Juan’s journal: Feb.15, 1665. Première Dom Juan. Tragi-comédie. 
Dec. 17-18 
Théatre La Chapelle

Tangente New Waves includes Artist Adam Kinner exploring interactions  in music, text, and movement
I’m Faking It 
Dec. 13-15 19h30
Monument National

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

After Dark, December 4, 2012

The Terrible Twos
We celebrate and look to the future
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

On November 30, The Charlebois Post celebrated its second anniversary. Since Estelle Rosen and I launched a little local blog in Montreal, we have grown to three active websites, two in test stage and probably a sixth and seventh to come. We have 30 regular contributors (reviewers, profile writers, interviewers), over 100 artists and theatre people who have contributed to the sites, and have published thousands of items. Each day our sites receive hundreds of visitors and over a thousand pages are viewed. 

And we at CharPo are all, to a person, volunteers. Some of us have contributed money to cover the expenses and all have worked hard to keep the sites hopping with activity. 

Now we are exploring options for expansion and as we do are trying to take into account the kindness of our contributors and to reward them. The reason for this is simple: most of our writers are or have become some of the finest commentators and theatre writers in the country and we'd like to hang on to them. I have already had several of them ask me to write references for them and although I am exuberant in my praise, I am heart-broken to see them move on.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Question, December 3, 2012

My words + their riffs = our vibe = Song. Song x Feel = Our Sound.
by Estelle Rosen

Carolyn-Fe Trinidad is a singer/songwriter, actress, producer, businesswoman. She has brought insight and depth to her theatre and music projects. Having temporarily stepped off the theatre stage to pursue her musical project, Carolyn-Fe writes and produces original highly charged emotional lyrics.

CHARPO: You've recently made a rather dramatic switch from theatre to music. Besides the satisfaction and gratification derived from fulfilling one's dream, what would you say is the best part of this experience? 

It always catches me off guard when I am reminded of the switch from theatre to music. While preparing my response to The Question, I noticed one of the questions to another artist in this series included opportunities for women actors over 40 years of age.  That really hit me. I'm 51 years old and although I feel a lot younger, I have not left the theatre. It feels as if the theatre left me.  A visible minority-over 40 actress, that’s me.  It seems that there are not too many roles out there for my profile and when the music took flight, I haven't had the time to network with the theatre world. I have kept in touch with a handful of theatre friends and contacts but as the saying goes,  out of sight – out of mind . I have also put to sleep my theatre production company, Altera Vitae, until further notice. I am proud and grateful that my last production in 2009 was a success and profitable.

Music, however is ageless, especially the Blues.  The older we get the better the Blues story and the more people listen to what we have to say about what matters. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

First Person: David di Giovanni on Play it Again Phaedra...again

Playing “Play it Again” Again
by David di Giovanni

What is the point of sharing a play one has rehearsed?  

If art or theatre are thought of as services for cultural entertainment, then the point is to share the play, to have an event for people to attend, and to continue sustaining your own livelihood (pay the bills, be an active member of society).  People pay to receive the commodity they deem worthwhile.  

I’ve often heard myself say, theatre doesn’t exist without an audience.  I don’t wholly agree with this right now.  

I had the pleasure this week to go back into rehearsal on the first play of our current season- Play it Again, Phaedra.   We had decided, in an effort to sustain our independent theatre-making, to focus this season on making two shoppable plays.  By May, we intended to have two commodities (repeatable plays) to begin offering.  This decision comes off the momentum of our last season, where we produced monthly transient one-nighter episodes for eight months.  Quality, not Quantity! is our motto.  

First-Person: Keith Waterfield on The Follies

Holly Gauthier-Frankel

How to Enter Vaudeville
by Keith Waterfield

“Let’s fuck and make art.” Those words solidified the relationship between Alain Mercieca and me a year ago. We first met at Theatre Ste Catherine (TSC to the inner circle types) at one of the hundreds of wrap parties for one of the hundreds of shows that the theatre puts on throughout the year. Alain, the artistic director, head-mopper and chief booze slinger at TSC and I had an instant repertoire that caused never-ending chortles of laughter from anyone within an earshot of our jibber-jabber. It became clear that we had to take our wit to the stage, to share it with anyone who would pay and thus we formed the neo-vaudevillian comedy partnership known throughout the Montréal fringe comedy circuit as Genius Gold. As a stand-up comedian I am used to working alone: artistic solitary confinement is a comfort and I thought it would be a difficult transition – relying on people is not something I am prepared to do. Throughout the year of “grinding” out shows, videos and sketches I have learned to share the stage and perhaps have become a little less self-absorbed. Alain’s head also takes up more stage space than my entire body. Our shtick onstage reminded me of classic vaudeville acts:  anarchy most of the time, carefully thought out. The variety shows we were involved in at TSC (like DeAnne Smith’s Freedom Nation or Mr McStevie’s Merry Good Time) got me thinking about an actual vaudeville variety program – an evening set in nostalgia.  It would be neo-vaudeville, it would be a punk rock cabaret, and it would feature the greatest talents in Montreal and beyond, to showcase their rare and sensational gifts.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Theatre For Thought, December 1, 2012

joel fishbane

Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A Producer, a Marketer and a Quantitive Analyst walk into a bar. “I want to produce a hit show,” says the Producer. “No problem,” says the Marketer. “We just need to take a known product that appeals to children while touching the nostalgia lurking within all middle class adults.” The Quant promptly crunches some numbers. “You’ve got a choice,” she says. “You can produce a musical based on Alice in Wonderland or The Wizard of Oz.” The Producer thinks about it. “Musicals based on Alice in Wonderland have never worked,” he says. “And best of all, The Wizard of Oz is already written.”

Flash forward a few months and we have Andrew Lloyd Webber’s adaptation of the famous 1939 MGM musical about what happens when a girl from Kansas realizes she’s definitely not in Kansas anymore. The show hits Toronto in a few weeks and while I’m usually pretty open-minded when it comes to theatre, I’m having trouble finding anything redeeming to say about this production. At the risk of hyperbole, it strikes me as the greatest evil to appear on stage since Mephistopheles first graced us in the inaugural production of Faust. 

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.