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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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Review: Three Sixty

I Want Your Sex
La Ronde's twisted descendant
by David Sklar

What was that saying I remember hearing when I was taking Sex Ed in high school? “When you’re having sex with your partner, you’re not just having sex with them but with everyone they have ever been with.”  I guess they were trying to scare us into abstinence but I just kept thinking, “Oh man, I can’t wait to get laid”. 

The circle of life, or rather the sex circle is on display at the Monument National this week. The third year graduating class is putting on a new adaptation by Eva Christie, based on Arthur Schnitzler’s La Ronde directed by Graham McLaren and Steven Mccarthy, entitled Three Sixty. 

Beyond Our Fourth Wall, February 29, 2012

Intense theatre moment, without ambiguity…
Usine C (photo by Sylvain Couzinet Jacques)

Theatre…en français
by Estelle Rosen

World premiere of a play by Frederic Sonnttag; a strange event on an unforgettable night in November… 
Mar. 20-Apr.7
Théâtre Prospero

Musical drama based on a poem by Federico Garcia Lorca
Mar 14 – Apr 5
Théâtre Denise Pelletier

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

EVENT: Between Night and Day

After Dark, February 28, 2012

The Safe Haven of Fluff
Are theatres playing it too safe?
By Gaëtan L. Charlebois

In about three months I will be 55 years old. I remember the day John F. Kennedy was shot. I remember Nixon's resignation. I remember the end of the Vietnam war, the fall of the Berlin wall, 9-11, the deaths of Milosovic, Saddam and Ghadaffi.

I also remember lineups for gas at gas stations, taxes going up and down, the stock markets all over the place, cuts and cuts and cuts to social programs and the arts.

I remember marches and letters and people giving up the theatre because houses were closing for good, companies were going bankrupt and arts Councils had no money.

Been there, done that. Take a deep breath all - an Ativan if you got - and calm down. Simply, if I read one more editorial about how theatres around the world are playing it safe to weather the storm I shall scream.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Upstage Interview: Graham McLaren on THREE SIXTY

I don’t want to be the 40-year old guy sitting at the back of the room looking at 21 year olds.

Upstage and Charlebois Post contributor Sarah Deshaies spoke with Director Graham McLaren about the National Theatre School presentation of THREE SIXTY. Below is an abridged version edited by Estelle Rosen, CharPo Editor-in-chief.

This play, being presented by the graduating class, is a radical adaptation of Arthur Schnitzler’s La Ronde by Toronto poet Evie Christie. The original play created a major scandal after opening in 1921. Tell us about the scandal associated with this play, and how it’s been adapted to modernize it.

I wasn’t really around when the first scandal happened in 1921! All kinds of things are potentially scandalous. The interesting thing is that over the years people  have used this play in an effort to explore themes about sex. There was an all male version around the time of the AIDS epidemic.  It’s a play that’s used for people exploring themes about sex and why people have sex.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunday Read: Blog: The MAP Project

Part VI: Theatre / Friends

What makes us unique
by Amy Kitz
Theatre is a unique place to make friends. As an actor, director, designer, technician, stage-manager: you freelance. When you begin a job it is often with the understanding that this job is contractual and has a definitive end point. The contractual aspect of a life in the theatre is not a work-place attribute exclusive to the stage, but I have found that theatre people have a tendency to be social people, big time social people, and this is what makes theatre friends unique.
In the theatre you may work on a show and feel as though, with that specific cast and crew, you have found/made the best friends of your life. You work together, have dinner-breaks together, go out for post-show drinks together! Theatre people seem to work very hard at making their co-workers their family. After all, we work in a business where connection is key, so this desire, combined with the added environmental pressure of working passionately towards one unique end-product (the show) makes sense. But then the show ends, and though everyone pleads life-long connections made, so too do the friendships. Or at least the style and intensity of companionship developed during the period of working. 
Friends and theatre: it is a funny, special, and transient mix.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Theatre For Thought, February 25, 2012

joel fishbane
As far as theatrical trends go, our obsession with One-Man Hamlets has to be one of the most bizarre. No one ever seems interested in solo-versions of King Lear or Henry VIII, yet new one-man versions are cropping up all the time (and yes, it is always one man). Artists who have tackled the idea include Clayton Jevne (Victoria), Michael Birch (New York) and the folks at the Classical Theatre Company in Texas. Until recently, the latest version was Rhaoul Baneja’s Hamlet (Solo) which has had a life of its own since appearing at Theatre Pass Mureille in Toronto. But Baneja will have to make some room on the bench: thanks to BJ Harrison, there’s a new one-man Hamlet in town.  

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Friday Five, February 24, 2012

Five Reasons Why We're Stopping The Friday Five
Your worst nightmare has come true. The gates of hell have swung open and flaming horrors scream through your mind, devouring your happiness, your sanity, your very will to live. Where once you had faith, there is now only darkness. Where once you had strength, there lies a broken child. Where once you had hope, there sits a steaming pile of hopeshit. The Matt and Kyle and Matt Friday Five has come to an end, and with it, the end of all things. Why? Choose one of the answers below. 
by Kyle Gatehouse of Matt and Kyle and Matt

CharPo's Real Theatre! February 24, 2012

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Norman Nawrocki on Occupy Montreal Culture Committee

by Norman Nawrocki
   Who says last Fall’s international runaway hit ‘Occupy!’ was a one-shot production?
   Not activist actors and artists in Montreal who are about to catapult some collaborative creative action onto the local Occupy Movement stage.
   About 30 writers, designers, theatre people, film makers, musicians, poets and performance artists from across the city responded enthusiastically February 17th to an open invitation by a few local artist/activists who felt it was time to come together and establish a new, formal, open ‘Arts & Culture Committee’ to support and participate in Occupy Montreal.

CPM's Picture of the Week, February 23, 2012

A screen-grab from The MAP Project.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Blog: Crystle Reid on ArtHere!

Anne Sophie Grenier performing Frida Kahlo at the last ArtHotel! (photo: Julian Stambouleh)

Part III
The Artists
by Crystle Reid

Each ArtHere! is made spectacular by the artists who are involved.  This week I asked a couple of them to share with me what’s it’s like to participate in an ArtHere! event.  First we have Anne-Sophie Grenier who,  at the upcming ArtHostel!,  will be presenting a Vaudeville Hall of Freaks:

After performing at ArtHere!, I needed a good sixteen hours of sleep to recover. Not only are you performing all night, but you also have to be on your toes and prepared for a different audience every time, especially if the piece is interactive. Since ArtHere! allows you to venture deep into the unexpected, push limits and break pretty much every conventional rule of theatre, you get exactly what you ask for: unexpected reactions. Before every new wave of audience members come into the performance space, I can’t help but think, “Will they get it?” Luckily, experience at ArtHere! has taught me that nine times out of ten, they do “get it”. Most audience members are fellow artists or art enthusiasts and happily embark on the adventure.

Beyond Our Fourth Wall, February 22, 2012

Alex is obsessed with filmmaker Stanley Kubrick. Devastated by his death he becomes physically and mentally off balance.
Mar 15 – 31 Théâtre La Chapelle
(photo by Olivier Morin)

Theatre...en français
by Estelle Rosen

“Happy families cause me anguish” Jérémie Niel.
Croire au mal
To March 3 Théâtre La Chapelle

Brussels theatre companies present a play that asks whether burning subjects can ever be re-defined as lukewarm.
Mar 13 – 17 Espace Libre 

Grating comedy about ambiguous connections between desire, personal accomplishments, and love.
Mar. 5 – Apr. 13 Petite Licorne

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

After Dark, February 21, 2012

The Insidious Nature of Theatre
Damned if it's not everywhere
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

Believe it or not...

There was a time when Radio-Canada, through it's primetime Sunday (hit) series Les beaux dimanches, would broadcast plays by ours and the world's greatest playwrights. (They even did my play, which brought it an estimated audience of 800,000 and sent me on a three-month trip through Europe...God bless those times.) There was a time when CBC showed opera and theatre and ballet. There was a time when even the American giants presented plays or the work of playwrights on shows like Playhouse 90 and The Goodyear Television Playhouse; on the latter Paddy Chayefsky tested the waters with his piece, Marty (before it went on to its movie version and an odd little Oscar for Ernest Borgnine in the role Rod Steiger created on TV) as did William Gibson with his seminal The Miracle Worker on the former.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Upstage Interview: Dennis Foon and New Canadian Kid

Warona Steshwaelo and Mike Payette in New Canadian Kid
(photo: Ashley Belmer)

Veteran Canadian Writer
Upstage  host Eric Sukhu spoke with playwright Dennis Foon about his play New Canadian Kid presented by Black Theatre Workshop as part of Black History Month. Below is an abridged version by Estelle Rosen, CharPo Editor-in-chief. 
Tell us about New Canadian Kid.
New Canadian Kids started many years ago when I was working on a project with a school in Vancouver. Speaking with kids from 42 different language groups about their experience as a New Canadian was an eye-opener for me.
Even though I was an immigrant, I hadn’t given it a lot of thought. My own family were immigrants but hearing about what it’s like coming into a country not knowing anyone or even the language allows you to feel it from their perspective. 

We don’t think about these things; you just deal with it. The heart of the show.puts you in the shoes of the immigrant and allows you to feel the experience. 
The hardest thing for kids is seeing their  parents in crisis. Seeing their parents trying to make a new life and often not able to maintain their positions as engineers for example is stressful for kids. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Sunday Read: Actor's Notes - Paul Hopkins and In Absentia

l-r Paul Hopkins, Jillian Fargey, Jade Hassouné (photo:

From With-In Absentia
Actor's notes 
by Paul Hopkins

I’m currently performing in Morris Panych’s new play, In Absentia, at the Centaur. I play Tom, husband to Colette. To me, this is a story about love. And boy, do I love this play. It reminds me of what I love about theatre: The opportunity to explore the big questions. Below are various thoughts, questions and obstacles that I had during the rehearsal process. The audience only gets to see a prepared meal. What’s below might give a taste of some of the ingredients that went into it.
FYI - The play, in case you haven’t seen it: Colette lives in a house next to a lake in cottage country. A year earlier, her husband was kidnapped, in Columbia. She’d agreed to pay the ransom but then never heard back from the kidnappers. Since then she has remained in limbo, not sure whether her husband is alive or dead. She has taken to talking to an imaginary husband, and receiving consolation from her neighbour and sister. The play begins when a young man shows up at her door, seemingly out of nowhere. The play moves forward from this moment but is comprised of little scenes that jump back and forth in time.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Obituary: Jennifer Cook

The unsung heroine
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

Jennifer Cook, who died this week after a prolonged illness, was one of the great unsung heroines of Canadian theatre having touched the lives of artists across the country. She began her work in Canadian theatre at Centaur where she served as secretary to the artistic director and general manager (under Maurice Podbrey). She became friends with many of the creators simply passing through the company, and was a close accomplice of virtually all who worked there. It was during this period that I met her and before long she was not only my best friend, but also managed my career as a playwright, ushering my work into CBC radio and coproducing my play Michael (which was subsequently performed, in French, at Quat'Sous, largely thanks to her involvement).

Review: C!rca

The spectacle of C!rca

C!RCA moves in ToHu 
By Byron Toben

This is not an English- (or any language-) speaking show and is also not a Montreal based company (it is from Australia). So, it is not strictly a candidate for CharPo's motto… "All Montreal English Language Theatre..all the time". Still, it is so good that, to quote Arthur Miller, “Attention, attention must be paid”.
This heralded Brisbane company has travelled the world, amazing audiences with their focused body control as they blend acrobatics with modern dance. As a dancer, I am your original two left feet guy, but, as Harry Truman once remarked. "I may not lay any eggs, but I am a better judge of an omelet than
any hen in the state of Missouri".

Theatre For Thought, February 18, 2012

joel fishbane
As frustrated as I can be with some of David Mamet’s work, I remain doggedly convinced that he is one of the finest playwrights of the modern age. It is, I think, a glorious thing to experience anything he has written: he has the ability to cut through the great chafe of life and, in prose that is lean but never anorexic, reveal wisdom in all areas: art, lust, guns, even campaign buttons. Oh and race. Let’s not forget that. 
Mamet’s 2006 book The Wicked Son dealt with anti-Semitism and self hatred among the Jews; not content with this controversy, he returned to Broadway in 2009 with Race, a play that tackles the great racial divide that has haunted America ever since Thomas Jefferson was forced to remove references to slaves from the Declaration of Independence (it’s true, look it up).

Friday, February 17, 2012

Review: Depflies 2

The Night of the Living Losers II
Depflies again
by Byron Toben

The lovable losers of DEPFLIES 1 are back in Frappe les rues - part of a projected 13 part live bilingual soap opera about St. Henri denizens who hang out at a local Depanneur. In this installment, a star is born! The star is writer/director/actor Alain Mercieca's 7 year old daughter, Adele. The cast breaks W.C. Fields's famous warning to “Never work with children or animals” two fold...there is also a rodent in the plot...and gets away with it.
Mercieca plays Peter who works, sort of, at his half sister's Depanneur. His friend Roger, is a frequent  hanger-on in the dep as they discuss issues both mundane and existential. Brecht discussed “What is a Man?” but in loftier theatrical terms than the Franglais quips here.

The Friday Five, February 17, 2012

(fig. 1)

Try these out with your friends!
by Matt Raudsepp of Matt and Kyle and Matt

1. Nobody To My Left/Somebody To My Right: Safe (fig. 1)
The Holy Grail of assigned seating. Some “theatre goer” didn’t go, and you find yourself with an empty seat next to you. Throw that elbow open and extend a foot into nothingness… this play is going to be good! Pro Tip: use the empty spot for your jacket, bags, and program.

CharPo's Real Theatre!, February 17, 2012

Thursday, February 16, 2012

EVENT: A Paul Robeson Tribute

CPM's Picture of the Week, February 16, 2012

The cast of Black Theatre Workshop's 
(clockwise from top: Mike Payette, Warona Setshwaelo,
Vladimir Alexis, Tamara Brown; photo credit: Ashley Belmer)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Beyond Our Fourth Wall, February 15, 2012

In typical les Éternels Pigistes style, dramatic black humour about the theme of death or existential solitude.
Après moi
Mar 13 - Apr 14 La Licorne

Theatre…en français
by Estelle Rosen

A man is enclosed by four walls; isolation cell perhaps?
Mar. 6 – 31  Espace Go

A young woman believing she’s going to help her cousin, is given the address of a club that was formerly a place of a strange process of degradation.
Feb. 14-Mar.3  Prospero Salle Intime

Third in trilogy on origin of violence against men.
Feb 14-Mar 3 Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

After Dark, February 14, 2012

Flinch Mob
All signs point to a chill - a very weird one
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois
(See below for a further comment by Michael Healey)

The news is not good and for all the wrong reasons. We are NOT being pounded on by Harper's conservatives except in the usual sleazy ways. But the effect is the same: we are submitting like archetypal sissy liberals, hearts a-bleeding, eyes a-tearing.

I know this all sounds brutal and over the top but I have just lived through nearly two weeks of rhetorical give and take with people on all sides of the censorship issue. Except it's not the censorship issue; it's the flinch-before-they-hit-us issue. It is another set of cases where good-thinking people should be doing something - mobilizing - and where there will be a lot of really, really good talk and writing and nothing will get done because - dammit! - it's really, really scary out there right now.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Upstage Interview: Charles Harries on The Hazards of Love

For a long time, it was a pipe-dream. But if you stick with your idea, you have a show.

Upstage  host Eric Sukhu spoke with Co-Playwright/Director Charles Harries about McGill Players Theatre’s presentation of The Hazards of Love: A Folk Opera. Based on the cult Decemberists’ album The Hazards of Love, Campbell and Harries reassess the romantic cliché ‘happily ever after’. Below is an abridged version edited by Estelle Rosen, CharPo Editor-in-chief.
How was opening last night? 
Quite something.  Such an entirely different feeling from seeing it in rehearsals to waching it with an audience. 
Your Co-Direcor James Campbell wasn’t able to be here with you tonight; is he with the actors and the band tonight?
Yes,  he’s going over details with the band. We have a 6-piece jazz band, and everything has to be coordinated at Players.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Sunday Read: Estelle Rosen on CKUT

Me and CKUT
The iconic and important part of our local culture is in danger
by Estelle Rosen

At a time when my life wasn't quite so rosy, my survival instinct kicked in.  I couldn't identify it as such then. I was listening to and following instincts which ultimately proved to act as anchors for quality of life survival.