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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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Review: Intimate Apparel

Lucinda Davis and Quincy Armorer (photo credit:

The Unchangeable Past
Centaur has a dynamite cast for the Apparel
by Sarah Deshaies
Who hasn't tried to envision what their forebears' past might have been?

Playwright Lynn Nottage concocted Intimate Apparel out of a desire to know more about her great-grandmother, Ethel Boyce, according to dramaturge Caitlin Murphy in the informative playbill. Ethel was a religious woman, a Black immigrant who made her way from Barbados to Ellis Island in 1911, at a time when many were converging on New York City to create new lives for themselves.

Theatre For Thought, March 31, 2012

joel fishbane
Most people know me as a writer / actor / man about town, but every Spring I moonlight as a tax preparer for the self-employed. A lifelong relationship with the tax collector is an occupational hazard for artists and it would be a great benefit if schools were bestowing upon their students a rudimentary understanding of how it all works; since they’re not, allow me to briefly fill in the gaps. 
Most artists end up owing money and the reason is simple: those with regular employment are taxed at source, meaning that things like income tax and pension plan contributions are taken off their paycheques. Artists, though, are considered contractual employees and are often paid in lump sums. They must pay their income tax and pension plan contributions at the end of the year.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

EVENT: 8 Ways My Mother Was Conceived (May 23-27)

News: Montreal Fringe Festival announces dates

The Montreal Fringe Festival has announced it's dates for the 2012 edition, its 22nd. The festival will run 20 days, from June 4-24, with 500 local and international artists featured. 

The Fringe will be running against several other events, notably Les Francofolies (June 8-16) and Le Festival TransAmérique (May 24-June 9).

Read The Press Release:

News: Segal Announces adventurous and audacious 2012-13 season

John Gilbert, Musical director of Guys and Dolls (via: frog)

Segal Centre Announces It’s 2012 – 13 Season
joel fishbane
“Paul Flicker, this is your baby this year,” said the Segal Centre’s Executive Director, Manon Gauthier at today’s press conference to announce their 2012 – 13 artistic season. Flicker, who took over for former Artistic Director Bryna Wasserman, is the driving force behind this new season – and if it’s a baby then it’s one that’s going to keep a lot of Montrealers up late at night. With four world premières, three musicals, a Hollywood star, the first lady of Canadian theatre, an  international co-production and a slew of multi-racial shows, the Segal has announced its boldest season in years.

Review: Lucy Lost Her Heart

by Chad Dembski
Lucy Lost her Heart is the third part of a trilogy that has been in development since 2005 by Theatre Junction Grand.  This is my first time experiencing one of their performances and this was the company's first time in Montreal.  
The show seems to start as the audience enters with all the performers in American Apparel underwear and warming up and rehearsing on stage.  They smile at the audience and seem to be preparing but also seem to be in some kind of character as well.  The show begins and the story of five “lost souls” who are trapped in more ways than one (in a mine, in the past, in their memories) a strange line between character and performer is constantly played with.  These characters include Flip (Mike Tan) who begins hosting the show and dreams of being a cowboy, Pocahontas who speaks en français as if in a constant dream and slowly paces back and forth on stage, Pierre (Stephen Turner) who has undergone a massive trauma that seems to both inspire and hold him back, Red (Isabelle Kirouac) the minor of the group who seems trapped in her own head and Lost Soldier (Ian Kilborn) who has returned from an unknown war.

First-Person: Kristian Gravenor (and students) on the season

Paul Ahmarani in Cantate de guerre at Théâtre d'Aujourd'hui (photo: Valérie Remise)

Below The Mountain
Montreal theatre-goers rate the season by looking at Cantate de guerre, True Nature, Closer, Le destin tragique de Tubby et not-Tubby, Les enfants de la pleine lune, God of Carnage, Story-Ya, Cornered, Gaëtan, Requiem pour un trompettiste, La Noce, In Absentia, Tristesse Animal Noir, Le maitre de la rosse, après moi le deluge, The Game of Love and Chance, the Leisure Society.
by Kristian Gravenor

Being a discussion leader at the Thomas More Institute’s (TMI)  theatre course for the last dozen years has taught me that it’s not always that easy to convince the 20 to 30, largely fifty-something-and-plus, two-thirds female student bodies that my way of seeing plays is the right way.

Of course they are wrong, but there’s not much I can do about it.

The disagreements are always an issue at the final discussion of the year when we sit down and try to figure out which of the 18 plays (split evenly between English and French) had the best actors, sets, stories, and so on.

CPM's Picture of the Week, March 29, 2012

Acme Burlesque - one night only
April 5, at Mainline

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

New: Beyond the Mountain fund-raises for Children's Hospital

Beyond the Mountain raises over 500 for good cause
This past December Beyond the Mountain produced a fundraiser production of Paul Van Dyck's Paradise Lost with the help and generosity of the Segal Centre, for the Montreal Children's Hospital Foundation. 

Beyond Our Fourth Wall, March 28, 2012

Rick Miller’s hilarious play about the history of Christ aboard Air Jesus flight 679.
Bigger Than Jesus (version française)
Apr. 12 – 21
Salle Fred Barry

Theatre…en français
by Estelle Rosen

Adolescent young woman stifled by her mother, has only her imagination to make her happy.
Apr. 5 – 14
Espace Libre  

Omnibus Theatre celebrates the opposite of indignation. 
March 27 – April 21
Espace Libre

In 1934, a group of miners receives an assignment that unexpectedly initiates them into the history of art.
Apr 4 – 12
Théâtre Jean Duceppe

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

After Dark, March 27, 2012

Obscenity, libel and censorship in the age of the internet
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

In a US obscenity case back in 1964, Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously wrote in an opinion that hard-core pornography was hard to define but, "I know it when I see it." (He later regretted having written it and was convinced it would be on his tombstone - indeed, it was mentioned in most of the obits when he died in 1985.)

Indeed, if you consider all the hot-button words artists use, have aimed at them or bandy about, many fall into the vague and personal realm of "I know it when I see it" (IKIWISI): obscenity, pornography, erotica, slander, libel, racism, sexism, homophobia...

Let me give you my reasons for thinking about these things this week in particular:

Monday, March 26, 2012

News: FTA announces exciting lineup 2012

Exciting lineup in Annual Fest
by Estelle Rosen

The sixth edition of the Festival TransAmériques (FTA), taking place from May 24 to June 9, 2012 includes plays, dance pieces, exhibits and film screenings.

At today's press conference conducted by Artistic Director Marie-Hélène Falcon along with Artistic Associates Karine Denault  and Martin Faucher, they reviewed the 24 plays, including film excerpts. We also heard about the annual free performances, meet-the-artists, and after-show parties.

As someone who has followed FTA for many years, exciting productions from all over the world featuring theatre presentations we'll never have another opportunity to see is a given. One interesting note is this is the first year I've seen more Canadian productions than ever in the program.

The Upstage Interview: Martin Faucher on Vigil

Marcel Jeanin and Kim Yaroshevskaya (photo credit: Andrée Lanthier)

In God's Waiting Room

Upstage Contributor Gaspare Borsellino spoke with Director Martin Faucher about the current presentation of Vigil by Morris Panych  at Segal Centre.  Below is an abridged version edited by Estelle Rosen, CharPo Editor-in-chief.
UPSTAGE:  This production of Vigil is a co-production with Théâtre du Rideau Vert.  Has it been performed yet at Théâtre du Rideau Vert?
FAUCHER: Yes we did it in French in January of this year. Now it’s in English at Segal Centre.
UPSTAGE:  Is it the same cast for both? 
FAUCHER: Partially different cast. In French  Kemp was performed by Éric Bernier. In English it’s performed by Marcel Jeannin.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Blog: MAP Project 2011-12

Part VII: Marathon
Performance suicide?
by Matt Zabusky

The Mainline staff approached MAP with the intriguing and terrifying idea of doing a marathon of our current year long episodic theatre series MAP Season One, on May 30th. When I first heard this idea proposed it felt to me like performance suicide, reminiscent of my feelings of hearing about a 48 hour run of Waiting for Godot in the Toronto fringe. Why would someone do that to themselves? But the more and more I thought about it I realized this is going to be the most challenging performance of my life.

Tour Whore, March 25, 2012

You Can't Have a Bad Day in a Tutu
So what’s a broke-ass, nomadic Fringe fatshionista to do? 
by Cameryn Moore

How cold does it get in Nashville in November? How wet does it get in Edinburgh in August? What are the odds of finding a pair of red, mid-calf, fully ruffled bloomers in my size? 
Bizarre questions, but not random (answers at the end of this post). These are the sorts of things I ponder as I pack my bags for the road.
Bags. I say “bags” like I have a four-wheel coach with a maid behind me, or even two checked bags allowed on the plane, but not even that, lovies, no, no. After everything else is in my car, the set pieces and props and kitchen bag and toiletry bag and merch bags and manual typewriter and pillow and box with all my phone-sex note cards, I have room in the Deerinator for … one roll-on suitcase. Maybe two. And I am going to be nomadic for 18 months. I can leave a small box of hard-core winter wear where my winter base will be, but it does not do to trespass too heavily on the kindness and square footage of friends. 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Review: 42nd Street

...on 42nd STREET!
By Byron Toben
What a wonderful show this is! The Hudson Music Club, which staged the  highly regarded The Drowsy Chaperone last year, has topped that with their rendition of this multiple award winning Broadway classic.
42nd Street originally began as a film gamble by Warner Brothers in 1933. Financially troubled despite their success as a film noir producer, they hired away Busby Berkely from MGM to produce some of the most kaleidoscopic over the top dance numbers for this backstage drama of Broadway musical types. Canadian born Ruby Keeler, recently married to Al Jolson, was hired to play Peggy Sawyer, a naïve chorus hopeful, who becomes a star. Ginger Rogers played Anytime Annie, a wisecracking chorine who befriends Peggy and the then newbie tenor, Dick Powell played Billy Lawlor, the male tenor.

Theatre For Thought, March 24, 2012

joel fishbane
Bennett and I are walking through the park when she remarks that she thinks it’s ridiculous for Montreal arts reporters to review any show that doesn’t come out of the Segal Centre or Centaur Theatre. Being the two largest Anglo theatre companies in Montreal, she argues that their audiences are large enough that they can risk a bad review. But the smaller theatre companies are struggling to survive and while they should be supported through preview articles, reviewers should stay away. 
I frown as she speaks. Usually I agree with Bennett, which is why I spend time with her. When you’re a curmudgeon, it’s good to find people who keep you calm. 
I try to explain the artistic value of theatre critiques. In my view, it’s insulting to independent theatres to treat them differently than larger companies, as if they aren’t worthy of the same scrutiny. “The only question is whether a show deserves to be seen,” I postulate. “Championing a company just for existing degrades a city’s cultural landscape.”

Friday, March 23, 2012

Interview: Centaur Theatre Artistic Director Roy Surette

(photo credit: Yannick MacDonald)

Beyond The Launch
After announcing his 2012-13 season, the Montreal AD talks candidly about Healey, Rose, Vancouver Playhouse and the challenge of here and beyond
by David Sklar

CHARPO: So you just had your season launch. How did it go?
SURETTE: It went well. It’s always a bit intense. I think I talked for about an hour about the season and all our upcoming activities. 
CHARPO:  What goes through your mind when picking a new season? How do you choose what shows to pick?
SURETTE: It’s a mystery.  As they say in Shakespeare In Love, my favorite theatre quote, “it’s a mystery how it ever works”.  There are so many factors that go into selecting a season. And there are many questions that I am always asking myself, still feeling relatively new to Montreal. I’ve been here for almost four and a half years now and as someone who programs a theatre in a unique city like Montreal I think, needless to say, it’s challenging. You need to know what’s evolving with the audience.  I’m always of the belief that you want to do a season that people want to come and see. There is no point in doing it for yourself and in fact when you get to the scale of operation like us, you have to sell a lot of tickets. We’re about 50 percent run by our box office.  We do a lot of fundraising as well as applying for government support. But we’re still white knuckling it terms of, are going to make our box office targets? And usually in a year, it’s a real rollercoaster ride. Some shows are quite a bit under, some are over so in terms of balancing a season, you've got to compromise. I wish I could say I have the magical formula but I don’t. I feel I've got a pretty good track record and the confidence of the Board, the staff and the city but you never know. We don’t do the same thing over and over again. Every time we embark on a new production it’s a risk, especially if it’s a new play. Even if you are doing something that was very successful somewhere else, it doesn’t necessarily translate. Having the privilege of working across this country and outside of it as well, there is no guarantee.  You can’t go, “Oh ya this was a really big hit in Australia, it’s just going to rock in Montreal, or it did really well in Vancouver, it doesn’t mean anything for here.”

CharPo's Real Theatre! March 23, 2012

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Review: Oklahoma!

Landmark “OKLAHOMA” Still Resonates
Students give a Beautiful Evening
By Byron Toben
Is there a more rousing song in American musical theatre than the title refrain of the seminal Rogers and Hammerstein classic “Oklahoma”? At the conclusion of its opening at the John Abbott Casgrain Theatre, many of the audience (including a sizable number of Francophones) were heard humming and mouthing the waving wheat that sure smells sweet when the wind comes right behind the rain.

CPM's Picture of the Week, March 22, 2012

The great Kim Yaroshevskaya in Segal's production of Vigil

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

EVENT: Playwrights' Development Showcase, April 15-16

Beyond Our Fourth Wall, March 21, 2012

Les Demimondes examines how fine arts, music, film, photography and the media have profited off the shabby mystique of the whore… 
Mar. 30 – Apr.1
Studio 303

Theatre…en français
by Estelle Rosen

The town of Lucy has strangely disappeared… 
Theatre Junction Grand 
Mar. 28 – 30
Usine C

Six young adults find themselves in a deserted parking lot of a shopping centre…
Mar. 20 – April 7
Théatre Prospero

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

EVENT: Callaghan! and the Wings of the Butterfly

After Dark, March 20, 2012

The Unbearable Lightness of PR
Why are there still some theatre companies who hire ultra-maroons?
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois
What are the lessons we have learned from the death of Vancouver Playhouse (and, in passing, I do not think it is going to rise again)?

For me the chief question is, "Why didn't I, as a concerned Canadian theatre person, know that this was coming?" I have since heard from many Vancouverites that the writing was on the wall. I have also heard that the atmosphere in Vancouver is not conducive (if not downright hostile) to theatre production. But I have learned these things after the fact. Somewhere along the line someone was not communicating to the rest of us. And I do mean "us", as the whole country should be mortified by what has happened in Vancouver.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Upstage Interview: McGill Drama Festival realize that actors have their own ideas...
Upstage Contributor Gaspare Borsellino spoke with McGill Drama Festival (MDF) Coordinator Benjamin Hanff and two MDF Directors Martin Law and  Lerato Islam. Below is an abridged version edited by Estelle Rosen, CharPo Editor-in-chief.

UPSTAGE:   How long has MDF been running?

HANFF:  I can’t give you an exact year but MDF has existed in multiple forms over 20 years. It wasn’t always called MDF but there’s always been a student play festival mounted in the Spring at Players Theatre.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Sunday Read: First-Person - Ranee Lee on the life journey to Intimate Apparel

The Soul has many motions, the body one
by Ranee Lee
“I Learn by going where I have to go” to quote Theodore Roethke the poet. The lessons of my profession have brought me to where I am today, and this unpredictable expedition continues to unfold with every new experience. I have never thought of myself as more than a career woman in the arts. I am driven by the pursuit and successful outcome of a particular project whether in a solo or ensemble arena. The imperatives are at times wrapped in frustration and other times in accomplishment. This is not new news to any artist and performer, but it is the motivational tool to persist. As a child growing up in New York, my mother taught me that obstacles were made to be analyzed, and prevail over, that consequences are the results of actions and in everything there is a lesson. Sometimes we get it right the first time, other times the lesson comes in portions we must work through, but determination is a key to many doors.

Tour Whore, March 18, 2012

Making the Bouillion Cube
They won’t care how good my show is, if they don’t get the gestalt in 5 seconds or less. Gah!
by Cameryn Moore

Imagine that you’ve just pulled this beautiful roast chicken out of the oven. You labored long and hard over it, and it shows: smells great, looks amazing, your mouth is watering, it’s going to be delicious, you can’t wait to serve it out. And just as you’re sharpening the knife, the guest of honor says, wait, do you think you could make a boullion cube out of that?
That’s what this time of year feels like, when I have to take my show and boil it down to promo copy.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Review: State of Denial

Rahul Varma confronts the big issues again
by Chris Lane

Denial comes in many forms, and can effectively erase the memories of the oppressed victims of atrocities untold. Local playwright Rahul Varma seeks to uncover the personal stories that have been suppressed and present them in a stark and moving new play, State of Denial. The production is presented by Teesri Duniya, of which Varma is Artistic Director, a theatre company with a 31-year history of  politically relevant plays that depict diverse aspects of Canada’s cultural minorities. 
In writing this play, Varma derived a fictional story from multiple true stories garnered from years of interviews as a part of the research for Life Stories of Montrealers Displaced by Genocide, War and Other Human Rights Violations. State of Denial is being presented as a part of Life Stories Montreal and is directed by Deborah Forde.

Theatre For Thought, March 17, 2012

joel fishbane
Theatre, Vancouver Playhouse (1963 – 2012). Passed away suddenly on Saturday, March 10 surrounded by friends, family and protestors who insisted that they were conducting a vigil instead of a wake. The Theatre will be deeply missed by its artistic director, board of directors, fifteen permanent staff, two hundred contractors, hundreds of artists, thousands of subscribers and millions of fans of Canadian culture. 
The Theatre had a long and, perhaps unsurprisingly, dramatic life. It survived numerous marriages, divorces, trysts and trial separations involving countless artistic directors, board members and Canadian artists. Born in 1962, the infant Theatre was deposited on the doorstep of managing producer Michael Johnston by the municipal government. Although Vancouver had a thriving amateur community, it was determined that a professional theatre was needed to improve the city’s cultural life.