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Monday, April 30, 2012

The Upstage Interview: New Words Festival

I always knew I would write about it some day but it never found its proper form.
Upstage Contributor Alison Louder spoke with two 2012 graduating playwrights about their plays being presented as part of National Theatre School’s New Words Festival. Below is an abridged version edited by Estelle Rosen, CharPo Editor-in-Chief.
UPSTAGE:  The two plays we’ll be speaking about are The Green Man by Maureen Guailtier and Disappeared by Leah Jane Esau. They seem to have a lot in common but I know from speaking with you before we went on air that they couldn’t have more different routes for the inspiration. 
One is semi autobiographical; one is about re-connection and construction of memories. Tell us about how memory and past and searching for the imminent future informed your writing.
MAUREEN:  I guess what’s really awesome about theatre is that you can jump back and forth in time. The piece I’m working on is all about family; how stories get passed on from generation to generation, and how we use stories to organize our lives in an effort to make sense of senseless things that happen to us. I think it’s a very human thing to have to deal with and really interesting  to consider in a theatrical idiom. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

First-Person: Trevor Barrette on To Be

The playwright (l) with Chris Hayes (photo by Pamela Perrotti)

What Does It Mean to Be In Love?
Answers with music
by Trevor Barrette
Set in good old Montreal, 'To Be' is the story of Adam, a young man discovering what it means to be true 'to thine own self.' After toughing through a rough patch with love a friend brings him out to a night on the town, where he, accidentally, falls in love with another man. As this strange, new relationship blossoms, Adam is confronted by the ghosts of his past, the not-so-smooth course that lies ahead and the questions that resound in the lives of the Generation Y: What does it mean to be in love? To be a man? To be gay? And finally, simply, to be?

First-Person: Joseph Shragge on The Heretics of Bohemia

Dramaturgy of Disappointment
Failure in the Face of Comic Expectations
by Joseph Shragge
"Humor, I suppose, consecrates nonexistence." Lionel Abel, Metatheatre: 
a new view of dramatic form
The moment genre is invoked, expectations emerge. The process of dramaturgy for our upcoming play The Heretics of Bohemia consistently raised the question, “what is this?” Knowing the piece was a comedy didn’t help specify what kind of comedy it was. For a period I thought of it as a turn on festive or Saturnalian comedy, outlined by the critic C.L. Barber as, “Release expressed by making the whole experience of the play that of a revel.” This genre raises the expectations that social hierarchies will invert, and that all the energy put into maintaining inhibitions will be released into misrule, play, and a flight from the self. Trying to achieve the glorious freedom of this idyllic vision of life, I buckled. Trying to revise the text with the comic expectation of enjoyment met with unhappy results. When a character experienced a loss of self, it was unsettling; excesses and intemperance, produced guilt and dread. Instead of liberation, more energy was needed to maintain the exact inhibitions that the genre promised to allay. 

Tour Whore, April 29, 2012

Preview Perils
by Cameryn Moore

All the forms are in. (I think.) My marketing print material is in the pipeline. The promo/special event calendar is starting to fill up. R105 tax waiver application went out three weeks ago. A little more than a month until I head up to my first fringe, in Montréal. I can relax, right? No. I have my preview to write.
The preview is that little 2-minute piece that gets thrown into a preview showcase evening at many fringes, in theory so that audience members get a sense of what your show is about and make that crucial extra star in the program book next to your show blurb. I think for this season I am doing a preview at Montréal, Winnipeg, Victoria, and maybe Vancouver, I can’t remember. Calgary, do you have a preview night? If not, don’t. Or do. No, don’t. I can’t…. God, I am so conflicted. It throws me every year, even though, compared to the 31-page, multiple-choice script that I'm working from for power |  play, it is a tiny little thing, a piece of bathroom graffiti. How hard can a third of a page of script be?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Theatre For Thought, April 28, 2012

Should we be speaking out or shutting up during a show?
joel fishbane
My recent visit to Centaur Theatre’s production of Intimate Apparel quickly became the quintessential night at the modern theatre. Before the first scene had ended, people across the auditorium were illuminated by the glow of their smartphones. Then my neighbour began to treat me to what would become a running commentary regarding the play. I probably wouldn’t have minded if my neighbor had been director Micheline Chevrier, but in this case it was just a middle-aged woman out for a night with her friends.
“Oh look at her!” she breathed to her friend upon actress Patricia Summerset’s entrance. “Isn’t she pretty?”  Later, when actor Quincy Amorer appeared, the woman turned to her friend and said knowingly, “Ooo! He’s a player.”

Friday, April 27, 2012

Review: To Be

Playwright Trevor Barette (r) and Chris Hayes (photo: Pamela Perrotti)

By Byron Toben
“In how many ages hence shall this our lofty scene be played many times over in States yet unborn and accents yet unknown” is my favorite Shakespeare quote. How much do musical adaptors love Shakespeare? Let me count the ways. Aside from hundreds of operas, there are dozens of flops and four hit musical shows based on one or the other of his plays. (See which ones below). They all have a minimum of Will's text due to the space taken up by the composers' orchestrations.

CharPo's Real Theatre, April 27, 2012

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Beyond Our Fourth Wall, April 25, 2012

What would happen if  nature took  revenge on humans?
Apr. 24 – May 12
Théâtre La Licorne

Theatre…en français
by Estelle Rosen

Truth and facts en route to literature.
Espace Go
Apr. 24 – May 19

Mother and daughter. Two women. Two Americans. Two generations.
Apr. 24 – May 19
Théâtre Prospero

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

News: Geordie announces 2012-13 season

Without fanfare or a press conference, artistic director Dean Patrick Fleming has released the details of his upcoming season.

Two plays will be presented to the general public: Robin Hood adapted by Paula Wing and Head à tête by David S. Craig and Robert Morgan. School-touring productions are Whispers in the Air by Attila Cleman and Jabber by Marcus Youssef. The company concludes its present season this week with their production of Pinocchio.

See the website.

After Dark, April 24, 2012

Am I Myron Galloway?
Be careful of what you wish for...
By Gaëtan L. Charlebois

I was working at Centaur Theatre in the PR department when my boss, Pam Turpin, let out a "Tsk!" that could wake the dead. She was reading a review of a Fennario play by Myron Galloway. The review was a rave, as I remember, but Pam was mightily pissed that Galloway has described a character in the play as a "martinet". "Why couldn't he just say 'tyrant' or something. Why 'martinet'!" I thought she was pissed off by the erudition of the word. No, she was pissed off at the archaicness of the word.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Upstage Interview: Eo Sharp

Sex in the 70s

Upstage Host Eric Sukhu spoke with Costume Designer Eo Sharp  about Same Time Next Year presented at Segal Centre for the Arts.  Below is an abridged version edited by Estelle Rosen, CharPo Editor-in-Chief.
UPSTAGE:  Tell us about the story.
EO:  It’s about a couple who start out having a one night stand and go on to continue  having a one night stand once a year. The play takes place every 5 years so we see this couple over a period of 25 years. 
UPSTAGE: Once a year for 25 years; I wish some relationships could be that convenient!
EO: And they’re both happily married with children. It goes from 1950 to 1975 so it’s fun for me doing costumes.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Profile: Rob Roth and Beauty and the Beast

(photo credit: Joan Marcus)

Broadway rocker
Beauty and the Beast’s Tony-nominated director Rob Roth dishes about Elton John, Anne Rice, Jackie Collins and Alice Cooper, as well as his critically-hailed book The Art of Classic Rock and the Tony Awards, as the new slimmed-down Beauty and the Beast touring production headlines Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa
By Richard Burnett
Famed Broadway director Rob Roth remembers the day he first met Elton John back in the mid 1990s before Roth developed and directed the inaugural production of Elton John and Tim Rice’s AÏDA, which debuted at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta. 
Roth was then the toast of Broadway, even got a Tony Award nomination for Best Director after Beauty and the Beast premiered on the Great White Way in 1994. 

First-Person: David di Giovanni on MAP

Toward the end
By David di Giovanni

You know, we’ve been involved in putting on a show a month at the Mainline since September, and never once did any joke involving ‘that time of the month’ come to my head.  

Remarkable, eh?

MAP started Season One, at least for me, from the desire to search for theatrical forms which would attract a younger demographic to the theatre.  So what exactly does that mean?  Well, here’s how it went for me.  

Tour Whore, April 22, 2012

The poutine wasn’t great, but the company was
by Cameryn Moore

Last week I talked about the haters on tour, and how much that hurts sometimes. This week I just wanted to let you know that I AM NOT A DELICATE FUCKING FLOWER. Also, I may have given you another wrong impression, because it’s not all, or even mostly, an uphill struggle out there. No. Sometimes it goes like this…
A couple of weeks ago I did a set at a comedic storytelling show in London, ON, which I had gotten into by dropping a Facebook note to Jayson Mcdonald, who I had met in the BC fringes last year. Before the show, I ran into Jeff Culbert, who collaborated with me for a talent show piece at the 2011 Vancouver Fringe. And then on the line-up were Chris Gibbs, who bought me at least three ciders last year in Calgary; and Mikaela Dyke, who at one time had offered to tech my show this year in Winnipeg. (I got into an official venue, so didn’t end up needing her services, but still.)  Before, during, and after this event, I met one Fringe director, two Slutwalk London organizers who wanted to bring me to town next year, and one performer and producer of stuff in Toronto, who was determined to come see my show the following week.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Theatre For Thought, April 21, 2012

joel fishbane
“We all have strings holding us together,” says Pierrick. “But it’s whether or not the strings pull you or push you that makes you a marionette or a puppet.” It seems important to him that I understand this distinction as I sit down to interview him and his castmates about The Heretics of Bohemia, a new play being produced in Montreal by Scapegoat Carnivale Theatre. Heretics is one of those rare shows that features humans and puppets working side by side and it’s easy for a novice to get tripped up by terminology. “Marionettes generally have a bit of an elitist attitude,” Pierrick adds. “But I’m not trying to be racist. It’s just what I’ve found in my experience.”

Thursday, April 19, 2012

CPM's Picture of the Week, April 19, 2012

A new musical is cause for happiness. A new musical created in Montreal even more so. A new musical, in Montreal, with a Gay story...well rejoice! Persephone is offering To Be, by Trevor Barrette (r. in this picture with Chris Hayes). This happiest of rehearsal shots is by Pamela Perrotti.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Beyond Our Fourth Wall, April 18, 2012

Theatre…en français

33rd Season!
April 18 – 21

A story about those who bypass their inner demons.
Théatre La Licorne
Apr. 30 – May 18

Primary themes - desire, identity, childhood and death.
Théatre de Quat’Sous
Apr. 24 – May 20

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

After Dark, April 17, 2012

A Critic's Commandments
No, we're not God
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

I was listening to an episode of This American Life, the radio show hosted by Ira Glass which presents a series of stories, each week, around a central theme. (Listen to it. It's on iTunes.) Last week's episode was on The Ten Commandments and it started by listing the commandments of various groups and organizations like umpires (Thou shalt keep your eye on the ball). Immediately I wondered what my commandments - a critic's - would be. Feel free to add your own or modify these in the comments section below.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Upstage Interview: Christopher Moore and Gabrielle Soskin on To Be

To Be To The World First
Upstage Host Eric Sukhu spoke with Artistic Director Gabrielle Soskin & Director Christopher Moore about Persephone Productions presentation of To Be. Below is an abridged version edited by Estelle Rosen, CharPo Editor-in-chief.
UPSTAGE: Tell us about To Be, I understand it’s a new musical.
GABRIELLE: I was thrilled when Christopher Moore presented me with this script. He asked if I thought Persephone should produce something like this. I read it. I listened to the music. And I said let’s go for it.
It’s a world première. The 3 young men who composed this musical are really admirable. It’s a big and brave undertaking to put together a full length musical with a score, books and lyrics the way they’ve done. It’s also enchanting because Trevor Barrette who wrote the book and lyrics has linked extracts of gems of Shakespearian text as though the heightened language expresses the passion of a love affair between two young men.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Tour Whore, April 15, 2012

It's all on you
by Cameryn Moore
It was in Winnipeg in 2010. I was doing Phone Whore and steadily building audience, but I couldn’t stop, right? So, after finishing a show and changing, I drank some water, pulled another wad of cards out of my purse, and hopped over the low-slung chain barrier around the nearby café seating. I approached the first table, with two women sipping at some wine. “Hey, there,” I began, and the older lady interrupted me. “I just came out of your show,” she said, her brows knitted together. “I was appalled.” “Oh,” I said, and took my card back with a courteous flourish. “Well. It certainly isn’t for everyone.” The people at the tables nearby laughed a little, and I shrugged it off and continued through the patio, but I could feel the woman’s eyes burning through the otherwise sturdy back of my long-line bra, leaving a little stinging spot on my soul.
I was talking through some of this with a friend of mine recently, a psychotherapist and a performer, and she noted how easy it is to take things personally when you’re a one-person operation versus an ensemble troupe. “With a group, any criticism or external negative energy gets diffused out among the members, so that no one person is absorbing all of it. Or that should be the way it is. With a solo show, it feels like it’s about you personally. It’s all on you.”

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Theatre For Thought, April 14, 2012

joel fishbane
Years ago a friend who shall remain nameless (hint: she’s part of the current cast of CMT’s The Singing Bee) gave me the script to You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown as a birthday present. At the time, we were all flouncing through musical theatre school and I had developed a habit of mining the show for material: I sang three of the songs and did one of Charlie Brown’s monologues in acting class. At the time, everyone - except my nameless friend - rolled their eyes. “You’re wasting your time,” they said. “Everything about that show is best left forgotten.”
Flash forward a quarter of a lifetime and we find ourselves in the midst of the Charlie Brown resurgence – it’s both a feature of ATP’s 2012-13 season and opens at Stratford on May 15th. It enjoyed a Broadway revival in 1999 and since then has had dozens of international productions. For all this, the show still has its share of detractors – the Globe and Mail dubbed it the “least anticipated show of 2012” and critics have long been divided on whether the show is a “miracle” (the Village Voice, circa 1967) or “the stuff of actor’s nightmares” (the NY Times, circa 1999). 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Review: (Montreal) Penny Plain

(photo credit: Trudie Lee)

Montrealers are lucky that their city is where Penny Plain is finishing it’s cross-country tour.
joel fishbane
A tour-de-force constructed out of wood and string, Ronnie Burkett’s Penny Plain is the must see show of Montreal’s Spring season. Burkett, who has gained international acclaim with his Theatre of Marionettes, has again hit the ground running with a show that is at once prophetic, heart-wrenching and delightfully absurd. Such is his skill that at the curtain call, it seemed a crime that the marionettes didn’t take a bow: they seemed as real as any cast of humans. 

CharPo's Real Theatre! April 13, 2012

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Review: Blackbird

(photo credit: Joseph Ste. Marie)

Hey Little Girl, Is Your Daddy Home?
A new company tackles a brutal subject
by Chris Lane

One of the wonderful things about theatre is that it can show new perspectives on topics that are hardly ever talked about. A play can force you to see the world through the eyes of a character far removed from anyone in your own experience. David Harrower's Blackbird presents the topic of statutory rape and allows us to gain insight into the feelings and motives of both characters involved.

CPM's Picture of the Week, April 12, 2012

(click to enlarge)

The quite magnificent central image of the poster for Hay Fever now
playing at Dawson. Created by Rosaura Guzman with students, it shows actor 
Chantale Demole. Four elements work particularly well:
background, shadow, clothing and pose (with cigarette holder).

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Beyond Our Fourth Wall, April 11, 2012

Trieste by Marie Brassard previews her next presentation on themes of journey and exile, art and solitude, presented as part of Festival Temps d’Images.
Apr. 19 – 27
Usine C

Theatre…en français
by Estelle Rosen

Existential Comedy.
Apr. 24 – May 19
Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui

After 20 years together, a couple try to find the lost thread  of communicating with each other.
Apr. 24 – May 19
Espace Go

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

After Dark, April 10, 2012

Leo On Dirty Kitchen Floor, the original

Getting The Picture
It's not that hard and it's not that expensive to make a decent first impression
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

Once again this week we were setting up the various CharPo websites and once again we were choosing our pictures of the week. And, once again, we were coming up short because beyond the big houses, we were going through images which would rate a "fail" even if they were posted on a personal Facebook page. There is nothing worse than not having pictures print and internet media can publish with preview articles or reviews. But what comes close - in worsitude - is having pictures that look like they were shot in your basement by your mother. (There is a running gag, here in Montreal, about a company that was presenting a play with nudity in it and sent out pictures where all the naked people had the infamous snapshot-red-eye; it was like looking at amateur porn.)

So here is what I propose: showing you a little of what's out there. This is not aimed just at community theatre, amateurs and Fringers - this is aimed at every company that can't afford Cylla von Tiedemann, lucetg or Coopers - Michael or Emily. Above is a gawdawful picture of my dog, including our filthy kitchen floor and the canine photography version of red-eye: no-eye. What follows is what I whipped together in 30 minutes (for the bunch!) using apps which are available on the iPad. There are versions of these apps for other tablets, all computers and most smartphones. They all cost less than $10. The treated photos are meant to show you the possibilities. All of the apps are easy to use. The proof? I did it.