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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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

After Dark, July 31, 2012

Evolution
CharPo is not what I planned
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

This week is the first anniversary of our podcast, This Is The CPC. In a month it will be the first anniversary of The Charlebois Post - Canada. In four months The Charlebois Post - Montreal hits two years old. The Charlebois Post - Toronto is a month old and already a huge success. CharPo-Alberta and CharPo-Atlantic Canada are being beta tested and we are examining the feasibility of a CharPo-BC. We have launched a new award aimed at publicists called the CharPR Prize (pronounced "sharper") and are looking into creating an electronic publishing house: CharPoFolio. All this while jumping through hoops towards incorporation.

What the hell am I doing?! How did this happen?!

As I have said before, CharPo Montreal was begun as a response to the lessening coverage of English-language theatre in Montreal (two English-language arts weeklies have died since). It was a simple little blog I went ahead with together with Editor-in-Chief Estelle Rosen.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Upstage Interview: Jana Van Geest on Theatre on Radio


you have to set it in the real to give the audience’s imagination an appropriate place to launch from
Upstage and CharPo contributor Sarah Deshaies spoke with Upstage Contributor Jana Van Geest about her producing 10-minute radio plays as a regular segment on Upstage. 

UPSTAGE: This is probably the first time one Contributor interviews another! Tell us about your project, and what you’re looking for.
VAN GEEST: I’m looking for 10-minute plays which will be broadcast on Upstage, likely once a month. If you want to submit a script, email me at janavangeest@gmail.com
UPSTAGE: Do people only write the play, or do they have to provide performers? 
VAN GEEST: They’ll be pre-recorded in studio. I’ll be directing and casting the play as well. There are so many wonderful actors with great voices, I’m looking forward to working with actors for a voice play. 
A voice piece is very different from a stage production. No blocking, no props to be managed, less rehearsal. When you’re doing a radio play, voices are significant. A lot of actors aren’t developing their voices as much as in the previous era of theatre. Theatre being a balance of visual and audio, radio plays are strictly audio. So you have to go with the voices and well placed sound effects

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Tour Whore, July 29, 2012


Hard Times - Strap in and get out the tarp
by Cameryn Moore


First of all, I should say that Winnipeg Fringe is not a bad Fringe, objectively. I would not have kept applying to get in over the past two years if it was a bad Fringe. In 2010 and 2011 I made decent money here, sold out at least one show each Fringe, and oh my god, for a loudmouthed flirt like myself, the line-ups here are HEAVEN.

But this year in Winnipeg has been hard for me. And while I don’t think I’ve been all sweetness and light up until now, I haven’t had a Fringe like this in a long time, if ever, in terms of grinding me down. So in the interest of giving y’all a full-spectrum sense of the touring life, I’m gonna share. Strap in and get out the tarp.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Theatre For Thought, July 28, 2012


MARRIAGE AND THE SHREW
joel fishbane
A war over Taming of the Shrew has been waged over in the comments section of the Montreal edition of CharPo, for which I’m infinitely grateful. Those who know me know I detest The Merchant of Venice, not because of the anti-Semitism but because of the poor craftsmanship – simply put, it’s a badly-made play. Shrew doesn’t quite suffer from this problem: it has its problems but the real dilemma lies in the subject matter. The story of a man named Petruchio who “cures” Kate, the titular shrew, cannot help but provoke strong opinions. Time and again, productions either ignore the uncomfortable material or attempt to distract us from it with theatrical wizardry and a comedian’s bag of tricks.
We may think that the controversy surrounding Shrew is a late 20th century phenomenon but apparently it’s been raising ire ever since it first hit the stage. In 1888, with the women’s movement on the rise, George Bernard Shaw made his own thoughts known in the Pall Mall Gazette: “Having been told that the Daly Company has restored Shakespeare’s version to the stage,” he wrote, “I desired to see with my own eyes whether any civilized audience would stand its brutality… I hope all men and women who respect one another will boycott Taming of the Shrew until it is driven off the boards.”

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Review: Chantons sous la pluie

Renaud Paradis (top) with René Simard (courtesy: Juste Pour Rire)


Gimme that ol' Razzle-Dazzle
No rain on this parade
by Valerie Cardinal
Since I’m a huge fan of the original 1952 movie Singin’ in the Rain, I was intrigued to hear about Chantons sous la pluie, the French adaption making its debut at this year’s Just For Laughs Festival. Directed by Denise Filiatrault, translated and adapted by Yves Morin and starring René Simard, this show has some Francophone star power attached to it. Still, I wasn’t sure if Singin’ in the Rain could work in French. Boy, was I wrong! 
The show is set in glamorous Hollywood, during the awkward transition from silent films to talkies, and the beautiful costumes and wonderful sets do a great job of transporting the audience to that glamorous era. Renaud Paradis plays Don Lockwood, the leading man of the silent era, and Pascale Desrochers plays Lina, the leading lady who has some trouble adapting to talking films. Paradis is wonderful as Don, bringing charm and powerful dancing to the role without resorting to imitating Gene Kelly. 

Review: My Pregnant Brother (Zoofest)



The Celebrated Solo...
and her brother...and a phone...
by Rebecca Ugolini
Johanna Nutter’s celebrated solo piece My Pregnant Brother has its roots in the familiar. Standing barefoot before the audience and wielding a piece of chalk, Nutter recounts her nomadic and free-spirited childhood as she traces street names onto the black floor of La Chapelle’s performance space: Boulevard St. Laurent, Avenue Mont-Royal, Avenue du Parc. From those well-worn Montreal streets, My Pregnant Brother sets off to explore territory that is, if not uncharted, then still mostly unknown and misunderstood: transsexual identity, body politics and the dynamics of an unconventional family.
At first glance, My Pregnant Brother is a piece about the difficulty of people who identify as transsexual to find acceptance in their families and to traverse the world of hospital appointments, gender-specific pronouns, and society’s conventions with a sense of normalcy and dignity. As a piece which portrays those struggles with sensitivity and humour, but doesn’t pull any punches, My Pregnant Brother is a triumph.

Picture of the Week, July 26, 2012

Controversial poster art...what do you think of it?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Review: The Tempest


Rehearsal shot from The Tempest

Punkin' Shakespeare
Kaleidoscope takes on the last play and scores
by Valerie Cardinal

One thing is made clear from the first scene of Kaleidoscope Theatre's production of The Tempest: this is not your usual Shakespeare. The aesthetic is undeniably steampunk, with gorgeous costumes and rock music interludes. The best part? It works! A style usually associated with futuristic dystopian landscapes actually makes sense within the context of a mysterious, magical island.
The plot of The Tempest is all about the magic. Prospero, the Duke of Milan, was usurped by his brother and has been marooned on an island full of spirits and magical creatures for 12 years. When his brother and the King of Naples sail by, Prospero raises a magical tempest and strands them on the island for some good old-fashioned repentance. 

Beyond the Fourth Wall, July 25, 2012


Neo-Burlesque Show
Aug. 18
Theatre Ste. Catherine

Shows of Interest this Week
by Estelle Rosen

Agatha Christie Classic (Ten Little Indians retitled from its even more politically incorrect French title)
Le Théâtre Hector-Charland de L’Assomption

The Roaring Twenties revisited with... 
Rialto Theatre
Aug. 9

Well, it's Singin' in the Rain, ain't it!
Théâtre St. Denis
To Aug 25

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

After Dark, July 24, 2012


I Know I'm Right
Reviewers, artists and the gray in between
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

As I walk the dog I listen to podcasts both to relax me and to feed my writing. There are three in particular: This American Life, WTF and Analog Hole. As I've said elsewhere, Marc Maron on WTF has turned out interview after interview that is personal, funny, and truthful with a wide variety of celebrities. Last week he did one with Fiona Apple.

Apple was talking about the insanity around her first album and tour and Maron asked her how she dealt with it all - the adulation, the critics. "I don't read reviews," she answered, "because I know I'm right."

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Upstage Interview: Johanna Nutter on My Pregnant Brother (Zoofest)



I can quite clearly say that it’s not for me to answer trans-gender questions...I can tell you what it’s like to be the sister of a trans-gendered person.
Upstage Host Eric Sukhu spoke with Playwright/Performer Johanna Nutter about My Pregnant Brother presented as part of Zoofest.

UPSTAGE:   There’s likely many people who haven’t seen it yet. Tell us about it.

NUTTER:  It played in English at Centaur, and at La Licorne in French. Often I had to explain to people - I know it sounds like a stand up show but it’s not. Now I have to do the opposite because it’s in the Just For Laughs Festival and Zoofest.

My Pregnant Brother might sound like a Howie Mandel routine. But it’s not. It’s a true story about me and my family. My brother is trans-gendered. He used to be my sister. In 2006 he stopped taking his hormone injections and during that time he got pregnant. He decided to keep the baby and was hoping that I would join him and the three of us would become a family together.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tour Whore, July 22, 2012


“Hey, have you been out to see <world-famous local museum> yet?”
by Cameron Moore


“Hey, have you been out to see <world-famous local museum> yet?”
“Why don’t we check out <scenic nearby region> this weekend?”
“So, what do you do for fun?”

Answers: no, meh, what?

You look at the map where I’ve been on tour, and it looks amazing, right? I’ve probably seen a lot of great shit! I mean, 34 cities and more in this sprawling loop around North America, passing through or by some amazing natural wonders of the world and major centers of art and culture and civic importance and obviously I would have taken it all in!

First-Person: Trevor Barrette on The Tempest



To entertain and enlighten Shakespeare enthusiasts and newcomers alike
The Tempest comes to the West Island
by Trevor Barrette

Kaleidoscope Theatre Montreal’s production of William Shakespeare’s The TEMPEST sets the Bard’s final masterpiece in the fictional world of Victorian Futurism. It is a world of contradictions, science and innovation where the old and the new collide and the line between dreaming and reality is never drawn. This dynamic and physical staging (produced, performed and designed in its entirety by current students and recent graduates of John Abbott, Dawson and Concordia’s theatre programs) will entertain and enlighten Shakespeare enthusiasts and newcomers alike.

The TEMPEST is the story of a man’s reflection on his legacy and his death. Twelve years since being marooned on an almost uninhabited island, Prospero, a powerful magician & the rightful duke of Milan, discovers the King of Naples’ fleet nearing his island. He summons a direful tempest and shipwrecks the King’s ship onto his island to force him and the usurping duke of Milan into repentance. Once on the island, history, as always, seems to repeat itself. Antonio, Prospero’s usurping brother, plots with the King’s brother to overthrow him and take Milan. Meanwhile, the King’s drunken butler and jester meet Caliban, a savage native of the island, who together seek to murder Prospero and claim the island for themselves. In another part of the Isle, Ferdinand, the King’s son, meets Miranda, Prospero’s daughter. The two fall in love and Prospero secures his place on the throne as Ariel, Prospero’s airy spirit servant begs for his freedom. There’s a lot going on. (cont'd)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Theatre For Thought, July 21, 2012



MONTREALERS AT THE BAT
joel fishbane
The Montreal English theatre community took a step towards glory this past Sunday with the first annual softball tournament, organized by the Quebec Drama Federation.
Eight teams battled it out at Laurier Park from sunrise until sundown where independent companies like Theatre Ste. Catherine and Sidemart Theatrical Grocery battled professional heavyweights like the Segal Centre and Geordie Theatre. Softball is not for the faint of heart, something which plenty of actors learned the hard way. Pulled muscles, scrapes and bruises abounded that day, with Dean Fleming, Geordie Theatre’s crackerjack artistic director, putting himself on the injured list halfway through the day.
QDF handed out several awards at the end of the day, including a Miss Congeniality Award to Geordie Theatre and the MVP Award going to Lynn Cosack of Scapegoat Carnivale. A spirit award also went to the newly created Metachroma Theatre – they didn’t have a team but they were the most colorful cheerleaders a softball tournament had ever seen (actor / director Mike Payette looked particularly fetching in a grass skirt.)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Picture of the Week, July 19, 2012

Renaud Paradis recreating an iconic moment in cinema in Juste Pour Rire's

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Review: Titanic: The Untold Story



Class, Race and a Big Boat
An unlikely meeting of two figures is wobbly
by Sarah Deshaies

You’ll remember the flurry of stories and reports that arrived last spring to coincide with the centennial of the sinking of the Titanic. All that fuss proves that the tragedy still holds our imaginations captive, decades later. So here is Titanic: The Untold Story, a tale that might otherwise be consigned to the deep for some theatre-goers.  

Joseph Laroche is thought to have been the sole black passenger aboard the Titanic. An Engineer by training, he boarded the doomed ship with his pregnant wife and two little daughters at Cherbourg, France bound for Haiti, his homeland. Faced with discrimination and little hope of work in Paris, Laroche (Conrad Caton) was seeking a new life, like others on the ship.

Beyond The Fourth Wall, July 18, 2012


Nutter in Frère
Shows of Interest this Week
by Estelle Rosen

French version of Johanna Nutter’s My Pregnant Brother
Théâtre La Chapelle
July 17-21 

What we know about this show. "Eva..."
Théatre La Chapelle
July 27

Béatrice and Albert, a charming elderly couple, own a small hotel where they entertain a  group of people each more eccentric than the other – comedy ensues.
Théatre St-Sauveur
To Sept. 1

A performance where words construct and define space.
Maison de la Culture Maisonneuve
July 26

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

After Dark, July 17, 2012

Screen grab of Anita Sarkeesian in a video "game"

Do we need feminism?
How a discussion on video games should make us reflect on theatre.
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

Gloria Steinem once wrote that it is important to say you are a feminist, especially if you are a man. So let me start right there: I consider myself a feminist. I was an activist for women's rights before I was vaguely involved in the Queer movement. I read Germaine Greer's Female Eunuch when I was 14 and my world lit up. As I joined theatre, this feminism was very finely tuned and expressed itself in my work - well into my time as a critic.

I bring all this up, this week, because a young writer, Stephanie Guthrie, made the gross "error" of drawing attention to a hideous video game that invited players to beat up feminist media activist Anita Sarkeesian. Ms Guthrie also noted that the game's designer was a Canadian and she identified him (as he was using a nom-de-créateur). I followed a subsequent Twitter-assault on Ms Guthrie that actually ended up with death-threats from a soi-disant sharp-shooter. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Upstage Interview: Thom Currie and Stephanie Graham on Back in '59



The 50s From the 70s in the 10s
Upstage and CharPo Contributor Sarah Deshaies spoke with Director Thom Currie and Choreographer Stephanie Graham About Hudson Village Theatre’s presentation of Back in ’59.
UPSTAGE:   Thom you wrote Back In ’59  - where did the idea  come from to  look back at the 50s in the 70s?
CURRIE: I got the idea from my high school reunion. I was looking around for subject matter to write a 50s revue. There was a huge revival of the 50s in the early 70s; American Graffiti, Laverne & Shirley, Happy Days. I thought that was a period when people were looking back nostalgically at the 50s. So that became my starting point. I wondered what it would have been like to have had that pop music as part of your youth.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Tour Whore, July 15, 2012

The presence in the Hall
by Cameryn Moore

Behind the curtain at my venue, the crowd noise is diffused and muffled, so I didn’t know he was out there until the show started. But then I knew he was there. 

He laughed loudest and longest and first at all the laugh lines. He laughed at the lines that were poignant and uncomfortable. He laughed at most of the lines that contained either the word “cock” or “asshole”, and then groaned out loud at the lines that described what was being done with “cock” or “asshole”. At the end of my first “call”, after I’ve hung up and then say my first line to the audience—“I bet you wish I’d put those calls on speakerphone”—he yelled out “Fuck yeah!” And judging from the sounds that I could hear, he knocked over his beer at least twice. 

He wasn’t quite over the line into aggressive, and certainly he wasn’t heckling, but good LORD, he was present and affecting the feel of the house the way a shot put distorts a rubber sheet in that physical metaphor for black holes in time and space.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Review: Scottish Sperm (Zoofest)



What's In a Name?
Zoofest features good ol' Scots spunk!
by Chris Lane
Scottish Sperm isn’t actually about Scots. Well, maybe one of them. I’m not quite sure. There were a lot of things in this play that I didn’t quite get a handle on. That being said, I still thoroughly enjoyed this sharp and amiable little work.
The play is written by New York’s Jacqueline McLaren and was originally performed for last year’s Edinburgh Fringe. Its three characters are Robert, a writer who’s given up writing; Emma, a teacher with a fondness for alcohol and a total inability to make so much as a sandwich; and Sarah, a saucy blonde photographer who has no furniture in her apartment across the hall. Sarah’s roommate Amy, and her not-boyfriend Elliott, somehow manage to be significant characters as well, both in the play itself and in Robert’s writing. Robert says early on in one of his monologues that he likes to tell stories that may or may not be true, which sets the stage for a very non-linear play that occasionally contradicts itself. He writes about the people in his life, and the play blurs the lines between what he is writing about the characters and what they actually do.

Theatre For Thought, July 14, 2012

KILLING THE THINGS WE LOVE
joel fishbane
It’s long been a truth that the only thing worse than having your work forgotten is having it remembered. Poor Shakespeare finds this out every summer: his work is abridged for performances without the editors ever acknowledging their crime. Now George Gershwin’s ghost has to suffer too. The famed composer of the Jazz Age is experiencing a renaissance - of sorts. It began with a revamped version of the opera, Porgy and Bess  currently playing in New York. Dubbed “The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess”, the title implicitly dismisses the contribution of co-lyricist / librettist Dubose Heyward (the other author was George’s brother Ira). The show has also been changed, rendering the title both rude and inaccurate. For better or worse, this Porgy and Bess isn’t the one Heyward and the Gershwins left behind.
I’m not the only one who was incensed: theatre icon Stephen Sondheim penned a notorious condemnation for the NY Times. So far Sondheim has stayed silent about the other “honours” being heaped on Gershwin this year. First there’s the “new” musical based on Gershwin tunes that hit Broadway in the spring starring Matthew Broderick and Kelli O’Hara, Nice Work if you Can Get It is an attempt to recapture the magic found in Crazy for You back in 1992.  Then there’s the scandal happening across the pond. With the European copyright of Gershwin’s music expired, composer / lyricist Leslie Bricusse has announced he’s writing lyrics to famed orchestral pieces like Rhapsody in Blue and An American in Paris. With typical understatement, the Guardian reported the Gershwin estate is “not supportive”.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Review: Taming of the Shrew

Rasmussen and McCooeye (photo by Antoine Yared)


First there is the problem of the play
Can our critic get over the fact that Shrew is "egregiously outdated"?
by Jessica Wei

Sometimes you have to regard Shakespeare as your octogenarian grandfather at family dinners who likes to get bourbon-drunk and spout remarks less than 21st century politically correct that you kind of have to just smile and shrug through, like, “I'm pretty sure she was actually Japanese, and probably not a communist, necessarily, but then again you've been through a war and, y'know, can't teach an old dog new tricks, sooooo.....”
My point is, it is very difficult to enjoy Taming of the Shrew. It has its uncomfortable lulls. The political message hasn't quite transcended the five hundred years since it was written. Women with sharp tongues don't need to be “trained” anymore, especially not by gold-digging courters who have to run a business arrangement through rich old papa before sliding into first base. This is just a fact, and when one is slouched in a lawn chair at Mount Royal Cemetery, trying to enjoy this egregiously outdated play, one needs to first get over the fact that in Elizabethan England, sexism just didn't really exist.

CharPo's Real Theatre! July 13, 2012


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Beyond Our Fourth Wall, July 11, 2012


Polaroid moments from the 60s.
To Aug. 25
Théâtre de L’ancien Presbytere Granby

Theatre…en français
by Estelle Rosen
Reflections, via a young girl, on freedom, poverty, oppression and exclusion.
To July 14
Théâtre du Marais de Val Morin

Letters between G.B.Shaw and Stella Campbell follow the course of their tempestuous romance.
To Aug. 10
Theatre Lac Brome

Marie is an ordinary girl. But she’s done something wild; she’s kidnapped a deputy.
To Sept. 1
Théâtre Ste-Adèle

After Dark, July 10, 2012


Back to the Fringe
Further discussion required
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

Before we start: be aware that I wrote an After Dark that got some incredibly interesting discussion going on at least two of the CharPo sites where it appeared. (See comments here and here.)

I was not going to go any further with my lamentations because I may give the impression I am beating down on the Fringe movement. Those who know me and have been following my op-eds know that I believe there is no theatre idea out there that should be hailed like our Fringe movement. But it also can be better and I offer the rest of this article as a form of...well, nurturing, if you will.

I made the decision to elaborate because of a single tweet: a colleague called the latest edition of the Montreal Fringe a hit. While Joel Fishbane has said the quality of shows in Montreal was magnificent (I concur based on my own sampling), the final figures for the Fringe add up to warning signs. Yes, the Fringe announced they had put "bums in seats" but there were also more seats. They added venues and shows this year. A 10% increase in attendance, which they claim, is indeed good news if I had not done some quick math (and I stress quick math - Fringers are invited to prove me wrong). The numbers published by the Fringe suggest an average head count of 27 per performance. In one comment, Patrick Goddard (ex-Montreal Fringe kingpin) said that a typical Montreal Fringe had an average of 30-40 headcount. So 27 is no hit by any stretch. And I bring this up again because the four Fringe veterans who DID complain about too many shows being in the Montreal Fringe were NOT a figment of my imagination and their complaint still stands.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Upstage Interview: Kirsten Rasmussen and Alex McCooeye on The Taming of the Shrew



I definitely thought it was a misogynistic play.  I’ve completely changed my mind.

Upstage and CharPo Contributor Sarah Deshaies spoke with actors Kirsten Rasmussen and Alex McCooeye  about Repercussion Theatre’s Shakespeare-in-the Park presentation of Taming of the Shrew.
UPSTAGE:   I wonder since there must be a period of time when rehearsals are indoors, what’s the transition like to perform outdoors, there must be a ton of things to get used to.
MCCOOEYE: I’ve never performed outdoors before. You get used to having a back wall to play to; the outdoors is unpredictable. Yesterday we were rehearsing and a giant caterpillar was on one of the props; we had to take a break!
UPSTAGE: I understand it’s the first time for both of you to be doing Taming of the Shrew. What drew you to this play?
RASMUSSEN:  I was brought on quite last minute. I found out 3 days before rehearsal that I’d be featured in the cast. It was very exciting. I’ve been pursuing comedy since I’ve been in Montreal, and doing mostly solo shows, so it’s fun to be working with other people.
UPSTAGE:  How different is it to be embarking on a more traditional theatre piece and outdoors as well?
RASMUSSEN:  It’s fun. I did 24 shows in 14 days during the Fringe. It was awesome. This is the craziest my life has been in a long time.  But definitely the happiest I’ve been in a long time.