Final notes from the XVe Prix Europe pour le théâtre à Craiova, Roumanie.

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See reviews by Yana Meerzon:

Le XVe Prix Europe pour le Théâtre s’est déroulé du 23 au 26 avril à Craiova, en Roumanie, dans la continuité du prestigieux International Shakespeare Festival, arrivé cette année à sa dixième édition. Cet édition du Prix a été organisée sous le patronage de la ville de Craiova, qui a voulu réunir les deux événements, et organisée en coopération avec la Fondation Shakespeare et avec le Théâtre National Marin Sorescu auxquels s’est ajouté la contribution de l’Institut Roumain de Culture.

Au cours de la première journée, en se joignant idéalement à l’International Shakespeare Festival, le Prix a proposé dans la section « Retours » deux spectacles inspirés par le Poète de Stratford-upon-Avon : Julius Caesar, pièces détachées, de Romeo Castellucci et Richard III dans la mise en scène de Thomas Ostermeier.


Woyzeck’s Head. Third Wall Returns to Arts Court.

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

Woyzeck’s Head based on the text by Georg Büchner, adapted by  and directed by James Richardson

A Third Wall Theatre Production.

As the title suggests, this interpretation by Third Wall director James Richardson of Woyzeck, Georg Büchner’s unfinished 1837 masterwork about a man who is going mad, focuses on the protagonist’s head, the seat of memory, emotion and intellect. Gone, or at least relegated to the almost-tangential, are the class and other external social concerns that are usually showcased when the original work is performed.  That focus is a good and a bad thing.


Belles Soeurs The Musical: Tremblay passes the test of musical theatre with flying colours!!

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht


Photo: “Ode to Bingo”courtesy of the NAC and the Segal Centre for Performing Arts.

A chorus of unglamorous women of various shapes and sizes files onto the upper level of the proscenium arch that frames the kitchen where Germaine Lauzon (Astrid Van Wieren) and her “soeurs” are about to party, pasting one million trading stamps into those little booklets, making Germaine’s dream of owning all those items in the store catalogue, a reality at last. Little does she know that her dreams will come crashing down before the performance ends.

A band of five talented musicians tucked into either side of the small kitchen space raises the excitement level and carries us beyond a traditional Broadway style of glitzy performance. This new English language production of Tremblay’s Les Belles-soeurs (a reworking of the French musical production presented in 2010), originally staged as a play in 1968, is actually not far from Tremblay’s original conception of the work. True, there is music, there are lyrics in English, and the original joual which was the essence of Tremblay’s statement about Québécois culture, has been replaced by lyrics in standard English. Even the ending has changed radically. Yet it works because director René Richard Cyr, composer Daniel Bélanger, adaptor of the English book Brian Hill as well as the English Lyrics, musical adaptation and additional music by Neil Bartram and the musical direction by Chris Barillaro, have collectively reinvented a stage language that compensates so well for all that has changed.


Belles Soeurs: The Musical” sings out the NAC Season

Reviewed by Connie Meng


Photos .Courtesy of the National arts Centre

The NAC English Theatre is closing out their season with the musical “Belles Soeurs.” Based on the Michel Tremblay play, the book and lyrics are by Rene Richard Cyr who also directed, with the English book adapted by Brian Hill. The music is by Daniel Belanger with English lyrics, musical adaptation, and additional music by Neil Bartram.

Michel Tremblay’s play, first produced in 1973, has become a Canadian classic that has been produced all over the world in over 30 languages. It tells the story of Germaine, winner of one million trading stamps, and the stories of her friends and relatives who she has invited to a party to help paste the stamps into books. These are all Quebecois women, unhappy with their lot in life and uncomfortable with the changing times. Germaine’s daughter Linda wants to fit in with the new ways and bonds with Germaine’s estranged sister who works in a club. We gradually learn about all of their lives.


Belles Soeurs the musical is a winner!

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

Belles Soeurs the Musical is at the National Arts Centre.

  • Photos, Courtesy of the National Arts Centre and the Segal Centre.

    Initially, it’s discomfiting. Here are Germaine Lauzon, her family and her pals, richly imagined characters we’ve long associated with a straight-ahead stage play, breaking into song about bingo and being free and no-good boyfriends.

    But Belles Soeurs: The Musical, which is based on Michel Tremblay’s evergreen mid-1960s tragicomedy Les Belles-soeurs, soon feels as comfortable as Germaine’s weathered kitchen where all the action takes place. And for the most part those songs work splendidly, showcasing not just some fine voices but the surging loneliness, longing and occasional sisterhood that define the lives of these working class women.

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    Notes from the International Symposium of Theatre Critics and Scholars held in Novi Sad (Serbia), 2015

    News from Capital Critics Circle

    Explaining the notion of “embodied criticism”.  I

    In September this year, the traditional International Symposium of Theatre Critics and Scholars, organized by Sterijino pozorje festival, in collaboration with the IATC, was held in Novi Sad (Serbia). This triennial manifestation, the oldest conference in the world that has been regularly organized under the IATC umbrella, celebrated this year an important jubilee, its fifteenth edition. A better visibility in the year of its jubilee was one of the reasons why the organizers decided to hold the symposium, for the first time in its half-century long history, not during the Sterijino pozorje festival itself (which is in May), but in September, and to link it with the international theatre festival in Belgrade, Bitef.

    When the symposium in Novi Sad finished, its participants moved to Belgrade to attend, for two more days, the programme of Bitef and to participate in a round table discussion dedicated to the position and role of critics at the international performing arts festivals. A collaboration between two major Serbian festivals, the national one (Sterijino pozorje) and the international one (Bitef), wasn’t the only collaboration upon which this edition of the Symposium was based. The other collaboration was the one between IATC and IFTR (International Federation for Theatre Research): the call for papers was announced on the web site of IFTR as well, some participants were members not of IATC but of IFTR, the keynote speaker was Professor Dr Christopher Balme from the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich (Germany), a former president of ITFR.


    São Paulo Companhia de Dança :Extremely strong dancers do justice to all the choreographers!

    Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

    maxresdefault Photo (promotionnelle) © (The Seasons) Édouard Lock.  Norman McLaren, Pas de deux (1968)

    The Canadian premiere of this Brazilian Dance Company – the São Paulo Companhia de Dança – at the National Arts Centre, offered three pieces each by a different choreographer. The Seasons by choreographer Edouard Lock, whose work is well known on the stages of Canada/Quebec, was no doubt the most interesting piece. As the Brazilian dancers appeared to easily grasp the emotional, the high spirited and pressing physical demands of this clash of bodies and lighting effects, The Seasons also incorporated a most exciting remix and reinterpretation of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and thus soared above the other two pieces , Mamihlapinatapai (Jomar Mesquita) and Gnawa (Nacho Duato), which almost seemed “déjà vu” in the aftermath of Lock’s tsunami that came crashing down on us with all its strength.


    A multi-media interpretation of Büchner’s Woyzeck puts the audience into the role of clinical observer.

    Reviewed by Kat Fournier

    Third Wall Theatre re-opens after a two year hiatus with renewed energy, bringing audience’s an atmospheric, deeply psychological portrayal of one of theatre’s most intriguing tragic-heroes. Director James Richardson picked a work that is close to his heart, choosing to create a production that is a personal reflection on some aspects of Georg Büchner’s masterwork, Woyzeck. This post-modern approach to what is considered the first modern drama brings audiences a living hallucination, bolstered by multi-media and casting the audience into the role of clinical observer.

    Critic Lyn Gardner summarizes the appeal of Büchner’s Woyzeck—the source piece for this performance—beautifully in her 2003 review of a production by Cardboard Citizens in London, “Büchner never even finished his play; nobody knows in what order the scenes were intended to be played. It is its plasticity that has made this 200-year-old work one of the most influential plays in contemporary drama – that, and its concentrated depiction of alienation and disassociation.” This is certainly true of Richardson’s “elastic” interpretation of the text, playing as part of the TACTICS Theatre Series at Arts Court.


    Phoenix Theatre runs rampant in the high school “staff room”.

    Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

    This Phoenix Theatre production called Staff Room (by Joan Burrows) is a mild crowd pleaser, definitely aimed at a niche audience. A cast of ten actors playing 55 roles carried out a non-stop whirlwind evening of skits , monologues, dialogues or exchanges with multiple actors of varying descriptions.  Each skit was an individual performance but all were linked by the fact that they all took place in the staff room of a high school where the teachers, administrators, cleaners and related employees were all involved in the business of this institution of learning. Joel Rahn responsible for media relations, stepped out on the stage before the curtain went up and asked us point blank: “How many people were/are school teachers“? A lot of hands went up. I gather that If he asked the question it was important, and we soon realized why.


    Last Dream (On Earth): The Intimacy of the Impossible – The Truth of the Unimaginable

    News from Capital Critics Circle


    Photo: Deanne Jones

    Yana Meerzon has seen this production by the National Theatre of Scotland, presented in Romania during the XV Europe Theatre Festival   (in English with Romanian subtitles).

    In his much quoted dictum that ‘to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric’, Theodor Adorno contemplates the ethical responsibility of an artist to speak about and on behalf of the victims of the Holocaust, the 20th century’s major horror. This phrase and Adorno’s concern acquire similar echoing today when theatre, literature, film, and other media begin to seek more appropriate ways to represent the atrocities of migration, global terrorism and civil wars through arts.

    In its production Last Dream (On Earth), written and directed by Kai Fischer, The National Theatre of Scotland, a recipient of the 13th Europe Prize Theatrical Realities, XV Europe Theatre Festival, approaches this issue with all the elegance, sincerity and respect that representing the current migration crisis on stage demands.

    As the title suggests, Last Dream (On Earth) is constructed at the intersection of seemingly unrelated material: the actual transcripts of the tape-recorded communications between Yuri Gagarin and ground control that took place during his flight to space and the interviews Kai Fischer made during his visits to a refugee centre in Malta and his stay in Morocco. The themes of these two story-lines are however closely related. Both of them speak of the courage one needs to encounter the unknown, be it Gagarin’s decision to volunteer for the space program or the peoples’ misery that forces them to flee their homes.