December, 2016

Project: Humanity’s verbatim theatre piece examining homophobia and racism—and the ways they intersect— steps boldly outside the format’s usual bounds.

News from Capital Critics Circle

This article by Steve Fisher appearing in the Journal Torontoist, won the prize for best small article in the CTCA competition for the Nathan Cohen award.

By Steve Fisher

The cast of Small Axe  Photo by Dahlia Katz

The cast of Small Axe. Photo by Dahlia Katz.

Small Axe at The Theatre Centre (1115 Queen Street West ) Runs until February 1

Last week saw issues of racism and representation discussed and hotly debated in the Canadian media. MacLeans published an incendiary article labelling Winnipeg “Canada’s most racist city” and an op-ed entitled “Canada’s Race Problem? It’s Even Worse Than America’s.” Around the same time, Maclean‘s also published an op-ed defending the recent use of blackface on stage in Montreal, and so, too, did the Globe and Mail.

Both of these op-eds were written from positions of privilege: the outlets that published them are established and prestigious, and both writers are white and male. Patrick Lagace, who authored the Globe piece, attempted to circumscribe the discussion even more: he focused on fellow Globe writer Kelly Nestruck, who had condemned the blackface practice in an earlier column, saying Nestruck was “the only commentator of note” to give him a “cross-check to the face,” and setting Nestruck up as a “francophobic” straw man attacking Quebec’s “different culture.” He made no mention of the fact that Quebecois people of colour had already raised issues about the performance in a variety of online posts. Most disturbingly, the theatre that staged the offensive sketch, Rideau Vert, has responded not with an apology or a commitment to use actors of colour in the future, but with the announcement that they will no longer feature sketches involving anyone of colour.

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On the disappearing art of Theatre Criticism

News from Capital Critics Circle

After the decision by the Ottawa Citizen to remove its theatre critic, ( following the removal , in 2011, of the local theatre critic by CBC), we decided to publish this most timely article by our colleague Stephen Hunt.

Guest critic STEPHEN HUNT . CALGARY — Special to The Globe and Mail.  Hunt was the theatre critic at the Calgary Herald for  10 years. Published Friday, Oct. 14, 2016 7:16PM EDT

The Canadian cultural critical landscape – outside of Toronto – looks bleaker. In Calgary, there are many signs of the demise of an important industry: The Calgary Theatre Critics’ Awards, locally known as The Critters, recently threw in the towel. I was let go back in January, part of massive Postmedia layoffs, leaving just one Calgary critic who appears in print media.

Our 73-year-old Louis Hobson, whose reviews run in both the Sun and the Herald, is Calgary’s last theatre critic standing – and after suffering a heart attack a year ago, even Mr. Hobson say he needs to cut back. (There are still two young, emerging Calgary theatre bloggers: Jenna Shummoogum and Rodrigo Flores, who find the enthusiasm to review 80 shows a year, featuring over a dozen professional companies, for little or no money – futile for a realistic career opportunity.)

It’s hardly a Calgary thing – or a Canadian thing, or a Postmedia thing, either. It’s happening everywhere.

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Maltese Falcon has a happy rebirth at The Gladstone

Reviewed by Jamie Portman

The annual Radio Show at the Gladstone is comfort food for the holidays, and the people at Plosive Productions realize that part of its appeal is the easy, unpretentious familiarity of the entertainment that greets us every December.

The current show, an adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, continues the happy tradition. There is the row of microphones lining the front of the stage. There is a suave announcer recalling for the oldest among us the glory days of the Lux Radio Theatre and host Cecil B. De Mille. There are the seated actors waiting their turn before the microphone. And there are the singing Gladstone Sisters, an important and indispensable fixture of this Ottawa Yuletide event.

The Sisters — Robin Guy, Robin Hodge and Nicola Milne — are in exuberant form this year as they not only disinter such forgotten oldies from the past as Pistol Packin’ Mama but also give a nod to the old advertising jingles that used to entice listeners into buying Lux Soap Flakes and other products of the Forties. Robin Guy is responsible for their vocal arrangements, and the dazzling harmonics are an ongoing delight.

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The Maltese Falcon: A Family Reunion

Reviewed by James Murchison

 

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Play poster courtesy of Plosive Theatre

The Radio Play has been a staple of the Gladstone Theatre now for eight years. It is an interesting hybrid of theatre and radio that harkens us back to a simpler time when people would huddle around a box as a family to laugh and cry and listen to stories together.

There have been many different forms of the radio play, which allows the Gladstone to use the same basic set pieces every year with minor alterations in their placement. s Each year the set is familiar but different. That being said it is always CGLD radio; “Radio that makes you glad”.

This year director Terri Loretto-Valentik chose to recreate Dashiell Hammett’s classic detective story The Maltese Falcon. The detective yarn demands a little more concentration to follow the storyline than more standard holiday fair like Winnie the Pooh or Miracle on 34th Street. The Gladstone Sisters add the nutmeg and cinnamon to create a little seasonal flavour, peppering the interludes with lively period ditties.

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Laurie Steven wins OAC Chalmers Arts Fellowship! Odyssey Theatre’s Artistic Director to Smash Stereotypes

News from Capital Critics Circle

laurie

photo: Laurie Stevan

OTTAWA, ON, Dec. 8, 2016—Odyssey Theatre is proud to announce that Artistic Director Laurie Steven is a recipient of the prestigious Chalmers Arts Fellowship.

Awarded by the Ontario Arts Council, this grant provides significant funding for senior professional artists to take time from their usual creative pursuits to investigate, explore and experiment with style, technique, method, content or an issue in their arts practice. Instead of supporting specific projects, the program allows artists to dedicate themselves to their art form and further develop their careers.

Much of Steven’s work as a director, writer, dramaturge, and translator has involved myths and fairy tales—universal stories that are inextricably bound to culture and society as we know them. But she finds the characterizations of women in these stories to be “troublesome,” saying, “fairy tales are often patriarchal: heroines wait to be rescued, old women are demonized, and mother figures are villains extraordinaire.” This fellowship will allow Steven to create new archetypal female characters that speak to audiences today: “The heroines I write tend to be fighting for empowerment. They are characters with modern sensibilities trapped in a mythic past. I want to transport them to the modern world and address the concerns of contemporary women.”

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Cinderella: A child’s delight with a musical montage that brings joy to all hearts.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

Cinderella

This lighthearted version of Cinderella is a  delightful evening  of classical ballet  for young people. Les Petits Ballets has included  two very proficient professional dancers.  Prince Charming (Evgeni Dokoukine,) whose leaps and acting talent brought much excitement to his performance as the Prince. The ball room in the palace that fateful night when little Cinderella appears in her dazzling blue magic robe (Haruka Kyoguch) with the stars twinkling on the top of her head, gave the prince the chance to show his acting talents as he tries to avoid the  terrible two sisters who  were so cruel to Cinderella. But the Prince and Mlle Kyoguch also a professional dancer kept the tension high and the pas de deux breathtaking as they whirled around the floor together dancing the night away in the prince’s palace.  Also excellent was the step mother (Jasmine van Schouwen ) who  brought strong acting  as well as very good dancing to her character role as the pushy mother.

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The Little Mermaid: family entertainment fine for the younger tots.

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Ariel & Ursula

Photo by Suzart productions.

Based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, the Walt Disney animated musical movie version of The Little Mermaid was moderately successful when it was screened in 1989. Some 18 years later, the stage musical of the Disney movie appeared to mixed reviews and a relatively short run on Broadway.

The show, while entirely appropriate for the Suzart Productions’ mandate of family entertainment, is weak in this incarnation. As presented by Suzart, under the direction of Dani Bone Corbishley, The Little Mermaid has a pantomime sensibility — primarily because Kraig-Paul Proulx, delivers the wicked witch Ursula in the style of a panto dame. This leaves room for an appropriate contrast with the mermaid princess, Ariel, (Sharena Campo) and her human prince, Eric (Richard Hardy) — both fine singers.

Simply put, Hans Christian Andersen told the story of the mermaid, who dreams of being human and marrying the prince she saved from drowning, more effectively than the stage version of an animated movie does.

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Une Femme à Berlin (Journal 20 avril-22 juin, 1945) de Marta Hillers, d’après la traduction française de Françoise Wuilmart, adaptation à la scène de Jean-Marc Dalpé, mise en scène de Brigitte Haentjens,

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

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Photo: Yanick MacDonald. De g. à d. Louis Laprade, Sophie Desmarais, Evelyne de la Chenelière,  Évelyne Rompré.

La notion d’abjection (Julia Kristeva) trouve son apogée dans le monde reconstitué par Marta Hillers dont l’Identité fut révélée en 2001 bien après la première parution de son journal en anglais (1954). Passé sous silence sous l’Allemagne de l’après-guerre, il fut enfin traduit vers l’allemand en 2002. La traduction française préfacée par le poète allemand Hans Magnus Ensensberger sert de point de départ de la collaboration entre l’auteur dramatique canadien J-M Dalpé et Brigitte Haentjens dont la création dramatique s’est toujours nourrie de femmes tourmentées : Malina, inspirée de l’œuvre de Ingeborg Bachmann,(2000), Mademoiselle Julie (2001), Médée-Matériaux de Heiner Muller (2004) ) ou La cloche de verre de Sylvia Plath (2004) entre autres.. Une femme à Berlin fut adapté par Jean Marc Dalpé et travaillé collectivement par la metteure en scène et son équipe de quatre comédiennes, devenu un quatuor de la mort, manière de mettre en relief la musicalité de cette langue et les diverses tonalités du personnage.

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OLT’s Three Musketeers: More Than Its Share Of Rousing Moments

Reviewed by Jamie Portman

Ottawa Little Theatre’s production of The Three Musketeers begins on a
burst of energy — a  sword battle that pursues its merry way both on
and off stage.
It’s an engaging beginning, and a nifty way of introducing us to
D’Artagnan, the aspiring Musketeer who’s getting a final tutoring in
swordplay from his swashbuckling dad before leaving for Paris to
fulfill his ambition.
These moments also provide a sound demonstration of the production’s
strengths. Director Stavros Sakiadis’s robust, slightly
tongue-in-cheek approach reflects the sensibility of Ken Ludwig’s
cheeky dramatization of the Alexandre Dumas novel. We’re also getting
our first glimpse of Graham Price’s splendid multi-level set, which
evokes enough of the past to take us back to 17th Century France while
also having enough flexibility to keep rearranging itself into new and
different venues during the show’s adroitly managed scene breaks.
Price is also responsible for the atmospheric lighting, while Glynis
Ellens provides outstanding period costuming which perhaps reaches its
zenith during the masked costume ball that is an undoubted highlight
of the evening.

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The Daisy Theatre: Come for the puppets, stay for the saucy social commentary

Reviewed by Kat Fournier

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Photo; GCTC affiche.

Knowing that this is a vaudeville style puppet show, and even knowing Ronnie Burkett’s work, there’s no preparing for what you might experience at The Daisy Theatre. Playing at the GCTC until December 18, this show may look like and feel like a delightfully nostalgic puppet show, but there’s no doubt that it will manage to subvert your expectations and leave you on the butt of a zinger or two (likely more). Fueled by Burkett’s wit and armed with a roster of 44 marionettes, there is no saying what exactly might happen on that stage.

The deal is that if we have fun, he’ll have fun. It’s an enticing enough prospect to get everyone to loosen up a little while we wonder what Burkett has in store. The first puppet sets the stage: A beautifully crafted string marionette in a floor-length gown who proceeds to tantalize the audience through a burlesque performance where she sings in a raspy voice while stripping down to her thong.

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Past Reviews