February, 2017

Colony Of Unrequited Dreams: Less Than Meets The Eye

Reviewed by Jamie Portman

Photo: Colin Furlong as Joey Smallwood. Credit: Paul Daly

One suspects that the National Arts Centre’s production of The Colony Of Unrequited Dreams will have its greatest success with those playgoers who haven’t read the Wayne Johnston novel that inspired it.

Playwright Robert Chafe’s earnest, well-intentioned adaptation frequently manages to engage the viewer — although on a somewhat brittle level. But it lacks the epic sweep and emotional resonance of Johnston’s fictional recreation of the early life of legendary Newfoundland Premier Joseph Smallwood and his campaign to bring a proud but troubled island nation into Canada in 1949. Indeed, Jillian Keiley’s production, although revelling in fancy visuals and clever bits of business, never really communicates the high stakes involved in the countdown to Confederation. Given that the turbulent referendum vote required a second run-off, such lack of tension is astonishing

Not just astonishing — also perplexing, given the drama that engulfed so much of Joey Smallwood’s life and career. But it’s also fair to suggest that it must have been  a daunting challenge for Chafe even to try to get into the maddening, calculating mind of this so-called “last father of Confederation.” Wayne Johnston’s original attempt to do so in the novel went on for more than 500 pages, many of them devoted to Joey’s own first-person narrative. As tends to be the case with this type of memoir, whether true or fictional, you keep wondering how reliable the narrator really is — or, in this instance, is intended to be. (more…)

Quand Médée-Kali trouve place au Memorial Acte

News from Capital Critics Circle

Critique invitée: Scarlett Jesus

La pièce de Laurent Gaudé, « Médé-Kali » est, à l’évidence, d’actualité. La preuve en est qu’elle a été mise en scène presque simultanément, en février 2016, au Théâtre de la mer (Joliette Minoterie), à Marseille, ainsi que dans le 93, à Montreuil-sous-Bois. Montée par la Cie Kamma crée par Karine Pédurand, elle a été jouée en Guyane, début novembre, puis à L’Archipel de Basse-Terre, en Guadeloupe les 20 et 21 janvier 2017, avant d’être présentée au public martiniquais le 24 janvier, dans le cadre du Festival des Petites formes, à L’Atrium. La voici revenue en Guadeloupe, ce vendredi 27 janvier, mais dans un lieu hautement emblématique cette fois, le Mémorial Acte. Nul doute que la réception d’une telle pièce dans ce « Centre caribéen d’expressions et de mémoire de la traite et de l’esclavage », ne peut que se charger d’une coloration particulière. « Médée-Kali » peut-elle apporter une quelconque contribution à un vivre-ensemble harmonieux, permettant que s’opère, à travers l’horreur que suscite cette histoire tragique, la catharsis des sentiments de haine et de vengeance engendrés par l’histoire douloureuse de l’esclavage ? (more…)

8: Production addresses pressing issues and fears of today

Reviewed by Yana Meerzon

Guest Critic: Yana Meerzon

Photo: David Ospina

On November 8, 2016, America elected its 45th President, Donald Trump, whose political forays, populist statements and neo-nationalist decrees, as well as Twitter type of communication, evoke the Russian poet –futurist Vladimir Mayakovsky’s manifesto “A Slap in the Face of Public Taste” (1917). By slapping  public taste, however, Mayakovsky aimed to change the role of arts in society, while Trump aims to change society itself. Trump’s aggressive and dangerous practices also bring into question  the role performing arts can play in resisting this type of political discourse and law-making.

Mani Soleymanlou, a Québécois artist of Iranian origin, and his company Orange Noyée, ask a similar question. With their new production 8 they inquire: what can theatre artists and intellectuals, socially and politically engaged individuals, do to resist the phantasmagoria of the Trump-lead era of history? What devices of political performance can make true social impact, in a  time when peoples’ political opinions and politics itself are formed over social media, through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram? (more…)

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