Reviewer: Capital Critics Circle

Capital Critics Circle
This section is reserved for Arts News that comes our way via press releases from theatres in the area, or newspaper articles about arts events that are not theatre reviews.

To Kill a Mockingbird: OLT does credible job bringing beloved story to life

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Guest Critic: Jim Murchison

Photo: Maria Vartanova

To Kill a Mockingbird is a classic novel and known by many for the nearly flawless film version of 1962. The stage adaptation by Christopher Sergel is not in the same league, but the story is worth telling and OLT does a credible job of bringing it to life.

Many of us may have come to believe that we have evolved from the ugly racist world that was prevalent prior to the social upheaval of the 60’s and the election of the United States first black President. We now know after Brexit, the election of the 45th U.S. President and the horrifying shootings in a Quebec Mosque that we still have a long way to travel before we get to the point where we have attained equality.  It is this simple. We need  eternal vigilance to protect us from our prejudices and xenophobia.

It is what To Kill A Mockingbird is about and unfortunately it is as relevant as it has ever been. Klaas Van Weringh’s set design is equally effective as an Alabama neighbourhood and as a courthouse. The set  worked most effectively when combined with Brian Cano’s lighting design in the scene at the jailhouse where we see a solitary bare light bulb revealing  Atticus Finch (David Holton) sitting outside reading his paper. He steadfastly waits for the angry white mob that is inevitably coming from the shadowy streets. This scene captured the essence of  the piece perfectly. (more…)

Avec « ERZULI DAHOMEY, déesse de l’amour » et après « Médée-Kali », le M’Acte démontre sa volonté de rapprocher les différentes cultures

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Guest Critic: Scarlet Jesus

Avant la Martinique -où la pièce sera jouée au Théâtre Aimé Césaire du 16 au 18 février prochain-, dans le cadre d’une programmation mettant à l’honneur Karine Pedurand, le  Mémorial Acte a donné une unique représentation d’« Erzuli Dahomey, déesse de l’amour ». Le texte de cette pièce, écrite par Jean-René il y a une dizaine d’années dans le cadre d’une résidence d’auteur à La Chartreuse d’Avignon et publié aux éditions des Solitaires intempestifs, a reçu plusieurs récompenses : le Prix SACD de la dramaturgie française en 2009, suivi en 2013 du Prix « Théâtre 13 Jeunes metteurs en scène ».

La pièce avait fait l’objet d’une programmation à la Comédie Française (salle du Vieux Colombier) du 12 mars au 15 avril 2012, avec une mise en scène d’Eric Génovèse. La mise en scène, pour la Guadeloupe et comme pour la Martinique, a été réalisée à l’initiative de la Compagnie Théâtre des Deux Saisons. Elle a pu être vue en Île de France, les 17 et 18 juin derniers, dans le cadre de la structure Arcadi (Plateaux Solidaires).

Erzuli ? Voici une pièce qui va évoquer le vaudou, pensez-vous!  D’autant que vous connaissez l’origine haïtienne de Jean-René Lemoine.

Il vous faut d’emblée éliminer cette fausse piste et noter que le titre ne fait pas référence à « Erzuli Dantor », mais à « Erzuli Dahomey ». A l’Afrique donc plus qu’à Haïti.A travers la référence à un royaume , le Dahomey, qui fut autrefois, avec Ouidah, un lieu majeur de la traite des esclaves atlantiques. Et d’où le vaudou, certes, tire son origine… La pièce semble faire le lien entre une réalité historique et la présence d’un imaginaire collectif dans lequel le merveilleux trouve place.  (more…)

The Gladstone Theater Under New Management

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The Board of Directors of The Gladstone Theatre is delighted to announce Ottawa’s own AL Connors will take the helm of the historic venue at 910 Gladstone Avenue.

The 235-seat theatre at 910 Gladstone was home to the Great Canadian Theatre Company from 1982 to 2007. Since then, it’s been operated as The Gladstone, managed by Plosive Productions from 2011 till this past Fall. In 2016, a steering committee made up of members of the Ottawa theatre community, led by Plosive’s David Whiteley, the theatre’s volunteer manager, worked to create a new organization to run the theatre. On November 8, 2016 The Gladstone Theatre Inc. was founded as the new caretaker of 910 Gladstone avenue, a venue which has become a bustling hub for Ottawa’s independent theatre community. So far this season, over 10,000 theatre goers have attended shows at The Gladstone! AL Connors becomes the new corporation’s first Theatre Manager.

“Maybe the best thing about this job is that I’m going to get to meet everyone!” says Connors referring to the long list of artists and producers who regularly present shows at the venue. “These fantastic artists will all come to me. It’s going to make me a lazy theatre patron, having shows down the hall from my desk. I’m pretty excited.”

Theatre patrons may recognize Connors from his on-stage roles in Gladstone hits Noises Off, The 39 Steps, and as Norman in last season’s The Norman Conquests Trilogy. Other Gladstone credits include directing Much Ado About Feckin’ Pirates, a Company of Fools’ A Midwinter’s Dream Tale, and most recently Pierre Brault in Will Somers. (more…)

Quand Médée-Kali trouve place au Memorial Acte

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Guest Critic: 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 ?

« Je suis Médée-Kali… Je suis Médée-Kali… Je suis Médée-Kali… » martèle d’une voix forte, comme pour mieux graver ce nom dans nos mémoires, l’actrice Karine Pédurand qui incarne le personnage. Un personnage, celui de Médée, que Laurent Gaudé a voulu à son tour revisiter, après Euripide, Sénèque, Corneille… et la mise en scène qu’en proposa Jacques Lassalle à Avignon, en 2000, dans laquelle Isabelle Huppert incarnait une Médée très humaine. Comme l’indique le titre, l’auteur a cherché à opérer un raccourci entre deux figures mythiques dont l’une, Médée, nous vient de la Grèce antique, tandis que l’autre, Kali, est empruntée au panthéon hindou. Une pièce invitant peut-être le public à réfléchir à ce qui peut rapprocher des communautés différentes, plutôt que ce qui les divise… (more…)

8: Production addresses pressing issues and fears of today

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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?

8, co-produced and presented by Orange Noyée, Place des Arts, Montreal, and National Arts Centre, French Theatre, Ottawa is an example of such a search. Soleymanlou has always been politically aware. Starting from his autobiographical show Un to his more recent work 5 à 7, he has continuously engaged with the questions of artist’s responsibility and social ethics, first through his work on immigration and now focusing on the perils of the world’s growing nationalism. (more…)

The Colony of Unrequited Dreams: The Heart and Soul of the Rock

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Guest reviewer Jim Murchisson

Photo: Victoria Wells

The opening night of The Colony of Unrequited Dreams at the National Arts Centre was attended by a who’s who of Newfoundland artists, Canadian politicians and journalists. It was appropriate of course as the play is an adaptation by Robert Chafe of Wayne Johnston’s novel that imagines what early influences might have created a character as enigmatic and colourful as Joseph Smallwood, the last father of Confederation and an enduring symbol of Newfoundland.

A work of fiction that speculates about the heart and soul of a very real character in Canadian history by blending history with invention makes for a compelling evening . It worked on every level. The characters both real and imagined are spellbinding. The dialogue crackles with the wisecracking wit that you find in the best of 40’s cinema. Chafe’s play makes me want to both read Johnston’s novel and discover more about this significant piece of history.

The staging of the play is mesmerizing. Director Jillian Keiley drops the audience smack dab in the middle of a film noir piece. The pinpoint lighting of Leigh Ann Vardy allows the dialogue to pepper the stage. Characters pop up in one spot and then another creating the illusion of watching a series of newsreel clips. We are captured in the tide of the Confederation movement. Brilliant! (more…)

Cube Gallery opens new exhibitions: Meet the Artists: Sunday, Feb 5

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   “Home”  

Jan 31 to Feb 26, 2017

Kathy Haycock, “Down on the Farm”

Meet the Artists: Sunday, Feb 5

from 2:00 – 5:00 pm

Home could be a burrow, a box, a deluxe mansion or four walls and a roof. Is home a place or a state of mind? How we define it is unique to each and every one of us.
See what these four artists think of when they think about “Home” – Doug Cosbie, Kathy Haycock, John Jarrett & D.H. Monet.
“Home” is where the art is at Cube Gallery, 1285 Wellington St. from January 31 to February 26, 2017

LE THÉÂTRE DU TRILLIUM PRÉSENTE « F**KING CARL »

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Pour deux soirs seulement, la création acclamée par la critique et le public F**KING CARL revient à La Nouvelle Scène Gilles Desjardins.

F**KING CARL
de Louis-Philippe Roy et Caroline Yergeau

une production du Théâtre du Trillium
du vendredi 3 février au samedi 4 février 2017 à 19 h 30
dans le Studio B [places limitées]
1 h 10 min.

Il y a eu une annonce sur Kijiji, une couple (de caisses) de bières, des Monster Trucks, des « festivaux » et un forain. Ça a donné un couple. Un couple mis devant une simple question : « Pourquoi pensez-vous être une bonne famille pour accueillir un enfant? ». F**k…

Ne ratez pas votre chance de voir « l’une des meilleures créations jouées sur les planches de l’Ontario français ces dernières années. » [revue Liaison #173]

THE CANADIAN MASTERS SERIES WELCOMES ALANIS OBOMSAWIN TO OTTAWA

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ao_original - Rafy, courtesy of NFB

Alanis Obomsawin, filmmaker.

The Canadian Film Institute, in partnership with Carleton University’s School For Studies In Art and Culture’s Film Studies section, is proud to announce the next edition of the Canadian Masters series, featuring beloved documentary filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin!
The Canadian Masters series is an ongoing celebration of excellence in Canadian filmmaking, featuring onstage interviews, special screenings, and audience discussions with some of the greatest names in Canadian film history.
This event will take place in two parts.
On Thursday, January 26th, CFI Executive Director Tom McSorley will conduct an onstage one-on-one interview with Alanis Obomsawin, discussing her filmography, issues affecting Indigenous people in Canada, her artistic process, and her impressive career which spans 46 years. Following the interview, attendees are invited to stay for a reception in the Arts Court Studio, where Alanis will be in attendance.
Please Note: Seating for the interview is limited. Tickets are now on sale!

(more…)

8 by Mani Soleymanlou: What will it take to wake us up?

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Photo: courtesy of the NAC

February 1–4 at 8 p.m., NAC Studio.
Additional show February 4 at 3 p.m.

Translation of an article from Le Devoir. January 12, 2017 – OTTAWA – Eight actor friends wind up at a party. Stripped of their masks and stage characters, oblivious to the audience, they engage in a frank and uninhibited conversation during an evening that will change them forever.

Mani Soleymanloui, a (young) theatre artist who documented his full-blown identity crisis in his earlier plays Un and Deux, returns to Ottawa with his gang of fellow artists with 8, an investigation of the emptiness of our supposedly modern, hyperconnected world, where paradoxically we all feel so far from each other.

8 is the story of a party. The party where eight friends hope they can forget their doubts and everyday cares by throwing themselves, for the space of an evening, into something bigger than themselves. But how can you get away from what you are? Surely any attempt to escape is futile … No, that’s not it. That makes it sound too corny.

(more…)