Theatre Schools / University Theatre

Love’s Labour’s Lost: a joyous ensemble piece thanks to director C. Leger.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

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Photos: Marianne Duval.

A joyous romp in the state of Navarre (betweenthe current French and Spanish border) on a glowing autumn set designed by John Doucet where 16 student actors cut their acting teeth with the most difficult playwright of the English language! Not an easy thing to do. Apparently this is the first Shakespeare that the University of Ottawa theatre department has done in the past 15 years. Adaptations of Shakespeare have been produced but this one remained fairly close to the original with some cuts in the enormously long monologues which would exhaust any actor.

The King of Navarre declares that all his lords must sign an oath of chastity for three years! This becomes difficult  when the ladies from the French court arrive in all their beautiful dresses (thanks to Vanessa Imeson) and sexy hairdos (thanks to Sydney Miller) and swoop into the midst of these nervous young Spanish lords.  Their visit has political reasons but it soon takes another turn. The young men all fall in love, passionate love letters are secretly exchanged, sent to the wrong ladies and they all have to admit to their hypocrisy which becomes exacerbated as they try to woo back their loves by heightening their theatrical concoctions which create wonderful moments of popular comic theatre within theatre. However, the ladies of the French court  are even more disappointed. 

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The University of Ottawa Theatre Department presents its 2015-2016 season.

News from Capital Critics Circle

The Ottawa public will be treated to four classic writers (contemporary and otherwise). Productions  of their work are not likely to return  to our city in the near future. Isnt this proof that the University Ottawa is affirming its presence as an important part of the Ottawa theatre community. These shows should not be missed.

The Department of Theatre will present a rich and varied array of productions for the 2015-2016 theatre season. Four directors, esteemed and emergent, will showcase gutsy and emblematic texts in Academic Hall, the Grand Dame of performance venues in the National Capital. The public is hereby invited to attend this season’s two English language and two French language productions: Love’s Labour’s Lost by William Shakespeare; Les Reines by Normand Chaurette; Antigone by Sophocles; and Pool (No Water) by Mark Ravenhill.

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Viol( Schändung) : a magnificently choreographed production of Bothos Strauss’ reworking of Titus Andronicus. A reminder of a great evening of student theatre.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

Sixteen tableaux performed by a huge cast of students including a chorus that not only speaks but also transforms itself into parts of the set and integrated symbolic forms, reveals the enormous talents of Miriam Cusson who actually choreographs as much as directs this violent ritual of human degradation, pain, cruelty and ambition. The irony emerges through a string of sado masochistic rituals of martyrization, and frenzied physical desire set off by the site of the sacrificial victim – violated, slashed and mutilated. A contemporary playful mise en abyme of a contemporary horror show where the director brings in the voyeuristic faces of the chorus peering out from the back of the set. There is the lust, the exhibitionism, the penitence…some of the most violent human instincts come crashing down on the spectator in this captivating parade of ceremonies that holds our attention every second of the evening. . The thread that runs through the performance is inherited from the Elizabethan (or Jacobean) Vengeance tragedies of Thomas Kyd a contemporary of Shakespeare; however, it owes even more to the ultimate vengeance tragedy Thyeste by the roman playwright Seneca that so intrigued Artaud

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La Charge de l’orignal épormyable: blood curdling production of this Claude Gauvreau play on the U. of Ottawa stage.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

La Charge de l'orignal épormyable

Photo. Marianne Duval.

A blood curdling all feminine production of La Charge de l’Orignal Épormyable, under the direction of Guy Beausoleil,   plays this week at the U.of Otttawa . This is a rare chance to see a work by Claude Gauvreau, poet and playwright, who was one of the people who signed the Quebec  Manifesto Refus Global in 1948 and set Quebec culture on a new trajectory. 

This plays gives us an excellent glimpse of the poet, his tortured conscience, his vision of artistic production and his  heightened  idea of the poet who emerges as a god, a super presence that can save the world.   We see, among other things how his dialogue, becomes a verbal form of “Automatismse”, essentially a reference to the  visual art experiments of the period. , Gauvrau wrote partially in “ langue exploréenne”.  Portions of his text represent “non figurative” language composed of extra-linguistice elements (sound, rhythm, accents, )  that corresponded (in spoken language) to the  Automatist experiments in non-figuratuve painting in the 1950s where the sexual impulse  was considered central to artistic creation.  Most of those who signed the Manifesto Refus Global  were removed from their jobs and became pariahs of society  because it appeared that most of the artistic establishment in postwar Quebec was not yet ready to accept a form of “Modernité” that was inherited from the new European art Movements.

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Tough! A solid and enjoyable production

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

When George F. Walker wrote his 1993 play about three 19-year-olds battling a life stacked against them, he imbued it with passion, anger, intelligence and a hedged faith in the future. This Algonquin College Theatre Arts production does all those elements proud.

Set in a garbage-strewn inner city park (design by Attila Clemann), the play focuses on sharp-tongued Tina (Cynthia Guard) and her perpetually befuddled, self-absorbed boyfriend Bobby (Mitchel Johnson). She’s pregnant, he’s the father, and neither one is exactly ecstatic over the situation.

The difference between the two: Tina has the smarts and self-awareness to make the best of a bad deal whereas Bobby – self-pitying but with a sensitivity and a vague desire for a better life that appeal to Tina – falls apart anytime anyone looks at him sideways.

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Tough: George Walker’s battle of the sexes becomes electrifying theatre

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

George Walker’s Tough, presented by the students of the Algonquin College Theatre Arts programme was an impressive evening that allowed three talented young people, under the excellent direction of Mary Ellis, to bring extremely sensitive performances to the stage! Originally produced in Vancouver but written in 1992, Tough involves  Tina and her 19 year old boyfriend Bobby, who are in the middle of an energetic confrontation in a playground littered with garbage. The set emphasizes the confusion and material difficulties of these individuals. Tina is accompanied by her tough talking and aggressive girlfriend Jill and together, both women verbally assault Bobby, always controlling their tempers so they won’t go completely overboard and “kill” him. They bully the young man, accuse him of being a coward, a wimp and a cheat, while Bobby, appearing to be in fragile health, tries to defend himself. As we quickly learn , he did have a moment of indiscretion with another girl at a party that set off the fight but the discussion takes on a new urgency when we learn that Tina is pregnant and she is hoping Bobby will react in a kinder more responsible way.

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Marat-Sade: An energetic, well-balanced production of Peter Weiss’ play

Reviewed by Rajka Stefanovska

 

Photo: Marianne Duval

Photo: Marianne Duval

It took about a hundred years for Marquis de Sade (Donatien Alphonse François de Sade) to become a figure of great interest and even greater controversy. His sadistic nature (the expression sadism is derived from his name due to his writings and behaviour) and immoralitym completely unacceptable by any social standards, caused him imprisonment more often than not. He spent his last years of life incarcerated in Charenton asylum (Val-de-Marne, France), where he wrote and directed plays with its inmates as actors.

In the 20th century, artists celebrated him as a founder of free expression in erotic literature; Guillaume Apollinaire even called him “the freest spirit that has yet existed.”

His writings, full of sexual fantasy combined with philosophy of pornography with an emphasis on violence, repel some and fascinate others to this day.

Sade’s life and philosophy inspired many, among them German writer Peter Weiss, who wrote the play The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade (shortened version “Marat-Sade” ) in 1963. The plot is set inCharenton asylum  in 1808, where Marquis de Sade directs a play about the death of the popular French Revolution leader Jean Paul Marat. Conceptualized as a play within a play, this sharp political theatre deals with abuse of power and the meaning of revolution. In the wake of  Artaud and Brecht vision of theatre, he uses the environment of chaos and madness to show human suffering and class struggle, as well as to question the role of the true revolution – should it change socity and where should the change come from: from the histrorical event itself of from ourselves? (more…)

Marat-Sade: A compelling interpretation of Peter Weiss’ play

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

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Photo: Marianne Duval

Director James Richardson has given us, as his thesis for an MFA in Directing at the University of Ottawa, a creative, focused and altogether compelling interpretation of Peter Weiss’ Marat/Sade.

The insane asylum that Richardson and his cast of student actors conjure is a fevered and dangerous place, a bubbling pot of injustice and brutality that constantly threatens to boil over.

Except for Charlotte Corday (Emma Hickey) – the narcoleptic who rouses herself long enough to murder Marat (Jeremie Cyr-Cooke), the revolutionary idealist with a really bad case of the itches, as he rests in his bath – the stage seethes and jitters with the non-stop twitches and outbursts of the patients. If ever there was a warning to iron-fisted leaders, whether they be political, cultural or of any other stripe, that repression has a limited shelf life, this is it.

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Marat-Sade: The Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton will go down in the history of the University of Ottawa Theatre department!

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

 

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Photo Marianne Duval.   Paul Piekoszewski (Marquis de Sade) and Jérémie Cyr-Cooke (Marat).

This play written in German by Peter Weiss, with the terribly long title, was first produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company as part of Peter Brook’s LAMDA experiment , a season of Cruelty, executed under the influence of Artaud’s essay The Theatre of Cruelty . The original version of the essay, first published in French in 1938 , eventually appeared in English in the early 1960s during the neo romantic revolution in the Americas and that is when the English speaking theatre world began working on interpretations of Artaud’s ideas of a “theatre of Cruelty” . Brook worked with a chosen group of actors and writers to show the relationship between theatre and the body, between, theatre and therapy, as well as the use of theatre to transform and renew Western culture by taking a new look at the French Revolution as well as the conventions of the Western stage. One look at this play, shows us to what extent Ariane Mnouchkine’s 1789 was very likely inspired as much by Brecht’ as by Brook’s renewed vision of the stage.

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The School for Lies at Algonquin College: Catriona Leger saves the evening!

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

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Photo: Andrew Alexander   Trevor Osbourne and Ryan Young.

Translating Molière is often a risky undertaking as David Whitely has shown us. His translations have usually been very good because they have captured the spirit of the original in multiple ways and he was lucky to have a professional cast directed by John P. Kelly. David Ives an award winning translator of Classical French theatre speaks of his translation of Corneille this way: “it is neither a translation nor an adaptation; it’s what I call a translaptation” (Playbill). He clearly tells us his intentions concerning Le Misanthrope in his prologue: “Screw Molière….we will do our own version”. Director Catriona Leger tells us this is a “liberal” and “lively” adaptation of the original which is a bit of an understatement but still, we recognize some of the original in the text.

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