If you like unique original art and unique takes of the well-established classics, there is plenty to check out this week (this weekend in particular) in Montreal. So let’s get started:

Doris: the art show

Montreal-based performer and art maker Jessica Rae is hosting a one-day immersive art show set in a trash-kitsch dream world inspired by her grandmother.

The event will feature hand sculptures, mobile art and x-mas tree decorations which you can purchase. The chips, soda, jelly rolls and wine, though, are free!

Consult the Facebook event page for more info.

Doris: the art show takes place Saturday, December 9 from 2pm – 7pm at 3655 boul St-Laurent, #205, all ages welcome

The Film Society’s 25th Anniversary Surprise Screening

You may have seen or at least heard of a Montreal company presenting silent films with live musical accompaniment. That was Le Cinéclub de Montréal or The Film Society of Montreal and they’ve been in operation for 25 years.

To celebrate that milestone, they’re holding a surprise free screening this Saturday. By surprise, we mean that we don’t know what film will be screened, though you can bet it will be a classic and there will be something unique to the Film Society happening either before, after or alongside it.

Le Cinéclub de Montréal / The Film Society of Montreal’s 25th Anniversary Surprise Screening is Saturday, December 9th at 6:30pm at Cinema de Sève in Concordia’s Webster Library (LB), 1400 de Maisonneuve Ouest

Geordie Productions’ A Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens’ holiday classic A Christmas Carol has been adapted for the stage and screen so many times, it’s really difficult to come up with a unique take on it. Montreal’s Geordie Productions, though, has, in more ways than one.

They’ve cast lawyers, judges and other leaders in Montreal’s legal and business communities as actors. Quebec Superior Court Justice the Honourable Pepita G. Capriolo plays Ebenezia Scrooge, so yes, Scrooge is also a woman in this production.

There are only a few shows and each one includes a cocktail hour and silent auction. This holiday tradition is a fundraiser to allow Geordie to continue to function and bring its plays to schools year-round.

A Christmas Carol presented by Geordie Productions runs Friday, December 8th at 7pm and Saturday, December 9th at 2pm and 7pm at the D.B. Clarke Theatre, Concordia University Hall Building, 1455 de Maisonneuve Ouest, tickets are $25 and available through geordie.ca

* Featured image courtesy The Film Society of Montreal

Is there an event that should be featured in Shows This Week? Maybe something FTB should cover, too? Let us know at arts@forgetthebox.net. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

It’s that time once again! Time to find out just some of what’s happening artistically this coming weekend and next week in Montreal. Two of the shows are happening tonight, so let’s get started:

Hunting Moon

It seems like community theatre is alive and well in NDG. This weekend and next, Theatre NDG is presenting a new one-act comedy by local playwright Ryan Madden called Hunting Moon featuring a cast of local actors.

According to the description, it’s all about love: being in it, being burned by it and being hopeful about it. Seeing as pretty much everyone can relate to at least one of those states, it’s sure to speak to the audience.

Hunting Moon presented by Theatre NDG continues November 24th and 30th, December 1st and 2nd at 8pm with a matinee December 2nd at 2pm. Loyola Chapel, 7141 Sherbrooke Ouest. Tickets are $10  and available through Eventbrite

ArtJam Vol. 15

ArtJam is a monthly multidisciplinary arts party put together by Good Vibe People and streamed live by Nomad. According to the promo material, they shoot for an atmosphere that is more social than a typical arts show or concert.

Tonight’s event features art by DUVAL Art, Michèle Laflèche, Kasimp Productions and others. Music will be courtesy of Afro-Soul artist Tina Ford, folk-alternative musician Vikki Gilmore, indie rockers Made Men and more.

ArtJam Vol. 15, November 24, 8pm, NomadLive, 129 Van Horne. Tickets are $10 (including a drink) and entrance is free for members only before 9pm

Collage Workshop with girlplague

Ever wanted to learn how to collage? Local collage artist (and FTB contributor) girlplague is offering a two hour workshop on the art form. She will show cutting and application techniques, differences in adhesives, basic composition and more.

girlplague has over ten years’ worth of experience in the genre and her work has been shown in galleries worldwide.

Collage Workshop with girlplague, November 30, 6-8pm, 3487 rue Peel. Tickets are $25 and available through Elysium

* Featured image courtesy of girlplague

Is there an event that should be featured in Shows This Week? Maybe something FTB should cover, too? Let us know at arts@forgetthebox.net. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

I’ve seen Glam Gam shows before. They’re always fun and clever. They always push the envelope while making a point about sexuality and cultural norms. There is always plenty of nudity.

All of that was again the case at their latest Fringe show Peter Pansexual, but there was something more. A few things more, in fact.

So Very Montreal

Peter Pansexual is as much a story about Montreal as it was a critical parody of Disney’s Peter Pan. The Darlings, in this show, are from London….wait for it….Ontario and the Neverland that Peter (Adrian Mal Au Nez) and Twinkerbell (Meander) transport them to is Montreal’s underground art and late night party scene.

The operatic song You’ll Get By beautifully performed live by Stella Von Stein was not only a fun way to accompany the Darlings’ trip to their new home, but an excellent introduction to a world that many of us, myself included, know or knew all too well, though one that has never, to my recollection, been represented through drama (or comedy) before.

There’s the precarious job market for unilingual transplants, the guestlist as payment economy, the abundance of less-than-legal party favours and, of course, the pansexual orgy that is just around the corner, “second loft to the right” with a light on all night.

Neverland feels real. Sure, an over-the-top fantasy version of reality, but at its core, this is a world many Montrealers are familiar with.

This is definitely the type of show that’s good enough to tour with, though, if Glam Gam decided to take it anywhere beyond Laval, they would have to re-work some major portions of it for each city it played in, because a good chunk of the references are hyper-Montreal specific.

A Unified Story

One of the hardest thing to do with burlesque-inspired theatre is incorporate many divergent elements and different performers into a unifying throughline. Glam Gam and director Sam Sullivan pull it off wonderfully.

The pacing is solid, the transitions make sense and even the most random of all elements, guest performers (they had a different one each night of the Fringe run, Honey Lustre wowed the audience night I attended) fit into the story by way of being an act the characters are watching on stage at an underground party following an attempted Michael Jackson impersonation by Rachel Dolezal (Glam Gam veteran Booze Crotch who also played Dad Darling and blueman Periwinkle) that intentionally got the crowd riled up.

It’s like the play within a play from Hamlet if people were getting naked (note to Glam Gam: naked Shakespeare, just think about it for the future). It’s also close to how David Lynch incorporates his musical guests into the new Twin Peaks without leaving the story (no, that’s not a spoiler for Twin Peaks).

Yes, it was a play, with a beginning, middle and an end. But it was also, at the same time, a burlesque show, with the audience cheering as the performers removed clothing and got raunchy with each other.

Character-Driven

Amidst all the nudity, Montreal references and clever puns, there are the characters who move the story along. Obviously modeled on the characters in Disney’s Peter Pan.

We’ve got Peter who, while the instigator of the story and cool at first, turns out to be kind of a di…um, no, wait, don’t use a body part we got to see, he’s kind of an as…nope, same problem, got it, he turns out to be self absorbed and not a very nice person, but someone anyone who has been on the party scene has met.

Twinkerbell (or Twink) is that contact you have for the party favours that never disappoints but rarely sticks around. He helps Peter seem cool, like a wingman with actual wings.

The pair work really well together as Peter’s too-cool-for-school bravado juxtaposed with Twink’s very practical approach to everything made them quite the team for comedy. Like a pair of entertaining though always horny tour guides.

You could see the young Darlings as stereotypes. However, since they’re representative of people in the audience or people those people know, I’d go with archetypes instead.

There’s Wendy (Glam Gam veteran Super Sherri), a funny though quite sympathetic take on the Social Justice Warrior. John is the bro homophobe closet case (played by troupe co-founder Michael J. McCarthy, so if you’re familiar at all with Glam Gam, that’s some serious acting, folks). And then there’s Michael (Lolipop Bob) who is, well, an exhibitionist.

The most in-your-face character is clearly Captain Hooker (Tessa Brown). For me, that was literally true. I was seated in the section of Cafe Cleopatre where she made her first appearance on top of a bar. Up close she was intense to say the least and that intensity stayed with her wherever she went in the room, a real comedic tour de force performance with some of the funniest reactions in the show.

Erik Leisinger (Radical Raven and pianist), Misty Portugal (Pearl), Seth Scheuner (Smee), Tristan Ginger (Door Bitch), Mish Chartier (Turqoise) and Alex Brault (Flaming Fox) round out the ensemble cast with choreographers Debbie Friedmann and KungfuPaul de Tourreil and stage manager and tech Fiona Ross helping behind the scenes.

This show was all about the ensemble. They worked together to do so much more than guide us from point A to point B, they made the journey fun provocative.

As the show wrapped up with the same song that was near the beginning, I’ll do the same and say that with Peter Pansexual, as with Montreal, you’ll do more than get by, you’ll find something truly unique.

 

Angélique, the story of the black slave tortured and put to death in New France (later Montreal, Quebec) for allegedly setting the fire of 1734 that burned down the only hospital and left hundreds of people homeless, is most remarkable for the fact that so few Canadians know about this incendiary incident in Montreal’s history.

It’s a story with everything: chaos, love triangles, danger, a woman’s determined quest for freedom.

Yet, despite these features that make Angélique a perfect candidate for telling and re-telling, like many stories of slavery in Canada’s history, and many narratives sympathetic to disadvantaged people of colour, the story of Marie-Joseph Angelique has been largely ignored until very recently.

In fact, the play currently being billed as the first collaboration between Black Theatre Workshop and Tableau d’Hote Théâtre, is the first time this story has been presented on stage in Montreal, the city where the true story took place. It is running from March 15th to April 2nd at the Segal Center.

Angélique is the story of the strong-willed black slave tortured and put to death for allegedly starting the fire of 1734, which burned down the majority of what is now Old Montreal. Though it was generally accepted that Angelique did commit the crime for which she was accused, it has recently been argued that she was innocent, convicted on the basis of her reputation as a rebellious runaway and hard-to-control slave. The evidence used to convict Angelique would not stand up in a modern court of law.

“I am a very proud Canadian, and a very proud Montréaler, but I don’t think we are doing ourselves any favours by not acknowledging the bad along with the good in history,” says Black Theatre workshop artistic director Quincy Armorer. “I’ve noticed this play is educating a lot of people about some of the forgotten or ignored times in Canadian and Montreal history, and I am very, very happy to be a part of letting people know this happened here.”

Mathieu Murphy-Perron, artistic director for Tableau d’Hote Theater, agrees: “As someone who generally tries to be aware of where we live and the land we are on, and the fact that it’s stolen land, and Canada is not the land of milk and honey…to have zero-ZERO-knowledge of this show, it spoke to our educational shortcomings of telling the stories that make up this city, Quebec and Canada”

“I didn’t even know about this before,” adds Jenny Brizard, the lead and title actress of Angélique “They didn’t talk about slavery in Canada at all when I was in school.”

Having left her native Montreal to pursue a career as a dancer in Toronto, Ms. Brizard has returned in a blaze of glory with a breakout performance as the title character in Angélique. This is her first professional acting role, and though the performance seemed a little manic at times, this is certainly fitting as an artistic choice for a character under an incredible amount of mental, emotional and physical stress.

Speaking of artistic direction, the costuming decisions in this production were extremely powerful, working as an additional layer of social commentary. ‘Upper class’ members of society began the production dressed in contemporary business wear, and ended the production dressed in 1730s period clothing. Conversely, slaves began the production in period clothing and ended the production in contemporary street wear, or in Angelique’s case, an orange prison outfit.

The closing images of a modern black woman being put to death for a crime, with no evidence that she had committed it, while being looked upon by people stuck in the past, were extremely powerful and speaks to the ongoing issues with class and race that still exist today. The play ended with Angelique hearing the drums of her homeland (drums were banned in New France in an effort to sever slaves from their culture) and dancing her heart out in the traditional style of her childhood, which she had been previously embarrassed and nervous to display in New France.

The musical backdrop of Angélique was completely percussion based, set to an original composition by SIXTRUM Percussion Ensemble. The use of drums served as a clever musical allegory for Angelique’s struggle and personal erasure, due to the nature of the importance of drum music in Angelique’s internal life and history versus their ban in New France.

When Angélique is first introduced at a slave purchasing block, thick chains were used as an instrument by SIXTRUM, who were playing above the stage. It was fresh, creative, and enhanced the narrative.

Though the script, written by the late Lorena Gale, doesn’t claim to be completely factual (and how could it be, when the source material is from the 18th century), one creative inclusion bothered me:

In the play, Angélique is repeatedly raped by her master François, and it is implied that she gives birth to a child fathered by him. Though I couldn’t find any historical rumours that this had taken place in real life, and the father on record for Angélique’s children is listed as fellow slave César (played with subtlety, depth and range by Tristan D. Lalla), I can understand its inclusion in this play. This is the story of a black slave woman, a group that is underrepresented in the telling of their stories and for whom rape, and the subsequent fathering of children, by white masters was most certainly a frequent occurrence.

Where I take issue that it is then used as THE major point of contention between Angelique and Francois’ wife Thérèse. I think, in a story that already has so much drama and intrigue, it’s a bit lazy to then add as a major plot point, a shift away from Angelique’s real struggle, towards a jealousy fight between women arguing over the affections of a shitty guy. It reinforces the stereotype of women as petty and jealous, and having nothing more of substance to do or think about than the affections of a man.

In fact, this same theme is echoed again between Angelique and Manon, a Panis-Native slave, who in this play rejects Angélique’s friendship and sells her out at trial over Manon’s love of César, who in turn loves Angélique. According to the historical record, Manon more likely tried to divert suspicion to Angélique for self-preservation as she herself could have been severely punished if suspicion had fallen on her own shoulders.

However, I suppose pitting women against each other over a guy once again adds easy intrigue and a familiar stereotype. Despite the historical setting of the play, it’s 2017, and I think we can do better.

Overall, Angelique is a skillful and extremely important retelling of a chapter in Montreal history that is conspicuously absent from most history books. It is powerful, visceral and necessary, and with tickets starting at $22, much more accessible than the majority of professional theatrical productions.

Bring a date, bring your mom, bring a history or theatre buff, a lover of Montreal, or even your favorite arsonist, but don’t miss Angélique’s first (and certainly not last) tour in Montreal. It is a tribute to a powerful and strong woman who was persecuted until the end by a society that did not value her.

Only one question remains in the fiery tale: Did she do it?

“At this point, I don’t really care…if she did it or not,” says Ms. Brizard. “The fact is, she didn’t have a fair chance. Period. And that’s how I approach the work. She didn’t get a fair trial, a fair chance, as a woman, as a black woman. Period.”

Angélique presented by Black Theatre Workshop and Tableau d’Hote Théâtre runs through April 2nd, 2017 at the Segal Centre, 5170 ch. de la Côte-Ste-Catherine,  tickets available through the Segal Centre box office

Forget The Box’s weekly Arts Calendar is back for its last November edition. Take a look at these excellent events if you’re looking for fun and inexpensive things to check out!

As always; if you’re interested in going to one of these events and want to cover it for us, send a message  or leave a comment below.

Beaux Dégâts #45 – Tap Water Jam MTL + Ella Grave showcase

Beaux Dégâts is a time-honoured Montreal tradition that combines improvisation in musical and fine arts to create a unique organic event space. From their Facebook page:

“Beaux Dégâts tries to make a parallel between the reality of street artists and the Fine Arts. It is here to bring back what has been ignored for too long by art institutions and return to the street artist’s reality: the importance of community, sharing, accessibility and uniqueness.

For two hours, six teams of artists will improvise 8ft X 8ft murals on different themes given on the night. Each team will have to research and find visual references to create a production in front of public. All mediums except spray cans are allowed. During the evening, the public will vote for it’s favorite mural using their empty Pabst beer cans. The team that will collect the most cans will win the right to paint over the other artists work if they wish.”

Beaux Dégâts #45: Live Improvised Painting and Music – Wednesday, Nov 30, Foufounes Electriques, 8pm-1am. Entrance: 5$

The Crossing presented by Cinema Politica Concordia

Cinema Politica is a media arts, non-profit network of community and campus locals that screen independent political film and video by Canadian and international artists throughout Canada and abroad. It is volunteer-run and all screenings are by donation.

 

The film that Cinema Politica is screening this Monday, The Crossing, “takes us along on one of the most dangerous journeys of our time with a group of Syrians fleeing war and persecution, crossing a sea, two continents and five countries, searching for a home to rekindle the greatest thing they have lost – Hope.”

The Crossing screening @ Cinema Politica Concordia, 1455 de Maisonneuve Boulevard W, Room H-110, Monday, 7pm. Entrance by Donation

50/50 presented at Mainline Theatre

50/50 is a novel concept; a half-scripted, half-improvised live comedy show! This show was a major hit at Just For Laughs 2016 and will not be back for four months – definitely catch this if you can at the Mainline Theatre.

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Coming off a sellout show at OFF-JFL/Zoofest this past July, 50/50 returns with a new cast blending talented actors and hilarious comedians. In each of the show’s nine scenes, a prepared actor who has learned lines off a real script is paired with an improviser who has no prior knowledge of what the actor has rehearsed.

50/50 @ Mainline Theatre, 3997 boul St-Laurent. Wednesday, November 30th, 8pm. $15 (students/seniors/QDF Members $12)

Is there an event that should be featured in Shows This Week? Maybe something FTB should cover, too? Let us know at arts@forgetthebox.net. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

The Chilean refugees who arrived in Canada in the 1970s and 1980s, particularly in Montreal, have been a community that has captivated me throughout the past two years. I was therefore ecstatic to have the opportunity to see The Refugee Hotel staged at The Segal Centre. Despite some awkward translation into English and a difficult script to work with, the play is an excellent one that I recommend – particularly after yesterday’s events in the USA.

These brave Chileans who came across the oceans were faced with two choices; the first being to trust that everything would be okay for them in Chile if they kept their heads down, stayed in line, and trusted that the military would “make Chile great again”. The second: to restart their entire lives in a country with a new language, new food, new music, and of course, the omnipresent “Canadian values” (still searching for a definition of those, other than the ability to properly cross-check someone).

Teesri Duniya Theatre’s production of The Refugee Hotel does its sincere best to answer these questions. The script draws from author-and-playwright Carmen Aguirre’s lived experience as the child of Chilean refugees growing up in 1970s Canada. It’s an impressive story made even more poignant by its autobiographical basis.

The Refugee Hotel Trailer from Chris Wardell on Vimeo.

This is one of the reasons that it is so frustrating to review this play. Though the premise is admirable, Aguirre’s play shortchanges itself by trying to fit too many facets of the Chilean refugee story, and indeed, the story of human migration, into two short acts.

At the centre of the play are Jorge (Pablo Diconca) and Flaca (Gilda Monreal), a married couple who represent two sides of the resistance movement in Chile. Jorge is something of a milquetoast pacifist anarchist accountant, while his wife is a firebrand Marxist active in the MIR (the Revolutionary Leftist Movement).

Their two children escape with them to a hotel in Canada, where they meet other Chilean refugees subjected to inhuman torture in the Carabineros’ concentration camps. The rest of the play progresses at a slow pace as each rediscovers their humanity and intimacy, one-by-one in a frustratingly perfect way.

By “frustratingly perfect,” I mean that of course the mute girl is coaxed into to talking at the end of the second act, and she falls for the man who talks with her first, and of course they end the play with a freeze-frame photo motif. The play’s unfortunate dives into clichés keep it from developing serious critiques.

Jorge and Flaca’s struggle to be intimate once again despite the horrific sexual torture that the Carabineros inflicted upon her is a topic that is criminally underrepresented in works of art; and even less so is it approached sensitively. An exploration of that theme alone would have made for a powerful and moving production, but Aguirre’s insistence on shoehorning so many important themes into the play means that extraordinarily difficult trauma from torture is treated as nothing more than a plot point. For example, two suicide attempts that happen within two minutes of another are treated as comedic moments.

Moreover, I felt that the repeated flashbacks to scenes of torture in the Estadio Nacional de Chile are not used to explore the characters’ motivations and histories, but rather as punctuation marks for the drama as a whole.

The play is being performed at the Segal Centre, which bills itself as the heart of Montreal’s Anglophone theatre culture. This presents an interesting double-edged sword for the actors in that they are reading from a script originally written in Spanish, for an English-speaking audience in French Canada.

Certain recurring parts of the script (such as the nickname for Jorge, “Little-Big-Bear”) sound awkward in English where they would have made perfect sense in Spanish (“Osito Grande,” better understood as “Teddy Bear”). On a larger scale, the familiar words, particularly “desaparecido,” used to articulate the brutality of the Pinochet regime are lost in translation.

Furthermore, the play misses opportunity to develop a more nuanced comedic character in Bill O’Neill, the enthusiastic Québécois hippie who helps the guests at the Refugee Hotel find work. In the Spanish script, he speaks with comically poor but confident command over Spanish, but in this English adaptation, his dialogue sounds like a 19th-century caricature – “Army me take to stadium. Bad men take Bill!”

Other than awkward phrasing, this makes the characterization of Bill difficult for the audience, as he is repeatedly referred to (kindly) as “the only gringo who speaks Spanish.” In poor translation, Bill’s character shifts from that of a Canadian activist with a sincere wish to improve his Spanish and act in solidarity with Chilean refugees into a buffoon.

This is the part of reviewing that I do not enjoy. The story itself is captivating, and the curation behind the set design and music choices was phenomenal. I just wish that the story was more focused on one or two of these families, instead of a script that leaves several important facets of post-traumatic stress equally unexamined.

All of this is not to say that I did not find the play enjoyable and tastefully performed – in fact, the actors did a stellar job working with an awkward script, and the set direction was simple and elegant. I give a special commendation to the Set Designer, Diana Uribe, who placed the beds of the hotel at an upright 90º angle, which allowed the actors to remain part of the action, while staying true to the stage direction to lie supine.

The music choices, namely the major-key Victor Jara folk ballads that accompanied scenes of horrific torture in the Estadio Nacional may have been shocking to people unfamiliar with Chile’s musical history – but it seems a deliberate nod to the famous Cueca Sola spot produced by the Anti-Pinochet Campaign during the 1989 plebiscite made famous by Pablo Larraín’s 2012 film. This is made all the more poignant by the fact that Victor Jara was tortured to death in the Estadio Nacional, specifically targeted and brutally murdered for his popularity and beliefs.

Speaking with the actor who played Jorge, Pablo Diconca, I learned that many of the cast came into this production with the explicit goal of putting faces to the communities so left behind by history. Diconca is a Uruguayan-born Montrealer who has been an integral part of the local theatre scene since his arrival in Canada at 19:

“I can not ever forget the fact that I have an accent, and I will always have one. This has restricted me as an actor – I have played drug dealers, murderers, and taxi drivers more than I can count,” Pablo told me. “When I came to Canada, I refused these roles out of principle…but with time, I came to realize that acting is my passion, and that by being on stage, this is how one becomes involved in the local culture and community. One must put their heart into acting. It becomes easier when the script is [about] something you already have in your heart. I was invited to be a part of this cast, and I didn’t see how I could turn it down. This is a play that can help to open minds.”

Teesri Duniya’s Artistic Director and co-founder, Rahul Varma, explained to me that he chose to stage this play as a way of “challenging the notion that 9/11 of 2001 divided the world into pre-9/11 and post 9/11…there have been so many other 9/11s, such as the 9/11 of 1973.” Rahul is of course referring to the military coup in Chile that took place on September 11, 1973, where the Chilean Air Force bombed downtown Santiago and assassinated the democratically-elected head of state, Salvador Allende.

refugee-hotel-2

Rahul continued, referencing the current Syrian refugee crisis, “I thought that this play brings certain realities of the past and connects them to what is currently happening.  The idea is to look into what has happened – why is it that refugees are coming to Canada? Why do people leave their homes elsewhere?”

According to their website, Teesri Duniya Theatre “is dedicated to producing, developing and presenting socially and politically relevant theatre, based on the cultural experiences of diverse communities.” They are an incredibly important part of Montreal’s Arts community and I am thrilled to see that they took it upon themselves to tell the story of an underrepresented and important part of Canada.

As we draw to the closing of this play’s run at the Segal Centre, as well as the dawning of an unprecedented dark cloud over North American immigration politics, it is important to remember the lessons left by Chilean-Canadians’ struggles in and out of their homeland. I salute Teesri Duniya Theatre, The Segal Centre, and the cast and crew of this production for shining a light on the challenges faced by refugees in a sensitive and responsible manner despite an unaccommodating script.

El pueblo unido jamás será vencido.

The Refugee Hotel is playing until Sunday at The Segal Centre (5170 ch. de la Côte-Ste-Catherine). Tickets available here.

Poster by Rashad Nilamdeen.

Forget The Box’s weekly Arts Calendar is back for its early November edition. The chill has definitely returned to Montreal, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to lock ourselves indoors yet! Take a look at these excellent events if you’re looking for fun and inexpensive things to check out!

As always; if you’re interested in going to one of these events and want to cover it for us, send a message  or leave a comment below.

Bareoke presented by Glam Gam

No stranger to performing in local strip clubs with the burlesque troupe Glam Gam, Lipster’s organizers realized this type of venue would surely allow them to transform their karaoke show into Stripster!

Now you can find them the first Saturday of every month at the historic Café Cléopâtre, which comes equipped with a large stage, a smoke machine and crazy lighting which allows people to take their performances to the next level.

Glam Gam’s organizers have made an important step in making the space open for everyone, according to their Facebook event page : “We are thrilled to have performers of all different backgrounds, ages, body types, gender identities and sexualities. Some people will take off just a sock, others will get down to their skivvies and a lot of brave souls prance around in their birthday suits! The best part is that everyone respects and encourages each other’s boundaries with little to no policing on our part.”

Come see what all the fuss is about!

Bareoke @ Café Cléopâtre, 1230 St Laurent, Saturday, November 5, 10PM, $5

FTB is no stranger to Glam Gam!
FTB is no stranger to Glam Gam!

Fishbowl Collective Presents: An Anti-War Art Pop-up

The Fishbowl Collective will be occupying a studio space in Griffintown and filling it with art of all kinds against war/militarism of any kind!

At 8:30, the space will be taken over by anti-war Pierrots in an hour-long version of Theatre Workshop’s Oh What a Lovely War!

From 9:30-11 the space will act as a showcase for local artists to show their work!

Local anti-war organizations will be tabling in the space.

Oh What A Lovely War's Theatrical Poster
Oh What A Lovely War’s Theatrical Poster

Using songs and documents of the period, Oh What a Lovely War! is an epic theatrical chronicle of the horrors of WWI as presented by a seaside pierrot troupe. It was collectively created by Theatre Workshop in 1963 under Joan Littlewood, and over 50 years later remains unique in its innovative satiric way of looking at the difficult subject of war and its futility. Its dismissal of sentimentality and its distinct anti-war-agit-prop flavour highlights the oppression of the working stiff turned common soldier and points to the absurdity involved in war.

141 Rue Ste Ann, Pay What You Can (All Proceeds go to Actions Réfugiés Montréal)

Pride Screening presented by Socialist Fightback!

Socialist Fightback is screening Pride (2014) at McGill University’s Shatner Building in Room 202 this Wednesday. Entrance is FREE, and a spirited discussion is sure to follow. Curious about what “Solidarity” means to the LGBT community? Check this movie out.

Pride offers an excellent example of solidarity along class lines. Between 1981-1984, the British government under Margaret Thatcher had closed around 20 mining pits and coal mining employment continued to fall. The miners’ strike of 1984-85 was a major industrial action to shut down the British coal industry in an attempt to prevent colliery closures.

Also victims of Thatcher’s bigotry and conservative policies, gays and lesbians came together to collect funds and sustain the miner’s strike. Although reluctant at first, the miners accepted the support from the LGSM.

Pride is a great demonstration of how class unity is the best and most effective way of fighting against all types of oppression.

Pride is screening in the Shatner Building Room 202 @ McGill University, November 9, 7pm, FREE

 

Is there an event that should be featured in Shows This Week? Maybe something FTB should cover, too? Let us know at arts@forgetthebox.net. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

Rocky Horror is my religion.

Every Halloween and during the occasional summer show for the past seventeen years, I’d paint my face and those of my friends, fasten my garter belt and wait in the freezing rain and snow to see the interactive Rocky Horror Picture show.

The interactive show is something every Montrealer should experience at least once. The production doesn’t just show the 1975 movie, but actors also act it out on stage while the audience is invited to yell comments – there are scripts and videos of call lines available online – and throw toilet paper, toast, and playing cards at specific times during the film. There is a costume contest, and prizes are awarded on both the costumes and on what you are willing to do to rile up the crowd. That could mean anything from flashing to doing backflips on stage.

The venues and casts have changed from the Imperial to The Medley to the Rialto and back to the Imperial, but the formula and spirit of the event stays constant. This is a show where you must put any prejudices you have about sexual orientations and gender identities aside. It’s where you have to stuff your prudery and your judgment to celebrate the safe, consensual and fun.

Whether it’s the annual musical play at the Mainline Theatre or the interactive Picture Show at the Imperial, The Rocky Horror shows are not for those who want their intolerances tolerated. It’s for those who believe everyone deserves to feel welcome.

For me the interactive picture show is now sadly a no-go. My health problems make it dangerous for me and anyone with a physical disability as people are regularly bumping and grinding and dancing with each other, and many are drunk.

As a consolation prize to myself, I opted to go to the Mainline Theatre’s production of Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show – Live Montreal Musical. If you can get up the treacherously steep staircase of the theatre, the live musical show is no consolation prize but a gem in and of itself.

rocky-horror-show-montreal-2

With no background movie to compete with, the actors, musicians and dancers truly shine. The voices you hear are not those of Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick, and Tim Curry, but of the Montreal cast.

Sarah Kulaga-Yoskovitz, who played Magenta, opened the show with her rendition of Science Fiction Double Feature, a version a lot sweeter than Richard O’Brien’s scratchy one from the film. The “Phantoms” clad in fishnets and garter belts danced around her and throughout various scenes, keeping the show’s burlesque feel true to form. The dancing, while choreographed by Director/Choreographer Amy Blackmore, never felt overly predictable or plastic.

This is one of the few shows where heckling (within reason) is encouraged. If you know the show’s call lines, you are welcome to yell them and even invent some you feel fit the show. The actors never miss a beat and give as good as they get. When Stephanie McKenna’s Frank delivered the line “even smiling makes my face ache”, one audience member yelled that it was from all the blowjobs. McKenna, never breaking character, replied with:

“No, I don’t give blowjobs like you do.”

Rocky was played by Dane Stewart, who portrayed the character’s infantile naivete and sexual curiosity perfectly. Unfortunately, he seemed unable to do the physical moves the part calls for, but whether this was a mutual decision between him and the director is unclear. Rocky is described in film and play as being all muscle and no brains. When Frank starts singing about press ups and chin ups, I expect the person in the role to at least do a push up, but if Stewart can do them, the audience never got to see it.

rocky-horror-show-montreal-3

Franco De Crescentis as Riff Raff was a sight to behold, stealing nearly every scene he was in. His portrayal made a character who is supposed to just be creepy sexy and intense. His performance was rivaled only by that of Maxine Segalowitz as Columbia.

Segalowitz’s Columbia was the perfect mix of sass, cuteness, and hysteria. She was also physically remarkable, performing the dance moves in a way that looked at once polished and clumsy, and like all great comedic actors, she clearly knows how to take a fall.

McKenna’s portrayal of Frank was prissier than I expected, but she played the role with all the snark it needed. Her physical strength was especially impressive as she could do lifts and simulate sexual positions many men can’t do.

Kenny Stein portrayed both Dr. Scott and Eddie. While Meatloaf raised the bar incredibly high with his portrayal of Eddie in 1975, Stein can sing and got the job done. His portrayal of Dr. Scott as (by his own admission) an old Jewish guy made the jokes about Dr. Scott being a Nazi especially funny.

Elyann Quessy’s Janet and Anthony Schuller’s Brad were what one would expect: nervous nerdy naivete, but nothing outstanding. As they are a foil for the play’s more interesting characters, that’s all you need.

Perhaps the true stars of the show were the band members, who kept the music on point. Led by Musical Director and former Producer of the show, Shayne Gryn, the timing of the music never faltered, even though the actors struggled with only two microphones and one headset worn by Frank, probably the result of a low budget and feedback issues.

If you love snark, sass, and sex, The Rocky Horror Shows are for you. If want to feel part of the experience and don’t mind being hit in the head with a roll of toilet paper, go to the interactive Rocky Horror Picture Show. If you prefer to sit and watch and see local talent at their best while enjoying great music, go to the Mainline Theatre’s Musical Show. Hell, go to both if you can! They’re amazing!

The Rocky Horror Show Halloween Ball is going on October 28, 29, and 31 with shows at 8 pm and 11 pm. Tickets are $17.95 ( + tx and serv) in advance and $19.95 (+tx and serv.) at the door. For more info and tickets go to www.rockyhorrormontreal.com

The Mainline Theatre’s production of Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show – Live Montreal Musical is happening from October 20 to 31. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Seniors, students, and members of the Quebec Drama Federation pay less. For more info and tickets go to mainlinetheatre.ca

Forget The Box’s weekly Arts Calendar is back with for its Halloween edition! We’ve got some great onstage performances coming up in the city, and as always; if you’re interested in going to one of these events and want to cover it for us, send a message or leave a comment below.

We’ve got two different but wildly entertaining version of Halloween cult classic Rocky Horror Picture Show – both are sure to sell out so get there early for last-minute tickets!

Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show – Live Montreal Musical

See the sensational play that sparked an international phenomenon. MainLine Theatre presents Richard O’Brien’s musical-theatre masterpiece as camp sci-fi meets sexual exploration, glam-rock, and sensual daydreams to treasure forever. Experience #RockyMainLine up-close-and-personal in an intimate experience with a full live cast, band and dancers!

The show was directed and choreographed by Mainline’s Amy Blackmore with additional choreography by Holly Greco and Patrick Lloyd Brennan. It features Stephanie Mckenna as Dr. Frank N’ Furter.

Oct 27, 28, 29, 30, 31 at Mainline Theatre, 3997 Boul St-Laurent. Tickets $20 in advance or $25 at the door ($15 for students and seniors + a Quebec Drama Federation discount, please call 514-849-3378 for discounted tickets)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show Halloween Ball 

This is the more “traditional” Rocky Horror experience, featuring the original film with live on-stage performances. It will sell out, so get there early!

There is a limit of six tickets per person and all in-person sales are cash only.

There is a student discount of $5 which applies to the October 31st shows only. A valid student ID is required at one of our advance ticket outlets. Limit of two tickets per student. Student discount tickets can also be purchased at the door the night of the show but cannot be purchased online.

Oct 28, 29, 31, Cinéma Impérial, 1432 Bleury.

The Refugee Hotel

Teesri Duniya Theatre’s The Refugee Hotel is a dark comedy about exile, love and the Canadian resettlement experience. Told from the point of view of a young woman looking back on her childhood, Award-winning writer Carmen Aguirre poignantly chronicles the true story of a wave of Chilean refugees who are placed at a hotel in downtown Montreal in 1974, following the aftermath of the brutal Chilean coup d’état, one of the watershed moments of the Cold War.

While chronicling the true story of hundreds of thousands of Chileans who resettled across Canada and around the globe, The Refugee Hotel explores Canada’s ability to accept, support and embrace refugees as new citizens.

The play was written by Carmen Aguirre and is directed by Paulina Abarca. It will be performed in English with Spanish-language subtitles.

The Refugee Hotel Trailer from Chris Wardell on Vimeo.

October 26 – November 13, Segal Centre, 5170 Chemin de la Côte-Sainte-Catherine, Call 514-739-7944 for tickets or purchase them through the Segal online box office

An Illiad

A poet recounts the bloody epic of Achilles and Hector in a sweeping story of rage, violence and grief. Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare’s An Illiad is an award-winning adaptation of Homer’s classic which has gone viral, from New York to Egypt.

Chocolate Moose Theatre Co. revisits the Canadian premiere that earned them #1 Theatre Company in this year’s Cult MTL poll! The show, which runs again starting next week is directed by Lynn Kozak in collaboration with Shanti Gonzales It features a performance by Martin Law, set design by Mikey and Sarah Schanz Denis and lighting design by Ceci MacDonald.

Runs November 2-13 at Mainline Theatre, 3997 Boul St-Laurent. Tickets: $15 general / $12 students and QDF
Available online through the Mainline Box Office or by calling 514-849-3378

Is there an event that should be featured in Shows This Week? Maybe something FTB should cover, too? Let us know at arts@forgetthebox.net. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

Forget The Box is kicking off Autumn with a new weekly calendar of arts shows in Montreal! Check out these events and feel free to contact us with suggestions for others as well.

Alder & Ash

Alder & Ash is a counterpoint of two extremes. The music lies in stillness, introversion, and penitence. It lies in violence, cacophony, and angst. Alder & Ash plays solo cello with loop pedal to create improvised minimal classical music, with influence of doom metal, ambient, post-rock and noise. Alder & Ash will be performing live at Le Réactueur as part of an ambient music showcase – don’t miss it!

Alder & Ash Live at Le Réacteur, 2401 Rue Sainte-Catherine E, Friday, October 14th. Pay-What-You-Can

Fela Kuti Tribute

The Tupi Collective crew, ASMA, KYOU, and DJ Kobal are putting together an exciting evening filled with sonic tributes to Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti at Groove Nation. The event is in celebration of what would have been Fela’s 78th birthday, October 15th (but don’t get it twisted, the show is October 14th).

 

Fela Kuti Tribute at Groove Nation, 410 Rachel Est, Friday, October 14, 10pm-3am. $5 before midnight, $10 after

Pompette’s Monthly Comedy Extravaganza

Pompette’s Monthly Comedy Extravaganza offers Montreal’s finest in a casual context with one of the best new resto/bars in the city. At your service Riccardo Spensieri & his crew will be dishing out the eats and libations as Franco Taddeo & friends light up the night with laughter.

Taddeo is joined by emcee Peter J. Radomski of Just for Laughs fame as well as Paul Baluyot, ParkEx’s One Name Wonder Pantelis, TV’s Geoffery Appelbaum, Erica “The Funny & No Relation” Taddeo plus a Special apperance by Ernie the 80 year Old Comedian & his stool (chair to sit on to be clear!!).

Pompette’s Monthly Comedy Extravaganza at Pompette, 4128 Boulevard St-Laurent, Wednesday, October 19th, 8:30pm – 10:30pm. $9 with comedy night special on drinks

Is there an event that should be featured in Shows This Week? Maybe something FTB should cover, too? Let us know at arts@forgetthebox.net. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

It’s approaching that time of year, where Saint Laurent Boulevard gets shut down, the theatre folk flock and it’s officially Fringe Festival. Each year Fringe comes by and there are an over-whelming amount of shows to go to. From drag shows to theatre to music to puppetry to burlesque, it’s hard to know where to go with a bevy of great options to choose from. But do not fret my friends because I’m here to narrow down your fringe choices to the best of the best. That way you can spend your cold hard cash on good shows and good times (by which I mean beer).

Here are my OFFICIAL recommendations of what you should check out at this year’s Montreal Fringe Festival:

Bedrock Burlesque

What’s that I hear? All your favorite characters from The Flintstones have come back with a little more bump n’ grind! Sitcom Burlesque takes you back ALL THE WAY!

We all know and love Bedrock, but what happens when the lights go out? Join all your favorite characters for a night of misadventure, music, dance and, of course, Burlesque. Think strip-tease with pterodactyl wings. It’ll have you shouting YABBA DABBA BOOOOOOOBS!!!  (Please Note: The author of this piece is part of the team putting on this show, but then again, who wouldn’t want to be) (tickets)

Grit 'n Gusto_Photo2_Fringe2016Messy Bitch

I personally love any show that’s telling me to drink whiskey and become my inner bitchy self (pretty sure I’m already there). That’s exactly what Jessica Rae does in her one woman show Messy Bitch.

Featuring humour, sass and two disturbing puppets, Messy Bitch is a 30 minute storytelling adventure about learning to give #zerofucks.

So grab yourself a bottle of whiskey, put your bitch face and join Jessica Rae in an extremely messy and all out ridiculous show. You won’t regret it. (tickets)

Sexpectations

Do you like to be confused, aroused and a little bit taken aback? Then this is the show you definitely want to go see. Five-time Fringe performer, Maxine Segalowitz is not only the human behind PHACHINAH but also probably one of the silliest performers you’ll ever witness.

Find out what exactly her first one-woman show has in store with a whole cast of different character every night. That’s right folks, you might just be in it. (tickets)

House of Laureen: Backdoor Queens

The drag house that brought you Laureen: Queen of the Tundra is back and ready to take you behind the scenes. Enter through the backdoor and discover the secrets of all that’s hidden in the wondrous world of drag. Leave your misconceptions at home and join these queens in a night of pure and utter naughtiness. (tickets)

The Mysteries of the Unseen World of the Clavis Argentum

Think dark theatre, magic, live music and all that you’ve been waiting for…. burlesque. The Mystical order of the Clavis Argentum is ready to envelope you into it’s world of secrecy. There’s a lot of surprises in this show brought to you by Jimmy Phule and Matt Risk. Prepare to be confronted and maybe a little disturbed. (tickets)

Ladies Advice For Ladies

ladies advice for ladies fringe

Are you a lady? Are you a gentleman? Are you none of the above/all of the above? Whatever the case come on down to witness the epicness that is Cafe O’Lait Cabaret. Ladies Advice for Ladies is a satirical cabaret for ladies, gentlemen and all who are both or neither. Brought to you by Marianne Trenka, Tessa J. Brown and Kendall Savage you’ll be in for a treat that has more surprises than you’re prepared for. (tickets)

Well there you have it folks, those are my backstage recommendations to all the goodies of Fringe. So grab yourself a beer (or ten) and find out just what this year’s Fringe Festival has in store for you. The mayhem awaits you…

Full schedule at montrealfringe.ca

The sign of any good show is when time flies by and you’re left wanting more. It’s even more impressive when a single performer is able to pull off this feat. With his new one-man play BOOM, native Montrealer Rick Miller charms and delights with his tribute to the baby boomer generation.

Guiding the audience through 25 years of baby boomer history, the chief way that Miller grabs your attention is his voice. He is simply put, a master of impressions. One moment he’s graciously welcoming the audience as himself. The next moment he’s transformed into his own mother recounting her days growing up in rural Ontario. The next he’s Elvis Presley. This idea may seem strange when you read it online, but live in the darkened theater, you see how each character comes alive and flows into the next seamlessly.

The stories are also key to BOOM’s success. Miller weaves personal stories of his family and friends who were alive at the time,with key moments in world history. This approach allows audience members of any age to appreciate the performance. Older people can relate to the stories presented, while younger audience members can learn what it was like to grow up at that time. For instance, this millennial never thought about how many baby boomer’s parents were alcoholics as a way of dealing with the emotional stress of living through the depression and Second World War.

Finally, BOOM wouldn’t be able to truly be the successful show that it is without its props. With one prop and a simple lighting cue, Miller transforms from a Russian soldier to Winston Churchill to Buddy Holly. Major kudos have to be given to lighting designer Bruno Matte on this production. Add the occasional vintage ad, scrapbook photo and present day video, and you have one man who over the course of 100 minutes brings an entire generation to life.

BOOM plays at the Segal Center until April 10th

* Photo Paul Lampert via Segal Centre website

Thursday we got news of the passing of theatre and film legend Alan Rickman, just days after fellow Brit artist David Bowie lost his battle with cancer, Rickman succumbed to the disease at the same age, 69.

The internet was flooded once again with tributes, condolences, anecdotes and information on lesser-known parts of Rickman’s legacy.

Emma Watson, one of his Harry Potter co-stars, tweeted about how sad she was to hear he had passed and how lucky she was to have met and worked with him. She also tweeted some of his quotes, including one on feminism:

That didn’t sit well with some who took to Twitter to argue that Watson was somehow exploiting Rickman’s death to push her own agenda. While these people are clearly trolls, they also don’t know Alan Rickman as much as they may think. He was a very mainstream movie star, but he was also quite vocal about his progressive politics.

Die Hard with a Social Conscience

For most people, Alan Rickman was and will always be Snape in the Harry Potter films. For me, though, he will always be Hans Gruber, the German leader of a group of high-tech thieves masquerading as terrorists in the original Die Hard (not going to say spoiler alert on a movie released in 1988).

This was also Rickman’s introduction to Hollywood film acting. At age 41, he was already an established stage actor and agreed to play Gruber for one main reason, which I first learned about yesterday: the film’s treatment of its black characters:

“Every single black character in that film is positive and highly intelligent. So, 28 years ago, that’s quite revolutionary, and quietly so.”
– Alan Rickman in The Guardian

Playing Gruber turned Rickman into a movie star, but becoming top Hollywood talent didn’t turn off his desire to do things artistically for the right reason, even if it meant not playing it safe career-wise. This became crystal clear in 2005.

My Name is Rachel Corrie

American-born Rachel Corrie travelled to the Gaza Strip in 2003 as part of the International Solidarity Movement. The 23-year-old was there to protest Israel’s illegal demolition of Palestinian houses. An Israeli soldier ran over her with an American-made bulldozer, killing her.

Two years later, Rickman and Katharine Viner, a writer and editor at The Guardian (now its editor-in-chief) compiled writings in Corrie’s diary and emails she sent back home to the states and turned them into a one-woman play, My Name is Rachel Corrie, which Rickman directed. It was a success when it first opened in England at London’s Royal Court Theatre and in other places including Haifa.

The New York Theatre Workshop had planned to stage the US premier of the play Off Broadway, but “postponed” it after pressure from Zionist groups. Rickman didn’t accept that and got quite vocal in the media:

“Calling this production ‘postponed’ does not disguise the fact that it has been cancelled. This is censorship born out of fear, and the New York Theatre Workshop, the Royal Court, New York audiences — all of us are the losers…Rachel Corrie lived in nobody’s pocket but her own. Whether one is sympathetic with her or not, her voice is like a clarion in the fog and should be heard.”
-Alan Rickman

alan rickman rachel corrieRickman and Viner, with support from Rachel’s parents Craig and Cindy Corrie, coordinated a global series of readings called Rachel’s Words. Full disclosure, I was part of the Montreal event which combined readings of Corrie’s emails and diary entries with a verbatim theatre retelling of what happened with the New York production.

My Name is Rachel Corrie did eventually open in New York properly in 2006 at the Minetta Lane Theatre in Greenwich Village. It also ran in Montreal presented by Teesri Duniya in 2007 and the same production moved to Vancouver in 2008. It is still being performed around the world, the most recent staging happening in 2015.

Now think about this for a moment. The whole time that Rickman was busy editing, directing and eventually fighting for a play that he believed in by standing up for both a work of art and Palestinian solidarity, something that could cause him problems with some potential audiences, he was also starring in and doing promo for uber-mainstream Harry Potter blockbusters.

Talk about multitasking. Talk about dedication to a cause no matter what else is going on in your life. Rickman embraced his celebrity status but didn’t let it prevent him from doing the work he knew needed to be done.

While most will remember Snape, Gruber and his other unforgettable roles, it is important to also remember Alan Rickman’s work on My Name is Rachel Corrie and the fact that he was a man of principle who brought his progressive beliefs to his work. That’s what he would want us to remember.

RIP Alan Rickman (1946-2016)

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Andrea Dworkin’s death. On September 26th, 2015 she would have been 69 years old. Opening on September 17th and running until the 27th, Montreal Theatre company Waterworks will be presenting a world premier full staging performance of Aftermath.

Based on a text written by Andrea Dworkin after her drug-rape in Paris in 1999. Her life partner, well known author and activist John Stoltenberg, found the original document on her computer.

“…what I discovered was a 24,000-word autobiographical essay, composed in twelve impassioned sections, as powerful and beautifully written as anything Andrea ever wrote. It was searingly personal, fierce and irreverent, mordantly witty, emotionally raw. It was also clearly not a draft; it was finished, polished as if for publication.”

The piece was edited and cut in half to about 90 minutes and directed by Stoltenberg and Dworkin’s longtime friend and collaborator Adam Thorburn. It was performed as a staged reading in New York by Maria Silverman in May of 2014. “At each step in putting this theater project together, I have wished I could talk with Andrea about it. I would want to tell her how the words she showed no one are now reaching and affecting audiences in live performance,” Stoltenberg writes.

The Montreal production is being directed by Waterworks artistic directors Tracey Houston and Rob Langford and being performed by Montreal actor Helena Levitt as Dworkin.

We’ve heard of this type of story before, more recently with the Bill Cosby allegations and Jian Ghomeshi spectacle where the victim’s creditability was brought into question. “If she can’t remember everything, then maybe it didn’t happen.” It was so long ago, maybe she’s a little sketchy on the details” ad infinitum.

In the text, Dworkin refers to the drug Rohypnol and GBH. “This isn’t an aspirin in your drink. It’s not like getting drunk. It’s not like getting high. This is so easy for the boy. This is so simple for the boy. This is foolproof rape. The gang who can’t shoot straight can do this kind of rape. You can do this hundreds of times with virtually no chance of getting caught. I think how easy this evil is to do.” She goes on to describe how powerless one is to fight back from this kind of rape even after the fact, when there is no memory to report or very little if any evidence left behind.

Aftermath is a very passionate, personal account of Dworkin’s life, family, work and thought process that very few people not familiar with her writings have yet to see or be aware of. Stoltenberg explains, “[Dworkin’s] stirring writing ranges dramatically over many themes—her aspirations when she was young, her erotic and romantic relationships, the marriage in which she was battered, her understanding of the connection between Jews and women, her take on President Clinton’s behavior, her deep commitment to helping women, her critique of women who betray women. And the fact that Aftermath is acted means audiences get to hear an emotional dimensionality in Andrea’s voice that in life she shared only with me and her closest friends—trenchant and oracular, as the public knew her, but also tender, sardonic, sorrowful, vulnerable, funny.”

Rob Langford and Tracey Houston, founders of Montreal’s The Waterworks Company (Palace of the End, Gidion’s Knot, Glory Dazed), a troupe committed to staging the best of contemporary playwriting by women, found out about Aftermath last year from Stoltenberg’s Twitter feed, Langford contacted Stoltenberg, proposing to give Aftermath its first full staging here in Montreal.

Aftermath runs September 17th to 27th, 2015, at the Centre culturel Georges-Vanier, 2450 Workman, Little Burgundy, a couple of blocks northeast of the Atwater Market. METRO: Lionel- Groulx.

A special première takes place on September 17th at 8pm; the show runs over the next two weekends Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 4pm and 8pm, and Sundays at 4pm. Post-show talkbacks, with special guests, will take place throughout the first weekend.

Admission is $18 / $13 (buyer chooses price). Tickets are available, via Eventbrite, 
at waterworksmontreal.com, or at the door.

As part of the Printemps Numerique 2015, Title 66, the production company that brought Clive Barker’s The History of the Devil to the International Fantasia Film Festival to high acclaim, gave a limited run of their new piece Nuclear Sky: The Experiment at the Theatre Rouge du Conservatoire d’art dramatic de Montréal. I broke my self-imposed thesis isolation for an unforgettable evening of what turned out to be bold and innovative theatre.

Title 66 is a non-profit organization whose mandate is “to create innovative theatre by blending raw performances and striking aesthetics; evoking a stylized texture of the human experience.” That is exactly what they provided with Nuclear Sky. A week has passed and still images and songs from the show still reverberate in my thoughts.

Nuclear Sky, co-directed by Jeremy Michael Segal and Logan Williams, used Mother Courage and her Children by Brecht as a skeleton to build upon to which cast and crew added automatic writings as well as quotes and references from various essays and works of pop culture.

The set design was at once minimal but rendered dynamic by the use of projections and lighting and the reverberation of sound. Props were few – a giant black box standing in for a wagon – and the use of giant titles across the back were striking.

“Brecht’s play is set distinctly during war, with not one scene depicting killing or violence in the name of warfare,” writes Williams in the program. To bring the piece into conversation with contemporary realities, Nuclear Sky seeks to highlight the disconnect and distortion of experiences of war for those who know it solely through distorted media and narcissistic, almost pathological, use of social media.11201017_1008247122528087_3067619711538154452_o

“We were inspired by the archetypal nature of the characters and war itself: Filif (the soldier), Swiss Cheese (the child) and Kattrin (the woman),” dramateurg Gabriela Saltiel describes, “taking a page from Brecht, we elected to tell the story of these characters’ journey through a wasteland, depicting the effects of violent action on the types they each represent rather than approaching them as distinct individuals.”

Segal highlights the changes in the ways technologies have shaped the way we KNOW as well as what we know and the radical role theatre can have in this context: “Live performance inherently provides much of what we crave as social creatures that has been clicked away in the technological world: an extended experience in the immediate physical presence of others; a ritualistic gathering of society.”

“With this show,” Segal explains, “we aimed to extend the madness of the 21st century into a hyperreal world in which nature no longer exist; war is as ubiquitous as technology; and human connection has all but ceased.”

Standout performances include that of Arielle Palik who plays the mute daughter, Kattrin, and Gitanjali Jain, who plays the Mother, who must bear the wounds of war. To command such presence without words is a strong testament to the power of well wielded kinesics and to perform such unabashed devastation is to channel something fearless. It is the more nuanced messages within the play that resonate the loudest, the soliloquies of the automaton guards, clad in black and nameless, confessing their innards as they struggle against them.

If there is one criticism for this ambitious undertaking is that at times it is heavy handed on the messaging – although this is fitting with a Brechtian approach. There is a distinct fearless youthfulness to the play that drives its energy. That being said, from a critical perspective,  there may be need of further reflection and nuances at certain points of the piece to make sure that Nuclear Sky does not fall into the act of “playing war” or “playing dystopia” for precisely the reason of not having known war – the issue it is trying to highlight.

Dystopia is often used to highlight and criticize social phenomena by making the familiar unfamiliar. However, these sort of works often overlook the very fact that the dystopia they depict is lived realities for thousands and that the audience itself may be complicit in the production of these conditions. Nuclear Sky, at times, teeters on the level of its critique.

What Title 66 accomplished was pointedly breathtaking and boundary pushing. Using a potent blend of simple theatrical elements, allowing experimentation, sleek costume and set design, with technology ingenuity and artistry – Nuclear Sky signals the arrival of a new wave of theatre.

Spoiler alert: Shirley Gnome is not mature, and she likes it that way.

This feisty musical comedienne from Vancouver makes her second appearance at the Montreal Fringe with a whole new set of songs to make you blush. This show is most definitely not for the prude or faint of heart. Gnome makes that abundantly clear when within the first two minutes of her show she’s singing a song about glitter in her pussy. “I took a peek underneath, what did I find/mystery glitter where the sun don’t shine.”

But don’t let that scare you off from buying a ticket. First off, the lady can sing. Her impressive singing chops are easily worth the price of admission alone. Even if she puts those vocal talents to use singing about dicks and things falling out of her vagina.

As the show progresses you start to realize that in between the ridiculousness are serious issues like the pain of denial, a broken heart, and gender equality. “You don’t need to buy me a meal or a drink to fuck me/no you never need to spend a dime/ to get your sexy vagina time/Instead if you could insist in your daily life/in any way that you can/to work towards a world where a woman gets paid the same as a man.”

It’s then you realize realize writing Gnome off as a frivolous Fringe act would be a mistake. Instead this sexually adventurous lady forces the audience to think about all the raw, emotional pain that comes from sexual relationships and realizes it’s mostly bullshit. Life is so much more fun when we can laugh through it, take a swig from a sparkly flask and move on.

Shirley Gnome: Real Mature plays at Le petit campus until June 21st. Tickets and info available on the Montreal Fringe website