Spotlight on: The Pipeline, Mr. Goldberg Goes To Tel Aviv

The Montreal-based playwriting contest Write-On-Q, and The Pipeline readings of the winning submissions were created by Infinithéâtre, the Montreal-based theatre and production company with a mandate to support playwrights in Québec and the English language theatre community. Their mission, specifically, is to “develop, produce and broker new Québec theatre to ever-widening audiences.” Oren Safdie’s 2014 runner-up play from the contest, Mr. Goldberg Goes To Tel-Aviv will be running with Infinithéâtre starting in January 2017.

2016 marked The Pipeline’s 11th cycle, and Write-On-Q’s ninth. Now, after a decade, Guy Sprung, Artistic Director at Infinithéâtre, says many Québec playwrights have synchronized their writing clocks to the annual Write-On-Q deadline in September.

“It didn’t take a great deal of inspiration,” said Guy, about the origins of The Pipeline. “Our mandate is to develop new work. I believe that putting a play on a stage and having a public reading can really open things up for the playwright. You get a real sense of what works and what doesn’t work, and it has an impact.”

Write-On-Q is a contest that can be entered by anyone in the province of Québec, and is judged blindly, with the jury not knowing the playwright’s name. The anonymity is precisely what drew Oren Safdie to enter in the first place. “In Canadian theatre, and especially the Montreal English theatre scene, it’s a small world, and everyone sort of knows each other” said Oren. “Anonymity is truly the most democratic way of running a competition like this, because the focus is solely on the writing.”

Very often being in the top three of The Pipeline readings means the play will be picked up for production in Montreal. “In the very first Write-On-Q competition, all three of the top plays were Infinithéâtre’s next season,” said Guy. “And some have been picked up by other production companies, as well. It has really been a way for us to get close to the plays and help make decisions.”

Oren Safdie’s runner-up play from the 2014 contest, Mr. Golberg Goes to Tel Aviv, is being produced by Infinithéâtre in January 2017. Originally from Montreal, Oren now divides his time between Montreal and LA. Prior to first entering the contest four years ago, he had never had one of his plays produced in his hometown. “I grew up in Montreal, and consider myself a Montreal playwright, but most of my career has taken place in New York and Los Angeles,” he said. “My work has continuously had Montreal themes and references, so to get produced here was always a goal of mine. In a way, it was more important to me to have my plays performed in my hometown than in New York, or anywhere else, and Write-On-Q and The Pipeline were what finally made that happen.” Oren’s play Unseamly, the first of his plays ever to be produced in his home town,  premiered with Infinithéâtre  and then went on to a much praised production Off Broadway.

The local nature of the contest means that many of the plays have Montreal and Québec themes, which Guy thinks is important. “Theatre is about the connection between the stage and the audience, and a fundamental belief I have is that if you’re producing plays written by your own playwrights, chances are that what’s on the stage is going to reflect the audience, and challenge them as they’re watching it,” he said.

Oren’s upcoming Mr. Goldberg goes to Tel Aviv tells the story of Tony Goldberg: an award-winning, Jewish-Canadian gay author, who arrives in Tel Aviv to deliver a blistering attack on the Israeli government to the country’s left leaning literate. But before he leaves his hotel room, the conflict in the Middle East will come to him. Part farce, part suspenseful drama, Mr. Goldberg Goes to Tel Aviv, is a jaw-rattling ride through the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, where allegiances constantly shift, religion is irreverent, and politics is a matter of survival.

The play was inspired by the tension that can sometimes be present between North American and Israeli Jewish people. “With North American Jews leaning predominantly left, and Israelis more recently turning right, sometimes North Americans feel entitled to opinions on Israel without knowing the sacrifice of having to send a child to the army and potentially the front lines,” said Oren. “I wanted to explore the unique relationship that North American Jews have with Israel.”

Raised by Israeli parents in Montreal, Oren spent summers with relatives in Israel. “During those summers in Israel, I experienced the country in many ways,” he said. “Throughout my visits, I was keenly aware that although I was a citizen, I wasn’t really Israeli. If war broke out, it wasn’t mandatory for me to do three years in the military. I had an escape back to Montreal where the biggest disputes had to do with language signs. With this in mind, I try to see the conflict through the lens of an Israeli, rather than through a preconceived ideological stand.”

This is not Oren’s first time writing a play with these themes. In 2007, he wrote the comedic musical West Bank, UK, about an unlikely pair of roommates, one Palestinian, and one Israeli. “I try to tackle these political issues with comedy, but in staying true to comedy, with some deep thinking behind the issues as well,” he said.

Trying to bring forth some of the complexities of the conflict was one of the main drivers in Mr. Goldberg. “I have tried to give the characters their rightful say, while making fun of them all equally,” said Oren. “I wanted to show a more human side to the terrorist, the Israeli military, even the Jewish Left wing intellectual. All of the characters share things in common, but their identities and politics keep them divided.”

The play’s subject matter is certainly reflective of Infinithéâtre and The Pipeline’s goal to produce and promote plays which a Montreal audience can connect to. “I believe that the quality of the plays being developed here are on a par with anywhere else, and across Canada plays by English language Montreal-based playwrights are undervalued. I’d like to continue to try and figure out how to change that,” said Guy.

Mr. Golberg Goes to Tel Aviv runs at Théâtre St. James from January 31 until March 5, 2017. Click here for more information

 

 

The Right to the City

Concordia University students give back to the community, creatively

On December 3rd, students from Concordia University’s The Right to the City project will present a theatre and art showcase at various locations in Pointe-Saint-Charles after spending their Fall semester working for community organizations in the area. The neighbourhood will be lively with the students presenting their experiences through exhibits and performances.

The Right to the City project is a group of three classes at Concordia, for students in Art History, Art Education and Theatre. Ted Little teaches the participating theatre course, called The Neighbourhood Theatre, which provides students with the experience of being an artist-in-residence.

“The Neighbourhood Theatre course is for students to look at the advantages and challenges of being an artist-in-residence,” said Ted. “Students are paired with a community organization in the Pointe-Saint-Charles area. The priority for the courses is reciprocity for the student and the community organization. Our students bring creative imagination and youthful energy to the organizations to assist with the existing programming and employees. They bring an artist’s sensibility to the mix.”

Students have been paired with organizations like the YMCA, Share the Warmth, and St-Columba House. They have been able to help with things like programming, children’s activities, and adding workshops to the program schedule. “Our students are learning from experienced programmers and employees of these organizations,” said Ted. “They are learning about a social economy model, and hopefully at the same time bringing in fresh ideas and helping with the workload of existing employees.”

The project was titled after the right to the city concept by Henri Lefebvre. “The concept is that we have the power to change the city from the inside out, and render it more inclusive,” said Ted. The university funded the project for a three year period, and this is the program’s final year. The last group of students will be presenting a showcase in the Pointe-Saint-Charles community about their experiences throughout the semester.

“The day will start at 2:00 pm with performances at Share the Warmth, where we will also unveil stained glass works created with local participants using materials reclaimed during the building’s current window replacement project,” said Ted. “Afterward, there will be a curated walk featuring a tour of neighbourhood art. The day will finish at Salon Laurette with an art exhibition and further performances. There will be food and hot beverages for everyone in attendance, as well.”

Although the first three years of funding are now complete, Ted stresses that the program is far from being finished. “The university is very keen on the results of this program so far, but we want to take this time to reflect and evaluate what we’ve done over the past three years,” he said. “We’re going to have a study session to assess the impact on the university and the neighbourhood and present the results publicly. We fully expect it to continue in the future.”

Some of the lasting impacts from this program are already clear. “We don’t just leave the neighbourhoods when this program is over. Many students are taking supervised internship courses and continuing to work at the organization they were paired with. Some students remain as volunteers, and some are even finding employment there,” said Ted. “For those of us running the program and for those participating, it has been hard work but it has been marvelous, rewarding work and we hope to see the echoes of the students remaining in the community for a long time to come.”

For more information and the full schedule of events of The Right to the City showcase, click here.

Artista

Joy Ross-Jones of Imago Theatre is program director of Artista, a free theatre mentorship program for young women.

Imago Theatre’s mandate is to tell Her Side of the Story, so it makes sense that Joy Ross-Jones and Micheline Chevrier (Artistic Director) created an innovative theatre mentorship program for young women in Montreal. Artista brings young women aged 16-21 as mentees together with women working in the Montreal theatre community as mentors. The program’s aim is to provide a platform for the young women to share their stories through theatre, and to gain an understanding of what it means to work in the theatre arts.

The group of mentors and mentees meet weekly for a four hour session. “Each week, we start with an hour of sharing food and chatting. This upcoming year, we will be inviting women working in various fields from the Montreal community as guests to our meals, to showcase the diversity and range of possibilities,” said Joy. “After eating, we have a three hour workshop led by a mentor or a guest teacher focusing on things like movement, voice and text creation. For example, this year we will also be doing mask creation workshops and creating mask characters.”

Artista seeks cultural diversity in its mentees. “We strive toward equity in this program. The umbrella term for who we are looking for is young women in need, but the term need takes on many forms,” said Joy. “We give priority of acceptance to young women who are recent arrivals in Canada who are searching for community, as well as to visible minorities, and young women who don’t have the financial ability to participate in this kind of program otherwise.”

The mentorship program is free of charge to all participants, and that remains one of their priorities.  “It’s important to us that Artista remains completely free because we want to break down as many barriers to access as possible,” said Joy. “This does mean that we spend a considerable amount of time fundraising for the budget, to provide a meal as well as a quality theatre workshop each week.”

The next session for the Artista mentorship program begins on January 15, 2017, and applications will be accepted until January 11. The program runs for 15 weeks, and this year’s theme is Home and Belonging. “For one of the projects this year, participants will be interviewing a person their lives who has a story of home and belonging, or maybe a lack thereof,” said Joy. “These interviews will inspire our storytelling, the mask characters, and everything will tie into our final performance at the end of the 15 weeks.” Artista’s final performances are a chance to tell the mentee’s stories with an invited audience of artists and community members.

And a final message from Joy: “If you are a young woman who wants to explore theatre, don’t be scared to come check us out, even if you don’t have a theatre background. Artista is a welcoming, safe space to explore the performing arts. Additionally, if you know a young woman from the ages of 16-21, spread the word! I am happy to meet up and chat, have an email exchange or talk by phone to answer any questions. It would be my absolute pleasure!”

For more information on the Artista mentorship program, click here.

Joy can be contacted at: joy@imagotheatre.ca

Delete

Youtheatre presents an interactive theatre experience encouraging youth to explore the realities and consequences of living a life constantly connected to the internet

delete

Photo Credit: Youtheatre Archives

A new generation of children is growing up without ever having experienced life without the internet. It is easy to feel as though the virtual self is different and disconnected from the real self, hidden behind a screen and a keyboard.  The creators of Delete, Michel Lefebvre and Daniel Iregui, wanted to create a fun, interactive theatre experience as a reminder that there is no divide, the virtual self and the in-person self are one and the same.

A project two years in the making, Delete is a theatre experience designed for youth aged 8-12. Kids (as part of school groups) walk through four interactive rooms after filling out an online survey which asked them questions about themselves and how they interact with others online. The experience is completely interactive, and includes a room consisting of an Xbox Kinect camera taking their photographs and compiling them into a composite, rooms playing with light, sound recording and more. The way the students answered the survey is incorporated into each feature, and each school has a completely unique experience.

The piece is part of Youtheatre, a theatre company whose mandate is to engage its audience through compelling theatre which provokes, questions, challenges and entertains. Their current area of focus is the creation, development and production of new works for young people by the finest Canadian playwrights. Michel Lefebvre, the company’s Executive Director as well as one of the devisers of Delete said: “We create projects which allow kids to be right there with the journey, more than they would be with traditional theatre. We try to push and translate theatre into an experience and an engaging event that involves more than just an audience watching.”

The piece was created as a response to the constant growth in the past decades in the ability to be consistently connected to the internet. “We as adults can sometimes be overwhelmed by the presence and amount of technology, but this is all children growing up today know.” said Michel. “We hope that after coming to Delete teachers will address the societal issues that come from such a constant state of connectivity.”

But of course, the primary goal for youth-oriented theatre is to be fun and engaging. “We hope they have a blast!” said Michel. “We are creating theatre for the 21st century, and we want them to leave thinking about all the different forms that art and theatre can take, and know that there is room for all forms of art.”

Delete is running at Eastern Bloc until November 30. For more information, click here.

 

Kafka’s Ape

Howard Rosenstein plays Redpeter in the stage adaptation of Franz Kafka’s short story ‘A Report to An Academy’

The lifestyle of a human being is often very unlike the way the rest of the animal kingdom exists, and it can become easy to forget that we, Homo Sapiens, are animals as well. Guy Sprung’s play, Kafka’s Ape, shows through the eyes of an outsider the absurd, and sometimes cruel, rituals, customs and behaviours that humans engage in as part of our existence at the top of the food chain.

Based on Franz Kafka’s short story, A Report to An Academy, Kafka’s Ape was adapted for the stage as well as for modern, North American audiences. Redpeter was a wild ape who was captured and caged on the Gold Coast of Africa. He tells the story of how he escaped the cage by learning how to become a walking, talking, spitting, drinking, mercenary soldier of the Peace Industry.

“The interesting thing about this play is that audience members are seeing a man (the actor) playing an ape, who’s playing a man and trying to fit in,” said Howard Rosenstein, who plays Redpeter. “In the process of trying to go through the three layers, there’s an opportunity to reflect a mirror to the audience, and to humanity in general, about the things we do, see and feel in our lives.”

The play is in the form of a keynote speech that Redpeter is making to the shareholders of Graywater Corporation, the military corporation who captured him and with whom he has served several tours of duty. While telling his story, Redpeter is at times overcome with emotion at the cruelties he has faced, and sometimes still incredulous at the rituals and customs of man. He was particularly disgusted by his first taste of whiskey, but learned quickly that drinking it would be one of the most important things he could do to become respected as a man.

“I say Kafka was a genius to use animals as characters in some of his stories,” said Howard. “It allows audiences to step back and not feel like it was about them, although of course it was and still is. It gives us a certain safety to feel like the story isn’t about us, and provides the space for us to consider what this animal is going through without feeling put on the spot. Initially, anyway.”

The story of struggling to fit into a new community and never quite being able to shake the feeling of being an outsider is universally relatable. The story of Redpeter’s existence as an outsider to humanity will leave audience members with a new sense of awareness of the rituals and customs we partake in to ensure everyone is kept in their respective place.

Kafka’s Ape, with Howard Rosenstein in the main role, has been in production for four years, with over 100 performances. “Performing the play so many times over the past four years has been an incredible opportunity,” said Howard. “It’s not often in the Montreal English Theatre community that you get the chance to let a character sink into your pores and really know it the way I’ve been able to, which provides a certain quality you might not normally get in a piece like this.”

Kafka’s Ape is running until November 18. For more information, click here.

Concordia University’s One-Act Play Festival

Festival features student casts and a collaborative project among exchange students

Concordia University’s One-Act Play Festival is running again this year from November 9 until November 13 at the Henry F. Hall Building. This year’s festival is called Moments and consists of five, one-act plays, all featuring a cast of Concordia students.

Cristina Gorgos Iovita is a festival coordinator and director of one of the plays, Mistero Buffo, written by the late Dario Fo, the Italian actor and playwright. The festival is in a new format this year in order to give more opportunity for all students to have stage experiences,” she said. “The criteria for this year’s festival was that plays be one hour maximum time so that we could have many different(a maximum of?) acting, design and production students involved.”

Each of the five plays features a cast entirely of Concordia students. Along with Mistero Buffo, the other shows of the weekend are V-Cards, written by Jesse Strong and Step Taylor, Constellations, written by Nick Payne, Plays by Don Nigro, written by Don Nigro, and underbelly, a student project.

“Three of the five plays are of Anglo-American origin,” said Cristina, “Mistero Buffo is a modern European piece, and underbelly is a new kind of creative collection done by students participating in an exchange this year, from Concordia as well as students from Erlangen University, Germany.” underbelly was an 8 month collaboration amongst the German and Concordia exchange students and is an entirely student-led project, exploring the theme of monsters and hybrids within art and performance.

Emma Heywood is performing in V-Cards, monologues and dialogues on virginity and sexuality. “In V-Cards, the entire cast will be playing more than one role, and we are using masks to differentiate our characters,” she explained. “It has been a great experience playing with the masks, and getting to know our characters and watching ourselves transform through using them.”

The students in the festival were in charge of much of the aesthetic of their own plays, in some cases from costuming to music. “We are trying to teach our students how to make theatre that is entertaining and to perform with a profound message with no withdrawal of aesthetic vision, even on a lower budget performance,” said Cristina. “With limited funds for theatre in the world right now, we need to be inspired and creative to capture the imagination of the public. That’s what I try to teach my students, and I know that they can do it.”

The festival runs until November 13, with five unique and memorable plays being showcased, all filled to the brim with student talent. Three shows are performed each night, so make sure to check which shows are playing the night you attend! For more information on the festival, click here.

 

 

Misery

d2 productions adapts Stephen King’s novel Misery for the stage

The idea to produce Misery came to Dale Hayes, of d2 productions, while in search of a book to read on a rainy afternoon. “I picked up Stephen King’s novel Misery, even though I’d already read it before,” said Dale. “As I was reading, the director in me came out, and I started thinking about producing it as a play.”

In Misery, the character Paul Sheldon is an author who is wintering in a small town in Colorado. He wakes up in a strange house after getting into a car accident, and learns he is at the residence of Annie Wilkes, a nurse, who also happens to be his number one fan. She is especially enamoured with his series of historical romance novels about Misery Chastain. Paul ends up being kept prisoner by Annie, who is mentally unstable and enraged that he has killed her favourite character in his most recent novel.

Playing at Mainline Theatre until November 13, Misery stars Caroline Fournier as Annie Wilkes, and Max Laferriere as Paul Sheldon. The psychological thriller is a classic on the screen as well as the original novel. As Dale was adapting it for the stage, she tried to incorporate both iterations of the story. “I watched the movie, and found that the screenplay lends itself well to the play,” she explained. “But one thing the screenplay doesn’t do is talk about Paul Sheldon’s novel Misery like it does in the book. During scene transitions, we have voiceovers of Annie Wilkes reading the novels so the audience gets a key into the Misery novels and just how much Annie loves them.”

“This was my first time directing a psychological thriller,” said Dale. “I don’t normally like horror movies, because they scare me, but this particular story scares me in a different way. There are no zombies, monsters or ghosts, just a woman who has been driven to insanity.” Dale and Caroline Fournier delved into the psychological aspect of the play, doing research on psychosis, stalking, and possessiveness. “It was interesting for us to explore,” said Dale. “To me, the psychological aspect of the play, about how she wants power and wants to take the power away from Paul Sheldon, that’s scarier than any kind of horror movie.”

Mainline Theatre provides an intimate setting for the play, and audiences are up close and personal with the scenes, including Paul Sheldon’s extreme physical pain and Annie’s violent episodes. The actors are consistently in character, even during scene changes, as the scene plays on in the background. The characters are even moving around and doing set changes during the intermission, giving audience members the eerie sensation that they might actually be in the presence of Annie Wilkes.

“What I’m hoping the audience walks away with is being frightened, of course, but with the thought that there are people out there who are like this, like the Jeffrey Dahmer’s of the world. These serial killers, and psychotic individuals exist,” said Dale. After two hours in the same room as Annie Wilkes, it’s unlikely that those thoughts could be avoided. Audience members will leave with a shiver up their spines in the remembrance that some monsters are real and walk among us. Misery runs at Mainline Theatre at 8:00 pm, until November 13. For more information, click here.

Prom Queen: The Musical

Brand new musical at the Segal Centre has a stellar cast filled with Montreal talent

In 2002, headlines throughout Canada and around the world were talking about a blue-haired teen named Marc Hall who was suing the Catholic school board in his town for the right to take his boyfriend to prom. It was a huge news story, and the school board ended up conceding and allowing the teens to go to the prom together. The Segal Centre’s Prom Queen: The Musical is bringing this important story to the stage. The cast is star-studded and contains lots of Montreal-grown talent.

With a huge, 18-person cast, energetic song and dance numbers and a storyline of passionate high school romance, Prom Queen is a fun show to watch. Jamie Mayers, playing the part of Napoleon in the cast, said it is just as exciting to perform. “People tell us we look like we are having so much fun, because it’s so energetic,” he said. “The dance moves are fun to do and everyone is having the time of our lives doing it.”

Jamie is making a return to the Segal Centre, where he did his first professional play, Lies My Father Told Me. “It’s really incredible to be back, at the Segal Centre, it’s a loving place that I call my home away from home” said Jamie. “Prom Queen and Lies My Father Told Me are very different plays, but are similar in that they each tell important stories.”

Prom Queen: The Musical’s story follows Marc Hall as well as a cast of characters, as their high school gets ready for prom. Marc’s storyline follows his fight with the schoolboard for the right to take his boyfriend to the prom. In the meantime, his friends and classmates are also preparing for the big night. Jamie’s character, Napoleon, is Marc’s friend who is a bit of a nerd, and a huge film buff. “Napoleon is hiding behind his camera for most of the show, and is secretly desperate to go to prom. He jumps at the chance to go when he’s asked,” said Jamie. “The character adds some comic relief, and it’s a cool opportunity to be able to add the balance to the show.”

Jamie was pretty young when the Marc Hall story broke, but he’s proud to be part of its presentation on the Montreal stage. “The story is so important for Canadians, and I’ve even had friends in the states who know about Marc Hall and have messaged me about the play. He’s very important to a lot of people in the world,” said Jamie. “It’s still so relevant today, even just the idea of being a teenager and being accepted for who you are, and finding your way in this world.”

Prom Queen: The Musical is a highly entertaining show, depicting one of the biggest stories in Canadian news history. “We have put together an incredible show, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the amazing group of people who are so focused on getting the work done and making the show as rich and layered as possible,” said Jamie. Prom Queen is playing at the Segal Centre until November 20, click here for more information.

jamie-mayers-headshot-prom-queen

Jamie Mayers – Napoleon in Prom Queen: The Musical

 

The Fixer-Upper

Lorne Elliott plays the protagonist in the most recent production of his play

Summertime in the Maritimes provinces is incomparable, and Maritime family dynamics can be described in much the same way. In Lorne Elliott’s The Fixer-Upper, Bruno MacIntyre has inherited a family cottage on Prince Edward Island in need of some repairs, and he decides to rent it out to tourists for the summer months. His family members, however, are not on board with this plan, and through the course of seven phone conversations we see a classic case of the manipulation, confusion and silliness that ensues when everyone in a family seems to have an opinion.

Lorne Elliott is starring as the show’s protagonist, the inheritor of the cottage, Bruno. His family, especially Aunt Tilley, are most certainly not on the same page as him about remodelling and renting out the cottage. The play revolves around seven phone calls, beginning with Bruno calling relatives to see if anyone may want to rent the cottage. “The focus is on the relationship between the older members of the family and the younger,” said Lorne, “I wanted to challenge myself while writing this play, and place the focus on the dialogue without relying on action, while still maintaining a connection with the audience.”

Lorne’s focus as a playwright often is ensuring audience connection. “I’ve always liked the Bob Marley quote: ‘I don’t play an instrument, I play the room. You can put something lovely on paper but ultimately the main part of the multiple arts of creating theatre is keeping the focus of the audience,” he said. The show has been produced multiple times since it was first written in 2000, and Lorne is always looking for ways to improve each performance. “I like to get in front of an audience and keep tinkering as we go” explained Lorne. “I pay attention to what parts the audience is tuning into and tuning out of, and go from there.”

This will be Lorne’s second time playing the role of Bruno in his play. “We performed this particular configuration of the play a few times in front of an audience, so I think we got a sense of how it’s going to work,” he said. Karen Cromer will be playing the role of Aunt Tilley. “We are really pleased to have Karen on board with us,” said Lorne. “Producing a great play involves working with a great team, and I am really pleased with the group we are working with for this production”

The Fixer-Upper is running from Nov 24 to Nov 26, at Grove Hall. The captivating dialogue and classic tale of trying to navigate through the complicated seas of family dynamics will entice audiences and be sure to keep them laughing. For more information, click here.

Spotlight on: Le Fesitval des Clowns de Montreal

When you hear the world “clown” one of the first thing to pop into your head might be the traditional image of a multitude of circus clowns crammed into a tiny car, red noses pushed up against the window. At this week’s Festival des Clowns de Montreal, expect these traditions to be broken as the art of clown will be on display in all its marvellous, hilarious, and poignant iterations. This inaugural edition of the festival boasts four days of jam-packed programming featuring performers well known in our local community as well as acclaimed international clowns!

“I’ve had the idea about six years ago I went to the Toronto Clown Festival,” says Kendall Savage, the producer of the festival. She recognized that, as the circus capital of Canada, Montreal has the potential to be an incredible host to a festival celebrating clown. Savage herself has practiced clown for many years now after being ignited during a production with esteemed director Nathalie Claude, “I just had to give over to the fact that this was something I was really good at, this was something that made me happy.”

The lineup for the festival offers a menu of options, allowing audiences to taste-test a variety of clown styles. Performances include local favourites like the incredible acrobatics of Krin Haglund, who is presenting excerpts from her show The Rendez-Vous, and the comedy ballet burlesque mashup offered by Les Bunheads and Friends. Out of town artist Priscilla Costa tackles perversion and ecstasy through the clown of Mona Monaé, a piece in the style of Clown du Bouffon which takes audiences on a journey of self-discovery, desire, and visceral impulses. “Bouffon is like the cousin to clown,” describes Savage, “Its job is to get you to laugh at the things you normally wouldn’t, so you can learn something.” The festival also boasts international performance troupes, including The Submarine Show an award winning critically acclaimed piece of physical theatre about two men who crash their submarine on the bottom of the sea.

In a world wrought with negativity, taking a pause to breathe can be hard enough and turning that breath into laughter, even harder. Perhaps the unique opportunity to laugh is offered by the Festival des Clowns de Montreal. “One of the many jobs of the clown is to hold the mirror up to society so they can laugh at themselves. That’s really important for healing,” says Savage, reflecting on the role of the clown in society today, “It’s important to know that when there’s absolute chaos everywhere you can always stop and take a laugh and a breather. We need the fool to show us that no matter what you should never give up.”

Make the time this weekend to take in some amazing performances, allow yourself to reflect, to breathe, and most importantly to laugh. “Clown teaches us that in theatre, and in the world, and in our daily lives that we need to be honest with ourselves so that we can move forward,” says Savage. This is a festival certain to impress and to entertain.

Le Festival des Clowns de Montreal runs from September 29th to October 2nd with all performances taking place at MainLine Theatre (3997 St-Laurent). For the full schedule of performances (and trust us… it is full!) please refer to the festival website. Tickets can be purchased in advance from the MainLine Theatre website.

*Please note that not all performances are suitable for children.*