Canadian Stage (CanStage) announces a new season – 2010-2011 – and a new vision

By Sam Mooney

Matthew Jocelyn, Canadian Stage Artistic & General Director Matthew Jocelyn announced the Canadian Stage 2010-2011 season yesterday to an audience of about 400 people in the Bluma Appel theatre.  It’s fascinating that so many people would take the time on a Tuesday morning.

He unveiled the change from The Canadian Stage Company to Canadian Stage yesterday before he announced the new season.  Canadian Stage is less cumbersome than the old name but I suspect people will still refer to it as CanStage.

The Canadian Stage 2010-2011 season is definitely not the same old same old.  It doesn’t sound easy but it does sound interesting and exciting.  “Jocelyn seeks to redefine Canadian Stage as a centre for national and international multi-disciplinary theatre that pushes boundaries, adopts a 21st-century perspective and reflects Toronto’s cultural diversity.”  – from the Canadian Stage press release.

All the details are in the press release.

Canadian Stage Press Release – 2010-2011 Season

Charting a new course under the leadership of Artistic & General Director Matthew Jocelyn

Toronto, ON (March 16, 2010)  Canadian Stage unveiled its highly anticipated 2010-2011 season today, marking the first season programmed by Artistic & General Director Matthew Jocelyn. The season heralds a bold, new direction for the company. Jocelyn seeks to redefine Canadian Stage as a centre for national and international multi-disciplinary theatre that pushes boundaries, adopts a 21st-century perspective and reflects Toronto’s cultural diversity. The work will be driven by directors and auteurs at the forefront of contemporary theatre and audiences will have the opportunity to discover a new generation of story-tellers who challenge and entertain.

Toronto is a vibrant, international, contemporary and cultural city. Canadian Stage has a responsibility to produce the kind of art that belongs in a great metropolis, to provide Canadian artists with the means to present their large-scale work on stage and to create a home for the great theatrical inventors of today  both national and international, states Jocelyn. This coming season, we are excited and proud to share the work of some of Canada’s greatest and most accomplished theatre innovators alongside pioneering young artists and to introduce audiences to international artists who are leaders on the contemporary arts scene.

2010-2011 features exciting new programming at Canadian Stage’s Bluma Appel and Berkeley Street Theatres and the return of a well-loved classic at Canadian Stage’s TD Dream in High Park.

At The Bluma Appel Theatre, audiences can anticipate physically and visually arresting works by the vanguard of the Canadian contemporary theatre scene including: The Andersen Project by Robert Lepage (Ex Machina); a new work by Édouard Lock (La La La Human Steps); and Studies in Motion: The Hauntings of Eadweard Muybridge by Electric Company Theatre, directed by Kim Collier.

Programming includes the Canadian premiere of The cosmonaut’s last message to the woman he once loved in the former Soviet Union by David Greig, one of Scotland’s prominent young playwrights, with direction by Canada’s Jennifer Tarver, acclaimed for her Broadway-bound Krapp’s Last Tape starring Brian Dennehy.

Rounding out the Bluma series are two new English adaptations: Saint Carmen of The Main by Michel Tremblay, the most celebrated playwright in the history of Canada, translated by Governor General’s Award-winner Linda Gaboriau and directed by Peter Hinton, Artistic Director of NAC English Theatre in Ottawa; and Fernando Krapp Wrote Me This Letter: An Attempt at the Truth by Tankred Dorst, one of the masters of contemporary German theatre, adapted and directed by Matthew Jocelyn in his Canadian Stage debut.

Berkeley Street Theatre will become home to Canadian Stage’s inaugural Spotlight festival presenting intriguing works by groundbreaking companies from a different country or geographic area each year. This year’s festival is Spotlight on Italy.

Audiences can also expect an exciting new collaboration between Canadian Stage and Theatre Passe Muraille (TPM), who are joining forces for the first time in a unique form of play development and presentation with Project: Humanity’s The Middle Place, a revealing docu-drama by young Toronto playwright Andrew Kushnir.

Daring new plays are also featured from the Berkeley Street Project, a partnership between Canadian Stage and some of the country’s finest independent theatre companies; these include: the English adaptation of Jennifer Tremblay’s  The List, directed by Kelly Thornton and starring Allegra Fulton (co-produced with Nightwood Theatre); and Our Class, an acclaimed new play by leading Polish playwright Tadeusz Slobodzianek (produced in association with Studio 180 Theatre). Programming includes the return of the annual Festival of Ideas & Creation, promoting the development of artists and new works.

Completing the season is the Canadian Stage TD Dream in High Park. Entering its 28th year, the Dream is the oldest annual outdoor theatre event in Canada. This summer, the pay-what-you-can event presents the classic Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, directed by Dora Award-winner Vikki Anderson.

2010-2011 Subscriptions are available for sale beginning today, March 16, 2010, with 6-play packages starting from $124 and 9-play packages starting from $158. Subscriptions may be purchased by phone at 416-368-3110 and in-person at Canadian Stage’s Bluma Appel Theatre (27 Front Street East) or Berkeley Street Theatre (26 Berkeley Street). Single tickets will be available for sale on September 6, 2010.

At Bluma Appel Theatre:

Fernando Krapp Wrote Me This Letter:
An Attempt at the Truth

Written by Tankred Dorst

Adapted and directed by Matthew Jocelyn

Sept. 18  Oct. 16, 2010 (media night: Sept. 23)

Canadian premiere – Written by Tankred Dorst, one of the masters of contemporary German theatre, Fernando Krapp Wrote Me This Letter will be adapted into English and directed by Artistic & General Director Matthew Jocelyn, marking his Canadian Stage debut.  The play is a bold metaphysical fable that explores the themes of love, power, desire and reality. When a mysterious millionaire writes Julia a letter calling her the most beautiful girl in the city and vowing to marry her, she is outraged. Though they are strangers, Fernando is determined that his betrothed love him and is undeterred by her protests. They marry and when accusations of infidelity arise Fernando manipulates the situation to convince Julia of her love for him. The price they pay for this ultimate tour de force is beyond what either of them expected. The play, a powerhouse of unexpected emotions, is an adaptation of Spanish writer Miguel de Unamuno’s novella, Nada Meno Que Todo un Hombre (Nothing Less Than a Man). Tankred Dorst is an award-winning German storyteller, translator, filmmaker and playwright – one of the most prolific and widely performed playwrights in the German language. His work is inspired by such authors as Ionesco and Beckett.

The Andersen Project

An Ex Machina production presented by Canadian Stage

Written and directed by Robert Lepage

Starring Yves Jacques

Oct. 21 – 30, 2010 (media night: Oct. 21)

Toronto premiere – Inspired by The Dryad and The Shadow by Hans Christian Andersen and anecdotes drawn from the famed Danish author’s Parisian travels, The Andersen Project is a modern-day, multimedia fairy-tale from Canada’s celebrated theatre visionary Robert Lepage. An artist travels to Paris, at the request of a famed opera house, which has commissioned him to write the libretto for an opera based on Hans Christian Andersen fairy-tales. The experience enables him to explore questions of sexual identity, unfulfilled fantasies, a thirst for recognition and fame. The one-man show, which combines cutting-edge technology and ingenious stage craft to create a world of theatrical illusion, was commissioned by the Kingdom of Denmark in 2005 as part of their 200th anniversary celebrations of Hans Christian Andersen’s birth.  It has since been performed in Canada, the US, Europe, the UK, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Mark Fisher of The Guardian (UK) described it as a playful and dazzling ode to the imagination and an evening of storytelling worthy of Hans Christian [Andersen] himself. Based in Quebec City, Robert Lepage’s modern and original approach transcends all boundaries shaking the dogma of classical stage direction to its very foundations.

Studies in Motion: The Hauntings of Eadweard Muybridge

An Electric Company Theatre production presented by Canadian Stage

Written by Kevin Kerr

Directed by Kim Collier

Choreography by Crystal Pite

Starring Andrew Wheeler as Muybridge

Nov. 22  Dec. 18, 2010 (media night: Nov. 25)

Toronto premiere  Canada’s ground-breaking Electric Company Theatre lays bare the mysteries of the human body in this physically and visually arresting theatrical exploration of the life, work and ghosts of 19th-century photographer Eadweard Muybridge, the forefather of modern cinema. The multimedia spectacle by Governor General’s Award-winning playwright Kevin Kerr features a touring company of 12 performers, starring Andrew Wheeler as Muybridge. The production is directed by Jessie Award-winner Kim Collier, with choreography by internationally renowned Crystal Pite, the latest in digital lighting technology by scenographer Robert Gardiner, original compositions by electronica recording artist Patrick Pennefather and sensuous period costumes by Mara Gottler. The production premiered at Vancouver’s PuSh International Performing Arts Festival in 2006 to popular and critical acclaim. Alexandra Gill of The Globe and Mail wrote, mesmerizing blending impressive physicality with a compelling narrative a thoughtfully layered script that makes us laugh and care about this deeply troubled man a tight collaboration between script, choreography, lighting and sound Kim Collier deserves the highest praise for deftly weaving all these elements together. Electric Company Theatre, originated by Kim Collier, Kevin Kerr, David Hudgins and Jonathon Young, has been creating original physically and visually based theatre since 1996. A vital presence on Vancouver’s indie scene, the company is the recipient of numerous Jessie Awards including five for Best Production.

Saint Carmen of The Main

In co-production with the National Arts Centre, Ottawa

Written by Michel Tremblay

Translated by Linda Gaboriau

Directed by Peter Hinton

Feb. 7  Mar. 5, 2011 (media night: Feb. 10)

Michel Tremblay, the most celebrated playwright in Canada, tells the heroic and tragic tale of a nightclub singer who dares to make art from the everyday lives of those on the fringes of society in this monumental play, newly translated by Linda Gaboriau and directed by Peter Hinton. A country singer from Montreal’s red-light district, Carmen triumphantly returns to her old haunts after a visit to Nashville to hone her craft. Doing away with bleedin’ hearts and lonesome nights, Carmen sings about the people in her audience: hustlers and whores who for the first time become the heroes of her songs. An award-winning seminal play, Saint Carmen of The Main was first produced in 1976 and had its Toronto premiere in 1978. At that time, Ray Conologue of The Globe and Mail wrote, “Michel Tremblay has steeled his courage and done that which lesser writers dare not do: written a classical tragedy…a formidable accomplishment.” Tremblay’s award-winning plays have been translated into dozens of languages and have been enormously successful in Europe, the Americas and the Middle East. Linda Gaboriau is a Governor General’s Award-winning dramaturg and translator of plays by some of Quebec’s most prominent playwrights; her translations have been published and produced across Canada and abroad. Peter Hinton is an award-winning director with more than 90 plays to his credit. He is the Artistic Director of NAC English Theatre in Ottawa and was recently appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada.

The cosmonaut’s last message to the woman he once loved in the former Soviet Union

Written by David Greig

Directed by Jennifer Tarver

April 16  May 14, 2011 (media night: Apr. 21)
Canadian premiere  The stories of a Scottish couple whose TV is on the blink, a Norwegian UN peace negotiator, a young prostitute, a French scientist obsessed with UFOs, a pregnant policewoman and two abandoned Russian cosmonauts who have been circling the planet for two decades are woven together as lovers and strangers attempt to connect across living rooms, countries and into outer orbit. Lyrical, moving and darkly funny, this play by David Greig explores the frailties of love, the nature of loneliness and our universal desire for contact. It was first produced at the Edinburgh Festival in 1999 followed by runs at La Jolla Playhouse (San Diego) in 2000 and Donmar Warehouse (London) in 2005. The Independent (London) called it a beautifully written play – in fact, a minor classic…haunting. David Greig is one of Scotland’s most prominent, prolific and thought-provoking young dramatists whose plays have been produced worldwide. Director Jennifer Tarver was named one of 2010’s people to watch by the Toronto Star and recently earned acclaim for her direction of Krapp’s Last Tape starring Brian Dennehy at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Chicago’s Goodman Theatre and soon on Broadway.


A La La La Human Steps production presented by Canadian Stage

By Édouard Lock

May 26  June 1, 2011 (media night: May 26)
Toronto premiere – Édouard Lock, artistic director and choreographer of La La La Human Steps  one of Canada’s most exhilarating and acclaimed cultural exports pushing the boundaries of dance  is creating an innovative and challenging new work, as yet untitled, commemorating the 30th anniversary of his company. The piece will be a fusion of two iconic operas. Lock deconstructs and reinvents two distinct tragic love stories creating a new and unpredictable narrative through a provocative hybrid of dance, film, music, narrative, form and style. Renowned for his ferocious, high-velocity, post-modernist choreography, multi-award-winner Édouard Lock and his Montreal-based company catapulted to the forefront of the international dance scene in 1985 with Human Sex. The London Times states, extreme choreography, cut with precision and audacity These are the memories we can’t escape. They are beautiful, they are deranged, and Lock overheats them until they possess the ability to haunt. The company has collaborated with Frank Zappa, David Bowie, Opèra de Paris and last toured Toronto in 2007 with their internationally acclaimed work Amjad.

At Berkeley Street Theatre:

The Berkeley Street Theatre is home to the Berkeley Street Project, a partnership between Canadian Stage and two of the country’s finest independent theatre companies – Nightwood Theatre and Studio 180 Theatre. It will also be home to a groundbreaking initiative between Canadian Stage and Theatre Passe Muraille (TPM), who are joining forces for the first time in a unique form of play development and presentation with Project: Humanity’s The Middle Place. The theatre is also the site of the inaugural Spotlight festival, featuring multi-disciplinary works by groundbreaking international companies  a different country or geographic area will be highlighted each year. The festival launches with Spotlight on Italy. Wrapping up the Berkeley series is the annual Festival of Ideas & Creation, promoting the development of artists and new works.

The List

Produced by Nightwood Theatre in co-production with Canadian Stage
Written by Jennifer Tremblay

Translated by Shelley Tepperman

Directed by Kelly Thornton

Starring Allegra Fulton

Oct. 11  Nov. 6, 2010 (media night: Oct. 14)

Toronto premiere – A woman invites us into her kitchen. Her neighbour is dead. Is she culpable for the death? The woman, who prides herself on never letting anything slip by, has overlooked an item on her list. Could this one tiny

action have made a difference? The List draws us into the very heart of modernity, the harshness of our congested lives,

and the conflicts of motherhood. A riveting tale of everyday to-do lists in which the essential and the banal are inextricably entwined. The List, by Quebec-based playwright and author Jennifer Tremblay, won the 2008 French language Governor General’s Award for Drama. The jury called it, Absolutely inspired Jennifer Tremblay achieves the universal with economy and lucidity. La Liste premiered in Montreal in 2010. Allegra Fulton stars in this English language translation. Fulton is renowned for her solo tour-de-force in FRIDA K., which earned her multiple awards and international acclaim. Kelly Thornton is an award-winning director, dramaturg and the Artistic Director of Nightwood Theatre; she has recently directed the Nightwood Theatre/Canadian Stage productions of That Face and Wild Dogs.

Theatre Passe Muraille and Canadian Stage

collaborate to produce Project: Humanity’s The Middle Place

By Andrew Kushnir

Transcription by Andrew Kushnir and Catherine Murray

Directed by Alan Dilworth

Feb. 14  Mar. 12, 2011 (media night: Feb. 17)

In 2007, Andrew Kushnir, a young, playwright, ventured into one of Toronto’s roughest neighbourhoods with a video camera to interview youth about life in a shelter. The result is The Middle Place, a touching and brutally real examination of the aspirations, frustrations and bravery of these homeless youth. Without sentimentality or condescension, this docu-drama explores the heart-wrenching lives of its subjects through their own words. Five actors bring to the stage the extraordinary voices of sixteen homeless youth, three tireless caseworkers and one outsider (played by Kushnir) in this disquieting yet humorous and hopeful play. The play premiered at Summerworks in 2009, earning awards for best direction (Alan Dilworth) and best new emerging artist (Akosua Amo-Adem). The Middle Place marks an exciting collaboration between Canadian Stage and Theatre Passe Muraille (TPM), joining forces for the first time in a unique form of play development and presentation  a rolling opening. The pioneering venture affords the playwright the opportunity to continue developing the work between productions at the two theatres. The Middle Place runs October 21 to November 14, 2010, at TPM’s Mainspace and moves to Canadian Stage’s Berkeley Street Theatre, February 14 to March 12, 2011.

Our Class

Produced by Studio 180 Theatre in association with Canadian Stage

Written by Tadeusz Slobodzianek

Translated by Ryan Craig

Directed by Joel Greenberg

Apr. 4 – 30, 2011 (media night: Apr. 7)

Canadian premiere  In 1925 Poland, a group of schoolchildren, Jewish and Catholic, declare their ambitions: to be a fireman, a film star, a doctor. As the children grow up, their country is torn apart by invading armies, first Soviet and then Nazi. Internal grievances deepen as fervent nationalism develops. Tension escalates into violence as these ordinary people carry out an extraordinary and monstrous act. Accusations and counter-accusations continue long after the Second World War. Our Class charts the lives of 10 former classmates – amidst weddings, parades, births, deaths, emigrations and reconciliations – following them from one century into the next. Our Class is based on real events and is inspired by Polish-born historian Jan T. Gross’s Neighbors, a controversial book revealing that the perpetrators of these atrocities were not Nazis, but local Polish Roman Catholics. Our Class is a deeply moving new play by leading Polish playwright Tadeusz Slobodzianek, who courageously confronts his countrymen’s involvement in harrowing atrocities. The play had its world premiere at The National Theatre (UK) in September 2009 earning four-star reviews. The Evening Standard states, the play majestically conveys a sense of history as a living organism. Our Class has yet to be produced in Poland. Joel Greenberg is Artistic Director of Studio 180 Theatre and has recently directed the Studio 180 Theatre  /Canadian Stage productions of The Overwhelming and Blackbird, and the Studio 180/Mirvish production of Stuff Happens.

Spotlight on Italy

Presented with assistance from Istituto Italiano di Cultura

March 15 to 26, 2011

2010-2011 marks the inaugural year of Canadian Stage’s international Spotlight festival. The entire Berkeley complex will be transformed into a celebration of groundbreaking contemporary theatre and culture that features a country or geographic area, that varies year-to-year. The festival will focus on multi-disciplinary works that reflect a global, 21st-century aesthetic by companies renowned for pushing the boundaries of their art form. It kicks off with a tribute to Italy, in honour of the 150th anniversary of the country’s reunification. The two-week festival features four productions by three internationally acclaimed companies, all leaders in the contemporary Italian scene, and an array of artistic events, master classes and experiences that reflect modern Italian culture and art. Programming includes:

Nunzio and La Festa, two award-winning plays from Messina, Sicily’s Compagnia Scimone Sframeli. Co-founders Spiro Scimone and Francesco Sframeli’s theatre of the absurd has captured the fascination of audiences throughout Europe, the UK and South America. Nunzio: March 15 to 19, 2011 (Media night March 15, 2011); La Festa: March 22 to 26, 2011 (media night: March 22).

la natura delle cose, compelling dance theatre by Compagnia Virgilio Sieni from Florence, Italy. Artistic Director and choreographer Virgilio Sieni has twice received the UBU prize, Italy’s most prestigious prize for the arts. Running March 15 to 19, 2011 (media night: March 15, 2011).

Basso Ostinato, dance theatre by Venice-based Compagnia Caterina Sagna whose work is renowned for its irony and humour. Artistic Director and choreographer Caterina Sagna was awarded the Nouveau Talent Choréographique from the SACD (France’s association of theatre authors and composers). Running March 22 to 26, 2011 (media night: March 22, 2011).

The Spotlight festival demonstrates our commitment to showcasing some of the most extraordinary international companies that challenge the classical notions of theatre, states Artistic & General Director Matthew Jocelyn. In a world where globalization is a reality, it is essential to reflect Toronto’s cultural diversity onstage and in the audience. In the first Spotlight festival, audiences will have an opportunity to journey to the Mediterranean to enjoy some of Italy’s most innovative theatre and dance makers.

Festival of Ideas & Creation

May 9  21, 2011

The fourth annual Festival of Ideas & Creation will take over the Berkeley Street Theatre complex and focus on the creative processes adopted by international and Canadian artists. Established in 2006, the Festival is Canadian Stage’s flagship event promoting the development of artists and new works. For the first time, Canadian Stage will produce the Festival of Ideas & Creation in partnership with Equity Showcase Theatre. The Festival supports established artists and fosters the next generation of artistic innovators. It also brings together local, national and international artists to spark new creative projects and encourages cross-pollination between artistic disciplines. The festival features public readings, forums, backstage tours, industry-oriented workshops and master classes.

At Canadian Stage TD Dream in High Park:

Romeo and Juliet

Written by William Shakespeare

Directed by Vikki Anderson

June 25 to Sept. 6 (media night: June 29)

As previously announced, Canadian Stage TD Dream in High Park presents Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare’s timeless tale of star-crossed lovers and feuding families, directed by Dora Award-winner Vikki Anderson (The Doll House, Coyote Ugly) at the High Park amphitheatre. Performances run Tuesday through Sunday at 8 p.m. Gate opens at 6 p.m. Admission is PWYC at the gate (suggested minimum donation $20) and free for children 14 and under. Family Day Sundays return with free, all-ages, pre-show activities. Founded in 1983, the Canadian Stage TD Dream in High Park is the oldest annual outdoor theatre event in Canada. Since its inception, an estimated 1.3 million people have enjoyed the tradition of theatre under the stars. For Dream information, contact 416-367-1652 or

Photo of Matthew Jocelyn by George Pimental