Un By Mani Soleymanlou
January 21st, 2021
One is the first in a trilogy of plays that explores identity through important self-defining moments of the characters life. It explores who this character is, and helps us to reflect upon who we are.
Mani is an internationally renown actor and playwright who has lived in Tehran, Paris, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. He founded his own theatre company in Montreal in 2011 (Orange Noyée). He has recently been appointed as Artistic Director of the National Arts Centre’s French Theatre and will take on this role in September 2021.
Playing In The Key Of Love
February 18th, 2021
Moments in the life of a couple effortlessly strolling trough time and space capturing the dreams, the passion, the doubt, the expectations, the disappointment and surrender. Love is not linear. It is confusing, surprising, exhilarating, and has a very short memory span. Emanuelle delle Piane’s play manages to capture the essence of love itself at every age.
Emmanuelle Della Piane is an Italian-Suiss playwright who studied in both France and the United-States. She has wrriten over 30 plays for adults and children, and scripts, radio plays and news pieces. Her work has been produced in France, Switzerland, Belgium, Italia, Poland, Canada, Armenia and more, and is still regularly presented.
The Seagull By Anton Chekhov
March 18th, 2021
An aging actress named Irina Arkidana pays summer visits to her brother Pjotr Nikolayevich Sorin and her son Konstantin on a country estate. On one occasion, she brings Trigorin, a successful novelist, with her. Nina, a free and innocent girl on a neighboring estate, falls in love with Boris Trigorin. As Trigorin lightly consumes and rejects Nina, so the actress all her life has consumed and rejected her son, who loves Nina. The victims are destroyed while the sophisticates continue on their way.
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was a Russian playwright and short-story writer who is considered to be among the greatest writers of short fiction in history. His career as a playwright produced four classics, and his best short stories are held in high esteem by writers and critics.
Dumb Waiter By Harold Pinter
April 15th, 2021
Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter (1930-2008) is one of Britain’s most well known playwrights, directors, screen writers and actors. He wrote for over 50 years of his life, and completed 29 plays and 15 dramatic sketches. His best-known plays include The Birthday Party (1957), The Homecoming (1964), and Betrayal (1978), each of which he adapted for the screen. He attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art but did not complete the course. He was fined for refusing national service as a conscientious objector. Subsequently, he continued training at the Central School of Speech and Drama and worked in repertory theatre in Ireland and England. Harold continued to perform into his 70s, including the title role in Krapp’s Last Tape at the Royal Court for their 50th anniversary in 2001.
The Dumb Waiter is considered by some to be the best of Harold Pinter’s early plays. This absurdist comedy is a two-character play set in the basement of an old rooming house, connected to the rooms above by a dumbwaiter and an intercom. Ben and Gus make small talk and wait. It becomes obvious that they are hired killers who are waiting for their victim, whose identity they have not yet been told.
Death And The King’s Horseman
May 20th, 2021
A play by Wole Soyinka based on a real incident that took place in Nigeria during the colonial era: the horseman of a Yoruba King was prevented from committing ritual suicide by the colonial authorities. According to Yoruba tradition, the death of the king must be followed by the ritual suicide of the king’s horseman as well as the king’s dog and horse, because the horseman’s spirit is essential to helping the chief’s spirit ascend to the afterlife. Otherwise, the king’s spirit will wander the earth and bring harm to the Yoruba people. The first half of the play documents the process of this ritual, with the potent, life-loving figure Elesin living out his final day in celebration before the ritual process begins. At the last minute, the local colonial administrator, Simon Pilkings, intervenes, the suicide being viewed as illegal and unnecessary by the colonial authorities.
Wole Soyinka was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, world’s highest recognition for writers, in 1986. Soyinka was born into a Yoruba family in Abeokuta, in 1934. His full name is Akinwande Oluwole Babatunde Soyinka.
In 1954, he attended Government College in Ibadan, and subsequently University College Ibadan and the University of Leeds in England. After studying in Nigeria and the UK, he worked with the Royal Court Theatre in London, one of the world’s leading theatres for launching new work.
The Bus Stop
June 17th, 2021
The Bus Stop, an absurdist play written by Chinese novelist, playwright, critic, painter, photographer, film director, and translator Gao Xingjian, who received a Nobel Prize for literature in 2000. His work has been compared to Waiting for Godot, Chekhov, and Brecht. The play opens on “a bus stop in the suburb of a city.” The bus-stop is symbolic of a crossroads, or a fork in the road on the journey of life, or a way station in the lives of the characters.” The play has been banned in China due to political reasons.
Gao’s influences include classical Chinese opera, folk culture, and 20th century European drama such as Antonin Artaud, and he said in 1987 that as a writer he could be placed at the meeting point between Western and Eastern cultures. He is a very private person, however, and later claimed, “No matter whether it is in politics or literature, I do not believe in or belong to any party or school, and this includes nationalism and patriotism.” His prose works tend to be less celebrated in China but are highly regarded elsewhere in Europe and the West, with Soul Mountain singled out in the Nobel Prize announcement.
Depravity in St. Florian Valley
July 15th, 2021
Cankar is regarded as the greatest writer in the Slovene language and yet is unknown in most of the world. His plays are currently being translated from Slovene into English for the first time in history to allow for many more people to experience his genius.
Depravity in St. Florian Valley is a farce written in 1907. Pohujšanje is considered one of Cankar’s best plays, depicting a conflict between a mob and a free thinking individual. In this highly symbolic play Cankar also explores the relationship between an artist and his audience. Cankar’s play reveals the tension between the idea to conform and to rebel. He vividly brings to life a world of a small minded village, symbolizing Slovenia, growing impatient and petty with an artist, an individual who refuses to conform to their silly demands, lies and intrigues. The play is a challenging piece for directors and due to its symbolic quality gets frequently staged in Slovenian professional theatres.
Art by Yasmina Reza
August 19th, 2021
Yasmina Reza (born in 1959) is a French playwright, actress, novelist and screenwriter best known for her play God of Carnage, is also the author of the Tony award winning play we are reading this month, Art. Many of her brief satiric plays have reflected on contemporary middle-class issues. She is a highly decorated playwright with multiple Moliere awards, two Lawrence Olivier awards, two Tonys, and many other awards throughout her career thus far.
Set in Paris, Art revolves around three friends—Serge, Marc and Yvan—who find their previously solid 15-year friendship on shaky ground when Serge buys an expensive painting. The canvas is white, with several fine white lines. To Serge, Yvan comments politely on the painting but admits that he does not grasp the essence of it. To Marc, Yvan laughs at the painting’s price but suggests that the work is not quite meaningless. Yvan’s vacillations only fuel the disagreement as his friends criticize his timid neutrality.
Will their friendship survive?
Machinal by Spohie Anita Treadwell
September 16th, 2021
A young woman works as a low-level stenographer and lives with her mother. She follows the rituals that society expects of a woman, however resistant she may feel about them. She subsequently marries her boss, whom she finds repulsive. After having a baby with him, she has an affair with a younger man who fuels her lust for life. Driven to murder her husband, she is convicted of the crime and is executed in the electric chair.
Sophie Anita Treadwell (October 3, 1885 – February 20, 1970) was an American journalist and playwright of the first half of the 20th century. Her best known work, which we will read this month is Machinal which is often included in drama anthologies as an example of an expressionist or modernist play. In addition to writing dozens of plays and journals, she also wrote several novels, as well as serial stories and countless articles that appeared in newspapers. Treadwell also produced, directed and acted in some of her productions. The styles and subjects of Treadwell’s writings are vast, but many present women’s issues of her time, subjects of current media coverage, or aspects of Treadwell’s Mexican heritage.
October 21st, 2021
Jaan Tätte is an Estonian playwright, poet, actor, and singer. He studied acting in the drama department of the Tallinn Conservatory (now, the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre), graduating in 1990. He became an ensemble member of one of Estonia’s best repertory theatres Tallinn City Theatre. During this time he wrote his first play Bungee Jumping. The play won Estonian National Playwriting context and got produced all over the country and internationally (under the title Highway Crossing) making him well-known beyond the borders of Estonia. Now, Jaan Tätte is a full time lighthouse keeper in Vilsandi where he continues to write music and plays.