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Sizzling Summer: Outdoor theatre: Stage surfing

Stage surfing

Bilingual Repercussion: From A Midsummer Night's Dream

Riding the summer theatre wave

The weather is hot and sticky. The city is thick with race car fumes. What’s a girl to do but shimmy into her skivvies and let it all hang out?

Strip is the order of the day this year, kicking off on June 9 with Encore!, a repeat presentation of Blue Light Burlesque‘s best material, playing for one night only at La Tulipe (see Brief). June 9 also marks the launch date for the Ste-Ambroise-sponsored Montreal Fringe Festival (www.montrealfringe.ca) and its anti-sibling, the infringement festival (www.infringementfestival.com). At last week’s Fringe preview cabaret, more than one company could have taken a lesson from Blue Light’s mandate to provide "sexy yet tasteful" entertainment – instead, curious onlookers were subjected to three hours of nauseatingly misguided sexual innuendo that turned stomachs instead of heads. There are, however, plenty of class acts waiting in the wings, and the festival promises to be bigger than ever. Watch next week for Hour’s complete guide to Fringe 2005.

If taking a walk down the street doesn’t fill your fresh air quota, pack a picnic and head to the Piggery Theatre in North Hatley, where Township Stage has opted for love, not lasciviousness, as its prevailing theme. The season kicks off with plenty of Montreal talent with the musical I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, and follows it up with The Love List, solid summer stock from the season’s stalwart Norm Foster.

You could always let nature come to you in the shape of Just For Laugh’s Les Giraffes opérette animalière, where giant stiltwalker-manipulated giraffes roam the city in search of urban adventures (www.hahaha.com), or kick back in the park and let the sights and sounds of Repercussion Theatre wash over you like a welcome tide of cool relief.

Spreading peace and love in two languages

"It’s a union between two cultures – an incredible metaphor for how this city works," says Cas Anvar, artistic director of Repercussion, who has spent the last year in a whirlwind of reinvention, culminating in this summer’s biggest outdoor event, Theatre in the Parks/Théâtre en plein air, Shakespeare & Molière.

"A huge transformation has happened for the company," says Anvar. Though Repercussion has been performing Shakespeare in parks across the region for 17 years, it wasn’t until their banner 2000 U.S. tour that they began to enjoy more blanket recognition. "They assume it’s always been here, it will always be here," says Anvar of local audiences. "They don’t know what they have until it’s gone."

All that is about to change.

After five years of rebuilding the touring Shakespeare company, an anomaly in the world of theatre for its ability to take large-scale outdoor shows to multiple parks and outdoor venues, Repercussion has teamed up with Montreal’s Théâtre du Nouveau Monde for a cultural duet of classical performance – a midsummer wedding of Shakespeare and Molière that will bring French theatre to Westmount and anglo thespians to Châteauguay.

Using one stage and a single technical team, the two companies will share expertise to remount Repercussion’s ’60s-inspired musical adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and TNM’s L’Amour médecin. Though the logistics are formidable, the vibe is mutually satisfying. "Our processes are completely different, and yet we’ve been able to work in perfect harmony. The mere association with TNM has allowed us a geometric growth," says Anvar, and bookings have doubled since last year. "The significance of this partnership is formidable. I have never seen anything like it."

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