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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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  • by Virginia Modugno - June 2, 2005, 5:11 pm

    From the recent outdoor Carmen to the eccentric delicacies of the Fringe to a pair of classicists in repertory, summer theatre in Montreal truly is without compare. There’s something primordial about drama under the stars, as the sweat-streaming actors spit out mosquitos of pathos and the audience swims in the swelter of high tragedy.
    While I’m glad Repercussion is undergoing a renaissance of sorts, I cannot help but wonder if it wasn’t so much audiences taking them for granted, but the endless repetition of the three most popular of Shakespeare’s plays that ultimately did them in. Wither the ribald Pericles, rapacious Cymbeline, vertiginous Twelf Night (Or: What? *You*, Will?), and ethereal Tempest that haunted the woodland parcs of Beaconsfield? *I* stopped attending because one can only endure the confounding and insipid Comedy of Errors so many times before taking a dagger to the wicker binds of one’s lawn chair. A 60s musical Midsummer Night’s Dream sounds like a fantastical return to form, hopefully one that will herald more experimentation and innovation from a troup that used to be the training ground for some of Montreal’s most accomplished young actors.

  • by Maggie Panko - June 2, 2005, 6:10 pm

    If you haven’t gotten out to see Repercussion Theatre’s Shakespeare in the Park, you’re lucky – the first time is amazing.
    I love Shakespeare, & bring friends who’re afraid of Shakespeare to Repercussion shows.
    They roll their eyes, and complain about their lousy vocabularies, their inability to make pronouncements on the social structure of the Renaissance, and a blind spot as far as the lineage of Elizabethan royalty goes. To paraphrase Russ MacDonald, the sensitive, sensational writer of “The Bedford Companion to Shakespeare” – people read & watch Shakespeare because they enjoy it. Nobody grew to enjoy it by taunting their friends with trivia. People love it not for what it implies, but for what it is. And what it is inhabits what you are – and Repercussion knows that.
    You can bring a blanket, a bag of M&M’s or popcorn, some of your closest friends, and take a seat under a tree or in the open grass. As the shade rests comfortably on the crowd, the lights signal a face, a silence opens for a voice, and the stage rakes your attention away from the garble of facts laden on you during the day. The clarity of the fantasy is spellbinding; the reality of the creativity is inspiring. For a moment, then another and another, nothing else matters.
    Montreal is lucky to have Repercussion. They know the Bard and the crowd, and treat them as equals. I always leave feeling a surge. You get the sense that these people plain like Shakespeare, and they aren’t trussing his legacy up for intellectual heroism. Sure, some of the lines are anachronisms. They prove the situations are still alive. But where else can you where little children, adults & senior citizens are so happy to be amongst the mass, and so ready to lose & find themselves?
    “Simply the thing I am / Shall make me live,” wrote Shakespeare in “All’s Well That Ends Well.” He’d know: he wrote both comedies & tragedies about the subject. Repercussion trusts us to know it too.

  • by Dawn Manhertz - June 3, 2005, 12:18 pm

    As dazzling as I remember the shows being when I was younger and my mother would take the whole troup of us (referring to my large family) to a neighbourhood parc, equipped with our Muskol and snacks, Shakespeare in the Parc did just seem to always be there as a recreational and affordable option for families, couples and groups of friends to enjoy.
    I am rather interested in the fusion alluded to in this article of the Shakespearian players teaming up with Repercussion Theater…for some reason, I am always under the false belief that Repercussion Theater has something to do with Percussion! Like the music. But I’m sure that it = just a play on words.
    N-E-hoo, I look fwd to my next play in the Parc, especially since this summer’s players can be expected to be quite the eclectic and most probably well rounded players…not that they weren’t in previous years I’m sure, I just wasn’t old enough to appreciate it yet.

  • by M Sook - June 7, 2005, 8:32 am

    For years I’ve been going to see Shakespeare in the park every summer. It’s one of the highlights of the summer for me. The quality of these shows always impress me. Lately I feel they’ve been trying to become more diverse in there choice of shows. I think this is a great way of introducing Shakespeare to children and adults. I usually see the shows several times during the summer and always give a donation. Repercusion Theater almost shut down a few years ago but managed to survive. Everyone should see their shows.

  • by M Wenge - June 7, 2005, 9:32 pm

    Last summer, i had to go see “a midsummers nights dream” for an english class and write a report on it. I was reluctant to go because a) im not a big fan of poetry and plays and b) i thought watching a play would be sooo boring. After going to watch it, i changed my mind. I really enjoyed it. “A midsummer’s nights dream” was very well performed and hilarious. One should definitely go to any play by repurcussions theatre. Its an amazing service given by the repurcussion theatre, being that there is no entrance fee, although a donation is accepted.

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