Image of the three actors for the production of The Children playing at Centaur Theatre

the children

A co-production with Canadian Stage

Written by Lucy Kirkwood

Directed by Eda Holmes

 

november 6 to 25, 2018

with

Geordie Johnson

Laurie Paton

Fiona Reid

creative team

Eo Sharp, Set & Costume Designer

Bonnie Beecher, Lighting Designer

John Gzowski, Sound Designer

Christine Horne, Assistant Director

Maddie Bautista, Assistant Sound Designer

Maria Popoff, Stage Manager

Meghan Froebelius, Apprentice Stage Manager

 

PRODUCTION PARTNER

Logo of Domtar, the production partner

GALLERY

Fiona Reid, Laurie Paton, Geordie Johnson. Photo - Dahlia Katz
Fiona Reid, Laurie Paton, Geordie Johnson. Photo - Dahlia Katz
Fiona Reid. Photo - Dahlia Katz
Fiona Reid. Photo - Dahlia Katz
Geordie Johnson. Photo - Dahlia Katz
Geordie Johnson. Photo - Dahlia Katz
Laurie Paton, Fiona Reid. Photo - Dahlia Katz
Laurie Paton, Fiona Reid. Photo - Dahlia Katz
Laurie Paton, Fiona Reid, Geordie Johnson. Photo - Dahlia Katz
Laurie Paton, Fiona Reid, Geordie Johnson. Photo - Dahlia Katz
Laurie Paton, Fiona Reid. Photo - Dahlia Katz
Laurie Paton, Fiona Reid. Photo - Dahlia Katz
Laurie Paton, Geordie Johnson. Photo - Dahlia Katz.jpg
Laurie Paton, Geordie Johnson. Photo - Dahlia Katz.jpg
Laurie Paton, Geordie Johnson. Photo - Dahlia Katz
Laurie Paton, Geordie Johnson. Photo - Dahlia Katz
Laurie Paton. Photo - Dahlia Katz
Laurie Paton. Photo - Dahlia Katz

VIDEO

ABOUT

Français

The future is in our hands!

In this 2018 Tony-nominated play by one of Britain’s current leading young playwrights, two British nuclear engineers, husband and wife, are living near the seaside in a modest cottage assigned to them following a nearby nuclear disaster in the plant where they used to work. At the point in their lives when they finally feel they have contributed all they can to society and simpler, slower lives beckon, a former colleague drops by unexpectedly after 38 years, ostensibly to reminisce about old times. In characteristic British wit, it turns out the three have more in common than just a working relationship but all that falls by the wayside as the unexpected guest’s true purpose is revealed. Her shocking proposal not only puts a “past due” stamp on their own lives, but has the devastating power to affect the lives of generations to come.

 

What about the children?

The Children opened at the Royal Court Theatre in November 2016 to positive acclaim and subsequently moved to Broadway the following year. The play was nominated for the 2018 Tony Award for Best Play and the Outer Critics Circle Award. It also won the Writer’s Guild of Great Britain Award for Best Play in January 2018.

 

What does Eda say?

Centaur’s Artistic and Executive Director, Eda Holmes, had this to say about The Children:

 

Lucy Kirkwood is one of today’s most talented, contemporary playwrights addressing timely stories. The Children asks the question: what are we leaving behind for the next generation? The three characters all came of age in the activist era of the ‘70s and Kirkwood uses the microcosm of their youthful romantic triangle to examine the hard realities that they now face as mature adults in the world. It is a call-to-action play, one that optimistically states that we are in this together and have the tools to take on the future—a strong, hopeful, and courageous message for the current and future generations.”

 

What do the UK critics say?

The reaction in the UK to the world premiere of The Children was unanimous: Lucy Kirkwood has a hit on her hands.

 

The Independent writes, “A richly suggestive and beautifully written piece of work […] Kirkwood is the most rewarding dramatist of her generation."

 

The London Evening Standard makes a titillating point with, “In this three-hander Kirkwood refreshingly presents characters very rarely seen on our stages: (sexually) active sixty-somethings.”

 

The Broadway critics weigh in too …

Time Out NY gives The Children ★ ★ ★ ★, calling it "unsettling and provocative"

 

Vulture makes this intriguing observation: “The Children […] is a play about responsibility and guilt, reparation and redemption. It’s also a British play, so these heavy matters are handled lightly, wryly; they’re approached from the side until circumstances absolutely demand a head-on confrontation.”

 

The Daily Beast minces no words saying, “The Children is excellent” and Broadway News writes, “simmering, searing, daring”.

 

Who is Lucy Kirkwood?

Though British-born Lucy Kirkwood was raised up in east London, she earned a degree in English Literature at the University of Edinburgh. While there, Lucy was a member of  the Edinburgh Fringe’s longest running improv troupe (29 years), the Improverts, presented at the Bedlam Theatre where, in 2005, Lucy wrote and starred in her first play, Grady Hot Potato. It was later selected for the National Student Drama Festival. This past June, Lucy was elected a Fellow of the esteemed Royal Society of Literature as part of its “40 under 40” initiative.

 

More about Lucy …

Though you may not have heard of Lucy Kirkwood until now, she’s a prolific writer known for exploring large and current issues through the microcosmic lens of interpersonal relationships. She undertook the Umbilical Project, in which her second play Geronimo, was presented twice at the same edition of the Edinburgh Fringe. The two plays, entitled Cut and Uncut, were an experiment in cutting the cord between writer and production. One was directed by Kirkwood herself, and another company and director independently produced the other.

 

Since then she’s written Guns or Butter, about the horrors of war; the dark comedy, Tinderbox; an adaptation of Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler called Hedda; and It Felt Empty When The Heart Went At First But It Is Alright Now, a play about sex trafficking that premiered at the Arcola Theatre in 2008.

 

Chimerica, her 2013 play about relations between China and America, received the 2014 Laurence Olivier Award. In 2017, Mosquitoes, was sold out for the entirely of its run at London’s renowned National Theatre.

 

And how about that cast!

Gemini and Dora Award-winning actor, Geordie Johnson, is an international stage, film and TV actor who has worked in Canada, the US, New Zealand, the UK, Europe and the Middle East. Laurie Paton, an 18-season Shaw Festival veteran who has performed on stages throughout Canada, makes her Centaur debut with this play.  Completing this stellar theatrical triumvirate and no stranger to Centaur audiences, is one of Canada’s most beloved stage and screen actors, Fiona Reid.

Le futur est entre nos mains !

Dans cette pièce, écrite par l'un des jeunes dramaturges britanniques les plus en vue actuellement et nommée aux Tony en 2018, un jeune couple d’ingénieurs nucléaires vit au bord de la mer, dans un chalet moderne leur ayant été assigné à la suite d’un désastre nucléaire dans une usine environnante où ils travaillaient. À un moment de leur vie où ils sentent qu'ils ont donné tout ce qu'ils ont pu à la société et où une vie plus simple et lente semble les appeler, une ancienne collègue arrive à l'improviste après 38 ans, pour soi-disant se rappeler du bon vieux temps. Animés par un humour britannique caractéristique, les trois comparses se rendent rapidement compte qu’ils ont plus en commun qu'une simple relation de travail, mais leur soirée festive tombe rapidement à l'eau lorsque l’invitée révèle la vraie raison de sa visite. Sa proposition choquante sonne non seulement le glas de leur propre vie, mais pourrait potentiellement avoir un impact sur le sort de plusieurs générations à venir.

 

À propos de « The Children » ?

The Children fut présentée et acclamée pour la première fois au Royal Court Theatre en novembre 2016, pour ensuite faire ses premiers pas sur Broadway dès l'année suivante. En 2018, la pièce fut nommée dans la catégorie Meilleure pièce aux Tony Award et aux Outer Critics Circle Awards. Elle a aussi remporté le prix Writer’s Guild of Great Britain dans la catégorie Meilleure pièce en janvier 2018.

 

Que dit Eda ?

La directrice artistique et générale du Centaur, Eda Holmes, a tenu ces propos au sujet de The Children :

 

« Lucy Kirkwood est l'une des dramaturges les plus talentueuses et contemporaines de notre époque, abordant des histoires très proches de l’actualité. The Children pose la question : que laisse-t-on à la prochaine génération ? Les trois personnages passent tous à l'âge adulte dans les années '70 et Kirkwood utilise le microcosme de leur jeune triangle amoureux pour examiner les dures réalités auxquelles ils font maintenant face comme adultes matures dans le monde. C'est une pièce stimulante qui énonce, de manière optimiste, que nous sommes tous concernés par l’avenir et que nous possédons tous les outils pour l’affronter – un message fort, courageux et rempli d'espoir pour les générations d’aujourd’hui et de demain. »

 

Que disent les critiques du Royaume-Uni ?

Au Royaume-Uni, la réaction à la première mondiale de The Children fut unanime : Lucy Kirkwood tient un véritable succès entre ses mains.

 

The Independent écrit : « Une œuvre suggestive et merveilleusement écrite […] Kirkwood est l'une des dramaturges les plus enrichissantes de sa génération. »

 

Le London Evening Standard apporte un point intéressant : « Dans ce triangle amoureux, Kirkwood présente, de manière amusante, des personnages que l'on voit rarement sur nos scènes : des 'sex'agénaires actifs. »

 

La critique de Broadway s'en mêle aussi…

Time Out NY donne ★ ★ ★ ★ à The Children, qualifiant la pièce de « déconcertante et provocatrice »

 

Vulture fait cette intrigante observation : « The Children […] est une pièce portant sur la responsabilité et la culpabilité, la séparation et la rédemption. C'est aussi une pièce britannique ; ces sujets lourds sont donc traités de façon légère et ironique. On les aborde d’abord par la bande, jusqu'à ce que des circonstances les forcent à les confronter sans détour. »

 

The Daily Beast ne mâche pas ses mots, affirmant que « The Children est excellente » et Broadway News écrit : « bouillonnante, fulgurante, audacieuse ».

 

Qui est Lucy Kirkwood ?

Bien qu'elle soit née au Royaume-Uni, Lucy Kirkwood a grandi dans l'ouest de Londres et obtenu un diplôme universitaire en littérature anglaise à la University of Edinburgh. Pendant ses études à cet endroit, Lucy fut membre de la plus vieille troupe d'impro (29 ans) de la Edinburgh Fringe, les Improverts, présentée au Bedlam Theatre. C’est là où, en 2005, Lucy a écrit et joué dans sa toute première pièce, Grady Hot Potato, qui fut sélectionnée par la suite pour le National Student Drama Festival. En juin dernier, Lucy fut élue « Fellow » de la très respectée Royal Society of Literature dans le cadre de son initiative « 40 under 40 ».

 

Plus de détails au sujet de Lucy…

Bien que vous pourriez ne jamais avoir entendu parler de Lucy Kirkwood jusqu'à maintenant, elle est une auteure prolifique et reconnue pour explorer de grands enjeux actuels à travers la lentille microcosmique des relations interpersonnelles. Elle a entrepris le Umbilical Project, dans lequel sa deuxième pièce, Geronimo, fut présentée deux fois dans la même édition du Edinburgh Fringe. Les deux pièces, intitulées Cut et Uncut, ont servi à couper le cordon entre l'auteure et la production. L'une fut dirigée par Kirkwood elle-même, tandis que l’autre fut produite et mise en scène par d’autres.

 

Depuis, elle a écrit Guns or Butter, portant sur les horreurs de la guerre ; la comédie noire Tinderbox ; une adaptation de Hedda Gabler d'Henrik Ibsen, intitulée Hedda ; et It Felt Empty When The Heart Went At First But It Is Alright Now, une pièce portant sur la traite sexuelle, présentée au Arcola Theatre en 2008.

 

Chimerica, sa pièce de 2013 portant sur les relations entre la Chine et les États-Unis, s’est mérité un Laurence Olivier Award en 2014. En 2017, Mosquitoes fut vendue pour l'entièreté de sa tournée au renommé National Theatre de Londres.

 

Et quelle distribution !

Geordie Johnson, récipiendaire d'un Prix Gemini et d'un Dora, est un comédien au cinéma, à la télé et sur la scène internationale ayant travaillé au Canada, aux États-Unis, en Nouvelle-Zélande, au Royaume-Uni, en Europe et au Moyen-Orient. Laurie Paton, une vétérane de 18 saisons du Shaw Festival qui a joué sur des scènes de partout au Canada, fait ses débuts au Centaur dans cette pièce. Fiona Reid, l'une des comédiennes bien-aimées de la scène et de l'écran et connue des auditoires du Centaur, complète cet extraordinaire triumvirat théâtral.

Enrich your theatre experience

Preview Pre-show Convo:

Thursday Nov. 8 at 7pm.

 

Free and open to the public. Meet The Children’s talented Set and Costume

Designer Eo Sharp in a behind-the-scenes Q&A exploring the subtle and

meticulous crafts that bring a playwright’s words and a director’s vision to life.

Talk Backs:

Thursday Nov. 15 post performance.

Sunday Nov. 18 post matinée.

 

Great theatre provokes wide-ranging emotions and probing introspection. We invite you to stay after the performance to share your reactions with the artists and clear up any questions you might have about the play.

Sunday Chat-Up:

Sunday Nov. 11 at 12:30pm in The Gallery

 

Join Gazette Editor-in-Chief, Lucinda Chodan, in conversation with Colleen

Thorpe, Director of Sustainability Consulting at Equiterre. Together they will

discuss possible solutions that can be done individually and collectively, to

improve the fate of the planet.

 

Free public event with refreshments provided by Bonaparte Restaurant.

 

In collaboration with the Montreal Gazette

 

Saturday Salons:

Saturday Nov. 24 after the matinée performance, at 3:30PM in The Gallery.

 

Join Centaur’s Artistic and Executive Director, and The Children Director Eda Holmes for an informal conversation about the production, Season 50, and what is coming up at Centaur!

Art Exhibit

Nov. 6 – 25 in The Gallery. FREE

 

FAULT SEQUENCE

With works by Jen Aitken, Mathieu Beauséjour, Grier Edmundson,

Julie Favreau, Allison Katz, Margaret Priest, and Jim Verburg

 

Curated by Béatrice Cloutier-Trépanier

 

Fault Sequence was conceived as a visual meditation on The Children, reverberating its moments of ecological and personal tensions, mirroring its sense of unrest. Abstracted geometries and allegories of makeshift dwellings subtly hint at the engineering failure of an imagined power plant, while delicate drawings and enigmatic prints are preoccupied with the commotion, relational and otherwise, triggered by this failure. The formal qualities of the works and their figurative elements – or lack thereof – act as investigative tools, prodding the moral ambiguities Lucy Kirkwood’s timely drama contemplates. This elusive, evocative exhibition is also a rare occasion to appreciate contemporary holdings from a private Montreal collection.

Eda Holmes

CENTAUR STAGE

By Barbara Ford

 

Fiona Reid needs no introduction …

 

Centaur Stage: You’ve said that at the beginning of your career, you had more enthusiasm than talent. What’s your take on that now?
Fiona Reid:
I’ve never held to a view of life by which one might say to oneself, “I’ve arrived”. I feel rather as if I’m in a constant state of becoming. After so many years, I suppose I can say that I have a good understanding of the craft and what it entails, but so much of what happens in this profession is simply luck. When I started out, there were more opportunities for a young actor than there are today.  Nevertheless, being in the right place at the right time still holds true. The King of Kensington fell into my lap. That series gave me 3 years of TV experience that I hadn’t counted on or expected. I left because I wanted to pursue a stage career so I suppose that’s a testament to how much I wanted to do theatre, but it’s also a perfect example of how you never know what the profession is going to put in your path, what you’ll learn as a consequence, and how it will affect your artistry and career.


CS: I read that you relish roles that allow you to exercise your entire instrument; that it’s what one trains for as an actor. Does Rose fulfill that?
FR:
Absolutely! The play is only 90 minutes but it’s a real workout for an actor … a huge journey. The language is wonderful so the play buoys you up but it’s a true ensemble piece. Laurie, Geordie and I are very much in it together; we rely on each other hugely every moment that we’re on stage.

 

I work best when I feel part of an ensemble: acting is at its most authentic when you’re working with people whom you trust, when each of us is generous with his/her fellow players. One of the [below] photos is from London Road, which was an amazing company experience. We, the actors, were completely dependent on one another from moment to moment.


CS: What interested you about The Children?
FR:
One of the aspects of The Children I admire is that while whatever’s going on at a deeper level, it’s also funny and sexy.  Lucy Kirkwood’s writing is a departure from those plays about ‘people of a certain age’ who are declining. We inhabit a world full of humour and wit, as three friends who are very much alive, which is why I find the dance scene so life affirming. At its heart, the play is about going forward. As the effects of climate change are increasingly evident, what are we bequeathing to the younger generation and what’s our responsibility?

 

The absent character of Lauren is intriguing. She’s part of the play yet never appears; what does she, her anger and moodiness, signify? I feel the world is being so unkind to her generation. We’re not handing them a very pretty world; they certainly don’t owe us anything.

 

As a cast, at the outset, our understanding of nuclear power and how it works was pretty minimal, so we visited a Candu power station and were so impressed with the scientists and engineers on site. They dashed more than a couple of our preconceptions about nuclear energy. The squandering of fossil fuels has allowed us, as a society, to languish in a certain amount of comfort and ignorance about how we’re actually afforded our comfortable lives and what’s actually good for the planet.

 

CS: Tell us about Rose.
FR:
I recall, when I first read the play, how shattered I felt when she makes her monumental suggestion about 60 or 70 minutes into the play; it just seemed so right. What I also find interesting is that it’s an easier choice for Rose to make, as opposed to Hazel who has a completely different idea as to what this time in her life should be. I feel split right down the middle as to who these two women are. In my early days, I was more of a Rose but now I’m more of a Hazel. Rose is somewhat cavalier about her person and her choices, leading a kind of peripatetic existence of the visiting professor, facing this part of her life with no family ties to speak of, nor even a decent pension. It’s easier for her to make this difficult choice in terms of what she’s sacrificing, as opposed to Hazel, who is so busy making this part of her life hugely meaningful.

 

CS: This production opened at Toronto’s Canadian Stage. What were some of the audience reactions?
FR:
We’ve had some amazing comments at the talk backs. One man mentioned that he had seven grandchildren but would make the same choice as Rose. Another gentleman said that we mustn’t give way to despair, that we have so many reasons to hope … and we do. Another audience member remarked- and her comment inspired me- that even though Rose is childless, her maternal instincts are being expiated in this choice she is making: it hurts her deeply that young scientists are risking their lives to save others, despite having so much to lose. One night a young girl in the audience asked, “Do you really feel like this is all your fault?” and as difficult as that was to hear, I thought it was such a kind sentiment to proffer; she seemed free of any rancour towards our generation. Perhaps, though, if we’re to be honest with ourselves, we might question our generation’s legacy.

 

CS: What are some of your favourite roles?
FR:
Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire, Claire in A Delicate Balance, whom I played twice, and Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. I love Albee; I’ve been blessed to do some marvellous plays by him. Martha is so Hamlet-for-women in a way- well, so is Blanche- in the sheer scope, length and arduousness of what’s expressed on the page. Performing in any Albee play feels such a privilege; he was an astonishing playwright. I did his Three Tall Women with Martha Henry. That particular play is a meaningful testament to the power of forgiveness: despite what anguish Albee had lived through with his mother, this was a tribute to her. He, Tom Stoppard and Tennessee Williams are my favourite playwrights. With a great play, once never stops making discoveries, but is constantly searching and delving; it’s like detective work.

 

Deborah Hay, Michelle Fisk & Fiona in the London Road ensemble

 

Fiona as Martha with Nigel in WHo’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

 

Fiona as Claire in A Delicate Balance

 

CS: The characters in The Children must decide how to spend their retirement. At 67, you’ve said you still have lots to do, such as? …

FR: I want to keep working in theatre and would love to do some TV and film, but those opportunities are scant for ‘women of a certain age’. Just when I finally figured out what I’m doing, I sometimes feel like I’m supposed to disappear. I just pray that our community will realize we need to keep telling stories about our generation and that women don’t disappear at a certain age.

 

In my immediate future, I’m dabbling in a little bit of teaching by giving a two-day acting workshop, and waiting for word on an exciting audition I did in New York. But who knows? If opportunity doesn’t knock, there are all those great books to read, and long walks to be had.

 

CS: As part of our 50-year history, what would you like to say about Centaur?

FR: Montreal is a great city and this is an exciting time for Centaur. Two wonderful Quebec actors and dear friends of ours live here, my godson and daughter also. I studied at McGill and have a great affection for this city. I’m very excited about Eda taking over at the helm of Centaur. She’s got such great ideas that will help Centaur continue to nourish this unique city. She’s a formidable force in our community and a wonderful director. I hope the audiences will embrace what Eda is doing.

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