Montreal Under the Stars

Centaur hosts an intimate fundraising soirée in celebration of the return of live theatre

There was nary a cloud in the sky on the sun-kissed evening of June 8th, as Centaur Theatre and its Board of Directors hosted MONTREAL UNDER THE STARS, an intimate fundraising soirée in celebration of the return of live theatre. The evening was filled with merriment and camaraderie and ended up raising almost $30,000 in essential funds for the theatre.

Image of five smiling people dressed in evening wear looking at the camera.

The organizers and stars: Co-Chairs Silvia Galeone and Anna Giampà, Centaur’s Artistic Director Eda Holmes, designer James Lavoie and playwright Steve Galluccio. Photo by Hector Rodriguez Neda.

Guests stepped off the historic cobblestone streets of Old Montreal onto the charming interior garden of The Burgundy Lion Group’s Pub Wolf & Workman, an elegant British-style eatery just around the corner from Centaur. In addition to donors, patrons, and other Centaur associates, the evening was also graced with the presence of six stars of the Montreal theatre scene who served as the evening’s special guests. These included multidisciplinary artist and performer Laurence Dauphinais, playwright Steve Galluccio (creator of the hit play Mambo Italiano), set and costume designer James Lavoie, as well as actors Marcel Jeannin, Richard Jutras, and Antoine Yared. The first of many toasts of the night was to everyone’s good company and to the thrill of being able to finally gather in-person once again with a close community of theatre artists and theatre lovers.

Actors Antoine Yared and Laurence Dauphinais. Photo by Michael Cooper.

Once guests sat down to enjoy a delicious three-course meal featuring dishes cooked to perfection by the skilled and gracious staff of Wolf & Workman, Centaur Board members Silvia Galeone and Anna Giampà, Co-Chairs of the Event Committee, thanked everyone in attendance for their generous support, in particular corporate patrons Fednav Ltd. and Manulife/Manuvie. The mic was then passed to Centaur’s Artistic & Executive Director Eda Holmes, who gave an exciting, top-secret sneak peek of Centaur’s upcoming 54th season. Ooh’s and aah’s could be heard around the room as Eda teased the audience with information about some of the projects that will be gracing the floorboards of Centaur’s stages later this year.

Event Co-Chairs Anna Giampà and Silvia Galeone, with Centaur’s Artistic Director Eda Holmes. Photo by Michael Cooper.

As the twilight hour approached and the libations continued to flow, the night kicked into high gear with the exciting live auction, stewarded by auctioneer extraordinaire Marcel Jeannin. Centaur’s generous patrons pulled out their wallets to bid on some enticing prize packages, including an all-included weekend staycation in the Old Port, round-trip train rides to Halifax and Stratford, and a pair of bottles of some of the most coveted and critically acclaimed wines in the world. Everyone was so caught up in the excitement and Mr. Jeannin was such a convincing salesman that some guests were even bidding against themselves! The final prize of the night, and the cornerstone of the auction, was an intimate evening with Mr. Steve Galluccio, won by two of Centaur’s luckiest patrons.

Guest Michael Cooper and actor Marcel Jeannin. Photo by Hector Rodriguez Neda.

The night wrapped up with more drinks, more toasts, and lots of laughs. As they picked up their parting gifts on the way out, many guests commented on how nice it was to finally be able to gather once again in-person and to mingle with the actors and artists who bring Montreal theatre to life. Centaur and its Board of Directors were proud to host such a lovely and well-received soirée and are excited to do it again soon. Vive le théâtre!

Yves-Patrick Rusuku and Marie Achille of Manuvie. Photo by Michael Cooper.

Steven Wright and Anastasia Nakis of Schwartz’s. Photo by Michael Cooper.

Guests Miriam Roland and Nancy Rosenfeld. Photo by Michael Cooper.

Guests Mary Rana, Thao Phan, and Arlene Bratz Abramowicz. Photo by Michael Cooper.

Playwright Steve Galluccio and actor Richard Jutras. Photo by Michael Cooper.

Centaur’s Board of Directors with the stars of the evening. Top row, from left: Board member Silvia Galeone, actor Antoine Yared, Board members Anna Giampà, Robert Yalden, and Susan Da Sie; designer James Lavoie; Board member Guillaume Saliah, and actor Laurence Dauphinais. Bottom row, from left: playwright Steve Galluccio, Artistic & Executive Director Eda Holmes, and actors Richard Jutras and Marcel Jeannin. Photo by Michael Cooper.

Co-Chairs

Silvia Galeone and Anna Giampà, Board Members, Centaur Theatre Company

Event Patrons

Fednav Ltd.

Manuvie

Major Donors

VIA Rail

Wolf & Workman

What They’re Saying

“Powerful, engaging, haunting, and ultimately, filled with gratitude for nature’s delicate power. 

– Yolande Ramsay, Curtains Up

ONE MORE WEEK! Centaur’s final show of the season is a timely and urgent play that tackles climate and environment in a tour de force performance by award-winning actor Warona Setshewalo. Now playing until May 15, 2022, A Play for the Living… sets the stage for engaging and thought-provoking theatre.

Scroll through for a round up of quotes and reviews. Centaur staff takes your health and safety seriously – read more on our protocols here. We are thrilled to be back making theatre – and we couldn’t do it without YOU!

A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction

Warona Setshwaelo as Naomi in A Play for the Living… photo by Andrée Lanthier
text box reads buy tickets on yellow

It will awaken your senses and mind to the diversity and magic in the world around you, like an episode of RadioLab come to visual life.”

– Sarah Deshaies, Radio host “Upstage”

Read the reviews

Cult Montreal

“A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction is sobering yet hopeful”

Westmount Mag

“For Those Who Care About the Environment or Enjoy Excellent Theatre”

Théâtralités Review

“English Theatre: Miranda Rose Hall’s «A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction»: Swan Song”

Curtains Up

“Wake-Up Call At Centaur’s A Play For The Living In A Time Of Extinction”

Jano Lapin

“The Climate Crisis Takes Centre Stage at the Centaur Theatre”

Montreal Gazette Review

“The Heat is On…”

Montreal Gazette Preview

“Centaur Theatre Goes Green with A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction”

A personable and passionate performance that opens our eyes to the environment that surrounds us and its far-reaching repercussions.

–Stuart Nulman, The Montreal Times

Video – Playwright Miranda Rose Hall

Playwright Miranda Rose Hall speaks about A Play for the Living

…just what the doctor ordered, in large part thanks to its excellent on-stage talent, actress Warona Setshwaelo…

– Yanik Comeau, Théâtralités

CBC interview with Director Rose Plotek

Thanks to CBC Montreal “Our Montreal” for the in-depth interview with director Rose Plotek. In the interview, we learn the approach the play takes is one of care – care for each other, for the creatures with whom we share this planet, and care for the Earth itself. This holistic point of view is highlighted by the collective nature of theatre, Plotek explains. View the interview here.

CBC Our Montreal interview with Director Rose Plotek

“It’s very hard to imagine making any kind of performance or art work at this moment in time without a consciousness of what is happening in the natural world around us,” said Plotek.

Warona Setshwaelo as Naomi in A Play for the Living… photo by Andrée Lanthier
text box reads buy tickets on yellow

“A production that is somehow lush yet minimalist. Miranda Rose Hall’s Naomi thunders on about the climate crisis, acknowledging very real feelings of despair, yet it also instills a sense of wonder and hope in its audience.

–Sarah Deshaies

Take part in an immersive experience between audience and performer that rejuvenates the spirit and sets the stage for hope for each other and our planet. See you at the theatre!

Imagining the Future

Imagining the Future:  Theatre, Magical Realism, and Global Warming

by Adjani Poirier

Climate change frightens me. Like a monster lurking in the shadows, it feels ominous and scary. It’s a BIG situation that merits BIG reactions, often leaving me feeling helpless, unsure of what to do, stuck. 

Will the ocean rise and wash me away? Maybe… Will the ocean rise and wash me away less if I buy the correct energy-efficient light bulb? It’s hard to say…

Forest fire smoke along the Klondike Highway, photo by Adjani Poirier
Forest fire smoke along the Klondike Highway, photo by Adjani Poirier

Figuring out what to do in reaction to a catastrophe that’s so much bigger than myself is not an easy feat. When faced with this overwhelm, I look to storytellers to try and make sense of the world. 

To quote queer science fiction writer Nalo Hopkinson,

“Marginalized people need a better world, we all do, but people who are on the fringes of it very much need a better world, and in order to figure out how to get there, we first have to be able to imagine it.”

Aha! I love this sentiment; as a queer woman of colour, it rings so true!

Nalo Hopkinson: Who gets left out of the future? from TED Ideas on Vimeo.

This idea is relevant to the discussion of global warming because a) marginalized people are disproportionately affected by the effects of climate change and b) figuring out how to navigate the complexities of climate change requires a lot of imagination.  

So, How Do We Imagine the Future?

As a playwright, I use my craft to imagine what the future could be through stories on stage. 

Theatre has always been my preferred method of understanding history, of untangling challenging questions, and of working through difficult emotions. 

In my play Still Gay When I’m Not In Love, I use magical realism to explore global warming and what might happen if the Earth chose to teach humanity a lesson: 

“THE EARTH HAS HAD ENOUGH!  Her words, not mine. But I’m inclined to agree. Or rather I would be, if I were not impartial, which I am. She could no longer tolerate the abuses she was suffering at the hands of humanity, so she set fire to herself. To her entire planetary body. The fires will burn for 24 hours, and then: SHE WILL BEGIN AGAIN!”

Still Gay When I’m Not In Love, Adjani Poirier

These are the words spoken by the character Angel of Death, a beautiful celestial bureaucrat. They are addressing the entirety of humanity, who has been violently thrust into a kind of purgatory because our lovely home planet decided she was fed up with the environmentally destructive shenanigans we humans were getting up to.  

The idea is that when people return to the new “phoenix risen from the ashes” version of Earth, they’ll have the opportunity for a do-over — new forms of society, new ways of creating community, new people in charge. The big question the play asks is: in the face of the ongoing climate crisis, how do we build a better tomorrow for future generations? 

A midday forest fire sun in the Yukon, photo by Adjani Poirier
A midday forest fire sun in the Yukon, photo by Adjani Poirier 

Spoiler alert: the play doesn’t have all the answers. But it raises a lot of questions that contribute to an ongoing discussion around people’s thoughts, feelings, fears, and ideas around issues related to climate change.  

Stories shape how we think about tomorrow.

The beautiful thing about theatre is that it’s a collaborative art form; it requires many artists with a variety of different skill sets to come together and create something. And then it invites audiences to witness and experience the work together. The very act of telling stories through theatre allows us to access an understanding of life on Earth that is connected, playful, and thought provoking.  It’s the perfect antidote to the stress imposed by the neoliberal notion that our individual behaviours will make or break the future of our planet. 

Stories shape how we think about tomorrow. They move us, change us, wake us up, and beg us to ask difficult questions that can’t be answered with a simple yes or no. They plant seeds of ideas for what is possible and provide roadmaps for how to get there — as well as what to look out for along the way.

Telling stories through theatre makes me feel like I am part of something bigger than myself.

Theatre allows me to dream beyond the reality I know.

Theatre is like an electric current, carrying us from one place to another and igniting a spark in our imaginations. 

And I do truly believe that imagination is a key element in figuring out how to work toward a future that will hold us well.


Adjani Poirier is a queer theatre maker who currently lives and writes in her hometown of Tiohtiá:ke/Montreal where she studies playwriting at the National Theatre School of Canada. Her plays include Scorpio Moon, which was featured in Centaur Theatre and Playwrights’ Workshop Montreal’s 2022 Queer Reading Series; Celebrity Dogs, part of Boca del Lupo’s national project Plays2Perform @ Home; Still Gay When I’m Not In Love; and On Life and Living: A History of AIDS Community Care Montreal. She curated the 2021 edition of QueerCab with Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.

Centaur Theatre invited Adjani Poirier to contribute her thoughts on climate change and theatre-making in relation to the play, A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction, playing April 26 – May 15, 2022 at Centaur Theatre.

Featured banner image: Adjani dressed up to participate in a May Day parade and performance. Photo by Kristen Brown.

Celebrating World Theatre Day 2022

March 27 is World Theatre Day

Every year on World Theatre Day we like to take a moment to celebrate theatre and all those who make it possible for us to make our art every day. 

“Theatre is the place where we come together as people to celebrate our collective humanity. We need that now more than ever.” 

Eda Holmes
Artistic & Executive Director, Centaur Theatre

Just as the days are beginning to stretch longer than the nights, our outlook is brightening every day. We’ve had so many encouraging words and such steadfast support over the last two years that we can’t help but feel optimistic about what the future holds. Every note you send and every kind word you share stays with us and we take them all to heart! 

We’d like to share with you some of the kind words we’ve received from our donors.

-Haleema, Liana and Scott, Centaur’s Development team

“We are proud to support Centaur Theatre. In high school, I saw A Streetcar Named Desire at Centaur. I felt the energy of the live performances, I was hooked for life!” 

Puneet Mehta & Rosamaria Koppes

Without our wonderful and generous supporters, not to mention all the theatre-lovers who have been waiting patiently for us to reopen our doors, it would not be possible for us to continue to put great stories on stage.

“I have so enjoyed Centaur performances over many years and cannot see a future without this temple of theatre open to Montrealers.”

Linda Serpone

It’s been a momentous year of emotional ups and downs and unexpected twists and turns but we made it and you were there with us through it all, letting us know how important Centaur Theatre is to you.

“[Je donne] pour garder ce beau théâtre ouvert 😍  La culture est primordiale dans notre société!”

Lhallia Bouima

World Theatre Day Messages

Read or listen to the inspiring words from theatre makers representing Quebec, Canada, and our international communities.

Rébecca Déraspe, QUÉBEC

Message québécois pour la Journée mondiale du théâtre

Peter Sellars, USA (International)

World Theatre Day Message 2022

Makambe K Simamba, CANADA

#WorldTheatreDay

Banner image: Photo of Maryline Chery in The Portico Project: The Exchange by Vanessa Rigaux

Residencies and Development

by Rose Plotek

This year the Wildside Festival turns 25. After 25 years of celebrating and showcasing bold and brave artists from Montreal and across Canada, we wanted to extend our commitment to these artists; to go beyond simply presenting their work to supporting its creation.

Even if we were not able to present the festival we wanted, we are happy to have been able to work with two great companies and give them the opportunity to further develop their productions.

This year’s festival was to feature two shows created by some of Montreal’s most exciting artists. Each company was given a two-week technical residency in the theatre in which they will perform. They were given free licence to create, explore and dig deep into their work. A technical residency is a vital part of the creation process. It is a time when all the elements can come together and creators fully see what they are making.

I spoke with a lead artist from each company to hear a bit about their residency process and what audiences can expect when they meet the work. – Rose Plotek, Curator of 2022 Wildside Festival and Centaur Associate Artist.

Clea Minaker 

HUSH co-director and designer

“The importance of a technical residency cannot be understated. It is integral to this kind of creation process. When it comes to a work in progress it means you get to create for the specific space, and use that space for everything it has to offer. You can progress slowly; you don’t have to make all the decisions at once. You actually get to see the storytelling in all its elements. As a creator I am not able to simply squint and imagine what a work will look like. I get a kind of writer’s block if I don’t have a reasonable number of the components in place.

Photo credit: Rose Plotek – in the photo Clea Minaker

Our focus during this residency was first and foremost to rig up a set piece that hangs in the air. This set piece receives light,and is intended to make several movements throughout the performance, which have a metaphorical role. This was something we have only ever been able to imagine doing in previous workshops. So we had to verify how we could do that, how we could do it simply, and most importantly: did it mean what we thought it meant when we were finally able to do these manipulations.

“How well will they understand what those choices signify or how they support the storytelling?”

– Clea Minaker

When this work, which is still in progress, meets an audience, the big question we are asking ourselves is how do they receive the kind of storytelling that we are proposing? With this piece, stylistically, we move around within modes of presentation; there is not one consistent form of address. Dramaturgically, I believe that is the force of the piece, but we are still trying to understand how we can make those kinds of shifts and how willing people will be to follow us. How well will they understand what those choices signify or how they support the storytelling?”

Photo credit: Rose Plotek – in the photo Sylvia Cloutier

Josh Johnston

Deer Blood co-creator and performer

“As an independent producing company the opportunity to develop work in actual theatre space is such a gift and very impactful to our storytelling. Integrating technical support and design elements like lights, projections, and set are crucial steps in the creative process. This is especially true when dealing with more expressionistic, abstract work. These design elements really establish the artistic landscape we are playing in and gives our audience a lot of information about how we want them to experience the piece.

 Photo credit: Rose Plotek – in the photo Josh Johnston & Rose Tuong

For multidisciplinary, multimedia work, to have as many of the components as possible as early as possible, helps make the piece more complete and more cogent.

– Josh Johnston

So getting to work with these elements, getting to build them progressively as a team, really helped us develop, understand and deepen the story we are telling, and to better frame the piece. For multidisciplinary, multimedia work, to have as many of the components as possible as early as possible, helps make the piece more complete and more cogent. This allows us to actually understand how our show is functioning.

We are really looking forward to how the work will meet an audience. What most excites us about this encounter will be how they interpret the show. What are they taking away from it? The piece is purposefully open to interpretation and so we are very curious to hear people’s thoughts and feelings about it. To hear what it provokes in them and what questions they have. At the end of the day this work is for them, and is incomplete without an audience. So we are eager to hear what they make of our offering.”

 Photo credit: Marrisa Blair

Wildside Remix performance schedule:

Wildside REMIX  runs from March 2 to March 12, 2022. 

Centaur Theatre will host Logic of the Worst by Étienne Lepage and Frédérick Gravel (March 2 – 4 @ 7PM) and 1, 2 maybe 3 by jean & syd, (March 9, 10 ans 11 @ 7PM), two productions that were to run at La Chapelle Scènes Contemporaines. 

Confabulation: Good Date, Bad Date — stories of romance and regret, organized by Matt Goldberg, will be on Friday March 4th @and a musical celebration of the 25th anniversary of the festival will be led by singer/songwriters Sarah Segal-Lazar, Lucy Earle, and Vienna d’ Amato Hall on March 5th  in the gallery. 

Reopening our doors: A year full of cheer

As we start seeing familiar faces at Centaur once again, it is encouraging to review the year that was filled with hybrid performances and a return to the stage. With everyone’s health and safety top of mind, we are thankful for our audience support and look forward to our upcoming live theatre productions of Wildside and Kisses Deep in January 2022!

Here are some highlights of a year that was a brave new world, and taught us more about resilience and theatre than we knew!

WILDSIDE 2021

Wildside 2021 launched us into 2021 and went digital and totally FREE for the whole month of January. As Montreal locked down, Wildside artists delivered in-home entertainment that was experimental and edgy as could be.

We also hosted online interviews with curator Rose Plotek and Wildside artists and presented two Catalyst readings of new works from new voices in January.

The return of MOB! A socially-distanced mini-run

After more than a year we opened our doors to put on 8 presentations of MOB, the sold-out, META-winning hit that we had to shut down in March 2020. It was very emotional for the audiences and for all of us, even before the lights went down and the play started! 😉

Thanks to all those who came for putting their confidence in us. With all of the new safety protocols in place, everyone felt safe and was able to enjoy the long-awaited return to live theatre.

a man and a woman talking while sitting on a bedroom floor
Matthew Kabwe and Adrianne Richards. photo by Andrée-Lanthier

Plays2Perform@Home

Remember summer? We do! Centaur staff and friends met to test drive the newly released box set of Boca del Lupo’s Plays2Perform@Home. Pic nic not included 😉

The Quebec Box Set is still available for purchase at Centaur Theatre or online.

1st Indigenous Artist Residency Centaur

We met Ange Loft and collaborators Barbara Kaneratonni Diabo and Iehente Foote in August 2021. The Collective will develop a new site-specific theatrical performance that includes historic research, music, Kanien’kéha language, large scale imagery/puppetry, verbatim text, and traditional Indigenous, as well as contemporary dance for a new work entitled Talking Treaties Tio’tia:ke.

Look forward to the return of our online interview series, Saturday Salons, set for Saturday January 8th with Eda and Ange.

Three women stand on the stone steps in from of Centaur Theatre in summer
Talking Treaties Tiohtià:ke Collective: Iehente Foote, Barbara Kaneratonni Diabo and Ange Loft

The Portico Project: The Exchange

Eda Holmes handed the reins over to Julie Tamiko Manning, Eo Sharp, and Nalo Soyini Bruce to create an outdoor performance that spoke to the moment of reconciliation, representation, equity and inclusion. The 2nd edition of the Portico Project (September 2021) continued the tradition of opening a new season with outdoor theatre for all to see. Photos by Nalo Soyini Bruce.

The beautiful portico was lit in jewel tones and performers Maryline Chery, Corrina Hodgson, Sandra Kadowaki, Kayin Queeley and Ainsley McNeaney created tableaux’s for masked audience members and passers-by, beating drums and creating rhythms for the onlookers and neighbouring residents. We’re back! 

With stage manager Trevor Barrette, co-creator & director Julie Tamiko Manning; dramaturg Rose Plotek; performer; co-creators & designers Eo Sharp and Nalo Soyini Bruce.

OKINUM by Émilie Monnet

Presented in September by Centaur Theatre as a part of Brave New Looks, this Onishka and Imago Theatre co-production, created and performed in the round by Émilie Monnet, was a powerful, immersive experience in three languages: English, French and Anishnaabemowin.

A woman with outstretched arms is bathed in a blue hue
Émilie Monnet

A first collaboration with TNM

The TNM kicked off its 70th season with Embrasse, a new play by Michel Marc Bouchard. The reviews are in and our audience has much to look forward to, with Eda directing the English version, Kisses Deep, at Centaur January 25th – February 12, 2022.

Michel Marc Bouchard and Eda Holmes sit on a stage at Centaur Theatre
Michel Marc Bouchard and Eda Holmes at Centaur Theatre

“Michel Marc Bouchard is a thrilling playwright to work with. His poetic voice, steeped in the unique culture of Quebec, is universal in its exploration of human passion. Having directed several of his plays before in English, it is a dream come true to have the privilege of presenting the world premiere of this play in French at the illustrious TNM and then remounting it in English here at Centaur. I believe we are building a brilliant future for culture in Montreal with these kinds of creative bridges.”

Eda Holmes, Kisses Deep Director & Centaur Theatre Artistic and Executive Director

All I Want For Christmas

We decked the halls early and ushered in a holiday season full of laughter. Rebecca Northan’s latest script gave us a dose of good cheer and some tips on how to give – and receive – the spirit of Christmas. It was a fun-for-the-whole-family kind of show, and it felt SO good to be back on stage.

Mariah Inger and Amelia Sargisson in All I Want For Christmas. Photo by Andrée Lanthier

Our production staff had fun building Santa’s Workshop too, take a peek at this time lapse of Centaur’s elves at work!

A BIG THANK YOU to our donors this year!

Donations enabled us to stay connected with patrons and artists as we rode out the storm together in a rich conversation about who we are as a community. It was a turbulent yet valuable year that has inspired us to return to the stage with even more energy and care.

Happy New Year!

New PODCASTS

Centaur Theatre partnered with Centre du Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui + Transistor Media on a one-time podcast event called Bâtarde/Bastard, written by Laurence Dauphinais. As well, Boca del Lupo is introducing a four-part podcast series – Dialogues for the Vaccine Hesitant and Those Who Love Them. Four playwrights from four Canadian cities wrote four short plays around this current hot-topic issue and Montreal’s/Centaur’s contribution is Omari Newton’s Vaxx Pass.


Bâtarde/Bastard

The internationally acclaimed actor, writer, director and musician, Laurence Dauphinais, is one of two creators of next season’s Cyclorama, a unique, never-before-attempted theatre experience that we can’t wait to share with you.

You can listen to this fascinating origin story as told by Laurence and her mother.

Bâtarde / Bastard follows the quest of Laurence Dauphinais, a child conceived through  artificial insemination by donor sperm in the 1980s.

Historically, gamete donation has been anonymous in Canada leaving children to their own devices regarding questions about their origins. Twelve-year-old Laurence was consumed by imagined images and personality traits for her birth father until something changed: DNA testing … new, accessible information that had the power to open locked doors and take her on a journey of self-discovery.

The original podcast was presented December 9, 2021 at Cinema Public in collaboration with Le Centre du Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui and Transistor Média.

Stéphanie Laurin, Camille Paré-Poirier and Laurence Dauphinais

Vaxx Pass

Another podcast project that we are proud to co-present with Boca del Lupo is Dialogues for the Vaccine Hesitant and Those Who Love Them.

Boca del Lupo

Montreal-born actor, slam poet and playwright, Omari Newton, is the author of Vaxx Pass, in which a group of Hip Hop dancers discover that one of their troupe hasn’t been vaccinated mere hours before a televised dance competition. The audio recording was produced last week at Centaur and is available to listen to on Boca del Lupo’s website.

Vaxx Pass, featuring Dakota Jamal Wellman, Justin Johnson, Jeremy Cabrera and Espoir Segbeaya, was read and recorded at Centaur Theatre in December. Directed by Eda Holmes and Sound Recording by Laurier Rajotte.

Vancouver’s Boca del Lupo Theatre has partnered with the Dr. Peter Centre to produce four short scripts from Canadian playwrights to explore different root causes of vaccine hesitancy. They range from fear of needles or reducing the harm of spreading mis-information, to the understandable wariness in racialized communities when it comes to government mandated procedures.

Inspired by Boca del Lupo’s national Plays2Perform@Home project, free digital book versions of these plays will be available for all to read and share. 

These scripts are meant as practice dialogues for people who might find themselves in any number of difficult conversations, especially as folks gather for the holidays.

4 actors stand on stage with music stands reading the Vaxx Pass script
Vaxx Pass reading at Centaur with Jeremy Cabrera, Dakota Jamal Wellman, Justin Johnson and Espoir Segbeaya

“Throughout the pandemic our focus has been to centre artists to help us make sense of these extraordinary times. When the Dr. Peter Centre approached us about working on the vaccine roll out, we had to say yes.  We approached four playwrights whose lived experience might offer insight and support to those of us who are hesitant ourselves or have loved ones in our circle who are.”

Boca del Lupo’s Sherry J Yoon and Artistic Producer Jay Dodge

White text on black backround reads FOR THE VACCINE HESITANT ... AND THOSE WHO LOVE THEM

Boca del Lupo worked with four theatre companies across the nation to record the plays and are releasing four podcasts to accompany the digital books. These podcasts include readings of the plays by professional actors, as well as interviews between Boca del Lupo’s Artistic Director, Sherry J Yoon and the playwrights along with special guests and experts.

The playwrights from coast to coast are: Omari Newton, Yvette Nolan, Mary-Colin Chisholm, and Karen Hines. 

Other partner theatres are Eastern Front Theatre (Halifax), Manitoba Theatre Centre (Winnipeg) and One Yellow Rabbit (Calgary).

Serious Comedy

Rebecca Northan, writer and director of All I Want for Christmas, has spent her career being serious about comedy.

Centaur audiences will remember her hit show, Blind Date, from the 2019 season, but this Renaissance artist has many successes under her belt. What each of Northan’s creations has in common, whether scripted, fully improvised, or a hybrid of what she deems ‘spontaneous theatre,’ is a message of love, empathy, playfulness, and misbehaviour all wrapped in a comedic bow.

A woman in a red clown nose with short brown hair wearing a short red dress and black stockings holds a wine glass.
Rebecca Northan as Mimi in Blind Date

Northan’s theatrical roots can be traced back to the Loose Moose Theatre in Calgary, Alberta, where she took her first steps on stage in the improvised format, Theatresports, invented by Keith Johnstone. She also attended the University of Calgary where she studied classical theatre with Stratford Festival alumna Pamela Brook. It is this simultaneous steeping in both improvisation and Shakespeare that Northan credits with her ongoing obsession with works that are highly structured improvisations (like Blind Date).

A promotional poster for “Class of ‘88.” The poster is black and white, and Rebecca’s shirt is pink. Behind her is a man in a suit and a moose in a blazer. Behind them is a collage of photographs. There are pink flashes of text throughout. The names of the two actors, Derek Flores and Rebecca Northan, are at the top. The poster reads “Skip your reunion. Come to ours. Class of ‘88. Three shows only!!! November 3rd, 9th, & 10th - 10:30 PM. Loose Moose Theatre. Tickets $20.”
Derek Flores and Rebecca Northan’s Class of ‘88 poster of the 2018 production at Loose Moose Theatre, Calgary

“Pamela and Keith’s offices were side by side at the U of C, and each of them posted quotes on their doors meant to inspire. Pamela’s door had a famous quote from Hamlet, ‘the readiness is all,’ while Keith had posted ‘Don’t be prepared’ on his. I realize that ‘young me’ internalized both these quotes and they have become a guiding principle in my work.”

Spontaneous Theatre”

When Northan’s most widely recognized production, Blind Date, first started touring in 2010, she was approached by an audience member in Winnipeg who wanted to know what this style of theatre was called. At the time, Northan had no name for it, but eventually settled on the term ‘spontaneous theatre’, which has since become the name of her production company.

Rebecca Northan with Sean Bowie

“I wanted a term that would reflect the writing and narrative rigour that goes into a production, while also indicating that improvisation remains a huge piece; ‘spontaneous theatre’ seemed to capture that. When I’m working on something fully scripted, like All I Want for Christmas, I still want there to be a sense of spontaneity; often I will invite actors to find their own moments to improvise something slightly different each night. I find it keeps things electric and an audience can feel it.”

Rebecca Northan toured Blind Date at Centaur Theatre for our 50th season in 2019.

This alchemy seems to be paying off. Northan has had many successes over the last decade. Undercover—in which an audience-member-turned-rookie-detective is tasked with solving a murder—has toured three major companies in Canada (Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre, Calgary’s Vertigo Theatre, and the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton).

A promotional poster for “Undercover.” The poster has a film noir feel. Rebecca stands with her back to us. She is looking off camera to the left, and her face is illuminated by moonlight. She is holding both hands behind her back, and she is hiding a gun. She is wearing a black dress and a pair of black gloves. There is a man in front of her. He is dressed as a detective, and he is holding a camera up to his eye. At the bottom in large white letters is the title: “Undercover.”
Rebecca Northan in Undercover

Legend Has It, a family-friendly fantasy adventure, premiered at Alberta Theatre Projects’ playRites Festival and went on to play the prestigious Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York. Had the world not been shut down by COVID, Northan’s newest creation, An Undiscovered Shakespeare, would have had its world premiere at the Stratford Festival in 2020.

Rebecca sits on the Iron Throne from “Game of Thrones.” She wears a black clown nose. In her right hand, she holds a broadsword. Her left leg is propped up slightly. She is wearing a green corset, black jeans, and brown boots.
Rebecca Northan in “Legend Has It” in Calgary, Alberta March, 2014. Photo by Chris Bolin / For The Globe and Mail
While many refer to Northan as the “Improv Queen of Canada,” it’s a title that she’s not quite comfortable with. 

“Canada is full of amazing improvisers. So many. No kings, no queens! And, I’ve never been just an improviser. I’m always striving to bring both sides of my training to the foreground. I act, I improvise, I direct, I write, I produce—well, let’s be honest, I’ll do anything in the arts that pays me a dollar! But, as I get older, I find that I am enjoying the writer/director mantle.”

Northan’s scripted works bear her signature brand of humour and heart. Her first play, Kung Fu Panties, an ode to all-female action movies, was so popular during its Calgary run that posters were stolen from the marquee in front of the theatre.

Four people are standing on a stage. The person on the left wears a black cape and is holding a spear above their head. The next person is pointing a rapier toward the audience. The person in the centre is standing on the podium in the “en garde” position (their right foot points forward and their left foot points to the left. Their left hand is raised behind their head). The person on the right is in the middle of moving, and they are also pointing a rapier toward the audience. Each person is wearing a black hat, black boots, and a black cape. The set is made to look like a court in a castle. In the back are five arches. The floor is made to look like flagstones, and is a warm yellow.
Northan also has a background in TYA (theatre for young audiences), which heavily influenced her family comedies Slipper: a Distinctly Calgarian Cinderella Story, as well as ZORRO: Family Code (pictured above. Photo by Benjamin-Laird), both of which premiered at Alberta Theatre Projects.

“Slipper and Zorro were so much fun, because I was co-creating those with two of my oldest, dearest friends: Bruce Horak and Christian Goutsis. We all started our careers around the same time and have been in lots of productions together. We share a similar sense of humour, and have a shorthand that keeps the work fast and fresh. I tend to write the drafts of the script, Bruce and Christian help punch up the jokes, then they collaborate on sound design and composing. We really want the script and the music to be a full package—it makes the comedy better. We like to call ourselves “The Giggle Gang.

“Bruce and I met in 1995 doing Shakespeare in the Park. He is my favourite human to work with, and yeah, we were even married for a short stint. We’ll always work together – he is quite possibly the most talented person I’ve ever met, and I feel so grateful that we continue to be best friends and collaborators. He’s been my sounding board on All I Want for Christmas since its inception, so I am thrilled he was available to design sound. Comedy is music, and Bruce is a genius at it. He’s going to hate me putting so much pressure on him like this, but too bad!”

Comedy is music, and Bruce is a genius at it

All I Want for Christmas is the result of Northan seeing a 2020 Facebook post by Cape Breton artist Wesley Colford, Artistic Director of the Highland Arts Theatre. They were looking for a holiday comedy that fit these criteria: “three actors or less, preferably Canadian, preferably written by a woman.” While several replies suggested ‘no such play exists,’ Northan messaged Colford immediately offering to write something for them.

Christmas was my mom’s favourite time of year

“We were in the middle of our second lockdown, so the timing could not have been better. Christmas was my mom’s favourite time of year—she passed away in 1996—so the character of Marge is named for her. I like to put all kinds of personal truths in my plays. I won’t tell you ALL of them—I’ve got to keep some secrets—but things like Marge working at an answering service in high school or numbers making her cry,  those are things that are absolutely true about ME. The audience can have fun guessing what else might be true… or not true!”

“I feel a bit guilty as the director. These actors are so good, so skilled, so FUNNY, I feel like I really don’t have to do much at all. I make the tiniest suggestion and they run with it. I spend all of my time in rehearsal wiping tears out of my eyes, I’m laughing so hard… until I’m weeping a bit because they’ve moved me so deeply. They’re amazing.”

Two actors are sitting next to each other on a stage. Amelia is sitting on the ground, gazing up at Gabe, who is sitting in a chair. Gabe’s mouth is open to speak, and they are holding Amelia’s hand as if to reassure her.
All I Want For Christmas rehearsal photo of Amelia Sargisson with Gabe Maharjan in background. Photo Jeremy Cabrera.

What’s Next?

Northan will return to Montreal in February to teach at the National Theatre School of Canada. This will be her second year offering a section on improvisation to the first year students. When asked about future plans, she offers, “I’m doing a bit of online teaching for the Stratford Festival, and I’m writing a new one-woman show, called Burning Down the House, about how the women of GenX are dealing with menopause. 

Eda Holmes has been mentoring me and once I cough up a draft, she’ll dramaturg and direct… I hope! Beyond that, who knows?! Some film and TV if I’m lucky. Only the theatre gods know for sure.”

We’re Back … Live @ Centaur!

We are thrilled to finally be back and offer an actual season of theatre. We have two mainstage plays as we introduce a new and convenient way to enjoy a year of live theatre through the new Go Live @ Centaur membership program. Associate Artist, Rose Plotek, will direct a third mainstage production and we hope to announce a fourth play, once the season is underway. Stay tuned for those exciting announcements.

All I Want For Christmas is written is tinsel and holiday light style

Loads of Laughs for the Holidays

From November 16 to December 5, the mischievous Rebecca Northan directs her latest play, All I Want for Christmas. Settle in for hysterical holiday humour as the smooth-running North Pole is thrown into chaos when an unexpected “outsider” breaches Santa’s mailroom on a young elf’s first night on the job.

Centaur Makes Theatre History

From January 25 to February 13, Centaur Theatre collaborates with the prestigious Théâtre du Nouveau Monde for the very first time to co-produce English and French productions of Michel Marc Bouchard’s new play, Kisses Deep, translated by Linda Gaboriau. Centaur’s Artistic Director, Eda Holmes directs both productions in this touching story about a young man who worships Yves St-Laurent. A devoted son, he knows he can design the perfect outfit to redeem his mother’s character for her day in court.

The 2021 Brave New Looks Selection

September 2 to 11, the Imago Theatre/Onishka co-production of Okinum, kicks off the 53rd season. Indigenous writer, co-director and performer, Émilie Monnet presents a captivating, immersive experience as she learns how to trust in the power of dreams and intuition. In  English, French and Anishnaabemowin. Very limited seating; click HERE for tickets.

image of the Centaur Theatre building with a red filter and text written: "PORTICO EXCHANGE supported by the Beaverbrook Canadian Foundation, Live @ Centaur"

The Portico Project Returns for a 2nd Year

We liven up St-François-Xavier with our second annual outdoor event. This year’s iteration presents a dynamic 20-minute, multi-disciplinary event from September 23 to October 2, exploring the nature of reciprocation, resulting in the celebration of what we can each bring to the table.


AND, Boca del Lupo partners with us again with 5 Box sets of short, homegrown Plays2perform@Home with friends and family. The Montreal Box Set, featuring 4 local playwrights, is available for purchase at Portico or you can buy all 5 sets online.

go live @ CENTAUR on orange background

Have You Got Your Membership Yet?

Memberships are the best and most flexible way to save big, have first choice of the best available seats along with other great perks! Adults pay $75, Seniors (65+) $62 and Under 30s only $40 for the season and that includes FREE admission to your first play selection! 

Click HERE to purchase your membership today.

But Wait, There’s More …

Sign up for our Newsletter and follow us on social media for news about upcoming Saturday Salons, the TD Saturday Morning Children’s Series, staged play readings and more. 

Plus … the Wildside Festival turns 25 this January so you  know that’s going to be a blow-out celebration of ground-breaking theatre! Be on high alert for Wildside 25 updates.

What else can we say except that we can’t wait to see you again for the long-overdue return to theatre … LIVE @ Centaur!

Top banner image illustration by Matt Gagnon 2021.

Osler Runs 10K in 10 Days

Since 2007, the Canadian law firm Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP has sponsored 10 of our most outstanding productions. Now, Osler is stepping up to support Centaur’s return to live theatre by sponsoring a 10K in 10 Days fundraising campaign.

Osler will match every donation made between June 18 and 27, up to a maximum of $10,000. And every dollar donated during the month of June qualifies Centaur for a chance to win $20,000 from CanadaHelps during its annual Great Canadian Giving Challenge.

Osler’s first association with Centaur was an obvious choice: Joanna McClelland Glass’s Trying, about the Nuremberg trial judge and US Attorney General, Francis Biddle. (Banner image credits: Trying by Joanna McClelland Glass. Stéphanie Breton and Frank Moore. Photo Yannick MacDonald).

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Since then, Osler has supported some of Centaur’s most outstanding productions and it sure has a knack for backing winners!

From the frolicking fun of Rick Blue and George Bowser’s Last Night at the Gayety and Patrick Barlow’s adaptation of The 39 Steps to the lyrical beauty and poignancy of The Syringa Tree, the international South African hit by Pamela Gien that we presented, Osler’s 150-year history of striving to make a difference in the community aligns perfectly with Centaur’s aspirations. 

At a glance, it’s easy to see why Osler and Centaur are a “swipe right” match. Both institutions were started by individuals with a dream and the high standards and ideals that guide each are reflected in the impressive work they do.

Henry VIII and Katharine Parr in modern costume stand over unfurled map.
Antoine Yared, Robert Persichini and Diana Donnelly in The Last Wife by Kate Hennig. Photo Andrée Lanthier, 2019.

Case in point: way ahead of the curve in the women’s movement in 1968, Osler was the first large Canadian corporate law firm to admit a woman as a partner. Is it any wonder that Kate Hennig’s The Last Wife, a chronicle of Catherine Parr’s empowering influence on the female Tudor line, was their sponsorship choice in our celebratory golden anniversary season? 

Osler also stands proudly beside Centaur to champion prominent Canadian playwrights such as Daniel MacIvor (A Beautiful View, 2011) and Morris Panych (In Absentia, 2012) as well as many of the Québécois playwrights that Centaur has introduced to its English audiences.

As partners, we’ve cheered on such gifted talents as Michel Marc Bouchard (The Madonna Painter, 2010), Francois Archambault, (You Will Remember Me, 2017), and most recently, Catherine-Anne Toupin’s chilling MOB.

a man and a woman with a bottle of alcohol sit on a bench talking
Matthew Kabwe and Adrianne Richards in MOB by Catherine-Anne Toupin. Photo Andrée Lanthier, 2020.

We are very fortunate to have Osler as a prominent member of our team and look forward to many more years of bringing high quality, relevant, and engaging theatre to the stage with Osler’s unwavering belief in our vision.

To contribute to Osler’s 10k in 10 Days campaign, head this way!