Montreal's senior monthly since 1986

Feb '10

Columns

Plays explore lost worlds at The Segal

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then truth, or one truth, lies in experience. In Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Buried Child, now playing at The Segal Centre for Performing Arts, a long lost grandson returns to his grandparents’ home – a rundown farmhouse in Illinois – in search of his past. His family does not recognize him, and the audience is drawn into a web of memory, myth and invention where truth lies in diverging perceptions.

“What’s so interesting in Shepard is the idea of conflicting realities that are equally opposing and both legitimate, rather than “good and bad,” director Peter Hinton says. Describing the work as “Gothic American Midwest drama and part absurdist comedy not unlike (Edward) Albee,” Hinton emphasizes the importance of language in theatre. “Lately we’ve been obsessed with image, on film and television. We have a fascination with images. I’m interested in theatre that returns power to language, that acknowledges myth. I love the idea of keeping your brain really alert and keeping your emotions really engaged. We live in a culture where we’re not asked to be engaged; you can turn off television; but for theatre you have to be really there in the room.”

That Buried Child follows Tennessee Williams’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a fortunate coincidence, Hinton says.

“Shepard was a writer who flourished in the ’60s and ’70s in the tradition of Arthur Miller, Williams and Eugene O’Neill, chronicling family life in North America. The audience gets to see the progression of American drama; Shepard is of the next generation with similar issues. “Big Daddy” and “Dodge” are related in some way. You get to see how a different generation handled the “American Dream,” the shortfalls of it and some of the cracks in the exterior of that dream.”

Buried Child by Sam Shepard runs until February 22. Info: 514-739-7944.

Also at The Segal later on this month, Haunted House by Endre Farkas will be presented in a world premiere. The work celebrates the life of A.M. Klein, one of the most important modern Canadian poets.

Born in the Ukraine 100 years ago, Abraham Moses Klein came to Canada fleeing the rampant antisemitism in his country. Though there were no pogroms in Montreal, prejudice shadowed him, even in the Plateau, where he had to endure insults such as “Jew Boy.”

In this portrait of Klein, Farkas explores Klein’s poems, fiction, journals and editorials. Interweaving his own text with Klein’s, Farkas recreates the evocative multi-layered world Klein inhabited.

Haunted House plays from February 18 to March 5. Info: 514-848-9696. The Segal Centre for Performing Arts is at 5170 Côte-Ste-Catherine.

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