Infinitheatre’s Pipeline
presents two firsts

New play reading series introduces Playwrighting category prize and the Kevin

By Byron Toben

I always enjoy Infinitheatre’s annual new play Pipeline reading series, wherein top notch actors and directors stage, with brief one time same day rehearsals, new English language scripts by Quebec related authors. The winners were selected from many submissions to a WOQ! (Write on Cue/Quebec) Project.

A number of these public readings have gone on to full production. The most recent three-day presentation, at its new NDG venue, Espace Knox, a converted church, was particularly suited for this year’s selections.

Day one featured a reading of Erin Shields’ monumental feminist take on blind Milton’s 1663 classic Paradise Lost featuring the Adam and Eve story from the Bible and a rebellion of angels against God (possibly inspired by the English civil wars, 1642-51).

Erin Shield -

Erin Shields – Image: Courtesy of Erin Shields/ Playwrights Canada Press

This play was recently produced to great acclaim at last summer’s Stratford, Ontario Shakespeare festival.

Why then at this event for scripts to be produced?

The reason is that Ms Shields was awarded the first ever Playwrighting category prize for it at the annual QWF (Quebec Writers Federation) gala ceremony on November 20. Until now, the categories were limited to Fiction, Non Fiction, Poetry, Translation and First Book. Due to the efforts of Gabriel Safdie, a supporter of both the QWF and Infinitheatre, this new category is now instituted.

Directed by Shawn Campbell, a cast of eight portrayed 19 characters. Both God and Satan are played by women. God was read here by Diana Fajrajsl as sort of a bored CEO. Satan, (also known as Lucifer, Mephistopheles and Beelzebub), was depicted by Carmen Grant in an often more urbane or light-hearted way in the spirit of Shaw’s Satan in Don Juan in Hell.

Other readers played multiple roles of angels, concepts and statuses. Their main characters were: Son of God (Dakota Wellman), Adam (Eric Davis), Eve (Jillian Haris), Uriel (Meagan Schroeder), Sin (Alexandra Petrachuk) and Death (Gabriel Schultz).

Themes of Free Will, Love, Hate, Creation, Evolution and the nature of the Universe were handled in a witty way.

Day two

Day two saw Chained Woman by Lorne Svarc.

This script deals with an ultra orthodox Jewish woman, Sarah (Joanna Caplan), who is civilly divorced but refused a Jewish divorce by her ex husband. He refuses her the document, called a get. In the meantime, to support herself and her mother, Chana (Michelle Heisler), she acts as a butcher in the grocery run by her mother since her father passed away.

Enter the community in New Jersey a new older Rabbi Shlomo (Alex Poch Goldin) who devises an un orthodox way to get Sarah the get. This would free her to consider two suitors as a new husband. One is a young rabbi, Avi (Nir Guzinski) recently returned from a few years in Alaska and the other a local secular Jewish rock musician, Gabriel (Jonah Carson).

Lots of corny but funny Jewish jokes made the audience happy despite the real problem of some women “chained” or trapped by not obtaining a get.

Publicist Janis Kirshner was enticed by director Ellen David to return to her acting roots by reading the roles of three neighbour/customers of varying ages.

Lots of corny but funny Jewish jokes made the audience happy despite the real problem of some women “chained” or trapped by not obtaining a get.

Mr Svarc won the second prize of $1500.

Day three

Day three introduced Make Up by Alex Poch Goldin, who had also read a key role in Chained Woman above. Directed by Centaur theatre artistic director Eda Holmes, this reading attracted a quartet of our top local actors plus a promising young newcomer.

This play is about happiness, what it is to different people and what they do in search of it. These choices are even more complicated in the age of high technology.

Alain Goulem’s character, a lawyer entering mid life is married to Joanne (Cindy Davis) who runs a cosmetic business and has a young daughter (Manouchka Elinor). Comfortable but bored, he uses the Internet to track down an old flame, Sally (Leni Parker). She is also in the same situation, a spark is rekindled and an affair commenced.

In a sub plot, his friend Jerry (Howard Rosenstein) feeling guilt for having left his wife as she was dying from cancer, is seeking to find himself and tries yoga and other activities. Both eventually frequent porn chat sites.

Things collapse, leading to the conclusion that, only after we have lost what we most value to transitory distractions, do we realize how happy we were.

Mr Goldin won the first prize of $3000.

A third place prize of $500 was won by Tom Boland for his play, Sanctuary, which was not dramatically read in the series, due to the inclusion of Ms Shield’s play, for which she received a monetary award from the QWF separately.

‘Infinitheatre Artistic director Guy Sprung… announced that in the future, all First prize awards in this series will be called the Kevin… to honour the late Kevin Tierney, filmmaker extraordinaire…’

Establishment of the Kevin

Infinitheatre Artistic director Guy Sprung, who monitored the audience Q &A after each staged reading, announced that in the future, all First prize awards in this series will be called the Kevin. This is to honour the late Kevin Tierney, filmmaker extraordinaire, who was set to host a fundraiser for the theatre, but who passed away last May before the event. His wife, Terry, was present at the announcement

The 2018 Pipeline series ran from November 30 to December 2 at Espace Knox.

Watch for Infinitheatre’s next full production of Fight On! Part Two, March 21-24, 2019.

Feature image: Chained Woman cast – courtesy of Infinitheatre

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Read also: From Paris to Broadway with Louise Pitre
More articles from Byron HERE

Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club.

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