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Studio 58 and the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival

Six Miniature Tragedies
By Jean–Paul Wenzel
Translated from the French by Virginie Isbell

Director Jean-Paul Wenzel Artistic collaboration Arlette Namiand Set Yvan Morissette Costumes Sheila White Lighting Alan Brodie Composer Anil Murarka Musicians Anil Murarka and Kyle Jespersen Stage Manager Danielle Fecko

Dates 26 January - 12 February 2006 Venue Studio 58, Langara College Reviewer Jane Penistan

Studio 58 and the PuSh Festival: Six Miniature Tragedies

This is a truly French production. Studio 58 is enjoying the experience of an in depth essay into the “theatre aesthetic and… a completely different way of working”, to quote Kathryn Shaw, the artistic director of the well-known drama school. The Six Miniature Tragedies presented are written and directed by the playwright Jean-Paul Wenzel, and are part of the 2006 PuSh Festival. This year there is a special focus on French theatre entitled “Act French”.

The playwright /director Jean-Paul Wenzel has imbued the cast with Gallic discipline and attention to detail. This is particularly noticeable in the military precision with which the short scenes are changed. Not only is the whole company included in these operations, the choreography of the chorus and soloists in each entr’acte is an intricate pattern of movement, carried out with the smoothness of a well-drilled company. This company comprises local professional actors and students of Studio 58 and so presents the younger members of the cast with the opportunity of working with seasoned members of the profession.

Yvan Morissette has provided the open stage with boxes of gaily coloured spring flowers, which can be moved to delineate any shape or size of playing area, or to intimate a roadway, indoor or outdoor scene. The brick wall backdrop is also a screen for projections. The entire cast is on stage throughout the more than 2-hour performance, sitting on chairs on either side of the playing area, when not acting. A guitarist sits among the actors on the stage right. Piano accompaniment is provided by Kyle Jespersen, also one of the cast.

The six short plays examine a variety of ordinary people in their working lives. All have their tragedies. The first vignette is that of an abandoned mother (Kerry Sandomirsky), telling her children of their father’s departure for a new life. She remembers the brief happiness she has enjoyed, and rages against the fate life has dealt her. In spite of all, she still has a love for her children. Another longer tragedy deals with the neighbourhood and a death on the highway. More intimate is the small scene of "Salt in the Soup" where Tom MacBeath and Emmelia Gordon are involved in a poisoning death. The many small scenes in "The Butcher", some of which are macabre, are not without humour. "Love in a Tin Can" is somewhat in the same vein, but the humour is much broader. "Maya’s Command" examines teenage peer attractions and teenage and parental anxieties

There is a greater or lesser degree of misogyny in all these scenes of ordinary peoples’ lives.

This is a great opportunity to see contemporary live French theatre here in Western Canada. Thanks to the Consulate General of France in Vancouver for making it possible for Studio 58 to experience and present this.

© 2006 Jane Penistan