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February 9th:  Marat/Sade  by Peter Weiss 

                                         Translated by Geoffrey Skelton

                                           Lyrical adaptation by Adrian Mitchell

                                           Directed by Julian Cervello

February 16th:  The Container  by Clare Bayley  (England)

                                        Directed by Justin Carter

February 23rd:  Così  by Louis Nowra

                                          Translated by            

                                          Directed by Graham McDonald


March 2nd:  Way to Heaven  by Juan Mayorga

                                                          Translated by David Johnston

                                                          Directed by Mercedes Bátiz-Benét  




February 9th @ 8 pm:  Marat/Sade  by Peter Weiss

                                          Translated by Geoffrey Skelton 

                                          Lyric adaptation by Adrian Mitchell

                                          Directed by Julian Cervello


Marat/Sade   (Germany)

The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade, usually shortened to Marat/Sade, is a 1963 play by Peter Weiss.  The work was first published in German.  Incorporating dramatic elements characteristic of both Artaud and Brecht, it is a bloody and unrelenting depiction of class struggle and human suffering which asks whether true revolution comes from changing society or changing oneself.  Marat/Sade is set in 1808 and concerns a performance by members of the asylum in which the Marquis de Sade was incarcerated from 1801 to 1814.  At the warden’s suggestion, de Sade directs his fellow inmates in a dramatic re-creation of the assassination of Jean-Paul Marat in 1793.  What follows is an intense dialectical contest between de Sade and Marat.  According to Weiss, de Sade personifies anarchy, self-indulgence, and individualism, while Marat, a pre-Marxist revolutionary, believes that the end justifies the means, no matter how violent the means may be.

Peter Weiss (1916-1982) was a German writer, painter, graphic artist, and experimental filmmaker of adopted Swedish nationality. He is particularly known for his plays Marat/Sade and The Investigation, and his novel The Aesthetics of Resistance.  Weiss earned his reputation in the post-war German literary world as the proponent of an avant-garde, meticulously descriptive writing, as an exponent of autobiographical prose, and also as a politically engaged dramatist.  He gained international success with Marat/Sade, the American production of which was awarded a Tony Award and its subsequent film adaptation directed by Peter Brook.  His Auschwitz Oratorium, The Investigation, served to broaden the debates over the so-called "Vergangenheitspolitik" or "politics of history."  Weiss' magnum opus was The Aesthetics of Resistance, called the "most important German-language work of the 70s and 80s.  His early, surrealist-inspired work as a painter and experimental filmmaker remains less well known.  


Weiss was a Marxist and an exponent of the Theatre of Cruelty: his stated theatrical purpose was to shock his audiences into suffering and atoning for the violent insanity of modern society.


Julian Cervello is a local actor at the beginning of his directing career.  He is the artistic director of Scrumpy Theatre which has produced three plays by Geoffrey Chaucer, entirely in Middle English: Canterbury Cocktails, The Wyf of Bathe*, The Friar versus the Summoner, also Two Person Othello, Hanna Moscovitch’s Essay*, and a staged reading of Eugene O Neill’s domestic tragedy, A Long Day’s Journey into Night*.


*Directed by Cervello



February 16th @ 8 pm:  The Container  

                                            by Clare Bayley
                                            Directed by Justin Carter

The Container   (England)

The Container tells the story of five migrants – two Afghans, two Somalis and a Turkish Kurd –seeking a new life in the UK.  The play deals with asylum, racial and religious persecution.  It was staged at the Edinburgh festival in 2007, where it won the Amnesty International 2007 Freedom of Expression Award and a Fringe First award. 

Clare Bayley is a playwright, and former Theatre Editor of The Independent, as well as freelance journalist and theatre critic.  Her first play,
The Container, won a Fringe First Award in 2007 and the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award.  It was revived by the Young Vic in 2009.  Her second play, a new version of Victoria Benedictsson’s The Enchantment, premiered at the National Theatre in 2007.  Her other plays include The Woman Who Swallowed A Pin (Southwark Playhouse); Northern Lights (also produced on radio); and a screenplay Corridors in The Air, for which she was awarded the Sunday Times Screenwriting award.  

Justin Carter has been a performer on and off for the last 18 years.   His artistic endeavours have included dance, acting, comedy, and food.  Justin attended The William Davis Centre in Vancouver and went on to perform in commercials, film, and theatre.  He also spent five years with the ‘Throw Us A Line’ comedy improv troupe. Justin has also performed in theatre festivals across Canada with his one man show,
Son of Africville

February 23rd @ 8pm:  Così  by Louis Nowra
                                            Directed by Graham McDonald


Così    (Australia)


Così was first performed in 1992 at the Belvoir St Theatre in Sydney, Australia.  Set in a Melbourne mental hospital in 1971, Così is semi-autobiographical, and is the sequel to Nowra's previous semi-autobiographical play, Summer of the Aliens.  The play was adapted into the 1996 film Cosi.


Set several years after the events of Summer of the Aliens, Lewis is now in a strained relationship with a bossy woman named Lucy, and in a friendship with political extremist, Nick.  Lewis is always desperate for work as he states "I need the money".  The venue is a theatre that smells of "burnt wood and mould", the cast are patients with very diverse needs, and the play is Mozart's Così Fan Tutte. Through working with the patients, Lewis eventually discovers a new side of himself which allows him to become emotionally involved and to value love, while anti-Vietnam war protests erupt in the streets outside.


Louis Nowra is an Australian writer, playwright, screenwriter, and librettist.  He is best known as one of Australia's leading playwrights.  His works have been performed by all of Australia's major theatre companies, including Sydney Theatre Company, Melbourne Theatre Company, Queensland Theatre Company, State Theatre Company of South Australia, Belvoir, and many others, and have also had many international productions.  His most significant plays are Così, Radiance (both of which he turned into films) Byzantine Flowers, coming of age tale Summer of the Aliens and The Golden Age. In 2006 he completed The Boyce Trilogy for Griffin Theatre Company, consisting of The Woman with Dog's Eyes, The Marvellous Boy, and The Emperor of Sydney.  His 2009 novel Ice was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award.  His script for 1996 movie Cosi, which revolves around a group of mentally-ill patients who put on a play, won the Australian Film Institute Award that year for Best Adapted Screenplay.  Nowra's work as a scriptwriter also includes a credit on Irish-set Janeane Garofalo comedy The MatchMaker and globespanning Vincent Ward romance Map of the Human Heart, which was invited to the Cannes Film Festival.  His radio plays include Albert Names Edward, The Song Room, The Widows and the five part The Divine Hammer, which aired on the ABC in 2003.

In March 2007, Nowra published a controversial book on violence in Aboriginal communities, Bad Dreaming.  He was also one of the principal writers for landmark, multi award-winning 2008 SBS TV series, First Australians. Nowra is also a cultural commentator, with essays and commentary appearing regularly in The Monthly and the Australian Literary Review as well as major newspapers. 

Graham McDonald is a freelance theatre artist and the former Associate Artistic Director of Theatre Inconnu.  Locally Graham has worked with Intrepid Theatre, Theatre SKAM, The VSS, The Belfry, Fear No Opera, and this is his fourth time working with Puente Theatre.  Graham's recent directing credits include Don Pasquale by Rossini, Blackbird by David Harrower, The Walworth Farce by Enda Walsh, The Crackwalker by Judith Thompson, Shining City by Conor McPherson, Pornography by Simon Stephens, The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee, The Caretaker by Harold Pinter, and Moscow Stations adapted from the novel by Vendict Yerofeev by Steven Mulrine which had its Off Broadway debut in NYC last year.  Graham's next directing project is Così Fan Tutte with Fear No Opera.

March 2nd @ 8 pm:  Way to Heaven

                                       by Juan Mayorga (Spain)                                                                   Translated by David Johnston
                                             Directed by Mercedes Bátiz-Benét

Way to Heaven (Himmelweg)    (Spain) 

Way to Heaven explores the terrible phenomenon of Jewish complicity in covering up the reality of the Holocaust.   It is based on the compulsory acting that played out in the “model camp” of Theresienstadt, located near Prague.  The play is a historical amalgam; combining aspects of the infamous show camp and the famous July 1944 Red Cross visit to inspect the camp, as well as its subsequent approval by the Red Cross.   This awesome “dress rehearsal” is played out in the shadow of the Nazi death machine, which is evoked by the trains arriving promptly at 6 a.m. every morning, and the ever-present ramp leading to the death chambers and crematorium.   As the play makes relentlessly clear, the façade of normalcy – children playing, a balloon seller, a mid-day meal and the petty drama of young lovers – all serve to mask the grim reality of what was really a transit labor camp on the way to Auschwitz.   Starvation and disease was the norm at Theresienstadt even though the Nazis lauded the camp as the safe haven for the Jewish cultural elite of Germany, Czechoslovakia and Austria.   Indeed there was an amazing amount of art, music and theater produced by the inmates, before they were shipped East to their deaths.   Hence the tragic irony played out in Way to Heaven. 


In German, it’s ‘Himmelweg’.  In English, it’s ‘Way to heaven’.  Such beautiful expressions in either language.  Yet they mask a deadly reality – cynical euphemisms for the ramp that leads Jewish concentration camp inmates to their deaths.  They are linguistic disguises, just as performance becomes a disguise in Way to Heaven to conceal the horrors of concentration camp life from a Red Cross Representative.  Rather than gas chambers and cruel guards, the Representative sees nothing unusual, as the Jewish inmates are forced to perform ‘normality’ for their visitor.  Duped by what he sees, the Representative goes away satisfied that the rumours of inhumane Nazi death camps are untrue.

Yet how much power does a performance have to deceive?  Was the Representative really duped or was he happy to believe in the superficial pretence of reality in front of him?  When faced with the bombastic and intimidating theatrics used by governments today to conceal atrocities, are we - unlike the Representative - prepared to speak out? 

Juan Mayorga is one of the most important Spanish playwrights of his generation.  His first play, Siete Hombres Buenos (Seven Good Men), was awarded second place in the Marques de Bradomin Prize in 1989.  Since this first accolade, Mayorga has won a series of national awards, most prominently, Spain’s National Theatre Prize, which he was awarded in 2007 for services to Spanish theatre.  Mayorga’s work has been translated into many languages and performed widely throughout the world.  In addition to his role as playwright, Juan Mayorga has adapted versions of classical dramas for the Spanish stage.  In January, 2007 he provided a version of Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People for Madrid’s Centro Dramatico Nacional (CDN), for which he also adapted King Lear in February, 2008.  He was a founding member of – and continues to collaborate with – the El Astillero theatre company that was established in 1993.  In 1998 he began teaching dramaturgy, history of thought, and sociology at the Real Escuela Superior de Arte Dramatico in Madrid.

Mercedes Bátiz-Benét is a multi-diciplinary artist and writer.  She was born and raised in Mexico and in 1997 she moved to Canada.  Productions of her work include Faust: Ignis Fatuus, at the international festival "Faustfest," Shining Through, With Open Arms, El Jinete, A Mariachi Opera, and as co-writer, The Secret Sorrow of Hatchet Jack Macphee for The Caravan Farm Theatre, The Erotic Anguish of Don Juan with the Old Trout Puppet Workshop, and Gruff, for Kaleidoscope's Family Theatre Festival.  Mercedes' upcoming productions of her plays are The Umbrella, co-written with Judd Palmer with original music by Bučan Bučan (February 28th), and Lágrimas Crueles/Cruel Tears, a Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre and Puente co-production (April 29th - May 11th). Her latest film credit, camera and cinematography, is for the feature-length documentary about the singer/songwriter Feist, Look At What The Light Did Now (Revolver Films 2010).  Mercedes is the poetry, fiction, and non-fiction editor at Bayeux Arts, and the artistic director of Puente Theatre.

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