Horror, Heart And Humour: THE COVENANT To Run At Segal Centre Studio, Theatre Ouest End, Novemebr 15- December 3

Beautifully crafted, the audience is transported to a heinous, immoral time in history that sadly rings too close to current and conceivable atrocities.

By: Oct. 20, 2022
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Horror, Heart And Humour: THE COVENANT To Run At Segal Centre Studio, Theatre Ouest End, Novemebr 15- December 3

Alice Abracen's powerful, award-winning play, The Covenant, treads a heart wrenching line through despair and dark humour. Beautifully crafted, the audience is transported to a heinous, immoral time in history that sadly rings too close to current and conceivable atrocities.

Added to the mix is the out of control feeling of today's fake news in override; how more than ever the spread of half-truths and lies gathers wide acceptance. The Covenant has every audience member fully engaged and questioning, 'what would I do if it was me'. Directed by Murdoch Schon, Theatre Ouest End presents this timely, premiere production, playing at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts Studio from November 13 to December 3. There will be post-show talkbacks with invited guests to explore questions raised by the play. Mature subject matter.

Inspired by a true story, The Covenant is set in June, 1944 at Theresienstadt. Here, international Red Cross dignitaries are invited to marvel at this lively, cultural town which appears to be a haven for Jewish people in the heart of Czechoslovakia. Little do they know that this paradise is a ghetto and concentration camp elaborately staged in order to conceal Nazi crimes against humanity. Forced to participate in the terrible charade, the determined politician Peter and the dedicated doctor Hilde find their idealism, their faith, and their love put to a terrible test, as we see what shaped their lives together over the past years until this juncture in time.

The Covenant playwright and co-founding member of Theatre Ouest End, Alice Abracen was initially drawn to the story of the artists of Theresienstadt; people who laboured to lessen the horror that surrounded them through song, dance and performance, "I was horrified how that act of courageous, creative resistance was perverted, distorted, twisted and repurposed into a tool for the Nazis, perpetuating the cruelty."

Though based on an historical event, the play is timeless. "Even today people are detained, imprisoned and persecuted for their ethnic or racial identities; concentration camps are run, their conditions kept secret from the world and alternative narratives woven to conceal them. We still see dog-whistling and demagoguery designed to justify war and persecution. Evidence of the lessons of history is forgotten or misappropriated-as seen in the yellow stars worn at anti-vaccine protests," said Abracen.

Director Murdoch Schon is painfully aware that the global political climate is on a backwards slide toward fascism, "We must never for a moment forget how easily propaganda becomes power in the hands of autocrats," said Schon. "Another major thematic thrust of the play is belief and betrayal; are we judged by a single action or a lifetime of actions? It is crucial to witness what must be remembered, and to remember what we have witnessed."

Jonathan Silver plays the role of Peter, he reiterates how we must continue to tell stories about the inhumanities fascism has brought about, "This is not ancient history. Our lives have been shaped by the mistakes of generations past; stories like The Covenant help us understand how they affect our future," said Silver. Much of Silver's family tree was wiped out during the Holocaust, "My direct family only survived because my great grandmother fled to Canada as the war began. She opened a small grocery store on St. Laurent Blvd that became the Montreal landmark Warshaw."

Laura Mitchell is one of the founding members of Theatre Ouest End and plays the role of Karla. She is drawn to all the big questions in the play," How do we lose our humanity? How can we keep it? How do we find enough hope to keep putting one foot in front of the other?" she asked. "I'm interested in ongoing suffering. Aside from the physical, living in a situation that seems devoid of meaning is another kind of suffering, along with the suffering of separation and loss. How do we alleviate it?" She is thrilled that The Covenant is the company's first full length staged production, and with the beauty, density, clarity and dark hope that the play offers.

The stellar cast is Holly Gauthier-Frankel, Laura Mitchell, Romi Shraiter, Jonathan Silver and Brett Watson. Interwoven events in the piece leap through time and space. The set evokes an empty ash box, leaving traces of actors' movements. Sensitively and creatively bringing it to life is set design by Diana Uribe; costumes and lighting design by Zoe Roux; and sound design by Joey Zaurrini. The stage manager is Elyse Quesnel. The play was originally developed at The National Theatre School of Canada by Sara Elkashef.

"He's a thug with a pretty logo he stole from the Hindus. I'm a professor; I can spot plagiarists a mile away. They wanted to shake things up, he won't last the term."

Theatre Ouest End presents The Covenant, November 15-December 3

at Segal Centre for Performing Arts, Studio 5170 Côte-Ste-Catherine Rd.

Opening night is Tuesday, November 15, 7:30pm

(Preview Sun. Nov. 13, 7:30pm)

The show runs: Tues.-Sun. 7:30pm-NO SHOW ON FRIDAYS-plus Wed. Nov. 23 & 30 at 1:00pm

Mature subject matter

There will be post-show talkbacks exploring themes and questions raised by the play connected to the ongoing reality in Quebec and Canada:

on Nov. 17, 23, 30 matinees; Nov. 24 and Dec. 1

For tickets: $20-$30; Segal Centre box office 514 739-7944 or Segal Centre online

The Covenant Facebook event

Further information about Theatre Ouest End can be found here: www.theatreouestend.ca/about.html


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