Infinitheatre's Annual Reading Series Returns with New Works
Every year Infinithéâtre proudly presents Québec's newest discoveries in The Pipeline, an annual series of free public play readings where the audience takes centre stage, offering valuable feedback that furthers script development and helps choose future seasons. Guy Sprung, Infinithéâtre's artistic director, invites the public to be part of the excitement and share their views from Friday, December 8 - Sunday, December 10 at Espace Knox. The Pipeline is four plays in three days, including the Pam Dunn 1st Place Winner from Infinithéâtre's annual Write-On-Q! script writing competition, boasting the largest English literary prize in Québec.
This marks the 12th year for The Pipeline reading series. In its ongoing mandate, Infinithéâtre seeks innovative and challenging new works by Québec and Indigenous playwrights to bring to the stage. The Write-On-Q! competition feeds much of the series. Submitting their work are not only produced playwrights, but also unknown writers including students in writing programs at universities and the National Theatre School, along with plays coming from CEGEP & university professors, journalists, editors, actors, screenwriters, directors, novelists and various literary award-winners. The winning and runner-up scripts are selected by an independent jury, chaired this year by one of Quebec's great actor/director/teachers Diana Fajrajsl, along with Gerry Lipnowski, Patricia Saxton and Caitlin Heiligmann.
Artistic Director Guy Sprung is very pleased with the nearly 40 entries this year and invites audiences to hear some of Montreal's finest actors read scripts that could become future local productions, adding relevant, Québécois theatre to the landscape. States Sprung, "Parliament has decreed Québec a nation; English-language artists of Québec are a vital part of that nation. Infinithéâtre is dedicated to provoking, seeking, developing, producing and brokering the best in English-language plays from Québec and from Indigenous writers from across Canada. The Pipeline series is a major part of this process." First Nations writer Jennifer Dawn Bishops' Shadows Among The Prairies made the final round of jury selections.
The Pipeline readings include the winner of the first place Write-On-Q! $3000 Pam Dunn Prize, Micheala Di Cesare for Extra/Beautiful/U, and Second Place Prize $1000, Strange Fire by Louise Arsenault. The other two scripts in this year's reading extravaganza are Write-On-Q! finalist, Alain Goulem's The Ex-Mas Party and Arthur Holden's The Past, which won a national playwriting award. Celebrating the success of one of their own, Holden joins The Pipeline roster for the sixth time. Please see below for details about each play and its author.
The Pipeline gives the public a unique opportunity to voice their opinions through lively talkback discussions- an important part of any play development- following each reading. Providing invaluable input for the playwrights, talkbacks allow the audience to address questions or issues that the text generates, in a relaxed, open forum with the authors, directors and actors. The Pipeline successes include Battered and Book of Bob by Arthur Holden; Oren Safdie's Unseamly and Mr. Goldberg Goes to Tel Aviv; Michael Milech's Honesty Rents by the Hour; Progress! and Trench Patterns by Alyson Grant, along with Grant's Conversion later this season; and Marianne Ackerman's Triplex Nervosa.
Fri. December 8, 2017, 7pm - Write-On-Q! second place prize
Strange Fire- By Louise Arsenault, Directed by Ellen David
Mia is a Montreal film maker working on a documentary about young women in the Middle East who self-immolate as a form of protest. When Farida, a young Arabic woman living in Ontario, attempts suicide in such fashion, Mia is shocked and intrigued. Jeanne, Mia's girlfriend, is struggling with demons of her own; her addiction to food and to Mia. These three women's lives intertwine as the play explores how social oppression impacts their mental health and their life choices.
Louise Arsenault is an award-winning Montreal playwright and visual artist who teaches English literature at Dawson College. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Concordia and is a graduate of The National Theatre School Playwriting Program. Her productions include Bivouac (Imago Theatre) Innerspeak (Queen Street Theatre) and Dating Jesus (Unwashed Grape). Her play Burning Tongues won 3rd place for Write-on-Q in 2015.
"Write-on-Q! is a unique opportunity to encourage Quebec playwrights. Through public reading and feedback, The Pipeline allows me to hear my work and understand what resonates with an audience. It permits me to grasp what sounds discordant and make alterations so the play is stage worthy."
Sat. December 9, 2017, 2pm
The Ex-Mas Party- By Alain Goulem, Directed by Nick Pynes
The only thing Susan got in the divorce was the cottage. With the ink barely dry on the settlement she heads to the country to celebrate her first post-divorce Christmas with her new boyfriend Ray. Before they can even settle in to their cozy getaway, her ex, Dom, arrives with his young fiancée. He came to pick up his skis but a blizzard snows them in and they are forced to spend Christmas on a potential double date from hell. Romantic comedy at its best... (Or farce, or tragedy?) Love in a blizzard- must be Canadian!
Alain is a bilingual actor/writer/director working in voice, TV, film and theatre. He helped develop and direct the Just for Laughs Festival and Fringe hit MöcShplat (a clown-gibberish adaptation of Macbeth), and Ümlout (a clown-gibberish adaptation of Hamlet). Alain has also directed many first productions of Canadian plays and written two short films. His feature length screenplay Grizzled received the award of excellence at the 2017 NYLA film festival.
"I am super proud and excited to be a part of The Pipeline. My play The Ex-Mas Party is a fast paced, fun-loving comedy that will get a huge boost from having it read by an amazing cast of professional actors and a pro director to guide it to its first audience."
Sat. December 9, 2017, 7pm
When two aging, bookish alcoholics encounter each other at an AA meeting that goes badly sideways, an unlikely friendship is born. Is it more than friendship? Is late-life romance possible between two terribly damaged people? Is it safe? The Past won the 2017 Theatre BC National Playwriting Competition.
"It's a privilege to be participating in the 2017 edition of The Pipeline. As a member of the Infinithéâtre family, I can think of no better setting in which to give The Past its first exposure to a Montreal audience. While the play deals with a complicated and painful subject - alcoholism - I hope it also conveys a sense of optimism in its portrayal of characters who, however damaged they may be, haven't lost their capacity for irony, compassion and love."
Sun. Dec. 10, 2017, 2pm - Write-On-Q! winner, Pam Dunn Prize
Extra/Beautiful/U- By Michaela Di Cesare, Directed by Eda Holmes
Louise has Down Syndrome. Her sister Lara found world fame and fortune on a reality dating show with hundreds of thousands of followers on Instagram and Twitter. Then Lara had a car accident that disfigured her beautiful face, and now has to be cared for by her sister and Angie, her single Mom. Dr. Sam Gagliardi, a prodigy in the craniofacial surgery realm, offers to give Lara her face back as part of a clinical trial for a reconstructive procedure. It is a risk, but Lara decides to take it. What is beauty? What are the limits of love? A play that asks some pretty hot topic questions.
Michaela is an actor and playwright, and holds an MA in Theatre from University of Toronto and a BA in Creative Writing & Theatre from Concordia University. She performed her one-woman show 8 Ways my Mother was Conceived in Toronto, Montreal, New York City, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Stratford. Michaela was the Playwright-in-Residence at Imago Theatre where she wrote In Search of Mrs. Pirandello. Her newest play Successions is part of Centaur Theatre's 2017/2018 season.
"I am thrilled to be continuing my relationship with Infinithéâtre as I believe strongly in their mission to develop new Quebecois works in English. I hope the audience engages with the questions I'm asking about beauty and reality. Do we ever experience beauty in truth or is beauty the ultimate self-deception? This is a play for the Instagram generation and for Reality TV lovers, haters and hate-to-lovers."