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Canadian Rep Presents Carole Fréchette Classic


Canadian Rep Presents Carole Fréchette Classic Canadian Rep Theatre Artistic Director Ken Gass is pleased to announce an exciting new production of the Carole Fréchette classic, Helen's Necklace (translated by John Murrell). Directed by Gass, the production will feature three extraordinary actresses of varying racial/ethnic identities: Akosua Amo-Adem, Zorana Sadiq and Helen Taylor.

Helen's Necklace will play for a limited run of 5 performances at the Berkeley Street Theatre (Upstairs) from November 8 - 11 and then also play for 5 performances at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre from November 15 - 18. Tickets go on sale Monday, October 29.

The Canadian Rep Theatre production of Helen's Necklace will include lighting by multi-Dora Award-winning designer Andre du Toit, and original music and soundscape by Wayne Kelso. Costume design is by Snezana Pesic and stage management by Fiona Jones.

Helen's Necklace is a contemporary Canadian classic, one that has even greater resonance in the context of Syria and other strife-torn regions in our consciousness. More than that, the play is a timeless evocation of loss and disillusionment, and the search for hope and renewal.

This often-produced play is normally done with one female performer playing the role of Helen and one male performer playing Nabil, the taxi driver, and four other characters (including one woman) from the city Helen visits. However, in Gass's production, each of three female performers share the role of Helen, while also collectively presenting the other five characters.

As Gass explains, "Browsing through Fréchette's works in their original, I stumbled on the powerful scene between Helen, searching for her necklace, and the Middle-Eastern Woman searching for a red rubber ball belonging to her son-a civilian casualty. Not only did I strongly feel this scene should be played by women, it led me to imagine the entire play told through a female perspective. In the Canadian context, the role of Helen could obviously belong to performers of any racial or ethnic identity, and by bringing together a diverse ensemble of versatile performers, we come closer to finding the universality of Helen's journey."

Helen's Necklace tells the story of Helen, a Canadian academic attending a conference in a Middle-Eastern city, who abruptly decides to stay on after her colleagues have left in order to search for a lost pearl necklace. With the help of an empathetic taxi driver, she navigates the maze of foreign streets and encounters the inhabitants of this near devastated city. In the absurdity of searching for a "lighter-than-air" necklace in the middle of a recent war zone, Helen struggles to reconcile with her own deeply fractured ability to live, to love and to accept loss.

After the showcase runs in Toronto and Burlington, Ontario, the Canadian Rep Theatre production of HELEN'S NECKLACE will be available for touring to other centres.

Tickets go on sale Monday, October 29 and will be available at or by calling the Berkeley Street Theatre/Canadian Stage box office at 416-368-3110.

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