Inaugural METAs Awards celebrate the finest in Montreal English language theatre
By: Stuart Nulman
Last Monday night (October 21), actors, writers, directors and behind-the-scenes personnel who make up Montreal’s English language theatre community congregated at the Rialto Theatre to recognize and celebrate the artistic achievements within their growing community in the inaugural edition of the Montreal English Theatre Awards (also known as the METAs).
Supported by the Quebec Drama Federation (QDF), the METAs honoured local plays that were staged by Montreal’s swelling number of theatres and theatrical companies over the past year. Awards were given in 25 categories in both the independent and professional levels. “The Bacchae”, a classic Greek drama that was staged by Scapegoat Carnivale and was showcased as part of the Centaur Theatre’s “Brave New Looks”series last year, dominated the METAs by capturing nine awards. “Sherlock Holmes”, which starred NDG-born actor Jay Baruchel in the title role and played to sold out crowds at the Segal Centre this past spring, won the second most METAs with five awards; both shows also took their respective awards for Outstanding Production.
However, what made the first METAs ceremony such a success was how the organizers managed to make the event look like a polished showbiz awards show that you see at the height of awards season. It was hosted by local actors Marcel Jeannin and the bubbly Holly Gauthier-Frankel, who was resplendent in a sparkling green dress. They did some snappy repartee between each other, and even performed a just as snappy opening musical number, which humourously conveyed the message of not to focus on the negative and the realities of surviving in the Montreal English language theatre scene.
The actual presentation of the awards, with the one-liners, inside jokes, acceptance speeches, intermission and the occasional displays of opening night jitters factored in, ran for nearly 2 ½ hours (something that the Oscars and Emmys can learn from). The METAs had its share of memorable moments, including Catherine Lemieux’s emotional acceptance speech for her outstanding supporting actress (professional) award for her scene stealing performance in “Good People”; former Fringe Festival and Mainline Theatre director (and owner of the new entertainment venue The Wiggle Room) who said, when he accepted the very first Douglas Campbell Enfant Terrible Award, that “to stand in front of a room of doers and get an award for the s— I’ve done is awesome”; the moving tribute to the late Greg Kramer, who won a posthumous outstanding supporting actor award (independent) for his performance in “The Bacchae”; and following the tradition of other major award shows, did a stirring “In Memoriam” segment paying tribute to the major figures in the Montreal theatre scene who passed away this past year and over the past 50 years.
With the success of the first edition of the METAs, as well the QDF’s quarterly theatrical calendar launches, it clearly shows how English language theatre is going nowhere but up here in Montreal; and now this growing community has something to look forward to every October to celebrate its accomplishments on a grand scale.
To find out the complete list of METAs award winners, go to www.quebecdrama.org.
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A new festival is soon to be unleashed amongst the Montreal theatre going public, especially those who enjoy solo (or one-man) shows, and shows which like to take a chance and not afraid to have an edge to it. The Solos Festival, which runs from November 6 to 9, will invade the Mainline Theatre, 3997 St. Laurent Boulevard, with eight unique solo shows, four of them in English and four of them in French, in which each night will present two shows a night (one in each language).
The English language shows in the inaugural Solos Festival include: “Adopted at Death”, a comedy about the loveable nature of the inevitable, death; “Verbal Diary-Ah: Confessions of An Awkward Teenager”, which explores a teenager’s vision of utopia; “Danger Unit”, in which a 10-year-old boy and a group of friends wage a battle against a doomed future during the mid-80s; and UnLOVEable”, Fringe Festival favorite Kirsten Rasmussen’s tale about one girl’s hilarious quest for love.
Tickets for the entire series of Solos Festival plays are $75 (limited supply available), $25 for a two show night, or $15 per show. Food and drink will be available every night between shows, with a solo musician providing the atmosphere in the Mainline Theatre lobby each night. For more information, go to www.solosfestival.com.
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The 2014 edition of the C2MTL conference, which celebrates the best and brightest in commerce and creativity around the world, is scheduled for May 27-29; however, the excitement and anticipation surrounding the third edition is so high, that half of the available passes are already sold.
And looking at the early list of guest speakers slated to appear at C2MTL 2014, one can understand why those passes have sold quickly: there’s Oscar-winning director James Cameron, CBC TV show host George Stromboulopoulos, designer Christian Louboutin, architect Rjarke Ingels, and Google’s Head of Strategic Planning for Agency Development Abigail Posner.
For more information about the 2014 edition of the C2MTL conference, go to www.C2MTL.com.
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If you want to get your Christmas shopping off to an early start, and you have some quality art in mind for those special gifts for your special people, then check out the “T’was the Month Before Christmas” art exhibit and sale, which takes place on November 2, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 70 Beaconsfield Boulevard in Beaconsfield. Artists from the downtown core, Cote St. Luc, NDG, St. Laurent and the West Island will be displaying and selling their respective paintings that are done in traditional oils, acrylics and watercolours, which are available in small, medium and large sizes and represent a variety of artistic styles and genres. Admission is free.
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