Segal Centre presents an international co-production
with MOPO Cultural Trust
in association with Baxter Theatre Centre
From the book by J.M. Coetzee
Adapted & Directed by Alexandre Marine
Produced by Maurice Podbrey
Designed by Craig Leo
Music by Dmitri Marine
NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
"A fine piece of literary art" – Pat Donnelly, The Gazette
« Une joie dangereuse » – Daniel Lemay, La Presse
« Fort efficace », « une œuvre universelle » – Philippe Couture, Le Devoir
"A rewarding experience" – The Concordian
"A worthwhile evening of theatre" – The Rover
GO BEHIND THE SCENES
SYNOPSISAwarding J.M. Coetzee his Nobel Prize, the committee called Waiting for the Barbarians “a political thriller in the tradition of Joseph Conrad”. Set in a small frontier town under the jurisdiction of a political entity known only as “the Empire”, the story is told from the perspective of the town’s magistrate, who has experienced peace and tranquility until a threat from “the barbarians” throws his world into turmoil. A chilling and gripping journey to the dark side of humanity that asks: just who are the barbarians?
DID YOU KNOW?The title of the book is taken from the poem with the same title written in 1904 by the Greek-Egyptian poet Constantine P. Cavafy?
Click here to the read the poem.
With the support of:
EXHIBITIONPierre Laramée This exhibition is his second to take place at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts, in the ArtLounge. A self-taught visual artist, Pierre Laramée was born in 1953 in Boucherville Quebec. For more than three decades, he has worked in all the disciplines of public communication. Alongside his working career, he has painted tirelessly for over forty years. Laramée is primarily influenced by Quebecoise painters such as Riopelle, Richard, Ayotte, and Iacurto. His artistic practice combines impressionism and evocative abstraction. Over the decades, and especially in recent years, Laramée has exhibited in Montreal, the Eastern Townships and Quebec. In 2011, his application to the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts de Paris was accepted for the occasion of its annual exhibition at the Carrousel du Louvre, for which he was the recipient of a special jury prize of SNBA. Additionally, he exhibited at Galerie Art & Miss in the Marais district of Paris in December 2011 for their exhibition Le Canada rencontre l'Europe.
Written by J. M. COETZEE
South-African born J.M. Coetzee is the author of thirteen works of fiction including Waiting for the Barbarians (1980) and Disgrace (1999). He has also published memoirs, literary criticism and translations and has led a distinguished academic career, teaching at the University of Cape Town, the University of Chicago, Harvard, Johns Hopkins and Stanford University. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2003 and is a two-time recipient of the Booker Prize. He now resides in Adelaide, Australia.
Photo: Ulla Montan
Adaptor, Director, Lighting design ALEXANDRE MARINE
Alexandre Marine is a founding member of the Tabakov Theatre in Moscow and the founding artistic director of Théâtre Deuxième Réalité in Montreal. He began his career as an actor in Moscow.
Among his many roles there are such diametrically opposed parts as Khlestakov in Gogol’s The Inspector General and Raskolnikov in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. As a stage director he has director over 70 productions in Moscow, Montreal, New York and Toronto.
His Montreal productions of Hamlet (1999) and Amadeus (2007, Segal Centre), and Mary Stuart (2008) were awarded the Production of the Year awards by l'Association québécoise des critiques de théâtre. His adaptation of Dostoevsky’s The Possessed, entitled “…the itsy bitsy spider…” (2010), produced by New York’s Studio Six, won the Best Production Award in Baltimore’s City Paper. His productions of A Streetcar Names Desire (2006) and Blue Rose (2011), and an adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie (2006) were also recognized by the Amur Autumn festival in Blagoveshensk, Russia. His productions at the Moscow Art Theatre and the Tabakov Theatre have toured extensively in Russia and Europe.
Recent directorial credits include Transfigured Night, based on Arnold Schoenbel’s eponymous work with Montreal’s Orchestre Nouvelle-Génération and Théâtre Deuxième Réalité, Marriage 2.0, based on Chekhov’s short works, at the Tabakov Theatre in Moscow, and Gorki’s Vassa at Théâtre du Rideau Vert. Marine has also taught at the National Theatre School of Canada, Harvard’s Institute for Advanced Theatre Training and at the Moscow Art Theatre School, as well as at a number of US and Canadian universities. He is the recipient of the Distinguished Artist of Russia Award.
Produced by MAURICE PODBREY
Maurice Podbrey, CM, is one of the pioneers of English theatre in Montreal, co-founding Centaur Theatre in 1969 where he remained as Artistic Director until 1997. Among the works he has directed at the Centaur are Luther, Creeps, The Seagull, Albertine, en cinq temps, Woman in Mind, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. As an actor, he played lead roles in such plays as A Lesson from Aloes, Duet for One, Death of a Salesman, Uncle Vanya (twice) and a small (but delightful) role in Medea, directed by his daughter, Alison Darcy (of Scapegoat Carnivale). His vision launched the careers of well-known playwrights David Fennario, Vittorio Rossi, numerous actors, directors, designers, and brought the works of South African playwright Athol Fugard (Master Harold and the Boys, Sizwe Bansi is Dead, The Island, Blood Knot, My Children! My Africa!) to Canadian audiences.
He returned to his native South Africa 14 years ago to form Mopo Cultural Trust, a company dedicated to the development of new theatrical talent. The Trust has completed over 35 productions during the past 12 years in all parts of the country. Maurice is especially proud of his collaboration with Lara Foot and toured her play Tshepang internationally. A Member of the Order of Canada, Maurice is also the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from Concordia University. Maurice now divides his time happily between Cape Town and Montréal, which he continues to call home.
Set & Costume Design CRAIG LEO
Craig Leo is a puppeteer, performing artist and production designer. He was apprentice to circus guru Keith Anderson and trained with the Zip Zap Circus in South Africa. While performing in the Sun City Circus extravaganza Baletatsati, he co-founded the acrobatic theatre company Myth, which toured South Africa and Europe. He has also worked extensively with the Handspring Puppet Company, touring the UK, Europe, the US and the Far East. Productions include Tall Horse, Il Ritorno d’Ulisse and House of Dancing Water, as well as the multiple award-winning War Horse at London’s National Theatre. He created the role of the lead horse in that production and was associate puppetry director when it transferred to London’s West End. He appeared in Or I’ll Kiss You, Handspring’s 2010 collaboration with the National Theatre, directed by Neil Bartlett. Craig’s design credits include costumes for Bolero, Romeo and Juliet, Afro-Dizzia, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat; production design for Medea, Bolero, Rain in a Dead Man’s Footprints, Cargo, Partly God, Loveaffair, London Road, Wombtide, Benchmarks, The Flying Dutchman, ‘Nite Mother, The Flower of Shembe; and set design for Voices Made Night. Craig has just returned from Australia, where he was Assistant Puppetry Director for the Australian production of War Horse.
Composer DMITRI MARINE
Dmitri is a Montreal-based theatre composer. He has composed the score for over 20 productions in Montreal, New York and Moscow. Recent credits include original scores for Marriage 2.0 (Tabakov Theatre, Moscow), Blithe Spirit (Segal Centre), Vassa (Théâtre du Rideau Vert), Exécuteur 14 (Théâtre Décalage, Montreal), “…the itsy bitsy spider…” (Studio Six Theatre Company, New York) and Hay Fever (Moscow Art Theatre). He has also composed the music for Tetchena Bellange’s documentary film BLACK HANDS: Trial of the Arsonist’s Slave as well as Guy Sprung’s feature-length The Hat Goes Wild.
Stage Manager ELAINE NORMANDEAU
Elaine works as a stage manager / assistant director in both English and French theatre as well as in opera. Career highlights include Le procès and Wagner’s Siegfried directed by François Girard, Intérieur and Au cœur de la rose directed by Denis Marleau, Variations énigmatiques, Un fil à la patte and Equus directed by Daniel Roussel, the world premiere of Gilles Tremblay’s Opéra féerie directed by Robert Bellefeuille. Segal credits include the coproductions with Théâtre du Rideau Vert of Une musique inquiétante/Old Wicked Songs and Vigil(e) directed by Martin Faucher, Amadeus, An Enemy of the People, Harvey and A View from the Bridge. In her spare time, Elaine works as a translator.
Assistant Stage Manager MERISSA TORDJMAN
Merissa’s Segal credits include Equus, Blithe Spirit, Geometry in Venice, Educating Rita, Dangerous Liaisons, Houdini, I Am My Own Wife and Hedda Gabler. Other credits include The Game of Love and Chance, God of Carnage, Instructions to Any Future Socialist Government Wishing to Abolish Christmas, The Madonna Painter, Age of Arousal, Tales From Ovid, Past Perfect, Mambo Italiano, (Centaur); Plaid Tidings, The Miracle Worker, A Few Good Men, The Sound of Music, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Rocky Horror Show (Neptune); Eternal Hydra (Crow’s Theatre); Antigone (Soulpepper); Blasted (Buddies in Bad Times) and others with Projet Porte Parole, Just for Laughs, The Montreal Young Company and Theatre Lac Brome.
Apprentice Stage Manager DANIELLE SKENE
This marks Danielle’s second production with the Segal Centre. Danielle has been working in professional theatre for over fifteen years as an actor, teacher, administrator, playwright and stage manager. Her most recent credits include Harlem Duet (Black Theatre Workshop), The Taming of the Shrew (Repercussion Theatre Company), Same Time, Next Year (Centre), Ars Poetica (Infinithéâtre), The Little Prince (Geordie Productions) and both Gemini and Forty Carats for the Dawson College Theatre Program.
GRANT SWANBY - Magistrate
Grant has appeared in over 25 films, 40 stage plays and 12 Television series. Film Credits include: Long Walk to Freedom (2014 release), Invictus, White Wedding, Blood Diamond, and the award winning Black Butterflies. On television, Grant has appeared in Women in Love for the BBC, Crusoe for NBC, ITV’s The Runaways and is remembered in South Africa for his role on the daily soap Isidingo. Grant’s theatre, credits include: The Taming of the Shrew, Much Ado about Nothing, Jesus Christ Superstar, Hamlet and Love, Valour, Compassion. Grant also works as a Professional Acting Coach, and is a founding member of the Comedy improv groups, “Comedy Games” and “Four Slackers and a Microphone”.
NICHOLAS PAULING - Colonel Joll
A recipient of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Brett Golding Award, Nicholas Pauling recently performed with the RSC’s productions of Hamlet and The Tempest. He appeared in A Comedy of Errors and King Lear, produced by The Mechanicals, of which he is a founding member. Nicholas is also a proud member of the Framework Company in Johannesburg. Other theatre credits include: Amadeus (Fleur du Cap Award for Best Actor), Glengarry Glen Ross, Buried Child, Zoo Story, Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing, The Importance of Being Earnest, Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Antony and Cleopatra, and The 39 Steps (US Tour).
RUBEN ENGEL - Mendel
Ruben Engel started acting at a young age, joining Project Phakama, an artistic exchange program between Cape Town and London. He went on to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre and Performance at the University of Cape Town. He has starred in international films like The Italian Consul (Italy, 2009) and Pirates (Germany, 2010). Heavily involved in social transformation, Ruben holds the title of Second Runner Up for Mr. South Africa 2009. He is currently to be seen on South Africa’s most watched drama series, Montana (SABC 1), playing the role of ward councilor and mayoral candidate, Winston Phillips. He recently directed the music video for Chad Saaiman’s new radio hit, Bang X2 and is in post-production for his first short film as a director, Coke Town. He is set to play Akin Omotoso's lead man in his next feature film, Tell Me Sweet Something in March.
CHUMA SOPOTELA - Girl
Chuma Sopotela is an actor, dancer, puppeteer and performance artist from Cape Town, South Africa. A graduate of the University of Cape Town Drama program, she launched her career in Lara Foot’s multiple award-winning play Kara Moose, for which she was awarded the Fleur du Cap Best Actress and the Naledi Best Newcomer Awards. In collaboration with Mwenya Kabe and Kemang Wa-Lehulere she created a performance art piece, Unyawoaluna mpumlo, recipient of the 2007 Spier Contemporary Award. Since then, Chuma has performed around the world, such as The Royal Shakespeare Courtyard Theatre in London and throughout the UK, on tour with The Tempest under the direction of Janise Honeyman. One of Chuma’s career highlights was playing the role of Tata Nelson Mandela at his home in Qunu for his 90th birthday. Recent performance credits include The Memory of How it Feels, Lig, The Flower of Shembe, Ourobouros (Handspring Theatre), and Loveaffair by the Remix Dance Company, of which she is a proud member. Chuma is also a dedicated community activist and educator, working with NGO’s such as the Treatment Action Campaign and Doctors Without Borders in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
KIMBERLY ANNE LAFERRIERE - Zoe
Kimberly-Anne Laferrière was born and raised in Montreal. She studied fine arts and cinema production at Dawson College and is a graduate of the prestigious Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City. While in New York, she performed in a number of productions, including: Hair, The Producers (Neighborhood Playhouse), Strangers and The Person I Once Was (Rita Wallach Theatre). Since graduating from the Playhouse, Kimberly has made a career working in films and television. Television credits include Spike TV’s Blue Mountain State, Being Human, and 1000 Ways to Die. This past year, she starred in two feature films, Serpent in a Bottle and the Canadian action film, The Badge. She is thrilled to join the wonderful cast of Waiting for the Barbarians.
OWEN MANAMELA - Lieutenant
Owen Manamela is an actor, dancer and choreographer from Johannesburg. He began his career as an actor at the Alexandra Theatre Organization and went on to study as a dancer, training with the Johannesburg Dance Foundation, under the guidance of Graham Davies and Eugene Berry. He subsequently worked for the South African Ballet Theatre before joining the Jazzart Dance Theatre. Training for two years in the Jazzart’s Young Adult Training and Job-Creation Programme, he eventually became a full company member, performing in all of Jazzart’s major productions. Credits include the award-winning Junction, Rain in a Dead Man’s Footprint, Cargo, and Bolero. Owen has worked with such acclaimed directors as Mark Fleishman, Mandla Mbothwe, Mwenya Kabwe, Lara Bye,Marthinus Basson, Mdu Kweyama, Jacou Bouwer and choreographers and musicians Neo Muyanga, Alfred Hinkel, Ina Wichterich, Jay Pather, SifisoKweyama, Adel Blank and Sean Bovim, Mamela Nyamza, to name a few. Since 2007, Owen has worked as a freelance choreographer, teacher and dancer and has collaborated with such companies as Free-Flight Dance Company, Inspirations Dance Company, Bovim Ballet, the Cape Town City Ballet, and the Remix Dance Company. His own works as a Choreographer and director include: Imperfections, Mina Nawe, Red Stoep, Invisible Gold, Being, Rise, The Sinking of the Mendi,Vies-a`-Vies, Patlisiso and Reflections.
ADRIAN COLLINS - Soldier 1
Adrian Collins graduated with a BA Honours in theatre and performance at the University of Cape Town. He has performed in numerous theatre productions including Hamlet, directed by Janet Suzman at the Baxter and Swan theatre in Stratford upon Avon, Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Guy De Lancy and Harold Pinter's The Birthday Party, directed by Chris Weare for which he was nominated for a Fleur de Cap Award. Most recent television and film roles include; Grigor Tchvesky in HBO's Strikeback and the role of Costly in Josh Trank's Chronicle. He is a member of The Mechanicals theatre collective in Cape Town and most recently played the role of Edmund in King Lear.
KHAYALETHU ANTHONY - Soldier 2
Khayalethu Anthony is a Khayelitsha, Cape Town based actor, writer and theatre director. He performed alongside Janet Suzman in Lara Foot’s Solomon and Marion, which earned him a Fleur du Cap nomination for Best Actor. Other theatre credits include: The Rope, Red Song (by Themba Baleni), Imnqwihelo Zemimoya, The Choice of Amafela Ndawonye (Imbawula Theatre Company), and High Way, directed by Mfundo Hashe. On screen, he recently appeared in the international film The Long Walk to Freedom and the television series Forced Love, alongside Mbulelo Grootboom. Devoted to the role of theatre in the community, he is the Artistic Director of the Imbawula Theatre Company.
In J.M. Coetzee’s novel Waiting for the Barbarians, a middle-age magistrate in a forlorn outpost of an unnamed empire witnesses a struggle between colonial forces and a mysterious nomadic tribe labelled “the barbarians.” His position of privilege is soon eroded, a process hastened by his strange sensual attachment to an injured barbarian girl. He becomes a victim of the evil empire he once represented. And we are supposed to care, as time passes, and the sands of power shift.
The magistrate is a kind of Everyman, with the emphasis on the word “man.”
While reading the 1980 novel in preparation for the North American premiere of director Alexandre Marine’s adaptation of Waiting for the Barbarians, I found it sluggish going, brutal and bleak, overburdened with philosophical introspection spouted by an anti-hero for whom I had little sympathy, partly because of his hypocrisy, partly because of his sleazy view of women.
But a play is another thing.
Marine’s version of the story is an admirable piece of lyrically staged literature, remarkably true to the novel, although somewhat lighter in tone, thanks to the constraints of theatre. Some details of human suffering demand a realism better served by film than theatre. In the book, when the Magistrate returns from a perilous journey, having brought his crippled, blind barbarian concubine back to her people, he is described as a shadow of his former self, barely recognizable. On stage, however, the South African actor who portrays him, Grant Swanby, only manages to look mildly dishevelled. We have to imagine the rest.
Swanby does an excellent job of portraying, and selling, his character, making him somewhat more likeable than the man in the book. Another aspect of the “lightening up” of the material is Marine’s concept of the prostitute, Zoe (Kimberly-Anne Laferrière), who comes across as a perky Victoria Secret’s underwear model. She looks high-rent, urban, not likely to be working for a pittance in such a dump. But her dancer’s moves, along with a sense of irony added by Marine, make the brothel scenes more palatable, pathos diluted by comic relief and strip-show titillation.
As usual with Marine, there are sudden choreographic moments, mainly segues into the Magistrate’s dream world — which remains inhabited by the barbarian girl (Chuma Sopotela) long after she is gone.
Some of them are breathtaking. Sopotela is like a spirit arisen from the book, always riveting to watch. The foot-washing scene between her and Granby is as hauntingly symbolic as it is on the page.
Marine, aided by his superb, mainly South African cast, has done wonders in transforming this almost-impossible-to-stage novel into a public event worth attending. But in order to serve up the philosophical portions of the book that he has deemed necessary, he has had to lean on Swanby to deliver them directly to the audience, making for declamatory lulls in the action.
Meanwhile, the ensemble carries the momentum. Nicholas Pauling, as the caricatural colonel, Khayalethu Anthony, as a wittily subversive yet servile soldier, Owen Manamela-Mogane, Ruben Engel and Adrian Collins all master the highly gestural Marine style.
Waiting for the Barbarians, graced with a spare, deftly designed set by Craig Leo (whose credits include the international hit War Horse) and enhanced by discreet incidental music composed by Dmitri Marine, is a fine piece of art theatre, if not a great play.
Marine plus Coetzee doesn’t quite add up to South African playwright Athol Fugard. (Although there are cultural similarities between the two writers, they rule in separate realms.) Still, those who have grappled with Coetzee’s book will want to see this interpretation of it. And vice versa.
Waiting for the Barbarians, by J.M. Coetzee, adapted and directed by Alexandre Marine, continues until Feb. 17 at the Segal Centre, 5170 Côte St. Catherine Rd. Call 514-739-7944 or visit www.segalcentre.org