Friday, February 02, 2007

Montreal English Theatre Bombshell!

Hmm... Gordon McCall is stepping down at A-D of the Centaur Theatre, is he?

Jeremy Hechtman for Artistic Director!

Or maybe not... I can think of a few folks who must be in the running. I wonder if Steven Schipper could be lured back from Winnipeg? And I wonder if Guy Sprung has any interest in the job? I will be following this with interest from afar...

Re: GC's tenure - I know a lot of theatre folks in Montreal love to pick on McCall, but I think, overall, his decade at the Centaur has been quite a success. He created long overdue connections between the Centaur and franco theatres and playwrights, notably Michel Tremblay. He developed an important relationship between the Centaur and Ben Barnes and the Abbey in Dublin, which has resulted in a lot of back-and-forth exchange between Quebec and Canadian artists and Irish ones. He was at the helm for two of the most popular productions in Centaur history: Mambo Italiano and For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again. He convinced David Fennario to write another play AND he commissioned a trilogy by Vittorio Rossi (A trilogy! What Canadian theatre other than Stratford and Centaur has had the balls to do that lately?)...

That's more than enough accomplishment for a decade's work, really, enough for me to forgive him his (mostly directorial) trespasses anyway. Even enough for me to forgive (but not forget) a certain 2000 production of The Crucible that famously resulted in one audience member standing up and declaring, "This is the last time I will ever come here. If you ever see me here again, kill me."

NOTE: An anonymous comment below has been removed at the request of its author.

10 comments:

Alison said...

Ooooooooh. True story: Stephen Schipper's wife snuck into the hospital to see me when I was just born. She told the nurses she was my mum's sister.

Anonymous said...

Gord McCall leaves behind, as he has done in his previous theatre tenures as AD of other venues, a legacy of mediocre theatre -- most of which was programmed to advance his own lacklustre career. All the international exchanges were for his own artistic benefit and any community support was motivated by his desire for Centaur maintain its funding, and therefore his $100,000/year salary. After all, it doesn't look good for the AD of a regional theatre to be running the venue like it's his own personal social club, ie. directing three out of the five shows. You have to throw a bone to the community. He was a master manipulator and knew how to accumulate power by sitting on every cultural Board of Directors that could benefit himself and his career, ie. that of the National Theatre School of Canada. A man of little integrity and a bully, to boot, he will not be missed by the majority of the English-speaking artists in Montreal, most of whom are afraid of speaking out since the Centaur represents one of their few avenues of employment. With his departure a decade of narrow provincialism is over at the Centaur and one hopes that now this theatre can find its true artistic soul.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Someone should ask Rossi for his opinion before you give kudos to McCall about commissioning the trilogy.
Somone should wonder if the benefit to Fennario - which garnered lots of P.R. and audience turn-out wasn't an 'opportunity' for McCall to tag along someone else's success.

Anonymous said...

oh boy, sounds like we have some bitter montreal actors who didn't get cast...
I work for the man - and yes he can be difficult - but aren't all artists? all bosses?
He opened up the doors of the stoic Centaur company to Montrrealers (actors, small theatre companies, writers...) - something that was sorely lacking.
Aren't all artists accused of copying other's work. Isn't that art in itself - being inspired by something - often art itself - and re-interpreting it !
Every AD in Montreal, including Pintal at TNM has been criticized (mostly behind their backs) for being self-serving. Sorry to disappoint - but there's some truth in that - we are humans - but the truth is that - with dwinding box office and attendance records throughout theatres in N. America - Centaur managed to create a financial surplus - it's in good monetary standing.
He's been a savvy entrepreneur - sharing the successes of Rossi, Fennario & Tremblay.
He dared to crash borders with major theatres (Ireland, Washington, Australia). What did you think, he'd hire some director from somewhere else to go and direct? Why is it that when we welcome these AD / directors from abroad we all stand and applaud - why can't the same be said for Gordon.
He's a good guy, a nice man worth taking the time to know. True he could use some polishing - but that is not or was not part of his job description.
He's right - it's time for him to go - he leaves us a 'better' theatre - hopefully the new AD wont bring us back to what it was like 10 years ago. A Centaur that was only accessible to the Centaur.

Anonymous said...

I agree, Centaur is more accessible.

Anonymous said...

Guess there's truth in what you say - so I retract what I said, especially the part about plagiarism. But I still don't like the man.
In any case who do you think is best suited for the job?

Anonymous said...

I'd say Hechtman.
I don't see Sprung or Shapiro taking over, maybe their time came when McCall stepped in, but now I'd say it is too late for those candidates. We need someone who is capable of bringing some commercial appeal to Montreal. Like it or not, commercial theatre is what creates an audience for non-commercial theatre. Look at Toronto, New York and London. Even the French here have figured that out.
BTW I saw Romeo and Juliet. Great directing. I agree with Matt, the acting is unequal.

Anonymous said...

Gordon McCall opening his doors to young artists etc. is not deserving of any particular kind of praise. It's the company's mandate to do this and it's a reason why it gets funded. He is not doing the community a favour. So enough of this backslapping already for something that most Canadian theatres have done as a regular part of their programming for years. And sorry, if you're working for him, you have a stake in praising him. He's the guy that signs your paycheck. And sure, he's not bad. Well, "not bad" is not good enough. Let's aim for something higher in our art. So he created a surplus. Plenty of AD's create surpluses with great programming and great relationships with their colleagues in the community. And international exchanges have been around for a long time. Gordon McCall didn't invent them. It would be great if they occurred for a real artistic exchange and not for career opportunism. And not everybody who criticizes him is bitter about not being hired at the Centaur. Maybe there's something to criticize. There are plenty of AD's in the city who conduct themselves with integrity. Like I said, why settle ?

Anonymous said...

so who do you see as the new a.d.