Thursday, April 03, 2008

Who is Roy Surette?

Well, he’s the new artistic director at the Centaur Theatre, an institution near and dear to my heart and the hearts of most anglo Montrealers. When he was appointed to head the biggest English-language theatre in Quebec last June, the only opinions that reached me overseas about his appointment were negative - see this article by Matt Radz in The Gazette. The main points of contention:

- He’s not from Quebec!
- He doesn’t speak French!
- He’s never worked or lived in Montreal!
- We’ve never heard of him!
- He’s not Guy Sprung! And they didn’t even interview Vittorio Rossi!

So I found it interesting to come across this article in Le Devoir praising Surette’s appointment. Why does Michel Bélair think a unilingual ROChead is a good choice? Well:

- He introduced Michel Marc Bouchard’s The Coronation Voyage (Le Voyage du couronnement) to English Canada, thus introduced Bouchard to English Canada.
- While A-D at the Belfry in Victoria, BC, he programmed the English translations of Michel Tremblay’s Bonjour là! Bonjour!, Sacré Manon, damnée Sandra, À toi, pour toujours, ta Marie-Lou, Les Belles-soeurs and others.
- He’s opening his first season with Wajdi Mouawad’s Scorched (Incendies).

Admittedly, I too would have liked to see a Montrealer or someone connected to Montreal appointed to the position - and I would have thought bilingualism was a prerequisite to run the Centaur - but if Le Devoir can give Surette the benefit of the doubt, then I can too. Then again, I thought Surette’s predecessor Gordon McCall was, overall, a good artistic director, whereas it was rare that I heard him spoken of positively in English theatre circles in Montreal. Maybe anglo Montrealers are just negative about whoever runs the Centaur?

Here’s Surette’s first full season, which starts in September, and you can see his mise en scene in action right now on the Centaur stage with The Mystery of Maddy Heisler.

Elsewhere in Montreal - the Théâtre du Nouveau Monde has announced its 2008-2009 season.

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