Arts and Style


Public spaces I - Circling the Square

By Alan Hustak on July 22, 2010

IMG_3209.JPGThe $14-million redesign of Place d’Armes in Old Montreal gives new meaning to the expression tearing up the city.  Ongoing construction for more than a year has turned the historic ground in front of Notre Dame basilica into a no man’s land.  Tourists expecting to see the statue of Montreal’s founder, Paul de Chomedey, sieur de Maisonneuve, are greeted instead by bulldozers. Making your way up Beaver Hall  hill into Notre Dame or into any of the office buildings around the square means running an obstacle course around the massive excavation. 

Public spaces II - Bulldozing the Bonaventure

By Alan Hustak on July 22, 2010

Autoroute_Bonaventure.jpgThe plans to bulldoze the Bonaventure expressway and replace it  with a ground level  boulevard, for example, have gone back to the drawing board.  The Office de consultation publique de montréal  was right  to doubt the wisdom of the entire $260-million redevelopment scheme initially  proposed by the  Societe du Havre de Montreal,  and to recommend a second  look at the whole idea. 

The people at City Hall responsible for the ambitious project might learn a thing or two from Boston’s experience. 

Quebec’s Celluloid Revolution

By Jessica Murphy on June 10, 2010

“Film is a vision, a point of view,” said Quebec director Michel Brault in 2003. 

Brault and his peers - Quebec cultural giants the lot - were at the forefront in helping the province establish a national cinema distinct from the rest of Canada. They told stories from the viewpoint of les Quebecois. They gave a nation a voice in its own language on screens big and small.

Démocratie et égalité des sexes

By Louise V. Labrecque on June 10, 2010

Ce n’est même pas une question. Plus que jamais il faut repenser le féminisme afin de mieux comprendre la condition féminine actuelle. Diane Guilbault, l’auteure de cet extraordinaire petit livre : « Démocratie et égalité des sexes », interroge les liens complexes unissant le corps, la société, les religions, les cultes, les systèmes et les politiques, notamment les accommodements dit raisonnables.  L’éducation des filles, depuis toujours, englobe le corps et cerne tout particulièrement le sexe, organe de procréation. Ce faux pouvoir, les femmes l’ont appris par cœur, au travers des siècles de silence, de mimétisme, de séduction. 

Shrug! Trudeau Stories at the Centaur until June 6.

By Alidor Aucoin on May 12, 2010

Keep  a diary long enough,  no matter how inconsequential,  and  it  might  end up keeping you. 

Brooke Johnson met Pierre Trudeau at a dance at the National Theatre School in 1985 when she was a 23-year- old  aspiring actress.  He danced with her, took her out for a drinks a few times, invited her for a walk in the country...

Send in the clowns: Canada at Shanghai’s world’s fair

By Alan Hustak on April 23, 2010

expo2010.jpgToo little thought has been given to Canada’s national pavilion at the World Exposition in Shanghai, opening May 1. Whatever one may think about the previous Canadian government’s decision to take part in the Shanghai World’s Fair which just opened as yet  another showcase for the totalitarian Communist regime, once a sovereign nation has signed onto to an agreement it is customary that it is an obligation on future administrations of whatever party. It is not like the Olympics. This is a state commitment to put Canada’s best foot forward. 


Macabre Madonna

By Alidor Aucoin on April 23, 2010

TMP8.jpgThe Madonna Painter, The Birth of Painting at the Centaur, is a richly imagined, sacrilegiously macabre, exercise in which playwright Michel-Marc Bouchard delves into long-discarded French-Canadian Catholic ritual and rural ignorance, “the way a flea market hawker displays sacred objects that have been stolen and disguised for resale.” 

Bunny Good Time

By Alidor Aucoin on April 23, 2010

The good news about the Segal Centre’s revival of Harvey, the play about an absentminded man who befriends an imaginary  a six foot tall rabbit is that it is a hare brained  delight.
The not so good news, is that it only runs until until May 9th.

The discreet charm of Pascale Bussières

By Alan Hustak on March 25, 2010

YRC8773.jpgThere are actors, and then there are stars.    
Pascale Bussières, the alluring star of at least 30 Quebec feature films, was never trained to be an actor -  she was always too busy working before the cameras  to bother going  to a theatre school.
 With her seductive eyes, luminous features   and expressive face,   Bussières can play almost anything. 

Back to her roots: An affectionate history of Griffintown

By Alan Hustak on March 25, 2010

Brave is the writer who tackles a history of Griffintown;  braver still the writer who would weigh in on the storied Montreal slum neighbourhood  from her  vantage point in Toronto.  There is much to admire in Sharon Doyle Driedger’s  enthusiastic,  if  somewhat  disjointed history of the Irish experience in Canada.  But  for a book with the subtitle:  How a Small Immigrant Community Shaped Canada ,  often the story she tells  doesn’t have all that much to do with “The Griff.”   Driedger holds forth  with authority in some chapters, especially her telling of  the 1842 canal workers strike at Beauharnois,  the floods and on the Christian brothers influence on the  neighbourhood.

Rambunctious “Comedy of Errors”

By Alidor Aucoin on March 25, 2010

Centaur Director Peter Hinton’s totally off-the-wall staging of William Shakespeare’s  The Comedy of Errors  is a rambunctious, gender crossing romp. The pl ay is a  ridiculously complicated  two hour series of fast-paced,  mad cap routines rooted  in the mistaken identities  of two sets of  identical twins who were separated at birth,  Antipholus of Syracuse (Marcel Jeannin) and  Antipholus of Ephesus,  (Andreas Apergis)  and their twin servants, both named Dromio.

Literary connections, plays about writers and writing hit the stage

By Alidor Aucoin on February 11, 2010

Alain_Goulem.jpgImagine, if you will a shoot -out between two of North America’s most famous French-Canadian word slingers, Michel   Tremblay and Jack Kerouac.  George Rideout’s Michel & Ti-Jean, playing at the Centaur until March 7, is an unexpected surprise, a daring, novel  audacious  idea that actually works on stage.  The encounter between the two takes place in 1969, one month before Kerouac drank himself to death.  Tremblay, who was then 27 and anxious to validate himself as a writer, hitchhikes to St. Petersburg, Fla., with a copy of his then as yet unproduced play, Les Belles Soeurs in his knapsack  to give to Kerouac to read.

KATE McGARRIGLE: Musical Matriarch 1946-2010

By Alan Hustak on February 11, 2010

McGarrigle.jpgKate McGarrigle was a free spirit who, with her much more restrained sister, Anna, enchanted us with their unornamented, honey-voiced duets in both official  languges.  Kate was the taller of the two, the slightly off kilter one, tart and earthy, the one who took charge on stage assuming everyone in the audience was a member of the family.


By Alan Hustak on January 7, 2010


A Reprint of a 1950’s Montreal tourist guide; plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.



By Alan Hustak on January 7, 2010


l. Ian MacDonald’s snapshot of history in the making

EX-CENTRIS RE-BRANDS: The Temple to Cinema on The Main becomes an Alternative Arts Centre

By Alan Hustak on January 7, 2010

Ten years after Ex-Centris opened as Montreal’s premier cinema art house, the $35-million complex on St. Lawrence Blvd is attempting to carve a new niche for itself as a multi media showcase for emerging  talent.

A refreshing, educated Rita

By Alidor Aucoin on December 3, 2009

EDUCATINGRITA.jpgTaking a cue from last year’s successful Centaur Theatre production of Willy Russell’s crowd pleasing Shirley Valentine, The Segal Centre at the Saidye has countered with an invigorating production of the author’s one other popular play, Educating Rita.

Le monde est un théâtre. Agir!

By Annabel Soutar on December 3, 2009

Par un soir de novembre en 1998, je me trouvais dans un bar du Lac Saint-Jean avec mon mari Alex Ivanovici. Sur les écrans géants, on diffusait un combat de boxe : un anglophone affrontait un francophone. C’était un bar un peu rude, dans un bastion souverainiste; en tant que Montréalaise bilingue mais résolument anglophone, j’avoue m’être sentie nerveuse. Je voulais partir au plus vite. Mais, de retour à notre gîte, nous étions songeurs. Qu’est-ce qui nous faisait si peur? La tension politique dans le bar? Le risque d’avoir à débattre, que les choses dégénèrent?

La réalité des choses

By Louise V. Labrecque on December 3, 2009

Réfléchir à l’émergence des préoccupations culturelles dans l’arène publique, voilà ce que propose l’auteur Simon Brault avec son livre FACTEUR C.  Dans ce vibrant plaidoyer pour « la culture pour tous », l’auteur interpelle tant les artistes, les entreprises culturelles, les gens d’affaires, les journalistes, les politiciens, que l’ensemble des citoyens, afin de réfléchir tous ensemble à l’importance de la culture...

Still a man to watch; Pierre Trudeau

By Alan Hustak on November 4, 2009

just_Watch_Me_resize.JPGHe infatuates us still. 

At least a dozen biographies about Pierre Elliott Trudeau have been written, none of them as satisfying as Just Watch Me, (Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 788 pp. $39.95) the second volume of John English’s dispassionate, intimate look at Canada’s most contradictory, perplexing and some say greatest Prime Minister.

Segal’s “Inherit the wind” succeeds

By Alidor Aucoin on November 4, 2009

Inherit the Wind. Jerome Lawrence and Robert Lee’s dramatization of the 1925 Scopes monkey trial, is a timely old chestnut of a play, especially now that the fossil skeleton of Ardi, a 4-foot tall female primate who died 4.4-million years ago, is making headlines. 

Piazza San Domenico

By Alidor Aucoin on November 4, 2009

A kiss is just a kiss but in Steve Galluccio’s overrated romantic farce, In Piazza San Domenico, a lip lock has toxic consequences.  Galluccio’s play, held over at the Centaur until November 15, is a crowd pleaser in the same way that mindless B-movies have a following.  The playwright claims Feydeau as an inspiration, but Feydeau enlarged human foibles; Galluccio combines the improbable with the predictable, then exploits human nature in crude and unrealistic fashion. 

« Heureux sans dieu »: 14 voix pour l’athéisme

By René Girard on November 4, 2009

heureux-sans-dieu-L-1_resize.pngL’ouvrage collectif Heureux sans Dieu, qui vient de paraître sous la direction de Daniel Baril et Normand Baillargeon, offre un kaléidoscope sur un thème fort peu abordé dans nos sociétés soi-disant modernes : l’athéisme.  Pourtant, comme le rappelle Hervé Fischer dans sa communication les athées représentent 25% des Canadiens selon un sondage effectué en mai 2008.

TREMBLAY’S TRIUMPHANT SEASON. Michel Tremblay, that is.

By Alidor Aucoin on October 1, 2009

Michel-Tremblay-bw.jpgIf there’s any doubt that Michel Tremblay is a national resource, all you have to do is look around .  He’s everywhere.   Tremblay’s latest play – his 30th– Fragments des mensonges inutiles, is at the Theatre Jean Duceppe until October 17.  His  fifth novel,  La Traversée des sentiments, comes out  in November, and a  musical based on his classic, Les Belles-Soeurs, (lyrics by René Richard Cyr and music by Daniel Bélanger) will  be staged next spring at Théâtre d'Aujourd'hui, and  is already a box office hit.  Tremblay is also doing the French translation of Steve Gallucio’s farce, Piazza San Domenico,  which opens the Centaur season  Oct. 6 , Michel Tremblay is also a character who banters with Jack Kerouac  in George Rideout’s play, Michel & Ti-jean, at the Centaur in February.  A production of Albertine in Five Times is at the Shaw Festival until mid October, and next year,  Stratford will produce For The Pleasure of Seeing Her Again.

Ladies and Gentlemen…Leonard Cohen! Still your man

By P.A. Sévigny on October 1, 2009

He may have written Death of a Lady’s Man but Leonard Cohen is not, repeat, not dead. As of last week, he’s 75 years old and pulling in a pension but the man’s alive, the man is well and as far as we know, he still knows how to make the ladies sweat.
Edmonton’s Allison Akgongor’s Longing for Leonard knows what she’s talking about when she writes
Leonard’s sounds entice us
His words carry us away

Grand symphonic gala celebrates 75 glorious years

By Naomi Gold on September 2, 2009

MSO-bw.jpgMontreal's beloved symphony orchestra recently staged its 11th annual ball at Windsor Station and proved to be this year's premier sensory-pleasing fundraiser.   A symphony of incredibly tantalizing delights for the eyes, palates and ears, the benefit soirée pulled out all the proverbial stops, as some 500 guests fêted their local orchestral treasure.

« … et j’ai signé : Étoile »

By Louise V. Labrecque on September 2, 2009

Nous vivons une époque exceptionnelle de l’histoire de l’humanité.  En effet, nous sommes enfin sortis des mythes anciens qui décrivaient, d’une manière ou d’une autre, la création de l’Univers.  En somme,  nous voilà sortis d’une vision du monde qui traçait invariablement une frontière entre le Ciel et la Terre, le Bien et le Mal.   Ces mythes plaçaient la Terre au centre de l’Univers, tel un nombril originel, et la religion était, de ce fait, profondément imprégnée des idées d’Aristote.  Toutefois, lorsque Galilée découvrit des détails astronomiques dans le Ciel divin, nous étions déjà passés de l’autre côté du miroir.  Et nous savons aujourd’hui l’impact que ses observations eurent sur l’avenir de la civilisation en général et sur la recherche scientifique en particulier. 


By Alan Hustak on August 6, 2009

Siblin-authors-pic.jpgEric Siblin has a foot planted firmly in two musical worlds. A  film maker and widely travelled Montreal Free-lance journalist and documentary film maker  who cut his teeth as a newspaper pop-music critic,  Siblin, 48, has entered the so-called classical sphere with his first book by deconstructing  J.S. Bach’s cello suites. It is an extraordinary effort,  a free-wheeling literary riff about  the art of making music . Like travel writer Bruce Chatwin, Siblin condenses worlds into pages and leaves a reader hungry for more.  He became fascinated with the “dark moody tones’‘ of the cello suites nine years ago  after hearing them for the first time played at the Royal Conservatory of Music In Toronto .. “I had no reason to be there,” he writes,  … “but I might have been searching for something without knowing it. Top 40 tunes had overstayed their welcome in my auditory cortex, and the culture surrounding rock music had worn thin. I wanted music to occupy a central part in my life, but in a different way.” 

Darwin: sur le fil très ténu d’une humeur simple

By Louise V. Labrecque on August 6, 2009

C’est tout bête?
 La sélection naturelle, l’adaptation au milieu, l’évolution des espèces, et quoi d’autre encore ?  Ah oui : les histoires de fous aux Galapagos, les singes qui parlent (on en connaît tous !), l’architecture de l’embryon, les fleurs musicales, les hirondelles de Tchernobyl et les batailles de mouches, constituent quelques exemples figurant au palmarès de ce livre extraordinaire, Darwin, cest tout bête, qui relate, avec un humour imparable,  la vie du célèbre naturaliste et scientifique Charles Darwin.  L’auteur, Marc Giraud, a frappé dans le mille, en proposant aux néophytes en la matière toute la rigueur de l’activité cérébrale de Darwin,  mais sous une forme ludique particulière, où l’interrogation se dresse de tous bords, tous côtés.

Le charme de la Polonaise Malgorzata Kubala séduit au Canada La soprano

By Zénon Mazur on August 6, 2009

La tournée qu’a effectuée la cantatrice Malgorzata Kubala au Canada n’est pas passée inaperçue, notamment dans la communauté polonaise.  La présence de cette grande cantatrice polonaise au Canada au cours du mois de juin 2009 constitue une preuve supplémentaire de l’engagement du nouveau consul de la Pologne dans la métropole québécoise, Tadeusz Zylinski, en faveur de la culture.

Wasserman’s Yiddish festival a North American first

By Alidor Aucoin on July 2, 2009

It was touch and go whether the troupe from Poland would make it; translating two dozen Yiddish plays into French and  English proved to be a bit of a headache  and the logistics of meeting the specific requirements of eight theatre companies and 200 actors, artists, musicians and scholars from around the world was an enormous challenge. Still, in spite of a few last minute glitches, and some anxious moments, all of the world’s major Yiddish players came together under one roof in Montreal for last week’s opening  of the International Yiddish Theatre Festival which wrapped up Friday June 25. “We’ve learned a lot, and I think we’re going to put that knowledge to use,” said  Bryna Wasseman,  artistic director of the Segal Centre for the Performing Arts who came up with the audacious idea...

Un éléphant dans un magasin de porcelaine

By Sébastien Dhavernas on July 2, 2009

Radio Canada-CBC et ses artisans traversent en ce moment des jours sombres et qui doivent susciter une réflexion et un débat de fond au sein de la société civile québécoise et canadienne.
Monsieur Bernard Derome honoré   pour sa grande contribution au métier de journaliste à l’antenne de Radio Canada a lancé un appel en ce sens et je tiens à l’en remercier et à répondre présent à ce cri du cœur d’un homme réputé pour sa  réserve, sa rigueur et sa crédibilité...

The Lure of Victorian Landscapes, the MMFA goes Green.

By Alan Hustak on July 2, 2009

Who would have imagined that so many fusty, gilt-edged landscapes that have been out of fashion for so long could be so resonant to our times?  Expanding Horizons, a terrific summer exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts combines painting and photographs of the North American wilderness done, for the most part,  in the last half of the 19th century. Taken together, these bucolic, dreamlike vistas have been restored to their rightful position as potent masterworks. Such an exhibition could hardly be more appropriate...


By Alan Hustak on May 28, 2009

art-deco-logo.jpg10 WORLD CONGRESS opens in Montreal

Montreal isn’t the first city that comes to mind when you think of Art Deco, so Peter Sheridan, wasn’t sure what to expect when he arrived here  from Australia for the 10th World Congress on Art Deco. Sheridan, a Sydney, Australia, dentist who collects art deco radios is one of about 200 enthusiasts from 30 Art Deco societies around the world attending the week-long convention that opened Sunday. The get together was organized by Sandra Cohen-Rose, who 15 years ago wrote a book on the subject, Northern Deco; Art Deco in Montreal. 

Devenir mozartien, un art aussi simple que l’amour

By Louise V. Labrecque on May 28, 2009

En vue de l’écriture de cet essai, Émile Ortenberg semble n’avoir eu pour seule ambition que de vivre un message de lumière.  On constate à sa lecture que son propos se résume à merveille par cette seule idée, car c’est bel et bien dans cette optique que l’auteur rend compte de la lucidité, de l’amour et du bonheur que comporte la musique mozartienne, une musique à laquelle, d’ailleurs, de plus en plus de mélomanes accordent un statut tout à fait spécial...

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