Sex at the Segal

By Alidor Aucoin on May 29, 2008

Bryna Wasserman, now in her 10th year as artistic director at The Segal Centre at the Saidye, has one objective for the upcoming season. She’s put together a sensual bill of theatrical fare designed to “sizzle and titillate.” And she’s assembled a team of top-notch directors to oversee the daunting season.

Every one of the plays on the 2008-09 lineup deals with family life going down the drain because of skeletons in the closet, or of households, “where bleak things come without invitation,” as Tennessee Williams said. “The thread running through all the plays is that they are about weird families,” Wasserman agrees. “They explore sexuality and male-female relationships. They’re all sensual.”

The season opens September 11 with a production of Christopher Hampton¹s daring interpretation of « Les liaison dangereuses ». The play has proven to be an amazingly successful adaptation of Choderlos de Laclos 1782 novel about nasty sexual power tripping and hypocrisy among the eighteenth century French aristocracy. It will be directed by Alexandre Marine who brought such a decadent touch to last year¹s production of Amadeus.

That’s followed by a revival of Tennessee Williams Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, about a wealthy but morally disoriented Mississippi family. The play examines hypocrisy, greed and secret passions, and will be directed by Greg Kramer.

In February the Seagal teams up with the National Art Centre in Ottawa for Peter Hinton¹s production of Sam Shepard’s “Buried Child.” It too is about a wildly dysfunctional family with dark secrets, and was the first off

Broadway play to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1979.

Stratford Festival stalwart Diana Leblanc who directed “The Odd Couple” will return to do “Tryst”, a psychological thriller by British playwright Karoline Leach. It’s the perfect book-end to “Les liaison dangereuses”. It’s about a cad in Edwardian England who seduces women because he has convinced himself it is for their their own good.

The final play is Joe Dipietro’s comedy, “Over the River and Through the Woods”, about a closely knit Italian family. It will be directed by Stephen Schipper, head of the Manitoba Theatre Centre.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Yiddish Theatre started in 1958 by her mother Dora, Wasserman is planning a month long Yiddish Theatre Festival next June. Companies from Rumania, Israel, France, Mexico and Argentina are expected.

The National Yiddish Theatre of New York has accepted and will stage its production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Pirates of Penzance” in Yiddish. For the festival Wasserman also hopes to revive “God of Vengeance” - Sholem Asch¹s controversial 1907 drama about the wages of sin which she directed at the Segal two years ago.


For more information on the 2008-2009 season at the Segal Centre for the Performing Arts, call  514-739-2301, ext. 8327,  or


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