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Centaur Theatre

CTE photo
Vittorio Rossi (foreground) in the 1997 Centaur Theatre production of his own Little Blood Brother, part of an evening of one act plays presented as a farewell to founding artistic director Maurice Podbrey.

English language theatre company founded in 1969 in Montreal by Maurice Podbrey (Artistic Director until 1997) and Herbert Auerbach. The company is housed in the Old Stock Exchange building (an historical site) in the heart of Old Montreal. The building contains two fixed-seat venues, one of 250 seats, the other of 440. It enjoys a subscription base of over 6,000.

The Centaur Theatre has presented a wide variety of alternative works and plays by emerging American, Canadian and European authors. Among its world premieres are most of the plays of David Fennario (whom Podbrey brought into theatre), including On The Job, Nothing to Lose and Centaur's biggest success ever, Balconville which the company toured across the nation and to Europe. Centaur has also produced many of the plays of Vittorio Rossi and the world-premier of Rick Salutin's Les Canadiens.

CTE photo
Centaur Theatre (photo: Gaetan Charlebois)

However, the company is also noted for what it has brought from outside the country, specifically the works of Podbrey's fellow-South African Athol Fugard (Sizwe Banzi is Dead, A Lesson From Aloes, The Island and many others); and works by Sam Shepherd, David Mamet, Tom Stoppard, Arthur Miller, Anton Chekhov and Shakespeare.

Among the artists who have worked there are many of the major names in the business: directors Martin Kinch, Guy Sprung, Jean Gascon, Felix Mirbt, Joe Dowling, Daniel Roussel; actors Martha Henry, Albert Millaire, Luce Guilbeault, Helen Hughes; designers Michael Eagan, Steven Hawkins, Marcel Dauphinais,Harry Frehner, Alexandre Gazalé, Peter Smith.

In 1997, Maurice Podbrey retired from the house and was replaced by Gordon McCall who instigated a series of new programs including Walk On The Wild Side, a showcase of alternative talent.

CTE photo
Nicola Cavendish and Dennis O'Connor in Gordon McCall's 1998 English-language premiere of Michel Tremblay's For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again at Centaur Theatre (photo: Lydia Pawelak)

Works presented by the company since McCall's artistic directorship include Jay Presson Allen's The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1999), the English-language premiere of Michel Tremblay'sFor The Pleasure of Seeing Her Again (1998), and Michel Marc Bouchard's The Orphan Muses (1997) among others. In 1999 the company's production of Waiting for Godot won several Montreal English Critics Circle Awards.

In 1999/2000, the company toured its production of For The Pleasure... in co-production with Canadian Stage - including a performance in the Arena Stage in Washington, DC, in the fall of 2000. Other productions for the season included a new play by Marianne Ackerman, Theresa Tova's Still the Night and Arthur Miller's The Crucible.

The "Montreal Stories" season (2005/2006) included six Montreal plays: David Fennario's Condoville; Allana Harkin's Real Estate; Vittorio Rossi's A Carpenter’s Trilogy Part One: Hellfire Pass; François Létourneau's CHEECH (trans. Rick Desrochers); David Sherman's Have A Heart; and Elyse Gasco's Bye Bye Baby (in collaboration with Imago Theatre. The 2005-2006 season also saw the debut of Centaur’s Brave New Works Artistic Development Initiative featuring The Other Theatre’s innovative presentation of Galapagos, based on the novel by Kurt Vonnegut. This new project was initiated by Centaur to provide audiences with an opportunity to celebrate the highly original work of developing companies and authors.

The 9th annual Wildside Festival, featured the darkly funny satirical musical revue BoyGroove by Chris Craddock (book) and Aaron Macri (music and lyrics) (Ribbit Productions), winner of Centaur’s “OFF THE MAIN” AWARD (Best Of The Montreal Fringe). The Festival also included Ariadne’s Thread (Too Close To The Sun Productions), Fathom (SaBooge Theatre), The Rape of Lucrece (Gravy Bath Productions) and The Envelope Plays (Tightrope Theatre). Other highlights included a very special performance of Shakespeare by Request, starring Douglas Campbell with a surprise appearance by Colm Feore; and The Four Anglos of the Apocalypse, a co-production with Theatre Lac-Brome, starring Bowser and Blue, Josh Freed and Terry Mosher (Aislin).

Centaur also continued its Saturday Morning Children’s series with thirteen shows promoting the following independent companies: Elysian River Theatre, SaBooge SideShow, Geordie Theatre, Salamander Theatre, Sparkling Productions, Théâtre de Marionettes, Doug Barr, Théâtre à deux mains, Théâtre de la source, The Children’s Theatre, and T.B.A. Talkback Theatre Company.

Roy Surette, former AD at the Belfry Theatre in Victoria was Artistic and Executive Director from 2007 to 2017. The last play he directed at the Centaur in his final season was the Quebec English-language Premiere of You Will Remember Me by Francois Archambault, translated by Bobby Theodore.

In February, 2017, Centaur announced the appointment of Eda Holmes as Artistic and Executive Director, commencing her tenure in August. In January 2018, Centaur premiered The Baklawa Recipe by Lebanese-Canadian author Pascale Rafie (trans. Melissa Bull, dir. Emma Tibaldo). The play is set in 1960s Quebec, seen from the perspective of two young Lebanese women who have emigrated to start new lives in Ville-St-Laurent. After marrying two Canadian-born Lebanese brothers, "they struggle to integrate the traditional female roles of their close-knit community with the emerging face of the independent woman of the feminist movement. The mothers and their first-generation Canadian daughters personify the challenges of living between two worlds: one shaped by their cultural origins and the other by their adopted home" (Centaur website).

Website: www/centaurtheatre.com

Last updated 2021-12-09