Toronto's Soupcan Theatre Presents Peter Weiss' Marat/Sade July 19 to 24 2011

From a media release:

Soupcan Theatre Presents
Marat/Sade By Tony Winner Peter Weiss
Directed by Sarah Thorpe -
July 19 to 24, 2011 @ The Historic Alumnae Theatre (Mainspace)

Toronto - Soup Can Theatre is thrilled to announce its upcoming production: Peter Weiss’ legendary and Tony Award winning drama-musical, Marat/Sade (full title: The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade). This dark and unflinching show - packed full of madness, melody and Machiavellianism - is sure to be a highlight of Toronto’s summer theatre season!

Marat/Sade paints a critical picture of the French Revolution and its unbridled violence through the eyes of eccentric nobleman, sexual deviant, and prolific author, the Marquis de Sade. Using a play-within-a-play structure based in historical fact, Marat/Sade is set in the Charenton Asylum where, as an inmate, the Marquis was permitted to write and mount dramatic works using his fellow inmates as actors, and to perform the completed pieces before audiences of French Aristocrats.

When De Sade presents his latest and most controversial work to date, a dramatization of the momentous assassination of writer and fervent revolutionary leader Jean-Paul Marat at the hand of young and comely idealist Charlotte Corday, his incendiary script inspires and energizes the motley cast of inmates. Despite the asylum director’s attempts to quell the situation, the polite proceedings devolve into an anarchic melee of wit-laced debate, hedonism, and animalism that threatens to bring the whole institution crumbling down.

In keeping with Soup Can Theatre’s mandate of reinterpreting classic works for a 21st century audience, director Sarah Thorpe has stripped Marat/Sade of its early 19th century mise-en-scene and placed it in the world of McGill University’s Psychiatry Department, circa 1957. It was there that Dr. Donald Ewen Cameron, the first chairman of the World Psychiatric Association, performed psychologically torturous experiments (including the administration of high voltage electroshock, sensory deprivation and hyper-stimulation, hallucinogenic agents, and paralytic drugs) on unconsenting patients. These experiments were performed under the umbrella of MKULTRA, a covert CIA operation which sought to explore the possibilities of mind control, memory erasure, and involuntary information extraction. The contextual and thematic parallels between Marat/Sade and this dark chapter of Canadian history will undoubtedly make for a stirring and thought-provoking audience experience.

In an effort to avoid stereotypical and insensitive depictions of the mentally ill (while still maintaining the energetic spirit of the source material), each “patient” has been assigned a medically recognized mental disorder appropriate for their character, and has been encouraged to inform their performance based on that disorder’s behavioural symptoms.

Bringing Peter Weiss’ script and Sarah Thorpe’s vision to life is a top-notch cast filled with some of Toronto’s fastest rising talents - many of whom have performed in recent four and five star rated shows including the Canadian Opera Company’s Orfeo Ed Euridice (Philip Stonhouse), the popular Morro and Jasp series (Heather Marie Annis - aka Morro), Banquos’ Banquet’s Trudeautopia (Allan Michael Brunet, Liam Morris), Red Light District’s The Witch of Edmonton (Michael David Blostein, Kat Letwin), Redhanded’s production of Ionesco’s Killing Game (Hilary June Hart), and others. Cast members have also appeared in productions produced by or in association with Mirvish Productions (Kat Letwin in The Misanthrope), Cirque du Soleil (Allan Michael Brunet in Wintuk) and the Luminato Festival (Glyn Bowerman and Katrina Carey in The Nightwood).

Marat/Sade marks Soup Can Theatre’s return to the stage after their Kurt Weill inspired cabaret show Love is a Poverty You Can Sell took the 2010 Toronto Fringe Festival by storm - selling out nine of eleven shows, garnering four and five star reviews, and being selected to be a part of the coveted ‘Best of the Fringe’ series at the Toronto Centre for the Arts.

• Dates and Times: July 19th to 23rd at 8pm. July 24th at 2pm.
• Venue: Alumnae Theatre Mainspace. Located at 70 Berkeley Street near King and Parliament.
• Tickets: $15 for all seats and performances.
• Available at or at the venue box office starting one hour before each performance.

Creative Team:
Director: Sarah Thorpe
Producers: Scott Dermody, Justin Haigh, Sarah Thorpe
Music Director: Pratik Gandhi
Lighting Designer: Travis Lahay
Set Designer: Randy Lee
Fight Choreographer: Shak Haq

About Soup Can Theatre: Soup Can Theatre is a Toronto-based theatre company dedicated to reinterpreting classic theatrical works for a twenty-first century audience. Founded by Artistic Director Sarah Thorpe and Artistic Producer Scott Dermody in 2008, Soup Can Theatre’s aim is to produce theatre that is accessible yet challenging, and to present established material in a new light by setting it within a contemporary and socially relevant framework.

Photos courtesy of Scarlet O'Neill