MONTREAL, January 15, 2018 – Centaur Theatre begins its mainstage New Year with a new play. The Baklawa Recipe, written by Pascale Rafie, a Canadian-Lebanese playwright and drama professor new to Anglophone audiences, runs from January 23rd to February 18th, 2018.
The Baklawa Recipe has travelled far during its gestation, beginning its journey as La Recette de baklawas. It received its first French public reading at the 2012 Festival du Monde Arabe. Since then, it has been developed through the CEAD (Centre des auteurs dramatiques). Playwrights’ Workshop Montreal’s Artistic Director, Emma Tibaldo, stepped in to direct a French reading at Theatre d’Aujourd’hui as part of Dramaturgies en Dialogue in 2013. In 2015, an independent reading was presented at Theatre La Risée where Ms. Rafie was author-in-residence and from 2015 to 2017 CEAD, in partnership with Les Voyagements, produced several more French readings in various local Maisons de la culture with Ms. Tibaldo at the helm. PWM then commissioned and developed the English translation by Ms. Rafie’s half-sister, Melissa Bull, through the Cole Foundation’s Emerging Translators program and PWM’s Translation Workshop program. The Baklawa Recipe had its first public reading in English at Imago Theatre’s Her Side of the Story in 2016.
RITA: We are Lebanese. You have to stay true to who you are. You can’t change just like that.
In the play, 1960s Quebec is juxtaposed with contemporary society and seen through an immigrant lens. Two young Lebanese women emigrate from their homeland to start new lives in Ville-St-Laurent. Forever bound when they marry two Canada-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. Two generations of women, their joys and complexities, as warm and sweet as Baklawa.
NAïMA: Everything’s slipping away from me. Everything’s a mess like when you spill flour. Everything flies all over the place and you’re in a fog.
The characters in the play were inspired by Ms. Rafie’s own immigrant family. “I wanted to feature these women, who are exiled from themselves by immigration and culture shock, certainly, but who are also set apart by judging eyes, competition, illness, and silence. These women came here to have a better life and fulfill their dreams. It wasn’t easy and they struggled, tried to be better. I want audiences to understand them, love them and feel their pain, so they can empathize with the immigrants flowing into Canada today. Yesterday’s story doesn’t have to be today’s story.”
Ms. Tibaldo, who has been working with the play since 2013 said, “The Baklawa Recipe is a Montreal story, an immigrant story, and an important play to produce in our current social climate. In bearing witness to the lives of two women who emigrated to Canada, we realize that we are all shaped by similar familial experiences. We come to understand that what we share far outweighs our differences. In hearing their story we reflect our own into theirs and let our heart beat to their beat. We are all one.”
“Centaur is very proud to present this intimate and poetic perspective on contemporary Canadian women’s lives”, said Centaur’s Artistic and Executive Director, Eda Holmes. “The Baklawa Recipe is an insightful, multi-layered theatrical story that illuminates the challenges all marginalized people face and reveals how even in a modern world, old traditions as simple as baking together can provide solace and strength. The play leads us to that state of grace which allows us to see the world through another’s eyes.”
Eleanor Noble, seen in last season’s Clybourne Park and a first generation Canadian, plays Naïma, the daughter of one of the Lebanese women. Anne-Marie Saheb, a busy French and English TV, film and stage actor, makes her Centaur debut as Fanny, daughter to the other mother. Sisters Christina and Natalie Tannous also make their Centaur mainstage debuts as the two immigrant friends, Nadia and Rita. Stage and screen actor, Christina studied at the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal and after winning CBC’s national voice competition for young performers in 1999, has sung with the MSO, Orchestre métropolitain, Opéra de Québec, Jeunesse musicale du Canada and more. Natalie has worked as a bilingual actor on both the stage and screen in Quebec and other parts of Canada for over 21 years and performed in Centaur’s 2015 Brave New Looks initiative under Talisman Theatre’s banner for its production of Province.
A highly experienced and eclectic group of artists comprise the design team. Eo Sharp, (You Will Remember Me, Centaur 2017) created the set and costumes employing mobile, multi-use telephone rooms for the characters and Oriental rug patterns melting into one another, like butter and honey. The lighting design is by Ms. Rafie’s brother, Bruno Rafie, a 25-year veteran in the field who has designed for Cirque du Soleil, Broadway, and circus shows. Nicolas Royer-Artuso, a Montreal composer, musicologist and musician who has lived in several Middle Eastern countries, wrote original compositions, while Centaur’s in-house sound designer, Peter Cerone, created a sound scape to complement the music. Emily Murdoch assisted Ms. Tibaldo with the direction and playwright/actor Leslie Baker (Fuck You, You Fucking Perv!) was the movement director. Jacynthe Lalonde stage manages with support from apprentice, Chloé Ekker.
Saturday Salons: Montrealers can get to know Centaur’s new Artistic and Executive Director, Eda Holmes, in casual conversation about this production and all things theatre January 27 and February 10, 2018, directly following the matinee performances.
Sunday Chat-up: January 28th, 2018 at 12:30pm. A popular initiative that never fails to enrich the theatre going experience, presented in collaboration with the Montreal Gazette. Audiences are invited to join Editor in Chief, Lucinda Chodan, in a revealing discussion with Pascale Rafie (playwright), Melissa Bull (playwright’s half sister and translator) and Bruno Rafie(playwright’s brother and lighting designer).
Both the Salons and the Chat-up are held in the Ted T. Katz Family Trust Gallery and are open to the general public. Admission to these enriching activities is FREE and complimentary refreshments are served, compliments of Bonaparte Restaurant.
Talk Backs: Following the evening performance on Thursday February 1st, and the matinée presentation on Sunday February 4th, audiences are invited to stay after the show for a lively Q&A with the cast and director.
Previews: January 23, 24 & 25 at 8:00 PM
Opening: January 26 at 8:00 PM
Evenings: Tues. through Sat. 8:00 PM
Matinées: Sat. and Sun. 2:00 PM and Wed. Feb. 7 & 14 1:00 PM
Closing: February 18 at 2:00 PM
Tickets: $28.00 – $51.75 (Student/Senior/Under 30 discounts available)
Box Office: (514) 288-3161 https://centaurtheatre.com/tickets.html
Centaur Theatre Company
Presents the World Premiere of
THE BAKLAWA RECIPE
Written by Pascale Rafie
Translated by Melissa Bull
Directed by Emma Tibaldo
January 23 to February 18, 2018
Eleanor Noble, Anne-Marie Saheb,
Christina TannousandNatalie Tannous
Set & Costume Designer Eo Sharp | Lighting Designer Bruno Rafie
Composer Nicolas Royer-Artuso |Sound Designer Peter Cerone
Movement Designer Leslie Baker | Dramaturg Élizabeth Bourget
Translation Dramaturg Maureen Labonté | Assistant Director Emily Murdoch
Stage Manager Jacynthe Lalonde | Apprentice Stage Manager Chloé Ekker