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Arts, Play, Theatre

A View From The Bridge at John Abbott's Casgrain Theatre

Posted by Christine / January 13, 2010

20100112-view.jpg One of the most iconic images commonly associated with theatre is that of the comedy and tragedy masks; a giddy, almost maniacal agape maw contrasted by the anguished, down-turned mouth of its juxtaposed twin mask. However, as I spoke to director Terry Donald and actor Matthew Raudsepp of A View From The Bridge , I realized that, ironically, theatre often serves as an unmasking of sorts, by exploring, revealing and challenging what it is to be human.

A View From The Bridge is a story by American playwright and essayist Arthur Miller (writer of The Crucible, All My Sons and Death of a Salesman). Briefly, A View From The Bridge takes place in 1950's Brooklyn and focuses on a small, Italian American family composed of Eddie Carbone, his wife Beatrice and their niece Catherine. When Beatrice's cousins Marco and Rodolpho visit from Italy, love and jealousy simmer within the close familial group, which eventually errupts into confrontation of the worst kind.

Donald (who has been acting and directing in Montreal since the mid-seventies) chose to direct A View From The Bridge because of the emotionally intense themes it explores.

"This story is the examination of one man's obsession and what can happen when obsession takes over," he said. "It's a play that exposes the nature of being human."

For Donald, A View From The Bridge was also a worthwhile endeavor because of the strong emotions it could illicit from both the actors and the audience.

"This play asks the actor to commit totally to the psychology of their role," he said. "I encourage my actors to trust themselves to be able to confront the darker issues that people can encounter. To be able to do this, the actor must expose their own humanity."

Raudsepp has a theatre background, but also has experience acting on-screen (Dead At 17, Orphan and Picture This). He is a member of the Montreal Theatre Ensemble and will be performing as the young, kind-hearted Rodolpho.

Raudsepp also emphasized the importance of drawing upon one's own experiences, emotions and general uniqueness while portraying a character on stage.

"Vulnerability is one of the hardest things to do as an actor. That is where 'truth' lies in a performance, showing one's self fully and openly, flaws and strengths all rolled into one person," he said. "I am truly inspired by actors who seem to reveal themselves."

Unfortunately, A View From The Bridge has received no funding from the government, subsisting only on fundraising efforts and ticket sales.

"Modern theatre is trying to find itself, to define itself amidst film and televsion and the Internet. It's struggling right now," said Raudsepp. "(Theatre) is being kept alive by people who believe in it, and who devote quite a lot of time to creating a live performance for very little tangible reward."

As a print journalist, I can definitely relate to the challenges of working with, what sometimes seems to be, a medium chortling out its final death rattle. However, there are intrinsic rewards to be had by simply exerting one's talents and passion. For Raudsepp, one of the benefits of working in theatre is the special relationship he's able to develop with his peers.

"The majority of the cast and crew have worked together before, either on Of Mice and Men (The Montreal Theatre Ensemble's previous show) or from in and around John Abbott Theatre. The new additions to the team were cast with a lot of the old team present, so it was a group effort to cast people we all felt like we would want to work with," he said. "Even serious plays have funny moments; we spent an entire day doing a 'fun run' where we played exaggerated versions of our characters in order to possibly find little things to use in the real performance. We were ridiculous, laughing and loving it."

In short, A View From The Bridge is a play that clearly has much thought, care and preparation placed into it. Having personally seen several like productions at the John Abbott Casgrain Theatre, (performed by present members of The Montreal Theatre Ensemble) I can say wholeheartedly that it is not to be missed.

A View From The Bridge runs January 14th-30th at the John Abbott College Casgrain Theatre.

Tickets are on sale now, $20 regular admission, $18 for students and seniors.

According to the Montreal Theatre Ensemble's web page, "A special evening performance will take place on January 16th, which will be followed by a reception, including, food, wine, music, a silent auction and an opportunity to meet the cast and crew." Entrance for the 16th is $30.

Further information can be found at: http://www.mtlte.com

Photo by Raphael Grosz-Harvey. From left: Adam LeBlanc as Eddie Carbone, Rebecca Croll as his wife Beatrice and Christie Hebert as Catherine.

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