The Watershed project

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Ngozi Paul, Kristen Thompson, Alex Ivanovici & Amelia Sargisson in a scene from the workshop. Photo: Andrew Krajewski

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the success of Porte Parole’s The Watershed workshop crowd-funding campaign. Conducted by director Chris Abraham and playwright Annabel Soutar in Toronto last month, this successful workshop brought together eight actors and four stage designers in an ambitious first draft staging of Acts 1 and 2 of The WatershedCo-produced with Toronto’s Crow’s Theatre, The Watershed is a docudrama about the politics of water in Canada. It will be part of Toronto’s Pan/Parapan American Games’ cultural program in July 2015.

To access the Watershed Staging workshop’s page on Kickstarter, click here.

To see Annabel Soutar, Alex Ivanovici and their children on their 2013 research roadtrip, click here.


Seeds: on tour in 2014

 

Seeds, Annabel Soutar’s play directed by Chris Abraham, was acclaimed by sold-out crowds at the Centaur Theatre. The English and the French versions are presented on tour in 2014-2015. It is Porte Parole’s first North American tour.

Preview and excerpts of the play
vimeo.com/porteparole

ReviewsSeeds‘ PressKit 2013-2014

Photos: 2012: Crow’s Theatre, Toronto; Photos: Guntar Kravis. Théâtre La Licorne, Montréal; Photos: Maxime Côté. 2013: Centaur Theatre; Photos: Maxime Côté.


Dates and places

October 29th – November 24th, 2013: Montreal, Centaur Theatre
January 15th – 18th, 2014: Calgary, Theatre Junction GRAND
January 22th-26th: Vancouver, Frederic Wood Theatre (UBC-PuSh Festival)
March 26th – April 12th, 2014: Ottawa, National Arts Center, English Theatre

Grains (Seeds‘ French version) in Quebec: Avril 15th – May 2nd, 2014:
Ste-Geneviève, Salle Pauline-Julien; Montréal, Théâtre Outremont; St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Théâtre des Deux Rives: Montreal, Maison de la culture Frontenac

 

If you see nothing else this year, you will be able to say, I have seen a work of genius on stage in a Montreal theatre.” Anna Fuerstenberg, Roverarts.com

“Seeds asks all the right questions, and lets the audience decide. This is an important story, told well. See it.Bloody Underrated

Actor Eric Peterson, born and raised in Saskatchewan, doesn’t just play the part of Schmeiser, he lives it, nailing the vocal nuances and gestures of rural-prairie-speak perfectly.Pat Donnelly, The Gazette

“Seeds is a perceptive work of theatre that not only adds to the debate over multinational control, but could serve as a valuable contribution to public policy.Alan Hustak, The Métropolitain

The issue

Seeds is a dramatic re-enactment of the 4-year legal battle between Saskatchewan farmer Percy Schmeiser and one of the biggest biotech corporations, Monsanto Inc. While debates about GMOs are multiplying everywhere, life-changing experiments are being conducted in the food we eat…

Seeds is a reminder to think about where our food comes from.” Nanette Soucy, The Charlebois Post.

“At least someone is paying some attention to agricultural issues.” Pat Donnelly, The Gazette

“(…) there is no clear right or wrong in Seeds —just increasing, unresolvable complexity.” Patrick Kennedy, The Montreal Review

“(…) Soutar’s script – along with Abraham’s direction and a crackerjack cast – succeed in making one think this is the only possible way the story could ever be distilled into digestible form.” Joel Fishbane, The Charlebois Post

“Thankfully, it is a world that Soutar, a talented chameleon-like ensemble cast, and ingenious director Chris Abraham bring us into with both urgency and humour. What is unsettling is that that world is also our world.” Chris Masson, litlive.ca

Eric Peterson dans le rôle du fermier de Saskatchewan, Percy Schmeiser. Photo : Maxime Côté

Eric Peterson as Saskatchewan farmer, Percy Schmeiser. Photo : Maxime Côté

 

“Thoroughly entertaining from beginning to end, Seeds is a tour de force, deftly marshalling the singular powers of the theatre in the service of a crucial and timely civic debate. This is a form of theatre that Canada desperately needs.” Shawn Kast, Roverarts.com

Liisa Repo-Martell and Alex Ivanovici. Photo: Guntar Kravis

 

Cary Lawrence & Christine Beaulieu

Cary Lawrence as Trish Jordan & Christine Beaulieu as The Playwright in Seeds


Seeds, acclaimed in Calgary and Vancouver

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Seeds, Frederic Wood Theatre, UBC, PuSh Festival. Photo: Riz Herbosa

Seeds returns from its January West Coast tour with more acclaim:

The Calgary Herald underlines the play’s “astonishing depth and complexity”, which is matched, according to Heidi J. Loos, of the Vancouver Weekly, by its “gripping, dramatic storytelling”.

Ms. Loos adds “(…) Soutar’s storytelling is so poignant and rich, and the details and characters so juicy that by the end of the second act you’ll be wishing there could be a third!”.

Maureen McNamee, in Calgary’s Fast Forward Weekly blog, sums it up: “Everything you thought you knew about the Monsanto vs Schmeiser case will be challenged by Porte Parole’s Seeds.”

Next run: Ottawa, at the National Arts Center, March 26th-April 12th, 2014


SPECIAL EVENT ON NOV. 6TH: Mind the Gap, One

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MIND the GAP, One

NOVEMBER 6th, 6 – 8 PM
Canadian Center for Architecture
1920, Baile St., Montreal, Quebec

RSVP by Oct. 23rd: Please contact Annie Perron at 514-842-8883, or by email: aperron@porteparole.org


Seeds: at the NAC in 2014

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Liisa Repo-Martell and Eric Peterson, in Seeds. Photo: Guntar Kravis

After its Montreal run at the Centaur in November of this year, Seeds will be presented at the National Arts Center in Ottawa as part of the English Theatre’s 2013-2014 season (March 26 – April 12).

Annabel Soutar’s provocative docudrama, sparked by Chris Abraham’s suspenseful staging, will feature Eric Peterson in the role of now famous Saskatchewan farmer Percy Schmeiser. The farmer’s legal battle against Monsanto climaxed in the Supreme Court of Canada with an essential question: “who owns life?”


Seeds: this Fall at the Centaur

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Seeds, Annabel Soutar’s docudrama about farmer Percy Schmeiser’s legal battle against biotech firm Monsanto, was very warmly received at the Centaur Theatre this Fall, from October 29th to November 24th, as staged by award-winning director Chris Abraham, artistic director of Toronto’s Crow’s Theatre.

Iconic Canadian actor Eric Peterson portrays iconic Percy Schmeiser, who asked the famous question “who owns life?” before the Supreme Court of Canada and galvanized the anti-GMO movement around the world.


Thanks everyone!

Porte Parole has a lot to be thankful for in 2012, and expresses its gratitude to everyone who participated in its success, notably its new partner, La Coop fédérée.

We were able to expand our home audience as well as opportunities to reach new markets in the upcoming years.

A first play was produced outside of Quebec: Crow’s Theatre’s presentation of Seeds in February, at Toronto’s Young Centre for the Performing Arts. Directed by Chris Abraham, Crow’s Artistic Director, and starring Canadian icon Eric Peterson, Seeds was acclaimed by critics and spectators alike.The production was offered again in June at the Festival TransAmériques, attracting a great deal of attention from theatre-goers and international presenters.

Click here to see a few photos from Seeds in Toronto.

The same staging was used in Montreal for the French version of the play, Grain(s), translated by Fanny Britt and presented at Théâtre La Licorne in September. Again, the play was a success, and will be part of the Montreal Arts Council’s 2014 touring program.

We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year!


SEEDS at the Festival TransAmériques

The new electrifying version of Seeds, as directed by Chris Abraham and received in Toronto with rave reviews, was presented at the Festival TransAmériques. The shows, at Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui, were warmly received.

Seeds goes behind-the-scene to reveal unknown aspects of the four-year trial that pitted a Saskatchewan farmer against multinational biotech Monsanto all the way to the Supreme Court. The legal battle was much more complex than the David against Goliath fight it seemed to be.

Who should relate to biotechnology? Anyone who eats… As a matter of fact, the future of mankind, of life as we know it, may be at play on our plate right now.

“Everything works – the actors and their multiple character, Abraham’s complex staging.” Paula Citron, paulacitron.ca, 29 février 2012

“Soutar has done such a good job sowing the seeds of doubt that you wonder if this is nothing more than passionate rhetoric. Her play gives us plenty to think about, but leaves us to make up our own minds…”
Martin Morrow, The Globe and Mail, 23 février 2012

” (… ) one of the most impressive docu-dramas I’ve seen.”
Robert Cushman, National Post, February 25th, 2012

Comments translated from the message of a French-speaking audience member:

“(…) I really appreciated the deep respect that emerges from this monumental work. The strenght of the nuances that are put everywhere, in the text, in the voices, the bodies and the images. The documentary theatre that I’m discovering now seems to be a MOST stimulating form. (…)”

Mélanie Léger

Public-private engineers…

The tug-of-war opposing students and the Charest administration all but pushed aside another emergency: the possible corruption in the management of our public roads and structures. Le Devoir recently published an article about a specific aspect of the issue : Transports Québec – 32 ingénieurs privés dans les bureaux du ministère. It seems there are engineers from private firms working side by side with state-paid engineers in the ministry’s office. Whistleblower Robert Duchesneau had warned about such arrangements in his report, because of conflicting interests and the occasions for undue influences they provide. Kathleen Lévesque, the Devoir reporter, describes Minister Pierre Moreau’s response that the engineers’ conduct code is sufficient to ensure proper management as contrary to the Duchesneau Report’s findings. Now, Mr. Gilles Cloutier, who used to lobby for Roche Engineering, is bravely breaking the silence about bribes given to politicians by engineering firms. Lino Zambito, owner of construction firm Infrabec, confirms that bribes are often part of political financing.

As quoted in Sexy béton, State Engineers’ Union President Michel Gagnon’s opinion on the matter is clear: there are not enough engineers in the ministry to do the job right, with hundreds of ongoing construction sites and thousands of structures that have to be maintained. Surveillance and maintenance contracts have often been allocated to private firms, thus allowing a vast network of characters both official and shady to exchange favors back and forth. The sad result of this subculture is the collapses of several bridges and overpasses over the last ten years.

If the collapse on the Ville-Marie expressway didn’t kill anyone last summer, Transport Quebec’s negligence will eventually make victims. Again. That’s not something the engineers’ conduct code is able to prevent.


Seeds’ new version opens in Toronto

Eric Peterson as Percy Schmeiser. Photo: Maxime Côté

Annabel Soutar’s acclaimed documentary play Seeds has been updated by Chris Abraham, artistic director of Crow’s Theatre. Canadian icon Eric Peterson plays the role of Saskatchewan farmer Percy Schmeiser. Seeds‘ new version was presented in Toronto at theYoung Center for the Performing Arts from February 18th to March 10th. It will be part of the next Festival TransAmériques, and in the Fall of 2012, a French version will be coproduced by Porte Parole in Montreal.

Named the Best English Production of 2005 by the Association québécoise des critiques de théâtre (AQCT) and nominated for Best Original Script in 2005 by the Académie québécoise de théâtre, Seeds is a dramatic re-enactment of the 4-year legal battle between Saskatchewan farmer Percy Schmeiser and one of the biggest biotech corporations, Monsanto Inc.

This is how Chris Abraham sees it: “I’m thrilled to be introducing Toronto audiences to playwright Annabel Soutar and her remarkable piece Seeds. When I read it for the first time, I couldn’t put it down. Her dogged pursuit of the truth (…) is entirely gripping, as are her observation of the social and political implications of the paradigm shift in genetics happening under our feet. I can’t wait for the conversation and debate that will be sparked by this show.”

Based on court trial transcripts, interviews with Schmeiser, Monsanto representatives, and with farmers, academics, lawyers and scientists from all across Canada, Seeds leads us through a suspenseful labyrinth of legal conflicts around patent rights, scientific showdowns about GM food, and property clashes between farmers and the biotechnology industry.

The French version of Seeds will be created by Montreal playwright Fanny Britt, whose most recent play Enquête sur le pire played to rave reviews at Théâtre Aujourd’hui in April 2010.

Thanks to our partners Playwrights’ Workshop and Hexagram-Concordia for hosting workshops of the play.