In preparation for the writing of this blog I just googled Hannah Moscovitch (and it was not my first time) and the first headline that caught my eye was one from The Star from October 2007 (!) that read, “Hannah Moscovitch is Already Famous.” And she is. If you are at all interested in the theatre in Canada, if you have seen plays recently in Toronto, or really, in any city center across the country, you must know who Hannah Moscovitch is, and if you don’t, just go home. No, I’m kidding! Don’t go home in defeat! Go to Theatre Passe Muraille TONIGHT May 26th, 2011 at 9:30pm to see the first two pages of a play written by Hannah Moscovitch and the rest exuberantly improvised in her distinct style by those mavericks of mischief, those dandies of deliciousness, those impresarios of improvisation THE NATIONAL THEATRE OF THE WORLD!!
It is so beautifully appropriate that someone like Hannah Moscovitch be one of the most hotly anticipated, most readily produced, most “successful,” most exciting and fascinating and famous and destined for greatness young Canadian playwrights of our time. It is so beautifully appropriate because I have never met anyone so devoid of ego, so sweetly, and slightly awkwardly, self deprecating and always so quick to dispel praise with a quick and endearing wave of her hand. I hope this blog doesn’t embarrass her. It makes my heart extra happy to see success come to those who do not court it, but who earn and deserve it. Hannah is one such artist.
If you know Hannah Moscovitch’s work you likely know East Of Berlin, which has been produced so many times at the Tarragon Theatre that Toronto has lost count- and no one is quicker with a dry witty remark at the expense of the surprise smash success of the play about Nazi children with Daddy issues than Hannah herself. I have seen East of Berlin twice, once at the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto, which was my introduction to Moscovitch’s work, and once at the Bus Stop Theatre in Halifax, produced by 2b Theatre. East of Berlin smacked me, metaphorically speaking, in the face… and I liked it. There is something very assaulting about this play, but far more in tone and in language than in action. There is this distinct energy, and I’ve found it in other plays by Hannah as well, she infuses her words and her characters with this fantastic tension. I don’t know if I would call it inner anger or inner rage, but there is a dissatisfaction there… a desire for something else that manifests itself in grit and strength. Hannah doesn’t write about weak people. Nothing about her work is mediocre or wishy-washy. This is exactly what the theatre needs, she breathes that life into what can be an archaic medium, shaking it up and shaking us up too.
If you have been familiar with Toronto’s independent theatre scene for some time you may have seen two plays before East of Berlin debuted: Essay (2005) and The Russian Play (2006), both which premiered at the Summerworks Festival before I moved from Halifax. Yet, for those of you who did not have a chance to see these plays performed, and for those who liked them so much you would like to revisit them or perhaps even produce one yourself, you can pick up a copy of the published edition of The Russian Play And Other Short Works from Theatre Books and delve into them at your leisure. I read the entire thing in one sitting, delighted, enthralled and impressed and wishing that I had been in the city to have seen them come to life.
I also fell in love with Hannah’s segment of Theatrefront’s The Mill Cycle, which was Part Two: The Huron Bride, directed by Christian Barry. Together these two are a dream team creating magic. I think that Barry’s mastery of lighting and soundscape especially helps to create worlds that accentuate and mirror the tension and tone inherent in Hannah’s work. In The Mill especially I found that the staging seemed to feed off the script especially fervently and vice versa, mostly because together they made such stunning use of silence.
One of her newer plays In This World just ended its run at the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre For Young People Studio Theatre. I heard her speak about it early in the development process over a year ago at Canadian Stage and it sounded fascinating. I hope that I will have another opportunity to see it and that it will come soon.
Hannah is a brilliant writer and one who is still very early in her career and her development as a playwright. I can’t wait to see what she offers up next, but for now, you can revel in some imagined homage as Matt Baram, Ron Pederson and Naomi Snieckus, likely, at least at some point, channelling Brendan Gall, serve up a brand new Moscovitch-inspired dish.
The Script Tease Project plays at Theatre Passe Muraille MAY 24-29. 16 Ryerson Avenue. Tickets are $20.00 ($15.00 for students) Get there early, they will more than likely sell out or book ahead at www.artsboxoffice.ca. Here is the complete schedule.
Thursday, May 26th 8pm Woody Harrelson SOLD OUT!!
Thursday, May 26th 9:30 Hannah Moscovitch
Friday, May 27th 8:pm Brad Fraser
Saturday, May 28th 2pm Morris Panych
Saturday, May 28th 8pm Mark McKinney
Sunday, May 29th 2pm Norm Foster
Sunday, May 29th 8pm John Patrick Shanley
Got Splendor? Come see a play that will make you laugh with your heart.