The Plough and the Stars will premiere at the Ryerson theatre at beginning of October

Photos courtesy Ryerson Theatre School Audience Relations Department

Theatre in repetition: Ryerson theatre school previews

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The Eyeopener previews theatre school productions La Ronde and The Plough and the Stars, which both premiere at the beginning of October

By Lauren Der

The Plough and the Stars Ordinary Dubliners see their world collapse around them and their lives turned upside-down as Ireland battles for independence in 1915.

“There will be blood,” warned director David Jansen. “I like a little bit of mess on stage.”

The Plough and the Stars, a play by Seán O’Casey, sees personal and political meet onstage as love and hatred, death and childbirth play out against a background of revolution.

The production has a modern feel despite its historical setting, says Dan Mousseau, a fourth-year performance acting student who plays Fluther Good.

“You could almost substitute the rebellion… for what’s happening in the Middle East or Ukraine [today],” said Mousseau.


Actors Daniel Mousseau, Christine Nguyen and Stephen Lotimer

Media coverage of war often focuses on the fighting, while ignoring the common people facing hardships they never imagined.

Despite the circumstances, people going through such events can form deep personal connections in hostile times, said Madeline Smith, an actor in the production and fourth-year performance acting student.

“There is a lot of love and there is a little bit of humour and there is always a song to be sung,” she said. “Sometimes the hardest times bring out the most unexpected joys.”

Mousseau said that the events the characters onstage are experiencing are not unlike current events that are happening around the world. Audiences can draw parallels between the historical narratives seen in the play and current conflicts like those in Syria.

Connecting with the performances doesn’t require a stretch of the imagination.

“We see the effects of an event like this on real people,” said Mousseau. “I would hope [the audience] sees something on stage that reminds you of something you’ve lived yourself… like how you felt when your footy team lost or a loved one died.”


Actress Hannah Whitmore

By Catherine Machado

La Ronde, the classic play by Arthur Schnitzler, is coming to Ryerson — but this time with a twist.

In this adaptation, director Sonia Norris added Sigmund Freud as an omnipresent character to talk about human sexuality.

“They are all patients of Sigmund Freud … and the stage is his couch,” said costume designer Brett Postil, a fourth-year performance production student.

The play — set in Vienna in the early 20th century — explores how sexuality bypasses the boundaries of social class through 10 interlocking scenes.

“Behind closed doors they don’t see each other as a different social class,” Postil said.

Freud places a magnifying glass on the 10 characters that each exhibit an archetype of the time, from the Count to the Whore.

“Each character was given a specific bright colour that kind of signified where they were (in society),” he said.

The Count and the Actress, who are members of a higher social class, are in reds and burgundies.

The Whore sports “syphilis green.”

“[Syphilis] was a common ailment at that time and she’s almost dying from it and so it is really reflected in what she wears,” Postil said.

Costumes aside, this is a play that is infamous for its controversial nudity. When La Ronde was released in 1920, it received harsh criticism due to its subversive subject matter and explicitness.

The theatre school is following the policies of live theatre in Toronto, which allow for topless nudity. But Postil was concerned with the play’s focus drifting from human sexuality to just being plain provocative.

He said that the amount of nudity shown varied based on the characters and how they interacted with each other on stage.

“This show is an exaggerated view on what sexuality was back then and what it could be now,” Postil said.

La Ronde premieres at the Ryerson Theatre on Oct. 2 at 7:30 p.m. with shows on Oct. 4, 7 and 9. The Plough and the Stars premieres Oct. 1 at 7:30 p.m. with shows on Oct. 3, 5 and 8.

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