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Deathwatch by Jean Genet
A co-production between Ten Foot Pole Produtions and lemonTree Theatre Creations
The classic play by queer French playwright Jean Genet gets a new treatment from lemonTree Theatre Creations and Ten Foot Pole Productions. This theatrical team-up took place in the basement of XPACE Cultural Centre in June 2009 and was an official event of Toronto Pride. It was a huge success with audiences and was completely sold out.
Three hot young criminals share a prison cell. One faces execution, one nears parole, and all three are charged with desperate sexual desire.
Working from Genet's last published French version of the play, this production brings to the fore the raw sexual and racial tensions Genet imbued in the original text.
Director: Jonothan Seinen
Literary Consultant: Rob Salerno
Designer/Stage Manager: Beckah McNeil
Cast: John Bryans, Indrit Kasapi, Cole J. Alvis, and Ryan Symington
Now Magazine (excerpt): "Talk about giving an audience a play's flavour: lemonTree theatre creations, an all-queer group, set its production of Jean Genet's prison drama Deathwatch in the claustrophobic basement of an Ossington art gallery.
And it worked. With its old brick-and-stone walls and low ceiling, the space added a stifling atmosphere to Genet's examination of power-tripping and role-playing among four characters, three of them cellmates.
Director Jonathan Seinen caught much of the play's homoerotic quality--queer artist, thief and prostitute Genet was writing from experience here, on a number of levels--and nicely highlighted the work's various moments of tension, especially in the men's shifting allegiances and the prison system's pecking order.
Indrit Kasapi's Maurice, the preening pretty-boy in the cell, skilfully flirted to impress convicted murderer Green Eyes.... Cole J. Alvis, as the more subtly manipulative, sometimes insecure George, gave nuance to a character whose imminent return to the streets might not be what he wants. Add Ryan Symington's guard, with his own level of control, and you get an explosive situation in which fantasy offers a temporary freedom; ultimately, violence brings a kind of release to the stress in the cell."
Torontoist in conversation with Cole J. Alvis (excerpt): "Torontoist: Ten Foot Pole Productions' mandate is to produce works about subjects that "polite people wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole." What makes Deathwatch impolite/untouchable?
Alvis: As an all-queer collective, we were particularly interested in accessing the world Jean Genet was painting in his time. We have the rights to the 1954 British translation (the only one in English available for production), published in a time when misogyny and racism in plays was alive and well. However, the queer content Genet intended continues to be censored today. With creative staging we've put the sex back in without being gratuitous."
For more information, check out the official Deathwatch Toronto web site.