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Montreal and Dublin

The week before our inaugural weekend I went to Canada for a couple of days thanks to the generosity of the Quebec Delegation in Boston and my host in Montreal, John Lambert. And ten days ago I traveled to Dublin thanks to the Irish Theatre Institute with the assistance of Culture Ireland. We have two major projects in this season from Quebec: Seven Fingers’ production of PSY, and Robert Lapage’s THE ANDERSEN PROJECT. And from Ireland, we’re bringing over Dublin’s Abbey Theatre – Ireland’s national Theatre – and the Druid Theatre from Galway. All four of these organizations regularly tour the world, and I’m proud now to be able to bring them to Boston.

I sought out projects from both regions because they are so rich in talent and tradition.

In Montreal, a section of the city has been transformed into a neighborhood dedicated to the celebration, training, and performance of circus arts. It’s the home to Cirque du Soleil – a vast campus of buildings out of which the extravaganzas we all know so well emerge – as well as the National Circus School and performance center. It’s work like PSY emanating from the performance center that interests me the most. Its creator, Seven Fingers, is a prime example. Not far away in Quebec City, Robert Lepage has his own laboratory. His current production of Wagner’s RING, conjured up in Quebec, is now premiering on the stage at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Cities in Quebec province literally fight over who can provide the most hospitable environment for these national treasures – as with sports teams in the U.S., municipalities bid on being the home base for these creative artists.

In Dublin, the city is festooned with banners claiming, “Dublin loves Drama”. There’s an arts district, Temple Bar, and every move of the Abbey Theatre is scrutinized as thoroughly as those of the Bohs, Dublin’s top football team. The public squares and major thoroughfares are named after Irish poets and playwrights and people take enormous pride in their language – in its lyricism, humor, social conscience and even its capacity to shock.

It’s not surprising, therefore, that both regions are magnets for talent and it’s why I always enjoy checking out the latest productions and newest trends.

This trip to Dublin also coincided with the Dublin Theatre Festival sponsored by Ulster Bank, with major works and representatives from throughout Ireland as well as elsewhere – in particular, Poland, Latin America, and South Africa. There’s an obvious efficiency attending these international festivals because they bring together the best work from elsewhere in the world and I get a one-stop chance to sample them. Stay tuned, some of these projects may well surface on our stages next season.

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