Studio Home
  News Releases

 How to get here  About the Centre  Contact us

News Release

SideMart Opens 2008-09 Studio Season!
August 2008

The Segal Centre's resident company, SideMart Theatrical Grocery,
Opens the 2008-09 STUDIO Season with the English Language World Premiere of


by Gerard Vàzquez
translated by Elisabet Ràfols and Michael Bantjes
directed by Andrew Shaver

SEPTEMBER 13 – 21, 2008

Oooo! is a touching and powerful comedy about the lives of a group of clowns in Nazi Germany. Charlie Rivel, the most tender of clowns, is forced to perform for Hitler, the most barbaric of dictators. Can art be guiltless? Does it have to submit to power? Can an artist remain apolitical in the midst of political chaos?

In September of 2007, Playwrights Workshop Montreal staged an English reading of Oooo! written by the Catalan playwright Gerard Vàzquez in 2005. Alain Goulem (CBC's The Tournament and 18 to Life) read the part of Charlie Rivel, a real character who worked as a clown during WWII. Impressed with the script and quite taken with the character, due to his life-long fascination with clowns, he approached Andrew Shaver to direct the play for SideMart. They secured the rights to the English translation and with a few revisions of their own, have once again put their signature on yet another innovative piece of theatre.

Vàzquez describes the play in his own words. “The strong contrast between the guileless figure of a clown and the ambiance of war and barbarity of the Nazi regime offers on the stage a potent and moving way to reflect about the condition and position of the artist (and of anybody) in front of the most frightening realities that the human being is capable of producing at any time in history.”

Joining Goulem in the all male cast are two of SideMart’s core members, Patrick Costello and Graham Cuthbertson, as well as Tobias Goulem (Alain’s 11-year-old son) and Jesse Todd. Shaver and Sarah Yaffe share the credit for set design, with costume and sound design by Jesse Peter Ash and lighting design also by Sarah Yaffe, another core member of the troupe.

SideMart is pleased to return as the Segal Centre's resident company for the second consecutive year in the Studio. Previous SideMart productions include the Mecca Award-winning American Buffalo; the "must-see...runaway hit" (Matt Radz, Montreal Gazette) The Dishwashers presented in the Basement of BU: Bar-a-Vin; The Canadian Premiere of Trad ("two of the best performances you'll see all year" Brett Hooton, Montreal Hour), and most recently a musical adaptation of Derek McCormack's The Haunted Hillbilly: "the best show I've seen in years." (Neil Boyce, Montreal Mirror).

The Segal Centre for Performing Arts
5170, ch. de la Côte-Ste-Catherine
Box Office: (514) 739 – 7944

Saturdays through Thursdays – Fridays DARK

Opening: September 13 9:00 PM
Nightly: 8:30 PM (Sat. 9:00 PM; Sun 7:30 PM)
Matinée: ONLY September 14 2:30 PM w/TALKBACK

Regular Tickets: $20
Student & Seniors: $15

Charlie Rivel, clown

Josep Andreu i Lasserre (1896 - 1983), best known as Charlie Rivel, was an internationally known Catalan circus clown. He was born in Cubelles (Barcelona, Catalonia). His parents Pere Andreu Pausas (Catalan) and Marie-Louise Lasarre (French) were circus artists as well. He debuted when he was three and formed the group Los Rivels with his brothers Polo and René. He took his artistic name from Charlie Chaplin. Legend has that Chaplin later asked him: "Is it you who imitates me or I who imitates you?". At the start of the Second World War he discovered his definitive routine, featuring a chair, a guitar and a long jersey. He had to stay two years in Nazi Germany. In 1954 he returned to Barcelona where he became the star of Circo Price. His routine of the ululating clown is still remembered. In 1971, he appeared in Frederico Fellini’s film Clowns. Today, the Charlie Rivel Hall in Cubelles is a museum dedicated to him.


Gerard Vàzquez, playwright

Gerard, playwright, screenwriter and director received his training with José Sanchis Sinisterra in Barcelona. He has done several adaptations for the stage, specifically, La Strada, (Fellini), Laughter in the Dark, (Nabokov), and Bartleby (Melville). Original works include Cançons d'Alabama, Cansalada Cancel.lada, which was awarded the Sociedad General de Autores y Editores (SGAE) theatre prize and Oooo!, winner of the 2006 Butaca Prize for best theatre text and finalist in the Max prize for theatre arts, which premiered at the National Theatre of Catalonia in 2005. The play has also been produced as a film in 2007, in Catalan with English subtitles, called The Clown and the Führer.

Elisabet Ràfols, translator

Elisabet is a founding member and artistic producer of Tant per Tant. Her translations from Catalan into English have been done through a series of collaborations: Anne Szumigalski, Susan Bond and Michael Bantjes. Currently she is planning an ambitious project of artistic exchange between Catalonia and Canada.

Michael Bantjes, translator

Michael gained his early professional experience in the planning, design and construction of public sculpture installations and museum exhibitions. He began to design for the theatre in 1983 and has designed sets, costumes and lighting for shows in Canada and Spain. He has been involved as designer in the production of new plays as well as translations of plays in various languages. His collaboration with Elisabet Ràfols on this translation is his first literary translation, though he has worked informally with Elisabet on her previous translations.

“SideMart’s daring and innovation don’t stop” - Montreal Gazette