Connect with us


One year after the Albert Schultz scandal, can Soulpepper get its groove back?




One year after allegations of sexual misconduct against its founder and artistic director Albert Schultz cast a shadow on Toronto’s critically hailed Soulpepper Theatre, the theatre has managed to survive, thanks to steady audience support and continuing on-stage excellence provided by the artists remaining in the company.

Now three months into its 2018/2019 season, Soulpepper is ushering in the new year with a bang — with its first original musical, Rose, a big-budget production based on a story by Gertrude Stein.

« We’re not holding back, we’re still striving for ambitious, creative work that’s innovative, » says Soulpepper’s newly minted artistic director Weyni Mengesha, as she takes in a rehearsal of Rose  alongside executive director Emma Stenning, who was hired three months ago.

Mengesha’s and Stenning’s appointments are also a big part of Soulpepper’s very public reset — two women with international resumes in the top leadership positions once occupied by Schultz and his wife, then-executive director Leslie Lester. They face a Herculean task: To convince the public and the theatrical community that Soulpepper’s internal culture is now safe, while continuing to mount the daring, cutting-edge plays on which the company built its reputation.

Loyal audiences

Schultz resigned and Lester was let go from the company in the wake of the January 2018 lawsuit by four actresses who alleged Schultz was a « serial sexual predator » and that Soulpepper « failed to provide a safe work environment. » The suit was settled out of court this summer, with undisclosed terms.

Artistic director Weyni Mengesha has new ideas for Soulpepper Theatre, including more diversity and community involvement. (Turgut Yeter/CBC)

« I’m aware, of course, that people are going to have questions. They’re going to, you know, wonder as they come to Soulpepper, » says Stenning of the company’s public image. 

« But actually, what we saw through the course of last year is audiences flocking to this theatre. »

The numbers back up her claim. Soulpepper did lose $375 500 of promised additional funding by Canada Council for the Arts, which was rescinded in the wake of the Schultz scandal, a sizeable income they are hoping to regain. But in terms of ticket sales and fundraising, the company reached its 2018 goal.

in 2018, the theatre saw a 15 per cent decrease in the number of subscription tickets sold, but sold more individual tickets than in the year before. Overall, its box office outperformed 2017 slightly. And while some donors withdrew their support, many of those who stayed « redoubled their contributions, » according to Stenning.

Theatre actor and director Ravi Jain says the audiences were able to make the distinction between Schultz’s alleged actions and the company’s on-stage product. Jain, who directed and acted in a number of Soulpepper productions and was its associate artistic director in 2016, left due to, in his own words, disagreements with Schultz about the best way to bring diversity to the company. Since leaving, he has been running his own Why Not Theatre. 

« I think everyone wanted what was best for the company. In terms of audiences, they kept seeing the shows and they have a relationship with the company, » Jain said.

Soulpepper’s solid lineup of shows in 2018 probably helped that relationship. Toronto theatre critic Glenn Sumi says it was « more diverse and inclusive than any previous season » and singles out critical hits like The Royale, Escaped Alone and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Attracting the artists

To continue that track record of on-stage excellence, Soulpepper will have to continue to attract top level actors, playwrights and directors. That, too, is a relationship that will require mending.

Actors rehearse the new musical Rose. Some subscribers didn’t renew after the scandal, but individual ticket sales rose. (Daniel Malavasi/Soulpepper)

As the Schultz scandal broke, some artists who have been key collaborators of Soulpepper stepped away from the organization, including founding members Ted Dykstra and Stuart Hughes, and top actress Michelle Monteith. Other actors staged silent protests or said they would boycott working with Soulpepper as a show of solidarity with Schultz’s accusers. So how does the artistic community feel about Soulpepper now?

Aislinn Rose, the creative producer of Toronto’s Theatre Centre, says she is thrilled about the appointment of Mengesha, who she calls « a brilliant artist and a brilliant human being. » But she says that the stories of unhealthy work culture that emerged during the Schultz scandal lead her to believe further work might be needed.

« The other thing that a lot of other poeple talked about was just a toxic workplace, » says Rose. « It’s important that if the leadership is being changed, a systemic change needs to be made throughout the organization. »

Some theatre critics and insiders have criticized Soulpepper’s board for not launching a major, third-party investigation into the alleged abuses that took place there during the Schultz years, and not making the findings public, as London’s Old Vic has in the wake of sexual abuse allegations against its former artistic director, Kevin Spacey. 

Emma Stenning says some of the findings of the investigation done by the board have already been made public, as they’re reflected in the company’s new Code of Conduct and Statement of Promises, with more documents to come.

« I feel like there are some people in the community who still may feel that the board hasn’t necessarily accounted for what happened, » says Jain.  « But I think there’s a big, huge part of the community who feels differently, that feels, you know, by choosing Emma, by choosing Weyni, they are really taking steps to make the changes necessary to account for what happened. »

More diversity, more tours abroad

Mengesha’s and Stenning’s backgrounds certainly seem to hold clout with a lot of people in the theatre community. Mengesha is an alum of Soulpepper Academy, who attracted international reputation for directing diverse stories that would become mainstream hits, including Da Kink in my Hair, and Soulpepper’s own Kim’s Convenience.

While Mengesha leaves behind Los Angeles, where she’s been working and raising her young family, Stenning also travelled a long way for her job. A seasoned British theatre administrator, Stenning led Bristol Old Vic theatre from the brink of financial ruin to a creative and commercial renaissance.

Soulpepper executive director Emma Stenning helped the Old Vic in London to a renaissance. (Turgut Yeter/CBC)

One of the other things the two women share is the desire to shift the conversation back to Soulpepper’s on-stage work. The current season was programmed by the interim artistic director Alan Dillworth, who took over when Schultz resigned in 2018, and the musical Rose had the beginnings of its development during Schultz’s leadership. 

Both Mengesha and Stenning think the company can not only match, but exceed, some of its artistic high points of the past. 

Stenning, who first heard of Soulpepper while visiting a friend in Toronto a few years ago, hopes to boost the company’s international reputation. 

« I feel really confident, within the next few years, as the program that we’re delivering starts to progress and succeed, that we will see Soulpepper work out on the road, so that by the time I’m back visiting the U.K., everyone will know Soulpepper. »

For Mengesha, that means including more diverse stories you typically don’t see in Soulpepper’s « Chekhov-and-Pinter » repertoire. Words like « community » and « collaboration » frequently come up in when she describes her vision for Soulpepper — a less hierarchical organization where the artists and even fans have their say in the programming.

« If you create the meeting point, if you create the freedom, if you create the excitement, people will come and people will be inspired, » says Mengesha.  « I mean, that is how the renaissances happen. »


Source link

قالب وردپرس


‘Business as usual’ for Dorel Industries after terminating go-private deal




MONTREAL — Dorel Industries Inc. says it will continue to pursue its business strategy going forward after terminating an agreement to go private after discussions with shareholders.

« Moving ahead. Business as usual, » a spokesman for the company said in an email on Monday.

A group led by Cerberus Capital Management had previously agreed to buy outstanding shares of Dorel for $16 apiece, except for shares owned by the family that controls the company’s multiple-voting shares.

But Dorel chief executive Martin Schwartz said the Montreal-based maker of car seats, strollers, bicycles and home furniture pulled the plug on a deal on the eve of Tuesday’s special meeting after reviewing votes from shareholders.

“Independent shareholders have clearly expressed their confidence in Dorel’s future and the greater potential for Dorel as a public entity, » he said in a news release.

Dorel’s board of directors, with Martin Schwartz, Alan Schwartz, Jeffrey Schwartz and Jeff Segel recused, unanimously approved the deal’s termination upon the recommendation of a special committee.

The transaction required approval by two-thirds of the votes cast, and more than 50 per cent of the votes cast by non-family shareholders.

Schwartz said enhancing shareholder value remains a top priority while it stays focused on growing its brands, which include Schwinn and Mongoose bikes, Safety 1st-brand car seats and DHP Furniture.

Dorel said the move to end the go-private deal was mutual, despite the funds’ increased purchase price offer earlier this year.

It said there is no break fee applicable in this case.

Montreal-based investment firm Letko, Brosseau & Associates Inc. and San Diego’s Brandes Investment Partners LP, which together control more than 19 per cent of Dorel’s outstanding class B subordinate shares voiced their opposition to the amended offer, which was increased from the initial Nov. 2 offer of $14.50 per share.

« We believe that several minority shareholders shared our opinion, » said Letko vice-president Stephane Lebrun, during a phone interview.

« We are confident of the long-term potential of the company and we have confidence in the managers in place.”

Continue Reading


Pandemic funds helping Montreal businesses build for a better tomorrow




Many entrepreneurs have had to tap into government loans during the pandemic, at first just to survive, but now some are using the money to better prepare their businesses for the post-COVID future.

One of those businesses is Del Friscos, a popular family restaurant in Dollard-des-Ormeaux that, like many Montreal-area restaurants, has had to adapt from a sit-down establishment to one that takes orders online for takeout or delivery.

“It was hard going from totally in-house seating,” said Del Friscos co-owner Terry Konstas. “We didn’t have an in-house delivery system, which we quickly added. There were so many of our employees that were laid off that wanted to work so we adapted to a delivery system and added platforms like Uber and DoorDash.”

Helping them through the transition were emergency grants and low-interest loans from the federal and provincial governments, some of which are directly administered by PME MTL, a non-profit business-development organization established to assist the island’s small and medium-sized businesses.

Konstas said he had never even heard of PME MTL until a customer told him about them and when he got in touch, he discovered there were many government programs available to help his business get through the downturn and build for the future. “They’ve been very helpful right from day one,” said Konstas.

“We used some of the funds to catch up on our suppliers and our rents, the part that wasn’t covered from the federal side, and we used some of it for our new virtual concepts,” he said, referring to a virtual kitchen model which the restaurant has since adopted.

The virtual kitchen lets them create completely different menu items from the casual American Italian dishes that Del Friscos is known for and market them under different restaurant brand names. Under the Prasinó Soup & Salad banner, they sell healthy Greek options and their Stallone’s Sub Shop brand offers hearty sandwiches, yet the food from both is created in the same Del Friscos kitchen.

Continue Reading


Downtown Montreal office, retail vacancies continue to rise




Some of downtown Montreal’s key economic indicators are heading in the wrong direction.

Office and retail vacancies in the city’s central core continued to climb in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to a quarterly report released Thursday by the Urban Development Institute of Quebec and the Montréal Centre-Ville merchants association. The report, whose first edition was published in October, aims to paint a socio-economic picture of the downtown area.

The survey also found office space available for sublet had increased during the fourth quarter, which may foreshadow even more vacancies when leases expire. On the residential front, condo sales fell as new listings soared — a sign that the downtown area may be losing some of its appeal to homeowners.

“It’s impossible not to be preoccupied by the rapid increase in office vacancies,” Jean-Marc Fournier, the former Quebec politician who now heads the UDI, said Thursday in an interview.

Still, with COVID-19 vaccinations set to accelerate in the coming months, “the economic picture is bound to improve,” he said. “People will start returning downtown. It’s much too early to say the office market is going to disappear.”

Public health measures implemented since the start of the pandemic almost a year ago — such as caps on office capacity — have deprived downtown Montreal of more than 500,000 workers and students. A mere 4,163 university and CEGEP students attended in-person classes in the second quarter, the most recent period for which figures are available. Border closures and travel restrictions have also brought tourism to a standstill, hurting hotels and thousands of local businesses.

Seventy per cent of downtown workers carried out their professional activities at home more than three days a week during the fourth quarter, the report said, citing an online survey of 1,000 Montreal-area residents conducted last month.

Continue Reading


Affaires1 jour ago

Prudence avec le passeport vaccinal

Affaires1 jour ago

Le secteur touristique autochtone s’attendait à beaucoup plus du budget fédéral

Affaires1 jour ago

La fintech canadienne Mogo ajoute 146 autres Ethereum à son portefeuille de crypto

Affaires1 jour ago

Les entreprises canadiennes estiment que l’épuisement professionnel nuira au résultat net des entreprises cette année, selon une nouvelle étude de Sage au Canada

Affaires1 jour ago

Chaire de recherche du Canada sur les matériaux de construction multifonctionnels durables

Affaires1 jour ago

Les Canadiens seront vaccinés

Affaires1 jour ago

Samsung Canada et Tim Hortons poursuivent la transformation numérique des services au volant en prévoyant la mise en place de 2 600 écrans extérieurs dans tout le Canada d’ici la fin de 2021.

Affaires1 jour ago

Le Canada mise sur le nucléaire pour réduire les GES

Affaires1 jour ago

Les mesures sanitaires font reculer les ventes de Tim Hortons

Affaires1 jour ago

L’Université de Montréal a caché un laboratoire nucléaire pendant la guerre

Affaires1 jour ago

Économie : les postes vacants coûtent 8 M $ par jour au secteur de la transformation alimentaire

Opinions1 jour ago

J’ai peur du projet de loi 59

Opinions1 jour ago

La protection de nos enfants, c’est aussi l’affaire du municipal

Opinions1 jour ago

Crise du logement : le Parti libéral du Québec en mode solutions

Opinions1 jour ago

Des témoins condamnent le comportement de certains députés envers elles

Opinions1 jour ago

Québec solidaire demande à ses membres de se prononcer sur une faction du parti

Opinions1 jour ago

Chevaliers de la «libarté»

Opinions1 jour ago

Se taire ou faire usage de sa liberté d’expression citoyenne?

Opinions1 jour ago

Contrer les féminicides: de la considération à la préoccupation!

Actualités3 jours ago

Des normes pour l’industrie de l’ÉPI demandées

Anglais2 années ago

Body found after downtown Lethbridge apartment building fire, police investigating – Lethbridge

Styles De Vie3 années ago

Salon du chocolat 2018: les 5 temps forts

Anglais2 années ago

This B.C. woman’s recipe is one of the most popular of all time — and the story behind it is bananas

Santé Et Nutrition3 années ago

Gluten-Free Muffins

Anglais2 années ago

27 CP Rail cars derail near Lake Louise, Alta.

Anglais2 années ago

Man facing eviction from family home on Toronto Islands gets reprieve — for now

Santé Et Nutrition2 années ago

We Try Kin Euphorics and How to REALLY Get the Glow | Healthyish

Anglais2 années ago

Ontario’s Tories hope Ryan Gosling video will keep supporters from breaking up with the party

Anglais2 années ago

A photo taken on Toronto’s Corso Italia 49 years ago became a family legend. No one saw it — until now

Anglais3 années ago

Condo developer Thomas Liu — who collected millions but hasn’t built anything — loses court fight with Town of Ajax

Styles De Vie3 années ago

Renaud Capuçon, rédacteur en chef du Figaroscope

Anglais2 années ago

This couple shares a 335-square-foot micro condo on Queen St. — and loves it

Mode2 années ago

Paris : chez Cécile Roederer co-fondatrice de Smallable

Anglais2 années ago

Ontario Tories argue Trudeau’s carbon plan is ‘unconstitutional’

Styles De Vie2 années ago

Ford Ranger Raptor, le pick-up roule des mécaniques

Affaires2 années ago

Le Forex devient de plus en plus accessible aux débutants

Anglais2 années ago

100 years later, Montreal’s Black Watch regiment returns to Wallers, France

Technologie2 années ago

YouTube recommande de la pornographie juvénile, allègue un internaute

Anglais2 années ago

Trudeau government would reject Jason Kenney, taxpayers group in carbon tax court fight

Anglais2 années ago

Province’s push for private funding, additional stops puts Scarborough subway at risk of delays