Oren Safdie

By Mike Cohen

Montreal-born Jewish playwright Oren Safdie has hit the proverbial ball out of the court with his new play Gratitude. It is playing Wednesday through Saturdays until December 2 at  the Mainline Theatre (in what was once the heart of the Jewish community) at 3997 Saint-Laurent Boulevard.
Tickets  are $20, $18  for seniors, $15 for students. Info:

514 849-FEST (3378) or mainlinetheatre.ca/en/spectacles/gratitude.

Set in a high school locker room, and dealing with issues of rites of passage, dares, peer pressure and how teenagers can use sex as a weapon to dominate others, the play is extremely relevant to the larger story that is now unfolding across the front pages of our newspapers and media; the hazing and sexual assault taking place in St. Michael’s in Toronto. Adding to the relevancy around the theme of sexual consent, both women and men can be pressured into having sex.

Gratitude tells the story of 15 year old Dariya, who attends an exclusive Montreal private high school  (we will not reveal the high school Safdie loosely bases the story on) where she becomes infatuated with Drew. Torn between her traditional upbringing and family expectations, and her new sexual awakening, Dariya finds herself caught in a web of her own making that promises liberation even as it simultaneously leads to her undoing. Safdie’s play captures youthful stirrings with all their passions and insecurities to devastating effect. An innocent crush snowballs into a life-changing moment While each character discovers the power of their sexuality, they also come to realize that the choices they make in life may sometimes be anything but their own.  Gratitude is a brave, provocative story exploring the realities around sex, love, consent, duty, gender roles and rebellion. 

Patrick Émmanuel Abellard, Michaela Di Cesare, Patrick Keeler and Laurent Pitre turn in outstanding performances,

Cast members Patrick Émmanuel Abellard, Michaela Di Cesare, Patrick Keeler and Laurent Pitre take a curtain call.

The kernel of Safdie’s newest work grew out of his own experience at high school. The day he was to start Grade 11, he received a phone call from the boyfriend of a girl in his class, threatening to put two bullets through his head if he showed up at school. From this, he has woven a story of four characters grappling with their newfound sexual urges while discovering the power their bodies have on others. Add to that the emotions of first love, peer pressure, sexual identity and cultural discrepancies, and you have a story that captures the youth of our time in all its complexities.

Another tip of the cap to one of the best stage publicists in the business, Janice Kirshner.

OLD STOCK: The Segal Centre for Performing Arts will be presenting the Montreal

premiere of Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story co-produced by 2b theatre company and the National Arts Centre. Co-created by Hannah Moscovitch, Ben Caplan, and Christian Barry, and starring musician Ben Caplan, this international cult hit is inspired by the real-life love story of Moscovitch’s great-grandparents’ immigration to Canada. It is being presented in association with the St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival. Having sold nearly 90 percent of all tickets in advance sales, the Segal Centre is also excited to announce that

this limited engagement has been extended with three added performances. The production will now run in the Segal Centre Studio from December 4 to December 19

Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story is a humorously dark folk tale woven together with a high-energy concert.This sumptuous Klezmer/folk music/theatre hybrid is based on the true stories of two Jewish Romanian refugees coming to Canada in 1908. After losing everything, Chaim and Chaya have been given a second chance in the New World. It’s about how to love and find our shared humanity after facing the horrors of war. Having premiered to great success in Halifax, Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story has won numerous accolades around the world. In addition to its cross-Canadian tour, this one-of-a-kind production garnered awards and recognition when it played at the prestigious Edinburgh Festival Fringe and in New York. It is currently on a multi-stop tour across the U.K. and the Netherlands before heading to Australia and California next spring.


Tickets are on sale now at 514.739.7944 or at www.segalcentre.org


JNF TRIVIA NIGHT: On Monday, December 10, Jewish National Fund Montreal and Save A Child’s Heart are hosting an incredible IQ Trivia Night at the beautiful Rialto Theatre. Just For Laughs alum and real-life host of HQ Trivia, Matt Richards, will be the official “quizmaster”. Featuring incredible prizes, an open bar VIP cocktail, and a dynamically interactive format, the event promises to challenging and fun for the whole family! (the event is PG-13)

For generations, JNF has been responsible for building Israel and improving the quality of life for all her citizens. Moreover, in the spirit of Tikkun Olam, JNF endeavors to create a more prosperous world by sharing its best agricultural and water purification practices for the overall benefit of humanity. Thanks to their cutting-edge treatments and dedicated health care professionals, Save A Child’s Heart truly saves lives. In fact, thanks to SACH’s mission to improve the quality and accessibility of cardiac care for underprivileged children, it has cured more than 4,500 children hailing from 57 different countries. Together, both organizations have joined forces to raise funds for two outstanding projects in Israel: the completion of a new wing in the Herzog Psychiatric Hospital and the construction of an International Pediatric Cardiac Center for SACH.

Committee co-chairs, Moe Liebman, Jamie Pinsky, along with Junior Co-Chair Noah Goodman, hope to rally community support in order to raise critical funds to help address the scourge of PTSD, an increasingly growing need of the Israeli population, as well as to make an impactful contribution towards SACH’s outstanding mission. The Chair of JNF Future is Karen Aflalo. For ticket and sponsorship information, please visit www.iqtrivia.ca, or call 514-934-0313


Mike Cohen can be reached at info@mikecohen.ca. Follow him on Twitter @mikecohencsl