Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dust: A Romance

"Jason Maghanoy is forging a reputation as a writer of strong and provocative work."
Scena Magazine

"With Jason Maghanoy’s play, directed by Guy Sprung, Infini has got its mojo back. This is the best thing they’ve done since The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios… Do not miss this show."
Montreal Mirror

"Between the language of the text (poetic, funny and very real) and the purposefully ambiguous ending, Maghanoy keeps you transfixed."
NOW Magazine


JSquared Theatre, with the generous assistance of fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre Company presents:

written and directed by
Jason Maghanoy

Abu Ghraib Prison. Jenny works in the office. Jonathan is a prison guard. They meet. They fall in love. Written and directed by National Theatre School of Canada graduate Jason Maghanoy, and featuring some of the most outstanding young actors in the city of Toronto, dust is a chilling, and ultimately moving examination of torture, decency and the limits of hope.

dust was first presented as a solo show at the National Theatre School of Canada. This production was directed by Leah Cherniak and featured the playwright. It was subsequently presented by the Carlos Bulosan Theatre as part of Jeepney and Other Stories. This production was directed by Brett Christopher and featured Nicco Lorenzo Garcia.

dust was presented as a two-hander as part of the 2006 CrossCurrents Festival at the Factory Theatre. This workshop presentation was directed and dramaturged by Philip Akin and featured Byron Abalos and Jennifer Villaverde.

dust was presented as part of the ReCurrents Program: The Directors Cut at the 2008 CrossCurrents Festival at the Factory Theatre. This workshop was directed by Michael Murphy and featured Noa Mae Dorn and Ted Neal.

Friday, July 4, 2008

The Corner

Corner coup
THE NEXT STAGE @ Factory Studio
By Debbie Fein-Goldbach - NOW Magazine

THE CORNER written and directed by Jason Maghanoy (JSquared). Jan 11 and 13 at 7:15 pm, Jan 12 at 5:15 pm.
Rating: NNNN

Inspired by the real-life police shooting of 17-year-old Jeffrey Reodica, writer/director Jason Maghanoy takes a powerful look at teens and violence. The young cast, especially Byron Abalos and Andrea Mapili as love interests, serve Maghanoy’s script skilfully with their honest and often tender portrayals. The private-school uniform costumes instantly establish the characters, the hiphop soundtrack smooths transitions between scenes, and the ambient lighting intensifies the drama. Between the language of the text (poetic, funny and very real) and the purposefully ambiguous ending, Maghanoy keeps you transfixed.


THE NEXT STAGE a festival of new works and remounts. Presented by the Fringe of Toronto at Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst). To January 13. $12-$15, passes $48 and $88. 416-966-1062, www.nextstagefestival.com.


Universal soldiers

Gas explores the horror and banality of the Iraq war
by Amy Barrett - The Montreal Mirror

The morning after seeing Infinitheatre’s Gas, a new play about the war in Iraq, I read a news story about a Canadian soldier going on trial for killing another Canadian soldier in Afghanistan. The latter seemed to confirm the timeliness and importance of the former. With Jason Maghanoy’s play, directed by Guy Sprung, Infini has got its mojo back. This is the best thing they’ve done since The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios.

Maghanoy, a National Theatre School playwriting graduate, has wisely not tackled Iraq or American foreign policy in general, but has created a snapshot of five soldiers whose mission is all about gasoline: delivering it to other units or selling it to Iraqis.

Brandon Coffey plays Josh, a good ol’ boy who joined up because he wanted to be part of something important. And because they give you a gun. When he’s not wielding a weapon, he’s stalking his comrades with a camera trying to catch them “being heroic” for a video he plans to send home to Mom.

Southern white boy Josh has formed an unlikely friendship with Private Zarrin Cole, a black woman from New York. Cole spends most of her free time lifting weights, partly to gain the respect of her male counterparts, and partly to defend herself against the ever-present possibility of sexual violence. Lucinda Davis, who is small in stature and a bit of a girly-girl, has undergone an astonishing transformation for this role. Cole is buff and tough and steely in her determination to survive her tour of duty and go to med school back home on the army’s dime. Karl Graboshas plays Andy, a reservist who, despite the uniform, still looks more like the accountant he is back home. He is just hanging on until he can go back to his wife and baby. Omari Newton’s character, Rocky, realizing that a mission his unit is being sent on will almost certainly end in their deaths, tries to convince his friend Trevor (Ralph Prosper) to bail. The moral dilemma is reminiscent of the one in To the Green Fields Beyond, a play set in World War I.

The production begins with stock footage from the mean streets of Baghdad being projected onto three screens. Other elements of the staging—the live feed from Josh’s camera, the entrances and exits through the audience, help create the sense that we are in the middle of the hell that is war. Credit also goes to the authentic looking costumes, as well as evocative sound and lighting.

Maghanoy’s script is at its best when it portrays the boredom of daily life in camp offset by the constant threat of danger. These are young people who’ve seen buildings, vehicles and people blown up just a few feet away. Like trapped animals, they are in pure survival mode.

In the storyline involving Newton’s character, Maghanoy goes too far, not because there is any horror you can’t imagine happening in this context, but because there are horrors that can’t be portrayed convincingly on stage. Certain incidents might actually be more chilling if they were only described.

With Gas, Maghanoy has given us a play that tells a specific story about one conflict that becomes a universal comment on the nature of war. Do not miss this show.

Gas, to Nov. 18 at Bain St-Michel
(5300 st-dominique), $20/$15,
(514) 987-1774, ext. 104, or