UWinnipeg Theatre and Film season opens with The Balcony

Winnipeg, MB – The University of Winnipeg’s Department of Theatre and Film opens its 2016/17 theatre season with The Balcony, written in 1957 by the French author and “poet laureate of outcasts” Jean Genet, in the translation by Barbara Wright and Tony Hands. The play is directed by faculty member Tom Stroud and performed by the Fourth-Year Honours Acting class with technical and production support provided by senior production students.

Genet has set The Balcony in a lavish, upscale brothel referred to as a “house of illusions”. It is run by Mme. Irma. Here, clients – a Bishop, a Judge, and a General – act out their most bizarre sexual and religious fantasies while outside, revolutionaries are overthrowing the government and have eliminated all real figures of power. Eventually the “patrons”, led by Mme. Irma as the substitute queen, are conscripted to play their roles in what masquerades as real life. The Balcony becomes a political fantasy within a fantasy, in which all values are overturned. In their new guises, the role players realize that they belong to their fantasies and not vice versa. They need them as life support. The world, in Genet’s distorting mirror, is itself a giant bordello.

Considered one of the most important plays of the twentieth century, The Balcony is at once a bold political statement and an exciting exploration of the possibilities of theatre.

Stroud comments: “classic texts are, in a very real sense, artefacts that form landmarks in the continuum of our cultural evolution. Re-examining these works of art holds up a mirror to compare who we are now in relation to who we were then. When first staged, The Balcony forced the audience to question notions of identity, power, and morality. What is of interest to me is, when confronted with these same issues, what conclusions do our audiences reach today?”

Ultimately, The Balcony is an incredibly visceral theatrical event that draws the audience into a world of sexuality, violent revolution, and death. Genet’s masterpiece is a thrilling event that plays with the subtle line between theater and reality, and asks us to interrogate what power truly is.

The Balcony is designed by Alexander Grant (set); Jamie Plummer (lighting), and Joseph Abetria (costumes).

Performances are Tuesday, November 29 through Friday, December 2 at 8:00 pm, and Saturday, December 3 at 7:00 pm at the Gas Station Arts Centre (445 River Ave). Admission is free but reservations are recommended. Please call our 24-hour Reservation Line at 204.786.9152, or visit UWinnipeg’s Department of Theatre and Film website.

Based in the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film at The University of Winnipeg, the Department of Theatre and Film offers concentrations in Acting, Design, Drama in Education, Filmmaking, Playwriting, and Production/Stage Management. Our classes are small and our approach is practical. Our faculty is comprised of highly respected and award-winning professionals who are experienced teachers and remain active in their disciplines, bringing relevant and up-to-date instruction to our students.

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UWinnipeg is one of Canada’s leading post-secondary institutions, consistently recognized by both Maclean’s magazine and The Globe and Mail. UWinnipeg is noted for academic excellence, Indigenous scholarship, environmental commitment, small class sizes, and campus diversity. UWinnipeg is committed to improving access to post-secondary education for all individuals, especially those from non-traditional communities. Find out more at uwinnipeg.ca. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


Patty Hawkins, Department of Theatre and Film, University of Winnipeg
T: 204.786.9955, E: p.hawkins@uwinnipeg.ca

Tom Stroud, Department of Theatre and Film, University of Winnipeg
T: 204-786-9323, E: t.stroud@uwinnipeg.ca

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