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TIFT’s “The Libertine” takes over Mady Centre

Kick off the New Year with a bang – a 17th-century version of the Don Juan tale for a 2017 audience
Libertine photos
Jakob Ehman, Benjamin Blais, and Tim Walker, rehearsing for Talk is Free Theatre's production of

The Libertine takes over the Mady Centre on Dunlop this week, an adaptation of the play by Englishman Thomas Shadwell (1642-1692), showing the Don Juan character merrily going on his way, seducing, cheating on and even killing a number of women, until he and the Devil have it out.

In Shadwell’s day, the idea of putting the play on was to create a fear towards sin and act accordingly to the Church or, rather, religion. In consequence, many audiences, in the various adaptations around the country and years, were persuaded and localized their fear of sin and followed the path of God.

The show is a production of Talk is Free Theatre, whose artistic producer, Arkady Spivak, argues that the fear of God might not be as profound now as it was then, but there are many aspects to the play which might make audiences uncomfortable.

“We found it interesting to examine to what extent not very much has changed in how women are treated, even though we no longer swordfight. Our director, who also provides adaptation, Jeannette Lambermont-Morey was specifically interested that women's perspectives are not only adapted but pulled more to the forefront.”

The show stars Jakob Ehman who is “undeniably one of the most brilliant young theatre makers currently working in Toronto and in the area," says Spivak. “He's not only one of the most versatile actors I know, completely undetectable behind each character he plays, but I have yet to run into something he can't do in theatre - direct, write, sound design.”

Ehman is supported by several members of the Stratford Festival actors Spivak lauds for being “able to handle not only dense classical text, but a number of extravagant sword fighting sequences.”

And even though there is the sexual aspect to anything attached to the name Don Juan, Spivak defends not having “The Libertine’s run coincide with Valentine’s Day.

“I would say this is the last thing on our minds.”

TiFT’s production of The Libertine opens Thursday, Jan. 5 at the Mady Centre for the Performing Arts, 1 Dunlop St. West, and runs through Saturday, Jan. 14. 

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Glenn Wilkins

About the Author: Glenn Wilkins

Glenn Wilkins, in a 30-year media career, has written for print and electronic media, as well as for TV and radio. Glenn has two books under his belt, profiling Canadian actors on Broadway and NHL coaches.
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