LSM Newswire

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Assumption of Empire, Unwashed Grape at MainLine Theatre- March 3-22

Unwashed Grape presents

The Assumption of Empire

A new play by Ann Lambert

Directed by Paul Hawkins

March 3-22, 2009

"Isn't it amazing how many lives we have?" -Sophie

Montreal, February 2009- Unwashed Grape is mounting Ann Lambert's most ambitious play, The Assumption of Empire, at MainLine Theatre March 3-22, directed by Paul Hawkins. Former head of the National Theatre School's playwriting program, Ann Lambert returned to writing for the stage two years ago in Unwashed Grape's acclaimed double-bill of Two Short Women and The Wall. She is collaborating with them once again, exploring where the political and the personal intersect in a world rocked by violence and dizzying change’Äīthe shifting of tectonic plates’Äīsometimes all too close to home.

Lambert is excited about her ongoing exploration of this theme: "Over the past 25 years as a writer, I have examined this intersection of political and personal and whether the two can even be separated. I am interested in how people's lives change in ways they could never have anticipated, and how they face those changes."

The Assumption of Empire takes place in and around Montreal from 1978 to 2008, spanning the Revolution in Iran, the 1st referendum for independence in Quebec, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Dawson shooting. These events form the backdrop for the life of Sophie Wiseman, who is taken back in time when she learns of the mysterious death of her ex-husband's wife.

Sophie Wiseman, married to Steve, is haunted by her first marriage to Ivan. What happened to her dream of love and changing the world? How did she settle for the daily compromises that erode her? How does she come to terms with growing older and the struggle to feel like her life has added up to something? Lambert stresses however that more than anything, this play is a love story: "Although the backdrop of the play reflects some world events, this is really a love story about the many forms love can take in one lifetime- a love from the past that haunts the present, a married love that can feel like a limited substitute for the real thing, a love for a child that is a constant source of joy and torment and the passionate need to find meaning in a world that has changed so overwhelmingly in just 30 years."

"Ann Lambert has her finger on the pulse of the moment," notes director Hawkins, "but as well, she explores the choices that define Sophie's journey from her past to her present." He continues, "The Assumption of Empire is in search of lost time as Sophie is in search of meaning and orientation now. When Lambert writes about the past, it is with an uncanny and prophetic anticipation of the present world and its problems. Her topical situations unfold with surprise, humour and sometimes horror."

The Assumption of Empire marks Lambert's second collaboration with director Paul Hawkins and her fourth collaboration with leading actor Laura Mitchell, playing Sophie (a writer and actor, Laura has co-written and performed four theatre cabarets with TITTERS, co-wrote a feature film and co-produced, co-wrote and narrated Unbuckling My Bible Belt, which premiered at the Festival du Nouveau Cinema). Spanning the years with Mitchell are veteran performers Bill Croft as Steve (recently seen in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Segal Centre) and Tim Hine as Ivan (seen in Fallen Angels at the Segal Centre), and newcomer Alice Abracen in her first professional production as Sophie's daughter Eliot. Ann is especially thrilled to be working with Alice, her real-life daughter.

Rounding out the team is set and costume designer Louise Arsenault, a playwright with a love of design; lighting designer Steve Schon, currently technical director at Dawson College, Black Theatre Workshop and the Just for Laughs Festival; original music and soundscape composer Eduardo Pipman who has performed and recorded with various jazz and contemporary improvisational musicians and won the prestigious award for the Montreal Jazz Festival in 2000 and stage manager Anton Golikov, in his final semester studying Cinema & Communications.

The Assumption of Empire

Unwashed Grape

At MainLine Theatre

3997 Blvd. St Laurent

Reservations: 514-849-3378 or

Tuesday to Saturday, 8:00 pm

Matinees: Saturday and Sunday, 2:00 pm

Tickets: $20 regular, $17 student/senior, group rates available

$10 shows: Tuesdays (Mar. 3, 10, 17); Wed. preview Mar. 4; Sat. matinee, Mar. 7 at 2pm

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