Have you ever celebrated Christmas in a new land with new customs? What do you bring to the festivity- your culture or your baggage?
Urban Tales: Immigrant Songs: First Xmas in Montreal brings six unique stories about yuletide in this exciting city from the point of view of new immigrants and arrivals. The stories are zany, hilarious, raw, and heartbreaking. The characters are excited about the celebrations in their new home. But their old lives are never far away and they cannot quite make a clean break, for better and for worse. The performances are poignant, with good comic timing, and tinged with the bewilderment of new beginnings.
Deena Aziz performs “The Return” (written by Pascale Rafie) in which a Muslim mother proudly talks about her beloved son’s journey for a new life in Canada. Kenny Wong tells the story “Unang Pasko Sa Montreal” (by Marie Barlizo) about a Filipino man’s attempt to leave his past behind for the sake of his family. Patrick Abellard hilariously explains “The Figurine” (written by Dany Laferrière) and how this gift from his mother serves as a strange presence. France Rolland recounts “Midnight Mess” (by Yvan Bienvenue) and reveals to be a different kind of new arrival. Harry Standjofski talks about “Smoke” (by Mr. Standjofski) a compelling story about the political conflicts entangled with new refugees. Michaela Di Cesare blazes through “SanimaXmas” (written by Ms. Di Cesare), a searing diatribe on the expectations of modern women vs. the courage of her ancestors.
The theme of journeys, both physical and emotional, is strongly displayed by a stage framed by old suitcases. Rock and jazzy guitar music by Mr. Standjofski bring an atmosphere of longing and fragile hope.
If nostalgia sweeps over you, you can always hit the bar at the back of the stage for a little eggnog to sweeten the memories of Christmas past and perk up for the Christmases yet to come.
Photo Credit: Vanessa Rigaux
Urban Tales: Immigrant Songs: First Xmas in Montreal: Presented by Théâtre Urbi et Orbi in association with Centaur Theatre Company. Directed by Harry Standjofski. Show runs December 9, 14, 15, and 16, 2017 at the Centaur Theatre, 453 St-François-Xavier, Old Montreal. For tickets call the box office at 514-288-3161 or go to www.centaurtheatre.com