Adventurer or Avoider?

Concordia Theatre’s Peer Gynt Shows a Restless Life

  • Peer Gynt is being performed at the D.B. Clarke Theatre from April 4 to 7.

A professional procrastinator might just be someone who makes strange choices. Or could they be victims of circumstance? That question is one of the themes covered in Peer Gynt.

The show, which opens April 4 in Concordia’s D.B. Clark Theatre, revolves around its eponymous character, Peer Gynt, as he passes through the three stages of his life: youth, adulthood and old age. He’s a compulsive adventurer and exaggerator, but sometimes that next adventure is in conflict with what his heart wants.

Miriam Cummings is a Concordia theatre student in her fourth year and plays Solveig, the love of Gynt’s life. She appears primarily in the first part of the play, when Gynt is young and shows a glimmer of wanting to settle down. But instead of pedestrian domesticity, Gynt goes into the next phase of his life with more wild adventures. In old age he is forced to reflect on what it was all worth.

“It seems as though they’re going to have a happy ending and settle down,” Cummings said of the two lovers. “But they’re pulled apart by circumstance.”

For some, the play reflects a person going after what they feel is right.

“Is it procrastination οr opportunism?” said Marc-Antoine Kelertas, a fourth-year theatre student
working as the show’s assistant director. “I think it’s up to the audience to decide.”

The play was originally written in 1867 in Copenhagen as an epic poem. It was five hours long and purposefully worked to undermine the theatre conventions that existed during that time. With flying animals, shadow puppets and Gynt summarizing his life in a monologue delivered to an onion, the show does bend some rules. It’s been streamlined in many different versions and last summer, the play’s director, Peter Batakliev, decided on the two-hour version the theatre department is now putting up.

At its core, Peer Gynt represents the endless search for oneself through life’s experiences. But it also prompts reflection on whether there comes a time to stop searching.

Concordia’s theatre shows often take place at the Loyola campus, but this play will be much more accessible to downtown students, as it will be performed in the basement of the Hall Building.

“Students should come see Peer Gynt, because it shows that there’s another side to the university,” Kelertas said. “It’s not just all academic. It can be very practical and hands-on. It’s something different to see, instead of going to the movies. Theatre is always going to be for everyone.”

Peer Gynt in the D.B. Clarke Theatre (1455 De Maisonneuve Blvd. W.) / April 4 to 7 at 8:00 p.m. / April 6 and 7 matinees at 2 p.m. / Tickets $10 or $5 students / E-mail tickets.finearts@concordia.ca to reserve

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