BackTo Artword 2003-2004 season list

Artword Alternative Theatre, 75 Portland St
May 12 to 30, 2004

Atrium Players Theatre Company presents
Biography, A Game
by Max Frisch
directed by Tatiana Chouljenko
cast: Edward Zinoviev, Jennifer Kuipers, Shawn Mathieson, Paul Babiak, and Dragana Varagic
Executive producer: Radka Poliakova

Previews May 12 & 13 at 8 pm: pwyc
Opens Friday May 14 at 8 pm
Tuesdays to Saturdays at 8 pm: $20
Sundays at 2 pm: pwyc

Atrium Players Theatre Company announces a new staging in English of Biography, A Game, a work of theatre by noted Swiss author Max Frisch.
The play explores a theme that dominated much of Frisch's later work. To what extent we are free to "write our own biographies", to plot each move in our lives, unhampered by the logic of the decisions we have taken in the past?
In Biography, A Game the main character, Herr Kurmann, experiments with different episodes in his life to see if they could have been played differently. The catalyst for the action is the breakdown of a marriage. Kurmann says, "I refuse to believe that our biography, mine or any other, couldn't look different. I only need to act differently one single time…"
Biography, A Game by Max Frisch, was first staged in Germany in 1968. In 1984 Frisch rewrote it, reducing the characters from 33 to 5. Atrium Players Theatre Company has commissioned a translation of this 1984 version into English by Birgit Schreyer with an adaptation by Yana Meerzon and Dmitri Priven.
The play is directed by Atrium co-founder Tatiana Chouljenko, who approaches the work using the theatrical technique of Michael Chekhov. Chouljenko explains, "Biography, A Game gives actors an opportunity to explore their psyche using fantasy and intuition. The Michael Chekhov technique accesses and expands the imagination through physical movement and images. The style is psychological comedy."

The play has five characters: Herr Kurmann, his wife Antoinette, the Recorder, and two Assistants. Herr Kurmann's biography is the subject of the play, a banal life but over time everyone inevitably acquires a biography. Events are portrayed as moves in a chess game, moves that could have been played differently The Recorder is in charge of the game, deciding what to try out, to repeat, to change. The "biography" is becomes a continual rehearsal set on a stage.

Atrium Players Theatre Company:
Atrium Players Theatre Company was founded by Tatiana Chouljenko and Edward Zinoviev. The two met in Moscow and worked in Russian theatre for 10 years before coming to Canada. Atrium is a repertory theatre that earned its reputation using different stylistic approaches, gender reversals, complicated characters, and innovative choreography. Two productions, School of Stars and Lady Elvira appeared on Russian National TV.
The Atrium Players Theatre Company produces important plays from a variety of world theatrical traditions. Each play will focus on a style, system or technique (Michael Chekhov, B. Brecht, G. Streller, V. Myerhold) to create a new and vibrant expression of the work for a contemporary audience -- vital stories told in a fresh style full of the spirit of adventure.
Toronto audiences had an opportunity to see Atrium's work in the production of Anton Chekhov's Jubilee (directed by Tatiana Chouljenko) at the Tarragon Extra Space in December 2000. Audiences were able to experience Chekhov through Russian eyes, in a lighter, comedic style with singing and dancing.

Max Frisch (1911-1991) was born and died in Zurich, Switzerland.
His most well-known play is Andorra (1958), about anti-Semitism and its consequences, in a symbolic country called Andorra. Other plays include Biedermann und die Brandstifter (Biedermann and the Arsonists), a study of evil, and like Andorra, examines the role of the individual in terrible events. Die Chinesische Mauer (The Chinese Wall) (1946) is an "experimental farce which mixes ancient and modern settings and characters". Its main themes are power and self-destructiveness. Next appeared Als der Krieg zu Ende war (When the War Was Over, 1949) and the farce The Firebugs (1958; trans. 1962).
His novels include: Ich bin nicht Stiller (I'm Not Stiller) (1954), a novel about an intellectual struggling with his identity, Homo Faber (1957), A Wilderness of Mirrors (1964), Man in the Holocene (1979), and Bluebeard (1982).

Biographie. Ein Spiel (Biography, A Game) (1968 version) was translated into English in 1969 by Michael Bullock; the 1984 version is translated for the first time in Atrium's production.