adaptation" - NOW MAGAZINE
"Sex-drenched shocker... check it out" - THE GLOBE AND MAIL
"Sherman's bold interpretation is an exciting departure for Soulpepper. And the risk pays off." - THEATROMANIA
First published privately at the turn of the last century, due to its frank sexual content, Schnitzler's La Ronde was sensationally banned for obscenity, securing the play a place in dramatic immortality. Taking a circuitous route through ten interconnected sexual liaisons, La Ronde questions the nature of human contact, love, and fidelity. Contains explicit sexual content and nudity - recommended for audiences 18+
Maev Beaty, Isobel
Leah Doz, Sonja/Drunk Girl
Miranda Edwards, Hannibelle
Stuart Hughes, Charlie
Grace Lynn Kung, Zoe
Brandon McGibbon, Lucas/Peacekeeper
Adrian Morningstar, Nicholas
Brenda Robins, Eve
Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Robert/Peacekeeper
Mike Ross, Teddy/Peacekeeper
Alan Dilworth, Director
Lorenzo Savoini, Set, Costume & Video Designer
Kimberly Purtell, Lighting Designer
Thomas Ryder Payne, Sound Designer
Arwen MacDonell, Stage Manager
AJ Laflamme, Assistant Stage Manager
Jessica Severin, Rehearsal Stage Manager
Andrea Nann, Movement Coach
Simon Fon, Fight Director
Diane Pitblado, Dialect Coach
Kelly McEvenue, Alexander Coach
Nathan Kelly, Video Production Assistant
By Paula Wing, Associate Artist
I have gained the impression that you have learned through
intuition ... sensitive introspection - everything that I have had
to unearth by laborious work on other persons.
- Sigmund Freud in a letter to Arthur Schnitzler
La Ronde is Arthur Schnitzler's theatrical jewel, his most enduring and popular work. It's been translated into many languages and adapted countless times. Written before the turn of the 20th century, the playwright considered its content so inflammatory he only circulated the script among his friends. It took nearly ten years for the play to be published and it sold more than 40,000 copies before it was banned for salacious content. La Ronde wasn't even staged until 1920, and then it premiered in Berlin, not the writer's native Austria.
The response was explosive: critics called it filth. Performances after opening sparked riots. Sensibilities were so inflamed, the "perpetrators" were charged with immorality. The resulting obscenity trial heaped particular revulsion on the Jewish playwright. The court transcript reads: "For the defence it is important to state that this trial is indeed not a battle against Reigen (the play's German title) ... Reigen was only used in order to bring about an anti-Semitic action." Everyone was acquitted but Schnitzler had had enough: he withdrew the play from production in German-speaking countries, a ban that was not lifted until 50 years after his death.
Truthfully, it's a little hard to understand the furor now, though La Ronde's insights into male-female relations still have the ring of truth. Schnitzler was fascinated by the psychology of intimacy and no less an expert than Freud himself admired his understanding of how love, sex, and hate intersect. Mind you, Freud's feeling that the playwright relied on intuition and introspection was wildly wrong. Schnitzler drew on a vast catalogue of personal experience. In his diary - an epic, passionately detailed account of his numerous affairs - he once expressed a wish for his own harem. Clearly, he did plenty of "laborious work on other persons" himself.
Soulpepper has commissioned a new adaptation for this production from Jason Sherman, one of our most vivid, collaborative and original writers. His electric version eschews the tame, look-at-what-they-thought-of sex-back-then faithfulness common to adaptations of this play and aims straight for the jugular. Sherman's La Ronde roots us fearlessly in the smorgasbord of sexuality in Toronto, now. Riots are unlikely to break out, but this is a La Ronde that will provoke strong reactions. It's frank and funny, stimulating, brave, provocative, tender, raw and never, never tame. Prepare to be challenged. Prepare to be unsettled. Prepare for a bracing evening.
By Toby Malone, Ph.D
'La Ronde' is a circular dance, one that sees partners exchanged and energy transferred, one where the participant may not know who they'll be dancing with next. An innocent concept in itself, until correlation with the dangers of a promiscuous lifestyle lastingly associated the dance exchange with depravity and filth. The most notorious sex drama of the nineteenth century was, like many such controversial works, preceded by its own reputation. Austrian writer Arthur Schnitzler penned his notorious play - known variously as Reigen (in German), La Ronde (in French), and Hands Around (in English) in 1897, and published the manuscript privately three years later. The perceived immorality of the play's contents, in its frank depictions of sexuality, venereal diseases, and promiscuity ignited a firestorm of outrage throughout Europe: the underground popularity of the piece meant copies were privately circulated and illegally published to meet with the demand. Censors' bans were disregarded and illicit copies were passed from person to person, securing the legend of La Ronde. The eventual performance of the piece only further enflamed opposition, sparking anti-Semitic slurs against Schnitzler in Germany and wide-spread performance bans. Despite the volatility of the "Reigen Scandal" as it was known, Schnitzler's play drew the admiration of Sigmund Freud and became a staple in France and Eastern Europe. The play has been adapted into many mediums, including television, film, and stage: most famously David Hare's free adaptation named The Blue Room which sensationally featured a naked Nicole Kidman on the stages of the West End and Broadway in 1998.
As one of Canada's preeminent theatrical voices, Jason Sherman's fresh, contemporary take on Schnitzler's source (first seen at Soulpepper in 2001) highlights the universality of the work. Winner of the Governor-General's Award for Drama in 1995 for his play Three in the Back, Two in the Head, Sherman's strength is a masterful use of dialogue and deeply human characters, well positioned within a historical space.