An original music theatre piece. Full production for 2017 to mark 100 years of the birth of Charlotte Salomon
Libretto: Alon Nashman
Composer: Aleš Březina
Metteur-en-Scéne/Scenographer: Pamela Howard
With a company of 7 actor/singers, and 4 musicians drawn from music theatre, opera and indie music including Peter Tiefenbach Music Director
Playing time:1hr 30minutes no interval
Thom Allison Grandfather/Dr Ghent/Herr Schmidt
Ariana Chris Paulinka Bim-Bam
Adanya Dunn Charlotte
Derek Kwan Albert Kann
Kelly McCormack Babara/Concierge/Maid
Alon Nashman Librettist/Amadeus Daberlohn
Xin Wang Franziska/Grandmother
To view the full 2017 production of Charlotte - A Tri-Coloured Play with Music CLICK HERE
“Everyone had an equal share in telling this story”
“It is a story that simply has to be told again and again and how your company told it is unforgettable”
University of the Arts Helsinki
“Each singer showed us the character to perfection”
“You all found unique language for this perfect story about the power of art”
“Thrilling dramatic power, complexity and tension”
“We hardly see verbal theatre these days, and seeing Charlotte made me realise the power of text, music and colour”
“I felt I was actually IN Charlotte's paintings”
Curator Costumes Design in 20th Century
Please click image to enlarge.
Scenes for 2017 production
Charlotte – A Tri-Coloured Play with Music
Click on the arrows to move between scenes
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The Miracle of Charlotte Salomon
Life? Or Theatre? is the name that Berlin born Jewish artist Charlotte Salomon gave to a sequence of nearly 800 gouaches accompanied by text and musical references that she produced between 1940 and 1942. Before her deportation to Auschwitz at age 26, she handed the work to a local physician, with the message: “Take good care of this… it is my whole life.“ Miraculously, her extraordinary magnum opus survived.
Charlotte was a playwright without a stage, a graphic novelist before such a thing existed, a young woman struggling to claim her voice and affirm her existence. Through painting, text and music, she chronicled the inner life of a young woman coming of age during the rise of Nazism and under the shadow of family tragedies.
Life? Or Theatre?… With its themes of art, love, feminism, identity, and history … powerfully resonates today. It has been adapted for the stage and screen, transformed into opera, ballet, artwork, puppetry and literature. However, it has yet to be fully realized as a “singspiel,” the performance style Charlotte envisioned.
Charlotte: A Tri-Coloured Play with Music is a multi-national collaboration with a core creative team from Canada, UK, and Czech Republic, plus seven actor-singers and three musician-performers. The essential quality of our “singspiel” is the total synchronicity of word, image, and music. We propose an art installation, inspired by Charlotte and inhabited by performers. It is conceived as a through music/theatre piece, each moment flowing into the next without any breaks, much like the waves of the sea in the final images of Charlotte’s Life? Or Theatre?
Award-winning Canadian librettist Alon Nashman conveys the absurdity, stumbling adolescence, and precocious romance that shaped Salomon’s early life, alongside the feverish creativity of her years in exile. Acclaimed Czech composer Aleš Březina is composing an original score essential to the soul-baring narrative. Scenographer/metteur en scéne Pamela Howard, author of the seminal book “What is Scenography”, literally draws theatre in a manner similar to Charlotte herself, painting the stage with colour and light such that the audience will experience Charlotte’s paintings being formed before their eyes.
Creating a 3D world
The interpretation of the three dimensional world of Charlotte Salomon is being manufactured by Domus/Idea in Vilnius, Lithuania, using a combination of laser technology in thin Baltic Ply and cardboard in a flat pack system, with hand painting by Pamela Howard.
a prototype 1/4 size
from the maquette.
Charlotte - A Tri-Coloured Play with Music
2017 / 2018 / 2019
more to follow
June 1, 2017
Isabel Bader Centre, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
June 16-18, 2017
The Theatre Centre,
June 30-July 2, 2017
World Stage Design Scenofest, Taipei, Taiwan
January 25 - February 4, 2018
Chutzpah! Festival, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
An exhibition of the drawings created for this production, with references to Charlotte’s visions of her remembered past.
‘The Tri-Coloured Workshop’ led by Pamela Howard exploring personal history through colours that can be made out of red, yellow and blue!
For further information contact
- a Tri-Coloured Play
is produced by
Your production of “Charlotte” is rich and intricate, and perfectly calibrated.
What makes your work so extraordinary is that you are not simply a director. You go behind the all of the disciplines so that the text, the design, the acting, the music and the movement have an organic relationship to each other, and this makes it possible for your excellent actors and singers to find form facially, vocally and physically. Witnessing such inspiring storytelling tonight has given me glimpses of something transparent - a window into a different kind of life, that we might lead, or once led long ago – and it fills one with yearning.
You have given Toronto a great gift, Pamela. “Charlotte” is a rare experience which those who are lucky enough to see it will never forget. But the trouble is, your run is lamentably short, and my wish for you, Alon, your remarkable composer and extraordinary cast, musicians and crew is that it will bring you both the public recognition and visionary producer that the show (and all of you!) all so richly deserve.
William Scoular Filmmaker Toronto/UK
The production looks like all your drawings that you have worked so hard on for so long.
Of course! What amazing determination to actually make it happen.
No wonder the exhibition before the production was so well received it must just have added another level of understanding.
Jenny Murell Artist
Last night's performance of Charlotte in Kingston was inspirational.
I feel gifted in meeting your work. Your artwork is glorious and I would love to see it in print and own one of your 3D beautiful drama queens.
Alana Kapell Artist
I was going to write to you and Alon to say how much I enjoyed the piece.
For all that there will be more development you want to do on it it’s already in a very good, distinctive, ingenious, strongly characterised place. I am so glad we were able to work together on it …
Anthony Sargent CEO Luminato Festival Toronto
The narrative power of the show has made exceptional leaps forward
…since the last version I saw and I was thrilled at how you had continued to pursue the discovery of dramatic moments throughout the piece, which allowed for some exciting scenes like the doctor and his fellow Jewish bourgeois contemplating fleeing - a compelling sequence I don't remember seeing before - and the whole bargaining of the father's freedom claimed needed centrality. Also with this performer as Charlotte, who is so powerful and right for the part, the complexity of her relationship with your character becomes much more credible. It felt that you had allowed yourselves to continue changing and adjusting the material right up to the rendering we saw. And this gave the performance a dramatic tension that kept us off-balance and wondering. Enough for now. Congrats to all, and especially my fellow Planchonian.
Paul Thompson Theatre Director
Such a moving and powerful piece. And so cleverly designed, directed and performed.
I'd love to see it again and it strikes me that my teaching on neo-Brechtian design approaches will benefit from having seen your production and your process. I do hope to see more of it and to continue to discuss methodologies with you.
Donatella Barbieri Senior Research Fellow and Principal Lecturer in Design for Performance
I wanted to write to you straight away, to say how deeply impressed I am.
As I’ve told you more than once, I had a strong conviction from the start that of all the many attempts to capture the spirit of CS’s work on stage, yours was the one most likely to do full justice to the rich complexity, and the many, often discordant, voices of Life or Theatre? – a conviction entirely vindicated by the final product.Alon, you were wonderful. And the actress playing C was superb.
My warmest good wishes, and congratulations (to Ales Brezina too, and the rest of the cast),
Monica Bohm Duchen Art Critic and Writer
Character drawings for 2017 production
Charlotte – A Tri-Coloured Play with Music
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