Against the Grain: March 1 & 2, 2013

“Press releases and announcements” are presented verbatim without comment.

Against the Grain Theatre throws down the gauntlet with program of rarely performed song cycles

TORONTO—Against the Grain Theatre (AtG), the young company that has received critical acclaim for bringing unconventionally staged works to Toronto audiences since its launch in 2010, presents Kafka/Janáček/Kurtág, a double bill of two daring song cycles on March 1 and 2, 2013 at 8 p.m. Taking place at the Extension Room, a Leslieville yoga and dance studio, the program issues a challenge to audiences to embrace the intensity of two rarely performed works by Leoš Janáček and György Kurtág.

Kurtág’s Kafka Fragments, a haunting song cycle based on excerpts from Franz Kafka’s letters and diaries, features soprano Jacqueline Woodley, a recent graduate of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio, and violinist Kerry DuWors. The work is comprised of 40 extracts from Kafka’s personal missives — ranging in length from several seconds to several minutes — that illustrate the writer’s musings on the human condition both in simple and complex ways.

Rounding out the double bill is The Diary of One Who Disappeared, a song cycle by Leoš Janáček that tells the story of a farmer’s son who leaves home for the love of a gypsy woman. AtG is proud to present tenor Colin Ainsworth, mezzo-soprano Lauren Segal and sopranos Lesley Bouza, Eugenia Dermentzis and Sarah Halmerson, accompanied on the piano by AtG music director Christopher Mokrzewski.

Staged by AtG artistic director Joel Ivany, the presentation of Kafka/Janáček/Kurtág is designed by Stratford Festival regular Michael Gianfrancesco and musically directed by Mokrzewski.

“Each of these two pieces concentrates on text, words and the search for meaning in everyday life,” said Ivany. “No doubt about it: this evening of music and drama will be heavy, but we’re challenging our audiences to embrace the intensity. Let’s take a risk together! It’s what Toronto needs.”

“Repertoire like Kafka Fragments and The Diary of One Who Disappeared is the stuff AtG dreams are made of,” said Mokrzewski. “It’s not often that one comes across an opportunity to present works that are so challenging both to the artists and the audience, so I’m chuffed that we’ve created our own.”

Tickets are $30 and are available at The Extension Room is located at 30 Eastern Ave., Toronto, ON.

For more information on AtG’s 2012/2013 season and to view artists’ biographies, please visit

About AtG
Against the Grain Theatre is a five-person collective comprising Joel Ivany, Christopher Mokrzewski, Nancy Hitzig, Caitlin Coull and Cecily Carver. The wider but closely-knit AtG community includes musicians, actors, dancers, visual artists, photographers, and arts professionals who come together to turn the classics sideways. AtG’s inaugural season in 2010/2011 included three critically acclaimed concert presentations and a fully staged production of La Bohème. Last year’s highlights include sold-out concert performances of The Seven Deadly Sins (and Holier Fare) and a four-run production of Britten’s The Turn of the Screw.

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