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Stages and Pages: Matchstick


This powerful alternative musical by Saskatchewan playwright Nathan Howe won the award of Best in the Fest at the Ottawa Fringe Festival 2013.  Matchstick features all original songs performed live by the two actors.  The duo, Howe and Lauren Holfeuer, play multiple instruments.  The use of  illustrations and silhouettes gives the two the ability to introduce a whole range of back-up characters.

Things are not as they seem.  The Montreal Gazette quotes Howe: "It's kind of like Hans Christian Andersen wrote a folk musical in the style of a historical thriller." The young Matchstick becomes an orphan, living in an awful place.  She sings, ‘I live in an unnecessary life in an unnecessary country.’   She meets a young man who promises to take her to 'the country of freedom and opportunity'. They set out on the great adventure across the ocean. But then a strange thing happens. The Edmonton Journal describes this change: "In the isolation of her new life in a land where she doesn’t speak the language, another kind of story, a darker one with certain historical resonances, begins to emerge. You suddenly get the shivery feeling that the rustic quality of the storytelling, in itself, has grown sinister. We slowly become aware that the two are part of a wider story that is no fairy-tale."

I won’t give anything further away, but I can say this: I was tricked! 

The video clip below from the Fringe production by Theatre Howl gives a taste of the stage techniques and the music style. 

GCTC 2015-2016: Matchstickpar LectureOttawaReads

#staffpicks As part of the Ottawa Public Library's "Stages and Pages" partnership with the Great Canadian Theatre Company, we have compiled this list to accompany the production of Matchstick which opens at the GCTC on January 19, 2016.

  • Image: Evil Eye

    Evil Eye

    Four Novellas of Love Gone Wrong
    By Oates, Joyce Carol
    Oates offers four chilling novellas about love so powerful that people might die – or kill – for it.
  • Image: The Third Angel

    The Third Angel

    A Novel
    By Hoffman, Alice
    Alice Hoffman. 2008. 278 pp. Also available as an e-book an audiobook on CD. This story follows the lives of three women in love with the wrong men. Maddy falls for her sister's fiance, Frieda tries to save a junkie musician, and Lucy becomes inadvertently involved in a fatal love triangle.
  • Image: My Mistress's Sparrow Is Dead

    My Mistress's Sparrow Is Dead

    Great Love Stories From Chekhov to Munro
    A collection of love stories and love story excerpts from classic literary works.
  • Image: The Autobiography of Fidel Castro
    In this satirical fictionalized portrait, Castro reflects on everything from his first sexual experience in Birán and his true feelings about Che Guevara to the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Kennedy assassination.
  • Image: The New Secret Language of Symbols

    The New Secret Language of Symbols

    An Illustrated Key to Unlocking Their Deep and Hidden Meanings
    By Fontana, David
    Hundreds of symbols, organized by theme, with in-depth interpretations.
  • Image: Once Upon A Time

    Once Upon A Time

    A Short History of Fairy Tale
    By Warner, Marina
    Warner explores a multitude of tales through the ages, making a persuasive case for fairy tale as a crucial repository of human understanding and culture.
  • Image: The Irresistible Fairy Tale

    The Irresistible Fairy Tale

    The Cultural and Social History of A Genre
    By Zipes, Jack
    Zipes presents a provocative new theory explaining why fairy tales were created and retold, and why they became such an indelible and infinitely adaptable part of cultures around the world.
  • Image: JFK
    This docudrama is based on the book of the same name by former Australian police detective Colin McLaren. McLaren claims that, having spent four years on the forensic cold-case investigation of JFK's assassination, he has found the “smoking gun” that killed the president.
  • Image: The Kennedy Detail

    The Kennedy Detail

    JFK's Secret Service Agents Break Their Silence
    By Blaine, Gerald
    Blaine, a member of Kennedy's Secret Service detail, describes how he and his colleagues tried to protect Kennedy on that fateful day under impossible circumstances.
  • Image: The Interloper

    The Interloper

    Lee Harvey Oswald Inside the Soviet Union
    By Savodnik, Peter
    This biography by journalist Savodnik emphasizes the nearly three years that Oswald spent in the Soviet Union and attempts to address the question of why he wanted to kill the President.