parfumerie miklÓs lÁszlÓ
adapted by adam pettle & brenda Robins
artist note: I’ve had a lot of crappy jobs. Schlepping drinks and serving up quesadillas through high school and theatre school and in the cracks of my early professional life as an actor. In my experience, the service industry is not for the faint of heart. Why is it, then, that when I look back on those days of servitude – of fanny packs, shin splints, and Silkwood showers to wash away the smell of fried onions – it makes me smile? It’s because of the one saving grace: the company I kept. In any retail store, restaurant or rehearsal hall, you are part of a team. And with the common goal of mounting the show or upselling the Cote d’Amour, that team quickly becomes your family. For better or for worse, like the gang at the Parfumerie, we’re all in it together. I look around at the team of actors that make up this cast, this misfit family, and I marvel. How did I get out of the dish pit and land in this room? Is that Oliver Dennis serving up gems of hilarity beside me? How did I get into these 1940’s clothes? Since my first professional job sans tray, when I had the honour of learning to speak the Bard’s words from the late and very great John Neville, Soulpepper has been my artistic home. Lucky me.
Patricia Fagan, Rosie Balaz in Parfumerie
photo: cylla Von tieDeMann
parfumerie miklÓs lÁszlÓ
Hungary 1937 / canada 2009
adapted by adam pettle & brenda robins
oliVer Dennis & patricia Fagan
Morris Panych Director
Maev Beaty Miss ratZ / shop patron
Ken MacDonald set Designer
Stacey Bulmer shop patron / a roMa
Dana Osborne costuMe Designer
Kevin Bundy stephan kaDash / shop patron
Bonnie Beecher lighting Designer
Oliver Dennis george asZtalos
Mike Ross Music Director/coMposer
Patricia Fagan rosie BalaZ
John Lott sounD Designer
Jeff Lillico arpaD krepus
John Stead Fight Director
Miranda Mulholland Violin/shop patron
Arwen MacDonell proDuction stage Manager
Brenda Robins Miss Molnar
Jessica Severin assistant stage Manager
Mike Ross Jancsi / shop patron / accorDian
Nicole Myers apprentice stage Manager
Michael Simpson louis sipos Kristina Uranowski shop patron / a roMa William Webster DetectiVe / policeMan / shop patron Joseph Ziegler Miklos haMMerschMiDt
Adam Pettle and Brenda Robins’ adaptation of Parfumerie is staged by arrangement with Pam Winter, Gary Goddard Agency and Alicia Jeffery, The Characters, Toronto, Canada. Soulpepper thanks Tonda Marton of the Marton Agency (New York, NY). There will be one 20-minute intermission. Approximate running time 2 hours and 15 minutes.
background notes Part of the pleasure of working at Soulpepper lies in discovering lesser known gems. Miklós László’s Parfumerie is one such pearl. Several years ago, Brenda Robins approached Albert about adapting it (along with Adam Pettle) for the company. It was an instantly appealing project for many reasons, not least of which is that it takes place at Christmas. Written in 1937, the play is an affectionate homage to László’s native city of Budapest, from the well-heeled denizens of café society (who lived in Buda) to the hardworking shop clerks and waiters (who lived in Pest). His portrait is all the more poignant given that less than two years later the War changed the city forever. The genius of the play is Miklós László’s elegant, insightful exploration of longing. Mr. Sipos longs unrequited for job security, Mr. Hammerschmidt longs unrequited for his wife who’s having an affair with one of his employees, Miss Molnar longs unrequited for Mr. Hammerschmidt (though this is a brilliant additional longing put in by our adaptors Brenda Robins and Adam Pettle). Even Arpad, the delivery boy, has a great desire: to rise to the exalted position of sales clerk. Most notable in their longing, of course, are Miss Rosanna Balaz and Mr. George Asztalos, the co-workers who can barely tolerate each other but who, unbeknownst to both of them, have been writing passionate love letters to each other for more than a year. Already a full-blown romance on paper, George and Rosie’s intimate relationship is just dawning in real life. For two-thirds of the action we know more than the characters do and we can savour their inexorable coming together. Falling in love sight unseen is very modern too: how many hopeful lovers these days exchange e-mails before they actually come face to face? At work George and Rosie have their guards up. In letters they can fully express their hopes, their dreams, their vulnerability. Mind you, they’re exceptionally cautious correspondants. For a year they do not even move to the familiarity of first names. (Fortunately, since if they did there would be no play.) “Dear Friend,” each of them writes, hopefully. Well, who doesn’t long for love? Who doesn’t hope for a lover who finds us so charming and stimulating that we become charming and stimulating even to ourselves? Ideal lovers in our minds, Mr. László gently points out, can sometimes obscure the lovers who are right in front of us. George and Rosie are made for each other but they’re so busy bickering and insisting on their rights they don’t even notice. Surrender to this revival of Parfumerie: another opportunity to connect to the vision of Miklós László, whose flawed but fiercely hopeful human beings try and fail and try again, thank God undaunted. Biography Miklós László (born Nicholaus Leitner) was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1903. At the time of his birth, there was a push for non-Hungarian citizens to take an indigenous name as part of a “cultural unification” initiative. His family was wealthy and connected to the entertainment business, allowing the young László creative opportunities to write short plays for various small theatres and cabarets around Budapest. His first full-length play The Happiest Man (1934) won the Hungarian Royal Academy Award for Literature (the equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize). Parfumerie (1937), László’s most popular work, has been adapted into three feature films and one Broadway musical. László’s other plays – most of them never translated into English – continue to be popular and frequently produced in his native Hungary.
Background Notes by Associate Artist Paula Wing.
soulpepper production Jacqueline Robertson-Cull
Phil Atfield Geoff Hughes
head of hair & makeup
Ming Wong sewer
Janet Pym Natalie Swierz sewers/dressers
Paul Boddum Duncan Johnstone Daniela Mazic scenic artists
soulpepper thanks: David Hoekstra, Stratford Shakespeare Festival of Canada, Shaw Festival, Studio Specialties, Mar-Lyn Lumber Sales Ltd. Soulpepper Theatre Company is an active member of the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (pact), the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts (tapa) and Theatre Ontario, and engages, under the terms of the Canadian Theatre Agreement, professional artists who are members of Canadian Actorsâ€™ Equity Association. Scenic Artists and Set Decorators employed by Soulpepper Theatre Company are represented by Local 828 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. The musician engaged for this production is amember of the Toronto Musicians'Association, Local 149 of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada
YOUNG CENTRE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS DISTILLERY HISTORIC DISTRICT
Playbill for Parfumerie, featuring casting info, background and artist notes.