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TFS Stage Production of Russian Comedy ‘To Be or Not To Be’ Explores Lure of Political Power

To Be or Not To Be

Toronto Film School’s Christopher Sawchyn has long desired to direct a Russian comedy on stage, so when he chanced upon Miriam Laurence’s To Be or Not To Be, he knew it was, in fact, meant to be.

“I fell in love with this story that explores the danger of celebrity and the lure of political power,” he said of Laurence’s translation of Nikolai Erdman’s 1928 play The Suicide, which is regarded as one of the finest plays to have come out of Communist Russia.

“She’s expertly crafted the humour, nuance and characters in a such a relatable way to an English-speaking audience, and it works well for a class of young actors.”

To Be or Not To Be poster

“I love to collaborate when creating art and this gaggle of multi-skilled students have been willing to experiment with me,” he said, noting that it didn’t hurt to have both a Ukrainian dancer and a Russian-speaking actor amongst the members of his cast.

“I am grateful for this dedicated ensemble, some going above and beyond to make my ‘vision’ come to life.”

To Be or Not To Be, which is stage managed by Cobourn Sands, will take to the stage at the Papermill Theatre for a three-performance run on June 18, 19 and 20 as follows:

  • Tuesday, June 18 at 7 p.m.
  • Wednesday, June 19 at 9 p.m.
  • Thursday, June 20 at 7 p.m.

The Papermill Theatre is located at Todmorden Mills67 Pottery Rd. Tickets are free and available at the door.

The Creative Team Behind To Be Or Not To Be:

Ella Plummer

Ella Plummer as Serafima / Zinka

Amey Pedrelli

Amey Pedrelli as Dominus

Jason Billay

Jason Billay as Alexander

Caleann Walker

Caleann Walker as Pugy / Madam Sofie

Danil Kim

Danil Kim as Yegor

Jay Fowler

Jay Fowler as Oleg / Henriette

Jenna Harvey

Jenna Harvey as Masha / Grunya

Reza Arzhang

Reza Arzhang as Viktor

Laurielle Iliza

Laurielle Iliza as Margarita

Jeffrey Torcato

Jeffrey Torcato as Aristark / Vladime

Klein Wilhelm

Klein Wilhelm as Semyon

Mirrella Marino

Mirrella Marino as Raisa

Demevie Riesgo

Demevie Riesgo as Cleopatra

Seth Cody Pacquin

Seth Cody Pacquin as Father Yelpidy / Vladiue

Cobourn Sands

Cobourn Sands – Stage Manager

Christopher Sawchyn

Christopher Sawchyn – Director

Cynthia Reason

Cynthia Reason (she/her) is a former newspaper journalist turned communications professional who currently works as Toronto Film School’s Manager of Communications. Prior to joining TFS, she spent 13 years working as a reporter for Torstar/Metroland Media Toronto, writing for publications including Toronto.com, the Etobicoke Guardian, and the Toronto Star, among others. Her byline has also appeared in the National Post. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Guelph and Post-Graduate Diploma in Journalism from Humber College.


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