Infinithéâtre presents


Hot topics and cutting wit at the dinner table offer audiences plenty to chew on

Written by Alyson Grant
Directed by Guy Sprung
With: Diana Fajrajsl, Timothy Hine, Mike Payette and Denise Watt

Mary: “I’m going to take from your little spiel that you do indeed feel affection for me. Or pity, which is close enough in opera.”

Alyson Grant, writer of past Infinithéâtre hit shows Progress! and Trench Patterns, returns with her searing new play, Conversion. Never one to shy away from both current and meaty subject matter, Grant now tackles the power of words and labels with her usual bite, poignancy and humour, exploring ideas of entitlement, prejudices, inadequacy, status and family.

Directed by Infinithéâtre Artistic Director Guy Sprung, Conversion runs from February 6-25 at Espace Knox, a multidisciplinary artist-run space aptly housed in the converted sanctuary of a former church.

Conversion, a ferocious, hyper-realistic powerhouse, offers an intimate glimpse into the lives of four family members. Abi and Al, a young mixed-race couple, host a dinner party plagued by Abi’s mother Mary spewing her polarizing, destructiveness of bigotry and religious intolerance. It is meant to be a straightforward celebratory supper, but familiar patter and patterns quickly devolve into a collision course of identities—race, class, gender and religion. This is the night that secrets explode and the bonds of love and blood get twisted and tested. Imagine Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf on steroids and Guess Who’s Coming to (ruin) Dinner… with no one left to sacrifice by the time the lamb is served.

Director Guy Sprung was drawn to this contemporary Montreal tragedy dressed in dark wit disguised as a family imbroglio. He explains, “In Conversion, faith, family and love are in a fight to the finish with metaphoric overtones and universal relevance, exposing the limitations of each one. It forces us all to question the values we live by. Alyson’s wondrously rich creation demands crafted, detailed, internalized character depiction. Importantly, we need the guts to explore the reality of the characters and allow them to live on stage, exposing our failings as human beings.”

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity”- Martin Luther King

Blind bigotry of all kinds is everywhere; think Syria, London Bridge, Québec City, Charlottetown and the list goes on. Here, Mary, played by Montreal stalwart Diana Fajrajsl in a role written specifically for her, pounces for the ‘good’ of the one she loves, and corrosive attacks on this young interracial marriage instantly trigger an internal debate about our own propensities for racism. Have we sided with a piece of legislation that has lurking in it some version of that? Grant’s writing, so lucid and genuine, makes it clear to audiences that they’ve been given a heightened peek into the closet dynamics taking place in many dining rooms throughout the city and beyond.

Fajrajsl is most taken by themes of fear and courage in the piece, “Fear of the other, fear of oneself and what one is capable of, fear of the present, and fear of the future.” She continues, “Tribalism is on the upsurge along with a huge amount of fear-mongering. People’s knee-jerk biases are being catered to by a more and more sensationalist press.”

For playwright Alyson Grant, Conversion started as a way to understand some of the lines that people, who would otherwise consider themselves as liberal, are drawing. “I wanted to get at an ugliness that may not be so obvious and might even surprise us when it surfaces. I hope the humour resonates in such a way as to both offset and complicate the serious themes,” she said. Grant adds, “The action is intentionally exaggerated to get at some dynamics that can be elusive; it’s condensed and in your face. The characters are flawed, but they are human and searching and a bit lost—all in a fun family dinner!”

“And we created you into different nations and different tribes so that you may get to know one another.”- The Quran

Conversion will be shown with French surtitles twice a week. Post-show Artist Talks with invited guests are on Thursdays, otherwise plan to go out for tea/coffee/drinks after the show- there will be plenty of fodder for conversation. Warning- contains expected family infighting over strong, opinionated views (Rolaids not provided).

Previews: February 6-7
Opening Night: February 8
Tuesday – Saturday at 8:00pm
Sunday matinées at 2:00pm
French surtitles on Tuesdays and Fridays
Post-show Artist Talk with invited guests on Thursday, February 15 & 22

For tickets and information:  514-987-1774 ext. 104

Espace Knox
6215 Godfrey Ave. in NDG

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