Two-time Governor General’s Award-winning playwright, Morris Panych directs The Shoplifters, a comedy about the effects of consumerism. The play received its 2014 world premiere in Washington, DC, ironically the capital of one of the world’s countries most dedicated to free enterprise and the almighty dollar. Mr. Panych has re-worked his script with the help of his bilingual cast, to depict a unique Montreal experience for Centaur audiences. Long-time artistic collaborator and life partner, Ken MacDonald, designed the set and costumes, as he has done for Mr. Panych on more than 100 projects.

“You wanna talk about stealing? Who stole the American dream?”

… Alma, geriatric shoplifter

Alma, a feisty geriatric shoplifter with serious street cred, uses her five-finger discount to redistribute what she classifies as undeserved corporate profit to her less fortunate neighbours. Dom, a righteous crime fighting evangelist having a very busy first day on the job, catches Alma and her skittish sidekick, Phyllis, with a couple of rib steaks stuffed up their skirts. Otto, the world-weary head security guard is called in to interrogate but it soon becomes apparent that he has a more magnanimous opinion of Alma’s sticky fingers. According to her, “Stealing isn’t always about taking things.”

“We all have our own internal sense of justice that doesn’t always match the legal one.”

…Morris Panych, Director

Mr. Panych described the character that instigates the shoplifting. “Alma isn’t really about sticking it to the man; she’s an aging woman fighting against a world that discounts her. She won’t be overlooked and is determined to grab what she can out of life. Like she says: ‘You know what matters? Living a little.’” In an interview for Vancouver’s The Province, he further explained his interest in shoplifting, stating, “I found reasons why people shoplift are fascinating, especially older people. In many, many cases, it’s not for something they need, it’s because they want to do something interesting with their lives besides just fade away.”

“Morris is one of Canada’s best contemporary humorists, looking at important, timely issues with the social consciousness of the guy on the street,” remarked Eda Holmes, Centaur Theatre’s Artistic and Executive Director. “With The Shoplifters, he questions right versus wrong within the larger corporate context. Grey areas abound but at its core, The Shoplifters is a love story of sorts: loving your community and putting it first. The wonderful eccentricities of these characters give us hope for humanity.”

Preview Pre-show Conversation: Thursday March 21 at 7pm. In the intimate Centaur Theatre gallery, playwright and director, Morris Panych, and set and costume designer, Ken MacDonald, will discuss creating new theatre and take questions from the audience. Free and open to the public.
Sunday Chat-Up: Sunday March 24 at 12:30pm also in Centaur Theatre’s main floor gallery. Join Lucinda Chodan, the Montreal Gazette’s Editor-in-Chief, as she explores consumerism and the culture of capitalism and their effects on love and relationships with Véronick Raymond, Professor at HEC, and Columnist on Radio-Canada. This is a free public event with refreshments provided by Bonaparte Restaurant.

Post-Show Talkbacks:  Thursday March 28 and Sunday March 31. Audience members are invited to stay after the performances for insightful Q&A’s with members of the cast.

The Shoplifters will run from March 22 to April 7; with preview performances on March 19, 20 and 21. Additional matinee performances take place on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesday, March 27. For tickets please call 514-288-3161 or online:

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