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Found: Helen's Necklace in the Shaw Festival's 2012 season Add to ...

Since it opened to audiences a little over two years ago, the Shaw Festival's Studio Theatre has become the most exciting of the festival's four stages, if only because it's so darn unpredictable what will be staged there.

This season, the rehearsal hall-turned-venu has been home to top-notch productions of two international plays that fall well outside of the festival's traditional mandate: American playwright Suzan-Lori Parks' Topdog/Underdog and Australian playwright Andrew Bovell's When The Rain Stops Falling (which you absolutely must catch before it closes on Sept. 17).

For the 2012 season, however, artistic director Jackie Maxwell will program a Canadian play in the Studio for the first time, so the Niagara-on-the-Lake grapevine tells me.

Siminovitch Prize-winning playwright Carole Fréchette's Helen's Necklace, a poetic play about a woman searching for a lost string of pearls in an unnamed Middle Eastern city, will grace the Studio stage in a translation by John Murrell.

Called a "tiny perfect play" by former Globe critic Kate Taylor, Helen's Necklace had its English-language premiere at Toronto's Tarragon Theatre in 2003 starring Susan Coyne and then returned for a remount the following year.

Eda Holmes, now associate director at the Shaw Festival, helmed that production. No news yet on the creative team or cast this time around.

In other Québécois theatre news, Michel Marc Bouchard - whose play The Coronation Voyage was staged at the Festival Theatre in Maxwell's first season running the Shaw Festival - won a prestigious French literary prize last week. His latest play Tom à la Ferme was awarded the Prix de la Dramaturgie Francophone from the Société des auteurs et compositeurs dramatiques.

Tom à la Ferme, which premiered at Montreal's Théâtre d'Aujourd'hui in January, is about a young, urban gay man named Tom whose lover dies in a car accident. When he goes to the funeral in the countryside, Tom discovers that his lover hadn't told his family about him - and, in fact, had invented a fictionally heterosexual life for them.

When will English-Canadians get a chance to see Michel Marc Bouchard's latest? Well, I'm pleased to reveal that top theatre translator Linda Gaboriau is already working on a translation that will premiere as part of Factory Theatre's yet-to-be announced 2012-2013 season. Look for it in Toronto in November of next year.

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