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Based on the critically-acclaimed Vancouver Playhouse Theatre production, The Overcoat is the long-awaited film directorial debut from theatre director Morris Panych. A play performed without dialogue, its performances, choreography, music and imagery tell a story that is full of joy and pathos.

At the heart of the work is the lean figure of actor Peter Anderson (Leaving Normal, First Blood, X-Files) playing the role of a social pariah touched with nobility. Like Chaplin, he has a sweet innocence that triumphantly survives the vicious taunts hurled at him by society. Through a wordless mix of movement, mime and music, Anderson and the cast engage the viewer in the paradox that the realization of material dreams can bring about personal destruction. The same overcoat that provides him with emancipation also enslaves his character in insanity. SPECIAL FEATURES:

audio/video commentary with Morris Panych (director), Wendy Gorling (choreographer), Ken MacDonald (designer), Michael Bateman (editor), Lael McCall (producer) and Richard Craven (producer).
CBC Radio interview with Morris Panych
CBC Radio interview with Conductor Mario Bernardi

From the original Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company Stage Production created by Morris Panych and Wendy Gorling, based on the story by Nikolai Gogol.

Running time: 84 minutes


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This release on CBC Records is the soundtrack to the film The Overcoat, a performing arts masterwork inspired by the short story by Nikolai Gogol, the nineteenth century absurdist best known for scathing political commentary. At its heart is a simple moral fable of a humble Civil Servant, a lonely and alienated man who is isolated in his own world. The story is set to the music of Dmitri Shostakovich without a single word of dialogue, resulting in a seamless piece that operates on a grand scale.


Morris Panych

Playwright, actor and director Morris Panych has been described as a man for all seasons in Canadian theatre.  He has appeared in over fifty theatre productions and in numerous television and film roles. He has directed over thirty theatre productions and written over a dozen plays that have been produced throughout Canada, Great Britain and the U.S.A., including 7 Stories (1990) and Other Schools of Thought (1994), which features three plays for young audiences. He has won the Jessie Richardson Theatre Award fourteen times for acting and directing. He has also been nominated six times for a Dora Mavor Moore Award (Toronto) and three times for the Chalmers Award.

Born in 1952 in Calgary, Panych grew up in Edmonton and currently resides in Vancouver. He received a diploma in radio and television arts from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, and went on first to study creative writing at the University of British Columbia and then theatre at East 15 Acting School in London, England. His first play, Last Call: A Postnuclear Cabaret (1982) premiered at the Tamahnous Theatre in Vancouver, and has been steadily produced by independent theatres across the country, most recently by the Globe Theatre in Regina (March 2003). It has also been adapted by the CBC into a television show. Vigil, under the title Auntie & Me, ran in the London West End in the 2003–04 season at Wyndhams Theatre for four months after a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival; it was also produced in French translation at Theatre la bruyere in Paris in January and February of 2005.

Panychs plays are characterized by a deliciously dark humour, brimming with existential themes and theatre of the absurd  style and sensibility. Dancing between hope and despair, they explore, often playfully but always revealingly ,philosophical issues such as human relationships, the nature of good and evil, and the relationship between fantasy and reality.

Winner of the Governor General Award for Drama (2004)

Books by Morris Panych

7 Stories


The Dishwashers


The Ends of the Earth

Girl in the Goldfish Bowl

Lawrence & Holloman

Other Schools of Thought


What Lies Before Us

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Category / All Books by Subject / Theatre/Drama / click one of these to find out more

Scenography in Canada: Selected Designers

Natalie Rewa
University of Toronto Press 2004

Paper: Feb 23 2004 Active/Available
Cloth: Mar 6 2004 Active/Available

World Rights
184pp /241 colour illustration

Scenography, the design for live performance, conceives of the creation of an environment rather than merely providing decor or background. Scenography in Canada: Selected Designers, is a new departure in the critical discussion of theatre in Canada, in which Natalie Rewa examines the work of seven of the country's important theatre designers: Susan Benson, Astrid Janson, Mary Kerr, Michael Levine, Ken MacDonald, Jim Plaxton, and Teresa Przybylski.

These artists have been responsible for exciting initiatives in design during one of the most dynamic periods in the history of Canadian theatre, from the early 1970s to the late 1990s, when new companies were founded and new theatre facilities were created. Juxtaposing commentary by the artist and her own analysis, Rewa discusses the interactions of light, sets, and costume, and demonstrates how a multifaceted visual text that includes human performance is created in the works of each artist. The volume includes a collection of sketches, photos of work in progress, and completed designs, many of which have not been previously published.

Natalie Rewa is Associate Professor in the Department of Drama at Queen's University

University of Toronto Press acknowledges the financial support for its publishing activities of the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program (BPIDP).

University of Toronto Press Inc © 2007
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