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Alumni break a leg with new play

David Oppenheim and Joseph Shragge co-produce <em>The Heretics of Bohemia</em>, a new play with varied cast of puppets, people and other eccentrics
May 3, 2012
By Louise Morgan

It’s stage time for alumni David Oppenheim and Joseph Shragge. They are  co-producing The Heretics of Bohemia — a delightfully dark yet colourfully eccentric — new play at Montreal’s Segal Centre for Performing Arts.

The absurdist comedy written by Shragge is about a paranoid king — who tries to be a ruthless tyrant but fails miserably — and his dysfunctional relationship with his mother.

“The show involves a varied cast, which includes talking puppets and a bird monologue. It’s pretty different from anything people have seen before,” says Oppenheim. “The 20-odd puppets are all handmade and range from two- to eight-feet tall. Some have moving mouths, joints with strings or moving limbs and there are even shadow puppets.”

The Heretics of Bohemia runs from May 2 to 19 at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts.
The Heretics of Bohemia runs from May 2 to 19 at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts. | Photo courtesy of Scapegoat Carnivale Theatre

Oppenheim is also the show’s musical director and composed the score. He plays the guitar, ukulele and glockenspiel live on stage and is accompanied by John Dodge, a graduate of Concordia’s music program, who plays bass, trombone, guitar and glockenspiel.

Another connection to the university is Morgan Nerenberg, one of the puppeteers, who is a student in Concordia’s Specialization in Theatre and Development.

“I love playing live music for theatre. Combining music and theatre adds a whole other dimension,” says Oppenheim. He has been performing, composing and directing music for theatre since 2003 and plays ukulele in the gypsy-punk band Roma Carnivale.

“Working in theatre is exciting — I see a play through every step. It’s an amazing privilege to perform in the context of theatre. Something magical happens when musicians and actors play off each other,” he says.

As one of five co-producers, Oppenheim is involved in everything from grant writing, marketing and public relations to selecting shows and securing funding. He loves his work. “It’s a lot of fun and I get to be creative every day,” he says.

Oppenheim and Shragge have been friends since childhood. In 2003, they worked on their first show together, The Scavenger’s Daughter, the play Shragge penned as his master’s thesis.

Shragge graduated with a BA in English and creative writing in 1998 and an MA in English in 2003.Oppenheim earned his BA in philosophy in 2001 and his MA in history and philosophy of religion 2009. Of his Concordia education, he feels the research and writing skills he polished during his studies help him most in his work today.

What’s next for the pair and for Scapegoat Carnivale Theatre? Another adaptation: Euripides’ The Bacchae this fall at the Centaur, says Oppenheim.

Related links:
•    Scapegoat Carnivale Theatre
•    Segal Centre
•    Concordia Department of Religion
•    Concordia Department of Philosophy
•    Concordia Department of Theatre
•    Concordia Department of Music
•    Roma Carnivale



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