directed by Julie Le Gal
Peter James Haworth
in a solo show
adapted from the book by Leo Tolstoy
At the height of his fame and success,
Tolstoy realized he had no idea why he was alive.
Julie Le Gal, director
acted as a child in Toronto and studied at l'Université d'Ottawa. She then learned the Michael Chekhov technique and Rudolf Steiner's speech formation in New York City, and performed and created with the Actors' Ensemble.
In Berlin, there were more creations that toured Germany. One show had its opening night in a prison with inmates from high security present. She directed a poetry show put to movement and percussion, and a story by Goethe was given a creation in a medieval castle with musicians and four actors.
In Australia, she furthered her speech studies and taught, and upon returning to Canada, performed in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, and learned about photography and making films. She has appeared on television, in films and series. She made her first documentary film Die Faehre, in Berlin, Germany, about a dying young woman wishing to go on a last journey.
More recently, she co-created a piece about people falling down, Bifurcate Me, with Theatre 4.669, and created Darkness, in the context of the Progress Festival in Toronto, the next phase of which she directed for the Fresh Meat Festival, Ottawa.
Photo by Tim Leyes
One hundred twenty-five years ago, one of the world's best loved and most famous writers put his whole career on the line.
He repudiated his former writing, attacked the Russian Church, set himself up for excommunication, and launched a new era in his life.
Tolstoy wrote A Confession at the height of his powers. He describes his gradual sinking into despair as he realized at the age of 47 that he had no understanding of why he lived - why we all live.
His mind was so incisive, so able to seize the main problem, that we cannot help laughing as we follow his courageous voyage to an understanding of life, death, and what faith is.
'Intense as it is interesting,
pertinent to our times
as it is personal. '
'Powerful, poignant and
'Tolstoy's portrayal of a man
seeking his own soul and spirit
is as relevant today as ever. '
'What a powerful and moving
This piece shows what a modern striving individuality Tolstoy was.'
'I couldn't move.'
'In a time when it would appear that we are in an ever increasingly thoughtless world, it is encouraging to know that we have artists who have the commitment, depth and courage to focus our attention to vital questions.'
'We absolutely loved the play yesterday. Congratulations to both of you for an amazing show.'
'You were brilliant! Your portrayal was powerful and captivating. And of course raised fundamental questions about personal integrity, morality and the meaning of our lives.
The mise-en-scène was superb—both beautiful and evocative.' ,
'I was riveted throughout.'
Count Tolstoy was one of the most famous men of all time. He began writing as a young man in the 1850s, and it was clear from the beginning that he was an extraordinary writer. By his forties he had reached the pinnacle of novel writing with his masterpieces War and Peace and Anna Karenina.
By this time in his life Leo Tolstoy was a rich Russian Count with enormous estates, a happy family man with many children. He was adored by his nation and throughout the world. And then, a creeping feeling rose in him that he had no idea why we are alive in this world. Someone else might get drunk, or plunge into a project to shake off this feeling, but Tolstoy was a different kind of person, and he dove straight into these questions of life.
Within five years, the world's greatest writer rejected his own writing as worthless, and became a nexus of discovery about what mankind is, and where it is going, and an inspiration for the discovery of the meaning of one's own life. That put him in direct conflict with the Church. In his heart he wanted to walk away from his wealth and fame, but could not do it because of his family.
His mission more and more focused on Conscientious Objection to war and Passive Non-Resistance. Now he had to smuggle his writing out of Russia where he was banned. Critics and fellow writers attacked him, but his standing in the world continued to grow. Journalists camped out on his estate to hear his thoughts on the events of the day. His message to the world was: Universal Love.
Leo Tolstoy died in 1910. And a great man of our day left us. It’s worth repeating, A Great Man of Our Day, because even 100 years later we still haven’t caught up to him.
The Word is Love. John Lennon and Paul McCartney, 1965
Photo by Julie Le Gal
Peter James Haworth, actor
has performed for over thirty years throughout Canada. His work has taken him across the country, from Halifax to Victoria, including theatres such as Soulpepper, the Tarragon Theatre, Canadian Stage, the Manitoba Theatre Centre, the National Arts Centre, the Citadel Theatre, and the Neptune Theatre.
Favourite roles include Dominique Villepin in Stuff Happens, and Ian Brown in The Boy in the Moon, Christopher in Martin Crimp's The City. He starred as Mark Antony in Antony and Cleopatra in Vancouver for the Bard on the Beach. In the summer of 2000, he played the title role in Stolen Lies: The Albert Walker Story for the Blyth Theatre Festival.
Peter directed "Art" for Same Day Theatre in Ottawa, as well as Frankie and Johnny and the Au Clair du Lune.
He was the founder and co-Artistic Director of ShakespeareWorks from 2002 to 2007, and Artistic Producer of Actors Repertory Company from 2009 to 2010.
His numerous television and movie appearances include: February, Hollywoodland, State Within, Murder at 1600, La Sacrée, Kung Fu, The Wishing Tree, Total Recall, and The Breeder. He was the narrator of the TV series Restoration Garage.
He has written an ebook on acting called Reflection on the Looking Glass.
BOOKING THE PIECE FOR YOUR THEATRE
If you are interested in booking this piece, get in touch with us:
WHY THE PLAY
We love doing this play: it’s as simple as that. When great people grasp the biggest issues of life, it’s an inspiring thing. Mind you, we all like being distracted by entertainment, amusing conversations, or chilling out with music. But when we look at the big issues of life, that feels like we are really learning who we are, and being the best we can be.
Tolstoy's Confession is the story of a deep dive into the very essence of being alive by one of the world’s greatest writers. Reading his story for the first time, we were amazed that Tolstoy takes on the biggest questions of all and never lets himself off the hook.
Maybe some of us realizing what he realizes, would have a couple of drinks, call a friend for consolation, quickly look to be distracted – or just forget about it. Tolstoy takes it on. One of the great minds goes for the absolute truth:
Why am I alive? Why do I do things – anything at all? What is my relationship to the universe? Is there a God?
Because it’s Tolstoy telling the story of his life, we never feel threatened – if anything we are in awe of his mental prowess and his ability to make it simple. We understand his journey easily, and he mirrors our own struggles, which makes us laugh with recognition. At the end the audience is challenged and inspired to the core of their being. Many times they tell us they just want to see it again, right away.
That’s why we love it.