MontréalDetailed Forecast Subscribe Subscriber Services ePaper canada. Bongile Mantsai and Hilda Cronje, on table, and Thoko Ntshinga and Tandiwe Nofirst Lungisa, standing, perform in Mies Julie, directed by Yaël Farber, at Place des Arts. Photograph by: Murdo MacleodMONTREAL — Theatre director Yaël Farber has returned from India just in time for the première of her hit production of Mies Julie at the Cinquième Salle of Place des Arts. Based on Miss Julie, by Swedish playwright August Strindberg, Mies Julie is set in South Africa and uses the Afrikaans translation of Strindberg’s title. It was launched in South Africa, then played the 2012 Edinburgh Festival, where it won the Best of Edinburgh award. Mies Julie has been travelling around the world gathering accolades ever since. The Canadian leg of the tour began last month in Vancouver and will continue in Toronto, after Montreal. In India, Farber was overseeing the tour of her latest play Nirbhaya, which deals directly with the notorious Delhi gang rape and murder of 2012. Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, Farber and company were able to take that play to several cities in India, including Delhi. This was a bold move, to say the least. But there’s nothing timid about Farber’s style. Why Miss Julie? “I come from an extraordinary country, and I’m always looking for ways to articulate that,” Farber replied in a recent interview. She was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. When her friend and mentor Lara Foot, director and CEO of the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town, asked Farber what play she would like to do next, Farber chose Miss Julie. This Strindberg play focuses on an ill-fated amorous encounter between a male servant named Jean and Julie, the daughter of the wealthy family that employs him. “Miss Julie just struck me as having a genius narrative spine, in which a man and a woman from completely different sectors of society are kept apart,” she said. “The whole narrative relies on their tension. And in that one evening, all those barriers fall away and they become human beings battling for their love, for their lives, for their integrity. Sex is a catalyst for a brutal honesty to take place in a room and to expose the subtext of society between these two individuals. No matter where this story of gender and class is told, it’s about reflecting the larger world, she said. But in South Africa, the apartheid parallels are impossible to miss. “It’s exactly like the Greek tragedies,” she continued. “I’m interested in national tragedies being played out in the domestic — a nation being articulated inside a kitchen. Miss Julie is less about a transgression between a black man and a white woman, and all that implicates, than it is about the land — who owns it and what has been stolen. Farber said her adaptation contains the narrative essentials. However, “In terms of text, it’s a complete rewrite.” The third character, Christine, has become Jean’s mother, rather than his fiancée. Also, a fourth character, “representing the embodiment of the ancestors,” has been added. When this Mies Julie played New York in November 2012, Ben Brantley of The New York Times wrote that the term “scorcher” was too mild a term to describe it: “In translating Strindberg’s 1888 tale of love, class and madness into contemporary South Africa, Ms. Farber has created a parched and blistered world in which every living soul is highly combustible tinder, and the rules for living keep melting. Farber, who is in her early 40s, has lived in Montreal since 2005. She spent three years (2009-2012) heading the English-language directing program at the National Theatre School. Her productions at the school were fascinating. And her last South African-produced work, Molora, based on the Oresteia by Aeschylus — which played the Cinquième Salle in 2009 — was a revelation.Farber credits Place des Arts programmer Michel Gagnon, who recently resigned to take up a position in Lugano, Italy, with giving her work a chance to shine in Montreal.Her 6-year-old daughter and her ex-partner (who works for Cirque du Soleil) keep Farber anchored in Montreal, for now. But her agent is in New York and her next project is directing Arthur Miller’s The Crucible at the Old Vic in London, England.“To be honest, I’m very happy for this to be my home and for my work to be elsewhere,” she said. “Life is never simple.”Mies Julie opens Thursday at the Cinquième Salle of Place des Arts, continues until May 3. Tickets, $34. Call 514-842-2112 or visit www.placedesarts.compdonnell@montrealgazette. PreviousNext Bongile Mantsai and Hilda Cronje, on table, and Thoko Ntshinga and Tandiwe Nofirst Lungisa, standing, perform in Mies Julie, directed by Yaël Farber, at Place des Arts.Photograph by: Murdo Macleod E-mail this GalleryPrint this GalleryShare this Gallery Photo Galleries » More Photo Galleries »Photos of the dayThe day’s top photos, as chosen by our editors...more » Photos: Canadiens fans at the ...Fans swarm the Bell Centre in their bleu-blanc-rouge...more » Habs-Lightning, Game 2Photos from Game 2 of the playoff series between the... We encourage all readers to share their views on our articles and blog posts. We are committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion, so we ask you to avoid personal attacks, and please keep your comments relevant and respectful. If you encounter a comment that is abusive, click the "X" in the upper right corner of the comment box to report spam or abuse. We are using Facebook commenting. Visit our FAQ page for more information. As the curtain goes up on 2014, we look ahead to some of the mostly hotly anticipated theatrical productions of the new year. Here are five recommendations... Flyercity. canada.com LogoAbout canada.comPrivacy StatementTermsCopyright & Permissions© 2010 - 2014 Postmedia Network Inc. All rights reserved. Unauthorized distribution, transmission or republication strictly prohibited. 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