Order for Guest
Your shopping cart is empty.
Order for Guest

oscar®-nominated filmmaker
atom egoyan directs an all star cast

Cruel and Tender

after Sophocles' Trachiniae
  Production Sponsor:

TD logo
Atom Egoyan and Arsinee Khanjian talk about Cruel and Tender
Cast talk about Cruel and Tender
Canadian Stage's Matthew Jocelyn talks about Cruel and Tender, directed by Atom Egoyan
Jan 21 - Feb 18, 2012
Bluma Appel Theatre
Martin Crimp
Atom Egoyan
Cruel and Tender season image
Creative Team
About the Play
Interview with Atom Egoyan

starring award-winning actress of stage and screen, arsinée khanjian

a canadian stage production

Amelia eagerly waits for her husband to return from battle, but when he does, she discovers his motives for war are disturbingly personal. Internationally acclaimed director Atom Egoyan and celebrated actress Arsinée Khanjian collaborate for the first time onstage in this provocative and playful drama from Britain's foremost contemporary playwright.

run time

Approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes with no intermission.

audience advisory

Ages 16+, strong language, mature content, and strobe lighting effects.


Arsinée Khanjian (Amelia)
Daniel Kash (The General)
Nigel Shawn Williams (Jonathan)
Thomas Hauff (Richard)
Jeff Lillico (James)
Abena Malika (Laela)
Cara Ricketts (Physiotherapist - Cathy)
Brenda Robins (Housekeeper - Rachel)
André Sills (Iolaos)
Sarah Wilson (Beautician - Nicola)

creative team

Set, Costume and Properties Designer - Debra Hanson
Assistant Set & Costume Designer - Michael Gianfrancesco
Lighting Designer - Michael Walton
Sound Designer - John Gzowksi
Projections Coordinator - Cameron Davis
Stage Manager - Michael Sinclair
Assistant Stage Manager - Kristen Kitcher
Fight Director - Simon Fon

about the play

Long ago in ancient Greece, Sophocles wrote a searing indictment of war called The Women of Trachis (or The Trachiniae). It told the story of Heracles, Greece's national hero, and what happened when he sent a captured princess home to his pining wife, while he was away plundering neighbouring Euboas.

Contemporary British playwright Martin Crimp has updated this story, transforming Heracles into a modern General fighting today's war on terror in bloodstained Africa.

His spoiled wife (played here by the radiant and brilliant Arsinée Khanjian) waits at home, unaware her world is about to be shattered with the arrival of Laela, an African princess for whom her husband has committed unspeakable atrocities.

Shockingly contemporary, Cruel and Tender is as much about the private wars waged in the domestic sphere as it is about modern politics. Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Atom Egoyan, this explosive story is sure to be the talk of Toronto.

Oh, and remember we said Arsinée Khanjian will star as Amelia? This show marks the first time she and husband Egoyan will collaborate on a live theatre project. We think it's going to be pretty exciting!

interview with atom egoyan

Canadian director Atom Egoyan is one of the most celebrated filmmakers on the global scene, having won awards at the Cannes, Berlin and Toronto International Film Festivals and Oscar nominations for his film The Sweet Hereafter. Atom returns to the stage in the Canadian Stage 11.12 season, directing our production of Cruel and Tender by Martin Crimp. Based on Sophocles' The Trachiniae, the darkly funny play tells the story of a family separated and ultimately destroyed by war.

Why direct for the stage?

This is a great opportunity for me to take some time and work on a unique and amazing piece of text. Directing live theatre is significant and important to me because I began my career in live theatre. I was one of the first members of the Playwrights Unit at Tarragon Theatre and in fact spent my early 20s in the theatre before I made a diversion to film.

I love the idea of the rehearsal time, because it's something that you really have to fight for in film. I'm greatly looking forward to the weeks of rehearsal and discussion with the cast and company because I really think this play warrants and needs it. Time in advance of performance is the great luxury of theatre.

Why is Canadian Stage a good fit for you and your development as an artist?

I really applaud the direction in which Matthew is taking the company, and I've been excited by the productions I've seen. Matthew approached me about directing, and we traded some scripts back and forth – it was a slow seduction! When he presented me with Cruel and Tender, I was really quite blown away. I was very excited by the possibilities in the text and felt that Canadian Stage would be the perfect place to mount the play on the scale it deserves.

What drew you to Cruel and Tender?

It's rare that you see a modern playwright so successfully use the motifs and structures – even the linguistic form – of Greek tragedy. The idea of the warrior returning with the spoils of war, and the responsibility of the son to the father are classic Greek themes. Cruel and Tender is an attempt to import these dramaturgical tropes into a piece that is resonantly modern, and I think it's really powerful.

Connect with us

Like us on Facebook Canadian Stage YouTube Channel Canadian Stage twitter

Shakespeare in High Park

The Toronto summer tradition begins June 26

Click for tickets and info


an open space / open mind event for the culturally curious

Click for tickets and info