Author Archives: Katherine Belyea

Pneuma Ensemble’s ‘Problematic Men’

Show Poster

Welcome to the twelfth century, where everyone is noble, wise and good. Except these guys…

Poculi Ludique Societas & Pneuma Ensemble present:

Problematic Men

Babio, an elegiac comedy

Samson dux fortissime, a lai/sequence/planctus



In this performance Pneuma Ensemble takes the moral high ground and introduces two twelfth century “negative exemplars”—characters who showed audiences how not to behave. We will meet Babio, a vile old priest in hot pursuit of his stepdaughter and Samson, the original strong-but-dumb hero. Performed in the original Latin, with supertitles, mime, mask, and period-appropriate instruments.


  • Saturday, November 16 at 8pm
  • Sunday, November 17 at 2pm


Luella Massey Studio Theatre, 4 Glen Morris St, Toronto


More Information

About Pneuma Ensemble

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Announcement: PLS AGM

You—yes, you!—are invited to PLS’s Annual General Meeting. We will be discussing our 2018–2019 season and planning for the future.

When: Sunday, September 29, 2019 at 2pm
Where: Rm 103, Lillian Massey Building, 125 Queen’s Park
(across from the ROM)

See you there!

Dutch Courtesan
The Dutch Courtesan, March 2019

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Audition Notice: The Dutch Courtesan

We are seeking diverse actors for a production of

The Dutch Courtesan
by John Marston

Produced by Poculi Ludique Societas and Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Toronto

Non-Union, Paid Honorarium

Performance Dates:

March 22-24 (preview March 19)


Through January, February, March, mostly evenings and weekends

Audition dates/times (by appointment only):

  • Thursday, January 10 4:30 pm – 8:00 pm
  • Friday, January 11 2:00 pm – 7:00 pm
  • Saturday, January 12 11:00 am – 4:00 pm


The CDTPS Rehearsal Room (320), Koffler Centre, 214 College St. (Enter
from St George St and take the elevator or stairs to the 3rd floor)

To book an audition:

Please e-mail with subject line ‘Dutch Courtesan Audition’ to Please come prepared with a classical monologue.

About the play:

The Dutch Courtesan (c. 1604) is being presented in conjunction with an academic conference, so there will be some audience talk-backs and workshops as well as the performance.

The urban landscape of the play presents London as a city that simultaneously applauds itself for being a multicultural cosmopolitan metropolis and feels deeply anxious about the place of ‘strangers’ within its urban landscape. The main plot deals with the treatment of a foreign sex worker whose otherness is partly established through her accent; the sub-plot follows two members of a distrusted religious minority as they are tricked and abused.

Marston’s play is a reflection of the London his audience inhabited, a cynical, often vicious portrayal of a ‘here-and-now’. Our production aims to evoke that audience-actor dynamic, and so we are looking to approximate some original conditions, but with a largely modern aesthetic. The aim is to use performance choices, costumes, accents, and casting that link Marston’s London to our Toronto.

About PLS:

Our mission is to rediscover the theatrical traditions of the Middle Ages and Renaissance through textual research and dramatic experimentation, and to bring those traditions to life for contemporary audiences of all ages. See for more information.

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EXTENDED Call for Papers:
Marston’s The Dutch Courtesan


Strangers and Aliens in London and Toronto: Sex, Religion, and Xenophobia in Marston’s The Dutch Courtesan


22-24 March 2019

Length of abstract:

250 words


University of Toronto Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies

Final date for submitting abstracts:

31 January 2019

Please e-mail submissions to Helen Ostovich at

Date of announcing accepted papers:

15 February 2019, or earlier

Targeted scholars:

Senior doctoral students, recent doctoral graduates, and early career scholars


To fill two panels of speakers for the March conference which follows RSA in Toronto, and includes performances of The Dutch Courtesan. Accepted papers will be peer-reviewed, copyedited, and published online on the Toronto Dutch Courtesan website, along with the other papers at the conference and reviews coming out of the performances. Not all accepted papers will be read at the conference, but all accepted papers will be published. Performances of the play begin March 19 and end with a matinee on March 24.

Papers (15-20 minutes) are requested on Marston’s The Dutch Courtesan (1605), on very specific topics of your choice. We are especially interested in pedagogy, rehearsal, and the modern connection between Marston’s play and current events now; also, theatrical connections with French and Italian comedy (commédia), ideas of masculinity and femininity; the working woman; geographical, religious, economic, social, political, and gendered landscapes of the play; Marston’s sharing of current concerns with Middleton (e.g., A Mad World, My Masters), Barry (e.g., The Family of Love), Jonson, or other playwrights fascinated by city comedy and the London of 1600-1610.

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Dame Sirith Photos

Congratulations to the cast and crew of Dame Sirith, which opened today at the New Chaucer Society banquet! Public performances–with Pneuma Ensemble’s “The Nun’s Priest’s Tale”–are next weekend. Have a look at photos from the dress rehearsal below. (The performances will be at Majlis Garden, a different venue that is outdoors.)

Dame Sirith (July 2018)

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Poculi Ludique Societas and Pneuma Ensemble Present

Two Medieval Fabliaux

Dame Sirith  –  Poculi Ludique Societas

Fabliaux are short comic verse tales popular in France in the 12th and 13th centuries. Dame Sirith is the earliest known fabliau in English, and the only one not written by Chaucer. Dame Sirith tells the story of a love-lorn clerk, the married woman he yearns after, and the clever old woman who helps him get what he wants. PLS Artistic Director Linda Phillips directs this silly, bawdy tale using a “lightly modernized” version of the 13th century text.

The Nun’s Priest’s Tale  –  Pneuma Ensemble

The earliest surviving “Rooster and Fox” fable is a short but ornate poem by Alcuin of York, court Latinist for Charlemagne. Centuries later, Marie de France wrote her own version, in anglo-norman, possibly for the court of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Centuries after that, Chaucer took the simple plot and spun it into the “Nun’s Priest’s Tale”, the most flamboyantly rhetorical and allusive of all his Canterbury Tales, a “merry tale.” Pneuma Ensemble, known for their interpretations of medieval performance works, present their “director’s cut” of Chaucer’s tale, a dramatic interpretation of all three, in original languages, with period musical accompaniment.


  • Friday, July 20:  8 pm
  • Saturday July 21:  2 pm and 8 pm


Majlis Art Garden, 163 Walnut Avenue


$15 / $10 senior & student. Cash only at the gate.

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Upcoming: Dame Sirith

Please note: the performance date for Dame Sirith at the New Chaucer Society banquet has changed to July 14. It will take place at Metro Library Epic Hall.

Public performances will take place July 20-22 at Majlis Art Garden. Show times will be announced shortly.

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Audition Call: Dame Sirith


Poculi Ludique Societas (PLS) presents

Dame Sirith

A short medieval Interlude

Poculi Ludique Societas (PLS), Toronto’s renowned medieval and renaissance players, is a non-profit, non-Equity theatre company affiliated with the University of Toronto, dedicated to the production of early plays for research and entertainment.

Performance dates:

  • New Chaucer Society banquet: July 13 2018
  • Public performances: July 20-22

Rehearsals will begin in mid June, schedule TBD depending on actors’ availability.

Dame Sirith is a very short, very silly comic medieval play for four actors: a randy priest, the gullible woman he lusts after, the old “witch” Dame Sirith, and the narrator / puppeteer who also plays a dog. The text has been “lightly modernized” from the original Middle English. After the first production as in mid July 2018, PLS plans to keep this show in our repertory for future performances in classrooms or for events, so we are looking for local, non-union Toronto actors who can be available with reasonable notice. Honoraria will be paid for all performances.

We are looking for diverse actors who are comfortable with speaking verse. There may be cross-gender casting. Clown or puppetry experience would be helpful, but not necessary.

Auditions: by appointment Thursday May 31, Friday June 1, Saturday June 2.

Please submit your photo and resume as soon as possible to (with subject line: Auditions) to arrange an audition time. Come prepared with a short monologue.

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You’re invited to PLS’s AGM on May 4

The Annual General Meeting of Poculi Ludique Societas will be held on Friday, May 4, 1-3pm, in Room 103 of the Lillian Massey Building, 125 Queen’s Park at the corner of Bloor and Avenue Rd. Come and hear what we’ve been up to, and what we’re planning for next year! Refreshments will be provided, and an agenda is enclosed.

David Klausner, Chair
Board of Directors


Annual General Meeting
1:00-3:00pm, May 4, 2018
LMB 103, 125 Queen’s Park, Toronto

  1. Welcome and Approval of 2017 Minutes: David Klausner, Chair
  2. Artistic Director’s Report: Linda Phillips
  3. Office Manager Report: Katherine Belyea
  4. Financial Report
    • Financial Statements for May 1, 2017 to April 30, 2018
  5. 2017-2018 Season
    1. The Towneley Second Shepherds’ Play
    2. Performance at The New Chaucer Society 2018 Congress
  6. Update on Upcoming 2018-2019 Season
    1. Christmas show
    2. Marston’s The Dutch Courtesan co-production with Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies
  7. Audience Development
  8. Plans for 2019 and Beyond
    • Kalamazoo 2019?
  9. Other Business
  10. Adjournment

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Dress rehearsal photos

Second Shepherds’ Play opens tonight! Here is a slide show of photos from the dress rehearsal. Hover the mouse over the picture and click on the arrows for the next or previous photo, and click on the photo to view it in a larger size.

Towneley Second Shepherds' Play (2017)

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