ancillary_urbantalesAside from Centaur Theatre’s mainstream season, Montreal’s flagship English-language theatre also presents works for theatre lovers with more eclectic tastes through various ancillary events. Two cases in point are Urban Tales and the Wildside Festival, a mega-B12/caffeine combo to get you through the holidays and another Montreal winter.

Ah-h-h the holidays: over-spending, over-crowded malls, over-eating, embarrassing office party antics, dashed expectations under the tree, the mistletoe or both, marathon couch surfing, broken resolutions, and then it’s all over begging the question, “What was THAT all about?”. Every December Centaur feeds your inner Grinch with funny, bizarre or downright strange stories, written and told by some of Montreal’s best writers and actors. This year, ghosts, goblins, and things that go bump in the night (is that you Santa?) take the edge off the sugarplum faeries, red-nosed reindeer and profusion of schmaltzy, 5-kleenex flicks.

In January, banish the post-party pounding of Thor’s hammer in your head with Centaur’s Wildside Festival, aptly dubbed “the hottest two weeks in winter”. The diverse line-up features Nisha Coleman’s Self Exile, Centaur’s 2015 Best of the Fringe Fest selection; Empire of the Son, the auto-ethnographic hit by Tetsuro Shigematsu, former host of CBC Radio’s “The Roundup”; Outta Here, an original musical performed by Summit School students with developmental disabilities; Perfect Picture, based on the life of the Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, Kevin Carter; and The Village, Tina Milo’s one-woman show that has toured the world. The fun continues in the Ted T. Katz Family Trust Gallery with Offside, an eclectic mash-up of live entertainment on weekends, this year featuring a musical tribute to Madonna the Friday January 6 and an homage to Montreal’s favourite son, Leonard Cohen on Friday January 13.

Urban Tales: December 8 to 17, 2016. Wildside Festival: January 5 to 15, 2017. Call 514-288-3161 or visit www.centaurtheatre.com