Search: MY NIGHT WITH REG

Live, in person under the canopy in the back lawn of the Bruce Hotel, Stratford, Ont. as part of the Here for Now Theatre, New Works Festival.

So, how’s it been?

Created by writer-director Liza Balkan and composer/musical director, Paul Shilton

Additional songs by Katherine Wheatley and Bruce Horak

Cast: Barb Fulton,

Evanglia Kambites

Marcus Nance

Trevor Patt

Liza Balkan, writer-director-Stratford resident began a project in the summer of 2020, interviewing people who live and work in Stratford to see how they were doing in the pandemic. She interviewed business owners, employees, artists, nurses, retirees, kids, farmers, actors, and parents. Then she and composer-musical director Paul Shilton put those words from the conversations into songs. Liza Balkan also directed this bringing out the nuance and subtleties of each song.

So, how’s it been? is the result, a song cycle of how people coped during the pandemic; the highs, lows, in-betweens; the stuff that was funny, sad, odd, curious, interesting and eye-opening. While we hear the words from the actual interviews and then the songs they formed, it was the performers who made the immediate connection with their recollections.

Barb Fulton looked on this as a little break—at the beginning of the pandemic. She described having a tightness in her chest, wondering if she even wanted to perform anymore. As the pandemic lasted longer and longer that idea changed. Could she even do it anymore. She is such an engaging singer/performer, one hopes she wants to continue performing. Certainly the show afforded her an opportunity to find out for sure.

Trevor Patt had plans to buy a house and a dog and……But then the pandemic happened. Jobs were lost, money was tight. Puppies need to eat. He sang and played his guitar with a quiet self-deprecation and quiet humour.  

Marcus Nance and Evangelia Kambites are two terrific singer/actors. They imbue their songs with heart, nuance and humour. They also bring a different perspective most of us do not experience: they are two Black actors in a white town and in their recollections they talk about subtle and not so subtle racism. Marcus Nance owns a house in Stratford and loves to garden, and when the flies are particularly bad he wears a ‘hoodie’ to protect himself while he works in his garden. He talked of people who have seen him on stage and praised him and see him in his garden and assume he is working a second job and not tending his garden of his house.

Evangelia Kambites talks of walking her dog at night when a man in a pickup truck drove by and rolled down his window and called out, “That’s a cute dog.” ‘Ordinarily’ this would seem like someone being a jerk and we would slough it off. But Kambites is a Black woman walking her dog at night in a white town and the call out the window is not innocuous; it’s dangerous and puts her on alert. These are two stories that put the majority of us in their world just for a sobering short period of time. Something of which to be mindful.

The group sings of the geese, the damned geese. They used a stronger word, more appropriate, but I won’t use it here. And what these geese leave all over the place to slip and slide in and mess up the area. They all sing of frustrations, fears, claustrophobia, not being able to visit a loved one in a long-care facility.

They expressed the joys they found in the time they had. Marcus Nance loved the time at home in Stratford with his husband. He talked of the joy of that personal time, eating a delicious breakfast of croissants, scrambled eggs, bacon and the very best coffee, and described it with such intoxicating reverie, I almost forgot myself, wanting to put up my hand and ask for his address, to invite myself next time.

Barb Fulton sang a wonderfully poignant song of a woman whose husband has dementia and she was desperate to keep him at home and not have to put him in a ‘home’ because then she wouldn’t see him often.

So, how’s it been? is a beautifully crafted show of dealing with the pandemic in all its good and bad ways. And it’s created by artists who will not be stopped in creating. Lovely work.

Here For Now Theatre, New Works Festival presents:

Plays until: September 5, 2021.

Running Time: 1 hour, no intermission.

www.herefornowtheatre.com

The Wonder of it All

Written by Mark Weatherley

Directed by Seana McKenna

Cast: Monique Lund

Mark Weatherley

Charmaine and Kingsley met at a party. She was classy, sophisticated and confident. He wore a silly hat and played the ukulele. He was nerdy, old-fashioned and ‘slightly out of tune.’ She wasn’t interested until one time she was in distress and sat on a stoop in the rain and he sat right with her, stroking her hair, silently telling her with that gesture, it would be ok.

They got married of course. That kind of consideration is not to be ignored. Twenty-five years later there is trouble in the marriage. They snipe, argue, get exasperated and frustrated. I’m reminded of a card I got once with a quote from Lillian Hellman: “People change and forget to tell each other.” And of course how do you even begin to talk about it. Temptation is introduced. How will this resolve itself?

Mark Weatherley has written a funny, sweet play about communication, the rocky road to love and marriage, commitment and the importance of sitting beside someone you love, in the rain, getting soaked but stroking her hair to tell her it will be ok.

Weatherley also plays Kingsley in it with Monique Lund who plays Charmaine. Lund also happens to be Mark Weatherley’s wife. The two have a chemistry that is obvious. Their banter seems to have been honed to a sheen over years of bantering. They flip lines off each other as two people who are familiar with each other can and know the other’s timing.

As Charmaine, Lund is sophisticated, a bit exasperated by Kingsley, and frustrated by the stall in their marriage. As Kingsley, Weatherley brings a sweet goofiness to the part, as Kingsley was all those years ago. That goofiness is Kingsley’s protection. He knows there is trouble in the marriage. He so wants it to work but is at a loss about getting that feeling back. Love always finds a way.

Director Seana McKenna works with the chemistry of her two actors and uses her acting smarts to realize the nuance and shading of this relationship. She has created a delicate production in which we cheer for and urge these two characters to work hard to talk to each other and go back to what it was that attracted them in the first place.

Weatherley has such an irreverent way with a line. He talks about regret at a missed opportunity,  and quotes that famous line from Casablanca  (which I will not quote here—see the show and you’ll know), and we know it will be ok. They will always have the ukulele.

Here for Now Theatre New Works Festival:

Plays until: September 5, 2021.

Running Time: 1 hour, no intermission.

www.herefornowtheatre.com

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A concert of songs, live and in person on the front yard of a private residence.

Created and performed by Sara Farb and Britta Johnson

The always resourceful Musical Stage Company has come up with a wonderful idea to keep musical theatre alive, employ talented theatre makers and engage, friends, family and neighbours in the event called Porchside Songs.

The idea is simple. A host or hosts books a concert usually involving two musicians/singers, perhaps more, who will create a 45-minute concert to be performed on a front porch, lawn, or front yard of a private home, in which the host/hosts invite the neighbours to come, bring their own chair and enjoy.

I’d heard about these wonderful concerts and wanted to hear one but didn’t know how to go about it. Then the lovely folks at The Musical Stage Company enquired of a host if I could come and hear the concert he arranged, and the gracious host said yes. I will keep his name a secret in case he’s inundated by the music lovers in the area to make this a regular Saturday night occurrence.

On Saturday, Aug. 7 I went to the front yard of a house on a leafy street off Bathurst near St. Clair to hear Sara Farb and Britta Johnson do a concert they call “Sad Lady Songs.” Individually these ladies are powerhouses. Sara Farb has acted across the country, on Broadway in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, at the Stratford Festival and in Fun Home for Mirvish Productions, to name a few. Britta Johnson is a force in musical theatre in this city. She wrote the musical Life After for Canadian Stage which played internationally; with her sister Anika she wrote Dr. Silver, A Celebration of Life, with Liza Balkan she wrote The Children Stay. With Sara Farb she wrote Kelly v. Kelly and He is Coming. Together they are a force to be reckoned with.

The dynamic duo chose eight songs to showcase their considerable talents. The songs were a celebration of complicated women. Six of the songs were from shows that either Sara Farb and Britta Johnson wrote together or Britta wrote with others. They also sang “A Case of You” by Joni Mitchell and “Dancing on My Own” by Robyn who the duo said was a terrific Swedish singer. (Who knew?)

Sara Farb has a glistening voice that plumbs the depths and heights of the emotions in the songs. Britta Johnson is an attentive accompanist as well as an expressive singer in her own right. Some people’s skin sweats. Britta’s skin seems to emit music. Music is in her fingers. Both women bring a wonderful sense of the perfect lyric to express an emotion. Their sense of language is terrific. Their banter is teasing and good natured with Sara Farb asking if the amplification on Britta’s keyboard could be brought down a bit. T’was ever thus—finding the proper balance of sound between the singers and the accompaniment.

The hosts plastered the neighbourhood with posters announcing the concert and to come and enjoy it. People flocked. Kids came with their parents. People stood in the street if they didn’t have a chair. Everybody had a great time. Glad I heard/saw this gifted duo.

Produced by the Musical Stage Company.

For details on Porchside Songs, contact: www.musicalstagecompany.com

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Tuesday, July 6, 2021.

The wonderful HERE FOR NOW Theatre begins in Stratford, Ontario, on the back lawn of the Bruce Hotel under their spiffy marquis. Live, in-person with other theatre lovers present!

The plays are:

Here For Now Theatre

About

About

A Note from the Artistic Director

Past Productions | 2020

Board of Directors

Productions

The Tracks

goldfish

Moments with You (Reading Series)

Janet and Louise

Post Alice

Pegeen and the Pilgrim (Reading Series)

So, how’s it been?

The Wonder of it All

In Search of Catharsis (Reading Series)

Kroehler Girls

Venue

The 2021 New Works Festival

Here For Now Theatre Company is thrilled to announce our 2021 New Works Festival comprised entirely of world premiere productions. Local artists are coming together to create a season that will include ten shows with small, socially distanced audiences, under an open-air canopy at the Bruce Hotel.

Learn More

BUY TICKETS

The Tracks

“It’s hard to move forward when you keep lookin’ back.” In the premiere of this witty musical featuring the original songs of singer / songwriter Kale Penny, worlds collide when a street corner busker encounters a classical violinist who finds herself at a crossroads.

Book by Mark Weatherley with music and lyrics by Kale Penny. Directed by Monique Lund, starring Kale Penny and Lauren Bowler.

Learn More

goldfish

Walter Norman is a retiree living a quiet life in a small town. Not much happens in his day; he’s content to sit in his chair on the front porch and watch the world go by. Enter Shannon. A busy mother of two who moves in across the street and opens a daycare. An unlikely friendship develops between these two and soon their visits become a daily ritual. Join Walter and Shannon as they sit and talk about everything from life to love to death to egg rolls. If only he could remember her name. Or what happened the day before. A year in the life of two lonely people who didn’t know how much they needed each other. Until they did.

Written and directed by Steve Ross, starring Laura Condlln and John Dolan.

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Moments with You

(Reading Series)

Moments with You is a modern Psalm; a dialogue offered in two voices chronicling the death of love, the ensuing struggle for understanding, and the peace found in grace and redemption. A poetic journey across the landscape of the heart written and performed by Roy Lewis with cellist Ben Bolt-Martin.

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Janet and Louise

Janet is determined to get over her mysterious ailments and keep her custodial job, so she’s agreed to take doctor-prescribed art lessons. Louise’s art studio is floundering; there is endless roadwork outside and her prickly personality chases people away. Janet arrives but thinks she might quit. Louise can’t afford to lose another student. Then Janet finds a man’s tooth inside a jar. . . At turns funny and heartbreaking, this new play asks what happens when two strangers confront what they’ve tried so hard to keep hidden.

Written by Deanna Kruger and directed by Jeannette Lambermont-Morey. Starring Brigit Wilson and Peggy Coffey.

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Post Alice

Inspired by four haunting characters from four iconic Alice Munro stories, Post Alice is a stunning new contemporary play which asks the question: what really happened to Mistie Murray? And what happens to all our missing girls? Come sit around the fire with four bright and hilarious Huron County women as ghost stories emerge, songs fill the air, family secrets are revealed, and mysteries unravel into those wonderful contradictions which live inside us all.

Written by Taylor Marie Graham and directed by Fiona Mongillo.

Learn More

Pegeen and the Pilgrim

(Reading Series)

Sponsored by Loreena McKennitt

Tickets to this free event will become available July 30th and must be booked online.

Twelve-year-old Pegeen O’Hara lives in the quiet town of Stratford, Ontario. She helps her mother run a boarding house after the death of her father and they are putting her brother Kerry through university. There just never seems to be enough time or money, and Pegeen’s dreams of becoming an actress seem hopeless. Then an extraordinary thing happens – a Shakespearean festival is planned for Stratford. As the festival develops, so does Pegeen. She learns a great deal about Shakespeare, the boarders at home, and she develops a new circle of friends, including a mysterious pilgrim. Adapted for stage by Brigit Wilson from the beloved novel by Lyn Cook.

Written and directed by Brigit Wilson with assistant director Stacy Smith.

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So, how’s it been?

Songs and Stories from our town

In the summer of 2020, theatre artist and Stratford resident Liza Balkan first began interviewing people who live and work in this town, asking after how they were doing through the fulsome and challenging  initial months of the pandemic. She met withbusiness owners, employees, artists, nurses, retirees, actors, parents, kids, farmers… The months became a year and the interviews continued. So many stories.

So, how’s it been? is a song cycle co-created by writer / director Balkan and composer / musical director Paul Shilton, inspired by – and using – the words from these recorded conversations. The songs and poetry are moving, surprising, funny, harsh, wild, curious, and empowering. And true. With music composed by Paul Shilton plus an additional song or two by Katherine Wheatley, Bruce Horak, and others, join extraordinary performers Marcus Nance, Barb Fulton, Trevor Patt, and Evangelia Kambites as they share a reflection of this highly particular time in this highly particular town. It’s a concert. It’s a conversation. How’s it been for you?

Learn More

The Wonder of it All

If marriage is the right to annoy one special person for the rest of your life, then Charmaine and Kingsley have the perfect marriage. That is until a surprise from their past meddles with the certainty of their future. But after 25 years is it too late for them to discover the redemptive power of love?

Written by Mark Weatherly and directed by Seana McKenna. Starring Monique Lund and Mark Weatherley.

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In Search of Catharsis

(Reading Series)

Wouldn’t it be nice if life came with a manual? This ‘making sense of living’ thing is hard, no matter who you are. Join our protagonist as she candidly wrestles with the grand improvisation of being human. It has something to do with a ferret. And space. And being in love.  

Written and performed by Jessica B. Hill and directed by Rodrigo Beilfuss.

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Kroehler Girls

It’s the bottom of the inning, a full count with two down. The Kroehler Girls socked two hits and their heavy hitter is a star with the willow, is it enough to bring the title home? 

Furniture and Softball. It’s the early 1950’s and Stratford’s all girls softball team is known for building furniture by day and dominating the ball diamond by night. Can the Kroehler Girls live up to their reputation after a devastating loss the previous season? Times are changing at a breakneck speed in these post-war days and this team, along with their hometown, have to prove they have what it takes. 

A new comedy that celebrates all that is Stratford in the early 50’s: the remarkable furniture company and their legendary softball team.

“We’ll sing you the song of our ball team, it’s the finest team in all the land.
We’ll tell you about all the players and we’ll tell you the truth if we can.” 

Co-created and performed by Kelly McIntosh, Stacy Smith and Andy Pogson with co-creator and director Severn Thompson, assisted by associate director Keira Loughran.

Learn More

Wednesday, July 7, 2021 2:30 pm (Toronto time)

From the Old Vic

Streaming:

THE DUMB WAITER by Harold Pinter

OLD VIC: IN CAMERA – THE DUMB WAITER

BY HAROLD PINTER

DIRECTED BY JEREMY HERRIN

The Dumb Waiter in camera - lead artwork

TICKETS: PWC £10 TICKETS, £20, £30, £40

Running time: approx. 50 minutes

All performance times are British Summer Time (BST). These performances are live streamed using Zoom.

Read our OLD VIC: IN CAMERA FAQs

Suitable for ages 12+

All live streamed performances will be captioned and audio described.

GET TICKETS

WATCH ONLINE

The Dumb Waiter will be live streamed as part of our OLD VIC: IN CAMERA series – you will be watching from home if you book a ticket for this production.

ABOUT THE SHOW

‘We send him up all we’ve got and he’s not satisfied. No, honest, it’s enough to make the cat laugh.’

Ben and Gus are seasoned hitmen awaiting details of their next target in the basement of a supposedly abandoned cafe. When the dumbwaiter begins sending them mysterious food orders, the killers’ waiting game starts to unravel.

Daniel Mays and David Thewlis star in Harold Pinter’s darkly funny, insidiously menacing The Dumb Waiter for the sixth production in our globally live streamed series, OLD VIC: IN CAMERA.

OLD VIC: IN CAMERA performances are streamed live from the iconic Old Vic stage with the empty auditorium as a backdrop.

THANK YOU TO OUR SUPPORTERS:

The Old Vic: In Camera series is made possible thanks to the unwavering support of Royal Bank of Canada as The Old Vic’s visionary Principal Partner. Since the beginning of Matthew Warchus’ tenure in 2015, RBC has sponsored over 30 main stage productions and now, in the face of such challenging times, RBC continues to stand alongside us and support our theatre and our audiences by enabling the delivery of this series. And, thanks to PwC’s steadfast generosity through this crisis, we’re delighted to be able to make this artistic initiative widely accessible with a number of PwC £10 Tickets offered across all performances.

Royal Bank of Canada – Principal Partner

PwC – PwC £10 Previews Partner

The Public Fund – Productions Partner

Garfield Weston Foundation – Reopening Partner

The Huo Family Foundation – Reopening Partner

GET TICKETS

Wednesday, July 7, 2021 8:00 pm

Audio version of

STUPIDHEAD

  STUPIDHEAD! to hit Airwaves, Porches and Backyards in July!   A white cis woman with blond, shaggy hair, wearing an enormous hot pink brain costume. She is sitting in a chair and trying to sit a latte, but can’t quite reach it with her mouth because of the big brain costume. Also, there are two GIFs laid on top of the image, of a girl in heart-shaped glasses banging her hands on an electronic keyboard.   ANNOUNCING THE RETURN OF STUPIDHEAD!, the hit musical comedy about dyslexia, failure and friendship.

Reimagined by Creators Katherine Cullen and Britta Johnson, Director Aaron Willis and Production Designer Anahita Dehbonehie for our current moment.  Gather your household ‘round the wifi router for
a limited number of live “radio” broadcasts. Or book your very own intimate IRL serenade for your family and friends to enjoy on a porch or backyard.

With musical gems like “Dobermans and Nutella”, “Is This Where the Puppet People Get Picked Up” and “What If I Never Find My Way”, we guarantee that you won’t be able to get this show out of your (stupid)head.  CLICK HERE to listen to an audio-only version of this announcement from Katherine Cullen herself.    “…riotously funny, musically charming, and emotionally resonant… a perfect blend of humour, heart, and soul. – Kingston Theatre Reviews  

BOOK NOW     A white cis woman with blond, shaggy hair, wearing an enormous hot pink brain costume. She is sitting in a chair and trying to eat a muffin and sip a latte, but can't quite reach it with her mouth because of the big brain costume.   There are Two Different Ways to Experience STUPIDHEAD! Live      1. Live Digital Radio Broadcast
(July 7th – 16th)    “Modelled on your favourite radio variety shows from times of yore. It’ll be like we’re performing in your living rooms… but we won’t be, because we respect your health and wellbeing, and also we’d get fined by the Ontario Government.”  – Katherine Cullen   All you need is a wifi signal, a feel-good beverage and your favourite emotional support stuffed animal to tune in to this run of six “live-to-air” audio performances.    Limited Capacity for Each Live Broadcast Tickets: $15   BOOK NOW     2. “At Your Place” Performances
(July 19th – Aug 1st)      “Stupidhead is all about not being alone. With that in mind, we’re hoping that small groups of families, friends and neighbours will book these intimate outdoor performances together.” – Mitchell Cushman, OtM Artistic Director     STUPIDHEAD! will also play a select run of a dozen in-person performances – available for booking on decks, porches and other private outdoor spaces across the GTA.

For Torontonians who are badly missing the presence of live theatre in their life, this is a chance to bring a show right to your very own front (or back) door!  

Outside the March will work with each group to ensure that each performance is conducted per provincial health and safety guidelines.

  Presentation Fee – $400 to book a private performance for friends n’ fam!
(100% of which goes directly to the artists working on the show)  
  TALK TO US ABOUT BOOKING     A white cis woman with blond, shaggy hair, wearing an enormous hot pink brain costume. She is sitting in a chair and trying to sit a latte, but can’t quite reach it with her mouth because of the big brain costume. Also, there is GIFs laid on top of the image, of a girl in heart-shaped glasses banging her hands on an electronic keyboard, and another GIF of a microphone with pink sparkles coming out of it..   OtM’s production of STUPIDHEAD! will also enjoy a two week run in Barrie, Ontario in August as part of Talk is Free Theatre’s “Bees in the Bush” Outdoor Theatre Festival.   

Wednesday, July 7—2021

Theatre By the Bay, in Barrie, Ont. opens its new season with The Ghost Watchers.

THEATRE BY THE BAY ANNOUNCES 2021 SEASON Barrie, ON. After taking the time to plan and regroup in 2020 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Theatre by the Bay (TBTB) is excited to deliver a safe and strong return to theatre, offering dynamic programming of four plays based on local stories.

The season will run from July until October 2021 and will include both in person and digital ways to engage with the works.

The Ghost Watchers. Summer, 2021. Presented in partnership with Tourism Barrie. Based on a concept by Michael Whyte. Written by Emily Adams, Mary Barnes, Rhiannon Hoover, Rochelle Reynolds, and Trudee Romanek. Join us on an Augmented Reality Walking Theatre Experience directed by Iain Moggach.  Follow a mysterious Ghost Hunter through downtown Barrie using state of the art ‘Spectrovision’ to discover the ghosts of Barrie’s past and find out what is keeping these spirits in our realm.

The Simcoe County Virtual Theatre Initiative Featuring the RBC Emerging Artists Program. August, 2021 (date TBD). The RBC Emerging Director Project provides two emerging directors from the Simcoe County community with the opportunity to receive unprecedented training in theatre directing, culminating in the creation and presentation of two new plays:

Juncture. Directed by RBC Emerging Director Alexandra Gaudet and written by Mary Harris, Juncture follows Christine, a widowed woman in 1930’s Barrie, Ontario. Christine recalls her life and how exactly she ended up in the arms of George Rogers, the man who derailed the life she once knew.

Two Girls, One Corpse. Directed by RBC Emerging Director Keara Voo, Two Girls, One Corpse is written by Michelle Blanchard and Marissa Caldwell. This goofy comedy-mystery follows two girls who attend the wedding of an ex-boyfriend, drink until they blackout, and wake up in their apartment with a dead body.

Mno Bimaadiziwin. Fall, 2021. Based around the experiences of a group of Indigenous people entering a sweat lodge, Mno Bimaadiziwin (meaning, ‘A good way of living’) is a story about the resiliency of love, healing, and of community in the face of trauma. Written by Ziigwen Mixemong and directed by Herbie Barnes. Mno Bimaadiziwin will be presented live at the Orillia Opera House as well as filmed for digital viewing.

http://www.theatrebythebay.com/

Friday, July 9, 2021 7:00 pm

Live streamed the Young Company from 4th Line Theatre

THE WOLVES

4th Line Theatre and Trent University’s Traill College Announce 2021 Young Company 

From 4th Line Theatre’s 2018 production of Judith Thompson’s Who Killed Snow White?, directed by Kim Blackwell. Photo by Wayne Eardley, Brookside Studio. 

4th Line Theatre and Trent University’s Traill College are excited to announce the 2021 Young Company, a group of young, diverse regional artists and performers, who will work with industry professionals to produce livestream virtual play readings and performance pieces this summer. As part of its Emerging VOICES Youth Apprenticeship Program, rural community youth volunteers and apprentices have always played a major role in 4th Line Theatre’s iconic history. From the first play at the Winslow Farm in 1992 to last year’s Bedtime Stories & Other Horrifying Tales, young community actors have captured authentic voices within their plays, allowing the theatre to continue to create epic productions for the past three decades.

Managing Artistic Director Kim Blackwell explains, “This summer’s Young Company is a chance to fill the gap for regional young people with the theatre being unable to offer its normal artistic opportunities. We will be affording local youth the chance to work with some incredibly creative artists on skills development including acting, directing, playwriting, clown, music and puppetry. The Young Company, in partnership with Traill College, will be a unique training experience.”

In order to expand its youth apprenticeship training opportunities, 4th Line Theatre have partnered with Trent University’s Traill College to launch this exciting, new Young Company initiative. Young Company members will train with industry professionals Maja Ardal, Brad Brackenridge, Brianna Hill, Lisa Ryder, Patti Shaughnessy and Hilary Wear to bring scripts to life and create original work.

Dr. Michael Eamon, Principal of Catharine Parr Traill College and Director of Trent University’s Continuing Education states “Trent University’s Traill College and 4th Line Theatre have enjoyed a long and fruitful association supporting dramatic expression in the community. We are excited to offer a home for the activities of the Young Company and look forward to expanding our support with the construction of the Jalynn Bennett Amphitheatre next year. Both Trent University and 4th Line Theatre are committed to education, particularly of local youth. Situated in Peterborough’s downtown, Traill College offers the perfect spot for young actors to refine their craft. We hope that this partnership will strengthen the University’s unique bond with 4th Line Theatre as we share the value of expression, community engagement, and self-betterment through learning.”

 The 2021 Young Company is led by Young Company Coordinator Madison Sheward (Bedtime Stories & Other Horrifying Tales) and its members are: Mohamed Abi, Kate Bemrose, Zachary Chiagozie, Maude Rose Craig (Who Killed Snow White?), Molly Dunn, Mosunmola Fadare (The Other: A Strange Christmas Tale), Huseyin Halil, Laurin Isiekwena, Sahira Q, Emma Khaimovich (Bedtime Stories & Other Horrifying Tales), Aisling MacQuarrie (Carmel), Alison Mcelwan, Frances Milner, Aisha Fazilahmed and Ty Cohen.

LIVESTREAM PERFORMANCE DETAILS

Admission is free and all live stream events begin at 7:00 PM EST.  Register for each event via the Eventbrite links below and receive reminder emails prior to the livestream. The live stream events will be broadcasted on 4th Line Theatre’s YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3ZMAyjpmSq_jviIb7_7bLg

July 9, 2021 at 7 PM

The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe

Directed by Lisa Ryder

In this contemporary slice-of-life play, The Wolves, a girls’ indoor soccer team, practice drills as they prepare for a succession of games. As they warm up and talk about life, the girls navigate the politics of their personal lives. Each team member struggles to negotiate her individuality while being a part of a group. The team seems as if it may disband after the sudden death of one of the girls, but they manage to come together. In the end, the surviving team players prepare to play yet another game together – closer, stronger, wiser, and fiercer.

Register to Attend

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Streaming on demand at the Ottawa Fringe Festival, June 17-27, 2021.

Described as “a Triptych of Uncanny Abduction” involving: “a school haunted by troubled children, the mysterious disappearance of a friend in the woods and an encounter with the unknown on open waters,” these three descriptions just grab your interest and the plays do the rest to hold you in their grip.

The three monologues that make up Dressed as People are: Skinless by Kelly Robson, The Shape of My Teeth by Amal El-Mohtar and Repositioning by A.M. Dellamonica. Dressed as People is produced by Parry Riposte Productions, and all the artists are proudly queer. Their previous production was the wonderful The Elephant Girls by Margo MacDonald about a notorious girl-gang that terrorized London, England for 100 years. Two of the three plays in Dressed as People deal with queer themes and relationships.

All three plays are directed by Mary Ellis and they are performed by Margo MacDonald.

Skinless

Written by Kelly Robson

In 1989, while teaching Canadian Literature at a university in Edmonton, a nun and professor, (named Dr. Sheedy or Sister Susan) reveals her past as a young instructor at a haunted school full of troubled children in 1950s Ireland. “Haunted school full of troubled children” isn’t the half of what went on in that school.

Sister Susan calmly engages the students telling them they will study Canadian stories in her English literature class. She says that “students rarely read Canadian books, “now you will be forced to.”

As Sister Susan, Margo MacDonald says that stunning line with such calm and understatement you are caught unawares (MacDonald has a dandy way of doing that in all three plays). She notes a surprise in the students when she tells them she is both a nun and a professor. She is not in the traditional habit and wimple. Here hair is short and blondish. She wears a black skirt, a crisp white blouse and black jacket with a prominent cross hanging down in front of her white blouse.  “You’re surprised to see me dressed as people” she says. This sense of the normalcy of things that seem exotic and different peppers all three plays.

Sister Susan always wanted to be a nun. She did her training in Ireland in the 1950s at a church named St. Mary’s where she taught the girls. She said ‘I especially love the students I can’t help, no matter how hard I try.” One such student kept trying to escape over the wall near the laundry of the church. Sister Susan was always surprised at how the student could get over the wall, what with being so heavily pregnant.

I suck air when I hear this. I know what this place is.  St. Mary’s is one of the notorious Magdalene laundries overseen by the Catholic Church. They were run in Ireland from the 18th Century to the late 20th century. They were also established in other countries. Young women, pregnant and unmarried, would be taken to one of these churches by their fathers, brothers or boyfriends and left there. They would work in the laundry under terrible conditions, working in corrosive materials, lye soaps without benefit of gloves. Their hands would burn until the skin was raw. When they came to term their babies were taken away, never to be seen again. In one instance a mass grave was found with bones from more than 100 corpses. (Echoes of the horrible news of the bodies of 215 Indigenous children found in a mass grave at a residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia, also run by the Catholic Church). The young women would remain there because their families shunned them.

In Skinless, Sister Susan said that the young women spent four hours in school and six hours working in the laundry. She was particularly taken with this one young woman who tried to escape. Sister Susan staunchly followed the rules of the Church but still took pity on the girl. The girl was found one night clawing at the ground of a hidden area of the grounds. We found out what was there later and it’s chilling.

Kelly Robson’s writing is vivid, stark and startling. She floats a line in so effortlessly and Margo MacDonald’s delivery is so subtle, understated and lacking in judgement, that the juxtaposition of the calm and the horrifying is like a smack in the face. Kudos to director Mary Ellis for her sure hand. Sister Susan says that as a punishment she would “strap the young woman’s hands skinless.” It’s suggested that this young woman might have had a sister who had been at the church earlier. Sister Susan says, “…one sister leaves home and father starts in on the rest.” Two pregnant sisters arrived “one month apart.” Sucking air again.

A stunning story, beautifully done, realizing all its horror.

The Shape of My Teeth

Written by Amal El-Mohtar,

In 1827 a woman reflects on her best friend’s mysterious disappearance in Mortimer Forest on the Welsh border. She refuses to be left behind.

A woman, long dark hair, tied by a ribbon in the back, wearing a black shawl, tells of her great friendship with her friend Sophie. They were fast friends from girlhood. They know their deep affection for each other is not of the ‘ordinary’ kind. They know their parents want nothing more than for the two girls to marry two brothers and be close as couples. That won’t happen because the women don’t want to marry men.

There was a forest close by, foreboding, perhaps. Intriguing? Definitely. It was rumored to be full of fairies, or the fantastical characters found in stories and books. As the woman tells us as: “What they didn’t know, but would learn soon enough, the forest had no taste for men—girls though…..”

One of the girls suggested they run away and live as they wanted. It was suggested they run away to Canada (I accept this as poetic license since “Canada’ did not exist by that name in 1827). As the women got older their intense love for each other and the efforts to hide it from the outside world took its toll. Sophie did something drastic and leaves her friend behind. But her friend was so passionate, obsessive in her love that she refuses to be left behind.

Amal El-Mohtar has created a story of mysticism, intrigue and mystery. She has created the forest as a place of danger and enticement. Her language is full dazzling descriptions, turns of phrases and coded queer references from the times. On the whole El-Mohtar has written a compelling story of passion and obsession.

Margo MacDonald has imbued the woman initially with a calm, tempered attitude until later in the play when she refuses to hide her passions. She rages at the world in which Sophie has left her and her determined fierceness at the end grabs you.  

Repositioning

By A.M Dellamonica

In the present day, a seasoned entertainer on the lesbian cruise circuit grapples with memories of an encounter with the unknown while on a Pacific Ocean repositioning cruise, headed to Vancouver, B.C. from Sydney, Australia.

Erica Prince is a lesbian comedienne down on her luck and needs a job. She is preparing an audition tape of her act for an agent in the hopes of getting back on the lesbian circuit. Margo MacDonald plays Erica as brash, overly cheerful and inviting. Her hair is very short with streaks of mauve and she wears a short-sleeved shirt and skinny tie and black pants. Her patter seems a bit desperate and mannered. She gives asides to the camera in explanation to the person who will watch it.

Erica was on a previous cruise and there was an incident on her day off. She drank too much and when she woke up, in her cabin, she was soaking wet.  It seems she fell overboard—no she did not jump and tried to kill herself, she assures the camera!–and was saved by a mermaid. The mermaid came to life on board and a relationship formed. (This can’t be a spoiler alert since that relationship was so integral to the story).

Erica admits that she has intimacy issues but the bond between Erica and her mermaid is so strong and intense that it continues. The mermaid has issues as well. They try and solve each other’s problems. Promises are made. Erica needs this cruise job in order to keep her promise to her mermaid.

A.M. Dellamonica has created a fantastical story that makes you think it might be real in a way. Again, her language of coded queer references is not intimidating and add colour to the narrative. Margo MacDonald creates just enough nervous energy in Erica you can’t help but root for her in her quest.

All three stories are a huge accomplishment and well worth your time.

For tickets and more information:

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Streaming on the Soulpepper Theater website until June 30, 2021: www.soulpepper.ca

Written by Wole Soyinka

Directed by Tawiah Ben M’Carthy

Sound by Debashis Sinha

Composer, Kobèna Aquaa-Harrison

Audio producer, Gregory Sinclair

Cast: Maev Beaty

Déjah Dixon-Green

Ijeoma Emesowum

Peter Fernandes

Patrick McManus

Pulga Muchochoma

Wole Oguntokun

Khadijah Roberts-Abdullah

Amaka Umeh

Micah Woods

Death and the King’s Horseman by Wole Soyinka is part of Soulpepper’s Around the World in 80 Plays audio series and this one is presented in partnership with the Stratford Festival. It’s the last in the series and this time we are in Nigeria.

The Story and Comment. This is from the show’s blurb: “When an individual’s actions shake a world off its axis, how is honour restored? When a Yoruba King dies, the King’s horseman, Elesin (Wole Oguntokun), is required by tradition to accompany him into the afterlife. But this sacred ritual is interrupted, resulting in an unforeseen tragedy. Based on actual events in British-occupied Nigeria, Wole Soyinka’s Nobel prize-winning play shares the story of a community striving to uphold its culture in the face of colonial power. “

I think a few details need expanding. In the play we are told there is a mourning period of one month between the death of the king and his burial. When it says that Elesin, the King’s Horseman is required by tradition to accompany him into the afterlife, they mean Elesin must commit suicide. If the process is interrupted then the spirit of the dead king roams the earth and can wreak havoc on the people because of his disturbed spirit.

Nigeria became a British protectorate in 1901 and had British colonial influence until 1960 when there was a movement for independence, which they got in 1963. In the play Simon Pilkings (Patrick McManus), the British District Officer in Nigeria, learned of the tradition, that Elesin had to commit suicide to fulfill the traditional ritual, thought it was unacceptable from his civilized British point of view and was going to prevent it. This is what is meant by an individual’s actions shake a world off its axis.

Elesin considered this tradition an honour to fulfill.  Elesin is a hugely confident man, totally aware of his stature in the community because of this honour and he was going to play it to the hilt. Here is a wonderful speech he gives: “In all my life as a horseman of the King, the juiciest fruit on every tree was mine. I saw. I touched, I wooed. Rarely was the answer no. the honour of my place; the veneration I received in the eye of man or woman prospered my suit, played havoc with my sleeping hours, and they tell me my eyes were always in perpetual hunger.”

Glorious. The language and rhythms of Nigeria as exemplified in Soyinka’s play are seductive, evocative and gleaming.

Elesin planned to marry the most beautiful young woman in the village, have the wedding night and do his husbandly duties, thus carrying on his line, then follow the King into the afterlife soon after. But the women of the village take him to task for his hubris: first in the person of Olohun-iyo (Amaka Umeh) a praise singer, and then Iyaloja, (Khadijah Roberts-Abdullah) Mother of the Market. Elesin has an obvious verve for life and determination to have as much pleasure before he has to give up his life. Elesin knows and believes in the importance of the tradition, but the women are fearless in letting him know that his humility and sense of entitlement leave a lot to be desired.  

With the British in Nigeria Soyinka, through his play, addresses the difference in cultures and how one treats the other. It’s one of the many beauties of the play. The arrogance and contempt of the British, exemplified in Simon Pilkings and others,  for the traditions of the people of the village are obvious. Pilkings represents the quintessential overpowering culture who has no reason to learn anything about the place or people whom he is colonizing. Pilkings was going to stop the fulfilling of the tradition because he didn’t agree with suicide.  He didn’t care about the ramifications and consequences.

There are references that native Nigerians became Christians during Pilkings’ stay, so one can assume pressure was put on them to convert. And Mrs. Pilkings (Maev Beaty) is no better—she is more accommodating on the surface, but really no better.

For example there is a costume ball at the European Club in the village to welcome British royalty and she thinks it’s for a good cause. Mrs. Pilkings wears a traditional Nigerian mask that she’s tinkered with for the ball. She meets Elesin’s son Olunde (Peter Fernandes) who has returned from England to do his duty at his father’s funeral. He knows the Pilkings because they sent him to England to study medicine and ensure a bright future, from their point of view.

Olunde is polite when he sees her but eventually he says to her: “You have no respect for what you don’t understand.” And he says of the ball. ”…that is the good cause for which you desecrate an ancestral mask.” Again, rather than see her cultural blunder and apologize Mrs. Pilkings says to him, “So you returned with a chip on your shoulder.”

The play was written in the 1970s and I think it’s as timely today as it was then.  You don’t get the sense that attitudes have changed toward other cultures. And it’s interesting to note that Wole Soyinka was so observant about the differences in British and Nigerian culture.  (He wrote the play at Cambridge).

Mr. Pilkings didn’t share anything important about his work with his wife—no need for her to know. She was not treated as an equal in that marriage or important in her husband’s work. She was someone to be a cordial hostess to the British upper classes, without learning about the people the British were acting as ‘protectors.’

But in Nigeria those women of the market were fiercely independent and could and did stand up to the revered King’s Horseman. I loved that juxtaposition.

The Production. I thought the audio production was terrific.  The language of the play is dense and poetic. The rhythms are so particular in the language of the play and the cast, under the direction of Tawiah Ben M’Carthy, nails them.The cadence, pace and emotion just grip you.

You get the sense of bursting life and pride in Elesin by Wole Oguntokun’s performance. There is confidence, verve and a bristling energy in his delivery. The fierce independence and strength in Olohun-iyo is so clear because Amaka Umeh’s performance is so confident in standing up to Elesin.  The same can be said of Iyaloja-Mother of the market, by Kadijah Roberts-Abdullah’s performance. As Mother of the market, Iyaloja empowers the same stature to stand up to the prideful Elesin. It’s a buoyant balancing act as one side does not concede to the other—and the women make their points with quiet understatement and the occasional contemptuous ‘tsk’.

Olunde is his father’s son in every way. He knows his responsibilities to tradition and he’s learned about other cultures in his time in Britain. But as played by Peter Fernandes, Olunde is more courtly than his father Elesin. He knows how to play the game but he can stare down Mr. and Mrs. Pilkings’ arrogance and send a barb with unerring accuracy and do it quietly ( ”…that is the good cause for which you desecrate an ancestral mask.”). Patrick McManus as Simon Pilkings has that haughty, distracted air about him when dealing with people he feels are lesser. And Maev Beaty as Mrs. Pilkings has that arrogance as well although in a subtler version. Still not twigging to her cultural blunder is part of Mrs. Pilkings persona and Beaty plays it beautifully.

No less important in the cast of characters is the almost constant presence of drumming, composed by Kobèna Aquaa-Harrison. The subtle drumming is the heart-beat of the play; the conscience of the people being ‘protected.’ The drumming is there, rhythmic, constant and persistent as an underscore to the dialogue. At times the pace, the thrumming increases as does the sense of danger or heightened emotion. And the sound scape of Debashis Sinha creates the world of the play.

I thought the whole series of Around the World in 80 Plays was a terrific tour of international plays that gave us a look into other cultures, language, and stories. Rather than look at these plays from ‘our’ point of view and how they compared to us, they made us look at them fresh, anew, from ‘their’ point of view.

Death and the King’s Horseman is streaming on the Soulpepper Theater webpage until June 30. For tickets go to www.soulpepper.ca

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Streaming on the Soulpepper Theatre Website: www.soulpepper.ca Until June 30, 2021.

By Guillermo Verdecchia

Freely adapted from Farid Ud-Din Attar’s The Conference of the Birds

Directed by Soheil Parsa

Sound design by Thomas Ryder Payne

Audio producer, Gregory Sinclair

Cast: Raoul Bhaneja

Augusto Bitter

Oliver Dennis

Christef Desir

Liz Peterson

Arsinée Khanjian

Jani Lauzon

John Ng

Beatriz Pizano

Bahareh Yaraghi

The Parliament of the Birds is another splendid addition to Soulpepper’s audio series, Around the World in 80 Plays.

The Parliament of the Birds is based on the 12th century Persian poem Conference of the Birds by Farid Ud-Din Attar, freely adapted by Guillermo Verdecchia, a Canadian playwright, director, educator, mentor and theatre maker (born in Argentina), and directed by Soheil Parsa, who is Canadian-Iranian, and performed by a truly international cast. Everything about this audio production bursts with life, urgency and cultural references. It is both centuries old and as contemporary as tomorrow.

A group of various birds (Crow, Sparrow, Parrot, Nightingale, Duck, Falcon, Cardinal and Pigeon and others) have come to hear Hoopoe speak. She has an urgent message about their diminishing world.

“We need to talk”, she tells the group. “The world we made is in great trouble. Oceans are sick. The air is poisoned. The clouds are dying. Everywhere I look I see troubles, sorrow, violence, terrible fights over scraps of land, over a handful of grain.”

There are objections to her expressions of truth. Disagreements break out between the birds. Parrot says, “They’re killing my kind, daily.”

Again Hoopoe puts it in perspective: “We can’t go on like this: flock against flock, each against all. We cannot talk without bursting into disagreement.”

Her solution is for the assembled to go on a journey and seek enlightenment and change the way they are. They are seeking wisdom in Simorgh, the king of kings, the leader of birds, or just human enlightenment.

The Parliament of Birds is of course an allegory of our turmoiled world: climate change, racism, war, despotism, intolerance and the search for a better existence. Each bird displays a human fault that should be addressed. Animals or birds etc. as allegories on human behaviour is nothing new: Animal Farm by George Orwell for example.

Guillermo Verdecchia’s bracing, vivid, compelling adaptation of Farid Ud-Din Attar’s original poem beautifully captures the thrust and lunge of the anger that permeates the modern world. There is reluctance of the birds to go on the journey but they accept that something must be done to care for their wounded, angry world. On the journey, animosity turns to consideration, care, selflessness. Revelation results, as does hope.

Soheil Parsa directs his excellent cast with care, sensitivity and a determined fearlessness not to back away from the ugliness of the story. In the end the result is poignant. Jani Lauzon as Hoopoe is impassioned and desperate to convey the message. Christel Desir beautifully expresses Parrot’s consuming anger at being considered “lesser” by Oliver Dennis’ haughty, impatient Crow. Augusto Bitter portrays the meekness of Sparrow while Beatriz Pizano plays a thoughtful, considerate Cardinal. Behareh Yaraghi illuminates Pigeon’s gentleness, with a touch of wisdom.

Thomas Ryder Payne has created a soundscate that suggests the wind, the harshness of the weather, the difficulty of a bird flying and the sounds of a world at war with itself. The Parliament of the Birds gives us a difference lens (from Iran) to view our world.

The Parliament of the Birds streams on the Soulpepper website until June 30, 2021.

www.soulpepper.ca

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Streaming on the Young People’s Theatre (YPT) website.

Three plays that are part of Young People’s Theatre’s Right Here, Write Now Festival of plays for young people.


Right Here, Write Now
, features contemporary playwrights responding to these extraordinary times. From the information from YPT:

“Part of YPT’s programming vision is ensuring we create artistic works that speak to the contemporary lives of young people,” said Artistic Director Allen MacInnis. “We are in the midst of a time of enormous change and the writers of these short plays have all been asked to consider what might we make of this moment?”

The first play of the three play series is We Are Losing Time. Recommended for Ages 13-18 | Grades 8-12

Written by Tai Amy Grauman

Directed by Megan Watson

Cast: Julie Lumsden

Joel  Montgrand

Rose and Johnny are two Indigenous teens who have decided to get married that night. In reflecting on the pandemic and recent losses in their lives, they weigh the consequences of losing more time against the certainty of their love for one another.

I was impressed with the sweetness of Tai Amy Grauman’s writing of the piece. Rose and Johnny are loving and innocent in their devotion to each other, their respect for their elders and their reverence of their ancestors. Grauman beautifully establishes the Indigenous world for the reverence of tradition and respect for the teachings of those who have gone before. It is the bedrock of that world.

Julie Lumsden as Rose and Joel Montgrand as Johnny has a wonderful twinkling chemistry of the loving couple. The whole piece is directed with a delicate hand by Megan Watson.

Cassius

Recommended for Ages 10-14 | Grades 5-8

Written by Luke Reece

Directed by Natasha Mumba

Cast: David Collins

daniel jelani ellis

From YPT: “After an uncomfortable encounter on a walk with his dog, followed by another event at school, 12-year-old Cassius needs answers from his Grandpa about why he chose to come to Canada.  His phone call with Grandpa leads to honest conversations about dealing with racism. Cassius learns to find his value and worth not in the place that he lives, but through the experiences he goes through that ultimately make him stronger.”

Cassius (daniel jelani ellis) used to Facetime with his Grandpa (Michael Collins) once a month but has hesitated for a few months because he was upset by the racism he encountered and his anger at his Grandpa for coming to Canada to live. Cassius finally decides to call his Grandpa and confront him with his concerns. We get the sense from Cassius that his Grandpa came from an ‘island full of Black people.’ Cassius asks him: “Why come to a place (Canada) where we’re valued less if you’re used to living somewhere we’re just like normal people.” Grandpa carefully, passionately tells Cassius that he came to Canada because of the access to opportunities to build his dreams. Part of that dream was to raise his daughter (Cassius’ Mother) into a strong, Black woman who in term would instill that strength of character in her son.

Cassius is a wonderful play. Luke Reece has written two deeply layered characters in Cassius and Grandpa, each with issues, concerns, questions and mutual respect. Reece focuses on the thorny issue of racism with sensitivity as does his gifted director, Natasha Mumba. Under her guidance Cassius’ frustration, confusion and hurt and Grandpa’s love and respect for Cassius are gradually revealed.

As Cassius. daniel jelani ellis has the jangle and kinetic energy of a 12-year-old boy. daniel jelani ellis instills a sense of wonder and curiosity in Cassius as well as the ability to distill the information Grandpa gives him. It’s a conversation of a young boy that is both prickly and loving. As Grandpa, David Collins illuminates a complex man who had difficult decisions to make in his life, but is assured he made the right ones. Still he is able to tell his grandson clearly why he needed to come to Canada and why it was the right decision. Collins played Grandpa with the slightest of accents, which was helpful in detailing Grandpa’s background. We learn late in the play that Grandpa came from Barbados.

The metaphor of boxing, fighting and naming Cassius after Cassius Clay goes to also aid in creating the layers of the play—that this kind of activity does not just require force, it also requires, thought, movement, knowing when to jab and parry as well as mental skill.  

 The Best Friend Blanket Fort

Recommended for Ages 5-10 | Grades 1-4

Written by Marie Beath Badian

Directed by Mieko Ouchi
Music by Hugo Badian-Parker

Cast: Cynthia Jimenez-Hicks  

Gabe Maharjan

I appreciated the previous two short plays, but The Best Friend Blanket Fort blew me away. It so illuminates our changing with care and sensitivity.

From YPT information on the play: “ Auggie and Reggie are best friends who love to eat Pocky, play Minecraft, and film their YouTube series “The Best Friend Blanket Fort Show”. When Reggie decides to have a “FIERCE FEMINIST SUPERHERO ZOOM BIRTHDAY PARTY” and doesn’t invite Auggie because it’s for “girls only”, the dynamic duo dive into a discussion on gender, pronouns, and identity as Auggie explores their gender. Although the friends are not always on the same page, they must learn to navigate what it means to support someone being their authentic self.”

Auggie and Reggie are best friends, are in the same class in public school and are almost the same age (although Reggie will be 10 years old in two weeks and is a bit older than Auggie). They also live in the same building. Both friends love Pokey (what I can gather, is a kind of stick candy that comes in packages) and Reggie leaves a package at Auggie’s door, so they can both enjoy it while they talk to each other on Zoom.  They joke and josh with each other, finish each other’s sentences and seem to be on the same wavelength. They have even fashioned their own YouTube series called “The Best Friend Blanket Fort Show.” It has graphics placed around the screen, segments of entertainment and even a land acknowledgement in which Reggie does the acknowledgement in English and Auggie does it in French. (I thought this insertion into the text of the show was inspired—bravo to playwright Marie Beath Badian).

Reggie is particularly excited about her impending virtual birthday party that she is having for her girlfriends in which everybody dresses up as their favourite fierce, feminist superhero. Reggie babbles on as Reggie goes quiet, munching on a Pokey. Even though Auggie didn’t get an invitation Auggie looks forward to attending. Reggie is a little confused and notes that the party is for girls and Auggie is a boy. Auggie quietly says, “What if I’m not a boy?” This confuses Reggie: “What do you mean? Of course you’re a boy what else can you be?” Auggie replies: “I don’t know. Something else?”

What follows is a conversation about gender, pronouns, belonging and fierce friendship. Both Auggie and Reggie are taking this voyage on discovery and identity together, albeit in different ways. Reggie is confused by this new information on gender but wants to understand her friend. At one point Auggie wanted to forget the whole matter because he couldn’t make Reggie understand. It’s to Reggie’s credit that she won’t let Aggie back away but engages her friend to explain the situation further so she can grasp it.    

Marie Beath Badian’s writing conjures the vivid world of kid’s games, short-hand, tv shows and snacks. These difficult questions of identity and how to describe them are handled with such delicacy, respect, and tenderness as the friends question and discover more about each other.

Director Mieko Ouchi created a world of such close friendship between Reggie (Cynthia Jimenez-Hicks) and Auggie (Gabe Maharjan).  Both actors are “awesome’. The pace is quick but each actor picks up on the nuance of the other. Cynthis Jimenez-Hicks as Reggie is a bubbly kid, open-hearted, thoughtful when sharing her treats and curious about this new development with her friend. Auggie is more intellectual and serious because of the way that Gabe Maharjan sensitively delves into the character. After all, Auggie’s mother signs Auggie up for the on-line class: “Quantum Physics for Curious Kiddoes.” Maharjan beautifully conveys Auggie’s questions of self-awareness, and Auggie’s particular confidence. Both Reggie and Auggie care for each other to such an extent that they have patience with each other when information is hard to process. They don’t give up on the other. Love that. As I said, this play blew me away.

Right Here, Write Now Festival streams on the Young People’s Theatre website,www.youngpeoplestheatre.org

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Monday, April 19, 2021.

From the Mint Theatre.

A PICTURE OF AUTUMN

April 19- June 13

“N.C. HUNTER’S BEAUTIFUL, SHAMEFULLY NEGLECTED COMEDY WAS PERFORMED ONLY ONCE IN LONDON IN 1951, AND RECEIVES ITS AMERICAN PREMIERE HERE… IT’S ABOUT AN AGING, ONCE PROSPEROUS FAMILY LIVING IN AN AGAING, ONCE GRAND MANOR, AND THE ECHOES OF CHEKHOV ARE UNMISTAKABLE, IF SUBDUED AND ANGLICIZED. IT’S A BIG, GENEROUS PLAY, EXQUISITELY WRITTEN, BOTH FUNNY AND TOUCHING.”

The New Yorker

A Picture of Autumn made its debut on February 11, 1951 in a one-night ‘try-out’ performance presented by the Repertory Players, at the Duke of York’s Theatre on London’s West End. Despite promising reviews, the play was never picked up. Instead, Hunter enjoyed great success with his plays Waters of the MoonA Day by the Sea and A Touch of the Sun, which dominated the West End throughout the fifties. Meanwhile, A PICTURE OF AUTUMN gathered dust until our acclaimed production—the play’s first in over 60 years.

Helen Cespedes and George Morfogen in A PICTURE OF AUTUMN by N.C. Hunter, directed by Gus Kaikkonen. Photo by Richard Termine.

To read the program, or learn more about the play and production, visit our Production Archives.

To see Video of our EnrichMint Speakers, visit our EnrichMint Video Archives.

PRO

Wednesday, April 21, 2021.

From Soulpepper.

AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 PLAYS
EIGHT-WEEK GUIDED TOUR OF THE GLOBAL THEATRICAL CANON

Soulpepper Theatre Company is incredibly pleased to announce the release of a new collection of artistic programming: Around the World in 80 Plays, an eight-week global adventure of audio dramas, in-depth documentaries from CBC Ideas, and cultural celebrations. Audiences across the country, and around the world, are invited on a rich theatrical global guided tour with works from Canada, Russia, Italy, Argentina, India, Iran, Jamaica, and NigeriaAround the World in 80 Plays departs April 21, 2021, landing in new destinations weekly. Subscription passports, single tickets, and information available at soulpepper.ca/80plays.

The eight-week global adventure begins:

April 21, starting at home here in Canada with Margo Kane’s inspiring play Moonlodge, a story of self determination, resilience, and the colonial tragedies that shape our society today, directed by Jani Lauzon. From there audiences are transported to Russia to enjoy Anton Chekhov’s masterpiece,

April 28. The Seagull, (Russia) which was just weeks away from premiering at Soulpepper this time last year, once again directed by Daniel Brooks.

Dates closer to the time:

Luigi Piandello’s metatheatrical play Six Characters in Search of an Author, directed by Daniele Bartolini. Italy.

The Walls From Argentina’s fearless playwright Griselda Gambaro comes, directed by Beatriz Pizano, to warn audiences about the dangers of turning a blind eye in the fight for justice.

Hayavadana by Girish Karnad, Travelling onward to India, in a piece produced in association with Why Not Theatre, Girish Karnad’s witty play fuses ancient mythology with contemporary sensibilities, directed by Miriam Fernandes.

The Parliament of Birds by Guillermo Verdecchia, From Iran.  directed by Soheil Parsa, adapted from the Persian poem, The Conference of the Birds, by Sufi poet Farid ud-Din Attar.

She Mami Wata & the PxssyWitch Hunt. Jamaica, by playwright, director, and performer, d’bi.young anitafrika fuses memoir, music, and myth while embodying Jamaica’s decolonial traditions of African-storytelling-derived dub poetry and dubbin.

Death and the King’s Horseman destination of Nigeria on June 9, audiences are invited to experience Wole Soyinka’s Nobel Prize-winning play based on true events, produced in partnership with the Stratford Festival, and directed by Tawiah M’Carthy. 

Toronto is uniquely poised to celebrate the rich tapestry of stories and cultures that make up this city, and Around the World in 80 Plays will celebrate over 60 artists coming together to share their stories, their culture, and their art. Each audio drama features a full cast, original sound design, and is recorded and produced by award-winning audio producer Gregory Sinclair (CBC Radio, Audible). 

AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 PLAYS

From the CREE & SAULTEAUX NATIONS representing CANADA
MOONLODGE
By Margo Kane
Directed by Jani Lauzon

Hope, healing, and hitchhiking. Taken from her family by the government, Agnes grew up away from the support of her community. Unable to change her past, Anges follows  the voice inside her, journeying across America to where the women gather, helping her find herself, her history, and her family. An inspiring story of self-determination, and the colonial tragedies that shape our society today.

Moonlodge is performed by Samantha Brown. Sound Design and Composition by Wayne Kelso.

Content Warning: This play contains scenes of sexual violence and distressing situations.

Moonlodge premieres April 21, 2021.

“Margo Kane’s play Moonlodge was written at a time where there were very few, if any, stories by Indigenous writers on our stages. This is a story of Indigenous children torn from families, stripped of cultural understanding and identity, searching for answers, navigating the harmful and stereotypical images of in popular media, but mostly it’s a story of resilience and the incredible mothers, sisters, aunts, and grandmothers who continue to survive with humour, dignity, and honour so that our children have a future,” said Jani Lauzon, Director.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021, 7:00

From Young People’s Theatre,

Right Here, Write Now Online Play Festival (21 and 23). Three short plays by contemporary playwrights Tai Amy Grauman, Marie Beath Badian and Luke Reece are live-streamed on those dates at 7PM, followed by a Q&A with the playwright. All of the info is here in case you want to take a look: 

https://www.youngpeoplestheatre.org/shows-tickets/right-here-write-now-2/

Thursday, April 22, 2021. 7:30 pm

Postcards From My Balcony.

Common Boots wordmark - white lettering and wings on a light blue background.   Come raise a glass!
A sneak preview of a new short film
A  moving Image of Alex Bulmer centre screen. She looks off, pensively,  into the distance. Alex is white, with short sandy coloured hair and wears a white hoodie. Around her head white tissues magically float up into the air. Above her head, the following yellow words flash: “Common Boots Theatre Presents Postcards from my Balcony”.  In the bottom  half of the screen, more words appear: “Written and Performed by Alex Bulmer. Directed  by Leah Cherniak. April 22nd, 7:30pm”. The moving image plays on repeat.      April 22nd, 7:30- 8:45pm   REGISTER     We’d love you to come to our party! Raise a glass to a sneak preview of the short film Postcards from my Balcony. Written and performed by Alex Bulmer and directed by Leah Cherniak, with editing and cinematography by Ben Roberts, animation by Cristal Buemi, and sound design and original composition by Deanna H. Choi.

Watch the film – all 10 ½ minutes – and tickle your ears with live music from special guests Deanna H. Choi and John Millard (what joy), artful conversation, and jokes (likely not artful).

Travelling, sneezing, writing and tweezing – Postcards from my Balcony follows blind writer Alex Bulmer as she returns from the UK to Canada while a pandemic erupts. She writes postcards under quarantine – little big thoughts sent out to the world. 

Register below – admission is free (donations always welcome)!
We suggest, if you have them, bring your best headphones.
Hope you can make it!
Alex, Leah, and The Common Boots Team     Who Made Postcards from my Balcony – the film?
Writer and performer – Alex Bulmer
Director – Leah Cherniak
Cinematographer and Editor – Ben Roberts
Cinematography Assistant – Aidan Barnes 
Production Designer – Cristal Buemi
Animators – Cristal Buemi and Alba Mediba
Sound Designer and Original Composition – Deanna H.
Choi
Original song:  Above the Birds by John Millard

This film was made possible thanks to generous funding from the Canada Council for the Arts Digital Originals program,
Red Dress Productions, Common Boots Theatre and numerous generous private donors.     Register!   This gathering is free, but registration is required. Sign up today!  

Thursday, April 22, 2021, 7:00 pm

From Young People’s Theatre

Right Here, Write Now Online Play Festival (21 and 23). Three short plays by contemporary playwrights Tai Amy Grauman, Marie Beath Badian and Luke Reece are live-streamed on those dates at 7PM, followed by a Q&A with the playwright. All of the info is here in case you want to take a look: 

https://www.youngpeoplestheatre.org/shows-tickets/right-here-write-now-2/

Thursday, April 22, 2021, 7:30 PM

The Royale

FREE – BEGINS APRIL 22!

THE ROYALE

PRIVATE REELS: FROM THE LCT ARCHIVE

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PRIVATE REELS: FROM THE LCT ARCHIVES will allow audiences the opportunity to experience past, award-winning LCT productions in full.

Broadway on Demand / Directions

Recorded during a performance with the resulting excerpts used for promotional purposes, it was never intended that the productions would be shown in their entirety. The newly edited footage of the performances will give viewers the opportunity to revisit or discover these LCT shows in full.

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THE ROYALE show poster

THE ROYALE 

Begins Thursday, April 22 at 7pm ET

Streaming FREE on Broadway on Demand

When is a play about a boxer not really about boxing? When it’s the 2016 Obie and Drama Desk Award-winning THE ROYALE! The play is about the life of the outsider in America as much as it is about charismatic African-American boxer Jay “The Sport” Jackson. The stylized and stunning conception of Marco Ramirez was realized by director Rachel Chavkin.

Stream our production of THE ROYALE (2016, Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater), by Marco Ramirez, directed by Rachel Chavkin, featuring McKinley Belcher IIIKhris DavisMontego GloverJohn Lavelle, and Clarke Peters.  

86 minutes runtime.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER!

Watch a brief montage of scenes from THE ROYALE. Register above to stream the full production!

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Monday, April 5, 2021.

From the Mint Theatre, in New York City,

Streaming for free until April 18, 2021

Now Streaming:
 
Free On Demand
Streaming Through April 18th

Women Without Men is a workplace drama laced with biting humor, set in the teacher’s lounge of a private girls’ boarding school in Ireland in the 1930s. The play explores the clash of conflicting natures and petty competitions that erupt amongst the school’s cloistered teaching staff. Playwright Hazel Ellis began her theatrical career in the 1930s as a member of the acting ensemble of the Gate Theatre in Dublin. She went on to write two plays for the company, including Women Without Men which was produced at the Gate in 1938. Despite acclaim, the play was never published or revived — until we produced the play’s belated American premiere to much acclaim in 2016 at New York City Center Stage II.
“An overlooked gem… An excellent production. There’s absolutely no grandstanding in director Jenn Thompson’s beautifully composed ensemble piece. Individually, the performances are distinctive, but the collective work of the company is even more impressive.” VARIETY

Wednesday, April, 7, 2021 7:00 pm

Reading of:

Heartbreak House.

INTERNATIONAL CANADIAN STARS LEAD NEW PROJECT
TO SUPPORT LOCAL ECONOMIC RECOVERY
  From Barrie, Ontario:   Artistic Producer Arkady Spivak announced Dinner à la Art, a brand-new community partnership project, that will bring five exclusive, online readings with iconic Canadian and international artists to homes around the world from April 7 to 11,2021.

The first reading is Heartbreak House by George Bernard Shaw and directed by Richard Ouzounian to be streamed on April 7, 2021 at 7pm.  This one-time event will star Tony Award winner Len Cariou, best known for his portrayal of ‘Sweeney Todd’ in the original cast of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and Film, Television and Stage icon Ed Asner. TIFT alumni and star of Royal Canadian Air Farce Craig Lauzon, Stratford and Shaw Festivals leading actor Alexis Gordon and star of TIFT’s internationally acclaimed The Curious Voyage Michael Torontow.  The cast also includes Cynthia Dale, best known for her role as lawyer Olivia Monk in Street Legal and multiple seasons at the Stratford Festival. Joining the cast is Nicole Joy-Fraser, who has performed on West End and across Canada, and debuted her one-person production as part of TIFT’s Plural of She festival last summer.
 
Play readings for Dinner à la Art were selected and curated by Richard Ouzounian.
 
An important component of this project is to stimulate economic recovery of the region’s hardest hit, privately owned restaurants and retailers. Admission to any of the Dinner à la Art readings will be with the purchase of a meal or a gift card (a $30 CAD minimum). Purchased meals and gift cards can also be donated to a stranger by each participating restaurant.
 
This project was conceived to bring Simcoe County’s best elements of entertainment, fine dining, and local merchandise together for a unique, community-inspired event.  

How it works   Please visit TIFT’s website to see all participating restaurants (dine-in, take-out, and delivery options are available) and retailers. The purchase of $30 CAD or more to any of the participating businesses, an access code will be provided by the chosen outlet to receive a complimentary link from TIFT.  
 
For more information, please click HERE.
 
All purchases must be made through the participating restaurant or retailer of choice. After the purchase is made, an access code will be provided by the restaurant and a link to the reading will be provided by Talk Is Free Theatre.  

Readings  
Wednesday, April 7, 2021
 
Starring
Ed Asner, Len Cariou, Cynthia Dale,
Alexis Gordon, Nicole Joy-Fraser,
Craig Lauzon,
And
Michael Torontow
 
In
 
HEARTBREAK HOUSE
By George Bernard Shaw, Directed by Richard Ouzounian
 
What happens when socialites, tycoons and drifters collide in the British countryside on the eve of World War I? Shaw’s Heartbreak House is a comedy that weaves together the deceptive nature of the ruling class, love triangles, and the fine line between order and catastrophe.  -~Running time is 85 minutes~   Technical Requirements   A valid email address. A good internet connection.    

Thursday, April 8, 2021, 7:00 pm  

Reading of:  

Riot  

MORE CANADIAN STARS OF STAGE AND SCREEN ANNOUNCED AS PART OF DINNER A LA ART, TO SUPPORT LOCAL ECONOMIC RECOVERY  

Barrie, ON…Today, Talk Is Free Theatre released the title and cast of acclaimed artists for one more reading as part of Dinner à la Art. Riot was written in 1995 by Andrew Moodie and will be streaming for one night only on April 8, 2021. Directing this Chalmers Canadian Play Award winner is actor, playwright, and co-founder of Blue Bird Theatre Collective, Tawiah M’Carthy.  
 
Starring in Riot is Dora Award-winning actor Daren A. Herbert, who is best known for his roles in television series Kim’s Convenience, Falling Skies, and several productions with Soulpepper. Fellow Dora Award winner Vanessa Sears who has performed across Canada for such companies as the Shaw Festival and Mirvish Productions is also cast in a major role. The cast also includes Cameron Grant, who has performed with the Shaw Festival and InspiraTO festival; Giovanni Spina who is an acting company member of Shakespeare in the Ruff and TIFT, and Jahlen Barnes, who has performed in featured roles with such companies as the Shaw Festival, Neptune Theatre, and TIFT.

The price of admission to any of these exclusive readings is a $30CAD minimum purchase from one of the local participating restaurants or retailers.   To see the complete list of participating businesses, please click HERE.    

Thursday, April 8, 2021
 
Starring
Daren A. Herbert, Vanessa Sears,
Jahlen Barnes, Cameron Grant,  
And
Giovanni Spina
 
In
 
RIOT
By Andrew Moodie, Directed by Tawiah M’Carthy

A dramatic and often humorous look at six black Canadians of diverse backgrounds who share a Toronto house. Their lives unfold against the backdrop of civil unrest, which erupted when the Los Angeles police officers on trial for the beating of Rodney King are acquitted. The fracas outside keeps intruding as characters clash, collide, and swap jokes about everything from racism to the status of Quebec as a distinct society, from Malcolm X to The Road to Avonlea. 

~Running time is 90 minutes~

Audience Advisory
Coarse language and adult content 

Technical Requirements   A valid email address. A good internet connection.       

Friday, April 9, 2021 9 am to 10 am   CIUT FRIDAY MORNING, 89.5fm

I’m interviewing Sandra Laronde, the Artistic Director of Red Sky, a superb dance company specializing in telling Indigenous stories through dance.    

Friday, April 9, 2021 7:00 pm  

Reading of:  

She Stoops to Conquer.  

Part of Dinner à la Art Initiative from Talk is Free Theatre   Let the laughter in! Colin Mochrie and Gavin Crawford lead cast of acclaimed artists in a one-night-only event for a good cause.    Barrie, ON…Today, Talk Is Free Theatre announced that internationally renowned comedian Colin Mochrie will star in an exclusive online event with acclaimed artists as part of Dinner à la Art. Directed by Richard Ouzounian, the uproarious comedy She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith will be streamed for one night only on April 9, 2021 at 7pm.

Colin Mochrie is best known for his work on Whose Line Is It Anyway?, and his featured roles in The Red Green Show, Murdoch Mysteries, and many more. The cast also includes Gavin Crawford, whose television show, The Gavin Crawford Show, won the Gemini Award for comedy, and Dora Award winner Rebecca Northan, who is best known for her hilarious roles on Alice, I Think, and This Hour Has 22 Minutes. Multi-award winning TIFT alumni and Stratford leading actor Gabi Epstein will be playing a featured role along with local professional Jason Allin, whose one-person production Chaplin: About Face was commissioned by TIFT. Joining the cast are Dora Award winning performer Malindi Ayienga, who debuted her one-person production last summer as part of TIFT’s Plural of She festival, Brendan Chandler, the current star of TIFT’s indefinitely touring production of Tales of an Urban Indian, and Noah Beemer who has performed with such companies as Young People’s Theatre and TIFT to name a few.


The price of admission to any of these exclusive readings is a $30CAD minimum purchase from one of the local participating restaurants or retailers.   To see the complete list of participating businesses, please click HERE.    

Friday, April 9, 2021
 
Starring
Colin Mochrie, Gavin Crawford,
Jason Alin, Malindi Ayienga, Noah Beemer, Brendan Chandler,  
Gabi Epstein and Rebecca Northan 
 
In
 
SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER
By Oliver Goldsmith, Directed by Richard Ouzounian
 
Some things have not in changed in the world of romance since 1773 when She Stoops to Conquer was first performed. Egotistical men still make fools of themselves pursuing women who are far more intelligent and sensible than them. To illustrate how contemporary this classic is, director Richard Ouzounian has assembled a cast featuring some of the finest comedians available today. The Zoom stage is set for hilarity.

~Running time is 90 minutes~   Technical Requirements   A valid email address. A good internet connection. Saturday, April 10, 2021, 7:00 pm   Reading of:   Bright Lights   Look up! An out-of-this-world experience with stars of stage and screen is coming this April.    Streaming online to screens around the globe for one-night-only on April 10, 2021 is the razor-sharp farce Bright Lights, written and directed by Dora Award winner Kat Sandler. Performed by celebrated Canadian artists, this exclusive reading is part of Dinner à la Art, a new project from TIFT to help support some of Simcoe County’s hardest-hit, privately-owned restaurants and retailers.
 
Garnering numerous accolades since its sold-out premiere in 2016, this masterfully orchestrated comedy stars distinguished stage actor and Dora Award winner Jeff Lillico, whose recent credits include the award-winning television series On the Basis of Sex. The cast also includes award-winning performer Jakob Ehman who starred in the film adaptation of The Drawer Boy and several TIFT productions including The Libertine, and Gotcha. Featured roles are played by the Stratford Festival’s Tahirih Vejdani, whose work can also be seen on CBC and Netflix series, Dora Award nominated performer Brandon Antonio, whose credits include The Rocky Horror Show and Next to Normal, and Vanessa Smythe, best known for her role as ‘Michio’ on the television series The Expanse and performed her solo production as part of TIFT’s Plural of She festival last summer.
 
The price of admission to any of the exclusive Dinner à la Art readings is a $30CAD minimum purchase from one of the local participating restaurants or retailers. An access code will be provided to anyone making a purchase between now and the performance dates.   To see the complete list of participating businesses, please click HERE.  

Saturday, April 10, 2021 at 7pm

Bright Lights

Starring
Brandon Antonio, Jakob Ehman,
Jeff Lillico, Vanessa Smythe
and
Tahirih Vejdani 
In

BRIGHT LIGHTS
Written and Directed by Kat Sandler

Bright Lights is a dark comedic snapshot into an hour in the life of an alien abduction support group after its leader is accused of being an alien. How do they decide who to believe when everything is shrouded in absurdity? ~Running time is 90 minutes~   Technical Requirements   A valid email address. A good internet connection.     Sunday, April 11, 2021. 7:00 p.m   Reading of:   The Great Gatsby.   Eric McCormack and Chilina Kennedy star in a one-night-only event to help support local restaurants and retailers across Simcoe County.   Barrie, ON…Talk Is Free Theatre announced today the title and star-studded cast of one more reading as part of Dinner à la Art. Streaming for one night on April 11, 2021 at 7pm is a new adaptation of the seminal novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The classic novel was adapted for online audiences by Richard Ouzounian, who also directs.

Playing the role of the enigmatic Jay Gatsby is international star of Broadway, Film and Television, and best known for his role as Will Truman on NBC’s smash hit sitcom Will & Grace, Eric McCormack. Star of Broadway’s Beautiful: The Carole King Musical Chilina Kennedy will be playing debutante ‘Daisy Buchanan’. The cast also includes TIFT co-founder and Stratford leading actor Mike Nadajewski, Kimberly-Ann Truong, best known for her featured role in the Stratford Festival’s The Rocky Horror Show, Autumn-Joy Dames, who has been featured in Legally Blonde, and Sister Act; Griffin Hewitt from TIFT’s production of Into the Woods; the Stratford Festival’s Aidan deSalaiz, and Montreal based Gabe Maharjan, who has performed with Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.

The price of admission to any of these exclusive readings is a $30CAD minimum purchase from one of the local participating restaurants or retailers   To see the complete list of participating businesses, please click HERE.    

April 11, 2021
 
The Great Gatsby
Starring
Eric McCormack, Chilina Kennedy,
Autumn-Joy Dames, Aidan deSalaiz, Griffin Hewitt,
Gabe Maharjan, Mike Nadajewski,
And
Kimberly-Ann Truong
 
In
 
THE GREAT GATSBY
By F. Scott Fitzgerald, Adapted and Directed by Richard Ouzounian

 F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic story of romantic obsession in the Roaring Twenties gets an intimate and searching re-examination in this Zoom adaptation by Richard Ouzounian, the first dramatic look at this story since it went into public domain this year. Eric McCormack stars as the mysterious millionaire, Jay Gatsby and Chilina Kennedy is Daisy, the woman he loved, lost and tries to win again…with tragic consequences for all concerned.
 -~Running time is 90 minutes~

    Technical Requirements   A valid email address. A good internet connection.        

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Streaming for free.

Produced by Nightwood Theatre, Native Earth Theatre Company and conceived by New Harlem Productions by Donna-Michelle St. Bernard.

Idea conceived by Donna-Michelle St. Bernard.

Written by:  Reneltta Arluk,

Tara Beagan,

Yolanda Bonnell,

Darla Contois,

Aria Evans, 

Lindsay “Eekwol” Knight,

Jessica Lea Fleming,

Falen Johnson,

Émilie Monnet,

Yvette Nolan,

Michelle Olson,

jaye simpson

Directed by: Cole Alvis

Jessica Carmichael

Katie German

Sound Design and Composition by Olivia Shortt and Cosette Pin

Multimedia Interpretations by Kaylyn and Kassiday Bernard of Patuo’kn.

Art work: Natalie Sappier,

Cast: Cole Alvis

Reneltta Arluk

Tara Beagan

Samantha Brown

Lindsay “Eekwol” Knight

Monique Mojica

Joelle Peters

Tara Sky

Michaela Washburn

Embodying Power and Place is a huge endeavor produced by Nightwood Theatre, Native Earth Theatre Company and conceived by New Harlem Productions, specifically Donna-Michelle St. Bernard. It dramatizes the 2019 Final Report of the Federal Commission on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls entitled Reclaiming Power and Place.

The Report is a two-part, 12 chaptered, hefty document. In 2020 over a dozen artists from a wide range of disciplines were commissioned by Donna-Michelle St. Bernard, of New Harlem Productions, to read and create a response to specific chapters of the report. The digital result is entitled: Embodying Power and Place.

From the press information: “This digital iteration of Embodying Power and Place offers twelve audio-visual works that seek to honour the missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, Trans, and Two-Spirit people, and strives to create a sacred space in which to reflect, heal, and find renewed hope. The selections incorporate text, sound and imagery from a rich array of Indigenous creators. “

Some pieces used videos of nature to enhance the spirituality of Indigenous culture. Some used animation for the same effect. Each piece varies in length from about five to 22 minutes. Each segment distils what each chapter is about and presents it in poetic writing suffused with anger, frustration and the brutality of the report, but also illuminates the spirit of Indigenous life, the reverence for the land and earth.

For example:

Villa Puffs by Falen Johnson, directed by Cole Alvis, visuals directed by Patuo’kn, performed by Michaela Washburn.

This piece dramatizes Chapter 1 of the Report: Centering Relationships to End Violence.  It is about a woman remembering her younger self and her first encounter with bullies in grade 3 who beat her up. But she was saved by an older girl who defended her. The symbolic sound of crows cawing in the background (as well as in other pieces) illuminates the importance of birds, insects and the land in Indigenous culture, and also focuses on the struggle to avoid violence. Falen Johnson gives the girl a wonderful line: “To be seen is a really powerful thing, eh?”

Baby Girl by Tara Beagan dramatizes chapter 7: Confronting Oppression—Right to Security. Directed by Cole Alvis, performed by Tara Beagan, Joelle Peters, Michaela Washburn.

Lorna is 16 and has been in and out of foster homes. She got pregnant by a young man in one of those homes and she’s just given birth to her daughter. She had her first child at 13 and that child was put up for adoption. It’s looks like the same will happen here. It’s a bleak life of being shunted from one place to another, and not being able to talk to an Indigenous nurse or doctor or at least someone who understands her life and situation. But then Tara Beagan creates a twist in the story that offers hope, salvation and optimism.  

While the anger is palpable in the writing, so is the poetry. In Becoming by Michelle Olson the language is ceremonial, reverential. A character says: “The earth is my law. The crows are my scattered thoughts.”  So vivid an image.

Subtle drumming underscores many of the pieces. There are the sounds of nature, boots crunching snow, water flowing, birds singing. We are put in the world of each piece.

Embodying Power and Place offers an Indigenous interpretation of yet another report that depicts a disgraceful point in our history.

The 12 offerings of Embodying Power and Place can be found for free at: http://www.embodyingpowerandplace.com/videos

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