As the Opening Night of Dragonfly approaches (March 14-24, 2019), we took a moment to ask Lara some questions based on her play and on her past experiences:
Why it is important to share stories written by trans writers?
To show where fundamentally we are the same as cis people. And to show where we are different, unique, special, valid, deep and valuable. In my case, I want people to know how important it was that I was doing something valid. Scientifically and spiritually. That hormones and surgery would quell my lifelong gender dysphoria and that surgery would make me feel complete and for want of a better word, normal. I think many people have very little knowledge of trans people and seem bizarrely incurious, but also permit themselves to wax for hours about our lives and our rights and our needs. I think the science is growing more firm every day that trans brains have a variant that can be seen with instruments, a variant that makes our brains appear closer on some mappings to the gender we know we are. And yet most people still frame it as a “choice’. This is something I did that I needed to do, that I did years too late and that is very serious and life-saving. Also, people should know many of us are very happy but we are so often treated like garbage and it wears you down and kills your trust. I am one of the very very lucky ones. I have loving friends, a loving family, a job, a home, and my health. All these things are taken for granted by many. Many trans people have none of the above. People are trying to erase us from public life and I often feel like they are succeeding.
Why did you choose to have to two performers tell the story of a trans person?
There are two answers. First, that pre-transition in 2010, I wrote a show for TPM for the Carol Shields Festival of New Works called One Man’s Show with Sarah Constible, a gender autobiography that dealt with my gender dysphoria in a subtle way. In early transition, I considered a second act for TPM called One Woman’s Show, this act starring a male actor. Then, I, and the world changed and the limitless potential of stripping binary and gender from art suddenly freed the whole enterprise. I had always wanted this play to be the inside voice of a trans child and adult since so many stories of trans lives are about bodies changing and bodies colliding with others. (If I see one more news story of a trans woman that starts with her or them putting on makeup, I will hurl). So now, we have a show for two actors of any gender, age or ability who I call THEY and THEM and who both embody a trans identity from the inside. In assigning lines to this cast, I ignored gender leanings and you soon find they are so pervasive and yet so easily dispensed of with patience and imagination. I focused entirely on their individual strengths and since this work is basically blank verse, on how I could hear them (or they) saying a particular line. It was tough because Sarah’s performance in the first show was so fresh in my mind and I moved a few lines to Eric which was strange to my ears at first but confirmed that this experiment in non-gendered theatre esp in a play that deals so much with gender could work. And I hope you all agree.
How are you able to be so vulnerable and forthcoming about your life experience. What motivates your vulnerability?
I think more properly I write about times when I was vulnerable and part of maybe why the play ends at the start of my transition process is that I am still vulnerable in being a trans woman who only passes as a woman some of the time and I need more time to look back on this vulnerable time. I think you need to be not angry to be funny, and not angry to write about the hurt you have endured and the hurt you have caused, so you need some growth and distance. As for forthcoming, I think it’s the same. To use an alimentary metaphor I think we can only regurgitate what we have fully digested. Otherwise, your work is gas or puke.
What do you hope people will take away from this play?
That this was a spiritual journey for me: from innocence, through a wilderness of puberty and pain, to purgatory and bardo and finally to redemption rebirth and happiness
You have a broad range of activities in your life that people may not know about – What are your passions in life?
Friends, cooking, reading, rats, opera, theatre, classical music; feeling happy and alive most of the time now. Also, since my transition, I am more interested in looking at things in a different way. As Poe wrote: The more I see, the more it seems it’s all a dream within a dream. I love ghosts and the enneagram and take the horoscope serious enough I will avoid stuff if it tells me to. I also attend Quaker Meetings, St. Ben’s Table, and Young United on occasion. I love the quiet of the Quakers and the music and sermons at Young and St. Ben’s. I strive to break what Blake calls our “mind-forg’d manacles”,
In every cry of every Man,
In every Infant’s cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forg’d manacles I hear.
~ Wm. Blake, London
You are a huge fan of opera – what are your top three opera picks that everyone should see in their lifetime?
Even if you can’t see them, listen: Verdi’s Rigoletto, The Ring Cycle by Richard Wagner, All the mature Mozart operas, Lucia Di Lammermoor, by Donizetti Janacek’s Janufa, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk by Shostakovich, is that three?
You grew up in Glasgow in the 1960s – what did Winnipeggers miss out on?
Not much. It was coming to the end of a dirty, sluggish, impoverished, depressed time and a better one would not begin until years after we left. Moving to Toronto in 1972 (mullets excepted) was the best thing my parents ever did for themselves or my sister and me.
You talk about your experience in Toronto during the AIDS crisis in Dragonfly, what can tell us about the Toronto AIDS crisis that people might not know?
Cynically: that there was an AIDS crisis and many many many young people died and no-one seemed to care, not really. That as crap as it is for trans people now it was ten times worse for any gay or in any way non-cisnormative non-heterosexual person when I grew up. Also, it was a true death sentence so the idea of thinking you were infected and being terrified to get tested made people antsy and grumpy and tired but at the same time most people walked around like nothing was happening.
Do you have future project plans you wish to share?
I am getting married! I just have to meet someone. I am leaving the Winnipeg Comedy Festival after 18 years. I am teaching, I love it. I want to read even more and write poetry.
Tuesday, January 29, 2019
The Good Will – Social Club
625 Portage, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 2G4
A New Year! New Beginnings! New Art!
Join some of Winnipeg’s coolest Indie Theatre artists as they TAKEOVER the TPM SALON and set out on wild new artistic journeys.
Start your year off with inspiring new ideas!
Curated by Tanner Manson!
The Fresh & Fearless Line up:
Naked Theatre Productions preview of “Little Dead Lady” – Created and performed by: Rebekah Anne Marie, Jenn Davis, and Sarah Flynn; premiering at IbsenFest.
New Work by Fill The (W)hole Theatre Company – Lindsay Johnson, Brigitte Plouffe and Rayna Masterton.
Hera Nalam will be sharing some original theatrical tunes!
Music new and beloved (and maybe more?) by Walk&Talk Theatre Company – Duncan Cox, Tanner Manson and Ben Townsley.
Darla Contois will share an excerpt of a new piece.
A reading of a new work by Wren Brian – “A Fine Line”.
About the Artists:
Inspired by their love of storytelling, Fill The Whole Theatre Company aims to collaborate with a range of artists and community members to create multidisciplinary theatrical experiences.
Walk&Talk Theatre Company is a Winnipeg-based, award-winning company that aims to find innovative ways of creating original music and original theatre that engages the heart and the brain.
Hera Nalam is a 23 year old up and coming singer-songwriter and actor originally from Cebu, Philippines but is now locally based in Winnipeg.
Naked Theatre Productions – Naked /’nāked/ (adj.) without the usual covering or protection; exposed to harm; vulnerable.
Darla Contois is an award winning Cree/Salteaux theatre artist based out of Winnipeg, MB. She graduated from the Centre for Indigenous Theatre in Toronto of 2014. Her work has taken her all across Canada and most recently overseas to Germany’s Theatreformen Theatre Festival.
Wren Brian started her career in Whitehorse, Yukon (territory of the Kwanlin Dün & Ta’an Kwäch’än) where she was born and raised. Currently based in Winnipeg on Treaty 1 territory, she is dedicated to creating characters that can be played by actors of any gender, ancestry, ability, and/or age.
We would like to wish everyone the happiest of Holidays and the very best for a New Year filled with peace and joy, happiness and good health and every other good wish for YOU, our fantastic friends!
2018 was an amazing year with the World Premiere of Patrick Friesen’s A Short History of Crazy Bone, the first ever Interlake Chautauqua Tour and Stephen Massicotte’s beautiful drama, Mary’s Wedding!
A few special nods to our community:
We congratulate Patrick Friesen on his Evie Award for Best New Work and celebrate the entire team led by director Andraea Sartison, choreographer Tanja Woloshen and the incomparable Tracey Nepinak, as Crazy Bone.
The Interlake Chautauqua Fundraiser on May 3rd launched us up Highways 6, 7 and 8 with The Interlake Chautauqua Tour! Thank you to all our community partners for opening their hearts and homes to our merry band of artists! We look forward to sharing more from our adventures at our April 30th Salon -Save the Date!
The culmination of 18 months of work, the Chautauqua tour included everything from perogy and vinarterta workshops, a Historical Art Tour through New Iceland, over 150 hours of theatre workshops for children and youth, and three screenings of Andy Blicq’s documentary, A Song for John Ramsay with special guests Scott Nolan and William Prince were held in Riverton and Peguis. Mary’s Wedding was performed in high schools and community halls across the region and Salons were held in greenhouses, bars, halls, and a big boisterous kitchen party rocked the Arborg Legion! Dances for teens and seniors were hosted with the Country Pride band. (PLUS Andraea was 7 months pregnant when she started the tour… we’re happy to have now welcomed the newest member of TPM!)
As the year drew to a close, Grant Guy conducted a sold out Object Theatre Workshop which included visiting artists from Théâtre de la Pire Espèce and a special performance of their show Ubu on the Table. Thanks to our partners at Théâtre Cercle Moliere for making this cultural exchange possible.
Finally, our hearty thanks to the Goodwill Social Club for hosting our Salons. Good cheer and warm hugs to our volunteers for all their enthusiastic help. And a special shout out to Debbie Patterson, Grant Guy, Gislina Patterson, Zorya Arrow and Prairie Fire for partnering on the salon programming in 2018. Salons in the New Year to be held on January 29th, February 26th and April 30th!
We want to thank you for all of your support and love – we really appreciate each and every one of you! Not to mention, a huge heartfelt thanks to this year’s partners & generous sponsors!
TPM Staff – Ardith, Andraea, Rea, Ian and Corinne
TPM Board – Clay, Janet, Bill, Carolyn, Ray, Lisa, Justin and Chris!
Photo credit – Dylan Hewlett – A Short History of Crazy Bone
Linda Beech – Set Design, Itai Erdal – Lighting Design, jaymez – Sound Design, Claire Thérèse Friesen – Costume Design
Ensemble – David Arial, Zorya Arrow, Arne MacPherson, Tracy Penner, Tracey Nepinak
Photo credit – Duncan McNairnay – Mary’s Wedding
Featuring Justin Fry and Sarah Flynn
Set Design by Rebekah A.M. Enns, Costume Design by Joseph Abetria, Lighting Design by Adam Parboosingh, Sound Design by Matthew Waddell, Composition by Scott Nolan
Photo credit – Chris Sousa – Interlake Chautauqua – Featuring Claire Friesen
We know that sometimes you need a wonderful (and clutter-free!) gift for your favourite hard- to-buy-for person. We think we can help you out: Tickets to Dragonfly, playing March 14-24, 2019! Buy a ticket (or several) to see Dragonfly by Lara Rae – a raw and heartfelt story of a half century long (and counting) gender odyssey.
Not sure which performance they will be attending? No problem! We don’t expect you to be Kreskin and we won’t charge a fee if they need to shift to a different performance date. Just have them call or email us and we’ll make it work in their calendar!
One size fits all, nut and gluten free, and fast! – can’t go wrong! Plus, giving the gift of great theatre AND supporting your local non-profit theatre makes you look like a star – win-win!
To purchase, click below!
Call us – 204-989-2400 – if you need assistance! Sometimes online purchases prove tricky, and we can also process your request over the phone. Happy Holidays!
4 weeks. 8 communities. A whole new expanded family. This sums up the last month for a group of rag-tag artists in the Interlake. Little did we know how when we set out about how rewarding this experience would be. As our tour wrapped up yesterday in Teulon, we can’t help but feel full: full of love, and full of inspiration.
In previous letters from the road I’ve repeatedly mentioned the theme of family, and though that theme may seem over used here, I feel it sums up the Chautauqua tour perfectly. Whether it was a bright high-school student not wanting us to leave, or an elderly community member asking one of us to dance, or a billet introducing us as “my girl” or “my son” we felt truly at home everywhere we went. The way each community welcomed us in with open minds and open hearts, showed us that art can live anywhere.
Reflecting back on the tour as a whole, the only regret was not being able to do more. At the end of each week we felt we had just begun to crack the shell that was the artistic potential of each community and begin to find our place within it.
When we entered our last week and I could feel tour coming to an end. I had an odd mixture of feelings. As the week progressed, it felt like each day was getting shorter and shorter, and it wasn’t because of daylight savings time.
We clung to each night as we were able to- not ready for the tour to end. Our last night was spent together at the Teulon Hotel playing pool, and dancing with what the bartender called the “special lights” on. You could say we lit up the town, or at least the bar! A local asked us who we were, and never did we feel more like heroes than when we responded, “we’re artists!” and explained to them our mission in their community- make connections, learn local stories, bring theatre and art to the rural and remote locations. We were very proud.
In each community we would learn about local history, and also engage in conversations about the struggles of the present and hopes for the future. This came to life in a new way as we prepared for our final presentation in Teulon- where we hosted an afternoon of performances and activities to help the town brainstorm ideas for its Centennial Celebration next year. We shared stories we dug up from research at the museum and demonstrated ways we thought they could teach this history, while engaging the whole community in making plans and dreams for the next 100 years.
On the drive home I felt a peaceful accomplishment- we had done good.
Today as I sit at home reflecting on the weeks that have recently passed, a few names still ring in my head: Patsy, Joel, Adeline, Merle, Emily, Ray, among many others. These people are what made our time so special. So in the closing moments of the Chautauqua tour I personally want to say thank you to each and every one of those people- and all the community members who supported us.
Each week I’ve ended these letters saying “Until next time, it’s been nice Winnipeg. Talk soon.”, but now that we’re back in Winnipeg for good it feels only right that I should address our other homes. So, it’s been nice staying with you Steep Rock, Eriksdale, Arborg, and Teulon. We will see you soon.
Chris Sousa and the rest of the TPM team.
Many thanks to our community partners and hosts and our generous sponsors!
Our merry band of artists are enjoying their last week in the Interlake! While they are out on the road we have our Chautauqua documentarian, Chris Sousa, bringing you letters from the road!
The past week in Arborg was a trip to say the least – the word trip used in both a metaphorical and literal way. Our week centred on community workshops; a kitchen party, vinarterta and pierogi making, rug braiding, and theatre workshops. The meat of our time however, came from two historical tours. Our guide, Jóel Friðfinnsson, took us to many significant sites in New Iceland. At the beginning of the week, we (the artists) were instructed to listen, watch, and create something of artistic significance to perform for the public tour at the end of the week. This opportunity was unique as it allowed each of us to interpret the legendary stories in our own eclectic way. From spoken word poetry, story telling, performance art, to song, we had it all. But there was one piece performed that held a collective significance. Theatre Projects Manitoba’s artistic director Ardith Boxall, performed a piece that she called “The Naming”. In this piece, we were to write names of significance within our personal heritage on a card. If we felt willing, we were to say the names of those we represented, releasing them to the lake and sky. Then we placed the cards into a fire on the shoreline of Lake Winnipeg. After each person read their set of names there was a breath of silence creating an odd mixture of feelings. At first, it felt mournful, but soon transformed to a reverent celebration of heritage. This event summed up my experience in every community thus far. At the beginning of each week, we enter as outsiders, but by the end, we leave as family. This act of letting go, but not forgetting, helped as we left yet another family in Arborg and Riverton.
As we enter the final week of tour, I am torn. The experience from start to finish has been one big grand experiment, forming relationships that will stick in our memories and hearts until the day we come back to make more memories. As we begin this final week, we find our self in Teulon, the gateway to the Inter-lake. Once again, we enter as outsiders but are certain to leave this fourth and final community as family.
As always, it was nice to talk to you Winnipeg.
Until next time.
Interesting fact about Teulon: Every September Teulon celebrates pumpkin fest. Among the many attractions the famous pumpkin growing contest leads the charge!
For more info follow here:
Photo cred: www.teulonpumpkinfest.com
Don’t Miss Event!
Mary’s Wedding: Nov. 7-18 in Winnipeg
Hot off the heels of this Chautauqua (and to rave reviews from audiences!), Mary’s Wedding opens in Winnipeg on Wednesday, November 7th at 8:00 pm. Tickets still available for Opening Night – get tickets on our website or by calling 204-989-2400!
Each week as I write these entries I find myself looking forward to the week to come. I don’t often find myself reflecting on what was; but, today as I write this letter from the road, I can’t shake the previous week spent in Eriksdale and Lundar.
During our time in these communities there were two events that were defining moments. The first was the Lundar community dance. This dance had people of varying ages: the elders, the youth, even the school principal was there! This inter-generational connection summed up much of our touring so far- being able to collaborate with, and bring together all ages.
The dance was also a ceremony of dares. More >
Our merry band of artists have left Winnipeg to explore another fabulous area in the Interlake! While they are out on the road we have our Chautauqua documentarian, Chris Sousa, bringing you letters from ‘up the 6’!
Leaving the Moosehorn area late Sunday evening, we all felt a sense of belonging and accomplishment. The first week of tour did so many things for our group, as well as the community we inhabited. After a week filled with eclectic programming, we discovered that we had a second family in Ashen and Steep Rock. As we left on that snowy evening we all had love in our hearts from the small dedicated towns, and ambition in our minds for the weeks to come. A day off came and passed on Monday and Tuesday we gathered again and set sail back up the Six; a happy new routine.
Heading into Lundar we could tell that this town had its own unique personality. Our first stop was Lundar School. This was the setting for the second school performance of Mary’s Wedding. After our time there, we left for Eriksdale. There we meet with our crew for a group lunch at the best restaurant in town known simply as the “The New Horizons Club”. This was clearly the it place to be in town. After our group meal, I took the opportunity to explore the town of Eriksdale. I walked through the streets and bushiness’ and discovered this town had a persona all its own. The trees, roads, and homes seemed peaceful and untouched, like it had always been there. Every community member we have met has welcomed us like we were close friends & family.
These two towns are proving to be unique and prosperous in their own way, and this tour is proving to be an experience worth remembering. With week # One in the books and week # Two moving steadily along, we look forward to the adventures and discoveries we will uncover in the coming days. I hope you are enjoying these stories as much as we are living them. Well, as always Winnipeg, its been nice. See you in a week!
Interesting fact about Eriksdale:
They have the only creamery museum in Manitoba!for more information on this historical landmark follow the link (below) for more info!
Check out the Eriksdale Museum HERE!
Don’t Miss – FREE Events!
7:00-9:00pm, Sabados’ Greenhouse
An evening of local stories & performances featuring community members and the artists of the Interlake Chautauqua tour. All ages are welcome!
With a Film screening by Erika MacPherson and performances by the newly formed Eriksdale Chautauqua Community Choir!
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 25
A Song for John Ramsay
Film Premiere and concert
featuring William Prince, Scott Nolan
and Duncan Mercredi
7:00-9:00pm, Riverton Hall
Gimli filmmaker Andy Blicq premieres his newest work- a “Song for John Ramsay” featuring Juno Award Winning songwriter William Prince (Peguis). Discover this rich local history of early Icelandic settlers and their friendship with local Indigenous man John Ramsay- right in Riverton near where it all began. The film will be followed by performances featuring special guests William Prince, Scott Nolan and Duncan Mercredi.
A Song for John Ramsay was commissioned by the New Iceland Heritage Museum as part of their newest exhibit that focuses on the legend of John Ramsay, and was created in the spirit of Reconciliation to highlight early stories of partnership and friendship between Icelandic Settlers and the Indigenous people in the New Iceland area. We thank them for their integral part in making this story and artwork come to life.
Many thanks to our community partners and hosts and our generous sponsors!
IT’S BEGUN! The Chautauqua / tour of the in Interlake successfully hit the road on Tuesday! While our merry band of artists are out on the road we have our Chautauqua documentarian, Chris Sousa, bringing you letters from ‘up the 6’!
It was noon in Winnipeg when we all met up, packed, and set sail for the 6 (the highway that is). The prairie roads held many a cow and plenty of flat land. After many 80’s songs, laughs, roadkill, and a few pit stops later and we had arrived in Moosehorn. This was the spot of our first group meal. We met up at a small diner before heading into town. Our server seemed delighted to seat us as she exclaimed “I was only vacuuming chairs before you arrived”. It was a humbling experience having a table of talented artists sitting together about to embark on a journey the likes of which we had never seen before.
Our next stop was the Steep Rock Community Hall. There we met with locals and listened to their stories over coffee, tea, and great cupcakes, possibly the best cupcakes. From there we all went our separate ways ready to embark on tomorrow.
The following day it became official- the first full day of tour and the opening of Mary’s Wedding. Our tour started with setting up the stage, lights, and equipment, all in Ashern Central School: “home of the cobras”. Watching from the outside looking in it became a surreal experience for me. As I watched the world of Mary’s Wedding come to life in a small high school gym, it became clear why this tour was important. As a team we’re bringing a story and a team together that could breathe life into a community that has faced many challenges over the years. For example the flooding in 2011 caused many a heart ache and many a tragedy that to this day have not fully been resolved. This tour represented more than just a show, it represents the Interlake and the resilience that it holds. Our Interlake Chautauqua is helping to rejuvenate a Manitoba wide arts scene. But this show isn’t all we’re doing on this tour!
Later we began our workshop series. Tonight’s workshop focused on storytelling with more than a dozen community members participating. Tomorrow’s will be songwriting and Fridays’s will branch into theatre.
This entry is one of many. I plan to write to you with updates and gentle facts about the areas we will explore. I will send you weekly “letters from the road”, if you will. Each entry will be filled with stories, heart, and updates on what the Chautauqua team is up to in the Interlake. Well Winnipeg, it’s been nice. See you in a week!
Our merry band of artists
November 26 to November 29
1 pm to 5 pm
Location: Manitoba Association of Playwrights (MAP)
503-100 Arthur St, Winnipeg, MB R3B 1H3
Theatre Projects Manitoba is presenting a four-day workshop on object theatre from November 26 to November 29, 1 pm to 5 pm. The Workshop will be led by Grant Guy along with contributions by Olivier Ducas and Francis Monty of Théâtre de la Pire Espèce, who are in Winnipeg performing Villes at Théâtre Cercle Moliere.
The workshop will introduce students to the art of object theatre. The participants will learn about different object theatre styles, its current history and development, characterization, manipulation techniques and body/object language (the biomechanics of the actor and object and their correspondence), and the actor and the object. Grant Guy will illustrate the methodology he used in the sixteen years at the helm of Adhere + Deny. This will be his methodology and will act as a launching point for the participants to begin the process to find their own. Greater effort will be placed on practical performance aspects. To do so the participants will select a scene from Alfred Jarry’s play Ubu Roi offering the participants opportunities to design, construct and manipulate their own puppets.
Ducas and Monty will join on November 26th to discuss their process, how they explore and determine what objects they use, and demonstrate the movement and characterization of the object. They will provide a brief overview and history of Théâtre de la Pire Espèce.
Introductory Topics to be discussed:
- History, Theory and Exploration of the Object as a Performer
- Text and Puppet Correspondence
- Puppet as Rebel, as Symbol, as Character
- Directing Manipulation of the Object
- Biomechanics of the Object and Manipulator
On the last day the participants will showcase their discoveries. Constructive feedback will be exchanged.
Space is limited. Participants will work in pairs. When enrolling participants can enroll as a duo, otherwise Grant Guy and Theatre Projects Manitoba will pair up participants.
Ubu on the Table
On November 27 at the Theatre Projects Manitoba’s Salon, co-presented by Théâtre Cercle Moliere, Olivier Ducas and Francis Monty will mount their Ubu on the Table!
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries Chautauquas travelled across the prairies, bringing diverse cultural programming to rural communities. Lectures, concerts, performances and demonstrations gathered the citizens together under one big tent for delightful artistic exchanges. Theatre Projects Manitoba brings to life a modern Chautauqua this fall. A merry band of multidisciplinary artists will go on the road together for one month, conducting week long residencies in four Interlake locations.
We are excited to be treading new waters in the Interlake of Manitoba this season. For two years we have been scheming dozens of events, workshops and performances with hundreds of Manitobans who live beyond our perimeter. We are looking forward to learning from and creating with them. We invite you to join us on tour. Whether you are returning to your roots, or exploring a new frontier the Interlake will delight, and we know that this new kind of work will also be refreshing for our steadfast Winnipeg audiences. Our Chautauqua tour is open to all- urban and rural, old and young. We hope to see you on the road!
Click below for a full schedule of activities in each location:
Join us for our 28th season! We’ll be celebrating Manitoban talent and stories, and are launching our most enormous project to date: This Land Floods, the Interlake Chautauqua.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries Chautauquas traveled across the prairies, bringing diverse cultural programming to rural communities. Lectures, concerts, performances and demonstrations gathered the citizens together under one big tent for delightful artistic exchanges.
This fall we bring to life a modern- day Chautauqua. A merry band of multidisciplinary artists will go on the road together for one month, conducting one week long residencies in four Interlake locations: Steep Rock, Arborg, Eriksdale and Teulon. While the artists reside in the community they will collaborate with local citizens through workshops, art projects, and performances. From striking up a choir to hosting old time dances with seniors and high school students, and from performing the exceptional play Mary’s Wedding by Canadian playwright Stephen Massicotte to co-hosting vinarterta workshops, the programming in each week is built with the community, for the community.
And it’s all for free!
Come and join us on the road, see what we have been working on with the citizens of the Interlake- and get to know one of the most well-loved regions of our province.
We’ve moved our Fundraiser to June 20th, 2018 – JOIN US!
The Interlake Chautauqua Fundraiser will take place on Wednesday, June 20th, at the West End Cultural Centre, and, fittingly, it’s Interlake themed! We’ll be bringing you music from the region by way of our musical guests: Daniel Peloquin-Hopfner (Red Moon Road), Sol James and fiddling sensation Brad Moggie. We will also share poetry, and theatrical readings devised around our Interlake research. Plus we’ll share the stage with some real-life Interlakers!
Between acts you can enjoy the camaraderie and silent auction for your chance to win art OR artistic experiences from the WAVE Artists (who wouldn’t love an art class on a boat!), plus specially-curated packages that could only come from the Interlake. And bring your appetite! There will be delicious food from our friends at Feast Cafe!
It will be a beautiful night to launch our ambitious and inspiring new project: This Land Floods, an Interlake Chautauqua Tour, a time for TPM’s Winnipeg and rural supporters to mingle, and an evening to celebrate one of the most well loved regions of our province.
The culmination of two years of investigation, planning and roadtripping- This Land Floods, an Interlake Chautauqua Tour is the new arm of Theatre Projects, refocusing some of our activities and creative processes outside of Winnipeg’s perimeter.
Starting in October, 2018 TPM will embark on a one month tour of Manitoba’s beloved Interlake region, stopping for a one week residency in each of the following towns (and surrounding municipalities): Steep Rock, Eriksdale, Arborg and Teulon. We will bring with us a beautiful production, and a caravan of artists- musicians, writers, performers who will collaborate with the Interlake citizens on workshops, cabarets, creative projects, performances and more!
Join us to hear about our plans, and help us raise the funds required to take theatre to the highways and waterways of the Interlake!
Tickets are available right here, right now or by calling our office at 204-989-2400
We look forward to seeing you there!
Wednesday, June 20th, 2018
At the West End Cultural Centre
386 Ellice Avenue
Doors 7:00, Show 8:00
Tickets $40 General Admission, or $25 for Artists
After a whirlwind opening week and weekend of A Short History of Crazy Bone, we are just tickled by the lovely audiences and reviews we have received!
The Winnipeg Free Press’ Randall King comments on Nepinak’s performance:
“…thanks to a terrific performance by Tracey Nepinak, Crazy Bone emerges as a singular creation, an outlaw without an outlet, a poet without a publication, a painter without a canvas, a shaman without a tribe.”
Joff Schmidt at CBC praises the butoh-inspired movement woven into the piece:
“It’s a slow, measured and often unsettling style, which fits perfectly here as the restless spirits that surround Crazy Bone force her to confront her past.”
If you are still looking for tickets for, you can buy them online or by calling us at 204-989-2400. A reminder that our Students Night is coming up this Tuesday, April 3rd at 7pm. Students can see the show for only $10 and there is a talkback and reception after the performance. See you at the theatre!
It is a beautiful and difficult tale. It is a Manitoba story.
Theatre Projects Manitoba is delighted and honoured to invite you to the world premiere of A Short History of Crazy Bone, a performance that treads the line between poetry, dance and theatre.
Canadian poet Patrick Friesen’s new play awakens Crazy Bone who walks on the outskirts of time, imagination and place – shunned for her individuality, sexuality, and for the non-conventional choices she has made. Crazy Bone is traveling to the river, trying to find a way back to herself. The play, inspired by the playwright’s great grandmother, is an exploration of the nature of the outsider, crowded by others and acutely alone. Crazy is a trickster, a wild woman laughing, a campesino, the artist. The ghosts she lives – and sometimes dances with – are not past loved ones but present companions.
The questions inherent in the piece are of an artist’s place in society. At the heart of the play is the movement, the process, of Crazy finding where she belongs, a spiritual odyssey in deeply human form. It is also a poetic exploration of the prairie landscape, rooted in our province’s identity and history. The lead role of Crazy Bone will be played by actress Tracey Nepinak; one of Manitoba’s finest theatre artists, who will be supported by performers David Arial, Zorya Arrow, Arne MacPherson and Tracy Penner.
Tickets are available on this website, by calling us at 204-989-2400, and at the door.
Exploring the bounty of bringing generations together in art and life. Our youth are agitating for radical reform, rebellion and revolution in art and in the world. Do we only rewrite the story that came before us? How do we embrace Elders and our faltering but necessary relationships.
The program will feature collaborations with artists of different generations.
Join us for a pint and some great theatre.
Thank you to everyone who has been with us in 2017- the artists who shared their brilliance in collaboration, the audiences who shared a tear or a laugh and their time, our friends in the Interlake who have shared their homes and stories with us, our supporters who give whatever they can! We feel very fortunate to have such a strong community, and we look forward to spending more time together in 2018. Enjoy your cozy winter, Merry Christmas!
That’s right folks! It’s the most wonderful time of the year. We are pleased to offer you 20% off tickets to A Short History of Crazy Bone so you can start striking names off your gift list!
Purchase before December 15th using the code: Crazy Deal! And we will send your tickets in the mail to you before Christmas.
It’s the second salon of the year at The Good Will – Social Club!
THE SHAPE OF THINGS –This Salon is about exploring artistic practice from other communities. Seeing, hearing, differently abled, our imaginations are as powerful as each one of our senses. We are keeping our conversation going- the one that began at Tomorrow’s Child– about how we experinece the world in many different ways. Act 1 will be curated by Debbie Patterson through Sick + Twisted Theatre featuring performances by Debbie, as well as Dan Augusta, Angela Chalmers and Dianna Rasing.
In Act 2 we will return to our exploration of This Land Floods- workshop style, together with our student reps Evan Martin, Reena Jolly, Alistair Wright, Chris Sousa, Emily Solstice, Sarah Jane Flynn and Tanner Manson, accompanied by our guest artist Ila Barker.
This is a free event, open to the public taking place from 7-9:30pm on November 28th! Please, join us.
Great review from CBC Manitoba’s Joff Schmidt about Tomorrow’s Child
You should experience Ghost River Theatre’s Tomorrow’s Child. You should not, however, see it.
That’s because this production from the Calgary theatre company — which they first performed in 2014, and which is being introduced to Winnipeg audiences by Theatre Projects Manitoba — is meant to be heard, and not seen, by an audience deprived of sight by blindfolds.
The result is trippy, immersive and engrossing.
Adaptors Eric Rose, Matthew Waddell and David van Belle use Ray Bradbury’s 1947 short story Tomorrow’s Child as their source material.
Set in the then-distant year of 1988, it tells the story of Polly (Anna Cummer) and Peter (Tyrell Crews), who decide their unborn baby will be delivered by a high-tech birthing machine. But a malfunction results in the child being born in a different dimension — and appearing to his parents, and the rest of the three-dimensional-seeing world, as a tentacled, blue pyramid.
Can Polly and Peter learn to love their extra-dimensional child? That’s the question the sometimes surprisingly touching script asks.
It’s weird sci-fi, and there’s an element of what the creators call “retro-futurism” here, but for the most part they play the story pretty straight.
It’s how that story plays out, though, that’s remarkable. Audiences are asked to put on blindfolds before being led (gently, by a group of lab-coated “performer mechs”) from the West End Cultural Centre lobby into the theatre space.
The story unfolds for us completely in the world of sound, and while performances here are very good (or sound very good, anyway), the real star of the show is the sound design by co-directors Rose and Waddell.
An aircraft passes behind us, around us, and finally lands in front of us with a sound so booming and realistic, you’d swear you can feel the gust of wind it kicks up.
Voices move around the room, past us, seemingly coming from all points thanks to an ingenious speaker set-up and some superb sound recording.
Noises and voices often layer, phase or flange with musical effect, creating a rich sonic soundscape. Sometimes the sounds we hear are joyful, like a child’s laughter. Sometimes they’re intense and unsettling rumbles, or unplaceable and alien futuristic sounds.
It can be an intense, and sometimes discombobulating, experience. Everyone will have a different picture of the show in their mind’s eye, but the tapestry of sound created ensures it will be a vivid picture.
The overall effect is transporting — the initial discomfort of being deprived of a sense most of us rely on so heavily starts to give way to immersion in the show’s sonic world.
And coming in at just around an hour, it lets us return to the visual world long before its powerful effect starts to wear thin.
It’s a wild trip — and one that has to be heard to be believed.
Catch Tomorrow’s Child at the West End Cultural Centre until Nov. 5.
Led by longtime Ghost River Theatre (Tomorrow’s Child) audiovisual designer and programmer Matthew Waddell, the Intro to Multimedia Design Intensive is a hands-on introduction to the latest tools and techniques used in sound and video design for theatre and multimedia performance. This four-day, 18 hour, workshop will combine lectures, live demos and in-class excercises that will guide participants through the process of digital audiovisual design and show control from conception to delivery. The intensive is intended for students, technicians, designers, artists and educators with little to novice experience with mutlimedia design or digital tools.
THE INTENSIVE COVERS
• QLab as a multimedia playback and control system. Qlab will be the backbone of this intensive and we will learn it from the ground up, starting with the very basics and slowly moving through its many features. We will look at how build basic and complex audio and video cues, how to apply live effects, video mapping onto custom surfaces and non-conventional shapes, working with multiple projectors and show control using MIDI and OSC.
• Audio techniques and tools including: effects, surround-sound and live performance systems. We will look at proper audio workflow techniques and software tools for making your audio sound better in any environment.
• Video techniques and tools including: efficient workflow, content creation, live camera manipulation, codecs, resolutions and how to deal with large video formats while using a slow or older computer.
- *No previous knowledge of Qlab required.
DATES AND TIMES
October 19: 6pm-9pm
October 20: 6pm-9pm
October 21: 10am-5pm
October 22: 10am-5pm
Early bird/Equity rate: $325
After September 15th, 2017: $350
E-mail a brief letter of interest stating why you want to take the workshop, and your professional CV to [email protected] to sign up or call 204.989.2400
Although not mandatory, participants are encouraged to bring their own Mac OS laptop computers to follow along with the demonstrations. We will be using Qlab extensively. Please have it installed and ready to use when you arrive. You will also have access to a projector so please bring a VGA adapter for your computer.
Download Qlab here: http://figure53.com/
Please let us know if you plan on attending by emailing [email protected] or calling 204.989.2400. This will allow us to send you documents, including our new bylaws to prepare for the meeting.
We’re embarking on new territory next season. Our theatrical adventures take us to new venues and towns, and launch us towards new horizons!
Ghost River Theatre’s Tomorrow’s Child will play October 24-November 5, 2017 at the West End Cultural Centre. Ghost River Theatre, with special permission from the Ray Bradbury estate, has created a new audio only adaptation of Bradbury’s sci-fi short story Tomorrow’s Child as a one-of-kind, audio-only theatre experience presented to a blindfolded audience. This ain’t no radio play–the quirks of 50s sci-fi are reimagined for a highly immersive sonic environment, created with the latest in sound technology. An unforgettable sonic journey that has to be heard to be believed.
A Short History of Crazy Bone, a TPM production written by Patrick Friesen will premiere March 29th and run until April 8th, 2018 at Le Cercle Molière. This long poem-turned-monologue awakens Crazy Bone (Tracey Nepinak), a middle aged Woman living on the edge of the world, at the edge of time, wandering the mid-path of her life, on the outskirts of a small town. She skirts between dream, memory and imagination, listening to herself and to the river, Crazy Bone is a trickster, a fool, a wild woman laughing, a campesino who through loss is finding her way back to herself.
In addition, Artistic Director Ardith Boxall and Associate Artistic Director Andraea Sartison hit the road with This Land Floods, a rural outreach project in the Interlake that includes interdisciplinary workshops, theatre education and collaboration between rural and urban artists. We began laying groundwork for this project during the 2016/17 season with our host community Arborg, conducting multiple visits for research, performance and meetings. Our exchange will continue throughout the coming season with the ultimate goal of creating a new play for Manitoban audiences in collaboration with the community that will debut in the coming years. We look forward to sharing our work in progress with you at a Chatuaqua style event featuring performance, ideas and art from the Interlake in Winnipeg next spring!
Salons– yes, you can expect those too! We will return to the Good Will Social Club- they’ve been so good to us! Expect four cabaret evenings throughout the year. We look forward to raising a glass to science fiction, sound, poetry, dance and Manitoba history- in the spirit of our season- with you at these free community events.
Walk through an exhibition of scientific discoveries and displays inspired by truth, legends, and dreams about the citizens of our one great city. Interact with your generous hosts and museum curators as you venture into the bowels of Science Affairs– where the collections come to life.
A performance installation directed by TPM associate artistic director Andraea Sartison, and devised using the scientific process by TPM’s 2016/17 student reps:Davis Plett, Evan Martin, Liam Naughten, Kerensa Peters, Rebekah Enns, and Sarah Flynn.
This FREE exhibition will be open from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on May 12th at Prairie Theatre Exchange, drop in during these hours at your leisure.
Science Affairs is the culmination of a season long partnership between our student reps and TPM’s associate artistic director Andraea Sartison. Beginning in September 2016, the reps were engaged in devised theatre workshops to generate artistic content using the scientific process. Work in progress was shared throughout the 2016/17 season at salons. Recently the ensemble spent time experimenting with how to unite all content created through installation and performance- resulting in the Carol Shields Festival exhibition.
It’s been a remarkable season!
Come celebrate with us on April 10th at 7:00 p.m.- our final salon at The Good Will Social Club (625 Portage Avenue).
It will be a casual evening of music, dancing, visiting and your chance to win a Theatre Projects Manitoba Re-Ward!
We will also host our raffle draw, your chance to win $700-$1000 (see raffle tickets below!) worth of food and entertainment.
All are welcome.
We hope to see you there!
Join us at The Good Will for our 5th salon of the season featuring Patrick Friesen & Friends in an evening of music and poetry.
Patrick Friesen is the playwright of “A Short History of Crazy Bone” which will premiere as part of TPM’s 2017/18 season.
Patrick will read from his own impressive catalogue of work, and will be joined by some of Winnipeg’s foremost poets and writers including Di Brandt, Per Brask and Scott Nolan. Join us at this free event!
The Good Will Social Club is located at 625 Portage Avenue.
We’re thrilled to welcome Native Earth Performing Art’s production of Huff by Cliff Cardinal to Winnipeg in February. We invite you to join us Feb 16th-26th at the Rachel Browne Theatre for the show.
Visit the Huff page to see all dates/times listed (in yellow on the left hand side).
We have a few special evenings planned including Student Night:
There are also talk backs with Cliff Cardinal on February 17th, 19th and 21st.
See you at the theatre!
The first salon of 2017 is taking place on January 30th at the Good Will!
Inspired by Cliff Cardinal writer/performer of TPM’s next show Huff (a Native Earth Performing Arts production) AND a young, fierce Canadian playwright- we are featuring the work of local dynamo writers with baby faces.
Join us for an evening of new work read by our University of Winnipeg and Manitoba reps and special guests including Frances Koncan, Molly Cross- Blanchard, Hannah Foulger, Gislina Patterson, Rebekah Enns and more!
Plus we’ll have some great music to boot featuring Micah Erenberg!
High school educators! We’re offering an exceptional experience for your students to get up close and personal with Cliff Cardinal, one of Canada’s most exciting young playwrights, this February. Book your students into one of our 1:00 p.m. matinees on February 15, 16, 21 or 23 and they will be invited to attend a talk back with Cliff post show. Tickets are only $5 for these performances. Huff is a challenging show that provides a launching pad for further conversation on suicide, solvent abuse, and Canadian stories.
Join us for Theatre Projects Manitoba’s 3rd salon of the year: on December 12th at 625 Portage Avenue.
Look forward to music by the Fu Fu Chi Chi trio, readings by local playwrights, and the next installment of Science Affairs- a devised theatre census by TPM’s University reps. Cozy up with us and get ready to ring in the new year.
We have some special nights coming up for Beautiful Man by Erin Shields.
Wednesday, November 16th at 7:00 p.m. at the Rachel Browne Theatre is PAY WHAT YOU CAN PREVIEW.
Friday, November 18th at 8:00 p.m. sip on a cocktail by Roost on Corydon while watching the show.
Tuesday, November 22nd at 7:00 p.m. is Student Night. Tickets for students are $10, and the show will be followed by a reception and talk back. All are welcome!
Join us on November 7th at 7:00 p.m. for a night at Prairie Theatre Exchange (our co-host for TPM ‘s 2nd Salon of the 2016-17 season) featuring the work of tenacious Canadian writer Erin Shields, delivered by local artists and the playwright herself.
Erin will be in Winnipeg for this evening of readings from her plays If We Were Birds, The Millennial Malcontent, and Montparnasse as we prepare for the launch of her play Beautiful Man.
Erin is a Montreal based playwright and actor. She won the 2011 Governor General’s Award for her play If We Were Birds, which premiered at Tarragon Theatre where she is currently a playwright-in-residence. Her adaptation of Ibsen’s The Lady from the Sea was part of The Shaw Festival’s 2015 season.
The evening also boasts some delicious side dishes: performances by TPM’s Student Reps from their new work Science Affairs, and music to boot. Doors open at 6:00pm. Program begins at 7:00pm.
Come for a glass of wine and some camaraderie, and whet your appetite for Beautiful Man running November 17-27 at the Rachel Browne Theatre.
This event is free of charge. Generously sponsored by the Canada Council For the Arts and the Playwrights Guild of Canada.
Please note that we are no longer selling tickets for Sargent & Victor & Me online. We are starting a waiting list for tonight’s final performance and may offer spots to a lucky few. Call us at 204-989-2400 for details or to join the waiting list.
We’re delighted to share with you three bold works by intrepid Canadian voices. Join us to experience unflinching stories that are artistically stunning and NOW.
This fall TPM’s heads out on to the road, stretching our Manitoba routes with a rural presentation of Sick + Twisted’s Sargent & Victor & Me by Debbie Patterson, including a limited Winnipeg run.
When the nights get longer and the snow begins to fly we will light a fire with Beautiful Man, Erin Shield’s sexy, no-holds-barred response to binge-worthy series like Game of Thrones and True Detective.
And in the dead of winter TPM presents one of the most arresting contemporary Canadian solo shows– Huff by Cliff Cardinal, a Native Earth Performing Arts production.
The season will be sprinkled with salons as well. This year, the University representatives from both University of Winnipeg and University of Manitoba come together to create a new production, through a highly scientific, laboratory-inspired creative process. Join us to see this show unfold and to experience performances and readings inspired by collaborating artists and our 2016/17 productions.
It’s a season of exciting partnerships, and we look forward to welcoming new companies and communities into the TPM fold. TPM continues its commitment to Make/Shift Theatre, the company in residence, who will transport audiences through time….as they continue to tinker away at their time machine.
We’re writing our own map down highways less traveled and we look forward to sharing the roadtrip with you.
Season passes are ON SALE now and you can purchase a Super pass (for all three shows) or a Slim pass (for Beautiful Man and Huff only) today. Click here to start shopping or call 204.989.2400 for more information or to purchase over the phone.
“probably the most vital social conversation happening in our city, if not the entire country.”
– The Uniter’s Thomas Pashko on Reservations
It was a three-year journey to bringing Reservations to the stage and along with our gratitude for such a passionate artistic team, we have many people to thank for this amazing experience.
We could not have done it without the incredible support of our sponsors, Assiniboine Credit Union, Investors Group, Pitblado Law, Relish Design, Winnipeg Free Press, The Gail Asper Family Foundation, Richardson Foundation, W.H. & S.E. Loewen Foundation, Thomas Sill Foundation and Winnipeg Foundations. Hugs and hearts also to our season funders and our amazing individual donors, as well as Playwright’s Workshop Montreal and the Manitoba Association of Playwrights, who both supported the development.
We send a special shout-out to our high school audiences and those fantastic students who experienced Reservations with attentiveness and consideration – you blew us away! And finally, the biggest thank you goes to YOU, our dear audience! Your consistent hunger for exciting and intelligent theatre is the proverbial wind beneath our wings. Our endless gratitude goes out to you!
TPM’s regular season of plays may be over, but stay tuned – we’ll be announcing our upcoming season in the coming weeks!
We are so pleased to welcome the very talented and accomplished Emma Tibaldo. We’re feeling pretty lucky to have snagged her from her busy schedule of theatre-making in Montreal! She co-directs Reservations alongside Winnipeg-based artist and educator, Ian Ross. Read on to learn more about Emma’s work, passion for new plays, and punk music.
Your work in Montreal with Talisman Theatre and Playwrights’ Workshop Montreal is primarily with new Canadian plays, and Reservations is no exception. What draws you to new scripts?
Ideas. Ideas on what it means to be human, including our ability to be inhuman. An ability to see the world differently. That is what attracts me to new work.
What challenges you about working on Reservations? What excites you?
The fact that we are creating two plays. Inhabiting two separate worlds with the same actors playing different characters in each play. Finding the ways in which the plays speak to each other and exploring prevailing attitudes towards First Nation issues of Land claims and Child and Family Services without underplaying the bonds of family, love and our human need for making connections.
Working with plays in development excites me. Grappling with ideas in space for the first time.
What do you do when you’re not creating art?
I am Artistic Director of a New Play Development Centre, Playwrights’ Workshop Montreal…so always in the process of creating art.
Any interesting projects coming up for you?
I am collaborating on a new project called Skin with Leslie Baker and the company The Bakery. Created using Viewpoints over a two year process.
Rumour has it you are part of a family band, The Tibaldos. What kind of music do you perform?
So, the family band is made up of my husband and two friends. We have been playing in our basement and playing shows locally for about 10 years. We call it lounge punk but it really is punk. We are all lovers of noise. And we are happiest when we get together to make that noise.
Check out this sweet sound byte from an interview CBC’s Terry MacLeod did with Reservations playwright Steven Ratzlaff, co-Director Ian Ross, and Music and Sound Designer Andrew Balfour. The interview aired on CBC Radio the morning of Saturday, March 5- but you can listen to it right now!
Reservations runs March 10 to 20 at the Rachel Browne Theatre.
We are delighted to introduce the TPM audience to Andrew Balfour, the Music and Sound Designer for Reservations. His accomplishments are numerous. Of Cree descent, Balfour has written a body of more than 40 choral, instrumental and orchestral works. He is also the founder and Artistic Director of Camerata Nova ,where he specializes in creating “concept concerts” exploring a theme through an eclectic choice of music, including new works and innovative inter-genre and interdisciplinary collaborations. Andrew took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to answer some question for us about his life, work and inspiration.
How did you begin your life as a musician?
I was adopted at 6 months of age, by blood family is from Fisher River First Nation. My adoptive family was loving and supportive, and recognized at an early age that I had musical potential. I learned music through an intensive music program through our family church (father was an Anglican Priest), and through this program was able to learn and love music, including traveling to England several times in the summer to sing in English Cathedrals. gaining instrumental scholarships, and gaining lifelong friends.
What are some main inspirations for your work?
The main inspiration of my work is the sound of the human voice, along with the soundscapes of of environment.You recently created a piece for the Winnipeg New Music Festival based on testimonies from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. How do you think art can help heal the painful legacy of racism and abuse suffered by Canada’s First Nations?Art and music is so important for aboriginal voices, especially in this time, Canada has a long and rich history of aboriginal artisans, but I’ve always felt the general population of Canada only see’s ‘Beads and Feathers’ when they think of Aboriginal artists. The new ideas with aboriginal artists are so widespread and far reaching that we are finding a new voice to express important issues, as well as expressing our inner pain, joy, sadness, life and death.
Preparations for Reservations are in full swing now that the creative team has entered the rehearsal hall. The show runs March 10 to 20th at the Rachel Browne Theatre. Tickets are available right here (or look in the sidebar to your left!) or by calling 204-989-2400.
An outstanding team of Canadian artists will bring Reservations to the stage, starting with playwright and actor, Steven Ratzlaff. We are thrilled to bring Steven’s work back to the stage, having been lucky enough to present premieres of his plays Dionysus in Stony Mountain and Last Man In Puntarenas during past seasons. We have worked with him as the play has been workshopped and developed over the past three years with generous support from Playwrights Workshop Montreal and the Manitoba Association of Playwrights (joyous thanks to those organizations!)
Emma Tibaldo directs Reservations – she is the Artistic and Executive Director of Playwrights’ Workshop Montréal and a founding member of Quebec’s Talisman Theatre. Emma has a deep understanding of new play development and production. Ian Ross co-directs, bringing his own extensive background as a Manitoban First Nations theatre artist. Ross is also an experienced drama educator, radio personality and recipient of the 1997 Governor General’s Award for his play, fareWel.
We are excited to introduce our audiences to Andrew Balfour, a highly accomplished Manitoba Cree composer, and the founder and Artistic Director of experimental vocal ensemble Camerata Nova. Andrew is creating the original music and sound design! Filling out the Reservations design team are two of TPM’s frequent collaborators: Grant Guy (Sets), and Hugh Conacher (Lighting & Projections Design). Grant created the spectacular set for The Miser of Middlegate (with zone41), as well as sets for TPM’s Stretching Hide and Dionysus in Stony Mountain. Hugh has designed many shows for TPM, including I Dream of Diesel (with One Trunk Theatre), Sargent and Victor and Me, Bashir Lazar and John and Beatrice. Costume Design is by Angela Vaags, last with TPM to design for the political players in Proud
Playwright and actor Steven Ratzlaff is joined onstage by Tracy Nepinak and Sarah Constible. Nepinak is a Winnipeg-based Cree actor who recently appeared in Anthony and Cleopatra at SIR and The Rez Sisters at the Belfry Theatre in Victoria. Constible is a mainstay in Winnipeg’s professional theatre community, and with TPM in Dionysus in Stony Mountain and Monster Trilogy.
For patrons who have been with TPM for a long time, Steven Ratlaff’s work will be familiar to you. For those of you who are new to TPM, you may not know that Reservations is the third of Ratzlaff’s plays we have had the pleasure of presenting. In 2010 we presented the premier of Ratlaff’s Last Man In Puntarenas, a piece that confronted issues in health care, and in 2012 we presented the premier of Dionysus in Stony Mountain, a play that tackled the criminal justice system. If it is not already apparent, Ratlaff has a talent for writing politically-minded plays! We convinced him to take some time off from his busy schedule of being both Reservations‘ playwright AND performer, and here is what he told us.
How do you get your ideas for plays?
When I’m on the hunt for a story that could be an idea for a play, I’m paying attention in a certain kind of way. When I’m reading, when I’m listening to a conversation, whatever – I’m waiting for something to click. When it does, I might start writing a scene. If I start to hear the characters talking in my head I know that there might be a play.
In the case of Standing Reserve what clicked was a story I read about foster parents in conflict with their agency. Listening to a conversation about family inheritance got me thinking about what eventually became Pete’s Reserve.
Can you say a little more about why certain stories “click” for you.
I’m not drawn to stories about good people struggling against bad people. Situations that interest me are ones where well-meaning people are in conflict with each other or even themselves. This conflict might be about different priorities, different beliefs, none of which are bad.
I understand why politicians feel it is necessary to speak about Canadian values, but I do think it’s misleading. Canadians value all kinds of ideals and things differently. The resulting tensions are felt even within individuals. Take one question that is asked in several different ways in both plays: What is owed to whom? The answers are not obvious. I guess I’m not interested in obvious answers. Obviously.
On the heels of closing Encounters, we’re chomping at the bit for more new work! In the spirit of budding theatre-makers, such as Sydney Hayduk and Fraz Wiest of Encounters, we’re presenting two exciting projects at this Salon. First, we have a fascinating improv format called 50/50 from Montreal Improv brought to us by RobYn Slade of Outside Joke , Dungeons and Dragons Improv and Common Crow Improv Co.. The format pairs actors and improvisers in two-person scenes. The actor is given only their lines from the scene, and must stick to the script; the improviser is given nothing! Our brave improvisers are George Hudson, Andrea del Campo, Lauren Cochrane, Dan Berzenji and Ashley Burdett. Some of the playwrights featured will be Angie StMars and Sharon Bajer, and we can expect the theatrical stylings of Victoria Hill, Christina Heather and Johanna Burdon. Our second treat is more new work from our company-in-residence, Make/Shift Theatre, fresh off of a writing retreat! Musical guests are Roger Roger, recent West End Cultural Centre sell-outs with their album release.
Join us at 7pm at the Times Changed. Doors open at 6pm, so come early for warmth, drinks and delicious tex-mex treats. Admission is free for Season Passholders and by donation for civilians.
We heart our intrepid Encounters performers in a serious way. Syd Hayduk of Village Ax and Fraz Wiest of FRAZ Vs. The Future have captured our hearts and imaginations with their intelligent, quirky and touching forms of expression- we can’t get enough! We picked their brains this weekend about their artistic experiences, social media and insects. Here is what they told us.
TPM: How old were you when you started performing?
SH: I went onstage the first time when I was 6.
FW: I’ve kind of always been performing. I think the first words out of my mouth may have been an impression of someone else.
TPM: Your first time on stage?SH: It was a dress rehearsal for my ballet performance. I was supposed to take off my pink house coat to reveal my cute tutu and pink sparkly vest. But my pink sparkly vest came off with the house coat. Let’s just say, it was a complete and utter disaster.FW: I do believe my first time on stage was in the role of ‘Santa Claus’ for my 1st grade Christmas concert. Also, if memory serves, it was adorable.
TPM: First piece you ever wrote?SH: I had a cat named Popsicle. I wrote a story about Popsicle’s greatest adventure.FW: I’ve written lots of monologues and sketches and bits, but I think the first think I’d consider a ‘piece’ would be my first solo show, FRAZ: Lonely At Last. That was less than four years ago, but feels like way longer.TPM: Favourite way of expressing yourself?SH: Dancing. Hugging. Eye contact.FW: My favourite way of expressing myself is through conversation. Improv and comedy in general are great artistic expressions, to be sure, but I’ve found that in an age where the majority of communication is done electronically, I’m constantly craving and seeking out more people to interact with on a personal level, which FRAZ vs The Future touches on.
TPM: Greatest inspiration?SH: Metaphysics and the power of love. And Ellen Degeneres.FW: My greatest inspiration is humans, which has a lot to do with my last answer. The cynical side of me looks at how humans behave, makes me shake my head, and then hopefully finds the humour in it somehow. On a more personal level, I’m constantly amazed at how a conversation with a close friend or fellow artist can inspire a creative endeavour. I’m blessed to say this happens all the time!TPM: Biggest artistic roadblock?
SH: Anxiety and fear.
FW: Myself. To me, art is inherently collaborative. It probably has something to do with my improv background, but it’s hard for me to fathom creating any project without at least one other person involved. It’s sometimes quite hard to motivate myself without the ability to riff and bounce ideas of another person or group of people.
TPM: Do you prefer collaborating or working alone? Why?SH: Man, I love collaborating. Cause that’s life. Connecting. You know? But alone time is important too. My answer is both.FW: See previous answer! Some of the best moments I’ve had on stage were because of who I was sharing it with. Solo work is a different animal entirely, but I also consider the audience to be collaborators in sense, so I guess what I’m trying to say is please no one leave me to my own devices ever. I will get quite bored.
TPM: In honour of Village Ax – your favourite insect? Why?
SH: Bees. Because they actually do shit. All other bugs are buggers.
FW: Spiders. Most animals people are terrified of fascinate me to no end. They build their houses out of their butts! That is BONKERS.
TPM: In honour of FRAZ Vs. The Future – your least favourite form of social media? Why?
SH: I don’t think I have a least favourite ‘form’ of social media. But I can tell you what I dislike about it. I really dislike that I know stuff about my friends that they haven’t told me personally. It makes us all closer, but it also tears us further apart at the same time.
FW: All of them. They all have a purpose, and it’s not that I don’t see the appeal, because I certainly do. My problem is that there’s no social limitation to their use. Using these sites and apps as often as you can, in any given social context, is not only accepted, it’s more or less encouraged. There was a time when everyone smoked cigarettes. Everyone. Without a thought as to what it was doing to our health, both personally and as a culture. I’m clamouring for the day to come when people say, “Remember when everyone stared at their phones all day, every day? How did we get anything done?! How could we have possibly gone all that time without eye contact or actual conversation using our mouths and ears?! So weird!!”
Why ‘Encounters’? After some of the performances we will have what more traditional theatre calls “talk backs”. Our intrepid writer/performers are interested in doing something “with” the audience. “Talk Withs” may be a better way of describing it. Sydney, Elsa and Fraz would like to talk, laugh and share ideas with our patrons. There will be painting, dancing, cocktails and time travel. There will be a sharing of space, ideas and energy. We will meet each other.Below is a schedule of our five post-show Encounters. Each will offer something difference, each promises to entertain and inspire!
Saturday January 9th
Q&A Three Way – Getting to Know You with Syd, Elsa and Fraz
Sunday January 10th (licensed)
Cocktails in the Hive – Story Time and Mixer- How Sydney and Elsa created Village Ax
Tuesday January 12
Vision Quest 2016 – Making Art & Life- When Fraz Met Sydney
Friday January 15 (licensed)
Dance Dance Revolution– A Licensed Artistic Exchange
Sunday January 17th
Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose
“These plays have big beating hearts. Fear. Hope. Courage. Anger. But ultimately, there is love in them. And so much laughter.”
We’re gearing up around here and it has nothing to do with trees, candles or wrapping paper! TPM ENCOUNTERS: Fraz Vs. The Future and Village Ax opens January 7th and we’re starting to feel like kids hopped up on peppermints and shortbread!
In eager anticipation, we interviewed TPM’s Artistic Director, Ardith Boxall to discover a little more about these plays, young artists at TPM and what exactly we might ENCOUNTER at the theatre!
TPM: Both Village Ax and Fraz Vs the Future are Fringe Festival productions. What was it about these 2 shows that compelled you to program them for TPM’s regular audiences?
AB: The TPM audience is every bit as adventurous as the Fringe audience. We are sharing these shows not because they were in the Fringe but because the show’s creators are brave young artists who have so much to say about the world. They are rule breakers who are not afraid to strip their show down. No sets, no bells or whistles. As a result, pure performance, adrenalin, passion and more personality than should be legal. What better way to encounter a cold January night than to meet two young artists who burn with the heat of a thousand suns.
TPM: Is there anything in common between these two shows? Are they related thematically?
AB: There is adventure. And misadventure. These are stories about how we move forward even when the path seems like a nasty and ill-fated mission. Sometimes getting up in the morning, and sometimes saving the universe. It can take the same intrepid spirit to move about in our world.
These plays have big beating hearts. Fear. Hope. Courage. Anger. But ultimately, there is love in them. And so much laughter.
TPM: Do you feel there is a specific role that TPM plays for young artists in the community? More >
PLEASE NOTE WE HAVE A NEW LOCATION FOR THIS SALON – at TIMES CHANGED HIGH & LONESOME CLUB – 234 MAIN STREET!
Doors open for eats and drinks at 6:00pm
Program begins at 7:00pm
Musical guests Omar Khan and Claire Thérèse, Michelle Boulet and Sarah Constible, and Raine Hamilton!
New work by TPM’s Company in Residence Make/Shift Theatre featuring Liam Zarrillo, Kristian Jordan and Brittany Thiessen!
Sneak peak of new work from Village Ax Co-creator Elsa Reesor-Taylor!
Holiday wisdom/shenanigans from Ian Ross and Ellen Peterson!
Season pass holders get in free – general public by donation at the door.
Location: TIMES CHANGED HIGH & LONESOME CLUB – 234 MAIN STREET. Check out their website and menu here!
This week we are shining the spotlight on Heather Russell, playing Anna in Iceland. When we spoke with Heather, she shared her passion for Bouffon, fossils and the Settlers of Catan, and her thoughts on ICELAND’s monologue form.
TPM: You are also part of local buffoon/clown troupe, the Talentless Lumps? What draws you to buffoon/clown work?
HR: The father of bouffon, Philippe Gaulier, says: “Bouffons are everything humanity has rejected, but they come to tell us that all aspects of humanity belong to everyone. In the grotesqueness of the bouffon is a truth about humanity.” The Talentless Lumps are six women who strive to celebrate the so called “ugly” parts of ourselves and our world. As members of a society obsessed with perfection, it’s a terrifying and exhilarating experience.
TPM: How did you become a theatre artist?
HR: I was originally going to be a teacher. I was at Brandon University in my 3rd year of a B.A. in French, when I acted in a play for the first time. I’d been in musicals before, but never a straight up play. It made me want to pursue theatre as a career. So I finished that degree, moved to Winnipeg, and got an Honours Acting B.A. at the University of Winnipeg.
TPM: Any passions or hobbies outside of theatre?
HR: I play a mean game of Settlers of Catan.
TPM: Iceland is a trio of intersecting monologues. Are there any particular challenges or advantages to working on a show where the characters don’t directly engage with each other?
HR: Although we don’t directly engage with each other, we are still affected by each other’s energy. I don’t feel alone up there. The audience becomes our acting partner, so we never know what to expect!
If you were not a theatre artist, do you have a fantasy, alternate dream job?
HR: Astronaut. Or paleontologist.
This week we are shining the spotlight on Laura Olafson, playing Kassandra in Iceland. This is Laura’s first appearance with TPM, and we are sure you will agree that she is a fantastic addition to our family of artists. Laura chatted with us about her time in (the country) Iceland and why she considers herself a drama queen.
You travelled to Iceland in 2009. What was that experience like? What made you want to visit the country?I traveled to Iceland in 2009 with The Snorri Program. My father is a full blooded Viking and I applied for the Snorri Program because it’s aim is to strengthen the bond between Icelanders and people of Icelandic descent living in North America. I can’t really put into words how deeply the experience of being in Iceland for six weeks affected me but as soon I stepped off the plane, I felt as though I had come home. Meeting family, making new friends, being immersed in the language and the culture, taking in the breathtaking sights, sounds and magic of that country left a huge impact on me. I did not grow up with any grandparents and so I never felt connected to the stories of my families past in any way. Seeing the farmsteads where my great grandparents were born was a truly remarkable gift. Now I just have to get to Newfoundland and Ireland to see where my mother’s people came from!How did the 2008/2009 market crash affect you, if at all?The crash did not really affect me in any way, however, travelling to Iceland in 2009 was very beneficial for me. Before the collapse, I would never have been able to afford to travel there but luckily, the year I was there my money went a long way. I was able to purchase some beautiful gifts for my family, enjoy some yummy meals, buy a ton of music, and party all night long in the unique clubs and discotheques.How did you become a theatre artist?I think it’s safe to say that I was born a drama queen. I have always loved to play pretend. I was mentored and encouraged by my elementary school music teacher, Mrs. Judy Steele and by Mr. George Budoloski and Ms. Robin Dow while I was immersed in Grant Park High School’s Performing Arts Program. I flourished in the program and so after I graduated I decided to pursue my passion at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, AB. I worked as an apprentice in many shows out West before I came home to work as a professional. I truly believe that you don’t choose this life as a theatre artist, that it chooses you.Any passions or hobbies outside of theatre?Outside of my work in theatre, I work in the school system. I support children and teenagers with special needs. I worked in group homes in my early twenties and have always felt a strong connection to helping others. I obtained my EA (Education Assistant) diploma at the University of Winnipeg five years ago and have worked in many schools over the years. This work is very sacred to me. Each child I get to work with teaches me valuable lessons about life and helps mold me into a better human being.If you were not a theatre artist, do you have a fantasy, alternate dream job?I have a couple of dream jobs. I would love to be a doctor, helping people in poverty stricken countries. I would love to be an honest and forthright politician. I should have gone to law school because, aside from high marks in Performing Arts and Peer Tutoring in High School, Law was another subject that I did very well in. All that being said, playing pretend is my dream job.
Our next featured artist is Omar Alex Khan, playing the role of Halim in Iceland. Omar has appeared with TPM in the zone41 co-production of Three Sisters, presented in 2011. We had a chance to ask Omar about his career, his passions and his experience with full frontal nudity (!).
You did a show with Toronto’s Cahoots Theatre, The Wanderers, which incidentally had you working alongside Kawa Ada, the actor who premiered the role of Halim in Iceland. Can you tell us more about your experience with Cahoots and The Wanderers?
Cahoots is a small company whose mandate is to produce new works that examine the complexities of cultural and sexual diversity. The Wanderers is a powerful play about an Afghan man’s experience of moving to Canada with his wife and young son. Director Nina LeeAquino, who is also the coartistic director at Toronto’s Factory Theatre, is what people like to call “an actor’s director”, and I’d work with her anytime. Kawa was also very collaborative as a playwright, and was open to making changes right up until opening night. Sometimes the actors would walk into rehearsal and have a page of new lines thrust at them, or have a page of lines cut, so keeping up with the script changes was challenging. It will always be memorable to me for several reasons: it was my first theatre gig in Toronto; it was only the second time that I was involved with the creation of a new play; I got a chance to workshop the play a couple of times and follow its development; and last, but not least, it was my first (and so far, only) time I’ve appeared nude onstage (full frontal, baby!).
How did the 2008/2009 market crash affect you, if at all?
The financial crisis didn’t affect me directly. But in doing research for the show it was fascinating and disgusting to see how the lives of so many were affected by the greed and power of so few. One of many galling facts is that after the US banks were bailed out by their government, many of the bank heads and higher ups gave themselves big fat raises.
How did you become a theatre artist?
When I was setting up my grade 11 timetable my best friend decided he was going to take a theatre course, so, being a follower, I signed up too, just because I thought it would be fun. Little did I know it would be life changing.
Any passions or hobbies outside of theatre?
I’m a big hockey fan. I’m also an early childhood educator so when I’m not acting I’m working in a daycare with 2 to 12 year olds. If I couldn’t spend time with them, there would definitely be a hole in my life.
Iceland is a trio of intersecting monologues. Are there any particular challenges or advantages to working on a show where the characters don’t directly engage with eachother?
We don’t look at each other directly in the show. Sometimes we can see another actor in our peripheral vision but we never get a good look at their face. We don’t get to see the facial expressions and gestures and body language that the other actors are making when they’re speaking. So we’re at a disadvantage because those expressions and movements directly influence how the words are interpreted and perceived. It means that we have to be listening carefully and be fully engaged with what’s happening on the stage.
If you were not a theatre artist, do you have a fantasy, alternate dream job?
My dream job has always been to be an NHL hockey player. I guess we know how that turned out.
Meet Linda Beech and Joseph Abetria! As we approach opening night of Iceland (November 5!), we would like to introduce our audience to the talented artists handpicked to bring this production to life.
Linda, our set designer, is an artist celebrated for her large scale sculpture and installations. Two of her most well-known projects are “Big Crow” and “Borderline”. “Big Crow”, pictured below right, was shown at Access Gallery in Vancouver in 2002 with the help of a British Columbia Arts Council Grant. The piece was also shown at the University Of Western Washington in 2003. In 2004, Linda unveiled an installation piece at the main branch of the Vancouver Public Library, “Borderline” (pictured below left). On “Borderline” Linda says:
“We made the city. What does the city make us? Like the majority of people I have spent most of my life in an urban environment. Although I have idyllic dreams of the “country” or “nature” I will probably spend the rest of my life in cities. I’m interested in how an urban environment comes together with nature and the blurring of those boundaries. “Wild” animals are my starting point. The crows, raccoons and coyotes that inhabit the city are signposts, marking an uneasy border between civilization and what lies beyond. My work explores this juncture and raises questions about co-habitation, ownership and territory.”
Joseph is designing costumes for Iceland. We were curious about this exciting young artist’s budding career, so we asked him a few questions about where he is going and where he has been.
You have recently graduated from the University of Winnipeg’s Theatre and Film Department. Any big dreams or goals on the horizon now that you are finished school?
Joseph: One of my goals after I finish school is going back to school. I am interested in acquiring my master’s degree in theatre design in the future. I believe that there is always something new to learn and refining my craft is something important to me. One of my big dreams is to design for dance; maybe a new ballet or contemporary piece. Costume designing for dance pose different challenges to the designer and it has always been fascinating to watch the movement of a dancer breathe new life to a piece of costume.
How did you become a theatre artist?
Joseph: Theatre was something that I fell into in university. I never took drama in high school. In fact, I took all the science classes thinking that I might do something with that in university. But the call to do something creative, visual, and artistic was just too strong. I took the Intro Theatre Design class along with a production class in my second year and the rest was history.
If you were not a theatre artist, do you have a fantasy, alternate dream job?
Joseph: As a kid, I enjoyed reading comics and watching animation, so much so that I’ve dreamt of becoming a cartoonist. Those early days of sketching and painting were the first sparks of my interest in the visual arts. I think if I weren’t a theatre artist, I’d be a painter or an illustrator.
Stay tuned for our Spotlight on Iceland Actors!
New to TPM? Welcome to our monthly cabaret night, the TPM Salon! These events are popular with artists and audiences alike. Every month, emerging and established artists come together with audiences in a cabaret setting to explore the playwrights and themes of our season. Music, song, dance and theatre!
THIS MONTH’S SALON:
September 28th, 7pm at Le Garage (166 Provencher)
Join TPM as we celebrate the start of our season in collaboration with the Wrecking Ball. Established in 2004, this innovative, cross-Canada theatre institution was created to prove that Canadian political theatre is viable. Invited playwrights are instructed to create a 5-7 minute piece based on current political headlines, and that it must only be rehearsed the week prior to performance. Occurring simultaneously in venues across the country, the current edition of Wrecking Ball will explore the upcoming federal election. The Winnipeg edition is being curated by TPM collaborator, Deb Patterson, who has invited Trish Cooper, Frances Koncan and Fraz Wiest to pen scripts, and Tom Penner to lead us in a rousing chorus of “Harperman”. The Talentless Lumps will also make a grotesque and delightful appearance.
Salons are on Monday nights and will be held at various venues this season. Check back here regularly, call us, like us , follow us or subscribe to our Newsletter – all great sources for Salon details and all the TPM alerts you might need!
Doors will open by 6PM and refreshments will be available! Show starts at 7PM. Admission is free for Season Pass holders and by donation for the general public.
The 2015/ 2016 Salon Schedule:
7PM Sept 28: at Le Garage (166 Provencher)
7PM Oct 26
7PM Nov 30
7PM Jan 25
7PM Feb 29
7PM March 28
Artistic Director Ardith Boxall and General Manager Rea Kavanagh are pleased to announce Theatre Projects Manitoba’s 2015/16 season. Buoyed by the success of last year’s three show season, TPM proudly returns with fall, winter and spring offerings! Featuring the world premiere of a timely drama about children and land, an award winning play about greed, sex and despair, and a double bill with two of Winnipeg’s most promising solo theatre talents, the 2015/16 season of Theatre Projects Manitoba will bring you to the edge and push you off!
The season opens with Iceland by Governor General Award winning playwright Nicolas Billon. Set against the backdrop of the financial crisis, Iceland explores how a far off event affects the lives of three strangers in Canada’s biggest city.
In January audiences will be treated to two unique emerging writer/performers. Fraz vs. the Future written and performed by DnD Improv legend Fraz Wiest and Village Ax written by Sydney Hayduk and Elsa Reesor Taylor – performed by Sydney Hayduk.
In March we offer the world premiere of Reservations by Steven Ratzlaff (Dionysus in Stony Mountain). Reservations explores the often contentious relations in Canada between Indigenous peoples and the rest through our common children, land and the quest for acts of restitution.
2015-2016 SEASON DETAILS
IN NOVEMBER NICOLAS BILLON’S 2013 GOVERNOR GENERAL AWARD WINNING PLAY!
By Nicolas Billon
Directed by Ardith Boxall
The Rachel Browne Theatre
Iceland is part of the trilogy Fault Lines which was awarded the Governor General award for drama in 2013. Set against the backdrop of the banking crisis, a confrontation between a real estate agent and a tenant takes an unexpected turn. A snapshot in time of the effects of capitalism; how we all benefit from it, how we are all part of the system, and how we can all be greatly hurt by its effects. Iceland uses wit and dark humour to tackle the consequences of greed and our yearning to belong to something larger than ourselves.
“Iceland is a beautifully structured and extremely powerful play that haunts the mind. Billon is an original and exciting voice.” – Atom Egoyan
IN JANUARY A TPM DOUBLE BILL GETS INTENSE, COMIC, AND TRAVELS THROUGH TIME!
Fraz vs the Future (randombandname productions) &
Village Ax (Peachy Keen Productions)
The Rachel Browne Theatre
January 7 – 17, 2016
Fraz vs The Future is a show about time travel, technology, fear of change and social media. Ever since humans invented the idea of “the future”, they have pondered, wondered and been deathly afraid of it. Fraz has the courage to make the future hilarious, while at the same time admitting he’s terrified of it.
Writer and Improviser Fraz Wiest is a founding member of Toronto’s Ghost Jail Theatre, and a cast member of Winnipeg’s DnD Improv. Fraz performed White Rabbit Red Rabbit for TPM last season and is well known on the Fringe and comedy circuits across Canada.
Village Ax – Standing tall is a bedroom wall. Inside exists a Village of 200 inhabitants struggling for their lives. Inside them is a small, vulnerable creature. When Charlie (a 20 something social media consultant) spots a sign posted on a telephone pole which reads “Do you wanna disappear?” she is transported into the depths of a hive shaped village.
Written by Elsa Reesor-Taylor and Sydney Hayduk – AKA Peachy Keen Productions. The show is performed by Winnipeg writer/dancer/company founder Sydney Hayduk. Peachy Keen debuted on the Fringe scene in 2014 with the delightful hit Bizarro Obscure. (Sydney Hayduk/Christy Taronno). The company crafts each show around messages of human vulnerability and love. Village Ax is dedicated to those who lock themselves in.
IN MARCH THE WORLD PREMIERE OF A NEW PLAY BY STEVEN RATZLAFF
By Steven Ratzlaff
The Rachel Browne Theatre
March 10 – 20, 2016
Steven Ratzlaff is known as one of Manitoba’s most political playwrights, exploring contemporary social and political issues through a local lens. His play Dionysus in Stony Mountain dealt with criminal justice. Last Man in Puntarenas was about health care. With this next work he continues to attack issues of immediate concern, potentially making a very real change in the audience’s understanding of at –risk children and restitution for First Nations.
Reservations inserts us into two stories; a dispute between foster parents and the Aboriginal CFS agency responsible for their children and the philosophical and spiritual decision of a Mennonite farmer who gifts his land to the Siksika First Nation. Artful, entertaining and provocative, Reservations asks tough questions about our home and native land.
ABOUT THEATRE PROJECTS MANITOBA
Our vision of theatre is intimate, provocative, and artistically driven: shaped by a strong belief that playwrights and plays are the heart of Canadian theatre.
Our goal is to build a cultural narrative that speaks to our community and reflects our shared experiences.
Committed to the cultivation of Canadian Theatre, in the past 25 years TPM has staged more than 50 new Manitoban works.
-How did you first get involved in theatre?
My life in the theatre really started in earnest when I moved to Winnipeg in the early ’90s. I bought a house with Deb Patterson (his partner, writer and performer of TPM’s production of Sargent & Victor & Me last season), we started a family and felt embraced by the community.
– What is your favourite thing about being a theatre artist?
Doing theatre puts you in the moment with the other people in the room like no other experience I have had.
– What is your experience with devised theatre?
I have been involved in one other devised piece, which I co created with dancers,theatre artists and visual artists from Canada and Iceland. We showed it in Reykjavik and Winnipeg. It was super fun and really challenging.
– What strikes you most about the experience of working on I Dream of Diesel?
Working on I Dream of Diesel has been a utopia of creativity, collaboration, good vibes and games of Foursquare.
-How did you first get involved in theatre?
I first got involved with theatre in high school. I went to high school in Lac du Bonnet, a small rural town North East of Winnipeg. I was lucky enough to go to a school with a great theatre program that allowed me to be in productions of The Odd Couple and Twelve Angry Men.
– What is your favourite thing about being a theatre artist?
Being a theatre artist allows me to Play for a living…what can I ask for beyond that really.
– What is your experience with devised theatre?
I had devised a few small pieces with classmates in university but nothing to the scale of a full production such as Diesel. My impressions of devising this project has been the sheer magnitude of all the little pieces we have to create this story. Rehearsing while devising allowed the characters and the story to come through in ways I’m not always accustomed to, be it a shadow or an object being placed on stage, instead of your standard search in the text itself for who these characters are.
– What strikes you most about the experience of working on I Dream of Diesel?
Working on I Dream of Diesel I am struck by the sheer array of talents of my crew and fellow cast mates. Everyone either brings to the table a craftiness, another directorial eye, a script change here or there or a mean back hand in a game of Foursquare. This project asks a lot of everyone involved, in terms of being multidisciplinary, and those challenges have been met full on.
– Any exciting projects coming up?
As far as exciting upcoming projects I have two! As I Dream of Diesel winds down it’s run at the Rachel Brown I head into rehearsals for WJT’s Canadian Premiere of Bad Jews, following that I am touring my Fringe show The Manic Pixie Dream Girl, with my multi-talented co-creator Sydney Hayduk; to London, Montreal, Winnipeg and Calgary Fringe.
– Care to tell us more about any other job(s) you may have when you’re not creating theatre?
When not creating theatre I can be found behind the grill at Nuburger, the best burgers in Winnipeg, 472 Sherbrook.
– When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
The funny – perhaps even sad – thing is, even as a kid I wanted to be an actor when I grew up. Particularly watching the way Jim Carrey made me and well EVERYONE laugh growing up inspired me to be a class clown – to the unappreciated grumbles of my teachers.
– What type of family do you have?
My family, still living in rural Manitoba, share a lot of similarities with the family in Diesel. With that in mind they are also a loving bunch of folks who motivate me to dream – much like my character Joe, the dreamer of the play.
“The way I work is that I always say yes and then figure out how to do it. I’m never afraid to say yes and problem-solve.”
The curtain rises tonight on I Dream of Diesel! The Winnipeg Free Press printed a lovely preview article about the show that gives a great profile of Diesel director/co-creator- and One Trunk Theatre’s artistic director- Andraea Sartison (quoted above). She is a force to be reckoned with. We’re sure you will agree after seeing the show!
Click here to read the article. Tickets are sold out for opening, but there are seats available for all other nights of the run. Buy on this website or call us at 204-989-2400.
I was failing pre-calculus math (for the second time) and my father said, “If you can get into something else, like theatre, you can drop math class.” So I randomly auditioned for PTE’s Young Company and they took a chance on me. I’ve avoided math ever since!
What is your favourite thing about being a theatre artist?
I love the impermanent nature of live theatre. It is so real and all-consuming when you’re in the middle of it, and then it’s done. I love that I’ve watched a good play and carried memories from it for years, without ever getting the chance to physically revisit it. The theatre was the first place I really felt a strong sense of belonging, and guess that’s my favourite thing about being a theatre artist – the extended families that are created in during the process. More >
How did you first become involved in theatre?
I’m not the only one who I’ve heard say this, but it was actually Arne’s (co-performer in Diesel) performance in Richard III that I saw as a teen that made me wanna be an actor. I’d later done some film work and studied camera and lighting a bit out in Vancouver but ultimately wasn’t inspired by the work, it wasn’t until I moved back here, to pursue an education in horticulture actually, that I recalled that guy from the show at the ruins and decided to re-explore that dream. I’ve since found the theatre community here to be very inspiring and was extremely proud to have the opportunity to perform in SIR’s return to the Ruins in Henry V. More >
We asked local theatre artist and educator extraodinaire, Pauline Broderick, to have a chat with I Dream of Diesel director and co-creator, Andraea Sartison (pictured left). Pauline is a veteran drama educator who is delighted to get to ask questions of a new generation of experimental theatre artists. She is part of the design team working on the development of the new provincial arts curriculum. Currently she is privileged to be teaching a class at the University of Manitoba called Arts Infusion in the Digital Age where students collaboratively create performance.
PB: What was the catalyst for this theatrical experiment?
AS: I was really interested in collaborating with a musician. That is a lot of what One Trunk does. We try to make theatre with artists from other disciplines. We decided to work with music this time because it is such a big thing in Winnipeg and it’s a big thing for me. We sought out a musician who would be a collaborator. That is more difficult than you would think. A lot of people are busy or uninterested or didn’t quite get it but when I called Scott Nolan he said “YES! I’m in!” At the time I didn’t even know a lot about Scott but he came highly recommended as an awesome storyteller and a great musician. It was an unplanned match made in heaven.
PB: So it all started with the impulse to work with a musician?
AS: Yes. The reason that I’m after interdisciplinary collaboration is that theatre itself is interdisciplinary. In my own life and my own practise I have always done choir and music and painting and theatre. I think the draw to theatre was that I could combine all of those various interests into a living, story based art form. It feels like a very natural thing to do. In the past we have collaborated with hip hop artists and with dancers but we haven’t done music and we hadn’t done folk music which is such a Winnipeg thing. We started listening to Scott’s music and we got to know it really well then responded to it in a range of different ways. It was the feeling of the music that inspired us. His music is very poetic. We pulled characters and themes from the music and developed their stories. Even now, after the show has taken on its own life, you can find the connections to his music.
PB: Tell me about the beginning steps on the journey from YES to the refinements of a staged production.
AS: We started working on idea development in 2013, so we’ve been at it for a couple of years. We did a whole bunch of workshops. Our first workshop was an image based exploration. We listened to the music then went looking for artifacts that might fit the story. We built scenes with these objects. We identified characters and created sequences using the objects that illustrated the characters hopes and dreams. We performed them for each other and talked about what they made us think and feel.
PB: That was phase one. What did phase two look like?
AS: After that, we worked on physical based explorations of character and stories. We were mostly developing images and characters at that time. The Carol Shields Festival gave us a deadline to work toward. We had to tie a lot of loose ends together to perform. That’s when Claire Therese came on board. She was a really important part of the writing process. She started pushing us in the direction of a story that has A-Z. Our first attempt at A-Z was very visual. It had maybe 35 words. It was very physical. We had a full set and projections and music so it was very sensual and very evocative. From that Theatre Projects Manitoba invited us to be part of their season so this whole last year has been focused on the written script.
PB: What does that process involve?
That’s been Claire, Gwen and myself. The intention was to have a full script to work with. We did some good writing. It took the full year. It finally feels like we have a script. Everyone has had a hand in everyone else’s work. I know there is not one single scene that has not been altered by someone else.
PB: How has that sense of collective creation played out in this phase of production?
AS: Over the last few months we have started to take on more focused roles. Claire did the last draft and edits. Gwen has taken care of design elements and I have taken on the role of producer/director. We trust each other in those roles because no matter how great collective creation is, it doesn’t work to have three directors.
PB: What role does projection technology play in I Dream of Diesel?
AS: In our show the technology helps us paint a picture of “place”. We made a collective choice to make the set pieces very simple and nostalgic. When they are projected upon, another layer of experience is illuminated. We’re interested in using projection to tell the story; to be a character in the story; to transport an audience to a place. Technology is successful when it is fully integrated into the story. It’s the same with music. It has to be fully integrated.
PB: Tell me about the story?
AS: A lot of this piece for me has to do with where the dream intersects with reality. It has to do with the character’s dreams and when they have to let go and face reality or when the dream becomes reality. This play is a conversation between what is real and what is not. Dream and Reality is a big thing. There is also a bit of a haunting in the show; not as in a ghost story but more about a haunting of prairie lore and ancestry; an awareness of the soul of the prairie. It’s also about coffee. The opening invitation to the audience is about sharing a coffee with them. In a lot of ways it’s a prairie symbol of sharing stories. It’s a love story about our relationship to the land. I think the story really speaks to women our age. It about having a dream or an ideal of what your life is going to be and then arriving at the moment when you realize what your life is and being OK with that.
Join us at the TPM Salon on Monday February 23rd Doors open for drinks and food at 6:00pm. We go live at 7:00pm.
A sampling of Ross McMillan’s Winnipeg plays rescued from the CBC radio vault! Never before heard by a live audience…..or seen!
You will hear them first! These short plays require nimble performances and live Foley effects to create the world of Winnipeg at the turn of the century. You will learn about your City, you will be entertained, you will bear witness! The Tree Lady, Birth of the Arts, Broadway and Court Trials …….. Winnipeg like you have never heard it before.
What in tarnation are we doing? Come and find out. TPM pass holders get in free OR admission by donation at the door.
Directed by Michelle Boulet with Sarah Constible, Ryan Bjornson, Ross McMillan, and more!
“Some have called him noteworthy, even acclaimed – but the smart money cites Nolan as a voice rarely heard this side of the century, a musician who shrugs away any five-dollar-cover singer-songwriter motifs before he unsnaps his guitar case. His are the songs sung for people with a past, sturdily backlit with unswerving musicianship and a disposition rooted in the best of rock n’ roll, roots and Americana.”
Acclaimed Winnipegger, Scott Nolan, is a musical force to be reckoned with. His work serves as muse for our upcoming presentation of One Trunk Theatre’s collective creation, I Dream of Diesel. We encourage you all to fall in love with Scott’s work as much as we have- it shouldn’t be hard! Check out Folk Fest Thursdays at the Good Will Social Club hosted by Mr. Nolan himself . Every second and fourth Thursday of the month, Scott will host an evening of eclectic and ever changing folk music from home and beyond. At Folk Fest Thursdays, Scott seeks to nurture a community that gave him his life’s work:
“My songwriting career began in earnest, after hours at the Blue Note Café and it depended greatly on the generosity of many Winnipeg musicians young and old. At Folk Fest Thursdays, we’ll see that tradition continue.
Come celebrate 2015 and the power of the solo playwright! Having closed the fascinating and powerful White Rabbit Red Rabbit, many of the artists and audience members feel compelled to continue discussing this bold theatrical experiment. We have invited a number of the actors who performed White Rabbit to engage a panel discussion with the audience about the communal experience of this piece.
We will also have some searing and entertaining pieces in the solo voice genre to celebrate the power of the playwright to incite us with his/her words! Amazeballs!
To top it all off, we will have musical guests BUNNY. Because musicians are rabbits too! R’n’B and the ukulele: it’s an unlikely pairing, but BUNNY pulls it off with humour and style. B-Rabbit and HunnyBunny will put a smile on your face and take you back to a kinder, simpler time… So snap on your slap bands, dig out your favourite scrunchie, and get ready to travel back to the 90s!
Look forward to appearances by Gord Tanner, Kevin Ramberran, Liam Zarillo, Ryan Bjornson, Justin Fry, and many more! Join us Monday, January 26th at Maw’s Eatery, 111 Princess St. Doors are at 6pm, show is 7pm, and the kitchen and bar are open! Admission is free for Season Passholders and by donation for civilians. See you Monday!
We gathered as many rabbits as we could into a room with videographer Leif Norman and asked them two questions about White Rabbit Red Rabbit. He compiled the interviews into a short video for the show- the results are adorable and hilarious.
White Rabbit Red Rabbit is a unique show for many reasons, not the least of which is that a different performer takes the stage every night- for one night only! What if you want to see more than one of your favourite local performers take the stage? Recognizing that different performers at each show means greater potential for multiple bookings by an individual, TPM offers CARROTS FOR THE RABBITS!
For individuals wishing to attend a second or even a third performance, we are offering special pricing, but only with advance payments and proof of purchase in the form of a ticket stub or a pre-paid reservation.
If people want to attend multiple shows, we recommend booking them all in advance (this way they do not need to provide proof of purchase in the form of a ticket stub at the door)
Here are the special prices for those attending a second, third or even fourth performance! These are only available if you are attending multiple performances!
Adult $20 ( Regular Price: $25)
Seniors $15 ( Regular Price: $20)
Student $12 ( Regular Price: $15)
The fabulous exception to this is for students. With proof of purchase for two shows in hand (don’t throw away your ticket stubs!), they can secure a third, fourth or even fifth performance as walk ups at the door…for free!
*At curtain, after all paying customers have been admitted, tickets will be released for walk up freebies for super keen students only. Adults and seniors are only eligible for the discounted rates listed above.
**this is only available by calling the box office at 204-989-2400– not available on the TPM website.
Winnipeg Foundation communications officer and TPM board member, Stacy Cardigan-Smith, conducted an interview with Ardith about our upcoming production of White Rabbit Red Rabbit for the Community News Commons. Here is what they chatted about!
Why did you decide to bring the White Rabbit Red Rabbit here? How did you learn about the show?
It caught my attention because of the involvement of two Canadian companies; Volcano Theatre and Necessary Angel. They developed the play with Nassim Soleimanpour (the playwright) who lives in Iran, and premiered the show simultaneously at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland and the Summerworks Festival in Toronto.
The play was written to travel the world and be performed because the playwright was unable to leave his country. I loved the idea that an international play existed with the goal of connecting to performers and audience members in communities around the world. TPM makes intimate theatre and White Rabbit Red Rabbit is at its heart, a very intimate experience for everyone.
Since 2011 White Rabbit Red Rabbit has been translated into 15 different languages!
Why does the play require a new actor and a cold read each night? What does that bring to the show?
White Rabbit Red Rabbit engages everyone in the act of theatre; actor, audience and playwright are all present simultaneously. The actor has no previous knowledge of the script and must be a conduit for the playwright’s messages, word, stories and instructions to the audience. No actor is allowed to perform this play if they have seen it, or if they have already performed it. It is one night only and the audience gets a real, live experience, rife with possibilities, mistakes and spontaneity.
What kind of play can audiences expect? Is it a comedy? Drama?
Some have written that White Rabbit Red Rabbit defies description. It has been called an audacious theatrical experiment. The playwright uses allegory and theatrical experiment to explain his situation, using art as a socio-political metaphor.
Soleimanpour’s script has laughter and sadness, movement and stillness, despair and hope. It has metaphors, it has symbols, and it has secrets. I can guarantee that Winnipeggers will have an undeniably unique experience.
The play isn’t about Iran, but rather about the social phenomenon of obedience. What does that mean?
The play works on a beautiful metaphorical level. It is about theatre as much as it can be seen as being about the constructions of our societies. It encourages us to question our conventions of authority, our own willingness to be obedient, to be passive and to do what is expected of us.
How and why is the play “a potent reminder of the transgressive and transformative power of theatre?”
Theatre can unsettle as it entertains; it can disturb and delight at the same time. This provides an opportunity to bring new light to the issues at the foundation of our society. White Rabbit, Red Rabbit invites us to think about oppression, freedom and words.
Anything you want to add?
I encourage people to see more than one performance! Each actor will be very different in tone, emphasis and impact. It will be a different show every night. I have heard repeatedly about productions around the globe having audience members attend multiple performances! And TPM has a super deal so you can see as many Rabbits as you like!
Come warm your icy toes and hearts with hot blasts from the past and sassy tunes! Music will be provided by the FuFu ChiChi Choir, pictured left, who brought you such hits as “Seven Ducklings and a Toad”, “Miracle (The Nun Massacre)”, “Little George” and “Hooker on My Corner”. How festive!
There will be readings from old TPM classics Noble Savage Savage Noble, The Invalids and Albertine in Five Times, and new classics Georama and Washing Spider Out.
Our jolly crew of artists will include Michelle Boulet, Christina Heathers, George Toles, Liz Whitbread, Sarah Constible, Jacqueline Loewen, Justin Fry, Talia Pura, Cait Belton, Jeff Homer, Gordon Tanner, Patricia Hunter, Brooke Pluta, Ryan Bjornson and more!
Join us for 7pm on Monday, December 1st at Maw’s Eatery & Bar at 111 Princess Street. Doors will be open at 6pm, so come early for the delicious food and bountiful beer! Admission, as always, is free for Season Passholders and by donation for civilians.
We love inviting local photographer extraordinaire Leif Norman into the theatre before our shows open! He uses his camera wizardry to take snazzy footage and snip it all together into a sassy promo video. Check out his latest for Proud! Don’t forget to get your tickets if you haven’t already. Buy online or call us at 204-989-2400 to reserve.
Join us for the second Theatre Salon of the season! This month we are exploring the Michael Healey canon as we approach the opening of Proud on November 6th.
Monday October 27th @ 7pm – Maw’s Eatery & Bar – 111 Princess Street (not to be confused with the Beer Hall
One of Canada’s most celebrated theatre artists, Healey has earned a Governer General’s Award for his play The Drawer Boy and Dora Mavor Moore Award for Generous.
This month we will be treated to readings from The Drawer Boy as well as two plays in Healey’s trilogy exploring Canadian values: Generous and Courageous– Proud is the third in this series. Also on the docket are readings from Jackie Torrens’ Georama and musical performances by Claire Friesen.
Doors open at 6pm- kitchen and bar will be open! Admission is free for Season Pass holders and by donation for everyone else. See you Monday!
Maw’s Eatery & Bar, 111 Princess Street
Happy birthday to us! Our Season Launch is also the first of our 2014/2015 Salon Series. This year, we’ll be riffing on subjects in our regular programmed shows and tripping back as we celebrate 25 years of Theatre Projects Manitoba. We are excited about our new Salon location this year. MAW’S Eatery & Bar is a funky eatery and watering hole in the Exchange district with great food, a large beer selection and shuffleboard! Doors open at 6pm- arrive early, because these Salons fill up fast! Come and help us usher in our 25th year!
Welcome to the 25th season at Theatre Projects Manitoba! It feels fantastic to reach a quarter of a century. We think that we have improved with age, like a fine wine, a sharp cheese or personal wisdom.
Founded in 1990 by playwright Harry Rintoul, TPM has diligently grown a generation of theatre makers who are now practicing at home and across the land. Harry and the founding members were keenly aware of the need for a strong local professional company to provide opportunities for our artists and stories for our stage. For 25 years we have been a hot house for new talent, home grown projects and challenging plays.
To celebrate our silver season, we have 3 fantastic plays to encourage you to inspire, nurture and challenge this community’s artists and you, our audience. Each play invites us to check our preconceived notions (of politics and prairie life, of theatre and TPM) at the door and embrace that which is in front of us, on the stage, in the moment.
We are also delighted to continue our popular Salon series for the third season running, bringing together emerging and established artists with audiences to explore the themes of our season in a cabaret setting. This season, not only will we be riffing on our current shows, but we’ll revisit some highlights from the past 25 years. Check our website, Facebook page or give us a call to get dates and times for these monthly cabaret nights. You don’t want to miss them!
For all you social media hounds out there, we have some fun stuff in store!
- Every Thursday, we’ll be #tbt-ing images of local artists from the TPM vault. The hairstyles, the photo quality, the youth!
- If you have old programs, season brochures, ticket stubs or photos of TPM events, scan or photograph it and send it in! Email us at [email protected] or post the image to our Facebook wall, and we’ll enter you in a draw to win TPM swag! Images must be more than three seasons old.
- We will be posting trivia questions throughout the season through Facebook and Twitter. Correct answers will be entered into a draw to win more TPM swag!
Thanks for believing in our work over the years, and, if you’re new to TPM, thanks for joining! Cheers to this season and the next twenty-five!
Prairie Theatre Exchange’s Carol Shields Festival of New Works begins tonight! The annual festival happens at PTE from May 15-17, and presents new local works in development. We have been part of this important festival many times over the years and this year, we are excited to present a reading of I Dream of Diesel by our resident company, One Trunk Theatre.
Perhaps you have seen an earlier version of this collectively created, devised project at one of our Monday night Salons? Here’s your chance to see their next leap forward! For months, One Trunk has been developing this fascinating piece, based on the work of internationally renowned Winnipeg singer/songwriter, Scott Nolan. I Dream of Diesel will be presented at 7pm on Friday, May 16. Click here for a full schedule and play synopsis.
On behalf of everyone at Theatre Projects Manitoba, we would like to thank you for your commitment to our creativity, development and dedication to Canadian theatre. As a patron of Theatre Projects Manitoba, you have already experienced the groundbreaking work we bring to our community by Manitoba playwrights such as Debbie Patterson and Carolyn Gray. Perhaps you have even seen the recent success of our Monday evening Salons or been present at one of our Students Nights. Thank you!
Those Salons and Students Nights are helping us to connect with Winnipeg’s youth – our city’s future leaders. If you haven’t seen these initiatives in action, here is just one excerpt from a Red River College student blog, to give you a sense of the impact our plays can have:
(the musical) Wicked …was spectacular, and over the top. Yet Sargent & Victor & Me affected me on a personal level. The set wasn’t extravagant, and that worked for it. It was believably minimal, it looked like it could be a food bank. Wicked had a huge budget, and catchy songs… but the personal, intimate nature of S &V & M made me think critically. I’ll be thinking about the key messages of Sargent & Victor & Me a lot longer than ‘Defying Gravity’ will be stuck in my head.
We are reaching out to all of our patrons and invite you to consider making a charitable gift to Theatre Projects Manitoba. Our ticket sales often cover less than 30% of what it costs to produce the work, and make up less than 20% of our overall operating budget. But we are determined to keep our ticket prices affordable to everyone, including students, while providing the best resources to create the art. To do this, we need your support!
It is easy to donate: just follow this link or give us a call at the office – 204-989-2400 – we love to speak with you! And stay tuned – we will soon be announcing our 25th anniversary season of Theatre Projects Manitoba. We encourage you to purchase a subscription, invite your friends to our theatre, and be an active member of our theatre – you are our lifeblood!
Thank you for your support of Theatre Projects Manitoba. See you at the theatre!
Our meeting is (of course!) open to the public and you are welcome to attend. We do request that you RSVP if you plan on attending – give us a call or email us!
World Theatre Day was initiated in 1961 by the International Theatre Institute (ITI), and is celebrated annually on March 27th by ITI Centres and the international theatre community. Various national and international theatre events are organized to mark this occasion, one of the most important being the circulation of the World Theatre Day International Message. Each year, the ITI invites a figure outstanding in theatre, or a person outstanding in heart and spirit from another field, to share his or her reflections on theatre and international harmony. The International Message is translated into more than 20 languages, read for tens of thousands of spectators before performances in theatres throughout the world and printed in hundreds of daily newspapers. Click here to read this year’s message by Brett Bailey, and don’t forget to celebrate World Theatre Day on Thursday, March 27!
Sargent and Victor & Me is just hours away now. For anyone who would like a taste of this show, check out our teaser video below, courtesy Leif Norman.
And please don’t hesitate a moment longer for tickets – Opening Night and Students Night are sold out! Enjoy!
Debbie Patterson’s one-woman show examines a community on the brink
By Stacy Cardigan Smith
Debbie Patterson’s one woman show Sargent & Victor & Me, set in and around the West End intersection that is its namesake, was gleaned from a series of interviews Patterson conducted with individuals connected to the area. Each account – be it from a resident, business owner, food bank user, delivery boy, waitress, gangster, or incarcerated teen – brings a unique perspective on the strengths and challenges of this troubled area.
The result is a play that attempts to unlock the mysteries of how neighbourhoods evolve and how we cope with unstoppable processes of destruction.
Patterson began the project when she was Theatre Ambassador during Winnipeg’s Cultural Capital of Canada celebrations in 2010.
“My original goal was to just use the text I developed through interviews with people who have ever lived or worked near the corner of Sargent and Victor,” Patterson explains. “The theme of the Cultural Capital year was ‘Arts for All’ so I wanted to find a way of involving people who don’t generally have a connection with the arts in the creation of a new piece. That’s primarily why I chose to use verbatim text and why I chose that area.”
Since then, the work has seen many incarnations and has been read and performed in Winnipeg, Brandon and Iceland. In one version, four actors performed and Patterson directed – but that staging left her feeling disconnected.
“I missed having a direct connection with the people I had interviewed,” Patterson says. “I wanted to say their words myself because I had, in fact, come to love them all and wanted to honour their voices.”
A few solo versions – mostly consisting of monologues – were also staged.
“I didn’t write anything: my own contribution was as an editor and performer. I wanted their voices to be heard, not mine. I wanted to keep myself out of it.”
But as Debbie worked with the piece, she began to understand keeping herself out was impossible – partly because as an actor with MS, her disease undoubtedly affects the performance.
“That’s when I started writing about MS, using the process of living with an incurable degenerative condition as a metaphor for living in a neighbourhood that’s being overtaken by crime,” she explains.
The current one-woman staging is directed by Patterson’s husband Arne MacPherson.
The team behind the music and sound design is multi-disciplinary artists John K. Samson and Christine Fellows.
“The musical approach we’ve taken is in response to the limitations Deb gives herself in the play, that of one person playing multiple roles. More >
How can you take a masterpiece and make it your own? What are the foundations of collective collaboration? What can devised theatre look like?
Using excerpts of Chekhov short stories as a launching point, participants will be led through a variety of content generating exercises based on the work of One Trunk Theatre, Ghost River Theatre, Cowgirl Opera and Wyrd Productions.
The three day workshop will introduce participants to new methods of creating theatre, including non traditional and collaborative text-generation, visual approaches to storytelling and physical theatre.
Ideal for performers interested in creating their own work, including students, emerging artists or industry professionals. Participants should have a thorough understanding of theatre, and interest in expanding their practice.
When is it?
- Friday, Feb 7: 6-9 PM
- Saturday, Feb 8: 10 AM-6 PM
- Sunday, Feb 9: 1:30-10PM
Where is it?
STUDIO 320: 70 Albert Street
What’s the cost?
$60 for professionals, $40 students & participants in Master Playwright Festival
How do I register?
Email us or call 204-989-2400 – we’ll make it happen!
SO much drama is coming our way, friends! Pull yourselves from the post-holiday slump of frozen driveways and tight waistbands, and join us at the theatre! While TPM is busy preparing Sargent & Victor & Me for its February debut, many local theatre companies have been hard at work preparing for Chekhovfest, running January 22 to February 9. With over 20 shows to see, you’ll have your evenings spoken for, but we want to share the gossip on three shows that we are especially excited about.
This Reality Theatre Company, directed by TPM student rep, Lia Zarillo, will present The Samovar. “Hatched from the subtle and dark words of one of the greatest short story writers of all time comes The Samovar, a series of vignettes depicting the brevity and wit of Anton Chekhov. “ Fun, non?
We’re also very excited to see Andraea Sartist0n, artistic director of our resident theatre company, One Trunk Theatre, perform in Three Sisters: A Black Opera. “Embodying a surreal prairie landscape and a prairie Gothic aesthetic, Three Sisters is a dark comedy that subverts the great prairie narrative, uncovering a clown-like world that is sinister, gauche and suffocating.” Yes, please!
Finally, we cannot help waxing nostalgic over Chekhov and Me, the very first show TPM produced in its In the Chamber series. Written by Winnipegger Mike Bell and produced for Chekhovfest by the Manitoba Association of Playwrights, this piece explores a man’s madness with writer’s block.
There you have it, folks! Of course, we encourage you to see as many Chekhovfest productions as possible. Enjoy!
Join us tonight- Monday, January 6 as we continue to investigate and celebrate the work of fabulous Manitoban lady playwrights.
We will be treated to readings of plays by Muriel Hogue, Sharon Bajer, Ellen Peterson, Lora Schroeder, Talia Pura, Veralyn Warkentin, Hope McIntyre and Maureen Hunter. Holy moly! What an embarrassment of playwriting riches!
Hosted by Ellen Peterson, we’ll also be graced with brand new musical stylings from TPM favourite, the Fu Fu Chi Chi Choir – 4 FuFus and a Banjo!
The venue is the Folk Exchange at 211 Bannatyne Ave., admission is free for season passholders and by donation for everyone else. Doors open at 6:30, show starts at 7pm and the cash bar is cheap. Happy New Year, indeed!!
Dear ones – the snow is falling, the tinsel is flying and the time it takes to get out your door has increased exponentially due to bundling time! Yep…December is just around the corner. But you can stay warm with TPM for our final Salon of 2013 – Monday December 2nd at The Folk Exchange!
We will be treated to readings by local playwrights including a new piece by Angie St. Mars (from the University of Winnipeg) which is sure to become a holiday classic: Christmas at the Gym. Alix Sobler, whose Secret Annex will be premiering this season at RMTC, will give us a hit of her new play, She’s Not There, featured alongside another emerging playwrights’ work, Megan Andres’ Only Just. Expect to see the talents of directors Heidi Malazdrewich and Meg Fergusson, as well as TPM student rep, Lia Zarillo. Top it up with the acting superpowers of Heather Thomas, Samantha Walters, Ray Strachan, Liz Whitbread, Naomi Cronk, Lindsay Johnson, Ferron Guerreiro, Brittany Thiessen and TPM’s own student rep, Christina Heather.
Join us at 7pm on Monday, December 2nd. Admission is free for season passholders and by donation for civilians – but come early – there’s limited seating. Bring your coins for the (cheap) cash bar!
We, along with Zone41 Theatre, want to send a huge hug, handshake and a thank you to the cast, crew and everyone who came out to see The Miser of Middlegate. What a hilarious way to start our season! We were tickled by the audience’s- as well as our own- response to the show, and we were even more delighted to present an entirely new, completely homegrown piece of theatre. Although there are artists we love working with from other parts of the country, we are humbled by the wealth of artistic talent right here in Manitoba. Lucky us! Lucky you!
Speaking of artists we love from elsewhere, we are about to welcome Iris Turcott into our midst. Where do we begin explaining how amazing Ms. Turcott is? She is a dramaturg extraordinaire (a person who works with a playwright to develop a new script), having worked with some of Canada’s leading playwrights, including Judith Thompson, Daniel MacIvor, Brad Fraser and, very soon, Deb Patterson! Next week, Iris and Deb will plunge headfirst into workshopping Deb’s new piece, Sargent & Victor & Me, set to premiere at TPM in February. We cannot wait to see what they come up with!
The Miser reviews are coming in! We just love this thoughtful and delightful piece by Chandra Mayor for The Winnipeg Review. She writes:
“Inspired by Moliere’s L’Avare and structured as an homage to the stylish screwball movie comedies of the ’30s, Gray’s script is a comedy of manners with no manners at all. It’s witty, energetic, mildly racy, and well-paced, including jokes about the Fort Garry Hotel, vibrators, lobster-throwing… and money. Director Krista Jackson keeps the show zipping from line to smart-aleck line, maintaining that taut divide between farce and comedy. This production allows the actors to fully exploit their proficiencies with physical comedy, including a dinner party during which the well-dressed guests are seated on giant rolling pilates balls.”For the whole piece, please visit The Winnipeg Review’s website. Thanks, Chandra!
We invited TPM photographer favourite, Leif Norman, into the theatre last Friday to shoot some enticing footage of our upcoming production, The Miser of Middlegate by Carolyn Gray. This sexy, naughty, hilarious, mischievous show opens Thursday and previews Wednesday. JOIN US!!!
Portrait of the Artist as a Dog Lover
Recently, Ellen Peterson and Carolyn Gray took their respective dogs (Sunny Monday and Minnie Gray) for a walk in St. John’s Park. Afterward Sunny had to be shut in the house for being too neurotic, which gave Ellen a chance to hang out in the back garden and get this exclusive interview with Minnie.
So, Minnie, how long have you lived with Carolyn?
Forgive me, but like most dogs I have a keen understanding of time but fail to understand calendars. So I’m not sure. A while. It was after the Cold Part, but before the Hot Part.
Yes, that’s right. I was a birthday present from Carolyn’s best friend besides me, whose name is Melanie. An organization called Manitoba Mutts rescued me.
Any special challenges in being a playwright’s dog?
Well, sometimes she’s super busy. Like a while ago there was a week when she left the house I don’t know how early to go to her job, and then she would go and have a workshop of her play for… hours, is that what you call them? I didn’t see her much, and when we went for walks she bagged my leavings with a distracted air. I helped out all I could, you know, lots of tail-wagging and face-licking at the end of the day.
I bet that helped a lot. You mentioned her job. I thought she was a playwright.
Most playwrights have to have jobs. It’s the only way they can afford to buy kibble. Carolyn is the Executive Director of the Manitoba Writer’s Guild. She helps people write. Which is extremely important.
Her upcoming play is The Miser of Middlegate. What’s it about? More >
TPM’s Company in Residence, One Trunk Theatre presents the first annual One Trunk Festival
West End Cultural Centre on Sunday September 8th, 2013 at 2:00pm.
The One Trunk Festival features performances by three local companies Winnipeg Contemporary Dancers, Grant Guy (Adhere & Deny) & Jaymez (projectionist) and a collective of independent artists including Ardith Boxall (Artistic Director- Theatre Projects Manitoba), Tanja Woloshen (Young Loungs), and Gwendolyn Collins. The inspiration for each of these performances is the work of other artists.
On August 23rd trios of artists (including one musician, one writer and one visual artist) were sent to a specific Winnipeg location to capture the essence of that place through their art form. The chosen locations were the Louis Riel statue at the Legislature, the Elmwood graveyard and Central Park. On Thursday, August 29th their creations will be passed on to a performance company who will have one week to devise a new performance based on the material they receive. More >
In the spirit of supporting art and community, Theatre Projects Manitoba Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Ardith Boxall, Artistic Director, has embarked on a short leave to pursue professional, personal and artistic development.
Interim artistic director duties will be shared by local theatre professionals Chris Johnson and Ellen Peterson. Chris Johnson, professor of theatre at the University of Manitoba and Ellen Peterson, writer in residence for Prairie Theatre Exchange, will serve as artistic consultants for half of the upcoming season until Ardith returns December 31st 2013.
The opportunity afforded Ardith is made possible because of the continuing performance excellence of our General Manager Rea Kavanagh and her commitment to Theatre Projects Manitoba.
PLAYING AT THE CROSSROADS: BOLD AND ORIGINAL STORIES FROM HOME
Winnipeg June 11th, 2013 – Artistic Director Ardith Boxall and General Manager Rea Kavanagh are thrilled to announce Theatre Projects Manitoba’s 2013-14 season. Two premieres of two new plays written by two local playwrights. Our 24th season features new work from Carolyn Gray (The Elmwood Visitation, North Main Gothic) and Debbie Patterson (Head, 40 Below Munsch).
Our 2013-14 programming highlights our commitment to make theatre that is unabashedly original and profoundly relevant to our community. These are fresh contemporary stories deeply rooted in history yet uncompromisingly modern; one with roots in 17th century satire, the other charting the last century of a Winnipeg neighborhood. Both look backward for inspiration yet propel us to imagine a future; right here, right now, at the crossroads.
The season opens with The Miser of Middlegate, a zone41 theatre/Theatre Projects Manitoba production! Directed by Krista Jackson (winner of the 2013 Gina Wilkinson Emerging Director Prize) the production features an amazing ensemble of local performers led by Nicholas Rice (Angels in America Part 1&2), and Marina Stephenson Kerr (Angels in America, The December Man). The Miser of Middlegate is a signature production that illuminates TPM’s strength in the community as a development company and one that mentors and collaborates on projects. zone41 theatre and TPM have an excellent record of working together to bring audiences a unique, fresh and high quality production; one you simply can’t find anywhere else in the region. (2011/12 season’s Three Sisters by Bruce McManus) More >
Bravo to our team, and thankyou to our patrons and sponsors.
We would like to extend a special thanks to our season sponsors: The Winnipeg Foundation, Assiniboine Credit Union, Taylor McCaffrey LLP, Peerless Garments, The Winnipeg Free Press, Relish Branding, Amphora Imports, New Bothwell Cheese, and Half Pints Brewing.
Theatre Projects Manitoba (TPM) is pleased to host a forum to discuss the refugee experience in Manitoba as part of its current production, Bashir Lazhar by Evelyne de la Chenelière.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 6:30 pm
Winnipeg Free Press News Café – 237 McDermot Avenue
Moderated by Sean Kavanagh, CBC Manitoba
Abdikheir Ahmed– Interim Executive Director at the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba (IRCOM) Inc.
Damarys Ramirez– Manager of Inland Protection at Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council
Bashir Khan, an Immigration and Refugee lawyer in Winnipeg and a member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan
Admission is Free
Light Refreshments will be provided
Bashir Lazhar is an extraordinary play which gives us the story of a political refugee seeking asylum in Canada. The subject matter is both topical and compelling. So we decided to take the pulse of this community – to hear about the concerns, triumphs and unique challenges that refugees face in Manitoba and Winnipeg.
Why? Because good theatre builds strong communities – a play can provide a unique, humanistic perspective on a topic and a fantastic springboard for discussion.
Because in recent years, the federal government has made changes to immigration policies that are impacting many immigrants, refugees and their families. More >
Joff Schmidt, CBC Manitoba
There’s something sadly, terrifyingly beautiful in the set the greets the audience entering Theatre Projects Manitoba’s production of Bashir Lazhar.
A twisted wreck of school desks, bright orange plastic chairs, and the remnants of window frames, it’s a scene that implies something unthinkable has happened – and yet also suggests the innocence and possibility of childhood.
And this is an apt metaphor for Quebecoise playwright Evelyne de la Chenelière’s one-man play (which inspired the Oscar-nominated film Monsieur Lazhar). It is full of sadness, humour, and hope, in a mixture that flows from horrifying to hopeful. And here, it makes for a rich, emotionally rewarding theatrical experience. More >
Four & a half stars!
“Deceptively simple but deeply affecting”
“David Adam’s delivers an exceptional understated performance!”
At first glance at the spectacular set of the stage drama Bashir Lazhar, it looks like a bomb has gone off in the classroom of a French-langauge school in Montreal.
For its Grade 6 students, their safe haven of learning has been blown sky-high by the suicide of their beloved female teacher, found hanging in their classroom. The deceased is not the title character but it’s her substitute, a man who reads about the school tragedy and appears unannounced in the principal’s office offering to take over the traumatized class.
That sets the scene for Evelyne de la Chenelière’s deceptively simple but deeply affecting Bashir Lazhar…Read the whole review!
Do you wonder what the experience of Refugees in our province is like? We do! Bashir Lazhar gives us the story of a political refugee seeking asylum in Canada – in his case, Montreal, Quebec. We see it isn’t easy going, but it’s somewhat familiar to the audience – we are, after all, a nation of newcomers. But there are differences to the experience of immigrants over generations, and chasms between one experience and another – choosing to immigrate is a far cry from arriving as a political refugee. And doing outreach for Bashir Lazhar has given us an opportunity to connect with many of the individuals and organizations who serve our newcomers. So, we decided to take the pulse of this community – to hear about the concerns, triumphs and unique challenges that refugees face in Manitoba and Winnipeg.
We will convene a panel discussion at the Free Press Café at 6:30 PM on Wednesday March 20th. The discussion will be moderated by CBC’s Sean Kavanagh and the panel will consist of Abdikheir Ahmed- Interim Executive Director at the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba (IRCOM) Inc.; Damarys Ramirez- Manager of Inland Protection at Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council and Bashir Khan, an Immigration and Refugee lawyer in Winnipeg and a member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Bios soon to come.
We are so pleased with our preview video for Bashir Lazhar, you’d think it was everyone’s birthday around here! Leif Norman put together the following cinescape of scenes from Bashir Lazhar along with a short interview with director, Ann Hodges. Check it out!
We are delighted to have imported David Adams all the way from Vancouver, BC to take the starring role of Bashir Lazhar. David is a jolly, gregarious, kind and talented fellow, and we are so lucky to be working with him! We managed to grab David for quick e-chat earlier this winter, while he was busy out west playing Tevye in a production of Fiddler on the Roof.
TPM: What drew you to work on Bashir Lazhar?
DAVID: The play has many wonderful elements – its humanity, the themes of loss and rebirth, its inherent theatricality and its exploration of the wonderful relationship between teacher and student. Also, as an immigrant myself (from South Africa), I was fascinated by Bashir’s struggle to fit into his new surroundings and understand his new country. The transition was a fairly easy one for me, but the struggle to find one’s place in an adopted country has always interested me.
TPM: You act for film, television, theatre and as a voice over artist. What do you enjoy particularly about working in theatre?
DAVID: Film, TV and voice over work, while interesting, lucrative and sometimes exciting and seen and heard by sometimes millions of people, has its own reward. But the special relationship theatre actors have with their audience is a very profound one. Theatre doesn’t exist without an audience-they are a key component of the whole experience. The live reaction, the power to affect and move the audience is what makes a live performance so unique.
TPM: How will you prepare to work on this play?
DAVID: As a one-person show, there are a lot of words! So to make the whole process easier, I will try to be as familiar with all those words as I can before we start rehearsal. For me this usually means reading the play every day for weeks ahead, so that the ideas, the words, the flow of the piece, are firmly in my brain. I will also do a bit of research on Algeria, to find out as much as I can about the country that Bashir comes from. This is an important part of crawling into the skin of the character, so that by the time I hit the stage, I will know a lot about his background, his culture and I can portray him truthfully.
This week we kicked off rehearsal’s for Bashir Lazhar at the Crescent Fort Rouge United Church! On Monday, February 18th, the full Artistic Team gathered in the warm & sunny 2nd floor space that will be witness to the delicate process of building this new production of Evelyne de la Chenelière’s acclaimed play. Our intrepid team includes director Ann Hodges, actor David Adams and stage manager Ivory Seol. Our Design team brings together Joan Murphy Kakoske (sets & costumes), Hugh Conacher (lights) and Chris Coyne (sound).
We huddle around the table with our coffees and notebooks and feel the crackle of excitement through introductions. The design models and drawings are passed around the table so that we can all peer excitedly into the mini stage spaces. When the first read finally begins, David’s resonant voice and physical bearing makes our hearts skip. The conversation is focussed, and Ann speaks about the power of the poetic aspects in de la Chenaliere’s beautiful play. We see that this crack team of artists will create stage magic!
We’ll bring you a few photos from the rehearsal hall in the coming days. We also want to remind you that March 14th is coming very soon! Do not delay purchasing your tickets – we want to accomodate your first choice of dates. Besides, it’s easy – you can purchase right here on the website, or by calling us: 204-989-2400. Talk soon! Love, TPM
Award-winning Actor, Director, Playwright, Magician, Author and Illustrator, Greg’s credits cover more than 30 years and well over 140 productions across the country, from a warehouse in Vancouver to the Festival Stage at Stratford. He is currently adapting the sixty Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for the Segal Theatre in Montreal. Previous works include Lies of the Vampyre, Isadora Fabulist and Skateboard Tango. There are three novels and a collection of short stories to his credit, all published by Riverbank, an imprint of Cormorant Books. He also plays a mean jazz piano and can knit. He lives in Montreal. www.houseofkramer.com
We will be presenting staged readings of scenes from Greg’s Isadora Fabulist at our February Salon on Monday, February 4 at 7pm at the Folk Exchange.
Feeling disappointed after the inevitable near-life sentence of snow post Groundhog Day? Warm the cockles of your heart and soul by joining us for a night of fantastic theatre! This month, we will be exploring what Anglo writers are up to in Quebec. Krista Jackson and Daina Leitold will direct scenes from Greg Kramer’s ISADORA Fabulist! and Michael MacKenzie’s The Baroness and the Pig, respectively. Other participating artists include Arne MacPherson, Spenser Payne, Suzie Martin, Heidi Malazdrewich, Kevin Ramberran, Thomas Toles, Ava Darrach-Gagnon, and more to come!
As always, admission is free for Season Passholders, $5 for the general public. Doors will open at 7pm with our two-act program beginning at 7:30pm. Cash bar. See you there!
We continue our collaboration with our friends at zone41 theatre after presenting Bruce McManus’ adaptation of Three Sisters together last season. This year, TPM is exploring French Canadian works in translation and zone41 will be at our January Salon with a reading of…And Slowly Beauty…by Michel Nadeau
translated by Maureen Labonté
When Mr. Mann wins tickets to Russian playwright Anton Chekhov’s The Three Sisters, he knows he must go – even though he rarely goes to the theatre. In those few precious hours, something unexpected stirs inside of him and his quiet yearning for happiness blossoms.
A love letter to art.
and Gordon Tanner
Directed by Krista Jackson
Please join us!
Monday, January 7, 2013
7PM – The Folk Exchange
203-211 Bannatyne Ave.
$5 / Free for TPM Subscribers
Join us at The Folk Exchange – 211 Bannatyne for an evening of music and theatre as well as the return of the TPM Photo Booth!
As you enter the lobby, you can sing along with your old holiday favorites and later on, learn a few new classics from our favorite choir, such as TPM’s current earworm – Ivan The Backwards Mule!
What else? Our Curtain Raisers will be a series of scenes from Carole Frechette’s Helen’s Necklace and Elisa’s Skin, translated by John Murrell and directed by TPM’s Artistic Director, Ardith Boxall. The players are a mash of up- and -comers from the University of Winnipeg and some of Winnipeg’s finest professional thespians. On stage you’ll see Alicia Johnson, Kevin Gabel, Justin Otto, Jessina Cheffins and Rob McLaughlin!
There will also be a scene from our U of M student reps Thomas Toles & Kevin Ramberran…that’s all we’ll reveal…it’s a mystery made just for you!
And about that Photo Booth…it is going to be so much better than any mall can offer this season. Why? Because your photo will be an improv featuring you along with several of the evening’s performers…wowza! We’ll provide holiday props and bring the creative spark, and you will receive the digital file, so you can send it as a card, print it for your album, or post it on Facebook…or all of the above!
Doors open at 6:30PM – see you there!
It’s the audience who is ultimately rewarded with this sparkling, fantastical romantic comedy.
—Joff Schmidt, CBC Scene theatre reviewer
A wealthy heiress offers a “substantial reward” to the man who can successfully seduce her – this is the premise that kicks off Quebecois playwright Carole Fréchette’s John and Beatrice, which opens Theatre Projects Manitoba’s season.
But it’s the audience who is ultimately rewarded with this sparkling, fantastical romantic comedy.
A modern fairy tale for grown-ups, the play begins with John (Kevin Klassen) climbing to the 33rd floor of the otherwise-abandoned building where Beatrice (Tracy Penner) has sequestered herself.
Through posters plastered around the city, Beatrice – the veritable princess in a tower – has promised a reward to the man who can pass the challenges she has devised to win her heart, and end her romantic drought. John, a pragmatic bounty hunter whose true love is $20 bills, decides to take on the task.
by Kevin Prokosh
November 3rd, 2012
(transcribed from Winnipeg Free Press print edition)
Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess with waist length blonde hair, inhabiting a tower where handsome suitors came to win her heart & kingdom.
That’s the story John understands when he arrives breathless, after climbing 33 flights of stairs, to the lofty lair of beatrice, a bored young woman determined to find her Prince Charming. In her version of speed dating, she throws down three challenges to her candidates but none so far have been able to “interest, move and seduce her”, and so win a substantial reward.
In Carole Fréchette’s loopy comic romance, John & Beatrice, which opened the Theatre Projects Manitoba season on Thursday night, it quickly becomes clear that this is no fairy tale where love conquers all and everyone lives happily ever after.
The talented Kevin Klassen & Tracy Penner dish it up as John & Beatrice in the first home grown production of Carole Fréchette’s incredible, international play. The CBC came by the theatre today to bring you a sneak peek at a scene and a preview of our Season Opener – John & Beatrice!
Last week, one of our young and talented student reps, Thomas Toles from the University of Manitoba, talked to John & Beatrice Director & TPM’s Artistic Director, Ardith Boxall about her experience directing a Fréchette piece, directing a work in translation, and what it’s like to be under a pile of rocks.
Thomas Toles: What opportunities and challenges does Fréchette offer?
Ardith Boxall: I’ve not encountered her work on the page as play text before, and I’ve never seen her work performed, and I’ve never directed it, and I’ve never acted in it! So it is a huge discovery. This play exists on an almost mythological, fairy tale plane that the challenges are about moving out of the world of naturalism or realism. Sometimes we forget how buried underneath the giant boulders of the well-made play we are. I feel like I’m digging myself out from under a pile of rocks.
TT: How does it feel to direct a play in translation?
AB: This play is the only translation I’ve directed, but I think John Murrell’s translation is spot on. While I don’t speak French, the muscularity and purity to the rhythm of the exchanges between the two characters is so clear and precise in English; the text is confident. It is smooth and precise like a musical composition.
TT: Do you feel closer to the French language at all by handling a text that’s been translated from French to English?
AB: No, but it could be partly due to the play itself. Being more like a fable or allegory, this piece has its own language. It’s more about the archetype than the language itself. The world of the play is a fairy tale. It is a pastiche of allegorical symbols that are used as tools to create a love story. This language is larger than French or English. I feel, acutely however, how unfamiliar I am with French Canadian theatre, where it lives and the style of it. It’s wonderful to explore my theatre practice in unfamiliar territory, but challenging to explore theatre in a language you don’t speak. One has to use the language of the art form as translator. And also, put learning French on one’s priority list! I’m on it……as soon as we get this play open!
TT: John & Beatrice takes place entirely in one unbroken scene. How does the sense of time interact with the characters in the play and also with the audience?
AB: At the end of our first stumble through last week, Kevin [Klassen] said, something like “I’ve never encountered a piece with so many distinctive units of pace, tone and rhythm.” Each section of the play has it’s own demands. There’s an accumulative effect to that. The play happens in real time, but the characters have a whole lifetime of relationship together. After around 45 minutes, they’re already ready to call the divorce lawyer. The accumulation of those different rhythms and how time is condensed and left over and dragged behind and smacked on the side of the head is, I hope, very moving. The characters themselves go through this journey in an unbroken scene and the effect on them is absolutely what is affecting to us.
Literally, the debris and detritus of everything they’ve gone through in those 75 minutes is in the room. The play is a great challenge and I know it’s demanding for the actors too because it is wonderfully strenuous. It’s exhausting to give anyone your attention for 75 minutes, let alone someone you don’t want to be locked in a room with.
Still curious? Get your tickets!
I’ve been obsessed with the art of performance ever since I, at the impressionable age of six, watched Jim Carrey tear out a chef’s heart in Dumb and Dumber. Since then, I have managed to appear in such productions as Departures and Arrivals (2009), A Dream Play (2011), Mary Rose (2011), A Marriage Proposal (2011), Hey Shorty: Vol. 2 (2011), and The House of Blue Leaves (2012). I have also co-directed two productions: The Bald Soprano (2010) and Orphans (2012). I do not exaggerate when I say that I have received high accolades from my mother and father alike. I am in the final year of my undergraduate degree at the University of Manitoba and recently finished my term as the stony-hearted president of the Black Hole Theatre Company. I’m truly excited and honoured to be working with Theatre Projects Manitoba for this upcoming season.
For Immediate Release: Winnipeg, October 16, 2012
John and Beatrice
“Well-to-do young heiress, intelligent and perceptive, who has never loved anyone, is seeking a man who will interest, move and seduce her. Substantial reward offered.”
John & Beatrice is written by Carole Fréchette, one of Canada’s leading playwrights. Recently, there has been an explosion of Fréchette’s work across the country. She is well known internationally and she is one of the most produced Canadian playwrights in France and Europe. Her work, translated into 18 languages, has been staged all over the world, from Montréal to Reykjavik, and Paris to Tokyo.
The English translation is by noted Canadian dramatist John Murrell.John and Beatrice opens November 1st and closes November 11th in the Rachel Browne Theatre. Tickets range from $15-25 (inclusive of GST) and are available by calling the box office at 204-989-2400 or by ordering through this website.
Directed by Theatre Projects Manitoba’s Artistic Director, Ardith Boxall (Monster Trilogy, Age of Arousal, North Main Gothic) the play features Kevin Klassen: Henry V (SIR), Till It Hurts (PTE), Romeo & Juliet (RMTC) and Tracy Penner: Moonlight Sonata of Beethoven Blatz(TPM),Top Girls (RMTC), Village Wooing (zone 41).
High above the city, Beatrice sits on the 33rd floor of an office tower waiting for the right man to respond to her ad. When John appears, the games begin. This bounty hunter is up to the challenge but his reward is in question. John and Beatrice is a masterful play about the delusions and truths of modern day romance. Fréchette’s characters lean firmly to the archetypal; John is a lonely hunter and Beatrice the arrogant princess. With a blend of myth and humor these two lonely people demand and need only one thing – to be able to love.
John and Beatrice blends comedy, melodrama, absurdist theatre and naturalism. Like a lovers’ version of Waiting for Godot, it plays out at times as a duel, at other times, a deceit. With a nod to film noir and a fairy tale heart, the chronicle of John and Beatrice’s romance finally reveals itself as a deep and painful drama. At all times, it is a duet.
Carole Fréchette was born in Montréal and is a graduate of the National Theatre School. Still based in Montréal, she has been a force in Québec theatre for over 25 years. She is the author of 15 plays, which have been translated into 18 languages and staged all over the world. Fréchette won the 1995 Governor General’s Award for her play Les Quatre Morts de Marie and the Chalmers Award for John Murrell’s English version of that play. She is the 2002 winner of the Siminovitch Prize. John Murrell’s English versions of her plays are published by Playwrights Canada Press. Her new play Je pense à Yu, had three different productions this year, in Paris, in Montreal, and in Calgary, at Alberta Theatre Projects in John Murrell’s English version.
CBC Manitoba Scene
Posted by Andrea Ratuski, SCENE Producer | Tuesday August 28, 2012
CBC Scene’s preview of TPM’s season includes new show information and an interview with Artistic Director Ardith Boxall! Bonus: a sneak peek at our groovy new posters from Relish New Brand Experience.
Winnipeg Free Press – PRINT EDITION
Theatre Projects announces lineup for 23rd season
By: Staff Writer
Posted: 08/29/2012 1:00 AM
BASHIR Lazhar, the Quebec play that was adapted into the film Monsieur Lazhar and was nominated for a 2012 Academy Award, will be staged by Theatre Projects Manitoba in March as part of its 23rd season,.
Written by Evelyne de la Chenelière, Bashir Lazhar (March 14-24) explores living with the effects of violence. The title character in the English translation by Morwyn Brebner is an Algerian refugee and eager substitute teacher helping a traumatized middle-school class.
John & Beatrice by Carole Fréchette, translated by John Murrell
Bashir Lazhar by Evelyne de la Chenelière, translated by Morwyn Brebner
TPM’s Theatre Salon!
Playing in Translation: Intimate storytelling that will provoke and entertain.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: WINNIPEG, August 23rd 2012
Theatre Projects Manitoba (TPM) is thrilled to announce the Prairie premieres of two incredible plays from Quebec and to launch our Theatre Salon, where Manitoba artists and audiences can explore Quebec theatre in both official languages! Our 23rd season features the work of Carole Fréchette and Evelyne de la Chenelière; two acclaimed Canadian playwrights whose work has been translated and performed around the world!
“The experience of presenting Quebec theatre in translation brings TPM a new vista; a fresh theatrical landscape for our community to explore. With TPM’s Theatre Salon, we are proposing an intimate forum for the exchange of ideas, a base camp from which students, artists and audiences will help us explore this defining facet of our Canadian culture and community.”- Artistic Director Ardith Boxall More >
Theatre Projects Manitoba has wrapped up our 22nd Season of Made in Manitoba theatre. We would like to thank our brilliant community – the artists, the generous sponsors and donors and our vibrant audience – all of you contributed to an incredible season of activity.
Our season had many highlights, from our partnership with zone 41 theatre for their inaugural production of Three Sisters by Bruce McManus, to a festive holiday themed In the Chamber to our much anticipated premiere of Steven Ratzlaff’s first full length play – the dramatic and thought provoking Dionysus in Stony Mountain. We even took it to the streets this year when during Dionysus we hosted a community forum exploring Restorative Justice at the Winnipeg Free Press Cafe.
We are looking forward to another season of exciting and intimate theatre and we hope you will join us! Please check back in the coming weeks to hear what we have planned for 2012/2013 – we are certain you’ll want to get your Season Passes this year!
With our great affection,
The Staff & Board of Directors of Theatre Projects Manitoba
Uptown Review: Intelligent, funny and especially gripping…Ratzlaff’s play is as pleasing as it is provocative.
Dionysus In Stony Mountain
A winning look at a failing system
Dionysus in Stony Mountain offers an intelligent, provocative and often funny look at crime and punishment in Canada
Idea man. Steven Raztlaff’s Dionysus in Stony Mountain is an intellectually stimulating examination of corrections, crime and punishment. Read the full reiew
Please note Venue and Times for Dionysus in Stony Mountain below – there are incorrect listings in your local papers!
It has come to our attention that the listings in both Uptown and the Winnipeg Free Press are incorrect.
So please – come to the Rachel Browne Theatre at 8PM tonight through Saturday. Or come to a matinee at 2PM on Saturday or Sunday…at the Rachel Browne Theatre.
No spoilers- tonight’s discussion will deal with the subject matter of the play, not the play itself!
Our current production, Dionysus In Stony Mountain by Steven Ratzlaff asks a raft of questions about our Justice System and what obligation we owe to others. It also asks the audience to question many of their own moral assumptions about criminalization and incarceration.
It’s a political play and a provocative subject that the community can engage with both inside the theatre and on the street. So we’re hosting a discussion, Salon style, down the street from the theatre at the Free Press Café, with the guidance of an expert panel and an outstanding moderator.
Restorative Justice Panel
Tuesday, April 3, 2012 at 6:30 pm
Winnipeg Free Press Café – 237 McDermot Avenue
Moderated by Naomi Levine
- John Hutton, Executive Director, John Howard Society
- Glenn Morison, Chaplain, Winnipeg Remand Centre
- Joan Carolyn, Program Director, CoSA (Circles of Support & Accountability)
- Adam Klassen, Journey to Justice (Mennonite Central Committee)
- Steven Ratzlaff, Playwright
- Wilma Derksen, Founder of MCC’s Victim’s Voice, Victim’s advocate
- Kent Somers, Psychologist, Stony Mountain Institution
Join the discussion!
Dionysus in Stony Mountain runs from March 29 to April 8, 2012 at the Rachel Browne Theatre. For tickets, please visit www.theatreprojectsmanitoba.ca or call 989-2400.
Commissioned by Playwrights Guild of Canada, The Professional Association of Canadian Theatres and Association des théâtres francophones du Canada
By Daniel David Moses
Consider how useful a wristwatch that lights up and glows is, if your work takes you, as mine does occasionally, into the darkened auditorium of a theatre. Settled under the blanket of the theatre’s artificial night and focused on the dream world rising on the stage, I can check unobtrusively on time’s passage. If I’m watching the rehearsal of one of my own plays, I want to be certain it’s playing out with as much alacrity as my conceit allows. If I’m attending some other play’s performance, checking the time is a measure of how the play is working for me, fairer to those works, as I age, than the question of when the next bathroom break will come. More >
“They’re too embarrassed to call it a penitentiary anymore. The absurdity of compulsory penance. This institution is an abomination, a scandal, because the debilitating, humiliating treatment is actually the result of good intentions.”
– James Hiebert, Dionysus in Stony Mountain
EXPLORING RESTORATIVE JUSTICE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – FRIDAY, MARCH 23, 2012
WINNIPEG, MB – Theatre Projects Manitoba (TPM) is pleased to present a panel on restorative justice as part of our upcoming production, the première of Dionysus in Stony Mountain by Winnipeg playwright Steven Ratzlaff.
Restorative Justice Panel
Tuesday, April 3, 2012 at 6:30 pm
Winnipeg Free Press Café – 237 McDermot Avenue
Moderated by Naomi Levine
As unabashedly intellectual as it is dramatically compelling, Dionysus in Stony Mountain explores the binding and loosening of family ties, the warehousing of the mentally ill in Canada’s prisons, mania, and the boundaries of the patient /psychiatrist’s relationship, finally asking “what does it really mean to care?”
“The play asks a raft of questions about our Justice System and what obligation we owe to others. It also asks the audience to question many of their own moral assumptions about criminalization and incarceration and we believe this provocative subject deserves independent examination by our community.” said TPM General Manager Rea Kavanagh. “We are therefore hosting a restorative justice panel comprised of individuals who can speak to restorative justice experience, principles and practice.”
The panelists are:
- John Hutton, Executive Director, John Howard Society
- Glenn Morison, Chaplain, Winnipeg Remand Centre
- Joan Carolyn, Program Director, COSA (Circles of Support & Accountability)
- Adam Klassen, Journey to Justice (Mennonite Central Committee)
- Steven Ratzlaff, Playwright
- Wilma Derksen, Founder of MCC’s Victim’s Voice, Victim’s advocate
Dionysus in Stony Mountain runs from March 29 to April 8, 2012 at the Rachel Browne Theatre. Tickets are available on this website or by calling 989-2400.
As unabashedly intellectual as it is dramatically compelling, the play erupts with Friedrich Nietzsche, exploring the binding and loosening of family ties, the warehousing of the mentally ill in Canada’s prisons, mania, and the boundaries of the patient /psychiatrist’s relationship, finally asking “what does it really mean to care?”
We sat down with Steven to chat about the evolution of his play, his choice of Nietzsche, his thoughts on society’s vast systems & his compulsion to write about them. More >
We’ve been excited about this play for some time – we saw it’s first incarnation as a one act play at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival in 2008 and were captivated.
Three years, several workshops and script drafts later, Ratzlaff’s play will make it’s premiere on Thursday March 29th at 8PM at the Rachel Browne Theatre.
As unabashedly intellectual as it is dramatically compelling, the play erupts with Friedrich Nietzsche, exploring the binding and loosening of family ties, the warehousing of the mentally ill in Canada’s prisons, mania, and the boundaries of the patient /psychiatrist’s relationship, finally asking “what does it really mean to care?”
You can get your tickets here on the website or by calling us at 989-2400.
Join us this Sunday to hear the fabulous news from last year’s10/11 Season. It’s also a great opportunity to chat with the staff and the Board of Directors about your TPM experiences over coffee and cookies.Theatre Projects Manitoba’s 22nd Annual General Meeting 3PM Sunday January 22nd, 2012 504 – 100 Arthur: Manitoba Association of Playwright’s Rory Runnels Studio Beverages & nibbles will be served
Hmmm…cookies and good conversation about theatre…very hard to go wrong with that plan.
We wish you and all your loved ones peace and joy during the festive season and the happiest of new years!
Every year, Theatre Projects commissions two or more theatre artists to create a new piece for straight-from-the-oven-to-the-audience performance. December 8-10, In the Chamber: Holiday Special premieres a music/theatre mashup of the artistry of Ellen Peterson and the Fu Fu Chi Chi Choir (aka creative cyclones Sarah Constible and Michelle Boulet plus ten or so best friends) for two plays wrapped in one glittery package. Rick Chafe stopped the panting artists long enough to get a preview.
Rick: Overview please, what are the two shows in one about?
Sarah: The Fu Fu Chi Chi part takes place in hour 36 of a 12-day Christmas TV marathon. The host, Bobbie Lager, was supposed to be relieved 8 hours ago, and she’s very sick. She shows a selection of musical numbers, each one, coincidentally enough, performed by the choir.
Michelle: And then Sarah and I are sort of the accent in Ellen’s piece, because she’s doing monologues and we’re the ones who give her the chance to change costumes. We wrote all new songs for the choir for our show, and songs that resonate a lot with Ellen’s themes for hers.
Ellen: Mine is The Eight Tiny Reindeer of the Apocalypse. It’s about how the end of civilization as we know it is brought to collapse by Christmas. I play 3 characters over the span of 20 years. The first is an economics professor who’s seen the signs everywhere and is trying in vain to get people to stop the madness. Her students wouldn’t listen and she becomes a doomsday prophet, standing out on the corner of Portage and Vaughn. The next character is a woman who is married and has children, but she had a breakdown the previous year. She’s trying to get her Christmas mojo together, trying to make the magic happen, but it’s not going very well. The third is a preacher of a so-called church—but there’s no 2-sentence version of this, so you have to come see.
Rick: Where did the Christmas theme come from? More >
TPM is getting crafty with our Holiday Special themed In the Chamber!
To compliment the performance on stage, we’ve invited local artists to display and sell their handmade creations in the lobby.
There will be a variety of items, from original gift cards & writing journals to hand printed t-shirts, beautiful felted creatures & hand sewn monsters! Expect a little cheekiness and a lot of talent!
Here’s the Handmade line up:
- Heather Bays
- Tamara Rae Biebrich: lady.t tees
- Maurice & Jeanette Dzama
- Kami Goertz: Marathon 1981
- Andee Penner: Sew Dandy
- Alix Sobler: Summertime Crafts
So arrive early and bring cash! We’ll even have hand stamped wrapping paper and an elf or two to tie up your packages. Oh…did we mention the photo booth?!
The Fu Fu Chi Chi Choir Photo: Leif Norman l to r: Michelle Boulet, Jacqueline Loewen, Sarah Constible, Janice Skene, Elizabeth Quesnel & Marina Stephenson Kerr
In the Chamber 2011: Holiday Special
Featuring Ellen Peterson & The Fu Fu Chi Chi Choir
Directed by Ardith Boxall
8PM December 8th, 9th & 10th
The Asper Centre for Theatre & Film – University of Winnipeg Campus – 400 Colony (Entrance from Balmoral)
TPM is preparing for the holidays – constructing a darkly comic theatrical tonic for the madness of the season. Ellen Peterson and the Fu Fu Chi Chi Choir are the elves In the Chamber workshop, building us two new plays.
This year our writer/performer series that begs for the personal explores our society’s relationship to the holidays, our economy and the individual pursuit for meaning in the current economic climate.
Ellen Peterson brings us The Eight Tiny Reindeer of The Apocalypse and the Fu Fu Chi Chi will give us a playlet in four part harmony, so fa la la promises to be ha ha ha – we hope you can join us!
With just three performances, seating is limited – get your tickets now!
Two Chekhov enthusiasts, Mike Bell and Bruce McManus, met for coffee to discuss the impending world premiere, 11 years in the making, of Bruce’s adaptation of Chekhov’s Three Sisters.
Mike enters Bruce’s home. Bruce offers coffee. Mike can’t say no because he loves “the java”. During the interview, sometimes Bruce stands up to get coffee. But, for the most part, Mike and Bruce are sitting at the kitchen table.
MIKE: Why is the story of Three Sisters important to you?
BRUCE: It resonated with me because the theme of happiness has dropped out of literature to some extent. Except for children’s literature. The characters in the play need to find some kind of place in the world, but also find happiness. Find happiness whatever that is…whatever that means. It’s intriguing to me.
MIKE: What do you find more challenging? Writing an original play or adapting a pre-existing one?
BRUCE: With my own plays I’ve lived through that period. Adaptations you have to research time, place, and who the characters represented in their own time. And when you’ve got the story and structure most of your work is done. Yet you still feel this obligation to enlighten and enhance what is there. That poses its own challenges. But there’s no easy writing. Everything’s hard about writing.
MIKE: How would you describe Chekhov as a writer? More >
By Anton Chekhov
Adapted by Bruce McManus
Canwest Centre for Theatre and Film
University of Winnipeg Campus – 400 Colony (entrance from Balmoral)
Directed by Christopher Brauer
a zone41 theatre production
110 years since the original opened at the Moscow Arts Centre. McManus has moved the action from turn of the century Russia and centered it instead on The Royal Canadian Air Force Base at Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan in the late 1950’s. In doing so he weaves a prairie story from the essential threads of the original remaining faithful to the tragic comedy of Chekhov’s characters in an environment often hostile to dreams.
Three Sisters explores our obsessive desire to look elsewhere, to ignore our reality in pursuit of an imagined salvation, and confronts us with the impossibly perfect designs we hang on both our past and future.
On October 6th, 2011, Theatre Projects Manitoba is launching our 22nd season with zone41 theatre’s production of Bruce McManus’ Three Sisters. We are excited to partner with them for their inaugural production and introduce our audiences to this new theatre company committed to reimagining classics.
We asked Matthew Handscombe – one half of zone41 to describe the genesis of their new company .
“Two years ago this fall, our lives changed. It began with a show, Tom-Tom’s co-op production of The Winter’s Tale that was a revelation to me as an audience member and just had the magic for Krista as a veteran actor. If you were lucky enough to have seen it, you too may fondly recall how Christopher Brauer and his team of actors were able to transform two trestles, a door and a piano into the richest of sets. The quality of the work being done on stage was staggering and moments of obvious, unbridled joy were received by the audience with vocal thanks. I wasn’t the only one in tears. More >
On the occasion of TPM’s 20th anniversary, interviews abounded and video was shot… Theatre Projects was made a movie star. Produced and directed by Gordon Tanner, the footage became a 16 minute documentary called Between Then and Now: 20 Years of Theatre Projects Manitoba for MTS On Demand.
Now you have a chance to see Between Then and Now: 20 Years of Theatre Projects Manitoba on a double bill from MTS on Demand with the premiere of The Book of Vaudeville in support of Winnipeg’s Performing Arts Lodge.
MTS Winnipeg on Demand Presents a Farpoint Films Production
The Book of Vaudeville Premiere
A Fundraiser for the Performing Arts Lodge of Winnipeg
Friday, September 23
Two Screenings: 1:30pm & 7:00pm
274 Garry Street
This is a fundraiser for the Performing Arts Lodge of Winnipeg (PAL). Tickets are $20 (cash sales only please) and are available in advance at Aqua Books, Theatre Projects Manitoba (204-245 McDermot Ave) and the Farpoint Films office at 202-1335 Erin St.
We are thrilled to bring you three world premieres from the Province, created by fabulous local artists (beloved and emerging) and staged in intimate city venues. Join us at the theatre where you’ll find daring, intelligent and sometimes hilarious stories that will grab hold of your senses and elevate your prairie spirit!
Download our season brochure and mark the dates!
In October, we’ll premiere zone41 theatre’s Three Sisters, by Anton Chekhov adapted by Bruce McManus and set in 1959 in the wilds of Saskatchewan! Come out and be bowled over by the ensemble cast of 11 actors and the intimate alley staging that will immerse you in a living room on the Royal Canadian Air Force Base in Moose Jaw.
In the Chamber: Holiday Special marks the return of our (popular, personal and oft political) writer performer series . Ellen Peterson’s new solo performance is a modern holiday fable sure to get you through the season with a brave smile on your face. Joining her is the Fu Fu Chi Chi Choir led by Michelle Boulet and Sarah Constible in a brand new musical playlet for nine women!
In April Dionysus in Stony Mountain by Steven Ratzlaff brings you thought provoking drama; a challenging, intellectually demanding play – steeped in Nietzsche and set in Stony – to haul you out of the dark winter months and propel you to spring.
It’s going to be an amazing year. Get your season passes now!
Winnipeg Free Press: republished from May 14th, 2011 print edition
A NEW adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters will have its première at Theatre Projects Manitoba this fall, 110 years after the original play opened in Moscow.
Winnipeg playwright Bruce McManus has updated the tragicomedy to the late 1950s and set it at the air force base in Moose Jaw, Sask.
Christopher Brauer will direct a large cast including Ardith Boxall, Andrew Cecon, Carolyn Gray, Rob McLaughlin, Harry Nelken and Gord Tanner. The show will run Oct. 6-16 at the Canwest Centre for Theatre and Film.
The 21-year-old Theatre Projects is committed to developing and producing Manitoba plays. Its 2011-12 season includes two other productions. Read more of the preview
by Kenton Smith, Uptown
A good way to plug the undervalued dynamo of Winnipeg theatre was to bring its story directly into peoples’ homes.
“There’s still too many people who don’t know the organization exists,” says local actor (and first-time documentary filmmaker) Gordon Tanner, director of Between Then and Now: 20 Years of Theatre Projects Manitoba. The 16-minute MTS Winnipeg on Demand doc is now available to MTS subscribers.
The succinct summary of TPM’s history and mandate comes at an opportune time: TPM celebrated its 20th anniversary and 21st season in 2010. More >
Produced and directed by Gordon Tanner, the footage has now been transformed into a 16 minute documentary called Between Then and Now: 20 Years of Theatre Projects Manitoba.
MTS TV customers can see the program for free 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on MTS Winnipeg On Demand. Not an MTS customer? Make it a movie night with a friend…but don’t miss it! More >
What CAN we do in 90 Hours? It’s time to find out!
The Winnipeg Foundation’s 90-Hour Giving Challenge began Monday at 6:00am and runs until midnight Thursday, April 21st. Make an online gift during that time to Theatre Projects Manitoba’s Agency Fund and the Foundation will provide additional support.
To check out the nearly 130 participating charities, or to make a gift, go to the 90-Hour Giving Challenge donation page. Results of the Challenge will be announced Tuesday, April 26th at a special news event at 10:30 am, at The Forks Market Atrium.
Wowza – the response from audiences has been overwhelming! So…we’ve added one more performance to our run of The Moonlight Sonata of Beethoven Blatz.
7:30 PM, Sunday April 17th
By Kevin Prokosh, Winnipeg Free Press
The answer is at the clappering heart of Armin Wiebe’s lusty romantic folk tale The Moonlight Sonata of Beethoven Blatz, which had its premiere staged before a full house at the Rachel Browne
Theatre Thursday night.For such a man as Obrum Kehler, a Mennonite farmer two years into a happy but childless marriage with his beloved Susch, it is a question of procreation. For the title character, an eccentric Russian immigrant composer tasked with repairing the Klavier, it is all about finding a new muse to spur his creation.
Sure we are not of too much else, as the mischievous Wiebe, the award-winning Winnipeg novelist, makes his successful playwriting debut with a deceptively simple plot complicated by his quirky characters reversing the order of the words they speak like so many Mennonite Yodas. Combine that with Obrum’s knack for talking in metaphors, “he speaks double sometimes,” and communication breakdowns there will be. Did Obrum hire Blatz to tune his piano or his wife?
Mennonites in lust! But not talking about it.That’s the Coles notes take on Armin Wiebe’s first full-length play, The Moonlight Sonata of Beethoven Blatz, which sees a solid world premiere this week from Theatre Projects Manitoba.It’s the 1930s, and Obrum Kehler (Tom Keenan) and his wife, Susch (Tracy Penner), live on their farm just outside the fictional Manitoba town of Gutenthal. Obrum inherits a battered piano, and enlists the help of Beethoven Blatz (Eric Nyland), an eccentric Russian immigrant, to repair it – and teach Susch to play it. Read more
Uptown Magazine: Novelist Armin Wiebe makes his playwriting debut with The Moonlight Sonata of Beethoven Blatz, a folk play with a distinctly Prairie bent
Daria Puttaert and Tom Keenan in The Moonlight Sonata of Beethoven Blatz. Photo: Dylan Hewlett
From the page to the stage, Theatre Projects Manitoba presents The Moonlight Sonata of Beethoven Blatz, the premiere play by local novelist Armin Wiebe. Best known for a trio of tales — 1984’s The Salvation of Yasch Siemens, 1991’s Murder in Gutenthal and 1995’s The Second Coming of Yeeat Shpanst — all set in the fictional Manitoba Mennonite town of Gutenthal, Wiebe’s theatrical debut is a long time coming. Read the full article in Uptown!
Armin Wiebe is an award-winning author. But even more exciting, he is a first time playwright. Tonight is the opening night of Moonlight Sonata of Beethoven Blatz. Armin kept a journal of the journey of getting his first play to the stage. And he graciously shares some entries with you on CBC’s Manitoba Scene!
ARMIN Wiebe thinks Mennonites are misjudged if they are seen as humourless, religious pacifists who spend their days singing and shunning in southern Manitoba.
“The image of the poor, serious Mennonite may be handy as PR but it’s not the reality,” says Wiebe, 62. “Mennonites are a people who love to laugh. They are always telling jokes, making dummheit, doing crazy things.”
As the title suggests, the piano takes centre stage in Armin Weibe’s The Moonlight Sonata of Beethoven Blatz. But lurking in the shadows is the mysterious, sinister and possibly pagan companion of Mennonite New Years Mummers – the Brummtopp.
When we talked about this unusual instrument with Jim Agapito at CBC, he knew he had a story – the Brummtopp seemed rather exotic…
But he also really wanted learn more about the experience of the playwright. Even though Armin’s writing career stretches over decades, this would be his first time in the rehearsal hall and that would be an interesting view of the process!
The result is a story on the play on CBC’s Manitoba Scene featuring Armin’s Blog and Jim’s video which exploring the history of the brummtopp.
There will be more blogging and more photos from the rehearsal hall later this week!
More and more people are purchasing tickets through TPM’s online store, but we know that some people just like a ticket…a real ticket with snap that you can rub between your fingers like a good luck charm.
Theatre Projects Manitoba is eager to answer this tactile dream and has teamed up with McNally Robinson to offer you cold hard tickets for purchase for our upcoming premiere of The Moonlight Sonata of Beethoven Blatz. When you’re through browsing the Prairie Writers section, just proceed to the front desk and one of their friendly staff will assist you.
The Moonlight Sonata of Beethoven Blatz is Armin’s latest Gutenthal story written for stage and produced by Theatre Projects Manitoba.
Turnstone Press and Theatre Projects invite all authors, readers, friends, and fans of Armin Wiebe to join us on Friday, April 15 for a post-show reception. While we nosh, playwright and novelist Bob Armstrong will moderate a talk-back discussion with Armin, exploring the relationship between Armin’s Gutenthal novels and his new play. More >
“You don’t see plays like this very often…this one is worth seeing” says Kevin Prokosh in his outstanding review of Almighty Voice and His Wife in the Winnipeg Free Press. Read the article
Kevin Prokosh speaks with playwright Daniel David Moses, Native Earth Performing Arts Artistic Director Yvette Nolan and Theatre Projects’ Artistic Director Ardith Boxall about Almighty Voice and His Wife. Moses talks about how he came to the story and the distinct style that some have described as “two plays in one”. Read the Winnipeg Free Press article…
Almighty Voice and His Wife is previewed by Jared Storey in this week’s Uptown. He talks to Derek Garza (Almighty Voice) and Artistic Director Ardith Boxall about the play’s evolution with it’s audience and it’s distinct style and structure. Read the Uptown article.
Some old, a whole bunch new, quite a few borrowed and at least one (Calendar Girls) sort of blue mark this year’s season on Winnipeg stages. And TPM’s premiere of The Moonlight Sonata of Beethoven Blatz is April’s must see show!
November 3 – 7, 2010
TPM will once again participate in the Manito Ahbee Festival – this time with our presentation of Almighty Voice and His Wife. Now in its 5th year, the Festival is devoted to engaging all nations in an international celebration of Aboriginal music, arts, culture and heritage. Taking place from November 3rd – 7th in Winnipeg, this dynamic festival honours the Manito Ahbee sacred site, Aboriginal elders, ancestors, communities and the global nation.
November 17 – 18, 2010
The Creative Writing program at Brandon University will be hosting Almighty Voice and his Wife as part of their Hawkweed Literary Forum (formerly called The Literary Speakers Series). The forum has been hosting readings and performances by nationally and internationally acclaimed writers for the past several decades. The list of writers includes such luminaries as Miriam Toews, Tomson Highway, Paula Gunn Allen, David Bergen, Marilyn Dumont, Simon Ortiz, Maria Campbell, and Daniel David Moses. The series has led to the development of the Brandon Ogamas Aboriginal Literary Festival, one of Canada’s major festivals for Aboriginal writers.
Written by Al Rae • Featuring Sarah Constible
7PM Saturday September 25th
Colin Jackson Studio Theatre @ Prairie Theatre Exchange
One Man’s Show is a provocative psychobiography which examines the gendered history of mankind by seeing what all humans have in kind. On the eve of his marriage Sarah-as-Al searches for his place in his family, in the world, in history, and within himself. This unique monologue filled with dark humour, draws outside the lines.
A comic and a writer since age 19, Al Rae was co-creator of Little Mosque on the Prairie for which he received a Gemini Award and the Prix Roma Screenwriting Prize (Italy). He is also the creator and writer of the CBC Radio hit: Monsoon House with Russell Peters and is currently the Artistic Director of the CBC Winnipeg Comedy Festival.
September 24 – 26, 2010
Winnipeg’s celebration of new plays is moving to September! Presented by Prairie Theatre Exchange, the Carol Shields Festival, Version 7.5 will celebrate Canada’s inaugural Culture Days by opening up “plays under construction” to the general public. We’ll be there with a new play in development!
FEATURING: One Man’s Show
Written by Al Rae • Featuring Sarah Constible
7PM Saturday September 25th
Colin Jackson Studio Theatre @ Prairie Theatre Exchange
One Man’s Show is a provocative psychobiography which examines the gendered history of mankind by seeing what all humans have in kind. On the eve of his marriage Sarah-as-Al searches for his place in his family, in the world, in history, and within himself. This unique monologue filled with dark humour, draws outside the lines.
A comic and a writer since age 19, Al Rae was co-creator of Little Mosque on the Prairie for which he received a Gemini Award and the Prix Roma Screenwriting Prize (Italy). He is also the creator and writer of the CBC Radio hit: Monsoon House with Russell Peters and is currently the Artistic Director of the CBC Winnipeg Comedy Festival.
The Last Dog of War at Theatre Projects Manitoba
By Joff Schmidt for CBC Manitoba
Theatre Projects Manitoba kicks off its 20th season with a winner from Linda Griffiths… and it should be as big a hit for TPM as last season’s production of Griffiths’ Age of Arousal was. Read Joff’s CBC theatre blogspot on The Last Dog of War…
By: Kevin Prokosh for Winnipeg Free Press
4 stars out of 5
THE mission for actress Linda Griffiths in her new dramatic monologue was to reconnect with her Second World War veteran father and get him to his squadron’s last RAF reunion in England without starting a Third World War.
The Last Dog of War, which opened the 20th season of Theatre Projects Manitoba Thursday night, is a compelling, deceptively simple telling of the Griffiths’ 2005 overseas journey that was almost as risky and flak-filled as his 1940s bombing sorties to Berlin. The dark-haired Toronto actress, best known for writing and performing the national hit Maggie & Pierre, ascended the stage pulling her wheeled suitcase and off into the wild blue wonder she piloted her audience/passengers on an entertaining 75-minute flight of fancy.
November 4th 2009
TPM’s The Last Dog of War brings the personal side of battle
by Amanda Lefley (Volunteer)
Performer Linda Griffiths brings a personal story with her Last Dog of War.
The Last Dog of War, a one-woman show written and performed by Montreal-born playwright Linda Griffiths, will be running Nov. 5-14 at the Costume Museum of Canada on Pacific Avenue, courtesy of the Theatre Projects of Manitoba. Read more…
This preview article appeared in Volume 64, Number 10 of The Uniter, published November 5th 2009.
There are many reasons why plays have been written for Theatre Projects Manitoba over its 20 years, and a threat of physical violence is one of them.
Rick Chafe was a fledgling fringe festival playwright in the mid-’90s when TPM artistic director Bruce McManus strong-armed him with a demand for a script, or else. The result was his first full-length work, The Last Man and Woman on Earth (1998), a dark comedy in which Chafe explored large questions in his personal life. That play gave him the confidence to adapt Homer’s Odyssey and to pen his most successful work Shakespeare’s Dog, which debuted in 2008 at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre and subsequently at the Manitoba Theatre Centre and earlier this fall in Calgary.
“I don’t know if I would have even wandered down that path if it wasn’t for Bruce telling me he’d beat me up if I didn’t give him a play,” Chafe says.
Michael Nathanson did not encounter such coercion when TPM founding artistic director Harry Rintoul came to him in 1990 and promised the theatre would produce his next play. That turned out to be To Kill the Weatherman (1991), an important stepping stone for Nathanson, who was recently nominated for a 2009 Governor General’s Award for drama. After Weatherman, Nathanson directed The Resurrection of John Frum by Vern Theissen, another local playwright wannabe who won a GG in 2003.
“It was the great luxury of knowing our work would be done, that there was a theatre in Winnipeg that absolutely believed in us as playwrights and gave us early opportunities,” says Nathanson, WJT’s current artistic director.
As TPM begins its 20th season tonight with Linda Griffiths performing her solo work The Last Dog of War, its production history reads like a who’s who of Winnipeg theatre. Most were unknown quantities when TPM first focused the spotlight on them. There’s a lot more independent made-in-Manitoba work currently on the boards but that was not always the case.
“For a long time, Theatre Projects was the only company consistently commissioning and producing new Manitoba work every season,” Chafe says. “So it was putting a lot of playwrights’ work up in front of a non-fringe audience for the first time and doing the same for a lot of actors and directors and designers and technicians.”
TPM was born in 1990, the dream of playwright Harry Rintoul, who saw the deep need for a company dedicated to staging plays written and performed by Manitobans. The last troupe to try it, Agassiz Theatre, had closed in 1989. This time the theatre community fell in behind Rintoul, who died suddenly in 2002.
“There needed to be a place for Manitoba artists to get their feet wet,” says TPM’s fifth and present artistic director Ardith Boxall. “It was necessary then and still is.
“The problem with doing developmental work is that it’s not sexy. No one is throwing corporate sponsorships at you.”
Last season TPM played to 1,734 people, with the most popular production being Age of Arousal by Griffiths. Its 2009-10 budget is $210,000, a total that includes a new creations grant received to support next spring’s première of North Main Gothic by Winnipeg’s Carolyn Gray (The Elmwood Visitation).
“If Harry was alive today he would be excited,” says Boxall. “I think he would say we’re kicking ass.”
Getting such a prominent Canadian theatre figure as Griffiths (Maggie & Pierre) back here twice in one year is a coup for TPM. Last March she was here for a public reading of The Last Dog of War, a true story of a trip the Toronto actress/playwright made with her father to England for the last reunion of his Royal Air Force squadron. When she offered to take questions from the audience the first one was, ‘Can you read some more?’
“We had to find out how the mission ended,” says Boxall, who is staging Last Dog cabaret style at the Costume Museum of Canada, 109 Pacific Ave. “We thought it would be appropriate around Remembrance Day.”
The Second World War serves as a backdrop for the conflict between a father and daughter in Linda Griffiths’ The Last Dog of War
Familiar battles take the stageWith Remembrance Day approaching, it’s fitting that Theatre Projects Manitoba’s first production of the season is The Last Dog of War, running Nov. 5 to 14 at the Costume Museum of Canada.
Written and performed by Linda Griffiths, the play tells the true story of a trip to the U.K. she took with her father, a Second World War veteran, for the last reunion of his Royal Air Force comrades, the 49th Squadron, Bomber Command. Set against the battle between Allied and Axis powers, there is another conflict in this tale – that between father and daughter. But don’t expect some clichéd coming-together type tale.
“I was determined it wasn’t going to be a sentimental story and yet, of course, there is an emotional level there, but there was no attempt at the beginning (of the trip) for it to be any kind of working out,” Griffiths says. “I went for my own reasons and then things happened by accident, as opposed to this tearful joining together of father and daughter. It’s not a sentimental story but it doesn’t mean there isn’t emotion in it.”
Griffiths, under the direction of Daniel McIvor, has been honing The Last Dog of War for four years now. The Montreal-born, Toronto-based playwright, whose Age of Arousal played at Theatre Projects Manitoba last season, says she developed the play “on its feet,” meaning she’s taken an improvisational approach. In fact, when she first performed it she had no script, rehearsal, no preparation whatsoever beyond a few ideas, a time frame and a few cues. The idea was to keep the emphasis on storytelling, something Griffiths says audiences have related too.
“What I’ve been really interested in is the range of ages that respond to the play,” Griffiths says. “For instance, I did a show for the Performing Arts Lodge in Toronto and that audience was mostly above 65. They relate to the Second World War stuff. I actually talked to a woman who told me she was one of the people in the basement when my father was bombing Berlin! I thought, ‘This is my optimum audience for it.’ But then when I played it for students, they’ve reacted at least as well or better to the show. I think it may be because part of the story is about very young people who went to war, and they are imagining what that may be like.
“How I know that the audiences are responding across age lines is there is a lot of laughter in the show. There are a lot of laughs, even if I don’t necessarily go for them. Relationships between parents and children are funny; the personalities, the classic clashes. That’s part of it, and part of it’s the characters that emerge, myself and my father, a couple of very stubborn people.”
THE LAST DOG OF WAR
Theatre Projects Manitoba
Until Nov. 14, Costume Museum of Canada
Local actor/playwright Ross McMillan tackles a familiar subject in his latest work, The Daffodil Man
Barb Stewart, Uptown
Theatre Projects Manitoba is producing a brand new play by acclaimed local actor/playwright Ross McMillan called The Daffodil Man, as part of its yearly In the Chamber series. The series, which features a work-in-progress by a local writer/performer, has come to be known as a source for challenging-yet-entertaining new works – and challenging-yet-entertaining work is something for which McMillan is known.
McMillan, who is currently featured in a recurring role in the CityTV comedy Less Than Kind, is no stranger to the fringes of Winnipeg theatre, with previous works such as Washing Spider Out and Harry S. Rintoul Memorial Award-winner The Ingrates (named best new Manitoba play at the 2007 Fringe Festival). The Daffodil Man should prove no exception to his past artistic explorations mining the depths of the human psyche, with hilarious consequences. This time McMillan turns the tables on himself for his art, with the help of co-star Carolyn Gray.
“The Daffodil Man is a Winnipeg actor/playwright named Ross McMillan who is a self-important nobody. I’d like to think that with the character I’ve taken aspects of myself and magnified them grotesquely. That’s what I’d like to think,” laughs McMillan.
Why, you may ask, would an actor/playwright put himself in such a dangerous position of self-exposure? For McMillan, the answer is found in the marrow of truth one hopes art can uncover about one’s self.
“I really believe that’s something that artists willfully forget, that one of your options, always, is actually to tell the truth about yourself. I think we go into a sort of amnesia about that, but I think once in a while it’s refreshing to actually say, ‘Well what would it feel like to actually tell the truth?’ When I watch a movie or read a book or see a play where that’s what’s going on, I know I find it a very powerful thing. And so I hope audiences will. Although, as I say, I’ve couched this shameful self-exposure in sort of comically exaggerated terms, as a way of protecting myself and as a way of thanking the audience for being there.”
McMillan’s comedic strength goes one step beyond entertaining an audience; he also uses comedy as a device to ask more of them than straight-forward drama probably ever could. It’s a sort of comic hyperbole that snares audiences into thought-provoking entertainment, the kind one would be hard-pressed to find on any other theatrical stage.
“The characters are eccentric, almost to the point of madness, and the reason I do that, I guess, is that I feel it’s great for comedy – but I somehow feel driven as a playwright to dare the audience not to take the characters seriously. To say, ‘Yeah they’re larger than life so you don’t have to take them too seriously,’ then over the course of the play force the audience to indeed take them seriously.
“Without Theatre Projects I would probably be unproducable,” laughs McMillan.
THE DAFFODIL MAN
Theatre Projects Manitoba
May 7-9, Gas Station Theatre
Theatre Projects Manitoba’s Age of Arousal offers up a hilarious look at love, lust and sexuality in 19th-century England
AGE OF AROUSAL
Theatre Projects Manitoba
Until March 29, Rachel Browne Theatre
Linda Griffiths’ uproarious take on the Victorian era, Age of Arousal, has found a perfect home with Theatre Projects Manitoba.
Loosely based on the George Gissing novel The Odd Women, the play is a subversive, slightly surreal tale of lust, love and feminism in late 19th-century England which the cast and crew have artfully crafted into a delightful mix of comedy and pathos.
Set in an age in which women vastly outnumber men, Mary Barfoot (Patricia Hunter) and her lover Rhoda Nunn (Krista Jackson) run a school to teach women secretarial skills in order to support themselves. Enter the Madden sisters: the two spinsters Virginia and Alice (Carolyn Gray and Maggie Nagle), and the beautiful young shop girl Monica (Erin McGrath). Add Mary’s dashing cousin Everard (Eric Blais) to the mix and all hell breaks loose.
Rooted in sublime performances, especially those of Hunter, Gray and Nagle as women all on the edge of oblivion as far as the world is concerned, Age of Arousal turns the morals and repression of Victorian England upside down and sets them ablaze. In Griffiths’ hands this could barely be a more raucous and subversive romp.
While all of the characters struggle with their own inner passions, Griffiths cleverly allows us a first row seat into their psyches with her creation of ‘thought speak,’ in which the characters’ innermost thoughts are blurted out seemingly uncontrollably. Though it is not always a perfect device – there are occasions when characters’ voices are overlapping to such an extent it’s difficult to hear what is being said – but overall it’s illuminating and often downright hilarious.
The implementation of ‘thought speak’ also adds a pleasingly visceral element to the proceedings. The characters are often at odds with themselves within the realms of the inner/outer world, and the brute force of the tug-of-war between inner passion and outer duty is fascinating. It also leads to some exuberantly physical and comic performances, most notably by the marvelous Gray, whose tortured Virginia is an absolute wreck who transforms into a whole new person. Nothing or no one in this play is set in stone – sexuality, desire and passion are almost living, breathing elements which transform from moment to moment.
Leanne Foley’s design for the show, including the set and costumes, carefully bring about notions of the Victorian age, bustles and all, but yet, as with the characters, things are not quite as they seem. The design evokes the era while keeping it fresh and modern.
Special kudos must go to Eric Blais, the lone male in the production, who manages to be both dashing and sympathetic and not get lost among the whirling force of female passion. Blais is a brave man to undertake the task, which includes having to fake a pelvic exam with the luminous Hunter, and both manage to make it seem perfectly casual and absolutely hilarious.
Age of Arousal is a gorgeous melding of old/new, political/personal and passion/ repression into a heady mix of wit and intelligence. It’s a delight to watch.
– Barb Stewart
By: Kevin Prokosh, Winnipeg Free Press
Photo Caption: Krista Jackson, Patricia Hunter and Maggie Nagle snap, crackle and virtually pop out of their corsets.
The Victorian era was no time to be a lady.
Women were expected to be weak and helpless, their raison d’etre only to marry. That they largely outnumbered men in 1885 London meant these unpaired females were considered redundant.
Through five of these spinsters, Toronto playwright Linda Griffiths chronicles the awakening of the feminine consciousness in her randy costume drama Age of Arousal. Far from being expendable, this quintet are funny, hot to trot and, with a little prodding, ready to change the world.
Despite being set 125 years in the past, Age of Arousal is decidedly modern in how it attempts to reconcile feminist doctrines with traditional marriage and vexing sexual desire.
Griffiths has been absent from local stages for almost two decades and her agile writing, vivid characters and bawdy humour remind Winnipeg audiences what they’ve been missing.
Victorian society preferred to avoid talking about such a base subject as sex, but through Griffiths’ hilarious use of thought-speak — the actors voice their uncensored thoughts — Theatre Projects patrons learn that didn’t stop its subjects from being obsessed with it.
Mary Barfoot is an aging suffragette who was jailed and brutally force-fed to end hunger strikes. She and her lover and protegé Rhoda Nunn run a school for secretaries. They believe female emancipation will come through typing and shorthand. The destitute Madden sisters, Alice, Virginia and Monica, are new students, intimidated and reluctant to touch their “ferocious” type machines.
“Type, damn you! Type,” Rhoda commands them. “It’s the way to liberty.”
Another kind of liberty arrives in the handsome form of eligible bachelor Everard, an ex-doctor who is also Mary’s cousin. He immediately catches the eye of the ripe, young and willing Monica, but becomes drawn to the independent spirit and intelligence of the modern woman represented by Rhoda. He is attuned to the reform in the air and the coming ascendancy of the opposite sex.
“Men aren’t afraid of women, really, only of women in groups,” observes Everard to a gale of laughter from Thursday’s opening night throng.
To her credit, director Ardith Boxall accentuates Arousal’s many passions, as does the captivating female cast, outfitted in designer Leanne Foley’s elaborate frocks. Each performer fully inhabits her character and exposes the internal doubts and discord hidden away behind the flowery façade of Victorian propriety. As the suffragette icon Mary Barfoot, Patricia Hunter deftly communicates the anxiety that comes from advocating for the freedom of woman but not for her woman. Krista Jackson is impressive as Rhoda Nunn, a conflicted lady tentatively straddling the sexual divide.
Carolyn Gray and Maggie Nagle well play the two old-maid Madden sisters, who feel invisible and of little use to society. Gray’s Virginia is a loopy lush who yearns to escape to Berlin where she can smoke, wear men’s clothing and look like Oscar Wilde. Nagle’s Alice slowly throws off the shackles of her repression and is resurrected by her Remington typewriter. Erin McGrath sizzles as the lusty Monica, whose sisters dine on her unbridled desires.
As Everard, Eric Blais has the most fun, given that he finds himself in compromising situations with three of the women. Blais comes across as a metrosexual in the making.
Griffiths has the last laugh with the parting joke about the inevitability of gender equality in the early 20th century. “In 30 years, it will all be accomplished.”
Age of Arousal
Theatre Projects Manitoba
To March 29 at Rachel Browne Theatre
Four stars out of five
Canadian playwright unlaces the corset of the Victorian age in popular new play
The actress/playwright Linda Griffiths was pawing through the buck bin outside a Toronto used bookstore when she came upon a beat-up copy of The Odd Women. After noting the author of the 1893 novel was somebody named George Gissing, she flipped it over, discovered it was about five Victorian spinsters and was immediately intrigued. At $1, it seemed a bargain at the time.
Today it looks more like a steal, as Age of Arousal, the play wildly inspired by The Odd Women, gets set to open at Theatre Projects Manitoba tonight, Montreal next week, Vancouver and Austin, Texas, in April, and in North Carolina the following month. The sudden popularity has Griffiths running off in all directions to promote her most sought-after script in years.
“It’s kind of crazy but it’s also pretty great,” says Griffiths, who made an auspicious debut on the national stage in 1980 with her one-woman show Maggie and Pierre. “That’s a lot of productions for a Canuck play.”
The 50-something Montreal native is a theatre lifer whose career has sometimes seemed like a life sentence when a new play failed to find traction with artistic directors or audiences. There’s nothing like a spate of opening nights to make a stage veteran feel as if she has been sprung from theatrical confinement. “I’m very up about Age of Arousal,” says Griffiths, who was recently in town to give a reading and visit the Theatre Projects set. “Being a Canadian playwright is brutal. I’ve done plenty of griping, but not right now.”
The central character in Age of Arousal is an aging suffragette named Mary Barfoot who believes she can foster social change in 1885 London by training women at her secretary school. She and her lover/protegé take in three starving women with no means of support and help them find a place in society. When Mary’s male cousin/cad visits, ideas and libidos clash.
Theatre Projects’s artistic director Ardith Boxall has assembled a potent lineup of Winnipeg actresses: Patricia Hunter, Maggie Nagle, Carolyn Gray, Krista Jackson and Erin McGrath. Eric Blais rounds out the cast for the March 19-29 run at the Rachel Browne Theatre, 211 Bannatyne Ave.
Griffiths’ first draft was faithful to Gissing’s story but then, as is her habit, wandered off in subsequent rewrites. “I’m not capable of writing an adaptation,” says Griffiths, who has always been a Canadian alternative theatre darling. “I’m too rebellious.
“I began to feel asphyxiated by the (Victorian) times myself. I felt like I was wearing a corset, restricted by what the women could say and what they couldn’t say.”
She soon realized that what her characters were thinking was more important than what they were saying. Griffiths decided to employ what she calls thought speak, which involves her characters speaking their thoughts to themselves or each other.
It is a device first glimpsed in Maggie and Pierre nearly 30 years ago and which has surfaced in her plays from time to time.
“What threads through my work is a sense of what I would call fabulism,” says Griffiths, whose plays are a rare sight in Winnipeg.
In Maggie and Pierre, she dressed as Maggie Sinclair and wore a tuxedo sleeve on one arm to represent Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau so she could change characters with a twist of her body.
“I always root the fantasy with a political element so it’s never ‘dreamy girl writes play,'” she says. “There is always this leaping-off point out of reality. In Age of Arousal, it’s the thought speak.”
The Victorian period was a time of tremendous social and economic flux, exploding with the beginnings of communism, Darwinism and socialism. The suffragette movement was beginning to loosen the limitations on women.
“The corset does not represent the Victorian age, but it being ripped open does,” she says. “It was believed that if women were unleashed they would be nymphomaniacs. They were entirely at the mercy of their bodies. They needed to be protected and controlled.”
It all makes Griffiths appreciate how much gender politics has evolved since the 19th century.
“For all this talk about all this explosion of ideas, there was a lot of repression of women,” she says. “If I was a Victorian I might like to be a man. I’m not sure I’d want to be a woman. Even now, it’s hard enough, but then it was hell.”
1956 — Born in Montreal.
1976 — Asked to leave the National Theatre School.
1978 — Founding member of 25th Street Theatre in Saskatoon.
1980 — Co-wrote and starred in Maggie and Pierre.
1984 — Her play Jessica opens in Saskatoon and goes to win a shelf full of Toronto awards.
1990 — Performed The Darling Family with Alan Williams at PTE’s second stage.
1999 — Wrote Alien Creature, about poet Gwendolyn McEwan, which was nominated for a Governor General’s Literary award.
2007 — Age of Arousal premieres at Calgary’s playRites Festival and moves on to Toronto and Philadelphia.
Sexier than a bare ankle
Theatre Projects Manitoba’s production of Age of Arousal explores Victorian-era sexuality – but don’t expect a stuffy historical drama
Barb Stewart – Uptown
What if your innermost thoughts suddenly came popping out of your mouth? You would probably be so horrified you would never leave the house – or open your mouth – again. Thankfuly, the characters in Linda Griffiths’ play Age of Arousal, which makes its Winnipeg debut at Theatre projects Manitoba this week, suffer this fate, but still come out for the entire world to see.
In their defense, only the audience is privy to these outbursts, so the characters are spared the indignity and embarrassment of others confronting them about it. Those offstage bear witness, making the work an intriguing combination of fantasy and reality not often seen on Winnipeg stages.
“I feel like we don’t see this kind of work in Manitoba,” says the play’s director, TPM artistic director Ardith Boxall. “It’s a very modern Canadian play combined with really rich, heightened language. Her work has a real sense of the fantastic. Her scenes are personal/political, but she feeds them through the eye of a needle. That’s the fabulous sort of fantastical element.”
Griffiths calls the process of her characters’ outbursts “thought speak” and as intriguing as it sounds for an audience, it is equally as thrilling and demanding for the Theatre Projects cast (Eric Blais, Carolyn Gray, Krista Jackson, Patricia Hunter, Erin McGrath and Maggie Nagle) and director. Whether the device takes the form of one person’s breathy aside or a group of characters joining together in an almost aria of hidden thoughts, the piece takes a great amount of choreographing and structure to maintain.
“It’s essentially the interior voice of the character, it just comes spilling out and we have to stage things in such a way that it makes sense, that we know the other characters onstage aren’t hearing it. It’s very technical and it’s very challenging. It’s basically like patting your head and rubbing your stomach,” laughs Boxall.
What makes this all even more fascinating is that Age of Arousal is set in Victorian England, a time and place rife with repression and, one could conclude, plenty of innermost thoughts to be hidden away, or not, as the case may be.
Griffiths’ work is “wildly inspired” by George Gissings’ 1893 novel The Odd Women. A pioneering work of feminism, even if written by a man, Griffiths uses the same characters as the novel, but has the luxury of the 21st century’s more relaxed moral code to play with. The story involves Mary Barfoot and her lover, Miss Nunn, who run a secretarial school for women who need to find their own way in the world (i.e., are unmarried). When the Madden sisters arrive at the school, followed soon after by the dashing Everard, all hell breaks lose.
Even though the play is set in the Victorian era, it is anything but a dry historical drama. The piece is decidedly up-to-date, making it a fresh and exciting work for a modern audience.
“It’s a very modern play,” Boxall says. “It’s not a look back in time, it’s a cry to race towards the present. There are very many visual and oral clues in the play that this is not real, this is not a historical reenactment. They are not dry historical figures. And one of the biggest ways that happens is that these characters are dealing with what is never dealt with in the Victorian-period: sexuality. Everyone in this play is thinking about sex all the time.”
AGE OF AROUSAL
Theatre Projects Manitoba
March 19-29, Rachel Browne Theatre
Nothing Lost In TranslationUptown, November 6th, 2008
French-language playwright Marc Prescott’s Encore is adapted in English – and it’s still every bit as moving
Relatively unknown by anglophone theatre audiences in Manitoba, Winnipegger Marc Prescott is nonetheless an award-winning French-language playwright, actor and director. Theatre Projects Manitoba is attempting to change this dichotomy with its first production of the 2008-09 season, a translation, by Prescott, of his play, Encore.
Encore focuses on a couple, Sir and Ma’am, who we initially encounter celebrating their first anniversary. In an attempt to never forget their courtship’s first blushes of love or take their love for granted, Ma’am has decided that they should re-enact the script of their first meeting on every anniversary. Sir complies, more out of acquiescence than understanding, and it is here the story begins.
We observe the couple over six anniversaries that span their first to their 50th on which they revisit their first meeting. With this streamlined simplicity, Prescott weaves the story of their lives through better and worse, including the anxiousness of new parenthood, the disinterest of a waning relationship, the bitterness of divorce and, ultimately, the reconciliation of a love that may have been abandoned but was never forgotten. Throughout this process the words of their scripted love remain the same, but their meaning morphs from a means of inclusion to a weapon of separation and back again, while the couple’s roles within it alter.
As the couple, Arne MacPherson and Monique Marcker seamlessly transform throughout this life together. Marcker’s shrill urgency as Ma’am on the first anniversary is both humorous and heartbreaking; she wields their love script like a talisman against future unhappiness. And Sir’s initial bumbling of it is elegantly brought full circle by the end of the play by MacPherson. Both actors embody their characters with the ease of recognition, and while certain plot points may be a bit too obvious (MacPherson’s hockey-watching drunk seems too pedestrian for the story), they carry on with heart-wrenching realism.
The gorgeously simple set offers a wonderful physical manifestation of the couple’s journey; the table and chairs from the lounge where they first met are tugged down a path by the couple, lined at each stop by symbolic representations of each anniversary (crumpled paper for the first anniversary, wood chips for the fifth, fallen leaves for the 50th). The sound of Marcker’s high heel angrily crunching down on broken china is a harrowing echo of the ruin of the couple’s marriage at 20 years,
Director Anne Hodges keeps the actors and the pace on target, allowing the scenes room to breathe but never letting the proceedings lag. We see only brief snapshots of a lifetime of love, pain and transformation, yet these glimpses offer a satisfying and moving window into the relationship of Sir and Ma’am.
Encore is a satisfyingly touching portrayal of a love that weathers the damages inflicted by lovers who, through a lifetime together and apart, finally realize the sanctity of it.
— Barb Stewart
Can I get an encore?
Theatre Projects Manitoba kicks off their season with a crowd-pleasing play by a bad boy playwright
Brittany Thiessen, The UniterThe English-language debut of a play by the self-proclaimed “bad boy of Franco-Manitoban theatre” kicks off Theatre Projects Manitoba’s season this week.
Written by Marc Prescott, Encore is a romantic comedy that follows a couple from their first meeting to their 50 anniversary.
The play “goes across all different categories,” Prescott said, adding it appeals to men and women of all ages because the subject matter is easy to relate to: relationships.
In Encore, a couple played by Arne Macpherson and Monique Marcher is shown on six of their anniversaries. Each time, they say the exact same things to one another.
Even though they’re saying the exact same thing every time, the words take on different meanings as time passes and the characters age, Prescott explained.
The subject matter is a departure for the self-described “bad boy,” whose material typically includes sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. Prescott, who is also an actor, director, designer and humour columnist, originally wrote the play in French. After successful performances by professional theatres in Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa and Montreal, Prescott translated the play into English.
“I don’t feel as if I lost anything,” Prescott said when asked if any aspect of the play was lost in the translation. He added that the French language has a certain romantic quality English doesn’t quite have, but that the play is just as strong in English.
Ardith Boxall, artistic director for Theatre Projects Manitoba, said beginning the season with a “crowd-pleasing play” like Encore, allows the company – which is dedicated to the development and production of Manitoba plays and artists – to perform edgier material throughout the rest of the season.
After Encore, the company’s season continues in March with Age of Arousal, which is, according to Boxall, a “big sexy Victorian party.” The season concludes in May with In the Chamber.
Boxall said that Encore is the most “tried and true play” of the season.
Encore runs from Oct. 30 to Nov. 9 at the Rachel Browne Theatre (211 Bannatyne Ave.).
Love, From Rapture to Rupture
by Kevin Prokosh
from the Winnipeg Free Press – Nov 1, 2008
It’s taken 83 years for a locally written Cercle Molière play to be translated for the mainstream English theatre audience.
That’s a pity, given that Encore, the first script imported from St. Boniface to downtown Winnipeg, turns out to be such a clever, insightful meditation on love and marriage. It makes those on this side of the Red River wonder what we have been missing all these years.
Theatre Projects Manitoba took the bold step to commission francophone playwright Marc Prescott to pen an English version of his 2003 romantic comedy, and deserves kudos for outing this overlooked work. Don’t be surprised if it soon becomes a popular play in English Canada, given its commercial accessibility and economy of cast.
The premise is brilliantly simple: A nameless couple chart their 50-year relationship by recreating their first encounter on significant anniversaries in their lives. Ma’am is a novelist and hopeless romantic who desperately wants to hold onto the passion of that magic moment forever. She writes their dialogue and is a stickler that Sir not deviate from his lines.
That is Ma’am’s fatal flaw. She thinks she can repeat the emotional intoxication of falling in love and, she is doomed to disappointment. She wants to be seduced by the exact same words and she gets her way, but time and circumstance alter their meaning and worth.
On their first anniversary, we encounter Ma’am reading and sipping wine in a bar. Sir wanders in with a pickup line about looking for his future wife. The repartee is almost Shakespearean in its flowery language, as Sir gushes about falling in love at first sight with his “gilded goddess” and being together until they are old and enfeebled.
Sir, portrayed by the ever-dependable Arne MacPherson, then launches into a 10-minute aria, rhapsodizing about their first kiss, which won spontaneous applause from the almost capacity opening-night crowd Thursday at the Rachel Browne Theatre (in the Crocus Building, 211 Bannatyne Ave.).
MacPherson, a veteran actor who rarely if ever dons such a stylish business suit, cleans up well to play Sir, a man who wants to participate in his wife’s annual game but soon sees the pointlessness of living in the past. Monique Marcker partners well with MacPherson as a woman in love with love. Her character’s body language italicizes her overt passion, impatience and resentment.
For the fifth anniversary, the same two chairs and table set are moved symbolically down what looks to be the road of life. The couple’s attempt at re-starting their personal passion play is frequently interrupted by cellphone calls from Sir’s mother, who is babysitting their sick child. Sir is sex-starved and anxious for his due while Ma’am is distracted, and they run through her lines just to get it over with.
Prescott falls back on stereotypes in depicting their celebration of a decade together. Sir arrives late, preoccupied with the seventh game of the Stanley Cup playoffs. There is a decidedly mocking tone to Ma’am’s words and she lashes out with the rude description of the favourite sexual position of hockey-obsessed husbands. His lack of interest portends a breakup at the intermission.
That is confirmed in Act 2 when an intoxicated Sir, drinking on a park bench, and a bitter Ma’am repeat their meeting separately on their 20th anniversary. Both are regretful and confused at how barely they know each other.
They meet for the silver and golden anniversaries, and those oft-repeated words have taken on completely new meanings. The come-on line of Sir looking for his wife is transformed when he appears senile. What was once used to woo now wounds or saddens.
Director Ann Hodges stages a clean, well-paced production of Encore, which has a men-are-from-Mars, women-from-Venus vibe. Prescott shows us the folly of clinging to the past and the importance of continually seducing your spouse.
City’s Anglo ears finally get chance to enjoy Franco-Manitoban’s voice
By Kevin Prokosh
from the Winnipeg Free Press – Oct 30, 2008
For English theatre-goers, francophone playwright Marc Prescott has been lost in translation.
When he attempted to make contact with les anglos across the Red River, interested but unilingual artistic directors were unable to read his plays, which had been produced en français all across the country.
“For the longest time, I was arguably Winnipeg’s most produced playwright and least known,” says the bilingual Prescott. “It was pretty lonely.”
That will begin to change with the English version of Prescott’s 2003 romantic comedy Encore, opening Theatre Projects Manitoba’s 2008-09 season tonight at the Rachel Browne Theatre in the Crocus Building (211 Bannatyne Ave.).
With his translation, Prescott becomes the first local playwright to single-handedly bridge the city’s linguistic and theatrical divide. That was his stated objective five years ago and it’s taken all this time for an English theatre to want to crack the language barrier.
“I wondered why we didn’t have anything to do with each other,” says Projects’ artistic director Ardith Boxall. “I really wanted to know what was going on over there. English and French theatre are like these two ships in the same water but never meeting.
“I think this is the first English translation of a French-Manitoban’s play here.”
Encore was the one play — he has written more than 15 — with which he wanted to introduce himself to English Winnipeg. It is by far his most conventional script — about a couple who meet in a bar and fall in love. The hook is that the scene is replayed over again each major anniversary.
“In order to not make it boring, I had to have lines that were flexible enough to convey at least two different meanings,” says Prescott, a graduate of both St. Boniface College and the National Theatre School, where in 1998 he was the first Manitoban to complete the playwriting program. “It seems easy to recreate the scenes, but there’s a lot more going on.”
No one seeing the expletive-free Encore in English will guess that its author was once considered the enfant terrible of Franco-Manitoban theatre. Prescott’s 1993 work Sex, Lies and Les F-M’s, was penned in a Franglais language that he purposefully used to unleash his displeasure with his community. His black comedy Poisson had a swearword for a name until he was pressured by Cercle artistic director Roland Mahè to change it to something more socially acceptable for a season brochure.
“I’m known as the bad boy for writing about sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll,” says Prescott, who is working on a new French play called Eclipse. “I wrote Encore to prove to the Cercle I could write in proper French.”
After premiering at the Cercle, Encore was produced in Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton. Prescott says his English translation will open doors into theatres more familiar with Shakespeare than Moliere. And he hopes to take some local writers with him.
Prescott, who married last summer and lives in Norwood Flats, is planning to establish a new theatre company called Vice Versa, which will present plays that have been translated from English to French and vice versa. He says he would like to introduce the works of Rick Chafe, Brian Drader and Ross McMillan to French Winnipeg and beyond.
“It’s all because of Encore that we see all the possibilities,” he says.
Playwrights provoke with political work
Winnipeg Free Press
Stage Door / By: Kevin Prokosh
The Wrecking Ball is swinging through Winnipeg next Monday in an attempt to poke a hole in the notion that political theatre is dead in Canada.
Wrecking Ball is a four-year-old Toronto theatre movement that seeks to address the annoying reality that there’s too much theatre in our politics and not enough politics in our theatre. Prominent Canadian playwrights such as Jason Sherman, Norm Foster, Morris Panych and Daniel MacIvor have penned politically minded monologues meant to challenge and provoke audiences.