Launching a season and introducing a new theatre company to Winnipeg audiences

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 .

Matthew Handscombe:

“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.

Now no amount of money could have made that show more resonant and it could be argued that the magic may have been rooted in the can-do-it-ness a series of zeros ending budget lines engenders.  But we could both see that Winnipeg was at risk of losing some tremendous talent; not to the fame and fortune other cities might provide, but to simply trying to make a living wage doing what they love and were in many cases professionally trained to do.  If we could step in and provide another regular professional opportunity for our theatre community, that was worth doing.

During the run of The Winter’s Tale, Krista read Bruce McManus’ unproduced Chekhov adaptation – Three Sisters – our fate was sealed and we knew that we were in it.  Deep.  Long her dream to start a company that focused on classics, we incorporated within a month and began the grant writing process necessary to getting most arts projects off the ground in Canada.  I can’t now, having gone through it, imagine averagely tenacious people pulling a show like this off uncompromised.  Thank goodness for us, Krista is several notches above average in this regard.

And here I am, two years on, applying some of what I’ve learned in business and very little of what I learned as a librarian to helping run zone41 theatre – named after the mosquito-fogging area in Wolesley where we and so many of the city’s theatre artists make their home.  Bruce has graced us with an exquisite, absolutely Chekhovian adaptation that we have helped him to hone over the last year and Christopher Brauer has worked tirelessly, providing us with the best of his fearsome intellect as well as wise counsel, having formed his own company prior to landing in Winnipeg.   We have managed to surround ourselves with a thick padding of talent that serves to protect us from the occasional mis-step partly due to Bruce’s involvement, partly because of Christopher, partly because of Chekhov, in no small part because of Krista, in part because of the ethos we’re presenting and in part, it must be said, due to the paycheques we will be providing.”

Matthew Handscombe
zone41 theatre