Chaotically insightful and darkly funny ride in Alumnae Theatre’s Escape From Happiness


LifeWithMoreCowbell calls Escape From Happiness “a chaotically insightful and darkly funny ride, featuring a kick-ass cast.”

Originally posted on life with more cowbell:


Lesley Robertson (Mary Ann), Andrea Brown (Elizabeth) and Renée Haché (Gail) – photo by Scott Gorman

“Please don’t do anything you can’t live with later.”
“I can live with a lot.”

Alumnae Theatre Company opened its 2014-15 all-Canadian season with George F. Walker’s Escape From Happiness on Friday night and I dropped by the theatre for the Sunday matinée.

Directed by Andrea Wasserman, Escape From Happiness is one of three plays in Walker’s East End Trilogy, a dark comedy of family dysfunction, set against the backdrop of crime vs. law and order. When a series of troubling events threaten the safety of her family, Nora (Heli Kivilaht) rallies her two oldest daughters, Elizabeth (Andrea Brown) and Mary Ann (Lesley Robertson), to the family home in order to discover who beat up youngest sister Gail’s (Renée Haché) husband Junior (Maxwell King). Tom, the family patriarch (David Cairns), gravely ill and…

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Theatre teaser: Escape From Happiness @ Alumnae Theatre

Originally posted on life with more cowbell:

Hey kids!

Just got this awesome fun trailer for Alumnae Theatre Company’s production of George F. Walker’s Escape From Happiness, directed by Andrea Wasserman. The show opens tonight (Fri, Sept 26) and runs until October 11 on the main stage. I’ll be going to see this on Sunday.

Check it out:

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Auditions for “Blood Relations”

The first show of our season, George F. Walker’s Escape From Happiness, is not even open yet (starts this Friday, Sept 26), and already we’re scheduling auditions for the January show. Bllod Relations image

Blood Relations

By Sharon Pollock

Directed by Barbara Larose

 Performance dates: January 23 – February 7, 2015

 In this Governor General’s Award-winning play, Sharon Pollock takes us on a psychological journey, bringing the past to life in a search for a possible answer, a possible motive for murder. The only suspect, the real Lizzie Borden, was acquitted of murdering her father and stepmother with an axe, in 1892. But in Blood Relations, set 10 years later, the chilling question still repeats, “Did you, Lizzie?” “ Lizzie, did you?”

Role:                           Age Range     Description

 Miss Lizzie                 30 – 45             Lizzie Borden, 10 years after acquittal; also plays the Irish                  maid, Bridget

Actress                       30 – 45             Glamourous paramour of Miss Lizzie; also plays Lizzie Borden

 Emma                         40 – 50             Lizzie’s older sister

Abigail Borden         50’s – 60’s        Lizzie’s stepmother

Harry                          50’s                  Mrs. Borden’s brother

Andrew Borden       60’s – 70’s        Lizzie’s father

Dr. Patrick/Defense 30’s – 40’s        the Irish doctor; also plays Defense Counsel at Lizzie’s trial


 Evenings of Wednesday, October 8 and Thursday, October 9, 2014


Saturday, October 11, 2014 from 10 am – 5 pm

 Callbacks to be held the following week – October15/16



Please prepare a short (2-3 min.) contemporary monologue. You may also be asked to read from the script, so it is highly recommended that you are familiar with the play.

Reading copies are available at the Toronto Reference Library, 5th floor — Performing Arts desk.



E-mail with headshot and resume to or leave a message at 416-364-4170 ext 3.

Be sure to include your phone number so we can contact you! Please specify if you are a member of Alumnae Theatre Company.

Auditions will be held at the Alumnae Theatre, 70 Berkeley Street, Toronto (SW corner of Berkeley and Adelaide).

Alumnae Theatre Company is a non professional company that encourages diversity in its membership and casting.

This is non-paying engagement.


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Call for Directors – New Ideas Festival 2015

If you are a director, or want to try your hand at directing a short play, here’s your opportunity!   Alumnae Theatre Company invites non-union directors to apply to direct one of the 15 short plays (10- 40 minutes) to be produced at the New Ideas Festival (NIF) 2015, our 27th annual juried festival of brand-new new plays.  The Festival runs March 11 – 29, 2015.

NIF provides:

  • Stage managers, technical crew, and front of house staff
  • Open auditions presenting a large pool of actors
  • Rehearsal space, performance space
  • Promotional materials and publicity
  • Access to Alumnae Theatre’s wardrobe, props, and sets
  • A collaborative process with the playwright to continue developing a new work with actors and a dramaturg (if requested)
  • A supportive place for directors to experiment and hone their skills
  • Production guidelines and mentorship that get all the plays & dozens of performers successfully from audition to rehearsal to stage.

Important dates:

  • Fri. Oct. 10, 2014: Deadline to apply to direct one of the New Ideas Festival plays.
  • Sat. Nov. 8, 2014: (MANDATORY) Creative Exchange: directors meet playwrights.
  • Dec.2, 3, 4, or 5, 2014: (MANDATORY) Attend your play’s cold reading on one of these dates.
  • Jan 3-7, 2015: (MANDATORY) Selected directors attend relevant group auditions for the Festival.
  • Feb. 1, 2015: Rehearsals begin.
  • Wed. March 11 – Sun. March 29, 2015: New Ideas Festival. Each show runs one week.

New Ideas 2015 Call for Directors img

New Ideas Festival does not pay fees, royalties, or a box office share to participants. Alumnae Theatre Company retains creative discretion over the festival as a whole. The focus of the festival is script development, and thus technical requirements of the plays are kept to a minimum. NIF is an exciting opportunity to work one-on-one with a playwright to develop a new work.

To apply to direct a play in the Festival, please email  by Oct 10, 2014.

Please make the subject line “Director Application (your name)” and provide a directing CV or paragraph description of your experience.

You will receive further details once you have submitted your application.

As our industry has far fewer female directors, women directors are especially encouraged to apply.


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Alumnae Theatre Company’s all-Canadian 2014-2015 Season

Alumnae bldg pinkFROM THE MEDIA RELEASE:
Alumnae Theatre Company proudly announces our completely Canadian 2014-2015 season featuring Escape From Happiness by George F. Walker; the return of last year’s explosively successful FireWorks Festival premiering two original full-length plays; Blood Relations by Sharon Pollock; the 27th annual New Ideas Festival; and the WORLD PREMIERE of Shirley Barrie’s I Am Marguerite.

Escape From Happiness posterWe launch the season on the Mainstage with Escape From Happiness by George F. Walker, directed by Andrea Wasserman (September 26-October 11, 2014). A bizarre event in a dysfunctional family prompts an incident of brutality in this intensely dark Canadian comedy. Part of Walker’s East End Trilogy, this play explores the most tender moments at the most violent times.

Up in the Studio Theatre, two original full-length plays will be runningFireWorks 2014 image in repertory as part of the FireWorks Festival (November 12-30, 2014). After last year’s explosive success, FireWorks is back with two plays written by members and developed at Alumnae Theatre: Burying Toni by Catherine Frid and You Have To Earn It by Ramona Baillie and Maria Popoff. A festival of creativity, FireWorks will also feature discussion panels, playwright talkbacks, and we’re delighted to announce that Maja Ardal, renowned Canadian playwright and director, will spearhead the Playwrights’ Intensive Workshop series to run for the duration of the Festival.
Burying Toni explores the complexities within Emma Jung as she grapples with her history, real and imagined, after 50 years of marriage to psychoanalyst Carl Jung. Emma conjures up her husband, Sigmund Freud, and others as she struggles to understand the truth about her past.
You Have To Earn It is a madcap roller-coaster ride that pays homage to the screwball comedies of the 30s and 40s. A philandering boss, a scheming new employee and a wacky mail room clerk, to name just a few, all with hidden agendas. Can the unassuming Betty survive the intrigue of the corporate world?

Bllod Relations imageOur “Countdown to 100” Retrospective Choice originally produced in the Alumnae Theatre Company’s 1994/95 season is Blood Relations by Sharon Pollock, directed by Barbara Larose (January 23-February 7, 2015). In this Governor General’s Award–winning play, Sharon Pollock’s original perspective takes us on a psychological journey, bringing the past to life in a search for a possible answer, a motive. The only suspect, the real Lizzie Borden, was acquitted of murdering her father and stepmother, but in Blood Relations, the chilling question still repeats.

In its 27th season, New Ideas Festival 2015 (March 11-29, 2015) is New Ideas 2015 imagea three-week, juried celebration of new writing, works-in-progress and experimental theatre, with a different program of plays each week and staged readings on Saturdays at noon. New Ideas is a crucible for original plays, some of which have gone on to full productions elsewhere. As such, they are must-sees for avant-garde Toronto theatre-goers. Writers from all over Canada and beyond submit original short plays which have never before been produced, so every play in the festival is a world premiere.

I Am Marguerite imageWe are thrilled to close the season with the world premiere of I Am Marguerite by Shirley Barrie, directed by Molly Thom (April 10-25, 2015). Written by one of our members, the script has “grown up” at the Alumnae through various dramaturgical changes and we’re excited to now present this play based on a true story in Canadian history. For choosing love over duty, Marguerite de Roberval was banished to the Isle of Demons off the north coast of Newfoundland. After two years on the desolate island and driven half mad by loneliness, hardship and memories, she now has a chance of rescue.

MAIN STAGE SHOWTIMES: Wed – Sat at 8:00 pm; Sunday matinees at 2pm. TICKETS: Wed 2-for-1; Thurs-Sat $20; PWYC Sundays.
FIREWORKS SHOWTIMES: Wed – Sat at 8pm; Sat & Sun matinees at 2pm. TICKETS:  $15; Sunday Matinees PWYC; Festival Pass $25.
Wed – Sat at 8pm; Sat & Sun matinees 2:30, Noon PWYC reading on Saturdays. TICKETS: $15; Festival Pass $40.
Advance Tickets and season passes available online at
For more information & media kits, contact Chloe Whitehorn at


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Workshop: There Is No Such Thing As Writer’s Block, Alumnae Theatre


Participate in November writing workshops with award-winning playwright Maja Arda, part of Alumnae Theatre Company’s FireWorks series.

Originally posted on The TAPA Blog:

A series of playwriting workshops with playwright Maja Ardal

The Alumnae Theatre invites beginning and experienced playwrights to submit their work for a Playwrights’ Intensive led by renowned Canadian playwright Maja Ardal as part of the FireWorks Festival.

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Alumnae Theatre Company launches 2014-2015 Season with George F. Walker’s “Escape From Happiness”


Alumnae Theatre Company launches its 2014-2015 season with George F. Walker’s Escape From Happiness, September 26 – October 11, 2014.

A bizarre event in a dysfunctional family prompts an incident of brutality in this intensely dark Canadian comedy. Part of Walker’s East End Trilogy, this play explores the most tender moments at the most violent times.

Escape From Happiness posterNora Quinn (Heli Kivilaht) is the head of an eccentric, working-class family fighting alcohol, drugs, corruption and organized crime in their dangerous, impoverished neighborhood while trying to manage the turmoil in her own house. Eldest daughter and protector Elizabeth (Andrea Brown), middle child Mary Ann (Lesley Robertson) whose sunny disposition is maintained through constant cooking, youngest daughter, and new mother, Gail (Renée Haché) desperately trying to help her family mend their past, Gail’s husband Junior (Maxwell King) who has “bad luck following him like a best friend”, and their recently returned father Tom (David Cairns) who may or may not be the abusive, uncontrolled ex-cop he once was round out this unruly family. Throw in ambitious ladder climbing police officer (Joanne Sarazen), her reluctant partner (Ryan Seeley), and father and son criminals (Robert Skanes and Colin MacDonald) and anarchy prevails.

Director Andrea Wasserman has assembled an extremely talented cast and production team to bring this very dark, very funny slice-of-life comedy to the Alumnae Theatre MainStage. Under Wasserman’s direction we can see how everyone’s insane behavior seems perfectly rational to them. “I was drawn to this play because of the story it explores,” Wasserman says. “What happens when people are pushed to the edge of circumstance with no tools to cope.”

The New York Times raved “Mr. Walker takes once radical techniques right to the edge, to the very risky brink, but stops short of despair. If Escape From Happiness — telling, terrific title – does not care about how the truth can ruin your day, it’s because the play is concerned with more important things, like changing our lives.”

Escape From Happiness features a design and artistic team that includes Brandon Kleiman (set designer), Sara Brzozowski (costume designer), Paul Hardy (lighting designer), Jeremy Hutton (fight director), Jackie McClelland (properties), Lindsey Alston (stage manager) and Susan Bond (assistant director).


Advance tickets are available online at, Alternatively, to reserve a seat and pay in person at the Box Office (no credit card sales via phone/e-mail), please leave a message 416-364-4170 (press 1) or e-mail


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