Category Archives: 2013/14 Season

Perception, alternate & artificial realities, & memories masked in New Ideas Week Three program

Actor Dana Thody (who played Marjorie in Simprov) tweeted last night:

“Our director is awesome. She even stepped into a role tonight. The show must go on. “

Normally the role is played by a man, Michael Scott.  With director Stephanie Williams in the part, it would have given that play  a whole other layer…

life with more cowbell

NIF2014-banner-1024x725Another exceptionally strong program of short plays at Alumnae Theatre Company’s New Ideas Festival (NIF) this week – Week Three, the final week of the fest.

Here’s what’s on the menu for Week Three:

Polish Your Pole, performed by Brenda Somers, is a hilariously funny, innuendo-filled pre-show piece in the upper lobby, featuring – you guessed it – what remains of the Firehall No. 4 fire pole across from the box office. Somers is brilliant in this very short piece, an added big fun element of the fest with one final performance tonight at 7:30 p.m. Always thought that pole was going underutilized. And it now has a name.

Airport Tale,by Carol Libman and directed by Carys Lewis, has a travelling senior citizen getting some life advice from an unlikely source when she’s detained at the airport. Jane Carnwath is a delight as the feisty, no nonsense Evalina…

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Lost youth, family secrets, modern-day parable & silence speaking volumes in New Ideas Week Two program

Review of Week Two lineup of the New Ideas Festival 2014.

life with more cowbell

NIF2014-banner-1024x725Back at Alumnae Theatre for the Week Two program of the New Ideas Festival last night – and this is a very strong program, featuring four excellent – and very different – plays.

The Living Library, by Linda McCready and directed by Stacy Halloran is a delightfully funny two-hander about a young woman who comes to the library to take advantage of the Living Library Program to borrow a “living book” for a career conversation. Ann Marie Krytiuk is a treat as the energetic and driven, but lost, Sylvia; and Scott Moulton is marvelous as her interview subject, senior policy analyst Tom.

Better Angels: A Parable, by Andrea Scott and directed by Pomme J-Corvellec, uses both multi-media and traditional storytelling to great effect to present a modern-day morality tale. Akosua Mans (Keriece Harris), a young woman from Ghana who dreams of a better life in Canada, takes a…

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MooneyOnTheatre article: The history of New Ideas Festival – right up to the present

MooneyOnTheatre did a fascinating in-depth interview with this year’s New Ideas co-Artistic Producers  Pat McCarthy and Carolyn Zapf, plus Festival co-founder Molly Thom, and one of this year’s featured playwrights, Charles Hayter.

The article includes a pointed paragraph about the differences between “amateur” and “professional “  in theatre, especially as those definitions relate to the Alumnae.

Alumnae Theatre, 2013

Alumnae Theatre, 2013

Turns out the differences are not that many!


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New Ideas Festival 2014 – Week Two starts on Wednesday

Happy  St. Patrick’s Day!  If you’re planning the week ahead, how about checking in at Alumnae Theatre for Week Two of our 26th annual New Ideas Festival?   Week One closed on Sunday (with a sold-out matinee), and a whole different lineup of world premiere short plays will be presented for your viewing pleasure this week, and another one next week.  They are the best of 96 submissions received from Ontario, B.C., Manitoba, P.E.I., New York, California, and England.

If you enjoyed Joan Burrows’ Willow Quartet (published in 2013 by Playwrights Canada Press, and with several Toronto productions since its 2011 premiere) or her Gloria’s Guy  (produced in Alumnae’s FireWorks series last November), you’ll be delighted to see the first scenes from her new play, Brockfest this week.

Andrea Scott’s name may be familiar – her play Eating Pomegranates Naked was a staged reading in New Ideas 2012, and was then produced at SummerWorks in 2013, where it won the RBC Arts Professional Award.

Other returning names are director Pomme J-Corvelec (last year she directed Catherine Frid’s Over the Edge)  and Steph Ouaknine (a director last year for Adrianna Prosser’s Everything but the Cat; this year a projection designer) – both working on Andrea Scott’s play.

So the WEEK TWO lineup (March 19-23, 2014) is:

The Living Library  (by Linda McCready, directed by Stacy Halloran).   A young woman in search of a career path borrows a “human book” for an open conversation.
Cast: Anne-Marie Krytiuk, Scott Moulton. Better Angels: A Parable (by Andrea Scott, directed by Pomme J-Corvellec).   A young African woman comes to Canada as a domestic worker, and finds a special kind of hell tailored just for her.                                 Cast: Daniel De Pas, Keriece Harris, Hilary Hart.  The Shimmering Odessa Building or Whatever  (by Judith Upjohn, directed by Zoe Erwin-Longstaff).   Along a Great Lake ravaged by drought, three young literary tech-savvy hipsters drive toward their intended demise.                                                               Cast: Tiana Asperjan, Sharon Belle, Janice Yang.

Brockfest  (by Joan Burrows, directed by Eric Benson).  Kitty doesn’t want to be an American anymore, but will the U.S. government pursue dual citizens living in Canada for back taxes? Cast: Justen Bennett, Liz Best, David Borwick, Andrea Lyons, John Marcucci.

SATURDAY STAGED READING at noon only:  Radical  (by Charles Hayter, directed by Darcy Stoop).   The true story of pioneering Toronto cancer specialist Dr. Vera Peters’ brave fight against the medical establishment, which changed the course of breast cancer treatment in North America.  Catch the full production in the Toronto Fringe this summer – dates & venue TBA.
Cast: Neil Affleck, Sheila Russell, Anne Shepherd, Andrew Siwik, Jane Smythe.


SHOWTIMES:  Wed – Sat at 8pm, Sat & Sun matinees at 2:30.  On Saturday March 22 at noon, there will be a one-time staged reading of Radical by Charles Hayter.

TICKETS:  $15 for the weekly program (all four short plays in one night – or matinee).  The reading is PWYC.  Festival Passes ($40 for everything including readings) are still available.

RESERVATIONS/PURCHASES: for online purchases.  Please note that if you have a Festival Pass, you must also make reservations for the specific dates you wish to attend.

To reserve, e-mail or leave a message at 416-364-4170 xtn 1.

If you prefer to pay in person, make a reservation by e-mail or phone, and pay cash when you arrive.  The Box Office does not accept credit or debit cards.  See you at the theatre!

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Sex, magic, intrigue & spies in New Ideas Week One program

Week One reviewed!

life with more cowbell

NIF2014-banner-1024x725A new year and another edition of Alumnae Theatre Company’s New Ideas Festival of original, short plays.

Caught the Week One program last night. Sex, magic, intrigue and spies figured prominently in this week’s roster of plays – here’s what was on the menu:

Be Careful, There’s a Baby in the House, by Nicholas Sgouros and directed by Seane M. Speake, is a sharp, fun commentary on modern family life. What starts out as a pre-planned – and secret – night of passion becomes something else entirely. Sex After Kids meets The Honest Toddler. Nice work from actors Andre de Carvalho, Caroline Concordia and Sara Jackson.

Elsa and Marigold, by Marissa Spada and directed by Janet Kish, is the story of two hormone-driven, romantic-minded and curious teen girls whose attempt at creating the perfect man takes an unexpected turn, all under the cloaked and watchful eye of…

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New Ideas Festival 2014 opens tomorrow!

The 26th annual New Ideas Festival opens tomorrow for its 3-week run.  Tonight is the dress rehearsal for the Week One plays.   If you come this week (Wed March 12 – Sun March 16), you will see:

Be Careful, There’s a Baby in the House  (by Nicholas Sgouros, directed by Sean M. Speake).  While the lady of the house is away, a lady of the night comes to play!
Cast: Caroline Concordia, Andre de Carvalho, Sara Jackson.

Elsa and Marigold (by Marissa Spada, directed by Janet Kish).  Two bookish girls use a spell to create the perfect man.  Just one man.  And there are two girls…
Cast:  Julie Cohn, Arianna Leask, Meagan Tuck, plus cameo appearances by men in loincloths!

I’m Still Here (by Ramona Baillie, directed by Dahlia Katz).  A young reporter interviews a faded movie star desperate to remain relevant to today’s audiences.
Cast: Razie Brownstone, Adam Cresswell, Susan Q Wilson.

In a Time of War (by Anne MacMillan, directed by Brett Haynes).   While bombs fall on Glasgow during World War II, two young girls play at hunting spies.
Cast: Kit Boulter, Annelise Hawrylak, Jordi O’Dael, Reece Presley, Franz Robinow, Morna Wales.

The staged reading this week (at noon on Sat March 15) is Royal Seasons (by Norma Crawford, directed by Nina Kaye).  Anne Boleyn is romanced by King Henry VIII.
Cast: Evan Boutsov, Jill Carter, Lara Mrkoci, Kristoffer Pedlar.

Each evening (8pm) or matinee (Saturday and Sunday at 2:30) consists of 4 short plays, averaging around 20 minutes each.  You purchase one ticket ($15 for each week, or $40 for a Festival Pass)  and see ALL 4 PLAYS!  The staged readings at noon on Saturdays are approx. 60 minutes long, and followed by a Talkback.  Readings are PWYC (no reservations), but no extra charge if you have a Festival Pass.

Visit our website for more info, synopses bios, etc.  You can also purchase tickets or passes online for the weekly programs.  No online purchases or reservations for the staged readings, which are Pay-What-You-Can at the Box Office (cash only) unless you have a Festival Pass.  For breaking news, progress reports, anecdotal tidbits and photos, check out the Facebook event New Ideas Festival 2014 ( and follow us on Twitter @alumnaetheatre.  Search for #NIF2014.

New Ideas Festival runs March 12 – 30.  If you can’t make it this week, check back next week Wednesday: there’ll be a whole new lineup!

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Tech week for New Ideas Festival: It all comes together now…

The 26th annual New Ideas Festival opens March 12, and Tech week starts tonight!  Each of the 12 plays in the Festival’s weekly program get a 2-hr slot in which to work out their lighting and sound cues, and crucial timing issues (entrances, exits, props, etc.).   It’s kinda like the Fringe, except this is part of Alumnae Theatre Company’s season, not  independent productions.

The magic happens courtesy of the Festival’s Technical Director Bill Scott and the lighting operators – Alia Koster (for Week 1) and Armand Baksh (for Weeks 2 and 3).  Sound cues like music, ringing phones or doorbells, etc. are created by the individual shows, and operated by that show’s stage manager.

The whole thing is scheduled and overseen for Alumnae Theatre Company by the Co-Artistic Directors & Producers of the New Ideas Festival, Pat McCarthy, Jennifer McKinley, and Carolyn Zapf, with Associate Producer June Rogers.

The 12 short plays in the weekly program have 6 performances each:  Wed – Sat at 8pm, plus Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:30.  Each night (or matinee), your ticket admits you to ALL FOUR short plays scheduled on that night (or matinee).  So you may come to New Ideas  especially to see your son/sister/spouse/friend’s play, but will also see three others – and you’ll be their first audience, because every script considered for New Ideas is a world premiere.

In addition to the weekly lineup, there are also three longer plays (around 60 mins each) that receive one staged reading – at noon on each of the Saturdays.   In Week One (Sat March 15), the reading is Royal Seasons  by Norma Crawford, directed by Nina Kaye.  It’s a look at the fateful romance between King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.  The Week Two (Sat March 22) reading is Charles Hayter’s Radical – another inspired-by-true-events play (directed by Darcy Stoop) about a dedicated clinician in the 1940’s and her efforts which led to the revolution of treatment for breast cancer.  Week Three’s reading (Sat March 29) is Rotating Thunderstorm by Taylor Marie Graham, directed by Jill Harper, in which a modern family in Huron County survive a tornado’s aftermath.

New Ideas Festival 2014

New Ideas Festival 2014

Visit our website for more info, synopses of everything, and bios of the writers and directors.  You can also purchase tickets or passes online for the weekly programs.  No online purchases or reservations for the staged readings, which are Pay-What-You-Can at the Box Office (cash only) unless you have a Festival Pass.

For breaking news, progress reports, anecdotal tidbits and photos, check out the Facebook event New Ideas Festival 2014 ( and follow us on Twitter @alumnaetheatre.  Search for #NIF2014.

See you in the Studio, March 12 – 30!

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