Category Archives: 2016/17 season

New Ideas Festival: Heart beats, blue feels & the big sleep in trippy, darkly funny Week Three program

Review of New Ideas Festival 2017 – Week Three.
Main program (4 short plays) runs to Sunday, March 26, with a one-time staged reading of Catherine Frid‘s Thistlepatch on Saturday at noon.

life with more cowbell

Alumnae Theatre Company continues its 2017 edition of the New Ideas Festival (NIF) with a trippy, darkly funny Week Three program, the final week of the fest. The annual festival includes three weeks of short new plays and full-length readings, including four plays and one reading each week, running in the Studio space.

Beat by Dale Sheldrake, directed by Josh Downing. Alone and injured following a near fatal car crash, Evelyn 1 (Jackie Mahoney) is beside herself, as she listens to her heart/inner voice (Evelyn 2: Laurel Schell). Taking stock of her life as she waits for help to arrive, she’s forced to face her inner demons and addictions. Darkly funny, sharp and theatrical; with some lovely spoken word dialogue and strong performances from Mahoney and Schell.

The Ballad of Sadie Wong by Andrew Lee, directed by Cassidy Sadler. Film noir detective story meets modern-day romance when day-dreamy…

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First stumble-through for “The Clean House”, March 21

Bloggergal was a little late arriving, and missed the first few minutes of the stumble-through for The Clean House.  ‘Stumble-through’ is theatre parlance for an early run of the play that is expected to be rough.  In many cases, as with this one, the set is not finished; there is minimal tech (essential music cues were provided courtesy of director Ali Joy Richardson’s laptop; and she read out the content of lines that will be projected on the backdrop) or props; and actors are not completely off-book (there were a few calls for “Line!”, which stage manager Lizz Armstrong provided).

Virginia (Annemieke Wade – standing) tries to comfort her sister Lane (Andrea Irwin) in rehearsal shot from “The Clean House”.
Photo: Laura Jabalee Johnston

The other team members in the audience were Assistant Director Nevada Banks, props designer Helen Monroe, set designer Orly Zebak, lighting designer Steph Raposo, set construction assistant Lucy McPhee, sound designer Nick Potter, and producer Laura Jabalee Johnston.

Bloggergal spent much of Act I (which Lizz estimates will run about 50 minutes) noting funny dialogue exchanges – like these, between Matilde (Marina Moreira), an aspiring comedian from Brazil, currently working as a housekeeper in Connecticut.  She is speaking with her employer’s sister, Virginia (Annemieke Wade):

MATILDE (confessing):    I don’t like to clean so much.

VIRGINIA:            I like cleaning.

MATILDE:            Why?

……..

MATILDE:            Do you want to hear a joke?

VIRGINIA:            Not really.

MATILDE:            Why not?

VIRGINIA:            I don’t like to laugh out loud.

Then there was the heartbreaking monologue delivered by Virginia’s sister/Matilde’s employer, Lane (Andrea Irwin), when she learns that her husband is having an affair.  “This is how I imagine my husband and his new wife,” she tells us, as Charles (Neil Silcox) and Ana (Lilia Leon) twine lovingly on a riser* at stage left.      Matilde can see this vision.  “Who are they?” she asks Lane.  “Just my husband and the woman he loves,” Lane replies.  “Don’t worry, they’re only in my imagination.”

In Act II, Neil as the cheating hubby did a very funny striptease as he attempted to join ladylove Ana for a swim – he had not practiced removing all the necessary parts of his costume!  “Just take off the belt,” recommended director Ali.  So Neil whipped off his belt and flourished it dramatically, causing bloggergal and AD Nevada to dissolve into giggles.

Annemieke personified gleeful joy as she… – well, let’s just say she lets loose and does something quite out of character (but scripted) for clean-freak Virginia!

At one point, Lane and Ana were on the balcony, but missing a crucial prop.  Ali called backstage: “Neil, could you just run the fishbowl out?”  But he didn’t just bring the thing out and plunk it down, oh no.  He entered all bundled up in his costume for a later scene, making wind-whooshing noises, and delivered the bowl with another dramatic flourish.  More cracking up ensued in the audience; the actors displayed impressive focus and kept straight faces.

Director Ali Joy Richardson (centre – in dark sweater, back to camera) and assistant director Nevada Banks (left – in horse sweater) give notes to cast of “The Clean House” following March 21 stumble-through. L-R: Lilia Leon, Neil Silcox, Andrea Irwin, Marina Moreira, Annemieke Wade. Photo: Laura Jabalee Johnston.

A delightful taste of what’s to come – in 2-1/2 weeks!

In this script, playwright Sarah Ruhl is a master at making the audience snort with laughter one moment, and be on the verge of tears the next.

The Clean House by Sarah Ruhl runs April 7-22 at Alumnae Theatre.

See http://www.alumnaetheatre.com/the-clean-house.html for team bios and photos, and to purchase tickets.  Also visit the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1301005259957126/

 

       *the riser is standing in tonight for what will become a balcony!

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Week Two Talkback (March 18) – New Ideas Festival 2017

Bloggergal took in the Week Two lineup at the Saturday matinee performance, March 18, which was followed by a Talkback with playwrights and directors – bonus!

The plays in Week Two are:

Aleksandra Maslennikova in “The Red Lacquered Box” by Burke Campbell. Photo: Bruce Peters

The Red Lacquered Box, written by Burke Campbell; directed by Lynn Weintraub.

Parallax, written by Michelle Glennie; directed by Ara Glenn-Johanson.

Y, written by Rosemary Doyle; directed by Sandra Cardinal.

Professionally Ethnic, written by Bobby Del Rio; directed by Rouvan Silogix.

One of the New Ideas Festival’s Artistic Directors, Carolyn Zapf, fielded questions at the Talkback, and primed the audience by asking the playwrights to talk about the genesis or inspiration for their plays.

Michelle Glennie (who made the trip to

Rock (Duncan Rowe) and Marie Soleil (Melanie Leon) as astronauts in “Parallax” by Michelle Glennie. Photo: Bruce Peters

Toronto from Montreal) shared that her funny time-travel piece Parallax grew out of her fascination for “Les filles du roi” (‘the daughters of the king”: young French women sponsored by their government to come to Canada, starting in the 1660s), and for the more recent lottery for astronauts to colonize Mars!  The 30-minute version of Parallax presented at New Ideas is cut down from a full-length play, which Michelle has plans to revise, based on changes that came out of the rehearsal process here.

 

The Festival producers called on the prolific Rosemary Doyle to replace a selected play that had dropped out of New Ideas.

Taylor Bogaert and Alison Parovel in “Y” by Rosemary Doyle.

She got the call on a Wednesday, talked to director Sandra Cardinal about the already-cast actors, and came up with a delightful twisty-turny plot – Y – on Thursday.  The actors were rehearsing the play by Friday.  When asked the question “where do you want to take it?”, Rosemary told us that she’s polled the cast, to get their ideas about what happens to their characters, or if there’s anything they think needs to be explained in a more fleshed-out version!  Y currently runs about 15 minutes.

 

Burke Campbell admits to hearing the voices of his characters, and screening “an ongoing movie in my head”.  He wrote his solo period piece The Red Lacquered Box “some time ago, and I don’t recall my state of mind at the time!”  His director Lynn Weintraub notes that the original script was more like a piece of literature (Ed. Note: some really beautiful turns of phrase remain) than a play , so she and dramaturge Rosemary Doyle (yes, again!) worked with actor Aleksandra Maslennikova to make it more active and theatrical.  The director has a background in dance, and it showed subtly in Aleksandra’s graceful performance.

 

Chantel McDonald and Ronak Singh in Bobby Del Rio​’s “Professionally Ethnic”. Photo: Bruce Peters​

The playwright of Professionally Ethnic, Bobby Del Rio, could not make the Talkback, but director Rouvan Silogix guessed that the subject matter was inspired by real life.  On directing it, he concentrated on working fine details of the physical comedy to make the script even funnier.  I’m guessing there were many rehearsals with Rob Candy as pompous theatre company figurehead Gerrard, condescending mightily to “ethnic” actor William (Ronak Singh), as well as with Chantel McDonald as William’s girlfriend Tracey, and Simon Bennett as his basketball-playing friend Kyle.

 

The final week of New Ideas Festival runs Wednesday to Sunday, March 22-26, and it’s a whole different lineup of short plays.  More info here:  http://www.alumnaetheatre.com/2017-week-3.html  Performances are Wed – Sat at 8pm, plus matinees Sat & Sun at 2:30pm.  Saturday’s matinee is followed by a Talkback.  Tickets are $15, and admit you to all 4 plays.  Purchase online (https://app.arts-people.com/index.php?ticketing=atc13), or reserve in advance (phone 416-364-4170 Box 1 / e-mail reservations@alumnaetheatre.com) and pay cash* at the door.

There is also a one-time staged reading of a longer play, Thistlepatch by Catherine Frid, at noon on Saturday March 25.  The reading is PWYC, no reservations required.

 

*Box Office does not accept credit or debit cards for in-person sales.

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New Ideas Festival: Attraction, secrets & brave new worlds in eclectic, insightful Week Two program

Review of the Week Two lineup in New Ideas Festival 2017.  Week Two continues to Sun March 19 – a different lineup starts Wed March 22, and wraps up the festival on March 26.

life with more cowbell

Alumnae Theatre Company continues its 2017 edition of the New Ideas Festival (NIF) with an eclectic Week Two program. The annual festival includes three weeks of short new plays and full-length readings, including four plays and one reading each week, running in the Studio space.

The Red Lacquered Box by Burke Campbell, directed by Lynn Weintraub. In this one-woman period drama, secretary Madame Gilles (Aleksandra Maslennikova) relates what she knows about the events leading up to the scandalous tragedy involving her employer Madame Tullée. Maslennikova’s Mme Gilles is a fastidious, bright-eyed charmer; a fine performance as she shifts between characters, including the dramatic, effervescent Mme Tullée and her suave, sophisticated lover Derek. What is the significance of that red lacquered box?

Parallax by Michelle Glennie, directed by Ara Glenn-Johanson. Brave new worlds collide in this hilarious, sharp tale of two pairs of friends/colleagues boldly going. Physicist/surgeon Marie Soleil (Melanie…

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“The Red Lacquered Box” – a psychological thriller in New Ideas Festival 2017

Playwright Burke Campbell on his short play The Red Lacquered Box, part of the Week Two lineup in Alumnae Theatre Company’s 29th annual New Ideas Festival. Week Two runs Wed – Sunday, March 15 – 19. Week Three starts March 22, and features a different lineup of plays that run 15 – 30 minutes each.

See http://www.alumnaetheatre.com/new-ideas-festival-2017.html for more info. Tickets are only $15/week!

Burke Campbell

© Burke Campbell 011 - Aleksandra Maslennikova - cropped Aleksandra Maslennnikova as “Madame Giles”, in The Red Lacquered Box. Photo by Burke Campbell

The curtain is going up on the second week of the New Ideas Festival, at the Alumnae Theatre. My play, THERED LACQUERED BOX, will receive its premiere. The psychological thriller stars Aleksandra Maslennikova. As “Madame Giles”, she explains the incredible events that have led to a public scandal, one that has sent shock waves through polite society. Directed by Lynn Weintraub. Stage managed by Ksenia Sabouloua. Book early, as the festival usually sells out.

© Burke Campbell 021 - Lynn Weintraub cropped Director Lynn Weintraub

The Red Lacquered Box by Burke Campbell
March 15-19, 2017
Wednesday to Saturday 8pm
Saturday + Sunday 2:30pm

In the late 1800s, in Paris, France, a tragic incident shocks polite society. Madame Giles, secretary to Madame Tullée, relates the details of the terrible event, casting light on this dark mystery.

Playwright: Burke Campbell

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Sitting in on rehearsal for “The Clean House”, March 5

Somewhat delayed post about the full-cast rehearsal of The Clean House that bloggergal watched on Sunday March 5.

In addition to the actors, director Ali Joy Richardson and stage manager Lizz Armstrong, Assistant Director Nevada Banks was there, and producer Laura Jabalee Johnston arrived later.

Scenes worked on included the serio-comic moment when workaholic doctor Lane (Andrea Irwin) confides to her sister Virginia (Annemieke Wade) that her surgeon husband Charles (Neil Silcox) is having an affair.  Lane also works up to firing her Brazilian housekeeper, Matilde (Marina Moreira), who doesn’t like to clean so much!

Rehearsal shot of Annemieke Wade as Virginia in “The Clean House”. Photo: producer Laura Jabalee Johnston

“Go with your instinct, and we’ll figure out optimum funny,” Ali directed actor Annemieke Wade (Virginia) on a bit of physical comedy.

There was a stumble-through of Act II scene 5 – “the longest scene in the play”, as Ali noted.   In this scene, Charles boldly brings his new “soulmate” Ana (Lilia Leon) to meet his wife.  Virginia and Matilde are there to witness the awkward encounter.

At one point, actor Andrea Irwin (Lane) requested guidance from director Ali Joy Richardson:  “Do you want me to freak out there, or hold the freak-out until…?”

We had a special guest at rehearsal:  Annemieke’s 11-month old daughter Vesper.  AD Nevada entertained Vesper in another room for the most part, but the baby got her on-stage moment in Scene 5.  Annemieke’s character Virginia is supposed to bring drinks for everyone, and Vesper played “the role of the serving tray”, in Ali ‘s words!

Photos of the action courtesy of producer Laura Jabalee Johnston.

Rehearsal shot – Matilde (Marina Moreira) watches as Charles (Neil Silcox) dances with Ana (Lilia Leon).
Photo: Laura Jabalee Johnston

The Clean House by Sarah Ruhl runs April 7-22 at Alumnae Theatre.

The web page http://www.alumnaetheatre.com/the-clean-house.html will be updated this week with team bios and photos, etc.  Also visit the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1301005259957126/

 

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“Proof” at The Red Sandcastle Theatre: The Review

Alumnae Theatre Company member Carina Cojeen branches out with her own company: Theatre UnBlocked. Their inaugural production, David Auburn’s Proof, runs to March 19 at Red Sandcastle Theatre, and features another Alumnae Theatre Company member, Andrea Irwin, in the cast.
https://www.facebook.com/pg/TheatreUnBlocked/events/?ref=page_internal

The Entertainment Fairy

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Last night, an opportunity presented itself for me to witness one of my favorite stories brought to life on the Toronto stage. So how could I turn away from that? Walking down through my favorite area of “The Six,“…Queen St East, on a crisp Thursday evening, I was surprised to know that this theatre existed, despite this being a place I often frequent. But there it was…the Red Sandcastle Theatre.

I walked through the signature red entrance, and inside the magic began. New theatre company, Theatre UnBlocked; lead by their creator and producer Carina Cojeen, have decided to bring the public a show that not only has a high degree of relevance today and relatable to many aspects of life, but is a Tony Award winning play and Pultitzer Prize winner also. This show is none other than the wonderful and thought provoking, “PROOF,”…

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March 10, 2017 · 10:07 pm