New Ideas Festival: Connection, reflection & living with illness in thoughtful, funny Week One program

Catch Week One lineup of the 2017 New Ideas Festival just until Sunday March 12. There’ll be different lineups in Weeks Two and Three, running to March 26. Tickets only $15 per week, plus PWYC for Saturday readings.
See http://www.alumnaetheatre.com/new-ideas-festival-2017.html for details.

life with more cowbell

Alumnae Theatre Company opened the 29thNew Ideas Festival (NIF) with a strong Week One program in its Studio space last night. The annual juried festival includes three weeks of short new plays and full-length readings, including four plays and one reading each week.

Call by Rosemary Doyle, directed by Rebecca Ostroff. A hilarious look at the never-ending hum of talking without communicating, set in a busy office environment where chatterbox Millennial receptionist Sandra (Jennifer-Beth Hanchar) is constantly in conversation with a friend in between fielding business calls. Frazzled HR Manager Laura (Shalyn McFaul) is unplugged on a meditation retreat, struggling to maintain silence and stay off electronic devices. Meanwhile, her skeezy colleague Mark (Andrew Batten, who also wrote a play, included in this week’s program) is covering for her at work, wreaking havoc in her absence with a laissez faire attitude and inappropriate remarks, including a hysterical comedy…

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Sitting in on rehearsal for “The Clean House” (Feb 26)

Last Sunday (Feb 26), bloggergal sat in for part of a rehearsal for Alumnae Theatre Company’s production of  The Clean House.   Director Ali Joy Richardson had actors Neil Silcox (married surgeon Charles) and Lilia Leon (his patient, Ana) work some of their scenes together.  I saw them meet in Charles’ office for [what Ali decided was] the first time and be struck simultaneously by Cupid’s arrow.  So sweet and joyous!  I saw them find nuances a scene that occurs later in the play, when Charles’ frantic neediness begins to tire and annoy Ana.

Lovely work from the actors, who took Ali’s insightful and often humorous direction on board, and made beautiful incremental adjustments to their performances.  Stage manager Lizz Armstrong kept everything on schedule, and made blocking and production notes – like necessary props, or the placement of a staircase on the set.

I was not able to stay for the actors’ work with music coach Sam Gaetz (yes, Charles and Ana sing a duet!), but apparently it went very well.

Looking forward to seeing the characters develop.  Will be sitting in on a full-cast rehearsal next Sunday.  clean-house-image

 

The Clean House by Sarah Ruhl runs April 7-22 at Alumnae Theatre.  The basic info at http://www.alumnaetheatre.com/the-clean-house.html will be updated shortly with team bios and  photos, etc.  Also check out the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1301005259957126/

 

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First read-through of “The Clean House”, Feb 21

Last night in the lobby* of Alumnae Theatre, director Ali Richardson presented her cast doing a first read-through of the script of The Clean House, the final show in Alumnae Theatre Company’s season.  It was the first time many of the cast had met, but they did an amazing job, aided by producer Laura Jabalee Johnston’s reading of the often-funny stage directions.  Also present for this first read were set designer Orly Zebak, costume designer Daina Valiulis, props designer Helen Monroe, and sound designer Nick Potter.   Stage Manager Lizz Armstrong and Production Manager/lighting designer Steph Raposo unfortunately could not be there; they’re currently working on other shows.  Several Alumnae Theatre Company reps attended by invitation, including bloggergal (yours truly), Alumnae’s President Brenda Darling, and marketing team members Carina Cojeen (who took the photo) and Jeanette Dagger.

Sarah Ruhl’s delightful and semi-mystical play The Clean House was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in Drama.

L-R: Annemieke Wade (Virginia), Lilia Leon (Ana), Andrea Irwin (Lane), Marina Moreira (Matilde), Laura Jabalee Johnston (producer), Ali Richardson (director) at the first read. Neil Silcox (Charles) would be at far left. Photo: Carina Cojeen.

L-R: Annemieke Wade (Virginia), Lilia Leon (Ana), Andrea Irwin (Lane), Marina Moreira (Matilde), Laura Jabalee Johnston (producer), Ali Richardson (director) at the first read. Neil Silcox (Charles) would be at far left. Photo: Carina Cojeen.

In it, Lane (played by Andrea Irwin) is a buttoned-up workaholic Connecticut doctor who hires a young Brazilian woman, Matilde (Marina Moreira) as her housekeeper.  But Matilde (the Portugese pronounciation is approximately “ma-chil-jee”) hates to clean – she’d rather spend her time coming up with the perfect joke.  Lane’s sister, Virginia (Annemieke Wade), a bored but smart-mouthed stay-at-home wife, is a confidante to both.   Lane’s surgeon husband Charles (Neil Silcox) is mentioned, but conspicuously absent for almost all of Act I.  He shows up in Act II, falling madly in love with one of his patients, Ana (Lilia Leon).  The resulting love triangle was played out both comically and with deep emotion – a beautiful balancing act by the actors, especially at this early stage.

 

Looking forward to seeing this production as it develops in rehearsals!  The finished article will be presented on the Main Stage at Alumnae Theatre, April 7 – 22.

See the Facebook event (https://www.facebook.com/events/1301005259957126/) and Alumnae Theatre website for more info and news.

PERFORMANCES:  Wed – Sat at 8pm; Sun 2pm.

TICKETS:  2-for-1 Wed; $20 on Thu/Fri/Sat; PWYC Sun.
Purchase online in advance (http://www.alumnaetheatre.com/tickets.html), or reserve and pay cash on arrival.  Please note that in-person sales are cash only; no credit or debit cards accepted at Box Office.
RESERVATIONS: 416-364-4170, Box 1 or reservations@alumnaetheatre.com.

 

*because every other space in the building was in use – no kidding!  Rehearsals for New Ideas Festival (opening March 8) on both the 2nd floor and in the Studio; and Toronto Irish Players are renting the mainstage for The Night Joe Dolan’s Car Broke Down (running to March 4).

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Rough & rowdy, it’s all guts & no glory in the funny, poignant, political The Gut Girls

Review of The Gut Girls...

life with more cowbell

They’re an unruly, foul-mouthed, hard-working, hard-drinking bunch ‘a gals—and their world is about to be turned upside down.

Alumnae Theatre starts off the New Year with its production of Sarah Daniels’ The Gut Girls, directed by Maya Rabinovitch. The Gut Girls is part of Alumnae’s Retrospective Series, leading up to its 100th anniversary next season.

The Gut Girls takes us to 1901, where the “gut girls” work in a gutting shed in the Foreign Cattle Market in Deptford, England. Paid good money, but working punishing hours in a foul environment—often up to their ankles in blood—it’s an offal job, but somebody’s got to do it.

Gut girls Polly (Alexandra Augustine), Ellen (Sarah Thorpe), Maggie (Kaya Bucholc) and Kate (Tasia Loeffler-Vulpe) take new girl Annie (Claire Keating) under their wing. Formerly in service, Annie found herself pregnant and fired, now living in a home for wayward women since the…

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InspiraTO Festival seeks directors (deadline to apply: Jan 24)

The 12th annual InspiraTO Festival of 10-minute plays runs June 1 – 10, 2017 at Alumnae Theatre in Toronto.  inspirato-2017-imageThis year’s theme is “Grow Up” – although choosing not to grow up means bringing a sense of child-like wonder into our art and life.
16 directors have already been selected for the Festival; 8 plays still require directors.

A Test of Mettle by Steven R Bond. 2 Males. Why do we attach such value to objects from our childhood? A confrontation that goes off- course. Eerie.

 

So Lovely Here On Earth by Mary Portser. 1 Female/ 1 Male. When a college dropout applies for a mission to Mars, she meets resistance from an unlikely source. Ironic.

 

A Complete Set by Jenny Lyn Bader. 2 Females/1 Male. Four chairs sit discarded on a sidewalk. Could they complete an ideal table and harmonious future grown-up life? An imaginative interpretation about trust, aspirations, and the perils of abandoned furniture.

Mother and Daughter by Scott Carter Cooper. 2 Female. A mother is looking forward to building an adult relationship with her daughter, while the daughter has other ideas about what it means to be a grown up.

The Chinese Life Force by Michael McGoldrick. 2 Male. Two old college friends catch up over a friendly game of Scrabble, but ancient rivalries come to the fore. A tale about today’s “man” and the many ways he’s compelled to compete.

Twirling by Karen Loseff Lothan. 1 Female/1 Male. Wisdom can come from the strangest of places. A six year old teaches her father a lesson that warms the soul and opens up the heart.

Grindrd by J. Joseph Cox. 2 Male/ 1 Female. Two teenagers, bent on being treated as grown-ups, discover a jaw-dropping secret that makes them second-guess their own preparedness for being adults. A funny tale about the vagary of sexuality.

Immortals by Noah Habenstreit. 3 Male/ 1 Female. A play about three beings who are able to live forever. One day they find out that’s about to change. The pacing and rhythm of the dialogue is impeccable.

 

Want to direct one?  Here’s what you do – please note that the deadline to submit is Jan. 24, 2017:

  • Read the scripts at :http://www.theatreinspirato.ca/participate/call-for-actors-and-directors
  • Decide which play(s) you’d like to direct. Put them in order of preference. If selected you will only direct one play.
  • Email: inspirato@ca.inter.net. In the subject line write: Direct A Play.  Answer the following questions:

    – your name, phone number and email address
    – Your experience/training/background in directing/performance arts (you may attach a resume if you wish)
    – Your availability (times during the week you are available for auditions and rehearsals)
    AND for each play you would like to direct:
    1) State the name of the play
    2) What interests you about the play
    3) Your approach to directing.

 

NOTICE TO ACTORS: Auditions will be posted in February and take place in March.

 

InspiraTO is a non-union, non-paying event.

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PREPARING FOR SPRING

Playwright Burke Campbell (New Ideas Festival 2017 – Week Two) gives his impression of the pre-audition Cold Reads in December.  Auditions finished on Sunday Jan 8; the Festival runs March 8-26.

Burke Campbell

burke-campbell-017-alumnae Alumnae Theatre, Toronto, Canada. Photo by Burke Campbell

My short play, The Red Lacquered Box, is one of 16 short works that will go on in March 2017 at the New Ideas Festival. Broken into groups, the various plays will be performed over a three week period at the Alumnae Theatre. Cold readings went on this past week, so the playrights and directors could hear the works spoken. Casting will take place later.

burke-campbell-024-new-ideas-festival

The 16 works  were picked from over 200 submissions, from Canada and the United States. The Alumnae staff has worked tirelessly to introduce playwrights to directors, and have sent out a call for actors to participate in the upcoming auditions.

burke-campbell-025-our-leader

The New Ideas Festival is an incredibly complex enterprise. For me, it’s an opportunity to meet a huge number of theatre artists and also have a lot of fun.

burke-campbell-019-actor-bwThe Alumnae Theatre is a gorgeous theatre…

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The Gut Girls: Play revival sure to excite Toronto Theatre Fans

The Entertainment Fairy says: beat the winter blues and come see The Gut Girls (Jan 20 – Feb 4)!

The Entertainment Fairy

imageSo, first and foremost…how was your festive, holiday season? Did you enjoy it? Did you over-indulge? Are you regretting that last slice of pecan pie? Whether you have the January blues or not, there’s no reason to be cooped up inside, when a whole world of new shows and theatrical adventures lie beyond your front door.

The best thing about live theatre is that it never sleeps. Yes, winter has arrived, but the fantastic performances that await you on stage, are the reason to get downtown. With the new year comes new ideas, new productions, new theatrics , fresh faces and new audiences. And there is one show on the horizon that cannot be missed.

Ever since I first attended the Alumnae Theatre, Toronto, I was blown away by the selection of enjoyable shows for all tastes and interests; ranging from hard-hitting dramas to bright new musicals, and from…

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January 3, 2017 · 7:02 pm