Seeking Directors for FireWorks 2017 (apply by April 28)

Next season marks the 100th anniversary of Alumnae Theatre Company, and the slate is dedicated to plays by women, directed by women.  FireWorks, in its 5th year as of 2017, features a provocative lineup of three full-length plays focusing on friendships among women.

Apply to direct one of the plays – the deadline has been extended to April 28, 2017.

FireWorks 2017 runs November 8 – 26 in the 75-seat Studio space at Alumnae Theatre.
Each play runs one week, with 6 performances: Wednesday to Saturday at 8pm, plus matinees on Saturday and Sunday.

This Will Be My Last Transmission – Natalie Frijia
You can’t stop in the Death Zone. Above 8,000 meters, you’re already dying. When a storm traps three women, expert climbers, just below the summit of K2, they face a challenge even greater than climbing mountains: getting down. As the storm rages on the summit a whole different tempest picks up speed at base camp, as the men of camp debate whether the women had the right to climb K2 in the first place, and whether they deserve to be rescued. And the window is quickly closing.

3 Women, 30s;  4 Men, 30 – 40.  One central location, lots of bad weather.

Surrender Dorothy – Liz Best
Online dating’s been around for awhile. But it’s not something you’d ever consider, right?  Until Ally, in her 50s, meets someone – online! She insists that her friends, all seasoned players in the relationship game, share her joy and her online experience. What follows is a hilarious, rueful, touching examination of the murky, ambush-laden search for connection, even love, as played out on the net. Snappy dialogue, penetrating insights as five clever women support each other in taking risks and learning to live again, even when your heart’s been broken.

5 Women, 50s.  One central setting, other suggested locations, many cellphone conversations.

Pose Ball – Caitie Graham
Cata wakes up with an infected tattoo on her leg. When the memory of everyone involved is clouded by either drugs, denial, or desire, whose version of the truth is Cata supposed to believe? POSE BALL is a fierce exploration of a young girl’s sexuality, an act of violence that devastates a friendship, and the question; can truth be subjective? A play about two high school kids adrift in a world they’re ill-equipped to navigate.

2 Women, 16-17; 1 Man, early 20s.  Multiple locations, extensive use of projections.

 

To apply to direct:
Send your résumé and a short (2-3 sentences) statement about why you wish to direct your play of choice. If you are chosen for an interview, you will be given access to the scripts and asked to prepare a detailed outline of your vision for the production.

Note: FireWorks is a development festival; dramaturgy will continue right through production, and the writer will be part of the process.

Extended Deadline for applications: April 28, 2017
Send to: fireworksATC@gmail.com, with subject heading as: 2017 CALL FOR DIRECTORS
(Both MEMBERS and NON-MEMBERS of Alumnae Theatre Company are welcome to submit.)

This is a non-union, non-paying gig.

http://www.alumnaetheatre.com/directors.html

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Crazy LOL love & the power of the perfect joke in the quirky, poignant, hilarious The Clean House

Review of The Clean House, running to Sat April 22.
Tickets are 2-for-1 on Wed April 19; $20 Thu – Sat.
http://www.alumnaetheatre.com/ticket-info.html

life with more cowbell

Annemieke Wade, Neil Silcox, Andrea Irwin, Lilia Leon & Marina Moreira in The Clean House—photo by Bruce Peters

 

Love isn’t clean… It’s dirty. Like a good joke.

Alumnae Theatre Company closes its 2016-17 season with Sarah Ruhl’s The Clean House, directed by Ali Joy Richardson, assisted by Nevada Banks; currently running on the Mainstage.

Still in mourning over her parents’ unusual and unexpected death, Matilde (Marina Moreira) moves from Brazil to Connecticut, where she becomes a live-in maid to doctors Lane (Andrea Irwin) and Charles (Neil Silcox). Thing is, she hates cleaning; it makes her sad. An aspiring comedian, and the child of two very funny people, she’s striving for the perfect joke. Things lighten up for Matilde when Lane’s older sister Virginia (Annemieke Wade) makes an odd request: she wants to clean her sister’s house. Virginia loves to clean and needs something to do, and Matilde…

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Report on “The Clean House” Talkback, April 9

Virginia (to Charles): “Oh, you found your bashert!” Lane: “How do you know about bashert?’ Virginia: “I heard it on public radio.” (Annemieke Wade as Virginia; Neil Silcox as Charles; Andrea Irwin as Lane; Lilia Leon as Ana [the bashert]; Marina Moreira as Matilde). Photo: Bruce Peters

Usually the Talkbacks for Alumnae Theatre Company productions are held on the second Sunday of the run, but because next week is Easter, the Talkback for The Clean House was on the first Sunday – April 9.  Director Ali Joy Richardson and producer Laura Jabalee Johnston could not be there, but the lively discussion was ably steered by assistant director Nevada Banks.  About half of the matinee audience (on a gorgeous spring afternoon) stuck around to ask the cast some questions.

 

Q:           Has this play been staged in Toronto before?         

A (Annemieke Wade, who plays Virginia):   Yes, CanStage did it about 8 years ago.  [bloggergal’s note:  It was February 2008 – see https://www.thestar.com/entertainment/stage/2008/02/10/inside_the_clean_house.html and https://nowtoronto.com/stage/theatre/house-lets-us-off-easy/]   Fiona Reid played my role, and Seana McKenna played Lane.

 

Q:           Could you please translate the first joke – the rather lengthy one – that Matilde tells in Portuguese?

A (Marina Moreira, who plays Matilde):  A man who’s never had sex is about to get married.  He goes to his doctor for advice…

[bloggergal’s note: Marina did translate the entire joke, but I’m not going to attempt to reproduce it in print!]

 

Q:           Is there a difference between the Portuguese that’s spoken in Brazil, and the Portuguese spoken in Portugal?

A (Marina):   Yes, just like there’s a difference between the Spanish spoken in Mexico and Argentina and Spain.  It’s a different dialect and vocabulary.

 

Question from Nevada to the cast:  What were the challenges or benefits of working with [playwright] Sarah Ruhl’s strangely specific stage directions?

A (Neil Silcox, who plays Charles):  They were specific as to the “feel”, but left room for interpretation by the director and the actors. For example, one of my stage directions is “Charles makes a noise like a wounded animal.”

A (Marina):  My favourite is “Lane and Virginia have a primal moment.”!

A (Annemieke):   In the script, Ruhl gives the option of using surtitles to translate the Portuguese and Spanish dialogue that Matilde and Ana speak, but we decided that the actors’ performances were so good, we didn’t need projections – their intentions could speak for themselves.

A (Lilia Leon, who plays Ana):  Ali [director Ali Joy Richardson] worked a lot with us on the rhythm and music of the language.

 

Q:           Loved the set design!

A (Neil):  The set design is by Orly Zebak.  She used many, many coats of white paint on the floor – it used to be black!

 

Q (to Nevada):    How did you feel about the stage directions?

A (Nevada):  Sarah Ruhl uses exciting language both in the dialogue and in the stage directions.  It was a gift, not a hindrance.  And the cast picked it up so well.

A (Andrea Irwin, who plays Lane):  For anyone who likes to read plays, and even if you don’t usually, I highly recommend reading this one!

A (Marina):  You can really see Ruhl’s background as a poet in the language.

A (Neil):  There are worlds of possibility in the stage directions, which Ali and Nevada helped us to hone and become more specific.  Specificity is everything in acting!

 

Q:           Is the playwright bilingual?

A (Marina):  No, she’s not.  I think she worked with a translator, or maybe a bilingual actor on the first production.

 

Q (to Neil):          What was it like being the only male in the cast?

A (Neil): It was grrreat!  Actually, the whole production team is women.  The sound designer [Nicholas Potter] and I are the only men.

 

Q:           How did this play come about?

A (Annemieke):   Sarah Ruhl was at a party, and overheard someone talking about her husband having an affair.  And she was at another party, and overheard someone mention that her cleaning lady was depressed and wouldn’t clean, so she was medicating her!

A (Nevada):  Sarah Ruhl’s father died of cancer, but he used the healing power of laughter to help with the pain.

 

Q:           It was a privilege watching your work today.  Are you similar to your characters?

A (Lilia):   A close friend said he saw a lot of me in Ana, but I think she is braver than I am.  I tried to bring boldness into the character.

 

Lane (Andrea Irwin) and her sister Virginia (Annemieke Wade) argue in The Clean House.  Photo:  Bruce Peters

Q:           What’s it like playing sisters?

A (Andrea):  I don’t have a sister, only two brothers.  But Mieke and I are two years apart, just like Lane and Virginia, and our birthdays are within a week of each other.

A (Annemieke):  I can relate to Virginia’s wanting to do something with her life, because I have a sister who might have been a philosopher, if depression had not had its way with her.

 

Q:           Marina, your character is very subtle, but you seem to be quite commanding!

A (Marina):  Thank you!

 

Q:           Whose story is this? 

A (Marina):   It’s everyone’s story – it’s an ensemble.

The cast of The Clean House: Marina Moreira (Matilde), Lilia Leon (Ana), Neil Silcox (Charles), Andrea Irwin (Lane), Annemieke Wade (Virginia). Photo: Bruce Peters

 

Q:           Yes, but who takes the greatest journey?   *** SPOILER ALERT!  STOP READING NOW IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE SHOW! ***

A (Marina, pointing to Lilia):  Well, she dies!

A (Neil):  I go to Alaska!

A (Andrea):  Charles and Lane?

 

Q:           The characters all had funny moments, but you could see the poignancy and intimacy underneath.

A (Nevada):  Thank you.

 

Q:           What was the last line of the play?  I didn’t quite hear it.
A (Marina):  “I think maybe heaven is a sea of untranslatable jokes.  Only everyone is laughing.”

*****************************

The Clean House runs to April 22, with performances Wed – Sat at 8pm; Sun matinee (April 16) at 2pm.  2-for-1 Wed; $20 Thu/Fri/Sat; PWYC Sun.  Purchase tickets online at http://www.alumnaetheatre.com/tickets.html, OR make a reservation (416-364-4170, Box 1  / reservations@alumnaetheatre.com) and pay cash at the door.  PWYC matinee tickets not sold online; no reservations taken for Sundays

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Q&A with Marina Moreira, star of “The Clean House”

Here’s a short Q&A with Toronto-based actor Marina Moreira, who delivers a delightful bilingual (Portugese/English) performance as reluctant house-cleaner Matilde in Sarah Ruhl‘s The Clean House, directed by Ali Joy Richardson.  Ruhl’s play, opening Friday at Alumnae Theatre Company, tells the story of Matilde, an aspiring comedian who moves from Brazil to Connecticut after the unexpected death of her parents to clean the house of two married doctors. It’s soon apparent that she gets swept up in more than just dust bunnies. Moreira, who is Portuguese Canadian, gives us some insight as to what it’s been like to play Matilde.

Q: What has your experience has been like performing in a bilingual play as a bilingual actor?

A: So exciting! I grew up speaking both English and Portuguese, the transition between the two is so natural for me, but I never get to do that on stage. I’m excited because I get to play a character who is connected to my life not only in experience or personality, but also in language. Also, I’m excited that my parents get to come see the show and have a connection to what I do (even though they will likely poke fun at me for being so excited).

Q: What has it been like exploring a character whose cultural background aligns in some ways with your own?

A: Familiar? I don’t know how to explain it. It feels comfortable to speak the language and tell the jokes and not imagine that there is a gap between myself and the character I am playing. I guess seamless is a better word for it.

Q: Is there anything that particularly interests you about the character Matilde?

A: I love her deadpan nature. She is written as a character who is observant and not afraid to share her observations with others. She is much bolder than I am.
*****************************

Marina and the rest of the cast clean up April 7 – 22!  Performances Wednesday – Saturday at 8pm; Sundays at 2pm. Tickets: 2-for-1 Wed; $20 Thu – Sat; PWYC Sun.

Purchase Wed – Sat* tickets online (www.alumnaetheatre.com), or reserve seats via phone (416-364-4170 Box 1) or email (reservations@alumnaetheatre.com) and pay cash at the door.  Please note that Box Office does not accept credit or debit cards for in-person sales.    *Sunday matinee tickets not available online.

 

Post-show talkback: Sunday, April 9 following 2pm show

FREE Pre-show event “Laughter Yoga”: Thursday, April 20 at 6:45pm.  See https://www.facebook.com/events/285150885243312/ for more info.

Follow us on Twitter: @AlumnaeTheatre #CleanHouseTO

 

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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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