Tag Archives: Broadway

Alumnae Theatre Company Director Chronicles: Brenda Darling on “The Trip To Bountiful”

By Suzanne Bowness

Ludie Watts (Jamie Johnson) and his wife Jessie Mae (Kim Croscup)

Following up on our first post about The Trip to Bountiful, here is a Q&A with the show’s director Brenda Darling. Brenda’s past contributions to Alumnae include directing Stepping Out in 2016, several plays for the New Ideas Festival, and acting as NIF co -producer and president, each for 3 seasons.  Her full bio along with those of the rest of the cast and crew is online at https://www.alumnaetheatre.com/the-trip-to-bountiful.html. In this interview, she talks about what caught her eye about Bountiful, her production choices, and the rehearsal process.

WHAT FIRST CAPTURED YOUR ATTENTION ABOUT THIS PLAY AND WHAT DID YOU WANT TO DRAW OUT OF IT?

The need for a place to call “home” struck me strongly in this play. I deeply long for the cottage we sold where I lived in every summer for nearly 60 years—it was in our family for over eight decades!  I wanted to explore what’s missing in mega-cities: that there are so many isolated, lonely and rootless individuals. I also wanted to explore what “home” actually gives to us.

 

WHAT DO YOU SEE IN THE CHARACTER OF CARRIE WATTS AND WHAT DID YOU WANT TO CONVEY ABOUT HER JOURNEY? 

Mrs. Carrie Watts (Jane Hunter) and her son Ludie (Jamie Johnson)

 

Especially in the city, where we’re surrounded by millions of strangers, it’s easy to lose empathy and become indifferent to the plight of others. For the first hour of The Trip to Bountiful, Mrs. Watts speaks little and seems more of a shadow of a person. However, away from her stifling environment, this woman, whom we might have overlooked, begins to express herself, claim her identify, find her dignity and show her depth of love. Her humanity shines through and we care about her.

 

WHAT WAS THE REHEARSAL PROCESS LIKE FOR THIS PLAY? WHAT DID YOU DO TO HELP THE ACTORS MOVE INTO THEIR CHARACTERS?

Picture

Horton Foote

Everything was in the text of Horton Foote. He writes in such a naturalistic style, employing the parlance of everyday speech, that at first read we couldn’t help but miss the depth behind every phrase. Even “Yes ma’am” or “I would” carries a wealth of information about the character. We did a lot of talking. We applied it to our own lives. We experimented until, like finding gold, we all sensed we’d discovered the real thing.

 

THE USE OF PROJECTIONS ON SCREENS IS QUITE CENTRAL TO YOUR PRODUCTION. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO USE THEM AND WHAT WERE YOU LOOKING TO ADD?

I could see the scenes in this play in my mind. They were three-dimensional, in certain colours, and with a great deal of depth. There were also five environments, each of which I wanted to be distinct. A painted flat couldn’t reproduce what I was imagining. The use of projections also allowed me to go from black and white stills to colour videos over the progress of the story.

 

THIS PLAY PREMIERED IN THE 1950S, WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE STORY THAT MAKES IT STILL APPEALING TODAY?

I don’t think human beings have an identity in a vacuum. We know ourselves in our relationships with our environment including physical places and community. Jessie Mae’s narcissism cuts her off from authentic relationships and she’s a very unhappy woman. Mrs. Watts had lost her “dignity and sense of peace” after 30 years estranged from her childhood home and once she finally returned, at risk to her life, she regained it.

It is also about ageism and elder abuse. It is revealing of our society and its changing consciousness that when this play appeared on Broadway and as a film over 50 years ago, there don’t seem to have been any reviewers who commented on this mistreatment of a senior. That seniors right to respect, civility and control of their finances is more officially protected today. However, this play remains relevant because, like Mrs. Watts, thousands of seniors still face abuse and mistreatment away from public scrutiny.

 

The Trip to Bountiful continues Wed Jan 29  to Sat February 1.  All performances at 8pm.  Visit https://www.alumnaetheatre.com/the-trip-to-bountiful.html  for more details

 

STUDENT DISCOUNT DAYS

  • Students entitled to a $5.00 ticket (plus $2.00 service charge).
  • Student promotions are only available for advance purchases; not at the door.
  • Students must show student ID at the box office for each ticket purchased.
  • Student discounts is only applicable to students (without student ID, discount will not apply).

Tickets can be purchased online and in advance at https://www.alumnaetheatre.com/the-trip-to-bountiful.html  Use special promo code BOUNTIFUL2020

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Filed under 2019/20 Season, The Trip To Bountiful

The irrepressible Marie Dressler’s life, love & career in Alumnae Theatre’s delightful, entertaining Queen Marie

life with more cowbell

Naomi Peltz, Katherine Cappallacci, Siena Dolinski & Seira Saeki. Photo by Bruce Peters.

Alumnae Theatre Company closes its 100th anniversary season—with heart, moxie and rip roaring good fun— with Queen Marie, a musical by Shirley Barrie, directed by Rosemary Doyle, with music direction by Paul Comeau and choreography by Adam Martino.

Queen Marie is a biographical musical about Canadian-born 1930s Hollywood star actress/comedienne Marie Dressler. Director Doyle takes us to the vaudeville stage, complete with proscenium arch, a live band on one side and stall seating on the other. Using minimal set pieces, projected images up centre present show posters and images of various locations as we travel through Dressler’s storied life and career.

queen marie little marieCatherine Ratusny & Tess Keery. Photo by Bruce Peters.

Born Leila Koerber in Cobourg, Ontario, we witness Dressler being bitten by the acting bug at the age of five (Tess Keery), performing in…

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Filed under 2017/18 season (100th!), Queen Marie

Audition notice for “August: Osage County” (Jan 17-19)

Anyone fancy a little play reading over the holidays? You might want to slot that in, because auditions for the final production in Alumnae Theatre Company’s season, August: Osage County, take place January 17 – 19!

August Osage County imageRemember the 2013 film version?  It starred Meryl Streep as Violet, Julia Roberts as Barbara (both received Oscar nominations), and some English dude named Benedict Cumberbatch as Little Charles… http://www.imdb.com/media/rm3037715456/tt1322269?ref_=tt_ov_i

The play earned playwright Tracy Letts the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and won five Tony awards (Best Play, Best Direction – Anna D. Shapiro, Best Scenic Design, Leading Actress -Deanna Dunagan, Featured Actress – Rondi Reed as Mattie Fae) for the original Broadway production.

Alumnae Theatre Company’s production (April 8 – 23, 2016) will be directed by Victoria Shepherd, who has helmed many shorts in Alumnae’s Big Ideas and New Ideas, as well as Tennessee Williams’ Summer and Smoke on the mainstage. Other favourite directing credits are the Titanic-themed drama Scotland Road (for Amicus Productions) and the charming, based-on-a-true-Canadian-story Queen Mili of Galt (for Village Playhouse).

 

August: Osage County
By Tracy Letts
Directed by Victoria Shepherd
Performance dates: April 8 – 23, 2016

When the family patriarch vanishes, the Westons return to rural Oklahoma to care for their afflicted, manipulative mother.  Winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize, Tracy Letts’ darkly comic drama is a harrowing epic that puts the “fun” in “dysfunctional”.

ROLES
Beverly Weston:   The father of the Weston family, 69  –  (age range 60 – 75)
Violet Weston:   The mother of the Weston family, 65 –  (age range 60 – 70)
Barbara Fordham:   The oldest daughter of the Weston family, 46  – (age range 40 – 50ish)
Ivy Weston:   The middle daughter of the Weston family, 44 – (range late 30’s – late 40’s)
Karen Weston:   The youngest daughter in the Weston family, 40 –  (age range 30’s – 45)
Bill Fordham:   Barbara’s estranged husband and Jean’s father, 49 – (age range 40’s – 55)
Jean Fordham:   Bill and Barbara’s smart-tongued teenage daughter – (age range 14-19)
Steve Heidebrecht:   Karen’s fiancé, 50 – (age range mid 40’s to mid 50”s)
Mattie Fae Aiken:    Violet’s sister, 57 –  (age range 50 – 65)
Charlie Aiken:   Husband of Mattie Fae & presumed father of Little Charles, 60 – (range 55-65)
“Little Charles” Aiken:   Son of Mattie Fae and Beverly, 37 – (age range 30-45)
Johnna Monevata**:   Young, empathic Cheyenne woman who works as housekeeper to the Weston family and is the silent witness to the family dysfunction, 26 (range 20’s-30’s)
Sheriff Deon Gilbeau:   High-school classmate & former boyfriend of Barbara’s, 47 (range 40-50ish)
**Alumnae Theatre Company is auditioning First Nations, Metis or Inuit actors for the role of Johnna

AUDITION DATES & TIMES
Sunday January 17, 2016 from noon – 6:00pm
Monday January 18, 2016  from 6:00 – 10:00pm
Tuesday January 19, 2016 from 6:00 – 10:00 pm

CALLBACKS: evenings of January 25 & (if required) January 26.

PREPARATION
Please prepare a short (2-3 min.) contemporary monologue.
Please read the play before auditioning. Reading copies are available at the Toronto Reference Library, 5th floor – Performing Arts desk.
Please submit or bring your photo and résumé.

 
TO BOOK AN AUDITION TIME
Please e-mail augustauditionsATC@gmail.com or leave a message on the audition line at 416-364-4170 ext 3.
Auditions will be held at the Alumnae Theatre, 70 Berkeley Street (SW corner of Berkeley and Adelaide)

The Alumnae Theatre Company encourages diversity in its membership and casting. Please note this is a non-paying engagement.

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Filed under 2015/16 season, August: Osage County