Tag Archives: Main Stage

TOP GIRLS – “Making Wonder Woman, Lara Croft and Buffy look like wimps” (Isabella Bird)

British playwright Caryl Churchill’s award-winning drama Top Girls premiered in London in 1982.  The play begins with the main character, Marlene, hosting a [possibly imaginary] dinner party to celebrate her promotion at work.  Her guests are five famously strong women from history – some real (Isabella Bird, Pope Joan, Lady Nijo); some fictional (Gret, Griselda).

Alumnae Theatre Company member Diane Forrest, a writer and editor, has researched the guests who appear in the play.  Here’s the last of her five profiles, featuring Victorian-era world traveller Isabella Bird, who is portrayed onstage by Lisa Lenihan.

Alumnae Theatre Company previously staged the play in our 3rd floor Studio space back in 1996!  The new production of Top Girls is directed by Alysa Golden, and will run on the Mainstage from January 18 – February 2, 2019.  Tickets are available at https://www.alumnaetheatre.com/tickets.html

Making Wonder Woman, Lara Croft and Buffy look like wimps

If you’re making a list of the coolest Victorian women, Isabella Bird is right up there — riding huge stallions through the desert, reporting from war zones, and bunking down and escaping from burning buildings.

English traveller Isabella Bird (1831-1904) – travelling “as a lady”

Like many intelligent girls living in repressive 19th century Britain, Bird suffered from a variety of physical problems. Fortunately she came from a forward-thinking family. (Her father, an Anglican minister, was pilloried for suggesting labourers should have a day off on Sunday.) So when her doctor recommended a long sea voyage, and her father gave her £100 to do whatever she wanted, Bird hitched a ride with her cousins to North America, and caught a better illness – the travel bug.

The bug became a career for Bird when she turned her letters home into a book, The Englishwoman in America. From there she moved on to Australia, Europe, the Rocky Mountains, Russia, Tibet, Malaya, etc., etc. During an early voyage to Hawaii, she climbed volcanoes, wore trousers and learned to ride astride, which put an end to her backaches. She went on to ride through blizzards, win the love of a one-eyed mountain man named Jim Nugent, (murdered not long after he proposed to her) and explore forbidden areas of Japan, She often travelled alone or with men – rather shocking for a Victorian lady, but it didn’t hurt her sales. She did return home from time to time (often suffering bouts of illness when she did). But she could never stay in one place for long. She did manage to marry a doctor, but he only lasted for five years.

After his death, Bird studied medicine so that she could travel as a medical missionary. She went on to found two hospitals in India, speak before Parliament about atrocities in the Turkish Empire, report on the Sino-Japanese war, and survive mob attacks in China. She was also the first woman to be admitted to the Royal Geographical Society and, since her many books were illustrated by her own photos, joined the Royal Photographic Society. After travelling to Africa, she died in 1904 at the age of 73.

For more info, including a discussion of Isabella’s clothing choices, see http://www.cordella.org/isabella-bird-bishop/

For more info on the cast of Alumnae Theatre Company’s new production of Top Girls (Jan 18 – Feb 2, 2019) and special events, please visit https://www.alumnaetheatre.com/top-girls.html

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Filed under 2018/19 Season

Audition notice for “The Gut Girls” (2016/17 Retrospective Choice)

Back in our 1997/98 season, Alumnae Theatre Company staged British writer Sarah Daniels’ 1988 dramedy about the young women who worked in the bloody ‘gutting sheds’ of Victorian London, The Gut Girls.  It was directed by Jane Carnwath, and performed in the intimate 3rd floor Studio space, complete with realistic pig carcasses, spewing intestines.

gut-girls-image Nineteen years later, as part of the Countdown to our 100th season – the company hits the century mark in February 2018! – we present The Gut Girls as our Retrospective Production of the 2016/17 season.  This time, it will be played on the Main Stage, directed by Maya Rabinovitch, and I don’t know about the pig carcasses!

Here’s the audition notice:

The Gut Girls

By Sarah Daniels

Directed by Maya Rabinovitch

Performance dates: January 20 – February 4, 2017

Surprisingly funny and hard-hitting, this beautifully written piece follows the fortunes of the brash and proud working-class “gut girls”.

When the gutting sheds are shut and their way of life disappears, the girls must try and find a place in the new world order of late Victorian London.

Alumnae Theatre Company seeks:

6 women (ages 15-60)

2 men (ages 20 – 60)

 To play multiple roles in this sharp comedy about rotting meat and workers’ rights, where Margaret Thatcher meets Victorian England.

Please note: all actors must be able to perform with a formal and/or cockney British accent.  The ability to sing is an asset.


All interested applicants should email gutgirls.alumnaetheatre@gmail.com or leave a message on the Alumnae audition line at 416-364-4170, xtn 3.


Wednesday October 5th –  6:30 – 10pm

Saturday October 8th –  10am – 5pm

Callbacks: Sunday October 9th – 10am – 5pm



Alumnae Theatre: 70 Berkeley St. (SW corner of Berkeley & Adelaide), Toronto


Please prepare a 2 minute monologue. You may also be asked to read from the script.

Please read the play before auditioning. Reading copies are available at the 5th floor Performing Arts desk of the Toronto Reference Library.

All auditioners must bring a photo and résumé to the audition.


Alumnae Theatre is a non-professional theatre company which encourages diversity in its membership and casting.  Please note that this is a non-union and non-paying engagement.

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Filed under 2016/17 season, The Gut Girls

Audition notice for “Outside Mullingar” (Toronto Irish Players)

Toronto Irish Players logoThe Toronto Irish Players are holding auditions in late June for their fall production, which will be on the Main Stage of Alumnae Theatre.  Outside Mullingar, described as “an Irish Moonstruck”, was nominated for Best Play at the 2014 Tony Awards.



By John Patrick Shanley

Directed by Harvey Levkoe

Produced by Susan McQueen

 AUDITIONS: SUNDAY, June 26 (1-6pm) and MONDAY, June 27 (7-10pm), 2016


REHEARSALS: Start SUNDAY, August 28, 2016 – TUESDAY/ THURSDAY/ SUNDAY schedule, with some table work in August

PERFORMANCES: OCTOBER 20 – November 5, 2016 at The Alumnae Theatre, Toronto

 OUTSIDE MULLINGAR is a compassionate, delightful work about how it’s never too late to take a chance on love. Anthony and Rosemary are two introverted misfits straddling 40. They have spent their entire lives on cattle farms in rural Ireland. Rosemary lives right next door to Anthony and is determined to have him, while watching the years slip away. With Anthony’s father, Tony, threatening to disinherit him and, a land feud simmering between their families, and Aoife, her mother as mediator, Rosemary has every reason to fear romantic catastrophe. But then in this very Irish story with a surprising depth of poetic passion, these yearning, eccentric souls fight their way towards solid ground. Their journey is heartbreaking, funny and ultimately, deeply moving.


CHARACTERS & AGES TO BE PLAYED (Accents are not needed at auditions):

TONY, 75 Bullying, tough-love father to Anthony. Easily provoked to anger & stubborn. Lives with a great deal of resentment and bitterness.


AOIFE, 70 (Eo-fuh) Nurturing and protective mother to Rosemary and surrogate mother to Anthony. Plays the role of mediator between Anthony and Tony.


ROSEMARY, 39 Anthony’s powerful, feisty neighbour with a clarity of vision. She knows what she wants but getting it is complicated. Inherited her father’s stubbornness. Determined to have Anthony, she fluctuates between despair and hope.


ANTHONY, 42 Painfully shy, a joyless farmer who is torn about staying, while listening to the voice that tells him to “go.” He has stopped noticing anything outside himself and lives with the fear of rejection and failure.


TO BOOK AN AUDITION – Contact Judith Levkoe at  levkoejudith@sympatico.ca and indicate your preferred audition date, time and the character for whom you wish to audition. Attach your resume with contact number & a recent head shot. Alternately, call Judith at 416-214-4770 and provide the above info as well as your email address.

 LOCATION – Auditions and rehearsals will be held at Kimbourne Park United Church, 200 Wolverleigh Blvd, one black north of the Coxwell Subway Station exit, and east of Coxwell.


PREPARATION – If the Director does not know your work, prepare a 2-minute monologue. Read the play before your audition as there will be readings from the script.

SCRIPT- A copy of OUTSIDE MULLINGAR will be available upon request.

 PLEASE NOTE: Toronto Irish Players (TIP) is a non-profit, non-Equity community theatre group. Participants are not paid, and union members (ACTRA/Equity) cannot be used. If cast, it is required that you join the Toronto Irish Players group.

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Casual cruelty & family secrets in ferociously funny, devastatingly poignant August: Osage County

Review of “August” – running to April 23.

life with more cowbell

_DSC5303 Marie Carriere Gleason (foreground), with Paul Cotton, Kelly-Marie Murtha, Melinda Jordan, Pearl Ho & Andrew Batten – photos by Bruce Peters

Alumnae Theatre Company cordially invites you to attend a family gathering at the home of Beverly and Violet Weston in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

Alumnae opened its production of Tracy Letts’ August: Osage County on the mainstage last night. Directed by Victoria Shepherd and featuring a talented ensemble, this is family dysfunction at its grittiest, no holds barred best.

When the Weston family patriarch (Thomas Gough) goes missing, middle daughter Ivy (Andrea Lyons) – the only child who stayed in town – rallies the family around her ailing mother Violet (Marie Carriere Gleason). Violet’s sister Mattie Fae (Carol McLennan) and husband Charlie (Rob Candy) are the first to arrive, and we get a sense of the estrangement that underpins the family dynamic. The Weston’s oldest daughter Barbara (Kelly-Marie Murtha) is the…

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Filed under 2015/16 season, August: Osage County

“Awakening” – Write Now! plays presented Oct 26

Did you know that Alumnae Theatre Company, in addition to staging plays, also has a group of playwright-members  – the New Play Development group (NPD) – who like to challenge themselves?   The annual fall challenge is called Write Now!  The writers receive a challenge theme or “ingredients” on a Friday afternoon, and have just a weekend to write their 10-minute play.  Then the scripts are matched up with a pool of volunteer directors and actors, and presented as staged readings on the following Sunday.

This year’s theme – devised by Annie MacMillan, who usually writes or directs – was AWAKENING.

These are the plays that resulted (listed alphabetically by writer), and their directors.

Coming Round by Mairy Beam – Director: Stacy Halloran

Graveyard Shift by Sandy Cardinal – Director: Nina Kaye

The Walker by Norma Crawford – Director: Joanne Williams

 Does Anybody Hear Me by Marianne Fedunkiw – Director: Molly Thom

War And Peace – A Family Story by Krystyna Hunt – Director: Danielle Capretti

Somnolence by Nina Kaye – Director: Julia Haist

Last Chance by Carol Libman – Director: Jane Carnwath

When Is A Table Not A Table by Reva Nelson – Director: Pat McCarthy

The Tower by Jenny Prior – Director: Brenda Darling

A Fairy Tale Ending by Jean Shepherd – Director: Jennifer McKinley

But A Brief Dream by Morna Wales – Director: Anne Harper

You can see the short plays (max. 10 mins each) performed as staged readings on Sunday Oct 26, starting at 2pm in the 3rd floor Studio at Alumnae Theatre.  No reservations necessary, and admission is FREE, but donations are gratefully accepted.  Drop on by!

*** Please note that the Toronto Irish Players will be presenting a matinee of Bernard Farrell’s Bookworms on the Main Stage at the same time. ***

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Filed under 2014/15 Season, NPD readings

Liberty at any cost – hardened life choices in Toronto Irish Players’ Big Maggie

Only three more performances of Big Maggie:  Thu – Sat of this week on the Main Stage of Alumnae Theatre.  Closes Saturday March 8, then Alumnae Theatre Company’s New Ideas Festival begins March 12 in the Studio!

life with more cowbell

bigmaggie1Saw another marvelous Toronto Irish Players (TIP) production yesterday afternoon – this time, John B. Keane’s Big Maggie, directed by Harvey Levkoe, on now at Alumnae Theatre.

Big Maggie is set in 1960s rural Ireland, where recently widowed Maggie Polpin (Janice Hansen) is delighted at her newfound freedom from a philandering lout of a husband – and doesn’t care who knows it. Her four young adult children, each in various stages of grief, are disappointed when mum takes control of the family farm and general store, not receiving their expected share of the business – and are forced into choosing her way or the highway. For Maggie, her singular goal is to live free and secure, with no one to answer to or for but herself. And she is not above making some ruthless, calculated choices to get there.

Levkoe has a fine cast for Big Maggie, with…

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Filed under 2013/14 Season, News

Big Maggie (Feb 20 – March 8)

A late re-blog:  the Toronto Irish Players’ production Big Maggie opened Feb 20, and is now running on Alumnae Theatre’s Main Stage until March 8. Performances are Thu – Sat at 8pm; Sunday at 2pm. Tickets $18 (stud/snr) – $20 (reg). 416-440-2888 or purchase online at torontoirishplayers.com

Toronto Irish Players

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February 25, 2014 · 5:25 pm