Tag Archives: mainstage

TOP GIRLS – “Scandal at the Japanese court” (Lady Nijo)

In 1982, British playwright Caryl Churchill’s award-winning drama Top Girls made its premiere in London.  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 profiled the guests who appear in the play – here’s # 4 of the five, featuring the real-life historical character Lady Nijo, a Japanese courtesan-turned-wandering-Buddhist-nun, who is portrayed onstage by Tea Nguyen.

Illustration (possibly showing Lady Nijo) from a Japanese romance, published in 1904.

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


Lady Nijo, a 13th-century noblewoman, was handed over to the retired Emperor Go-Fukakusa by her father when she was 14, thus adding greatly to her own and her family’s prestige. (And that is his actual name, not an obscene political comment.) While she never overtly questioned the social system she was part of, Lady Nijo did have a rebellious streak.

She never quite made it as Go-Fukakusa’s top courtesan and resented that. She had affairs with other men – including a monk – and bore several children, which she was not allowed to keep. Her diary of her years at court, complete with a warts-and-all portrait of Go-Fukakusa, was suppressed for centuries because the Japanese couldn’t handle the idea that an emperor was – gasp! – a human being.

Eventually Lady Nijo was kicked out of court in disgrace and became a Buddhist nun. While this was standard behaviour for courtiers disappointed in their ambitions, Lady Nijo earned disapproval by travelling far and wide, on her own, in imitation of a famous monk-poet who had been her childhood hero.

But despite her spiritual aspirations, she was never able to escape the attitudes and painful memories she had acquired at court.

Lady Nijo’s diary, Towazugatari – “A Tale Nobody Asked For” – was rediscovered just before the Second World War. But is it the genuine outpourings of a tortured soul? Or a carefully constructed fictional autobiography, designed to demonstrate how difficult it is for even the most high-born woman to escape the oppressive role assigned to her? It may also have been a final – and ultimately successful — attempt to recapture her family’s prestige by writing for a future that would better understand her. No one’s sure, but it is definitely considered a treasure of Japanese literature.

Find out more about Lady Nijo at http://www.academia.edu/1165239/Three_faces_of_lady_Nij%C5%8D_the_authoress_of_Towazugatari

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




Filed under 2018/19 Season

“Antigone” special events on opening weekend, Sept 18 – 20

Antigone imageAlumnae Theatre Company announces our first production of the 2015-2106 season: Antigone, by Jean Anouilh, translated Lewis Galantière. This modernized version of Sophocles’ classic Greek tragedy explores the disturbing moral dilemmas of our times.

Director Janet Kish evokes a metaphysical Thebes in a parallel universe where the “here and now” is also the “there and then.”  In collaboration with the actors, the work also incorporates movement choreographed by Jane Deluzio, and masks sculpted by visual artist and scenographer Teodoro Dragonieri.
Special events are planned for opening weekend, September 18-20.

Art Installation on display in the lobby for the run of the show:
View our Antigonethemed art installation created by renowned multi-discipline artist Teodoro Dragonieri in collaboration with Sara Ahmadieh Rad.

Opening night party – Friday, September 18 :
 Meet the actors and production team after the show on  in the lobby.  Refreshments will be served.  Cash bar.

Social Media Night – Saturday, September 19:
If you sit in the last three rows of the audience, you can text, tweet and send messages during the performance.  You read that right.  Yes, DURING the show!  Just NO flash photography, please.

Panel: Women of Courage – Sunday, September 20 :
Join us from noon-1pm for a pre-matinee panel discussion with six “Antigones” of today: ordinary women who have exhibited extraordinary courage in our current day and age. The moderated panel will address such topics as mental illness, trangendered realities and living life as an amputee artist.

Antigone runs Sept 18 – Oct 3.

Purchase tickets online at https://app.arts-people.com/index.php?ticketing=atc13 or reserve seats by phone/e-mail and pay cash on arrival. No credit or debit for in-person sales; cash only. Reserve at 416-364-4170, xtn 1 / reservations@alumnaetheatre.com

Chorus          AMANDA CORDNER
Antigone      KAYA BUCHOLC
Ismene         CARLY TELFORD
Creon            SCOTT MOORE
Page              CHRISTINA LEONARD
Nurse            SARA STAHMER
Guards          ERIK MRAKOVCIC
Eurydice       MARTHA BREEN

Director:                              Janet Kish

Producer:                            Andrea Patreau

Associate Producer:        Carina Cojeen
Stage Manager:                Christina Clarke
Ass’t Stage Manager:     Kaylen MacKenzie
Scenographer:                  Teodoro Dragonieri
Lighting Design by            Kelsey Laine Jacobson
Costume Design by         Martina Christensen and Brianne Christensen
Sound Design by              Jeff Jones
Scenic Artist:                      Sara Ahmadieh Rad
Choreographer:                  Jane Deluzio

Makeup Artist:                 Eleanor MacVeigh


Please note the Alumnae Theatre’s MainStage is completely wheelchair accessible, including accessible washrooms.

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Filed under 2015/16 season, Antigone

Treading the Boards with “Blood Relations”

From the Alumnae Theatre Company members’ newsletter:
Blood Relations posterRehearsals for Blood Relations, Alumnae’s next production (Mainstage, January 23 – February 7, 2015) are in full (axe)swing! Here’s a peek into the latest goings-on from director Barbara Larose.

We have moved onto the mainstage and are just about to start set construction. It’s an exciting time when all the design ideas start to become “real” and we explore the space of our play.  Set Designer Ed Rosing and Master Carpenter Sandy Thorburn are embarking on their busiest time.

The cast is amazing and includes three Alumnae Theatre members – Andrea Brown, Kathleen Allamby and Sheila Russell.  Rounding out the cast are Marisa King, Thomas Gough, Rob Candy and Steven Burley.  They are working hard at the moment getting “off book”  and prepping for our Stumblethrough before the holiday break.

Recent rehearsals have included an evening of stage combat with movement specialist, Paul Babiak; a wonderful period dance review with our consultant Rick Jones (who is also our Sound Designer), while our fabulous Stage Manager Margot Devlin, tried valiantly to record every, step, hop, kick and turn; and a thrilling Laban and movement workshop for the cast conducted by Alumnae member Ginette Mohr.   Several cast members are also busily working away outside rehearsal with our Irish dialogue coach Michael Armstrong.  The wonderful Ellen Green is the Assistant Director – she doesn’t let me miss anything and provides so much valued insight and assistance in working with cast and design.  As the Director, it seems I need to be several places at one time and Ellen’s assistance makes that possible!!

Alumnae design star Margaret Spence, who we are so lucky to have as our Costume Designer, has fitted everyone for their period costumes and the women are all rehearsing in their corsets and rehearsal skirts.  On props, we have the indomitable and lovely Razie Brownstone.   She is out there right now looking for just the right hatchet for the job, among a myriad of other period props  [Ed. note: Sharon Pollock’s award-winning play is set in 1902 – 10 years after Lizzie Borden’s infamous acquittal for the axe murders of her father and stepmother ].

On December 20, we are conducting a test of some of the material we are using on the set  – with Ed and our Lighting Designer, Gabriel Cropley.   And I’m looking forward to finding out how the concept will translate and what it will actually look like under the lights!

The Producing Team is working behind the scenes making sure everything happens that is supposed to happen and coordinating the activities and expenditures of all the departments.  The Team is led by our Executive Producer Brenda Darling and includes Krystyna Hunt, Carina Cojeen and Sandra Burley.  Our Marketing Director Chloe Whitehorn is handling the press and marketing materials that will bring in an audience to enjoy the results of our work.

Blood Relations opens January 23. Part drama, part mystery, all compelling.

To purchase tickets online, please visit


You may also e-mail (reservations@alumnaetheatre.com) or phone in (416-364-4170, box 1) your reservations, and pay cash on arrival.

Tickets are 2-for-1 on Wed at 8pm; $20 Thu/Fri/Sat at 8pm; Sun at 2pm is PWYC.

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Filed under 2014/15 Season, Blood Relations

Auditions in August for “Bookworms” (Toronto Irish Players)

The Toronto Irish Players rent the Mainstage at Alumnae Theatre for two productions per season. Here’s the audition notice for the first of 2014/15:  Bookworms, a comedy by Bernard Farrell. It will be directed by Alan Hunt.

SHOW DATES: October 23 – November 8, 2014
SYNOPSIS: In this post-Celtic Tiger Ireland comedy of manners, the bankrupt middle classes cling to the civility of social rituals like to book clubs. Formerly the last bastion of female exclusivity, husbands are invited to participate in a social experiment which goes disastrously wrong. In this satire the surface veneer of normality is penetrated by resentment, adultery, repression and violence. By the end of the evening civility has been tenuously re-established and relationships somewhat restored, but it is unlikely that the men will ever be invited to another meeting of the Bookworms.


AUDITION DATES: Tuesday August 12 (7.30 – 10pm) and Thursday August 14 (7.30 – 10.00pm)
CALLBACKS: Tuesday August 19 (7.30 – 10pm)
ANN (playing age 40)-Homemaker. Attractive, insecure, determined, repressed.
LARRY (playing age 50)-Builder. Gruff, down-to-earth, pleasant.
AISLING (playing age 18) – Student. Spoiled gap-year backpacker. All appearances are via Skype.
DOROTHY (playing age 60)-Widow. Refined, nervous and obsessed by Virginia Woolf.
ROBERT (playing age 45)-Banker. Alpha male, assured, aggressive.
JENNIFER (playing age 30s)-Teacher. Confident, controlling, energetic.
VINCENT (playing age 50s)-Recluse. Timid, but with a terrible inner rage.


1. Please contact producer Jim Ivers by email (jwivers@gmail.com) or phone 416-624-3379

to book an audition.
2. Please forward a recent performance resume & headshot.
3. If the director is not familiar with your work, please prepare a monologue (maximum 2 minutes), preferably comic.
4. Please be prepared to present a cold read from the script.
Auditions & Rehearsals will be held at Kimbourne Church, 200 Wolverleigh Boulevard, Toronto (a short walk northeast of the Coxwell subway station at Danforth & Coxwell).



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Filed under 2014/15 Season, News

Wit, wonder & wisdom in The Lady’s Not For Burning @ Alumnae Theatre

life with more cowbell

Lady's Not For Burning - image only“Life, forbye, is the way

We fatten for the Michaelmas of our own particular

Gallows. What a wonderful thing is metaphor!”

– Thomas Mendip in The Lady’s Not For Burning (from director’s program notes)

Alumnae Theatre Company’s production of The Lady’s Not For Burning, directed by Jane Carnwath, brings the wit, wonder and wisdom of Christopher Fry’s play to life through sight, sound and poetic wordplay – an excellent cast and a beautiful show.

The marvelous ensemble includes some remarkable stand-outs. Chris Coculuzzi gives us a Thomas Mendip that combines the melancholy philosophy of a Jacques with the good-humoured wit of a Fool, and Andrea Brown is luminous as Jennet Jourdemayne, quirky, sharp-witted and compassionate. Together, their performances show us opposite perspectives of the all too fleeting realization of the nature of the human condition: we live, suffer out our short time in these bodies – yes – and…

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Filed under 2013/14 Season, The Lady's Not For Burning