Tag Archives: Talkback

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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Filed under 2016/17 season, New Ideas Festival 2017

New Ideas Festival 2017 lineup

Alumnae Theatre Company ‘s 29th annual New Ideas Festival (March 8 – 26, 2017) is a three-week juried festival of new short plays, works-in-progress, and experimental theatre with a different program each week.

4 short plays are presented Wed – Sat at 8pm, with matinees on Saturday & Sunday at 2:30pm.  Saturday’s matinee is followed by a Talkback.  In addition, there’s a staged reading of one longer play (approx. 60 mins) each Saturday at noon, also followed by a Talkback.

new-ideas-2017-wk-one-fb-imageWEEK ONE LINEUP (March 8 – 12):

“Call”  by Rosemary Doyle ; directed by Rebecca Ostroff.
Or Not to Be”  by Andrew Batten; directed by Julia Haist,
Teach Her My Name”  by Michael Kras; directed by Paige Foskett.
D-Cup”  by Alicia Payne; directed by Eilish Waller
      Reading (March 11 only):
“Riverkeeper “  by Katherine Koller ; directed by Rebecca Grace.

 

new-ideas-2017-wk-two-fb-imageWEEK TWO LINEUP (March 15 – 19):

“The Red Lacquered Box”  by  Burke Campbell; directed by Lynn Weintraub*
“Parallax”   by Michelle Glennie; directed by Ara Glenn-Johanson.
I Am Awake”  by Anne MacMillan; directed by Sandra Cardinal.
Professionally Ethnic”  by Bobby Del Rio; directed by Rouvan Silogix.
      Reading (March 18 only):
“Who You Callin Black, Eh?”  by Rita Shelton Deverell; directed by Donald Molnar.

* With the permission of the Canadian Actors’ Equity Association

new-ideas-2017-wk-three-fb-image

WEEK THREE LINEUP (March 22 – 26):

Beat” by Dale Sheldrake; directed by Josh Downing.
The Ballad of Sadie Wong”  by Andrew Lee; directed by Cassidy Sadler.
Who Knocks?”  by Connie Guccione; directed by Chantel Martin.
“The Hungriest Woman in the World” by Shannon Bramer; directed by Claren Grosz.

      Reading (March 25 only): 
“Thistlepatch “  by Catherine Frid; directed by Kelsey Laine Jacobson.

 

Tickets for the Festival are $15 per week.  Purchase online at http://www.alumnaetheatre.com/tickets.html, or reserve seats by phone (416-364-4170 box 1) and pay cash on arrival.

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Filed under 2016/17 season, New Ideas Festival 2017

New Ideas Festival – Week One & Daylight Saving reminder

Alumnae Theatre Company’s annual New Ideas Festival is wrapping up its first week tomorrow.  Week Two begins Wednesday March 16, and Week Three begins Wednesday March 23.  Each week features a completely different slate of brand-new short plays, and audiences pay $15 for an evening (or matinee) of entertainment.   The 4 short plays programmed each week have a total running time of 90 – 120 mins, plus a 15-minute intermission.  Even if you come to see one particular play, audience members are expected to stay for the whole program.

Performances of the weekly lineup are Wed – Sat at 8pm, with 2:30 matinees on both Saturday and Sunday.  Each Saturday’s matinee is followed by a Talkback with writers and directors of that week.

New Ideas Festival also includes Saturday staged readings at noon: a longer play (approx. 50 minutes) followed by a Talkback with writer and director.  Admission to the readings is PWYC; no reservations necessary. Week Two reading (March 19) is Curved by Kristin Shepherd, directed by Rebecca Ballarin.  Week Three reading (March 26) is Omission by Alice Abracen, directed by Michela Sisti.

Here’s a sample of the plays and performers from Week One:

Cathie Nichols and Glenda Romano in Stuck by Stacey Iseman, directed by Kelsey Laine Jacobson.  New Ideas Festival 2016 – Week One (March 9-13).  Photo:  Bruce Peters.

Cathie Nichols and Glenda Romano in Stuck by Stacey Iseman, directed by Kelsey Laine Jacobson. New Ideas Festival 2016 – Week One (March 9-13). Photo: Bruce Peters.

Lindsey Middleton and Anne Shepherd in Prayers to St. George by Andrew Lee, directed by Meg Moran.  New Ideas Festival 2016 – Week One (March 9-13).  Photo:  Bruce Peters.

Lindsey Middleton and Anne Shepherd in Prayers to St. George by Andrew Lee, directed by Meg Moran. New Ideas Festival 2016 – Week One (March 9-13). Photo: Bruce Peters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

J. Todd Colley, Adam Bonney, Martha Breen, Amanda Jane Smith, Barbara Salsberg, and Nora Jane Williams in The Council by Deanna Kruger, directed by Claren Grosz. New Ideas Festival 2016 – Week One (March 9-13).  Photo:  Bruce Peters.

J. Todd Colley, Adam Bonney, Martha Breen, Amanda Jane Smith, Barbara Salsberg, and Nora Jane Williams in The Council by Deanna Kruger, directed by Claren Grosz. New Ideas Festival 2016 – Week One (March 9-13). Photo: Bruce Peters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stacey Iseman, Laura Piccinin, and Laura Meadows in This Will Be My Last Transmission by Natalie Frijia, directed by Zita Nyarady.  New Ideas Festival 2016 – Week One (March 9-13).  Photo:  Bruce Peters.

Stacey Iseman, Laura Piccinin, and Laura Meadows in This Will Be My Last Transmission by Natalie Frijia, directed by Zita Nyarady. New Ideas Festival 2016 – Week One (March 9-13). Photo: Bruce Peters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And in case you haven’t seen it, here’s a review of the Week One shows from the most excellent Life With More Cowbell:  https://lifewithmorecowbell.wordpress.com/2016/03/10/connection-dissension-and-endurance-in-new-ideas-compelling-week-1-program/

You’ve heard of “How To Fringe”?  Well, here’s How To New Ideas:  Hold seats and pay cash ($15 each) on arrival by e-mailing  reservations@alumnaetheatre.com or by phoning 416-364-4170 Box 1 .  OR purchase your tickets online at https://app.arts-people.com/index.php?ticketing=atc13 for a small service charge.

Remember, if you’re planning to attend tomorrow’s 2:30 matinee, the clocks SPRING FORWARD one hour tonight.

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Filed under 2015/16 season, New Ideas Festival

“I Am Marguerite” post-matinee Talkback, April 19

After yesterday’s matinee (Sunday April 20), patrons were treated to a Talkback with the cast, director Molly Thom, and playwright Shirley Barrie. Everyone was asked by producer Ramona Baillie to introduce themselves. What follows is a rough transcript – as fast as I could scribble – of the Q&A. Warning: may contain spoilers if you haven’t seen the show!

 

Q:           What happens to Marguerite? What’s the end of the story?

A (Shirley Barrie):   Marguerite did go back to France. Some stories report that she taught young girls. Enough people wrote about her that her story has endured for more than 4 centuries.

 

Q:           If this version of the play is “stripped down”, what was left out?

A (Shirley Barrie):   In other versions there was more talk, more backstory, more about the Queen of Navarre’s court, and how Marguerite might have had knowledge of the New World. Molly called all that “diversions”!

 

Q:           Was this originally a radio play?

A (Shirley Barrie):   Yes, the first version of this story was done as a radio play. It was much more straightforward – Marguerite was in France telling her story to the little girls.

 

Q:           Is this the last version?

A (Shirley Barrie):       Every time I wrote the story, I thought it was “the last”! But yes, I think I’m done now.

 

Q:           Was Jean-François in France when Marguerite returned?

A (Shirley Barrie):     Yes, he was there. He became a Calvinist – he had those extreme religious tendencies anyway – and was murdered in Paris a few years later. Outside a Calvinist church. He was never punished for abandoning Marguerite – it was fairly acceptable behaviour for the time and place, much the way honour killings are regarded today.

A (Molly Thom – director):   You’ll all be glad to know that his settlement [in Canada] was a disaster!

 

Q (Ramona Baillie – producer):   Last Wednesday, we performed a matinee for 130 students from Karen Kain School of the Arts, who are studying the “New France” settlement. The teachers said Jean-François might have been Marguerite’s uncle, not her brother?

A (Shirley Barrie): There are different reports of their relationship. As a writer, I had to choose one, and thought the brother/sister dynamic was better.

 

Q:           Daniela, what discoveries did you make as an actor playing this character?

A (Daniela Pagliarello, actor who plays Marguerite):   It’s a tough role. At first I thought “Oh, I can’t do this” – switching from past to present; going crazy… I discovered I could. There are very few roles like this for a young performer; I want to thank Shirley for writing this amazing part. It’s been scary, but great!

 

Q:           The music and soundscape of this play are wonderful! Can you talk about that?

A (Molly Thom – director):   We had a composer [James Langevin-Frieson] who did the songs and the dance music. Then our sound designer [Angus Barlow] manipulated the music, and added sound effects like the seagulls, waves crashing, wolves howling, etc. It really made the place come alive. Oh, but unfortunately the fog machine wasn’t working today. Normally when the phantoms appear at the start of the show, they’re coming through fog!

Daniela Pagliarello as Marguerite, Christopher Oszwald as Eugène.  Photo:  Bruce Peters.

Daniela Pagliarello as Marguerite, Christopher Oszwald as Eugène.     Photo: Bruce Peters.

Q:           What does Eugène do for a living? Why would her brother object to him marrying Marguerite?

A (Christopher Oszwald, actor who plays Eugène):   He’s a nobleman and a musician. Well, he’s the younger son of minor nobility, and the costume design kind of indicates that he’s not so noble. He planned to go on this expedition to the New World and make his fortune writing songs about it.

A (Shirley Barrie):   Eugène is the “spare, not the heir”, so he has to make his own way in the world.

 

Q (to Christopher Oszwald): Is that your real hair? [Ed note: much laughter from cast & audience]

A (Christopher Oszwald):   Yes, it is.

 

Q:           What was the audition process like?

A (Molly Thom):   About 150 actors sent resumés. We discarded about 100. I wanted actors with classical experience who could handle text.

 

Q:           Shirley and Molly, you’ve worked together many times before. What’s your next collaboration?

A:            Nothing planned at the moment. Yet.

 

Sara Price as the Queen of Navarre.  Photo:  Bruce Peters

Sara Price as the Queen of Navarre. Photo: Bruce Peters

Q:           The costumes are gorgeous.

A (Ramona Baillie):   Peter DeFreitas and Toni Hanson designed them. For instance, Peter just took some black velvet and gold braid and created the Queen of Navarre’s gown.

 

Q:           This is a question for all the cast. Do you have other jobs?

A (Sara Price, actor who plays the Queen of Navarre): Well, I haven’t made any money at acting! So I’m a supply teacher.

A (Christopher Oszwald): I just recently graduated from university. I have a part-time job.

A (Chris Coculuzzi, actor who plays Jean-François ):   I’m a full-time high school teacher.

Jean-François de Roberval (Chris Coculuzzi) dodges an attack from his sister Marguerite (Daniela Pagliarello).  Photo:  Bruce Peters

Jean-François de Roberval (Chris Coculuzzi) dodges an attack from his sister Marguerite (Daniela Pagliarello).    Photo: Bruce Peters

[Ed note: when pressed by other cast members, Chris admits to also running another theatre company, Amicus Productions.  “And don’t they have a show opening soon?” prompted Heli Kivilaht. They do – it’s “The Madwoman of Chaillot”, opening April 30. See inserts in your “I Am Marguerite” programs!]

A (Heli Kivilaht, actor who plays Marguerite’s nurse Damienne): I was a professional actor many years ago. Didn’t make much money, and became a teacher, which I loved. Now retired, and have been getting back into acting for the last 3 years or so.

A (Daniela Pagliarello): I’m an actor, a dancer, an artist. I run a gallery – it’s called Nowhere Gallery – on Dundas West. It’s a crazy wonder of a world, with a performance space as well as display space. We wanted a home for young up-and-coming artists of all disciplines.   [Reluctantly adds:]  I also have a “paying” job.

 

Q:   This is a very intense play. How do you prep and how do you decompress?

A (Sara): I start my prep at home.   Some physical work, some voice work. And when I get to the theatre, when I’m getting into my costume, sometimes I pretend I’m the Queen being dressed [by servants]. Before we go on, there’s a bench backstage that Heli and I hang out on. To decompress, it’s pretty simple. I take off the costume!

A (Christopher O.): I’m an anti-Method actor. To prep, I find my voice, find the resonance in my head and stomach. To decompress, I get out of costume.

A (Chris C): Nothing. Life is acting; everyone is always acting. When I walk into a classroom, I’m playing a role.

Heli Kivilaht as Damienne.  Photo:  Bruce Peters

Heli Kivilaht as Damienne (Marguerite’s nurse).     Photo: Bruce Peters

A (Heli): Well, I make sure I know the damn lines! My husband helped me put them on tape, so I review before each show. Plus we [the cast] have a fight call warmup and a choral warmup. And I improv in my head, like “Damn that Marguerite, why won’t she get dressed?”, and things like that. He [Chris C as Jean-François] gets the worst of it, though. You wouldn’t like to hear what I say about him!

A (Daniela):   I warm up my voice and spine. And I listen to aggressive 90’s hip hop, because I have to be crazy at the start of the play. To decompress, I listen to aggressive 90’s hip hop!

 **********************

I Am Marguerite’s final week runs Wed – Sat at 8pm, closing on April 25. Tickets for Wednesday are 2-for-1; all other nights $20. Purchase online at http://www.alumnaetheatre.com/i-am-marguerite.html , or reserve by calling 416-364-4170 Box 1 / e-mailing reservations@alumnaetheatre.com , and pay cash at the door. Box Office does not accept credit or debit cards for in-person sales.

"I Am Marguerite" cast in costumes.  Caricature by Peter DeFreitas.

“I Am Marguerite” cast in costumes. Caricature by designer Peter DeFreitas.

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Filed under 2014/15 Season, I Am Marguerite

“Blood Relations” Talkback

An excellent house was riveted by yesterday’s matinee performance (Sunday, February 1) of Blood Relations, and about 75% of the audience stuck around for the Talkback which followed.

Blood Relations family photo2

FROM TOP: Rob Candy (Uncle Harry – with axe), Sheila Russell (Abigail Borden), Marisa King (Lizzie Borden), Thomas Gough (Andrew Borden), Kathleen Allamby (Emma Borden), Andrea Irwin Brown (The Actress – with friend), Steven Burley (Defense lawyer & Dr. Patrick). Photo; Dahlia Katz.

The whole cast was present:

Kathleen Allamby as Emma Borden (Lizzie’s older sister);

Andrea Irwin Brown as The Actress (who also “plays” Lizzie in flashbacks);

Steven Burley as Defense Lawyer and Dr. Patrick;

Rob Candy as Harry (brother of Lizzie & Emma’s stepmother);
Thomas Gough as Andrew Borden (Lizzie & Emma’s father);

Marisa King as Lizzie (who also “plays” the Bordens’ maid Bridget in flashbacks);

Sheila Russell as Abigail Borden (Lizzie & Emma’s stepmother).
In addition, director Barbara Larose, assistant director Ellen Green, and sound designer Rick Jones took part in the Talkback, which was facilitated by co-producer Carina Cojeen.   The other designers – Margaret Spence (costumes), Ed Rosing (set) and Gabriel Cropley (lighting) – unfortunately could not make it.

Barbara asked the cast seated onstage to introduce themselves, and Thomas Gough, who was after Rob Candy, sparked laughter by starting “I’m Rob – oh, wait…”!

 

Barbara told the audience that Sharon Pollock’s 1980 script, which won a Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama, was previously produced at Alumnae Theatre in 1994. It is remounted this season as a ‘Retrospective Choice’ – part of our Countdown to 100 – Alumnae Theatre Company celebrates its 100th birthday in February 1918! Barbara commented that people had asked her why Blood Relations was selected as this season’s ‘Retrospective Choice’, and her answer is that its themes still resonate today, particularly the aspect of how women fit into society. She noted that Lizzie Borden was probably the first [alleged] celebrity murderess – the female O.J. Simpson of her time!

 

Following is a rough transcript of the 25-minute Q&A. Unless otherwise indicated, the answers were provided by director Barbara Larose.

Q:           The script is ambiguous about whether Lizzie committed the murders or not. Did you and the cast discuss and/or make up your minds in rehearsal?

A:            I told the cast they could each make their own decision, but as a director, I did not. I wanted to say open.

A:            (Marisa King) I think Lizzie did it!

A:            (Thomas Gough) The only mystery is why she didn’t do it sooner!

A:            (Sheila Russell) I think she did it. It was a very dysfunctional family. And it was so hot.

A:            (Rob Candy) I think she was guilty, but also crazy.

Defense (Steven Burley) represents Lizzie (Marisa King - LEFT) at her trial.  The Actress (Andrea Irwin Brown - RIGHT) is beside her in this flashback scene.  Photo:  Dahlia Katz.

Defense (Steven Burley) represents Lizzie (Marisa King – LEFT) at her trial. The Actress (Andrea Irwin Brown – RIGHT) is beside her in this flashback scene. Photo: Dahlia Katz.

A:            (Steven Burley) I didn’t decide. As the Defense, I had to believe she didn’t do it. Notes from Andrew Jackson Jennings, the Borden family attorney, were made public a couple of years ago. They provided a lot of material for Lizzie’s defense lawyer.

 

Q:           How did they manage to get her acquitted?

A:            It was an all-male jury, some with daughters of their own. Lizzie’s defense team played on their sympathies and prejudices: how could a woman be capable of such a horrible crime?

 

Q:           Is that a real axe?

A:            Yes, we’re using a real axe onstage, but it’s not sharpened. It has to be a real axe because Mr. Borden buries in the table in Act I – that’s not a sound effect – that’s the real axe striking the table!

 

Q:           Was it a directorial choice to switch Lizzies?

A:            No, it’s in the script. The playwright takes the audience on a journey with The Actress as Lizzie.

A:            (Thomas Gough) The Actress was a real person, her name was Nance O’Neil. She was quite well-known in the early 1900’s.

 

Q:           Were Lizzie and The Actress a couple?

A:            They were very good friends.   [ED. NOTE: this was said with no emphasis and just a slight twinkle!]

 

Q:           How did Lizzie spend her inheritance?

A:            She didn’t spend wildly – she stayed in the same town [Fall River, Massachusetts] and bought a nicer house.

Set (designed by Ed Rosing) showing carousel influence in curved platform & flags above; and the scrims to indicate the characters' shadowy presence in Lizzie's life.

Set (designed by Ed Rosing) showing carousel influence in curved platform & flags above; and the scrims to indicate the characters’ shadowy presence in Lizzie’s life.

Q:           Lovely effect with the people standing behind the curtains. Were the screens in the script, or a directorial choice?

A:            Sharon Pollock’s script only stated that the actors should not leave the stage. Having them stand behind the scrims was my idea – to convey the impression that Lizzie was never free from these people – they were always shadowy presences in her life, even after they were dead. They are memories who have a constant presence.

A:            (Rob Candy) Steven and I are developing really powerful calf muscles.

A:            (Steven Burley) Lemme tell ya, when you have to stifle a sneeze…!

 

Q:           I saw a movie years ago, with Elizabeth Montgomery as Lizzie Borden. Don’t remember the character of Harry.

A:            Oh, yes: and she does the murders naked to avoid blood spatter!   (In the actual court testimony, Lizzie was seen burning clothes 3 days later.) Sharon Pollock created the character of Harry Wingate (Abigail’s brother) for the play. In real life, the uncle figure was John Morse, brother of Andrew Borden’s late first wife. He was a suspect in the murders.

 

Q:           Thomas Gough’s bio said he was close to 100. Really??

A:            (Thomas) I’m 107.

A:            (Kathleen Allamby) And I’m 94!

 

Emma (Kathleen Allamby) wants to escape household tension by taking a weekend trip.  Lizzie (as played in this flashback scene by The Actress - Andrea Irwin Brown) tries to prevent her going.   Photo:  Dahlia Katz

Emma (Kathleen Allamby) wants to escape household tension by taking a weekend trip. Lizzie (as played in this flashback scene by The Actress – Andrea Irwin Brown) tries to prevent her going. Photo: Dahlia Katz

Q:           Who are “the girls” that Emma goes to visit?      

A:            (Kathleen) My idea is that they are neighbours or good friends.

A:            (Sheila Russell) Emma and Lizzie had cousins with money who lived [in the “good” neighbourhood] on the hill.

 

Q:           Is the Lizzie Borden rhyme attributed to an author?

A:            No. And it’s in the script, so if the author was known it would be credited.

A:            (Thomas Gough) There’s a rumour that it was written by Emily Dickinson when she was drunk!

 

Q:           How did you come to the decision to use a real axe in the play?

A:            I wanted to balance realism and the abstract – use the reality to create real moments. My central image is the carousel – see how the rounded edge of the platform onstage mimics the shape; the lights and coloured flags during Lizzie’s carousel monologue, etc. That monologue seemed like a metaphor for the murders.

 

Q:           I enjoyed the actors’ movements – it flowed.

A:            Good! Ginette Mohr did a Laban movement workshop with the cast.

 

Q:           What was the significance of the note that Abigail receives?

A:            It’s from her husband, summoning her to town to witness the property transfer in his will – as suggested by Harry in an earlier scene.

A:            (Rob Candy) And if she’d just read the note downstairs, she’d have been OK!

A:            (Thomas Gough) There was talk of a note in the real case, but it was never found.

 

Q:           Did you study the character of the father?

A:            I wanted to avoid a stereotypical “evil” Mr. and Mrs. Borden and show their humanity. When Mrs. B says to Lizzie “You don’t have a choice”, she’s not being mean: it’s a statement of fact. Back then, a woman DIDN’T have a choice (to get married). The Bordens were people of their time. Some people are apart from their time, most live in their time.

A:            (Rob Candy) Thomas is actually a very violent person backstage. If I steal his crossword he goes ballistic!

 

Q:           Why so much pressure for Lizzie to get married [to Johnny McLeod with three little monster-children], but none for Emma, who was older?

A:            Because Emma’s duty was to stay at home and look after parents in their old age!

 

** Blood Relations : Part drama, part mystery, all compelling. “Did you, Lizzie?  Lizzie, did you?” **

Next performance  Wed February 4 at 8pm.  Tickets are 2-for-1.  reservations@alumnaetheatre.com

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Filed under 2014/15 Season, Blood Relations

“Blood Relations” continues – 2-for-1 tickets tomorrow

Marisa King (Lizzie Borden) and Andrea Irwin Brown (The Actress/Lizzie) in "Blood Relations" at Alumnae Theatre.  Photo:  Paul Murton, http://theater-reviewed.com/alumnae-theatre-blood-relations/

Marisa King (Lizzie Borden) and Andrea Irwin Brown (The Actress/Lizzie) in “Blood Relations” at Alumnae Theatre. Photo: Paul Murton, http://theater-reviewed.com/alumnae-theatre-blood-relations/

After a bloody good opening weekend, the cast and crew of Blood Relations had a well-deserved couple days off. They return to the stage tomorrow night (Wednesday). Wanna come see the show? Tickets are 2-for-1 (regularly $20 each) …

And did you know that Blood Relations is this season’s ‘Retrospective Choice’ in Alumnae Theatre Company’s ‘Countdown to 100’?   As we approach our 100th anniversary in February 2018 – which makes us almost 97 now! – each season our Programming Committee selects one play that was previously produced here, to be re remounted.

 

Blood Relation was previously performed at Alumnae Theatre in September of 1994, directed by Lynda Hill (currently Artistic Director of Theatre Direct; formerly with Nightwood Theatre and Cahoots Theatre Projects).  The cast was Lynn Woodman (as the Actress), Kate Johnston (as Lizzie), Ilene Cummings (as Emma), Joel Rinzler (as Dr. Patrick/Defense), Mark Hondroyanis (as Harry), Esther Hockin (as Abigail Borden), and Don Ciaschini (as Andrew Borden).  When you come to see the show, check out the program, photos, and costume designer’s sketches from that production – they’re displayed on the corkboard in the lobby, beside the Box Office desk.

 

Sunday’s matinee at 2:00pm (tickets are PWYC; no reservations; no online sales) will be followed by a Talkback with [current] director Barbara Larose, the cast, and some of the designers.

 

Here are a couple of reviews to whet your appetite:

Life With More Cowbell: https://lifewithmorecowbell.wordpress.com/2015/01/24/a-darkly-funny-eerie-look-into-the-mind-of-lizzie-borden-in-blood-relations/

Mooney On Theatre: http://www.mooneyontheatre.com/2015/01/26/review-blood-relations-alumnae-theatre-company/#more-23308

 

Online ticket purchases: http://www.alumnaetheatre.com/tickets.html, or book seats via e-mail (reservations@alumnaetheatre.com) or phone (416-364-4170, box 1) and pay cash at the door.

 

Blood Relations : Part drama, part mystery, all compelling. “Did you, Lizzie?  Lizzie, did you?”

 

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Filed under 2014/15 Season, Blood Relations

Guest blogger’s report on “Rabbit Hole” Talkback, April 20

I was out of town for the traditional second-Sunday post-matinee Talkback, so this report is courtesy of guest blogger Pona Tran, who has worked as Assistant Stage Manager on a couple of Alumnae Theatre Company productions (The Trojan Women and Cosî) as well as acting in two of my short plays for Gay Play Day and other occasions. Thanks, Pona!

"Rabbit Hole" cast & director at post-show Talkback, Sun April 20, 2014: with Cameron  Johnston  (Howie), director Paul Hardy, Christopher Manousos (Jason), Paula Schultz (Becca), Joanne Sarazen (Izzy) and Sheila Russell (Nat).

“Rabbit Hole” cast & director at post-show Talkback, Sun April 20, 2014: with Cameron Johnston (Howie), director Paul Hardy, Christopher Manousos (Jason), Paula Schultz (Becca), Joanne Sarazen (Izzy) and Sheila Russell (Nat).

Producer Brenda Darling and director Paul Hardy joined the five actors onstage. What follows are highlights from the Talkback – as best as I could capture.

Brenda introduced Rabbit Hole as an Alumnae favourite, and provided the leading question:

Q: (Brenda): Question for Paul. You wanted this to be a naturalistic set.  [Set design is by Jacqueline Costa]  Questions like “At what level should the drawers in the kitchen be placed? Where do people keep their cutlery?” were considered. Why was that important?

A (Paul): This is not my typical style. But the play really called for and demanded it. We needed to show the family as clearly and with as much realism as possible. The action of eating, folding, and doing really gives it its strength. The play is about watching people living, so that concept was the motivation.

Q: Question for each of the actors: How do your characters change from the beginning of the show to the end of the show?

A (Paula Schultz): For Becca, there aren’t any huge changes, but the ones that she goes through are very much about finding some comfort. She finds it (through Jason) in the most unexpected place, and in the most unexpected way. It was a release and one of the big things for her and her journey.

A (Christopher Manousos): It’s similar for Jason; the comfort, the closure. It was an accident, it was left at odds, and he wasn’t sure how to go on with the rest of his life. Coming to this family changes things for him.

A (Cameron Johnston): For Howie, the driving force or goal was to make some sort of connection with Becca. Most of his changes happen offstage: the group is not helping him anymore. For him, it’s the difference between being there and not being there (the support group).

A (Sheila Russell): I think Nat’s very concerned about her daughter, and that her daughter finds some comfort. Nat has been able to deal with her grief in her own way, but she was concerned about her daughter finding some way to deal with her grief. She wants her to let go. There’s a nice resolution at the end where Nat has become closer to Becca and that’s something she would have wanted. They are different characters and they are not alike at all, but they come to some sort of understanding, so she’s happy that Becca has found some comfort in the journey.

A (Joanne Sarazen): For Izzy, it’s the pregnancy and what follows that. Having the baby turns her from a fly-by-night creature into a more stable person, and lets her bond with Becca despite the bad timing.

Q: How much experience do you have/ What research did you do to prepare to play characters who are dealing with the loss of a child? It hit the spot, it was overwhelming, but you didn’t overdo it. What did you do to make it so real?

A (Paula): It was a big source of anxiety for me coming into this, not being a mother. It is such a particular loss. It’s the unspeakable loss that no one knows how to talk about, because it’s just so awful. While it was a very particular loss, grief is grief. We talked to friends and family. I have a good friend whose family lost a young boy to an accident and she was very generous to talk about it. She discovered Rabbit Hole and said it helped her understand something about her family that was never spoken about.

A (Paul): I think the research is in the piece itself; it was all done by the playwright [David Lindsay-Abaire]. He created a rich portrayal of the experience and how the family deals with it. For me, the main push of research was just the piece itself and making every moment live.

Q: I really liked the way the lighting and music bended with the play. It gave a nice atmosphere. Each character had a lot of courage in the way that they handled the situation. They were true to life, and they had good and bad moments. This reminded me that in dealing with grief, you need that courage to go on on a day-to-day basis. I don’t know if each character realized how much courage they were showing.

Q (Paul to the actors): Do you think your character showed courage?

A (Christopher): Not mine.

A (Joanne): Is there a difference between courage and balls?

A (Paul): Well despite everything, Izzy tells everyone that they all have to get it together, and that she’s not going to accept the destruction of her life and her birthday party.

Q: Have you seen previous productions or watched the movie, and did that influence you in terms of the sound choices?

A (Paul): I’ve never seen the film. The sound is all original composition.  The dog, dryer buzzer, the TV, etc. is called for in the script, but the music is original [by Angus Barlow], and creates a nice soundscape for the play.

Q: The music is so evocative, and we’re always talking about using it on stage for atmosphere. As actors, did you find yourself using it?

A (Christopher): I know it’s there, but I just kept doing what I’m doing.

A (Sheila): Same for me.

A (Cameron): It’s just there, as part of the scene. I allow it to affect me.

A (Joanne and Paula): We both use it.

A (Paula): We open the play, and we wait for it to come on, to set the atmosphere.

A (Joanne): It has weight to it but it’s not emotionally manipulative. You can listen to it and respect it, but it doesn’t manipulate you.

Four more chances to catch Rabbit Hole – Wed to Sat at 8pm.  Tickets are 2-for-1 on Wed; $20 on other nights.  Reserve seats and pay cash on arrival by emailing Reservations@alumnaetheatre.com , or purchase tickets online at www.alumnaetheatre.com.  Closing Sat April 26th!

*****     *****      ******

Pona mentions in her notes that at one point director Paul Hardy asked the audience for a show of hands: “Who thought that Howie was cheating on his wife?” and also “Who thinks that Becca and Howie stayed together?”.  Darn – would have liked to know the count on those answers!

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Filed under 2013/14 Season, Rabbit Hole