Tag Archives: Week One

New Ideas Festival: Connection, reflection & living with illness in thoughtful, funny Week One program

Catch Week One lineup of the 2017 New Ideas Festival just until Sunday March 12. There’ll be different lineups in Weeks Two and Three, running to March 26. Tickets only $15 per week, plus PWYC for Saturday readings.
See http://www.alumnaetheatre.com/new-ideas-festival-2017.html for details.

life with more cowbell

Alumnae Theatre Company opened the 29thNew Ideas Festival (NIF) with a strong Week One program in its Studio space last night. The annual juried festival includes three weeks of short new plays and full-length readings, including four plays and one reading each week.

Call by Rosemary Doyle, directed by Rebecca Ostroff. A hilarious look at the never-ending hum of talking without communicating, set in a busy office environment where chatterbox Millennial receptionist Sandra (Jennifer-Beth Hanchar) is constantly in conversation with a friend in between fielding business calls. Frazzled HR Manager Laura (Shalyn McFaul) is unplugged on a meditation retreat, struggling to maintain silence and stay off electronic devices. Meanwhile, her skeezy colleague Mark (Andrew Batten, who also wrote a play, included in this week’s program) is covering for her at work, wreaking havoc in her absence with a laissez faire attitude and inappropriate remarks, including a hysterical comedy…

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Filed under 2016/17 season, New Ideas Festival 2017

New Ideas Festival 2014 opens tomorrow!

The 26th annual New Ideas Festival opens tomorrow for its 3-week run.  Tonight is the dress rehearsal for the Week One plays.   If you come this week (Wed March 12 – Sun March 16), you will see:

Be Careful, There’s a Baby in the House  (by Nicholas Sgouros, directed by Sean M. Speake).  While the lady of the house is away, a lady of the night comes to play!
Cast: Caroline Concordia, Andre de Carvalho, Sara Jackson.  https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=795272837167362&set=pcb.256342861203826&type=1&theater

Elsa and Marigold (by Marissa Spada, directed by Janet Kish).  Two bookish girls use a spell to create the perfect man.  Just one man.  And there are two girls…
Cast:  Julie Cohn, Arianna Leask, Meagan Tuck, plus cameo appearances by men in loincloths!  https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=795272850500694&set=pcb.256342861203826&type=1&theater

I’m Still Here (by Ramona Baillie, directed by Dahlia Katz).  A young reporter interviews a faded movie star desperate to remain relevant to today’s audiences.
Cast: Razie Brownstone, Adam Cresswell, Susan Q Wilson.  https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=795272760500703&set=pcb.256342861203826&type=1&theater

In a Time of War (by Anne MacMillan, directed by Brett Haynes).   While bombs fall on Glasgow during World War II, two young girls play at hunting spies.
Cast: Kit Boulter, Annelise Hawrylak, Jordi O’Dael, Reece Presley, Franz Robinow, Morna Wales.   https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=795272830500696&set=pcb.256342861203826&type=1&theater

The staged reading this week (at noon on Sat March 15) is Royal Seasons (by Norma Crawford, directed by Nina Kaye).  Anne Boleyn is romanced by King Henry VIII.
Cast: Evan Boutsov, Jill Carter, Lara Mrkoci, Kristoffer Pedlar.

Each evening (8pm) or matinee (Saturday and Sunday at 2:30) consists of 4 short plays, averaging around 20 minutes each.  You purchase one ticket ($15 for each week, or $40 for a Festival Pass)  and see ALL 4 PLAYS!  The staged readings at noon on Saturdays are approx. 60 minutes long, and followed by a Talkback.  Readings are PWYC (no reservations), but no extra charge if you have a Festival Pass.

Visit our website www.alumnaetheatre.com for more info, synopses bios, etc.  You can also purchase tickets or passes online for the weekly programs.  No online purchases or reservations for the staged readings, which are Pay-What-You-Can at the Box Office (cash only) unless you have a Festival Pass.  For breaking news, progress reports, anecdotal tidbits and photos, check out the Facebook event New Ideas Festival 2014 (https://www.facebook.com/events/216620838509362) and follow us on Twitter @alumnaetheatre.  Search for #NIF2014.

New Ideas Festival runs March 12 – 30.  If you can’t make it this week, check back next week Wednesday: there’ll be a whole new lineup!

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Filed under 2013/14 Season, New Ideas Festival 2014

New Ideas Week One recap; Week Two opens today!

Week One of the 25th anniversary New Ideas Festival wrapped on Sunday (March 10).  Barely had the audience cleared out of the Studio after the Sunday matinee, when the Week Two groups started arriving for the tech times.   The Festival is very efficiently scheduled by Artistic Directors Pat McCarthy and Carolyn Zapf.  Ladies, I salute you!

So, Week One.   Because I had a play in this week, I saw all 6 performances.  Go ahead, call me a geek.  It’s theatre – I like to see how it grows and changes.   And one play sure did:  Shirley Barrie’s Revelation.  It was a retrospective remount from 2001, and for the first three performances, all went smoothly.  The New Orleans-style funeral music made me smile every time, as did the thunder crash that greeted actor Steven Burley’s exclamation of “I’ll be damned!”.  Then actor Patricia Hawk was unable to perform on Saturday or Sunday, due to a nasty virus.  She told me afterwards that the queasy dizziness actually started on Friday night – she had to hang on to Steven’s hand at the curtain call, or she would have fallen.  So an hour before matinee showtime on Saturday, Pat McCarthy pressed Jane Carnwath (most recently the director of Così, but she has acted in If We Were Women and Amy’s View, among others) into service.  With just one cold read under her belt (and that involved first finding Pat Hawk’s script!), Jane and Steven took to the stage in their street clothes, and performed Revelation.  It was pretty darn impressive.  For the Saturday evening show, Jane and Steven wore costumes, and Jane’s performance was lovely – she even organically did most of the blocking – they did not rehearse that, Steven assured me.

At the Sunday matinee,the play’s director Molly Thom (who’d been unavailable on Saturday) played the role, wearing Pat’s costume, as they are much the same size.  Of course, Molly knew the blocking perfectly, and most of the time did not need to refer to her script for the lines.  So in the space of a week, I got to see three different actors play the same role, AND observe how the unflappable Steven Burley expertly shaded his own performance, depending on what his scene partner threw at him.  See, live theatre: it’ll constantly surprise you!

Play #2 in the lineup, Suzanne Gauthier’s Still Waters, was written last fall for Write Now!, a writing challenge devised by Alumnae Theatre’s New Play Development Group (NPD) – the theme this year was running water.  Also, Suzanne mentioned at Saturday’s Talkback that she wanted to write roles for older actors.  One of my favourite  laugh-out-loud moments was Frank’s (John Illingworth) demonstration of the water wheel he’s built to help wife Monica (Sandra Burley – yes, she’s distantly related to Steven, through her husband!)  sleep:  “Uuup and over.  Uuup and over…”.   Cracked me up every time.  And there’s this lovely exchange: Monica remarks that at this stage in their lives, it’s the beginning of the end.  Frank responds, “Then let’s not spend it in separate beds.”

I can’t really be objective about my own piece, Say The Words.  My main concern was not to bore the audience with such a bare-bones piece (an 8-minute monologue about love, loss, and words unsaid), but various audience members praised actor Alexandra Manea and director Kim Radmacher, and seemed to like the script.  I’d loved Kim’s initial ideas about projections, but it wasn’t possible due to technical difficulties.  Instead, she and Alex worked on dissecting the text and trying out abstract movement before paring it down.  The final result was very minimalist, but it worked for the audience.

Stalled was just delightful.  New Ideas co-founder Kerri MacDonald directed the piece, which New York playwright Eugenie Carabatsos told the Talkback audience was inspired by her own car getting demolished in an accident.  “I was surprised how devastated I was,” she said.  Kerri’s staging, with actors sporting black T-shirts with tire tracks playing real characters as well as humanizing the car (which provides running commentary of noises) was so innovative.  Jillian Welsh as the car radio was hysterical, blaring French talk as well as snippets of 1980s and ‘90s hits like Ace of Base’s “The Sign”, Hanson’s “MMMBop” and Madonna’s “Material Girl” when her dial was spun.  Best line came from Maggie’s (Julie Cohn) dad (Rob Candy):  “You had sex with BOTH my daughters?!”

 The staged reading in Week One (noon on Sat. March 9) was Falling , a lyrical and magical 35-minute play written by Jamie Johnson, dramaturged by Diane Forrest, and directed by Ed Rosing.  It featured Ruth Miller as Lou, mother of a troubled girl named Constance, who was played at different ages by four actors:  Carys Lewis as the child who doesn’t yet realize that her life isn’t perfect; Cora Matheson as the rebellious and somewhat dangerous teen; Kristen Scott as the unhappily married 20-something; and Cathy McKim as the present-day Constance in her 40s. The play begins with Lou telling a fairytale story about the moon protecting a little girl named Constance, who would ever after “be at home in the night”.  Gradually each character reveals a story from her own version of the past, and the audience gets the full picture of Constance’s life.

The reading was followed by a Talkback, and playwright Jamie Johnson noted that Falling – based on concepts of time and memory: how we remember and react at different stages in life – was originally a story that he wanted to turn into a play. He churned out five or six drafts, including 3 “major” revisions in the past four months.  The original submission last September to the New Ideas Festival didn’t have Constance split into ages/voices, and her two husbands (who are only mentioned now) were actual on-stage characters until the third draft.  Johnson joked that the descriptions of the moon and the night, which an audience member commented were “magical”, were maybe the only things left from the original script!

The genesis of the story was a conversation Johnson had with his own mother, who endured a pattern of abusive relationships.  To a question about what triggered the reconciliation between Constance and her mother in the play, Johnson responded that Lou (the mother) recognizes that Constance has taken control and done what Lou could not: killed her abuser.  This sensitive topic was delicately treated, and it was interesting to note that five such pitch-perfect female voices were produced by a male writer.


At the Saturday matinee Talkback, the Festival ADs Pat and Carolyn confirmed that they had tried to group the plays thematically each week.  For Week One, the clear theme was feelings not expressed.   Hmm – I wonder what the theme is for Week Two?  Check out the details of the March 13-17 lineup at http://www.alumnaetheatre.com/ideas2013-2.html.  Tickets ($15) can be purchased by clicking on the arrow-shaped TICKETS icon on that page, or make a reservation by phone at 416-364-4170 box 1, and pay cash at the Box Office on arrival.


Filed under 2012/13 Season, New Ideas Festival 2013

2 days away from opening of 25th anniversary New Ideas Festival!

New Ideas 2013 postcard-email Who’s excited?  If you have not already reserved a ticket for opening night – Wed March 6 – that’s the day after tomorrow, folks – sorry, you are out of luck.  Tickets for opening night are completely SOLD OUT.  But don’t panic!  You still have 5 more chances to see the Week One lineup: Thursday, Friday or Saturday night at 8pm, and either the Saturday matinee or the Sunday matinee (both at 2:30).

And don’t forget the noon reading on Saturday March 9 – no reservations taken, and it’s PWYC/cash only at the Box Office, which opens at 11 am on Saturday.


Revelation  by Shirley Barrie / directed by Molly Thom

Still Waters  by Suzanne Gauthier / directed by Stacy Halloran
Say the Words  by Tina McCulloch / directed by Kimberley Radmacher
Stalled  by Eugenie Carabatsos / directed by Kerri MacDonald
(Total running time with intermission: approx. 1 hr 45 mins)

          Saturday Staged Reading, noon on March 9 only:

Falling  by Jamie Johnson / Directed by Ed Rosing

(approx. 60 minutes + Talkback)


There’ll be a new lineup for Week Two (March 13-17) and Week Three (March 20-24).  To book, go to www.alumnaetheatre.com/tickets.html, click on the arrow-shaped TICKETS button, and have your credit card ready.  Phone reservations still accepted at 416-364-4170, box 1, but you must have cash to pay at Box Office.

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Filed under 2012/13 Season, New Ideas Festival 2013