By Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca
And for your cold winter weekend … theatre to the rescue. Yes, there are plays, two-minute films, a new book club — all online, from Punctuate! Theatre, Northern Light, Theatre Network, Play The Fool Festival, Catalyst. Here are some suggestions for your theatrical entertainment.
•The Situation We Find Ourselves In Is This (a title that’s also a mantra for the times): Saturday you have a One Night Only! chance to catch something special online. The Situation We Find Ourselves In Is This is a solo play about the time playwright Matthew MacKenzie (Bears, The Particulars, The Other) spent with the star Canadian dramaturg Iris Turcott in the last two weeks of her life.
Dramaturg? What sort of job is that? I hear you ask. Fierce, funny, rigorous, a champion of Canadian theatre and its writers, Turcott literally wrote the Merriam-Webster definition of dramaturge, according to the announcement by Punctuate! Theatre, a co-producer of the online production. The way Turcott created it, dramaturgy was a kind of one-on-one mentorship, an inspiring relationship custom-tailored for every playwright and fledgling play she encountered. Which made her so impressive, fun (and formidable) to talk to, as I found on any occasion I had the chance.
I remember MacKenzie telling me that Turcott would say to her to playwright charges: “get yourself a six-pack. You’re going to need it.”
The evening is a collaboration between MacKenzie and the celebrated playwright/ dramaturg/ director Daniel MacIvor. And it’s produced by the partnership of Punctuate!, reWork Productions, Cape Breton University and The Theatre Centre. The YouTube Live Event (it’s free) starts at 5 p.m. here.
•If there’s any plus to the dreadful situation in which live theatre finds itself, it’s got to be the chance to see what’s happening in the big wide world. And here’s a stunning example. Don’t miss a chance to catch The Approach, from the Project Arts Centre in Dublin (presented by Landmark Productions and St. Ann’s Warehouse in New York).
In this mysterious and intricate little piece, by (and directed by) the Irish writer Mark O’Rowe, we meet three women. Two of them are sisters, and they’ve all been roommates in their younger years. Now they meet up in a cafe for tea, intermittently and in pairs of shifting alliances, leaving with promises to catch up soon that seem never to be kept. The actors, two at a time, sit distanced at a table on a big dark stage hung with overturned chairs.
And in the weave of banal small talk fragments, shards of memory, and real-life minutiae, multi-layered relationships emerge and, strangely enough, mingle. Are they co-opting each other’s memories? Love, friendship, evasions, betrayals, lies, grievances — it’s all there, in a thrilling and tense hour. The three Irish actors (Cathy Belton, Aisling O’Sullivan, Derbhle Crotty) are superb.
Streaming tickets for the production (available till Sunday) are available at stannswarehouse.org.
•Northern Light’s filmed production of The Look, a solo play by Australian screenwriter Alexa Wyatt that is admirably suited to the online world, continues through Sunday afternoon (1 and 3 p.m.) on Vimeo. And it looks good: check out the 12thnight PREVIEW with director Trevor Schmidt and star Linda Grass and the REVIEW. Find tickets and the weekend schedule of performances at northernlighttheatre.com.
•Theatre Network is launching its new Book Club (for plays) this weekend. The debut edition this month is led by playwright Darrin Hagen, who chose Michel Tremblay’s Hosanna. Hagen, MacEwan U’s new writer-in-residence, talked to 12thnight about his choice HERE.
•A seven-minute video of Catalyst’s until the next breath, an epic-scale Grand Act of Theatre that ran live and outdoors in early October, continues to be up and on YouTube, available through the National Arts Centre site. It’s part of the NAC’s cross-country invitation to a dozen of Canada’s most innovative theatre companies to create something big, memorable, outdoors, and COVID-safe that speaks to the time. Then check out the amazing array of strikingly different responses to the NAC provocation from other companies. Here’s the 12thnight PREVIEW with Catalyst artistic director Jonathan Christenson and designer Bretta Gerecke. And 12thnight reported back from that frosty October night HERE.
High-order amusement for short attention spans: did you ever check out the winners of the Play The Fool Festival’s first annual Short Film Competition in the fall? You’ll get a big kick out of the array of the two-minute (and under) award-winners still online. I loved Chronicles of a Mime, an insight (by Shawna Koski) into what mimes do when they’re just hanging out (the people want to know). A clown homage to Beckett, Tapes Last Krap (by Jesse Buck) is excellent too. And for the COVID-ian moment we’re in, Lady Rona in ‘Don’t Change Your Lifestyle’ by Ross Travis. The films are at playthefool.ca.
You should, incidentally, be hard at work on your own two-minute clown film. The deadline for this year’s Short Film Competition submissions is March 7.
•The Métis version of Mary’s Wedding, adapted by Tai Amy Grauman from the beautiful Canadian love-and-war story by Stephen Massicotte, continues on streaming video, from the Citadel, through Nov. 30, 2021. Meet Grauman HERE, and check out the 12thnight REVIEW.