A week of many choices on Edmonton stages of every shape and size

Austin Eckert in The Royale, Citadel Theatre. Photo by Nanc Price.

By Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca

A crazy week in Edmonton theatre is underway. (So don’t go trying to land a stage from which to deliver your own innovative modern dance movement memoir; they’re all occupied.) 

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•At the Citadel, the much postponed production of The Royale finally opens Thursday. The 2013 play by the American writer Marco Ramirez, loosely based on real events, chronicles the struggles of a Black boxer in a racially segregated world in the early years of the 20th century. ln the America of 1905 can Jay ‘The Sport’ Jackson realize his dream of being the heavyweight champion of the world? He’s up against it.

Stratford and Shaw Festival star André Sills directs the five-actor production led by Austin Eckert as Jay that runs through Feb. 19. Tickets: citadeltheatre.com, 780-425-1820.

Girl Brain’s Alyson Dicey, Ellie Heath, Caley Suliak in the deluxe bathroom at Theatre Network. Photo supplied.

•At Theatre Network, Another F!*#@$G Festival (soon to be renamed by… you) — adult, contemporary, and multi-disciplinary — starts tonight and runs through Feb. 12 at the Roxy. Its muse is adult, contemporary, and multi-disciplinary, and includes such artists as Rebecca Merkley, Lilith Fair, and Girl Brain. The mainstage headliner is Little Willy, in which the great marionettiste Ronnie Burkett and his naughty Daisy Theatre ensemble return to TN to have their way with Romeo and Juliet. Check out the 12thnight interview with Ronnie Burkett, and our preview survey of the F!*#@$G lineup. Tickets, the full schedule, and your chance to rename the festival: theatrenetwork.ca.

Omisimawiw by Shyanne Duquette, RISER Edmonton. Poster image supplied.

•RISER Edmonton, which launched its 2023 quartet of shows with After Faust last week (check out the 12thnight review), continues this week at the Backstage Theatre with the premiere of Omisimawiw at the Backstage Theatre. Shyanne Duquette’s new play, titled with the Cree word for elder sister, has a remarkable real-life backstory. Have a peek at my interview with the playwright before its Nextfest run last June.

Duquette talks about the uncanny experience of meeting her sister for the first time on the LRT. There was just something about the young woman she saw on the train, something familiar. So she made the overture: “Hey, is your dad my dad?” In this encounter Duquette found not only her sister but the inspiration for her first play, all about self-discovery, validating her Indigenous identity, and connecting to the Indigenous culture.

In RISER, the Edmonton branch of Why Not Theatre’s national initiative,  Omisimawiw has been boosted by the support and mentorship indie productions really need to flourish. Danielle LaRose directs the RISER production that runs Thursday through Sunday. It stars Duquette herself and Emily Berard. Tickets: commongroundarts.ca.

•In honour of the Cupid season and all its alluring complications, Opera Nuova offers us a pair of chamber-sized one-act musicals, Romance Romance at the vintage Capitol Theatre in Fort Edmonton Park. The Little Comedy, Act I of the 1988 Broadway double-act for four performers, by Keith Herrmann (music) and Barry Harman (book and lyrics), is set in turn-of-the-century Vienna and based on an Arthur Schnitzler story. A couple of upmarket Viennese swells decide to play at being impoverished bohemians to see if that’ll be an aphrodisiac. Act II, Summer Share, is from a Jules Renard play, updated to the 1980s in the Hamptons, where two married couples take a vacation house. Hmm, what might occur to them? 

Brian Deedrick directs the Opera Nuova production starring Justin Kautz, Erin Vandermolen-Pater, Ben Kuchera and Eli Gusdal. It runs Saturday and Sunday, then Feb. 18 and 19. Tickets: showpass.com.  

•Edmonton’s university theatre schools are both opening shows this week. At the U of A’s Studio Theatre it’s Eugène Ionesco’s Rhinoceros (translated by Martin Crimp), an absurdist 1959 fable of wincing timeliness in which the inhabitants of a small French town are turning into rhinoceroses — all but one man. It’s an indictment of populist extremism, mob mentality, and the kind of conformism in which fascism takes roots and grows. Ring a bell?

Jake Planinc’s production runs through Feb. 18 at the Timm’s Centre for the Arts (87 Ave. and 112 St.). Tickets:  780-492-2495, showpass.com

At MacEwan University Wednesday through Sunday is London Road. Developed at the National Theatre, this highly unorthodox 2011 true crime musical uses verbatim interviews of inhabitants of an Ipswich street where six sex workers were murdered in 2006. Jim Guedo directs the MacEwan theatre department production that runs in the Tim Ryan Theatre Lab in Allard Hall (11110 104 Ave.). Tickets: MacEwan.ca/TheatreSeason.

•At Walterdale Theatre, a community company of startling ambition, The Mousetrap, the classic Agatha Christie murder mystery that ran continuously in London from 1952 to 2020. Lauren Tamke’s production runs through Feb. 18. Tickets: walterdaletheatre.square.site.

•Unsung: Tales From The Front Line,
real stories from verbatim interviews with health care workers as a “performance instalation,” continues at Workshop West Playwrights Theatre‘s new home, The Gateway, through Sunday. See the 12thnight review, and a preview interview with co-creators Heather Inglis and Darrin Hagen. Tickets: workshopwest.org.

•At the Citadel through Sunday, Deafy, Chris Dodd’s captivating (and enlightening) solo show about the quest of its Deaf protagonist to negotiate a path through the Deaf and hearing worlds. See the 12thnight review here. Tickets: citadeltheatre.com, 780-425-1820 .

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