And here it is: the 2019 Alberta Playwriting Competition shortlist

By Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca

The venerable Alberta Playwriting Competition, 53 years old, has announced this year’s shortlist of plays, three from Edmonton three from Calgary. The list is culled, by a three-person jury, from a wealth of submissions, some 43 this year. Bring ’em on: 

Kit and Joe by Jessy Ardern (Edmonton)

The Green Line by Makram Ayache (Edmonton)

WROL  by Michaela Jeffery (Calgary)

Boom Baby by Natalie Meisner (Calgary)

The Miracle Queen by Andrew Torry (Calgary)

Velvet Revolution by David van Belle (Edmonton)

The awards are a joint enterprise by the Alberta Playwrights Network and Theatre Alberta. The recipients of the “Grand Prize” and the “Novitiate Prize” will get announced  July 24 at Calgary’s theatre awards, the Betty Mitchells.  

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Camping out with Shakespeare in the park: Freewill Shakespeare Festival returns with an intriguing pair of plays

(clockwise from left) Gianna Vacirca, Ben Stevens, Patricia Cerra, Oscar Derkx in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Freewill Shakespeare Festival. Photo by Ryan Parker

The sheep ensemble, The Winter’s Tale, Freewill Shakespeare Festival. Photo by Ryan Parker.

By Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca

“If this be magic, let it be an Art as lawful as eating.” — The Winter’s Tale

The actors pull up at rehearsals in shorts on their bikes, dodging geese (mosquitoes, squirrels  and the odd coyote), and ride right up to the stage. The directors take a break at picnic tables (and reapply Off).

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And as for the the audience … well, as we’ve discovered in the course of a love affair 30 summers long and counting, there is a powerful allure about the combination of nature, Shakespeare, and those lingering Edmonton summer dusks in the great outdoors. 

Yes, the Freewill Shakespeare Festival is back this week rain or shine— with an alternating pair of high-contrast plays by their resident playwright (they’re on a first name basis with the world’s starriest).

In signature bold, accessible productions, Freewill has often let a Shakespeare tragedy and a comedy create unexpected sparks off each other. The 31st annual edition, opening Thursday and Friday at the Heritage Amphitheatre in Hawrelak Park, gives us two of the strangest, most category-resistant plays in the entire canon.

They almost bookend the celebrated and mysterious career. The Two Gentlemen of Verona (directed by Kevin Sutley) is a not-quite comedy with a romantic setup and a bitter taste; it dates from Shakespeare’s early days as an up-and-comer. The Winter’s Tale, a late-period “romance” full of magical interventions and surprising shifts of tone (directed by Dave Horak, is neither comedy nor tragedy, though it has elements of both, on its 16-year route to reconciliation.

Sutley, who’s making his Freewill directing debut with the odd and intriguing “comedy” after a dozen years as a member of the acting ensemble, calls The Two Gentlemen of Verona “a puzzle – even if it weren’t for the ending….” Two love-struck young men, best friends forever, go off, first one then the other, to see the world. And one of them, Proteus takes it into his head to fall madly in love with his friend Valentine’s beloved, with less than salubrious results for all concerned.

That ending can be a corker: Proteus assaults Silvia, who’s rescued at the last moment. “And then the men forgive each other … “especially problematic in a contemporary context,” as Sutley puts it. “There are ways to dampen the attack. But I feel we have to face up to it, to address it and make a different sort of comment on it.”

As Sutley says, “a puzzle,” the way The Taming of the Shrew is a puzzle and Carousel is a puzzle in musical theatre. “How do we address the dark moments in a play that’s otherwise a very silly light comedy? I’m pleased with how we’ve dealt with that.” 

Says Sutley, “it feels like a very early play with a writer experimenting with ideas that would be seeds for later plays.” He laughs. “I honestly didn’t know what I was getting into. But it’s been such a good experience!” 

““I leaned into the weirdness,” laughs Dave Horak of The Winter’s Tale.“I didn’t shy away from that.” In fact, for Horak, whose Edmonton Actors Theatre archive includes such unusual offerings as 70 Scenes of Halloween and The Bomb-itty of Errors, (a hip-hop re-telling of A Comedy of Errors), weirdness is part of the attraction. “I’ve gone with the fact that The Winter’s Tale is magical, mythical, an unbelievable story….” 

And so are the staging challenges that have perplexed and stressed  many a director for 400 years. “How do you do the bear? How do you do the statue?” summarizes Horak, who made his Freewill directing debut with last summer’s zany neon-drenched production of A Comedy of Errors he set on a lowball Hollywood backlot.

Start with the wildlife. The Winter’s Tale famously contains the most famous stage direction in all of Shakespeare: “exit, pursued by a bear” in Act III. It’s not considered out of the question that Shakespeare’s company borrowed a real one from the bear-baiting pits near the Globe.

And since there’s a sheep-shearing contest amid the rustic harvest festivities to which the play abruptly shifts after the harrowing court scenes, there are sheep. And they don’t just stand around looking sheepish, says Horak. “I’ve given the sheep a dance and a song, a production number!”

Belinda Cornish and Alice Cornish Meer in The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Photo by Ryan Parker.

The Two Gentlemen of Verona notably contains the canon’s most coveted non-speaking role. It’s for a dog. Crab, who regards his master with lofty disdain, belongs to Proteus’s servant Lance. In Sutley’s production he’s played by the adorable showbiz veteran Alice Cornish Meer, who resides in real life with Belinda Cornish and Mark Meer. “She’s been coming to rehearsal, getting to start to know the play,” says Sutley.

The bear is a challenge, and Horak is mysterious. “A person in a bear suit? An offstage report? A projection?” says Horak, reviewing a shortlist of staging possibilities  for this “moment of horror and comedy: weird, uncomfortable, strange, often gets a laugh… “

Like the play, “it takes tragedy and comedy and  and stitches them into something unclassifiable.”

“How can I give the bear his moment? I’ve gone with old-fashioned theatrical magic,” Horak says. “I hope it works! It’s an experiment for me too…. I keep fussing with it.”

And here’s another oddity: At the mid-point of the play, just after the bear has pursued poor Antigonus to a gory end, Time enters as a stand-alone character to announce that we’re about to arrive 16 years in the future. Horak says he’s given Time to the “ghost of the child” Mamillius, a mortal victim of his father’s inexplicable all-consuming suspicion that his wife has slept with his best friend.

The statue that comes to life in Act V, suddenly warm and breathing after those 16 years, is of Hermione, the wife of a king, Leontes, whose declension into raging homicidal jealousy happens so fast at the outset — “under a minute,” says Horak — it seems motiveless.

For any actor, whose first impulse is to search out ‘what’s my motive?’  Leontes is a challenge. Horak has cast Sheldon Elter, the engaging creator and star of Métis Mutt and a Freewill fave. “He’s so likeable onstage,” says Horak. “So good-hearted….”

Leontes is drawn as such a monster, as Horak puts it, and we’re  naturally disposed to analyze him, understand him. “But Shakespeare doesn’t give us that,” thinks the director. “There’s a kind of madness that sweeps over him. And he can’t figure it out himself: there’s no back story, no psychological reasoning.”

“That gives it the framing of a story around the campfire,” says Horak.

On even dates (and most matinees), then, you’ll see an odd early comedy, “so intriguing for its changes in textual style,” as Sutley says. It puts the ideal of romantic love up against male friendship, and lets the former win out. Sutley sets his production vaguely in the ‘90s (with original music by Matthew Skopyk).

On odd dates, you’ll see a strange late play with startling relocations “from courtroom drama to pastoral comedy to romance, and magic realism,” as Horak puts it. “Only a mature playwright would have the confidence to experiment with the narrative, with structure, with genre” the way that happens in The Winter’s Tale.

Horak locates the court in a setting that vaguely evokes the late ‘20s pre-Crash world of The Great Gatsby before it shifts to “the rustic feel of Appalachia, early 1940s,” (music for onstage players by Darrin Hagen). “I’m attracted to a play and a playwright who seems a little reckless. I mean, the guy has written Hamlet already. And when you’ve done that, you don’t have to take chances. You can be done!”

PREVIEW

Freewill Shakespeare Festival 2019

The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Winter’s Tale

Directed by: Kevin Sutley, Dave Horak

Where: Heritage Amphitheatre, Hawrelak Park

Running: Thursday through July 14

Tickets: freewillshakespeare.com or at the gate

 

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Vern Thiessen to leave his post as Workshop West artistic director

Vern Thiessen, Workshop West Playwrights Theatre.

By Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca

“Time to move on,” says Vern Thiessen of his decision after five years to leave his post as artistic director of Workshop West Playwrights Theatre, effective Aug. 31.

He won’t be leaving Edmonton, though. “I need more room in my life for writing and teaching,” says the  award-winning playwright (Apple, Einstein’s Gift, Vimy, Lenin’s Embalmers, Shakespeare’s Will). “That’s what gives me the greatest joy.”

I was never a lifer,” he laughs, on the subject of artistic directorship. “That would take a certain resilience I don’t have….”

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Thiessen arrived in Edmonton in 2015 after seven years in New York, trailing a host of commissions and premieres from both sides of the border. It was a homecoming of sorts. He landed at the very theatre company where he’d gotten his first professional gig after university here (a post-graduate degree in playwriting from the U of A) some 25 years before. As Thiessen put it at the time, his career-launching assignment at Workshop West — as resident script reader and dramaturg — came at a moment when Workshop West was starting to get a national profile for its devotion to Canadian playwrights and their new plays. 

Daniela Vlaskalic and Shaun Johnston in Apple by Vern Thiessen, 2001-2002. Photo supplied.

And Thiessen has made his own internationally notable contributions to that repertoire. Apple alone has had more than a hundred productions world-wide.

The well-connected playwright, with an indefatigable zest for outreach and mentorship, has shepherded a number of new Canadian plays, and remounts, into the big wide world. Kenneth T. Williams’ Cafe Daughter continues to tour across the country and internationally.  With projects like This is YEG: New Plays For A New City — in which Thiessen invited eight Edmonton playwrights to be “embedded” in an city community that fascinated them and create from there — he’s re-fashioned Workshop West to reflect the greater cultural and ethnic diversity he found in Edmonton after his return. The company’s annual Canoe Festival has allied itself with Sound Off, the country’s first professional deaf theatre, and Black Arts Matter, an initiative to explore black culture and showcase its artists.

“What I’m most proud of, the project closest to my heart is #writesofpassage,” which mentors junior high and high school playwrights: “a thousand kids a year from 16 schools, in French, English, and Arabic.”

Meanwhile, Thiessen’s happy to lose the endless grant-writing paperwork that goes with being a theatre artistic director, and return to his life as an artist and teacher. “I’ve got a lot of teaching here lined up for next year,” says the playwright. “And commissions from the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre an Stratford I want to finish.”

The company founded by Gerry Potter, which celebrated its 40th birthday a couple of weeks ago, has had more artistic directors than most of Edmonton’s small- and mid-sized companies. “And I think that (renewal) is a good thing. It’s been a great gig…. I have no idea who they’ll pick (to replace me),” he says, genially. “Someone younger and not as white as me!”

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A weekend at the theatre in E-town: happy birthday Varscona, A Likely Story, Improvaganza…

Mat Hulshof, Rachel Bowron, Vincent Forcier, Jeff Haslam, Jenny McKillop in A Likely Story, Teatro La Quindicina. Photo by Mat Busby.

By Liz Nicholls 12thnight.ca

It’s the weekend in E-Town. So obviously you need to be in a theatre. Have a peek at some of your options. You could…

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Go to a theatre party. Three years ago, something dramatic happened to the topography of this theatre town: a new theatre in Old Strathcona rose from the bricks, the spirit, the memories (and the footprint) of an old one. The Varscona was Edmonton’s first new theatre in a dozen years; it had taken those 12 years for the theatre artists of its resident companies (Teatro La Quindicina, Shadow, Die-Nasty) to realize their dream.

The Varscona (10329 83 Ave.) is throwing a third birthday bash Sunday afternoon, with a celebratory mix of cake, sweet and savoury snacks, wine, and a show: entertainment from Varscona stars, with Steven Greenfield at the piano. Yes, song and dance and comedy will be involved. Teatro’s resident playwright Stewart Lemoine makes a rare appearance onstage himself in the course of the festivities. So do Plain Jane artistic director Kate Ryan and the cast of Fun Home.

The reception is at 2 p.m.; showtime is 3 p.m. And the gala tickets, at varsconatheatre.com, are all-inclusive.

Or a show. Saturday is a two-show day for Teatro’s season-opening premiere, Lemoine’s A Likely Story. Read about it, and the season HERE.

Catch some of the world’s most agile (and fearless) improvisers at work at Improvaganza, the 19th annual edition of Rapid Fire Theatre’s International and Sketch Comedy Festival. What will happen? No one knows. By definition.

Tonight, the great improviser (and archivist of nerd arcana) Mark Meer presides over the ultimate in sophisticated nerdism, with his hit brainchild Improvised Dungeons and Dragons (Zeidler Hall at the Citadel, 8 p.m.). Or catch the Festival Ensemble, an all-star team assembled from Improvaganza’s international array of troupes, who meet for the very first time on the Citadel Club stage for your entertainment (7:30 p.m.).

Or bring some of your evocative clothing items of yore to the Club at 10 p.m. And Sweater Puppies, an all-female troupe from Atlanta will undertake to use them as inspiration for both long- and short-form improvs: recycling at its most inventive. After the show, they donate the clothing to a deserving charity. Yes, your beloved cut-offs that don’t quite cover your butt can break into showbiz. 

Improvaganza tickets (and full schedule through June 22) at rapidfiretheatre.com.

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On, and above, the stages in Edmonton: a week of possibilities

Let There Be Height, Firefly Theatre and Circus. Photo supplied.

By Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca

The week on, and above, the stages in Edmonton. Consider the possibilities.

•Firefly refuses to stay put, in either time or space.

Edmonton’s pioneer theatre/ circus company and academy, devoted to defying gravity, is having an “aerial cabaret” Thursday and Friday at the Westbury Theatre. It’s their 15th annual Let There Be Height showcase and fund-raiser, devoted this year to time travel.

Finally, in this earthbound age, something to look up to. You’ll see daring people on their flying trapezes, wrapping themselves in aerial silks and plummeting towards the ground. You’ll see people who embrace the idea of hanging upside in a hoop, with one leg draped around an ear.

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Let There Be Height runs Thursday and Friday (7:30 p.m., silent action at 6:30) at the Westbury, in the ATB Financial Arts Barns (10330 84 Ave.). Tickets: TIX on the Square (780-420-1757, tixonthesquare.ca). All proceeds go to Firefly’s circus academy.

 

Jeff Haslam, Rachel Bowron, Jenny McKillop in A Likely Story, Teatro La Quindicina. Photo by Ryan Parker.

•Here’s a likely story. No, really: Teatro La Quindicina launches their 32nd season this week with a new Stewart Lemoine travel comedy, A Likely Story. Five strangers in a train stranger, who set forth on a journey — once they discover who they are and where they’re going. It opens Friday and runs through June 22 on the Varscona stage (tickets: teatroq.com). Have a peek at the 12thnight preview here, an interview with playwright Lemoine. Bonus: he talks about the season, which also includes two Lemoine comedy revivals (A Momentary Lapse and Vidalia) and a vintage psychological thriller (The Bad Seed). Tickets: teatroq.com.

Max Hanic in rehearsal for Boy Trouble, Nextfest. Photo by Mac Brock.

•Nextfest, the multi-disciplinary festival devoted to emerging artists, continues at the Roxy, the Backstage Theatre, and a cluster of gallery venues, through Sunday. I caught Mac Brock’s Boy Trouble at the Roxy last week: it’s impressive for both its sharp, funny writing and for the solo performance by Max Hanic, a young actor to keep your eye on. It’s running Saturday and Sunday on the Roxy stage. Check out the 12thnight.ca preview, an interview with the playwright here.

Jessy Ardern and Jacob Holloway in Weal Thyman The Third, in rehearsal at Nextfest. Photo by Jenn Galm.

And have a look at the 12thnight.ca interview with Philip Geller, a co-creator of Weal Thyman The Third, a bouffon clown comedy of the outrageous persuasion (you can see it here). It returns to the Nextfest stage Wednesday (7 p.m.) with performances Friday and Saturday.

Nextfest tickets and schedule: nextfest.org.

•If you can’t have A Weekend in the Country to call your own, you can hear the song — in the Foote in the Door production of the great Sondheim musical of romantic ambiguity, A Little Night Music. Mary-Ellen Perley’s production continues through Saturday at La Cité francophone, 8627 91 St). Tickets: TIX on the Square (780-420-1757, tixonthesquare.ca) or eventbrite.ca. Foote in the Door is an enterprising collective, formed by alumnae of the Citadel’s Foote Theatre School, that specializes in the musical theatre repertoire. A Little Night Music is the finale of their fifth season.

Bella King, Jocelyn Ahlf, Jillian Aisenstat in Fun Home, Plain Jane Theatre. Photo by Mat Busby

•If you’re in summer reflective mode, have a look at the 32nd annual Sterling Award nominations, and muse on the season just past. The complete list is here.

For the first time, stepping up to the times, the Sterling’s performance categories are gender-neutral, an example set by the Doras in Toronto. Instead, the outstanding leading and supporting performances are divided into comedy and drama, as determined by jurors, a discussable point (as the Sterling committee acknowledges ) in an era when much of the most interesting work onstage evades that division. 

  

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The week on, and above, Edmonton stages

Let There Be Height, Firefly Theatre and Circus. Photo supplied.

By Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca

The week on, and above, the stage in E-town. Consider the possibilities.

•Firefly refuses to stay put, in either time or space.

Edmonton’s pioneer theatre/ circus company and academy, devoted to defying gravity, is having an “aerial cabaret” Thursday and Friday at the Westbury Theatre. It’s their 15th annual Let There Be Height showcase and fund-raiser, devoted this year to time travel.

Finally, in this earthbound age, something to look up to. You’ll see daring people on their flying trapezes, wrapping themselves in aerial silks and plummeting towards the ground. You’ll see people who embrace the idea of hanging upside in a hoop, with one leg draped around an ear.

Let There Be Height runs Thursday and Friday (7:30 p.m., silent action at 6:30) at the Westbury, in the ATB Financial Arts Barns (10330 84 Ave.). Tickets: TIX on the Square (780-420-1757, tixonthesquare.ca). All proceeds go to Firefly’s circus academy.

 

Jeff Haslam, Rachel Bowron, Jenny McKillop in A Likely Story, Teatro La Quindicina. Photo by Ryan Parker.

•Here’s a likely story. No, really: Teatro La Quindicina launches their 32nd season this week with a new Stewart Lemoine travel comedy, A Likely Story. Five strangers in a train stranger, who set forth on a journey — once they discover who they are and where they’re going. It opens Friday and runs through June 22 on the Varscona stage (tickets: teatroq.com). Have a peek at the 12thnight preview here, an interview with playwright Lemoine. Bonus: he talks about the season, which also includes two Lemoine comedy revivals (A Momentary Lapse and Vidalia) and a vintage psychological thriller (The Bad Seed). Tickets: teatroq.com.

Max Hanic in rehearsal for Boy Trouble, Nextfest. Photo by Mac Brock.

•Nextfest, the multi-disciplinary festival devoted to emerging artists, continues at the Roxy, the Backstage Theatre, and a cluster of gallery venues, through Sunday. I caught Mac Brock’s Boy Trouble at the Roxy last week: it’s impressive for both its sharp, funny writing and for the solo performance by Max Hanic, a young actor to keep your eye on. It’s running Saturday and Sunday on the Roxy stage. Check out the 12thnight.ca preview, an interview with the playwright here.

Jessy Ardern and Jacob Holloway in Weal Thyman The Third, in rehearsal at Nextfest. Photo by Jenn Galm.

And have a look at the 12thnight.ca interview with Philip Geller, a co-creator of Weal Thyman The Third, a bouffon clown comedy of the outrageous persuasion (you can see it here). It returns to the Nextfest stage Wednesday (7 p.m.) with performances Friday and Saturday.

Nextfest tickets and schedule: nextfest.org.

•If you can’t have A Weekend in the Country to call your own, you can hear the song — in the Foote in the Door production of the great Sondheim musical of romantic ambiguity, A Little Night Music. Mary-Ellen Perley’s production continues through Saturday at La Cité francophone, 8627 91 St). Tickets: TIX on the Square (780-420-1757, tixonthesquare.ca) or eventbrite.ca. Foote in the Door is an enterprising collective, formed by alumnae of the Citadel’s Foote Theatre School, that specializes in the musical theatre repertoire. A Little Night Music is the finale of their fifth season.

Bella King, Jocelyn Ahlf, Jillian Aisenstat in Fun Home, Plain Jane Theatre. Photo by Mat Busby

•If you’re in summer reflective mode, have a look at the 32nd annual Sterling Award nominations, and muse on the season just past. The complete list is here.

For the first time, stepping up to the times, the Sterling’s performance categories are gender-neutral, an example set by the Doras in Toronto. Instead, the outstanding leading and supporting performances are divided into comedy and drama, as determined by jurors, a discussable point (as the Sterling committee acknowledges ) in an era when much of the most interesting work onstage evades that division. 

  

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A year on Edmonton stages: the Sterling Award nominations

Bella King, Jocelyn Ahlf, Jillian Aisenstat in Fun Home, Plain Jane Theatre. Photo by Mat Busby

By Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca

A highly unusual coming-of-age coming-out musical in which a cartoonist unravels in flashback frames her mysterious family history proved the top choice of jurors, as the re-vamped 32nd annual Sterling Award nominations were announced Monday at Fringe Theatre headquarters.

That would be Fun Home, a musical adaptation of Alison Bechdel’s best-selling graphic memoir of growing up with a father who is, as she comes to realize, gay. And the haunting, funny, heart-wrenching Plain Jane Theatre production directed by Dave Horak, scooped up eight nominations in 24 Sterling categories, including top musical, independent production, and director.

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There were nods as well for Jocelyn Ahlf’s leading performance as the 43-year-old Alison, supporting role performances from Bella King as the college-age Alison and Kate Ryan as Alison’s mother, plus Janice Flower’s musical direction.

The Sterlings, named after a visionary theatre pioneer in these parts (Elizabeth Sterling Haynes), celebrate excellence on Edmonton stages during the past season. In this edition,  for the first time, the performance categories are gender-neutral, an example set recently by Toronto’s Dora Awards. Instead of gender designations, the Sterlings have opted to divide performances, leading and supporting, another way — into comedy and drama, as determined by jurors. 

In the new gender-neutral Sterling nomination landscape, 14 of the 20 nominations for outstanding performances, leading and supporting role, in drama and comedy have gone to women. Vanessa Sabourin accounts for two, leading performances in both drama and comedy, in  Northern Light’s provocative 19 Weeks and Bright Young Things’ Fallen Angels. All five nominees for “outstanding performance in a supporting role – drama” are women; two, Nicole St. Martin and Lora Brovold, were cast-mates in Valerie Planche’s Citadel/ Arts Club production of the blue-collar Lynn Nottage tragedy Sweat. 

Actor Kendra Connor presided over Monday’s announcement, the official prelude to the upcoming June 24 Sterling gala. And the nominations were read by actors Melissa Thingelstad and Bella King.

Umed Amin, Mikaela Davies, Emma Houghton in Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley. Photo by Ian Jackson, Epic Photography.

Fun Home is the work of a small indie company (part of the Varscona Theatre Ensemble). The three other big nomination draws are productions from Edmonton’s largest playhouse, the Citadel. Nancy McAlear’s production of Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, a romantic comedy that revisits the world of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice to follow the fortunes of the neglected middle sister (name her if you can), has seven nominations — including outstanding director, as well as Mikaela Davis’s star performance as the bristly misfit Miss Bennet, Mathew Hulshof’s dry and witty supporting performance as Mr. Darcy, Dana Osborne’s set and lavish period costumes, and Jonathan Lewis’s score.

Rachel Bowron, Jesse Lipscombe in The Party. Photo by Ryan Parker

Kat Sandler’s political comedy double-bill, The Party and The Candidate, and Daryl Cloran’s production of Matilda, the hit Broadway musical adaptation of the Roald Dahl novel (co-produced by the Citadel, the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, and the Vancouver Arts Club), each received six nominations.

The former was the season’s most adventurous (and aerobic) theatrical experiment, in which Sandler’s two intertwined comedies, one an immersive “party” and one a full-out farce, happened simultaneously every evening (with the same cast dashing dashing back and forth between two Citadel theatres).

This double-barrelled extravaganza has nominations in the outstanding new play category, as well as  for co-directors Sandler and Cloran and for Megan Koshka’s extravagant and giddy costumes. Three actors from those joint productions, Thom Allison, Colleen Wheeler, and Amber Lewis, dominate the “supporting role – comedy” category, along with Mathew Hulshof (Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley) and Jesse Gervais for his very funny performance as the humourless anti-theatrical theatre recruit in The Comedy Company

Matilda the Musical. Photo by Ian Jackson, Epic Photography.

Matilda’s six nominations include outstanding musical, Kimberly Rampersad’s playful precision choreography for kids, Cory Sincennes’ set and costumes, Gerald King’s lighting, and musical direction by veteran Don Horsburgh.

Damien Atkins, We Are Not Alone. Photo supplied.

After that, with four nominations each, are productions on every scale, small to large. Two are solo shows. Damien Atkins’ We Are Not Alone, a collaboration between  Toronto’s Crow’s Theatre, Montreal’s Segal Centre and Halifax’s 2b theatre, played in  the Theatre Network season. The charismatic playwright, an erstwhile Edmontonian, is nominated in the leading performance (drama) category.  Lake of the Strangers, a haunting new memory play by the brother-sister team of Hunter Cardinal and Jacquelyn Cardinal, has four Sterling nods. Three are for the atmospheric production which actually happened in a shallow pool of water in a Tessa Stamp design, lit by Narda McCarroll, and enhanced by Brianna Kolybaba’s projection design.

Kevin Sutley, Bobbi Goddard, Hunter Cardinal in Hamlet, Freewill Shakespeare Festival. Photo by Ryan Parker.

At this year’s Sterling Awards, Hunter Cardinal, a co-host of last year’s gala, enters a realm of exclusivity all his own: playwrights also nominated for their star performances in Hamlet (Freewill Shakespeare Festival) are in short supply in the world.  

Vanessa Sabourin and Belinda Cornish in Fallen Angels, Bright Young Things. Photo by Mat Busby.

The Rocking Mayfield production of the Broadway musical Sister Act and Bright Young Things’ sparkling account  of the fizzy Noel Coward comedy Fallen Angels have four nominations each. That tally for the former includes outstanding musical, Christine Bandelow’s witty choreography, Van Wilmott’s musical direction and Leona Brausen’s amusing costumes. The latter includes two of the five leading performance (comedy) nominees, in co-stars Belinda Cornish and Vanessa Sabourin. 

The new play category is particularly lively and competitive this season. Lake of the Strangers is a contender along with Kat Sandler’s Citadel double-header. So is The Finest of Strangers, a strange and moving new Stewart Lemoine comedy about the mysterious gravitational pull of the past. They’re up against two new plays inspired by remarkable true Canadian stories.

The Comedy Company, Shadow Theatre. Photo by Marc J Chalifoux.

Darrin Hagen’s The Empress & The Prime Minister, which premiered at Theatre Network, chronicles the unexpected rapport between gay-rights pioneer ted northe and a justice minister on the rise (one Pierre Elliot Trudeau). Neil Grahn’s The Comedy Company, which debuted at Shadow Theatre, explores the link between comedy and tragedy in the story of soldiers of Princess Patricia’s Light Infantry ordered during the nightmare horrors of World War I to form a musical comedy troupe to boost troop morale.

Nicole St. Martin and Ashley Wright, Sweat. Photo by Ian Jackson, Epic Photography.

In all, the Citadel comes away with some 28 Sterling nominations, the most of any theatre company by far. That tally includes four for the company’s very rare incursion into the top new play category with The Party/ The Candidate, and three for outstanding production contenders Made In Italy, Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, and Sweat. After that, the nomination spread is wide, touching down on everything from the English indie company Malachite Theatre (Macbeth) to Theatre Yes for their topical installation Viscosity, as well as Edmonton Opera (La Traviata, Count Ory)  and L’UniThéâtre (La Fille du facteur).

Theatre for young audience nominations all go this year to the work of theatre artists in pieces that originated with the company: Concrete Theatre’s CRTL-ALT-DEL and Songs My Mother Never Sung Me, and Alberta Musical Theatre Company’s Pinocchio.

On Sterling gala night (June 24 at the Mayfield Dinner Theatre, hosted by Mathew Hulshof and Gina Puntil), the invaluable Adam Mitchell, the Fringe’s executive director, will be going home with the Margaret Mooney Award for Outstanding Achievement in Administration. Alastair Elliot will receive the Ross Hill Award for Career Achievement in Production. To Tami and Greg Dowler-Coltman, the inspirational couple (retiring this year from Vic, the performing arts high school) whose dedication as arts educators for more than 4 decades has had such a profound impact on the artistic life of the city, goes the Sterling for outstanding contribution to theatre in Edmonton. Tickets: 780-483-4051, mayfieldtheatre.ca.

The 2018-2019 Sterling Award Nominees

Outstanding Production of a Play:Made in Italy (Citadel Theatre); Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley (Citadel Theatre); We Are Not Alone (Theatre Network); Sweat (Citadel Theatre/Arts Club Theatre); 19 Weeks (Northern Light Theatre/ Azimuth Theatre)

Timothy Ryan Award for Outstanding Production of a Musical: Matilda (Citadel Theatre/Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre/Arts Club Theatre); Fun Home (Plain Jane Theatre Company); Once (Citadel Theatre); Sister Act (Mayfield Dinner Theatre); La Traviata (Edmonton Opera)

Outstanding New Play (Award to Playwright): The Empress & The Prime Minister by Darrin Hagen (Theatre Network); Lake of the Strangers by Jacquelyn Cardinal & Hunter Cardinal (Naheyawin/Fringe Theatre Adventures); The Comedy Company by Neil Grahn (Shadow Theatre); The Finest of Strangers by Stewart Lemoine (Teatro la Quindicina); The Party/The Candidate by Kat Sandler (Citadel Theatre)

Outstanding Director: Dave Horak, Fun Home (Plain Jane Theatre Company); Marianne Copithorne, Fallen Angels (Bright Young Things); Nancy McAlear, Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley (Citadel Theatre); Jim Guedo, Small Mouth Sounds (Wild Side Productions); Daryl Cloran & Kat Sandler, The Party/The Candidate (Citadel Theatre)

Outstanding Performance in a Leading Role – Drama: Vanessa Sabourin, 19 Weeks (Northern Light Theatre/Azimuth Theatre); Hunter Cardinal, Hamlet (Freewill Shakespeare Festival); Damien Atkins, We Are Not Alone (Theatre Network); Jocelyn Ahlf, Fun Home (Plain Jane Theatre Company); Gianna Vacirca, Blood: A Scientific Romance (The Maggie Tree)

Outstanding Performance in a Leading Role – Comedy: Mikaela Davis, Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley (Citadel Theatre); Vanessa Sabourin, Fallen Angels (Bright Young Things); Farren Timoteo, Made in Italy (Citadel Theatre); Coralie Cairns, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (Shadow Theatre); Belinda Cornish, Fallen Angels (Bright Young Things)

Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role – Drama: Bobbi Goddard, What a Young Wife Ought to Know (Theatre Network); Bella King, Fun Home (Plain Jane Theatre Company); Nicole St. Martin, Sweat (Citadel Theatre/Arts Club Theatre); Kate Ryan, Fun Home (Plain Jane Theatre Company); Lora Brovold, Sweat (Citadel Theatre/Arts Club Theatre)

Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role – Comedy: Mathew Hulshof, Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley (Citadel Theatre); Jesse Gervais, The Comedy Company (Shadow Theatre); Thom Allison, The Party/The Candidate (Citadel Theatre); Colleen Wheeler, The Party/The Candidate (Citadel Theatre); Amber Lewis, The Party/The Candidate (Citadel Theatre)

Outstanding Independent Production: Fun Home (Plain Jane Theatre Company); Viscosity (Theatre Yes); Fallen Angels (Bright Young Things); Blood: A Scientific Romance (The Maggie Tree); Small Mouth Sounds (Wild Side Productions)

Outstanding Set Design: Daniel van Heyst, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (Shadow Theatre); Cory Sincennes, Matilda (Citadel/ Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre/ Arts Club Theatre; Tessa Stamp, Lake of the Strangers (Naheyawin/ Fringe Theatre Adventures); Dana Osborne, Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley (Citadel); Drew Facey, The Tempest (Citadel).

Outstanding Costume Design: Cory Vincennes, Matilda (Citadel/ Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre/ Arts Club Theatre); Dana Osborne, Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley (Citadel); Megan Koshka, The Party/ The Candidate (Citadel); Deanna Finnman, Count Ory (Edmonton Opera); Leona Brausen, Sister Act (Mayfield Dinner Theatre).

Outstanding Lighting Design: Kimberly Purtell, We Are Not Alone (Crow’s Theatre/ Segal Centre for Performing Arts/ 2b Theatre Company, at Theatre Network); Narda McCarroll, Lake of the Strangers (Naheyawin/ Fringe Theatre Adventures); Bonnie Beecher, The Tempest (Citadel); Gerald King, Matilda (Citadel/ Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre/ Arts Club Theatre); Daniela Masellis, Fun Home (Plain Jane Theatre Company)

Outstanding Multi-Media Design: Matt Schuurman, The Comedy Company (Shadow Theatre); Katrina Beatty, The Cardiac Shadow (Northern Light Theatre/ Good Women Dance Collective); T. Erin Gruber, Canada 151 (Mayfield Dinner Theatre); Brianna Kolybaba, Lake of the Strangers (Naheyawin/ Fringe Theatre Adventures); Raphael Freynet, La Fille du facteur (L’UniThéâtre); Barry Steele, Hansel and Gretel (Edmonton Opera).

Outstanding Score of a Play or Musical: Dave Clarke, Songs My Mother Never Sung Me (Concrete Theatre); Jonathan Lewis, Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley (Citadel); Danielle La Rose, Macbeth (Malachite Theatre); Matthew Skopyk, Hamlet (Freewill Shakespeare Festival); Thomas Ryder Payne, We Are Not Alone (Crow’s Theatre/ Segal Centre/ 2b Theatre, at Theatre Network)

Outstanding Musical Director: Janice Flower, Fun Home (Plan Jane Theatre); Don Horsburgh, Matilda (Citadel/ Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre/ Arts Club Theatre); Steven Greenfield, Once (Citadel); Van Wilmott, Sister Act (Mayfield Dinner Theatre); Erik Mortimer, Shakespeare’s Will (Thou Art Here)

Outstanding Choreography or Fight Direction: Kimberly Rampersad, Matilda (Citadel/ Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre/ Arts Club Theatre); Janine Waddell, Macbeth (Malachite Theatre); Good Women Dance Collective, The Cardiac Shadow (Northern Light Theatre; Amber Borotsik, Hamlet (Freewill Shakespeare Festival); Christine Bandelow, Sister Act (Mayfield Dinner Theatre)

Outstanding Individual Achievement in Production: Nicole Deibert, head scenic painter; Brad Fischer, technical director/ operator; Tessa Stamp, production manager; Ivan Siemens, production manager; Ariel Spanier, technical director. 

Outstanding Production for Young Audiences: Songs My Mother Never Sung Me (Concrete Theatre); CRTL-ALT-DEL (Concrete); Pinocchio (Alberta Musical Theatre Company)

Outstanding Artistic Achievement, Theatre for Young Audiences: Jana O’Connor, playwright, CTRL-ALT-DEL (Concrete); Mieko Ouchi, director, CTRL-ALT-DEL (Concrete); Farren Timoteo, playwright/director, Pinocchio (Alberta Musical Theatre); Luc Tellier, actor, Songs My Mother Never Sung Me (Concrete); Chariz Faulmino, actor, Pinocchio (Alberta Musical Theatre)

Outstanding Fringe Production: The Zoo Story (Bedlam Theatre Concern), Concord Floral (10 Out Of 12 Productions), Scorch (Bustle & Beast), Harun (In Arms Theatre Collective), Punch-Up (BrainPile).

Outstanding Fringe New Work (award to playwright): Fetch by Cat Walsh; Don’t Frown at the Gown by Darrin Hagen and Trevor Schmidt; Harun by Makram Apache; A Lesson in Brio by Stewart Lemoine; Whiteface by Todd Houseman and Lady Vanessa Cardona

Outstanding Fringe Director: Mieko Ouchi, Concord Floral; Mark Bellamy, The Real Inspector Hound; Bradley Moss, The Zoo Story; Suzie Martin, Fetch; Brenley Charkow, Scorch.

Outstanding Fringe Performance – Drama: Collin Doyle, The Zoo Story; Julie Ferguson, Scorch; Lora Brovold, Fetch; Andrea House, A Soldier’s Tale; Todd Houseman, Whiteface.

Outstanding Fringe Performance – Comedy: Cody Porter, Tragedy: A Tragedy; Jason Hardwick, Don’t Frown At The Gown; Evan Hall, Punch-Up; Kendra Connor, Everything’s Coming Up Chickens; Louise Lambert, Sirens.

Margaret Mooney Award for Outstanding Achievement in Administration: Adam Mitchell

Ross Hill Award for Career Achievement in Production: Alastair Elliot

Outstanding Contribution to Theatre in Edmonton: Tami and Greg Dowler-Coltman

 

 

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Weal Thyman The Third: a bouffon clown show to provoke you at Nextfest

Jessy Ardern and Jacob Holloway in Weal Thyman The Third, in rehearsal at Nextfest. Photo by Jenn Galm.

By Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca

When you’re creating a bouffon clown show about a grotesque filthy-rich capitalist with businesses, land, money, possessions, sycophants,  and an insatiable appetite for more more more, it’s not as if you have to rack your brains for material. The world, and a maniacally inflated orange-haired upstager, have seen to that.

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That’s what Philip Geller and his collaborators Jessy Ardern and Emily Howard found when they began to play around with the ideas that would become Weal Thyman The Third, premiering Wednesday on the Nextfest mainstage.

Geller, who directs the new play, says that “Trump is such an all-consuming easy target for liberals, it’s an interesting challenge not to just repeat what we already know…..” And it’s a particular challenge, given the way America sucks up the news of the day, “to make it really Canadian, contemporary and here!”  he says. “And there’s so much that’s happening here…. The hope is that we’d interrogate ourselves about our own actions.”

They trio call themselves Pretty Affliction. Weal Thyman The Third is, says Geller, “an experiment for us as a company to see how we can tell a contemporary story that holds a mirror up for people to see themselves.” The show description might trigger a reflexive response to the gross excesses down south. But it touches down on a wide range of topics. He throws out, off the top of his head “Jeff Bezos to Conrad Black, the oil sands, white supremacy….” And what about “capitalism, patriarchy, colonialism”?

Jessy Ardern and Jacob Holloway in rehearsal for Weal Thyman The Third at Nextfest. Photo by Jenn Galm.

Why clowning as the storytelling mode of choice? Geller happens to be one of the world’s natural clowns, as he discovered in high school and “a tiny unit” devoted to those techniques. He and Howard, like-minded classmates in their U of A theatre school graduating class, were drawn to it immediately; one of their favourite inspirational professors is Michael Kennard of Mump and Smoot fame. They even went to a “neo-bouffon” workshop led by Karen Hines (aka Pochsy) at the clown farm run by John Turner (aka Smoot) on Manitoulin Island in Ontario. 

The way clowns interact with their audiences, instinctively breaking down the theatrical fourth wall (“or loosening it up whenever I can,” Geller laughs) gives bouffon storytelling a particularly vivid and lively immediacy.

Improv in the rehearsal room, and the collaboration amongst the six actors, had a lot to do with the production we’ll see at the Roxy. “If Jessy or Emily or whoever came up with a great idea, I’d steal it!” laughs Geller in directorial mode.

He has a long Nextfest history — “ever since Grade 10” with the innovative festival underway at Theatre Network. At first it was acting in NextNextfest (high school) productions, then clown shows at the festival’s signature performance nite clubs. He and Howard have a clown duo that has performed at the Play the Fool Festival and cabarets.

Geller’s next step as an artist, for which Nextfest has been a significant inspiration, is a master’s degree in directing at York University next fall. “I’ve been veering toward directing; it’s seducing me!” he says. “I’m drawn towards more collaborative processes” in theatre creation, he says. “I’m super-interested in breaking down hierarchies.”

Weal Thyman The Third runs at Nextfest, the Roxy on Gateway (8529 Gateway Blvd) Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Tickets and schedule: nextfest.org

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A new comedy to launch a new season at Teatro La Quindicina

Jeff Haslam, Rachel Bowron, Jenny McKillop in A Likely Story, Teatro La Quindicina. Photo by Ryan Parker.

By Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca

A Likely Story, says playwright Stewart Lemoine, “is one of those titles you have to Google because you can’t believe it hasn’t already been used.” 

That puckish name, with its tantalizing whiff of skepticism, now belongs to the new Lemoine comedy that launches Teatro La Quindicina’s 37th season next week — a lineup that includes two Lemoine comedy revivals and a vintage psychological thriller.

In A Likely Story we meet five characters, strangers in a train station, finding their way into a play they’re creating by the choices they make and the information they get, moment by moment. Are they travellers? If so, where are they going? And why?

“In a way they have a parallel experience to what an author goes through, writing a play,” says the playwright of his latest in a career of reinventing comedy in new shapes and colour palettes. “It’s comparable to decisions I’d make writing a story.”

The new travel comedy begins with a prologue (Jeff Haslam) and a question from a quizzical character (Mathew Hulshof): “Can you tell me where I am?” Clues accumulate, along with characters (Vincent Forcier, Jenny McKillop, Rachel Bowron), as Lemoine explains after rehearsal last week. And so information gathers bit by bit, “defining who they all are and where the train goes….”

His “theatrical and narrative experiment,” as Lemoine puts it, began with his writer’s question to himself: “What would it be like if characters had to improvise, characters trying to make their world more finished, more real, more interesting?” As the prologue has it, “this is not about what happened, because no one can tell you what happened. And it’s not about what will happen, because nobody knows. It’s what could happen.”

A Likely Story runs Thursday through June 22 on the Varscona stage. 

Mat Busby, Lilla Solymos, Kristi Hansen in The Bad Seed. Photo by Ryan Parker.

“The party slot” in the Teatro summer season (July 11 to 27) — occupied in summers past by plays as widely diverse as The Ambassador’s Wife, Cocktails at Pam’s and The Importance of Being Earnest — returns to a psychological thriller Teatro did some 30 years ago at the Fringe. In Maxwell Anderson’s 1954 The Bad Seed, a Broadway hit and two years later a “camp classic” movie, the placid American ‘50s middle-class facade — devoted spouses, adorable offspring, lovable upstairs neighbours — is disturbed by a mysterious drowning on a school picnic. Ah, and uneasy thoughts of inherited evil.

“We were so young and the characters were much older,” grins Lemoine. “There’s a fine line between period melodrama and ‘this could be funny if you don’t do it right’.” There’s a reason that drag queens have long been attracted to the play and the movie, and the extravagance of the ‘50s acting style.

“We thought of it at the time as a camp comedy,” he says. “And there’s certainly comedy in it. But I understand it better now. And it struck me as an interesting exploration,” to revisit the piece. Not least because Lemoine is more convinced that the mother Christine (Nicola Elbro) is the central character, “unravelling the more she learns about her daughter,” as he says. “Every scene brings bad news, and she’s trying so hard to be a poised ‘50s wife and mother.”

“Christine has a big problem. And the men in the play are interchangeably ineffectual at helping.” It makes sense, thinks Lemoine, to reimagine this classic with a more contemporary performance style, and the men played by actors who double in the roles. In the eight-actor production (the largest cast of the season), Mat Busby, Jeff Haslam, and Mark Bellamy play multiple characters. The all-star cast includes Andrea House and Kristi Hansen. And making her Teatro debut as the little girl is Lilla Solymos, startlingly impressive as the gravely determined heroine in the Citadel production of Matilda this past winter.

Mathew Hulshof and Luc Tellier in A Momentary Lapse. Photo by Ryan Parker

With A Momentary Lapse, which plays the Fringe and beyond (always part of Teatro’s summer season) the company returns to a 2005 comedy jointly created by Lemoine and actor/playwright Jocelyn Ahlf, “at my kitchen table,” as the former says. Two characters, unlikely collaborators, find themselves together in enforced community service to atone publicly for their infractions of the Criminal Code.

Ahlf herself, the star of the Plain Janes’ recent production of Fun Home, is now the right age for the role originally played by Sheri Somerville. Louise Trent is a 40-ish over-achieving multi-tasker with two kids, who’s a Hansard typist at the Legislature, a Lancôme salesperson at the Bay, and she plays in the Metropolitan Community Orchestra. Arthur Pomeroy (Luc Tellier in the role originated by Farren Timoteo) is an exasperated high school student. In fact he’s “the most exasperated person ever; he wakes up exasperated, and stays that way,” as Lemoine says. The Law (originally Haslam), in all its various glorious authority incarnations, is played by Mathew Hulshof. A Momentary Lapse runs August 16 to 31

Belinda Cornish and Andrew Macdonald-Smith in Vidalia. Photo by Ryan Parker.

The season finale is a return to Lemoine’s 2002 screwball comedy Vidalia, named after the sweet Georgia onion and containing, fatefully, three identical briefcases.

Vidalia has the requisite screwball ingredients, thinks the playwright: “the escalating calamity, people back and forth between locations, an instigator who never stops having a good time, even when the stakes get higher and people get angrier….” Someone gets hired to take a briefcase to a certain location, and leave it there. And, oops, the wrong briefcase gets left. A crescendo of chaos ensues.

Why “Vidalia”? “I was attracted to the word,” says Lemoine. “And the Food Network was new at the time…. In the play it’s a code word, mistaken for someone’s name.”

The rules of comedy change dramatically in the cellphone era, as Lemoine points out.  And a three-briefcase screwball is a challenge to begin with. “It was so nerve-wracking to write, to follow (exactly) who knew what, when,” Lemoine laughs. Suddenly in rehearsal, I’d say ‘Stop!’ Everybody! I think I’m wrong.” A review of which briefcase was in whose hands would follow. 

Andrew MacDonald-Smith and Belinda Cornish star in the production, which runs Sept. 26 to Oct. 12. Season subscriptions: teatroq.com

PREVIEW

A Likely Story

Theatre: Teatro La Quindicina

Written and directed by: Stewart Lemoine

Starring: Jeff Haslam, Mathew Hulshof, Vincent Forcier, Jenny McKillop, Rachel Bowron

Where: Varscona Theatre, 10329 83 Ave.

Running: Friday through June 22

Tickets: teatroq.com

 

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Where The Wild Things Fringe: the monster is coming!

By Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca

“And now, let the wild rumpus start!”

As announced Thursday, the upcoming 38th annual edition of the Fringe Edmonton’s roaring summer theatre monster — the oldest and still the biggest on the continent — has its signature theme. Come August 15 to 25, you’ll be doing your theatre binging Where The Wild Things Fringe.

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For 11 days and nights in Old Strathcona and beyond, you’ll be rumpus-ing with the imaginative creations dreamed up by artists,  in a world of mysterious transformations, risks, and bright ideas. The theme was chosen from hundreds of suggestions — witty and whimsical, through truly off-the-wall . “What’s wonderful,” says Fringe director Murray Utas, “is that it’s a suggestions from my KidsFringe team submitted to me on their last strike day last summer,” as they packed away the fun.  As you will have gleaned, Where The Wild Things Fringe takes its cues from the memorable 1963 children’s picture book by Maurice Sendak.

Its story of an unruly kid who finds himself sailing to an island of wildly fanciful beasts — and becoming king) — told in a mere couple of hundred words — has inspired movies, plays, operas, animations, a notably oddball 2009 Spike Jonze adult feature film…. Now it’s inspired the most monstrous-ever edition of an un-juried, uncensored festival that, as Fringe director Murray reveals, has a record number of shows, 264,  ensconced in 48 venues. A dozen of them are “official” and programmed by lottery, and the rest are BYOVs (bring-your-own-venues) found and equipped by artists themselves.  

In the Sendak book the rampaging monsters have a certain double-sided attraction to consumption: “We’ll eat you up – we love you so!” It speaks to the crazy, animating, viral effect that the Fringe has on its ever-increasing audiences. Besides, the 2019 nickname, with its siren call to the imagination, resonates with AND adults (Obama called it one of his favourite books ever). Ah, not to mention energetically kid-like adults such as Utas. He calls the festival in his charge, happily, “out of control monstrous.”

Tickets to Where The Wild Things Fringe go on sale Aug. 7. By the 15th, bedtime is officially cancelled. Check fringetheatre.ca for further details. In the meantime, consider this: “There should be a place where only the the things you want to happen, happen….” 

There is. And it’s happening soon.

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