New Ideas 2011 up and running

Hey there! Alumnae Theatre Company’s annual New Ideas Festival of short plays is up and running as of last night.

Check out my post ‘New Ideas: week one opening’ on the Alumnae blog: www.alumnaetheatre.wordpress.com

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Characters reimagined

The washing machine in my building has broken down, which meant I had to schlep my laundry to the neighbourhood laundromat last night. Not such a bad thing, though, as going to the laundromat affords the perfect excuse to catch up on some reading.

I took Dancing with Mr. Darcy with me; it’s a collection of short stories inspired by the writing and life of Jane Austen, and Chawton House Library. The various tales place Austen’s characters and themes – and even Austen herself – in some thoroughly entertaining and thought-provoking situations. The collection was assembled following a writing competition, and features an introduction (and was selected by) author Sarah Waters. A must-read for Austen fans.

Today, I picked up a copy of Linda Griffith’s play Age of Arousal and have been reading that as well. I’ve seen it on stage twice: the Nightwood production at Factory Theatre in 2007 and the Shaw Festival production in 2010. The play was inspired by George Gissing’s novel The Odd Women, and I fear that I may do it a disservice in attempting a description here, so I’ll leave that up to the folks at Coach House Books: http://www.chbooks.com/catalogue/age-arousal

What can I say – there’s something very sexy about intelligent, independent, forward-thinking women in period costume.

p.s. – Haunting Redemption

Just realized that I neglected to mention that Canadian actor Jackie Burroughs, who died this past fall, also appears in Small Town Murder Songs (as a Mennonite senior who is interviewed during the course of the murder investigation). Burroughs was well-known on Canadian t.v. for her portrayal of Hetty King on The Road to Avonlea, as well as Canadian films like John and the Missus.

I used to see her in the neighbourhood around Yonge/Bloor – and was always struck at how a woman of such tiny physical stature could play such strong, feisty characters. For a short gal like me, she was someone to look up to in that respect. Small Town Murder Songs was her last film. She will be missed.

Theatrepalooza

Yeah. I’m an addict.

Visited the Young Centre twice in the past 24 hours: last night for Soulpepper’s production of The Fantasticks and today for George Brown Theatre School’s second year period study performance.

The Fantasticks – in its current form – is only slightly older than I am. And I’d never seen it before; nor was I familiar with the plot. I only knew two of the songs: Try to Remember and They Were You; the latter I learned while at George Brown Theatre School.

It’s a lovely, sweet and magical show – and director Joseph Ziegler’s cast is  up for it. Soulpepper AD Albert Schultz (the narrator/El Gallo) and Derek   Boyes (Mute) set the stage for the story of love and discovery. Jeff Lillico and Krystin Pellerin are adorable as the young lovers, set up via a false  family feud by their fathers, played by Michael Hanrahan and William Webster. Scene-stealing props to Oliver Dennis and Michael Simpson as the travelling actors. Loads of fun – go see this: see soulpepper.ca

Today, George Brown Theatre School’s second year class had its annual trial by fire – this time, with Restoration plays. Being a grad of the school, as well as an initiate of said trial (my class performed the first period study at the school – Elizabethan and Jacobean in 1988), I was especially interested to see this year’s class as Lady Windermere’s Fan castmate (and fellow Johnny Depp b’day sharing gal) Tennille Read is in the second year class.

I was only able to stay for three-quarters of the performance. Period study is serious business – and has gone from a six-hour show to a full-day affair, complete with morning and afternoon coffee breaks, and a lunch break. Directed by Jeannette Lambermont-Morey and Sarah Dodd (the latter, I believe is a grad as well), this is a class to watch out for. And from adorable maid to sexy and passionate Cleopatra, Tennille was amazing. A thoroughly enjoyable day of theatre. And they only perform this once, otherwise, I’d tell ya to go see this too.

On the upside, the third year class does a full season of shows – and they share the Young Centre with Soulpepper, usually playing in the Tankhouse Theatre space. Check them out sometime too.

Haunting redemption

Saw Small Town Murder Songs on Sunday. The Canadian film, by writer/filmmaker Ed Gass-Donnelly, features an excellent cast – notably Peter Stormare, Jill Hennessy and Martha Plimpton, as well as my pal Heather Allin, and a haunting choral soundtrack by Bruce Peninsula.

There’s a lot that goes unsaid in this film – and the audience can glean much from the characters’ silences: the looks, the body language and, especially, the flashbacks into local cop Walter’s (Stormare) violent past. For instance, Allin – who plays the murdered young woman’s mother – gives an extremely moving performance with very few lines. In fact, in the identification scene at the morgue, she has no lines at all – but manages to convey a mother’s denial, disbelief and anguish at seeing her daughter as the sheet is lifted from the body on the chrome table.

Go see this movie – it’s playing at the Royal.

Yay long weekend!

Happy to be having a three-day weekend – spending time with friends and family, and looking forward to new creative horizons. And, hell, just vegging.

Now, if we could only get some long weekends happening in November and June…

Getting busy at Alumnae again, with New Ideas fast approaching, and – as always – trying to get out to cover Alum pals doing other theatre work. Check out the latest happenings on the Alumnae blog: http://www.alumnaetheatre.wordpress.com

Have a good one, all!