TACTICS is an independent, collective series that features work by emerging and professional performers. The plays occur in short runs ––no more than a week in length—and so audiences will have to rush to the theatre if they hope to catch the performances before the next shows take the stage. It goes without saying that original performances and emerging artistry are vital parts of a theatre community. With that mandate comes the potential for some really great or really bad theatre, and the first weekend of this TACTICS series exemplifies this divide.
The first show of the evening, (off) Balance, is the brain-child of Naomi Tessler who both wrote the piece, and acts in the production. The stage is fairly bare and a large, red cloth circle outlines the playing space. This one-woman, autobiographical piece employs monologue, dance, and a live music; the musician sits outside the red circle, and plays African drum and chimes alongside the performance. But even with the intervention of Bronwyn Steinberg’s direction and dramaturgy, the production is underwhelming.
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Scene from The Book of Daniel
featuring Maureen Smith, Eric Craig
and Brian K. Stewart
Photograph by Andrew Alexander Photography
The Extremely Short New Play Festival
New Theatre of Ottawa
At Arts Court Theatre
The thing about a festival of extremely short plays — in this case 10 of them, all new and each no longer than 10 minutes — is that if you don’t like one, another will soon take its place.
This second annual festival consists of shows by Ottawa writers about everything from an ape applying for the job of governor of the Bank of Canada (the ridiculously humorous The Top Job by Wynn Quon) to a memory piece about coming of age as a Jew during the 1976 Montreal Olympics (The Book of Daniel by Lawrence Aronovitch).
Under John Koensgen’s direction, Eric Craig, Maureen Smith, Brian K. Stewart and Colleen Sutton perform all the parts. (Continue reading » )
The adventurous and talented Christopher Bedford has chosen one of the most difficult playwrights currently in vogue in Quebec, to give a group of students from the Ottawa Theatre School, professional experience on stage. The project is in itself a perilous exercise as we have already seen with Third Wall Theatre which fell soundly on its face when they used a mixed cast of professionals and students in their version of Tartuffe several years ago, in spite of David Whitely’s excellent translation. Last year, Andy Massingham staged a magnificent version of Shakespeare,s Twelfth Night using students from the Ottawa Theatre School as well as seasoned professionals but he had the good taste to give all the main roles to professionals. As a result, that performance worked beautifully. Added to the cast was the very brilliant Greg Kramer as Malvolio who created a performance we will never forget.
Daniel Danis is another kettle of fish…so to speak.
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