Photo: Emily Cooper
Children of God, Urban Ink
An Urban Ink (Vancouver) production in collaboration with NAC English Theatre, in association with Raven Theatre (Vancouver) and presented as part of the NAC’s Canada Scene Festival.
The first impression one has before the event begins, is an all-enveloping living breathing landscape that sweeps horizontally across the front of the newly named Babs Asper theatre space and carries us away into another realm of being. Huge roling clouds, suggestions of a liquid surface, flat rocks that continue far back into a horizon defined by the sky. Ominous mountain shapes rise on either side of Marshall McMahan’s breathtaking set design that is brought to life by Jeff Harrison’s shifting lighting effects , by Kris Boyd’s sound design and Corey Payette’s musical compositions executed by the four musicians tucked away on stage right just behind the landscape. The music dissolves into the surrounding site as the performance space engulfs us , exemplifying the tortured nature of this situation that unfolds on the stage.
(Continue reading » )
It’s more than 40 years since a young, award-winning Canadian playwright named David Freeman told an interviewer that what he yearned for most in life was a meaningful physical relationship with another human being.
It was a poignant admission, because Freeman had been born with cerebral palsy. And throughout his life he resisted marginalization by a culture unable to get a handle on the notion that his kind were as capable as anyone else of an entire range of human emotions, including sexual need and desire.
These emotions were given caustic, funny utterance in Creeps, his 1971 stage triumph about the plight of disabled youth trapped in the coils of an unfeeling rehab centre. Its premiere at Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre was a groundbreaking event — not simply because it broke taboos by bringing subject matter like this to the stage, but because of its importance in legitimatizing Canadian drama at a time when playbills across the country were crammed with imported material from Broadway and London’s West End. (Continue reading » )
By Brad Fraser, A Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre (Winnipeg) Production coproduced with the NAC English Theatre.
Disability comes in many guises. And each of the character’s in playwright Brad Fraser’s latest play, Kill Me Now, is disabled to a greater of lesser degree, whether through physical or mental challenges or emotional and relationship issues.
But, says Fraser in the program notes, “this is not a play about disability. It is a play about courage and love.”
So it is. At the centre is the love between father and son. In the next circle of love is that of a sister for the older brother who raised her and an aunt’s caring for her nephew. Then the love ripples out to include friends and lovers. (Continue reading » )
Jan Alexandra Smith and the Donnelly brothers
It’s not just that the figures come out of the darkness. It’s rather
that they are marching in deadly and ritualized rhythm from some
hellish void, with a few musicians, mistily visible in the murky
backwaters of the NAC Theatre stage, eerily urging them along.
You’re gripped immediately by the beginning of Vigilante. And this
enthralling production from Edmonton’s Catalyst Theatre continues to
hold you like a vice through to its powerful climax. But you soon
realize that there will be no real light at the end of this tunnel.
The 19th Century saga of Southern Ontario’s turbulent Donnelly family
can hold no promise of cathartic release. Indeed, well over a century
later, this bloody tragedy continues to cast a shadow over Biddulph
township and its people, many of whom reportedly refuse to discuss it
even now. (Continue reading » )
Photo by David Cooper
Written composed and directed by Jonathan Christenson, produced by Catalyst Theatre (Edmonton) in collaboration with the NAC English Theatre
Massacre of the Donnelly family in Lucan, Ontario (1860) was one of the bloodiest crimes ever to take place in Canada. The fact that it was never solved has kept historians, writers and researchers interested for many years. As rumours grew, imaginations were fueled and the family of seven boys and their parents, who had emigrated from Ireland, were transformed into a local legend of monstrous killers who terrorized the community. Probably the best known work of fiction based on the murder, was the Donnelly Trilogy, a verse drama by James Reaney, first performed in 1973 -1974 and finally published in 2000. It came to the National Arts Centre many years ago but, as I remember, the impact of that event was minimal. The horror and the tragedy did not click with a production that mainly foregrounded the literary qualities of the text that explained the story. (Continue reading » )
Photo. Courtesy of the NAC. Nigel Shawn Williams (Bob Cratchit and Andy Jones as Scrooge)
I am a big Christmas sap. I watch all the Christmas shows. Of course there is probably no Christmas tale that has been retold more often with more approaches than Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, sometimes to great effect and sometimes less so. (Continue reading » )