Saturday, January 12, 2013

Theatre For Thought, January 12, 2013

joel fishbane

Hopefully, of all the New Year’s resolutions you’re going to break this year, you’ll still honour the one about seeing as much live theatre as you can. Back from holidays, theatres from coast to coast are gearing up for the second half of the 2012 – 2013 season and even a quick glance reveals more than a few shows of interest. There’s the usual cameos from Broadway and the canon of musical theatre, but the shows at centre stage in most places are new and exciting work from Canada’s greatest talents.

2013 is shaping up to be a good year for Chris Abraham of Toronto’s Crow’s Theatre. His latest collaboration with Kristen Thomson, Someone Else, is running at Canadian Stage until February 2. A naked look at marriage and middle age, it promises to be something different from the team that brought that one-woman, multi-character I, Claudia (which, incidentally, will appear at Regina’s Globe Theatre in April). Meanwhile, news has come down the pipeline that Crow’s Theatre will finally be getting it’s own home: a newly constructed 200-seat theatre in Toronto’s east-end. According to the Globe and Mail, the projected opening is 2015, just in time to coincide with the Pan-Am Games. 

As always, Torontonians have much to look forward to, from a remount of Sam Sheppard’s Cowboy Mouth to the Canadian premiere of the Pulitzer Prize winning Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris. Then there’s the production of David Mamet’s Race with “international star” Jason Priestly in the lead role. Personally, I think “star” is a bit of marketing hyperbole, but never mind…

But there’s plenty happening outside of Hogtown. It’s hard not to get excited about Carmen Aguirre’s Blue Box, which will have two productions this winter – one at the Great Canadian Theatre Company (Ottawa) and the other at the Globe. I reported on this show last year when Aguirre was at GCTC’s undercurrent’s festival and can only repeat what I said then: a story of unconditional love through lament, it’s a darkly comic look at Aguirre’s time with the Chilean underground in the 1980s.

If you’re in Saskatchewan for Blue Box, you might as well stick around to see Hannah Moscovitch’s This is War at the Prairie Theatre Exchange. Moscovitch is one of Canada’s latest wunderkinds, a playwright with a sharp quill and politics in her ink. This is War is still playing at Toronto’s Tarragon until February 3, so even if you’re not in the prairies, there’s still a chance to check it out. 

Folks in Vancouver will have a chance to check out Mark O’Rowe’s harrowing Terminus throughout most of March. Produced by Pi Theatre, the play is a night in the life of Dubliners that promises to be angry, brazen and dark as Hell. For theatre that’s less explosive but no less engrossing, there’s also Belfry Theatre’s production of Carole Frechette’s Helen’s Necklace. Frechette is one of the country’s finest writers and her story of one woman’s quest for a necklace through the war-torn Middle East continues to attract attention wherever it goes (it was part of Shaw’s 2012 line-up).

Close to the other end of the country, Neptune Theatre is producing Tomson Highway’s musical The (Post) Mistress, a one-woman musical that first premiered in 2010. Featuring Martha Irving, the show is a comedic look at what happens when a postal worker starts reading all the letters that pass through her hands. 

But the show I’m most excited about is Paul Van Dyck’s adaptation of Aphra Behn’s novel Oroonoko. First written in 1688, the novel tells the story of a slave, the princess he loves and what happens when her father decides to keep them apart. Behn was a spy for Charles II and spent some time in South America, an experience she used in the writing of Oroonoko. I had the honor of reading an early draft of Oroonoko and it knocked my socks off. 

The adaptation is being produced by Persephone Theatre, a Montreal-based company with a mandate to provide work to new and emerging artists, so look for a new crop of rising talents to grace the stage when the show opens on February 6.

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