by Joel Ivany, Artistic Director, Against the Grain Theatre
One lesson learned from our time in Banff is the playground that can exist outside the actual production itself. When we produced Figaro's Wedding in Toronto, we really started to learn how to engage our audience outside of actual performance. We could prepare our story months in advance by initiating a social media campaign through Youtube, Facebook and Twitter. These platforms offer a compelling way to offer a glimpse into the progress and development of a production. What we initiated with our Figaro and what I personally enjoyed quite a bit was the interactions that we created with the characters themselves. On Youtube, for example, you saw Figaro propose to Susanna and you met Alberto talking about his wife Rosina. We had so much fun with it that we decided to continue this creative exploration with our characters in #UncleJohn. This past summer, The Banff Centre team was more than ready to play, and we ended up giving our singers a different and added experience by placing them in front of the camera as well as on stage. For those who followed along online, they were able to meet the cast, meet the characters and participate in the discovery of this new telling of Don Giovanni. For our Toronto production, we've continued this social media push. The way we engage with each other is changing and evolving daily, which was one of the main reasons for including a hashtag in our opera's title. It's how we live, interact and engage.
As always, Against the Grain is committed to presenting the best talent we can to our audiences. The best meals require the best ingredients, and we believe the same when it comes to casting. Our cast is experienced, generous and incredibly talented. They have committed to the intention, story and situations which these old and yet new characters find themselves in. Although our orchestra is not huge, it is made up of intensely gifted musicians. We’ll be working with the Cecilia String Quartet for the first time and they will be led at the piano by our Guest Music Director Miloš Repický.
With only five performances from Dec. 11 to 19, we hope to see you there. It’s a great way to support local opera and a great way to give a brand new story life.
Read also: Sable Chan on what indie opera is doing right; case study - #UncleJohn