CTF NOMINATED: Three Prestigious Capital Critics Circle Awards

Some of Canada’s top theatre reviewers have honoured the Classic Theatre Festival with three Capital Critics Circle Awards nominations for artistic excellence during their 2018 summer season in Perth. An awards ceremony will be held at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa on December 3rd.

The Classic Theatre Festival’s Artistic Producer Laurel Smith has just picked up her third consecutive Best Director nomination from the Capital Critics Circle Awards for her work helming last summer’s Angel Street. She will also represent the company at the December 3 awards ceremony in Ottawa for the Best Production nomination. (Photo: Jean-Denis Labelle)

Laurel Smith, a Perth resident and the Classic Theatre Festival’s Artistic Producer, was nominated both for Best Direction – her third nomination in the category since 2016 – and Best Production (again, her third consecutive nomination) for the nail-biting thriller Angel Street, aka Gaslight. Meanwhile, Toronto-based performer Catherine McNally garnered a Best Actress nomination for the title role in the G.B. Shaw classic, Mrs. Warren’s Profession.

It’s the third season in a row that the Capital Critics Circle has nominated Classic Theatre Festival shows: the 2016 season saw four nominations that were followed by an additional five in 2017.

“We are blessed to host amazing talent here every summer, both on the stage with Canada’s top professional performers as well as behind the scenes, from stage managers and assistant stage managers to folks who bring us the beautiful look and feel of the show, like our lighting designer, Wesley McKenzie, our costume designer, Renate Seiler, and last year’s set designer, Roger Schultz,” says Smith. “And while it is wonderful to have theatre critics praise the high quality of our shows, it is incredibly gratifying that our audiences are having such a great time here as well.  Over 80% of them are tourists, and they really help pump up the summertime economy by eating in restaurants, staying overnight, and shopping in our local stores while they’re here.”

In the meantime, the Festival is busy preparing for its 10th anniversary season in 2019. Next season’s mainstage offerings will feature the 9th-longest running play in Broadway history, the remarkable WW2-era romantic comedy The Voice of the Turtle (by John Van Druten); George Bernard Shaw’s most popular play, the hilarious Pygmalion (the basis for the musical My Fair Lady); and the longest-running comedy-thriller in Broadway history, Ira Levin’s Deathtrap (by the author of Rosemary’s Baby, The Boys from Brazil and The Stepford Wives).

The Festival also plans its 5th annual season of theatrical walking plays with a brand new show on how residents of Perth came together to survive the Great Depression (running five mornings and two evenings a week).  In addition, after the Festival’s huge success of its completely sold-out dinner theatre run at Michael’s Table, a new dinner theatre show will play both Tuesday evenings and Tuesday at lunchtime from June 4 to the end of August. An announcement of the lunchtime and dinner theatre show will be made shortly.

Those interested in enjoying deep discounts to the 10th anniversary season can receive 25% savings on a season flex pass between now and December 31st, and they don’t have to pick their dates until next summer. “They make great gifts for holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and ‘just because’ moments too,” Smith says.

Tickets can be ordered online at ticketsplease.ca or by calling 1-877-283-1283.

CTF AUDITIONS: For 2019 Summer Season

The Classic Theatre Festival in Heritage Perth, Ontario (an hour south of Ottawa) is the Ottawa Valley’s only professional theatre company. Our 2019 season consists of the following:

 

The Voice of the Turtle by John van Druten

Rehearsals start June 4
Runs June 21 to July 14

 

 

Pygmalion by Bernard Shaw

Rehearsals start July 2
Runs July 19 to Aug. 11

 

 

Deathtrap by Ira Levin

Rehearsals start July 30
Runs Aug. 16 to Sept. 8

 

 

Performance schedule: Tues. to Sun. at 2pm; Wed. and Sat. at 8pm.

In particular we are seeking to cast the following:

Male Lead (Bill – The Voice of the Turtle) – age early 30’s, American, soldier with a yen for true love, quiet and mature.

Female Lead (Eliza Doolittle – Pygmalion) – age mid to late 20’s, a common flower girl, feral and feisty, determined to better herself, transforms to an educated, far-seeing young woman who discovers other ambitions and a longing for freedom. Cockney and RP accents required.

Female Lead (Myra Bruhl – Deathtrap) – age early 40’s, self-effacing and supportive, wife of Broadway playwright.

Male Lead (Clifford Anderson – Deathtrap) – mid to late 20’s, aspiring writer, ambitious.

Supporting Female (Mrs. Pearce – Pygmalion) – 40-60, long-suffering housekeeper of Henry Higgins, tart, can be intimidating.

Supporting Female (Mrs. Eynsford-Hill – Pygmalion) – 40-60, middle-class, but aspires to upper class, mother of Freddy and Clara, she is trying to do her best for her children.

Please submit resume and headshot by Tuesday, October 9 to Laurel Smith, Artistic Producer, at laurel@classictheatre.ca. Please indicate which role you would like to be considered for, and what your preferred audition time would be. We appreciate everyone who submits, however only those who secure an audition time will be contacted. No phone calls please; all inquiries by email. For more information: classictheatre.ca.

Auditions will be held in Toronto on SATURDAY, OCTOBER 13TH. Ottawa auditions will be held as needed.

Please submit your headshot and resume by TUESDAY, OCTOBER 9, indicating which role you would like to be considered for, and what your preferred audition time would be. We appreciate everyone who submits, however only those who secure an audition time will be contacted. No phone calls please; all inquiries by email to Laurel Smith, Artistic Producer: laurel[@]classictheatre.ca

SET DESIGNER NEEDED: For 2019 CTF Season

The Classic Theatre Festival in Heritage Perth, the Ottawa Valley’s only professional theatre company, is seeking applications for the position of Set Designer for the 2019 summer season (classictheatre.ca).

The three plays are: “The Voice of the Turtle” by John van Druten, “Pygmalion” by Bernard Shaw, and “Deathtrap” by Ira Levin. All three plays will be directed by the Festival’s Artistic Producer, Laurel Smith.

The Set Designer will be responsible for the design of all three plays, including all technical specifications (including masking flats and sightline design) and drawings (including a full colour elevation and/or maquette), supervision of the set build in coordination with the Production Manager, as well as design and acquisition of all props and set dressing. Please apply with a cover letter, resume and set design samples.

Email applications by OCTOBER 5, 2018 to Artistic Producer Laurel Smith at: laurel[@]classictheatre.ca

PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER: Warms up Classic Theatre Festival Stage in August

Fans of gripping psychological thrillers are in luck as the Classic Theatre Festival opens its annual mystery thriller, Angel Street (also known as Gaslight) starting August 17 in Perth. This story of an unsolved murder and the lethal mind games employed to protect the main suspect is considered one of the best plays of the genre, a cat-and-mouse struggle for survival that leaves audiences on the edge of their seats until the final curtain.

Angel Street takes audiences back to Victorian-era London, and nights of thick fog and shadowy figures lurking in the distance. Its author, Patrick Hamilton, also penned another mystery mega-hit, Rope, which became an Alfred Hitchcock film, as well as a series of novels that in recent years have been rediscovered and acclaimed for their insights into the underbelly of London and the lives of those living on the margins.

When Angel Street opened on Broadway, it catapulted its young male lead, Vincent Price, into superstardom, while also providing a plum role to Canadian-raised actor Judith Evelyn. When a British film version was made in 1940, all the negatives and prints were bought up and destroyed by MGM, which preferred to keep the story for its own star, Ingrid Bergman.

Anyone familiar with the popular social media term ‘gaslighting’ – whereby manipulators intentionally set up misdeeds or falsehoods and then question the sanity of victims who challenge what is going on – will recognize why the term was inspired by this play. Written at a time when modern psychology was becoming a critical reference point in popular culture, the idea of gaslighting rapidly became a signifier of abusive relationships on both personal and political levels.

As the Classic Theatre Festival prepares for its annual mystery thriller Angel Street (Gaslight), there’s still time to catch Mrs. Warren’s Profession. (Colin Legge, Nicholas Rice, Catherine McNally, Anna Burkholder, Kyle Orzechs, photo: Jean-Denis Labelle)

Starring in this all-time classic is Jeffrey Aarles (returning after his lauded role last season as a conflicted minister in Shaw’s Candida) and Jessica Sherman, who has spent over a dozen years training and working on the UK stage. Also appearing are a trio of performers seen on stages across Canada as well as on TV and film: Sheldon Davis, Darla Biccum, and Lauren Horejda (who played the haunted target of gaslighting in last year’s I’ll Be Back Before Midnight).

Before Angel Street opens, there’s still time to catch George Bernard Shaw’s wickedly satirical take on social hypocrisy, Mrs. Warren’s Profession, a story about the reveal of a family secret, the men who dance around its uncomfortable truths, and an epic mother-daughter showdown. It continues to play on the Festival mainstage until August 12.

Those interested in street-level theatre can continue to enjoy the annual walking plays, with this year’s stories set during World War II. The Prisoner of Petawawa runs Wed. to Sun. at 11 am while the musical tribute to war brides, Far From Home, plays Thurs. & Fri. at 7 pm.

With 16 shows per week, the Classic Theatre Festival, running until Sept. 9, offers something for everyone. Tickets are available at ticketsplease.ca or 1-877-283-1283.

MRS. WARREN’S PROFESSION: Sparks Inspired Discussions at Classic Theatre Festival

Catherine McNally (left) as Mrs. Warren confronts her daughter Vivie (Anna Burkholder) in the compelling Mrs. Warren’s Profession, a legendary Shaw play running at Perth’s Classic Theatre Festival until August 12.  (Photo: Jean-Denis Labelle)

George Bernard Shaw’s legendary play about the gradual reveal of a family secret, the men who dance around its uncomfortable truths, and an epic mother-daughter showdown has sparked a good deal of introspection and discussion during the ongoing staging of Mrs. Warren’s Profession at the Classic Theatre Festival in Perth.

The play, which runs until August 12 at 54 Beckwith Street East (at Harvey), is centred in the Victorian era, a time when women had no right to vote or own property, and their status was described by John Stuart Mill as akin to slavery. It is against this backdrop that characters who have made certain choices for survival are challenged to justify their positions. As the show progresses, Festival audiences have found themselves debating during intermission and after the final curtain exactly what they think about Mrs. Warren, her daughter Vivie, and the men who are part of their world.

It’s exactly as Shaw would have liked it, given his penchant for a good debate and his interest in seeing changes to the vast social inequality that marked his age. Modern audiences arriving in Perth from as far away as Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto, as well as U.S. destinations, are engaging with the play not only as an entertainment – it is certainly a compelling show that mixes drama and comedy – but also as a mirror held up to 2018, when sexual inequality still exists both in Canada and around the globe.

Indeed, a 2015 UN Human Rights report raised concerns about “the persisting inequalities between women and men” in Canada, including the “high level of the pay gap” and its disproportionate effect on low-income women, racialized women, and Indigenous women. Out of 34 countries in the OECD, Canada had the 7th highest gender wage gap in 2014.

And while there certainly have been improvements since the Victoria era, in Canada, the average amount earned by full-time working women in Canada for every dollar earned by men is 74 cents. Based on a wage gap of 31.5% in Ontario, it currently takes women an additional 14 years to earn the same pay collected by men by age 65. The Canadian Women’s Foundation notes that 80% of all lone-parent families are headed by women, while women who leave an abusive partner to raise children on their own are more than five times likely to live in poverty.

“It’s against this backdrop that we can create a lens through which we view Mrs. Warren’s Profession and ask ourselves: is it her choice that we condemn, or is it the society that limits her choices to begin with that needs a closer examination,” says Matthew Behrens, the Classic Theatre Festival Associate Producer who discusses these issues during daily pre-show talks a half hour before the show.

“We are witnessing very spirited discussions, and people also leave the theatre with a sense of having taken a remarkable journey, which is another part of the theatrical experience,” he says.

Mrs. Warren’s Profession plays Tuesday to Sunday at 2 pm, with 8 pm shows every Wednesday and Saturday. For tickets to this show, the theatrical walking plays that continue to animate the streets of downtown Perth, as well as the Festival’s annual mystery thriller, Angel Street (Gaslight), call 1-877-283-1283 or visit ticketsplease.ca.

FAR FROM HOME: Brings 40’s-style Dancing in the Streets to Perth

There’s plenty of singing and dancing in the outdoor musical tribute to 1940s war brides, Far Frome Home, running Thursdays and Fridays at 7 pm in Perth until the end of August, 2018. It features, left to right, Connor Lyon, Katie Irvine, Mallory Brumm, and Connor Williamson (photo: Jean-Denis Labelle).

It’s not every day that the streets of Perth turn into a scene from a classic musical like Singing in the Rain or On the Town, but that’s exactly what happens this summer every Thursday and Friday from 7 to 8 pm with the Classic Theatre Festival production of Far From Home.

Passersby and drivers alike have done double takes as they see individuals wearing 1940s costumes singing and dancing their way down Gore Street. Far From Home is set in 1945 as the war winds down and people try to adjust to the major changes they experience in civilian life.

This music-filled tribute to the war brides who arrived in Perth after the Second World War is a family-friendly show that enlivens the sidewalks and alleyways next to Perth’s award-winning architectural facades. Indeed, they turn loading docks and assorted alleyways and courtyards into impromptu stages for dance numbers like Oh How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning, a comic song that many a soldier applauded when thinking of the dreaded early bugle calls in the armed services.

The show’s characters also illustrate the uninhibited joy that often marked homecomings from the war (and which was celebrated in many movies of the era too). Indeed, people were ready to party after five years of food rations, air raid sirens, and long waits for letters home that were often cut up by the military censors. Young people who had had to cut short their teenage years and assume adult responsibilities embraced one last opportunity to be kids again, and that exuberance comes through in Far From Home.

The show will appeal especially to fans of swing music and dancing, with songs like I’ve Got a Gal in Kalamazoo, In the Mood, For Me and My Gal, and Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else But Me) given vivacious renditions by the talented troupe that also performs the morning walking play, The Prisoner of Petawawa: Mallory Brumm, Katie Irvine, Connor Lyon, and Connor Williamson. The show was directed by Joanna McAuley Treffers.

Playwright  Laurel Smith notes that war brides often found that their adjustment to new lives was not as easy as one would think, given that there were still significant cultural and linguistic differences between Britain and Canada. Those differences make for some very funny moments, while tender renditions of torch songs like White Cliffs of Dover bring to life the heartfelt emotion that made putting a nickle into the jukebox at the Perth Tea Rooms such a romantic moment.

The Classic Theatre Festival is continuing to run on its mainstage the hit Shaw play, Mrs. Warren’s Profession, about the gradual reveal of a family secret, and is also planning the final mainstage show of the season, Angel Street (aka Gaslight), a riveting psychological thriller.

Tickets to all Festival shows are available at ticketsplease.ca or 1-877-283-1283.

REDISCOVERED COMIC GEM: Opens Classic Theatre Season June 22

The Classic Theatre Festival’s 9th season offers something for everyone, from walking plays and dinner theatre to mainstage comedies and mysteries. Returning for his 8th season is veteran performer Scott Clarkson, seen here with his co-star Victoria Houser. (Photo: Jean-Denis Labelle)

The Classic Theatre Festival in Perth opened its 9th summer season June 22 with a rediscovered comic gem, John Van Druten’s There’s Always Juliet. Playing at its wheelchair accessible, air conditioned 54 Beckwith Street East venue, the play embodies much of what makes unique the Festival’s mandate to produce hits from the golden age of Broadway and the London Stage.

“We pick plays that bring back fond memories and sensations, like the feeling you  get when you watch the film It’s A Wonderful Life every December with your friends and family, or you hum along to a wonderful Ella Fitzgerald song,” says Artistic Producer and Director Laurel Smith.

There’s Always Juliet asks whether love at first sight truly exists. Sparks fly after a British woman meets an American man at a London tea party, but how far will things go in this charming, cross-border romantic comedy set in 1927 London, England? “If you love the charming romantic comedies of the 30s and 40s (think Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Jimmy Stewart and Carole Lombard), this one’s for you,” says Smith.

There’s Always Juliet features an ensemble of Festival veterans including Scott Clarkson, who returns for his 8th season after a star turn in last year’s audience favourite, Same Time, Next Year; Festival newcomer Victoria Houser, a Toronto actor and singer originally from Halifax; Catherine Bruce (last seen here in the award-winning Arms and the Man); and Fraser Elsdon (from the Festival’s An Inspector Calls and Candida).

Over 80% of the Festival’s summer audience is tourists, thousands of whom arrive in Perth annually to take in plays, as well as eat, shop, and stay overnight, boosting the local economy. The Festival also books some of Canada’s top theatre and film/television talent, with actors who have performed across the country and been seen on screens around the world.

Over the past two years, the Classic Theatre Festival has also garnered a record-breaking nine Capital Critics Awards nominations for artistic excellence (more than any other company in Eastern Ontario, including the National Arts Centre), clearly putting Perth on the must-visit destination itinerary of many travelers.

“One of the pleasures of an Ottawa Valley summer is Perth’s Classic Theatre Festival, which has an impressive track record for mounting quality fare,” enthuses Jamie Portman, one Canada’s most respected veteran theatre writers and a member of the prestigious Capital Critics Circle.

Smith points out that while the Classic Theatre Festival’s award-winning shows regularly receive critical praise and audience raves, they are also proud to “serve as a cultural hub and gateway to the many wonders of Ontario’s Highlands, where authentic experiences, unrehearsed days, and unexpected moments await (see www.comewander.ca for details).”

The Festival’s summer season officially kicked off June 5 at Michael’s Table restaurant, where the Classic Dinner Theatre is staging the Shaw comedy Overruled. Seats for the brand new dinner theatre experience, which runs Tuesdays until August 28, are already 90% sold out, so those looking for “a most entertaining meal” should book soon.

The summer will also feature two more classics on the mainstage – the mother-daughter conflict and gradual reveal of a family secret in Mrs. Warren’s Profession and the gripping tale of an unsolved murder, Angel Street (aka Gaslight). The annual historic walking plays return as well, with two World War II-era shows: The Prison of Petawawa runs at 11 am, Wednesday to Sunday from June 27, while Far From Home, a tale of Perth war brides, runs Thursdays and Fridays at 7 pm, starting July 5.

Tickets to There’s Always Juliet (which runs June 22 to July 15, Tuesday to Sunday at 2 pm, with 8 pm shows Wednesday and Saturday) as well as all other Festival shows are available at 1-877-283-1283 or ticketsplease.ca

CLASSIC DINNER THEATRE: Premieres in Perth June 5

Every Tuesday evening this summer, the 2018 Classic Dinner Theatre and Michael’s Table present the hilarious G.B. Shaw comedy, Overruled – about two couples confronted by an unconventional challenge – along with a sumptuous three-course, home-cooked meal.

Classic Dinner Theatre and Michael’s Table present the G.B. Shaw comedy, Overruled every Tuesday from June 5 to Aug. 28, 2018.

Performed by some of Lanark and Renfrew Counties’ most talented up-and-coming performers – including Mallory Brumm, Katie Irvine, Connor Lyon, and Connor Williamson – the brand-new dinner theatre experience represents an extension of the annual summertime Classic Theatre Festival, which already features three mainstage professional productions, as well as a morning walking play and an evening ghost play.

“Our mandate period of performing classics from the golden age of Broadway and the London Stage is perfectly suited for dinner theatre,” explains Artistic Producer Laurel Smith. “I also think it’s something that’s primed for a comeback in an age when there’s only so much binge-watching people can do at home before they start to long for the connection of a live performance experience like this one.”

While dinner theatres sprung up across North America after World War II and reached their heyday in the 1960s and 70s, they have been enjoying a resurgence as companies like the Classic Theatre Festival and Michael’s Table come together around shared values of artistic and culinary excellence. “It’s a great opportunity to tickle your funny bone, please your palette, and create a memory you’ll enjoy long after the final curtain,” Smith says.

The Classic Theatre Festival decided to launch the new dinner theatre based on audience feedback about additional activities they would like to enjoy while attending a mainstage show. Given that 80% of audiences are tourists, a key request was getting home before sundown, and with a running time of 5 to 7 pm from June 5 to August 28, that should pose no problem for travellers coming from as far as two hours away.

The Michael’s Table menu will be offering four special entrees, with soul and salad and dessert and coffee or tea. Tickets for the experience will be $48 (which includes all box office charges, taxes and gratuities.)

With limited seating and strong advance word of mouth, seats are already selling fast. To reserve dinner theatre seats – and to enjoy the Festival’s early bird offers, which expire May 15 – contact 1-877-283-1283 or visit ticketsplease.ca

VIOLENCE PREVENTION EDUCATOR: Shares Timely Message with Lanark Youth

One of Canada’s leading women’s rights educators and advocates, Julie Lalonde (upper left), visited Perth last week to meet with members of the Burning Passions Theatre youth troupe, including (clockwise from top left) Ryan Kreissler, playwright/director Laurel Smith, Mary Cowan, Lu Williams, Ruby Davidson, and Winston Mavraganis.

One of Canada’s leading women’s rights educators and advocates, Julie Lalonde, visited Perth last week to meet with members of the Burning Passions Theatre youth troupe. Lalonde is acting as a primary consultant for a new play on the #MeToo movement exploring the aftermath of sexual assault, Every Friday, that tours Lanark County schools and youth centres for the last two weeks of April.

As someone who for 15 years has been active on the front lines of ending violence against women, the Governor General’s Award-winning advocate, who frequently appears in the national media as a go-to person for her expertise on such violence, shared important lessons with members of the youth troupe.

Lalonde chronicled a remarkable history that included leading a seven-year effort to establish the first sexual assault centre at Carleton University. It was an uphill battle, she recalled, because the administration refused to recognize the extent of rape culture on campus, claiming that to acknowledge the problem might hurt the school’s reputation znd discourage prospective students.

In response, Lalonde and a group of like-minded colleagues wrote petitions, held a town hall where the need to provide such a service was made obvious, and started an 18-hour-a-day support line that existed for years as the political struggle went on. While Carleton brought in a football team and built a new arena, it always claimed there was no funding available for a sexual assault centre.

“We heard horrible stories,” Lalonde says, often from women who had never before had their experiences framed within the context of naming the violence done to them as sexual assault. “We were hearing stories like ‘my abuser goes to the same class, what do I do?’ and “my teaching assistant is abusing me.’” In the era before Facebook and Twitter, the group got the word out about their hotline by placing flyers on car windshields and putting up posters at 4 am that were quickly taken down by staff. Each individual staffed the phone for four-hour shifts, 365 days a year.

The tireless Lalonde has also worked for seven years on a provincial campaign to end violence against women, training over 10,000 people while speaking in different communities some 200 days of the year. She has also, unfortunately, been the focus of repeated internet trolling and harassment, including death threats, many of which amplified after she spoke to cadets at the Royal Military College on recognizing and ending such violence. For a number of years afterward, she could not speak publicly without a police presence, which she said was supremely ironic given the national “awakening” then unfolding on sexual violence in light of allegations brought forward by a group of women against former CBC broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi.

Lalonde has also played a key role in working to improve safety for riders of OC Transpo while also shepherding a group called Hollaback Ottawa, which challenges street-level catcalls and harassment. A lot of people have yet to come to the terms with the fact that, she says, “social media is the new sidewalk,” a place where women are still not free to exist in a violence-free space.

While she garnered a national profile as a leading fighter against such violence, Lalonde says she was dealing with her own personal nightmare, being “brutally stalked” by a former boyfriend for over a decade. “I would be on the news talking about these issues, but I couldn’t talk about what was going on in my own life because it just wasn’t safe,” she says. The man who stalked her died in a car accident, but the damage he did – including Lalonde’s post-traumatic stress – remains, as documented in a new video she created with Montreal artist Ambivalently Yours, Outside of the Shadows (https://outsideoftheshadows.ca/).

“I broke my silence and took the social justice movement to task for ignoring criminal harassment. We talk about sexual violence. We talk about intimate partner violence. Why don’t we talk about stalking? I was tired of waiting for people to do it. I was tired of screaming into the void.”

Reflecting on the #MeToo movement, Lalonde says “If we’re waiting for survivors to just come forward, it won’t happen. We need to create the conditions for it to be safe enough to come forward. You have the right to decide if and when you tell your story.” She also rejects the Hollywood notion that simply telling one’s story of abuse will result in healing.

“There’s no guarantees, so as a counselor, I have often asked, ‘What does healing look like to you?’ The answer does not always come easily or clearly because most people do not know what options exist outside of calling the police or going to the hospital.”

Lalonde views the Burning Passions Theatre play, Every Friday, as an opportunity to continue spreading the word not only about the issue, but also the resources that, limited though they may be, are available in Lanark County.

Every Friday plays in Perth on Tuesday April 17 at 5pm at YAK (1 Sherbrooke Street East), at the Mississippi Mills Youth Centre (134 Main Street East) on Thursday April 19 at 5pm, at Lanark Community Youth Centre (61 Princess Street) on Friday April 20 at 6pm, and at the Smiths Falls Community Centre (71 Cornelia Street) on Friday April 27 at 4:30pm. Admission is by donation, with no one turned away for lack of funds.

For more information on the project or to arrange a school booking, contact burning[at]web.ca or call (613) 264-8088.

#ME TOO PLAY: Tours Lanark County in April

The #Metoo and #TimesUp movements receive a local interpretation with the new play, Every Friday, touring Lanark County in April, starring (clockwise from top left) Ryan Kreissler, Winston Mavraganis, Ruby Davidson, Mary Cowan, Lu Williams and Felix Evangelho. Locations and times at burningpassionstheatre.com

The global #Metoo and #TimesUp movements receive a local interpretation in April as Burning Passions Theatre presents a new play, Every Friday, that will tour local youth centres and schools in Lanark Highlands, Perth, Smiths Falls, Carleton Place, and Almonte.

The play, written and directed by Laurel Smith, based on stories created by Mary Cowan, Ruby Davidson, Felix Evangelho, Ryan Kreissler, Winston Mavraganis, and Lu Williams, is an exploration of the experiences of a group of youth who come together to share their stories of survival in a violent world. Given the mature subject matter, it is recommended for ages 14+.

“For lots of reasons, many people still have trouble understanding concepts like trust and consent, which are at the heart of so many ##Metoo stories. We want to show how these issues play out in real situations,” explains Smith, who notes that the play, Every Friday, is the fourth installment of the annual Listen Up! touring theatre project that addresses issues affecting rural teenagers. “To hear terms like assault, abuse and harassment without their full context can be alienating. By presenting characters who share their own journeys of survival, we hope to reconnect audiences to the very real emotions and effects of these terms.”

Each performance will be followed by a talkback session in which audience members can dialogue with the actors and playwright.

“This play is very important to me because it’s a huge problem, and is becoming even more relevant today as social media and people in power are portraying victims as liars,” says Grade 12 student Mary Cowan. “I believe everyone has a right to be believed. This play also gives the message to adults and teenagers alike that there is help, but it is also okay to not be okay.”

For Ryan Kreissler, who has acted in previous Listen Up! projects, Every Friday is “a great opportunity to learn about topics that aren’t often discussed anywhere else. The plays we create are always informative, and they’re great for spreading awareness of an issue and explaining how to get help.”

Grade 11 student Ruby Davidson agrees, noting “it is my goal for our shows to help in the community and spread awareness for the important issues that are not talked about enough in Lanark County.”

“This is a great opportunity to spread a positive message,” says PDCI student Winston Mavraganis. “Access to a platform where people’s voices can be heard is a luxury not everyone is afforded.”

As part of the play’s creation, group members will be meeting with renowned Governor-General’s Award-winning anti-violence consultant Julie Lalonde, a frequent media source on issues of violence against women whose work has appeared on Al Jazeera, CBC’s The National, TVO’s The Agenda, Vice, WIRED magazine and FLARE, among others.

Every Friday plays in Perth on Tuesday April 17 at 5pm at YAK (1 Sherbrooke Street East); at the Mississippi Mills Youth Centre (134 Main Street East) on Thursday April 19 at 5pm; at Lanark Community Youth Centre (61 Princess Street) on Friday April 20 at 6pm; and at the Smiths Falls Community Centre (71 Cornelia Street) on Friday April 27 at 4:30pm. Admission is by donation, with no one turned away for lack of funds.

For more information on the project or to arrange a school booking, contact burning@web.ca or call (613) 264-8088.