Wednesday, October 31, 2007

New York: REFUGE OF LIES, 2008!

Nov 14: tentatively, Lion Theatre on Theatre Row from July 31st to August 24th 2008

How exciting! I just got word from Steven Day of Day By Day Productions in New York that they've secured funding to produce my play REFUGE OF LIES in Manhattan in August/September 2008! Can you imagine? I made my first trip to NYC this April - now I've got a reason to head back there again.

The first draft of the play was written as part of the 24 Hour Play Festival at The New Play Centre in Vancouver in 1992 or 1993 or so, under the title "Flesh & Blood." Theatre & Company commissioned me to further develop the play, which premiered in Kitchener in 1994, directed by Stuart Scadron-Wattles and starring Ted Follows. There was also a reading of the play at the Art Within Symposium and Showcase in Atlanta, a couple years back. My friend J.P. Allen has worked hard on behalf of the play, sponsoring a reading in San Francisco (at which he met his wife, Janis!), and publishing the script through Ventana Press. He promoted the work to various theatres, and we had encouraging near misses at the Mark Taper Forum and the Magic Theatre, but apart from a community production at a large church in the midwestern United States, this will be the play's American premiere - its professional premiere, to be sure. And my New York debut!

One possible venue is the Cherry Lane Theatre in Greenwich Village: "As New York's oldest, continuously running Off-Broadway theatre, the Cherry Lane has helped to define American drama, fostering theater that is fresh, daring, and relevant, for over 80 years." Sheesh.

(Quick update a few hours later: it's looking like Theatre Row may be the most likely venue. Where right now Peter Dinklage (THE STATION AGENT) is starring in a show directed by Ethan Hawke. They do it different in New York...)

(And another quick update, in the "How Weird Is This" department: just got this note from Janis DeLucia Allen, "Tomorrow is the anniversary of the day that we read the play here in SF. It's the day JP and I met." Happy anniversary! And I'm the one that gets the gift...)


That's all for now, but I'll toss in some notes I jotted down in response to some questions a while back...

Q: We were looking through the play and curious on how you came up with the name.

A: Originally titled "Flesh And Blood," because of the communion element in the story, and because of the one Jewish school of thought that says you can only be forgiven by the person who's been wronged, "or by their flesh and blood."

But a local playwright and theatre critic had a play out at that time also called Flesh And Blood, so I asked him, and he preferred I change the title. So I had about three days to find a new title, started looking through the bible for cool-sounding pertinent quotes, loved the tie-in with both lying and the "hiding place" Rudi was building, and the idea of our sins being "hid in Christ."

Q: Structure?

A: Got the idea of the Jewish man's appearances from the incident of stopping at the stoplight / seeing the guy at the bus stop, which happened to me while I was prepping to write the play but which I attributed to Rudi. (I was in an altered state after viewing an amazing production of A LIE OF THE MIND at the Vancouver Playhouse - the bus stop event occurred at the south end of Granville Street, just before driving onto the Granville Bridge). So I played the story through, alternating between escalating scenes with him and scenes without him, and soon realized that his presence was correlated to the increasing threat to Rudi in "the real world" from the court case. The more extreme "dream occurrances" weren't really pre-planned, but came out during the writing of the first draft during a 24-hour playwriting competition: I think I was practically in a dream state myself while writing them, no exaggeration. I would fall asleep sitting up at the computer, wake up to find three pages of "j" or something.

Within the past few months I watched THE LAST WAVE, which I had seen 20 or 25 years ago and which made a huge impact on me at the time, though I could remember few details. I was astonished to see the escalating appearances of the aboriginal man outside the house, at the door, inside the house, etc., and to re-encounter the idea of "dream time" - I had completely forgotten about both aspects of the film, but clearly see the connection with my play.

I wove in the Paraguay flashback scenes and some present-time Simon scenes subsequently, to fill out the story.

Q: What about the character and cultural background that create the language style?

A: When I moved to Vancouver in 1978 to be a youth pastor, I was in a community church founded by a bunch of people who had left the Mennonite church, so I kind of picked up their culture by osmosis. (Fact is, I've ended up attending a Mennonite Church, but that's certainly after the fact of writing the play.) I'd also known some Dutch people here and there, so there's kind of a blending of the two cultures, as there would be in Rudi's marriage.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Nov 1: Seana Lee Wood at Oasis

What's Dolly doing on top of that piano? Get back to the tent right now, woman! The quartet needs you!

By the way, we've commissioned Seana Lee's husband, Jim Hodgkinson, to compose a nine-voice choral score for LEAVE OF ABSENCE, the play we're developing with Lucia Frangione for our upcoming 25th Anniversary Season. More on that later...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Bellingham: JAKE'S GIFT, Oct 18-27

Julia Mackey's lovely show about Jake Spleen, the character she created for MERCY WILD, is running two weekends in Bellingham. It was a huge hit at the Victoria Fringe, and Jules will be taking Jake to Montreal's Centaur Theatre in January. There's no news about that yet at Julia's website (beautifully designed by Dirk Van Stralen), but there is news of other performances, including a Remembrance Day performance in Vancouver.

Here's a note from Ms Mackey...


Hi Ron,

Here is the info about the Bellingham shows on the iDiOM Theatre website.

The show is a double bill starting at 8 PM on Oct 18/19/20 and 25/26/27 - tickets are $10 and the box office # is 360.201.5464

Giant Invisible Robot is first and then Jake's Gift

See you soon - hopefully on the 6th.



Look where I'll be, November 16...

It's the inaugural production of the brand new Mustard Seed Theatre in St. Louis, a professional company that grows out of the work of Deanna Jent's theatre department at Fontbonne University. The department hosted a CITA regional conference a number of years back at which they did a reading of REMNANT, and apparently interest in that very strange post-apocalyptic Christmas script has persisted. Can't wait to see it!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Goode / Frangione / Kopsa Project Snags Kick Start Bucks

Spot the Pacific Theatre faces? That's the cast and crew for Annunciation Pictures' short film THE HITCHHIKER, directed by Jason Goode. (The sharp-eyed PT person will pick out Steve Waldschmidt, Gillian Rowe, Jason Goode and Gina Chiarelli in the crowd). That film has shown in tons of festivals, garnered oodles of awards, and the good news doesn't stop there.

Jason has been working with Lucia Frangione to develop a short film called POP SWITCH, starring Lucia and her husband Michael Kopsa. Yesterday the Director's Guild of Canada announced that the project has been awarded a $20,000 Kick Start grant.

Frank is in his late 40s and feels too old to become a father for the first time. His wife Estelle forces the issue when, on her 40th birthday, she secretly puts them back on the adoption wait list.
Annunciation Pictures

PS Lucia Frangione is presently at work writing LEAVE OF ABSENCE for Pacific Theatre, and you'll see Michael Kopsa in our spring production of THE WOODSMAN. Over in Alberta, Steve Waldschmidt is Ernie Douglas (a role he seems to have been born to play) in Rosebud Theatre's production of TENT MEETING, closing October 20.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Oct 25 - Nov 10: Kyle Rideout in The Stone Face

Kyle Rideout is a regular at PT - true blue fans will remember him from HALO, BEGGARS AT THE WELL OF IMMORTALITY and... Hmm, I think there's something else as well? Certainly we see him around the place plenty, he was Romeo at Bard this summer, you'll see him on most Vancouver stages sooner or later. Next up for Kyle, a show that you might as well consider an adjunct to Pacific Theatre's "movie season" (also featuring Terence Kelly, who we got to know on TWELVE ANGRY MEN), with Mr Rideout appearing as none other than Buster Keaton in...

The Stone Face
by Sherry MacDonald
A play about Buster Keaton, Samuel Beckett and a film called Film

Oct 25 - Nov 10

Starring Alex Diakun, Allan Zinyk, Terence Kelly, Anna Hagan and Kyle Rideout
Directed by Kevin McKendrick
Waterfront Theatre
1412 Cartwright Street, Granville Island

Presented by Damfino Theatre

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Closing Oct 13: 4.48 Psychosis (with Alexa Devine)

Remember Alexa Devine, who was nominated for a Jessie for her outstanding work in GRACE this spring? You may have heard her talk about her experience working with Pacific Theatre at our Living Dreams event in June. Well, she's mounted a production with her husband Sean that's getting rave reviews. Anything but a feel-good piece, but definitely worth making the effort to see...

“4.48 Psychosis is an hour-long rant from the darkest
corners of a deeply depressed mind…Haunting and
violently lyrical...A scorching text.”

“Colleen Wheeler proves again that she’s the best
dramatic actress in Vancouver. No one does despair
better…Alexa Devine and Sean Devine successfully
convey terrible, abject pain.”

“With great conviction, each performer gives a
gut-wrenching variation on suicidal behavior. Sean
Devine and Alexa Devine offer moments of stark horror.
Colleen Wheeler is consistently embedded in the depths
of misery.”

"4.48 Psychosis claws its way right into the mind of
the clinically depressed...The intensity of this piece
is almost unbearable."

4.48 Psychosis
by Sarah Kane
directed by Mindy Parfitt
with Alexa Devine, Sean Devine and Colleen Wheeler

Until October 13 (8pm)
2-for-1 Matinee Saturday October 13 @ 2pm

"4.48 Psychosis" is the harrowing journey through one
woman's mind as she struggles with sanity and her will to live. The Daily Telegraph referred to the play as "an act of artistic heroism...a masterpiece of emotional and mental anxiety." Time Out Magazine said that "it's so dangerously beautiful that it all but leaves a bruise." Sarah Kane is one the originators of the UK's "in-yer-face" theatre movement, and is widely known today as one of the last generation's most innovative and controversial dramatists.

From the company that produced "You Are Here" and "The Darling Family"

Firehall Arts Centre / 280 East Cordova
Tickets $20/$16 / Box Office 604 689-0926