End of August No Longer a Theatrical Wasteland

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Workshop, Full Circle and StoryBook theatres will keep the end of August from being the theatrical wasteland it has often been in past years. Generally, after the end of the Calgary Fringe Theatre Festival, theatre buffs had to wait until September to whet their appetites. Not so this year with three offerings to fill what could have been a void.

Workshop Theatre is presenting a limited run of David Hare’s The Blue Room, his 1988 reworking of Arthur Schnitzler’s highly controversial La Ronde which was written in 1900. It took 21 years before this sexual drama received a public performance in Vienna, and the police immediately shut that down, and Schnitzler was prosecuted for public obscenity.

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La Ronde is a daisy chain of 10 sexual encounters in which one character from each scene remains and welcomes a new character until, at the end of the chain, the original woman returns.

In 1988, director Sam Mendes asked Hare to rewrite La Ronde for two actors to play all 10 roles and it became a showcase for Nicole Kidman and Iain Glen in both London and New York.

AJ Pearce, who has directed and stars opposite Rosalind Jackson Roe in Workshop’s production, says The Blue Room “is not really about nudity and sex. It is a look at how people treat sex differently with different partners. A man reacts differently with his wife than he does with his mistress, or with a person of a different social standing.”

Workshop’s production does contain brief nudity but Pearce explains “the nudity occurs because Rosalind and I never leave the stage so we have to change costume pieces behind screens. It’s always completely tasteful but that doesn’t mean that the subject matter of The Blue Room is not as spicy as it has always been.”

The Blue Room runs Aug. 17-19 in The Motel Theatre in Arts Commons. There are only 50 seats at each performance and tickets are $22. To reserve a seat, go to workshoptheatre.ca/tickets and RSVP.

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Riverona
The Riverona cast doing their best teen drama impression. Courtesy, Kevin Weir jpg

THOSE TWO HOUSEHOLDS ARE AT IT AGAIN IN RIVERONA

The artists at Calgary’s Full Circle Theatre are treating Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet as if it were a modern television series.

Erin Weir, who stars as Tybalt, co-wrote Riverona: Episode One Two Households with Megan Baldrey, Kevin Weir, Claire Bolton and Hans Wackershauser. She says the play is like Riverdale meets Wet Hot American Summer meets William Shakespeare.

“It’s one-third original text and two-thirds original nonsense. It’s very much a comedy. All you need to know about Romeo and Juliet is what you’ve absorbed through cultural osmosis,” says Weir, explaining “We’ve conceived Riverona as a four-part series and Two Households is the first episode. It takes the action of the play from the street fight between the Capulets and Montagues to Romeo and Juliet’s first meeting at the party.”

This 75-minute comedy runs Aug. 23-26 at 7 p.m. with an added 2 p.m. matinee on Aug. 26 at the Evergreen Theatre and Community Spaces at 1709 8th Ave. N.E. Tickets are only available from the website, https://aflimsyplan.com/full-circle-theatre/ 

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StoryBook Theatre
Leah Chan as Pippin with cast in StoryBooks Theatre’s Pippin. jpg

LOOKING FOR MEANING IN A CHAOTIC WORLD

StoryBook Theatre’s 2023 Summer Intensive is the 1972 musical Pippin originally directed by the legendary Bob Fosse with music by Stephen Schwartz, who also wrote Godspell and Wicked.

Pippin is an ideal choice for StoryBook because it was originally conceived as a student musical for Carnegie Mellon University’s ScotchNSoda’s theatre troupe but was eventually reworked as a Broadway play. Ben Vereen won a Tony Award for playing the narrator in this story of a young prince in search of meaning and significance in his life. The prince in StoryBook’s version is played by Leah Chan.

StoryBook’s Pippin, directed by JP Thibodeau, runs in the Beddington Arts Centre from Aug. 18 through Sept. 3 with performances Thursdays through Saturdays at 7 p.m. and  2 p.m. matinees on Saturdays and Sundays.  Advance tickets, which begin at $27, are available at tickets.storybooktheatre.org.

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