The choices that Persephone makes can affect a local theatre artist's career, so yesterday's pending announcement created a mix of emotions amongst the community. There was some speculation that there would be an increase in “presentations” (shows brought in from out of town, rather than being produced by Persephone potentially creating jobs for local actors, designers, and production staff) after this year's surprising presentations of Nevermore and MacHomer. The other speculation was that Persephone would continue to program small cast shows for fear of lower attendance due to all of the construction around the building. Personally, since Persephone's season is something I can't control, I went into yesterday's announcement with an optimistic open mind. My mindset may also have been influenced by the fact that I already have employment on one of Persephone's upcoming productions and that as a stage manager, my job isn't affected by size of cast. As the partner of another actor though, I secretly kept my fingers crossed for the sake of his career.
Greg Ochitwa - Cope
The announcement ended up being positive for a number of different reasons. The first highlight came from Youth Coordinator Will Brooks who announced the inclusion of Cope, a production going on right now at The Refinery as part of the Live Five theatre series. It is a great show that I had the privilege of seeing this past weekend. It was created and performed by Regina's Greg Ochitwa who used his own history of dealing with a type of arthritis called Ankylosing Spondylitis and his experience as a hip hop artist as inspiration. It is billed as a hip hop musical – and if you've never heard of such a thing, check it out, it is very cool. Here's a little taste of what you'll hear/see:
The production currently happening at The Refinery will undergo a few changes in order to make it more appropriate for young audiences, but I am certain that it will stay very cool and the kids will love it.
Other highlights were announced by Artistic Director Del Surjik. For the Deep End Series I am excited for Deadman's Cellphone, a play that my company, Theatre Ecstasis, almost produced a few years back. It is about a woman who answers a dead man's cellphone and ends up getting sucked into his life. I found out shortly after the announcement through the wonders of Facebook that my good friend Jeff Pufahl will be directing this show. The other Deep End play I am excited about is by Regina playwright Dan MacDonald, A History of Breathing. I saw a staged reading of this play a couple of years ago at the Saskatchewan Playwrights Centre's Spring Festival of New Plays and it was very intriguing. A History of Breathing will be quite different from Dan's last play, Velocity, which was produced by Persephone last season, but just as engaging.
For the main stage I am excited about The Importance of Being Earnest for four reasons: 1)I have always loved Oscar Wilde's witty and hilarious dialogue 2)I already know that I will be working on this play as the stage manager 3)It is a co-production with Western Canada Theatre in Kamloops, so I get to travel with the show and 4)Johnna Wright will be directing it and I love working with her.
The other main stage show I am excited about is Harold Pinter's The Caretaker. And not just because Pinter is one of the most influential modern British dramatists, but because Pinter's good friend, Henry Woolf, will be starring in it. I had the honor of working with Henry a couple of years ago at Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan in The Merchant of Venice and then again at Persephone in Great Expectations. I can not say enough about Henry – he is magnificent and it will be a treat to watch him in his element.
So there you have it, a little insight into my thoughts of Persephone's upcoming season. For a full list of their 2012/2013 shows visit www.persephonetheatre.org.