Friday, February 18, 2011

Nocturne: What Is It?

A Nocturne is a musical composition that is inspired by, or evocative of, the night. In it's most familiar form it is a single-movement character piece usually written for solo piano. Nocturnes are generally thought of as being tranquil, often expressive and lyrical, and sometimes rather gloomy.

The most famous composer of the form was Frederic Chopin, who wrote 21 of them:

Chopin's Nocturne in E Flat Major Op. 9 No. 2 is one of his most popular Nocturne’s. He composed this piece when he was approximately twenty years old and like much of Chopin's music, this Nocturne is tinged with melancholy.

While Rapp refers to Chopin in his play the Nocturne he references most is a much more obscure piece by the Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg. While Grieg is a well-known composer for many of his pieces his more obscure Nocturne (or Notturno) can be found amongst his collection of piano miniatures called the Lyric Pieces:

This extraordinary and beautiful piece of music along with other classical and contemporary references underscore the play creating some truly beautiful moments courtesy of our amazing sound and lighting designers.

I hope you will all come out to share in the magic!

~Sabrina Evertt,
Artistic Producer

[Tickets to Nocturne may be purchased from Tickets Tonight, or you can buy a 3-ticket Season Flex Pass at Ticket Leap]

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Coffee Talk with Troy Anthony Young

Over the weekend at Melriches, I caught up with Troy, who we introduced last month in the One-Man Show post. Nocturne marks Troy’s first venture with Twenty-Something Theatre, where has tackles the role of “The Son.”

So rehearsals are going well?

They are. I’d love to have more! It’s been a really great process. We started out at the beginning of January and we meet every two days. It’s absolutely necessary with this play. The text is really dense and it’s very poetic. Sabrina and I coined the term, it’s like “modern Shakespeare” at times. Adam Rapp is really smart and the character he’s created is a very intelligent man who reads his head off. He’s a writer himself. And the text, it’s beautiful. It’s absolute poetry. I mean, it’s in prose form but it’s poetry.

Wow, cool. I can’t wait! So what are you drinking there?

Coffee. It’s just coffee. It’s been my fuel for two months now.

If we were at a bar, what would you be having?

Probably beer. Or maybe a good Irish whiskey.

Tell me about a really memorable performance or show you saw that really stands out for you.

When I was in high school, there was a theatre company in Edmonton called Phoenix. They’re no longer there though, unfortunately. They did this version of a play called “Road”, which is originally from England and takes place in Yorkshire. It’s about a bunch of very lower-class, working people. They had transformed this whole mechanics garage, which was their theatre space, into a street. They literally laid asphalt down on the ground and everything. You walked in and you were blown away by the environment. Though that wasn’t what really did it for me. What really did it were the performances – some of the best actors I’ve ever seen. And I’m fortunate to be friends with some of them. One of them was a teacher of mine, his name’s David McNally, he’s in Edmonton and he’s one of the best actors I’ve ever known. There was this one sequence towards the end of the play where these two young men and these two young women have been out partying, and they’ve come back to the house and they’re drinking it up, and they have one record to play. It’s Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness” and they put it on, it’s all scratchy and 45 rpms. Nobody says anything. They just let the music affect them. I remember watching these four actors, without saying a word, you could see all the sorrow, and the anger and frustration these people felt in this working-class town where nobody has any money. And at the end of it they’re dancing. And it starts out only a little bit and then just develops and develops. And the dance is dancing out all their frustrations. Then at the end of it, the line’s “Somehow we must get out.” And it was just mind-blowing.

Tell me about your, “Aha! I want to be an actor” moment.

Actually, it’s kind of funny. When I was a very young boy – I was about ten years old – and there was a theatre school in my hometown, which is Leduc, Alberta. It’s a small, little city outside of Edmonton. The woman who ran the school happened to be more or less a friend of my mother’s, and she said that she wanted me to come to this theatre school. I really didn’t want to, to be honest. I didn’t have much interest in it. I actually spent the first year of classes pretty much just staying in the background and not doing much. I would actually pull the curtain instead of going onstage for the show. Stuff like that. At some point, I ended up having to fill in for somebody. It was a Christmas show. I don’t remember what the play was, but one of the kids broke his leg or got grounded – one of the two – and I ended up onstage. The lights came up and I did a song and dance number, and at the end the audience clapped. And it was like, “Hey! They’re doing that just because of what I did!” It kind of hooked me. I found this natural affinity towards it. I really enjoyed it and I was starting to really get into it, making some friends there. By the age of twelve I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do with my life.

What do you think of the theatre scene in Vancouver? The good, the bad, and the ugly.

There is some really amazing theatre that happens in this city. Unfortunately, it tends to come from groups that don’t get seen as much as they should. Groups like Twenty-Something. Sabrina is one of the most talented directors in this town. She deserves to have her stuff seen. A lot of the best theatre I’ve seen in this city has been micro-theatre stuff, Equity Co-ops, and small theatre stuff. There are the big leagues; I mean you have your Arts Club and your Playhouse. You have Bard on the Beach. They do good work. Some of the stuff they do is really amazing, and some of the stuff is okay. I don’t want to put them down or anything because you need the commercial, the sell-able kind of theatre in the city. That’s a very necessary part of the community. But the stuff that’s really challenging, interesting, and really thrills me is all done by smaller groups. I just wish people would go more. It’s a weird thing about Vancouver. It’s hard to get butts in seats. About the only company that does really well, consistently, all the time is Bard on the Beach. I wish I could figure out what their secret was and market it myself.

Do you have any funny or embarrassing actor stories that have happened onstage?

I was doing a play, I’m not going to name the play, and as always happens with small, private companies, we were under-rehearsed. We were onstage. I think it was our second or third show. I was working with this other actor and I realized that he was completely lost. He had completely lost his lines. He didn’t know where he was in the scene, the questions he was supposed to ask me, or anything. I knew myself, just enough to try and wing my way through this. I started switching some things around, turning my statements back into the way he would ask the questions back at me so I could just answer, kind of an “Okay, do you know where we are?” Finally, he got himself back together and was back. That’s not really the embarrassing part, other than the sheer terror of wondering how I was going to save this in front of an audience. But it was afterward – when the director corrected me on my lines. The director was sitting there in the audience, watching the show and hadn’t realized what I was doing, and why I was doing it. The other actor then came up and said, “Wow, you totally saved my ass up there!” And then the director backed down. We all had a good chuckle about it afterward.

Tell me about the process of doing a one-man show. Do you work differently as compared with an ensemble piece?

The actor process is pretty much the same. The one thing about a one-man show that’s different is, well my belief in acting is it has a lot to do with how you’re affecting the other person and how they’re affecting you. When you’re doing this show, there’s no other person onstage. The other person is the audience and they’re not reacting – not in the way your co-star would react onstage. It’s a matter of projecting their reaction. Although, this particular play is very much storytelling. There are a lot of elements of very dramatic action, but there is a lot of storytelling. You still have to have the playable action in the role but there is just some really beautiful storytelling that goes on as well. Some of it is downright hilarious and dark, but hilarious.

Daunting at all?

Oh yes. I wish I had started working on this script about a year ago. It’s about sixty-five or seventy pages and really dense text. It’s beautiful stuff and when you say it, you fall in love with it. The journey that this man takes, from being a teenage boy who accidentally kills his sister, I mean that’s how the play starts. The first line of the play is, “Fifteen years ago I killed my sister.” From there to him and his family dealing with the fall-out of it, to being an adult looking back and dealing with it. I don’t want to tell or give too much away though. But he deals with the fallout from this horrible accident as a young man. It’s tragic and it’s beautiful. It’s a daunting task but it’s very exciting. We’re a week and a bit away from opening right now and I think we’re right where we’re supposed to be.

So why should people come and see Nocturne?

It’s a beautiful story. The Son is just such an amazing character. He’s witty; he’s funny, and smart. It’s a very entertaining play but it’s also very engaging. There are parts in the play that are just going to rip your heart strings to bits. I hope.

What advice would you have for any young actors starting out or thinking about becoming an actor?

Okay, this is going to sound a little sad: it’s going to be the toughest thing you’ll ever do in your life. If you don’t love it with every part of your being, if you don’t absolutely need it, if it’s not the only thing that can keep you going, think twice. Think twice about making it a career. It can be so challenging and so frustrating, but when you get the chance to do something, when you get the chance to perform in a really wonderful play – be that a musical theatre piece you love or a really great drama, or Shakespeare, or a really funny Neil Simon comedy – then the reward’s all there. When you know that what you’ve just said has reached out across the lights and has grabbed somebody, and you know they’re listening to every word you say, that is the moment. That’s the pay-off. That being said, I’m not saying don’t be an actor, but it can be really challenging and tiresome at times. There are sometimes periods where you don’t get work, and you have to go wait tables. But acting feeds your soul.

You can catch Troy next week in Nocturne, running February 22-27 at the Havana Theatre. Tickets may be purchased from Tickets Tonight, or you can buy a 3-ticket Season Flex Pass at Ticket Leap.

~Sarah MacKay
Associate Producer

Friday, February 11, 2011

This Is The Reality

It’s been almost 1 month since we kicked off #fc2011. We created a plan. And now we’re putting that plan into motion. On Wednesday we launched a fundraising drive through “crowd-sourcing” or “crowd-funding” by using social media platforms such as this blog, twitter & facebook. It allows our friends, followers and fans to pitch in and help us make Prodigals a reality.

And, the reality is this: due to the state of government funding in this country Twenty-Something Theatre is still yet to receive any public funding so we rely solely on the private sector to make our projects a reality.

This won’t turn into a government bashing session because the situation we currently face is what it is and the likelihood that it will change anytime soon is slim to none. So, that has left us with no choice but to put nose to the grindstone and make it happen for ourselves.

But we can’t make it happen without you. Prodigals is our first venture into “professional” theatre. And by “professional” (in quotation marks) I am referring to the payment of a standard “living wage” – whether as set out by Equity or another professional organization – to the actors, designers & production team working on the show. Not in reference to the quality of the production. We have always and will continue to always put on professional quality shows; but, as anyone who works in the theatre industry knows, it is hard to pay anyone a standard “living wage” when you are not receiving some sort of public funding.

For example: if you pay everyone Equity minimums (approx $500-$600 per week) over a typical 3 week rehearsal period and 2 week performance period. That alone equals $2500-$3000 for one person. Multiply that by say 6 performers (like we have in Prodigals) and you get approx $15,000 - $18,000. And, that is just the actors. You still have to pay the director, the stage manager, the designers, etc.

So, that $15,000 has to come from somewhere and that is usually 1 of 3 sources: box office revenues, public funding or private funding. And since we’ve already gone over the state of the public funding in this country -- and talked ad nauseam about how hard it is to rely on any sort of projected box office revenue beyond 30% – we are left with private funding.

$15,000+ solely from the private sector alone?! You look at the number, blink a few times, and think to yourself “you have got to f---ing be kidding me?!”.

Well, I’m here to tell you, this isn’t some kind of sick joke. This is the reality.

So, if you are me, then you swallow hard, feel a bit daunted & depressed for about a day or two and then you pull-up your bootstraps and you get to work. Because I’m not going to let a silly little thing like money get in the way of accomplishing what it is we set out to accomplish.

So come hell or high water Prodigals 2.0 is going full steam ahead but we could use your help to get us there. How you might ask? Good question:

1) You can go to our IndieGoGo page (or click on the widget on the right hand side of this blog post), make a contribution and receive one of the many awesome perks!!

2) Alternatively, since Twenty-Something Theatre Society is now a Registered Charity, you can also donate through by clicking on the “Donate Now” button. You’ll get an immediate tax-deductible receipt.

Donate Now Through!

3) Or, you can do it the good old-fashioned way and send us a cheque by snail mail. Mailing address here.

Everyone involved in Prodigals has dedicated their time and passion to this project over the past 2 years for (basically) free and they all deserve to be recognized and remunerated for their contribution. Plus, the overall production of the play also deserves to be done right and properly which means giving it the time and funding it requires.

So, thank you in advance for helping to make it happen!!

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Prodigals 2.0

This week we will be having our first production meeting for Prodigals 2.0 (thank you Sean) which means two and half months until we open the official World Premiere at the beginning of May. So as we start the production process I thought I would bring you a few updates on our overall progress so far.

Update #1: Venue

Finally!! We are so excited to be able to officially announce that Prodigals will premiere in Studio T at the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts at SFU Woodward's. This is a partnership that I have been working on since last June and we are absolutely thrilled to have formed this new partnership with Michael Boucher, Director of Cultural Programs & Partnerships, and the rest of the team at SFU Woodward's. We look forward to working with them and this amazing new venue in town.

Update #2: New Cast Member

We have a new Nina!! We want to welcome Kirsten Kilburn (who you last saw as Candy in our production of Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love) to the cast of Prodigals as the new Nina. Throughout the summer in discussions between Sean, Peter & myself one of the main points of revision and development for Prodigals 2.0 is the character of Nina. So, be prepared for a whole new, edgier (& slightly trashier) Nina in this production. The character of Nina is still in development along with many other script elements so we are all excited to see where Prodigals 2.0 will grow from here.

Update #3: Our publicity photo's

Ok, so this isn't so much an update as just something fun to share with guys. We had our publicity photo shoot last Thursday at David Cooper's studio and here are some of the shots chosen for the press:

[From L to R: background: Kirsten Kilburn (Nina), Aslam Husain (Eliot), Jameson Parker (Greg), Brandyn Eddy (Nips), Tara Pratt (Jen). centre: Timothy Johsnton (Wesley)]

[From L to R: background: Kirsten Kilburn (Nina), Aslam Husain (Eliot), Jameson Parker (Greg), Tara Pratt (Jen), Brandyn Eddy (Nips). centre: Timothy Johsnton (Wesley)]

[From L to R: background: Kirsten Kilburn (Nina), Aslam Husain (Eliot), Jameson Parker (Greg), Brandyn Eddy (Nips), Tara Pratt (Jen). centre: Timothy Johsnton (Wesley)]

[From L to R: Brandyn Eddy (Nips), Tara Pratt (Jen), Timothy Johnston (Wesley)]

[From L to R: Tara Pratt (Jen), Timothy Johnston (Wesley), Brandyn Eddy (Nips)]

(Photography: David Cooper)

Single tickets for Prodigals are now on sale at Tickets Tonight or you can purchase a 3-ticket Season Flex Pass at TicketLeap.

We look forward to seeing you at the show in May!! Plus, we promise to keep you updated with lots (and lots) of info along the way.

~Sabrina Evertt,
Artistic Producer

Friday, February 4, 2011

Nocturne: Production & Design Team

Yesterday marked exactly three weeks until Nocturne officially opens at the Havana. Troy is smack in the middle of learning 80 pages of script and that is no easy feat. Adam Rapp loves his words hence the phrase "prophylactic paraphernalia" just thrown around like common language. And, that is just one example. There are plenty more where that came from. Sound and lighting designs are coming along. So as we gear up for the final push I'd like to introduce to you the rest of the team.

Rebecca Low - Stage Manager

Rebecca is a Stage Manager, Administrator and Director from Southern Alberta. Past Stage Management credits include The Visit (Abbedam), Burn This (Play by Echo) and Bollywood Shenanigans’ I Can’t Believe it’s not Butter Chicken series. Past directing credits include The Skin of Our Teeth (Abbedam), Folktale (NeWorks) and The Lesson (Vancouver International Fringe Festival). She is an international member of the Young Vic’s Genesis Directors Program. She is currently the Interim Office Manager at Pi Theatre.

Jonathan Tsang - Lighting Designer

A native Vancouverite Jonathan is happy to being working on his fourth production with Twenty Something Theatre. Favourite Lighting and Set design credits include Pvt. Wars (UBC 520's); Flu Season (UBC Players Club); Prodigals (Twenty Something Theatre); Dog sees God (Delinquent Theatre); Ferry Tales, Ivor Johnson's Neighbours (Ships Company Theatre); The Rakes Progress (Opera Nova Scotia); the Laramie Project, the Witch of Edmonton, Firefly (Dal Theatre); Orpheus in the Underworld (Dal Opera Workshop).

Kevin McLardy - Sound Designer

Kevin is very happy to be back working with Twenty Something Theatre. A graduate of the Capilano University theatre program Kevin has designed sound and composed for a number of productions including 9 Parts of Desire (Presentation House) SubUrbia, Prodigals, and Blue Surge (Twenty Something Theatre) Poor Superman and Hosanna (Saving Metropolis) Risk Anything (Vancouver Fringe).

Advance single tickets are available at Tickets Tonight or you can purchase a 3-ticket Season Flex Pass at TicketLeap.

See you at the show!

~Sabrina Evertt,
Artistic Producer

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

PuSh 2011: Peter Panties

Niall would explain certain ideas or situations to Marcus, then Marcus would ask him questions and this how Niall and Marcus would spend two years writing together. The end result would be Peter Panties.

Marcus Youssef is a well-known Canadian playwright and Co-Artistic Producer of Neworld Theatre. Niall McNeil has been working with theatre companies like Caravan Farm Theatre and Leaky Heaven for years as both an actor and a writer but this is his first major playwrighting credit.

Peter Pan is a story that has meant a lot to Niall over the years. Peter Panties is a version of the traditional fairytale that is made up entirely from the imagination of Niall who has been dreaming of this world of Peter Pan for many years. For Niall it starts with Wendy. Wendy is our window into the world of Peter Panties and as Marcus says the question is “What does Neverland look like?”

“This version of Neverland” says Marcus “is a war zone”. It is a world where Hook is Macbeth and when a character dies CSI comes along to investigate the death. This is a Neverland where Peter Pan and Wendy have sex and make a baby. A Neverland where the lost boys mingle with a teenage boy band group called the Bank Dogs and Veda Hille is their leader.

While not musical theatre in the traditional sense of the word this is a play with music that is integral to the storytelling aspect. Niall and Marcus, on top of writing the text, also wrote all the lyrics to the songs that are part of the production. These lyrics were then sent off to Veda Hille who was in Berlin at the time. She was immediately inspired by the lyrics Niall and Marcus had written and began working on the music right away. She even sang some of the songs for an audience while she was over there.

When I met up with Niall and Marcus they were already a week into rehearsals so I asked them both about the rehearsal process of creating Peter Panties. They both agree that it is a very collaborative approach: For example, the directors, Steven Hill (Artistic Director of Leaky Heaven) and Lois Anderson, might take the script that Niall and Marcus have given them, and then ask the actors to go and create a image based off that text. Both Niall and Marcus, can’t emphasize enough how awesome the cast is. Niall specifically tells me how he wanted Allan Zinyk (who plays Mr. Darling and a mermaid) from the very start to be part of his version of Peter Pan. The rest of this incredible cast includes Peter Anderson, Sasa Brown, Lesley Ewen, James Long, Tanya Podlozniuk, Adrienne Wong, Elena-Anderson Kirby and Oscar Youssef.

It is clear that this re-imagined world of Peter Pan wants us, the audience, to see this world of Neverland as world of many viewpoints and stories told from many perspectives. And, while this Neverland may have the pirates and mermaids like the original fairytale, both Niall and Marcus are quick to emphasize that this is not theatre for kids. As Niall is quick to point out this version of Peter Pan has “fighting, blood and sex”

So maybe, the question we need to ask ourselves as adults, when we enter the theatre to see Peter Panties is what would it really feel like if no one ever grew up?

Opening this Thursday, February 3rd, Peter Panties will premiere at The Cultch as part of the Push Festival and is produced by Neworld Theatre and Leaky Heaven Circus. Running until February 13th at 8pm with matinees on February 5th & 13th and post-show talkbacks on February 4th, 8th and 9th.

(Photos courtesy of the PuSh Festival)

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer