Theatre St. Thomas has two shows coming up for its 45th season this year that look at how individuals respond to forces beyond them -government and the gods.
Pierre Trudeau and the FLQ , a play by co-artistic director of the Toronto based theatre company Video Cabaret, Michael Hollingsworth, will run November 18-21 in the Black Box Theatre.
Although running after the federal election, the show will be a good chance for audiences to compare and contrast the play’s take on Pierre Trudeau and his son Justin.
Theatre St. Thomas artistic producer and Associate Professor Robin Whittaker, will direct the show.
“We’re really fortunate to have this play available to us, we’re actually only the second theatre company other than Video Cabaret to do any of the shows that are part of a 21-play cycle called the History of the Village of the Small Huts ,” said Whittaker.
The play focuses on the first 10 years of Pierre Trudeau’s political rise, focusing on federalism versus Quebec nationalism. Two competing forces – the FLQ, or the Front de libé ration du Quebec, responsible for 160 violent incidents involving politicians in Quebec in the early 1970s – and the Beatles-like mania that surrounded Trudeau, bring several dimensions to the play.
“It’s not just the content but the style of this play that’s remarkable as well,” said Whittaker.
Trudeau and the FLQ has 93 one minute-long scenes. The idea to hold the play in STU’s Black Box Theatre came from Video Cabaret and allows for intimate silver-screen like moments for actors and audiences alike.
“There’s quick changes backstage. You’re going to find that the aesthetic of this is so engaging and fun. You get a sense of that from our posters, it’s going to be colorful, it’s quick and almost like watching live puppets.”
In the same political vein, TST’s second production The Bacchae is set in a city state and runs February 10-13 in the Black Box Theatre. It tells the story of greek god Dionysus and his return to punish the city state for not allowing people to worship him. It digs into the rationalized and civilized sides of man’s nature, traits that stand out in any politician come election time.
The show will be directed by part-time STU professor and artistic producer of Solo Chicken productions, Lisa Anne Ross.
Whittaker says Ross is putting her own spin on the Greek tragedy.
“It’ll be a very physical show. She’s brought in members of the co-op, who are some of our former students who have now been working with her for about half a year. They will form part of the chorus and so this is a movement based approach.”
The show will allow students to learn about Greek theatre and its form.
“I think Lisa, a lot of her preparation has actually been to look into how greek theatre was staged and so here in our black box, I think we’ll see elements of how we believe the greeks presented their shows,” said Whittaker.
Students who are interested in being a part of TST are encouraged to get involved. Wardrobe assistants, ushers and ticket distributors are just a few of the volunteer positions that need to be filled for shows.
“We want people who are really interested in helping make TST go, but anyone who’s really interested in the arts and promoting the arts can come out to our meetings.”
Whittaker also says that those interested in theatre, apart from the already scheduled productions should speak to to him or the TST executive.
“We’ve got three shows set up for the season already, but there is potential and room if students say, ‘hey I’ve got a play that I’d like to have a workshop with’, we may be able to rally a few actors together and that can either be a private or a public kind of thing.”
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