Theatre St. Thomas back in action

Theatre St. Thomas is preparing for a new year with a new play, and new director. English faculty advisor Robin Whittaker will be replacing last year’s director, Ilkay Silk.

With several degrees in theatre and a background in directing and playwriting, Whittaker is excited to share his experience with TST. He says the general idea of TST will remain the same.

“On the surface of it, I think that our intention is to keep professional leadership and opportunities for students.”

However, there will be changes.TST

“What will be different moving forward is I probably have some different tastes in theatre than Ilkay Silk does. The way it works, the faculty advisor traditionally has chosen the play they think will serve the broad student population here.”

For the fall production and the only planned play this year, Whittaker has chosen Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew which will run Nov. 19 to 22 in the Black Box Theatre.

“Last year TST did the Coronation Voyage by Michel Marc Bouchard and that was a New Brunswick premier of a fantastic play and so in the future I hope to bring more Canadian plays, but I thought Shakespeare would be a good choice.”

Not only is The Taming of the Shrew one of Whittaker’s favourite Shakespeare plays, it also allows for a larger cast and substantial backstage crew furthering theatre opportunities for more students. The play is considered to be controversial, which Whittaker believes is for two reasons.

“Both create great challenges for us that we look forward to navigating. One of the challenges is structural so there is a framing device around it.”

Whittaker hopes that a slight variation to the play will make a new structural concept work.

“Secondly it has to do with the content,” said Whittaker, which involves misogynistic elements.

“Theatre process always has a sort of experimentation side to it.”

Whittaker wants to challenge students. Instead of just giving them the answers, he wants them to bring their own interests to the play.

“That’s what’s going to be fun; this feeling of experimenting, let’s try out this approach that I think would be a great attempt for us to try to do. I think it’s in the text, I think its all there, I don’t think I’m imposing a different reading on it.”

The Taming of the Shrew has only been performed once at St. Thomas in the past 20 years.

“It’s going to be a ride.”

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