TNB launches Next Stage series

Caleb Marshall and Katie Swift in a recent production photo of TNB's 'A Doll's House'

Theatre New Brunswick is launching their new TNB Next Stage series in STU’s Black Box Theatre this week with the modern classic A Doll’s House.

Katie Swift – who plays the show’s female lead, Nora – said the series couldn’t have found a better place to start than on campus.

“Campus has an energy about it – people trying new things and exploring them further and deeper,” she said. “For university students who are beginning their critical thinking lives, this series coincides with that energy so well,” Swift said.

Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House premiered in 1879 and its criticism of 19th century marriage norms and equality was controversial at the time. The show is what Caleb Marshall calls “a pivotal play in the development of social equality”.

Marshall wears many hats as the show’s director, male lead, and TNB’s Artistic Producer. He said that although sometimes classics can feel daunting and hard to connect to, this show has audience members “on the edge of [their] seats wondering what Nora will do next”.

Marshall said the Next Stage series will take acclaimed works and classics and explore those pieces in an intimate setting. In bigger theatres, he said, they’re challenged not only with commercial demands but the task of effectively filling the large space.

“[Performing in the Black Box] offers us so much possibility in so many ways,” he said. “I want to offer a breadth of options in terms of types of theatre.”

Swift said classics can sometimes be perceived as “stuffy”, but the intimacy the Next Stage series breathes new life into A Doll’s House.

“This series reinvigorates the story and makes it more accessible,” she said.

Marshall said making theatre accessible to everyone, whether it’s acting, the technical side of things or being an audience member, is “essential”. Theatre is one of the most important and collaborative art forms, he said, and the more opportunities to get involved the more self-confident and engaged people will be.

Marshall said some students may view the Playhouse as more of a “middle-aged person thing”, and he believes the Next Stage series will present theatre in a less daunting – and costly – way.

TNB announced the renewal of the McCain Student Ticket Plan for the 2011-2012 season last April. McCain Foods Canada subsidizes each student ticket, meaning students can enjoy professional theatre for a significantly discounted price.

Marshall said launching the series with A Doll’s House in the Black Box was a perfect fit. It wasn’t about making Next Stage experimental and in your face, he said, but something modern and relatable.

“Theatre’s about seeing ourselves,” Marshall said. “There’s real value in A Doll’s House because we’re still in a world where people are trying to find equality.”

A Doll’s House runs from Sept. 15 to Sept. 18 at 7:30 p.m. with a 2:00 p.m. matinee on Sept. 18 at St. Thomas University’s Black Box Theatre. Tickets are available at The Fredericton Playhouse box office (506) 458-8344, or online at Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for students. The Next Stage series will continue in 2012 with Alden Nowlen and Walter Learning’s The Dollar Woman, running Feb. 29 to Mar. 4, 2012 at STU’s Black Box Theatre.