Soulpepper, Toronto’s premiere classical theatre company announces an exciting and ambitious 2013 season.
On the evening of November 6, I sat around in breathless anticipation for the big news story of the night. No, not the results of the US presidential election, the launch of the Soulpepper 2013 season.
Founded in 1998 by a group of actors, Stratford Festival alums who were eager to establish a leading classical theatre company in Toronto, Soulpepper has since become the largest employer of theatre artists in the city.
While I’m a huge proponent for Soulpepper, not only for its shows but also because of its youth outreach and artist development programs, it has honestly been a while since I’ve been truly excited to go to a Soulpepper show. It’s not that they don’t do consistently excellent work, review after review on this site and others concur that they do, it’s just that after a while you kind of fall into the trap where you know what to expect from the company.
As Soulpepper’s fast-talking artistic director Albert Schultz took to the podium last night, I was curious if there would be any surprises. Thankfully the programming Schultz announced for 2013 is both ambitious and exciting.
The usual suspects are there, the familiar names/titles you’d expect any classical theatre company to produce; Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Gildenstern Are Dead, Sam Shepard’s True West, and Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations to name a few.
But this season, Soulpepper is also tackling Tony Kushner’s landmark Angels in America which has only been professionally produced in Toronto by Canadian Stage in its 1996-97 season and by the artist-led Column 13 in 2010. Curiously, Buddies in Bad Times has never mounted a production of the play; one of the definitive works of queer theatre.
Soulpepper will also re-mount its first production of an original full-length play, Kim’s Convenience, by Soulpepper Academy alum Ins Choi. A favourite of Toronto critics and theatre-goers alike (including this one) Kim’s Convenience will also be embarking on a national tour in 2013 with runs scheduled for London, ON; Port Hope, ON; Calgary, AB with more dates to be announced. This play is a Canadian classic in the making and deserves a broader audience.
Additional programming for Soulpepper’s home, the Young Centre for the Performing Arts was also announced including productions of Fringe Festival shows RARE and pomme is french for apple as well as an expanded year-round cabaret series, a series of performances by Tony Award-winning musical theatre artist Brent Carver and residencies by VideoCabaret and improv troupe National Theatre of the World.
So, maybe it’s time to get excited about Soulpepper again.
From Press Release
SOULPEPPER’S 2013 SEASON
ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD
TOM STOPPARD (FEb. 7 – MARCh 2; OPENING NIGHT FEb. 13)
DIRECTED BY JOSEPH ZIEGLER
Two men sit and wait, summoned to the Danish court for a special assignment: discover what is wrong with Hamlet. Tom Stoppard’s comic masterpiece follows Rosencrantz and Guildenstern as they negotiate their way around Elsinore and beyond, only to realize how little control they have over their own fate.
SAM SHEPARD (MARCH 25 – MAY 4; OPENING NIGHT APRIL 3)
DIRECTED BY NANCY PALK
Austin and Lee are recently reconciled brothers who share little in common: Austin is a screenwriter, Lee a petty criminal. Confined together in a suburban home, Austin distractedly prepares for a lucrative meeting with a Hollywood producer, a connection which prompts a growing professional interest for Lee. Shepard’s searing black comedy takes apart the seething resentment of sibling estrangement to reveal that perceived differences are perhaps not all they seem.
ARTHUR SCHNITZLER, IN A NEW ADAPTATION BY JASON SHERMAN (MARCh 26 – MAY 4; OPENING NIGHT APRIL 4)
DIRECTED BY ALAN DILWORTH
First published privately at the turn of the last century for its frank sexual content, Arthur Schnitzler’s La Ronde was sensationally banned for obscenity, which helped secure the play’s dramatic immortality. Taking a circuitous route through ten interconnected liaisons, Schnitzler questions the very nature of human contact, love, and fidelity.
THE BARBER OF SEVILLE
BEAUMARCHAIS/ROSSINI, ADAPTED BY MICHAEL O’BRIEN AND JOHN MILLARD (MAY 9 – JUNE 8; OPENING NIGHT MAY 15)
DIRECTED BY LEAH CHERNIAK
A free-wheeling adaptation of The Barber of Seville by Michael O’Brien and John Millard, based on the play by Beaumarchais and the opera by Rossini. This musical caper follows the beloved story of the young Count Almaviva and his pursuit of the untouchable Rosina with the help of the irrepressible Figaro, Barber of Seville.
INS CHOI (MAY 23 – JUNE 19; OPENING NIGHT MAY 24)
DIRECTED BY WEYNI MENGESHA
Soulpepper Academy alumnus Ins Choi’s hilarious and touching debut play was the smash hit of Soulpepper’s 2012 season. Set in a Regent Park convenience store, Kim’s Convenience describes the journey of a fractured but loving family confronting the future and forgiving the past. The Kim’s Convenience team also embarks on a national tour next year, first touching down this January at the Grand Theatre in London, ON, and continuing to Port Hope, ON, and Calgary, AB. Additional tour stops and dates to be announced.
ENTERTAINING MR. SLOANE
JOE ORTON (JULY 5 – AUG. 17; OPENING NIGHT JULY 17)
DIRECTED BY bRENDAN hEALY
A shocking, savage comedy from Joe Orton (Loot, Soulpepper 2009; What the Butler Saw, Soulpepper 2010), Entertaining Mr. Sloane pits Sloane, a brooding, dangerous lodger, against his hosts: the desperately motherly Kath and her conflicted brother Ed. As Sloane prowls the house, his charm works on everyone but it cannot help him shake his dark past and shadowy impulses.
CHARLES DICKENS, ADAPTED BY MICHAEL SHAMATA (JULY 6 – AUG. 17; OPENING NIGHT JULY 16)
DIRECTED bY MICHAEL SHAMATA
One of English literature’s greatest coming-of-age stories, Great Expectations follows the orphaned but resourceful Pip, who grows from a blacksmith’s apprentice into a London gentleman, always attempting to live up to the expectations of the beautiful but scornful Estella, the haunted, spurned Miss Havisham, and his mysterious, shadowy benefactor.
ANGELS IN AMERICA: A GAY FANTASIA ON NATIONAL THEMES PART ONE: MILLENNIUM APPROACHES(JULY 19 – SEPT. 14; OPENING NIGHT JULY 31) PART TWO: PERESTROIKA (JULY 20 – SEPT. 14; OPENING NIGHT AUG. 1)
DIRECTED BY ALBERT SCHULTZ
A Pulitzer Prize-winning play in two parts; a stunning, unforgettable journey, and arguably the most significant drama of the last 25 years. Parts One and Two are best seen chronologically; marathon performances will be available.
Part One: Millennium Approaches
Encompassing the lives of seven individuals as they negotiate New York City during the AIDS crisis that wracked the world in the 1980s, Kushner looks to a deeply human series of reactions to a seemingly indiscriminate epidemic, and offers spiritual outlet for the redemption and reclamation of their souls.
Part Two: Perestroika
The stunning finale to Angels in America brings an other-worldly, angelic presence to protagonist Prior Walter as he and his fellow sufferers negotiate how their lives will progress or end in the face of the AIDS epidemic. Palliative confessions, realizations, and declarations of faith give way to hope for the future and a lesson in humanity.
THE NORMAN CONQUESTS
TABLE MANNERS (SEPT. 27 – NOV. 16; OPENING NIGHT OCT. 9)
LIVING TOGETHER (SEPT. 28 – NOV. 16; OPENING NIGHT OCT. 10)
ROUND AND ROUND THE GARDEN (SEPT. 28 – NOV. 16; OPENING NIGHT OCT. 15)
DIRECTED BY TED DYKSTRA
Alan Ayckbourn, the English master of domestic farce, makes his long-awaited return to Soulpepper for the first time since 2002’s
A Chorus of Disapproval. The misadventures of the lovable philanderer Norman are arguably Ayckbourn’s comic masterpiece, which tells, in three parts, the story of a single riotous weekend from three different angles: the dining room, the living room, and the garden. The Norman Conquests can be enjoyed individually or in any combination; marathon performances will be available.
A secretive dirty weekend away for the affable librarian Norman turns into a series of misunderstandings, trysts, and revelations when his wife unexpectedly arrives asking questions.
Alan Ayckbourn moves the action of The Norman Conquests into the living room, where infidelity, shifting stories and confusion means no one is relaxing with their feet up. As the fallout from Norman’s opportunism spreads to everyone in the house, the living room sparks with life, controversy, and love.
Round and Round the Garden
The hilarity of Ayckbourn’s The Norman Conquests makes its way outside. As the chaos associated with Norman’s philandering rages inside the house, the garden provides a less than ideal place for reflection and calm. In this third instalment, Norman contemplates the moon, the stars, and his pyjamas, hoping for a joyous roll in the grass.
JOHN MURRELL (OCT. 11 – NOV. 9; OPENING NIGHT OCT. 17)
DIRECTED bY DIANA LEBLANC
“You better move on, girl, better start moving, farther west!” With her father’s advice ringing in her ears, prostitute May Buchanan moves steadily west across gold-rush era Canada, pursued by two men obsessed with possessing her again. John Murrell (Waiting for the Parade, Soulpepper 2010) tells a sweeping tale of romance, independence, and fate, inspired by a true story.
POEMS BY DENNIS LEE. CREATED BY INS CHOI, RAQUEL DUFFY, KEN MACKENZIE, GREGORY PREST AND MIKE ROSS (NOV. 3 – DEC. 1)
Alligator Pie, an original Soulpepper production, brings the celebrated children’s poems of Canada’s Father Goose, Dennis Lee, to vibrant theatrical life. Soulpepper’s creation ensemble fills the stage with music, invention and Lee’s delicious imagination.
MIKLÓS LÁSZLÓ, ADAPTED BY ADAM PETTLE & BRENDA ROBINS (NOV. 27 – DEC. 21; OPENING NIGHT NOV. 28)
DIRECTED BY MORRIS PANYCH
By great demand, the award-winning, heart-warming holiday smash hit returns! Adam Pettle and Brenda Robins’ winning adaptation about two clerks in a Budapest perfume shop who feud by day and unknowingly exchange anonymous love letters by night is one of the world’s most beloved stories.
Current Soulpepper subscribers can renew as of November 7, 2012. New subscriptions are available as of November 27, 2012, and single tickets as of December 4, 2012, by calling the Young Centre box office at 416.866.8666 or visiting soulpepper.ca. Soulpepper Theatre Company is located at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 50 Tank House Lane, in the Distillery Historic District, Toronto, ON.
2013 YOUNG CENTRE PROGRAMMING PREVIEW
The Young Centre for the Performing Arts provides a home to the entire Toronto arts community. Anchored by the presence of Soulpepper’s year-round classical repertory, the building acts as a centre for local artists and arts organizations across all performance disciplines, providing the space for Toronto’s artistic community to develop and flourish. Each year the Young Centre hosts a large number of residencies, workshops, shows by community partners, special events and multi-day festivals. These Young Centre highlights have been confirmed at this time, for 2013:
BRENT CARVER BRINGS HIS SOLO CONCERT TO THE YOUNG CENTRE
In February/March of 2013 the sensational Tony Award-winning actor/singer Brent Carver will perform for several nights in the intimate Michael Young Theatre with Laura Burton as Musical Director. “Words cannot express how extraordinarily gifted Brent is as a musical story-teller. There’s simply nobody like him,” said Albert Schultz, General Director.
FRINGE HIT pomme is french for apple FINDS FRESH LIFE
First workshopped at the Young Centre before becoming a big hit at the Toronto Fringe Festival, winning ‘Best of Fringe’, pomme is french for apple is a fresh, funny, irreverent and distinctly West Indian look at womanhood in all its glory: its perils, its pleasures and all kinda madness in between. See it in February/March in the Michael Young Theatre, created and performed by liza paul and bahia watson.
AWARD-WINNING INTERNATIONAL HIT ‘SPENT’ RETURNS
Spent is a two-person comedy highly acclaimed for its fast paced, intelligent and poetic commentary on the greed that caused the financial crises. Sold out around the world and Winner of the Dora Award for Best Performance, two actors play 20 characters from around the world in this physical and comedic tour de force. At the Young Centre in February/March, this show will have you laughing all the way to the bank. Spent is directed by Dean Gilmour and Michele Smith, performed by Ravi Jain and Adam Paolozza, and created by Dean Gilmour, Michele Smith, Ravi Jain and Adam Paolozza. It was originally produced by Theatre Smith-Gilmour, Theatre RUN and Why Not Theatre.
SENIOR ARTISTS LAUNCH CLOUD 9 AT THE YOUNG CENTRE
Cloud 9 is an endeavour led by senior dance artists (Sylvie Bouchard, Karen Kaeja and Claudia Moore) that promotes and incubates a new kind of future for seasoned Canadian dance artists. In June 2013, Cloud 9 will present a program featuring new works by Susie Burpee and Tedd Robinson to be performed by Sylvie Bouchard, Karen Kaeja, Graham McKelvie, Claudia Moore and Ron Stewart.
JUDITH THOMPSON’S DIVERSE CREATIONS FINDS A HOME AT THE YOUNG CENTRE
RARE is a raw and boldly emotional piece of theatre in which nine performers with Down Syndrome reveal themselves for the world to see. Created by playwright Judith Thompson, with the cast writing most of their own material, these artists lift the mask of Down Syndrome to show us their humour, their grace, their rage and their dreams. “We are overjoyed to announce
a remount of RARE at the Young Centre in January and February 2013, which will serve as a launch for Diverse Creations to begin an exciting partnership with the Young Centre: a commitment over the next three years to create unforgettable theatre with emerging and professional theatre artists with disabilities. We are over the moon about this initiative, to have the honour of making theatre with the extraordinary community of mostly unrecognized artists is a dream come true,” said Thompson.
VIDEOCABARET TAKES UP RESIDENCY AT THE YOUNG CENTRE
Following a sold-out run at the 2012 Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Toronto’s VideoCabaret ensemble bring their acclaimed production of The War of 1812 (The History of the Village of the Small Huts 1812-1815) to the Young Centre in April, 2013. Two hundred years after the siege on York, Toronto theatre-goers will get to witness a comedic, original take on this historical event. VideoCabaret is one of Canada’s most inventive, prolific and celebrated theatre ensembles. The company’s founding playwrights Michael Hollingsworth and Deanne Taylor have created many enduring plays with their team of artists, devising original styles of performance including black-box epics, multi-media cabarets, musicals, opera and masquerades.
THE NATIONAL THEATRE OF ThE WORLD TAKES UP RESIDENCY AT THE YOUNG CENTRE
The National Theatre of the World is a multi-disciplinary, Toronto-based, not-for-profit theatre company that creates exciting, provocative, and instantaneous theatre through the art of improvisation. Voted the top improv troupe for four years running at the Canadian Comedy Awards, the NTOW will perform their patented “Scriptease” for a week in June, as well as hosting an international improvised theatre festival in December (see The Word Festival below).
GLOBAL CABARET FESTIVAL
Once a year, the entire Young Centre is transformed into a cabaret venue, with next year marking the sixth anniversary of the Young Centre’s Global Cabaret Festival. More than 150 of Canada’s leading performing artists will fill the building to create original one-hour cabarets. The Festival will also include the second annual Young Centre Dance Awards, created to support and acknowledge the great talent and diversity of Toronto’s dance community. The Global Cabaret Festival returns next October, sponsored by Global Toronto.
THE WORD FESTIVAL 2012 & 2013
From December 12 to 15, 2012, The Word Festival will celebrate the works of Charles Dickens on the 200th anniversary of his birth. Programming includes the play Dickens’ Women by award-winning British actress Miriam Margolyes, on sale now at youngcentre.ca. More information to be announced. The Word Festival 2012 is sponsored by BMO Financial Group.
In December 2013, The Word Festival will be “The Word Unscripted,” a festival of long-form improvised theatre. Toronto’s leading improvisation masters, The National Theatre of the World, will curate The Word Unscripted, an exploration of spontaneity, originality and spoken word.
CABARET ALL YEAR LONG
Every Saturday night next year the Kevin and Roger Garland Cabaret will be home to the city’s leading cabaret artists. Also, interspersed throughout the year: Saturday Night at the Young, a pay-what-you-can cabaret hosted by Derek Boyes and Music Director Mike Ross, and featuring the Toronto’s arts community.
Photo of Ins Choi, Mike Ross & Gregory Prest by Jason Hudson