The New Ideas Festival 2010 – Week One – Alumnae Theatre

by Sam Mooney

New Ideas Festival 2010 This is the 22nd New Ideas Festival hosted by Alumnae Theatre Company, so you know that they’re doing something right. The Alumnae website describes it better than I can: “The New Ideas Festival is a juried, three-week annual festival of new writing, works-in-progress and experimental theatre, with a different program of plays each week, and a staged reading on Saturdays at noon. It runs from March 10 – 27, 2010. There are 18 scripts in the Festival this year – something for everybody: long ones, short ones, funny, sad, tension-filled, silly, and some surprises that we won’t give away.”

It’s a juried festival so you know that it isn’t going to be a crapshoot – every show will have some merit. Of course, they may not all be to your taste.

This week, there are 4 plays, listed below in order of presentation:

  • JOIN THE CLUB by Suzanne Courtney & Leora Courtney-Wolfman • Directed by Stacy Halloran
  • AN INKED HEART by D.J. Sylvis • Directed by Heather Keith
  • A VERY DIFFERENT PLACE by Carol Libman • Directed by lindi g. papoff
  • ASHES TO ASHES by M.P. Fedunkiw • Directed by Maureen Callaghan

Glenna, my play partner, and I both loved Ashes to Ashes. It’s a fast-paced, well written and well performed play about siblings getting ready to scatter their mother’s ashes. We both thought that it was a bit like a Noel Coward play or a zany 1930s film comedy. It will go places. Maybe to a Mirvish theatre? Anyone at Mirvish reading this?

Our second favourite was An Inked Heart. I can’t find the reference at the moment but it’s the first act of a play and I definitely want to see act 2. The cast was terrific. My only reservation is the character Mongo. He doesn’t add anything to the story and actually breaks the rhythm.

Join The Club is a short piece about theatre ghosts. Cute and funny, it could be a scene in a play. Glenna didn’t like the costumes which tells me that the piece didn’t engage her.

A Very Different Place was our least favourite. I don’t really want to see any more plays about mother-daughter angst. Or alcoholism angst, although in this case, the daughter was the alcoholic. I thought that it would have been more interesting if the aging angst theme had been developed more but it was dismissed summarily in a throwaway line by the daughter.

There was a comments and feedback form included with the program, which was a good idea. I have to admit that I made notes on mine and then kept it so I could write this.

There are only two more days of week one, which is well worth seeing, but if you can’t make there’s always week two and week three.

I’m definitely going to Week Two (and maybe even Week Three).

Details:

The New Ideas Festival 2010 Week One is playing until March 13 at the Alumnae Theatre (70 Berkeley Street)
-Performances are Wednesday to Saturday: 8:00 pm, Saturday Matinée: 2:30 pm, Saturday Reading: 12 Noon
-Tickets prices are Wednesday to Saturday: $15, Saturday Matinée: $15, Saturday Reading: PWYC,
New Ideas Pass: $35 (Good for all 3 weeks + Readings)
-Tickets are available by phone – 416-364-4170 – or by email – reservations@alumnaetheatre.com. Cash Only.