by Christopher Moore
Persephone has it's next season right around the 8-part-harmony corner! It's got a Broadway musical, a Paul Van Dyck original, and a classic.
Those who got a ticket to last season's Spring Awakening The Musical, might be pleased to hear that we were picked up by Centaur Theatre as part of their Brave New Looks initiative. Those who didn't get a ticket last year might be even more pleased to hear that there's a second chance to see what I have been going on and on about for the past forever.
When a show ends, many times artists will have the feeling that they wish they could get another crack at it. This is certainly true of myself and to be able to work on this musical again is nothing short of a gift. The power behind this show speaks through the talent onstage. It's a musical about young people featuring young people who absolutely love the altissimo out of the show. This is the must-see musical of the new generation. Perhaps it's their age that connects them so well or the fact that the musical was running on Broadway around the time most of them were entering theatre school...or both, but either way the commitment is genuine and passion palpable. For myself, as much as I'm glad to be able to revisit certain choices or moments...I'm really just filled to the brim to be able to work with these people again.
Our second show of the season will be Paul Van Dyck's The Nisei & The Narnauks, about Japanese internment camps in Canada during WWII. It is a dark part of our own history, not usually discussed or even taught in schools. As with Persephone's production of Oroonoko by Van Dyck, we feel it is absolutely crucial that we continue to talk about these mistakes in our histories, lest we be doomed to repeat them. The piece tells the story through the eyes of a Nisei (second generation Japanese-Canadian) as she searches for her grandmother, meetings others along the way who help or hinder her journey, including Narnauks (First Nations mythological shape shifters). The show incorporates mask, puppetry, and music. I've always wanted to do a show that plays with these different theatrical arts, and am excited to see Paul put it together at Le MAI.
Originally, I thought I wanted to do another comedy for our third show. In searching through various scripts, I came upon something altogether different: an adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde. I had never read the novella, but was well aware of the story. I read the adaptation by Jeffrey Hatcher, more simply titled Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde and knew immediately I wanted to do it. I found out Mainline Theatre was available in April and decided it was the perfect venue. When things come together like that, I tend to pay attention. It's bold, intense, and haunting. There are only six actors, four of which take turns playing Hyde. It grabbed me from page one and I'm anxious to get started!
So that's our season! We are already underway with rehearsing our first show. In a few hours actually, I'll be running several of the scenes and bouncing my rhythmically challenged toes all along the way. I probably distract more than I help the production at this point, but they'll have to bare with me for another few weeks yet!
by Christopher Moore
I'm happy to say that my first season as AD for Persephone was one of my most interesting years to date. It was both exciting and challenging. I wanted to put together a season that was eclectic, that spoke to different people while keeping within the spirit of what Persephone is.
Last Fall saw the flagship production of the season in Spring Awakening: The Musical. Fourteen actors/singers came together with seven musicians, under the helm of two directors and one musical director. A lot of people and a lot of fun! It's an odd beast, in that the musical is quite heavy and sorrowfully poignant. The rehearsal room however, was never drab, never dreary. What I remember is a room full of energy, love, and more passion that I knew what to do with. I felt blessed to be a part of it! We went on to play to sold out crowds at Calixa Lavallee, regardless of the building's renovations. I am thrilled that we get a second chance at the piece as we are picked up by Centaur Theatre as their 2014 selection for Brave New Looks!
The Walnut Tree was a piece that was brought to me as a possibility the year previous by Gabrielle Soskin, the company's Founding Director. The play, about a Jewish girl's journey from war torn Europe to a safe life in Canada is semi-based on the life of the late Martha Blum. An elder version of the character looks back on her life as a way to deal with the demons of her past. Gabrielle was at first unsure when I suggested she play the part of the elder narrator version of the character, but got quickly used to the idea and agreed to take on the part. It had been a few years since Gabrielle had acted on stage in a full production, but as I had expected, she shone with a sophistication and power that brought the role the right amount of strength and pain. Persephone has a habit of doing shows that feature The World Wars, but it was the first time working on one myself with an actor so closely connected to these events. It was moving and I'm very happy to have worked on it.
Our final show was a departure from the norm in a few ways. First, it was a comedy! Strawberries in January is a romantic comedy set in Montreal. Another first was running it alongside the original francophone version Des fraises en janvier. Our first foray into the French scene proved another challenge! Budding director, Davide Chiazzese came into direct both versions of the play, using the same set and cast, alternating language each night. I knew I wanted Persephone to do a comedy, and Strawberries allowed us to bring something that was funny, but held a kind of message and substance we could all connect to....and in both languages! We saw many new faces at the theatre door and provided well earned Spring date night after a long and arduous Winter.
It really was an exciting season for me and after writing out this blog, I realize it's easy to forget how much it mattered to me. I haven't written any of the trials and problems and frustrations that are bound to happen...and they did and will always happen, because that's life....but I'm glad I wrote this. It reminds me of how lucky I am to get to do this, to be able to work with such talented, beautiful people, that audiences like you are moved or provoked to thought or given an escape for 2 hours by these stories, and ultimately that is why we do this....and why it matters.
Our 2014-2015 Season will commence officially on October 1st, with the remount of Spring Awakening The Musical at The Centaur, and you can believe that if I felt last season was special...this next one is going to knock it out of the park!