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  • Writer's pictureAndrew G. Cooper

2018/2019 Season at a Glace

I'm knee deep into the 2018/2019 season already in rehearsals at Theatre Calgary, but I wanted to share how excited I am about this season and what my plans are so far. It's shaping up to be a fabulous year and I can't wait to share all my adventures with you all!

First up is, as I've already written about, Mary and Max: The Musical at Theatre Calgary. This is the world premiere of a beautiful new musical with music and lyrics by Bobby Cronin and book by Crystal Skillman. We're in our last week before tech rehearsals and we're making incredible discoveries every day in the rehearsal hall. I love musicals and am passionate about new work, so this is the perfect project for me. And it's making me really excited for something else coming up later this season...

As a side note, make sure to check out the Theatre Calgary Instagram next week on October 9th for my first ever Instagram Takeover! I'll be taking you backstage and behind the scenes on our first day on the stage during tech week.

Photo from Citadel Theatre website

Next up, almost directly afterwards in fact--I have a whole of two days between the projects, I'm heading up to Citadel Theatre in Edmonton to work as the assistant director under the amazing Nancy McAlear on the holiday production Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberly. I'll be in Edmonton (and closer to one two of my sisters and my parents!) from October 23rd to November 22nd, 2018. If winter in Calgary wasn't enough, now I've got winter in Edmonton to look forward to!

Those who know my know how much I love my 19th century literature, so I'm really looking forward to working on this show. Here's the Citadel Theatre website blurb about it:

A witty, fun, “sequel” to the Jane Austen classic, Pride and Prejudice. The story focuses on Mary, the bookish, often over-looked middle child, as she navigates a potential romance with Darcy’s smart but awkward cousin Arthur.

This is the first part of my three-part self-directed assistant director training this season. I'm hoping to develop my own personal director toolbox over the season by working with a variety of companies and directors. If you're unsure what an assistant director actually does, check out this blog post from the Royal Shakespeare Company. I'm excited to get to work on a period piece! Perhaps when I'm finished with this year of assistant directing I will write about my own thoughts and experiences on the process.

Photo by Emily-May Photography

While I'm in Edmonton, something exciting will be happening for me as a playwright! After the world premiere production of my adaptation of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, I spent a few months redrafting the script. Since then, I've been putting it out again to develop it further and I'm happy to announce that later this month, New Vintage Theatre in Kelowna will be hosting a reading of my adaptation! It's on October 30th, 2018 starting at 5:30 pm at Pulp Fiction Coffee House. Remember when I mentioned I loved 19th century novels? Frankenstein is one of my favourites and I'm very pleased that this script is seeing more life.

Then we're heading into the holiday season! In December and January I'm going to be developing and devising a new physical theatre and puppetry adaptation of The Robber Bridegroom, the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale, with Chimera Theatre. The show is going to be opening in Kamloops in early 2019. More details to come soon, so keep an eye out for that! Here's a little write up about the show:

The Robber Bridegroom tells the tale of an impoverished miller who seeks a better life for his only daughter. To save the mill, they arrange for her marriage to a wealthy man from out of town. She wants to help her family and do what is right, but something wicked lurks in the woods where the bridegroom lives. Chimera Theatre brings new life to this classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale in this dark adaptation that explores intuition, intrigue, and the uncertain nature of humanity.

As you've likely noticed, a lot of my work is in adapting fairy tales, myths, or classic literature for the stage. Something about these stories seems to speak to me and I really enjoy exploring how to present them live in front of an audience in new and interesting ways. If you've seen the last few shows I've created or directed, you'll know that the work usually involves some sort of non-verbal storytelling (like physical theatre, puppetry, stage combat, or masks) and this next piece will be no exception to that. I like playing with text and seeing how to share a story using less words to find new ways to connect with audiences.

In the midst of this development, I'm heading to Prince George for the second leg of my assistant directing. I'm going to be working with Dirk Van Stralen on a wonderful one woman show called The Occupation of Heather Rose at Theatre NorthWest. I first encountered this play while doing my undergrad at Thompson Rivers University and love the story. I think it's a really important piece of theatre that's still very relevant today. I'm excited about returning to Theatre NorthWest and Prince George after touring Munsch Upon a Time there with Project X Theatre there in the spring of 2017! I'll be back in BC (and up in the north again!) from January 22nd to February 6th, 2019.

Later in the spring of 2019, I'm going to be joining Catalyst Theatre in Edmonton for the third and final part of this assistant directing adventure! I'm going to be working with Jonathan Christenson, who's work I've admired for quite some time, on his new musical The Invisibles - Agents of Ungentlemanly Warfare. So this will be the second new musical that I am going to be working on this season! From my work with Mary and Max: The Musical, it's something that I can see myself pursuing a lot further in the future. Here's the write up from Catalyst Theatre's website about this show:

Europe, 1939. Adolf Hitler’s armies are conquering nation after nation, and in the face of the Nazi threat, Canadian millionaire William Stephenson convinces Churchill and Roosevelt to combine forces in a joint covert effort. Stephenson assembles an elite team of spies, including the unlikeliest of agents: six irrepressible young women. This is their story, a “spy noir musical” that seeks to answer: just who were these bold women and why would they sacrifice their very lives for a war that refused to accept them or recognize them?

Image from Catalyst Theatre's website

I'm particularly excited about this show because of its long development process. I start with the project in March and keep with it until mid May. It will be previewing at the Keyano Theatre in Fort McMurray in April 2019 and then opening at Vertigo Theatre in Calgary in May 2019.

And then, finally, I'll be helping with the second annual Hydra Performing Arts Festival in May and June 2019 in Kamloops with Chimera Theatre. Last year Perseus & Andromeda, the piece that I helped developed and performed in, won the Best of Fest and Best Show Design awards at the inaugural festival. There's a possibility that I may be performing in the festival this year again, so people in Kamloops can look forward to that...if seeing me perform is something you look forward to seeing.

Image from Chimera Theatre website

And that's all the big and mighty plans for the season right now! I've also started writing a new play, which I'm hoping to continue to write and develop throughout the season. After that, I have some plans for the summer and I'll be applying for some Fringe Festival lotteries, so look forward to news about that.

Let me know in the comments what show/project you're most excited for this season and also if you'd be interested in reading about my thoughts, experience, and advise on the role of the assistant director once the season is finished.

Thanks for reading, I'll see you all on the other side!

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