Andrew G. Cooper
I'm Making My U.S. Debut as a Playwright with One Day in Chicago!
That's right friends! One Day will be my first play to reach the stages of the United States when it debuts at the Otherworlds Theatre's Paragon Festival! The play has been selected to be one of the forty shows in the festival running November 9th and 10th, 2019.
This is the fifth annual Paragon Festival, the world's largest Science Fiction and Fantasy Play Festival. And if you know anything about me...science fiction and fantasy are two of my favourite things. Having the opportunity to explore these genres (plus the supernatural and horror genres) on stage over the last few years has been incredibly rewarding. According the Otherworld's website:
"Paragon is a short-play festival dedicated to furthering Otherworld's mission of growing the genre of Science Fiction and Fantasy Theatre through the discovery and promotion of new playwrights and works. This annual event began in 2014 and we have presented 40 new science fiction and fantasy plays over this one-weekend festival every year since."
I love speculative fiction because it provides us with a lens in which we can examine and reflect society. Beyond simply providing escapism, these genres explore the human condition in ways that commentate and challenge the social and political environments that they are born into. This can be seen in everything from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein revealing the fears of scientific advancement in the late Industrial Revolution world, to George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four reflecting the fears of an early Cold War era, to George R. R. Martin's masterpiece fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire being a metaphor for the 20th and 21st century climate crisis. One of my favourite podcasts, Imaginary Worlds hosted by Eric Molinsky, explores how we create imaginary worlds and why we suspend our disbelief and it dives into many similar topics like this if you're interested in taking a listen. I'm excited that there is a company and play festival that is dedicated to putting more science fiction and fantasy stories on stage in North America and I am honoured to be a part of their fifth season.
"Two teenagers find themselves in a supposedly haunted house one dark Halloween night. Together they struggle to find out the truth of the house, but end up discovering more about themselves. One Day is fun and upbeat, but also explores aspects of the human condition such as a longing for belonging and the inevitability of death."
One Day was the first play that I ever wrote. It was written for a playwriting class I took during my undergrad at Thompson Rivers University with Dr. George M. Johnson, who was then the Chair of the English and Early Modern Languages Department. George and I went on to work together outside of the university when I produced his full-length play Mockus with Chimera Theatre in 2017. He provided much-needed feedback early on in One Days' process and helped shaped it into what it is today.
The first rendition of the play was at the inaugural Outskirt's Theatre Festival in Nelson, BC during the summer of 2014. I had heard about the festival about two weeks before because a friend of mine told me someone had dropped out and they were looking for another production to replace them. So I texted two friends of mine (Brooke Ballam and Brittany McCarthy, now Brittany Ballam because they got married recently, both pictured right) and asked if they wanted to go on a crazy adventure in two weeks and the rest, as they say, is history. It was my first time touring a production to a festival, which started a long tradition of summer tours as I'm currently in the latter half of my third Fringe Festival tour! This is also the first show that was produced under the name Chimera Theatre, the company I formed with Brooke and Brittany that fall, before we were even an incorporated non-profit society. I went on to produce sixteen new works of Canadian theatre with the company and am just leaving this summer after leading it for five seasons in Kamloops, BC.
One Day was later revamped by the Kamloops Players Society in 2016 as part of the 4th Annual One Act Play Festival at the Stage House Theatre in Kamloops. I'm so happy that it's going to have another life after a few more years and am very excited to see and hear what the team in Chicago does with the script! If you're in Chicago or know anyone in the area, I highly recommend attending the festival in November.
We are now in our third and penultimate city in our Western Canada Fringe Tour of Chimera Theatre's The Robber Bridegroom! Including the original production in Kamloops and Calgary, Victoria is the fifth city we've taken the show to! This is my third time being at the Victoria Fringe Festival and I'm so pleased to be back. Ed Sum at Otaku No Culture gave a great overview of my Fringe experience in the city and offered some thoughtful insights to our current production and great ideas for further mythical puppetry adventures!
He also reviewed The Robber Bridegroom and gave us five out of five on his website Two Hungry Blokes. You can find that full review here.
"Chimera Theatre‘s revisionist take on the Brothers Grimm fairytale The Robber Bridegroom is simply a masterpiece...a Shakespearean playwright was behind the reconstruction of the seminal tale. I have to tip my hat to Andrew G. Cooper..."
We also received a four star review from Fringe Reviews Canada and you can read that review from Simon Bjerksen on their website.
"The team took a two hundred year old story and brought it to life in a visceral and meaningful way in the 21st century. The end of the show was unexpected, unlike anything I’ve seen at the Fringe before, and it left me thinking as well as feeling."
We still have three shows left in Victoria and after that it's onto the Vancouver Fringe Festival for the final stop of our tour! If you're interested in finding tickets to either city, they can be purchased on Chimera Theatre's website here.
Maddison Hartloff and Melissa Purcha. Photo by Barbara Zimonick.
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