Opening Night Photos of Blackbird Theatre’s All That Fall!

The Canadian premiere of Samuel Beckett’s All That Fall opened last week at the Historic Theatre! The entertaining, existential masterpiece has captivated audiences and critics alike, who are asking for more.

This is what some of the critics are saying:
“A masterpiece…might contain the funniest existential despair you’ll ever experience”
Colin Thomas, The Georgia Straight

“A perfect, polished jewel of a play…I wished it would never end” – Jo Ledingham, Vancouver Courier

“For lovers of language though this is another exquisite theatrical treat from Blackbird Theatre…lean back and be engulfed in the lavishness of its interchange” – David C. Jones, Vancouver Presents

“Beautifully crafted performances” – Jerry Wasserman, Vancouverplays

“The play’s dark humour and Mrs. Rooney’s bleak outlook is what makes this classic both entertaining and profound” – Tessa Perkins, The Peak

Make sure you get your tickets to see this funny and intoxicating production before it’s too late!

Here are some photos from our opening night on December 30. All photos were taken by one of our fantastic volunteer photographers, Wendy D.

The audience eagerly awaits the start of the performance!

The audience eagerly awaits the start of the performance!

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A patron speaking with Graham and Paddy Macleod (Blackbird Theatre General Manager)

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Some of our guests enjoying the reception

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Jenn McGinn in a discussion about the show

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Two patrons being entertained by Paddy Macleod (Blackbird Theatre General Manager)

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A couple of guests enjoying the reception

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Sandra Wright, Jenn Graham (Head FOH Manager at the Cultch), John Wright (Blackbird Theatre Artistic Director) and Graham Macleod

 

All That Fall runs until January 24 at the Historic Theatre. Tickets start from $19 and are available on our website or by calling the box office at 604-251-1363.

Recap: The 32nd Annual Jessie Awards!

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The 32nd Jessie Award Nominees!

The Commodore Ballroom was filled with theatre folk on Monday, June 23 to celebrate the end of another fantastic Vancouver theatre season at this year’s Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards. The room was loaded with beautiful people, great speeches, and drinks!

A huge congratulations goes out to all the winners and nominees. Some of these people may seem like familiar faces from our 13/14 season! Here’s a quick recap.

The photos are provided by @JessieAwards and @UITATheatre

LARGE THEATRE

Floyd Collins by Patrick Street Production
Jeff Harrison – Outstanding Lighting Design (This is also the first Jessie received by a show at our York Theatre)

SMALL THEATRE

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James Sanders receiving the award on behalf of his dear friend Bob Frazer!

Whose Life Is It Anyway? by Realwheels Theatre
Bob Frazer – Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Lead Role
Adrian Muir – Outstanding Lighting Design

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Drew Facey giving his speech after receiving an award

Penelope by Rumble Theatre
Drew Facey – Outstanding Set Design

Uncle Vanya by Blackbird Theatre
Marti Wright – Outstanding Costume Design

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Patrick Sabongui accepting the award on behalf of his Jason Rothery

Inside The Seed by Upintheair Theatre
Richard Wolfe – Outstanding Direction
Jason Patrick Rothery – Outstanding Original Script

Philip Birkby (one of our fantastic on-call electricians!) – Significant Artistic Achievement

THEATRE FOR YOUNG AUDIENCES

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The outstanding design team from Jack and the Bean

Jack and the Bean by Presentation House Theatre
Graham Ockley (one of our regular on-call electricians) – Outstanding Design

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The fantastic Brian Cochrane receiving his award

One of our box office staff members Brian Cochrane received the Ray Michal Prize for Most Promising New Director!

Our Executive Director, Heather Redfern, gathered with other members from the arts community attending the Magnetic North Festival in Halifax to cheer for The Jessies

Our Executive Director, Heather Redfern gathered with other members from the arts community attending the Magnetic North Festival in Halifax to cheer for the Jessies

Nominations for the 32nd annual Jessie Richardson Awards

It’s that time of  year again – Jessie Award season! The nominations for the 32nd annual Jessie Richardson Awards were announced this week, and four productions from our 13/14 season have been nominated! The Jessie Awards celebrate and promote the outstanding achievements of the Vancouver professional theatre community. Congratulations to all the nominees, we can’t wait to hear the results! The shows from our 13/14 season that got nominated are listed below in their respective categories.

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Whose Life Is It Anyway? – Realwheels Theatre

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Lead Role – Small Theatre
Bob Frazer, Whose Life Is It Anyway?, Realwheels Theatre

Outstanding Performance by and Actress in a Supporting Role – Small Theatre
Jennifer Lines, Whose Life Is It Anyway?, Realwheels Theatre

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role – Small Theatre
Kyle Jesperson, Penelope, Rumble Theatre

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Uncle Vanya – Blackbird Theatre

Outstanding Lighting Design – Small Theatre
Adrian Muir, Whose Life Is It Anyway?, Realwheels Theatre
Alan Brodie, Uncle Vanya, Blackbird Theatre

Outstanding Set Design – Small Theatre
Drew Facey, Penelope, Rumble Theatre
Jergus Oprsal, Inside The Seed, Up in the Air Theatre
Pam Johnson, Whose Life Is It Anyway?, Realwheels Theatre

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Penelope – Rumble Theatre

Outstanding Costume Design – Small Theatre
Marti Wright, Uncle Vanya, Blackbird Theatre
Drew Facey, Penelope, Rumble Theatre

Outstanding Direction – Small Theatre
John Cooper, Whose Life Is It Anyway?, Realwheels Theatre
Richard Wolfe, Inside The Seed, Up in the Air Theatre

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Inside The Seed – Up in the Air Theatre

Outstanding Production – Small Theatre
Inside The Seed, Up in the Air Theatre
Whose Life Is It Anyway?, Realwheels Theatre

Significant Artistic Achievement – Small Theatre
Inside The Seed, Up in the Air Theatre

Outstanding Original Script
Jason Rothery, Inside The Seed, Up in the Air Theatre

To see a full list of the nominations, visit the Jessies website. The awards ceremony will take place on Monday, June 23 at the Commodore Ballroom. For tickets, click here.

Uncle Vanya From All Sides

Just when you thought The Cultch’s Historic Theatre couldn’t get any more intimate, it does.

While every performance is a new and exciting adventure, Blackbird Theatre’s upcoming production Uncle Vanya invites the audience to take a step closer to the action with an up-close-and-personal staging of Chekhov’s famous play – performed in the round.

“In the round” refers to a show at which the audience sits on all four sides of the actors, musicians, or dancers on stage. It’s not a new concept, but it’s not typically very common to see a production this way, even for regular theatre-goers.

This production will mark the first time The Cultch’s Historic Theatre – a traditional proscenium stage – has ever been reconfigured to adapt to this rarely-seen style of performance.

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Audience members will be close enough to the actors to have an unusually intimate view, thanks to two rows of seating added on the wings and three rows against the theatre’s back wall. The performers will then take up the centre of the space, as seen in these Uncle Vanya production sketches:

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For the actors, performing in-the-round requires a heightened sense of awareness and stage presence. They must make constant adjustments to ensure each member of the audience has an exciting view of the action, regardless of where they’re seated.

For the audience, it means their fellow theatre-goers constitute a part of the set and backdrop- creating a very palpable sense of a shared, communal experience.

This Uncle Vanya mock-up of the stage demonstrates how even the sets need to be intricately arranged to incorporate an audience from all sides.

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Don’t miss this chance to see Uncle Vanya, an incredible production in its own right, made even more so by this rare and exceptional in-the-round staging.

Blackbird Theatre’s Uncle Vanya runs at The Cultch from Dec. 23 to Jan. 18 at the Historic Theatre. Tickets are from $18 and can be purchased at tickets.thecultch.com.

Staging Chekhov: Inside the Playwright’s Work & World

On Monday, December 9, three trailblazers in the Vancouver theatre community are doing the unthinkable: They’re spilling their secrets – the vexing challenges and vivid “ah ha!” moments behind staging the works of one of history’s most beloved and celebrated playwrights, Anton Chekhov.a_3

Staging Chekhov is an extra special event; it’s a behind-the-process panel discussion at the Vancouver Public Library, Central Library, moderated by Vancouver theatre heavyweight Jerry Wasserman. Presenters include Blackbird Theatre, Artistic Director John Wright, Kathleen Duborg of Theatre at UBC , and Richard Newman, actor with The Only Child Collective.
All panel members will dive into the inner mechanics of what it really takes to stage a Chekhov play.

For John, this panel discussion comes in lead-up to Uncle Vanya opening at The Cultch on December 23. As the director, John knows about bringing Chekhov’s work to life in the theatre – he’s working through this process right now! Uncle Vanya tells the story of Vanya, a man whose monotonous country estate existence is thrust into chaos when his finicky, aging brother-in-law returns with a new young wife – the beautiful and irresistible Yelena.

Photo taken by Tim Matheson of  Anthony F. Ingram & Robert Moloney.

Photo taken by Tim Matheson of Anthony F. Ingram & Robert Moloney.

Over at Theatre at UBC, Kathleen is in preparation for another Chekhov play– The Seagul  – which she will be directing. This darkly comic tale of unrequited love is set to open on January 23, 2014.

Richard, a celebrated Vancouver actor, has great experience with classical theatre. In addition to roles in Twelfth Night and Hamlet at Bard on the Beach this past summer, Richard played the old and often drunk doctor in Chekhov’s Three Sisters from The Only Child Collective, which ran at The Cultch’s Vancity Culture Lab in April 2013.

Photo of Three Sisters taken by Emily Cooper of Luc Roderique, Rachel Aberle, Richard Newman and Brahm Taylor

Photo of Three Sisters taken by Emily Cooper of Luc Roderique, Rachel Aberle, Richard Newman and Brahm Taylor

The insight that these three bring to the table can only come from the practical experience of bringing Chekhov’s works to life in front of an audience.

Of the hundreds and thousands of plays that have been written and produced throughout the years, there are only a handful that have really stood the test of time. Chekhov has not one, but four plays that are considered among the classics. These plays are still relevant and hugely popular today and have outlived their first cast, their first audience, and even the playwright himself!

But Chekhov’s influence extends well beyond his own writing. Even after his early death at age 44, Chekhov’s works went on to inspire other writers throughout history: George Bernard Shaw, Tennessee Williams, and Ernest Hemmingway – just to name a few.

With such an incredible legacy, how then does an actor or director rise to the challenge of mounting a production that has been staged and re staged countless times throughout a hundred-year lifespan? How do they breathe fresh life into stories that are so widely known?

Luckily, we have experienced members of the Vancouver theatre community to spill these secrets!

Staging Chekhov takes place in the Alma VanDusen and Peter Kaye Rooms at the Vancouver Public Library, Central Library on December 9, 2013 at 7:00 pm.

Blackbird Theatre’s Uncle Vanya runs at The Cultch from Dec. 23 to Jan. 18 inside the Historic Theatre. Tickets can be purchased from $30 and can be purchased at tickets.thecultch.com.

Don Juan throughout history: Then and now

Blackbird Theatre brings a bold new adaptation of Molière's most scandalous comedy to the stage with Don Juan, festooned with swordplay, seduction, and song.

It’s bold, saucy, and completely outrageous! On December 26, Blackbird Theatre is bringing its newest production to The Cultch, a brave reimagining of Don Juan, the scandalous comedy written by Molière in 1665.

Don Juan, a legendary womanizer and defiant rogue, begins his journey as new husband to Elvira, a one-time nun who was seduced and stolen away from her convent by Don Juan. Already tiring of his beautiful new bride, Don Juan’s eye begins to wander, right over to the fiancée of a close companion! With Don Juan’s disapproving servant Sganarelle in tow, the hijinks that ensue during Don Juan’s quest for the many women of his dreams leave audiences roaring with laughter!

For this version of Don Juan, Blackbird Theatre promises nothing but the best! Two of Vancouver’s finest comedic actors will shine in leading roles: Peter Jorgensen, as the mischievous Don Juan, and Simon Webb as the not-so-trusty sidekick Sganarelle. While honouring Italy’s traditional commedia dell’arte, a form of theatre where actors use various masks to represent stock characters of a specific social type, Blackbird Theatre promises a fresh new spin on this historic and well-loved performance.

The story of Don Juan is over 300 years old, and through the years there have been countless versions, from stage plays and operas, to books and poems. Molière’s Don Juan wasn’t the first version of this famous story, but it was certainly among the most scandalous! Originally titled Dom Juan ou le Festin de pierreI, Molière himself played Sganarelle when it premiered in Paris. Alas, the production was closed after only two weeks because audiences of the time found it highly offensive.

Another notable version of the classic tale emerged years later, this time as an opera entitled Don Giovanni. With musical composition by none other than Mozart, this version was written by Lorenzo Da Ponte and premiered in Prague in 1787, and is still performed around the world today.

A ticket to the premiere performance of Don Giovanni in Vienna, May 7, 1788.

In the nineteenth century, another famous historical figure, Lord Byron, produced his own version of the tale, this time as a satiric poem. First published anonymously in 1819, readers found the poem highly immoral, yet overall it was a huge success. Interestingly, Byron reversed the character of Don Juan, portraying him as a man easily seduced by women, instead of the womanizer he’s traditionally regarded as being.

With so many versions of Don Juan throughout history, it’s no wonder this story has achieved such prominence in today’s theatre world. Don’t miss your chance to catch this incredible story, told through the eyes of Vancouver’s own Blackbird Theatre.

Don Juan runs at The Cultch December 26 – January 26. Tickets are available online at tickets.thecultch.com, by phone at 604.251.1363, or in person at 1895 Venables St.