A conversation with Much Ado About Nothing Director, Rebecca Patterson

A conversation with Much Ado About Nothing Director, Rebecca Patterson

Previously from New York City, Rebecca Patterson is known for her inventive classical productions featuring all-female casts for The Queen’s Company (NYC) and her advocacy for diversity and gender-blind casting. As Classic Chic Productions prepares to open Much Ado About Nothing this week, we caught up with Rebecca to chat about her work and inspirations.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Born in California and raised in Western Canada, I went to Studio 58 as an actor before beginning my ongoing journey as an auteur theatre director. For the past 20 years I have been happily living and making theatre in New York City, I moved back home to Vancouver just over a year ago and am now making theatre here in addition to my work in NYC.

Can you tell us more about your work at The Queen’s Company in NYC?
Founded in 2000, The Queen’s Company is a NYC-based theatre company dedicated to the creation of inventive productions of classical plays featuring all-female casts. My work with the company weds a love of language to a love of life, weaving inspiration from history and world cultures into the fabric of each production, and is known for its exquisite use of language, bold physicality, creative storytelling and artistic playfulness. I have also been a vocal advocate for culture change in casting practices, calling for greater opportunities for classically trained professional female actors through all-female productions and gender-blind casting.

Why is gender-blind casting important?
Because it’s about humanity. It is a true reflection of our current culture where the old divisions between men and women are falling away. It is also about social justice and equal employment opportunity for female actors.

What inspires your work?
Life, and the actors I have the pleasure and privilege to work with.

What makes you most excited about being back in Vancouver?
Vancouver has become the city I went in search of, diverse, engaged, hopeful, curious. The city and the theatre community excites me, though I love the dynamic energy and drive of NYC, I miss my culture and my people, it is wonderful being back and diving into this new experiment.

What does it mean to you to be part of the Femme Series?
It means I am claiming space onstage for women and encouraging other women to do the same. This is important, we need to have our diverse voices heard and seen. It will be the journey of multiple lifetimes to undo the untold generations of female silence, to arrive at a time where equality of expression is the norm, this is why, even as women achieve more overt equality, programs like the Femme Series remain important and relevant.

What should audiences expect from Classic Chic’s Much Ado About Nothing?
Expect to be surprised.

Tell us about a woman who has inspired you.
So many to choose from! Of all the fierce females who make my day, I have to choose the French female director Ariane Mnouchkine, within the artistry of stage direction she is considered one the best, her relentless pursuit of truth and bold theatricality has been deeply inspirational and fueled my passion to create theatre.

Photo by Emily Cooper

Much Ado About Nothing runs Feb 5 to 16 at the Historic Theatre (1895 Venables Street). Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

Feminist Holiday Gift Guide!

Feminist Holiday Gift Guide!

Struggling with your holiday shopping? Need a little help getting the perfect gift for that kick-ass feminist on your list? Look no furtherour Femme Series is coming up this winter, and there are so many amazing shows and events to choose from!

For the Karaoke Loving Feminist in your life…who wants a moment in the spotlight:

Do you have anyone on your list who could use a good evening of belting out classic power ballads? Have we got the show for you!

Power Ballad is an angry, feminist, live art investigation of language and its sometimes hidden ideologies that is part performance lecture and part karaoke party. With an ‘80s soundtrack to rival any school disco, Power Ballad is anarchic and loud; filled with feminist rage and…Annie Lennox.

And, as a BONUSgrab tickets to the performance on January 25, and you can stay behind after the show for a fun evening of Feminist Karaoke with Power Ballad performer Julia Croft!

For the Shakespeare Loving Feminist in your life:

Hipster Shakespeare!

Sure he’s an old, dead, white guy, but the Bard still has some interesting things to say, and in the hands of Classic Chic Theatre Company, this February’s performance of Much Ado About Nothing won’t be your status-quo, Shakespeare!

Shakespeare loving feminists will not want to miss an all-female cast as they take on one of the most famous stage comedies in the worlda deadly serious and sublimely ridiculous story—of soldiers in love and women confined by tradition. It’s a bold and playful romp through the extremes of desire and ambition, loyalty, and redemption.

“It has been my experience that gender-blind casting speaks to a diverse audience—straight and queer, men and women—and is a true reflection of our complex contemporary community.” — Rebecca Patterson, Much Ado about Nothing Director

For the Music Loving Feminist in your life:

There are so many things to choose from for the music loving feminist on your list. From indie, to hula, to punk…and don’t forget the rock ballads, and karaoke! We have the music lover in your life covered!

Don’t miss Ukraine’s Dakh Daughters in their cross-discipline performance from Jan 15-19, at the York Theatre. Seven actresses take musical instruments into their hands in order to create a life-affirming performance about love, freedom, and beauty which at the end of the day—will save the world. Get your tickets for this one fast, because it will sell out!

On January 12, 2019, at the York Theatre, Soft Cedar Presents: Only a Visitor’s Technicolour Education album release, with special guest Wallgrin. Only A Visitor is a quintet that blurs genre boundaries by straddling the line between art music and pop. Their new album, Technicolour Education, focuses on the Chinese diasporic experience in Vancouver through generations of immigrant stories. Tickets are only $20 and can be purchased here.

Soft Cedar will be back at the end of January as well! On January 27, Kaumakaiwa Kanaka’ole will take the stage in a co-presentation with Capilano University as part of the CapU Global Roots Series. Kaumakaiwa brings to the stage an immense talent as a singer, chanter, and dancer as well as a deep understanding of her Hawaiian culture and her place as a modern, transgender (mahu wahine) Hawaiian in this contemporary world. She engages Indigenous thought to address today’s issues through music, chant, and sharing of spirit.

And, of course, who can forget about Power Ballad?!

For the aspiring Feminist Playwright in your life:

Do you have that one friend who always tells you their “brilliant” play ideas? Theatre creators and producers Kim Senklip Harvey and Pippa Mackie host Pitch, Bitch, or Ditch on Jan 14—an unforgettable night that puts the power in the hands of the patrons! From anonymous suggestions made by the audience, Kim and Pippa will lead patrons through a lively evening of banter and debate—no idea is off limits, no suggestions taboo or too dangerous. The bar will be open. There will be guest appearances…and loads of surprises! And with tickets for only $10, this makes the perfect stocking stuffer, or secret Santa gift!

AND THAT IS NOT EVEN ALL!
Full list of events for the Femme Series:

Jan 11: WROL (Without Rule of Law) by Michaela Jeffery—A new play reading presented by Touchstone Theatre, 8PM, Historic Theatre—FREE
Jan 12: Soft Cedar Presents: Only a Visitor album release, with special guest Wallgrin, 8PM, Historic Theatre—$20
Jan 14: Women in the Arts Mixer, 6-8PM, Historic Theatre—FREE
Jan 14: Pitch, Bitch, or Ditch, with Pippa Mackie and Kim Harvey8-9PM, Historic Theatre—$10
Jan 15 – 19: Dakh Daughters (Ukraine), York Theatre—Main Stage Season Production
Jan 22 – 26: Power Ballad, Julia Croft/Nisha Madhan (New Zealand), 8PM, Historic Theatre—Main Stage Season Production
Jan 25: Feminist Karaoke with Julia Croft, after Power Ballad, 9PM, Historic Theatre—FREE
Jan 27: Soft Cedar Presents: Kaumakaiwa Kanaka’ole, presented as part of CapU Global Roots Series, 8PM, York Theatre—$40
Feb 5 – 16: Much Ado About Nothing, Classic Chic Productions (Vancouver), Historic Theatre—Main Stage Season Production


Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

Q&A with Governor General award-winning playwright, Colleen Murphy!

Q&A with Governor General award-winning playwright, Colleen Murphy!

Photo by Heidi Hamilton

How did the idea to adapt a Shakespearean text incorporating Bouffon come about?

When Stephen [Drover] asked me to write an adaptation of Titus Andronicus I wondered how to connect with a play I felt was emotionally vacant but intriguing.  “What makes people so angry they kill children?  What is under such rage? Terrible hurt probably, and terrible grief.”

While adapting the play I was the Lee Playwright in Residence at the University of Alberta, working in the same department as Professor Michael Kennard, aka Mump from the incredible duo Mump & Smoot.  Michael teaches clown there and I was inspired by the rigor and the fearlessness he used in his hilarious student presentations.  I felt that given the blood-bath of the 21st century, Bouffon were more suitable to my adaptation because they bring a primal urgency to a story that both begs to be taken seriously and begs not to be taken seriously.

Can you tell us a little bit about the effect that the Bouffon style has on the piece?

The Bouffon style opens up both the emotional and the farcical aspects that are already in Shakespeare’s play.  He must have enjoyed writing it, and there are some beautiful passages, as fine as any he wrote.  The murders and the outrage might even be funny…and the funny is sometimes sad.  The world of revenge is an over-the-top world driven by sad, angry people.

What is something about the show that audiences may be surprised to learn?

Perhaps members of the audience might be surprised to discover that nothing is sacred, that everything is human, including the worse things people do to each other.

Can you describe the show in 3 words?

Fun Meets Death.

What most excites you about bringing this piece to the stage?

Marrying Shakespeare with Bouffon offers another perspective on Titus Andronicus in the 21st century.

Peter Anderson in “The Society for the Destitute Presents Titus Bouffonius”. Photo by Stephen Drover


The Society for the Destitute Presents Titus Bouffonius runs from Nov 22 – Dec 3 at the Cultch’s Historic Theatre. Tickets are from $22 and can be found here.