PLAYBILL: Art for art’s sake

Art GigCIty EdmontonAny artist who’s ever been turned down for a grant should feel their blood boiling over Art.

As will the characters in Yasmina Reza’s play – the English translation at the Varscona Theatre April 26-May 14. Starring local familiars Glenn Nelson, John Sproule and Frank Zotter in this Shadow Theatre production, the story revolves around three men who aren’t likely to be drinking beer and arguing about hockey. They’re actually getting into it over the title of the play – because one of them has just plunked down a stupid of money for painting that’s nothing but white on a field of white. Oy, you idiot. Think of the balsamic vinegar you could’ve bought. Is it art? That’s not art! My kid could do that! I could do that. No, you can’t handle the art! Oh, it’s art, you Philistine! I know you are but what am I? Oh, yeah?! Well, take that! (Smashes painting over the guy’s head.)

And so on (the above is not actual dialogue).

Of course it’s not just about the art. The painting is just a McGuffin for deeper human explorations: the meaning of art, the meaning of friendship, the meaning of life.

Sense and Sensibility

Jane Austen figured out the meaning of life long before our grandparents were born – in a series of long and lugubrious novels that poked holes in the English gentry with stories and characters still relevant today. One of the most famous novels is her first, Sense and Sensibility, following the adventures of a mother and her daughters who get screwed in the will when dad dies. Such a cheery scene in Victorian England – and it’s been called a “comedy of manners.” Wonder what a drama of manners would be like.

The renowned local playwright and actor Tom Wood has created yet another adaptation of the classic, which makes its world premiere on the Citadel Theatre’s Shoctor Stage until May 14.

Irma Voth GigCity EdmontonIrma Voth

Adapted from the novel by Miriam Toews, this new play by Edmonton’s own Chris Craddock (who’s also in the play) is a Breaking Amish sort of story about Mennonite girls in Mexico whose dreams of life “on the outside” are kindled when a film crew comes into their colony. Their oppressive father isn’t too pleased with this turn of events, as you might imagine.

Irma Voth makes its world premiere at The Roxy on Gateway until May 5.

Jesus Christ Superstar

Easter has been held over due to popular demand – and with it the ambitious Andrew Lloyd Webber musical in all its power and glory at the Mayfield Dinner Theatre until June 11. Director Kate Ryan’s take on the musical passion play is a tour-de-force, buoyed heavenward by a large ensemble cast and a small band that sounds like a big orchestra.


Bone Wars GigCity EdmontonThe Bone Wars: The Curse of the Pathological Paleontologists

After four kids find themselves holed up in a damp cave in Alberta’s Badlands during a terrible storm, an old argument gets dug up: This one over who was the best dinosaur hunter: Othniel Marsh or Edward Cope, who both worked at a time (mid-1800s) when fossil enthusiasts saw their own little Gold Rush.

The two appear – as if by magic, or imagination, anyway – in a kangaroo court to determine palaeontological supremacy, with various characters from the Old West popping by, and the kids acting as judge and jury. Apparently neither Marsh nor Cope are winners in Matthew MacKenzie’s play, but you’ll have to see the show to find out why. Starring Davina Stewart, Leona Brausen, Murray Utas, and Beth Graham, The Bone Wars runs at the Backstage Theatre in the ATB Financial Arts Barns until April 29.

Over the Edge with 4-Play

Like the title says, there will be four entire (short) plays presented at this event, Friday, April 28 at 9:30 pm in the ATB Financial Arts Barns.

Just one caveat: these four plays don’t actually exist – yet.

A who’s who of Edmonton’s theatre scene (four actors, four playwrights, four directors, and four designers) will have just 24 hours to come up with a story, script, casting, set, lighting, costumes, everything, and get it on stage by curtain time. No fair making it up on the spot. Leave the improv to the improvisers – though a few of these talented thespians do that, too.

The Dress Writer

Is this what Frank Zappa meant when he said that writing about music is like “dancing about architecture?”

Well, it appears that Brian Webb Dance is doing just that –  with another world premiere at the Timms Centre for the Arts April 28-29 – this a production of Regina’s Rouge-Gorge. It’s a collaboration between dancer Robin Poitrtas, artist Rober Racine, and architect Clifford Wiens. Dancing about architecture.

The Dress Writer is said to be “inspired by words that fall between stories of sex and castration, fly-fishing and lost eggs.”

Writing about dance is pretty silly, too.