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Maids, mummies and more

Arts season includes dystopian visions, heart-warming classics, beloved novelists and extraordinary equines

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While the leaves are falling, curtains all over the city are rising on the 2013-14 Winnipeg arts season.

Over the next nine months, stages will present new works, first views of heralded international imports and fresh takes on old titles. Premières abound, especially in theatre, which will debut at least eight new works by local playwrights, all but one female.

For the first time, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra is offering a Tchaikovsky Festival; next month it will host 12-year-old piano prodigy Umi Garrett, who won the International Chopin Competition and J.S. Bach Competition four years ago. The Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre has a mainstage playbill anchored by a revival of Jane Eyre, while its Warehouse lineup includes the sexually charged dark comedy Venus in Fur, the most produced play in North America this season.

Find out what else you should mark on your calendar to see in the coming months. Here's our best guess at your can't-miss, must-sees of the Winnipeg arts season:


THE CLOCK -- Winnipeg Art Gallery (Oct. 11-Jan. 5, 2014). See if time flies or drags while watching the 24-hour-long video mash-up of film clips of clocks and watches synced in real time. American-born sound artist Christian Marclay's creation has become the art world's most talked about film project since its 2010 debut. It's apparently addictive, so plan to stay a while.


THE HANDMAID'S TALE -- Royal Winnipeg Ballet (Oct. 16-20). This première represents the first time a piece of contemporary literature has been made into a ballet. The eyes of the ballet world will be on Centennial Concert Hall to see how New York choreographer Lila York adapts Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel. The literary icon will be in the opening night audience and will give a pre-performance chat.


WRAPPED: THE MUMMY OF PESED -- Manitoba Museum (Oct. 25-April 6, 2014). For the first time in 45 years, Manitobans will get to see a mummy. Pesed -- actually a grand mummy -- was born around 350 BC and died an estimated 55 to 70 years later. The show features 60 ancient Egyptian antiquities, including cat and falcon mummies, as well as forensic facial reconstructions of the human mummies.


A CHRISTMAS STORY -- Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre (Nov. 21-Dec. 14). The stage version of this perennial holiday movie favourite offers a warm-hearted vision of the yuletide season. Nine-year-old Ralphie is convinced his life will be perfect if there's a genuine Red Ryder BB gun under the tree Christmas morning.


IAN RANKIN -- McNally Robinson Booksellers (Nov. 29). This will be one of the last appearances for the internationally bestselling, Edinburgh-based crime author, a.k.a. the king of tartan noir, who is taking next year off owing to health concerns. Rankin will be here to promote Saints of the Shadow Bible, his 19th book, which features the curmudgeonly police detective John Rebus.


TESLA IN NEW YORK -- WSO's New Music Festival (Jan. 26). Indy film darling Jim Jarmusch (Dead Man, Stranger Than Paradise) and his composing partner Phil Kline will première a music-theatre piece featuring a series of fantasies based on the life of inventor Nikola Tesla. Both will be here playing guitar along with the Hilliard Ensemble and the University of Manitoba String Orchestra.


CHELSEA HOTEL, THE SONGS OF LEONARD COHEN -- Prairie Theatre Exchange (Jan. 22-Feb. 9). Chelsea Hotel will take you down to the place by the river every Leonard Cohen fan has frequented. Check into the infamous New York hotel for an eclectic cabaret performed by six performers playing 17 instruments in this tribute to the legendary troubadour.


SARGENT & VICTOR & ME -- Theatre Projects (Feb. 27-March 9). This is one of the more intriguing new plays being presented this season by the group of seven female playwrights. It is written and performed by Debbie Patterson, who will link the decline of the West End neighbourhood with the deterioration of her health from multiple sclerosis.


CARNEGIE HALL SEND-OFF -- Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (May 2, 3). Before the WSO takes its unique program on the road to New York's Carnegie Hall on May 8, the orchestra will perform it first for its hometown patrons. Two distinctive pieces -- Derek Charke's Thirteen Inuit Throat Song Games and Vincent Ho's The Shaman: Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra -- that debuted at the New Music Festival will be partnered with the local première of R. Murray Schafer's Symphony No. 1.


WAR HORSE -- Centennial Concert Hall (June 18-22). The National Theatre of Great Britain's stage epic is a marvel of stagecraft as full-sized puppets move and behave uncannily like real horses. The love story between a boy and his horse takes a back seat to the astonishing puppets, the army of puppeteers and some phenomenal choreography.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 5, 2013 G1

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