December 16, 2018

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Dramatic boost

Grant increase means bigger shows and larger casts for 2018-19 PTE season

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/3/2018 (267 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The 2018-19 theatre season at Prairie Theatre Exchange is bigger, busier... and bittersweet.

It’s bittersweet specifically for artistic director Robert Metcalfe, who already announced his retirement from PTE at the end of the current season. He will be replaced by Thomas Morgan Jones, who collaborated with Metcalfe to program the 2018-19 season.

“I don’t think the season itself is bittersweet,” Metcalfe asserts. “I think the season is just sweet.”

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/3/2018 (267 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

An increase in funding means plays with large casts, such as Mom’s the Word: Nest ½ Empty are a reality again at the Prairie Theatre Exchange for the 2018-19 season. (Emily Cooper photo) </p>

An increase in funding means plays with large casts, such as Mom’s the Word: Nest ½ Empty are a reality again at the Prairie Theatre Exchange for the 2018-19 season. (Emily Cooper photo)

The 2018-19 theatre season at Prairie Theatre Exchange is bigger, busier... and bittersweet.

It’s bittersweet specifically for artistic director Robert Metcalfe, who already announced his retirement from PTE at the end of the current season. He will be replaced by Thomas Morgan Jones, who collaborated with Metcalfe to program the 2018-19 season.

"I don’t think the season itself is bittersweet," Metcalfe asserts. "I think the season is just sweet."

Indeed, the new season, which will kick off on Oct. 3, is enhanced by an increased grant from the Canada Council to $400,000 in the upcoming season, from $370,000 for this season.

"Their participation in our theatre went from about 7.3 per cent to 16 per cent of the budget, and just that bump in the money we have to spend allows us to do more things," says Metcalfe. "It’s amazing what an increase in the relatively small amount of the budget can do."

 

Aria Evans in Finding Wolastoq Voice, which appears at the PTE March 21-31, 2019. (Andre Reinders photo) </p>

Aria Evans in Finding Wolastoq Voice, which appears at the PTE March 21-31, 2019. (Andre Reinders photo)

Apart from a "Leap Series" of three one-person shows, the federal money accommodates bigger shows with larger casts. The first two shows of the season alone will have more actors on stage than the entirety of the 2017-18 season.

"We’re able to put forward shows I’ve had on my list because we got a little more in the way of resources, and that’s really exciting," Metcalfe says.

"We see this as a real opportunity to give our audiences more, to get more artists on the stage and to put more shows on the stage," Metcalfe says. "We’ll be investing more in new play development and a number of initiatives — all artistic initiatives — that are all really good and are good for the overall community.

"So if it’s bittersweet, it’s just because I’m not going to be around to articulate the season and participate in it," Metcalfe says. "But it’s certainly been great putting it together."

On the slate:

Prairie Nurse (Oct. 3-21)

This farce-flavoured comedy by Marie Beath Badian is set in a small Saskatchewan town in 1969, where two women arrive from the Philippines to serve a two-year contract as nurses.

"I’ve had this sitting on my desk for a long time," Metcalfe says. "It had too large a cast to produce and so it’s fabulous to get it up on the stage here. Marie Badian put her heart and soul into this because it’s her mom’s story.

"It’s kind of a perfect show for this community," Metcalfe adds. "The Filipino community is pretty substantial in Winnipeg and has a real positive presence here, so this is an invitation for them to come to the theatre... and it’s a great story for the rest of us too."

Happy Place (Nov. 7-25)

Winnipeg-born playwright Pamela Mala Sinha offers a story of seven women living together in an in-patient care facility for women dealing with trauma.

"Pam Sinha wrote a devastatingly visceral play called Crash that was at (Toronto’s) Theatre Passe Muraille a couple of years ago about her story of being attacked while she was a theatre student at National Theatre School," Metcalfe says. "That was the first exploration of the subject and this is an extension of that, the next step in a story she’s exploring about the way that people, especially women are responding to trauma."

New Magic Valley Fun Town (Jan. 23-Feb. 10, 2019)

Playwright Daniel MacIvor, who comes to PTE next month with his one-man play Who Killed Spalding Gray?, brings this new work to PTE for its world première, in collaboration with Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre. It’s about a man, his ex-wife and their adult daughter gathering in a Cape Breton Island trailer park to rehash the past with a visitor. "I wouldn’t classify this as a comedy at all, but the way he draws characters, he makes them quirky and really endearing," Metcalfe says.

Mom’s the Word: Nest 1/2 Empty (Feb. 27-March 17, 2019)

PTE will have staged all three Mom’s the Word from Vancouver’s Mom’s the Word Collective by the end of next season, but in screwy order.

"We did the second one seven years ago and a new version of the first one a couple of seasons back," Metcalfe says. "So the creators of the show are coming out to do the third part."

The show’s originators are all Metcalfe’s contemporaries, he says. "They’ve aged with me so their kids have grown up and gone and then come back," Metcalfe says. "It all goes to show that if you don’t laugh as you move through middle age, then you really have no hope. Because I don’t think it gets better."

What to Do with Albert? (April 10-28, 2019)

PTE again collaborates with Winnipeg’s Théâtre Cercle Molière on a bilingual world première that opens at Cercle Molière in French before moving to PTE for an English production, a formula that worked well for last season’s Ginny Collins-penned drama The Flats.

"It’s a gentle comic piece about an old man who has just lost his wife and does not want to go in the home and his daughter is trying to do the best thing for him and everybody kind of flips out," Metcalfe says. "It’s very funny and it’s so great to have a Manitoba playwright — Danielle Séguin-Tétreault — who writes in French."


Empire of the Son, starring Tetsuro Shigematsu, will kick off PTE’s new Leap Series, from Nov. 28 to Dec. 9. (Raymond Shum photo) </p>

Empire of the Son, starring Tetsuro Shigematsu, will kick off PTE’s new Leap Series, from Nov. 28 to Dec. 9. (Raymond Shum photo)

PTE’s new Leap Series consists of three solo plays. Empire of the Son by Vancouver’s Tetsuro Shigematsu kicks off the series from Nov. 28 to Dec . 9 The play is a meditation on fathers and sons.

Finding Wolastoq Voice (March 21-31, 2019) by Natalie Sappier is described as a dance/theatre hybrid about a young woman who finds her way forward by finding the voice of her ancestors.

Finishing off the series is Winnipeg playwright Debbie Patterson’s How It Ends (April 17-28, 2019), an examination of end-of-life choices.

Subscription packages for the 2018-19 season start at $119. Tickets for the Leap Series are sold separately from subscriptions at only $20-25 per ticket.

randall.king@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @FreepKing

Randall King

Randall King
Reporter

In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.

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