2012/13 Season Highlights

I know most of you have no idea what you’re doing next month let alone next year, but with the 2012/13 season announcements out from the four major theatre companies in Calgary, I thought it would be a good time to give everyone a heads up on the productions worth noting. Or at least the productions I’m most excited about.

Alberta Theatre Projects is opening its season with Lynn Nottage’s Intimate Apparel from October 9 to 27, 2012. Set in 1905, the play tells the story of Esther, a 35-year old African-American woman who moved from North Carolina years prior to seek her fortune as a seamstress in New York City.

Nottage is a highly respected and awarded playwright, winning the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2009 for her play Ruined.  An earlier play, Intimate Apparel premiered in 2003 and went on to a very successful off-Broadway run in 2004 starring Viola Davis as Esther. The play won the 2004 Steinberg New Play Award, presented by The American Theatre Critics Association to “outstanding new plays produced around the United States, outside of New York City”.

I am eager to see how Nottage’s deft hand delivers the story of African-American women in the early 1900’s and to see how it resonates in a Calgary that is becoming ever more multi-cultural.

As part of its Enbridge playRites festival, ATP will be premiering Joan Macleod’s What to Expect from March 6 to April 7, 2013. The play centers on a violent Sky-train episode between a troubled teen and a cop. Implications of the incident deeply affect the involved families and the community as a whole. This promises to be a thought-provoking piece of theatre.

Macleod, who was awarded the prestigious 2011 Siminovitch Prize for writing as well as many other prominent awards is no stranger to playRites. Her previous productions of Another Home Invasion and The Shape of A Girl both had their starts at the ATP festival and went on to great acclaim.

A new play by Macleod is always something to celebrate and I’m looking forward to seeing what this important Canadian playwright has in store for us this time.

Lastly, ATP will mount a production of Red from April 30 to May 18, 2013. The play spotlights a moment in time between the renowned and cantankerous abstract artist Mark Rothko and his assistant.  They argue, laugh, obsess and actually create paintings on-stage in this intellectually challenging and insightful 2010 award-winning drama.

I saw Red at CanStage in Toronto last year and loved every minute of it. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that ATP’s version will rise to the challenge.

Theatre Calgary’s season is full of safe bets and crowd-pleasers, but two of their productions stand out to me as fresh and exciting.

The musical Next to Normal will open the season from September 11 to 30, 2012. This story about one woman’s up and down journey through mental illness was the winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and one of the most talked-about Broadway musicals in recent years.

Critics everywhere loved this show and I’m hoping that it will be one of the very few musicals I can actually say I am a fan of.

Starting off 2013 will be TC’s Canadian premiere of The Kite Runner from January 29 to February 24, 2013. Based on the internationally bestselling book by Khaled Hosseini, the play tells the story of  Amir, a young boy from Kabul, whose closest friend Hassan, is his father’s  servant. The story plays out against the backdrop of the fall of Afghanistan’s monarchy, the Soviet invasion, the exodus of refugees to Pakistan and the United States, and the rise of the Taliban regime.

I loved the book when I read it in 2003 and I’m very curious to see how it will be translated to the stage.

While not a great fan of mystery plays, Vertigo has one production that caught my eye. Panic, which is playing from May 4 to June 2, 2012, won the 2008 Edgar Allan Poe Award for best play from the Mystery Writers of America and even though I understand it could use a good edit, I’m game to see what all the fuss is about.

The story concerns a famous American film director accused of an unspeakable crime while attending a premiere in Paris. Bit by bit the truth is revealed, and he and his circle of friends must decide how far they will go to protect his legend.

Lunchbox Theatre peaked my interest on two fronts. A World Premiere “Historical” Drama by Matthew Heiti, Aviatrix: The Unreal Story of Amelia Earhart runs from November 5 to 24, 2012. The play aims to imagine would have become of this famous flier as it retraces her final journey.

If done well, this could be an interesting “what if” play that I’m hoping will rely more on drama than on sentimentality.

Finally, I’m excited to see my friend Louis B. Hobson premiere his play Almost a Love Story from April 29 to May 18, 2013. The play examines understanding and identity and what it means not to really know a parent. When David is survived by his loving wife and adoring son … and by his lover, Callum. David’s son strives to find out who his father really was.

This was a daring production for the usually mainstream –friendly Lunchbox to mount and I applaud them for it and look forward to seeing Hobson’s ideas realized on stage.

Whether these are your picks for next season or not, there is a play out there calling your name. Check out the season announcements and make your theatre choices for next year.

In the words of the great Oscar Wilde:

“I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.”

ATP 2012/13 season http://www.atplive.com/2012-2013-Season/Shows.html

TC 2012/13 season http://theatrecalgary.com/tickets/1213season/

Vertigo 2012/13 season http://www.vertigotheatre.com/main/page.php?page_id=65

Lunchbox 2012/13 season http://www.lunchboxtheatre.com/20122013-season.html

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