Happy World Theatre Day from Niagara-on-the-Lake! | www.gctc.ca

Happy World Theatre Day from Niagara-on-the-Lake!

Today is World Theatre Day, a day intended not only “to promote theatre in all its forms across the world,” but also “to enable theatre communities to promote their work on a broad scale so that governments and opinion leaders are aware of the value and importance of theatre in all its forms and support it.” (https://www.world-theatre-day.org/goals.html)

With these goals in mind, it seems so appropriate that I am writing this post from Niagara-on-the-Lake, midway through rehearsals for Michael Healey’s new political satire, 1979, a co-production between GCTC and the Shaw Festival. (I’m lucky enough to be assistant director to Eric Coates as part of my Metcalf Foundation Internship in Artistic Direction.) Co-producing this new work allows it to be presented and promoted on a broader scale, as described above, and I would love to see this production getting some attention from “governments and opinion leaders.” What’s funny is that this play seems to flip this goal around at the same time that it justifies it—1979 brings awareness to theatre audiences of the complexities (and absurdities) of government. Meanwhile this awareness may itself be considered evidence of the value and importance of theatre.


Both the Shaw Festival and GCTC are companies that are built on presenting theatre that provokes dialogue and examines our place in the world, so it’s a perfect fit for these two companies to collaborate on this new play looking at the end of Joe Clark’s very short tenure as Prime Minister of Canada. And this kind of theatrical/political discourse is needed now more than ever. With Michael Healey’s imagined words of Joe Clark, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Flora MacDonald, Brian Mulroney (and others) echoing in my mind, I can’t help but see relevance in the current political climate.


This rehearsal process also has been a great opportunity to get to know a bit about how the Shaw Festival works and to see the new Artistic Director Tim Carroll in action. Especially with his personal addition to the Shaw mandate—establishing the Festival as what he calls a “two-way theatre.” He and his team are developing many new audience engagement opportunities, including occasional open rehearsals and “secret theatre,” and Eric and I have already started talking about what ideas we can bring home to GCTC. 


And meanwhile, 1979 already looks great! We had the fantastic experience of having Michael Healey in on our first week of rehearsal, and our actors and creative team are top-notch. I am looking forward to getting back to Ottawa with this team and bringing this production to the GCTC stage, but meanwhile I am absorbing as much of the Shaw Festival experience as I can. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate World Theatre Day!


Read the official international World Theatre Day message by French actress Isabelle Huppert here: https://www.world-theatre-day.org/messageauthor.html


The official Canadian World Theatre Day message for 2017 is by Gilles Poulin-Denis and translated by Mishka Lavigne (a member of GCTC’s Playwrights Network), and it can be found here: https://pact.ca/services-support/the-case-for-theatre/world-theatre-day/#1489172026813-0ee854f0-ee8f