The concluding two days of The Elizabeth Boardmore One-Act Play Festival (Saturday, March 23, and Sunday, March 24) continue to offer a wide variety of original and published works, along with adjudications by an internationally recognized director (and East Bay native), Ron Jenkins, and award presentations and closing reception.
Saturday, at 7 pm, in the Cape Breton University Boardmore Playhouse, the Festival presents The Venetian Gardens, written by Paul MacDougall, author of the award winning Rockabye Baby.
With a nod to the ongoing Royal Cape Breton Yacht Club, the program describes the play this way: “A beloved cultural building on Sydney’s waterfront is facing closure and destruction but the people who love it come together on an eventful New Year’s Eve to give it a new life.”
Bhreagh MacNeil, a high school student from Big Pond who in is the cast says, “The Venetian Gardens showed me how Sydney was never just a coal miner’s town. When working with The Company Store (last fall at CBU) I began to get that impression. Now I realize that dances and social lives in general played a big part in Cape Breton culture. It’s strange to hear these two characters, Johnny and Evo from The Venetian Gardens, talking about how Sydney is becoming an ‘aging community’. This forces you to look around and ask yourself if that’s really what Sydney has become. Either way these two productions have taught me more about Cape Breton culture than I’ve ever learned in school.”
The second production is Victoria Station, written by Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter, and directed by John Lingard.
A dispatcher for a large London taxi company becomes worried with the odd and disturbing responses over the radio from his drivers. The progress of their communications becomes more tense and foreboding and claustrophobic. The play comes with a warning of offensive material that is not suitable for younger audiences.
Lingard, who has directed this piece before for the one-act festival, says, “I like Victoria Station, firstly because it is very funny and at the same time is a kind of mystery which challenges an audience to ask what is happening and what the characters’ motives are. Like all Pinter’s plays, it is very real–the London setting, references to Crystal Palace, Victoria Station, Ford Cortinas, and so on–but also strange in a way that has made the actors in this production think of sci-fi movies with aliens. Finally, the dialogue is great for actors and, I hope, for the audience.”
Following the two plays, Jenkins will publicly adjudicate them in The Pit Lounge, after which local band, Heartwood Slacks, will play.
The final day of the Festival offers something new, a 2pm matinee featuring two productions. Sister Mary Ignatius Explains it All for You, written by Christopher Durang, and directed by Todd Pettigrew, is a hilarious and profane send up of Roman Catholicism.
The program description says, “Straight-shooting Sister Mary Ignatius has arrived to set the record straight on the Catholic faith. But her presentation has to be adjourned when a group of former students arrives to perform a pageant from their school days. Sister invited them – or did she? And what’s this nonsense about how she made them all miserable and ruined their lives?” This play will definitely be offensive to some people and is not in any way for younger theatregoers.
Director Pettigrew says, “Although we had, obviously, no idea that there was to be a new pope, and although I think the big questions that the play raises are timeless, I do think recent events make the play especially germane.”
“The election of the new pope means that people are asking important questions about the Catholic Church and its future,” he adds. “How will the church respond to the issue of child abuse, for instance? Will the role of women change any time soon? How does church dogma connect with actual Catholic practice? These are the same kinds of questions that Durang asks in his play.”
Pettigrew goes on to say, “This particular Pope is also interesting for Sister Mary because the Church’s views on sexuality are an important issue in the play, and while Francis has been praised for his humility, his public comments on homosexuality are ridiculous nearly to the point of insanity.”
Psychomachia, the final play of the Festival, is written by the young playwright, Dylan Grant, and directed by Kimberly Charron, who directed Teddy Bears, Love & Nightmares in last year’s Festival.
The program notes for this play say: “Adam has a problem – driven by the dark forces of his subconscious, he has alienated his friends and wasted his opportunities in life. Now, he finds himself at a crossroads confronting the choice of a lifetime, with nothing less than his destiny at stake.”
Director Charron says, “Directing is a passion for me and I like to stretch and grow with every play I take on. I had the pleasure of directing Dylan Grant in last summer’s The Cape Breton Stage Company Hits the Streets production of Lunch. I was delighted to be working with him again, as a playwright as well as an actor this time.”
The Festival concludes Sunday evening at 7pm in The Pit Lounge with the presentation of Achievement Awards by adjudicator Jenkins and a closing reception.
For a complete schedule visit cbu.ca/boardmore or phone the Box Office at 563-1652.