The Russian Play and Essay kick off New Vintage Theatre’s fall Starry Nights theatre season from Sept.13-15 in a mysterious downtown Kelowna location.
Both one act plays are by Canadian indie sensation Hannah Moscovitch, dubbed the “dark angel of Toronto theatre.” Moscovitch has been nominated for the Governor General’s award for theatre excellence and won numerous awards for her compelling and controversial work.
The Russian Play is the story of a young woman who falls in love with a gravedigger in the shadow of the Stalinist regime and Essay centres around a heated debate between a teaching assistant and a professor about a young woman’s paper.
Directed by Elana Bizovie, in collaboration with producer Angela Lavender, the cast features local favourites Laura Benty, Adam Weaver and Andrew Knudsen, with costumes by Perch Travelling Boutique’s Robyn Flinn.
“I find we look at people and we judge them for their lifestyle, their life choices, but we don’t know what brought them to make those choices,” said Benty about her character in the Russian Play. “This girl wants to tell her story so that people know why she made the choices she made.”
“In both roles I am playing something that is completely the opposite of who I am,” added Knudsen. “I am playing a misogynist and a KGB operative, some of the scenes get very intense. I am a high school teacher and the characters go against everything that I teach my kids so it is really interesting to play something so intense and so different.”
Research for The Russian Play required the creative team to research accent, dance, food and then explore the modern politics of persuasion and gender dynamics in the academic world for Essay.
“The two shows are so separate from each other, but they have their similarities,” explained Weaver. “It has been a really interesting experience doing two types of shows. So, when you come in to see it hopefully you get something different out of both of them, but then hopefully the two of them have a theme overall that you can leave thinking about.”
With the world at odds over Russian involvement in our political systems and the #MeToo movement, both plays are timely and gripping.
Just like the character Pixie in Essay, New Vintage director Elana Bizovie is very passionate about her “passion” project.
“Supporting work by Canadian playwrights is important, especially women playwrights. The entire production team is made up of women, and we’re telling women’s stories,” said Bizovie.
The “mystery” element of the Mystery Theatre project is a result of necessity. Faced with a shortage of venues for Sept., New Vintage sought out proposals back in March from company members who had an idea for a self-produced show that would allow them to challenge themselves artistically in a non-traditional venue. The details of the venue are kept secret and fully revealed once tickets are purchased.
Tickets for New Vintage Theatre’s plays The Russian Play and Essay running Sept.13 to 15 at 7:30 p.m. are $20 and available at www.selectyourtickets.com or Prospera Place Ticket Office.
“Adam and Andrew give me so much to work with, they are wonderful to act with, excellent performers,” said Benty. “If you want to see good acting, come and see those guys because they’re excellent.”
“I find that in the Okanagan especially we do a lot of light comedy-type shows so this is something different. It is intense, it has meaning behind it,” added Knudsen. “This show will have you talking when you leave the theatre.”
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