Sunday, March 31, 2019

Switch-blade tension

ACT’s 12 Angry Women - April 26 to May 10

  12 Angry Women is sort of a courtroom drama, but without the courtroom. It’s what happens after all the theatrics of a week of testimony.  But it’s even more theatrical once you lock a dozen people into the pressure-cooker of a stifling-hot jury room to come to a conclusion on whether a young man is guilty of murder — literally a life-or-death decision that hinges on a switch-blade.

  12 Angry Women will play at four Island venues between April 26th and May 10th, staged by ACT (a community theatre).  It is directed by Terry Pratt and produced by Richard Haines.

  “He doesn’t stand a chance,” is what the court guard opines at the outset.  But is that so?  This is a play that works on doubt and on the edge-of-seat tension that comes from the interpersonal dynamics among the twelve jurors, women of very different backgrounds and temperament, who have the duty to reach a collective conclusion.  What does it take for individuals to stand against the sway of the majority, and finally come together?

  The play is full of gripping dramatic moments.  The psychological tension builds as the jurors’ hands go up, one after the other, for another vote.  Abrupt flip-flops of opinion take us by surprise.  Physical confrontation erupts into near violence.  And there’s that startling move with the switch-blade.

  The play has an impressive pedigree of proven success.  It is an adaptation of Twelve Angry Men — which was first a TV drama, then a movie, then staged in London and on Broadway.  The play can be inspirational: this very month a project called 12,000 Voices has been organizing readings of the Angry Men version by casts of women all across the United States — to promote women’s voter registration and civic involvement.

  Though set in the 1950s, that dating is not very important.  Indeed, the message — about evidence, probing beneath the surface, critical thinking — is quite relevant in our own era of populist appeals (think Trump and Ford) to a base audience who crave black-and-white simplicity and the easy answer.  It is not surprising that the play originated in the infamous McCarthy era.

  This production offers novelties.  It’s theatre in-the-round, so that the audience feels an intimacy, a very part of the jury-room.  The show is going ‘on-the-road’, playing in four different parts of the Island.  And it’s unusual that a dozen of the Island’s talented women actors get a chance to shine together on stage throughout the entire play.

  Those ‘angry women’ are Pamela Rowe, Justeann Hansen, Laura Stapleton, Barbara Rhodenhizer, Tamara Steele, Jennifer Shields, Marla Haines, Catherine MacDonald, Kate Martin, Margaret Brady, Nancy MacNevin, and Robyn MacDougald.  Their profiles can be seen at https://actpei.tumblr.com.

  There will be four performances in Charlottetown at the Carriage House (West street), hosted in association with Beaconsfield Historic House: the evenings of Friday 26 April, Saturday 27 April, and Sunday 28 April, plus a matinee on Saturday the 27th.  On Thursday 2 May the play is at the Watermark Theatre in North Rustico.  Then on Saturday 4 May it’s in the Eptek Gallery of Summerside’s Harbourfront complex.  The final performance is Friday 10 May at the Kings Playhouse in Georgetown.  Curtain time is 7:30 pm (2:00 for the April 27th matinee).  It runs for 80 minutes, plus intermission.

  Tickets are priced at a flat-rate of $20 (plus box-office fees).  Each venue has its own system for issuing tickets:
  Beaconsfield www.ticketwizard.ca,  Watermark www.ticketwizard.ca
  Kings www.kingsplayhouse.com     Eptek www.harbourfronttheatre.com

Information: 12angrywomenact@gmail.com   www.actpei.ca   Facebook - ACT(a community theatre) … 902-628-6778

Posted by RobAdmin on 03/31 at 03:10 PM
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12 AW Cast profile

Sharon MacDonald - the Guard … and more

  Sharon MacDonald has a unique involvement in this presentation of 12 Angry Women.  She has two roles — one on-stage, the bigger one behind-the-scenes.  As the court Guard who makes a few appearances, but also as the Stage Manager for the production, she gets, as she says, “to feed both my acting and my management appetites.”

  She is well equipped for both kinds of work.  Immersed in the theatre scene at university, she went on to teach Theatre Arts in Island high schools for many years.  She joined ACT after retiring in 2011.  She has served valiantly in several capacities on the Board of Directors, and has had a few acting parts.  But a very significant contribution has been stage management — for Inherit the Wind, Little Shop of Horrors, Skin Flick and Rainbow Valley … and for the challenging outdoor presentations of Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing and Hamlet.

  Sharon does have a life outside of theatre — in art and music (especially choral singing), in outdoor activities, and in the very special role of caring for grandchildren.

  “This is a powerful play,” Sharon says, one with a provocative message about the need for digging under the surface, for asking questions and weighing evidence.  “That’s so urgent in our age of biased opinion and too-easily-swallowed news bites.”

Posted by RobAdmin on 03/31 at 03:07 PM
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Friday, March 22, 2019

Angry Woman #4

Juror #4 is Barbara Rhodenhizer

  “This is exciting … and maybe a bit terrifying,” says Barbara Rhodenhizer, as she thinks about playing in-the-round at four different venues.  “A dozen characters all on stage for the entire play, with literally no place to hide — exposed to your audience from every angle.  You can’t let your character wander, even for a second.”

  Barbara’s character, Juror #4, is an intelligent, confident, no-nonsense realist who is often frustrated by the more malleable and less decisive  jurors.  Memories and interpretations of what was heard in the trial zig-zag back and forth.  “How the jurors form and then modify their views should give us all pause about our personal assessments of ‘the facts’ in our own lives.  This play prods us to look beyond the superficial and the easy answer.”

  Barbara’s theatre passion dates back (centuries!) to her early teens and the Charlottetown Festival’s Circus Tent Theatre for Children.  She was a founding member of ACT, and she has appeared in more than a dozen of our productions over the 24 years.  Some favourites: Wit, Doubt, Noises Off, School for Scandal, Blue Castle, The Dining Room, Coward In Two Keys, and both the original and reprise of Our Town.  Behind the curtain she has been properties mistress, costumer, design consultant, set painter, box-office coordinator and Theatre Festival volunteer.  Beyond ACT there have been Confederation Centre Christmas shows — A Christmas Carol, Miracle on 34th Street, It’s A Wonderful Life, and A Gift To Last.  She performed the one-woman show I Remain,Jane Austen, and last year appeared in Raised on TV2.  She’s also been in some short films.

  Her beyond-the-theatre energies go into needlework, reading, antiquing, thrifting and caring for two cats … and her writer/editor husband Doug Gallant.

Posted by RobAdmin on 03/22 at 01:14 PM
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Thursday, March 14, 2019

2019 Community Theatre Festival - Schedule

March 30th - the Line-up

Here’s the line-up for Saturday afternoon, March 30th, at The Carrefour.
  There is a 15-minute break between plays, for adjudication, changing the stage, and refreshments.  The times cannot be exact — there’s bound to be some variation, but we’ll try to keep on track.

1:00 - The Shamrock Players - Babel Rap
Comedy: two workers are high up on the biblical Tower of Babel — contemplating life, work and the hereafter.

1:40 - Side Hustle - Improv
Creative spontaneity: in short- and long-form games, the seven performers create on-the-spot entertainment, prompted by suggestions from the audience.

2:15 - 9-F Theatre Troupe (Birchwood Intermediate) - The Tipping Point
Drama: a teenager is hounded by her anxiety, following her every step through her day … rising to a crisis.

2:45 - Charlottetown ALL Comedy Open Mic
Stand-up comedy: three performers take turns at the microphone with their just-for-laughs patter.

3:20 - The Tracadie Players - Rrrrrrrrrrroll up the Rim to Win
Comedy skit: ’tis the season at Tim’s, prompting the age-old question … ‘What would you do if you actually won?’

4:00 - Malcolm Murray Group - Chop Wood, Carry Water
Absurdist comedy: a man is moving a pile of wood … along comes the woodlot-owner’s daughter.  Zen saying: “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water … After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”

4:35 - Mi’kmaq Heritage Actors - Legends from the Past
Dramatic story-telling with drum and dance: stepping back in time to experience the rich cultural traditions of the Island’s First-Nations people.

5:10 - ‘Nobody’ - Homeward
Dramatic reading: an excerpt from a play based on imagined episodes from the Homeric epic Odyssey — the interaction between the nymph Calypso and her captive lover, the wily adventurer Odysseus … with his patron goddess Athena looking on.

Doors open at 12:30.  Drop in for a play or two, or the whole afternoon.
Admission: what-you-will donation (think $5 or $10 or so)
Information: 902-628-6778, robthomson @ pei.sympatico.ca

Posted by RobAdmin on 03/14 at 02:47 PM
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Here’s another juror

Kate Martin - Juror #9

  Kate is a former teacher, a specialist in both theatre and English as a second or alternative language; she has taught in places as diverse as Toronto, Northern Ontario … all the way to Mozambique and Tanzania.

  She has contributed to ACT in many ways over the years.  For the Board of Directors she has been Director of Theatre and taken responsibility for the Beach House.  Occasionally she has acted — for instance, in Tennessee Williams’ Lord Byron’s Love Letter.  But she has been part of a host of other shows, though unseen by the audience … dressed in blacks in the key backstage roles of working props, stage management, stage crew — and whatever else is needed to ensure that a show runs smoothly.  For years she has been the co-organizer of the PEI Community Theatre Festival which is held each year in late March to celebrate World Theatre Day.  And for years she worked on making the Sears Festival and its successor event for high-school drama happen on PEI.

  Back on-stage now in 12 Angry Women, Kate says “It will be fun to appear in front of the curtain.”  She loves the prospect of working with Director Terry Pratt, and of playing in-the-round and on-the-road at four different venues.

  Kate is Juror #9.  She’s a quiet woman … but she stands up strongly against bigotry and for respect.  Like Kate herself, she’s a thoughtful person who is willing to listen with an open mind — which is a challenge in the play’s steamy jury room.  She has a line which might be one of the key themes: “It takes a great deal of courage to stand alone.”

Posted by RobAdmin on 03/14 at 08:26 AM
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Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Yr. Obedient Servant

SAMUEL JOHNSON RETURNS ... to Watermark

The English-speaking world’s most famous talker, dictionary-maker, and curmudgeon, Dr. Samuel Johnson, will make one final, public appearance on the Island this winter. Watermark Theatre hosts Yr. Obedient Servant: An Evening of Chamber Theatre with Samuel Johnson on Friday, March 8, at 7:30 p.m.  Your free-will offering will support the theatre. This one-man, full-length play by Kay Eldredge features actor and ACT life member Terry Pratt in a slice of 18th-century literary life.  This performance is a snow date for Watermark.  With 20 minutes to go before curtain on a wild night in November, organizers pulled the plug to get themselves and the few, brave audience members home to safety. Pratt/Johnson did go on to successful appearances at the Haviland Club and UPEI.  Private performances will continue, since Yr. Obedient Servant is available free of charge to any appropriate chamber, for fundraising, education, or simply entertainment.

Posted by RobAdmin on 03/05 at 03:43 PM
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