Every Good Boy Deserves Favour Pairs SJTC with NBYO for First Major Tour
Since forming in 1990, the Saint John Theatre Company has grown to become an important voice in the province’s arts and culture landscape. As part of the company’s 25th anniversary celebrations, SJTC has embarked on a landmark collaboration with the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra to bring the Tom Stoppard political comedy Every Good Boy Deserves Favour to audiences throughout the province.
Beyond the ambitious pairing of live theatre with a 31-piece orchestra, the production also introduces touring to the company’s season offering.
“This is the first major tour for the SJTC,” said Stephen Tobias, SJTC’s executive director and artistic producer. “We are very excited to work in new venues and interact with new audiences. This feels like a natural progression for the growth of our company. In recent years we are getting more and more audience members who travel to Saint John from other regions of NB to see our work at Imperial Theatre. Leveraging the SJTC 25th anniversary celebrations by sharing one of our major works with audiences beyond Saint John seems to be an appropriate step for our organization.”
Every Good Boy Deserves Favour tells the fictional story of Soviet dissident Alexander Ivanov who has been imprisoned in a mental hospital until he admits that the statements he has made against the government were caused by a mental disorder. He shares a cell with a schizophrenic triangle player, also called Ivanov, who believes he is in command of a symphony.
With a balanced blend of theatre and music, the production presents the perfect opportunity for SJTC to explore new creative platforms.
“I’m thrilled at the partnership,” said Tobias. “Creatively, working with Maestro Antonio Delgado is a real treat. He is a brilliant conductor and a real asset to our province. Organizationally, we have stated on many occasions that the NBYO is one of the cleverest, most forward-looking arts organizations in NB. They have developed a unique and highly successful made-in-New-Brunswick model and the success of the NBYO shows that. We have learned a lot in our ongoing partnerships with the NBYO.”
Tobias views collaboration as an essential part of his organisation’s mandate and growth. Recent years have seen SJTC work together with other arts organisations like the New Brunswick Youth Orcheatra, Theatre New Brunswick, Red Necklace Productions, Two Planks and a Passion Theatre and Connection Danceworks to produce a variety of unique theatre productions.
“Cross-collaboration is vital, which is why we have been doing it for years,” said Tobias. “The SJTC is a very small company with very limited resources. As a small, under-resourced company, creative growth for us is about engaging in strategic partnerships. Also, in order to give back to the communities that have supported our company, the SJTC has collaborated in recent years with multiple community groups and schools in southern NB.”
Every Good Boy Deserves Favour features music by the NBYO’s Tutta Musica Ensemble, formed last year featuring the teaching artists of Sistema New Brunswick, a program of the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra that enables children who would not otherwise have the opportunity to learn how to play an instrument and participate in an orchestra.
The opening act for the performance features long-time New Brunswick theatre artist and comedian, Marshall Button.
“Not only is he one of the six resident NB professionals on stage, he is also performing his Young New Brunswicker’s Guide to the Orchestra as a curtain warmer for the event,” said Tobias. “This is a brilliantly comic bit that showcases the brilliance of Marshall as well as the amazing skills of Tutta Musica.”
Every Good Boy Deserves Favour will be performed in Moncton, Edmunston and at the Fredericton Playhouse on April 1. As Tobias explains, the production represents the first in a series of major touring productions planned for SJTC.
“The thought of travelling with a team of 45 NB based professionals is both exciting and frightening at the same time,” said Tobias. “As a small company, this is a bit of a stretch for the SJTC, but we love the challenge. However, moving forward, the scope of our touring initiatives will remain to be seen. We won’t base the decision on one tour. The SJTC is already planning two touring projects for next year that we hope will resonate with different audience sectors beyond Saint John. If that works out, we will plan more. If we can find success over multiple seasons, then we will start to consider a longer-term future for the initiative. The thing is, it isn’t touring for the sake of touring. The key for us will be the uniqueness of the project and how we think it will connect with new audiences. Touring for our company will be more about sharing larger theatrical ideas in an entertaining and engaging way. Theatre is about communication and we have an interest in communicating with as broad an audience as possible.”