2019 was a great year for theatre in Fredericton with several companies and festivals putting their best feet forward. Here’s a look at five of our favourite productions from the past year.
Grid City Staff
Fredericton is a hotbed for emerging and established theatre artists at the moment. With several companies telling engaging stories on stages throughout the city, it was a challenge to whittle this list down to just five productions. But with that in mind, we believe these five plays offer a solid representation of the year that was and bode well for the year ahead.
Presented as one of two Mainstage productions at the 2019 NotaBle Acts Theatre Festival, Fruit Machine offered audiences stunning insight into a little known aspect of Canadian history. A co-production from NotaBle Acts Theatre Festival and Solo Chicken Productions, the play, written by New Brunswick playwrights Alex Rioux and Samuel Crowell, explored disgraceful actions taken by the RCMP and the Canadian Armed Forces during the 1950s and 60s to target members of the LGBTQ+ community. This physical theatre production received three performances at the Black Box Theatre on the STU campus during the festival’s July run. Moving, beautiful and highly emotional, Fruit Machine opened a lot of eyes, not only to this dark time in our history, but also to theatre’s ability to act as an effective means of communicating socially important issues.
Fruit Machine | Written by Alex Rioux and Samuel Crowell | Directed by Alex Rioux | July 2019
A Brief History of the Maritimes and Everywhere Else
With A Brief History of the Maritimes and Everywhere Else, Theatre New Brunswick wrapped up a four season run producing the work of New Brunswick playwright Ryan Griffith. A perfect combination of story, casting and direction, this play introduced New Brunswick audiences to actor Kevin Curran and his masterful ability to singlehandedly deliver what was essentially an hour + monologue every bit as engaging as a multi-character production with all the bells and whistles of a Broadway show. Pairing a simple set design and effective projection work with a truly riveting story, A Brief History of the Maritimes and Everywhere Else ended the company’s 50th season with a sold-out run at the Open Space Theatre before touring the province.
A Brief History of the Maritimes and Everywhere Else | Written by Ryan Griffith | Directed by Natasha MacLellan | March 2019
One of two one-act plays performed at Memorial Hall during the 2019 NotaBle Acts Theatre Festival, Gullywhump, written by New Brunswick playwright Greg Everett, explored grief, isolation and fear and used a mythical forest dwelling creature to represent a family’s dark past. The second in a series of stories set in Everett’s fictional world of BVRNTLAND (and his second straight production at NB Acts), Gullywhump affirmed this emerging playwright’s place as an important new voice in New Brunswick theatre.
Gullywhump | Written by Greg Everett | Directed by Miguel Roy | July 2019
Agnes of God
Spearhead Theatre made its public debut at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre in September with this production directed by Tilly Jackson. The latest company to join the city’s theatre community, Spearhead Theatre made its presence known long before this production hit the stage through the use of strong branding and compelling photography. This production of John Pielmeier’s Agnes of God, supported an all-female cast and creative team, was described as “raw, shocking and captivating.” A powerful debut and one very strong reason to keep Spearhead Theatre on your radar.
Agnes of God | Written by John Pielmeier | Directed by Tilly Jackson | September 2019
Theatre New Brunswick opened its 2019-2020 season with its first true comedic production in several years. Strategically placed in the midst of a federal election, the company’s production of Michael Healey’s play 1979 offered a thoughtful and hilarious look at the last days of Joe Clark’s time in the PMO. The show was an entertaining mix of Canadian political history with enough laugh-out-loud moments to keep the audience on edge throughout. Supported by a highly dynamic cast who shifted characters, wigs and costumes regularly throughout the play, 1979 offered TNB audiences a long overdue dose of humour.
1979 | Written by Michael Healey | Directed by Natasha MacLellan | October 2019