A timely political comedy, a holiday favourite (with a twist) and a pair of swashbuckling pirates will help shape the new season from Theatre New Brunswick (TNB).
Theatre New Brunswick has unveiled its 51st season of professional theatre, its first under the leadership of Artistic Director Natasha MacLellan.
Following a successfully adventurous 50thanniversary season, TNB will continue to move forward in new and exciting ways bringing three professional productions to audiences across the province, along with new programming offered through the TNB Theatre School and TNB Young Company. This year’s season announcement also includes the addition of a full slate of public workshops exploring various aspects of the theatre process, a new program at the Theatre School designed to nurture young playwrights as well as a new series of public conversations exploring various themes presented through the company’s 2019-2020 programming.
“Over the past few seasons TNB has put a lot of time into developing new audiences and diversifying our stage,” said MacLellan. “I want to keep that momentum going. Our 2019-2020 season will be one full of love, laughter, intrigue and adventure and will surely delight longtime subscribers and first time theatre goers alike.”
TNB’s season begins in October with the hilarious political comedy, 1979, by Canadian playwright Michael Healey. The play tells the story of Joe Clark’s incredibly short and stressful stint as Prime Minister of Canada.
“I have seen two different productions of this play, and have to say it’s one of my favorite new plays in years. It’s so funny, and also so refreshing to see a play about Canadian politics! If you’re a fan of This Hour Has 22 minutes, or Rick Mercer, you’re going to love this play. It’s a wild ride for the actors- one actor plays Joe Clark and stays on stage the entire show, while the other two come in and out of the doors of the PMO and play everyone from John Crosby to Flora MacDonald to Pierre Trudeau to Brian Mulroney and more. And can I say–I’m really looking forward to producing it in the midst of this year’s federal election,” said MacLellan. “In theatre, timing is everything. I don’t think there is a play better suited for the fall of 2019 than this one.”
For the holidays, TNB will share beloved story of George Bailey, a down-on-his-luck banker who risked everything to help his community with It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play. Through this production audiences will travel back to a time when radio dramas brought families together to enjoy a story well-told; to a time before earbuds and cellphones and podcasts made entertainment a solitary experience.
“The holidays are all about celebrating tradition and cherishing familiarity, no matter your religion or culture. It’s a time of year when most of us are celebrating something. We relish hanging the same decorations, eating the same foods, and visiting the same loved ones, every year. It’s the ritual we love. The repetition.” said MacLellan. “And part of those traditions are the stories we love to tell and re-tell, watch and re-watch. If I don’t see the Muppet Family Christmas or listen to Kenny and Dolly in December, I’m not a happy camper. For this reason, we’re inviting you to enjoy It’s A Wonderful Life again. Joe Landry’s version of the Frank Capra’s holiday classic takes place in a radio station in the 40s with a live-studio-audience approach like no other play does. Live foley, beautiful 1940’s costumes, live music! You know seeing it again is part of the fun.”
In March, audiences can expect fierce and powerful performances by two fit and accomplished actors, clashing sword fights, brutal wrestling matches and sharp-as-a-blade humour with the company’s production of Heroine by Karen Bassett.
“History is full of stories about women disguising themselves as men to seek adventure or to chase after a loved one sent off to war, or simply trying to live their life with dignity.” said MacLellan. “But we rarely hear stories about those women of history who outsmarted and outfought men at their own game. Heroine tells the story of two real-life women who were also real-life pirates, as fierce as any pirate you could imagine. What fun!”
The TNB Young Company celebrates 45 years this season. To mark the occasion, this season’s school tour will present to plays focused on themes of gender identity. It’s A Girl was created by New Brunswick artist Michelle Raine and Nova Scotia’s Alexis Milligan. Boys, Girls and Other Mythological Creatures is by celebrated playwright and TNB veteran actor, Mark Crawford.
Education will play a major role in TNB’s 2019-2020 season. Following the success of recent workshops in voice, movement, theatre tech and dance attracting theatre artists from across the Maritimes and other parts of the country, TNB’s new season will include a full series of workshops aimed at strengthening the provincial theatre community by providing new training opportunities in theatre tech, stage management, scenic painting and stage combat among several other aspects of the theatre process.
“I think it’s really important that this company shares its resources and experience. There are so many emerging professional artists in New Brunswick and so many people making theatre for their communities. It’s just wonderful to see theatre alive and well in my new home province” said MacLellan. “By providing training opportunities for both the performing artists and those who work behind the scenes to make any show happen, we are not only helping to create inroads for a new generation of theatre makers but also helping to foster a continued love for the art form.”
The TNB Theatre School will celebrate its 20th anniversary as part of the coming season. Founded in 1999, the School has grown exponentially, now welcoming over 300 students each year. To mark the occasion, TNB Theatre School Director Sharisse LeBrun will oversee the launch of the School’s very first playwriting program. Young Playwrights from grades 9-12 can expect a full season of dramaturgy and mentorship and will be provided a stage for their work to be heard.
“I am very proud of this new class, and can’t wait to see what our young writers create,” said MacLellan. “This might be the thing I’m most excited about in the season. Even though it’s very hard to pick!”
By Michael Healey | Open Space Theatre | October 2019
40 years ago, Joe Clark defeated Pierre Trudeau to became Canada’s youngest Prime Minister. By Christmas it was all over. This new comedy by Canadian playwright Michael Healey offers an amusing look at Clark’s nine month stint at the head table as friends, foes and family share their advice on how the young leader should move forward while his party’s popularity dwindles at an alarming rate.
This production will run for two weeks at the Open Space Theatre before touring to Bathurst, Florenceville-Bristol, Moncton, St. Andrews, Sackville and Saint John.
It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play
Adapted By Joe Landry From The Screenplay By Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Frank Capra And Jo Swerling | Fredericton Playhouse | December 2019
This holiday season, let us take you back to a time when radio dramas brought families together to enjoy a story well-told; to a time before earbuds and cellphones and podcasts made entertainment a solitary experience.
It’s A Wonderful Life tells the story of George Bailey and the intervention of his guardian angel one fateful Christmas Eve.
Let’s come together in our community’s living room like the enormous family we are and watch a holiday classic take shape. Live theatre as live theatre, as heartwarming as can be!
By Karen Bassett | Open Space Theatre | March 2020
At the height of piracy’s Golden Age, two of history’s most famed female pirates sit awaiting execution for their crimes.
Disguised as men, Irish swashbuckler Anne Bonny and English privateer-turned-pirate Mary Read looted, plundered and outfought many of their male counterparts throughout the Caribbean before being captured and sentenced to hang.
Clashing sword fights, brutal wrestling matches and sharp-as-a-blade humour bring these historical figures to the stage to explore what a life well lived truly is.
This production will run at the Open Space Theatre before touring to Bathurst, Florenceville-Bristol, Moncton, St. Andrews, Sackville and Saint John.
TNB Theatre School:
Book By Thomas Meehan Music By Charles Strouse Lyrics By Martin Charnin | Fredericton Playhouse | April 2020
With equal measures of pluck and positivity, little orphan Annie charms everyone’s hearts despite a next-to-nothing start in 1930s New York City.
She is determined to find the parents who left her years ago on the doorstep of a New York City Orphanage that is run by the cruel, embittered Miss Hannigan.
With the help of the other girls in the Orphanage, Annie escapes to the wondrous world of NYC. In adventure after fun-filled adventure, Annie foils Miss Hannigan’s evil machinations … and even befriends President Franklin Delano Roosevelt! She finds a new home and family in billionaire, Oliver Warbucks, his personal secretary, Grace Farrell, and a lovable mutt named Sandy.
A TNB Theatre School production featuring students from the Senior Musical Theatre program.
TNB Young Company:
Boys, Girls and Other Mythological Creatures
By Mark Crawford | Touring NB schools 2019
Deep in Simon’s basement is a secret world of imagination and adventure – where a young prince can transform into mythological creatures! Simon invites new neighbour Abby to help save a princess in a battle against a fire-breathing dragon. Meanwhile, in reality, Simon’s older brother Zach is not so sure about all this dressing up and fairy tale business … A thoughtful and hilarious new play about our ability to transform!
It’s A Girl!
By Michelle Raine and Alexis Milligan
How do we perceive differences and how do these perceptions relate to personal identity, gender, and stereotypes? Inspired by personal stories about growing up as a trans woman, It’s A Girl creates a safe environment where people can ask questions, have conversations, discuss identity and what it means to be perceived as different.
Finding Wolastoq Voice
By Natalie Sappier | Performances in Nova Scotia and Ontario announcing next week!
A new monthly workshop series exploring various aspects of the theatre process including lighting/projection/sound, stage management, scenic painting and more. (Full details coming in summer 2019)
Beyond The Script
A series of public conversations at the Fredericton Public Library focusing on themes from the upcoming productions.
Summer Programs at the TNB Theatre School
Seven day-camps and four evening intensives for students K-12 make up this year’s summer programming at the TNB Theatre School.
Subscriptions and tickets for all Fredericton performances available at the Fredericton Playhouse Box Office. Single tickets go on sale July 22.