Friday, 23 April 2010

Shaw Directors Day 2009

by Tim Chapman, Professional Theatre Coordinator

The 2009 Directors Day at the Shaw Festival was held on September 25, later than usual to accommodate the run of The Entertainer, the first show in the new Studio Theatre. The Directors Day is the culmination of the newly re-named Neil Munro Intern Directors Project in which every year two promising professional directors, early in their careers, spend six months at The Shaw assistant-directing shows, furthering audience education and directing a one-act play from the period of the Shaw’s mandate.

Artistic Director Jackie Maxwell has stated more than once that the one-act plays chosen for the Directors Project often stimulate her selection of the annual lunchtime slot in the Shaw season. Case in point is her selection of J.M. Barrie’s Half an Hour for the 2010 lunchtime slot. This play was directed by Liza Balkan for the 2006 Directors Project.

This year’s intern directors were Ashlie Corcoran from Toronto and Jack Paterson from Vancouver. Ashlie assistant-directed Jackie Maxwell on Coward’s Brief Encounters at the Festival Theatre and Micheline Chevrier on Tremblay’s Albertine, In Five Times at the Court House Theatre. Jack was assistant director under newly-named Shaw Festival Associate Director Eda Holmes on Shaw’s In Good King Charles Golden Days at the Royal George Theatre and Tadeusz Bradecki on Shaw’s The Devil’s Disciple at the Festival Theatre.

On the Directors Day, the two one-act performances directed by the intern directors are performed to an invited audience from Ontario’s theatre community. Attending this year from Theatre Ontario were John Goddard and his wife Susan, Brandon Moore, Board member Katherine Grainger, and myself. There was also a large contingent attending from Sun Life Financial, the loyal corporate sponsor of the Directors Project led by their long-time Director of Philanthropy Linda MacKenzie.

First on the double bill of one-act performances was The Love of Don Perlimplin for Belisa in his Garden by Federico Garcia Lorca, directed by Jack Paterson with a cast of six from the Shaw Festival acting company including Patrick Galligan as Don Perlimplin and Jacqueline Thair as Belisa. Lorca’s surreal mixture of comedy and tragedy, verse and prose about the love of a 50-year-old man, a virgin, for a young sensual woman was at once unusual, amusing and fascinating in style and execution. With a flair for movement and gesture, Jack gave the play a polished production.

Ashlie Corcoran chose a Sean O’Casey comedy, Bedtime Story, set in Dublin in 1950. Craig Pike plays a young man who, fearing for his reputation, tries to get an attractive woman (Krista Colisimo) whom he has spent the night with, out of his bachelor flat before his pal Daniel or his landlady find out. Many hijinks ensue in this delicious little romp which plays havoc with the Catholic morals of the time. Ashlie paced the production perfectly, getting lovely comic performances from her cast.

The audience, both intern directors, the casts and crews all celebrated after the shows with Niagara wine and nibbles. Another successful Directors Project had come to its conclusion.

Read more about the Neil Munro Intern Directors Project at the Shaw Festival on the Theatre Ontario website.

The image from The Love of Don Perlimplin for Belisa in his Garden features Patrick Galligan and Jacqueline Thair. The image from Bedtime Story features Claire Jullien and Jonathan Widdifield. Photography by Mark Callan

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