Victoria, B.C. – Students in their second year of studies at the Canadian College of Performing Arts will showcase their talents next week in their first public theatrical presentation of the 2019-2020 season with two productions that alternate between dark drama and lighthearted wit.
In The Crucible, which marks the first time Caleb Marshall is directing a College production since he was appointed Managing Artistic Director last year, Arthur Miller’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play that dramatized the consequences of religious intolerance in the Puritan town of Salem, Massachusetts is endowed with parallels ripped from the pages and screens of media coverage of current events.
In Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet), award-winning playwright, director and former Intrepid Theatre artistic director Janet Munsil lathers her own distinctive brand of creativity on Ann-Marie MacDonald’s exuberantly entertaining romp, whose beleaguered academic and unlikely heroine is convinced that Shakespeare’s Othello and Romeo and Juliet were meant to be comedies.
This cheerfully literate confection’s whimsical feminist conceit finds its romantically spurned heroine, Constance, interacting with iconic characters as she is swept, via a magical manuscript, on a journey of self-discovery in a Shakespearean universe where Bard classics are turned on their ear.
“This has been a weird, fun show to untangle with the students,” says Munsil, whose production opens Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m. at the College’s Performance Hall, 1701 Elgin Rd., with an additional evening performance on Dec. 13 and a 2 p.m. matinee on Dec. 14.
She said she is proud of the students who have been “working so hard to make it look so easy“ as they bring MacDonald’s “super smart and unapologetically goofy” script to life. A challenge lies in striking the right balance, inhabiting a world that is not too cartoonish yet doesn’t take itself too seriously.
“The text also combines all kinds of my favourite things to explore as a playwright – big identity questions, theatrical magic, academic discovery, dual timelines, wordplay, period costumes, language and comic surprises,” Munsil said.
Marshall, former artistic executive director for Sudbury Theatre Centre and artistic producer for Theatre New Brunswick, has directed dozens of productions during his 25-year theatrical career, and says he eagerly anticipated directing a College production when the time was right.
He faced a different set of challenges in crafting a compelling contemporary interpretation of The Crucible, choosing not to set it in 17th-century Salem, where women are falsely accused of witchcraft. It’s set instead in a possible future where “witch hunt” has different connotations.
Marshall’s interpretation, which opens Dec. 12 at 7:30 p.m., with a 2 p.m. matinee on Dec. 13 and the closing night performance on Dec. 14, is set in a world where the climate is in crisis, white Christian militia have taken power and closed borders, science and technology are seen as the Devil’s work, and visible minorities are ejected.
“We are imagining a dark and potential future we face if factions in our world continue to gain power, where anyone viewed as ‘different’ has been expelled, where women’s rights have been taken away, where the LGBTQ community has been enslaved,” says Marshall, whose dystopian vision is enhanced by an original sound design and score composed by longtime collaborator Michael Doherty.
“The students are very politically savvy and engaged and have rallied behind and embraced the question – If these terrifying movements continue to gain momentum what will the ‘witch hunt’ of the future look like?” Marshall wonders.
The Dec. 14 Goodnight Desdemona matinee and The Crucible’s 7:30 p.m. show that day are Relaxed Performances. These performances are open to everyone, but intended to be welcoming to those who find the theatre environment challenging.
What Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) / The Crucible
Where CCPA Performance Hall, 1701 Elgin Rd., Victoria
When Dec. 11, 13, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 14, 2 p.m./Dec. 12, 14, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 13, 2 p.m.
Tickets Adult: $27.50, Senior: $23.50, Under 30/ CCPA Alumni: $18.50
Tickets can be bought online at ccpacanada.com, or over the phone. (250-595-9970)
Michael D. Reid
Public Relations Liaison
The Canadian College of Performing Arts (CCPA) offers quality training in a broad spectrum of skills which will prepare students for careers in the performing arts locally, nationally or internationally. For more information visit www.ccpacanada.com