Attend these tales on stage

The Mt. A Drama Studies Department announces 2023-2024 season

It has been almost two years since the Motyer-Fancy Theatre began once more to welcome students, staff, and community members into its seats to enjoy the magic of live theatre. Since then, faculty and students have made audiences laugh, cry, and cheer with two jam-packed seasons. At the start of this year, Drama Studies faculty and staff submitted proposals before meeting in early February, and now, the season has been chosen. Dear reader, I think you will be just as excited as I am by their picks. 


Next fall, the season will open with Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler, directed by Paul Del Motte. The horror musical revolves around a vengeful barber returning home, a bumbling meat-pie shop owner who serves as his sidekick, an evil judge and a pair of innocent young lovers. Horror musicals are few and far between, and incomparable use of musical motives and witty lyrics by Stephen Sondheim make this one hard to beat. Del Motte is no stranger to the challenges of the genre, or those presented with complexities of any Sondheim musical. He most recently co-directed An Inspector Calls with Dr. Sarah Fanning, which had an air of mystery and macabre. Other recent shows such as A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Fun Home, and Assassins showcase that Del Motte is perfectly comfortable with bringing difficult themes, tonal shifts, rich emotion, and musical complexity together in his productions. 


The next show of the fall semester will be The Drowning Girls, by Beth Graham, Charlie Tomlinson and Daniela Vlaskalic, directed by Valmai Goggin. Following the horror themes established by Sweeney Todd, The Drowning Girls follows the story of three brides who each fall in love with a tall and handsome man, and then are drowned in a bathtub. The contemporary Canadian work is mysterious, intriguing, and haunting. As a relatively new addition to the Drama Studies department, Valmai Goggin has thrilled audiences with her productions of The Dumbwaiter by Harold Pinter and The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe. Both shows told suspense-filled, imaginative, but honest stories that brought audiences instantly into their worlds. I have no doubt Goggin will bring something exciting, fresh, and thought-provoking next season. 


In 1974, Alex Fancy established Tintamarre, a bilingual theatre company that operates as a collective. Through guided improvisation, the troupe takes on a devised theatre approach to create a show, which is then solidified by a script written by Alex Fancy. Tintamarre’s upcoming piece, currently titled UBU ’24, will be shaped by the ensemble that is formed next year, so there is currently only a loose set of ideas: a tyrannical teacher, pandemonic students, and influences from French pre-absurdist play Ubu Roi by Alfred Jarry. UBU was the first and last show performed at the Windsor Theatre, the precursor to the Motyer-Fancy Theatre. If the show is anything like this year’s Précipice, you can expect witty commentary on today’s issues, both global and local, wrapped up in a surrealist set of wacky, loveable characters. 


Finally, the winter term will present The Juliet Project, adapted by Paul Griffin from William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and directed by Paul Griffin. There is a reason that Shakespeare continues to be loved time after time. Just last summer, Festival by the Marsh presented a production of Romeo and Juliet at Fort Beauséjour, which involved Mt. A students Maya Noelle, Hannah Lucas, Morgan Grant, Rowan White, Faith Higgins, Sam Terrio, Jane Butler, Alora Simon, Will Davis, and Ben Hebert, as well as alumni Paul Brisk Jr., Mirren Lithwick, Molly Dysart, and Ben Maksym. Griffin, who is the Crake Drama Fellow this year, has excited the department with his knowledge of physical theatre and mask. If you have seen masks around the Purdy Crawford or Instagram stories of folks casting their faces, you have seen some of the work of Paul Griffin. Griffin’s adaptation will bring a new perspective to the seminal classic. 


If you are a drama student and any of these shows have inspired you to work on them, you are in luck! Drama 4011 project proposals are due March 13. 4011 Projects give students the opportunity to work with a faculty or staff mentor on an independent study in acting, directing, assistant directing, stage management, set design, lighting design, costume design, theatre photography, and playwriting. Students hoping to direct can pitch a one-act to add to the current season, so we may get more than the four announced shows. Drama student Faith Higgins, who has done four 4011 projects, describes them as “learning the job by doing the job.” “I’ve already applied all the skills of each [project] into theatre work outside of Mt. A. […] It’s helped me feel prepared for theatre work outside of the university. As well, it prepares me for the professional standards I’ll be working with in the future,” she says.


Has this article given you the itch to go to the theatre? You’re just in time, the Motyer-Fancy Theatre has a few more productions before the end of the year! From March 9 to 11, catch the double bill of Problem Child by George F. Walker, directed by drama student Ashlyn Skater, and Dry Land by Ruby Rae Spiegel, directed by drama and English student Sarah Tardif. Later, from March 29 to April 1, you can catch 7 Stories by Morris Panych, directed by Paul Griffin. Additionally, to receive all the upcoming information on getting involved in the theatre, you can subscribe to the drama newsletter by emailing [email protected]

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