The Moonlight Sonata of Beethoven Blatz
There's no denying that 2010-2011 was a pretty good season for Manitoba playwrights. It saw the premieres of Sharon Bajer's Burnin' Love (at PTE), Michael Nathanson's One of Ours (at WJT), a new play by Fringe fave Daniel Thau-Eleff, and Armin Wiebe's The Moonlight Sonata of Beethoven Blatz - a show that set an attendance record for Theatre Projects Manitoba.
TPM hopes that the love affair with local writers continues next season - their three-show lineup consists entirely of new works, all made in Manitoba.
"There's a new surge," in local playwriting, according to TPM artistic director Ardith Boxall - although she notes it's not an overnight success.
"I think there is this incubation," she says, looking at the careers of writers like Steven Ratzlaff (whose latest play will be part of TPM's new season), and members of PTE's Playwriting Unit, like James Durham and Sharon Bajer. "They're not emerging writers any more. They're established playwrights."
With that in mind, here's what TPM will bring to the stage for the 2011-2012 season:
Three Sisters (Oct. 6 - 16): Local independent company zone41 partners with TPM to present their production of Three Sisters - an adaptation of Anton Chekhov's classic play, updated by Winnipeg playwright Bruce McManus. His script (which zone41 presented in a staged reading last summer) moves the action of Chekhov's play to a Moose Jaw air force base in the late 1950s - but keeps the tragic comedy of three sisters who long to escape their stifling environment.
In the Chamber 2011: Happy Holidays (Dec. 8 - 10): After a year off, TPM's evening of short new works returns with a seasonal theme. Featured will be a new one-act by local playwright Ellen Peterson (whose play Tickle Trunk was part of TPM's inaugural season, 20 years ago); and a new piece by the Fu Fu Chi Chi Choir, a group lead by local actors Michelle Boulet and Sarah Constible, which promises original holiday-themed songs...and social commentary.
Dionysus in Stony Mountain (Mar. 29 - Apr. 8): Steven Ratzlaff's play premiered in a one-act version at the 2009 Fringe Festival - next year, TPM presents an expanded, full-length version. The play explores the relationship between a prison psychologist and a killer approaching his parole hearing - with healthy doses of Nietzsche thrown in. How does it work? Well, in 2009, CBC Fringe reviewer Clare Lawlor had this to say: "I've no doubt that Dionysus at Stony Mountain is the smartest play at this year's fringe. From debating the ideas of Nietzsche to examining the realities of the current justice system, with stops along the way to argue the impact and goals of Aboriginal residential schools, the genealogy of morals and the merits of psychotherapy, this play is brimming with intellectual arguments and insights."