We need to allow the company a year of rejuvenation and buy some time to recover from the exhaustion, both financial and physical, of doing such large seasons.
—Derek Aasland, executive producer
Just a few days officially on the job and Manitoba Theatre for Young People's executive producer Derek Aasland has announced a 2013-14 season.
MTYP subscribers will see five plays, down from eight this past year, and half of what the company produced during the 2010-11 season.
"Doing nine to 10 shows is absolutely wonderful but it was extremely taxing on the entire company," says Aasland, who was hired for the newly created lead role after founding artistic director Leslee Silverman's contract was not renewed in March.
"We need to allow the company a year of rejuvenation and buy some time to recover from the exhaustion, both financial and physical, of doing such large seasons."
Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer (MTYP)
Aasland describes the new season as a collaboration between himself, Silverman and the board. After reading the interim management board's report on MTYP's financial woes - including its more than $1 million debt left over from building its home at The Forks in 1999 - Aasland believes MTYP can still earn its way back to fiscal health, though it has meant paring back the main stage offerings.
He says the MTYP team will be examining all aspects of programming, putting financial controls in place before returning to the large seasons produced in the past.
"We want the general management and the financial management to be as good as what we put on the stage," Aasland says.
He doesn't think patrons will notice the reduced season as much as some might expect, given that subscribers usually attend only a few shows a year based on age recommendations. The 2013-14 mix of three brought-in shows and two local remounts should give families several options for their kids, he says, even if there are fewer plays to choose from.
In the meantime, Aasland has identified outstanding monies owed to the theatre, and says by drawing on those funds, increasing subscriptions and summer camp registrations, and working with arts councils who are "bending over backward to support MTYP," he is confident the company will get through the fiscal year without incident.
Derek Aasland is MTYP's new executive producer.
MTYP is not planning to reduce school touring or its theatre school programming in the coming year, Aasland says, though new play development is on hiatus until the company feels it can reintroduce it sustainably.
Aside from the financial costs of producing large seasons, Aasland says staff time was at a premium and the coming reduced year will be the first opportunity the wardrobe department can catalogue backlogged costumes and the production team can sort lighting inventory.
It's unlikely Aasland will be able to slow down, however, as he's tries to gather support from the community, from new subscribers to volunteers for fundraising committees.
"No one survives alone, no man is an island," Aasland says. "MTYP is going to survive because it has an incredible community that loves the place."
The 2013-14 seasonJack and the Beanstalk
For ages 3-7
An import from British Columbia by playwright Linda Carson helmed by MTYP favourite Kim Selody that reframes the classic fairy tale.Dying to be Thin
October - November 2013
Ages 12 - 18
A remount of a MTYP school favourite about a teen wrestling with bulimia, Dying to be Thin
will tour the province under the direction of recent Gina Wilkinson prize winner Krista Jackson.Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer
This one-man show from Australia is a darling of the international Fringe circuit. An environmental awareness show set in a flooded future where the ice caps have melted and billions have died, the audience follows the titular hero exploring the bottom of the sea for a new home.
I on the Sky
Ages 10 - 18
Quebec company DynamO Théâtre, who MTYP patrons might remember from Murmur
and Thrice Upon a Time
, presents a near-silent story of a woman trying to remember what led her to a lonely park bench. Nightlight
March - April 2014
Ages 5 - 12
Another remount of an MTYP favourite that tackles the topical subjects of bullying, anxiety and fear, Nightlight
finds six-year-old Tara dealing with the nasty one-eyed monster Goodge who lives in her bedroom. Local puppet master Chris Sigurdson directs.
Related:Leslee Silverman shocked at her dismissal from MTYP