Hit musical Matilda, new made-in-Manitoba plays highlight 2018-19 Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre season
Pulitzer Prize winner, master dramatist, Jane Austen part of upcoming season at Winnipeg's biggest theatre
The Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre's 2018-19 season — the 61st for Winnipeg's biggest theatre, if you're counting — will include the world premieres of two new plays by Winnipeggers, a hit musical about a magical and precocious girl and two plays devoted to a playwright considered one of the pillars of modern theatre.
"[Royal MTC artistic director] Steven Schipper has put together … a season full of warmth and heart," associate artistic director Krista Jackson told CBC Radio's Weekend Morning Show of the new season, which was officially unveiled Friday night.
"[It] centres around the home around family, and also around empowerment."
"The coming together of these plays, I think, shows that right now the conversation is around women, and a lot of the great works, or the classic works, that we're reinvestigating, or exploring again, are centred around … the female voice and empowerment, which is very exciting to me."
Here's what's coming up at the Royal MTC.
At the John Hirsch Mainstage
Sense and Sensibility (Oct. 18-Nov. 10): The pre-royal MTC had a hit back in 2008 with an adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Next season will see the world premiere of a new adaptation of Sense and Sensibility, which follows the plight of the Dashwood sisters, from Winnipeg playwright Ellen Peterson.
It's a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play (Nov. 22-Dec. 15): Philip Grecian's stage adaptation of the holiday classic was seen at MTC not all that long ago — back in 2009. The adaptation puts a twist on the well-known story of George Bailey's Christmas crisis by staging it as a radio play within the play — the theatre audience becomes the "live studio audience" at a radio station doing a dramatized version of the classic movie, complete with live sound effects.
Matilda the Musical (Jan. 10-Feb. 2, 2019): This hit musical and multiple Tony-winner, which just wrapped up a nearly four-year run on Broadway last year, is based on Roald Dahl's novel about a defiant five-year-old girl who uses her vivid powers of imagination — among other abilities — to stand up to the indifference and bullying of the adults in her life.
A Doll's House, Part 2 (Feb. 21-March 16): Next year's Master Playwright Festival will focus on the 19th-century Norwegian writer Henrik Ibsen, and for the first time, Royal MTC will present two shows in the festival. That includes Ibsen's best-known play, A Doll's House, at the Warehouse, and this sequel written by American playwright Lucas Hnath, which premiered in 2017 — nearly 140 years after the original. It picks up where A Doll's House left off, following up on Nora, who has left her husband — and explores, as the original did, society's gender rules.
BOOM X (March 21-April 13): Canadian actor/playwright Rick Miller (probably still best known in these parts for his hit Simpsons and Shakespeare mash-up MacHomer) presented BOOM, a multi-media look at the first quarter-century in the lives of the baby boom generation, at the Royal MTC in 2016. This follow-up looks at the next 25 years, bringing the story of the boomers into the mid-'90s.
The Cottage (April 25-May 18): Royal MTC's second world premiere of the season is again from a Winnipegger. Local writer Jake MacDonald delivers a story many Manitobans will relate to, about a trio of siblings arguing over what to do with the family cottage when their mother dies.
And while not technically part of the season, the Mainstage will host a short run of 887, a memory play by the audacious and internationally renowned Quebec playwright and director Robert Lepage, from Feb. 8-10.
At the Tom Hendry Warehouse Theatre
Vietgone (Nov 1-17): Vietnamese-American playwright Qui Nguyen tells the story of his parents' journey to America after the fall of Saigon with a stylish twist, mixing everything from kung fu to hip hop into the story. The result has been described by the New York Times as "how Mom and Dad met, with ninjas."
A Doll's House (Jan. 31-Feb. 16, 2019): Henrik Ibsen's most famous play comes to the Warehouse as part of IbsenFest. The story of a woman finding her independence was considered scandalous when the play premiered in 1879. Less scandalous now, it still demonstrates why Ibsen is considered one of the pillars of modern drama.
Made In Italy (Feb. 28-March 16): Edmonton playwright Farren Timoteo's one-man show, loosely based on his Italian-Canadian family's story, tells the story of a young man's struggle to balance his Italian heritage and Canadian culture in 1970s Alberta. And yes, Rocky figures prominently in the story.
John (April 4-20): A Pulitzer Prize-winner and recent recipient of a prestigious MacArthur Foundation "genius grant," American playwright Annie Baker has been hailed as "one of the most singular talents in modern theatre." This exploration of love and human relationships follows a couple trying to rekindle their relationship at an unusual Gettysburg bed and breakfast.
With files from The Weekend Morning Show