|| Print ||
|Written by Dahlia Liwsze|
|Wednesday, 05 January 2011 00:00|
Evolution Theatre lived to see its fifth birthday and received a special gift - a "home" at Arts Court from 2011 to 2013.
The local theatre company is one of three such companies, along with New Theatre of Ottawa and Créations In Vivo, to have landed residency at 2 Daly Avenue, and that is no jest.
"We're really, really excited," Linda Bedford, the General Manager of Evolution Theatre, told (Cult)ure at the birthday bash, which took place at Arts Court on Monday, December 13th.
Although Bedford, her husband Christopher (Artistic Director), and Nancy Kenny (Director ofCommunications) -- Evolution's founders, all theatre graduates from the University of Ottawa -- heard the news from The Ottawa Arts Court Foundation (OACF) on October 1, 2010, they couldn't announce it in public until over two months later.
The OACF is the local charitable organization that manages and operates the theatre and related performing arts spaces at Arts Court.
"I am thrilled to have these three exceptional companies as Resident Companies of the Arts Court Theatre," said Linda Balduzzi, Executive Director of the OACF.
"Each of [them] strives for creative excellence and presents a unique theatrical aesthetic."
Evolution Theatre, for instance, prides itself on challenging audiences with daring, contemporary material. The primarily francophone Créations In Vivo integrates many arts disciplines into its performances, such as theatre, acrobatics, and dance. Finally, the 25-year-old New Theatre of Ottawa strives to showcase local performers and writers.
"I cannot stress enough how important a regular venue with a predictable show schedule is to growing our audience," said Christopher Bedford.
As a result, Evolution will now put on two plays per season at Arts Court. Christopher Bedford will direct the first, entitled Little Martyrs (written by Quebecois playwright Dominick Parenteau-Lebeuf and translated by Mishka Lavigne), which will run from February 9 to 19, 2011. In this play, a woman named Minnie rents her late newborn's room to Jacob, a reformed child murderer who recently regained his freedom. Searching for his partner in crime, Ludo sets up a studio next door. Nine years after the sordid crime they committed when they were children, the two young men meet again. Three redemptions are possible: Jack as a martyr, Ludo through beauty, and Minnie in a renewed desire.
The play will be Lavigne's first English-language performance. Kenny will act alongside Brad Long, Margo MacDonald, Jody Haucke, and Matt Miwa.
Then, in May 2011, playwright Lawrence Aronovitch's The Lavender Railroad (directed by Joel Beddows) will explore a universe that tests the faith of individuals facing no-win situations and obliges them to make moral choices. In the first part, "Safe House," a fugitive named Sebastian meets his mysterious rescuer, an older man who calls himself Mother Courage. In the second part, "Ex Cathedra," a nun discovers that a government security officer is a former lover. The link between the two stories is the Lavender Railroad, which brings hope to those who are fleeing from tyranny.
To celebrate its birthday, and the exciting residency news, Evolution Theatre treated supporters and friends to a second performance of its first play, Nobel Prize-winner Dario Fo's comedic We Won't Pay! We Won't Pay!, about shop-lifting groceries.
While Christopher Bedford and Kenny acted as protagonists Luigi and Antonia, Linda Bedford readthe non-dialogue parts of the script as well as stage-managed the production. Kenny participated in the fundraising performance (tickets were $15 each) with the express permission of the Canadian Actors' Equity Association.
The staged reading drew many chuckles from the audience.
"They're very talented," said Stuart Conger, an 84-year-old Ottawa resident who has supported Evolution Theatre for the past three years.
"I compare [Evolution] ... with Third Wall. They're on the same level in terms of performance ... and professionalism."
His 78-year-old wife Shirley added that she likes "their vitality [and] their choice of programs."
Following the performance, the Bedfords and Kenny invited everyone to enjoy the chocolate and vanilla cake that Linda Bedford had made herself before finally announcing their residency and show schedule, and that Evolution was going to evolve in yet another way: the Bedfords were expecting their first child in the summer of 2011.
"A lot of people who came tonight are artists, and it's nice to get support from fellow artists," said Linda Bedford after the announcements were over.
One person who she, Kenny and Christopher missed that evening was Geoffrey Eden, the ownerof The Knowledge Circle and their corporate sponsor, who was unable to attend due to illness.
Linda Bedford said that it was because of the help of Eden, Conger, their families and others, including funding from three levels of government that Evolution Theatre continues to survive and provide the performances it does.
Five years later, Evolution Theatre is stronger than ever and does not plan on disappearing any time soon.
"In the next five years, I'd love to see us with our own office space, receiving operational funding in order to solidify the administrative side of the company -- all three founders have been mostly volunteering our time for the last five years -- and co-producing/showcasing our work with companies in town and across the country," said Kenny.
For more information about Evolution Theatre and its performances in the 2011 season, please visit www.evolutiontheatre.ca.