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Get Away with the Cornwall Family this Christmas

The final show for the 25th Season of the Chemainus Theatre Festival will be opening to audiences on November 17th. Rehearsals started this week and the energy was high as the cast read through the script for the first time. Everyone in attendance was bopping along to familiar tunes of the mid-1980s and, of course, a few Christmas classics.

You may have met the Cornwall family in 2011 when they spent Christmas in the Country at the Chemainus Theatre. They are back on stage again thanks to popular demand. This year the Cornwalls are on their way to Cancun on an all-inclusive holiday. Whether or not you saw the first Cornwalls’ Christmas show, you will enjoy these vibrant characters, a hilarious storyline, and given the retro setting, there is plenty of big hair, jelly shoes and neon prints to behold. One of the co-writers Nicolle Nattrass tells us that this was a special play for her to write, “Christmas is such a special time of the year and we wanted to create an original Christmas show that depicted a well-rounded, quirky family that goes through what so many of us try to create at Christmas – the perfect family Christmas”.

The community of Chemainus is full of local artistic talent and the Chemainus Theatre Festival capitalizes on this talent whenever we can. For this show, our in-house writers Nicolle Nattrass and Chemainus Theatre Festival Artistic Director Mark DuMez weave for you a tale of a loving family doing their best with challenging (and hysterical) circumstances. Thank you to Nicolle and Mark for having a conversation with our own Michelle Vogelgesang about how audience members will relate to this story if they have ever experienced the highs and lows of Christmas, an all-inclusive getaway, or, you know, family!

What are three words you would use to describe their family dynamic?

Nicolle: Funny, Quirky and perfectly imperfect.

Mark: Challenging, loving, all-in.

Are the family members modeled after people you have met (not naming names)?

Nicolle: Not specific people but with the spirit of capturing everyday family dynamics through family members- strengths, faults and quirks.

Mark: Agreed – they are created from a composite of imagination, other people and my own personal quirks. 

Do the Cornwalls have a lesson for the audience, or are we enjoying their antics for pure entertainment?

Nicolle: Both. Entertaining, funny and moving. Love is the lesson, love within families, for each other through the good times, unfortunate times and in this case, an All Inclusive Family VACATION at Christmas which has plenty of ups and downs but in the end the Cornwalls will have created new family traditions.

Mark: Any family comedy, even a wacky one, hopefully reflects a bit of our own life to us.  Through the piece, we learn to love our imperfections and turn our challenges into personal and relational triumphs – even through a goofy lens.

Will the family ever want to vacation together again?

Nicolle: YES! The Family that travels on an All-Inclusive together, stays together!

Mark: Probably? 

What do you enjoy most about writing original theatre? What is the biggest challenge?

Nicolle: I enjoy seeing ideas, characters and dynamics come alive on stage and seeing how what I have created affects an audience. I write to carry a message or an experience to the audience, to connect (in this case) to connect the audience to the ups and downs of Christmas with family. Only this time, they are traveling to a foreign country. The biggest challenge about writing original theatre is having it produced- being given an opportunity to develop a new play. I feel very fortunate that Mark & Chemainus Theatre festival have given me the opportunity to write three original plays. Wilde Holidays Shorts, Countryside Christmas and Cornwalls’ All-Inclusive Cancun Christmas.

Mark: I enjoy it when others are moved by something that does the same for me.  It’s a wonderful sense of connection – in the writing team, in the creative team and finally with the audience.  I enjoy it best when we laugh together. The biggest challenge is drilling down to specifics that do all these things.

Is there any person or practice that is particularly beneficial to your writing/directing process?

Nicolle: There are many people whom I have studied & worked with that have helped my writing process. I think it is very beneficial to approach writing using different processes and that is one thing that I have really appreciated about co-writing with Mark DuMez is that we are open to different writing processes. It was really neat for both of us ( at times in development) to say ok we are both going to go away and write this scene and then come together and talk about choices, what is strongest and build on each other’s ideas. Then, letting that writer take the next scene and trusting each other. I really value trying different processes when co-writing.

Mark: I like to take a walk to ruminate over ideas before a writing day or session – but then get down to just writing.  I find I have to throw something down on the page – usually to throw out or revise – but it gets things moving.   I agree co-writing creates energy and trust in the process (which at other times can feel quite isolated) and it’s been fun to write two shows with Nicolle.

Christmas at the Chemainus Theatre Festival is always a popular experience so make sure you get your tickets soon. Don’t forget to add on the Playbill Dining Room for the all-inclusive buffet dinner. You may not be able to travel to the tropics over the holidays but this will be a getaway to highlight your holiday season!

By |October 28th, 2017|Categories: 2017 Season|0 Comments

Current Exhibition: October 13 to November 4

Philip Mix

October 13 – November 4

About Philip

Philip Mix was born in Edmonton Alberta in 1955. He received his Bachelor of Arts in painting from the Alberta College of Art, Calgary in1980. His paintings have shown in several Canadian galleries and abroad including London, Israel and Cyprus. He operated a conservation studio, Fine Art Restoration, in Victoria B.C. from 1986 to 2011. During that time he was a member of the Pacific Conservation Group, and Canadian Conservation Associates. Now retired from paintings conservation, he lives in a small community on Vancouver Island and devotes all his energy to his family, his studio, and an uncooperative garden.

My paintings are intentionally spare and dispassionate. They are a study in reduction:in economy of line,confined design,select chords of colour and minimized depth of field. My desire is to produce an artwork that is beautiful for its singleness of purity and purpose: the elegance of simplicity. I choose subjects whose form or function lends itself to the discovery of some intrinsic beauty; a beauty that becomes intriguing once the inherent grace of its form has been recognized and captured.

Philip’s Website

Click Here to Visit

By |October 18th, 2017|Categories: The Gallery Gift Shop|0 Comments

Emma Slipp as Henrietta Leavitt

The basic plot of Silent Sky is fascinating – a true story of a plucky, brilliant young woman who defies odds and persists as a female astronomer in the early 1900s at Harvard. But the story that is brought to life is a rich tale of family, love, and friendship. It is fiercely funny and touching and as audiences leave the theatre you can feel the energy of the shared experience of seeing this beautiful tale brought to life.

A night at the Chemainus Theatre is an experience the moment you walk in the door. If you have decided to indulge in the buffet dinner in the Playbill Dining Room make sure you try the Salmon with Mango Pineapple Salsa, but leave room for the Boston Cream Pie – for a 3-course luncheon starting at $23 you will be happy you did!

 

 

Emma Slipp, who plays lead character Henrietta Swan Leavitt, took some time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions and provide some insight into this rich show.

 

 

Welcome back to Chemainus. What do you enjoy about being back here when you are not in rehearsals?

I always enjoy my time here and get to push a reset button away from all the demands of my city life. I am able to focus on the show only.
The community is so welcoming and supportive. I love going for walks and visiting the shops.

For you, what is this show about and why should audiences come see it?

This show is telling a story that wasn’t honoured in its day. The script alone is beautiful, but married with all the design elements I think it’s quite stunning. The set, costumes and lights along with original music composition and projections all blend together with imagination.  It’s witty, poetic and thought provoking, but also heart bursting and satisfying.

What drew you to the character of Henrietta as portrayed in this depiction of her life? Was there anything that surprised you as you began to explore this role?

I connected with her drive and commitment to her chosen career path and understand the sacrifices she had to make. I am excited to share her story because I know there are so many unsung heroines who’s contributions have been skipped over. I feel this is an opportunity to celebrate a group of woman that paved the way for future generations.   

Unlike Henrietta , I am unskilled in math and science and it has been a true challenge to understand and then convey some complex thoughts and revelations. It’s been a great brain workout!

Is there a significant line or special moment that stands out for you?

The script has so many beautiful moments, but I think my favourite line is one the Peter says to Henrietta

” I feared combusting if I didn’t tell you that you’ve been the brightest object in my day since we met. And we work with stars.”

After exploring this role what message do you think Henrietta would have for young women starting out in their careers?

Don’t take no for an answer. Stay passionate, determined and do all you can to create your own space in your chosen field.

If you haven’t seen it yet get your tickets today, you won’t be disappointed. Silent Sky has a shorter run than some of our other shows so get your tickets today and don’t miss out. Even though this is the final dramatic production for our 25th season at Chemainus Theatre Festival you will laugh, be inspired and perhaps shed a tear. The reviews have started to come in and we hope they will convince you to come see the show. (LINK TO: http://www.lakecowichangazette.com/entertainment/review-chemains-theatres-silent-sky-a-brilliant-star-in-the-heavens/)

 

 

 

 

By |October 17th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Now Playing: Silent Sky

Silent Sky at Chemainus Theatre

Cosmic Love Story

Henrietta Leavitt sees greatness in the stars – if only others saw the brilliance in her. While many earthly complications stand in her way, her astonishing discoveries of astronomy, family, and love will change everyone’s (outer) worldly perspective.

Silent Sky is a startling, entertaining true story of a brilliant, history-making woman.” – AtlantaInTown.com

Book Your Tickets Now

By |October 14th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|1 Comment

Meet Philip Mix

Philip Mix

The Chemainus Theatre would like to welcome local artist Philip Mix as our featured artist during our run of Silent Sky. Philip has a prolific career both as an artist and an art conservation professional. His work is featured all over Canada and he works to seek the ‘elegance of simplicity’.

Philip’s artist statement is that his paintings are intentionally spare and dispassionate. “My desire is to produce an artwork that is beautiful for its singleness of purity and purpose: the elegance of simplicity. I choose subjects whose form or function lends itself to the discovery of some intrinsic beauty; a beauty that becomes intriguing once the inherent grace of its form has been recognized and captured.”

Philip Mix was born in Edmonton Alberta in 1955. He received his Bachelor of Arts in painting from the Alberta College of Art, Calgary in1980. His paintings have shown in several Canadian galleries and abroad including London, Israel and Cyprus. He operated a conservation studio, Fine Art Restoration, in Victoria B.C. from 1986 to 2011. During that time he was a member of the Pacific Conservation Group, and Canadian Conservation Associates. Now retired from paintings conservation, he lives in Chemainus, BC and devotes all his energy to his family, his studio, and an uncooperative garden.

We are thrilled to feature his work in the Chemainus Theatre and we invite you to attend an Artist Meet and Greet on October 14th between 5 and 6 pm. For more information on Philip you can visit his website at www.philipmix.com.

By |October 4th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Escape with a madcap tale!

Declan O'Reilly, Kirk Smith, Colin A Doyle

Declan O’Reilly, Kirk Smith, Colin A Doyle in Jeeves Takes a Bow, Chemainus Theatre Festival, 2017. Photo by Cim MacDonald

On Vancouver Island, as everywhere, small talk always leads to the weather. As gardens are prepared for the winter, rainproof coats are pulled out of storage, and woodstoves are fired up we prepare for a change in the sky and in lifestyle. But we can all agree that it is wonderful to escape somewhere warm and cozy and be taken away to another world and time – the theatre is the perfect solution.

The Chemainus Theatre Festival is currently halfway through our run of “Jeeves Takes a Bow” and theatregoers are enjoying this show in droves! There is nothing better than a laugh shared with a big group of strangers. Adapted by Margaret Raether the stories of the hero-butler Jeeves and the charming and feckless Bernie Wooster were originally written by P.G. Wodehouse (1975). Wodehouse is considered a master of the serial novel, king of the magazine story, and supremely skilled in comedic writing. In this tale, Wooster and Jeeves have escaped their upper-class Edwardian frivolity and landed in the Big Apple, Manhattan, NY. How will they cope? Amusingly well! The ‘Traveling Islanders’ blog says “You definitely won’t want to miss Jeeves Takes A Bow.” We hope you will escape with us as we once again spend an afternoon or evening with a madcap tale told by a talented crew of actors! What could be better?

By |September 22nd, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Let yourself fall for Talley’s Folly

Love is the perfect theme for this summer feature, Talley’s Folly, playing August 16th to 26th. The Pulitzer Prize-winning and the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award as best play of the season, the romantic comedy, by Lanford Wilson, follows unlikely sweethearts, Matt and Sally, as they try to (once and for all) settle their feelings for each other.

The scene is the ornate, deserted Victorian boathouse on the Talley place in Lebanon, Missouri; the time 1944. Matt Friedman (played by Matthew Payne), has arrived to plead his love to Sally Talley (Heather Pattengale), the susceptible but uncertain daughter of the family. Bookish, erudite, totally honest, and delightfully funny, Matt refuses to accept Sally’s rebuffs and her fears that her family would never approve of their marriage. Charming and indomitable, he gradually overcomes her defenses, telling his innermost secrets to his loved one and, in return, learning hers as well. Gradually he awakens Sally to the possibilities of a life together.

“Everything is beautiful ruined in this play,” says director, Amiel Gladstone. “The old crumbling boathouse, post-War America, and two characters struggling with who they are and who they can be together. It’s an honour to come to Chemainus for the first time to direct the first play the company every produced.”

Talley’s Folly is a special presentation for The Chemainus Theatre Festival’s 25th Anniversary Season. Tickets are available for matinee and evening shows for two weeks only, August 16th to 26th. Call the Box Office at 1-800-565-7738, or visit chemainustheatre.ca.

By |August 3rd, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Interview With a Legend

 

Duff MacDonald

Duff MacDonald, a returning performer to Chemainus Theatre Festival, sat down and had a chat with our own Michelle Vogelgesang, about this summer’s production of Rock Legends: The Sequel to Twist and Shout.

 

 

 

What sort of person is going to love this show?

People of all ages love this show. I was an original cast member of the show 7 years ago and we have seen kids come to see the show and love it as well as older folks and they love it!

What is the most challenging thing about bringing this show to life?

Finding entertainers who are versatile enough to portray so many iconic music groups in history. Our artistic team has always succeeded to though and this incarnation of the show is no exception. It also is a huge show for comedy, dance and production value. It takes a small village of very organized people to make it happen onstage as well as backstage. We all work as a team. That’s the key. Teamwork.

Tell us about the rigors of being in the show?

It’s highly demanding vocally for the singers and physically for the dancers. None of us really stop for very long.

What is it like representing these musical icons?

For a few hours every night we truly feel like rock stars. We feed off of the audience’s excitement and enthusiasm. For a fleeting moment we can all experience what it must have been like to see these bands as well as BE them and hear that roar of the fans.

What’s it like performing the volume of music and choreography in the show?

Exhausting and exhilarating all in one basket. We are surely using every bit of memory we have!

Are there any other elements of the show you’d like to tell us about?

It’s funny. Very funny at times. It will transport you back to your youth and if you are younger, introduce you to music that we all should respect and tribute and carry on to future generations. It’s very rare that you will hear this music recreated in such a historically true way.

Why did you want to be involved in this production?

I love the show and I have experienced the joy of being a part of it for many years. I also was part of Twist and Shout, the prequel to Rock Legends, and I love this theatre and the support around it.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

The grand scope of it and the extraordinary talent onstage and the live  band included!

Is there anything else you would like to tell us about performing in this show?

There are many many costume changes that bring these characters to life. A lot of work was put into that element as well to bring u back to those eras. The costumes are incredible. People love seeing the vintage looks. You will have a rocking good time and leave the theatre exhilarated as we do every night performing it.

 

By |July 24th, 2017|Categories: Rock Legends|1 Comment

IceBear Meet & Greet in the Gallery

Official Opening of IceBear’s

Dreams of a Dreamer Exhibit

Meet IceBear, talk about art on

Friday, July 21st   4 pm – 5:45 pm

Chemainus Theatre Gallery

IceBear exhibition runs July 18 to August 26

            

   About IceBear

IceBear is an Ojibway artist who now lives and works in the Cowichan Valley. An artist all his life, his work runs the gamut from from representational to abstract. He has exhibited across the US, in Austria, and Italy, work has also shown in France, China, and Taiwan. His paintings and sculpture are collected internationally. His traditional, tribal home is Cape Croker, (Chippewas of Nawash) on the shores of Lake Huron in Ontario, Canada, but he now lives and works on Vancouver Island.

The Elders of his people call him a Dreamer, that is, one born to the task of transforming dreams, his own and others, into a visual reality. His work has helped individuals feeling lost, out of place, or disconnected from their roots to find their way home. Some of his paintings carry somewhat autobiographical elements, easily recognizable to other aboriginal people, because certain conditions are common to native people world wide. Other experiences may be familiar to all, being part of the human condition that we all share.

Respect for Mother Earth and all her creatures is omnipresent in my work. Again, this respect is something that all aboriginal people share, and more and more non native people are beginning to realize is important to the continued existence of humans and many other lifeforms on this planet.

IceBear chooses to paint primarily in acrylic, as he likes the vibrancy of the colours and the textural qualities he is able to achieve. but he on occasion also paints in oil or watercolour. Many of his paintings are available as limited edition giclees on canvas, by special order. IceBear sculptures have been created in wood, stone, cast bronze, and a eclectic mix of new high tech sculptural mediums and resins.

 

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – Director’s Notes

Melissa Young

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is an epic story about good overcoming evil. It is a story that allows us to open up our imaginations and dream of possibilities beyond our existence. Yet at the heart of this piece are four children who are growing up—transforming from youth with simple, egocentric concerns, into young adults who gain confidence, understand responsibility, and learn about forgiveness and caring for others during their time in Narnia.

It is significant for me to be directing this timeless story at Chemainus Theatre during their 25th Anniversary season. It was here, 14 years ago, I received my first professional contract and played the roles of Lucy and the White Witch in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It was at Chemainus that I had the opportunity to grow, mature, and hone my own skills as an artist. In a sense, this theatre is a place where I “grew up” as an artist.

I’m really interested and inspired by the idea of play. As a little girl, my favorite memories were of playing games such as “house,” “supermarket,” “radio station,” and various others that I devised with my brother, cousins, and friends. We would use whatever we had on hand to create these worlds—whether it was my Mom’s clothing, my grandmother’s jewelry and hats, or my parent’s old records (yes, we even had a sound design.) In this day and age, as I see students become less engaged in play and more engaged with their phones, the importance of play in our lives becomes increasingly evident to me.

With this production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, I really wanted to get back to the simple idea of play—asking the actors and the audience to engage their imaginations, as opposed to their iphones. I wanted this production to mirror children really playing out the story with whatever is readily available to them—whether it be an old umbrella, a scrap of material, or even their own bodies. How can a long piece of cloth become a cape, a river, and a tent? Could we use our bodies to become animal statues, trees, and even the wind? How can we use a drumbeat to tell the story of a great battle? To me, the immense power of childhood imagination, that ability to turn the most ordinary of things into something completely different is what I love about theatre.

And so the cycle of learning and growing continues. Whether you are young or old, I hope you enjoy our imaginative journey through childhood via Narnia.

By Melissa Young

By |July 5th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments