Here’s a set of photos from last weekend’s reading. This was the first opportunity for director Andy Massingham to share his vision for the play with most of the cast and crew/designers. Unfortunately, actors Dylan George (Sergius) and Pierre Brault (Nicola), were unable to make the reading, but John Koensgen and Brad Long made great pinch hitters.
Odyssey Theatre announces its 27th season of Theatre under the Stars with George Bernard Shaw’s witty comedy Arms and the Man. In addition, this year young audiences will be treated to Rag and Bone Puppet Theatre’s Zoom at Sea on Wednesday afternoons. Performances are in Strathcona Park from July 25 to August 25, 2013.
Set during the 1885 Serbo-Bulgarian War, Arms and the Man is Shaw’s sardonic critique of naive idealism, particularly as it pertains to love and war. Raina Petkoff, a young Bulgarian aristocrat, is indulging in hero worship; the object of her adoration is fiancé Major Sergius Saranoff. An intruder enters her bedroom, and disrupts her romantic fantasies, in more ways than one. He’s Captain Bluntschli, a Swiss mercenary and hotelier’s son fighting for the losing Serb army. Raina seems to be simultaneously disgusted and intrigued by this strange plain-speaking man. She’s amused by his dishevelled appearance and his chocolate-crazed hunger. With the help of her mother and one of her father’s old coats she helps him evade the Bulgarian troupes. At war’s end, husband to be and father return home and regale in the telling of war stories, one involving a Serbian officer who evaded capture by “entertaining” a patriotic young Bulgarian lady in her chambers. What is Raina to do? Will she be found out? Will she ever see her chocolate cream soldier again?
The first time I discovered theatre was the time I decided to get involved in acting. I participated in every art show at art school to learn more. I did improve in acting and I really liked it and I wanted to learn more. That’s when Dana Uzarevic, who is Odyssey’s General Manager since 2006, introduced me to the Youth Apprentice Program and told me if I wanted to learn more about acting and theatre maybe Odyssey would help me. Of course, I jumped to this opportunity and signed myself up for the Youth Apprentice Program. I learned, however, that it was outdoor theatre and I didn’t like being in the outdoors since seagulls were my biggest fear. But, i didn’t care so I went for it.
The days was very rough and involved lots of hard work. I was an Usher, which was my main job, but I did also box office concessions and they were both extraordinary. All of the actors and the rest of the YAP were helpful. But, let me tell you that I had a blast doing this program! I learned more things about acting and there is so much to learn about acting and theatre and I have Odyssey to thank for it.
As a front of house apprentice, I was under the impression that I would be selling tickets, and showing guests where the garbage can was. I was wrong — incredibly, hopelessly, blissfully wrong. I started this summer not knowing what to expect, I figured I’d get a little work done, get my community service hours and go on my merry way. I never dreamt that I would be painting sets, and building stairs, and putting posters all over the greater downtown area.
This program has definitely motivated me to get off my butt this summer and into the hands of a truly amazing theatre company. I’ve worked with a lot of really special people and gained a lot of experience in not only the theatre world but customer service, as well since I spent a lot of my time in the box office as a front of house apprentice.
The Youth Apprentice Program was a lot more hands-on than I ever imagined it could be and has really helped me appreciate every aspect of theatre outside of acting. I’ve discovered that I have a love affair with Strathcona Park and outdoor theatre. Although this may not be what I choose to do in the future, this program has been a wonderful experience and I am sad to see it pass so quickly.
Marivaux’s The Game of Love and Chance is the story of the whirlwind pursuit of romance thrown together with the struggles of tradition versus modernity. So, it comes as no surprise that art director, Snezana Pesic, decided to use the Art Nouveau style for Odyssey Theatre’s production of Marivaux’s classic play. Before we get into the details of how this style is used in The Game of Love and Chance, it is important that we first delve into the history of the art movement itself.
Originating in Western and Central Europe during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Art Nouveau is an artistic and design movement that emphasized elegance, opulence, and lavishness by using free-flowing lines and asymmetry. At the same time, buildings, advertisements, or paintings that were part of the Art Nouveau wave had modern characteristics through the use of geometrical shapes and angular contours.Art Nouveau was influenced by two distinct movements from different parts of the world. The first was the Arts and Crafts movement in the 1880s steered by English designer William Morris. Like Art Nouveau, before it, the movement emphasized the need for elite craftsmanship as well as detailed ornamentation. The second movement was the Vogue artistry coming from Japan which involved the use of accentuated curved lines and wood-block paintings. Distinctive features of the movement included wandering, meandering lines so curvaceous and accentuated in their curves that they looked like the results of a whiplash. Other important aspects to Art Nouveau were floral patterns and the philosophy of everything in daily living – architecture, furniture, clothing, and jewelry – should not only have functional services but aesthetic as well.
When planning the art design for The Game of Love and Chance, director Andy Massingham and Pesic, at first, had divergent visions of where to take the aesthetics. See video for insiders look into process.
Video via Skype
Pesic meticulously crafted the set design to reflect the play’s overall sentiment of confusion and vagueness by playing with the outdoor setting of Strathcona Park. According to Pesic, “the set needs to be ambiguous and use outdoor and indoor space at the same time.”
Moreover, by incorporating the outdoor venue, the overall expansiveness and lightness are more pronounced by the large transparent surfaces Pesic designed. Despite the natural setting, Pesic decided to use as much artifice as possible.“I’m thinking that it will be artificial material but hopefully the material that looks pretty natural,” Pesic said.Although Pesic’s set designs show an impressive amount of variety and versatility, each of the features all communicate the sensibilities of Art Nouveau. Like Massingham’s rendition of Marivaux’s The Game of Love and Chance,Art Nouveau represents the harmony between different historical and classical eras to produce a stunning work of art. “In a way, it was like the transition between history and modern[ity] of the time,” Pesic said. “Even now, you can see that it’s one of the most popular art movements ever.”
As an admininstrative apprentice, I didn’t think I’d get to interact much with the cast or the other apprentices. My fears, however, were quickly dispelled. Not only have I had the priviledge of getting acquainted with everyone in the cast and crew, I also had many opportunities to work alongside my fellow YAPs. During the first four weeks of rehearsal, most of my days were spent at Strathcona Park, helping set up, building the set, and running lines with the actors. I learned to be quick, efficient, and always on call.
Building a set is an experience I’ll always remember. I had never done anything like it before. The energy I had while constructing the large-scale model from scratch was rivalled only by my thrill upon seeing its completion.
It’s exciting to see everything coming together, and I was honoured to have witnessed nearly every step of the process, including behind-the-scenes box office work (which was my main job after the show opened). I have learned so much about what it really takes to put together a show, more than I could have hoped. By being in this environment, I was able to observe how the director eases his actors into their roles, how the managers deal with crises, and how everyone has to work together to get the job done. It’s been an amazing experience and has definitely been one of my most productive summers so far.
I have been involved in theatre my entire life, but recently fell out the habit of it. That’s why, when I heard about the YAP program, I decided to sign up and rekindle my interest.
And now, months later, after having been involved with the production in some way almost every day, I’ve certainly done that! I think about nothing but theatre these days, to the point where I’m even in Strathcona Park in my dreams at night.
My main job is taking tickets and keeping track of how many people come to the show every night. The second part really engaged the math-loving part of me, and I started to play little mental games involving the numbers of people. Mostly, I keep track of how the numbers from one day compare to the last day, and even figure out the percentage it’s increased or decreased by.
Although I’ll be over the age limit and thus unable to take part in this next year, I would take part if I could, and hope that I’ll be able to volunteer.
The Can-Can was created and immortalized in France during the mid-1800′s. This popular dance style was primarily performed by female dancers, often in a chorus line. These ladies would dance in a hall for large audiences that would normally consist of men. This dance style became very popular and was rumored to be even too “risky” to be performed and was ultimately banned from public performances for a short period of time.During the 19th century the Moulin Rouge in Paris became the home of the can-can and French choreographer, Pierre Sandrini made the iconic moves that everyone associates this dance craze with; can-can line, high kicks, cart wheels, rond de jambe and a flying jump kicks ending in the splits. This dance movement took the world by storm and soon became popular in the United Kingdom and the United States in the mid 1900′s.
I have been a dancer for many years, and have never had the chance to study nor perform the can-can. Naturally I needed to do some background work and locate plenty of information on not only the dance style but also the history behind the dance. This task that I was given proved to be very interesting and provided me with a great understanding and knowledge of the dance and its history. As a history major, I truly enjoyed my discovery of the history of the can-can and finding the appropriate way to incorporate it into this show and the end result is done wonderfully by the cast!
The Game of Love and Chance takes place during this time period in France, and director Andy Massingham has been able to find ways to incorporate this dance and popular music into many scenes in the show. The challenge of recreating this dance was trying to find the appropriate timing and speed to perform. The original dance was performed at a very high speed, so naturally our actors needed the timing slowed down just a bit. The iconic moves and steps also needed to be re-created so that the audience would be able to connect and associate with the dance. The show itself is very comedic and romantic, so the dance needed to reflect the mood of the show, but also capture the essence of the time period and the dance. These actors have done a fantastic job at capturing the essence of the dance, while still remaining in full character. It was a challenge and great pleasure to help re-create such a great piece of choreography during this production and hope the audience leave kicking and dancing.
Jacques Offenbach and the music in The Game of Love and Chance
I’m sure many of you can sing, hum or even dance along to the well-known French chorus line number, the Can-Can. The exuberance of the performers as well as the tantalizing and salacious body movements have rendered the dance in infamy and a must-see in any Parisian dance hall. However, what you may not know about the Can-Can is the composer of the music that frequently accompanies the high-energy dance.
A prominent composer, cellist, and impresario, Jacques Offenbach was born on June 20, 1819. From a young age, Offenbach showed impressive musical and virtuosic talent during his instruction of the violin. By the time Offenbach was eight, he was already composing his own pieces, mostly upbeat songs and dances for a trio composing of himself and his brother and sister. At 14, Offenbach was admitted to the prestigious Paris Conservatoire but soon became weary of academic study, dropping out only a year after his enrollment.
To make a living, Offenbach secured the position as a cellist at the Opera-Comique in 1835. However, like his brief tenure at the Paris Conservatoire, he grew dissatisfied and found refuge in pulling pranks during performances like deliberately sabotaging the music stands so they would collapse in the middle of the performance. As the resident cellist at the Opera-Comique, Offenbach encountered several conductors who mentored him and helped him developed his talent as a composer. Soon, Offenbach began playing at various Parisian salons throughout the 1840s and 1850s.
By 1853, Offenbach was regularly composing operettas which were well received by audience members and fellow composers alike. However, it was 1855 when Offenbach’s career would take off. During this year, Offenbach was commissioned for the company Bouffes-Parisiens to write satirical, comical operas. His first play for Bouffes-Parisiens was a satirical, comic opera entitled Ba-Ta-clan which delighted critics and theatregoers.
In 1858, Offenbach wrote his most famous and his first full-length operetta, Orphee aux enfers. Like most of Offenbach’s pieces, Orphee aux enfers is a satirical piece parodying Greek mythology and the opera, Orfeo. The Infernal Galop, the music that is set to the Can-Can, is heard in the operetta’s second act. Throughout the 1860s, Offenbach continued to write more operettas that deal with risqué content and mature humour. Although a German citizen, Offenbach was heavily involved in French politics and was associated with the Second French Empire. Consequently, Napoleon III awarded Offenbach with honorary French citizenship. After embarking on an ambitious American tour, Offenbach finished his last piece, The Tales of Hoffman. However, Offenbach died on October 5, 1880 at the age of 61 shortly before the operetta’s premiere.
Director Andy Massingham cited Offenbach and his acclaimed Gallop as the first source of inspiration for his rendition of Marivaux’s The Game of Love and Chance. After listening to Offenbach during rehearsals for a play he starred in, Massingham was struck by the music’s ability to leave listeners smiling as well as invigorate “an impish, creative spirit.” Massingham said that, “this music has this entry level of joy and vibrancy that you don’t have to get used to, it just sort of comes to you.” Not only did the music enliven the writing process for Massingham and fellow adapter Jan Irwin, but the music also serves as a pleasant backdrop to the play, providing a counter-balance to all the frenzy and commotion between the characters.
“I always had [the music] playing and it inspired a bunch of scenes, especially the back and forth banter between Dorante and Silvia, Lisette and Arlequino, and then ultimately Mario, who sort of evolved into his own character as well,” Massingham said. The Can-Can and the music of Jacques Offenbach comes into new swing in The Game of Love and Chance by eroding the barriers between theatre and dance, offering audience members with an authentic Parisian theatre experience.
I grew up with music and modern dance, studied puppetry at the Academy in Stuttgart Germany and worked for 13 years with the late Canadian theatre maker Felix Mirbt, building and performing with masks, puppets and objects and exploring the line where the possible meets the impossible. I have since moved on to creating large sculptures in clay and learning from fabulous potter Stanley Lake. Wether in sculpture or on stage, my faces have to come alive, respond to a variety of emotions that the actor (even the spectator) wants to put into them: sadness, joy, jealousy – it all has to reside in them. I hope you will enjoy their expressiveness.
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