Odyssey Theatre’s Berlin Blues workshop

From December 17-20, Odyssey is honoured to welcome eminent Canadian playwright Drew Hayden Taylor to our workshop of his play The Berlin Blues: a warm-hearted and wickedly funny satire about a group of German developers who want to open an Aboriginal theme park on the fictional Otter Lake Reserve.

From the Curve Lake First Nations, Drew is an award-winning playwright (with over 70 productions of his work), a journalist, short-story writer, novelist and television scriptwriter. A made-for-TV movie he wrote based on his Governor General’s nominated play, In a World Created by a Drunken God, was nominated for three Gemini Awards, including Best Movie. He has worked on over 17 documentaries exploring the Native experience. He was also the Artistic Director of Canada’s premiere Native theatre company, Native Earth Performing Arts.

In Odyssey’s extraordinary workshop, Artistic Director Laurie Steven will collaborate with Drew and a brilliant ensemble to discover the relationship between Commedia dell’Arte and the world and characters of Drew’s play.

“What do an Indigenous bass player and the 17th century French comic scoundrel Scapin have in common? Do the passionate torments of Commedia lovers belong in the Economic Development office on a First Nations Reserve?”

In exploring these questions, the artists aim to create an original masked adaptation of The Berlin Blues suited to Odyssey’s signature performance style, a work that will play on our summer stage in the coming years.

We have assembled a talented team for this workshop. Herbie Barnes, an Anishinaabe artist from Aundeck Omni Kaning on Manitoulin Island, is an established actor, director and writer. As an actor, he may best be known for his role of Joseph in the film Dance Me Outside and on the CBC series The Rez, and on stage as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit, as Norval Morrisseau in Copper Thunderbird by Marie Clements (National Arts Centre), singing and dancing as a Wickersham Brother in Seussical The Musical. He has directed successful productions at Native Earth Performing Arts, including Drew Hayden Taylor’s Someday.

Cheri Maracle, a member of the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation, is a multi-award nominated actor, singer and songwriter. She has performed extensively for over twenty years at theatres across Canada, the US and Europe, in shows including Paddle Song, a one woman show, for High Performance Rodeo, The Road to Paradise (Crow’s Theatre), The Road Forward, (Red Diva Projects), The Rez Sisters, (Belfry Theatre), Death of a Chief (National Arts Centre, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre). Her TV credits include DeGrassi (CTV), Blackstone (APTN), Murdoch Mysteries (CBC), Moccasin Flats (APTN) and Blackfly (Global).

We are thrilled to also welcome back two talented veterans of Odyssey, well known to Ottawa audiences. Alix Sideris has appeared in six Odyssey productions, most recently as Susanna/Timoteo in The Fan as well as in The Wedding and Scapin, as well as performances at the NAC, GCTC and St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival. Mark Huisman has appeared in six Odyssey productions, including The Things We Do For Love, The Financier and A Guy Named Joe, as well as Humber River Shakespeare and the Grand Theatre and is co-founder of the award winning Marchlight Films.

Also joining us for the workshop are Dillan Chiblow, a graduate from Sheridan’s musical theatre program who has performed at theatres such as Native Earth, the Toronto Fringe and the Charlottetown Festival Young Company; and Samantha Brown, a graduate of the Acting Conservatory at York University whose credits include shows with Theatre@York and both the Hamilton and Toronto Fringe Festivals.


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