Jack the Ripper - Jack the Ripper

Saturday, June 08, 2019

A fine performance space

The Mount’s chapel as a venue

  This is a sort of advertisement meant for performance groups — choirs, instrumentalists, theatre people and such.  We’re passing it on for The Mount, the Continuing Care Community on Mount Edward Road in Charlottetown.
  The Mount has a lovely chapel which has been the site for quite a few choral concerts, theatre productions, recitals, and school band gigs.  They’d like to host more … partly because it’s good to offer the facility’s residents a variety of entertainment, but also because the chapel is just such a fine performance space which should be used to serve the wider community.
  The chapel has amazing acoustics.  It seats 200 or more, and there’s plenty of parking.  The Mount can boost advertising with its Facebook connections and on-the-street sign.
  Good financial news: there’s no fixed rental fee … The Mount would just like a percentage share of the admission revenue.
  You can get in touch with Charmaine MacGregor, the Activities Coordinator, to have a look at the space and talk over the possibilities:
activities@themountcommunity.ca   (902) 370-5702

Posted by RobAdmin on 06/08 at 08:32 AM
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Monday, May 06, 2019

Last chance to see 12 Angry Women

Friday, 10 May, 7:30 pm in Georgetown

You’ve probably heard quite a bit over the past couple of weeks about this play … Audience comments indicate how very effective this production is.  12 Angry Women has already been playing - 6 shows, in fact - in Charlottetown, North Rustico and Summerside … but it’s not quite done! There’s one more chance to see it — this coming Friday, May 10th, in Georgetown.
  This a riveting jury-room drama.  It’s being staged, in-the-round (for extra intimacy), by ACT (a community theatre).
  A dozen women are locked in the pressure-cooker of a jury-room, to determine the fate of a young man on trial for murder.  It’s a play for our current times: are there “alternative facts”?  What lies beneath the surface of a too-easy answer?  It’s literally a life-or-death decision, and it turns on the stab of a switch-blade.
  The last chance to see it is this Friday evening, May 10th.  It’s at the Kings Playhouse in Georgetown PEI.
  Tickets: $20 (plus box-office fees of about a buck-fifty) - at-the-door (cash only), and online: www.kingsplayhouse.com
Information: 902-628-6778 and ACT’s Facebook page.

Posted by RobAdmin on 05/06 at 08:33 AM
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Monday, April 22, 2019

The Jury Foreman

Pamela Rowe talks about her role in 12 Angry Women

   It took me a while to build a character for the foreman(which I think it would have been called in the 50’s). I decided that in a big city there would be at least one Jewish person and I gave her an appropriate accent so I believe that adds a bit of interest and humour to the character plus it gives me something more to work with. The prejudices that we experience in the play are sadly as relevant today as they were in the plays time frame. I hope the play allows us to think about our attitudes and the ease at which we aquiesce to group mentality.
  Since returning to the island I have participated in a play read and taught a course at the National Theatre School. Drama Festival at Watermark Theatre. I have been fortunate  since I am also a registered nurse to work part time allowing me to to have been a member of the Vancouver Bach Choir, take a pre-professional training year with Neptune Theatre, and be involved in theatre both in Nova Scotia and Vancouver. Before heading west I spent a summer doing three shows here at Victoria Playhouse. 
My husband and I bought, moved, and renovated a large one room schoolhouse where we now live with our dog Radar in Brackley Beach.

Posted by RobAdmin on 04/22 at 02:21 PM
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Here Come da Judge!

Frances Gray - Music … and Judge

  After a 45-year career as Professor of Piano and Music Theory at UPEI, and longtime role as pianist/keyboardist with the PEI Symphony Orchestra, Fran takes a temporary break from Bach, Brahms and Chopin — for something quite different.  At the invitation of director Terry Pratt, she makes her debut performing new-to-her incidental music for 12 Angry Women.  To fit the era of the play, Fran will be playing 50’s rock-n-roll and excerpts from the musical My Fair Lady.  She had similarly performed incidental music for ACT’s play The Dining Room.

  There’s also an acting role (sort of).  As the play starts, Fran will be heard as the sober voice of the judge.  Her one-and-only other cameo vocal role was as Inez, the nursemaid in ACT’s production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta, The Gondoliers.

  Frances Gray is actually a very classy classical pianist, with three CDs to her credit.  Though retired from academia, she continues to enjoy practising, reading music, teaching a few students and concertizing. She likes to attend concerts, ballet, and theatre performances. She has embraced the Seniors College and immersed herself in many new experiences and areas of interest.  She took up bridge two years ago and has tried to master the basics, aspiring to play with those who have been at the game for a lifetime!  She has two beautiful granddaughters, ages four and two, living in Halifax.

Posted by RobAdmin on 04/22 at 02:14 PM
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Thursday, April 18, 2019

Juror #5 - Tamara Steele

“I learned how to knit for this play!”

  “This is a play play which encourages the audience to contemplate the value of independent thinking, and reminds us that, even today, we must continue to fight negative stereotypes and prejudices.”  That’s a chief reason Tamara Steele is excited about being a part of 12 Angry Women.

  Tamara is certainly familiar with acting in strong, meaningful drama.  Her record includes four such pieces with ACT (a community theatre): Doubt (2013), Inherit the Wind (2014), Women of a Certain Age (2015), and The Laramie Project (2016).  But she has also had wide experience in other sorts of performance over the years between 2009 and 2016: the Christmas pantomimes at the Confederation Centre, and various other community theatre and local independent film productions.

  When she heard about the auditions for 12 Angry Women, she realized it had been a couple of years since her last thespian endeavour, and that she was really missing being on stage.

  In her work life Tamara is the Administrative Assistant at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery.  Besides theatre and visual art, she’s a musician: “I sing pretty much all the time,” she admits … but most notably with local band Lady Soul.  At home, she and her husband Mark have two dogs and a cat.

  Tamara plays Juror #5.  This is a person who has apparently lived in a state of disadvantage.  She is quite intelligent and observant … but she is also insecure and has a tendency towards defensiveness.  One other thing, Tamara says: “I learned how to knit for this play!”

Posted by RobAdmin on 04/18 at 08:18 AM
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Sunday, April 14, 2019

12 Angry Women - a family affair

Marla Haines - Juror #7

  Marla Haines has been involved in theatre since she played Little Red Riding Hood in kindergarten.  She is an actress, writer, director, producer, and most recently she has ventured into film-making.  She has been involved with ACT for over ten years, five of those on the ACT board.  Before that she was a member of the Harbourfront Players.  Her most recent shows include Raised on TV, The Laramie Project, and Our Town.  She jumped at the chance to be a part of the dynamic group of 12 Angry Women.

  There’s an interesting extra factor: Marla’s husband Richard is the Producer of this play.  Indeed, theatre is a Haines family affair: on top of all Richard’s work in several circles, daughter Gillian is now studying in Vancouver to be a professional Stage Manager.  “It was a thrill to act with both of them in Our Town a few years ago,” Marla says.  “Richard and I love working together and we have been cast as husband and wife a couple of times, which a real stretch for us!” Marla jokes.

  Marla will be playing Juror #7.  “This character is a nasty piece of work,” Marla says.  She’s loud, pushy, self-absorbed, and believes she’s a “real” American.  Marla has created a back-story for her character.  She imagines her local New York City birth in humble circumstances … marrying an entrepreneur and perhaps running the business as he went off to fight in the Second World War.  With sale skills and drive, she kept their business going and made it thrive.  Now in the jury room, she is a hard-headed, single-minded force, interested only in getting out of the jury job as fast as she can, so she can get back to her busy life.

Posted by RobAdmin on 04/14 at 01:32 PM
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Saturday, April 13, 2019

PEI Community Theatre Festival 2019

8 groups made it a fine afternoon!

  Saturday afternoon, March 30th at the Carrefour: what a great Community Theatre Festival it was.  It was enjoyed by the biggest audience we’ve ever had.
  Eight amateur groups presented a dandy variety of pieces: a comic repartee atop the Tower of Babel, a poetic dramatization of a Homeric tale, a gripping drama about teenage angst, a belly-laugh spoof of Tim’s ‘Roll-up-the-rim’ fervour, an amazing improv theatre game, three stand-up comedians, an absurdist amusement about moving a woodpile, and colourful creations of Mi’kmaq legends.
  You can see the photos by clicking on ‘Gallery’ in the upper-right corner of the screen ... and scrolling down to click on ‘Community Theatre Festival 2019.’
  Making it all happen: 40 actors ... a half-a-dozen front-of-house volunteers ... our sponsors and contributors: The Buzz, Bluefield Realty, the Belvedere dental clinic; Watermark Theatre, Spotlight School of Arts, Victoria Playhouse, and the Confederation Centre/Charlottetown Festival; Sobeys, Superstore and Foodland.  And a rotating play-to-play audience of about 250 loved it.
  Thanks to all for this fitting observance of World Theatre Day.

Posted by RobAdmin on 04/13 at 07:46 PM
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Friday, April 12, 2019

A Not-so-Angry Woman

Catherine MacDonald - Juror # 8

  What’s it like to have an open mind when everyone else thinks in black-and-white simplicity?  That’s what Catherine MacDonald’s character faces.  She’s swimming against the stream, and it’s a powerful current in that jury room.  She’s smart; she’s also compassionate and committed to fairness.  “She reminds me of my father,” Catherine says, “with her intelligence and her insistence on justice.”

  Juror #8 is the voice of evidence-based reason.  In a way, she personifies the theme that is so significant in the play, and in our current times — when facts and even truth seem threatened by bias, willful ignorance and the easy answer.

  Catherine has a huge range of experience in portraying fascinating women.  She played Marie Claire/Veronica Franco in the original production of Shameless Hussies.  She has been Lady Macbeth (Macbeth), Titania (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Ursula (Much Ado About Nothing), and Gertrude (Hamlet).  She was also in earlier ACT productions — 1837: The Farmer’s Revolt, The Four-Cornered Couch, and The Lover.  In recent years she’s been involved in Raised on TV 2 and 3.  Now with 12 Angry Women she is excited about “the opportunity to try my hand at a powerful modern drama.”

  Catherine actually started out as a dancer — mostly Highland, but also ballet.  One of her favourite experiences was dancing in Hooray For Hollywood, a community musical at the Confederation Centre directed by Alan Lund, no less. She plays the piano, too, and has been both chorister and accompanist in several choirs.  She has spent most of her professional career teaching English at Charlottetown Rural High School.

  “I do love acting,” she admits, “but really the three best things in my life are Garrett, Ellie, and Brooklyn, my amazing children.”

Posted by RobAdmin on 04/12 at 08:13 AM
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Sunday, March 31, 2019

Switch-blade tension

ACT’s 12 Angry Women - April 26 to May 10

  12 Angry Women is sort of a courtroom drama, but without the courtroom. It’s what happens after all the theatrics of a week of testimony.  But it’s even more theatrical once you lock a dozen people into the pressure-cooker of a stifling-hot jury room to come to a conclusion on whether a young man is guilty of murder — literally a life-or-death decision that hinges on a switch-blade.

  12 Angry Women will play at four Island venues between April 26th and May 10th, staged by ACT (a community theatre).  It is directed by Terry Pratt and produced by Richard Haines.

  “He doesn’t stand a chance,” is what the court guard opines at the outset.  But is that so?  This is a play that works on doubt and on the edge-of-seat tension that comes from the interpersonal dynamics among the twelve jurors, women of very different backgrounds and temperament, who have the duty to reach a collective conclusion.  What does it take for individuals to stand against the sway of the majority, and finally come together?

  The play is full of gripping dramatic moments.  The psychological tension builds as the jurors’ hands go up, one after the other, for another vote.  Abrupt flip-flops of opinion take us by surprise.  Physical confrontation erupts into near violence.  And there’s that startling move with the switch-blade.

  The play has an impressive pedigree of proven success.  It is an adaptation of Twelve Angry Men — which was first a TV drama, then a movie, then staged in London and on Broadway.  The play can be inspirational: this very month a project called 12,000 Voices has been organizing readings of the Angry Men version by casts of women all across the United States — to promote women’s voter registration and civic involvement.

  Though set in the 1950s, that dating is not very important.  Indeed, the message — about evidence, probing beneath the surface, critical thinking — is quite relevant in our own era of populist appeals (think Trump and Ford) to a base audience who crave black-and-white simplicity and the easy answer.  It is not surprising that the play originated in the infamous McCarthy era.

  This production offers novelties.  It’s theatre in-the-round, so that the audience feels an intimacy, a very part of the jury-room.  The show is going ‘on-the-road’, playing in four different parts of the Island.  And it’s unusual that a dozen of the Island’s talented women actors get a chance to shine together on stage throughout the entire play.

  Those ‘angry women’ are Pamela Rowe, Justeann Hansen, Laura Stapleton, Barbara Rhodenhizer, Tamara Steele, Jennifer Shields, Marla Haines, Catherine MacDonald, Kate Martin, Margaret Brady, Nancy MacNevin, and Robyn MacDougald.  Their profiles can be seen at https://actpei.tumblr.com.

  There will be four performances in Charlottetown at the Carriage House (West street), hosted in association with Beaconsfield Historic House: the evenings of Friday 26 April, Saturday 27 April, and Sunday 28 April, plus a matinee on Saturday the 27th.  On Thursday 2 May the play is at the Watermark Theatre in North Rustico.  Then on Saturday 4 May it’s in the Eptek Gallery of Summerside’s Harbourfront complex.  The final performance is Friday 10 May at the Kings Playhouse in Georgetown.  Curtain time is 7:30 pm (2:00 for the April 27th matinee).  It runs for 80 minutes, plus intermission.

  Tickets are priced at a flat-rate of $20 (plus box-office fees).  Each venue has its own system for issuing tickets:
  Beaconsfield www.ticketwizard.ca,  Watermark www.ticketwizard.ca
  Kings www.kingsplayhouse.com     Eptek www.harbourfronttheatre.com

Information: 12angrywomenact@gmail.com   www.actpei.ca   Facebook - ACT(a community theatre) … 902-628-6778

Posted by RobAdmin on 03/31 at 03:10 PM
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12 AW Cast profile

Sharon MacDonald - the Guard … and more

  Sharon MacDonald has a unique involvement in this presentation of 12 Angry Women.  She has two roles — one on-stage, the bigger one behind-the-scenes.  As the court Guard who makes a few appearances, but also as the Stage Manager for the production, she gets, as she says, “to feed both my acting and my management appetites.”

  She is well equipped for both kinds of work.  Immersed in the theatre scene at university, she went on to teach Theatre Arts in Island high schools for many years.  She joined ACT after retiring in 2011.  She has served valiantly in several capacities on the Board of Directors, and has had a few acting parts.  But a very significant contribution has been stage management — for Inherit the Wind, Little Shop of Horrors, Skin Flick and Rainbow Valley … and for the challenging outdoor presentations of Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing and Hamlet.

  Sharon does have a life outside of theatre — in art and music (especially choral singing), in outdoor activities, and in the very special role of caring for grandchildren.

  “This is a powerful play,” Sharon says, one with a provocative message about the need for digging under the surface, for asking questions and weighing evidence.  “That’s so urgent in our age of biased opinion and too-easily-swallowed news bites.”

Posted by RobAdmin on 03/31 at 03:07 PM
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Friday, March 22, 2019

Angry Woman #4

Juror #4 is Barbara Rhodenhizer

  “This is exciting … and maybe a bit terrifying,” says Barbara Rhodenhizer, as she thinks about playing in-the-round at four different venues.  “A dozen characters all on stage for the entire play, with literally no place to hide — exposed to your audience from every angle.  You can’t let your character wander, even for a second.”

  Barbara’s character, Juror #4, is an intelligent, confident, no-nonsense realist who is often frustrated by the more malleable and less decisive  jurors.  Memories and interpretations of what was heard in the trial zig-zag back and forth.  “How the jurors form and then modify their views should give us all pause about our personal assessments of ‘the facts’ in our own lives.  This play prods us to look beyond the superficial and the easy answer.”

  Barbara’s theatre passion dates back (centuries!) to her early teens and the Charlottetown Festival’s Circus Tent Theatre for Children.  She was a founding member of ACT, and she has appeared in more than a dozen of our productions over the 24 years.  Some favourites: Wit, Doubt, Noises Off, School for Scandal, Blue Castle, The Dining Room, Coward In Two Keys, and both the original and reprise of Our Town.  Behind the curtain she has been properties mistress, costumer, design consultant, set painter, box-office coordinator and Theatre Festival volunteer.  Beyond ACT there have been Confederation Centre Christmas shows — A Christmas Carol, Miracle on 34th Street, It’s A Wonderful Life, and A Gift To Last.  She performed the one-woman show I Remain,Jane Austen, and last year appeared in Raised on TV2.  She’s also been in some short films.

  Her beyond-the-theatre energies go into needlework, reading, antiquing, thrifting and caring for two cats … and her writer/editor husband Doug Gallant.

Posted by RobAdmin on 03/22 at 01:14 PM
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Thursday, March 14, 2019

2019 Community Theatre Festival - Schedule

March 30th - the Line-up

Here’s the line-up for Saturday afternoon, March 30th, at The Carrefour.
  There is a 15-minute break between plays, for adjudication, changing the stage, and refreshments.  The times cannot be exact — there’s bound to be some variation, but we’ll try to keep on track.

1:00 - The Shamrock Players - Babel Rap
Comedy: two workers are high up on the biblical Tower of Babel — contemplating life, work and the hereafter.

1:40 - Side Hustle - Improv
Creative spontaneity: in short- and long-form games, the seven performers create on-the-spot entertainment, prompted by suggestions from the audience.

2:15 - 9-F Theatre Troupe (Birchwood Intermediate) - The Tipping Point
Drama: a teenager is hounded by her anxiety, following her every step through her day … rising to a crisis.

2:45 - Charlottetown ALL Comedy Open Mic
Stand-up comedy: three performers take turns at the microphone with their just-for-laughs patter.

3:20 - The Tracadie Players - Rrrrrrrrrrroll up the Rim to Win
Comedy skit: ’tis the season at Tim’s, prompting the age-old question … ‘What would you do if you actually won?’

4:00 - Malcolm Murray Group - Chop Wood, Carry Water
Absurdist comedy: a man is moving a pile of wood … along comes the woodlot-owner’s daughter.  Zen saying: “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water … After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”

4:35 - Mi’kmaq Heritage Actors - Legends from the Past
Dramatic story-telling with drum and dance: stepping back in time to experience the rich cultural traditions of the Island’s First-Nations people.

5:10 - ‘Nobody’ - Homeward
Dramatic reading: an excerpt from a play based on imagined episodes from the Homeric epic Odyssey — the interaction between the nymph Calypso and her captive lover, the wily adventurer Odysseus … with his patron goddess Athena looking on.

Doors open at 12:30.  Drop in for a play or two, or the whole afternoon.
Admission: what-you-will donation (think $5 or $10 or so)
Information: 902-628-6778, robthomson @ pei.sympatico.ca

Posted by RobAdmin on 03/14 at 02:47 PM
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Here’s another juror

Kate Martin - Juror #9

  Kate is a former teacher, a specialist in both theatre and English as a second or alternative language; she has taught in places as diverse as Toronto, Northern Ontario … all the way to Mozambique and Tanzania.

  She has contributed to ACT in many ways over the years.  For the Board of Directors she has been Director of Theatre and taken responsibility for the Beach House.  Occasionally she has acted — for instance, in Tennessee Williams’ Lord Byron’s Love Letter.  But she has been part of a host of other shows, though unseen by the audience … dressed in blacks in the key backstage roles of working props, stage management, stage crew — and whatever else is needed to ensure that a show runs smoothly.  For years she has been the co-organizer of the PEI Community Theatre Festival which is held each year in late March to celebrate World Theatre Day.  And for years she worked on making the Sears Festival and its successor event for high-school drama happen on PEI.

  Back on-stage now in 12 Angry Women, Kate says “It will be fun to appear in front of the curtain.”  She loves the prospect of working with Director Terry Pratt, and of playing in-the-round and on-the-road at four different venues.

  Kate is Juror #9.  She’s a quiet woman … but she stands up strongly against bigotry and for respect.  Like Kate herself, she’s a thoughtful person who is willing to listen with an open mind — which is a challenge in the play’s steamy jury room.  She has a line which might be one of the key themes: “It takes a great deal of courage to stand alone.”

Posted by RobAdmin on 03/14 at 08:26 AM
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Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Yr. Obedient Servant


The English-speaking world’s most famous talker, dictionary-maker, and curmudgeon, Dr. Samuel Johnson, will make one final, public appearance on the Island this winter. Watermark Theatre hosts Yr. Obedient Servant: An Evening of Chamber Theatre with Samuel Johnson on Friday, March 8, at 7:30 p.m.  Your free-will offering will support the theatre. This one-man, full-length play by Kay Eldredge features actor and ACT life member Terry Pratt in a slice of 18th-century literary life.  This performance is a snow date for Watermark.  With 20 minutes to go before curtain on a wild night in November, organizers pulled the plug to get themselves and the few, brave audience members home to safety. Pratt/Johnson did go on to successful appearances at the Haviland Club and UPEI.  Private performances will continue, since Yr. Obedient Servant is available free of charge to any appropriate chamber, for fundraising, education, or simply entertainment.

Posted by RobAdmin on 03/05 at 03:43 PM
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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Another ‘Angry Women’ profile

Justeann Hansen is Juror #2

  Justeann Hansen is a seasoned performer.  She got into ballet when she was 4, and started theatre lessons at age 6.  That had her taking part in some plays and musicals, and got her into community theatre productions (like Peter Pan and The Ugly Duckling) when she was about 10.  “I just love it,” she says, “and that love brought me to the School of Performing Arts at Holland College.”  After graduating there, she got her nursing degree at UPEI, and is now about to write her licensing exam.

  Nursing studies didn’t stop her from being involved in theatre and the arts here on the Island.  “I audition for most everything,” she admits, “for the Fringe Festival, Summerside’s Harbourfront Players, and ACT”.  She has been in shows at the Confederation Centre, and had a very interesting role in ACT’s production of Little Shop of Horrors — besides singing, she operated the man-eating puppet!

  Justeann thought auditioning for 12 Angry Women “would be fun.”  Well, maybe the excitement of auditioning … but the play itself and Justeann’s role in it are hardly what you’d call ‘fun’.  She is Juror #2.  This is a quiet, somewhat naive and insecure character who has been thrown into the task of deciding on a man’s life or death.  As impressionable Juror #2 leans one way, then another, Justeann imagines the audience’s feelings, and wonders: “Maybe they’ll be able to figure it out before the jury does!”

Posted by RobAdmin on 02/27 at 11:57 AM
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