ATP’s season promises to deliver first-rate contemporary theatre

It was a pleasure attending Alberta Theatre Project's 2015/2016 season launch. I'm on the left and my friend Michael is on the right!

Alberta Theatre Projects (ATP) recently kicked off its season with the hilarious Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, which runs until October 3. What's next? At the season launch party a couple weeks ago, artistic director Vanessa Porteous gave us a preview of what to look forward to and I'm here to give you the scoop!

I’m personally very excited about the upcoming shows this season at ATP, one of Canada's top contemporary theatre companies. I go to the theatre because I love watching stories unfold before my eyes…stories that command my attention, provoke my thoughts, teach me new things, and inspire me. I feel the remaining productions at ATP this season encompass all of that and I will definitely be a regular visitor to the Martha Cohen Theatre!

Here is what’s happening on the Martha Cohen stage this season (photos courtesy of ATP):

The Circle

By Geoffrey Simon Brown

Directed by Ann-Marie Kerr

October 20 – November 7, 2015

I’m very intrigued and excited for The Circle, which will see its world premiere at ATP. The Circle was written by local playwright Geoffrey Simon Brown, whom Vanessa has proclaimed is a “blazing new theatrical voice”. Set in a high school party in the suburbs of Calgary, this is a dark play that deals with the challenges we deal with in adolescence.

Vanessa has been really hyping up this play, and I heard Geoffrey read an excerpt from it at the season launch party a couple weeks ago. I love dark, thought-provoking theatre, so I will for sure be at this one! On a sidenote, at the season launch party, I remember Vanessa mentioning that audience members under the age of 25 will be able to see the show for $25. What a steal of a deal!

Legend Has It

Created by Rebecca Northan

November 24 – December 31, 2015

I can’t wait for this one! Why? The play’s creator, Rebecca Northan, previously created a play by the name of Blind Date. I didn't have the pleasure of seeing it, but my friend saw hit and raves about it still! In Blind Date, Rebecca selected a member of the audience to take onstage and literally act as her blind date. If I’m correct, I believe the onstage couple then went through a number of life stages together, such as getting engaged, tying the knot and having kids. Apparently, the play was incredibly hilarious!

Well, Rebecca is back with another improve-inspired work, Legend Has It, which will be this year's Nexen Family Holiday Show. According to ATP’s season brochure, the play “is a funny, heartwarming fantasy adventure for the whole family, complete with powerful spells, magic swords and comic sidekicks.” The biggest twist though, is that a member of the audience will be handpicked each performance to be the hero of the play!

Legend Has It promises to be a really fun experience and I can’t wait to ring in the holidays with this fantasy and improve themed play! And...I can't wait to see who's selected to be the play's hero! 

Life, Death and The Blues

A Theatre Passe Muraille production, in association with Hope and Hell Theatre Co.

Written and conceived by Raoul Bhaneja

Directed by Eda Holmes

Presented by Alberta Theatre Projects & One Yellow Rabbit as part of the 30th Annual High Performance Rodeo

January 19 – 31, 2016

If you’re fan of the Blues, this play is for you! According to ATP’s season brochure, “this is the true life tale of a typical Canadian kid from a South Asian/Irish background, who just can’t help lovin’ the Blues.” Juno-Award-winning R&B star Divine Brown will grace the Martha Cohen stage, along with a troupe of some of the top Canadian Blues musicians. Every performance, a different Calgary Blues legend will appear onstage with the cast for the show’s finale.

Cockroach

By Jonathan Garfinkel

Based on the novel by Rawi Hage

Directed by Vanessa Porteous

Featuring Haysam Kadri

March 1 - 19, 2016

Calgary actor Haysam Kadri is well-respected by our theatre community and for good reason. He’s appeared in countless productions over the years to rave reviews. I’ve actually only seen him in Theatre Calgary’s A Christmas Carol, as Bob Cratchit – and he’s so sweet and loveable as Bob Cratchit!

However, his performance in Cockroach will be a far cry from the loveable Bob Cratchit. In Cockroach, he will play a man with a haunted past who is out for revenge! And apparently along the way, he also thinks he’s a cockroach. I think this play will be really cool. It’s based on a best-selling novel and has been proclaimed as quite the psychological thriller! Move over Jacob Marley and the three Christmas Carol ghosts, Bob Cratchit is out for blood!

Buyer & Cellar

By Jonathan Tolins

Directed by Tracey Flye

Starring Steven Gallagher

April 5 - 23, 2016

This play is about my secret dream – to have my own personal shopping mall in my basement! Only in this play, the shopping centre is in the home of Barbra Streisand! And there’s only one employee, played by Steven Gallagher.

Steven will play all the parts in the play, which I assume will also include Babs! This is such a cute concept, I think it will be quite the treat to watch!

Sneak-a-Peek Announcement

On Friday, March 18, from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., there will be a reading of an Enbridge New Canadian Play in Progress. The Temporary, a play inspired by true stories of temporary foreign workers in Brooks, Alberta, will be read by its playwright Col Cseke. Pizza will be served and there will also be a Q&A session. 

The Exchange

The Exchange is series of really fun events that happen either before or after the performances at ATP. There are pizza nights, backstage tours, afternoon tea events, opportunities to meet the artists and more!

These events are a way for audience members to learn more about the productions, as well as have lively discussions with each other and various dramaturgs, playwrights, directors and other theatre artists! There’s even a Spring Fling pancake brunch on Sunday, April 10th!

Most of The Exchange events are free with your ticket (including the Spring Fling pancake brunch!). So if you’re planning on attending a ATP performance, why not do it in true theatre fan style, by attending The Exchange?

Check out The Exchange calendar for more information.

I hope to see you at the theatre! Check out the ATP website for further details. Ciao!