Troubadour Theatre Collective is dedicated to bringing communities and artists together through theatre and opera in intimate, immersive and site-specific venues.
For their latest production, “Skylight,” Troubadour Theatre Collective has transformed the 3rd Floor of The ARTS Project into the apartment of a school teacher living in London, England.
“Skylight” played London’s West End and Broadway. The script is so well written that during the 2015 Broadway run all three cast members, including Carey Mulligan as Kyra Hollis, were nominated for Tony Awards and the production won for Best Revival of a Play.
I spoke with Francesca Ranalli who plays Kyra Hollis in the London, Ontario production.
1) What made Troubadour Theatre Collective decide to produce “Skylight?”
I would love to defer this question to our director and our producer, but for my part, quite simply, it is such an extraordinary play, so beautifully written and so relevant to us all.
We were trying to find a play with fewer characters. We are a young company wishing to produce a certain quality of work. In order to make producing work under Equity guidelines feasible, a small cast was key.
I had been reading play after play, and when I picked this one up, quite frankly, it was immediate, I fell in love with it. It is insightful and human and so beautifully crafted.
It is relevant and important. It is everything that makes for good theatre, because it is human, it is about love, it is about the world we live in, and it is not black and white.
In addition to that, it is so well-suited to the immersive, site-specific part of Troubadour’s mandate.
2) The two leads in “Skylight,” a school teacher and a wealthy entrepreneur, are symbolic of the economically unbalanced London, England that surrounds them. Given the economic situation in London, Ontario did you find the script particularly relevant?
I would say this is a very relevant play, both to our time and place.
Interestingly, I just read an article on Neoliberalism published in yesterday’s Guardian. It observes the same economic, social and political ideologies and questions that are raised in this play. This, in an article published 20 years after after this play’s first performance.
With respect to London, Ontario, there is a very pronounced division of class and economic means, and nowhere is it more immediately evident than in the neighbourhood in which we are performing this work.
The Dundas and Richmond area boasts banks, businesses, restaurants, museums, art galleries, and all the people they cater to, as well as a very apparent underclass, quite literally crowding the streets. People who are very visibly suffering, who are overlooked, living in abject poverty and dealing with various forms of abuse, addiction and crime.
I would say this play is very relevant to our time and place, it is one of the reasons it is such a vital work. But it is also, and primarily, a play about love and relationships, and this makes it deeply relevant and important to us all.
3) The ex-lovers in “Skylight” are the classic romantic/tragic couple. As an actress, what do you draw from to play the part of a steadfast but vulnerable woman?
For myself, I must draw upon my own understanding and life experiences.
For a character like Kyra, I recognize our similarities and our differences. I draw upon the similarities and explore and seek to understand the differences through her journey and via my own life experiences. It is certainly an interesting and challenging journey.
There are parts of her that come easily to me, other that I perhaps resist, and those that are more foreign, but ultimately, her humanity is universal. As is that of each of the characters in this play. That is the wonderful thing about this work. David Hare has written such beautiful, complex and human characters. You may think one minute that you are with Kyra and the next, you may side with Tom. There is no good and bad, no right and wrong. In the end, they are each flawed and each trying to make their way in the best way they know how. It is that truth that makes them tragic and human.
Pick one or the other and reply with a sentence or two explaining why.
a) “The Winter’s Tale” or “The Tempest”?
Winter’s Tale – Although The Tempest is perhaps arguably a better-crafted piece, and certainly more spare, I like the sprawling texture and canvas of Winter’s Tale. As an actor it is appealing as well, the female characters are complex and have range and depth. They are flawed and human and fiercely strong.
b) George Bernard Shaw or Arthur Miller?
Another tough choice- presently I would say Arthur Miller. I find he has realism and relevance in today’s world. But it is a tough choice and one that is changeable, and may simply be a result of the world we are living in in “Skylight,” or because I recently saw and enjoyed the London West End/Broadway production of A View From the Bridge, directed by Ivo Van Hove. But there it is, for today, my choice is Arthur Miller.
c) Teaching students at the bottom of society or managing a non-profit to assist families at the bottom of society?
Well, one can certainly argue that it all starts at home, but I think, given where I am now, in the world of this play, I will say that teaching, broadening horizons and reaching children who are impoverished is a very important and powerful thing. It can lift children out of the mire their parents may not have the capacity or strength to escape. Knowledge can inspire and transform in ways that may not be as readily accessible or successful in the latter choice. And knowledge paves the way to a brighter future, each succeeding generation is better equipped to rise above and foster better communities and families.
Francesca Ranalli performs, directs, and produces theatre, musical theatre, opera and recital. Her work has taken her across Canada, and into Europe and the United States. Francesca is one of the founders of Troubadour Theatre Collective.
August 18, 19, 20 & 24, 25, 26, 27, 8pm
Doors open at 7:30 PM
Performance begins at 8:00 PM
Please note that seating is limited, advance reservation is recommended.
Call The ARTS Project at 519-642-2767
Purchase tickets online