By Keith Tomasek, July 10, 2018
Alan Dilworth, Soulpepper’s acting artistic director announced the 2018 – 2019 season line-up that features 15 shows, including three world premieres, and three Canadian premieres.
Commenting on the upcoming season Dilworth said “Soulpepper’s 2018-2019 line-up reinforces what we’ve come to love from this company – theatrical experiences that invite the audience right into the heart of the story.”
Stratford Festival fans will be pleased to see many familiar faces on stage. Below is the full season along with some casting notes, but be sure to visit the Soulpepper website for complete details.
Dion Johnstone’s return to Ontario for the Canadian premiere of “The Royale” by Marco Ramirez (“Orange is the New Black,” “Daredevil”). Guillermo Verdecchia directs the play inspired by the true story of Jack Johnson and “The Fight of the Century.” Verdecchia will be known to Stratford Festival fans as the director Sunil Kuruvilla’s “Rice Boy” in 2009.
“The Royale” is followed by another Canadian premiere: “Escaped Alone” from Caryl Churchill. The co-production with Necessary Angel Theatre Company features an all-female creative and production team, directed by Necessary Angel’s Artistic Director Jennifer Tarver. At Stratford Tarver directed “Waiting for Godot,” “The Homecoming,” “Krapp’s Last Tape,” which subsequently played in Chicago and New York, “King of Thieves” and “Zastrozzi” – both by George F. Walker.
The cast includes Maria Vacratsis, whose Stratford credits include “Pericles,” “A Winter’s Tale,” “Electra,” “The Flies” and more. Clare Coulter, Brenda Robins and Kyra Harper, who will be familiar to fans of the “Orphan Black” TV series as Dr. Virginia Coady, join Vacratsis in the production.
Also this Fall, Soulpepper presents three partnerships that explore journeys through identity; the productions begin with the multidisciplinary piece “Oraltorio: a Theatrical Mixtape” produced by Obsidian Theatre Company and directed by Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu who participated in the Michael Langham Workshop for Classical Direction at the Stratford Festival, and is a graduate of the Soulpepper Academy.
British Columbia’s dramaturgically-driven play development company Universal Limited forms the second partnership. “JAPANESE PROBLEM” is an immersive performance about WWII Japanese-Canadian internment camps making its first stop on a national tour at Soulpepper.
The final partnership showcases a new production from a group that garnered critical praise at the 2016 Toronto Fringe Festival. The Silk Bath Collective, a team of 3 Chinese Canadian theatre-makers, Bessie Cheng, Aaron Jan and Gloria Mok, ask the question: “In a battle for racial supremacy, what are we willing to sacrifice and who are we willing to leave behind?” in the world premiere of “Yellow Rabbit.”
December marks the return of the Soulpepper Family Festival featuring Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” adapted by Michael Shamata, with Joseph Ziegler (don’t miss my podcast with Joseph at this link).
Also returning this year is the audience favourite Peter Pan, by Bad Hats Theatre, winner of three Dora Awards, including Outstanding Production. This season’s Family Festival extends into early 2019 with the world premiere of a new Soulpepper musical, “Rose,” based on Gertrude Stein’s “The World Is Round,” created by Sarah Wilson and Mike Ross (co-creator of “Spoon River,” a New York Times Critics’ Pick).
In January 2019, Kate Hennig’s “The Virgin Trial,” the highly acclaimed companion piece to “The Last Wife,” plays for a limited run. Alan Dilworth directs many of the original cast members including Laura Condlin, Sara Farb, Brad Hodder, Andre Morin and Bahia Watson.
photo Cylla von Tiedemann.
“The Virgin Trial” was commissioned by and premiered at the Stratford Festival in 2017. Click here for a collection of the reviews.
On stage in February is “Little Menace: Pinter Plays,” a compilation of short works from the master of dark comedy, commemorating ten years since the loss of Harold Pinter, directed by Thomas Moschopoulos.
You might recall Moschopoulos’ “Elektra” at Stratford in 2009, which Robert Cushman referred to as “the best production of a Greek tragedy I have ever seen.” Read the full review at this link.
Alan Dilworth directs again in March, helming the world premiere of Soulpepper Academy graduate Sina Gilani’s “Wedding at Aulis,” which explores the genesis of the Trojan War.
The Spring season brings two Tony Award-winning plays, starting with the masterful three-hander “Copenhagen” written by Michael Frayn and directed by Academy graduate Katrina Darychuk, followed by the Pulitzer Prize-winning epic “August: Osage County” written by Tracy Letts and directed by Jackie Maxwell.
In May watch for the Canadian premiere of “The Brothers Size,” directed by Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu. The play is a bracing and poetic look at brotherhood from Tarell Alvin McCraney, who co-wrote the Academy Award winning film “Moonlight”
The 2018-2019 season wraps up in June with “88 KEYS,” a brand new concert created by Tom Allen and Mike Ross about the ‘King of the Instruments’– the piano – celebrating Chopin, Ray Charles, and the masters in between.
Soulpepper is offer several American Sign Language (ASL) interpreted performances. For full details about the ASL and Relaxed Performances visit this link to the Soulpepper Accessibility page.
The SOULPEPPER SEASON, OCTOBER 2018 TO JUNE 2019:
Oraltorio: a Theatrical Mixtape
October 2 to October 20, 2018. Opening night is October 4.
Obsidian Theatre Company
Written and performed by MOTION
Music and performed by DJ L’OQENZ
Directed by Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
Part poetry slam, part house party – a coming of age story like no other. Born in the Northside, two Toronto girls grapple with womanhood and identity as they journey through their histories of ancient, contemporary, and Afro-futuristic soundscapes. The traditional storyteller and drummer are reborn in the beats and rhymes of the B Girl and the DJ: Motion and DJ L’Oqenz.
In association with MotionLive and IFT Theatre, Oraltorio has been developed in part through The Collaborations at Canada’s National Arts Centre.
October 12 to November 11, 2018. Opening night is October 18.
American Sign Language (ASL) interpreted performances on November 1 and 3, 2018.
Written by Marco Ramirez
Directed by Guillermo Verdecchia
Not all champions are made inside the ring. Based on the true story of World Heavyweight Champion Jack Johnson and ‘The Fight of the Century’, playwright Marco Ramirez (Orange is the New Black, Daredevil) shows us the deeply human cost of making history.
October 24 to 28, 2018.
Created by Universal Limited
Performed by Yoshié Bancroft, Daniel Doerksen, Brent Hirose and Nicole Yukiko
Directed by Joanna Garfinkel
In 1942, over 24,000 Japanese Canadians were removed from their homes. Over 8,000 of them were taken to the barns at Hastings Park, with women and children housed in animal stalls. A recreated stall becomes a powerfully immersive space where their stories are brought to life. The first stop on a national tour, JAPANESE PROBLEM invites Toronto audiences to experience the past, and hear it being echoed today.
October 28 to November 25, 2018. Opening night is November 1.
Relaxed Performance setting on November 10, 2018.
Written by Caryl Churchill
Co-produced with Necessary Angel Theatre
Directed by Jennifer Tarver
The apocalypse begins with tea. Featuring an all-female cast and crew, this remarkable interpretation of Caryl Churchill’s award winning play bends through time and space to illuminate four friends sitting in a garden, on the precipice of complete catastrophe. With wicked humour and profound prescience, master playwright Caryl Churchill (“Cloud Nine”) shows us a poetic world, close to devastation and closer than we think.
Maria Vacratsis, whose Stratford credits include “Pericles,” “A Winter’s Tale,” “Electra,” “The Flies” and more appears with Clare Coulter, Brenda Robins and Kyra Harper who will be familiar to fans of the”Orphan Black TV series as Dr. Virginia Coady.”
Winner of the Writer’s Guild Award for Best Play
November 23 to December 1, 2018. Opening night is November 24.
Silk Bath Collective
Written by Bessie Cheng, Aaron Jan, and Gloria Mok, with contributions from the company.
Directed by Jasmine Chen
Set under the lights of a post-nuclear wasteland, two contestants battle it out for a spot in the Chinese sanctuary city of Rich-Man Hill. The winner is granted refuge. The loser dies. In a battle for racial supremacy, what are we willing to sacrifice and who are we willing to leave behind? From Silk Bath Collective comes the next chapter in the search for belonging.
Performed in English, Mandarin, and Cantonese (with Chinese and English surtitles).
A Christmas Carol
December 7 to December 24, 2018.
Written by Charles Dickens
Adapted by Michael Shamata
Remount directed by Joseph Ziegler
Soulpepper’s beloved production of A Christmas Carol has become a Toronto holiday tradition. Follow Ebenezer Scrooge as he is visited by three ghosts who help him understand the importance of charity in the holiday season.
Recommended for ages 8+
December 8, 2018 to January 5, 2019. Opening night is December 12.
Relaxed Performance settings on December 15 and 19, 2018.
Bad Hats Theatre
Written by J.M. Barrie
Adapted by Fiona Sauder & Reanne Spitzer
Music by Landon Doak
Arrangements by Nathan Carroll & Company
Directed by Severn Thompson
Pirates. Lost Boys. A ticking crocodile. The fantastical audience favourite is back! J.M. Barrie’s classic story about the boy who would never grow up is given a lively musical reimagining for kids and kids-at-heart.
Winner – Dora Awards for Outstanding Production; Outstanding Ensemble; Outstanding Direction
Recommended for ages 3+
January 17 to February 10, 2019. Opening night is January 23.
Relaxed Performance settings on January 27 and February 2, 2019.
Music and Book by Mike Ross
Lyrics and Book by Sarah Wilson
From Gertrude Stein’s The World is Round
Directed by Gregory Prest
Meet Rose, a quiet kid from the town of Somewhere, who sees the world a little differently. To discover her place in the world she must embark on the adventure of a lifetime and conquer the mountain that stands in her way. See just how high Rose can go in this whimsical and inspiring new musical from Sarah Wilson and Mike Ross, co-creator of Spoon River (Critics’ Pick – New York Times).
Recommended for ages 5+
The Virgin Trial
January 19 to February 3, 2019. Opening night is January 24.
Written by Kate Hennig
Originally commissioned by and premiered at the Stratford Festival
Directed by Alan Dilworth
Princess Elizabeth navigates a labyrinth of political and sexual intrigue in the Tudor court, threatening her freedom and her life. Soulpepper presents the Stratford Festival’s highly acclaimed companion piece to the runaway hit “The Last Wife.”
Little Menace: Pinter Plays
February 16 to March 10, 2019. Opening night is February 21.
Written by Harold Pinter
Directed by Thomas Moschopoulos
Master of dark comedy, Harold Pinter unmasks the passions and absurdities that live within us all. Each play within this showcase of short works delivers the perfect punch.
Wedding at Aulis
March 22 to April 7, 2019. Opening Night is March 28.
Written by Sina Gilani
A version of Iphigenia in Aulis by Euripides
Directed by Alan Dilworth
To get the one thing he needs, Agamemnon must destroy the one thing he loves. A uniquely immersive experience places the audience at the heart of the genesis of the Trojan War.
April 6 to 28, 2019. Opening night is April 12.
Written by Michael Frayn
Directed by Katrina Darychuk
Two tiny particles colliding can cause a nuclear reaction. It is 1941, nations race to perfect The Bomb, and two scientists meet in occupied Denmark for a conversation that would change the course of history. Michael Frayn (Noises Off, Democracy) invites us to bear witness to the ultimate ethical impasse.
Tony Award-Winner for Best Play
The Brothers Size
May 4 to 26, 2019. Opening night is May 10.
Written by Tarell Alvin McCraney
Directed by Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
In the Deep South, music and ritual intertwine with Yoruba mythology, in this explosive story of a prodigal brother’s return home. From the writer of Moonlight, the 2017 Academy Award winner for Best Picture, comes a bracing, honest, and moving portrait of brotherhood.
Warning – Mature Language
August: Osage County
May 18 to June 15, 2019. Opening night is May 24.
ASL interpreted performances on June 6 and 8, 2019.
Written by Tracy Letts
Directed by Jackie Maxwell
When their father vanishes, three daughters return home to support their mother. The result is an epic portrait of the modern dysfunctional family. Fiercely funny and bitingly brutal.
Tony Award-Winner for Best Play
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama
Warning – Mature Themes
SOULPEPPER MUSIC PROGRAMMING 2018-2019:
Each original Soulpepper Concert revolves around a time, place, or artist crafted by a team of incomparable performers. The Concert Series is led by Slaight Family Director of Music Mike Ross. Check the season calendar for dates and times.
June 1 to 21, 2019.
Written by Tom Allen
Directed by Mike Ross
88 keys, 230 strings, and 7,500 working parts make up every piano. For three hundred years, it has been the vehicle through which genius was conveyed, from Beethoven and Chopin to Fats Domino, Ray Charles, and Billy Joel. Mike Ross leads Soulpepper musicians on an exploration of the ‘King of the Instruments’.
For more details visit Soulpepper.ca