As you may know, I am one of the founders of a local theatre company called Evolution Theatre. We are now at the end of our fourth year in existence and I am just blown away by how far we've come in such a short time. We've put on a total of 9 productions, we've received a number of award nominations and acknowledgments (CBC Radio's Alvina Ruprecht once called us an important contribution to the professional theatre scene in Ottawa), and we've become a registered charity with a season sponsor and a variety of donors. We've made it a personal mission to bridge the gap between the French and English theatre communities in Ottawa. Many of our shows have been translations of Québécois work (to the point where next year you will see our first fully commissioned translation of a piece) and every production involves Francophone actors, designers and crew. We've gone from a small independent company conceived in order to create meaningful work opportunities for ourselves into a small independent company that creates meaningful work opportunities for all local theatre artists. In addition, we've gained a reputation in this town for presenting work that is quite experimental, unconventional and takes risks that I fully believe are paying off. All in all, we make good art and I couldn't be more proud or more pleased.
We have a show that opens this week at Cube Gallery in Ottawa called Arabian Night and I want you to come see it. Here's why (in no particular order):
1 - The cast: This play involves some of the greatest actors in this community. People whose names you will recognize and whose work I absolutely admire. Richard Gélinas, Bradley Cunningham Long, Emily Pearlman, Stewart Matthews and Kate Smith. I'm not going to post their resumes here, but I am quite certain that if you have a seen a show in Ottawa over the last year and enjoyed it, chances are one of these people was involved with the production. I don't like to use the word "all-star" but I think you all know what I am getting at.
2 - The director: This is the first time Evolution Theatre has contracted a director from outside the company. I believe this is just another aspect in our growth and it has allowed us founders the opportunity to solidify our administrative skills and bond more deeply as a team. That said, we didn't want just anybody to direct one of our shows and so we sought out an individual whose work we truly admire. Natalie Joy Quesnel was actually one of the very few names that we could all agree on. Having seen bits and pieces of the show throughout rehearsals and during the media call, I can tell you that Natalie brings a solid vision to this piece; one that is very stylized and dance-like, but meshes incredibly well with the dream-like nature of the show. You ain't seen nothing like this, Ottawa!
3 - The award nominations: The cast and crew of Arabian Night have over 15 award nominations and wins among them. These include the Rideau Awards, the Capital Critics Circle, the Ontario Arts Council, the Ottawa Fringe Festival, the Golden Cherry Awards, and the Ottawa Xpress. This production actually reunites the multi-award nominated team that brought you Third Wall's Betrayal a few years ago, among other things.
4 - The show: This is the Ottawa English-language premiere of Arabian Night by Roland Schimmelpfennig, translated by David Tushingham. At Evolution Theatre, we like being able to provide Ottawa audiences with something they have never seen before and this play is no different. We're calling it an erotic urban thriller. On the hottest night of the year, five characters spin an intricate tale that blurs the boundaries between the real and the imaginary while the heat gives rise to their deepest desires and subconscious fears. The show is a critical darling in Germany (hence why His Excellency Dr. Georg Witschel Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany will be in attendance on opening night) and has played to much acclaim all over the world.
5 - The company: People who've missed an Evolution Theatre show always seem to say "Oh I heard such good things about that! I'm sorry I missed it." Well, don't be sorry this time around and see what all the fuss is about! I will be absolutely honest with you. Of the 9 shows that we have produced, there is only one that I did not enjoy. I don't know about you, but those are some odds that I am willing to go to the bank with.
6 - The venue: This is the first time that we are putting on a show in a non-theatrical space. Cube Gallery has been an incredibly generous production partner and I believe that being immersed in the current exhibition, The Three Tooners, adds a certain level to the show that you would not find in a regular space. Plus, the exhibition is just amazing. I recommend people come right when the doors open at 7:30 p.m. in order to enjoy it all.
So, what are you waiting for? Call 613-728-1750 to reserve your tickets as seating is limited. It runs from October 14 to 24 at 8 p.m. (no shows on Monday and Tuesday, though we do have a Sunday performance). Tickets are $20 general admission and $15 for students, seniors and starving artists. Our official opening night is on Friday, October 16th and it includes a reception post show with, as I mentioned, the German Ambassador. Tickets for that event are $40 and include food and beverages post-show, as well as an opportunity to mix and mingle with the cast and crew.
There is a lot of great buzz surrounding this production. Our preview show on the 14 is already sold out and half the tickets are already gone for both opening and closing night. We're also holding a special Facebook Friends event on October 15. If you are our friend on Facebook, you will get a $5 discount on the Thursday night show if you click on the event link and tell us you will be attending the performance. Your name will be on a list at the door to receive your discount.
Though it may seem biased, I sincerely believe in this production and in the people involved. If you see this show, trust me, you will not regret it.