Pacific Theatre – TWU
This month, Pacific Theatre presents Valley Song, a play that looks at the lives caught in the struggle of a nation undergoing sweeping change. When massive reforms happen in a country, it’s not just policy that has to change: it’s people’s lives. In this inter-generational tale, set in the aftermath of apartheid in South Africa, the tension between old and new makes its way into the relationship between a young woman and her grandfather.
A play by Athol Fugard (originally produced by The Gateway Theatre), Valley Song introduces audiences to Abraam “Buks” Jonker, a pumpkin farmer his whole life, working land that never belonged to him. For him, land, tradition, and family are everything, and the only family he has left is his granddaughter, Veronica. Having devoted her life to caring for her grandfather, she yearns to take advantage of her new freedom and become a singer in Johannesburg. Added into the mix is a character of The Playwright, a white man who wants to buy the land where Abraam lives and works, potentially leaving him homeless.
For actor David Adams, this story is close to his heart: “I was born Klerllnge or Coloured (mixed race) during apartheid in South Africa,” he says. “I’ve always been fascinated by how my people have adapted to the new government structure without institutionalized racism at its core. Now that everyone has the ‘freedom’ to be, how have the old ways and deeply rooted caste system changed – or have they?”
Valley Song is an inter-generational tale that brings the nation-wide social changes after apartheid to one family. “I am thrilled to be revisiting Valley Song by the great Athol Fugard,” says director, and Gateway Theatre Artistic Director, Jovanni Sy. “Pacific Theatre is the perfect second home for this jewel of a play. Though written very specifically at the end of apartheid, Fugard tells a timeless tale of innocence, experience, and the redemptive power of love.”
Valley Song plays Mar 24 thru Apr 8, 8pm Wednesdays to Saturdays, with 2pm matinees all Saturdays and Sunday, Mar 2 at Pacific Theatre, 1440 W 12th Ave. For tickets ($23.95-34.95, taxes and fees not incl.) Call 604.731.5518 or visit pacifictheatre.org
For the past 32 years Pacific Theatre has used music and stories to explore the birth of Jesus with its annual tradition, Christmas Presence. A combination of the heartfelt and the hilarious, this living room-style show has become a seasonal favourite for Pacific Theatre’s artists and audience alike. This April, the company will live a long-awaited dream to go beyond Christmas and look at the life, ministry, and Passion of Jesus in the upcoming production of Testament.
“I have wanted to put together this show for years,” says Artistic Director Ron Reed, whose love for music and making lists closely rival his passion for theatre. “The music of Woody Guthrie, Patty Griffin, Tom Waits, and their ilk are rich with stories of Jesus and His life. I started keeping lists of these songs and found that I had more than enough material for another show.”
The performances will include a house band and a rotating assortment of singers and actors, giving each night a slightly different flavour. “That’s part of the magic of these shows,” explains Reed. “We bring together some of the city’s best artists and then let them play together for an afternoon before the curtain. The result is always something really special and fresh.”
The timing of the show is not a coincidence either: Reed and the team at Pacific Theatre intentionally timed the show for Holy Week, to dig deeper into Jesus’ story in the week leading up to Easter.
Testament runs at Pacific Theatre from April 12 to 15. For more information on how you can experience this musical exploration of Jesus’ life, visit pacifictheatre.org.
Jane Eyre: The Musical hits the stage this month at Trinity Western University’s School of the Arts, Media + Culture (SAMC), March 14 – April 1, and will close the season. A stirring and intimate look at one woman’s search for self worth, meaning and faith, the musical is based on Charlotte Bronte’s enduring classic about forgiveness and liberty. Along with a large ensemble cast, the production boasts a luxurious score.
Bullied and mistreated for much of her life, a young governess fights for dignity and a better outcome for herself only to fall inexplicably in love with her troubled employer. When the secret he harbours threatens to jeopardize their chance at happiness, will she let passion or conscience rule her heart?
Replete with deep and honest characterizations, this is not your typical musical. But it does deliver gorgeous music and great singing—as well as historical dramas with strong, unconventional heroines, brooding heroes, romance, intrigue, and a touch of comedy.
“The story is about people who are trapped in some way: by societal expectations, by hatred, by money or class,” explains TWU theatre major, Kate Nundal, who plays Jane’s guardian, Mrs. Reed. “We follow Jane as she struggles to overcome these ‘cages’ to find herself and her freedom.”
The SAMC production features many of the school’s most exceptional singers and actors, says director Kate Muchmore Woo, who is also Assistant Professor of Theatre at TWU. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for Theatre and Music students to work together, and to share the stage with some delightful and talented children.”
“The chance to direct a musical that is this dark and haunting—but also beautiful and full of truth—is not something that happens often,” says Muchmore Woo. “There are strong themes of forgiveness and liberty in the script. Every character has a choice to forgive or remain bound by unforgiveness.”
Jane Eyre: the Musical runs March 14 – April 1 in the Robert N. Thompson building on the TWU campus. Tickets are $16 – $25 each. The cast of 23 features Julianna Towle as Jane Eyre and Paul Kobilke as Rochester.
For tickets, call 604.513.2188 or visit twu.ca/theatre.