Season Announcement: Tarragon Theatre

Tarragon Theatre. Photo by Peter Harte

Tarragon Theatre’s 2018–19 season has been announced!

The season opens in September in the Mainspace with Harlem Duet from Governor General’s Literary Award–winner Djanet Sears, who will be directing. This rhapsodic blues riff is a prequel to Shakespeare’s Othello and whisks the tale off to Harlem, where a college professor leaves his grad student wife for a white colleague. An iconic work that packs as powerful a punch now as it did when it debuted over twenty years ago.

The Extraspace season opens with Theory, a play from the Herman Voaden National Playwriting Competition winner Norman Yeung that will be directed by Esther Jun. In Theory, Isabelle, a young tenure-track professor, tests the limits of free speech by encouraging her students to contribute to an unmoderated discussion group. When an anonymous student posts offensive comments and videos, Isabelle must decide whether to intervene or to let the social experiment play out.

Following Harlem Duet is the world premiere of The Message, written by Tarragon’s Bill Glassco Playwright-in-Residence and Governor General’s Literary Award–winner Jason Sherman and directed by Richard Rose. The play looks at the life of Canada’s internationally renowned professor-turned-prophet Marshall McLuhan, whose observations on the effects of technology were cut short by a stroke that robbed him of his ability to speak. What it couldn’t do, though, was stop this deeply religious man from trying to finish his magnum opus: a last desperate attempt to save our souls—and his own.

Opening the Mainspace in the new year is a contemporary retelling of Inuit hero legend Kiviuq, in The Qaggiq Collective’s production of Kiviuq Returns: An Inuit Epic. Journeying across the vast expanse of the Arctic, beset by treacherous creatures wreaking havoc on his world, Kiviuq gathers strength from his ancestors and spirit guides as he defends his people and fights his way home. Music, drumming, dance, and storytelling combine in this thrillingly modern evocation of ancient legends previously banned by missionaries and the Canadian government. An Inuit Odyssey, performed in Inuktitut with English surtitles.

Later in the Mainspace is the Toronto premiere of New Magic Valley Fun Town, a co-production with Prairie Theatre Exchange written by Siminovitch Prize–winner and Governor General’s Literary Award-winner for Drama Daniel MacIvor and directed by Richard Rose. Cape Bretoner Dougie hasn’t seen his best childhood pal Allan in twenty-five years, so it’s no surprise their reunion is a boisterous night of memories, laughter, drinking, and dancing. But as evening becomes day, as the smiles begin to fade and the bottles sit empty, the old friends revisit other memories, uncomfortable ones that force them to confront the realities of who—and what—they really are.

Up next in the Extraspace is Guarded Girls, a world premiere from Governor General’s Literary Award–nominee Charlotte Corbeil-Coleman, directed by Richard Rose and presented in association with Green Light Arts. The psychological destruction brought on by solitary confinement is at the heart of this wrenching and powerful new play. When nineteen-year-old Sid is transferred to a new prison, she finds friendship with Britt—but also forms a complicated relationship with the guard who seems to be watching their every move. Soon, it’s the guard who’s being watched, as this playful, theatrical, mysterious work heads toward a shocking conclusion.

Rounding out the season in the Mainspace is 2b theatre company’s high-energy, music-theatre hybrid concert, written by Tarragon Playwright-in-Residence Hannah Moscovitch, with songs by Klezmer-folk sensation Ben Caplan and Christian Barry, and directed by Barry. Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story is inspired by the real life story of Moscovitch’s Romanian-Jewish great-grandparents who immigrated to Canada in 1908 seeking a second chance in the New World.

Tarragon Theatre 2018–19 Season Details

Harlem Duet

Written & directed by Djanet Sears / September 18 – October 28, 2018 / Mainspace

The return of a Canadian theatre milestone! Djanet Sears’ rhapsodic blues riff on Othello whisks the tale off to Harlem, where a college professor leaves his grad student wife for a white colleague. The stinging abandonment leads to profound questions about love, loss, loyalty and race, played out over two centuries in a wide range of settings. An iconic work that packs as powerful a punch now as it did when it debuted over twenty years ago.

Harlem Duet is the winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Floyd S. Chalmers Canadian Play Award, and four Dora Mavor Moore Awards (Outstanding New Play, Outstanding Direction, Outstanding Production, and Outstanding Performance by a Female).

Theory

Written by Norman Yeung, directed by Esther Jun / October 16 – November 25, 2018 / Extraspace

A hot button play for our times! Isabelle, a young tenure-track professor, tests the limits of free speech by encouraging her students to contribute to an unmoderated discussion group. When an anonymous student posts offensive comments and videos, Isabelle must decide whether to intervene or to let the social experiment play out. Soon, the posts turn abusive and threatening, leading Isabelle and her unknown tormentor to engage in a high-stakes game of cat-and-mouse that not only have Isabelle questioning her beliefs, but fearing for her life.

Norman Yeung is the winner of the Herman Voaden National Playwriting Competition.

The Message

Written by Jason Sherman, directed by Richard Rose / November 7 – December 16, 2018 / Mainspace

“Whatcha doin’, Marshall McLuhan?” That’s what the world wanted to know back in the 1960s, when Canada’s internationally renowned professor-turned-prophet started to sound the alarm on the effects of technology on the human body and spirit. But after a lifetime of warning us all about the hazards of modern life, McLuhan suffered a stroke that robbed him of his ability to speak. What it couldn’t do, though, was stop this deeply religious man from trying to finish his magnum opus: a last desperate attempt to save our souls—and his own.

Jason Sherman is Tarragon’s Bill Glassco Playwright-in-Residence and is the winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award winner for Drama.

Kiviuq Returns: An Inuit Epic

Created by the Qaggiq Collective / December 30, 2018 – January 20, 2019 / Mainspace

Journeying across the vast expanse of the Arctic, beset by treacherous creatures wreaking havoc on his world, Kiviuq gathers strength from his ancestors and spirit guides as he defends his people and fights his way home. Music, drumming, dance, and storytelling combine in this thrillingly modern evocation of the legendary figure of Kiviuq: hero, seeker, wanderer. An Inuit Odyssey, performed in Inuktitut with English surtitles.

“Performed by a corps of unique performers with talents you won’t find south of the Arctic Circle, it has that strong sense of larger purpose often absent from theatre.” – Kelly Nestruck, Globe and Mail

New Magic Valley Fun Town

Co-produced by Prairie Theatre Exchange / Written by Daniel MacIvor, directed by Richard Rose / February 20 – March 31, 2019 / Mainspace

Cape Bretoner Dougie hasn’t seen his best childhood pal Allan in 25 years, so it’s no surprise their reunion is a boisterous night of memories, laughter, drinking and dancing. But as evening becomes day, as the smiles begin to fade and the bottles sit empty, the old friends revisit other memories, uncomfortable ones that force them to confront the realities of who — and what — they really are.

Daniel MacIvor is the winner of the Siminovitch Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama.

Guarded Girls

In association with Green Light Arts / Written by Charlotte Corbeil-Coleman, directed by Richard Rose / March 26 – May 5, 2019 / Extraspace

The psychological destruction brought on by solitary confinement is at the heart of this wrenching and powerful new play. When 19-year-old Sid is transferred to a new prison, she finds friendship with Britt — but also forms a complicated relationship with the guard who seems to be watching their every move. Soon, it’s the guard who’s being watched, as this playful, theatrical, mysterious work heads toward a shocking conclusion.

Charlotte Corbeil-Coleman is a nominee of the Governor General’s Literary Award and a Dora Mavor Moore Award.

Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story

A 2b theatre company production / Written by Hannah Moscovitch with songs by Ben Caplan & Christian Barry, directed by Christian Barry / April 16 – May 26, 2019 / Mainspace

Halifax, 1908: two Romanian Jews stand in line at Pier 21 in Halifax, would-be immigrants to an unknown country. Chaim’s entire family was murdered in a pogrom; Chaya lost her husband to fever and starvation. But the New World is giving them a second chance, and they embrace it to the fullest. Narrated by The Wanderer — part showman, part rabbi — this genre-bending music-theatre hybrid stars Klezmer-folk sensation Ben Caplan and is inspired by the real-life story of Moscovitch’s great-grandparents.

Hannah Moscovitch is the winner of the Governor General’s Award and the prestigious Yale University Windham-Campbell Prize.

For more information, visit the Tarragon Theatre website here.