Jul 032014
 
Photos from SUMMER

Ambassador Theater’s campers, most of whom, were awarded scholarships to attend a International Youth Theater Production Camp at the George Washington Masonic Memorial are busy putting together a play, where they will be showcasing their pottery, costumes, paintings, amongst other crafts

Students learned much about the many stories and attributions regarding the Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Greek Times! They worked diligently to learn about these figures to better assume their roles in the play, The Gods & Goddesses Bake Off. A comical and descriptive production, where all the Gods of ancient times meet to compete in the one thing they’ve never had to do, a bake off! IMG_0263

During the summer camp, students, along with the help of Ambassador Theater staff, especially Ms. Lilia Slavova, made paintings, depicting the Gods and their characteristics, to better learn more about their role. They designed pottery, with Ancient Greek designs. Also, they used crafts as props to compliment their Godly wardrobe.

In addition to the many crafts, students have strengthened their acting skills, being directed by the Ambassador Theaters Artistic Director, Hanna Bondarewska. For all students, it’s their first time entering the George Washington Masonic Memorial, where they were awed by the paintings, architecture, and overall elegant atmosphere. Soon, they will show their friends, family, and all who come how godly they can be.

Don’t miss the performance of “The Gods and Goddesses Bake Off” on Thursday, July 3, 2014 at 12 pm at the George Washington Masonic Memorial Theatre, 101 Callahan Drive, Alexandria VA

Yorman Amador

Mar 272014
 

World Theatre Day, 27 March 2014

 From Literary Associate, Eliza Anna Falk

 

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DSC_0535Theatre matters; it entertains, educates and transforms. Theatre is immortal; it will live as long as we have the ability to create and the freedom to perform. Theatre is an exchange of live energy between actors and spectators, an experience which, as history shows, has proven irreversibly addictive and irreplaceable with neither film nor TV.

Let’s celebrate theatre quoting the words of its co-creators: writers, directors, actors and spectators and through their thoughts, reflect on theatre’s origin, relevance, force, magic, challenges, struggles and its relationship with the audience.

Let’s also take this opportunity to extend a well-deserved, and never sufficiently deep ‘THANK YOU’ to all whose efforts, passion and determination keep the theatre alive despite the ever-present obstacles, challenges and difficulties: to the theatre professionals, enthusiasts, supporters and audiences!

On Origins and Relevance

“As to the origin of the poetic art as a whole, it stands to reason that two operative causes brought it into being, both of them rooted in human nature. Namely that habit of imitating is congenial to human being from childhood (…) and so is the pleasure that all men take in works of imitation.” – Aristotle, Poetics

“The word theatre comes from the Greeks. It means the seeing place. It is the place people come to see the truth about life and the social situation. The theatre is a spiritual and social X-ray of its time.” – Stella Adler, Actress and Acting Teacher

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.” – William Shakespeare, As You Like It

“I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being”. Oscar Wilde, Playwright

On Force and Magic

“Theatre is a form of knowledge; it should and can also be a means of transforming society. Theatre can help us build our future, rather than just waiting for it.” – Augusto Boal, Director and Playwright

Great Theatre is about challenging how we think and encouraging us to fantasize about a world we aspire to.” – Willem Dafoe, Actor

“I long for simplicity of theatre. I want lessons learned, comeuppances delivered, people sorted out, all before your bladder gets distractingly full(…) Life just isn’t so, nor will it be made so.” – John M. Ford, Writer, Casting Fortune

“Theatres are curious places, magician’s trick-boxes where the golden memories of dramatic triumphs linger like nostalgic ghosts, and where the unexplainable, the fantastic, the tragic, the comic and the absurd are routine occurrences on and off stage.” – E.A. Bucchianeri, Writer, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly

“The stories are centuries old. They shout of discovered love and lost hope, of humor and anguish, of mystery and maidens and tragic farewells. Within three plain walls and a curtain lies a world in which we’ve never lived. A world we think we know. The Performing Arts are beacons of the times. They reflect the best of us and the worst of us, as they tell their tales, on a stage, shining in the light.” – Anonymous Spectator

On challenges and struggles

“The theatre is the only institution in the world which has been dying for four thousand years and has never succumbed. It requires tough and devoted people to keep it alive.” – John Steinbeck, Writer, Once There Was a War

“I love the stage, I love the process of acting in theatre, but unfortunately, it doesn’t pay the bills.” Kabir Bedi, Actor

 “There are many actors who (…) don’t like theatre. What they are saying is that they’re afraid of theatre because they know it will separate those who can from those who can’t.” – Ken Stott, Actor

“Theatre is really difficult, so it’s important that you have a director that kind of understands and is really hands on.” – Jimmi Simpson, Actor

“The theatre is a tragic place, full of endings and partings and heartbreak. You dedicate yourself passionately (…) to a project, to people (…) you think of nothing else for weeks and months, then suddenly it is over, it’s perpetual destruction, perpetual divorce (…) It’s like falling in love and being smashed over and over again. ” – Iris Murdoch, Writer, The Green Knight

On Relationship with the Audience

”The theatre is a weapon, and it is the people who should wield it.”- Augusto Boal, Theatre Director and Writer

“The audience is the most revered member of the theatre. Without an audience, there is no theatre (…) they are our guests, fellow players, and the last spoke in the wheel which can begin to roll. They make the performance meaningful”. – Viola Spolin, Actress and Teacher

My task is to build “a necessary theatre, one in which there is only practical difference between actor and audience, not a fundamental one.” – Peter Brook, Playwright

“A playwright is the litmus paper of the arts. He’s got to be, because if he isn’t working on the same wave length as the audience, no one would know what in hell he was talking about. He is a kind of psychic journalist, even when he’s great.” – Arthur Miller, Playwright

Mar 122014
 

SONY DSCNOTE FROM ARTISTIC DIRECTOR AND FOUNDER

Welcome to the opening of World Premiere of Happily Ever After at FLASHPOINT’s Mead Theatre Lab.  This is our third in a series of New Work from around the world, discovering new voices of young authors and at this case, thanks to Karin Rosnizeck, I am thrilled to work with a talented young Spanish author, Cristina Colmena.  I am especially grateful to our longtime friend and supporter, Mr. Boguslaw Jerke, as well as Embassy of Spain and its Spain arts and culture, artists and many friends who help us to discover many interesting plays from around the world.  The Ambassador Theater’s 5th season is rolling on!  During the past 4 years, we produced 10 main stage productions in addition to various “Bare Bones” and Staged Readings, New Work Series, Literary Café programs, play-reading workshops, summer camps, Studio Classes and outreach programs.  All of our programs have introduced our audiences to the cultures of several countries across multiple continents (Belgium, Bulgaria, China, Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Greece, India, Macedonia, and Poland). We have worked with over 100 actors, artists, authors, translators, directors and designers, in addition to over a thousand students and interns from various DC Metro schools and colleges. We have even taken students abroad to perform at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw for the First Lady of Poland.  Our productions have been seen by over 7,000 spectators in many venues around the area.  We are fortunate to have developed valued friendships and partnerships with the diplomatic representatives of countries from where our productions originate.  Most recently, we received the MD Theatre Guide 2012 Award for Hopa Tropa Kukerica!, as well as the 2013 Helen Hayes Canadian Partnership Grant Award.  I would like to express my deepest gratitude to our Board of Directors, artists, designers, partners, friends, and, most of all, our audience for helping us to fulfill our mission to continue facilitating international cultural dialogue.

We have a thrilling season ahead of us as we celebrate our 5th year.  March is a special month for us as we celebrate World Theater Day March 27, 2014 with a special message from International Theater Organization and a reception after our show.  In April we invite you to a special stage reading at the Embassy of the Czech Republic and to Literary Café at the Kosciuszko Foundation.  We also offer our 3rd Summer Theater Production Camp at a beautiful Memorial Theatre in Old Town Alexandria with a final showcase From Greek Myths to Stage June 23-July3.

And now, I would like to invite you to enjoy Happily Ever After, “snapshots of love stories, or better said, “un-love” stories”-does it sound familiar?   Thank you so much for your continued support. We hope to see you soon as we venture forward throughout this exciting 5th season. Enjoy the show! Hanna Bondarewska

Mar 122014
 

By Cristina Colmena

It’s complicated.

Life is not a fairy tale, that’s why love is not always a happy ending. The play shows three different couples and their struggle to be happy even when they don’t know how. Sometimes it seems so complicated that you even prefer to keep a distance, and stay

DSC_1210alone instead of taking the risk of falling in love. On the other hand sometimes what should be a happy couple is just only a fake, where people feel even more lonely and scared than living alone. Love and loneliness seems to be the two sides of the same emptiness. Desire and troubles. No clue about how to do it well.

Love and the difficulties of communication between people is something that appears always in my short stories. I started to write this play in New York as a challenge to explore the possibilities of theatre to show how tricky this love thing is. I think that a stage is a kind of  lab jar where you can observe human behavior dealing with issues like loneliness, fear and dissatisfaction. Theatre also allows you to look into  how the dialogue sometimes can become an obstacle instead of a bridge to connect with the other.

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Most of the time everyone of us live in our own bubble, unable to understand other realities. That isolation is a kind of protection but also a wall that separates you from the person who sleeps besides you.

I always use a sour and sweet humor and also a surrealistic look about everyday life. I think that everyone experiences some kind of estrangement  about reality that open spaces for reflection about what we call normal. Mixing laughs and feelings of awkwardness make you realize how absurd is life. And love.

 

Happily Ever After opens on Thursday, March 13, 2014

At Mead Theatre Lab at FLASHPOINT

916 G Street, NW, Washington DC 20001

TICKETS ONLINE

 

 

 

Jan 292014
 
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CAM00496Ambassador Theater was extremely honored to accept the Proclamation from Mayor William D. Euille and the CAM00495City of Alexandria Council recognizing the Extraordinary Arts Organizations in 2014!

Ms. Lilia Slavova, ATICC’s Board Member and I among many accomplished arts organizations, including Metro Stage, Little Theater of Alexandria and others accepted the proclamation and introduced their organizations to all guests.

The Arts organizations celebrating extraordinary anniversaries include the Old Town Theater 100 years; The Little Theatre of Alexandria 80 years; Alexandria Symphony Orchestra 80 years;  The Art League 60 years; Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association 50 years; Torpedo Factory Art Center 40 years; MetroStage and the Alexandria Commission of the Arts 30 years; Washington Balalaika Society 25 years; First Night Alexandria and Ten Thousand Villages 20 years; Choreographers Collaboration Project 15 years; Arts on the Horizon, Ambassador Theater, and the Youth Arts Festival, 5 years.

Mayor William D Euille, and on behalf of the Alexandria City Council, do hereby proclaim 2014 as

“CELEBRATING THE ARTS:

A YEAR OF EXTRAORDINARY ARTS ANNIVERSARIES”

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Jan 272014
 

December 3, 2013 By Rebecca Silva

Senior Photo Before attending Ambassador Theatre’s production of Protest, I read most of the play, leaving the ending  untouched so that I would be surprised during the show.  The text is, after all, the crux of activist Vaclav  Havel’s play about two men who choose different paths in their lives to address and fight for social justice in  their country.  I must say, this production was extremely unique, well-done, and thought-provoking.  Director  Dr. Gail Humphries-Mardirosian’s vision certainly came to life in the parallel stories of Stanek/Vanek and  Stankova/Vankova as she expertly explored the realities of working towards social justice by using the  relationships between each set of characters as a vehicle to demonstrate the choices one must make  throughout one’s entire life.

In Protest, Stanek and Vanek (as well as their female counterparts) are foils to each other.  Throughout the play, Stanek and Stankova seem to remain the dominant characters, each having the vast majority of the dialogue and being the character who has to make a choice.  Vanek and Vankova, on the other hand, seem more submissive yet steadfast each in their own regards.  Ironically, it is perhaps Vanek and Vankova that are dominant because, ultimately, they are the ones who provoke Stanek and Stankova into a downward spiral of doubt, thought, and intense questioning of both the self and of others.

There is a single difference between Stanek/Stankova and Vanek/Vankova: Vanek and Vankova remain steadfast in their political 1426413_10152043199732419_1564594405_nactivism.  They adhere to their beliefs and never surrender, even though it means that they are in danger, as made evident by this character’s recent release from jail.  Stanek and Stankova, on the other hand, have compromised their beliefs for security.  These characters were previously artists who gave up their passions, dreams, and activism to protect their family.  Stanek and Stankova remain partially politically active (when it interests them), as they operate from the sidelines anonymously.

The question which Protest asks is this: what is the best way to champion social justice?  Is it better  to stick hard and fast to your values even though this decision may leave you incapacitated, rendering you to unable to contribute to the ongoing battle for social justice? Or rather,  is it wiser to save yourself, so that way you can still work behind the scenes throughout your life?  On one hand, Vanek and Vankova are  more dedicated, honest, noble, and respectable for adhering to their self-governing principles.  On the other hand, they are foolish and their lack of tact leads them straight into jail, where they cannot do anything productive to further their cause.  Meanwhile, Stanek and Stankova are pragmatic in their efforts to secure protection for themselves and their families, although their tact and indirect contributions to the fight towards social justice may be seen as weak at best.  Did these characters, perhaps, go back on what they once stood for?

1469906_10152043200317419_1379102465_nThe complexity of the decision is even more complicated when one approaches social justice through the lenses of different genders.  In Ambassador Theatre’s production of Protest, Vanek and Vankova certainly seemed more noble, while Stanek and Stankova appeared utilitarian and rather nihilistic.  This may be due to the fact that I am a woman, but I found the scene between Vankova and Stankova more intriguing, fresh, and exciting.  Stankova was extremely powerful, commanding the scene yet flustering all over the place, while Vankova was soft-spoken, but firm.  For me, Stankova’s decision to protect her life and family was much more credible and respectable than Stanek’s.  I admired her manipulative nature and inner strength.  This is the paradox of feminism: that women’s rights remain a hot topic in the realm of social justice, but a strong woman does not always champion women’s rights.  The image of Margaret Thatcher comes to mind– a powerful woman who thought of herself as a man rather than a woman equal to a man.  Dr. Gail Humphries-Mardirosian did an excellent and quite effective job creating a new point of view of social justice issues, and especially highlighting the thoughts of a strong woman who puts her life at risk by threatening to upset the system.

Most recent social justice issues have to deal with inequality.  This often means social inequality in human rights, more specifically with regards to discrimination in employment opportunities and salaries, as well as marriage rights.  Just as controversial and important is economic inequality, especially prevalent in poverty and homelessness.  I strongly believe that theatre can be used as a tool to address these problems in our world and make a statement about them.  But first, we must address injustices in the theatre itseld.

The world of the performing arts has garnered the image of overpriced frivolity for entertaining middle class citizens.  This reputation needs to be torn down and built up if theatre is ever going to be used effectively in the future.  There needs to be more cost effective programs that allow people of lower economic status to see shows.  If theatre is to be a vehicle for political activism , it needs to be more accessible.  New forms must be cultivated to bring in newcomers with no theatre background.  Theatre should be more widely taught in schools to introduce the thematic elements of performance early on in people’s lives.  The art needs to be much more accessible, flexible, honest, and threatening to the status quo.  Each show, scene, and exercise must make a meaningful statement in its theme, or as Aristotle once wrote, in its driving thought.  The theatre has so much potential to change the world through its inherently politically active nature.

Jan 182014
 

Hanna NOTE FROM ARTISTIC DIRECTOR AND FOUNDER

Welcome to the opening of DIONYSIA: Celebration of Greek Culture at the beautiful theatre in the George Washington National Memorial.  This is our second in a series of international cultural festivals following in the footsteps of last year’s award-winning performances of Hopa Tropa Kukerica! - celebrating Bulgarian Culture.  Thanks to the gracious support and friendship of the City of Alexandria and the Commission of the Arts as well as partnerships, with the George Washington Masonic Memorial, Embassy of Greece, artists and many friends who help us to continue our big celebrations of cultures of the world, our international cultural dialog goes on.  The Ambassador Theater’s 5th season is rolling on!  During the past 4 years, we have produced 9 main stage productions in addition to various “Bare Bones” and Staged Readings, New Work Series, Literary Café programs, play-reading workshops, summer camps, Studio Classes and outreach programs.  All of our programs have introduced our audiences to the cultures of several countries across multiple continents (Belgium, Bulgaria, China, Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Greece, India, Macedonia, and Poland). We have worked with over 100 actors, artists, authors, translators, directors and designers, in addition to over a thousand students and interns from various DC Metro schools and colleges. We have even taken students abroad to perform at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw for the First Lady of Poland.  Our productions have been seen by over 6,000 spectators in many venues around the area.  We are fortunate to have developed valued friendships and partnerships with the diplomatic representatives from where our productions originate.  Most recently, we received the MD Theatre Guide 2012 Award for Hopa Tropa Kukerica!, as well as the 2013 Helen Hayes Canadian Partnership Award.   I would like to express my deepest gratitude to our Board of Directors, artists, designers, partners, friends, and, most of all, our audience for helping us to fulfill our mission to continue facilitating international cultural dialogue.

We have a thrilling season ahead of us as we celebrate our 5th year.  As part of Celebration of Greek Culture, we will present Dyskolos at a new venue in Anacostia’s Arts Center January 30 – February 2, 2014.  Later in the spring, we will celebrate World Theater Day March 27, 2014, and present plays from Austria and Canada in partnership with the Embassy of Austria and Canada in March and June.  Finally, we are thrilled to announce that this year we have started offering season subscriptions – get yours today and make sure that you don’t miss a single adventure with Ambassador Theater!  And now I would like to invite you to this very special performance full of Greek dance, comedy with masks and slapstick. Let this Greek festival, full of lovely entertainment begin! Thank you so much for your continued support. We hope to see you soon as we venture forward throughout this exciting 5th season. Enjoy the show! Hanna Bondarewska

 

Nov 202013
 

NOTE FROM ARTISTIC DIRECTOR AND FOUNDER

20110930_DSC_3593Welcome to the opening of PROTEST celebrating the life and works of one of the most renowned Czech playwrights, statesman and a humanitarian, Vaclav Havel.  I would like to extend my special thanks to dear friends and colleagues, Gail Humphries Mardirosian and Barbara Karpetova for all of their support.  We are happy to partner with the Mutual Inspirations Festival and the Embassy of the Czech Republic again presenting the last part of the “Vanek’s Trilogy” and closing this year’s Mutual Inspirations Festival 2013- Vaclav Havel.  The Ambassador Theater’s 5th season is rolling on!  During the past 4 years, we have produced 9 main stage productions in addition to various “Bare Bones” and Staged Readings, New Work Series, Literary Café programs, play-reading workshops, summer camps, Studio Classes and outreach programs.  All of our programs have introduced our audiences to the cultures of several countries across multiple continents. We have worked with over 100 actors, artists, authors, translators, directors and designers, in addition to over 500 students and interns from various DC Metro schools and colleges. We have even taken students abroad to perform at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw for the First Lady of Poland.  Our productions have been seen by over 5,500 spectators in many venues around the area.  We are fortunate to have developed valued friendships and partnerships with the diplomatic representatives from where our productions originate.  Most recently, we received the MD Theatre Guide 2012 Award for Hopa Tropa Kukerica at the George Washington Masonic Memorial Theatre, as well as the 2013 Helen Hayes Canadian Partnership Award.   I would like to express my deepest gratitude to our Board of Directors, artists, designers, partners, friends, and, most of all, our audience for helping us to fulfill our mission to continue facilitating international cultural dialogue.

We have a thrilling season ahead of us as we celebrate our 5th year.  This winter we will be organizing a celebration of Greek culture, including the production of Menander’s Dyskolos, for which we received the Alexandria Commission for the Arts grant. We are also planning to present Dyskolos at a new venue in Anacostia’s Arts Center January 30 – February 2, 2014.  Later in the spring, we will celebrate World Theater Day March 27, 2014 and present an Austrian play in partnership with the Embassy of Austria.  Finally, we are thrilled to announce that this year we have started offering season subscriptions – get yours today and make sure that you don’t miss a single adventure with Ambassador Theater!  And now I would like to invite you to this very special performance of PROTEST. Let this interesting political discourse, full of beer begin! Thank you so much for your continued support and we hope to see you soon as we venture forward throughout this exciting 5th season. Enjoy the show! Hanna Bondarewska

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These performances are part of HAVEL’S TRILOGY, connected to the “Vaněk plays,” as part of the Mutual Inspirations Festival 2013 – Václav Havel, celebrating the life and legacy of the former president, playwright, and human rights advocate. For more information about the festival, please visit: www.mutualinspirations.org.
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 Get Your Ticket on Line

For More Info 

 

Nov 142013
 

ElizaFalkwebIt is Friday November 8, one week before the premiere of Protest, the team’s first rehearsal at Flashpoint Theatre.  The set is ready. Audience members will be up for a surprise, as their seats scattered around small round tables are now part of the stage transformed into an intimate cafe. Two small platforms, one on each side of the cafe, are designated as stage spaces for actors only. They mirror each other, each furnished in the likeness of Stanek’s home study – writing tables with old-fashioned typewriters, crystal brandy carafes and glasses, magnolias in vases – cozy and affluent. Set designer, Jonathan Rushbrook is in attendance to make any necessary adjustments, if needed. So is Zachary Dalton, lighting Designer and Jim Vincent, Stage Manager.

Following warm up exercises with the actors, Director, Gail Hump

hries Mardirosian starts the rehearsal. Beautiful music, written especially for the production by Jerzy Sapieyevski, opens the performance. It has become an intrinsic part of how the story of Protest is told, giving it additional expression and force. Ivan Zizek (Stanek) and his double Hanna Bondarewska (Stankova) enter and each walks towards their stage. Michael Crowley (Ferdinand Vanek) and his alter ego, Sissel Bakken (Ferdinanda Vankova) enter shortly after. And so the extraordinary performance begins. Protestsmaller

In the break, I asked the Director about her thinking behind the innovative idea to introduce female counterparts for Stanek and Vanek. Gail Humphries explained that her concept originated in a feminist perspective which called for introduction of female presence to balance out the all male energy. She also wanted to provide alter egos for Vanek and Stanek and thus making the characters more rounded and powerful, and through this to increase the impact of Havel’s ‘voice’. Gail added that there was an additional advantage in her approach that would benefit the audience. The play’s complex and at times condensed text gets to be broken down and repeated which makes it more accommodating for the spectators.

I mentioned to Ms Humphries that her concept whilst fascinating and bold seemed to be very challenging, especially for the actors. Watching the rehearsed performance reminded me of a carefully crocheted ornamental piece of silk throw, which demanded perfect smoothness as even a slightest irregularity would spoil its beauty. Gail concurred and compared her version of Protest to a musical piece which cannot afford even single bad harmony and agrees that it was a demanding and at the same time searching experience for the actors.

Watching part two of the rehearsal I am in awe of the originality and force of the performance with female actresses mirroring and occasionally challenging the males, lines being echoed, actors moving across the stage, swapping partners as if in a dance. The actors, directed by Ms Humphries, are going through the lines, repeating if necessary; adjusting tones and phrases; perfecting synchronicity, eye contact, pauses and movements – witnessing all this makes me understand how difficult the parts are to master. The rehearsal indeed resembles a piece of a wonderful and very elaborate work, which despite of being almost completed, still requires final adjustments before achieving perfection.

I cannot wait to see this original and powerful piece of theatre in all of its perfect harmony and encourage all of you to come and see it!

To Read More by Eliza Anna Falk

To Get Tickets

 

WHERE:

Mead Theater Lab at Flashpoint

916 G Street NW, Washington DC

WHEN: November 19 – December 15, 2013

November 19, 2013 Preview at 8 pm

No performances during the week of Thanksgiving: Nov. 27 – 30

Opening November 20, 2013 at 8 pm

Press Night: Saturday Nov. 23 at 8:00 pm

Wednesdays – Saturdays at 8:00 pm

Matinees: Saturday and Sundays at 2:00 pm

TICKETS: $20 – $40

On line: http://www.aticc.org/home/box-office

For mature audiences

Sep 302013
 

From Ottawa to Washington DC June 7 – June 15, 2013

MagneticFestivalOttawa2013Bravo to all organizers of the Magnetic North Theatre Festival 2013!  As a recipient of the 2013 Canadian-Washington Theatre Partnership, I was delegated to participate in the festival in Ottawa, Canada in June 2013.  From the moment I received this award at the Helen Hays Award Gala to the moment of arriving at the airport in Ottawa, I was amazed by the treatment and professionalism I encountered from everyone involved.  First, I have received all information from Michelle Mahoney from the Embassy of Canada who made sure that I was fully equipped with all necessary knowledge about the trip, itinerary and she also connected me with the organizers of the festival. Thanks to her I got introduced right away to Brenda Leadlay, Artistic Director, who connected me with many directors and authors who even sent me the scripts of the shows I was about to see at the festival before I came. This was truly helpful in better understanding all presented plays since I had very little knowledge about the Canadian theater.  It was also an interesting way to connect with the artists via e-mail and discuss their projects beforehand.  Thanks to her I was also able to briefly visit Toronto and see my friends, the Polish Theater and walk through various exciting sites of the city before landing in Ottawa June 9th.  I truly felt well received and recognized by all theater creators, lovers and supporters. Thank you theatreWashington and the Embassy of Canada for such a fantastic opportunity and experience!

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Well prepared and packed with so many exciting events and encounters the week of June 9 – June 15, 2013 in Ottawa

Upon my arrival at the airport in Ottawa I was greeted like a queen by one of the producers of the festival, Richard Cliff; I was driven to the hotel, presented with a nice gift bag with my full itinerary, tickets to all shows and events and I was showed my way around Ottawa.  The fully packed week with all interesting shows and events begun!  Right from the start I felt like a “Fairy Queen” in a beautiful city of Ottawa who flew from place to place as a turn of a magic wand.  IMAG2519I loved the city and its friendly atmosphere with its very characteristic architecture of spiral rooftops, especially the Grandiose Parliament Building and others around it.  I felt at home, surrounded by very friendly faces and very inspiring people.  I blended so easily and was carried by this amazing energy all the way through.  As I was part of the festival I was also part of each show and event, as this year’s productions and theatrical events were all very interactive and I even came to call them anti-theater, since all spectators became not only witnesses but had to participate in many of the performances.

Spreading out the ashes of a friend with Peter and Valerie

IMAG2454First, I met Peter and Valerie at a private house where I was greeted by Peter Reder, an actor from UK, along with 8 other spectators at the door and set in a nice small room around coffee table and offered a cup of hot tea.  Right from the start we became part of the family grieving over the artist from Malta who immigrated to Canada and died in early age of 46 while biking.  Peter introduced us to Valerie Buhagiar who walked us through Frank’s life by showing us the photos, short film, sharing some memories and at the end taking us to a nearby park to spread out the ashes.  While watching or rather being part of this gathering you forget for a moment that this is actually a theatrical experience. This is how Valerie and Peter came with an idea to create a new way of communicating with the audience with very intimate surroundings and by using a fictional story presented in semi real way. They travel with this partially improvised script around Canada, UK and other places and change their stories.  Wherever the show is presented they would find a new private home and change the story to relate to the specific place. We all ended up in a nearby pub and drank some beer while continuing our very casual conversation about life and blended the story that we have just witnessed with our own life stories.  Before the end of the whole evening we all became friends and walked back to the festival’s pub in a gallery where we met with the rest of delegates, artists, directors and actors who just came out from other theaters and shared our experience with them while listening to their interesting encounters with other theaters from all over Canada, drinking and eating tasty Polish kielbasa.  I felt at home again since the kielbasa was made by a Polish Canadian fellow whom we all spoke and laughed with in a courtyard. The mingling did not finish until dawn and then we walked back together to a hotel while exchanging our contact information and talking about our theater experiences, and life. That was a great way of finishing a very inspiring and stimulating day.

Monday, June 10 started very early for us with a nice breakfast meeting with Kathryn MacLellan, KAZAN CO-OP, Mary Lou Martin, Chester Playhouse and Stew Art from Zuppa Theatre Company in Halifax.  We exchanged information about each company they IMAG2493represented and could not stop talking about the new trends in the theater, searching for new way of communication with the audience.  I was not surprised how much passion and devotion I could witness while listening to their ideas and styles they work in their theater companies, and once again, I felt at home, passion is the one thing that we as performers and lovers of the art all share.  They were very interested in the works of the Ambassador Theater and what we have done so far and where we are going.  We already planned our future meeting next year and started thinking about possible collaboration on future projects.  I cannot wait to go to Halifax next June to continue our creative brainstorming.

Excited and inspired by each other’s energy and passion for the theater, we all went to the World Market Café to meet with many Artistic Directors, producers, directors of various theater festivals, actors, designers and playwrights from all over Canada, UK, Ireland and US.  As one of 88 industry delegates I was able to be part of interesting discussion about theater and share ideas with many talented directors and actors from all over Canada and abroad.  I met several producers and directors of other theater festivals such as Harun Morrison, director of Fierce Festival in London from UK or Michael Rubenfeld from SummerWorks Performance Festival in Toronto and many others.  Meeting them and listening to their stories about their works brought back my idea of starting the international theater festival in Washington DC.  They reminded me that it is possible to make my dream a reality by consistently perusing what we have been doing already by creating our International Artist Series as a way of taking small steps towards future theater festival.  After that meeting I knew what I would be looking for at this festival, interesting shows to bring to DC. There are many interesting works and plenty of talented artists that I would like to invite to perform in DC and collaborate with the American actors and artists.  The list is constantly growing and I cannot wait to make this happen very soon.

War of 1812 - A Fantastic Satire that must be seen in Washington DC

newbattle-w-flagsVideoProduction`1812I was absolutely enchanted by the VideoCabaret Company, one of most inventive and celebrated theater ensembles in Toronto which uses TV/video technique in the way they use light and stage their works.  The War of 1812 written and directed by Michael Hollingsworth dramatizes the history of the war and a successful defense of Canada.  It mocks all sides of the war by showing the audience its caricatures and downfalls.  Nobody wins but the spectators who leave the theater absolutely mesmerized by the fabulous acting skills, beautiful and very creative costumes, movements and lights.  I immediately imagined watching this show in Washington DC at Ford Theater or at the Library of Congress. I would be very curious to see how DC audiences would react to this very creative and very provocative satire, showing us all idiocy and results of the war provoking us to think about all wars and its results and about its impact on everyone’s life.  The grotesque fast tempo of the play showed us all how “ugly and stupid the war was.”  The action and scenes change very quickly requiring all the actors to transform from one character to another in a split second, creating at the same time an image of fast forward film like result and allowing the audience, to travel from one side to another.  We meet President James Madison, Americans and the British, who were allied with the Shawnee chief Tecumseh as well as learn about the personal dramas of Isaac Brock, John Strachan, James Fitzgibbons and Laura Secord. Bravo to all creators of this fast paste, and very clever grotesque satire!  I hope to see you in DC soon!

Inspired and uplifted by the performance of War of 1812, we all went to a special welcoming dinner to meet the rest of the delegates from other theater companies at the Performing Arts Center.  While getting ready to sit, I learned that I was chosen to be one of the presenters at that dinner to talk about Ambassador Theater and Washington DC.  I was a bit terrified since I did not prepare any speech but the friendly atmosphere of all new colleagues and the uplifting mood that I carried out from the VideoCabaret’s performance, IMAG2481helped me to quickly stand at the podium and address the audience. I realized once more of the importance and value of the opportunity I received and how important this partnership is.  As I always say, “theater is a collaboration of all art forms and a collaboration of many creative minds from all over the world” and I felt again that this recognition helps me to meet the goal of expanding the circle of the collaborators and develop many valuable artistic partnerships.  I spoke from my heart and my passion for the theater and for the arts which run through my veins, and for that I received a standing ovation.  I felt the same from everyone in the room and wanted to fly up above singing the song of joy for creating, discovering, as well as building and developing the theater I have started.

The Day was not over yet….

ThePleasureofseeingheragain (2)Straight from the exciting dinner I ran with other new friends to see a play written by Michael Tremblay, For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again produced by the Western Canada Theatre Production.  I was intrigued by the script revealing a compelling story of a native Canadian and the interesting relationship he had with his mother that continued on even after her death with her spirit that would constantly visit him and interrupt his everyday life.  Aboriginal actors Lorne Cardinal and Margo Cane took the spectators on a compelling journey through their lives. The symbolism of the play inspired me to get in touch with its author to read the play and also read some other works by the beloved Canadian playwright Michael Trembley.  I see this play as a great potential for an intriguing production with many possibilities for an artistic collaboration.  After the play we all gathered again at the Market Café to mingle and talk about everyone’s experiences of the very intense day.  Our busy Monday continued on until early hours of Tuesday.

Tuesday, June 11 started with an early Panel Discussion on Authenticity.  Since this year’s festival brought interesting shows that IMAG2498reveled real life stories and involved audience in most of them, we have discussed how real or make believe those stories were.  Is this a new way of communicating with the spectators?  Or are they anti theatre performances created to provoke its audiences and actors to real reactions, breaking the 4th wall of the theater?  Does this type of theater really matter?  We exchanged our ideas, answered lots of questions but truly did not find the final answers or recognized the trends as a permanent change in today’s theater.  We all found them as an experimentation that was always going on in the theater from its beginning.  We all search for truth and authenticity in the theater that is a reflection of our lives.  Straight from an interesting panel discussion we all went to Arts Marketplace to meet and greet theatre makers from all over Canada.  At the Marketplace, I felt I was part of Canadian Theatre EXPO with many theatre booths filled with brochures, banners, programs, fabulous display of various theatrical achievements of many talented actors, designers and artists.  I was part of live happenings in which actors and directors from all over presented their current and future productions live.  Overloaded with brochures, cds, business cards and photos I left for well-deserved lunch accompanied by new friends from Canadian theaters.  The Arts Market Place and later Speed dating session during which I was able to talk to many Artistic directors, designers from various theater companies around Canada brought back my idea of creating an International Theater Festival in Washington DC.  With fast developing theaters in Washington DC and help of a wonderful TheatreWashington organization, we could also start Washington DC Theater Festival in near future to allow artists from all over USA and from abroad to come to DC, see each other works, exchange artistic ideas and at the same time continue an artistic cultural dialog.  That way Washington DC would be also a true capital of the world.

a-brimful-of-asha.762x4001Full of creative ideas inspired by fantastic people I have met, I went to see an interesting performance of A Brimful of Asha created by Asha and Ravi Jain, another example of an authentic theatre, called also “A Why No Theatre”—an example of another production breaking the 4th wall by inviting its audience on the stage and offering very tasty Indian food before sharing the story of an Indian family tradition of an Indian-Canadian actor and his mom, an authentic Indian woman—not actor with the audience.  The combination of an authentic story told by an actor/creator of the performance and his mom’s performance, made us all part of their family and brought us all closer.  Mom, Ravi Jain, absolutely stole the show with her punch lines and sense of humor.  We all left the theater as we would live a very good gathering full of love and fun stories.

Wednesday, June 12th was full of interesting panel sessions with Producers and Presenters during which I learned a lot about the true relationships between the producers and presenters and how their collaborative work may benefit audiences going beyond entertainment.  I listened to various view points from presented by many producers and presenters from Canada and abroad, what are the challenges and fears and how to work with it.  I learned a lot about each role and how to balance two roles if it happens that you wear “both hats” at the same time. My notebook is full of ideas and interesting things to look for and to investigate for the future development of my theater. Here again, I felt at home, shared the same fears, challenges and at the same time understood how every challenge is actually an opportunity to create more and better.           IMAG2467

There were two more big productions to see, The God That Comes and Winners and Losers.  Both very different experiences of theater, The God That Comes created by Christian Barry and Hawksley Workam and performed by a multitalented Hawksley Workman actor, musician invited us to a Cabaret celebration of rock’n’roll with wine and “ecstasy”.  It was a very provoking, full of interesting images, musical effects and phenomenal acting skills theatrical experience.  I would love to invite this very talented artist to DC and perform in one of our spaces in the area such as “Black Cats” bar or maybe at the Birchmere in Alexandria VA, which might be a perfect place to present the show.

Thursday, June 13

418312261_295WinnersLoosers

Another very creative and engaging performance that I was able to see, was Winners and Losers created and performed by Marcus Youssef and James Long.  It was a very funny and provocative game that tested both actors’ limits of their friendship.  It was a partially improvised performance bringing to life both actors’ life stories, their social and economic status presented in a form of a game that could end violently.  Here again, the audience was pulled into the game where broth actors battled over the imaginary nets of a tennis match, sometimes crossing the lines, sometimes winning and losing their game.  Both experienced both sides of the game and the audience stayed for after show discussion to ask very interesting questions.  I would like to see them both engage Washington DC audience in their theatrical match.

The festival in Ottawa concluded with Industry Series, 10 theatrical happenings, mini shows presented by 10 different theatre companies.  That was an interesting and very clever idea to provoke the artists to create shows for variety of spaces in one area. Lookingforalostplayindustryminiplay

Each participant was given a space, under the stairs, attic, office, board room, outside patio and more and then they had to come up with the story.   The audience members were walking from space to space to be part of interesting stories, happenings, and theatrical experiences. We became part of the Board Room Agenda during which we had to follow the rules given to us at the entrance and learn how to act under pressure.  Who did not follow the rule they were fired right in front of everyone.  We witnessed the staged rape during the sorority’s events or were invited to an attic to go through various things and hear the story or laugh and cry with 2 clowns who lost their script of a play and then created an improvised play   by using found things in storage.  During two late nights I was able to see all 10 mini plays and meet all the artists afterward in the Market Café afterwards and talk about their clever ideas.  That was a very creative way of closing the Magnetic Festival.

Few days of very intense schedule of panels, sessions, pitches, very creative performances was going very fast. During just few days I was able to see all performances presented by the theaters from all over Canada, meet lots of very creative and talented people and learn about the Canadian Theater.  Now, I would like to go over all of the brochures, business cards and cds and relive those few days again.  I am sure to go back to Canada next year to Halifax to reconnect with all those I met in Ottawa and start working on a creative collaboration. Thank you Helen Hays and the Embassy of Canada for giving me the opportunity to learn about Canadian theater, meet so many talented artists, producers and playwrights and for opening me the door for very interesting artistic collaboration.