Nanaimo’s Western Edge Theatre has announced a slate of four plays for its 2009-10 season emphasizing comedy and British Columbia content. “It wasn’t by design,” says Western Edge artistic producer Frank Moher, “but when I took a last look at the line-up I realized we’d be seeing the world through a comic lens much of the time this season.”
Opening the four-play series is the ingenious comedy “Matt & Ben” by Mindy Kaling and Brenda Withers. The Matt and Ben in question have the last names Damon and Affleck, but in this hilarious send-up the two have yet to reach superstardom. Instead they are struggling actors, sharing an apartment and trying to catch a break. And then something amazing happens: the script of “Good Will Hunting” drops from their ceiling! A hit in New York, and written to be performed by two women, “Matt & Ben” spoofs its male would-be stars even as it cheers them on. “It’s really about what it is to be young, hopeful, and on the verge of the rest of your life,” says Moher. “Matt & Ben” will play two performances at the Surf Lodge on Gabriola Island, October 16 and 17, 2009, at 7:30 pm, before moving to Nanaimo for performances on October 23 and 24, 2009, at 7:30 pm, and on October 25, 2009, at 2 pm, at the Nanaimo Entertainment Centre, 46 Nicol Street.
Next up is the taboo-smashing comedy “The Goat,” by the legendary and still astonishing playwright Edward Albee. “The Goat” features Western Edge favourite Neil Gallagher as Martin, an award-winning architect and happily-married man who is in love with, yes, a goat. Winner of the 2006 Tony Award for Best New Play, this witty and tender play explores the limits of tolerance and mystery of desire with a master’s touch. It plays November 20, 21, 27, and 28, 2009, at 7:30 pm, and on November 29, 2009, at 2 pm, at the Nanaimo Entertainment Centre.
In the new year, Western Edge presents the world premiere of “Fireweed,” a mischievous and touching comedy-drama by Cedar playwright, actor, and director Brian March. Featuring Willy, a sage and randy old mutt who is rescued from the pound and proceeds to teach his new owner, a widowed botanist, a few new tricks, “Fireweed” will delight both dog-lovers and lovers-of-life. It plays at The Haven on Gabriola Island for two performances on January 22 and 23, 2010, at 7:30 pm, then moves to the Nanaimo Entertainment Centre for shows on January 29 and 30, 2010, at 7:30 pm, and on January 31, 2010, at 2 pm.
Ending the season will be “Copper Thunderbird,” a powerful, visually splendid play about Norval Morrisseau, the great artist who spent his final years in Nanaimo. Called “the Picasso of the North” by no less an authority than the painter Marc Chagall, Morrisseau led a life of extreme highs and lows, including exhibitions at the National Gallery and in New York and Paris, as well as months spent living on the streets of Vancouver. In this daring vision of that life, Galiano Island playwright Marie Clements has created a work that is, like Morrisseau’s canvases, rich in beauty and spirit. Presented with support from the BC Arts Council, “Copper Thunderbird” plays March 19, 20, 26, and 27, 2010, at 7:30 pm, and on March 28, 2010, at 2 pm, at the Nanaimo Entertainment Centre.
Western Edge has also announced a deeper discount than usual for subscribers. “While we’re fortunate to have received support for the last production of our season, we’re still dealing with the same cutbacks as other arts groups in BC,” says Moher. “We’re hoping audiences will step up to the plate by buying tickets. To encourage that, we’re offering a 20% discount to subscribers this season.” Subscriptions to the 2009-10 season, beginning at just $32 for all four plays, are available online at westernedge.org or by phoning 250-325-7777 or 1-888-320-3343.