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GCTC announces great stories, innovative concepts and two world premieres at third annual undercurrents: theatre below the mainstream festival

4:53 pm in Festival News, News Release

Today, the Great Canadian Theatre Company proudly presented an exciting line up for the 2013 undercurrents: theatre below the mainstream festival.  Now in its third year, the festival has become one of the most anticipated events of Ottawa’s theatre season.

\”Ottawa audiences and artists have truly embraced undercurrents - with ticket sales increasing 25% year over year,” says Festival Director Patrick Gauthier. “The third edition of the festival promises to follow in the footsteps of its predecessors.\”

The festival showcases six productions – plus an audience participation installation – created and produced by independent theatre companies from Ottawa, Toronto and Victoria, BC.  The 2013 line up was announced today by festival Director Patrick Gauthier and GCTC Artistic Director Eric Coates.  Three of the six are Ottawa productions and two of those are world premieres.

“This year’s Festival showcases creators who are taking risks and challenging the medium,” says Gauthier. “All tell great stories and tell them in innovative ways.” Read the rest of this entry →

What\’s next for Ottawa\’s theatre scene?

10:37 am in Festival News, Festivals in the News

Reported by: Tinahnia, Openfile

In a funny way, the resurgence of Ottawa\’s theatre scene over the last dozen years can be traced back to Canada\’s most famous political assassination.

On April 7, 1868, Thomas D’Arcy McGee, a Father of Confederation and Member of Parliament, was shot in the head on Sparks Street, less than a year after Canada was born. The perpetrator was allegedly Patrick J. Whelan, who was hanged publicly at what\’s now a youth hostel—formerly Carleton County Gaol—on Nicholas Street.

That was Canada’s only assassination of a federal figure, and the whole episode continues to fascinate history buffs in the nation\’s capital. Among those who were captivated by the story was Pierre Brault, who created a one-man show about Whelan called “Blood on the Moon” with collaborators Judi Pearl and Jon Koensgen.

“Blood” debuted at the Ottawa Fringe Festival in June 1999 at Arts Court—right next door to the former jail where Whelan was hanged.

Nobody realized that “Blood” would become a legend of its own—even a catalyst for the growth of the Ottawa theatre scene. A smash hit at Fringe that year, “Blood” was picked up by the NAC’s then-Artistic Director Marti Maraden for a reprisal on Canada’s national stage.

For full story, go to: What\’s next for Ottawa\’s theatre scene?

YouTube comes alive at undercurrents festival

10:07 am in Industry News

Patrick Langston, The Ottawa Citizen

With anonymity our shield, we\’re willing to say almost anything on the Internet. That enticed Vancouver\’s Theatre Replacement so much that the company created a theatre piece called WeeTube 5400 based on the phenomena. The show is part of the undercurrents: theatre below the mainstream festival at the Great Canadian Theatre Company Feb. 7 to 19.

This is the second year for the festival, which features a total of 30 performances by six independent theatre companies. Half the companies are from Ottawa, and with their emphasis on experimentation, it\’s unlikely you\’d see any of the shows in mainstream theatres

Read more: YouTube comes alive at undercurrents festival

Blood on the Moon fills hole in GCTC lineup

11:00 am in Community News, Industry News, Ottawa News

Pierre Brault\’s tour de force replaces play cancelled by actor\’s illness

Patrick Langston, Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA — It\’s a scramble, but Ottawa actor and playwright Pierre Brault says an unexpected remounting of his acclaimed solo show Blood on the Moon will be ready to roll Jan. 17 at the Great Canadian Theatre Company.

Brault\’s award-winning show about James Patrick Whelan, the last man to be publicly hanged in Canada after being convicted in 1868 of assassinating the politician Thomas D\’Arcy McGee, was pegged for the January spot after You Fancy Yourself, originally scheduled for the slot, was cancelled just days before Christmas. Maya Ardal, the writer and performer of You Fancy Yourself, had been diagnosed with a serious, still-undisclosed illness and was scheduled for immediate surgery.

\”My first thoughts were for Maja,\” says GCTC artistic director Lise Ann Johnson in an email from Arizona, where she\’s been on holiday since before Christmas. \”She\’s an incredible person and a multi-talented artist – everyone at GCTC is thinking of her and wishing her a full recovery. My second reaction was \’Holy mother of God – I need a good replacement show, fast!\’ \”

Despite the last-minute rush and having no regular phone or Internet service, Johnson found four possible shows. Brault\’s got the nod.

Read more on the Ottawa Citizen website: Blood on the Moon fills hole in GCTC lineup

$36M Arts Court expansion approved by city finance committee

10:18 am in Festival and Event Industry, Industry News, Ottawa News

David Reevely, The Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA — A $36-million expansion of Arts Court was passed unanimously at a meeting of city council’s finance committee Thursday afternoon.

A dozen speakers praised the plan to renovate and expand Arts Court during the debate. Councillors also spoke positively about the idea, but for some concerns about parking at the site. The proposal was approved in a vote held just after noon.

Key to the plan — which would still need sign-off from full city council next week — is a roughly 18-storey residential tower in the project, to help defray the costs. It’s a similar model to that used by the Irving Greenberg Centre on the west side, where a residential tower helped pay for a new theatre for the Great Canadian Theatre Company. The existing Arts Court building would be rearranged inside, and a large new wing built on land that’s now parking lot along Nicholas Street at the Mackenzie King Bridge.

The architectural details need more work, but the residential tower, which would bring in an estimated $3.5 million for the project, would likely be at the southeast corner of the site, at Waller Street and Daly Avenue.

Read more on the Ottawa Citizen website:  $36M Arts Court expansion approved by city finance committee


10:05 am in Festival News, News Release

The 2011 line-up for the Magnetic North Theatre Festival has been announced, and it promises to bring home to Ottawa an array of theatrical activity in June.  The unique festival, which alternates between Ottawa and a different Canadian city each year, comes home to Ottawa June 3-11.  Festival passes and tickets are now available for purchase through the National Arts Centre Box office at 53 Elgin Street or at 613-755-1111, or through Ticketmaster at 1-888-991-2787.

Opening the festival is YICHUD (Seclusion) by Theatre Passe Muraille in producing partnership with Convergence Theatre.  Written by Julie Tepperman and Directed by directed by Aaron Willis and Richard Greenblatt.  YICHUD (Seclusion) drops us into the centre of an orthodox Jewish wedding, and does it in ways that are hilarious, complex and pose tough questions about our relationships to tradition and authority.  The performance runs from June 3-6 and will be taking place at Academic Hall at the University of Ottawa.  Tickets for this performance are $40.

Magnetic North Theatre Festival is proud to announce An Evening with Cathy Jones.  This one night performance featuring the star of This Hour has 22 Minutes will be on Saturday, June 4 at 8PM.  Tickets for this event are $50.

Magnetic North invites festival attendees to join us at the National Arts Centre Fourth Stage on June 9 in the afternoon for a stage reading of The Ministry of Grace, a new play by Tara Beagan, the NAC English Theatre’s Playwright in Residence for 2010/11 and Artistic Director, Native Earth Performing Arts, Inc.  That evening, join Magnetic North staff, board and our 2012 Calgary hosts at the Festival Bar @ Club SAW to celebrate our next festival destination.

Magnetic North Theatre Festival will be presenting a play from Halifax’s Zuppa Theatre Company, 5 Easy Steps (to the end of the world).  It is the night of the end of the world and three friends lock themselves in a pawn shop basement with plans to go out with a bang.  5 Easy Steps (to the end of the world) is one part painful mediation on the past, present and future and two parts dance party.  Featuring choreography from Mwendo Dance Company and music from members of the Heavy Blinkers, 5 Easy Steps (to the end of the world) runs from June 3-6 at Arts Court. Tickets for this performance are $40.

We are proud to announce that we are once again partnering with the Great Canadian Theatre Company this year to present a Necessary Angel production of This is What Happens Next.  The one man show from the imaginations of Toronto theatre icons Daniel MacIvor and Daniel Brooks features MacIvor as multiple characters in a fairytale that takes us through the dark forest of addiction, divorce, Schopenhauer, The Little Mermaid and the life of John Denver.  This is What Happens Next is showing at the GCTC from June 7-11.  Tickets are $40 and are sold at the GCTC and NAC box office.

Magnetic North is delighted to present Kawasaki Exit, the latest boundary busting creation from Calgary’s One Yellow Rabbit.  Written by Blake Brooker, Kawasaki exit is equal parts mystery and love story, and is inspired by the dark side of Japanese social networking sites.  Performed in Japanese and in English, from beginning to end and then from end to beginning.  We are very excited to be presenting this legendary company hailing from our 2012 destination, Calgary, Alberta from June 7-10 at the National Arts Centre Studio.  Tickets for this performance are $40.

Magnetic North 2011 will be presenting Nina Arsenault’s one woman tour de force The Silicone Diaries, from Buddies in Bad Times theatre in Toronto.  In The Silicone Diaries, Arsenault recounts her transformation from an awkward male to a staggering hour glass bombshell.  She provides us with a peek in to the personal obsessions of those driven to transform their bodies, while at the same time, engaging in a frank exploration of the contradictions associated with the quest for beauty.  We are thrilled to be sharing Nina’s story from June 8-11 at Academic Hall at the University of Ottawa.  Tickets for this performance are $40.

Magnetic North will be presenting a play that is truly for all ages. KISMET one to one hundred from The Chop is a multi-media performance that explores our relationship with fate and destiny.  Using transcripts, photos, video and audio excerpts from one hundred interviews with one hundred people from across the country between the ages of one and one hundred, The Chop pieces together a narrative that is both universal and individual.  The Chop is a dynamic company from Vancouver helmed by recent Siminovitch Award protégé Anita Rochon, and we are very proud to welcome them to the Arts Court Studio June 9-11.  Tickets for this performance are $40.

Artistic associate Marcus Youssef: “What\’s so thrilling for me about this year\’s festival is the national conversation happening inside of it. Exciting young artists like The Chop and Zuppa are talking to genre and scene-definers MacIvor and the Rabbits; Siminovitch Protégé winner Anita Rochon bumps up against directing legend Daniel Brooks. We have shows and artists from Halifax side by side with their 3000 miles away neighbours from Vancouver (and points in between). There is a show about what 100 Canadians, urban and rural, eastern and western think about fate plus a show that tells the story of a full-op gender switch plus a show that takes us into the centre of an orthodox Jewish wedding. This festival is Canada, here, and now, in all its messy, contradictory glory. I can\’t think of a better way to get to know each other a little better.”

A special component of the festival is the Magnetic Encounters, which brings the audience as close to the art as possible.  In the form of many events, talks, installations, interventions and performances, Magnetic Encounters link the audiences to the main stage performances of the festival.  Highlights of this year’s Magnetic Encounters include a lesson in Music and traditional Jewish wedding celebration on June 5 to compliment YICHUD(Seclusion) as well as a Karaocalypse night at our Festival Bar @ Club SAW on June 7 where festival goers are invited on stage with Zuppa to sing songs about the end of the world. Montreal artist Alexis O’Hara will be performing In the Heat of LaNuit on June 8 at our Festival Bar @ Club SAW.  As herself and as her alter-ego Guizo, Alexis transfuses drag, cabaret, pop music and spoken word with a tongue-in-cheek musical treatise on our modern day obsession with feelings.  Tickets for Alexis O’Hara are $10.  On June 10, festival goers are invited to join Magnetic North and The Chop at the Arts Court library in a Workshop on Being Yourself on Stage then head over to the National Gallery for a lecture on the Female Form, Beauty and Art with Nina Arsenault. Don’t forget to join us each evening at the Festival Bar @ Club SAW beginning at 9pm for more fun and great conversation.

Encounters curator Kris Nelson: \”With a Karaoke concert, a lecture on beauty and aesthetics and workshops devoted to dancing and performing, there\’s something for everyone to think on or try out for themselves this year. Extra special for Ottawa is the Human Library project. Dozens of local residents will become human books – revealing their thoughts, opinions and life stories to book lenders in one-on-one conversations. We\’re hoping the Encounters will help build a community of festival-fans and adventurous art lovers in the city.\”

Magnetic North Theatre Festival is delighted to announce that for the first time, we will be hosting a Human Library June 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 11 at the Rideau Centre Western Walkway. Ottawa locals and festival artists become human books sharing their personal stories, beliefs and experiences in this exciting, interactive project. This one-of-a-kind experience brings strangers together for personal, humorous and touching interactions. Working just like a real library, visitors borrow and return books – the twist is that in The Human Library the books are people and visitors will have a candid conversation with the people on loan. Our Human Library is full of human books that are experts in a variety of fields and come from a diverse range of experiences and backgrounds. Created by Stop the Violence for the Roskilde Music Festival in Denmark and presented all over the world and across Canada, The Human Library makes new bonds, breaks down stereotypes and generally gets people together.

Compass Points is a unique program for post-secondary students and emerging artists from across Canada, which offers a first-hand introduction to the professional theatre industry.  This year’s program will be organized in consultation with students from Ottawa.  Compass Points includes workshops, panel discussions and social events designed to inspire participants to chart their own course in Canadian theatre and runs in Ottawa from June 6-10.  

Magnetic North Theatre Festival hosts an Industry Series, a professional symposium dedicated to building networks and sharing the wealth of knowledge amongst festival delegates.  Since 2004, Magnetic North’s Industry Series has had a significant impact on the community, the forum and the way we work together.  Delegates from around the country and the world will be in Ottawa through the course of the festival soaking in what the region and Magnetic North have to offer. 

Executive Director Ann Connors: “We extend our thanks to our public partners at the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council and the City of Ottawa; our corporate sponsors and donors and our private donors and to the countless volunteers who, all together contribute the resources vital to this Festival’s success. And at the heart of the festival is you, our audience. As the festival travels back and forth across this large nation, and in the process grows and diversifies, it is always the audience, and the prospect of showing you something you’ve never seen, that rests at the heart of what we do. The coming years will see another new and exciting stage of Magnetic North’s development. More Canadian audiences in more Canadian communities will be exposed to more Canadian theatre artists, all with a brand new Artistic Director, and a new bold visioning of what Canadian Theatre is and could be.”

Frequently called, “Canada’s National Festival of Contemporary Canadian Theatre in English”, Magnetic North Theatre Festival is excited to be coming home to Ottawa for the 2011 season.  The Magnetic North Theatre Festival is produced by the Canadian Theatre Festival Society and co-presented by the National Arts Centre English Theatre. 

For more information about Magnetic North, visit, call 613-947-7000 or visit our office at the National Arts Centre in downtown Ottawa.  Festival passes and tickets are now on sale through the National Arts Centre box office at 53 Elgin Street or at 613-755-1111, through Ticketmaster at 1-888-991-2787, or online at

Undercurrents festival shows edgy Ottawa plays

11:40 am in Community News, Industry News, Ottawa News

The Great Canadian Theatre Company starts its first ever Undercurrents theatre festival Wednesday.

The festival will focus on six small, edgy shows that don\’t fit the Holland Avenue theatre\’s biggest stage, said the GCTC\’s artistic associate Patrick Gauthier.

Three of the plays are local productions, and Gauthier said the festival is a great chance to expose local audiences to something different.

\”We can say, these are shows we think you might like, whereas if it was in the [Ottawa Fringe Festival] or at Arts Court, they might not take the risk,\” Gauthier said.

\”But it\’s in our building, so why not take the risk?\”

It\’s also a chance for local producers to use a studio space they may not have been able to afford, Gauthier said.

\”This is huge for new creation in Ottawa,\” said Kevin Orr, whose play Bifurcate Me will play during the first week of the festival.

\”This opportunity is really going to jumpstart the community.\”

In Orr\’s play the two main actors are subjects in a scientific experiment. In a rehearsal this week both wore kneepads, as their characters fall more than 200 times in the play which runs less than an hour.

Orr said the play examines what drives people to get back up after they\’ve been beaten down.

Other plays set to play at the Undercurrents festival include shows about men having babies and the financial meltdown.

The festival runs from Jan. 26 – Feb. 6.

Read more:

Greed, pregnant brothers and the art of falling down: expect original work at Ottawa’s newest festival

9:40 am in Community News, Industry News, Ottawa News


If Johanna Nutter’s brother hadn’t got pregnant, she might never have written a play. But he did, and she did, and we get to see the results thanks to undercurrents, Ottawa’s newest festival.

The two-week festival starting Jan. 26 is a Great Canadian Theatre Company endeavour. It features original, edgy works by six independent Canadian theatre companies. Three of them are from Ottawa, and the balance are companies touring the country. Each show runs four times in the cozy Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre Studio, with half the plays running the first week and the other half the second week.

Nutter’s production, My Pregnant Brother, is rooted in a true story. Her younger brother, who was born female but now lives as man, became pregnant before the world had even heard of Thomas Beatie, the former Hawaiian beauty queen who gave birth to three children after changing genders.

Nutter’s brother had a girl as well, but his substance abuse problems caused a less happy outcome, a twist that is explored in the play.

“I tried not to write the play because I was afraid I’d be tarred and feathered and run out of town,” says Nutter. “It seemed like a story from another planet. Three years in a row, I applied to the Montreal Fringe Festival, thinking, ‘If I get picked, then I’ll write it.’ I prayed that I wouldn’t get picked.”

Eventually she did and wound up winning Montreal’s best of fringe award for 2009.

Read more:

New theatre festival to brighten up winter nights

9:02 am in Festival and Event Industry, Industry News

Ottawa Citizen

A new theatre festival being hosted at the GCTC this winter includes several award-winning plays. Six productions — split between shows created by local artists and shows produced by independent theatre productions touring the country — will be featured in undercurrents: theatre below the mainstream. The festival runs from Jan. 26 to Feb. 6, 2011.

The plays are: Shadows, Hard Ways, Bifurcate Me, Spent, This Is a Recording, and My Pregnant Brother.

Each production will run for four shows. The schedule is available at and at the GCTC Box Office, 1233 Wellington Street West (at Holland Avenue). To purchase single tickets, visit or call the box office at 613-236-5196; Three-show and six-show Flexpasses are also available at the box office.

Full preview on the Ottawa Citizen website: New theatre festival to brighten up winter nights