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Soft Target

Theatre Free Radical is excited to premiere our brand new work, Soft Target, June 2-3 2017 in Saint John, New Brunswick.

About Soft Target:

A government airlift of refugees from the Middle East has crashed under mysterious circumstances, killing all on board. Crash investigator Gordon Joseph, a man scarred by military service overseas, tries to piece together the events that brought the plane down, both aided and antagonized by Nick Radic, a government counter-terrorism operative who specializes in cyber-surveillance of homegrown jihadi wannabes. As Radic’s investigations cross into ethically murky waters, Joseph’s is derailed as he becomes obsessed with crash victim Anna Leivenhuis, a Foreign Affairs worker who may hold the key to the mystery.

How do we cope with a world in which the next atrocity is just around the corner? How do we make rational sense of irrational acts? Soft Target is a play about the need for wholeness in a shattered world.

Soft Target is a new play by Fredericton’s Theatre Free Radical, written and directed by Len Falkenstein, starring Jake Martin, Jean-Michel Cliche, and Rebekah Chassé, and featuring an original score by Eric Hill.

The play is being presented as part of the Saint John Theatre Company’s Canadian Stages Series, with performances Friday, June 2 and Saturday June 3 at 7:30 PM at the BMO Studio Theatre, 112 Princess Street, Saint John. For ticket information visit http://www.saintjohntheatrecompany.com

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Edmonton Fringe Festival Next Stop for Lac/Athabasca

Lac Athabasca will be heading to Edmonton for performances at North America’s largest and most venerable Fringe Festival, August 12th through 21st. It’ll be our first time performing in the Edmonton Fringe since 2007 and we couldn’t be more excited, especially given Lac/Athabasca‘s Alberta origins and since much of the play is set there, with many local references and resonances for Alberta audiences.

Here’s our program information with all the details about our Edmonton shows:

Venue #: 41, Rutherford School, 8620 91st St. (Rue Marie-Anne Gaboury)

Runtime: 70 min
Genre: Drama

Ticket Price:    Adult: $13; Student/Senior: $11

Inspired by the tragedy of Lac-Mégantic, a cross-Canada journey that departs from the Athabasca glacier, stops in the Alberta oil sands, and terminates in an East Coast village. Winner, Herman Voaden National Playwriting Competition; NOW Magazine pick for “Best of the Fest” and “Best Ensemble” (2015 SummerWorks Theatre Festival, Toronto)

Schedule:LAC-NEWTRAIN

Friday, Aug 12, 5:15 pm

Saturday, Aug 13, 8:45 pm

Sunday, Aug 14, 3:30 pm

Monday, Aug 15, 7:00 pm

Tuesday, Aug 16, 1:45 pm

Wednesday, Aug 17, 10:30 pm

Friday, Aug 19, 12:00 pm

Saturday, Aug 20, 10:30 pm

Sunday, Aug 21, 3:30 pm

 

Lac/Athabasca News and Updates: Heading for Saint John

Lac/Athabasca received a week long professional workshop at Queen’s University in January, directed by Rob Kempson of Thousand Islands Playhouse, for winning second prize in the 2015 Herman Voaden National Playwriting Competition. The workshop concluded with a fabulous public reading of the play, featuring cast members Danny Mahoney, Daniel Maslasny, Ash Knight, Rong Fu, and Allison Deon, to a packed house at the Rotunda Theatre on Saturday, January 23.

Theatre Free Radical took the show on the road to Sackville, New Brunswick for a pair of performances hosted by Live Bait Theatre and Mount Allison University at the Moyter/Fancy Theatre March 2 & 3. Both shows were well attended and well received.

Next up, we’ll be hitting the road for Saint John for performances hosted by the Saint John Theatre Company, May 27 and 28, 7:30 PM in the BMO Studio Theatre. Join us there!

Lac/Athabasca Coming to Fredericton!

We’re delighted to announce that after performance runs in Vancouver and Toronto, our current show, Lac/Athabasca by Len Falkenstein, will soon be staged in Fredericton for the very first time!

Our production will be mounted in cooperation with Fredericton’s NotaBle Acts Theatre Company, with support from The Canada Council for the Arts, and will be staged at Memorial Hall, UNB, WednesdaLAC-NEWTRAINy, October 14 through Saturday, October 17, with performances at 7:30 PM nightly.

Lac/Athabasca is a play that takes audiences on a thought-provoking and emotional cross-Canada journey from the Rocky Mountains to the East Coast. Set both along Alberta’s Athabasca River and in a small town in northern New Brunswick, the play was inspired by the train derailment tragedy that occurred in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, in 2013 as well as the social, environmental and economic impact of the Alberta oil sands and the ongoing debate over oil production and transportation in Canada.

Earlier this year, Lac/Athabasca received the Dorothy White Award for Second Prize in Ottawa Little Theatre’s National Playwriting Contest for 2015, as well as Second Prize in the Herman Voaden National Playwriting Contest, which is mounted every second year by Queen’s University and attracts scripts from many of the nation’s top playwrights. The play was selected for production at this August’s SummerWorks Theatre Festival in Toronto, one of Canada’s most prestigious juried performance festivals, where it attracted national media attention and earned rave reviews, including selections from NOW Magazine as one of its “Best of the Fest” and for “Best Ensemble.”

Lac/Athabasca features performances by Jake Martin, Rebekah Chasse, Alex Donovan, Jean-Michel Cliche, and Emily Bosse, who each play multiple roles in the play’s several interwoven plotlines.

The play also features an original score by Fredericton musician/composer Eric Hill and visual/projection design by Mike Johnston.

Tickets for the play will be $18 regular, $14 for seniors and underwaged, and $10 students. Tickets are available at the door and can be reserved by calling 506 458-7406 or emailing nbacts@unb.ca

For more information on the Fredericton run of Lac/Athabasca, contact Len Falkenstein at 458-7406 or lfalken@unb.ca

Lac/Athabasca Heading to Toronto’s SummerWorks Theatre Festival

A Trio of National Honours for Theatre Free Radical’s Latest

After a critically-acclaimed premiere at the 2014 Vancouver Fringe Festival, Lac/Athabasca, the newest play by Len Falkenstein and Theatre Free Radical, has been selected for production at the 2015 SummerWorks Theatre Festival in Toronto.

Founded in 1991, the SummerWorks Performance Festival is widely recognized as one of Canada’s most prestigious juried festivals and most important platforms for launching new Canadian artists – locally, nationally, and internationally. For 11 days every August, SummerWorks hosts over 500 artists, performing in over 60 performance projects. 2015 marks SummerWorks’ 25th year as one of the country’s most preeminent multi-disciplinary hubs featuring a wide variety of artistic programming including, music, dance, theatre, live art – and everything in between.

Lac/Athabasca will be performed at the festival from August 6-15. This after the play won a pair of national awards earlier this year: the Dorothy White Award for second prize in the Ottawa Little Theatre’s 74th National Playwriting Competition for 2015, which earned the play a staged reading in Ottawa in April, 2015, and Second Prize in the 2015 Herman Voaden National Playwriting Contest, which brings with it a week-long professional workshop in January, 2015 at Queen’s University. The play has also been selected for production as part of the Saint John Theatre Company’s Professional Presentation Series for 2015-16, with a run in Saint John set for May, 2016.

About Lac/Athabasca

In Lac/Athabasca, ice becomes fire. Men become monsters. Things that were buried become exposed.

 Lac/Athabasca departs from a glacier in the West, stops at a city of oil in the North, and terminates in a river of fire in the East, telling tales of lives lived and lost on the rivers and railways in between: a pair of nineteenth-century fur traders pursued by an unseen terror along Alberta’s Athabasca River; two scientists studying fish kills and cancer rates downstream from the oil sands; the residents of a small town united in grief after an entirely preventable disaster. Their stories intersect and echo in ways that are shocking, unsettling, and deeply moving. Inspired by the tragedy of Lac-Mégantic, Lac/Athabasca connects the dots between voraciousness and victimhood, beasts without and the beast within, ravaged landscapes and ruined souls.

“Weaving together strands of the past and present, the personal and the political and the mythic and the mundane, Falkenstein has created a cultural and “geographic” tapestry of our Canadian landscape that is both terrifying and hopeful”—Iris Turcott, adjudicator, Ottawa Little Theatre National Playwriting Competition.

“This play is a necessity”—Karina Billesberger, Plank Magazine (Vancouver).

SummerWorks Performances:

Thursday, August 6 – 8:00 pm

Friday, August 7 – 4:30 pm

Sunday, August 9 – 9:45 pm

Tuesday, August 11 – 4:30 pm

Thursday, August 13 – 7:00 pm                  

Friday, August 14 – 4:30 pm

Saturday, August 15 – 9:45 pm

All performances at the Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace (16 Ryerson Ave).

http://www.summerworks.ca

Lac/Athabasca Heading to the Vancouver Fringe Festival

Our brand new play, Lac/Athabasca will be premiering very soon at the 2014 Vancouver Fringe Festival. Read on for some information on the show and for where and when you can catch it.

The story of Canada is a story of rivers and railways.
Lac/Athabasca takes audiences on a cross-Canada journey that begins at a sea of ice in the West, stops at a city of oil in the North, and ends in a river of fire in the East, travelling through time and space to tell tales of lives lived and lost on the waterways and railways in between. A pair of nineteenth-century fur traders pursued by an unseen terror along Alberta’s Athabasca River. Two scientists studying fish kills and cancer rates downstream from the tar sands. An oil worker who uncovers a horrible secret. The residents of a small town united in grief after an entirely preventable disaster. Their stories echo and intersect in ways that are shocking, thought-provoking, and deeply moving. Inspired by the tragedy of Lac Mégantic, Lac/Athabasca is a powerful and poetic work that connects the dots between ravished landscapes and ravenous souls, accidental missteps and sacrificial victims, beauty and horror.

Making its premiere at the Vancouver Fringe, Lac/Athabasca is a new play by Fredericton, New Brunswick-based Theatre Free Radical, whose previous Vancouver Fringe productions include Utopia (2012), Free/Fall (2010) and Doppelgänger (2008). Theatre Free Radical’s works have earned rave reviews and Best of Fringe ratings from coast to coast, and have twice been selected for production at Toronto’s SummerWorks Theatre Festival, one of Canada’s most prestigious juried festivals (Utopia in 2013, Doppelgänger in 2009). Utopia also won second place in the nationally-renowned Ottawa Little Theatre’s One-Act Playwriting Competition for 2013. In keeping with the company’s mandate of creating works that are both ideas-driven and artistically challenging, Lac/Athabasca is a theatrically and visually rich multimedia work that features an original score by ambient/electronic musician Eric Hill.

Lac/Athabasca will be performed at Revue Stage, 1601 Johnston Street

Thursday September 4, 6:45 PM

Saturday, September 6, 4:30 PM

Sunday, September 7, 12 PM

Wednesday, September 10, 6:45 PM

Thursday, September 11, 8:45 PM

Saturday, September 13, 7:15 PM

Where the Robots Came From: Historical Notes on Karel Capek’s R.U.R.

The intellectual history of Theatre UNB’s upcoming production is truly fascinating. Here are some thoughts on the historical and cultural background to the play.

R.U.R. in its Era: Historical and Cultural Contexts

 R.U.R. had its origins in decidedly tumultuous times. Written in 1920 and first performed in 1921, the play’s nightmare vision of massed armies of faceless hordes threatening to wipe out human civilization was undoubtedly influenced by two world-changing recent events. In 1917, Russia rose up in revolt, overthrowing the Czar and overturning the social order, sending shivers through aristocrats across the world and inaugurating a nearly century-long global conflict between capitalism and communism. Closer to home for Karel Čapek and of greater impact, World War One (1914-1918), which he escaped by being declared medically unfit for military service, devastated his entire generation. The war introduced such deadly innovations as the first mass use of trench warfare, the machine gun, tanks, air combat, bombs, and poison gas, resulting in mechanized slaughter unprecedented in its horror and sheer numbing statistics. Modern machinery could now kill on a scale and with an efficiency never seen before. As Ivan Klima writes in his introduction to the Penguin Classic edition of R.U.R., “the cruel, senseless carnage of war shattered the world of certainties: the commonly shared illusion that by means of unprecedented technical progress, civilization was moving toward a better, easier life.”

                The industrial age that had begun in the previous century had indeed made great leaps forward and was progressing with the same sense of unstoppable momentum that marks the technological advances of our own time. Railways, steamships, and telegraph lines connected the world and its economies as never before, and the mass manufacture of automobiles enabled by Henry Ford’s assembly line offered Čapek the inspiration for Rossum’s robot factory, where humanoid machines are turned out en masse in the same manner. The machine was glorified and celebrated in popular culture and modern art in movements such as Futurism, Vorticism, and the sleek lines of Art Deco in design and architecture (and let’s not forget that the first moving picture created by the Lumière brothers to cause a mass sensation depicted a train entering a station). Yet for every innovation there was a World War or a Titanic (lost in 1912) to remind the world that the new technology was not always friendly or infallible.

                In western culture and society, meanwhile, unrest and reorderings were not confined to Russia. Another of the side effects of industrialization was the rise of a middle class that was starting to become aware of its power and to demand democracy and rights. The trade union movement began to burgeon, and the women of many western countries increasingly mobilized to demand the vote. It is hard not to see in Helena Glory, the naïve Humanity League activist of Act One of R.U.R., a perhaps less-than-generous portrait of the militant suffragette (maybe not coincidentally, women gained the right to vote in what is now the Czech Republic in 1920, as Kapek was writing the play), even as her rhetoric also recalls that of the Abolition movement of the 19th century (for the first audiences of R.U.R., slavery was a not altogether distant memory).

                At the confluence of social upheavals and science was the Eugenics movement, which reached its apex in the early decades of the twentieth century. Seeking to apply Darwin’s theories to human beings, eugenicists sought to perfect human beings by way of selective breeding and sterilization of undesirables (“inferior” races, mental “defectives,” etc.). Eugenics was a respected and much debated scientific movement at the time of R.U.R.’s composition, attracting as adherents even such widely admired thinkers as H.G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw, and John Maynard Keynes. Eugenics would have offered Čapek a model for the type of human physiological engineering he would depict in the play, one that prefigures our modern equivalent, genetic engineering. Hitler’s dreams of a conquering Aryan race spelled the death knell for the movement some years after Čapek, who had been proclaimed Czechoslovakia’s “public enemy number two” by the Nazis, died in 1938, escaping the fate of his brother Josef, who died in a Nazi concentration camp.