26 October 2011

A Morning with PGC President Elyne Quan

The CCTC is excited to help welcome celebrated Canadian theatre maker Elyne Quan back to Edmonton, her hometown. Elyne, president of Playwrights Guild Canada, is in the area for the upcoming Playworks Ink conference, and our friends at Theatre Alberta have organized a session where theatre enthusiasts can gather to hear Elyne read some of her work and then ask questions. The event is free and open to the general public.

A Morning with PGC President Elyne Quan
Thursday, October 27th
Board Room, Timms Centre for the Arts
87th Ave & 112th St, Edmonton
A bit more about Elyne from Playwrights Guild of Canada:
Elyne is a writer, actor, director and dramaturg. Originally from Edmonton, she now resides in Toronto.  She holds a MFA in Dramatic Writing from New York University and a BA Honors degree in Drama from the University of Alberta. Writing credits include the Sterling Award winning Lig & Bittle (with Jared Matsunaga-Turnbull), Stray, Look Both Ways, Souvenirs of Home, Trust, What (Part III of Rice, Concrete Theatre), One Block Radius and a radio play, Direct Dial (CBC Radio). She was a KCACTF Region II New Play Winner and David Mark Cohen award - runner-up for Souvenirs of Home. Her latest play, Retrospective, was commissioned by the Canadian Centre for Theatre Creation (CCTC) in Edmonton and received workshop assistance from the Playwrights Theatre Centre in Vancouver. She is currently working on three new full-length plays, a TYA play, a TV series, and a graphic novel.
In addition to being a proud member of PGC, Elyne is also an alumna of the Prime Time TV program at the Canadian Film Centre and a member of CAEA.

21 October 2011

Ronnie Burkett: from Fringe Freak to Marionette Master

By Nikki Shaffeeullah
On Thursday, October 6, the CCTC sat down with Ronnie Burkett for what proved to be a dynamic and engaging Lunchbox Chat. Kim McCaw publicly interviewed the internationally renowned puppeteer and theatre maker, with attendees from the University of Alberta Drama Department and the Edmonton community gathering both to listen to and ask their own questions of the Alberta-born creator.
The conversation spanned a range of topics, including the role of puppetry in the theatre, the role of marionettes in the puppet theatre, arts funding in Canada, life as an independent artist, and of course, Burkett’s unique brand of theatre creation.
This year is the 25th anniversary of Burkett’s Theatre of Marionettes, which debuted right here in Edmonton at the 1986 Fringe Festival with his first full-length show, Fool’s Gold. Of these early days, Burkett reflected: “When I was a kid, self-created work wasn’t something theatre knew.” He remarked fondly that the Fringe served as a space where “all the freaks” could do their shows.
As the “freaks” that practice performer-driven creation are slowly but surely becoming a norm on the Canadian stage, their process has become a focal point of many contemporary theatrical discussions. With a veteran creator working in an unusual form as the featured guest, this Lunchbox Chat was no exception. On his writing process, Burkett disclosed that he begins the creation of each piece by shaping three key elements: “A title, an opening image, and a closing image.” As other elements are negotiated, these three pieces remain the pillars of his process. 
Burkett also revealed his approaches to some of the unique creation challenges that present themselves to a puppeteer. For example, when building marionettes, he is not merely constructing props but rather he is creating the actors he will later direct and the characters he will eventually play. He noted that when building a puppet, he tries to identify the character’s voice in his own. If he cannot, he will go back to the construction stage, rework the Plasticine, and search again for the sound until at last the puppet’s body and voice harmonize. 
It is this very experience of bringing the puppet creations to life, giving them character, that kept Burkett working in this niche. He described how a brief stint in acting school led him to realize that as an actor, he would be destined to play only male characters within a few years of his own age. As a puppeteer, however, he could play any age, gender, or even species that he wanted: “Why would I want to be just an actor? That’s so limiting!”
Burkett was in town for the world premiere of his new show, Penny Plain, which closed last weekend after a successful run at the Citadel Theatre. It plays next in Calgary.

3 October 2011

October 6: Lunchbox Chat with Ronnie Burkett

The first CCTC Lunchbox Chat session is almost here! Internationally renowned theatre maker and master puppeteer Ronnie Burkett is in town for the Citadel's world premiere of his new show Penny Plain, and Edmonton is abuzz with his visit. Ronnie will take a break from performing his new apocalyptic gothic comedy to do a public interview with CCTC director Kim McCaw at noon on October 6.  Don't forget to also add the highly anticipated November 17 Lunchbox Chat to your schedule, when we'll sit down with famed playwright/actor/director Daniel MacIvor.

For more information about Ronnie Burkett, check out his bio in the Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia and his agency page.