Upper School drama productions mounted during the 2023–24 theatre season will explore this compelling theme.
“It’s a lightning rod that gives the audience an immediate access point to the drama and appeal,” says Brendon Allen, drama and theatre coordinator. “We wanted to show that there are two sides to every story and that things aren’t always what they seem on the surface, especially in a great script.
“The theme is an invitation to think about the shows deeply and from a place of duality.”
There will be seven diverse productions: a winter and spring play, a Year 8/9 play, a student-directed piece, the revival of a musical in partnership with BSS, a Remembrance Day performance, and a work stemming from an artist-in-residence experience in the spring.
Shakespeare’s comedy Twelfth Night — also headlining at Stratford — will kick off the season in December, directed by Heather Crawford and Allen. BSS will oversee the musical Legally Blonde, and UCC’s Anna Blagona will direct the spring play, Accidental Death of an Anarchist by Dario Fo. The other productions have not yet been chosen, although Allen hopes they, too, will adhere to the season’s theme.
“The theme is an umbrella for the season as a whole and everyone can find a hook,” he says. “We don’t want it to be overbearing, but we want to be able to have conversations with the students about these ideas.
“Students are familiar with the thesis for an essay, and our theme is just meant to invite the audience into the piece with a statement of where we want to take you. We want to be thoughtful and intentional with what the plays say about the human condition in our times.”
Although the plays chosen to date aren’t new, Allen expects them to resonate with regard to today’s political climate.
“There are political parallels when we talk about honour, especially in terms of reputation and repercussions for actions. The actions that lead to fame or infamy in the world today often have a complicated relationship with honour.”
The artist-in-residence experience in the spring will see a professional Canadian company spend a week at UCC and mount a play at week’s end. It will be aligned with the theme, and Allen expects it to be “a provocative piece that students can engage with on multiple levels.
“We want them to engage with theatre outside their frame of reference and add something new that they have not been exposed to,” he says. “We also want to celebrate new Canadian artists.”
Also on the horizon is a student project incubator to be promoted at the College’s annual arts festival Nuit Bleue, with the aim of showcasing original student work in a workshop setting.