The third season of the Theatre Artists’ Co-operative: the Independent Collective Series (TACTICS) made its launch this past Sunday and this year we’re excited to see a compressed festival-style season with supersized artistic programming. With only two mainstage shows happening this year, Artistic Director and Festival Curator Bronwyn Steinberg has scheduled readings of five new pieces that are all in various stages of development. To top it all off, a number of supplementary activities are being offered throughout the two-and-a-half week run (and there’s a strong possibility the New Ottawa Critics might be given the opportunity to run our first ever ‘Critics’ Salon’). Given the quality of shows hosted by TACTICS over the last two seasons, I am very excited for this year’s line up.
Kicking off the season, from April 19th-23rd, is Jacqui du Toit’s The Hottentot Venus- Untold. Though I have never had the opportunity to see Ms. du Toit perform, those who have only sing her praises. Making a very brief appearance at the Gladstone Theatre last August, Alvina Ruprecht of the Capital Critics Circle says, “do not miss” this show. A theatrical storytelling inspired by the life and death of Sarah Baartman (if you recall, Kim Kardashian’s controversial “Break the Internet” Paper Magazine cover was heavily criticized for playing off of racist images of Baartman), this show promises to be both thought provoking and emotionally resonant.
The second mainstage show will see Cart Before the Horse return to TACTICS April 26th- May 6th with Greg MacArthur’s dark drama girls! girls! girls! First premiering at the Montreal Fringe Festival in 2000 and directed by former NAC Artistic Director Peter Hinton, the play is based on the tragic death of B.C. teenager Reena Virk and the Columbine massacre in Colorado, USA (like I said: dark). This time around co-directors Mariah Horner and Gabbie Lazarovitz have taken the helm of what’s sure to be one of the grittiest productions of the year.
Running in between the two full scale productions is the TACTICS Workshop Series which will feature five brand new works: The Omnibus Bill by Darrah Teitel (April 29th & 30th); Wanting by Madeleine Boyes-Manseau (April 30th & May 5th); UKnadian by Amelia Griffin (May 2nd & 5th); when god was wolf by Tim Ginley (dates not currently listed on website); and Home/Less by Evolution Theatre (May 3rd & 5th). The staging of each piece will probably reflect its current stage of development, so prepare yourself for a variety of works and performance styles. I’m particularly looking forward to Wanting which I had the ‘pleasure’ of seeing the earliest stages of at undercurrents’ New Play Tuesday last year and so I’m interested to see how it’s developed since then.
The list and schedule of all the special events can be found on the TACTICS website here, but basically it’s a showcase of workshops, panel discussions, and a very appetizing “Show Plates” night that will bring in a variety of dishes created by some of Ottawa’s “best indie chefs” including Tarek Hassan of Gongfu Bao Cart (yum!). Here at the NOC, we are hoping to test drive one of our ‘Critics’ Salons’ one evening post-performance/reading. Our goal is to try and create a theatre “book club” where a group of individuals can gather after a show, snacks and beverages in hand, to discuss (critically and compassionately) the performance we all just experienced. Nothing’s set in stone yet, so keep your fingers crossed- and, hey, if you are interested in participating or hosting one of these events please send us a letter to that effect! We would love to hear from you.
TACTICS: Ottawa’s Indie Theatre Series runs April 19th to May 6th. Tickets can be purchased at artscourt.ca/tactics