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Playgoers of Lethbridge play with a new path and cast in A Doll’s House

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Playgoers of Lethbridge will be playing in a Doll’s House at the Yates Theatre, Feb. 8-11.

A Doll’s House Cast are excited to perform at the Yates theatre. Photo By Richard Amery
 The Henrik Ibsen production is a little more darker that Playgoers of Lethbridge’s usual Spring production. But the cast and crew, who are mostly new to the local community theatre company are excited to try something a little more different.

“It’s one of these  scripts you always read in theatre school that a lot of ladies wanted to do because there are a lot of meaty parts for ladies,” said Victoria Nestrowicz, who plays Nora Helmer, the protagonist of the story.
“It’s one of the classic plays of the theatre, it’s a great role,” added Liam Monaghan, who plays Nora’s husband Thorwald Helmer.

 Playgoers is using a 1936 Thornton Wilder acting version of the play, which is about “Nora, the wife of a banker, Thorwald, has a secret debt, incurred with good intentions and a forged signature. When her husband is promoted to bank manager, the threat of blackmail threatens to destroy his career and their family life together. As circumstances unravel, Nora realizes the truth of her situation: she accuses her husband and her father before him of having used her as a doll. In one of the most famous scenes ever written for the stage, Nora slams the door on her domestic life as wife and mother until she can learn to be herself. The marriage of Ibsen's naturalistic style with Wilder's knack for emotional nuance creates a modern, vigorous acting version of this revered classic drama.”

The original play premiered in 1879.
“It’s a little different from what Playgoers usually does,” said Nestrowicz, who grew up with Lethbridge theatre.
“They are a Norwegian couple. It was written in the  nineteenth century so it has the strict gender roles typical for the time, so it is really is very patriarchal. He (Thorwald) is a banker and he has a wife. He really does love her, but he’s very stern,” Monaghan observed.

“Nora is a bit of a performer,” Nestrowicz said of her character.
“She’s trying to fit  into this role society has given her and she takes a risk. She borrows money, but hasn’t told her husband and tries to pass it off as her own. She wears masks on her perfect life ,” she said.

They are enjoying being part of their first Playgoer’s production.
“This is a wonderfully gifted group of actors and great people,” Monaghan said, observing everybody has jobs and family and are taking part in “A Doll’s House,” for the sheer joy of it.
“It’s been really fun psychologically figuring out these characters. They are really complicated and devious. And Nora has a meltdown, so that has been really fun to play,” Nestrowicz noted.
“And though the play was written in the 1870s, the issues in the play are 150 years old, but they are so relevant today. They teach us about humanity in 2017,” Monaghan added.
Director Juanita DeVos is impressed with how well the cast and crew have pulled the play together in two months of rehearsal.


Ron Chambers running playwriting workshop and Shakespeare in the Park auditions on Saturday

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University of Lethbridge drama  professor Ron Chambers is doing double duty at Casa on Saturday.

Shakespeare in the Park auditions are on Saturday afternoon at Casa. Photo by Richard Amery
 In the morning of Jan. 14, Chambers is teaching a playwriting workshop for Playgoers of Lethbridge, but  he’ll jump right from that to auditions for Shakespeare in the Park’s summer production of “A Comedy of Errors.”
 Chambers said nine people have enrolled in the playwriting workshop so far. It will begin at 9 a.m.

“I’ll begin by talking about a few practical concepts, then we’ll read  the plays and discuss them as a group. Hopefully the feedback from that will be useful to everybody. That’s how I teach my classes. The rest of the class learns from the feedback given to the other plays,” he said.

He asked participants to bring a five minute long piece to read with four or fewer characters and ideally copies for each character,though he noted photocopying may be available at Casa.

Chambers is also directing Shakespeare in the Park’s production of A Comedy of Errors. So he is taking advantage of being at Casa on Jan. 14 to hold community auditions for A Comedy of Errors. He is planning on another audition for university students later in the week and plans to do callbacks next Saturday.

“I want to have it cast the week after that. I like to have it done early. It gives time for Kate (Connolly, Shakespeare in the park’s artistic director) to complete grant applications and I have a play I’m directing at the university in the spring too,” he said.

 He is setting Shakespeare’s beloved comedy in the wild west.

“Shakespeare’s dead, he won’t mind us making a few adjustments,” Chambers chuckled.


Camille Pavlenko’s new play places in finals of international competition

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You may recognize Lethbridge actress Camille Pavlenko from her performances with Shakespeare in the Park, at Casa, doing a movement production for the Lt. Governors Ceremonies, or at the U of L and more recently with New West Theatre’s  presentation of “Luke’s Lunchbox.” Camille Pavlenko made the Top 11 finalists in the “Woodward International Playwriting Prize” competition. with her new play “These Moments of Shine: A Dokumentary.” Photo by Richard Amery

Her tall, lithe form, endless energy and impish grin are usually making you laugh. But she shows here more serious, thoughtful side in her new play, “These Moments of Shine: A Dokumentary.” It is among the top 11 finalists out of 300  entries from all over the world in the University of New Hampshire‘s “Woodward International Playwriting Prize” competition.

“It was very exciting and surprising because the other finalists are people whose plays I’ve read,” said Pavlenko, noting the winner will be announced at the end of January. She noted there is a production aspect to the top prize as well as cash and travelling expenses to go to the University of New Hampshire for workshopping and the mentorship of a dramaturge.

She was inspired to write “These Moments of Shine: A Dokumentary,” after watching Werner Herzog’s documentary “Happy People: A Year in the Taiga.”
“It’s about four Siberian women  trying to make a documentary about themselves,” she said of her play.

“It was inspired by Werner Herzog’s documentary “ Happy People: A Year in the Taiga” about these Siberian trappers who have all of these traditional ways of trapping and making their own stuff, though they also have modern things like snowmobiles. I enjoyed it, but I asked myself ‘where are the women in it,’” she continued, adding she decided to write a play from the female perspective.

“So it’s fictional, but it is based on these people and their lives,” she added.
“And a lot of places in Canada look like Siberia. There’s similar landscape. it was winter when I started writing it,” she said.
It is also loosely inspired by her own family, who come from the Ukraine.
“I did a lot of research. But my grandmother, my Baba’s family is from the Ukraine, so she had a lot of stories. So I learned a lot from her,” she continued.


Out of the world fun with healthy eating in Luke’s Lunchbox

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New West Theatre’s new theatre for young people production of the Sharon Peat penned comedy/science fiction adventure, “Luke’s Lunchbox”  is a fun way to spend an hour in the afternoon at the Sterndale BeCamille Pavlenko  and Ryan Reese rehearse a scene from New West Theatre’s production of Luke’s Lunchbox, running in the Sterndale Bennett Theatre, Dec. 26- Jan. 7. Photo by Richard Amerynnett Theatre.

 The show spreads the not so subtle message of eating healthy, by turning elementary school lunch trading into a science fiction adventure.

 It starts slowly as “the planets most, solar System’s most and universes’ most picky eater” Luke, played by Ryan Reese, wonders why his treats get turned into healthy snacks like kale, carrots and bean sprouts, by his magic blue lunchbox.

As he is unable to trade his healthy snacks, he tries them, and much to his wide-eyed surprise, finds he enjoys them.
The always hilarious Camille Pavlenko and Kelly Malcom play a cavalcade of crazy characters including Luke’s Australian mom (Pavlenko), bratty older sister (Kelly Malcom) and an assortment of students and teachers and later on otherworldly villains and allies.

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