Northern Light Theatre’s 2012/2013 season was announced earlier this month with the headline, “Nudity, Violence, and Figure Skating; It’s everything you’ve come to expect from Northern Light Theatre.” With a title like that, how could I not be curious about what exactly the season will entail? (After all, I like nude, violent figure skating as much as the next person!)
It turns out the season is not so much about R-rated spectator sports as different types of male/female partnerships. Trevor Schmidt, Northern Light Theatre’s Artistic Director, explains, “Our past season had been entirely women on stage, so we thought it was time to share the love with gentlemen. We purposely sought out and were drawn to plays that didn’t necessarily examine the traditional ‘love story’ aspect of a male/female relationship – there’s enough of those out there! We have a selection of plays that reflect a more complicated and interesting idea of negotiation and delineation between genders in alternative relationships that may include, but are not limited to romantic partnerships.”
The 2012/2013 season will consist of:
6.0 – How Heap and Pebble Took on the World and Won – November 16-24, 2012 – A story of two world champion ice-dancers making a comeback in spite of the extinction of ice-rinks due to global warming.
When asked about the criteria for choosing plays this season, Schmidt explains why 6.0 was chosen. “The relationships of the two characters and their situation as skaters in a world wracked by global warming are the doors to examining the resilience of our own desires against the inevitability of time and nature. They could be bobsledders, or skiers, or deep sea divers. The topic is bigger than the situation – it’s about the human experience. The lens through which we see it as the audience happens to be figure skating.”
Ride – February 1-9, 2013 – The story of a man and a woman who “wake up in bed together – naked – and neither can remember how they got there.” The play will explore their making sense of “what may or may not have happened between them.”
DUST – April 5-14, 2013 – The story of what happens when two prison employees – an office worker and a prison guard – fall in love.
Schmidt provides deeper insight into DUST: “DUST is definitely an effort to up-end the traditional gender roles. The female character behaves in a [much] more typically ‘male’ way, in terms of her directness, boldness, drive and desires – which ultimately shows the male character to be much more in [sync] with what are traditionally viewed as ‘female’ (ie ‘weaker’) character traits. It will engender a lot of interesting debate, I think…”
An Accident – May 17-25, 2013 – “When a woman is critically injured in an accident, can the same man who almost took her life save her?”
Northern Light Theatre has become known in Edmonton for it’s provocative productions. I ask Trevor if he finds that theatre audiences are ready for the places that NLT’s productions take them, and if he sees theatre as having an educational role. “I think that there is always an audience for work that challenges an audience to think – to change – the debate – to discuss. Theatre that engages the audience and moves them – to thought, to tears, to anger, to action. Provocation can be an excellent tool to open doors to discussion, dissection, and debate – as long as you know what point you are trying to make. Rattling random cages in the hopes of causing random controversy is not for us. We have nudity this season – which we haven’t had in the past few seasons. But I’m not interested in titillation or teasing an audience. Nudity at NLT is not prurient or in the hopes of goosing up our ticket sales – it is an integral part of the play in which a character reveals themselves in a physical way – often preceding an emotional reveal, that is often more intimate and uncomfortable. However, our audiences respond so favorably to the kind of work that we do that we know there is a need for it. I’m never concerned if they are ready to go to the places we take them – I’m more interested in what they have to say about it after they’ve been there… It’s adult work – which is why we have done away with matinees and added in a late-night showing during each run for the night-owls.”
While Northern Light Theatre’s season doesn’t start until November, the company will be keeping busy until then focusing on its latest partnership with Players de Novo – “a group of Edmonton lawyers and judges who are dedicated to raising funds for Edmonton’s theatre community and the Victoria School Foundation.” In explaining the partnership, Schmidt says, “This year, I am directing a cast of lawyers and judges in THE MUSICAL COMEDY MURDERS OF 1940.” THE MUSICAL COMEDY MURDERS of 1940 runs only on May 4 at the Eva O. Howard Theatre at Victoria School for the Arts. For tickets, contact Northern Light Theatre at 780. 471.1586.
– Jenna Marynowski