In the News!

Les and Dawn at the Stages Festival

Excerpts from Andrea Nemetz's article in Local Xpress about Les and Dawn: Kindness of strangers lifts spirits in LunaSea Theatre production

In this age of cynicism, Les & Dawn is a very compassionate play, says Mary-Colin Chisholm.

"The characters are equal parts kindness and optimist. It's a tone and theme the world can use," she muses, just before rehearsal begins for the LunaSea Theatre production she's directing as part of the Stages Theatre Festival this week.

"That strangers can be this kind to each other is nice news in this desensitized world."

The play by Enfield native Jake Willett debuted three years ago at the Atlantic Fringe Festival in Halifax.

Les & Dawn tells the story of failed businessman Les, who meets Dawn, a little girl in the park, and in a brief conversation discovers the girl is extremely bright....Les gets drawn into the lives of Dawn and her mother Emily, who is grieving the loss of her husband.

Mike Pellerin, who was lured out of retirement in 2014 to play Les, is taking a leave from his job with Canada Post for this production. Ryanne Chisholm, who is a co-artistic director of LunaSea Theatre with Mary-Colin Chisholm (no relation, though they are both from Antigonish), is Emily and Dalhousie Theatre grad Rachel Hastings, who has been seen recently in Red Fish and Two in the Coop with Halifax Theatre for Young People, is Dawn.

Mary-Colin also worked with Willett on dramaturging the production, adding a couple of new scenes and helping to clarify things.

"At the Fringe, we were in the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia space, which was limiting. We've opened up how we have the production at the Bus Stop," says Ryanne.

She says Emily, whose husband died when she was in her 30s, has felt lost and dispirited since she lost him.

"She's stuck in the grieving process and stuck in the aftermath of her husband's death ... She's a raw nerve. She doesn't have all the colours of her former self."

Writer Jake Willett says, "Les & Dawn began as a writing exercise in playwriting class a decade ago. It was just a couple of scenes, but it stuck with me."

He says the new writing for the Stages production fills out the internal world of Dawn. He also didn't realize Emily's role would be as large during the initial writing.

"It has taken the whole play for her daughter to reconnect."

Michael Pellerin, Ryanne Chisholm, and Rachel Hastings star in LunaSea Theatre's Les & Dawn at Stages Theatre Festival, Thursday to Saturday, May 25 to 27. For tickets, go to:http://stages.tickethalifax.com/events/41574568/les-amp-dawn

 

 

 

Thank you to all who came back to the attic!   We had a wonderful time re-visiting those strange sisters....

The Donahue Sisters fun and lively with powerful twist

LunaSea Theatre celebrates its 10th anniversary of plays involving women with a lushly produced and finely acted remount of its first hit production of Geraldine Aron's Irish black comedy The Donahue Sisters at The Waiting Room in Halifax through Saturday.

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LunaSea Theatre celebrates its 10th anniversary with a remount of the crazy, Irish one-act play The Donahue Sisters.

“We decided to give it the production it deserves,“ director and LunaSea Theatre co-founder Martha Irving said at a packed weekend matinee audience in Halifax's cosy Waiting Room theatre.

Ten years ago, The Donahue Sisters had a stellar cast and a $50 budget. Now it has a stellar cast and a budget for lush lighting, a highly detailed set and a complete sound design.

This black comedy, starring Geneviève Steele, Francine Deschepper and Ryanne Chisholm, is a lively and fun story with a powerful twist at the end.

It opens with three middle-aged sisters at a tiny red table in the attic pouring tea from their child's tea set. The sisters only gather periodically for family emergencies and this time their father is dying.

Deschepper plays with wonderful zest and a laugh to lift the rooftop the wild sister who changed her name, is a successful writer of novels that her sisters consider “smutty” and is married to an artist in New York.

Steele gives intensity and a dreamy restlessness to the eldest sister, who has a sharp moral sense, a family of four and trouble at home, while Chisholm admirably and in strong detail plays the youngest, the innocent, homespun Annie, whose marriage has its own peculiarities.

The piercing sisterly back-biting and telling of everyday secrets is full of fun until the three ritualistically reveal a secret trauma from their childhood.

Playful and smart in its literary construction, this play is on a more serious level about women who have lost their power and who need to reassert control.

Author Geraldine Aron explores innocence and experience, girlishness and maturity, presented visually in the delicate, sleeveless white nightgowns the women wear.

They seem like fairy creatures from Victorian and Edwardian times until they don their modern housecoats and slippers.

Ingrid Risk's lighting design, its opening fanciful pinks and greens and later hot whites, suits the degrees of enchantment and harsh reality in this story. Katrin Whitehead's set has extraordinary detail with hanging peaked, wooden beams, themselves draped in hanging white cloths for a ghostly effect, and a rear white stone wall with a window of changing light.

The white cloths refer to the Irish saint Brigid in a production influenced by Druidic myth. The Irish draw on Brigid's healing powers when they tie white cloths to trees with healing wishes attached. 

Director Irving, working with assistant director and movement coach Emily Pettet, goes for an intense, firecracker production with great physical and verbal detail in the acting. Sound design by Donnie Walls adds to the mystery and heightens key moments.