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In The News!

A selection of media articles about various LunaSea productions are reproduced below:


The Bitterest Time – a sober reminder for our times

A standing ovation rounds off a heroic and oh-so Nova Scotian tale of resistance.

Excerpts from Fram Dimshaw's article in the Truro Daily, published on September 13, 2018:

bitterest time

The story of Mona Parsons sounds eerily similar to modern-day headlines: bombings, persecution, torture and refugees fleeing a war-town land.

Indeed, Halifax’s LunaSea Theatre did a fine job making the audience feel the same gut fear that Mona Parsons felt in a Nazi jail, beaten by guards and fed starvation rations, an ocean away from her hometown of Wolfville. The Bitterest Time is not meant to be enjoyed, but rather serve as a lesson from history that has not yet been heeded...

LeBlanc does an excellent job bringing Mona Parsons back to life in the deadly confines of a Nazi jail.

...the audience is lifted up from near-despair to a feeling of defiance, as both you and your fellow theatre-goers instinctively will for both Parsons and her Dutch friend Wendy to be free.

Freedom finally comes in the form of an allied bombing and a chaotic escape playing a mute German civilian. The tension never lets up until the last possible second however, as Parsons must seek shelter from a Nazi SS soldier – the very people who imprisoned her in the first place.

The audience may only breathe that collective sigh of relief when Parsons makes it over the Dutch border and is rescued by soldiers from her home province – the North Nova Scotia Highlanders to be precise.

We are never allowed to forget that Parsons ended the war as a refugee, wandering the roads of Europe like millions of others displaced by conflict. Here is where the unlearned lessons of history become most apparent.


SLUT: The Play puts a spotlight on consent 

LunaSea Theatre brings a dose of teen realness to the Stages festival.

Excerpts from Tara Thorne's article in the Coast, published on May 25, 2018:

Written by Katie Cappiello, the original production debuted at the New York Fringe Festival in 2013 and in the five years since has been performed all over the world, including last summer at the Sir James Dunn Theatre by LunaSea Theatre Company. A two-show remount is on May 28 as part of Eastern Front’s Stages Theatre Festival.

“When I was brought on at LunaSea and was working with Mary-Colin [Chisholm] and Martha [Irving], we’d been talking about doing a production with young professional actors,” says Ryanne Chisholm, who directed a run of the show in 2015 and has been developing it since. “LunaSea’s mandate is to support women’s voices and professional development,” she adds, outlining the process of casting 11 diverse young women, which began in 2017. “We knew the long-term goal was to try to take the show around the province, despite the size of the cast and subject matter,” says Chisholm. “Representation was very important to us, that it wasn’t 11 white cisgender women. With 11 parts, there’s really no excuse.

“Within that idea of diversity we also had large discussions with our cast with where each young woman was placed,” she adds. “If a woman is representative of a certain type of diversity, what does it mean for her to play this role? Audiences aren’t blind.”

SLUT is entertaining and well-written, but it’s also a tough watch—particularly when Joey recites the details of the assault, and when her friends aren’t sure to believe her. Even though it was written years before #MeToo, it feels like it could’ve fallen out of Capiello’s brain a month ago.


The year on stage 

Intimate plays, ambitious dance pieces and promising works in progress were the tops in 2017.

Excerpts from Michael Lake's article in the Coast, published on December 14, 2017:

Slut: The Play, LunaSea Theatre
Katie Capiello's play Slut was a piece of verbatim theatre about slut-shaming and sexual assault, performed here by a talented ensemble of young women. Aimed at teenagers—but of the utmost important for any audience—Slut succeeded in addressing its topic head-on, embracing it in all of its nuance and complexity.


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


Theatre review:’night Mother is angry, sad and riveting

Excerpts from Elissa Barnard's article in the The Chronicle Herald, published on May 6, 2015:

LunaSea Theatre’s production of ’night Mother keeps an audience on edge and leaves it in tears...

Director Sherry Smith, who was left speechless by the original Broadway production,directs veteran Halifax actress Jennifer Overton and emerging artist Lita Llewellyn in a riveting production at the Living Room, 2353 Agricola St., Halifax...

Smith keeps the balance in the play and in her actors. The trio goes for naturalism, with domestic activity and conversations realistically staged in a way to not always reveal the faces. When Thelma breaks down, her face is often unseen; her daughter will not “see”into her mother’s grief and loss.

The mix of the everyday and oncoming disaster is comical. As sad and recognizable as it is,’night Mother is also a very funny play, with great insight into the human condition.


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.

 

 

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.


 

about 'Woman & Scarecrow'

LunaSea brings Irish playwright Marina Carr’s work to the stage  by Kate Watson for The Coast, May 13, 2010: Back in 2006, I did my first theatre review for The Coast. The play was The Donahue Sisters by Irish playwright Geraldine Aron. Coincidentally, it was the first production by a brand new theatre company called LunaSea. I loved it. Flash forward four years, and I am again watching LunaSea perform a play by an Irish playwright, this time Woman & Scarecrow by Marina Carr. Again, I love it. It’s a surprisingly funny play about the last hours of woman, who seems to regret living almost as much as she does dying. Mary-Colin Chisholm (foreground) is the perfect actress for the role—from her flowing red hair to her “graveyard chic” cheekbones. Mauralea Austin is outstanding as the enigmatic Scarecrow, the woman’s tough and tender alter-ego. Sherry Smith is almost unrecognizable as the emotionally parsimonious Auntie Ah, but she gives a heartbreakingly hilarious performance. These women (including director Martha Irving) are truly at the top of their game.


about 'Girl in the Goldfish Bowl'


about 'To Capture Light'

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


about 'Perfect Pie'


about 'Talking Heads'


about 'The Donahue Sisters'