Canadian Stage to Present YUKONSTYLE at Berkeley Street Theatre, 10/13-27
Yukonstyle, the second of two plays by Quebecois playwright Sarah Berthiaume presented by Canadian Stage this season, marks its English-language premiere at the Berkeley Street Theatre from October 13 to 27. The production features Kate Corbett, Ryan Cunningham, Francois Klanfer and Grace Lynn Kung, and is directed by Ted Witzel, one of the inaugural graduates of York University's MFA Program in Theatre - Stage Direction in Collaboration with Canadian Stage.
"This fall we were honoured to have two plays by Sarah Berthiaume rehearsing at the same time at our Berkeley Street Theatre - something that hasn't happened before outside of Quebec," said Matthew Jocelyn, artistic and general director, Canadian Stage. "Following the magical production of The Flood Thereafter helmed by Ker Wells we are thrilled to share Yukonstyle, a bold and uncensored piece by one of the most exciting new playwrights working in Canada today, in a new translation commissioned by Canadian Stage."
Honest and poignant, the play is an arresting exploration of what it means to be a young Canadian living in the north. In one of Canada's most remote cities, three unlikely roommates (Corbett, Cunningham and Kung) are enduring the harsh Whitehorse winter. Their lives mix together through the darkest months of the year as the 2007 Robert Pickton murder trial plays out on television. Written after the playwright spent a winter living in the Yukon, the play is for a new generation of Canadians less concerned with what it means to be "Canadian" than they are with how to get by in this country of mountains, bison, fast food, serial killers, and snow.
"I very rarely see people my age going to the theatre, maybe because there isn't a lot of work out there that's being made for us. This is a piece that deals with characters and questions I think my generation can relate to, and are bothered by," said Witzel. "Yukonstyle doesn't obsess with defining Canada as multicultural, but looks at how we deal with becoming adults in a place where multiculturalism is a given - just another aspect of how we negotiate our relationships and engage with our politics. The play is as un-precious as it is poignant, and deals potently with a generation that has to confront (among other things) the shadowy legacy of our nation's treatment of its aboriginal peoples and the overwhelming power and beauty of this land we're living on."
Translated by Nadine Desrochers (who also translated The Flood Thereafter, presented earlier this fall at the Berkeley Street Theatre), the production design was inspired by photographs taken by the playwright. The design attempts to reconcile the iconic imagery of the gold-rush era Klondike with the realities of present-day Whitehorse. The set, designed by Gillan Gallow, is sparse, cold, dark, and remote, evoking the claustrophobia of oppressive winters spent trapped inside smoking pot in front of the TV. Gallow's elegant set easily transforms for the play's multiple indoor and outdoor locations. Lighting by Bonnie Beecher, sound by Richard Feren and projections byCameron Davis work together to bring to life the haunting magic and brutal beauty of the Yukon's long, dark winters and the unspeakable power of the land.
Yukonstyle will be on stage at the Berkeley Street Theatre (26 Berkeley St.). Performances run Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. with matinees on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. The performance runs approximately 95 minutes with no intermission. Tickets from $22 to $49 are available online, by phone at 416.368.3110 or in person at the box office. For details visit www.canadianstage.com.