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TiFT offers fresh, new ‘18-19 season
David Ball
David Ball stars in TiFT's season opener, 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch' (Photo contributed)

Another theatrical season, another set of adventures, is what Barrie’s innovative Talk is Free Theatre promises starting this fall and rolling into 2019. Artistic Producer Arkady Spivak has lined up a foursome of provocative plays set to recharge theatregoers in Simcoe County and beyond.

The celebration gets going in November with Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the “genre-bending, fourth-wall-smashing rock musical sensation, with a pulsing score and wickedly funny story of a gender-crossed glam rocker determined to become a superstar.”

Devotees of Broadway may recognize the title from the appearance of Neil Patrick Harris three years ago.

Spivak dubs Hedwig a “cult hit”, having been around for 15 years and spawned a film version in 2001, which didn’t take off.  

TiFT was attracted to Hedwig for the title character’s fight for not only political freedom, but from the restraints society places on individuals to conform to one gender or another.

Says Spivak, “we like to explore and perhaps even dismantle the notion of gender as a societal mask (the others being: age, race and language).”

Local actor and Shaw Festival veteran David Ball will play the lead role, “a giant, redefining part,” says Spivak. The show runs November 22 to December 2.

Second offering is Every Brilliant Thing, about coping with personal tragedy, running from January 24 to February 2. This scripted work allows for improvisation, making it participatory, weaving audience members into the play as characters, but “no one is going to drag you on to the stage to make fun of you at your expense.

“And the most exciting thing to me here is that this unique world of role playing has serious issues on its mind - such as mental health, parenting and other big preoccupations.”

Later in the winter, Esther Jun, who directed last year’s stunning production of Amadeus, returns with the Nikolai Gogol play, The Gamblers, the third TiFT offering of a work by this celebrated Russian playwright.

“We produced his farce The Marriage in our first season in 2003 and it was our first big hit. In 2007, we performed Gogol’s best-known work The Inspector General in the Council Chambers of the Barrie City Hall.  Incidentally, it was about municipal government corruption in a remote Russian town.”

The Gamblers is what Spivak calls “an unforgiving satire. Gogol was triumphant in largely avoiding painting positive characters in any of his work. His people are grey at best.

“A bunch of men (some of them will become women in our version, although we are primarily interested in them as people) play not only cards, but each other. You never quite know predator from prey at a given time, and one begins to wonder if they might be both of the same.”

The Gamblers runs March 28 through April 6.

Greek tragedy is imported to the coast of Newfoundland by actor-playwright Allison Basha, with Newfie Electra, on a double bill with Alyssa Wright’s one-woman show, Music for the Changing Voice, the season’s finale, running April 25 to May 4.

“With its distinctive history and culture,” says Basha, “the island has created a style of theatre not like anything else in the country frequently utilizing site-specific locations, local customs, language, folk stories, and the involvement of the community. In essence, the theatre of Newfoundland is by the people for the people, and for this reason, it doesn’t have a strong history of adapting classical Greek theatre, specifically Electra by Sophocles.”

Tickets for Talk is Free Theatre’s 2018-19 season will be going fast, so time is of the essence to enjoy another intriguing season. To learn more, click here.


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Glenn Wilkins

About the Author: Glenn Wilkins

Glenn Wilkins, in a 30-year media career, has written for print and electronic media, as well as for TV and radio. Glenn has two books under his belt, profiling Canadian actors on Broadway and NHL coaches.
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