Thursday, May 31, 2007

June 1-16: Village Of Idiots at Gallery 7

Gallery 7 Theatre & Performing Arts Society presents
Village of Idiots
by John Lazarus

June 1 & 2, 7–9, 14–16 @ 7:30 PM
Discount Matinees: June 2 & 9 @ 2:00 PM

MEI Secondary School Theatre
4081 Clearbrook Road, Abbotsford

Tickets - House of James: 604-852-3701

Journey to the Village of Idiots for a Theatrical Adventure

Which is better – to have all the street smarts in the world or to love with all the innocence of a child? Such is the unique question raised in Gallery 7’s final production of the 2006/2007 theatre season, Village of Idiots, written by Canadian playwright, John Lazarus.

A witty and charming theatre experience suitable for the entire family, Village of Idiots tells the story of a young Russian Army deserter named Yosef who stumbles into the Polish town of Chelm, also known as the legendary Village of Idiots. Concerned that the hamlet will be run-over by Russian invaders if the townsfolk don’t wise up to the ways of the outside world, Yosef attempts to help the seemingly apathetic village prepare for the worst.

Old habits are hard to break, however, and Yosef soon discovers that the inhabitants of Chelm operate at a completely different social and intellectual level, one that appears inherently backwards and infinitely ridiculous. The villagers, possessing a passionate but child-like vision of the cosmos, seem more concerned with local municipal matters such as how not to walk on the first snow of winter, how to protect the synagogue collection box from thieves by hanging it from the ceiling and how to sell borscht to the next door village by dumping it in to the river upstream.

While overseeing the rebuilding the town synagogue, Yosef rubs shoulders with an eclectic and colorful community of people. He meets the local woman’s firefighting auxiliary team, a strange traveler who arrived from another, but strangely similar town of Chelm and a husband and wife team who earn a living by selling Schnapps to each other. Only after spending nearly a year in town does Yosef begin to discover that the villagers’ outward appearance of ignorance and backwards wisdom actually reveals a deeper truth regarding the value of a loving and caring community and the importance of child-like innocence and simplicity.

Village of Idiots was first commissioned by the Young People’s Theatre of Ontario and received its first production in 1985. Since then, the play has been performed on numerous professional, college and community stages through-out the country. The play is based on a beloved tradition of Jewish story-telling as found in such books as The Wise Men of Helm and their Merry Tales by Solomon Simon and other anthologies.

Playing the role of the deserting Russian soldier, Yosef, is J.D. Dueckman, whose previous performances include Beau Jest for Gallery 7 and The Taming of the Shrew for UCFV Theatre. Caszie Schoeber, who last appeared on the Gallery 7 stage in Little Women, plays the skeptical yet empathetic Miriam. Rounding out the cast is a talented crew of both new and veteran Gallery 7 performers including Andrew Abrahams, Julie Brooks, John Dawson, Quentin Flokstra, Patrick Jolicoeur, Heather Muth, Dave Peters, Richard Toots and Stephanie Roukema.

Directing Village of Idiots is Gallery 7 newcomer, Robyn Roukema. Roukema recently graduated from Trinity Western University with a degree in drama and is supported by an equally talented team of designers. Set design for Village of Idiots is by UCFV Theatre Department wardrobe manager, Heather Robertson. Costume design is by Dani Rebain, lighting design is by Lora-Lynne Frewing and sound design is by Rick Havinga. Stage management is provided by Jenn Wittrup.

For more information about Gallery 7 Theatre, please visit their website

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