Wednesday, May 30, 2007

June 9: REMNANTS Closes At Pacific Theatre!

I got so engrossed in REMNANTS rehearsals (I directed) that I completely neglected all my blogs, emails... The whole international Soul Food conglomerate came crashing to a halt! I'm surprised civilization itself didn't collapse.

Anyhow, the show's up, I've had a week and a half to recuperate, and I'm firing up the old computer once again to get back in the swing.

What a fascinating show! Spanning three decades, Jason Sherman interweaves three of the Great Stories into a compelling epic tale, transposing the Joseph story from Genesis to pre-Holocaust Poland and Canada in the Great Depression. In the months leading up to rehearsal, I marvelled at Sherman's brilliance, the sheer cleverness and invention involved in combining these three elements to shed new light on each. It wasn't until we were deep into rehearsal that we found the story's heart: Sherman finds in Joseph's journey the challenge of forgiveness, the choice between the harsh judgment of his father and some other, harder way. What a deeply moving story it ends up becoming!

I'll post more on the Pacific Theatre blog when I can steal the time, but for now let me give you the vitals, and pass along bits from Peter Birnie's glowing review.

by Jason Sherman
Closes June 9
Wed-Sat 8pm
Sat matinee 2pm
Tickets 731-5518 or purchase online
More information at the Pacific Theatre website


And here's Mr Birnie...

Play shines through excellent staging, dedication of Trinity Western cast
Peter Birnie, Vancouver Sun
Saturday, May 26, 2007

Jason Sherman's innovative take on the Biblical story of Joseph and his brothers makes an interesting piece of theatre... an engaging transference of the tale from ancient times to Canada's recent past. For its annual showcase of emerging artists, Pacific Theatre joins forces with the theatre department at Trinity Western University. The result is a student production of Remnants that offers excellent staging and solid ensemble work from the young cast.

In his 1998 play Patience, Sherman used the Biblical story of Job in a fairly tangential way. Remnants, by contrast, parallels Joseph's journey from start to finish. Sherman's cleverness comes in the many ways he has found to transfer old to new.
In 1925, Joseph's jealous brothers drive him from their Polish village, forcing him on to a ship to America. Instead he disembarks at Halifax, and his Canadian adventures come, by 1932, to include an interpretation of a dream that brings him to the attention of Mackenzie King.

That infamously clairvoyance-obsessed politician is between gigs. Ousted as prime minister in 1930, he'll be back in power in 1935 thanks to the prophecies of his young Polish aide. King's rabid anti-Semitism leaves Joseph unable to admit he's Jewish. Yet the lad is now in charge of deciding the fate of a boatload of European refugees, including the 10 brothers who gave him the boot.

Ron Reed has done a terrific job of dealing with a big cast in a small space. The play is filled with shifts in time and mood and place, but Reed's steady direction of this epic keeps confusion to a minimum. In what is perhaps a mark of the growing bonds between Jews and Christians, Reed and his crowd of Christian students also embrace the play's many specific references to Jewish religious rites and mores.

Stancil Campbell's set is similarly clear-cut, with wooden platforms and benches easily adapted for the play's many settings. This stage is framed by two big windows built with subtle design references delineating one as Old World Jewish and the other as Canadian Presbyterian.

...everyone's work (is) good, especially Kirsty Provan's engaging performance as Joseph. The palpable sincerity of everyone's effort to make this production of Remnants a memorable one has me hankering for the same dedication from a professional troupe willing to tackle this fascinating fable.

Sun Theatre Critic

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