Wednesday, September 05, 2012

spitfire grill | artistic director's notes

These days, all the talk in the arts community is about "community engagement" - building a real relationship with our audiences and communities, being interactive and responsive, so that the work we do really matters to the people it serves. Kinda sounds like Pacific Theatre, that's what I think.

And I guess SPITFIRE GRILL is a case in point. Last season at a Martyn Joseph concert I was talking with a couple who are long-time subscribers. PT is their "date night" - though they almost apologetically admitted that most of our shows aren't exactly "date movies." What - REFUGE OF LIES, MOURNING DOVE, JESUS HOPPED THE 'A' TRAIN? That's not romantic? What do we have to do for these people!

But yeah, I got it. Obviously, challenging, risk-taking, "morally rigorous" plays are part of what makes PT the company it is. Still… Where's the TALLEY'S FOLLY, the DRIVING MISS DAISY, the WONDERFUL LIFE lately? Because one of the other things theatre is good at is making us feel great. Making us feel alive.

Almost on the spot, I decided it was time for SPITFIRE GRILL. Audiences love this play! So do long-time Pacific Theatre artists Kerry Vander Griend and Damon Calderwood, who've both produced shows in our season, as well as directing and acting in PT productions. So I played matchmaker, they loved the idea, and…

I think we've struck a bit more of a balance this season. We added another comedy night - watch for FUNNY STUFF in the spring - and this fall Peter 'n' Chris will be back to add the flat-out hilarity of another hit Fringe show to the mix of improv comedy we call SIDESHOW.

We've brought back THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE for a visit in December, and added a couple more nights of CHRISTMAS PRESENCE so fewer people get turned away. WITTENBERG is jam-packed with ideas, sure, but it's sassy and silly and not above stooping to a cheap gag now and then. And there's a wonderful, warm humour to our season closer, HOW TO WRITE A NEW BOOK FOR THE BIBLE.

Okay, so LEAVE OF ABSENCE and MOTHER TERESA are pretty darn substantial plays. I'll give you that. But while Lucia's play is closer to ESPRESSO than to HOLY MO or CHICKENS, you know the Frangione take on tthe world balances even the darkest things with flashes of light, lightness and grace. And MOTHER TERESA - wow, can Helen Edmundson tell a story! Remember THE CLEARING? She writes the theatrical equivalent of page-turners.

I'd be stretching things to say it's "Date Night Season" at Pacific Theatre - I'm afraid there's not a romcom in the bunch. But will you have your spirits lifted, at least as often as your entire worldview is shattered? I think so.

Have fun.


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