Welcome to our first issue of the Phoenix Theatre eNews! We wanted to offer you – our subscribers, ticket holders, and those of you who are just curious – a way to learn more what are we up to. But also, we wanted to share some of the inspirational stories about the plays that we've chosen for this season's productions. We'll go behind the scenes and in depth into their captivating subject matter.
It will be fun, interesting and insightful… We promise!
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With text from Castle Tyrol Museum
What does it mean to be so ugly that your portrait makes it into the annals of art history?
Such is the story of Margaret Maultasch, the 14th century monarch of Tyrol who is represented in the work of Leonardo da Vinci and 15th-century painter Quinten Massys. Her reputed portrait, titled "A Grotesque Old Woman," (image right) now sits on the walls of the National Gallery in London where it inspired Victoria playwright and UVic alumna, Janet Munsil to tell her Gothic tale of beauty, power, politics and the plague.
"I was wandering around the National Gallery in London, a totally overwhelmed tourist, when I came face-to-face with…"The Ugly Duchess," says Munsil.
Margaret, Countess of Tyrol was a real woman who lived from 1318 to 1369 and was given the unfortunate nickname "Maultasch" or "ugly mouth." The origin of this name has never really been satisfactorily explained although her representation in art of the 15th century do little to improve her image. She has, in fact, been described in various unkind ways – as an absurdly unattractive, vicious, wicked woman and unfaithful wife – yet the reason for such negative comments is much disputed. Was she actually so badly disfigured as to deserve the nickname "big mouth" and was she really so devious and cunning as some of her critics would have us believe?
Her biography describers her as a medieval countess who seems to have led a relatively "normal" life although a hard, cruel destiny awaited her. At the early age of twelve and as sole heiress to the kingdom of Tyrol with its many enviable possessions, she found herself married to a Bavarian crown prince in order to safeguard the future of a prestigious dynasty. After years of unhappy married life, she separated from her first husband and, a mere couple of months later, married Ludwig, the emperor's son. Her unconventional, contradictory behaviour led to an international scandal. The church in Rome refused to recognize the legitimacy of this second marriage and Margaret was summarily excommunicated, something which brought great suffering to the whole region of Tyrol for the following seventeen years.
She was eventually forced to accept that the church had political reasons for outlawing her and her subjects but refused to let this influence her beliefs or way of life to any great extent. She did, however, have an extremely hard, unhappy life. Her children all died at an early age and her beloved Tyrol was afflicted by various dire catastrophes including the Black Death, a number of earthquakes and a plague of grasshoppers to name but a few. Her second husband and their son and heir, Meinhard, also both died unexpectedly and she felt obliged to hand her estate and possessions over to her closest relations, the great and powerful Hapsburg dynasty, a decision which would of course change the course of the future development of Tyrol.
Contemporary art also represents her in two completely different ways. Her personal seal shows a slim, genteel, distinguished, pleasant-looking female figure in flagrant contrast to the caricature of an ugly, elderly woman by Leonardo da Vinci which, since the eighteenth century, has been believed to be a portrait of Margaret and which, somewhat unfortunately, a photographer from Meran chose as the subject for a postcard in the early years of the twentieth century.
by Margaret's life, Janet Musil's play takes some artistic license, illustrating
that many elements of Margaret – the woman – are
lost to history. Munsil adds, "Nobody knows how ugly she really
ALSO OF NOTE: An exhibition on Margarete Von Tirol, the last Countess of Tyrol, is being presented currently at Castle Tyrol, the castle where she lived in what is now Northern Italy near the Austrian border. A special thank you to the Castle Tyrol for this research and text. (Image Above: The first image of duchess Margaretha "Maultasch" 15th century, Castle of Ambras, Innsbruck)
Duchess: October 11 - 20, 2007
October 4: Box Office Opens
October 12 at 7:00pm: FREE Pre-Show Lecture
Please join Dr. Erin Campbell, Assistant Professor in the History in Art Department speaking on The Ugly Woman in the Renaissance Imagination. Her teaching focuses on the visual culture of Europe from 1500-1800 and her research interests include cultural representations of old age, aging and creativity. This lecture is FREE of charge and open to everyone.
Wind in the Willows: November 8 - 24, 2007
Presented by Industiral Alliance Pacific
October 12 at 12:30pm: Orion Lecture The Scenic Artist in Theatre Today with Jennifer Hedge, Head Scenic Artist for Theatre Arts at The Banff Centre. Hedge is also painting the sets for Wind in the Willows. This lecture is FREE of charge and open to everyone.
November 1: Box Office Opens
November 13 at 8:00pm: Special performance with Sign Language Interpretation, made possible by the UVic Equity and Human Rights Office.
Lionel: February 14 – 23, 2008
The Incredible Case of Señor Morton: March 13 – 22, 2008
Jay Bennett won an Emmy for Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Television for his work as associate producer for the Fallen Alternate Reality Game – a video game tie-in for the ABC Family television movie series Fallen…
Current students Tim Johnston, who will play Aladdin, and Kaitlin Williams go on a magic carpet ride with Kaleidoscope Theatre’s Aladdin upcoming this December...
Our most recent graduating class has had considerable success since graduating in April. Danielle Janess, who appeared as Queen Elizabeth in last year’s Richard III, played Queen Victoria at the BC Parliament Buildings this summer. James Kot is going to war on the set of Paul Gross’ Passchendaele, which is being filmed in Calgary this October. A big time Soprano’s fan, he also just finished filming the TV movie Snow Globe, starring The Soprano’s Lorraine Bracco and Christina Milian. Featured on the front of this season’s brochure, Victor Dolhai recently worked with Kokoro Dance Theatre in their 12th Wreck Beach Butoh and with SNAFU Dance’s BLiNK – winner of the Best Physical Theatre/Dance at this year’s Victoria Fringe Festival. Also enjoying Fringe Festival success, Laura Harris was nominated for Best Female Performer for her performance in her self-written one-woman show, Pitch Blond. Theatre Calgary is keeping Kassia Warshawski busy, appearing as Hero in their Fuse Festival production of Much Ado About Nothing and playing Emily in their upcoming production of Our Town…
Theatre SKAM recently staged the Canadian premiere of Melissa James Gibson’s play [sic]. Alumnus Amiel Gladstone directed and Lucas Meyer and Michael Rinaldi performed...
Phoenix alumni are making an impact creatively at The Belfry this season with over a dozen showcasing their talents. Phoenix connections include Patrick Du Wors, Medina Hahn, Ereca Hassell, Rebekah Johnson, John Krich, Karen Levis, Brian Linds, Joan MacLeod, Erin Macklem, Jacob Richmond, Britt Small, Graeme Somerville, Celine Stubel, Sara Topham and more…
Check out past Phoenix Phacts on our website.
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Season Community Partner:
Cadboro Bay Village Merchants
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2007/08 Season Ticket Sponsor: Monk Office Supplies
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