Phoenix Theatre: BackstagePASS
|October 2009 • Act 3 Scene 2|
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This Fall, as you gather your family around the thanksgiving table, consider how often food is a significant part of the ties that bind your family together. For Samantha and her father David – the two main characters in our 2009/10 season-opener The Josephine Knot – their idea of family is held together by Baba, Samantha's grandma, and her obsession for preserves and pickling. In this BackstagePASS, learn more about the play and Set & Costume Designer Meg Newton's family pickling recipes.
A grandfather clock, piles of newspapers, a lamp made out of Popsicle sticks, an old wedding veil and lots and lots of pickles: Welcome to Samantha’s grandmother’s house.
This is the packrat world of Baba, created by UVic Theatre alumna Meg Braem in her play The Josephine Knot, which opens the UVic's Phoenix Theatre 2009/10 season for our annual “Spotlight on Alumni” and runs October 15 through 24, 2009. Meg Braem (BFA ’04) is joined by her twin sister Jen Braem (BFA ’04), also an UVic alumna and general manager of Theatre BOMBUS which has brought together other alumni to work on this production: director Amiel Gladstone (BFA ‘94), costume and set designer and production manager Megan Newton (BFA ’05), lighting designer Michael Franzman (BFA candidate for 2010) and actor Laura Harris (BFA ’06).
Laura Harris (of much acclaimed one-woman show about Judy Holliday Pitch Blond) plays twenty-five-year-old Samantha who travels with her father, played by veteran Victoria actor Brian Linds, to their family home for the wake of her grandmother, Baba.
In and about Baba’s hoards of knickknacks and preserves – jars of pickled everything, from potatoes and onions to watermelon and cantaloupe – Samantha wades through long-forgotten relatives and personal family memories as everyone stakes their claim to grandma’s treasures. The play is named after a sailor’s knot that is used to make two pieces of rope function as one. “Metaphorically, Baba’s house does the same for Samantha and her father David," says Set & Costume Designer Megan Newton. “It’s only by wading through the mounds of newspaper, dirt and canning that they can come to terms with who she was, what they’ve lost, and appreciate what they have found in each other.”
Megan is responsible for visually creating Baba's world on stage at the Phoenix Theatre. She takes her role as Set Designer very seriously – right down to the pickled cantaloupe – and spends the weekend before the play opens canning the props herself!
"The play asks for pickled watermelon, so that's what I make," says Megan. "I want the preserves to look authentic for the audience." She also feels its important not to waste the food, so most of the canning actually gets eaten afterwards!
Megan learned to can from her mother who learned to pickle from her grandfather. "My great-grandfather was the real expert in preserving. For him, it was a matter of survival to get through the winter and the pantry in his old house – like who even has a pantry anymore! – was full of pickles, jams, beans, and canned salmon."
The recipe Megan uses was handed down from her mom (see recipe below). "It is mine and my brother's favourite, but mom says she'll only make pickles if we're around to help make them." With her and her brother living away from home, this doesn't happen as often as it used to. "But when we are there, we eat up the jar in the fridge and take one for home."
Megan's family does their preserving in late August, but the canning has to cure for about six weeks, so they usually can't be eaten until Thanksgiving. "That's the thing about pickling, it has a deferred enjoyment factor," says Megan.
"I realize not a lot of people learn to make preserves anymore. If you want one, you can just buy it at the store," says Megan. "Maybe its a generational thing, but I'm glad its been passed on to me."
Check out Megan's family recipe for Pickled Beans and Carrots below, or see the thousands of recipes – from peaches to pork– online at www.picklethis.com.
Pickled Beans & Carrots
1.5 lb tender green and/or wax beans
October 15– 24: The Josephine Knot
October 7: Box Office Open for The Josephine Knot tickets.
October 16 at 7:00pm: Free Pre-Show Lecture
October 16 at 7:30pm: ORION Lecture:
The International Year of Astronomy celebrates the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first telescopic observations. While he used his scientific skills to build and refine his telescopes, he needed his talent in perspective drawing to interpret what he saw through them. His musical ability, acquired from his composer father, also figured in some of his experimental designs. Join acclaimed science journalist Dava Sobel, former New York Times science reporter and author of Longitude, Galileo's Daughter and The Planets.
October 24 at 2:00pm: Sign Language Interpretation
October 24 at 3:15pm: Performance Creation Canada Panel Discussion
November 27: 2009/10 "Spotlight on Alumni" Call for Submissions
November 5– 21: Romeo & Juliet
February 18 – 27: Problem Child
March 18 – 27: Wreckage
Victoria is home to a multitude of theatre companies – including Theatre SKAM, Intrepid Theatre, Theatre BOMBUS, Suddenly Dance Theatre – and dozens of our theatre alumni are the heart of many of these organizations. This October they will host a national event for theatre creators Performance Creation Canada (PCC) Conference in Victoria on October 22-25, 2009. This is a creative, practical event for the folk who are making exciting innovative indie theatre across the country. It is open to anyone interested in performance art and fosters the development of ideas and dialogue between creators across varied performance disciplines with interactive practical events including art walks, panel discussions and workshops. It is a great chance to get inspired and connect with theatre peers. See above for the discussion panel that will be held after the matinee of The Josephine Knot. All are welcome to attend.
During the conference, attendees are encouraged to take in Victoria theatre (which also feature lots of our alumni), including a remounting of Atomic Vaudeville's Ride The Cyclone, and SNAFU Dance Theatre's award-winning Fringe production, Pretty Little Instincts, Giggling Iguana's Jekyll & Hyde at Craigdarroch Castle, Suddenly Dance Theatre's Romp Festival and Theatre SKAM's Homegrown Collective – Haunted.
Alumnus Victor Dolhai (BFA '07) was named and interviewed by the Times Colonist as one of their Rising Stars, a six-part series on Victoria artists under the age of 25. Writer Adrian Chamberlain interviews Dolhai and discusses his emerging career in this Times Colonist article. Dolhai performed in all three of the plays this summer produced by Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre, including a starring role in The Fantasticks.
Phoenix alumnae Ingrid Hansen (BFA '09) and Sarah Pelzer (BFA'09) are performing in Pacific Opera Victoria's current production of La Traviata in small standout dramatic roles. La Traviata continues at the Royal Theatre until October 10, 2009. POV's next production The Rake's Progress (November 12-21) features a set design by Theatre professor Allan Stitchbury.
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