Theatrically Nasty Thoughts – Edition #4

Jenny Munday in THE CAVE PAINTER by Don Hannah


Jenny Munday was introduced in the opening remarks as a “force of nature” — this raises the bar considerably, eh? I have to confess my Canadian theatre ignorance: I did not know of Jenny Munday before tonight (this is simply one piece of a larger puzzle about which I am lacking much knowledge, but trying to expand). Having learned she played ‘Agnes’ in the original production of MacIvor’s Marion Bridge, a show we staged in Nov 2009, I was already expecting her performance to be high caliber since I know the role of ‘Agnes’ requires a real “force”. Well, Ms. Munday’s performance tonight in the debut (?) of Don Hannah‘s The Cave Painter exceeded any expectations. As somebody who likes to dabble in theatre and acting myself, I was left in awe at the control she had of her craft. It’s after watching a performance like Ms. Munday’s that I think “why bother” even trying to do what I consider “acting” for myself. The performance I witnessed tonight, while on some level was an opening night performance with everything getting comfortable, was the single best performance I’ve witnessed in a Notable Acts Theatre Festival. To steal a quote from MacIvor’s This Is A Play: “God she’s good!”

Having performed a few solo shows myself, I know the grave importance the director’s input or silence can have, and it would seem that Ms. Munday and Kim McCaw must have trusted one another immensely. Behind Ms. Munday’s performance is Mr. McCaw’s direction — the director’s outside eye is vital. A performance like this cannot be carved without a sculptor.

And of course, all this work stems from the cacophony of words Mr. Hannah wrote down, or to paraphrase the play’s ‘Dianne’: the marks on the page. At turns hilarious, heart-wrenching, and intense — and sometimes all three! — the script embraces the confessional setting, moving us through the stories of ‘Dianne’s’ life in a very organic way (for the most part).

My *one* possible complaint would be that the pace seemed a little too quick at times. I thought some moments could have hung in the air longer … but I do love a good pause …

And when the play began with ‘Dianne’ standing, hunched over a bible from which she was tearing chunks of pages, and ranting about family, you just knew that we were in for a ride …

[Feel free to LEAVE A REPLY OR COMMENT]

Again, in the interest of honesty, I’ll admit I was a bit soured by the festival’s eventual gravitation towards incorporating professional artists — i.e. bringing in people who didn’t seem to be part of the scene already. Why did we need “help” from these outsiders? (I was/am naive in many respects, so forgive my childish attitude.) As was announced in Len Falkenstein‘s opening remarks tonight, the festival’s aim was always larger — in some sense this was the inevitable growth of the seed they planted by starting the festival. I guess that was unclear to me and I actually started to see the growth into using professionals, and expanding the organization, as a sign of my needing to vamoose — I don’t know if I play well in such organized and formal surroundings since it all just seems too big, so we have this Nasty-Garage-Theatre-Band-Thing instead where the action plays out on a smaller scale within which I’m comfortable. That said, and I have not been a faithful festival attendant, but this was the strongest show I’ve seen at NBActs. I’ve wondered in the past why so-and-so from the local pool of actors wasn’t cast in such-and-such a part instead of bringing in so-and-so-professional from (seemingly) outside the local scene, or why not use a local director? I guess I’m suspicious of the benefits of adding the “professional” component, and I haven’t been overly impressed by some of the past participants — I guess I expected more from them considering the label “professional”. Tonight’s production of The Cave Painter was a good argument against these latter thoughts. It was wonderful that we here in Fredericton were given the opportunity to see this play. To see it done so well in every respect was truly a gift. Thanks.

The production team for the play itself should certainly be proud of the work they have created, but again, as I said in yesterday’s post, Notable Acts is what makes all this possible.

THANK YOU NBActs for making this play possible at this time.

Now, GO SEE THE CAVE PAINTER! You will be missing a beautiful experience if you don’t …

Performance details for this and the rest of the festival can be found here:
NotaBle Acts Theatre Festival site >>>

scott

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Posted on August 1, 2012, in Theatre Stuff, Theatrical Stuff and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I’m ecstatic that you liked it Scott!!! I was wondering if you would come, and I’m so glad you did! I saw you from the booth, sitting at the edge of your chair and I knew you were enjoying what you were seeing. But how could you not with such an intense and moving performance as Jenny’s. I hope everyone comes out to see this show as it is not one to be missed!

  2. It’s nice to see your thought process behind whether NotaBle Acts should use professional actors or not. Yes, it would be great to use the pool of great actors we have in NB, but then again, as a member of the audience, sometimes I crave seeing a new face. Someone who has expressions that are not already familiar to me. I think that in a sense, this is why I appreciate seeing these “professionals” – not necessarily for the sake of connections to professionals outside of NB, but for newness.

    Then again, The-Nasty-Garage-Theatre-Band-Thing never disappoints even if they usually use the same pool of actors. And this is probably because I’ve never been disappointed in the scripts chosen!

  3. Oh yes, of course it is good to have fresh faces on stage, and fresh input behind-the-scenes as well. For myself, after having spent 15 years or more floating around through fresh faces and fresh input, when Nasty Shadows was into it’s 5th-6th year of existence I was longing for the stability of a constant ensemble with whom to work. I certainly learned, and do learn from anyone new I encounter(ed), but I think there’s much value — of a different sort, perhaps? — from building a solid group of regulars. This ranges from reliability to creativity — you get to know each other in a way that isn’t possible in fleeting interactions (but that’s part of the thrill of those fleeting interactions as well: that a collection of strangers can come together to create something.)

    I’m a big fan of music, especially live music, and especially improvised live music created by a group of players who know one another intimately — it’s not “better” than other ensembles making music, it’s just my preferred listening, but their communication is only possible because of their established relationships.

    I have similar hopes in working with the Shadows that seem to stick around with me year after year (I think some of them are crazy, maybe!), and have felt those hopes reach actual results and been rewarded by the relationships we’ve built playing together.

    And yet, for NBActs, that diversity of participants, both amateur and professional, is exactly what the festival thrives on … I was simply too self-centered to really appreciate this before … what can I say, I’m trying to be more understanding of what others might appreciate and need … I wasn’t always so open-minded – HA!

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