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 …
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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 >>>