[Phoenix-eNews] PHOENIX THEATRE: BackstagePASS > The Inspector is coming to Victoria!

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Wed Mar 8 21:15:57 PST 2017

@UVic Newsletter

Phoenix Theatre: BackstagePASS
	March 2017  • Act 10 Scene 8

      eNews: Theatre as a mirror of Victoria

Can you laugh at the issues in your own backyard? Sometimes it's hard to 
find humour in serious subject matters, but when looked at through the 
lens of a 180 year-old play, it becomes easier to see the patterns over 
the decades. Professor Linda Hardy has taken on this challenge of 
adapting Nikolay Gogol's political satire into the stories and social 
issues that are affecting our community, under the guise of the 
fictional town of Paradise. Read more below about how she carefully 
matched the concerns in the original 1836 play with those affecting 
politicians and community members today. /

      Behind the Scenes: *
      **Then and Now:
      A play about how politics haven't changed*

By Georgia Duff, UVic Theatre student


/Portrait of Nikolay Gogol,
19th century Russian playwright

It’s the same story as in Nikolay Gogol’s time. Politics is a difficult 
game. First there’s the pressure to appease voters, then you have to 
deal with multitudes of issues and complaints – all while being 
sandwiched between the regulations of different levels of government. 
Has anything really changed since the 1800s?

In the Phoenix Theatre’s newest production, professor Linda Hardy brings 
Nikolay Gogol’s political farce /The Government Inspector/ into the 20th 
century with her adaptation called /The Inspector/. While leaving the 
plot of the original 1836 play intact, Hardy places her characters in 
the ‘fictional’ West Coast town of Paradise.

Gogol’s original Russian play, /Revizor/, was allegedly inspired by a 
letter from the Russian poet and novelist, Alexander Pushkin. He 
suggested the basic plot that later appeared in Gogol’s final play, a 
tale about a town whose officials hear a government inspector is coming 
– incognito! When they mistake a cunning civil servant for the 
inspector, their schemes to cover up their “little failings” are turned 
against them.


/Gogol's play has been adapted and
//interpreted many times, including the
1949 film with Danny Kaye/.

Hardy’s inspiration also came from letters, in the form of letters to 
the editor in the local newspapers. /“Every day brought new gifts in the 
Times Colonist/,” said Hardy about the process of adapting the play last 
spring and summer. “/I was especially grateful to the passion of the 
citizens who wrote letters to the editor.” /

Over five months, local ideas were woven into the new play, thus 
Paradise’s problems will sound terribly familiar: from a debacle over 
sewage treatment, to concerns of homelessness and a Tent City, and 
controversies over new bike lanes. Audiences should watch for bike cops, 
real estate developers, yoga instructors, and lots of protestors – 
including a reference to a Victoria icon in a poop suit! Yet each of 
Hardy's adaptations is remarkably similar to their equivalent issue in 
Gogol’s Russian town.

Fitting for a story set in 19th century Russia, the original characters 
think the inspector is coming because war with Turkey is brewing and the 
government is fearful of treason. /“War with the Turks! We’re going to 
be in a mess not the Turks,”/ writes Gogol. Similarly, the current-day 
setting in /*The Inspector*/ makes references to the recent elections in 
the United States and speculations of American immigrants coming to 
Paradise – a different kind of global political crisis!



Gogol’s town has a garbage problem. For months they have let it build up 
to create a uncontainable, out-of-hand monument of pure rubbish. The 
"fictional" town of Paradise has a problem with untreated sewage piling 
up in their surrounding waters -- in reference to Victoria's decades old 
debate about how it manages its own sewage waste. Hardy's play also 
offers an homage to one of Victoria's most famous protesters over the 
sewage treatment issue – Mr. Floatie. Dressed as a jolly turd with a 
jaunty cap, Mr. Floatie has been raising questions by demonstrating at 
meetings and showing up at public events. He remains active through 
social media <https://twitter.com/mrfloatie?lang=en>today and is still 
hoping for his retirement!

While the Russian townspeople attempt to cover their piled-up garbage by 
sending officers out to sweep the entire route to the hotel, in Paradise 
the Mayor sends the police to take down warning signs at the beach.


/Cody, the dog who was caught in local bylaws.

Where characters in Gogol’s play complained of the smell of alcohol, 
Hardy’s West Coast version pokes fun at the plethora of marijuana 
dispensaries across the region of Paradise, an inspiration drawn from 
local news articles (TC July 29, 2016). 
Where geese and ducks run amok in the court house of Gogol’s original 
play, the local version mentions the Judge's friendly dog who greets 
everyone on the court house steps, alluding to the Victoria bylaw 
disputeover Cody the dog who would sit off-leash outside his owner’s 
antique store (TC June 25, 2016). 

The town's officials in Gogol's play are trying to keep the "transient 
characters" from giving the town a bad reputation and appearance. 
Referencing Victoria's own tent city on the BC Courthouse grounds (TC 
May 15, 2016) 
and the Our Place shelter, Hardy's version of /The Inspector/ raises 
important questions about the effects of the high costs of living in 

The original production of /The Inspector/ shocked audiences for its 
harsh yet honest critique of society and it is still relevant today for 
that same reason. /“Why do comedy?” /says Hardy. /“One answer is that it 
provides release in these uncertain times; another, that it has always 
been the responsibility of the artist to function as a catalyst, a 
provocateur – and yes, a “shit disturber.”/ Gogol understood this in 
spades and was applauded as a realist in the Russia of his day.”


/Protesters in the "fictional" town of Paradise in "The Inspector."

And while there are a lot of serious issues being addressed in */The 
Inspector, /*Hardy addresses them with the same hilarious manner of 
Gogol’s farcical satire. While things spin out of control in the play, 
the cast of 19 theatre students ride bicycles, skateboards, shopping 
carts and other modes of transportation across iconic Victoria 
landscapes, dotted with flower-basketed lamp posts, ivy-walled 
buildings, upscale hotels, and bamboo-fenced gardens /–/ all set in 
front of a sunset mountain background. Additionally Hardy helps all 35 
characters to stand out by incorporating the use of masks, created 
especially for the play.

A long-time professor at the Department of Theatre, Linda Hardy is a 
master teacher of acting and voice who has trained professional actors 
and singers for stage and film, nationally and internationally. She sees 
/The Inspector/ as an excellent finale to the department’s 50th season, 
and a gift to the current students. It is only fitting that as we look 
back over these past 50 years /The Inspector/ too is inspired by the 
past and presents current politics that are not all that different from 
events in this 180 year-old script.

/“For me, the greatest joy is the chance to write roles for my actors, 
knowing their needs as young artists, and the needs of the play. To 
“tailor make” something that we all bring together makes for a rare 

  * Read more background about Gogol's "The Government Inspector"

      Upcoming Events:


*March 9 –18, 2017
**The Inspector 
Adapted & Directed by Linda Hardy
Inspired by /"The Government Inspector"/ by Nikolay Gogol

*$8 Previews: March 7 & 8 at 8pm *
(same-day tickets available after 5pm)
*Sign Lanaguage: March 18 at 2pm*
with interpreters Nigel Howard & Jen Ferris

    Word arrives in Paradise (a “fictional” West Coast town) that a
    government inspector is coming incognito. Will the improprieties of
    the town’s mayor and officials be exposed? When they mistake a
    cunning ex-civil servant for the inspector, their schemes are turned
    against them. Inspired by local news stories, this adaptation of
    Gogol’s 19th-century comedy is no less relevant – and possibly even
    more humorous! – when reimagined into our own political landscape.

*Box Office: *now open for/The Inspector/ tickets. 
<https://finearts.uvic.ca/theatre/phoenix/tickets/>Call 250-721-8000.
NOTE: UVic Faculty and Staff are welcome to join us for a reception and 
open house on Wednesday March 8. TICKET TIP: Best seats are on February 
13, 14 & 15 evenings!

*Saturday, March 11, 2017
10am to 4pm (Drop in)*
*Phoenix Theatre Human Library 
Free event, part of UVic's IdeaFEST, <http://www.uvic.ca/ideafest/> 
March 6-11/

    The Human Library is a way to learn more about theatre and celebrate
    the Department of Theatre's 50th anniversary by taking out a "human
    book" for a short and informative conversation. Choose from titles
    such as 'Actor', 'Playwright' or 'Producer'. Interact with Phoenix
    pioneers, current educators and industry professionals. Whether you
    wish to connect with the past, or make connections for the future,
    there will be a book for you. Sign out one or more human books
    during the day. Drop in between 9:30am and 4pm to sign up at our
    "circulation desk" in the Phoenix Lobby. Learn more at the Phoenix
    Human Library Facebook Event Page.

*IdeaFest: *Read more about the many Fine Arts events 
this festival.


*Friday, March 24 at 1pm*
*The Tempest Orion Project Panel Discussion 
/Free event, p//art of the Theatre 50th Anniversary./

    The Theatre department invites the public behind the scenes to
    experience not the product, but the process of theatre-making as
    part of /The Tempest Orion Project/. Internationally renowned
    acting, applied theatre, designing, directing, and theatre history
    experts will explore unique ways to approach Shakespeare’s /The
    Tempest /so that it resonates with today’s audiences. Join Dr. Ralph
    Alan Cohen, David Ferry, Dr. Alison Jeffers, Eloise Kazan and Meg
    Roe when they share their developments and ideas at a closing panel
    discussion, following a week of student workshops. Visit our 50th
    Anniversary website
    <https://finearts.uvic.ca/theatre/50th/events/>to see biographies of
    visiting artists.

*Friday & Saturday, //
April 14 at 2pm & 4pm*
Preview: April 13 at 6pm
*A Queer Trial:
A site-specific play <https://finearts.uvic.ca/theatre/50th/trial/>*
Written by Dr. Jennifer Wise/
/Directed by Matthew Payne

    In 1860, two successive Victoria juries effectively acquitted an
    openly gay man of sodomy charges, the first jury preferring to spend
    a night in jail themselves sooner than agree on a guilty verdict.
    Join UVic theatre students as they musically and dramatically
    reenact this surprisingly inspiring event from Victoria’s early
    history—on the very site where it occurred. Watch video here.


      Phoenix Phacts:

Victoria has a new theatre company that features almost all UVic Theatre 
graduates and students. Vino Buono 
<https://www.vinobuonoproductions.com> opens their 2016 season with 
"Blind Portait" <https://www.facebook.com/events/237962940006935/>(March 
8 -10) written by *Chase Hiebert *and directed by *Karin Saari*, both 
current students. The play follows three people who are trapped in a 
room and filled with regret and a deep desire to connect, but held back 
by their (sometimes literal) inability to see each other. It includes 
actors *Pascal Lamothe-Kipnes, Laura Sofia Ramoso, and Ann-Bernice 
Thomas* and a host of design and stage management students and alumni, 
*Nathan Purcell, Ricki Healey, Delaney Tesch, Arielle Bergeron, Sean 
Brossard, *and*Zoë Wessler*.

The Belfry Theatre <http://www.belfry.bc.ca>'s SPARK Festival starts 
soon and features several works by Phoenixers. *Professor Jan Wood *will 
be performing in her husband Brian Linds' play. REVERBERATIONS 
<http://www.belfry.bc.ca/2017-spark-festival/> (March 21-26) is a 
site-specific performance piece exploring memories and sounds of a 
family's experiences. Alumna *Britt Small and Rielle Braid *are part of 
Atomic Vaudeville's world premiere of BlissKrieg (March 9 – 11). 
BlissKrieg <http://www.belfry.bc.ca/2017-spark-festival/> is a musical 
comedy about the two last people in the universe inside a post-human 
simulated paradise. Theatre SKAM artistic director and alumnus *Matthew 
Payne* is presenting /Joan/ 
<http://www.belfry.bc.ca/2017-spark-festival/>// (March 17 – 26), a play 
about Joan Mans, the local Victoria character and arts lover.

Alumna *Janet Munsil *has been the Artist in Residence at UVic's Centre 
for Studies in Religion and Society 
<http://www.uvic.ca/research/centres/csrs/>for the past year. As part of 
this role, she has been writing her new play "Act of Faith" which will 
be presenting in a future season at Vancouver’s Realwheels Theatre. The 
play tells the story of a young woman with a spinal cord injury, who 
after more than a decade in a wheelchair, makes a rapid and unexpected 
recovery that is attributed to her faith. She's is giving a lecture, 
"Act of Faith: A New Play about Disability and Belief" 
on Thursday March 30 at 4:30pm which will incorporate readings of scenes 
from the play.

Former student *James Douglas* was recently covered in a story about his 
new film in the Times Colonist. 
James is producing and directing a film adaptation of “The Doctor’s 
Case,” a Stephen King story about Sherlock Holmes. He’ll be shooting 
this spring in the historic town of Barkerville, BC – where James works 
during the rest of the year – and at Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria. 
James has a few of his previous classmates and other Phoenix alum 
involved, including *Peter Abrahams, Brendan Bailey, Danette Boucher, 
Ian Case, Cam Culham, Erin Fitzgerald, Connie Hosie, Kate Humble, Trish 
Pattenden, Will Weigler *and previous student *Monica Joan Ogden*.

Canada'sNational Arts Centre <https://nac-cna.ca/en/> has announced 
their 2017/18 season and has chosen the award-winning production of 
/Onegin/ <https://nac-cna.ca/en/event/15931>/, /created by alumnus*Amiel 
Gladstone *and Veda Hille and directed by Amiel Gladstone. Based on the 
poem by Alexander Pushkin and the opera by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, 
this classic work was put to a raucous and uplifting score. The 2016 
production of /Onegin/ at the Arts Club in Vancouver featured alumna 
*Meg Roe* and swept theJessie Awards last summer winning 10 awards!


//more alumni updates? /*Check out the Alumni Profiles 
<https://finearts.uvic.ca/theatre/alumni/>area of our website. Email 
your updates to us to be posted here in future eNews. Submit 
<https://finearts.uvic.ca/forms/phoenixalumnisurvey/biography//> your 
<https://finearts.uvic.ca/theatre/alumni/> bio online 
<https://finearts.uvic.ca/theatre/alumni/> and yours could be the next 
alumni profile on our website!
*<https://twitter.com/UVicPhoenix>*Follow the most recent department and 
alumni stories by liking us on*Facebook* 
or following us on *Twitter <https://twitter.com/UVicPhoenix>*. Use 
*#phoenixalumni* to stream on our alumni website or tag *@UVicPhoenix* 
for us to retweet your event!


      Sponsor Kudos:

Thank you to the Phoenix Theatre's many individual donors 
<https://finearts.uvic.ca/theatre/donations/> and corporate sponsors for 
their support of our programs and talented students!

Thanks also to our supporters over the past year from the *Cadboro Bay 
Village* <http://www.cadborobayvillage.com> including: *For Good Measure 
<http://www.forgoodmeasure.ca/>, Pepper's Foods 
<http://peppers-foods.com/>, Smugglers' Cove Pub, 
<http://www.smugglerscovepub.com/> Caddy Bay Liquor Store 
<http://www.caddybayliquor.com> and* *Heart Pharmacy 

Find out how your company can reach our 10,000 audience members and UVic 
community of over 25,000.Contact us <mailto:aholierh at uvic.ca> to discuss 
a customized sponsorship package to meet your goals.


Phoenix eNews is a regular email magazine for those interested in the 
Phoenix Theatre, the not-for-profit productions at the University of 
Victoria's Department of Theatre, PO Box 1700, STN CSC, Victoria, BC, 
V8W 2Y2 Canada. The University of Victoria is a Registered Charity. 
Charitable Registration No. 10816 2470 RR0001

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	© University of Victoria 2015 	

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