[Phoenix-eNews] PHOENIX THEATRE: BackstagePASS > Celebrating the 30th anniversary of "7 Stories"

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Sun Mar 10 17:55:04 PDT 2019

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Phoenix Theatre: BackstagePASS
	Spring 2019 • Act 12 Scene 5

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    */Recreating the past: a 30-year old set design/*/gets remounted for
    its birthday. /

/By Kaitlin Adams with contributions by John Threlfall/

//The Phoenix Theatre's production of /*7 Stories*/ by Morris Panych is 
taking a step into the past.

Premiering 30 years ago in May of 1989 at the Arts Club Theatre in 
Vancouver /(shown right with Peter Anderson as the Man)/, it was 
Panych's first major play and is considered to be one of his best.

Ken MacDonald's original set design was also considered a masterpiece. 
Inspired by the surrealist art of René Magritte the cloud-covered set of 
the seventh-storey of a building emphasized the very nature of the play.

/"I've waited thirty years to direct this play,"/ says Phoenix director 
and UVic Theatre professor Fran Gebhard (shown below), whose past shows 
at the Phoenix include/Crackpot, Wreckage, Midsummer Night’s Dream 
/and/Les Liaisons Dangereuses/.

/“Ken MacDonald’s original set is so iconic. It adds an important layer 
to the meaning of the play, with the surreal elements of Magritte’s work 
perfectly underscoring Panych’s existential themes. I really couldn’t 
see the play with any other design,/” says Gebhard.

And so, to celebrate the play's 30 anniversary this year, Gebhard asked 
her good friends Morris Panych and Ken MacDonald if she could direct 
Panych's play using MacDonald's original 30-year-old set design.

/*7 Stories*/ takes place on a seventh-storey window ledge where a man 
is in the midst of an existential crisis and is considering jumping. 
While reflecting on his life, he is interrupted by the quirky residents 
and their hilarious, self-absorbed problems. Through their interactions, 
the Man finds the courage he needs to take the next step. It's a 
quick-witted, fast-paced comedy that philosophizes about life and death, 
right up to its existential conclusion.

/“I want people to look at this play, see themselves in these 
characters,and understand that’s it’s OK to laugh at ourselves!/” says 

Fourth-year Theatre student Conor Farrell oversaw the design adaptation 
of MacDonald's original vision. Logistically, this meant adapting plans 
from the 20th anniversary mounting at Theatre Calgary in 2009 (which 
echoed the original set with a few modifications by MacDonald for their 
theatre space) and creating one cohesive construction that works with 
the Phoenix Theatre's Roger Bishop space and accommodates the safety 
fire curtain in the Bishop. The resulting set structure stands over 23 
feet tall and includes a flexible, quick-release portion that gives way 
in the case of a fire so that safety procedures are maintained.

/“Ken’s original design was built for a very different space, so we’re 
changing it slightly,”/ explains Farrell, /“We’re taking the base design 
and trying to keep all the integral parts. We’ve spoken with him about 
how we need to change it and gotten his okay for that."/

/“It’s a new kind of challenge,”/ says Farrell. /“At the end of the day, 
it doesn’t matter if I would do something differently, because it needs 
to keep the spirit of the original design alive.” /

Farrell is also a member of the seven-person painting class that has 
been learning about scenic painting. Overseen by Bryn Finer, also the 
Phoenix Props Coordinator, this team of upper-level students has been 
tasked with painting all of the sets this season. The huge set of /*7 
Stories*/ is painted with blue skies and fluffy clouds required almost 
20 gallons of paint brushed on to 2046 square feet of canvas, The canvas 
was prepainted on the floor of the stage, and then picked up and applied 
laid over the set construction that underpins the massive 23-foot wall 
of the apartment building.

Much of /*7 Stories*/ relies on the actors being able to get used to 
rehearsing with the specific architectural elements of the set, like the 
windows and ledges. The construction of the structure however took seven 
weeks to build, overseen by Head of Scenic Construction, Charles 
Procure, with his team of student carpenters. While it was in 
construction, actors rehearsed on a moveable set piece that was built to 
perfectly replicate the functions of the actual set structure. This 
moveable rehearsal set meant actors could get used to the physicality of 
the set, while also ensuring the safety of the actors — especially 
second-year student Lyle Hendriks, portraying The Man, who is perched on 
the building’s ledge.

For/*7 Stories*/*,* the fantastical set piece is almost like an added 
character, creating opportunities and challenges for the actors to tell 
their stories. As Conor Farrell sees it, “That’s the fun of the show: 
how to act with very limited space,” he says. “This set is a challenge 
that the actors have to solve.”

And we're all looking forward to seeing this amazing architecture come 
to life on opening night.


      Phoenix Phacts:

First staged at the Phoenix Theatre in 2005 
*Janet Munsil’s (BFA ’89)* Governor General’s Award-nominated play, 
*/That Elusive Spark /*runs at Langham Court Theatre 
<https://www.langhamtheatre.ca> until March 16. The production features 
*Trevor Hinton* *(BFA ’07*) (who also played Phineas Gage in the Phoenix 
production), *Laura-Jane Wallace* *(BFA ’16)*, graduating student *Aidan 
Dunsmuir *and costume design by *Jacqueline Gilchrist* *(BFA ’16)*. 
Janet Munsil is also a current MFA candidate in the Department of 
Writing. She and other grad students presented and performed excerpts 
from their graduating manuscripts at this year’s Ideafest at UVic in 
March. <https://www.uvic.ca/events/events/writ19.html>

Theatre SKAM’s <www.theatreskam.ca> latest production, */7eventy 7even, 
/*featured lots of Phoenix alumni including: director *Pamela Bethel* 
*(BFA ’99)*, actors *Grace Le (BFA ’17)* and *Carey Wass (BFA ’08)*, and 
designers *Rebekah Johnson (BFA ‘83)*, *Delaney Tesch (BFA ’17)*, 
*Shayna Ward (BFA ’15),* and graduating student *Aidan Dunsmuir*. 
Theatre SKAM now offers workshops for adults, 
<www.theatreskam.ca/school/classes/adult-classes-workshops> including a 
grant writing course with *Matthew Payne* *(BFA ’93)* and a workshop on 
solo show creation with *Charles Ross (BFA ’98)*.

*//*Theatre Inconnu <https://www.theatreinconnu.com> recently mounted 
the hilarious and poignant play, */The Last Days of Judas 
Iscariot/*,**by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Stephen Adly Guigis. 
This purgatory courtroom comedy was directed by alumnus and current 
sessional instructor *Clayton Jevne (BFA ’85 MFA ’87 and PhD ’03)* and 
included *Evan Coates (BFA ’18)*, *Cam Culham (MA ’03)*, and *David 
MacPherson (BFA ’92)* among the cast.

Collectivus Theatre <https://collectivustheatre.wixsite.com/website/>, 
co-founded by *Anna Marie Anderson (BFA ’18) *will remount its hit play 
*/The Fitting Room /*(written by co-founder Ellery Lam)**at the Havana 
Theatre in Vancouver from May 14-18. */The Fitting Room /*won Overall 
Favourite Show and tied for Bravest Show at last year’s Victoria Fringe, 
with student *Ciaran Volke *selected as runner-up for Favourite 
Performer. The Vancouver show will feature students *Ciaran Volke 
*and*Una Rekic, *design by *Aaron Smail *and *Delaney Tesch (BFA ’17) 
*and direction by Anna Marie Anderson.

*Alumni! What are you up to? *Send your alumni stories, updates and show 
projects to phoenixalumni at uvic.ca <mailto:phoenixalumni at uvic.ca>. Or 
submit <https://finearts.uvic.ca/forms/phoenixalumnisurvey/biography/> 
your <http://finearts.uvic.ca/theatre/alumni/> bio online. 
<http://finearts.uvic.ca/theatre/alumni/> Our new website will be 
updated with more Alumni Profiles in the spring. Send your information 
to be included!


      Upcoming Phoenix Events:

14 – 23, 2019
Previews: March 12 & 13
*Written by Morris Panych

Director Fran Gebhard
Set Design Ken MacDonald
Design Adaptation Conor Farrell
Costume Design Bryce Butkiewicz
Lighting Design Harry Zhe Lin
Sound Design Olivia Wheeler
Stage Manager Kelsey Ward *

*Fast-paced and full of eccentric characters, this dark comedy takes 
place on the seventh-storey window ledge building where a man is 
contemplating jumping. Endlessly interrupted by a variety of quirky 
building residents, he becomes drawn into the absurdity of their daily 
lives. So self-absorbed are his neighbours, that no one even bothers to 
ask why he’s out there! This quick-witted, sophisticated satire will 
have you philosophizing about life and death, right up to its 
existential conclusion. Written by the award-winning Canadian playwright 
Morris Panych 30 years ago this year, /7 Stories/ is the winner of six 
Jessie Awards, including Outstanding Original Play. *

BOX OFFICE: Tickets on sale now: $26 Discounts on weekdays & matinees: 
Students $16, Seniors $21. (Previews $8 after 5pm) Call 250-721-8000.

*Friday, March 15, 2019 at 7:00pm *
*LECTURE: Seven Stories about /*7** Stories*/ 
FREE preshow public lecture
with Mark Leiren-Young 
<https://www.uvic.ca/finearts/writing/people/sessionals/profiles/leiren-young-mark.php> Sessional 
UVic Department of Writing

Award-winning Victoria playwright Mark Leiren-Young 
<http://leiren-young.com/> talks about the significance, history and 
secret origins of Morris Panych’s modern masterpiece /7 Stories/ in 
celebration of the play’s 30th anniversary. Mark is currently teaching 
humour writing and TV writing at UVic.


//more alumni updates? /*Check out the Alumni Profiles 
<https://www.uvic.ca/finearts/theatre/alumni/profiles/index.php>area of 
our website.Email your updates <mailto:phoenixalumni at uvic.ca> to us to 
be posted here in future eNews.

*<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 
<http://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 Business Association* <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 2018 	

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