A Little Lemoine for Toronto

stewart lemoine
photo by andrew macdonald-smith

Aieeeeeee! Hold on to your britches, Toronto, tonight, at the Berkeley Street Theatre (26 Berkeley Street, Toronto) as part of the Canadian Stage Festival of New Ideas and Creation you all have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the always hilarious and often whimsical world of my favourite playwright, Stewart Lemoine!! Dora Award winning Stewart Lemoine, hails from Edmonton, Alberta, where he has written over sixty plays for his company Teatro la Quindicina since 1982. He has garnered six Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Awards for his work, was awarded the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2003 and received the award for Overall Excellence in Playwriting at the 2004 New York International Fringe Festival. In 2008, he was the inaugural winner of the $50,000 Tommy Banks Performing Arts Award and in 2010 he was inducted into the City of Edmonton’s Cultural Hall of Fame. Tonight, Lemoine will send two pages of a brand new play to Toronto’s own Improvising rapscallions, The National Theatre of the World, who will perform these two pages for you and then improvise the rest in the style of Lemoine’s trademark charm, class, wit and fraught with rollicking misadventures and gloriously quirky dinner guests.

              You likely don’t need me to tell you too much about the Canadian Comedy Award winning Toronto based theatre company the National Theatre of the World, made up of the mix of the comic genius and poignant hearts of Matt Baram, Naomi Snieckus and Ron Pederson. They have been improvising full length plays in the style of various famous playwrights since October 2008 in venues across the city, around the country and they are now embarking on their own World Domination tour to New York and South Carolina, so regardless of what city you are in, The NTOW could soon be coming to a theatre near you! Their newest project, The Script Tease Project is taking over Theatre Passe Muraille from May 24-29th, 2011. Tonight’s wistful Lemoinian Romp is a completely FREE preview of this exciting and unique improvisational style at the Berkeley Street Theatre.

              What is most exciting for me is that The National Theatre of the World is giving Toronto a much overdue taste of the stylings of Stewart Lemoine and all the delights that Teatro la Quindicina, with its exorbitantly talented core collective of actors, has been treating (and, in my opinion, spoiling) Edmontonian audiences with for the last twenty-nine years. Toronto is fortunate too that Ron Pederson, of the National Theatre of the World, grew up in Edmonton working with Teatro la Quindicina and both originated and revived a small slew of Stewart Lemoine’s characters. He is sure to put all his expertise to good use tonight and I’m certain that it will manifest itself in poetry, laughter and a play that springs to life full of magic and fun.
If you have heard me speak about my love of all things Lemoine before, but you haven’t had the opportunity to read or see any of his plays, I recommend seizing this great and FREE opportunity. If you have read or seen a Lemoine play, I have a hunch tonight will be a joyful celebration of his creative brilliance. If you have never heard of Stewart Lemoine before in your life, please head on over to this website, and then head down to the Berkeley Street Theatre tonight for 8pm; Stewart Lemoine’s work is the best kept secret in Canadian Theatre (outside of Alberta that is), but once you happen upon it, you won’t know how you ever lived without it!
              The National Theatre of the World has been getting quite a bit of recognition lately for building a bridge between Toronto’s comedy world and the theatre world, two communities that can seem quite disparate at times. Canada has a rich tradition of comedy, in Improvisation, Sketch and Stand Up, and many of the performers in these mediums are incredibly talented and churning out artful, exciting and hysterical work at places like The Comedy Bar, the Second City and in smaller venues across the city. At 7pm, prior to the National Theatre of the World’s free show, there is a free conversation that I strongly suggest you check out entitled “Comedy Now: Improv, Collective Creation and Performance” which examines “the intersection of the improv, comedy and theatre worlds, challenging artistic perceptions and exploring the drama of funny.” Sounds really cool, I would check it out if I were you. 7pm. Berkeley Street Theatre. FREE. Stay for the National Theatre of the World’s FREE show at 8pm. Same place. Free. Free. Free.
The Canadian Stage Festival of New Ideas and Creation is a fascinating two week venture which brings together all sorts of multidisciplinary artists together with the community and engages in discussion and offers performances and workshops and other really fantastic interactive opportunities. For the complete list of all that is being offered as part of the Festival, please visit this website

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