With both the Nakai and Moving Parts theatres scaling back on productions for a season of development, Eric Epstein sees the role of the Guild Society as all that more important.
“We are certainly the ones to look at classic repertoire and contemporary repertoire,” says the Guild’s artistic director.
“We just want to get the community out and, last year, we were pretty well sold out.”
Since it is getting an early start on a season that will include four plays instead of last year’s three, the first will be the four-actor Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, written by Edward Albee.
It won a Tony Award for best play of 1963 and would have won a Pulitzer Prize if it wasn’t revoked for being immoral. “This is really one of the top plays of the 20th Century … second half,” says Epstein.
“And there has been interest in it because it had a Broadway revival in 2005.
“It has some great, great challenges for local actors and I felt we had people up here who could do it.”
Epstein says he is glad he was finally able to sign up Sarah Rodgers to direct. The Vancouver-based director was here 10 years ago to perform in The Number 14, a comedy math piece with Axis Theatre.
Since she graduated six years ago with her MFA in directing, Epstein has been trying to lure her back; instead, she kept recommending other directors: Colin Heath, Stephen Drover and David Mackay.
To make this assignment possible, she followed the casting via video through Skype. And she will be watching the opening night through the computer, too.
“She is fabulous to work with,” says Epstein. “It is kind of fun since Bronwyn Jones is playing Martha and they both give 100 per cent, so there is a certain connection there.”
The next play will be a co-production with Gwaandak Theatre Society, The Soul Menders, written by Patti Flather.
“It’s seasonal,” says Epstein. “It’s a Christmas play and we haven’t done much in that vein for a while.
After Christmas, the heavier stuff returns with The Laramie Project, a play about a gay man, Matthew Shepard, who was severely beaten and left to die, tied to a fence outside Laramie, Wyoming.
“It’s docu-theatre, or verbatim theatre; it’s the drone of things people have said in real life,” says Epstein.
These voices are from over 200 interviews that playwright Moisés Kaufman conducted along with members of the Tectonic Theater Project, in the town of Laramie.
“Talking to a range of people, it gives a multifaceted view of the events.”
Ending the season on a light note, there will be a “musical romp” that was written by Colin Heath to the music of John Millard.
The Man From the Capital is a musical comedy based on an early-1800s play, The Government Inspector, by Nikolai Gogol, a Russian playwright and satirist.
This slapstick musical will be directed by Heath.
A satisfied Epstein sums up the season: “From an American classic, to a world premiere of a Yukon play, to a very contemporary Laramie and then to a fun Canadian musical.”
Who’s Afraid of Virgina Woolf? runs Sept. 24 to Oct. 11 at the Guild Hall.