The stage is set for another season of theatre at the Guild Hall in Whitehorse. The Guild is back with four genre-bending productions that aim to bring out your fears, tears, and cheers.
The Guild’s artistic director Katherine McCallum has searched afar for not only entertaining theatre, but also something different. Three of the four plays, as well as the playwrights themselves, will be unheard of to all but the most well-versed of theatre-goers.
Beginning with what McCallum calls the pre-Halloween show, the Guild Hall’s first production begins as September ends. It’s called Freak Winds, and might have you jumping out of your seat.
“Freak Winds is actually a horror,” says McCallum. “But it is hilariously funny at the same time. It’s a suspenseful thriller to start the season off while the sun is still shining.”
The play was written by Australian Marshall Napier and to direct, The Guild is bringing up Sarah Rodgers from Vancouver. She has had success with the Guild Hall in the past, directing plays such as Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and The Food Chain.
Next up, in late November, is The Cripple of Inishmaan.
This show portrays a young man and his dream of being part of a Hollywood production when a big director comes to town.
“It’s satire. It’s gothic. It’s horror. It’s drama. It’s comedy, and it’s just all over the place,” says McCallum. “But that’s what makes it so fabulous to watch.”
It’s written by Irish playwright Martin McDonagh, who also wrote The Beauty Queen of Leenane, which played during the Guild Hall’s 2010-2011 season.
The director is yet to be finalized, but it will be another professional from outside of the Yukon.
The first production of 2014 will be in February, and is a brand-new Canadian play. Taking place during hard times for Saskatchewan farmers, a young girl looks to reinvent herself with help from unlikely sources.
The Book of Esther, written by Leanna Brodie, may pull harder at your heart-strings than any other this season.
“I would call it a drama but it’s also hilariously funny,” says McCallum. “It has some great hilarious moments and some great comic relief, but it’s a tear jerker as well.”
It will be directed by Clinton Walker. Walker lives and works in Toronto, but is no stranger to the Guild Hall. He has previously directed The Beauty Queen of Leenane, 39 Steps, Prelude to a Kiss, and The Laramie Project for The Guild.
The last show of the season will play in April of next year, and is another from Australia: Often I Find That I Am Naked by Fiona Sprott.
This dark romantic comedy follows a determined woman as she plows ahead on her quest for Mr. Right.
McCallum was actually part of the original production in Sydney, Australia.
“I was in that theatre for 30 nights straight,” says McCallum. “And I laughed myself stupid for 30 nights straight. Hopefully Whitehorse will find it as funny as I did.”
McCallum is also bringing over the original director of the piece, Eva Hamburg, who also had a hand in developing the play itself.
“I don’t think anybody else in the universe should direct that show,” says McCallum.
She thinks it’s important of draw upon directorial talent from outside the Yukon.
“These people are working professionals from theatres in larger cities,” McCallum says. “They come in with high expectations and really put us through the ringer, which is great. Everybody’s challenged. It also gives our professional actors the opportunity to make contacts outside of Whitehorse.”
All shows start at 8 p.m. sharp. Tickets can be bought in advance at Whitehorse Motors.
If previous seasons are any indication – most shows will sell out, and McCallum strongly suggests people buy tickets in advance.
The Guild Hall Show List
Freak Winds September 26 to October 12, 2013
The Cripple of Inishmaan November 20to December 7, 2013
The Book of Esther February 12 to March 1, 2014
Often I Find That I Am Naked April 9 to April 26, 2014
Carl Christensen is a Whitehorse-based writer.