THEATRE PREVIEW

SEPTEMBER 2022 | Volume 219

 

Production image

Redbone Coonhound
by Amy Lee Lavoie & Omari Newton
Arts Club Theatre Company
BMO Theatre Company
Oct. 6-30
From $25
www.artsclub.com or 604-687-1644
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An Arts Club Silver Commission as part of a Rolling World Premierewith Tarragon Theatre (Toronto) and Imago Theatre (Montreal)

Hard-hitting comedy meets searing social commentary on race, gender, and oppression in the Rolling World Premiere of Redbone Coonhound, playing October 6–30 at the Arts Club Theatre Company’s Newmont Stage at the BMO Theatre Centre.

When Mike (Jesse Lipscombe) and Marissa (Emma Slipp)—an interracial couple living in Vancouver—meet a dog with an unfortunate breed name, it unleashes a cascading debate between them and with their friends about race and their relationships. Using popular culture as touchstones, Redbone Coonhound navigates topics of oppression through a series of fever dreams satirizing modern perspectives on race, privilege, gender, and power in a visceral, tactile, and theatrical manner.

Redbone Coonhound is a 2022 Arts Club Silver Commission, originally adapted into an audio play for the 2021–2022 Listen to This series. This season’s production is the Arts Club’s first Rolling World Premiere, in partnership with Tarragon Theatre (Toronto) and Imago Theatre (Montreal). After its initial premiere at the Arts Club, Redbone Coonhound will go on to have a second premiere in Toronto and Montreal shared by Tarragon Theatre and Imago Theatre. This arrangement will allow the playwrights’ work to deepen over the course of the year, and these Vancouver-based writers will have their work disseminated across Canada.

Playwright and director Omari Newton said, “I'm thrilled to share this piece, a labour of love, life, and strife, co-written with my wife, Amy Lee Lavoie, and co-directed with my dear friend and collaborator Ashlie Corcoran. The play explores issues of race, gender, and class in ways that are equal parts humorous and merciless. Our hope is that the work makes people examine their deeply held beliefs. The play invites us all to look at language and cultural norms, and to laugh with each other about our own self-righteousness. It is my belief that in these increasingly absurd times, humour is a much-needed catalyst for empathy.”

Arts Club’s Artistic Director and Redbone Coonhound co-director Ashlie Corcoran added, “When I originally sat down with both Amy Lee and Omari to hear about Redbone Coonhound, I was blown away by their commitment to the ideas behind this work—ideas that show up in the content of the piece as much as they show up in the form. This kind of theatre—where a play’s form does as much dramaturgical work as its content—is my favourite kind of art!”

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHTS
Amy Lee Lavoie is an award-winning playwright and a graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada’s Playwriting Program. Her first play, Rabbit Rabbit, received its premiere production with Infinitheatre, earning Lavoie two MECCA’s for Best Text and the Revelation Award. Rabbit Rabbit has since been produced across Canada and in the US. Other plays include Me Happy (co-written with Matthew Mackenzie/Summerworks Festival), Stopheart (Factory Theatre), and Genetic Drift (Pi Theatre/Boca del Lupo). Lavoie was also the Head Digital Writer for the CBC drama Strange Empire, which won a Gracie Award (Women’s Alliance Media) for Best Website in recognition of its interactive storytelling. Her play C’mon, Angie!, with Touchstone Theatre, was hailed as “visceral, important, life-changing theatre.”
Omari Newton is a professional actor, writer, director, and slam poet. His original hip-hop theatre piece, Sal Capone, has received critical acclaim and multiple productions across Canada, and has been nominated for multiple Montreal English Critics Association (META) awards, including Outstanding New Text. Newton’s acting highlights include a Best Supporting Actor nomination in the Centaur Theatre's award-winning production of Joe Penhall’s Blue/Orange (2004). Most recently, Newton’s work in Speakeasy Theatre's production of Young Jean Lee's The Shipment earned him a 2017–2018 Jessie Award for Outstanding Performance, as well as a nomination for Best Direction. Most recently, Newton’s play Black & Blue Matters—a companion piece to Sal Capone—played at the Segal Centre in Montreal, produced by Black Theatre Workshop.

CAST
Kwesi Ameyaw 
(Still/Mr. Jimmy/Gerald/Comrade Blackity Black), Sebastien Archibald (Zac/Jordan/Jamal), Nancy Kerr (Camille/Jennifer/Mom/Karen), Jesse Lipscombe (Mike/Glib/Tom), Gerry Mackay (Jeffrey/Dolley/Producer/Dad/Roger), Emerjade Simms (Aisha/Harriet Tubman/Laura/Comrade Black), Emma Slipp (Marissa/Miss Sue/Alice)

CREATIVE TEAM
Omari Newton and Ashlie Corcoran (Co-Directors), Stephen Drover (Dramaturg), Ghislaine Doté (Movement Director), Troy McLaughlin (Tap Choreographer), Kevin McAllister (Set Designer), CS Fergusson-Vaux (Costume Designer), Jonathan Kim (Lighting Designer), Owen Belton (Sound Designer), Chimerik Collective: Sammy ChienCaroline MacCaull, Kayleigh Sandomirsky (Projection Designers), Jonathan Hawley Purvis (Fight Director), Alison Matthews (Dialect Coach), Yvonne Yip (Stage Manager), Victoria Snashall (Assistant Stage Manager)

SHOWTIMES + SPECIAL PERFORMANCES
Tues–Thurs at 7:30 PM, Fri & Sat at 8 PM, Wed at 1:30 PM, and Sat & Sun at 2 PM
Media opening: October 12
Tuesday Talkback: Tues, October 25, at 7:30 PM
VocalEye Performance: Sun, October 30, at 2 PM

ABOUT THE ARTS CLUB
The Arts Club, one of the largest not-for-profit theatre companies in the country, is the principal gathering place for the theatrical arts in British Columbia. Comprising three unique venues across Vancouver, the Arts Club welcomes more than a quarter million guests annually, tours provincially and nationally, and engages students and artists alike through educational and professional programs.

Above all, the Arts Club is dedicated to the advancement of local artists telling stories from around the globe and, in particular, those of our region. From this, we believe that culture expands, an understanding of differences is nurtured, and art bursts forth. The Arts Club was founded in 1964 and is currently led by Artistic Director Ashlie Corcoran and Executive Director Peter Cathie White.

The Arts Club is situated on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) nations.

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Vancouver's arts and culture website providing theatre news, previews and reviews