York alumna returns to direct Theatre @ York’s season opener

Theatre @ York welcomes patrons back for a new season with Timberlake Wertenbaker’s award-winning play, Three Birds Alighting on a Field, directed by Stratford Festival veteran and York University theatre graduate Jeannette Lambermont (BFA ’78). The production opens at York University on Nov. 1 for a five-day run.

Jeanette Lambermont

Left: Jeannette Lambermont

A multi-character production, Three Birds Alighting on a Field is a pointed social comedy about the art scene and well-to-do Brits. The opening auction and subsequent gallery scenes explore the toxic snobbery and trendiness of 1980s Thatcherite England. Amid the pretentiousness are a few honest souls who bravely attack this vacuous tide through irony, derision and wit, while asserting some notions of real value.

“In her piercing examination of cultural identity, playwright Timberlake Wertenbaker uses the fashion-driven arena of London’s high art scene in the late 1980s as a means of exposing what might be called a crisis of distinctiveness,” said Lambermont. “In this world, art and identity are viewed as commodities to be bought and sold like fashionable accessories. With unabashed satirical zeal, she has created characters that vibrate with truth, and the question, ‘What is art?’ is never far from, ‘Who am I?’”

By the early 1990s, Wertenbaker had established herself as an important voice in Anglo-American theatre, on a par with British playwrights Caryl Churchill and David Hare. Her best-known works include Our Country’s Good, The Break of Day, and Three Birds Alighting on A Field, which won both the Writers’ Guild and Drama Circle Best West End Play Award in1991 and the Susan Smith Blackburn Award in 1992.

Lambermont has directed numerous productions for some of Canada’s leading stages. In eight seasons at the Stratford Festival, her directorial credits included As You Like It, Pride and Prejudice, The Miracle Worker, Henry V, Titus Andronicus, The Grand Inquisitor and Swan Song. She also served as collaborating director on The Comedy of Errors and The Relapse and assisted Richard Monette on The Taming Of The Shrew and John Neville on Othello.

Lambermont’s previous productions with Theatre @ York include The Trojan Women and Anna Karenina. She is the co-artistic director of the newly-formed, Toronto-based theatre company Dareden Theatre Inc. She also serves as executive director for the Shakespeare Globe Centre of Canada.

Theatre @ York’s production of Three Birds Alighting on a Field showcases the talents of fourth-year undergraduate theatre students in York University’s Department of Theatre. The production is designed and constructed by the department’s undergraduate students, with set design by Jasmine Aitcheson, and costume design by Jessica Thistle.

Three Birds Alighting on a Field previews Sun. Oct. 30 and Mon. Oct 31, opens Tues. Nov. 1 and runs through Sat. Nov. 5 in the Joseph G. Green Studio Theatre located in the Centre for Film and Theatre at York’s Keele campus. Showtime is 7:30pm with matinees at 1pm on Wed. Nov. 2 and Fri. Nov. 4. Admission is $12, $8 for students & seniors and $5 group rate. The Sunday preview is Pay-what-you-can and the Monday preview is $5. For more information, contact the Box office at ext. 55172, ext. 3 or visit the Theatre @ York Web site.

This article was submitted to YFile by Mary-Lou Schagena, Faculty of Fine Arts.