Findley fable about Noah’s Ark joins Fine Arts Festival spotlight

The Department of Theatre’s contribution to next week’s Fine Arts Festival is a production of Not Wanted on the Voyage, adapted for the stage by Richard Rose (BFA ’78) and D.D. Kugler (MFA ’84) from the acclaimed novel by the late Canadian literary icon Timothy Findley. The Fine Arts Festival, celebrating the opening of The Accolade Project, York’s new teaching, exhibition and performance complex, runs March 20-26, featuring music, theatre, dance and more.

Theatre@York’s production of Not Wanted on the Voyage, Findley’s bold reinvention of the story of Noah’s Ark, previews on March 19, opens Tuesday, March 21 and runs to March 25 at Burton Auditorium.

Right: Timothy Findley

Following the epic biblical flood, Findley’s fable subjects the surviving boatload of human and animal life to the regime of a reckless and tyrannical patriarch. Below  the boat’s decks, abetted by Mottyl the Cat, a seven-foot-tall rebel angel named Lucy and a choir of singing sheep, Noah’s wife struggles to preserve some humane values and the most vulnerable of the endangered species.

In his novel Not Wanted on the Voyage, Findley spun a tale of the apotheosis of patriarchy, spurred perhaps by God’s ominous promise to Noah that “the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth”. Adaptors Rose (artistic director, Tarragon Theatre) and Kugler (former artistic director of Edmonton’s Northern Light Theatre) — both alumni of York’s theatre department — have collaborated on several refashionings for the stage of earlier literary works. Together they created the play Newhouse, combining Don Juan and Oedipus Rex, and a performable version of Michael Ondaatje’s Coming Through Slaughter. The first workshopping of their adaptation of Not Wanted on the Voyage took place at the National Theatre School in 1991; it was co-produced by Canstage, the Manitoba Theatre Centre and Rose’s own company at the time, Necessary Angel Theatre Company, in 1992.

Not Wanted on the Voyage is directed by Toronto’s award-winning triple threat: director, designer and producer Vikki Anderson, the founding artistic director of DVxT Theatre Company. Anderson, whose directorial credits include DVxT’s critically-acclaimed Happy Days (with Soulpepper), Mosley and Me (with CanStage) and The Dollhouse, directs a talented young cast drawn from York’s Acting Conservatory. In the key roles of Noah, Mrs. Noyes and Mottyl the Cat are current York theatre students Ryan Syminton, Jill Niedoba and Kate Barry. All production elements are designed and realized by undergraduate theatre students. the production’s set design is by Megan Paquette, costumes by Sharon Hann, lighting by Wendy Liebner and sound design by Michael Cuttini.

For a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the theatre production process, visitors are invited to drop into Scenes by Design, an exhibition of stage production and design, on view from March 22 to 24 in the Joseph G. Green Studio Theatre in the Centre for Film and Theatre on York’s Keele campus. The exhibition features original costumes, props, scenic art, stage drawings and maquettes as well as set, costume, lighting and sound designs, all created by students in the theatre department’s production program.

Visit the Fine Arts Festival Web site for more information on this and other festival events.