York theatre students tell tales out of school

A group of fourth-year students in York’s Theatre Department recently received wonderful recognition: they have been invited to present their new play, Telling Tales Out of School, at the Tarragon Theatre’s annual Spring Arts Fair on May 27 and 28 in Toronto.

Telling Tales Out of School began as a class project in a playwriting and new play dramaturgy course developed and taught by York theatre Professor Judith Rudakoff (left). Originally presented as part of spring break activities at York, the play was re-staged for the public at the Tarragon Near Studio, where it caught the eye of director and playwright Andy McKim, Tarragon Theatre’s associate artistic director and founder of the Tarragon Spring Arts Fair.

“Andy McKim was so impressed by the play that he extended an invitation to the class to participate in this year’s fair,” said Rudakoff.

Telling Tales Out of School is a series of short solo performances inspired by interviews and observation of nine of Toronto’s eminent theatre artists, including Kelly Thornton, artistic director of Nightwood Theatre; playwright Yvette Nolan of Native Earth Performing Arts; and choreographer Robert Desrosiers, founder of Desrosiers Dance Theatre.

Rudakoff explained how the play developed: “The goal of the class project was to ensure that the students understand, experientially as well as theoretically, what the responsibilities, challenges and benefits are for an artist who is researching and then creating and developing a character inspired by a real-life human being.

“The students and I discussed artists in theatre and dance who would inspire each of them. They then researched ‘their’ artist and contacted them. The artists were gracious, generous and also curious about what we were doing and how it would work. Each artist met with their student interviewer, gave them access to their work spaces, and in some cases, even invited their interviewer to observe and/or participate in ancillary events. To that end, Telling Tales Out of School was created.”

Rudakoff wrote the introduction to Telling Tales Out of School, while York theatre students Andrew Cheng and Kimber Sider served as dramaturgs. The play will be performed at the fair by York theatre students Rachel Blair, Briana Brown, Guy Doucette, Erin Fleck, Jessica Kitt, Megan Patterson, Anusree Roy and Vanessa Ryan.

Now in its 21st year, the Tarragon Spring Arts Fair is an eagerly-awaited event that attracts about 1,500 people annually. This two-day showcase of new works features readings and staged performances which take place in various locations throughout the theatre. To grab a front-row seat, you will have to line up early. The fair runs from noon to 6pm at the Tarragon Theatre, 30 Bridgman Avenue (Dupont/Bathurst), Toronto. Admission is free.

Telling Tales Out of School is also being reconstructed as a self-published chapbook, financed by a grant from the Creative Arts Student Association, the student government of York’s Faculty of Fine Arts.

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