York thespians set the stage for Toronto’s new season

York thespians will showcase their work on stage and behind the scenes in some of Toronto’s hottest productions this season. Watch for two this weekend.

Phillip Silver is set, costume and lighting designer for Soulpepper Theatre’s production of The Price by Arthur Miller, currently in previews and opening tomorrow.

Allyson McMackon (BA ’92) has assembled a diverse team of York talent to bring to life a theatrical, grown-up version of Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. Previews begin tomorrow and opening night is Tuesday at The Theatre Centre.

The Price

This is the second time Silver, theatre professor and former dean of York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, has worked on The Price. The first was more than 40 years ago at Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre.

Set in the crowded attic of a Manhattan brownstone in the 1960s, this family drama centres on two estranged brothers arranging to sell the contents of their dead father’s house.props being stored

Above: Phillip Silver’s set model for The Price 

This time around, “my life experience has made me more aware of the currents that run through a family,” said Silver. “I appreciate this work much more in my sixties than I did in my twenties.”

With the set and props for The Price being largely family heirlooms, including some antiques, Silver’s work as designer involved less set building and more shopping. Sourcing items to represent the lifestyle and personalities of the family and evoke their memories in the crowded attic room took him as far as Barrie, Woodstock and Cambridge – as well as to eBay.

That wasn’t the only challenge. Since Soulpepper runs several plays in repertory, the stage needs to be cleared daily, with sets stored to make room for the next show. Silver had to make less seem like more and devise clever ways to pack things away as compactly as possible. For example, a “stack” of chairs under a drop cloth is actually only one chair plus a wooden skeleton that gives the appearance of a number of chairs underneath. An array of smaller items is stacked inside that skeleton when it is moved into storage following each performance.

The Price will run to Oct. 6 at The Young Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto’s Distillery Historic District. For tickets, visit the Soulpepper website.

Peter and the Wolf

Cartoon of a man and fox infront of the fire

Above: An illustration for Theatre Rusticle’s Peter and the Wolf

For Peter and the Wolf, contract faculty member McMackon (BA ’90) has assembled  actors, dancers and an eight-piece chamber orchestra to present a physically robust, poetic and musically stirring re-invention of the children’s classic as part fairy tale and part dream. It is produced by her award-winning company, Theatre Rusticle, and features a cast that includes Professor Emeritus David Smukler, Wesley Connor (MFA ‘09) and Matthew Romantini (BFA ‘05), dancer Viv Moore (BFA ’90, MA ‘07) and a chorus consisting of theatre students Susannah MacKay and Liam Hanebury, and Jamie Ebbs (BA ‘11). Katy Murphy (BA ‘11) serves as assistant director, former theatre student Renna Reddie is associate producer and Michelle Ramsay (BFA ‘97) designed the lighting.

Peter and the Wolf continues to Sept. 11 at The Theatre Centre, 1087 Queen St. W. For tickets, visit Theatre Rusticle online.