Theatre @ York launches new season with Howard Baker’s ‘Wounds to Face’

Geoffrey Hyland head shot

What is beauty? How do we see ourselves and others through the human face?

Theatre @ York launches its 2012-13 season with Wounds to the Face, British playwright Howard Barker’s powerful and sensual exploration of vanity, desire and identity. Directed by Geoffrey Hyland, the production runs Oct. 21 to 27 in the Joseph G. Green Studio Theatre at York University.

In a series of comic and tragic narratives that are both poetic and provocative, Wounds to the Face examines the many faces we present to each other.  It explores the pain and humour we experience in discovering that these features can be changed, obliterated or simply accepted as indelibly our own.  It challenges our understanding of what beauty is, how we see ourselves and others, and the elusive quality we call identity.

“I think it would be very difficult to argue that the face isn’t central to who we are,” said Hyland. “In Barker’s intense, highly theatrical style, he explores why we enhance our faces with makeup or plastic surgery; how faces of great heroes, villains and celebrities are burned into the public consciousness; and what it means to ‘lose face’ – both literally and metaphorically.”

An alumnus of York University’s Graduate Program in Theatre (MFA ’94), Hyland is professional director for theatre, opera and dance. He teaches in the Drama Department at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and is an associate teacher with Toronto’s Professional Actors’ Lab. A longtime champion of Barker’s work, his credits include the playwright’s Kissed by Brel in London, UK (2009); Judith: A Parting from the Body in Cape Town, South Africa for the Howard Barker 21 for 21 International Festival (2009); and (Uncle) Vanya (2003) and Women Beware Women (1993) for Theatre @ York.

Geoffrey Hyland head shotGeoffrey Hyland

Hyland says he’s happy to return to his alma mater to helm Wounds to the Face, calling York’s Department of Theatre “a home away from home” and praising the high quality of Theatre @ York productions. This marks the sixth stop on a global directing tour that has seen him touching down in England, Ireland, New Zealand, and directing two shows in South Africa, including Heathcote Williams’ Sacred Elephant for his own company, Cockpit Theatre, and the world premiere of Between by Oskar Brown, which went on to Germany after its engagement in Dublin.

In Wounds to the Face, Hyland directs a lively young cast drawn from the Undergraduate Acting Conservatory. A talented creative team of undergraduates is handling all aspects of the production design and execution.

Each year, Theatre @ York mounts a challenging and entertaining slate of plays, featuring some of Canada’s most promising performance and production talent. Established in the Department of Theatre at York University in 1969, it has been a springboard for a generation of outstanding Canadian theatre artists. Theatre @ York alumni include stage and screen actors Rachel McAdams, Thom Marriott, Tamara Bernier, Patrick Galligan, Melody Johnson, Deborah Hay, Maurice Dean Wint and Christine Horne; playwrights Djanet Sears and Diane Flacks; and directors Richard Rose and Jillian Keiley.

Previews are Oct. 21 and 22 at 7:30pm. The play opens Oct. 23 and runs to Oct. 27 at 7:30pm nightly, plus matinees Oct. 24 and 26 at 1pm. The play is staged in the Joseph G. Green Studio Theatre, located in the Centre for Film & Theatre at York’s Keele campus.

Tickets are $17, or $12 for students and seniors. Previews tickets are $5. For tickets, contact the Box Office at 416-736-5888.