Theatre @ York presents ‘rochdale’ from Nov. 17 to 24

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Department of Theatre at York University and kicking off a season dedicated to the theme of “Disruptors,” Theatre @ York presents rochdale, a new play by David Yee under the direction of Nina Lee Aquino, running Nov. 17 to 24 in the Joseph G. Green Theatre at York University.

Yee’s script explores the legacy of Rochdale College, an experiment in post-secondary education that focused on a student-run alternative education and co-operative living in Toronto. It opened in 1968. It was a free university, and was built on a model where students and education live together and learn from each other; however, it could not sustain itself financially and ultimately closed down.

This play looks at all of its compelling fictions, and sometimes-difficult truths.

“We are delighted to open our season with a new Canadian play that embraces the same spirit of experimentation and social advocacy that guided the founding of the Department of Theatre at York 50 years ago,” said department Chair Marlis Schweitzer. “We are incredibly fortunate to have such Canadian innovators kick off our anniversary season, as we reflect on the past 50 years and look ahead to the future.”

Lee Aquino and Yee share an enthusiasm for the production, which is reflects their long-term commitment to creating new works with college and university students.

“Almost 10 years after our first bespoke project together, we’re thrilled to bring another play tailored specifically to a singular class of young people to the stage,” they said. “Our goal is to showcase and challenge these soon-to-be-graduates and illustrate just how perfect an instrument art is for growth and change. Through the history of Rochdale, both real and imagined through the lens of the play, we have been inspired by the spirit of the rebel. We hope that spirit continues to inspire and guide this next generation of artists as they become the vanguard of their own theatrical revolutions.”

rochdale features 14 students in the fourth-year acting ensemble. All elements of set, costume, and lighting are designed and executed by undergraduate theatre students.

Yee is a playwright, actor and the artistic director of fu-GEN Theatre Company. His play Carried Away on the Crest of a Wave won the 2015 Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama.

Lee Aquino is an award-winning director and dramaturge, and the artistic director of Factory Theatre. She is committed to the development of new works, and to the manifestation of interculturalism in theatre.

rochdale sound designer and Juno Award-winning musician Debashis Sinha’s creative output spans a broad range of genres and media. Recent projects include his solo album, The White Dog, as well as music and sound design for Shirley Valentine at the 1000 Islands Theatre Festival and Secret Lives of a Mother at the Theatre Centre.

The performance schedule is: 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 17 and Nov. 19 to 23; 1 p.m. on Nov. 21 and 23; and 2 p.m. on Nov. 24. Tickets are $7 to $20 and are available online or by phone at 416-736-5888

The 2018-19 Theatre @ York season theme of “Disruptors” presents plays that focus on the impact and influence of people who are agents of change. Selected by a department reading group made up of three faculty members and fifteen students from across the department, the Disruptors season celebrates the unconventional, challenging actions of those who refuse to leave well enough alone

Read more about the season here.