The ever-ambitious Seven Siblings Theatre is mounting their biggest project yet- a two week festival of new work from Toronto playwrights working in the company’s chosen realm of Fantastic Realism. We caught up with Artistic Producer Madryn McCabe to get the low-down on the Future Theatre Festival before the action kicks off TONIGHT at The Attic Arts Hub.
Tell us about the Future Theatre Festival and how the idea came about.
The mandate of Seven Siblings is to develop plays that are in the genre of what we call Fantastic Realism. These plays are rooted in a world that we can recognize and relate to, but are heightened and truly “fantastic”, whether that’s subject, language or setting. We’ve been producing already established plays for a few years now, and we wanted to foster that kind of work with Toronto based playwrights from the ground up and give them a chance to explore in this genre.
Over six months, we met monthly to host development sessions with the playwrights and their teams, to focus on playwrighting, dramaturgy, character, atmosphere, relationships, and staging. The playwrights met with their teams in between sessions to rehearse and refine their plays, and the final culmination is three fully developed plays running for two weeks during our festival.
How did you choose the plays that would be featured?
We asked for story ideas and writing samples from everyone who submitted to us and chose scripts that seemed like they would fit best into our mandate, and who had the strongest personal voice in their writing. We had some great submissions, and it was difficult narrowing it down. We were really excited by the submissions and know there there is so much writing talent in the city.
We also had a lot of help from Andrew Markowiak from Filiment Incubator, who acted as our Script Coordinator. They had produced eight plays in eight months last year, so he had some great insights and suggestions that we hadn’t considered.
Give us a short pitch of the must-see work in the festival.
this place. by Becky Tanton is the story of Leah, haunted by the ghost of her dead husband. Mark never leaves her as she wrestles with her guilt, her sanity, and her hatred of a painting her left on their wall. Dark, tumultuous and avante-garde, “this place.” is an exploration of loss and conscience.
New World by Genevieve Adam tells two parallel stories simultaneously: of a father in 17th century London preparing to sail to North America, and of a 21st century daughter departing to colonize Mars. Each character faces the opposition of their respective child/parent. Each of them believe their society is broken and must be abandoned. Each of them are running from their pasts toward a new world.
Tactile Maladies by Nawi Moreno-Valverde begins when a historian invites us into a quarantined home during a plague. The group of women that make up the household all attempt to use the quarantine to their advantage: maintain power over the family barber-surgeon shop via cross dressing and (early) modern science; hide a pregnancy; seduce the favourite cousin. Any character that offers to make clarity of the chaos will be killed, exiled, or will leave us without any answers.
The festival also includes readings, workshops and parties. What are the can’t-miss events?
I’d like to think that you shouldn’t miss any of them!
The staged reading is a new play by our Artistic Director Will King, called From the Water. Honestly, he won’t tell me much about the plot because he wants first impressions after the read, but I know that the story is about clones and an invasion of Earth. He describes it as “a domestic narrative that explores the nature of clones in a supernatural crisis”. I’m really intrigued.
The workshop is for anyone interested in learning more about the Michael Chekhov Acting Technique. This method is such a driving force for our company, and has been so integral to the development of these plays, that we wanted to offer the opportunity to other artists to experience what we do. The technique is so joyful, and we love sharing it with people.
The closing night/Halloween party is straight up a party! It’s a chance to celebrate the hard work of the festival participants and have a party for the best night of the year. Will and I both take Halloween VERY seriously, and throw a party on behalf of the company every year. We’ve got a bar, candy, a costume contest and a DJ.
Give us the details: where/when/how much are tickets?
The Attic Arts Hub, 1402 Queen St E, 3rd Floor. The festival runs Oct 19-29, with two of the three shows each night at either 7pm or 9pm. Individual tickets are $20 ($15 for artsworkers), and a festival pass, which gets you admission to all three shows, the staged reading, the workshop and the closing night party, is $50 ($40 for artsworkers). The festival pass is really a great deal! Here’s a link to ticket sales and more info: Future Theatre Fest Tickets
What else do we need to know about the festival?
This is a true labour of love from everyone involved, and we’ve been so inspired and joyed to watch these plays come together from the ground up. We’re excited to show you what we’ve been working on!