Winnipeg Jewish Theatre (WJT), Canada’s longest running Jewish theatre company, is thrilled to announce its 30th anniversary season, which features a diverse, dynamic, accessible playbill. The 30th anniversary season programming is a testament to WJT’s artistic mission to present plays on themes of Jewish interest and/or plays by Jewish playwrights; to reach across communities through presentation of universal and socially relevant plays and engage our audience in dialogue; to provide a vehicle for neophyte actors, playwrights, directors, and technicians to participate in professional theatre; and to encourage the development and presentation of new Canadian plays of Jewish interest and/or by Jewish playwrights.
“The thirtieth anniversary season is inspired by a core value the company was founded upon: community,” says Ari Weinberg, WJT’s Artistic Director. “The productions are all about celebrating our commonalities and embracing our differences through works that explore how and why we band together.” The ambitious 2017 – 2018 season is sponsored by the Asper Foundation.
The 30th anniversary season will open with Tribes by UK playwright Nina Raine, running October 19 – 29, 2017. The production will be directed by WJT Artistic Director Ari Weinberg and feature local actors Stephanie Sy and Arne MacPherson. Tribes tells the story of Billy, the only Deaf member of a loving, idiosyncratic Jewish family that has tried to raise him as part of the hearing world. When Billy meets Sylvia, a young woman who is going Deaf but has grown up as the only hearing member of her family, Billy’s worldview is blown wide open. As Sylvia begins teaching Billy sign language and introducing him to the Deaf community, he and his family are forced to grapple with questions of belonging. Tribes will mark the professional debut of local Deaf actor Jordan Sangalang in the role of Billy, and will launch WJT’s American Sign Language (ASL) interpreted subscription season, the only one of its kind in Winnipeg. Tribes will have two ASL interpreted performances on October 21 and 26, 2017. The production sponsor for Tribes is Debbie Gray.
The season continues with WJT’s bi-annual So, Nu? Festival of New Canadian Jewish Plays. The cornerstone of the festival will be We Keep Coming Back, co-created by former Winnipegger Michael Rubenfeld and National Arts Centre’s Associate Artistic Director of English Theatre Sarah Garton Stanley. Running March 6 – 11, 2018 with an ASL interpreted performance on March 8, We Keep Coming Back is the story of a mother and son, both descendants of Polish Holocaust survivors, who decide to return to Poland in the hopes of finding their lost identity and reconnecting with each other. However their quest takes an unexpected turn when they discover a vibrant contemporary world of Jewish life in Poland. Michael Rubenfeld’s real-life mother Mary Berchard also performs in the piece alongside Katka Reszke, author of Return of the Jew. The So, Nu? Festival will also feature readings of three new Canadian Jewish plays from March 13 – 15. The festival sponsor is the Gail Asper Family Foundation.
On March 18, WJT will celebrate its milestone birthday with Turning 30: A Retrospective Cabaret. Featuring songs and scenes from past productions, the cabaret is sure to be a delightful evening featuring some of Winnipeg’s finest talent. Turning 30 will also mark the launch of the Jewish Heritage Museum of Western Canada’s partner exhibit on Jewish theatre in Winnipeg, featuring material from WJT’s extensive archive.
The season proper will close with the William Finn and James Lapine musical Falsettos, presented in partnership with Winnipeg’s Dry Cold Productions. Directed by Mariam Bernstein, Falsettos will run May 2 – 13 2017, with an ASL interpreted performance on May 10. Falsettos is a Tony® Award winning musical that chronicles two years in the life of Marvin, his ex-wife Trina, lover Whizzer, about-to-be-Bar-Mitzvahed son Jason, their psychiatrist Mendel, and the lesbians next door. Set in New York City between 1979 and 1981, Marvin is forced to reckon with his own views on love, responsibility, and what it means to be a man on the eve of the AIDS crisis. Part intimate family drama, part neurotic urban comedy, and part keenly observed meditation on a shifting definition of the contemporary family, Falsettos is a beautiful reminder that love can tell a million stories.
Subscriptions will go on sale May 4, 2017 with single tickets on sale in September. Subscription package costs will range from $70 – $100.