Arts Club announces six new commissions for 60th anniversary

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      There’s a whole host of world premieres coming our way in the not-too-distant future. 

      The Arts Club Silver Commissions program is responsible for a wealth of Canadian playwriting talent. The initiative, which commissions, develops, and produces plays, has brought audiences stunning works like Redbone Coonhound and Someone Like You

      To celebrate 60 years, the Arts Club is commissioning six new projects through the program. 

      “Commissioning and developing new plays is part of the Arts Club’s backbone. Every year we commission two new scripts with the aim of premiering them on our stages,” says artistic director Ashlie Corcoran in a statement. “The bold and exciting move of commissioning a whopping six new scripts this year speaks to the company’s ongoing commitment to new work and our ambitious spirit of adventure.” 

      Since kicking off the program in 2006—to mark the 25th anniversary of Arts Club producing its first world premiere of a Canadian play—20 shows have been produced. 

      The new commissions run the gamut from reimagined narratives to family-friendly musicals and historic dramas. 

      Starting with the serious, An Enemy of the People sees two-time Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama winner Colleen Murphy rework a classic Ibsen tale—about a man ostracized for exposing his hometown’s toxic water—into a climate change narrative.  

      Two different plays embrace actors as main characters. In Florida Social from Zee Zee Theatre’s artistic managing producer Bronwyn Carradine, an upcoming actress navigates witness protection in her grandparents’ Venice Beach retirement community. Meanwhile, Little Darling (by Amy Lee Lavoie and Omari Newton, the team behind Redbone Coonhound and Black Fly) stars a screen darling who accidentally burns down a small-town community centre and pays penance by directing a “big, splashy play” to fundraise. 

      A pair of historical narratives showcase new perspectives on Canada’s past. In farcical Fan Tan Alley, Jovanni Si (former artistic director of Gateway Theatre) takes audiences back to 1900, exploring the misadventures of men crowded into a single dorm room on North America’s narrowest commercial street (which is located in Victoria). Set not too much later in 1918, Murder on the Pacific Express sees Anishinaabe and Slovene playwright Frances Koncan explore a killing and a contentious history that unfolds aboard a luxury train journeying from Montreal to Vancouver. 

      Finally, new festive musical Beware the Glunkus: A Christmas Musical (by Ben Elliott and Anton Lipovetsky, who’ve also written The Park and The Best Laid Plans) follows grouchy jingle musician Joe, who’s transformed into a grinchy Glunkus and must rely on his family to find the cure. 

      “The playwrights creating these six new plays represent some of the most exciting and impactful theatre being made today—in BC and across Canada,” says Stephen Drover, Arts Club’s head of new works and professional engagement, in a statement. “The incubation for new scripts—from commission to production—is usually between three and five years, so I’m thrilled to spend the next several years working with each of these playwrights as dramaturg and champion of their new work.” 

      Sounds like the 2027 to 2029 theatrical calendars are going to be stacked.

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