Company C presents Wintertime by Charles Mee. Interview with director and cast.

Company C presents Wintertime by Charles Mee. Interview with director and cast.

When Sara-Jeanne Hosie (Into the Woods) was invited back to direct the latest Company C—the year III program that sees students forming their own repertory company and taking on roles from production to performance—at the Canadian College of Performing Arts, she came upon the work of American playwright Charles Mee and “fell in love with his writing right away. He lays it all out—everyone has been in one of the relationships in Wintertime”, she says.

Mee builds his work on the scaffolding of Greek and classical theatre, happily pillaging their work to create his own, and offers the same opportunity to others through his website, the (re)making project—inviting artists to take his plays and remake and remix them.

Hosie decided to cast some of the 16 person ensemble—4 young men and 12 young women—as a Greek chorus.

Wintertime is perfect for Company C.  It’s a farce and I was able to infuse it with choreography and music to support their skills”.  Besides being director and choreographer, Hosie has also composed the music.

Performer Willie Knauff believes “Wintertime has a modern sensibility. Mee roots the characters in the truth of love and marriage and not politics”.

In a statement on his website, Mee states “There is not a single role in any one of my plays that must be played by a physically intact white person” which has allowed this cast to gender bend some of the roles.

Lauren Welchner (who plays Bob) says, “Mee doesn’t write stereotypical male and female roles, he writes human. There are no villains, simply humans making mistakes”.

With Wintertime, a companion piece to Summertime, Mee was “trying to write serious plays but they both end up being comedies”, says Hosie.  For publicist Jasmine Toombs, Wintertime is “rooted in heart with clown aspects found in Commedia d’ell arte.”

When I asked Hosie what she would say to people who have never attended a Company C show before, she said, “by attending audiences are investing in the future of professional theatre in Canada and helping to build the inherent relationship between theatre-goers and actors”.

Described as a sweet, dreamy, romantic comedy from the world of The Winter’s Tale, The Cherry Orchard, Molière and Magritte. “I like plays that are not too neat, too finished, too presentable. My plays are broken, jagged, filled with sharp edges, filled with things that take sudden turns and careen into each other,” says author Charles L. Mee. “It feels like my life; it feels like the world.”

Wintertime by Charles Mee, directed and choreographed by Sara-Jeanne Hosie
Company C
Canadian College of Performing Arts Performance Hall
1701 Elgin Road
November 29-December 2, 2017
Tickets: $25 via Eventbrite

Company C Strips Down This Wintertime

Wintertime is coming, and for the students in Company C, that doesn’t just mean the season. No need for long johns when things are heating up at the Canadian College of Performing Arts, this group of students completing their third-year program are tackling Charles L. Mee’s “Wintertime” at the CCPA Performance Hall (1701 Elgin Road) from November 29-December 2. Directed by Sara-Jeanne Hosie, this cozy comedy features a collection of lovestruck characters that wear their hearts on their sleeves.

Described as a “sweet, dreamy romantic comedy,” Wintertime tells the story of two young lovers, Jonathan and Ariel, who plan a private getaway at Jonathan’s cabin. Upon arrival they find that his parents, Maria and Frank had the same idea, to spend a weekend at the cabin with their respective lovers, Francois and Edmund. Throw in two lesbians from next door, a delivery person named Bob, and a flirty French doctor without walls and you have the makings of a physical theatre, farce that promises laughs.

Charles Mee says of the show “I like plays that are not too neat, too finished, too presentable. My plays are broken, jagged, filled with sharp edges, filled with things that careen into each other, smash up, veer off in sickening turns. That feels good to me. It feels like my life. It feels like the world. And then I like to put this—with some sense of struggle remaining—into a classical form, a Greek form, or a beautiful dance theatre piece, or some other effort at civilization”.

Adding a new spin to the production, director Sara-Jeanne Hosie has found a way to incorporate some new characters into the show, the ensemble. Hosie explains that they will be acting as a sort of Greek Chorus. The women of the ensemble will provide support to the story through the use of movement, speech, and original music composed by Sara-Jeanne. “It’s going to be a challenging, and inventive process for me and the students as Mee’s work encourages thinking outside the box, broad interpretation, abstract design, physical theatre, and dance.” Hosie inspires her cast to be a part of the creative process, and have no preconceived notions about the characters; their journey is left for the actors to discover, guided carefully by Sara-Jeanne’s vision for the play.

Meanwhile, the rest of the cast is hard at work creating an immersive experience for the audience by crafting the winter wonderland that Charles Mee imagined. The students in Company C not only take on roles onstage but also work behind the scenes in various areas of production such as lights, sound, marketing, sets, props and so much more.  The magic happens on and offstage with these talented, emerging artists, and they can’t wait to bare it all with their presentation of Wintertime.

About @lacouvee

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