GCTC’s 2018-19 mainstage season on point with plays about race, gender, sexual harassment and ghosts

Tristan D. Lalla, Letitia Brookes in a scene from The Mountaintop. Photo: Andrée Lanthier

The Great Canadian Theatre Company’s 2018 -19 season is very much a continuation of a 44 year long tradition of presenting topical theatre. 

The new lineup was unveiled Saturday with six plays on the company’s main stage. These are productions that offer: a ghost story, an untold tale of the American civil rights movement involving Martin Luther King, a nod to the #MeToo movement, a look beneath veneer of life in Ottawa and a sequel to a play from the company’s 2016-17 season.

The Virgin Trial by Kate Hennig, the associate artistic director of the Shaw Festival, opens up the season. This is a crime drama about Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen, and it continues Hennig’s interest in British queens. This is a sequel to the popular production, The Last Wife, about Catherine Parr, the woman who barely survived her marriage to Henry VIII. Sept. 11 to 30.

The Drowning Girls by Beth Graham, Charlie Tomlinson, and Daniela Vlaskalic, is a haunting, chilly and wet ghost story of three young women who were, in turn, murdered in their baths, in the early years of the 20th century, by the notorious serial killer named George Joseph Smith. It was first produced as a fringe festival piece and remounted in Alberta this past season as a main stage production. Oct. 23 to Nov. 30.

For the holiday season GCTC will host a comedy with a bit of an edge, by Mark Crawford called Bed and Breakfast. In this two-hander, a gay man inherits a home in a small Ontario town from his deceased aunt and, with his partner, decides to open a B&B. It’s not all whimsy however. Small towns don’t always welcome newcomers so warmly, as the pair find out. But they overcome. This production debuted, fittingly, at the Thousand Island Playhouse in Gananoque, Ontario a few seasons back and it was remounted by Centaur Theatre in Montreal in 2017. Dec. 4 to 22.

The second half of the season opens with The Mountaintop by the Memphis, Tenn. native Katori Hall which imagines Martin Luther King’s last night in a motel just after delivering his famous I Have Been To The Mountaintop speech. King confront his past and his present when a mysterious stranger visits him in his room. Jan. 22 to Feb. 10, 2019

Next is the premiere of Behaviour by Ottawa writer, journalist and activist Darrah Teitel. Teitel knows of what she writes having worked as a legislative assistant for opposition critics for the Status of Women and Indigenous Affairs. Her play centres on the life of an Ottawa who has a good government job, a handsome partner, a new baby boy and the appearance of a perfect life on the surface. Underneath the happy picture is a story of sexual assault and political expediency. March 12 to 31, 2019.

The mainstage season closes with Rose Napoli’s Lo (Or Dear Mr. Wells) out of Nightwood Theatre. The play looks back at a sexual and intellectual relationship between a young under grad and her former English teacher with a backdrop of the #Timesup and #MeToo movements. April 30 to May 17, 2019.

“This season, we push again into territory that reflects the real issues in today’s headlines: gender equity, #MeToo, civil rights and even a bit of the old rural/urban divide. After five years at the artistic helm, I couldn’t be happier here,” said GCTC’s Artistic Director Eric Coates in a media release. 

The company has also launched a new website GCTC.ca. And they have announced that the next Shannon Reynolds Intern is Angela Schleihauf who is a musician (oboe), an emerging sound designer and a composer from Ottawa.

For more information check out GCTC.ca

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Peter Robb began his connection with the arts community in Ottawa in the mid-1980s when he was the administrator and public relations director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. After a long career in journalism with the Ottawa Citizen where he served in a number of different posts he returned to the arts when he became the Citizen's arts editor.