It was their biggest night of the summer, one of their biggest nights of the year.
On Saturday, the Canadian College of Performing Arts held its season opening gala at its facility on Elgin Road with donors, partners, and other dignitary guests such as Oak Bay Mayor Kevin Murdoch.
At the very moments managing artistic director Caleb Marshall was on stage extolling the power of community and proudly announcing the college’s performance schedule for 2019, someone allegedly entered his office downstairs and stole his satchel containing personal belongings and the smart devices he uses for work.
“It’s my iPhone and iPad, in a brown satchel,” said Marshall. “It’s frustrating and disappointing that someone would take advantage of a not-for-profit for youth and emerging artists.”
The Oak Bay Police Department was notified and opened a file on the incident.
“It won’t taint a tremendous show of community, a really big and exciting night sharing our programs and initiatives for the year,” Marshall added.
This year’s season offers a compelling balance of comedy, music and drama, a collection of plays that expands on fresh initiatives and budding partnerships. CCPA uses professionally established guest directors for each of its performances and this year features many with local connections, but also brings in some top Canadian talent.
CCPA’s 2019-20 performance season starts Oct. 17 with The Birds, a retelling of one of western theatre’s earliest comedies. It’s a timeless, timely classic that explores the Indigenous-settler relationship, Marshall noted.
“All of our shows expose our students to classic theatre, they’re great stories with a contemporary lens and stories that deal with timely dialogue,” Marshall said.
The Birds adaption is done with wit and insight by two of the country’s leading Indigenous theatre artists, playwright Yvette Nolan and director Keith Barker.
CCPA will then stage Unity, starting Nov. 28. Former Belfry artistic director Glynis Leyshon will direct the Governor General Award-winning play from 1918 as a darkly comic, Saskatchewan-set, Gothic romance tinged with horror. It puts love and hope to the test in a town whose citizens are quarantined when it’s stricken with a deadly outbreak.
Former Intrepid Theatre artistic director and local playwright Janet Munsil will make her debut as guest director at the college, staging Ann-Marie MacDonald’s Governor General’s Award-winning Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet).
The lively comedy opens Dec. 11. It uses the heroine’s PhD thesis to suggest that the Shakespearean tragedies Othello and Romeo and Juliet had comedic origins.
Marshall himself will direct a dramatic-reinvention of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible that uses the Salem Witch Trials as the basis for a potent morality tale.
The interpretation provides gripping commentary on the consequences of religious intolerance and abuses of power, something that’s particularly resonant today, Marshall noted.
CCPA will also stage two musicals to close the season, The Light in the Piazza, opening Jan. 31, 2020, and Newsies, starting April 17, 2020. Another former Belfry Theatre artistic director, Roy Surette, will direct the romantic, Tony Award-winning Light in the Piazza set in Florence during the summer of 1953. College alum Jessica Hickman will direct Newsies, a look into the world of orphaned and runaway boys in 1899 New York who sell newspapers.
”Newsies is a grassroots movement about uniting and fighting for what is right,” Marshall said.
In the meantime, CCPA will be reviewing its security camera footage from Saturday afternoon. The devices are password protected and Marshall is taking all steps possible to protect the privacy of personal information stored within.