Belfry Theatre artistic director Michael Shamata unveils the new season Wednesday in the newly renamed BMO Studio Theatre. Don Descoteau/Monday Magazine

WATCH: A red-letter day for The Belfry Theatre

Company unveils new season, new name on studio theatre as part of major funding announcement

It was an afternoon of celebrations for the Belfry Theatre.

Wednesday saw not only the announcement of the new season for the iconic Fernwood company, but a thank you to a major sponsor for helping make patrons more comfortable in the smaller of the Belfry’s two live theatre venues.

BMO Financial Group’s contribution of $100,000 to the Belfry’s capital campaign not only earned it naming rights for the newly christened BMO Studio Theatre, it helped pay for new padded seats. BMO’s assistance also helped the Belfry leverage other funding from the province, which will help cover the cost of replacing outdated production lighting with more efficient – and far less hot – LED lights.

“The importance of a major gift like this to the upgrade and maintenance of an arts facility cannot be overstated,” Belfry Theatre executive director Ivan Habel said in a video statement from Toronto. He was there representing the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres in contract negotiations with the Canadian Actor’s Equity Association.

The 2019-20 season kicks off this summer (July 30-Aug. 18) with BOOM X, a multimedia masterpiece written, directed and performed by Rick Miller. It’s a follow-up to BOOM, which came to the Belfry in 2015 and saw Miller portray personalities from music, culture and politics in the Baby Boom era.

BOOM X, not surprisingly, pushes the clock forward, starting at Woodstock in 1969 and features a cross-section of imagery and personality portrayal from Generation X. It’s his own story of growing up and trying to navigate the tangled legacy of the Baby Boom.

Following productions include (with artistic director Michael Shamata’s comments):

The Children, by Lucy Kirkwood (Sept. 17-Oct. 13) – “Award-winning playwright Lucy Kirkwood’s brilliant play asks big questions about the responsibility we face to leave a better world for the next generation. How do we reconcile our mistakes with their impact on the future, and who is meant to clean up after us?”

Bang Bang, by Kat Sandler (Oct. 29-Nov. 24) “It’s a super funny sitcom style comedy – allowing is to laugh at serious issues and timely themes – including racial profiling, voice appropriation, ego, selfishness and the sometimes incomprehensible world of the theatre.”

Every Brilliant Thing, by Duncan Macmillan with Jonny Donahoe (Dec. 3-22) – “This is simply one of the most moving pieces of theatre I have ever seen. It is so full of life, and pain, and joy and yearning– it overflows with humanity. And its remarkable use of the audience as participants in the storytelling makes for a one-of-a-kind, unforgettable experience.”

The Ministry of Grace, by Tara Beagan (Feb. 4-March 1, 2020) – “It’s like a sprawling Steinbeck novel – a real saga – of encountering hypocrisy and evil, while clinging to the beliefs that guide you. Produced by the Belfry and created by an all-Indigenous team, including designer Andy Moro and writer/director Tara Began, one of our leading playwrights.”

1979, by Michael Healey (April 21-May 17, 2020) – Politics can be nasty; in Michael Healey’s hands, they can be very funny, too. Characters such as Pierre Trudeau, Brian Mulroney, Maureen McTeer and even a very young Stephen Harper come tumbling through the revolving door of the Prime Minister’s Office. But what I really love is the tension between principles and politics in this play, making it incredibly apt for these times.”

Spark Festival (March 9-22)

For ticket and other information, stay tuned to belfry.bc.ca.



editor@mondaymag.com

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