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Monday, October 31, 2011

Cowardly Kiss Theatre Presents Night Time - No Cowards Here!

I took some time to chat via email with Andrea Beca about Cowardly Kiss Productions, Night Time and what is on the horizon for this company in Edmonton. I am always excited when people commit to what they believe in and take risks while enriching Edmonton's theatrical community so the announcement about an entire season from this company was welcome news for me.

Andrea, you are the Artistic Director of Cowardly Kiss Productions. I have seen a few of your shows at Fringes and last year's Bunburying in the regular theatre season. Can you give us a bit of background on yourself and the company and what you have done in the past? Sure! I've been writing my whole life, from my own "radio" show when I was in grade 1 (my mum still has the tapes I recorded - good lord!) to novels in elementary school. I started writing plays seriously when I was around 16, which was also the first year I got involved with Nextfest at Theatre Network. Everything sort of snowballed from there: I went to the University of Alberta and got my BA in English Literature and Creative Writing. I also started working at Theatre Network during my second year of uni, which really boosted my theatre education on so many levels. I founded my theatre company, Cowardly Kiss, that same year and decided to apply for the 2007 Fringe. Between 2007 and 2009, I wrote, produced, and directed four successful plays at the Edmonton Fringe: B, or, Unless You Steal Her Pen! (2007), Sylvie (2008), She Came From Planet X! (2009), and 00:00AM (Zero Ante Meridiem) (2009). In the Autumn of 2009, I moved to Glasgow, Scotland, to pursue my Master's in Playwriting and Dramaturgy at the University of Glasgow. Since returning to Edmonton, I've really expanded Cowardly Kiss: I produced my Master's thesis, BUNBURYING, this past Spring, as well as an experimental Fringe play, (Real) Gone (Girl), and now I'm embarking on producing Cowardly Kiss' inaugural season, which begins on November 4 with Night Time!

What do you see for the future for Cowardly Kiss? I have lots of plans to continue expanding Cowardly Kiss. We have our season, of course, which is comprised of four plays: Night Time (November 2011), The Maids (April 2012), A System of Pulleys (Summer 2012), and Happy Homes, Perfect Children (Summer 2012). We'll soon be branching out to include a bit of short film work - I have a couple of web series in the works, which I'm hoping to start production on soon. Cowardly Kiss will also be offering freelance dramaturgy very soon, from our two resident dramaturgs: myself and Margaret McCall. (Keep an eye on our website for further info.) In the meantime, I'm also nearly ready to introduce something that has been in the works for the last two years: the children's branch of the company. But that's all I'm going to say for now - more soon, I promise!

Which brings us to Night Time... I couldn't find any information in English on the piece - where did you come across it? Well, not much has been written about Night Time, save for a few reviews of the original production, because it's only been produced once in the past. I'm guessing that what you did find was probably written in Selma's native Croatian! Night Time premiered at the 2007 Edinburgh Fringe at the Traverse, Scotland's new work theatre. Selma (the playwright) was one my two playwriting mentors at the University of Glasgow. The other was Philip Howard, who was the AD at Traverse for over a decade, so I was extra attached to the play while I was at school. After working with Selma, I really wanted to read something she had written, and I wasn't disappointed.

Why this piece for your company? For Edmonton Audiences? Night Time is such a quiet, beautifully written script. Upon first reading, the story seems simple, almost uneventful, but with an uneasiness looming over every word. The more you read it, the more you uncover about what's really going on, the more complicated it becomes, and the more eerie and haunting the characters become. I chose to put it in the inaugural Cowardly Kiss season for a few reasons: first, it's a script I love and it's a challenge to stage; second, the core of its story is one that audiences from anywhere in the world can identify with; and third, I really wanted to bring something from Glasgow home with me, and even better that it would be a play no one has ever heard of before. I learned so much while studying in Europe, but one of the most striking things I learned was just how many incredibly talented playwrights there are whom we have never heard of in Canada (and vice versa, which is why I forced everyone I spoke to to read some Daniel MacIvor)!

Tell us about the people you are working with. Who have you cast and who rounds out your production team? I'm lucky to be working with an amazing cast and crew! The cast is comprised of Nicole Schafenacker (CHRIS), Brennan Campbell (FRANK), Patrick Errington (THOMAS), and Cody Porter (BOWMAN). Ainsley Hillyard has brought her astonishing choreography to the piece, which was not an element of the original production, but which fits so beautifully with the sparingly written script. And last, but not least, Trent Crosby is our fab stage manager.

Where can people go to get more information on the show and purchasing tickets? The Cowardly Kiss website is always up to date with the latest - www.cowardlykiss.com! You can also find information on the Catalyst Theatre website, which is where the show is being produced - www.catalysttheatre.ca - and you can purchase advance tickets through Tix on the Square - www.tixonthesquare.ca!

Is there any other things that you want people to know about the show? It's such a fascinating piece - even among our cast, we had several different interpretations of the story, so I'm very excited to see how each audience member interprets it. I'd love to warn everyone now that it's 90 minutes long without an intermission, so pee when you get there! (I want you to have the opportunity to be first in line for the bathrooms.) We're actually fully booked for volunteers (yay!), but stay tuned to our website and Facebook page - we have an IndieGoGo campaign coming up to raise funds for the next show of the season, Jean Genet's The Maids!

Thanks so much Andrea. I am looking forward to seeing this show and the other work that you will be bringing to Edmonton this season!

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