At a beautiful lakefront garden party on Wednesday night, Theatre Kingston, the city’s only professional theatre company, officially launched its 2022-2023 season.
The company’s 31st season will see Theatre Kingston present three original Canadian works, with all plays having some form of a connection to the Limestone City. The season officially gets underway this November, with Craig Walker’s These Deeds, playing at the Baby Grand from November 2 to 19.
These Deeds is written and directed by Kingston resident and Queen’s drama professor, Craig Walker. The play is a thriller about Bram Stoker, Buffalo Bill Cody, and Henry Irving. Kingston audiences may remember the work from its one-night-only reading in November 2021, with this year’s performance marking the show’s premier professional production.
The company will return in the new year with Cliff Cardinal’s CBC Special, featuring one of Canada’s most talked-about theatre artists in recent years. Cardinal, who wrote and stars in the production, recently turned heads in Toronto with his unique take on Shakespeare’s As You Like It, a production that generated significant controversy and box office sales.
CBC Special is described as an evening of music and words, as Cardinal performs original songs that tell the story of family resilience and the legends of survival on Turtle Island. According to Theatre Kingston’s Artistic Director Rosemary Doyle, Cardinal’s show even features a song set in Kingston.
“One of the songs that he sings in this play is called ‘It’s Snowing in Kingston’… One of the subplots of it, that’s inferred, is that one of the people that he talks about is actually incarcerated in Kingston.”
Cardinal is another familiar face to Kingston theatre audiences. In 2019, he brought his popular play Huff to the Baby Grand. CBC Special will run from February 8 to 26 at the Tett Centre.
Last up, the company will close out its 31st season with Een by Rosemary Doyle, a play about a young woman’s journey to Ireland to visit her grandmother for the very first time. As Doyle explained, the show is a work of fiction, but the story and its setting have been heavily influenced by her own experiences in Ireland as a child.
“It’s based on the place that I used to go to in Ireland… When I was a child, every single summer, I went to Ireland to spend time at my grandmother’s house. The story that is told in Een is completely made up, but the places, all the [imagery]… are pulled from my childhood.”
While Doyle will not be acting as part of this season, she said it was important for her “give creatively” to the company. Een will be performed at the Tett Centre from March 7 to 23.
Both These Deeds and Een have been a long time coming for Theatre Kingston, as the pandemic forced the organization to pivot its programming over the past two years.
“This season, we’re going back to getting all those ducks that we had planted in a row before COVID and we’re going to fully realize them now,” said Doyle. “So, basically, right when COVID happened, we were doing a week of readings for These Deeds and Een… we went from hope to despair, and now I feel like this is a re-emergence of that hope.”
One of the goals of Theatre Kingston is to foster and promote dramatic artists within the city, something this new season acts as a strong reflection of.
“It’s 100 per cent important for me to be fostering local storytelling… Look at our name, it’s about theatre [in] Kingston. Part of our mandate and part of our love, part of the reason we get on board with this, is to take Kingston artists and give them the professional opportunities to be able to realize their work to that degree of intensity.”
Theatre Kingston is the city’s only permanent professional theatre company, with three full productions on offer this season. Subscription information is available at www.theatrekingston.com. While a subscription will provide access to all three main productions, Doyle hinted at some other special offerings which will be included this season.
“In buying the subscription for Theatre Kingston, it’s not just these three shows, I also do ‘Tett Specials.’ If you get your season subscription, you also automatically have tickets to the ‘Tett Specials,’ even if they don’t exist yet.”
“Tett Specials” are meant to promote new and developing works, as well as performances which wouldn’t normally fit within the main season. Doyle said she will be bringing back John Huston’s Christmas Carol, along with several other performances expected throughout the year.
Before the 2022-23 season officially gets underway this fall, Theatre Kingston is busy planning the 2022 Storefront Fringe Festival, which takes place this August inside the Grand Theatre.