Arts & Culture

It’s curtains up for Gateway’s new season

By Lorraine Graves

Published 4:08 PDT, Wed September 18, 2019

Last Updated: 12:29 PDT, Fri October 4, 2019

As a parting gift to Richmond’s Gateway Theatre, former artistic director Jovanni Sy chose a powerful and somewhat prescient season of plays with everything from wit to joy and thought-provoking dramas. 

The season kicks off Oct. 17 with China Doll written and directed by Marjorie Chan. This main stage production explores the rift between painful tradition and the power of education. 

The story revolves around Su Ling and her grandmother. Su Ling says “the daintier the foot, the more marriageable the girl.” But she has learned to read, and her horizons have widened. She no longer wants her feet broken and bound to look tiny. 

The play echoes what happens when people see freedoms beyond their borders thanks to travel and the internet. 

November sees a thriller, The Double Axe Murders. Based on true events, this psychological thriller, steeped in Newfoundland folklore, will have you sleeping with the lights on. In Gateway’s smaller Studio B, the action is up-close and personal. 

On Dec. 12, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat opens. This family musical about love, sibling rivalry and redemption runs through New Year’s Eve. The first musical ever written by the famous team of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, was originally created for a boys’ school to perform. That explains why the vast majority of roles are for males but the direction of this production falls to a woman, Barbara Tomasic, returning interim artistic director who wowed audiences here with her direction of The Music Man in 2016. 

The main stage will be home to Straight White Men starting Feb. 6. This Canadian premiere performance of Young Jean Lee’s satirical comedy about three who brothers return home for the holidays. Regressing to trash-talking and sibling pranks, they are caught off guard by a shift in the family dynamic, forcing them to examine the effects of traditional masculinity.

March 19 sees local Musquem (on whose land Richmond sits) creative powerhouse Quelemia Sparrow in Skyborn. As both the creator and presenter, Sparrow takes us on a journey of discovery as she weaves real-life stories with spiritual awakening as she reconnects to her Indigenous heritage. Sparrow may be well-remembered for her power and grace in Lysistrata at Bard on the Beach.

The last production of the season, offered in collaboration with Ruby Slippers Theatre, debuts April 16. It features award-winning director Diane Brown in the English translation of Sébastien Harrison’s From Alaska.

A troubled teenager escaping from the world breaks into the house of an elderly woman. The seemingly mismatched pair share their feelings of love and loss. The dialogue moves effortlessly between street-smart humour and lyrical elegance.

Of note, whether by happenstance or design, all of Gateway’s productions this season are directed by skilled women and most are written by women. 

Of the upcoming season, Barbara Tomasic says of Sy’s choices, “The new season will take our audience on a tour from contemporary North America, to turn-of-the-century China, early nineteenth-century Newfoundland, and as far back as biblical times. We are particularly delighted that our season features all women directors and continues our commitment to diversity both onstage and through our playwrights and creative teams.” 

For information or tickets contact Richmond Gateway Theatre either by phone 604-270-1812, at the box office 6500 Gilbert Rd, or online at gatewaytheatre.com 

Season tickets start from $116.

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