Today, the Saint John Theatre Company is revealing their 2016 – 2017 season. Even more exciting than their main stage productions—Miracle On 34th Street, Of Mice And Men, and Boeing Boeing—is the announcement that the theatre will be taking their upcoming production of An Enemy Of The People to Germany in January 2017.
“The artistic director of Theatre Konstanz was in Saint John last summer and literally walked past the building and saw the banner for An Enemy of the People,” shares Stephen Tobias, Executive Director of the Saint John Theatre Company. “He had a tour of the building. This gave him a sense that we’re not operating out of the back of a truck and we might even know what we’re doing. He asked me to reach out, and now they are going to host us as part of their season.”
Theatre Konstanz is a large company in Konstanz, Germany, utilizing three theatres, employing about 150 people, with a full time artistic residency program, and a full time company of actors, designers, directors and writers. Tobias seems somewhat awestruck at the potential of the opportunity.
“We’re taking fifteen people: a cast of eight and a team of seven. We’ll be there for a couple days to recover and then a tech rehearsal and a week of shows. But I mean, this is huge for us. It was only a year ago that we did our first show at any theatre other than the Imperial or the BMO. We’ve been to The Playhouse, The Capitol, and Edmunstun. The War Bride did a tour of eighteen schools. An Enemy Of The People will be going to Fredericton, Moncton and St Stephen the week after we’re at the Imperial. That’s our touring experience. So this is a huge learning curve.”
Only two years ago, the Saint John Theatre Company was ramping up to celebrate their twenty-fifth year. They were very excited to be putting on twenty-five shows, which seemed like an unfathomable number at the time. They ended up putting on close to thirty shows that year, and they haven’t stopped growing since. In fact, they’ve grown to the point where they are not able to host everyone who wants to book their studio on Princess Street. When asked where they go from here, Tobias admits he really doesn’t know. “Germany,” he answers with a grin.
Locally, the coming season is an interesting reflection of their international endeavours. The highlights of their studio series will be Anne Frank and East Of Berlin.
“Sometimes the Imperial is too big for the story that we’re telling. For Anne Frank, we want to make it so that when people come up the stairs they feel like they are going into Anne Frank’s attic. I want them to feel like they are a fly on the wall in this intimate space.”
East Of Berlin will be a continuation of that conversation from an entirely different perspective. Written by Hannah Moscovitch, celebrated Canadian playwright who was just granted the Trillium Book Award, East of Berlin explores the question of how responsible we are for the sins of our parents in the context of a budding relationship between a German boy and a Jewish girl. “It’s a beautifully written play and I’ve wanted to do it for a long time. We couldn’t do it in a vacuum though. We’re hoping to leverage the audience of Anne Frank to build an audience for East Of Berlin.”
Last year they put on a total of forty-three creative works with 170 performances, and were on the cusp of 20,000 attendants. “We’re maxed out. I can’t imagine us wanting another venue, but what are the options? We either stay where we’re at, or we travel to more theatres, or we absorb another venue, or create another rehearsal hall.” Whatever they decide on, there’s no doubt that they are on the right track.
For more information visit www.saintjohntheatrecompany.com