It was the death of something and the birth of something. At precisely the same time as the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company was announcing in March, 2012, that it was shutting down the company effective almost immediately, a meeting was taking place about a project being developed by some of the city's great creative minds.
In his studio, renowned visual artist Stan Douglas – with Siminovitch Prize-winning Electric Company co-founder Kim Collier – was explaining the multimedia work he had conceived to Arts Club Theatre artistic managing director Bill Millerd and literary manager Rachel Ditor. The piece was being written with Chris Haddock, the creator of television's Da Vinci's Inquest and Intelligence.
"Chris basically wrote the story and Stan was going to visualize it," recalls Millerd. "Because of Kim's involvement with Tear the Curtain and Electric Company, he thought she would be a good person to talk to about transforming it to the stage."
The result, Helen Lawrence, co-written by Douglas and Haddock and co-directed by Douglas and Collier, will premiere at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage in March, 2014.
Described as an "intoxicating mixed-media spectacle" set in 1948, Helen Lawrence – which was workshopped at the Banff Centre earlier this year – will see actors perform in front of green screens, their images fed simultaneously onto virtual sets representing Hogan's Alley and the old Hotel Vancouver.
Overwhelmingly the coming Arts Club season is about nostalgia, as the company marks its 50th season. It's bringing back Nicola Cavendish's It's Snowing on Saltspring and Red Rock Diner by Dean Regan as Arts Club Classics. It also announced late Wednesday a number of initiatives to mark the anniversary, including archival exhibitions online and in the company's theatre lobbies.
The season opens in September with Jon Robin Baitz's Other Desert Cities at the Stanley. Also at the Stanley next season: productions of Mary Poppins, The Odd Couple, and Monty Python's Spamalot.
The Granville Island Stage season kicks off in October with David Ives's Venus in Fur. The critical hit Kim's Convenience will have its Vancouver premiere in April. Also at the Granville Island Stage: Driving Miss Daisy.
And at the Revue Stage, Colleen Murphy's Armstrong's War will have its world premiere in October, followed by the return of David Sedaris's The Santaland Diaries, Asha and Ravi Jain's A Brimful of Asha (presented with the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival) and the Drama Desk-nominated Shakespeare "ad-rap-tation" The Bomb-itty of Errors.