Untitled - Alberta Theatre Projects

CONTENTS
ALBERTA THEATRE PROJECTS BRAND STORY……………………………………………....…..3
HOW TO FIND THE THEATRE…………………………………………………………………..……...4
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS........................................................................................... 5
THEATRE ETIQUETTE ................................................................................................................ 6
ENSEMBLE AND CREATIVE LIST……….................................................................................... 7
PLAY SYNOPSIS.......................................................................................................................... 8
PRODUCTION BACKGROUND ................................................................................................... 9
SETTING…………………..............................................................................................................10
ENSEMBLE BIOGRAPHIES ……................................................................................................. 11
THEMES & TOPICS …………………........................................................................................... 14
IMPROV ……………..………………................................................................................... 17
COMMEDIA ……………..................................................................................................... 20
KEITH JOHNSTONE …...................................................................................................... 21
CLOWN …………………..................................................................................................... 22
RICHARD POCHINKO ……………………………….............................................................23
MUMP & SMOOT ………………………………………………………………………………….24
MASK ………………………………………………………………………………………………..25
TRUTH ………………………………………………………………………………………………26
STORYTELLING ……………………………………………………………………………………27
IN THE CLASSROOM ……………………………………………………………………………………..28
ACTIVITIES …………………………………………………………………………………………………29
CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS ....................................................................................................30
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ALBERTA THEATRE PROJECTS: BRAND STORY
What is art? What is theatre? Why is it important? To ask these questions
would be like asking: What is life? Why are we here? Does it matter what we do with it? Theatre
is a mirror of our lives, our struggles, our pain, our joys and our triumphs.
Theatre is this crazy person who has the courage, or the insanity (the jury is still out) to show up
naked – sometimes literally, to stand in front of an audience and show their work and expose
themselves, without the armour of editing or computer effects but with all the risks of mistakes and
imperfections. They pour their art out and say...”What do you think?”
It’s not that they are not scared, of course they are, terrified sometimes. But that’s the price you
have to pay to have the ability, the honour, the immense pleasure of touching us, perfect strangers, of
moving us to tears, to laughter, to marvel. That’s the price you have to be willing to pay to open
hearts and minds.
In the end, that is why we do what we do.
We all live busy lives, with work, kids, family, chores, and bills. Things seem to move faster and faster
around us. There is so much information, opinions, confusion. It’s hard not to feel lost, scared,
overwhelmed. How do we make sense of it all? How do we find ourselves and each other amongst all
this noise? It’s so easy to be distracted; from us, from what matters.
We’re not here to tell you what to do, to lead you down the right path. Sorry to disappoint. We’re in
the same boat you are. We are here to tell you stories. Sometimes they are funny stories, sometimes
sad or both. But they are all glimpses of us. It’s like peeking at someone’s bedroom, or reading their
diary. These stories let us in; these very intimate, very personal and very honest slices of life. The
funny thing is when we watch these stories, we can see ourselves but most of all, we can see others.
We understand choices, we may not agree, but we can relate.
Theatre is where we see us, where we poke fun at ourselves and laugh at our shortcomings. It’s
where we marvel at the human spirit, where we start to see things from different perspectives. It’s
where we forget where we are for a couple of hours and get transported into stories that touch us,
move us or simply delight us.
These are the stories worth telling. These stories break barriers; of time, backgrounds, opinions...
they help us make sense of what it means to be alive right now. Hopefully they help us find beauty
and peace amongst all the noise and confusion. Hopefully they’ll help us find ourselves, and each
other.
3
HOW TO FIND THE THEATRE
Entrance to the Martha Cohen Theatre Lobby is on the south side of 8th
Avenue between 1 St SE and Macleod Trail North. This is where buses will park for drop off and pick
up.
CONNECT WITH US
@ContemporaryATP
Alberta Theatre Projects
atpinsider.blogspot.com
Alberta Theatre Projects
The Martha Cohen Theatre
Arts Commons - 215 8th Ave S.E.
Calgary, Alberta, T2G 0K8
For all things education related,
contact:
Jonathan Brower
Youth Engagement Manager
(403) 294-7475 ext. 1098
[email protected] .com
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1) What time does the performance start? How long is the show?
The performance begins at 11:30am and runs approximately 2 hours with one 15 minute
intermission; ending at approximately 1:45pm. This performance includes a Q&A with
artists on stage, directly after the curtain call.
2) What time should the bus pick up the students from the school, and from the theatre?
The bus should be at your school to pick up the students at 10:30am and back to the
theatre no later than 2pm.
3) When and where are the students going to eat their lunch?
We open the lobby of the Martha Cohen Theatre at 10:45 for students to eat their
lunches. Please allow at least 30 minutes prior to the matinee start time so students are
able to comfortably eat, and take their seats on time. NO FOOD OR DRINK IS
ALLOWED INSIDE THE THEATRE.
4) Where should I tell the bus company to drop us off?
Stephen Avenue (8th Avenue SE) will be accessible from 10:00am. Please direct bus drivers
to take MacLeod Trail South and turn left onto Stephen Avenue (8th Avenue SE). Please note,
due to limited access we request that all vehicles stop only for drop off and pick up. THERE
IS NO BUS PARKING AVAILABLE ON STEPHEN AVENUE,
5) Where will students leave their coats and backpacks during the performance?
Students are able to leave their coats/backpacks in the lobby or bring them into the
theatre. Coats should be on the back of the seats and backpacks can be under the seats.
At no time should the student take food out of their backpack and eat during the
performance.
6) Are the students able to leave the theatre?
We encourage students to stay in the theatre for the entirety of the performance. However,
if it is necessary for a student to leave, please ask our ushers for assistance in
order to exit safely. Students will have to wait to re-enter until an appropriate break in
the play when an usher will safely escort them in.
Share your art with us!
We would love to receive your feedback
about the performance. Please send
your letters, pictures, cards, etc. to:
Jonathan Brower
Youth Engagement Manager
Alberta Theatre Projects
220 9 Ave SE, Calgary AB, T2G 5C4
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THEATRE ETIQUETTE
Before attending the theatre, please take some time to go over proper theatre etiquette with your
students. We know this is common sense, but for some students this may be their first theatre
experience.
RESPECT the actors and your fellow patrons



When the lights go dim, it is time to be quiet and engage with the action on the stage
Be sure to turn off cell phones
Refrain from texting, talking or eating as this is disrespectful to the actors telling the story and
your fellow audience members
RESPOND to what you see through laughter, tears, smiles, giggles or captivated silence.
 The actors feed off your presence and respond with their work on stage.
 Don’t respond by talking to your neighbour; please wait until after the performance to discuss
your thoughts.
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ENSEMBLE
Josh Bertwistle
Christy Bruce
Bruce Horak
Ellis Lalonde
Jamie Northan
Rebecca Northan
COMPANY
Director – Rebecca Northan
Assistant Director – Renée Amber
Production Dramaturg – Vicki Stroich
Set Design– Scott Reid
Costume Design – Deitra Kalyn
Composition/Sound Design – Jonathan Lewis
Stage Manager – Michael Howard
Assistant Stage Manager – Erin Bauer
U of C Intern – Matthew Hall
Photo by Trudie Lee
Legend Has It. Cast and Creative team Enbridge playRites 2014.
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SYNOPSIS
You’ve never seen anything like this incredible show. When we first presented it, kids and grown-ups
hooted and laughed so hard that the theatre rocked. People came again and again, some dressed up
in fantasy costume. It’s entertainment that appeals to kids, families, adults and fantasy fans of all
kinds. The show is uplifting, hilarious, and totally original.
Every show, we root for one of our own: an ordinary person from the audience becomes the Hero
who must overcome impossible odds using their imagination and their heart. The audience gets so
involved that the auditorium roars. There’s humour, surprises, and incredible moments of honesty.
Along the way we all discover the true Hero within. What makes us unique – our dreams, our desires
and our life experiences – that’s what make us the stars of our own epic journeys.
At this time of year we invite families to celebrate with us and enjoy entertainment that appeals to
every age group, from 6 to 106. When we premiered the first version of this show at ATP it caused a
sensation with audiences and critics alike
Rebecca Northan, creator of international hit Blind Date, teams up with the improvisational talent of
Loose Moose Theatre alumni to create a theatrical journey you will never forget.
Take your class on an epic hero’s journey, not just to the theatre, but to the magical land of Jarö.
Here resident Mumplings trade truths as currency, an ancient sword master and sorceress await with
secrets to bestow, and evil wizards, goblins and other magical creatures roam the land shrouded in
mystery and adventure.
This choose-your-own adventure theatre experience excites and delights with lessons on leadership,
truth telling, and the invisible masks we wear as each of us plays different roles in our lives.
We all have a hero inside and this show unearths that truth in one audience member while uniting the
rest of the audience to cheer on their comrade’s quest.
This is life-changing theatre for all ages!
Mark Meer
Photo by Trudie Lee
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PRODUCTION BACKGROUND
Legend Has It, was originally presented in 2014 by Alberta Theatre Projects in the Enbridge playRites
Festival. This production reflects the original’s popularity and prowess, earning the Family Holiday
show slot this 2015/16 season. Legend Has It did receive two workshop sessions at Loose Moose
prior to its debut, the first in June and the second in October of 2013.
What has changed from then till now? Experience! The show is essentially built in pieces, tested in
sections, and can be described as trial and error or learning by doing. This type of experiential
dramaturgy is both challenging and rewarding says Executive Director and Dramaturg Vicki Stroich.
Each rehearsal requires a volunteer to play the role of the Hero, testing one part at a time. Exposition
will be more widespread or woven throughout and disorder is of course welcomed and encouraged.
Photos by Trudie Lee
Legend Has It
Winner; 2014 Readers Choice Award
Presented by Fast Forward at the Betty Mitchell Award Ceremonies
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SETTING
The action unfolds in Jarö - a land full of Magic, where the population prefers to trade in Truth, rather
than money.
(SOME) CHARACTERS (YOU MIGHT ENCOUNTER – IT IS IMPROV AFTER ALL!)
HALDOR (or Haldora if a woman is playing the role) An evil Wizard/ Witch who has a mysterious
past, and a dark heart.
MUMPLINGS - are adorable creatures who have a tendency to blurt out the truth. They are kind,
gentle and loving.
HORAK THE WISE - is an ancient sword master who lives deep in the woods. If you can find his
cottage, he might train you.
AMATEA - a quirky sorceress who wanders the deepest parts of the forest. If you can find her, she
may give you magic tools.
LICKSPITTLE - is a goblin who works for Haldor...and may not be as evil as he is ugly...
LAVIGATORS are rumoured to live in Haldor's castle and swim in lava.
BOGLINGS live in the swamps. They are blind, but attracted to sound. If they catch you, they will
steal you away.
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ENSEMBLE
JOSH BERTWISTLE
Josh appears regularly at the Loose Moose Theatre
Company, and has studied with them since 2007. He’s
been in the Calgary Fringe with his shows Sabotage and
The Antarctic Show, and worked with the Windmill Theatre
Players to bring his improv film noir Mystery Men to High
River’s W.O. Mitchell Theatre. Josh is also a cast member
of Dirty Laundry’s completely live, completely improvised
soap opera Clean Cut. He was in the local movie Roger's
Pass, Calgary's Lloyd the Conqueror, and Calgary-shot
web-series Word of Mouth. Josh is a new addition to the
playRites Legend Has It team we saw in 2014, and we’re
so excited to welcome him to ATP!
CHRISTY BRUCE
For ATP: Debut. Elsewhere: Blind Date (Select
Theatres: Tarragon, Charing Cross Theatre, 1000 Island
Playhouse Western Canada Theatre); DINK! (The
Factory Theatre); The Forum (Stratford Festival); Panic!
(Second City Toronto); Private Lives (Music Box
Theatre, NYC); Jenny’s House of Joy (Lighthouse
Theatre). Film/TV: The Strain, Odd Squad, Orphan
Black, Little Mosque on the Prairie. Christy is thrilled to
be back in her hometown and playing with such amazing
talents. As always, love and thanks to PB & BBB.
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BRUCE HORAK
Bruce is an award-winning legally blind multi-disciplined
creator/performer with a background in theatre, music, and
visual art. Born and raised in Calgary, Bruce moved to
Toronto in 2001 to pursue a career as a stage actor. He has
spent the last decade traveling throughout Canada and into
the United States with various theatrical productions including
his solo show: This is CANCER. Bruce's work as a painter
has been featured at the Auburn Saloon in Calgary, The
Harbourfront Centre in Toronto, The Kelowna Art Gallery,
The Pacific Theatre (Vancouver) and the Firehall Arts Centre
(Vancouver). Bruce's newest theatrical work, "Assassinating
Thomson" explores the history of Canadian art and the story
of a legally blind visual artist. It toured the Canadian Fringe
Festival circuit in the summer of 2013 - winning awards for
Production, Performance, Direction, and Concept across the
country.
ELLIS LALONDE
Ellis is an improv theatre artist and musician, and can be
seen performing with the Loose Moose Theatre
Company youth improvisation program and with the
main company. He has been a sound designer and
improviser for many Calgary companies, including
Lunchbox Theatre, Kinkonauts STU Group, Past Your
Bedtime, and Dirty Laundry: The Next Generation. Ellis
has also been in Fringe shows, A Day in the Life of
(INSERT NAME HERE) and The Antarctic Show with
fellow Legend Has It ensemble member Josh Bertwistle.
He won the 2013 ConocoPhillips Youth of Distinction
Award. Earlier this year when mentor Rebecca Northan
won the Doug & Lois Mitchell Outstanding Calgary Artist
Award at the Mayor’s Lunch for Arts Champions, she
chose to share the award with Ellis because of his work
with Loose Moose and the incredible example he sets for
young artists. We are thrilled to have this exciting and
passionate young talent at ATP this season.
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REBECCA NORTHAN
Rebecca is thrilled to be home! For the past four years her
one woman show, Blind Date, has been touring Canada, the
US, and most recently had its 300th performance in London,
England. Her most favourite thing in the world is to create
new work with people she loves and adores and she is
deeply grateful for the opportunity to work on Legend Has It
with the ATP family. Rebecca is the winner of two Canadian
Comedy Awards, a Betty Mitchell Award, and has been
nominated for several Dora Awards and a Gemini. Rebecca
also brings her creative expertise to the corporate world by
facilitating a variety of workshops in Practical Improvisation.
@rebeccanorthan
JAMIE NORTHAN
Jamie has been performing, directing and instructing the art
of spontaneous theatre, with Calgary’s Loose Moose
Theatre Company, since 1991. Jamie’s most recent
professional endeavours have taken him all over North
America and include roles in Blind Date, Truth or Dare,
Micetro Impro, Super Scene, Gorilla Theatre, Die Nasty and
Chimprov. He is excited to be involved in creating two new
shows, An Apocalypse Survival Guide: Undead or Alive?
and Legend Has It. His training includes: improvisation with
The Loose Moose Theatre Company, Theatre Arts at Mount
Royal University and, decades of general misbehaviour and
unruliness.
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THEMES & TOPICS
THE HERO’S JOURNEY
Every story has a beginning, middle and end.
The Twelve Stage Hero's Journey is a popular form of structure derived from Joseph Campbell's
book The Hero With A Thousand Faces and adapted by Christopher Vogler. The structure and format
can be found in novels, play scripts, movies and more. This template has been used by a wide range
of artists, from Hollywood’s George Lucas and StarWars to University of Calgary’s Patrick Finn and
Aesop’s Fables.
1.) Ordinary World
This is where the Hero exists before the present story begins, oblivious of the adventures to come. It
is a safe place. It’s in the everyday life where we learn crucial details about our Hero like one’s true
nature, capabilities, and outlook on life. This anchors the Hero as a human and makes it easier for us
to identify with them later.
2.) Call To Adventure
The Hero's adventure begins when they receive a call to action, such as a direct threat to safety,
family, way of life, or to the peace of the community. It may not be as dramatic as a gunshot, it could
simply be a phone call or conversation, but whatever the call is and however it manifests itself, it
ultimately disrupts the comfort of the Hero's Ordinary World and presents a challenge or quest that
must be undertaken.
3.) Refusal Of The Call
Although the Hero may be eager to accept the quest, at this stage there will be fears that need
overcoming. They may have second thoughts or even deep personal doubts as to whether or not they
are up to the challenge. When this happens, the Hero will refuse the call and as a result may suffer in
some way.
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4.) Meeting The Mentor
At this crucial turning point where the Hero desperately needs guidance,
meets a mentor figure who gives a gift. The gift given could be an object of great importance, insight
into the dilemma, wise advice, practical training or even self-confidence. Whatever the mentor
provides the Hero with, it serves to dispel doubts and fears and give the strength and courage to
begin the quest.
5.) Crossing The Threshold
The Hero is now ready to act upon the call to adventure and truly begin the quest- whether it be
physical, spiritual or emotional. They may go willingly or may be pushed, but either way they finally
cross the threshold between the world that is familiar and that which is not. This may be leaving home
for the first time or doing something that has always been scary to do. However, the threshold
presents itself, the ensuing action signifies the Hero's commitment to the journey and whatever it may
have in store.
6.) Tests, Allies, Enemies
Finally out of their comfort zone, the Hero is confronted with an increasingly difficult series of
challenges that test them in a variety of ways. Obstacles are thrown across the path; whether
physical hurdles or characters bent on thwarting progress. The Hero must overcome each challenge
on the journey.
The Hero needs to find out who can be trusted. They must earn allies and meet enemies who will,
each in their own way, help prepare for greater ordeals yet to come. This is the stage where skills
and/or powers are tested and every obstacle helps the Hero gain deeper insight into the character.
7.) Approach To The Inmost Cave
The inmost cave may represent many things in the Hero's story including an actual location in which
lies a terrible danger or an inner conflict which up until now the Hero has not had to face. As the Hero
approaches the cave they must make final preparations before taking that final leap into the great
unknown.
At the threshold to the inmost cave, the Hero may once again face some of the doubts and fears that
first surfaced upon the call to adventure. They may need some time to reflect upon his journey and
the treacherous road ahead in order to find the courage to continue. This brief respite helps the
audience understand the magnitude of the ordeal that awaits the Hero and escalates the tension in
anticipation of the Hero’s ultimate test.
8.) Ordeal
The Supreme Ordeal may be either a dangerous physical test or a deep inner crisis that the Hero
must face in order to survive, or it may be a threat of extinction for the world in which the Hero lives to
continue to exist. Whether it is facing a great fear or a most deadly foe, the Hero must draw upon all
of the skills and experiences gathered upon the path to the inmost cave in order to overcome the
most difficult challenge.
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9.) Reward (Seizing The Sword)
After defeating the enemy, surviving death and finally overcoming the
greatest personal challenge, the Hero is ultimately transformed into a new state of being, emerging
from battle as a stronger person and often with a prize or reward.
This reward may come in many forms: an object of great importance or power, a secret, greater
knowledge or insight, or even reconciliation with a loved one or ally. Whatever the treasure, which
may well facilitate the return to the Ordinary World, the Hero must quickly put celebrations aside and
prepare for the last leg of the journey.
10.) The Road Back
This stage in the Hero's journey represents a reverse of the Call to Adventure in which the Hero had
to cross the first threshold. However, the Hero's journey is not yet over and they may still need one
last push back into the Ordinary World.
11.) Resurrection
This is the climax in which the Hero must have a final and most dangerous encounter with death. The
final battle also represents something far greater than the Hero's own existence with its outcome
having far-reaching consequences to the Ordinary World and the lives of those left behind. Ultimately
the Hero will succeed, destroy the enemy and emerge from battle cleansed and reborn.
12.) Return With The Elixir
This is the final stage of the Hero's journey, returning home to the Ordinary World changed. The Hero
will have grown as a person, learned many things, faced many terrible dangers and even death but
now looks forward to the start of a new life. The return may bring fresh hope to those left behind, a
direct solution to their problems or perhaps a new perspective for everyone to consider.
The final reward may be literal or metaphoric. It could be a cause for celebration, self-realization or an
end to strife, but whatever it is it represents three things: change, success and proof of the journey.
The return home also signals the need for resolution for the story's other key players. The Hero's
doubters will be ostracized, enemies punished and allies rewarded. Ultimately the Hero will return to
where they started but things will never be the same again.
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IMPROV
Noun: improvisation
1.) The action of improvising.

Created without preparation.
There's a common misunderstanding that improv is all about being funny. It's not. You don't have to
feel pressure to invent jokes and come up with puns. The product is often funny, but it's mostly about
listening, supporting each other, and committing to a reality you're making up on the fly. Improv is
proven to boost creativity and collaboration in classrooms, the workplace, and at home. Improv builds
the muscle for trusting one’s own impulses and ideas, before we have to analyze how good they are,
as well as helping develop open-mindedness toward other people's ideas.
Selected improv rules are:
1.)
2.)
3.)
4.)
5.)
6.)
7.)
8.)
9.)
Say “yes, and!”
Add new information.
Don’t block.
Avoid asking questions- unless you’re also adding information.
Play in the present and use the moment.
Establish the location.
Be specific and provide colorful details.
Change, Change, Change!
For serious and emotional scenes, focus on characters and relationships.
There are many more rules, but these are a good starting point. And if you really want to break the
rules- commit to everything you’re doing and find moment to moment objectives, listen to what your
partner says (and doesn’t say), look for the WHY in everything said and done by those in the scene,
choose, use and play status, be changed with every beat and so forth.
Improv is an art. However, it is also a craft. Learned through practice, repetition, trial, error and hard
work. Much like any other art, skill in improv is acquired over time. The more time spent improv-ing
the greater the improvement!
That being said, there are rules which can, in general, make a scene better. As with any art form, you
can break all of the rules and still have quality scenes. However, those best able to break the rules
are those who first learn and understand them. “I read the rules before I broke them!”
So, let’s look at some of the basic rules of improv…
1) Say “Yes, and!”
For a story to be built, whether it is short form or long form, the players have to agree to the basic
situation and set-up. The WHO, WHAT, and WHERE have to be developed for a scene to work.
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By saying yes, we accept the reality created by our partners and begin the
collaborative process from the start of a scene. The collaborative process or
group mind helps make us giants, animals, villains, saints and more
importantly put us in situations that we would normally avoid or have not
personally experienced.
2) After the “‘and,” add new information.
An improvised scene can’t move forward or advance unless we add new information. That is why new
information is added after the “Yes” of “Yes, and!”
3) Don’t Block.
The opposite of saying “yes, and” is blocking or denial. Denial destroys or stops the addition of new
information or worse negates what has already been established. Blocking is a way of minimizing the
impact of new information. Don’t play it safe. Blocking at its simplest levels involves saying “no,” or
avoiding a subject. At a more advanced level, blocking is something that keeps the action from
moving forward or the players from changing.
4) Avoid Questions.
Another form of blocking (in its more subtle form) is asking questions. Questions force our partners to
fill in the information or do the work. It is a way of avoiding committing to a choice or a detail. It is
playing it safe. However, on more advanced levels, questions can be used to add information or tell
your partner the direction to go in.
5) Focus on the Here and Now.
Another useful rule is to keep the focus on the here and now. A scene is about the people in the
scene. The change, the struggle, the win or loss will happen to the characters on the stage.
Focus on what is going on right this at this moment.
a) Why is your partner moving away from you?
b) Why did she use a questioning tone?
c) What did the slight smile mean?
d) How do you, as your character, feel about what she is doing?
Remember, it isn’t just about the words; it is about what is happening. The words are tools used to
accomplish or to pursue a goal (objective or need).
6) Establish the Location!
Good scenes take place somewhere and at some time. They do not take place on an empty stage. A
location can easily be established in one or two lines without breaking the scene.
7) Be Specific- Provide Details!
Details are the lifeblood of moving a scene forward. Each detail provides clues to what is important.
Details help provide beat objectives and flesh out characters.
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8) Change, Change, Change!
Improv is about character change. The characters in a scene must
experience some type of change for the scene to be interesting. Characters
need to go on journeys, be altered by revelations, experience the ramifications of their choices and be
moved by emotional moments. We go to the theater to see the unusual days characters have, not the
everyday moments of stasis and stagnation.
9) For serious and emotional scenes, focus on characters and relationships.
A long form improv set should contain a variety of scenes. Some scenes will be emotional, some will
be tense, and some should be funny. The easiest way to make a scene serious is by focusing on the
relationship of those on the stage (their characters).
Other ways to make a scene dramatic is to hold a moment, use the silence, and focus on the shifting
emotional points that emerge as a scene unfolds.
10) For humour, commit and take choices to the nth degree or focus on actions/objects.
A good long form set is balanced. Shakespeare knew that too much pathos was wearing on the
audience; hence, he had minor characters in humourous scenes such as the drunken porter in
MacBeth. To create humour in improv, commit to choices to the nth degree or focus on actions and
objects. Another way to create humour without doing so at the expense of the scene is to take every
offer literally.
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KEITH JOHNSTONE
Don’t be prepared!
KEITH JOHNSTONE is one of the few internationally recognized authorities in the field of
improvisation, and is one of Rebecca Northan’s greatest mentors. Great chunks of which he created,
including improvisation forms that include Theatresports™, Maestro Impro© (or Micetro© Impro),
Gorilla Theatre™, and The Life Game©.
He founded the Theatre Machine Improvisation group in England in the 1960’s, touring Europe and
North America , was the Co-founder and Artistic Director of The Loose Moose Theatre Company in
Calgary, Canada in the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s. He founded The International Theatresports™ Institute
in 1998.
Keith has written two bestselling books about his Theatre and Improvisation theories and practices, in
addition to several plays and short stories. His books Impro, and Impro For Storytellers, have been
translated into many languages. His plays are produced worldwide.
Keith’s ideas about improvisation, behaviour and performance appeal to a wide variety of groups.
From Actors to Psychotherapists, Improvisation companies to Theatre Schools and Theatre
Companies, Business and Management training specialists and Humanities Research Institutes,
Universities and Film Production Companies have invited him to come to teach them about his ideas.
"You can't learn anything without failing"
"Please don't do your best. Trying to do your
best is trying to be better than you are"
"Go onto stage to make relationships. At least
you won't be alone."
"It's not the offer, but what you do with it."
Keith Johnstone
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COMMEDIA
Legend Has It draws upon generations of tradition; this is apparent from the action on stage to the
name of the production. Foundational traditions like Commedia dell'arte for example. Commedia is a
form of improvisational theatre that began in Italy in the 17th century. It continued to be very popular
during the 19th century, and though it’s popularity has declined, it is still done today.
The title is difficult to translate. A close translation is “comedy of craft”. This is shortened from
commedia dell’arte all’improvviso, or “comedy of the creative ability of improvisation”.
The plays of Commedia dell'Arte were often performed by a small group of actors who travelled
around and performed in town squares. The actors would pass a hat round for people to put money
in. The words of the plays were mostly never written down.
The actors often wore masks. The stories were often about people being cunning. Hunger, love and
money were important in the stories. There were several characters who often appeared in lots of the
stories. These are called "stock characters". Examples of stock characters from Commedia dell'Arte
are: Harlequin, Pantalone, Arlecchino, Colombina, Pulcinella, Pierrot, Scaramuccia. Commedia
dell'Arte had a lot of influence on theatre in many countries.
Rebecca Northan
Photo by Sean Dennie
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CLOWN
The comedy that characters in Legend Has It perform is usually in the role of a fool whose everyday
actions and tasks become extraordinary—and for whom the ridiculous, for a short while, becomes
ordinary. This style of comedy has a long history in many countries and cultures across the world.
Clowns have a varied tradition with significant variations in costume and performance. The most
recognisable modern clown character is the Auguste or "red clown" type, with outlandish costumes
featuring distinctive makeup, colourful wigs, exaggerated footwear, and colourful clothing. Their
entertainment style is generally designed to entertain large audiences, especially at a distance.
Modern clowns are strongly associated with the tradition of the circus clown, which developed out of
earlier comedic roles in theatre or variety shows during 19th to mid-20th century. Many circus clowns
have become well known and are a key circus act in their own right. The first mainstream clown role
was portrayed by Joseph Grimaldi (who also created the traditional whiteface make-up design). In the
early 1800s, he expanded the role of Clown in the harlequinade that formed part of British
pantomimes, notably at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and the Sadler's Wells and Covent Garden
theatre. He became so dominant on the London comic stage that harlequinade Clowns became
known as "Joey", and both the nickname and Grimaldi's whiteface make-up design were, and still are,
used by other types of clowns.
Mump & Smoot
FUN FACT
The "fear of clowns", circus clowns in
particular as a psychiatric condition
has become known by the term
Coulrophobia.
Photo Credit Gary Mulcahey
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CANADIAN CLOWNING
Richard Pochinko
The Canadian Clowning Technique is a mask-based style of performance created by Richard
Pochinko. Originally from Selkirk, Manitoba, he was based primarily in Toronto, Ontario and founded
the city's Theatre Resource Centre. Pochinko can be described as a trailblazer whose techniques and
methods challenge and influence seasoned veterans like Northan and the Legend Has It ensemble.
Also known as the "Pochinko Method",
seven masks are used, each representing
one of the six physical directions (North,
South, East, West, Above and Below). The
final mask is the Clown. Variations include
a three-mask technique (based on the
three polarities) and a six-in-one mask
technique.
Most clowning techniques (Eastern,
European, etc.) focus on basic structure
and formalism as the basis to start story
creation. The Pochinko Clown begins by
focusing on his personal naturally
occurring emotions and impulses, and then
structuring that creative licence into a story
and performance.
Richard Pochinko
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MUMP & SMOOT
Well Known Canadian Clowns
Mump & Smoot, also referred to as clowns of horror, inhabit a parallel universe called Ummo, worship
a god named Ummo and speak their own brand of gibberish, Ummonian. Together they turn every
convention about clowns upside down in a series of darkly humourous shows that range from the
zany to the macabre. Not For Children!
The comic creations of Michael Kennard and John Turner, Mump & Smoot have been a hit from coast
to coast performing to sold-out houses at every festival they play. They have also had successful runs
at many major regional theatres including Alberta Theatre Projects in Calgary, the La Jolla
Playhouse, the Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven where they have been Associate Artists for the
past six years, the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Center Stage in Baltimore, the Dallas
Theater Center, and at the Canadian Stage Berkeley Street in Toronto. Mump & Smoot have also
appeared Off-Broadway at the Astor Place Theater in New York, and at the Palestinian National
Theatre and the Acco Theatre Festival in Israel.
This dynamic duo won two Dora Mavor Moore awards in June 2003 - one for Outstanding Production
(Mump & Smoot in Flux) and another to Karen Hines for Direction. They were also nominated for a
Canadian Comedy Award for Comedic Play (Mump & Smoot in Flux) and are past recipients of a
Canadian Comedy Award for Outstanding Performance in a Comedic Play. They have also won the
Outstanding Small Visiting Company Award at the Boston Theater Awards and have appeared in the
Genie-Award winning film The Fairy Who Didn't Want To Be A Fairy Anymore as well as their own
Canadian Film Centre short The Princess Who Wouldn't Smile.
Mump & Smoot
Photo Credit Gary Mulcahey
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MASK
In Legend Has It actors use masks to quickly go from one character to another...but in life, we wear
"invisible masks" all the time, as each of us plays different ROLES in our lives. For example, you
probably wear one mask when you're alone with your friends (you play the ROLE of "friend"), and a
different mask when you're with your parents (child mask), or at school (student mask). That is to say
- on the inside, you're always YOU...but, your behaviour on the outside changes depending one WHO
you're with and where you are.
Masks play a key part within world theatre traditions, particularly non-western theatre forms. They
also continue to be a vital force within contemporary theatre, and their usage takes a variety of forms.
Masks are an important part of many theatre forms throughout world cultures, and their usage in
theatre has often developed from, or continues to be part of old, highly sophisticated, stylized
theatrical traditions.
Contemporary theatre
Masks and puppets were often incorporated into the theatre work of European avant-garde artists
from the turn of the nineteenth century. Including; Alfred Jarry, Pablo Picasso, Oskar Schlemmer and
other artists of the Bauhaus School, as well as surrealists and Dadaists, experimented with theatre
forms and masks in their work.
In the 20th Century many theatre practitioners, such as Meyerhold, Edward Gordon Craig, Jacques
Copeau and others in their lineage, attempted to move away from Naturalism. They turned to sources
such as Oriental Theatre (particularly Japanese Noh theatre) and commedia dell'arte, both of which
forms feature masks prominently.
Types of Masks
NEUTRAL MASK: Expressionless, no character. Usually full face.
CHARACTER MASK: Includes features which exaggerate the sex and expressions.
FULL FACE MASK: Covers the entire face. Can’t speak.
HALF MASK: Shows character. Can speak.
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TRUTH
TRUTH is a strong theme in Legend Has It. The Hero who journeys with the cast through Jarö will
have only their own truths to use as currency. What does it mean to tell the truth?
Some truths are easy to share, "It's my birthday today"....while other truths make us feel vulnerable to
share. What are examples of "little truths" vs "big truths?"
In Legend Has It characters ask things like:
- What are you afraid of?
- What stops you from being brave?
- Who do you look up to?
- Who inspires you?
- Who needs your help?
- What have you done that you are the most proud of?
- When were you brave?
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STORYTELLING
First Nations, Inuit, and Metis cultures have long passed on knowledge from generation to generation
through oral traditions, like storytelling. Storytelling is a traditional method used to teach about cultural
beliefs, values, customs, rituals, history, practices, relationships, and ways of life. First Nations
storytelling is a foundation for holistic learning, and relationship building.
Telling stories is an oral tradition that allows the passing on of history and the teachings of the past.
Without these stories, we could lose touch with the past. Teachings in the form of stories are an
integral part of our identity as a people and as a nation. If we lose these stories, we will do a
disservice to our culture and to those who gave us the responsibility to keep it alive.
Patience and trust are essential for preparing to listen to stories. Listening involves more than just
using the auditory sense. Listening encompasses visualizing the characters and their actions and
letting the emotions surface. Some say we should listen with three ears: two on our head and one in
our heart.
First Nations Stories
Stories can vary from the sacred to the historical.
Some focus on social, political, and cultural ways.
Some are entertaining, even humourous.
Some tell of personal, family, community or an entire nation’s experiences.
Some are “owned” by certain clans or families and can only be told by a member of that group.
Others can be told by anyone who knows them and cares for them.
Stories reflect the perceptions, relationships, beliefs and attitudes of a particular people
Storytelling is a timeless human tradition. Before the written word, people would memorize elaborate
stories full of morals that shaped cultures for generations. Today, kids can barely sit through class,
but spend hundreds of hours devouring books, movies and games. We are wired for communicating
through and learning from stories.
Unfortunately, storytelling has become a lost art in many instances.
Here are three reasons why storytelling is crucial to improv and performance.
1.) Stories are Memorable.
2.) Stories Travel Through Time And Space.
3.) Stories Inspire Action.
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IN THE CLASSROOM
MASK - Warming Up
Warm up the body before working with the masks. In particular looking at neck stretches.
 Stand in a circle. Stand in neutral.
 Stretch your neck slowly to the left and then right to strengthen.
 Turn your neck to the left and then right.
 Turn to your left and massage the shoulders and neck of the person in front of you.
Peep Show
 Find a wall, door or whiteboard that you can bring into the performance space.
 Have students begin to practice putting on their mask following the rules.
 Students go behind the wall, door, whiteboard and have to “peep” around revealing their
character, keeping their back straight and their neck to one side. Ensure the actor’s eyes are
looking straight ahead.
Pulled By a String
 Have students walk around the room pretending that a nominated body part is being pulled by
a string. For example, stomach, pelvis, chest, eyes, one shoulder, forehead.
 Have a discussion with the class about how the neutral masked character changes as a result
of this physicality.
Emotions
 Form groups.
 As a class brainstorm different emotions and write them on the board.
 Select one of the emotions on the board.
 Each member of the group wears a neutral mask and uses body language to express that
emotion.
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CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1.) Have students, perhaps in pairs or small groups, create short story
(one page) revolving around an emphasized HERO. Be sure to work with students to design
criteria and identification techniques for “the Hero’s Journey.”
2.) Draw, write about, perform, sculpt, or make a collage of an event that represents a HERO’s
story (real or imagined). What feelings does this evoke? How strongly would you defend these
feelings?
3.) Challenge yourself to compose a 140-character tweet about this play and send it to
@contemporaryATP.
4.) Create a Lighting Design Plot for your schools theatre space or ATP’s! Include simulated
attributes of full scale theatrical lighting fixtures including; color, beam angle, intensity,
projections and gobos. List fixtures needed and plot them on a grid.
5.) Re-imagine the setting of the play – what if, instead of the magical land of Jarö, the action
between the characters had been somewhere else?
6.) What impact might a change in setting have? For example, what if the journey took place
somewhere realistic like Calgary?
7.) Create a Maquette (Set Design Model) for your imagined setting.
8.) Create some visual connection to the show and its themes and send it to ATP to be displayed
in the lobby for matinees. (ex. heroes of room 6, villains of room 4).
QUESTIONS / DISCUSSION
1.) What elements of metadrama are at work in the performance? Did these add to or detract from
your experience? Did these elements work with or against some of the central ideas and
concerns of the play?
2.) What invisible masks do we wear?
3.) What purpose do they serve?
4.) What positive emotion masks do we wear?
5.) What negative emotion masks do we wear?
6.) Who would you be without any of your masks?
7.) What theatrical techniques did you notice during the performance? How did these techniques
generate tension in the audience?
8.) How do we perceive the past?
a.) Do people tend to celebrate or regret the past?
9.) How does each character feel about the past and the events that have happened to them?
a.) How do they feel about the future?
10.) How would you describe the character of Amatea?
a.) How do she fit into the world of the play?
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CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
ELEMENTARY DRAMA
FIRST GOAL
To acquire knowledge of self and others that results from reflecting on dramatic play.
Objectives
The child should:
1. Develop sensory awareness.
2. Sharpen observations of people, of situations and of the environment.
SECOND GOAL
To develop competency in communication skills through drama.
Objectives
The child should:
1. Develop an ability to discuss and share experiences.
THIRD GOAL
To foster an appreciation for drama as an art form.
Objectives
The child should:
1. Develop an awareness of and respect for potential excellence in self and others.
2. Develop a capacity to analyze, evaluate and synthesize ideas and experiences.
3. Develop an awareness and appreciation of the variety of dramatic forms of expression.
JUNIOR HIGH DRAMA & HIGH SCHOOL DRAMA 10-20-30
GOAL I
To acquire knowledge of self and others through participation in and reflection on dramatic
experience.
Objectives
For the following concepts, skills, and attitudes the student will:
1. Increase self-discipline – Jr. & Sr.
2. Strengthen powers of concentration – Jr. High
3. Extend the ability to concentrate – Sr. High
4. Extend understanding of, acceptance of and empathy for others – Sr. High
GOAL II
To develop competency in communication ski lls through participation in and exploration of
various dramatic disciplines.
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Objectives
Senior High
For the following concepts, skills, and attitudes the student will:
1. Explore various approaches to analyzing a script for purposes of study and/ or
presentation.
2. Gain knowledge of disciplines that enhance dramatic process and product.
3. Demonstrate understanding of integration of disciplines to enrich a theatrical presentation.
Junior High
1. Become familiar with dramatic terminology and script format.
2. Become familiar with disciplines that enhance dramatic process.
3. Gain awareness of how the integration of disciplines enriches dramatic communication.
GOAL III
To develop an appreciation of drama and theatre as a process and art form.
Objectives
Senior High
For the following concepts, skills, and attitudes the student will:
1. Explore various conventions and traditions of theatre.
2. Broaden knowledge of theatre by viewing as great a variety of theatrical presentations as
possible.
3. Demonstrate the ability to assess critically the process and the art.
4. Demonstrate recognition of and respect for excellence in drama and theatre Jr. & Sr.
5. Develop an awareness of aesthetics in visual and performing arts.
Junior High
1. Develop awareness of various conventions of theatre.
2. Develop awareness of drama and theatre by viewing as great a variety of theatrical
presentations as possible.
3. Develop the ability to analyze and assess the process and the art.
K-12 ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS GENERAL OUTCOMES
General Outcome 1
Students will listen, speak, read, write, view and represent to explore thoughts, ideas, feelings
and experiences.
General Outcome 2
Students will listen, speak, read, write, view and represent to comprehend and respond
personally and critically to oral, print and other media texts.
General Outcome 3
Students will listen, speak, read, write, view and represent to manage ideas and information.
General Outcome 4
Students will listen, speak, read, write, view and represent to enhance the clarity and artistry of
communication.
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General Outcome 5
Students will listen, speak, read, write, view and represent to respect,
support and collaborate
with others.
SR HIGH ESL GENERAL OUTCOMES
General Outcome 1
Students will use spoken and written English to gather, interpret and communicate
information.
General Outcome 2
Students will use spoken and written English to establish and maintain relationships .
General Outcome 3
Students will use spoken and written English to make decisions, solve problems, and plan and
carry out projects.
General Outcome 4
Students will use spoken and written English to explore, respond to and extend ideas and
experiences .
SENIOR HIGH ART GENERAL OUTCOMES
ART: GRADES 10-12
1) Articulate and Evaluate
a. use the vocabulary and techniques of art criticism to interpret and evaluate both their own works
and the works of others
b. use the vocabulary and techniques of art criticism to analyze and evaluate their own works in
relation to the works of professional artists
2) Relationships
a. solve teacher- and student-developed problems by varying the dominance of design elements for
specific visual effects
b. use the vocabulary and techniques of art criticism to analyze and evaluate their own works in
relation to the works of professional artists
3) Organizations
a. experiment with various representational formats − be conscious of the emotional impact that is
caused and shaped by a work of art
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4) Emotional Impact
a. be conscious of the emotional impact that is caused and shaped by a
work of art
b. discover how various materials alter representational formats and processes used in achieving
certain intended effects.
Taken from: Programs of Studies; Alberta Education, Alberta, Canada
http://education.alberta.ca/teachers /program.aspx
Locally Developed Courses (eg. Advanced Acting, Technic al Theatre, Dance Leadership, etc.)
As each school board has differing LCD, please refer to those curriculums for appropriate
curriculum connections.
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