Trinity St. Paul’s Earth Sunday was a special event this year capped off by an excellent professional reading of congregant David S. Craig’s new play Lysistrata and the Temple of Gaia. The performance was attended by about 350 people and raised just over $2,000 for the work of toronto350.org – a local organization dedicated to helping to solve the climate crisis.
Set in a not so distant future, the play, based on the classic comedy by Aristophanes, it posits a future ravaged by climate change and in need of redemption by “Earth Defenders”. When Lysistrata and her friends awaken Gaia (the Earth spirit), she needs to find a way to convince their menfolk to join them in defending the Earth otherwise they will all meet their (watery) doom.
The professional reading was a project of Trinity St. Paul’s and part of our mission to be part of our community as a Centre for Faith, Justice and the Arts. The reading delivered on all three of these themes was proudly sponsored by members of TSP’s Climate Justice Working Group which has been working on climate related projects and initiatives since 2013.
Lead organizer Anne Nikkel praised the generosity of Mr. Craig, in making the play available for our use as well as spearheading the logistics surrounding the reading. Special thanks also went out to Robin Craig, Denis Grey, Jenny Jasper, Lorna Niebergall, Emily Greenleaf, Ann Russell, Moira Hutchinson, Jim Kirkwood, Kendra Fry and Darlene Varaleau and members of toronto350.org. A special shout out also goes to members of the Youth on Bloor contingent who delivered announcements to local churches to encourage them to come to the event.
The creative team behind Lysistrata and the Temple of Gaia – the new play by David S. Craig – are pleased to present the actors who will be bringing this production to an audience for the first time ever on Earth Sunday, April 24th, 2:00 p.m. at Trinity St. Paul’s. Tickets are on sale now via Eventbrite or at the door. This promises to be an inspiring and uplifting way to mark Earth Sunday – all ages are welcome!
Sophia has extensive theatre credits including Blood Wedding, Jitters, The Heidi Chronicles at the Soulpepper Theatre Company. Mary’s Wedding (The Blyth Festival), Intimate Apparel (The Grand Theatre) and nine seasons at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. She played Salima in the Dora-winning production of Ruined (Obsidian/Nightwood) and Menelaus and Kerthia in the Dora-winning The Penelopiad (Nightwood Theatre). She also has extensive film and television credits and has won Mary Savidge, Michael Mawson and Jean A. Chalmers and Dora Awards.
John has been a working actor since 1995. He has worked at theatres around Canada but has been fortunate to be able to work primarily in Toronto since the birth of his children 12 years ago. He has worked with David (and Roseneath Theatre) on two pieces prior to Lysistrata – Wrecked and Tough Case. John is excited to embark on this new ride with such an accomplished group.
For more about John please check out his website at johnnycleland.com.
Anand has worked extensively with VideoCabaret, CORPUS, Second City, Stratford Festival, CanStage and others. He created Hys Unauthoryzed Lyfe & Tymes, Communist ‘Til Payday, Cowboys & Indians, and Stories From The Mountaintop. Recently, he was in Mustard at the Tarragon Theatre. Upcoming, at Soulpepper, he’ll be part of the Asian Bamboo Cabaret and in The 39 Steps. He is a regular panelist on CBC Radio’s Because News.
A graduate of the University of Toronto and Sheridan College’s Theatre and Drama Studies Program Paolo Santalucia is a Dora award-winning Toronto-based theatre artist. Paolo has worked in multiple productions for Soulpepper Theatre, the Tarragon Theatre , Theatre Passe Muraille, Driftwood Theatre, YPT and The Howland Company. Paolo is the recipient of two Dora awards for his work in the Ensemble of Of Human Bondage and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, and is also the recipient of a MyTorotontoTheatre Award for his work in Hamlet.
Cliff has appeared in The Heir Apparent (Chicago Shakespeare). Les Miserables (Broadway/ Toronto), The 39 Steps (Broadway/Boston), and David S. Craig’s Danny King of the Basement (Roseneath). Cliff has also performed in other roles for the Stratford Festival, Canstage, Mirvish, Tarragon, Soulpepper, Citadel, Aquarius, Grand, YPT, and Blyth among other companies.
Jenny has extensive theatre experience including Waiting Room (Tarragon); Christina, The Girl King and Alice Through the Looking Glass (Stratford Festival); A Moon for the Misbegotten, Age of Arousal (Shaw Festival); Innocence Lost (Centaur, NAC); The Penelopiad (Royal Shakespeare Company, NAC); The Anger in Ernest And Ernestine (Theatre Columbus); and The Shape of a Girl (National Tour).
Dora Award nominee Mayko has performed in LULU v.2 (Rhubarb estival), Helen Lawrence (Canadian Stage), Passion Play (OtM/Convergence Theatre/Sheep No Wool), Carried away on the crest of a wave (Tarragon Theatre), Offensive Fouls (Hustle N’ Bustle Theatre). Mayko has also appeared in numerious television and film productions.
A graduate of Sheridan Institute’s Musical Theatre program, Natalia’s past credits include Anjali in Beneath the Banyan Tree (Theatre Direct), Marcy Park in The 25th Annual…Spelling Bee (The Grand Theatre), Pepper in Annie (YPT) and two years as Sister Mary Leo in Nunsense (Harbourfront Theatre). A fan of David S. Craig, Natalia is excited to be here! Natalia can be seen at nofunbiz.com.
David S. Craig is a Toronto based playwright, actor, and producer. He has written twenty-eight professionally produced plays including Having Hope at Home, The Neverending Story and Danny, King of the Basement which have been produced across Canada, The United States, and Europe. Mr. Craig has won The Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Production (three times), the Chalmers New Play Award (three times), the Rideau Award, The Canada Council Prize, The Writer’s Guild Prize for Radio Drama and a Harold. In 2014 he was awarded the Barbara Hamilton Award for Artistic Excellence from the City of Toronto.
Leah Cherniak is the Co-Founder with Martha Ross of Theatre Columbus (now Common Boots Theatre) in Toronto. The company created over 30 new plays and has an excellent reputation for innovative productions of classics. Leah studied theatre at École Jacques Lecoq in Paris after graduating from U of T with a theatre degree from the University College Drama Program. She is an Associate Artist with the Soulpepper Theatre Company in Toronto.
Krista has been worshipping Gaia off and on since high school. She has stage managed North American tours for Roseneath Theatre, concerts and events for Roy Thomson Hall, Massey Hall, TIFF and Tapestry Opera. Other credits include Common Boots, Odyssey Theatre, YPT, Luminato, and Mirvish.
Leah Cherniak is the Co-Founder with Martha Ross of Theatre Columbus (now Common Boots Theatre) in Toronto. The company created over 30 new plays and has an excellent reputation for innovative productions of classics. Leah studied theatre at École Jacques Lecoq in Paris after graduating from U of T with a theatre degree from the University College Drama Program. She is an Associate Artist with Soulpepper Theatre Company. We caught up with her in early April as she was starting to get ready for rehearsals.
Q. Are you excited to be bringing this new play to an audience for the first time?
A. I’m always excited to be doing something new with David – even though it is just a single performance. He’s a fantastic talent and I’m really enjoying working with him on putting this reading together.
Q. Is this play a modern classic or a classicly modern one?
A. It is definitely modern and contemporary but I think of it more as a complete reinvention of a classic play. The main characters are there but the situation, dialogue and the struggle are completely reimagined for today’s audiences.
Q. What has intrigued you the most about reading the play so far?
A. I directed another version of this play about 15 years ago so it is really fun to read something you are already familiar with and then see how the playwright has adapted and changed the source material. I also love the fact that the women in this play are the strong characters that move the action and are counteracting the actions of the men’s agenda. It’s also really funny.
Q. Lysistrata is a dramatic reading rather than a full-on play – how does that make your job as Director more difficult?
A. As a Director I can only prepare so much because we have very limited rehearsal time. This makes the project more fun but also more challenging. We will need to really focus on the essential parts to activate the audience’s imagination and bring the world of Lysistrata to life.
Q. I understand that there will be some Greek Chorusing going on – how will you be using that?
A. Lysistrata is not a musical but the Greek chorus will bring some music and song that will help to play up the comedic aspects. The songs have a lovely cabaret style vibe that sets the comedy going from the beginning and sustains it throughout as the they keep coming back with “new and improved” messages for the cast and audience.
Q. How do you feel about the issue at hand – is climate change affecting your life today?
A. Experiencing Lysistrata & the Temple of Gaia is a great reminder to everyone that we need to keep focused on this issue – we need to get on with fixing things and stop talking about it. The play is not prescriptive but still very forceful. Comedy is a great way to get a point across to a broad audience.
Q. What do you think the audience should know about Lysistrata before seeing the show?
A. This is not some kind of fusty old Greek classic. David has done an amazing job of making this play really contemporary and witty. It will be a delightful afternoon.
Lysistrata and the Temple of Gaia is coming to TSP on Sunday, April 24th. Join a professional cast of Toronto’s top actors at TSP for a reading of this new play. In this exclusive video, playwright David S. Craig talks about his inspiration for Lysistrata and the importance of “story” in our search for a just solution to the climate problem.
The TSP Climate Justice Group in cooperation with toronto350.org is pleased to announce that tickets are now on sale for Lysistrata and the Temple of Gaia – the provocative new climate-themed sex comedy from master playwright David S. Craig. Tickets are only $10.00 for Students/Seniors/Underemployed and $20.00 for Adults.
You can buy your tickets online (service charge applies) or through the TSP Climate Justice Group.
Stay tuned for more details on the performance.
It becomes clearer every day that the climate crisis is the defining issue of our time and the need to respond to this challenge is urgent if we are to create a future, not just for our children, but ourselves. In the face of something so profound and threatening can we have a laugh at our own behaviour and the world’s expense?