Saturday, September 26, 2009

Toronto Before Departure

Lili Francks and Gord Rand in Goodness. Photo by John Lauener

This is the story of a Canadian play traveling to Rwanda to take part in a theatre and music festival. The play is Goodness, by Michael Redhill. The festival is Arts Azimuts, organised by Odile Gakire Katesi (aka "Kiki"). 2009 is the 15th anniversary year of the Rwandan genocide, and Kiki's theme for programming is "Culture and Conflicts: genocide, slavery and apartheid". Goodness is a play about genocide, but we have only ever played this story in the West (Toronto, Edinburgh, New York, Vancouver). We have no idea what the Rwandan audience will think of us...

1) We open in Toronto on Sept 16, 2009 for a tune-up run before we travel to Africa. The reviews are strong:

NOW Magazine (5 / 5 stars):
"a passionate, enthralling production, not to be missed"

The Globe and Mail (3.5 / 4 stars):
"Stories might not be enough, but this story comes close"
"a play that fearlessly throws itself at the thorniest questions posed by the violent last century and leaves no audience member unscratched"
"under Ross Manson's skillful, simple direction, Goodness works on all its levels"

The Toronto Star (3.5 / 4 stars)
"smoulderingly intense"
"gut-wrenchingly convincing"
"you won't find it easy to forget"

The Toronto Sun (4.5 / 5 stars)
"Goodness reigns supreme"
"play about genocide brought to dizzying new heights with tremendous cast and inspired direction"
"it is a work that demands to be seen"

The National Post
"the personal and political... collide and explode"

Mooney on Theatre
"the perfect balance is kept and the work is seemless"
"a marvel to watch"
"if you want a moving piece of theatre, go see it"

Classical 96
"a triumph"

2) We are all getting organized. There have been many emails back and forth to Rwanda about accommodation, transportation, venue, equipment etc. We are coordinating the tour with Rwandans, Belgians, Americans and Canadians on the ground in Butare and Kigali. There have been vaccinations and malaria pill prescriptions filled. We have learned that plastic bags are not allowed in Rwanda (an eco-law), so we are organizing our luggage appropriately. We are buying bug spray and sun block.

We are beginning to believe that we are really going...