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SECRETS, ANXIETY, AND UNTIMELY DEATH
2016-2017

SISTER SISTER

As per Schmidt’s striking design they seem to have grown up in a vertical Astroturf tube — with hanging balloon lights and two childhood portraits, one smiling, one frowning. And the bilious lighting by Adam Tsuyoshi Turnbull is witty too…This stylish and judiciously calibrated production shapes the experience of the play as declension from very stylized clown performances into characters, with (some) dimensions and individuality. As the sister who was shackled to their mother on the shortest chain — who now, amusingly, works as a “relay communication expert” at a call centre — Lambert puts her considerable command of refinements in comic timing to very good use. And Rombough, as the more brittle and panicky sister, flails around her at high speed. Their chemistry is what makes Sister Sister work.
Liz Nicholls - Edmonton Journal
See full review here

Northern Light Theatre is often way out there on the edge.  Under the adventurous guidance of its artistic director Trevor Schmidt, it has become Edmonton’s most challenging theatre company – constantly probing human relationships and demanding intelligence, commitment and an open mind.  It hasn’t always worked but mostly it has- winning awards and giving us memorable evenings.  Schmidt must spend many hours pouring over alt-theatre plays from all over the world each year and his productions are carefully chosen to feed his theatre’s unique vision… What an acting duel these two fine actresses give us – dipping, with probing intensity, into the primal forces that shape a family – even one as askew as this.
Colin MacLean – Gig City
See full review here

When it comes to Northern Light Theatre’s mandate of dark and provocative productions that challenge audiences, Sister Sister delivers and satisfies.

Beyond the powerful delivery of the actresses, the stage production deserves major credit for setting the dark mood. Floor lighting bathes every nook of the carpet and wall textures in spooky light. The gently shifting glare of the overhead lights illuminate everything from the fur on Dirdra’s jacket, to the flares of Janice’s bell-bottoms. No iota of space on the minimalist but effective set goes unused. The design effectively rips the audience back to the late 20th century, when CRT TVs anchored living rooms, square plastic rimmed glasses framed faces sporting bob cuts, and lace doilies decorated the top of every chesterfield…With characters that are at once horrifying and demanding of sympathy, Sister Sister challenges the audience to see elements of their own relationships that may appear within the show, however scary that may be. It’s not a comfortable experience, but it’s one well worth having.
Kevin Pennyfeather – VUE Weekly
See full review here 


ANXIETY

The novelty of being embedded in a theatrical experience up close in unconventional spaces is carried to unnerving lengths here. In nearly every case, the 10-minute duration of the installations seems longer than it is; you’re relieved to escape
Liz Nicholls – Edmonton Journal
See full review here

With companies are from Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Regina, Edmonton and Victoria, the troupes were to create something with a live performance or an instillation to be staged with a maximum of two actors – a short play, an experience, an immersive event that would be presented in a series of different locations…

The cast is large and the small rooms may be primitive but it all works well and the sense of dread and disquiet is ably maintained. Local playwright Cat Walsh has provided the connective tissue which includes some kind of thing (primal animal? Jason? The demon Pazuzu? Runaway computer?) that generates a lot of smoke, loud noise and bright light while threatening to break down the door and attack us all. Thank goodness it didn’t. At least, it didn’t on the night we were there. Talk about anxiety.
Colin MacLean – Gig City
See full review here


BONNIE & CLYDE, THE TWO PERSON, SIX GUN MUSICAL

Ride or Die - Vue Weekly Cover

There is much to love in Bonnie & Clyde: the Two Person, Six-Gun Musical, which closes out Northern Light Theatre’s 2016/2017 season. After incubating for about a decade in the mind of Director Trevor Schmidt …We know how it’s going to end, but the beauty of the play is in watching the tragic formation and growth of a relationship we know is doomed from the start. The play positions the two characters as damaged people who don’t just want but need each other to go on.
Jenna Marynowski - After The House Lights Blog
See full review here

Schmidt’s playful stagecraft conjures getaway cars from headlights, bucolic escapades from picnic blankets, narrow escapes into the blue shadowy glow behind the slats where we see them as silhouettes. They can run but they cannot hide. Tsuyoshi Turnbull’s lighting, which plays in a palette ranging from historical sepia to historical inevitability blue, is a veritable storyteller in itself...  The co-stars of the Northern Light production, Amanda Neufeld and Matthew Lindholm, are appealing, powerhouse performers, who know exactly what to do with the power ballads that are Bonnie & Clyde’s version of soliloquies…So, can you tell a behind-the-history story, with two actors and a roster of power ballads that all sound pretty much interchangeable? Well, yes you can — if the actors have pipes and charisma and the director is savvy. Be impressed by the pipes, the charisma, the savvy that have gone into this production. 
Liz Nicholls -12night.ca
See full review here

Both Lindholm and the clarion-voiced Amanda Neufeld are dynamic performers who create two real people and don’t seem inhibited by the iconic stature of the characters they play…  Schmidt’s ingenious and effective set has B & C’s car built above Nicholas Samoil’s expressive upright piano.  To the left and right are two small areas that fill in for the businesses the two stuck up.  On a high screen above, well chosen ‘30’s headlines spell the story that unfolds below them.  At times the lovers act out scenes and songs.  At others they approach the mics and sign directly into them as in a concert.  At one point when the two unleash a series of gun fuelled robberies, Schmidt dramatically stages them in a electrifying tableau.
Colin MacLean – Gig City
See full review here



A Celebration of 40 Years
2015-2016

THE GOOD BRIDE

The story of the heroine, trapped in a gingham prison without even a cellphone for comfort, is a complex funny/sad affair, horrifying and touching. Not least because it introduces to the Edmonton theatre scene Arielle Rombough, a luminous young actor who makes something both scary and funny of Maranatha’s fateful journey of self-discovery.  The Good Bridge is built on questions of belief, straining at the gussets. And speaking of belief, Rombough’s tour de force comic performance is believable at every turn. The momentum of coming-of-age is the way belief gradually gives way to the question of authority.
Liz Nicholls - Edmonton Journal
See full review here

Rosemary Rowe’s The Good Bride is among the most sharp, funny scripts about faith you’re likely to find: as a critique of a belief system it’s skillful, aimed not at the believer but the power and gender dynamics it justifies, and of a teenager’s uncertainty in the face of adulthood’s mysteries
Paul Blinov – Vue Weekly
See full review here

Northern Light Theatre is often way out there on the edge.  Under the adventurous guidance of its artistic director Trevor Schmidt, it has become Edmonton’s most challenging theatre company – constantly probing human relationships and demanding intelligence, commitment and an open mind.  It hasn’t always worked, but mostly it has – winning awards and giving us some memorable evenings.  Schmidt must spend many hours pouring over alt0theatre plays from all over the world each year and his productions are carefully chosen to feed his theatre’s unique vision.  What an acting duel these two fine actresses give us – dipping, with probing intensity, into the primal forces that shape a family – even one as askew as this.  Not to forget that the production is billed as a dark comedy, director and cast manage to find some solid nuggets of humour in the midst of all that pain and angst.
Colin MacLean – Gig City
See full review here

It’s interesting to come across a play that is as perfectly balanced as Rosemary Rowe’s The Good Bride, presented by Northern Light Theatre and playing at the PCL Studio until October 24. Not that I really expect to see soapbox-type shows in Edmonton, but most plays on a particular topic end up coming down on one side or the other as the play reaches its closing. Not so with The Good Bride, and that’s what makes this show so interesting.
Jenna Marynowski - After The House Lights Blog
See full review here


FLORA & FAWNA’S FIELD TRIP! WITH FLEURETTE

But the NaturElle girls are nothing if not dexterous and sneaky. They start with the sight gag of themselves, and they arrive at something that’s good-natured, funny and heartwarming. And, amazingly, they do it via audience participation, and the old joke of guileless amateurs struggling valiantly to be pros onstage, remember their cues, and overcome panic as things inevitably go wrong.
Liz Nicholls – Edmonton Journal
See full review here

Flora and Fawna are not like other little girls (neither is Fleurette – who speaks French) and at the end of this engaging 60 minutes there is a serious and quite touching plea for understanding and acceptance.  Fleurette comes forward and tells a poignant sotry of how the “mean girls” pulled a trick and abandoned the three of them in the forests.  So they went out and created their own club that includes everyone – especially those who are “different”.
Colin MacLean – Edmonton Sun
See full review here

Fawna and Flora say some of the raunchiest things soaked in innuendo, but because Hagen and Schmidt have convinced us they are children we assume they don’t actually know how risque they’re being.  Of course the joke is on us because you just have to look at Hagen’s withering looks or Schmidt’s mischievous grin to know how easily they are manipulating us. The true genius of Flora & Fawna’s Field Trip is that it can have you howling and guffawing and then, on the turn of a dime, bring a lump to your throat when Fawna bares her soul about her tragic family life.
Louis B. Hobson – Calgary Herald
See full review here


THE PASSION OF NARCISSE MONDOUX

It’s a tricky thing to animate, without mocking, this kind of dated comic material, designed expressly to elicit charming performances and not much else. Schmidt’s production — he’s both director and designer — goes for light and playfully tweaked in its acknowledgment of comedy clichés…The theatrical forces that Schmidt’s production assembles are considerable, his own contributions included.
Liz Nicholls - Edmonton Journal
See full review here

If there’s something to be gained in blowing the dust off the script like this, it’s that ultimately, this production makes The Passion of Narcisse Mondoux as much a redemption of a small-minded love-fool as it is a sunset-years romance. He blusters out his ideas while she sits, listening, then neatly undercuts them with rational precision, bringing him around to a new way of thinking. “It’s more than I deserve,” he offers late in the play, and, honestly, by modern standards, he’s probably right. But it’s to the credit of this co-production between Northern Light Theatre and L’Uni that the change feels earned, the source material elevated by the production’s approach.
Paul Blinov – Vue Weekly
See full review here


WISH

There’s a line early on in the play that stuck with me throughout, which is based on Peter Goldsworthy’s book of the same name and adapted for the stage by Humphrey Bower: ‘the needs of the individual outweigh the needs of the species’. And a lightbulb came on in my brain: that’s exactly the opposite of how we treat animals. We use and exploit animals for our benefit, without regard for the effect on the individual. Science (like Spock) is all about the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few. And Wish is not about the needs of the many – it’s about two beings and the universal desire for love and connection. In many ways, Wish is at the uncomfortable intersection of the heart and the brain – emotions and reason.

In Wish, we see the title character feel both emotional and physical pain. We see her love. We see her remember. We see her communicate. And so, when J.J. rejects her advances and Wish asks why she and J.J. can’t have sex, she’s not just asking J.J., she’s asking the entire audience and in that moment, where the line between human and animal is blurred, it’s difficult to find the right answer. ‘Because you’re a gorilla’ seems too simple and begs the a flurry of questions. What is a gorilla? What are the things that separate them different than humans? Can animals give consent? How can we agree on some laws that protect animals while allowing experimentation on them (within certain parameters, but the experiments cited in the play and the information I found after the show still sound like torture to me)? The play is certainly not advocating for bestiality, but it’s putting it in sharp relief against the other ways we use and treat animals. And that’s an uncomfortable position to be in.  It’s guaranteed Wish will leave you with a lot of questions, and though it’s an uncomfortable play to watch and react to, it’s a must-see as Edmonton’s theatre season starts winding down.
Jenna Marynowski - After The House Lights Blog
See full review here

In Trevor Schmidt’s production, on an eerily dark stage — bare save for a knotted rope and a swinging tire — virtuoso performances from Christopher Schulz and the eloquently physical dancer/choreographer Ainsley Hillyard include the graceful sign language choreography of their hands.  There is nothing easy about the actor assignments here. Schulz plays every human in Wish, in a fluent language that is both verbal and signed. And he individualizes them all, even his mom and dad with their odd voices, without glamorizing our misfit hero. The magnetic Hillyard is remarkable to watch as she conjures the ape — curious, playful, powerful, sensually alert. The word soulful does not go amiss.
Liz Nicholls - Edmonton Journal
See full review here



Boy/Girl//Girl/Boy
2014-2015

SPACE//SPACE                 

"I don't know how you find these scripts, but if you made a deal with the devil, keep dealing with him. NLT is so innovative. I love that with each show you can take what you want from it. They aren't super preachy with a message, but not so Avant Gard that you are lost and saying WTF."
NLT Patron

Seldom does a play come along that is so passionately, thoroughly, unapologetically weird. That single word sums up the first (and possibly second) impression of Northern Light Theatre’s season opener, Jason Craig’s gender-bending space odyssey Space // Space…There’s a deep and enduring sense of foreboding that permeates every second of this play, a vague but inescapable dread that is inevitably confirmed in a bracing reveal.
Mel Priestley – VUE Weekly
See full review here

I don’t get it. But as in so many of Northern Light’s productions, take this play to a bar afterward, and discuss.
Liz Nicholls – Edmonton Journal
See full review here

Northern Light Theatre has a reputation as a little company that does big things. Among Edmonton’s theatre companies, they’re one of the ones that’s dedicated to performing the challenging and controversial pieces that bigger theatres can’t or won’t put on their stages… I was quite affected by the ads and television shows from the 50s or 60s Penryn and Lumos would watch as part of a way to keep themselves occupied, and how that related to the changing relations between the two brothers as Penryn’s body becomes more and more feminine… The juxtaposition between the sibling interaction and the videos made me reflect on the development of a society. Regardless of how we raise our children  – who are blank slates for us to impress ideas on – they’re subject to all the media that has accumulated throughout the ages with these predetermined ideas of how individuals should interact and relate to one another. In the case of Space//Space, the topic of exploration happens to be gender relations, but this could be relations between any individuals who are somehow “different” from one another.
Jenna Marynowski - After The House Lights Blog
See full review here


THE PINK UNICORN

...any outline of the story in a short review can't possibly give you the richness and depth of Edie's play, Trevor Schmidt's sympathetic production and Lambert's compelling performance… Her Trisha thinks of herself as "dumb," and sometimes she can't find the right words but in the final moments the words are there and the actress will bring tears to your eyes. Five stars
Colin MacLean - Edmonton Sun
See full review here

This is a play for every parent and child.  If my son were a couple years older I would take him. In fact, I think everyone with a child 15+ should think about taking them to it. It's for the parent who couldn't understand their child as they grew and the child who didn't realize what their parent was going through.  And I don't just mean parents of gay or gender queer children, it's for every parent because your children are going to be who they are and you can't control that, but you can accept them regardless of what they turn out to be. 

I highly recommend.
Finster Finds Blog
See full review here

...in The Pink Unicorn, and much to her chagrin, Trisha Lee finds herself on the dividing edge of LGBTQ issues when her daughter cuts off her hair, comes out as genderqueer and attempts to form a GSA at the high school. Mother ends up stuck between the church-going crowd she’s always happily been a part of and her daughter’s explorations of a spectrum she didn’t even know existed, much less understands.
Paul Blinov – VUE Weekly
See full review here

I love everything about Elise Forier Edie's script and the way one-woman powerhouse Louise Lambert performed it.
Jenna Marynowski - After The House Lights Blog
See full review here

It is an impressive solo performance of a good script, it is a story of contemporary queer lives that has a happy ending, it is a celebration of family love and personal growth that are not in contradiction, it is enjoyable for people who are familiar with LGBTQ issues and those who are not, and it is a valuable discussion-starter that has had me thinking ever since.
Ephemeral Pleasures Blog

See full review here


CHRISTINA/PHILIPPE

“It was, as I said, fascinating. If one of the goals of theatre is to provoke discussion, this one certainly does.”
Kristen Finlay - Finster Finds Blog
See full review here

“It’s safe to say that Northern Light Theatre’s production of Christina~Philippe really opened my mind in a huge way to the ways gender is ingrained and internalized. There’s a lot of theatre on in Edmonton right now, but it’s a show that everyone should take the time to see.”
Jenna Marynowski - After The House Lights Blog
See full review here

Christina / Philippe is capable of splitting into comment and conversation about itself when need be, as well as drawing on supplemental content: we hear myriad interview excerpts of people discussing gender, from epiphanies they had about their own identity to moments when they realized how rigidly (and falsely) the world categorizes it…Christina / Philippe stands as one of the most curious theatrical exercises you could see, and a deft overview of a vital conversation. It doesn’t aim to find a definitive answer to how we define gender, or why; instead, it lets you contextualize the question, in doing so showing how rich and varied the answers can be.
Paul Blinov – VUE Weekly
See full review here

In Schmidt’s Northern Light season finale, we see the two (Schmidt as Philippe and Hansen as Christina), dressed exquisitely, and set into an Adam Tsuyoshi Turnbull set that looks like a jewelled open music box, overhung with a chandelier.   He embodies the stereotype feminine traits; he’s evasive, vulnerable, easily wounded. She’s a stereotype male, which is to say, aggressive, bold, decisive.  Against these classic poses, a fascinating soundscape of recorded interview clips plays: comments about gender identity and roles from a variety of contemporary sources, including transgender people and cross-dressers, talking about their experiences growing up.  It’s an intriguing experiment in how to mine a flat play to make something more contemporary, more theatrical and more dimensional.
Liz Nicholls – Edmonton Journal
See full review here

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