Northern Light Theatre | Origin of the Species
Northern Light Theatre | Origin of the Species
Northern Light Theatre | Origin of the Species
Northern Light Theatre | Origin of the Species
Northern Light Theatre | Origin of the Species
Northern Light Theatre | Origin of the Species
Northern Light Theatre | Origin of the Species
Northern Light Theatre | Origin of the Species
Northern Light Theatre | Origin of the Species
Northern Light Theatre | Origin of the Species
Northern Light Theatre | Origin of the Species
Northern Light Theatre | Origin of the Species

BY BYRONY LAVERY (UNITED KINGDOM)

October 12 to 27, 2018
Studio Theatre inside Fringe Theatre Adventures


“No book, no paper, no learned tome I had ever dug through during my dusty days as a student of archaeology had made mention of this. They said… ‘Man discovered fire.’ Man.”


Featuring: Holly Turner & Kristin Johnston
Director, Set & Costumes: Trevor Schmidt
Assistant Director: Anne Marie Szucs
Lighting: Elise Jason
Sound Design: Kiidra Duhault
Stage Manager: Elizabeth Allison
Production Manager: Tyler Herman
Artist Associate: Jake Tkaczyk

Reviews

Evolution, feminism and comedy come together in Origin of the Species.


In Bryony Lavery’s quirky Origin of the Species, ardent archaeologist Molly, digging for prehistoric man in Olduvai Gorge finds instead a four-million-year old female body. Upon kissing her lips, the four million year old woman comes to life, and is smuggled back to England and named Victoria, after Molly’s grandmother. Once in possession of this anthropological miracle, Molly spends New Year’s Eve seeking to teach Victoria what it means to be a woman in the 21st Century, and incidentally gains much more than she expected.

PLAYWRIGHT

Byrony Lavery

Byrony Lavery

Playwright

Playwright Bryony Lavery (born 1947) is a British dramatist, known for her successful and award-winning 1998 play Frozen. In addition to her work in theatre, she has also written for television and radio. She has written books including the biography Tallulah Bankhead and The Woman Writer’s Handbook, and taught playwriting at Birmingham University.

Having begun her career as an actress, she decided that she was fed up with playing poor parts in plays, such as the left arm of a sofa, and decided to write plays with better parts for women. Early in her career she founded a theatre company called Les Oeufs Malades with actor Gerard Bell, she also founded Female Trouble, More Female Trouble and served as artistic director of Gay Sweatshop.
Her plays have a feminist undertone in them and she has even written plays (like More Light which has only one male speaking role) with almost entirely female casts. She has written more than twenty plays since 1976.

Her play Frozen won the TMA best play award, the Eileen Anderson central Television award, was produced at Birmingham Rep, then the National Theatre, then on Broadway where it was nominated for four Tony awards. Stockholm, for Frantic Assembly, won the Wolff-Whiting award for Best Play of 2008.  Beautiful Burnout for The National Theatre of Scotland and Frantic Assembly received a Fringe First at Edinburgh, before productions in the UK, New York, Australia and New Zealand.Dirt was nominated for the Charles McArthur award for most outstanding play or musical of 2013, Washington DC]
Recent work includes: The Believers[Frantic Assembly] Queen Coal [Sheffield Crucible] Treasure Island [National Theatre] 101 Dalmatians[Chichester Festival Theatre] Brideshead Revisited[York Theatre Royal/ETT] Our Mutual Friend[Hull Truck/City of Culture 2017] and Balls [One Year Lease/Stages Theatre- Houston and NYC.

She is a Fellow of The Royal Society of Literature, an honorary Doctor of Arts at De Montford University and an Associate Artist at Birmingham Repertory Theatre


CAST & COMPANY

Trevor Schmidt

Director, Set & Costumes

Trevor Schmidt

Director, Set & Costumes

Trevor has been the Artistic Director of Northern Light Theatre for the past 18 years, and involved with NLT for the past 27 years as a performer, director, designer, and playwright, as well as being a multiple Sterling award winner. He has been awarded three times for playwrighting, (THE WATERMELON GIRLS, CHANGE ROOM, and FLORA & FAWNA’S FIELD TRIP!), twice for directing (the Canadian premieres of THE 4TH GRADERS PRESENT AN UNNAMED LOVE-SUICIDE and Carol Anne Duffy’s THE WORLD’S WIFE) and received the Outstanding Fringe Performance award for the one-man show COFFEE DAD, CHICKEN MOM, AND THE FABULOUS BUDDHA BOI, penned by Nick Green, which toured to New York as part of the FRIGID FESTIVAL. His plays have been produced across Canada and far away as Australia (MABEL STARK!). He has created and choreographed a one-woman dance piece entitled MARKED for the Expanse Dance Festival that was extended and nominated for a Sterling award for Outstanding New Work. He was honored to be awarded for Outstanding Choreography for 6.0: HOW HEAP AND PEBBLE TOOK ON THE WORLD AND WON at the Betty Mitchell Theatre Awards in Calgary, and the DIALOG Award for Excellence in Artistic Direction as part of the Mayor’s Evening for the Arts in Edmonton. He is an Artistic Associate of GUYS IN DISGUISE theatre company.

Anne Marie Szucs

Assistant Director

Anne Marie Szucs

Assistant Director

Anne Marie is a local director, actor, producer, and writer.  She is co-founder of Finally Sauces (Edmonton International Fringe Festival:  FROM SOMETHING, CRACK, LITTLE MONSTERS, DOUBLE DOUBLE: THE MUSICAL) and was Artistic Director of Walterdale Theatre from 2015-2017.  She is thrilled to be assistant directing for Trevor this fall in Origin of the Species for NLT.

Holly Turner

Molly

Holly Turner

Molly

Holly trained at the Neighbourhood Playhouse and performed in New York and regional theatres before coming to Edmonton to work at the Citadel. After a career in law, Holly was given her big break back to the stage by Trevor Schmidt, who cast her in the NLT production of THE BUSY WORLD IS HUSHED. Since then she has performed with the Freewill Shakespeare Festival, L’UniThéâtre, the Citadel, and Wishbone Theatre. Her Fringe performances in THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING and LOVE LETTERS were particularly well received. In 2016, she appeared in Brenley Charkow’s challenging production of IF WE WERE BIRDS at the University. In 2017, her interpretation of the role of Mary in the NLT production of Colm Toibín’s THE TESTAMENT OF MARY garnered a Sterling Nomination. Holly’s short play THE ACCIDENT received a staged reading at the SkirtsaFire festival in 2015 and another short play, DUST was selected for reading by The Script Salon.

Kristin Johnston

Victoria

Kristin Johnston

Victoria

Kristin returns to Northern Light Theatre to play Edwina “Weenie” Trout in Trevor Schmidt’s world premiere of We Had A Girl Before You this season after taking part in The Origin of the Species two seasons ago and Baroness Bianka’s Blood Songs last season, in which she was nominated for a Sterling Award.⁠

Kristin is an Edmonton based performer and instructor and a graduate of the Theatre Arts Program at Red Deer College and the Canadian College of Performing Arts in Victoria, BC. She is also a recent participant in the Citadel/Banff Centre Professional Theatre Program.

Select credits include SENSE AND SENSIBILITY (Citadel Theatre), Sterling-nominated new works RIVERCITY THE MUSICAL and THE UNSYNCABLES (Dammittammy Productions), IF WE WERE BIRDS (Bleviss Labouratory Theatre) and RELEASE THE MCCRAKKIN’ (Accidental Humour Co.).

Much love and gratitude to Ash and her kids for their support.

Elise Jason

Lighting

Elise Jason

Lighting

Elise CM Jason (they/them/theirs pronouns) is a queer, mixed-race, multi-discinplinary artist living and creating in amiskawaciy (Edmonton, Alberta). In their practice, they are particularly interested in the intersection of visual art, installation in theatre, and creating devised performances. Select design credits include Boy Trouble (Vena Amoris, Nextfest), Lungs (Shadow Theatre), KaldrSaga (Cardiac Theatre), Origin of the Species (Northern Lights Theatre). Elise also holds a BFA (Theatre Design) from the University of Alberta.

Kiidra Duhault

Composer & Sound Design

Kiidra Duhault

Composer & Sound Design

Kiidra is an Edmonton based sound designer. She received her degree in stage management from the University of Alberta in 2014, and has been working in the independent theatre scene ever since. Recent sound design credits include; LES NEIGES (L’Unithéâtre), A DOLL’S HOUSE (Walterdale Theatre), L’ODYSSÉE and LE DRAGON (Théâtre à l’Ouest). She is known for her sound work with Marv n’ Berry sketch comedy and at the Edmonton International Fringe Festival (2016-18) RIVERCITY THE MUSICAL and THE UNSYNCABLES (Dammitammy Productions). She was also co-nominated at the 2017 Sterling Awards for the sound design of PETER FECHTER: 59 MINUTES.

Elizabeth Allison

Stage Manager

Elizabeth Allison

Stage Manager

Elizabeth was born and raised in Edmonton and has spent most of her adult life working in theatre here. Mostly as a Stage Manager but also as a Costume Designer/Builder, Arts Administrator and every once in a while an actress. After attending both the Theatre Production and Theatre Arts programs at MacEwan University, she spent the better part of her first year out of school playing the role of Jan in Grease at all of the Canadian, Stage West stages, (at that time Edmonton, Calgary and Missasauga). Her history with Northern Light Theatre also goes way back. The first performance she remembers seeing as a child was a production of Winnie The Pooh, which was a part of NLT’s inaugural season, this was just the beginning of her love of Edmonton Theatre. She was on the board of NLT from 1995 to 2003, including the role of Board President for two years and she has stage managed many productions for them over the last two decades including, Love, Some Girl(s), Speech and Debate, The 4th Graders Present An Unnamed Love-Suicide, Slut, 19 Weeks, Origin of the Species, Baroness Bianka’s Bloodsongs and Everybody Loves Robbie. She has worked at almost every theatre company in town at one time or another including being the Sterling Nominated Costume Designer for Peace, Love and Rock’n’Roll 2, at The Mayfield Dinner Theatre, where she was a part of the costume team for over a decade. Thank you for supporting the Edmonton Theatre Community.

Tyler Herman

Production Manager

Tyler Herman

Production Manager

Tyler is thrilled to be a part of the new NLT season! Tyler is an Edmonton based theatre and festival technician with experience in sound, set building, technical direction and lighting. He is also a ticketed electrician. Recent projects include: INFINITY (Audio technician, Theatre Network), SLUT (Production manager/technical director, Northern Light Theatre), and A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S FRINGE 2017 (Site technical director, Fringe Theatre Adventures). Tyler wishes to thank his partner for her patience and support, as well as Trevor Schmidt, Gina Moe, and Adam Turnbull for the chance to be a part of a great team.

Jake Tkaczyk

Artist Associate

Jake Tkaczyk

Artist Associate

Jake is an Edmonton-based theatre artist with a passion for creating new and engaging work collaboratively. Last season Jake assistant directed THE TESTAMENT OF MARY with Northern Light Theatre and is thrilled to be back again this year. He graduated from the BFA Acting at the University of Alberta. Also a graduate of Red Deer College’s Theatre Performance and Creation program, Jake has worked as an actor, director, creator, and educator in central Alberta. His selected credits include: THAT’S DANGER! (Alberta Workers’ Health Centre), DON’T FROWN AT THE GOWN (Guys in Disguise), DEAD CENTRE OF TOWN X (Catch the Keys Productions), URINETOWN (Grindstone Theatre), THE BIG FAT SURPRISE (innocent operations), YOU’RE A GOOD MAN CHARLIE BROWN! (Opera Nuova), and  THE LAND THAT ART FORGOT (Mile Zero Dance). Jake recently received the AFA Young Artist Prize.

Historical Background & An Interview with Byrony Lavery

Historical Background to Origin of the Species

Louis and Mary Leakey were the first paleo-archeologists to make credible finds of hominine fossils in the Olduvai Gorge – a 48 km ravine that stretches across Eastern Africa in present-day Tanzania.

Louis and Mary Leakey

The Olduvai Gorge took its shape from a river that cut its way through the sediment deposits of an ancient lake bottom, revealing a 2 million year old “layer cake of evolution”, exposing ancient tools, as well as the remains of extinct animals and early hominins who had once gathered there.  (Hominins were distinguished from other primates for their erect posture, bipedal locomotion, larger brains, and the use of specialized tools).

The Leakey’s ground breaking excavation work in the Olduvai Gorge demonstrated the increasing development and social complexities of the earliest humans.  In 1959, Mary Leakey uncovered a human skull that dated back 1.75 million years, a find that made the couple famous and led to funding from National Geographic.  In 1960, Louis discovered the ancient hand and foot bones of a 12-year-old Homo Habilis, which structurally exhibited both ape and human characteristics, as well as the skull cap of an Homo Erectus, the first hominid discovered to have a brain size larger than 1,000 cubic centimeters.

Known as the first family of paleoanthropology, Mary and Louise Leakey together with their sons Jonathan and Richard, Richard’s wife Maeve and their daughter Louise have contributed over seventy years of combined fieldwork towards the study of humankind’s origins on the African continent.

 Source Material
Ancestral Passions by Virginia Morell – Leakey’s biographer (1995)
Journal of Human Evolution – Kidd RS, O’Higgins P & Oxnard CE (1996)


An Interview with Byrony Lavery

#1 (bo-ring, traditional, gotta ask it question) What inspired THE ORIGIN OF THE SPECIES? What was happening politically/personally? Was it in reaction to anything?

I wrote ORIGIN in response to a workshop with Monstrous Regiment, a feminist theatre company . We visited zoos, read up on the history of early man…and realised it was as cockeyed and male-centric as later history!!!

#2 The play is being constantly performed. What is keeping it in constant rotation on the stage?

I have no idea why. Except, it is a lovely play with two extraordinary roles for two women.

AGREED! 

#3 How would it be different if you were to (re)write it today?

Ooo, hard question. I might look at the last section about us possibly developing from fish…as it is a bit dense and hard to follow…I’d make it sound more like Victoria’s voice and brain…

#4 You’ve been considered a strong voice for women in theatre. What do you feel is the fundamental difference between the work of male and female playwrights? IS there a difference? There’s a real trending idea that, as playwrights, we can’t tell certain stories because they are “not our story to tell”. What’s your take on that?

The fundamental difference is how the audience receives male and female voices. Mel Kenyon, a famous agent here, says selling Male-written plays is easier than selling female plays. We are STILL not considered the voice of authority…which has its disadvantages…and advantages. As for “not our story to tell”…I always know when it is NOT my story…but it is to do with something in my heart…as there has to be a HUGE reason to write a story…because writing a play is HARD…but my stories are not always recognisably a female-centric story. I really like reaching for something I DON’T KNOW…to meld it with something I DO know emotionally. As with ORIGIN…I was learning about evolution.