Bouffoning around with Titus Bouffonius

Bouffoning around with Titus Bouffonius

This week I spoke with Colleen Murphy, the playwright of the effusively titled show going up at Theatre Network this week: The Society for the Destitute Presents Titus Bouffonius. Scroll down to listen to that (the interview starts around 6:35).

This past week I posted a review of Happy Birthday Baby J, Shadow Theatre’s newest show, up on my blog. Go check that out and then tell me if you agree that the play subverts gender conformity, or upholds it – I think you can make the argument either way.

I also meant to share this earlier: I have a story in Avenue Magazine this month about the Citadel Theatre’s sippy cups. I’ll post a link to that on my blog in the next day or so. I had taken a break from seeing theatre and in that time the Citadel launched these cups. When I saw my first Citadel show this year (The Color Purple back in September), I wondered what the heck those little cups were doing. So, I spoke to Citadel executive director Chantell Ghosh for the inside scoop.

Helen Belay, Marguerite Lawler, Bobbi Goddard, Hunter Cardinal and Robert Benz in The Society for the Destitute Presents Titus Bouffonius by Colleen Murphy presented by Theatre Network running Jan 28 – Feb 16 at The Roxy on Gateway.
Photo Credit: Ian Jackson/EPIC Photography

In the last few days we have seen a number of theatre companies launch their next seasons. Yes, it seems kind of weird to be talking about the next season when we’re just around the halfway point of the current season, but so it goes. So far I’ve seen announcements from Broadway Across Canada and the Citadel; Northern Light Theatre is launching theirs on February 1. I’m sure more will be on the way soon.

I’m actually really excited to see pretty much all of the Broadway shows that were announced. I love the music of Jesus Christ Superstar, and when I was a teen in the 90s I totally had a crush on Dimitri/John Cusack in the 1997 animated movie Anastasia. We also get to see Hamilton, so of course I am looking forward to seeing what all the hype is about.

For Citadel’s new season, I’m most excited for Pump Up the Volume as well as Bears, which is a wonderful show by local Edmonton playwright Matthew Mackenzie that I saw when it premiered in 2015. I’ve been a fan of Mackenzie’s work for a long time, and back when I was at Vue I interviewed him a few times and he was always very thoughtful and interesting. I’ll definitely have to get him on this podcast.

Also super exciting is the The Wolves, a Maggie Tree production. Maggie Tree is a local theatre group that focuses on women-centric work, headed by Vanessa Sabourin and Kristi Hansen (who also lead Azimuth Theatre). Their stuff is always thought-provoking and interesting.

Hunter Cardinal in The Society for the Destitute Presents Titus Bouffonius by Colleen Murphy presented by Theatre Network running Jan 28 – Feb 16 at The Roxy on Gateway.
Photo Credit: Ian Jackson/EPIC Photography

For this week’s interview, I spoke with Colleen Murphy about one of her newest scripts, The Society for the Destitute Presents Titus Bouffonius. Colleen is an award-winning and much celebrated playwright who has a long history with Theatre Network. They’ve staged numerous productions of her scripts, including the 2013 world premiere of her controversial play Pig Girl, which earned one of her two Governor General Awards for English-language drama.

Titus Bouffonius is a reimagining of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, done in bouffon-style – think clown, only with less whimsy and more…whatever the opposite of whimsy is. It’s a weirdly natural fit, because Titus Andronicus is a bloody revenge tale with lots of murder and mayhem and general horrible things happening to people, including children. It’s probably Shakespeare’s least-respected work, so it makes a lot of sense to have a ragtag troupe of bouffon characters staging it.

I had the pleasure of reading the script of Titus Bouffonius this past week, right before I spoke to Colleen, and it had me laughing out loud on page two. It is a hilarious, wild romp and I can’t wait to see it staged live.

Colleen and I had an excellent and thoughtful conversation about bouffon, staged violence, arts funding, climate change and many other fascinating things. Definitely a not-to-miss episode.


Show notes and listings:

Happy Birthday Baby J, Shadow Theatre, Varscona Theatre, Until Feb 9

The Crucible, MacEwan University, Theatre Lab in Allard Hall, Until Feb 8

The Society for the Destitute Presents Titus Bouffonius, Theatre Network, The Roxy on Gateway, Until Feb 16

Every Brilliant Thing, Citadel Theatre, Feb 1 – 23

The Marriage of Figaro, Edmonton Opera, Jubilee Auditorium, Feb 1/4/7

The Invisible: Agents of Ungentlemanly Warfare, Catalyst Theatre, Maclab Theatre in the Citadel, Feb 4 – 23

1984, Walterdale Theatre, Feb 5 – 15

Chinook Series 2020, ATB Financial Arts Barns, Feb 6 – 16

Shakespeare’s Dog, Studio Theatre, Timms Centre, Feb 7 – 15

Second-hand Dances for the Crude, Crude City, Mile Zero Dance, Spazio Performativo, Feb 7 – 8

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