"Rape of Nanking" is Focus of 2008 World Premiere at Toronto's Nightwood Theatre

News   "Rape of Nanking" is Focus of 2008 World Premiere at Toronto's Nightwood Theatre
Nightwood Theatre, the Toronto troupe that develops and produces plays by and about women, will present the world premiere of Marjorie Chan's a nanking winter, about World War II atrocities in China.
Playwright Margorie Chan
Playwright Margorie Chan

The new work, presented in association with Cahoots Theatre Projects, will play Feb. 23-March 16, 2008, at the Factory Theatre mainstage. Opening is Feb. 27, 2008.

The play is about "a brazen young writer's campaign to ensure the past is not forgotten," according to Nightwood. She's challenged as she prepares for her book release — transporting us to one of the greatest horrors of the 20th century, the invasion of Nanking — China's capital in 1937 — by the Japanese.

During the first weeks of invasion, "in the midst of the rampage, a small group of unlikely heroes band together to create a refuge from the unspeakable horror. A gripping account of survival in the darkest of times."

The cast of a nanking winter will include Ella Chan, Insurp Choi, Brooke Johnson, Grace Lynn Kung and others to be announced.

Winter 2007 marks the 70th anniversary of the Nanking massacre. In less than eight weeks, an estimated 300,000 Chinese were killed and masses of Chinese women were systemically raped and murdered. The new play draws upon the book "The Rape of Nanking" by Iris Chang. Chang, a passionate young American author who first brought the atrocities of Nanking to public attention in North America through her book, endured years of controversy, according to production notes. She took her own life in November 2004.

The world premiere of a nanking winter also marks the 10th anniversary of the publication of "The Rape of Nanking."

Ruth Madoc-Jones will direct the drama.

Marjorie Chan's debut as a playwright was the acclaimed drama China Doll (Nightwood Theatre), which was nominated for two Dora Mavor Moore Awards and subsequently nominated for a Governor General's Literary Award.

For the 60th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Chan and playwright Damien Atkins adapted Hisashi Inoue's celebrated play about Hiroshima in the garden, two suns, from Roger Pulvers' translation. Chan is the recipient of a Dora Mavor Moore Award in performance as well as the prestigious K.M. Hunter Artists Award in Theatre.

Nightwood's 2007-08 season will open with Age of Arousal by Linda Griffiths Nov. 17-Dec. 16, at Factory Theatre Mainstage. It's presented by Nightwood Theatre in association with Factory Theatre.

Maja Ardal will direct Clare Coulter, Sarah Dodd, Maggie Huculak, Ellen-Ray Hennessy, Gemma James-Smith and Dylan Smith.

Nightwood bills the work this way: "Genre-busting, rule-bending and ambitiously original, Age of Arousal is a lavish, sexy ensemble piece about the forbidden and gloriously liberated self. The setting is 1885: a time of great passion, great confusion. Mary Barfoot, an ex-militant suffragette, runs a school for secretaries with her beloved Rhoda. The school's invasion by three spinster sisters and a charismatic cad named Everard, creates a catalyst for political, sexual and emotional explosion. Ideas and libidos clash for dominance, as each character confronts the meaning of revolutionary courage."

This marks the play's Toronto premiere fresh from an acclaimed run at Alberta Theatre Project's (ATP) PlayRites Festival and a Betty Mitchell Award nomination for Outstanding New Play.

As playwright and actor, Linda Griffiths is the winner of five Dora Mavor Moore Awards, a Gemini Award, two Chalmer's Awards, the Quizanne International Festival Award for The Book of Jessica, and Los Angeles' A.G.A. Award for her performance in John Sayles' film "Liana." She has twice been nominated for the Governor General's Literary Award (The Darling Family, 1992; Alien Creature, 2000). *

Nightwood's 24th Annual Groundswell Festival of New Works by Women will play Sept. 9-15.

Also planned is the second EXTREME WOMEN series. In the latter, over the course of one day, three innovative and controversial international plays will receive staged readings.

Nightwood's interim artistic director is Maja Ardal. Artistic director Kelly Thornton is on leave until March 2008. Producer is Monica Esteves.

For more information, visit www.nightwoodttheatre.net.

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