Toronto's Nightwood Season Has Margaret Atwood's Penelopiad, a Response to Homer

News   Toronto's Nightwood Season Has Margaret Atwood's Penelopiad, a Response to Homer
Nightwood Theatre, devoted to plays by women, announced a 2011-2012 Toronto season that will include a world premiere, a North American premiere and a Toronto premiere, plus a festival of three workshop stagings.

Playwrights Margaret Atwood, Rose Cullis and Bryony Lavery are the mainstage playwrights. Atwood's take on Trojan War wife Penelope, The Penelopiad, will get its Toronto professional premiere in 2012. Cullis' The Happy Woman, about what's beneath the surface of a happy family, will get its world premiere.

The 32nd season launches in November with the expanded New Groundswell Festival - a National Festival of Contemporary Women's Theatre. Over 11 days, Nightwood will feature three workshop productions including Governor General's Award nominee Lisa Codrington's new play The Aftermath, Jordi Mand's Between the Sheets and Zuppa Theatre's acclaimed new work The Debacle.

The Festival will also feature an Industry Series of master classes, provocative panels and public readings.

Here's the 2011-12 Nightwood season at a glance:

The New Groundswell Festival A National Festival of Contemporary Women’s Theatre
Nov. 30-Dec. 10
The Berkeley Street Theatre Upstairs
The Aftermath by Lisa Codrington – Toronto
"In the face of impending catastrophe and despite widespread evacuation there are simply those that shall not be moved. A harrowing and humorous exploration of survival, The Aftermath takes us to the eye of the storm to reveal the humanity of those left behind to ride it out."

Between the Sheets by Jordi Mand – Toronto
"A teacher is visited by the mother of one of her students. One woman is fighting to protect her family. The other is fighting for the family she always wanted. A play about love, loyalty and betrayal."

The Debacle by Ann-Marie Kerr and Susan Leblanc Crawford – Zuppa Theatre, Halifax
"Going to scientific extremes a woman attempts to freeze memories of her dying sister and in the process learns the power of letting go. The Debacle is a sad, funny and highly theatrical portrait of a woman facing the inevitable reality of being alone."

Toronto Professional Premiere
The Penelopiad
By Margaret Atwood
Directed by Kelly Thornton
Designed by Denyse Karn
Lighting Designed by Kimberly Purtell
Featuring Megan Follows, Maev Beaty, Christine Brubaker, Sarah Dodd, Monica Dottor, Raven Dauda, Kelli Fox, Cara Gee, Patricia Hamilton, Tara Rosling, Pamela Sinha, Sophia Walker and Bahia Watson
January 10-29, 2012 Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

"'Now that I'm dead, I know everything.' So begins The Penelopiad, Margaret Atwood's daring response to Homer's 'Odyssey.' Destined to spend eternity in Hades, Penelope recounts her life's story and the murder of her 12 handmaidens by her vengeful husband, Odysseus. A provocative new look at a women's longing, lust and culpability."

World Premiere
The Happy Woman
By Rose Cullis
Directed by Kelly Thornton
Designed by Denyse Karn
Lighting Designed by Kimberly Purtell
Featuring Barbara Gordon, Ingrid Rae Doucet, Charlotte Gowdy, Martin Happer, Maria Vacratsis
March 3 to 24, 2012
Berkeley Street Theatre Downstairs

"Is there such a thing as being too happy? Margaret has a perfect son, a beautiful daughter and a grandchild on the way. But what's lurking beneath this family's glossy veneer? The Happy Woman is a darkly comic exploration about what happens when bliss gets in the way of truth and threatens to destroy the very foundation we rely on."

Femcab 2012
Hosted by Elvira Kurt
March 29, 2012
Brigantine Room, Harbourfront Centre

"Elvira Kurt hosts FemCab 2012, Nightwood's annual International Women's Day celebration. This award-winning stand up comedian and Second City veteran promises to make the 29th FemCab a side-splitting and commemorative event."

North American Premiere
By Bryony Lavery
Directed by Kelly Straughan
Choreographed by Susie Burpee
Featuring Melissa-Jane Shaw and Ryan Hollyman
May 11-June 3, 2012
Tarragon Extra Space

"Todd and Kali are the perfect self-styled couple: They're beautiful, have a fabulous sex life and live in a designer home. But under the surface is a distrust and desire so potent that even a much-anticipated holiday to Stockholm is threatened. Probing into the psychology of Stockholm Syndrome, Lavery transports us into a lovers' dance that is at once destructive and euphoric. Stockholm leaves us questioning the fine lines between love and lust, aggressor and victim. Presented by Seventh Stage Productions in association with Nightwood Theatre."

For season information, visit


Nightwood Theatre (run by artistic director Kelly Thornton, producer Denyse Karn and chair Karon Bales) was formed as Canada's national women's theatre in 1979, launching the careers of many of the leading theatre artists in the country. The company has won Canada's highest literary and performing arts awards. It's a theatre that gives voice to women and celebrates the diversity of Canadian society. "We remain actively engaged in mentoring young women and promoting women's place on the local, national and international stage," according to the mission statement.

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