Douglas College anniversary sparks event and free performance
By Cheryl Minns, Senior Columnist
To celebrate Douglas College’s 50th anniversary, the theatre and stagecraft & event technology departments will host an alumni reunion for graduates of the programs and their guests.
“I am excited to attend the alumni reunion,” theatre alum Adam Tatelman said to the Other Press in an online interview. “There are many people, not just from my year but from years above and below, that I worked with who I’m looking forward to seeing again.”
“It’s a good chance to see where people are now,” theatre alum Julia Siedlanowska said to the Other Press in a phone interview. “Life takes you in many different directions. Maybe you’re not in theatre anymore, but I’m sure that has been a foundation for whatever you choose to do for the rest of your career.”
Siedlanowska and Tatelman have found their theatre training to be useful in their current careers.
“[Instructor] Thrasso Petras has incredible vocal techniques that I apply with my students today as I teach arts and drama,” said Siedlanowska, who is an instructor at a private academy in Vancouver.
“Memorizing and repeating pages of material, speaking clearly and confidently, and being unafraid to present in front of large crowds are just as useful in litigation as they are to a stage actor,” said Tatelman, who is pursuing a career in law.
The alumni reunion will be followed by the opening night performance of Ann-Marie MacDonald’s Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)—a comedic play that follows Constance Ledbelly, an academic at Queen’s University, who is transported to the tragic moments of William Shakespeare’s Othello and Romeo and Juliet. She tries to save Desdemona and Juliet, while also trying to fit into the old-fashioned world of sword fights and dances. Tickets to this show are free for alumni.
“It’s really suited to what we’re doing in the department because it’s a great combination of Shakespearean text with a contemporary twist to it,” Thrasso Petras, the play’s director and theatre program coordinator, said to the Other Press in a phone interview.
“It’s actual text from Shakespeare and then the rest of it is mostly written in iambic pentameter. You get the experience of working in that style of heightened language, while at the same time it’s a contemporary. It’s a really nice mixture.”
The departments’ plays come with program booklets for attendees that delve deeper into a production. Previous program booklets have included pieces written by Douglas College instructors in different fields, such as philosophy and English, according to Petras.
“We tell them what play we’re doing, then they’ll come and watch rehearsals, then read the play, and then give a little reflection from their perspective,” he said. “This year, because it’s the anniversary, we invited alumni Adam Tatelman and Julia Siedlanowska to contribute and they both did.”
Siedlanowska wrote a piece for the Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) program booklet where she draws on her own experience playing Juliet in the departments’ previous performance of the show in March 2012, as well as an interview with Natalie Peters, the actor who plays Juliet in the current production.
Tatelman’s piece will be in the program booklet for the upcoming production of Hal Coase’s Jekyll, opening March 13. The piece will include his interview with Madelyn Osborne, the play’s director and an alum of the theatre program, as well as his own thoughts on the play.
“That Thrasso would think of me after all this time shows, I think, that Douglas’ professors are invested in their students as individuals,” he said.
The reunion will happen at 6:15 p.m. at the Douglas College New Westminster campus at 700 Royal Avenue on Friday, March 6. Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) will follow in the Laura C. Muir Performing Arts Theatre at 7:30 p.m. After the show, a gala reception will take place outside the theatre with the cast and crew in attendance.
Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) will run March 6 to 13 in the Laura C. Muir Performing Arts Theatre on the fourth floor of the Douglas College New Westminster campus. Free tickets for alumni to the reunion and performance are available at eventbrite.ca. For non-alums, tickets are available at GoodnightDesdemona.bpt.me at $10 for students and $20 for general admission.