After a few fits and starts we have a way of communicating about some of the public discussions we have had about plays and live art, getting more dialogue out there….it’s kinda weird, trying to take what is intimate about actor and audience, and discuss that relationship on a larger, less intimate scale, but we’ll see what happens. Yay Duncan Major! Thank-you for helping me with another venture where the roadmap resembles a doiley.
Newfoundland.Artist.X – is a theatre company.
N.A.X. stands for -
Newfoundland.Artist.X speaks to a location of a particular aesthetic process, one that grew out of St. John’s over the last thirty years, and that has collectivity, creation and performance as its goal. The name is dichotomous: the X promotes commonality over individuality – a longing for a global community, and Newfoundland, a clinging to our traditional sense of place. Artist indicates a desire for a creative, experimental process, for discourse about art – and since it’s a theatre company – a public discourse.
Lois Brown is a multidisciplinary artist, and a seventh generation Newfoundlander: most of her work has been created in St. John’s. She was past AD of RCA Theatre Company and AD and Curator of Neighbourhood Dance Works. She was shortlisted for the Siminovitch Prize in Directing (2004) and awarded The Newfoundland and Labrador Artist Achievement Award (2004.) She received the Victor Martyn Lynch Staunton Award from the Canada Council for the Arts for a outstanding mid-career Canadian Theatre Artist in 2005. She is currently Artist and Dramaturg-in-Residence at Playwrights’ Workshop Montreal.
Marlene Cahill has been working in the arts for over thirty years. She has been the guiding force behind such significant companies as Neighbourhood Dance Works, Wonderbolt Circus, Corner Boys, and Resource Centre for the Arts. She is the ACTRA rep in Newfoundland. She sat on the RCA Board that directed the recent renovations to the LSPU Hall, and she is a source of information and advice for an untold number of Newfoundland artists.
N.A.X has received funding from The City Arts Grants, Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council, The Cultural Economic Development Plan, and The Canada Council for the Arts.
WHAT WE HAVE DONE 2006-2012
NAX was established in 2006 by Lois Brown (Artistic Director) and Marlene Cahill (Administrative Director.) The was Board was orginally comprised of three artists. Two of the original Board members still sit on our Board, Rhonda Buckley and Shauna Janssen. A filmmaker and visual artist, Rhonda Buckley is a St. John’s resident. A respected theatre practitioner and academic, Shauna shares N.A.X.’s interest in public space and discourse. We no longer work with a Board, but bring together artists to work in an collective process.
NAX’s initial project was the mentorship by Lois Brown of several emerging directors including Jordan Canning, Brad Hodder and Mark White. In 2007, these emerging directors participated in exploration of the notion “shorter is better,” along with established artists including Andy Jones, Robert Chafe, and Susan Kent. The result was an evening of six very short plays. The plays were followed by NAX’s first public discussion: “What is a play?” led by Beni Malone. Statements from invited theatre practitioners, filmmakers, and academics were followed by an open public discussion.
These short plays went on to other lives. “Busking in October” evolved into a feature-length screenplay by filmmaker Justin Simms. “Sweet Pickle,” adapted to film by artist Ruth Lawrence and directed by Lois Brown, was awarded two honourable mentions at the Baltimore Women’s Film Festival. “Travel Anywhere” became a six part webseries and is in its second season; Season One was screened over three nights at John’s International Women’s Film Festival. “Travel Anywhere: The Movie” premiered at The Nickel Independent Film Festival and was a part of the St. John’s International Women’s
Film Festival Roadshow
Lois Brown in “Travel Anywhere.”
Also in 2007, NAX and White Rooster co-produced “Ain’t poetry grand.” This was to be an annual live event, featuring readings by six Newfoundland poets, followed by an informal sipping of wine, purchasing of books and gushing about the significance poetry plays in our lives.
In 2008, NAX once again co-produced Ain’t poetry grand. NAX’s shorter is better project took the shape of 5 Very short plays in a tub.
Sue Kent and Phil Winters in “Gloria” by Robert Chafe
Set in the complete round at Rabbittown Theatre, the centrepiece – a tub – was about two feet from the first row of audience members on either of four sides. Influenced by its interest in promoting an intimate relationship between the public and theatre art, NAX’s invitation to the public to be seated close to the action and to see it in context of other viewers is an elegant, if obvious, evolution. The seats are limited, fifty a night – intimate and exclusive – heightening this particular experience of performance-in-the-round.
As well as mentorship and opportunities for exchange between new and emerging directors and playwrights, NAX offered a Master class by established artist and actor, Mary Walsh for the participating artists.
Also in 2008, NAX began development of three new works by artists Ruth Lawrence, Andy Jones and Lois Brown. All three works focus on mental illness. Ruth was the furthest along and NAX was able to produce a public reading of her musical about the issue of bulimia and body image, “Big in Myself.”
NAX created an online version of our public forum What is a play? Interviews with Jillian Keiley and Joel Thomas Hynes are posted on our Youtube channel.
We planned to bring a production of “Offensive to Some” by Berni Stapleton with Bridget Wareham, directed by Lois Brown and stage managed by Shannon Hawes to Toronto’s TPM. When Lois Brown was hit by a vehicle at the Magnetic North Theare Festival (while there with Andy Jone’s brilliant tour de force “An Evening with Unlce Val”), and hospitalized, instead we tri-produced (with White Rooster and RCAT) a remount of” Nan Loves Jerry” written and performed by Sue Kent and directed by Sherry White.
Because of difficult recovery from the accident Lois had during Magnetic North in 2008, she was not able to carry out the intense artistic direction required of the AD for the shorter is better 3 project. Instead N.A.X. co-produced Sex the rules of with White Rooster. Written and directed by Lois Brown, White Rooster provided dramaturgy for this project with playwright Anne Chislett.
Ruth Lawrence, Mark O’Brien, Marthe Benard and Aiden Flynn in “Sex the Rules of” by Lois Brown
“Sex the Rules of” opened at the Halifax fringe and then ran at Rabbittown. “Sex the rules of” featured Marthe Bernard, Aiden Flynn, Ruth Lawrence and Mark O’Brien. Staged simply during a microscopic rehearsal period, this production relied solely on the text, choreography, a huge piece of fabric, a couple of flashlights and powerful acting talent. It received high praise.
The Way I See It said:
“If this the kind of theatre coming out of Newfoundland, I need to book myself a flight to the rock. Pronto.”
The Coast said:
The Evening Telegram said:
“Intelligent, witty adult comedy.”
“Staged with elegant economy.”
“Four high-powered and sophisticated actors.”
The Current said:
“Mature and polished.”
“Smart, funny and profoundly moving.”
“The small house, bare set and minimal props combine to heighten the shows intimacy.”
In November, we produced “Offensive to Some,” directed by first-time director Shannon Hawes. Each show featured a talkback. Lois originally directed this production with Berni Stapleton in the role and she had recently directed Bridget in the role as well, with Shannon as SM. With Shannon as director, Lois devoted her time to creating public forums about the play. NAX held a talkback with Berni Stapleton about the writing of “Offensive to Some.” And a talkback with Rhonda Fiander about domestic abuse.
With Lois still recovering, this year was one of reflection, though we did begin planning “5 Very Short Plays in the Sand.”
White Rooster and NAX turned Ain’t Poetry Grand over the WNAL, though Lois and Ruth continued to host the event.
In 2010, NAX with Rabbittown AD Aiden Flynn continued to investigate the City for alternative spaces for theatre, visiting all of the Community and Recreation Centres.
In November 2011, NAX produced “5 Very Short Plays in the sand” in conjunction with shorter is better 3. The project comprised comissioning five new short plays, a week of dramaturgy led by Emma Tibaldo of Playwrights Workshop Montreal and Robert Chafe, with the playwrights, directors and actors. Once we went into rehearsal, NAX programmed a roundtable on the subject of dramaturgy for local writers and theatre practitioners, held at Resource Centre for the Arts’ LSPU Hall.
As we moved into production, we worked at Rabbittown laying down a box of sand and placing it in the round. This year we extended the project, two nights and a preview. We had a full house everynight and even the LT. Govenor and his wife attended.
In September 2012 Lois was invited to be Artist and Dramaturg-in-residence at Playwrights’ Workshop Montreal. There she is reflecting on her work, working with choreographers Peter Trosztmer and Thea Patterson, and honing her skills as a dramaturg.
N.A.X. is about embark on shorter is better 4 with Robert Chafe, Jane Maggs, Jeremy Taylor, Leah Lewis, and Peter Trosztmer.
NAX is also developing an administration mentorship with Marlene Cahill and an expanded director mentorship, that will eventually become a part of the shorter is better projects.
Ruth Lawrence’s musical Big in Myself co-written with composer and songwriter Cherie Pyne just completed a residency at Playwrights Workshop Montreal with dramaturg Emma Tibaldo and Lois Brown, and was read at The Women’s Work Festival in March.
Sex the rules of is to be published by Playwrights Canada Press in an anthology of Newfoundland and Labrador Plays, edited by Denise Lynde.
Poster and Photo Credits
Lois Brown in Travel Anywhere written by Lois and originally directed by Brad Hodder, Still from film directed by Justin Simms
Poster by Chris Browne for 5 very short plays in a tub
Susan Kent and Phil Winters in Gloria by Robert Chafe (5 very short plays in a tub) Photo Justin Hall
Ruth Lawrence and Mark O’Brien in Sex the rules of written and directed by Lois Brown, co-produced by White Rooster and NAX, Photo Victoria Wells
Ruth Lawrence and Mark O’Brien in b.g. Marthe Bernard and Aidan Flynn in f.g,, Sex the rules of written and directed by Lois Brown, co-produced by White Rooster and NAX, Photo Victoria Wells
Poster by Duncan Major for Offensive to Some directed by Shannon Hawes , produced by NAX
Every year and a half since 2006, NAX produces a project called Shorter is Better.
This is NAX’s most complex project. This project is curated and commissioned by the NAX Artistic Director, Lois Brown in consulation with the Administrative Director, Marlene Cahill and renowed playwright Robert Chafe. It brings together emerging, mid-career, established, and cross-over artists to collaborate in an environment structured for experimentation and enthusiasm. It provides opportunity for mentorship for emerging artists and professional development for mid-career and master artists.
NAX commissions and provides dramaturgy for five playwrights, partners the plays and directors, and hires and schedules a company of actors, led my Toronto-based, Newfoundland actress Susan Kent. The plays go into rehearsal with an emphasis on providing directors, actors and playwrights time in theatre space from the first day of rehearsal. During the rehearsal or production, NAX provides workshops and community or public-focused events.
These projects have resulted in three productions and 22 new short plays: 6 Very Short Plays, 5 Very Short Plays in a Tub, and 5 Very Short Plays in the Sand have been produced. This year will see dramaturgy of 6 Very Short Plays in a Wheelchair.
Shorter is Better Mandate
Shorter is better has a specific goals:
- To encourage risk
- To provide workshops within the working environment, during the rehearsal period.
- To encourage exchange of information, techniques and experiences among artists that are at different points in their careers.
- To provide mentorship for emerging artists and professional development and exchange for mid-career, established and master artists.
- To give the public a more intimate relationship with theatre.
Shorter is better 1, 2007
6 Very Short Plays
PLAYWRIGHTS: Robert Chafe and Lois Brown with Mark Bath, Andy Jones, Ruth Lawrence and Justin Simms
DIRECTORS: Lois Brown with Jordan Canning, Brad Hodder, Jody Richardson and Mark White
THE COMPANY: Sue Kent, Sara Tilley, Jody Richardson, Lois Brown, Mary-Lynn Bernard and Mark White
PRODUCTION MANAGEMENT & DESIGN: Diana Daly
Public Discussion led by Beni Malone: “What is a play?” with statements by Dave Sullivan, Sara Tilley and Peter Trnka
Shorter is better 2, 2008
5 VERY SHORT PLAYS IN A TUB
PLAYWRIGHTS: Robert Chafe, Lois Brown, Mary Walsh and Lynn Panting
DIRECTORS: Lois Brown, Amy House, Roger Maunder and Nicole Rousseau
ACTORS: Susan Kent with Dave Sullivan, Ruth Lawrence, Aiden Flynn, Phil Winters and Kira Sheppard
PRODUCTION MANAGEMENT: Shannon Hawes
DESIGN: Phil Winters with Lois Brown
Shorter is better 3, 2010
5 Very Short Plays in the Sand
PLAYWRIGHTS: Robert Chafe, Emily Bridger, Lois Brown, Kenneth J Harvey and Sherry White
DIRECTORS: Lois Brown, Courtney Brown, Brad Hodder, Emma Tibaldo, and Anne Troake
ACTORS: Susan Kent, Mark Bath, Katie Butler, Mark Power, and Alison Woolridge
PRODUCTION MANAGEMENT: Courtney Brown
DESIGN: Phil Winters
5 Very Short Plays in the Sand
Shorter is better 4, 2012
5 Very Short Plays in a Wheelchair
PLAYWRIGHTS: Robert Chafe, Lois Brown, Leah Lewis, Jane Maggs, Jeremy Taylor, and Peter Trosztmer.
Dramaturgical Week at Playwrights in June, 2011 co-produced by NAX and Playwrights Workshop Montreal.
NEW N.A.X. PROJECTS
Injury Illness Pain Sadness Grief and Performance March 5-8, 2015
Curated by Lois Brown and administrated by Marlene Cahill
Supported by The Women’s Work Festival, The Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council, the City of St. John’s, Division of Community Health and Humanities in the Faculty of Medicine, and Pony Locale.
Much like the way injury, disease and chronic pain changes the individual person, creation of a performance or play envelopes the artist in a meaning-making process. This creation of meaning affects us as an audience and artist, and the way we view the nature of life. Many of the artists in this presentation series are dealing with an injury, illness or pain; some are not. Sometimes it’s the performance that is influenced, sometimes it’s the process. This series offers the public the opportunity to belong to a pop-up community for four days discussing, thinking about, laughing or crying through these themes. These events are free, though contributions to help with costs are appreciated.
March 5, 7:30 pm at The Cox Palmer Space, LSPU Hall, 3 Victoria Street
4 Very short plays What Needs to be Said by Robert Chafe…Strange of My Heart by Leah Lewis…Nothing Gained Nothing Lost by Jane Maggs….Nurse and Patience by Lois Brown….Panel Discussion Experiences of Hospital Culture moderated by Mack Furlong with Dr. Craig Stone, Dr. Leah Lewis, Lois Brown, Robert Chafe, and Thea Patterson.
March 6, 4-6pm When the Angel of Death says ? how are you In-process reading – spaces limited, for more information e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
March 7, 2pm Medical School Room M1M101 Good Grief by Leah Lewis …In Good Grief, artist, counselling psychologist and researcher, Leah Lewis explores illness, medical procedure and the inherent grief that surfaces as a result of such experiences. From an academic perspective, it is an example of arts based research that depicts what theory looks like in the living body. As a performance, it is both moving and revealing. …..Talkback to follow with Robert Chafe and Leah Lewis.
March 8 7:30 Pony Locale Public Performances of Thea Patterson’s the dance that I cannot do…..Thea liberates the elements of her choreography, even as she creates them – performing a work that changes with the audience and reveals the dance in what is present….An excerpt from Sarah Joy Stoker’s The Worth Of (with Lori Clarke) ….A piercing look at what we value – The Worth Of is a beautiful expression of grief and action inside our environmental crises. An exploration of the correlation between the health and function of Earth ecology and our physiologies. We question if individual and collective denials of loss, guilt, anger and despair concerning “progress” and our destruction of this planet may actually be making us fundamentally sick.
Contact:Olivia Curtis-Brown email@example.com
FLASH CRASH CLASSES
Apply now for FLASH CRASH CLASSES IN DIRECTING, April 7-11, 2014
Studies in Directing.FCC01 is one-on-one 2-hour study of a particular play that you propose. Have a play you have directed or are going to direct? Have a directorial task you are investigating? Wish to discuss a past problem that still aggravates you? Flash Crash Class – Studies in Directing #01 offers you the opportunity to discuss your specific directing issues, task or play with established Canadian theatre director, Charles Tomlinson. Charlie has produced extraordinary work in his career, particularly as RCAT Animateur and with the companies Andy Jones Productions and at The Grand with Martha Henry, among others. Most recently he is responsible for the visually sensual direction of the critically acclaimed “Drowning Girls.”
To apply, email your bio or CV to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and FCC. 01 in the subject line. You must include a copy of the play and a one-paragraph discussion of your interest and intention in directing this play. Studies will be arranged by appointment the week of April 7-11. Space is extremely limited. Also see Registration for costs.
Basic Directing.FCC02 is a 6-hour class in the basics of directing for 5 theatre practitioners over two 3-hr sessions on April 8 and 10, 6-9 pm with Lois Brown (bio is below)
Aimed at directors who have directed two productions or more OR theatre practitioners who plan to direct for the first or second time, this course covers the basic process but emphasizes how your identity as an artist shapes your approach and selection of your team.
TO apply, send a bio or CV and short statement of interest referencing the play(s) you have directed or intend to direct. Put your name and Course # in the subject line. Also see Registration for costs
Directing And Writing For Non-Traditional Space And Found Resources.FCC03
Sign up for an introductory 3-hr session on April 14 of a week-long course NAX will offer in the Fall 2014. Class is limited to 5 participants. This workshop will be of most interest to professional playwrights, writers, directors, theorists and performers working with text and theatrical concepts of space. If you produce and direct or write plays despite few resources or prefer limited design elements and small audiences, this exploration will interest you. Lois Brown will introduce and lead discussions about finding your team, self-dramaturgy with video, and creation of very short plays, working in the round, working without heat, and of course, working with the space as the design, and so forth. There are two goals. The first is articulating the process of working with limitation, the richness offered by rough and rogue spaces, developing vocabulary around this, and ultimately sharing our tools for this kind of work. The second is writing a first draft of a short play for a non-traditional space.
Please send CV and short statement of interest to email@example.com with your name and Flash Crash Class number in the subject line.
Lois Brown has developed an artistic practice primarily focused on directing premiers for small theatre spaces. She is multidisciplinary also working in film and dance. She has received numerous awards recognizing her work, among them the Victor Martyn Lynch Staunton Award for Artistic Achievement from The Canada Council for the Arts.
REGISTRATION A registration fee of $50 provides you access to future FCC news and first come status in future classes.
Please send CV and short statement of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and Flash Crash Class number in the subject line.
Things were thinking about – some of them have progressed beyond the idea stage!
- Design and new production for Sex the Rules of
- Weekend Choir
- Workshop on Public Space
- 5 Very Short Plays on Fire with a site specific out-door location
- Planning meeting with Robert Chafe for 5 Very Short Plays in a Wheelchair, Toronto March 2012
- Planning for Administration Mentorship Program – Mentor: Marlene Cahill
- Dramaturgy for 5 Very Short Plays in a Wheelchair at Playwrights’ Workshop Montreal in June
- Project dramaturgy Cairan Dyke with Lois Brown
- Publication of Sex the Rules of
- Dramaturgy Panel in St. John’s to be disseminated