Ignition Theatre is proud to present the world premier production of Oral Fixations by Blaine Newton and Leslie Greentree Oct. 9th-11th and 14th-18th.
Performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. nightly at the Scott Block Theatre downtown.
“Like many of our best ideas and many of our most interesting conversations, it all started in Blaine’s kitchen over a glass of wine – I think we were preparing supper,” recalls Greentree.
“We were talking – and that’s the beautiful thing about being in love with another writer is that you can say what do you think about this or that, or you can bring up an idea and kick it around and brainstorm. We became very interested in this idea right away when we started talking about it – the basic content of the play and the different scenarios that night.”
Newton agrees, adding ideas about the place of food in everyday life kept surfacing.
“What’s really going on? Food is often a smokescreen for what is really important. The idea of having a play where food is really the entry way into everything else materialized. It’s not about food – it’s about revenge, it’s about remembrance, it’s about sorrow. It’s realizing that the turkey isn’t the only thing that gets carved up sometimes,” he adds.
“Then we started talking about all of the situations where food is used by people to hide something else or to access something else.”
Scenes were created and they got to work fleshing them out gradually forming an early draft. The play was ultimately fully written during a trip to Hawaii a couple of years ago. It was also entered into one of the Scripts At Work workshops at Red Deer College.
During that process, professional dramaturges help to continually mold the draft towards its finalized version. “They were hugely helpful – we made a lot of changes including some expansions and getting to the stage where you are adding more nuance – that kind of thing,” said Greentree.
Next up, a staged reading was held which was an incredible experience, as it allowed Greentree and Newton the opportunity to see how an audience would respond to it.
As phrased in a release about the play, “Food is love, except when it’s about competition, loss, cold comfort or revenge. In this series of interconnected vignettes, Oral Fixations explores the ways we hide the culinary, using food to fill the gaps in our communication, be it parent to child, brother to sister or lover to lover. Food is political. Food is emotional. Food is ridiculous. And sexual.”
Discussions soon took place with Ignition’s artistic director Matt Grue, when word was spreading about the theatre company’s re-launch this year.
“Ignition Theatre has had great success in presenting new work and we couldn’t be more thrilled to have the opportunity to bring to life the first play by the Newton/Greentree team. They have captured, with biting wit and profound honesty, the emotional threads that bind us together by exploring our communal relationship with food,” said Grue.
“It’s hilarious, sometimes gut-wrenching and always insightful; Ignition Theatre is overjoyed to produce our fourth world premiere production.”
Ultimately, Greentree and Newton are also thrilled to see the play staged by Grue and his talented company. “Ignition Theatre is known for staging brave, intelligent plays, and we were delighted when they wanted to open their long-awaited season with Oral Fixations,” said Greentree. “We know that with this play, it’s a little difficult to describe but it’s really easy to watch because the stories and themes in the play are things that everybody is going to recognize in their own lives, or recognize it in someone else.
“Ignition has always done edgy, unique shows. So based on that, we felt that Matt would be really interested in this play. And that he would have fun sorting out how to best present it,” she added. “We also feel that it’s very accessible and enjoyable, and people are going to leave wanting to talk about it; how it relates to them and their own experiences.”
The production features Paul Boultbee, Erin Odell, Lisa Spencer Cook, Ryan Matilla and Killeen Delorme. Rounding out the creative team are Stephanie Ridge and Marni Rath (stage management), Patrick Beagan (set/lighting design), Dustin Clark (sound design) and Peggy Church (movement and choreography).
“We think the play’s quirkiness, darkness and humour are a great fit with the sort of complex plays they’ve always put on.
“It also really excites us because Blaine’s been very active in the theatre scene and we’ve both been avid supporters of Ignition and consumers of local live theatre. And we love Red Deer – the arts scene here is small but really mighty and I love the fact that the play’s world premiere is going to be a professional production by a theatre company that we have respect for,” she said.
“This is our home, this is where we flourish as artists so it feels right that the play starts here.”
Tickets are $27 for adults and $23 for students and seniors. Tickets for the Tuesday evening show are just $20. Tickets are available at Sunworks or online at www.ignitiontheatre.ca.