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New Works stimulates creative young minds

By: Anna Borowiecki

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Feb 05, 2014 06:00 am

NEW WORKS – Desiree Dechamplain-Leverenz and Brian Lentz perform in The Young Revengers’ Society, one of six plays that make up the New Works Festival at the University of Alberta.
NEW WORKS – Desiree Dechamplain-Leverenz and Brian Lentz perform in The Young Revengers’ Society, one of six plays that make up the New Works Festival at the University of Alberta.
Supplied photo

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Preview

New Works Festival
Runs Feb. 5 to 9
Second Playing Space
University of Alberta’s Timm’s Centre for the Arts
87 Ave. & 112 St.
Tickets: $10/students; $15/adults. Available at door or online at www.tixonthesquare.ca

Desirée Leverenz, 22, may be hard to get a hold of these days. And there’s a good reason.

The St. Albert actor is heavily involved at the University of Alberta’s New Works Festival now running until Feb. 9.

Launched in 2000, the festival is a stimulating theatrical event that gives budding university playwrights an opportunity to work with a full theatrical circle of directors, dramaturges, designers and actors.

This year’s six productions are mounted in a repertory style rotation. Night “A” shows run on Thursday and Saturday. They include Tyler Hein’s The Comedian, Sophie Gareau-Brennan’s Solitaire, and Liam Salmon’s All That’s Left.

Night “B” shows on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday run as follows: Harley Morison’s The Young Revengers' Society, Lisa Gilroy’s Gandhi’s Last Words and Pamela Berekoff’s The Only Other One.

Not only has Leverenz landed a main role in The Young Revengers’ Society, but she’s the fight choreographer and is also overseeing production requirements (sets, costumes, lights) for the entire six shows.

“I just have this itch to get out and create cool theatre. I’m interested in things not typical – more experimental like Mabou Mines,” says Leverenz. Mabou Mines is a New York avant-garde theatre company emphasizing the creation of new theatre pieces from original texts.

Now completing a fourth year Bachelor of Arts drama honours program, Leverenz is setting a compass for the theatre world and it’s full speed ahead.

In Revengers’ she tackles the role of Liz, the leader of a high school group that decide to deliver vigilante justice against bullies. They beat up one bully, but it backfires.

Liz was bullied in junior high and when her best friend is beaten and rushed to the hospital, she decides revenge is a dish best served cold.

“In rehearsal we joke around that it’s a darker version of Degrassi with all these angsty moments,” says Leverenz.

Although Revengers’ is only 55 minutes, it has its share of fight scenes. As fight captain, Leverenz received her training as part of the Citadel Theatre’s Young Company and several outside workshops.

“Fighting is like dance. The hardest thing is to make it believable, but also safe for the actors. I basically came up with the choreography and after that, it’s all about repetition to overcome any trust issues.”

Juggling the production elements of each show, and that included working as liaison between the festival and drama department, was in her words, “definitely interesting.”

“I can juggle it because I love this so much. Of course, I make it work.”

The advantage of being involved in each production is getting a first-hand peek at the material.

Solitaire, for instance, is a series of monologues that captures the innermost thoughts of five individuals nearing their breaking point.

“They talk about what it is to be alone and explore their loneliness.”

The three-actor All That’s Left looks at siblings who come together after their parents have died. The estranged siblings rekindle their past of faded memories, and thriving grudges only to reach a breaking point.

The Comedian examines a guy who wants to be a professional comedian but is held back by his lack of talent and attitude towards people.

“A lot of the play is written as a stand-up comedy set.”

Gandhi was at one time the spiritual leader of India. In Gandhi’s Last Words two people having relationship issues look to a tiny creature for guidance.

“They both work at a morgue and put makeup on dead people. They are going through problems and find solitude in a fish they named Gandhi.”

In the 40-minute two-hander The Only Other One is a surreal horror where a boy arrives in hell to face the choices he made during life.

“It’s really important to celebrate new works. One of these playwrights might become famous and you can say, ‘I saw one of their early shows.’”

For a glimpse of play videos, and a full schedule of dates and times visit www.drama.ualberta.ca.


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