Photo: Farnia Fekri

Ryerson performers say goodbye to Abrams Theatre

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By Brenda Molina-Navidad

A thunderous applause took over the Abrams Studio Theatre on Oct. 6 as the actors from Ryerson’s School of Performance took a final bow for their last performance on that stage.

After more than 40 years of acting, dancing and production at the 44 Gerrard Street East building, the Ryerson School of Performance is packing up their props this reading week and moving to their newly constructed theatre in the Student Learning Centre (SLC).

The farewell production was the The Possibilities, written by Howard Barker and directed by Brendan Healy who is originally from Montreal. The first show was on Sept. 30 and ran every night until Thursday.

The play explores themes of war, violence, repression, and revenge. From Bethulia in 550 BCE to a futuristic totalitarian state the actors move through time as well as characters, taking on different roles in each episode. The play, divided into eight vignettes or brief episodes, starts off with a scene of four characters weaving a rug for stock to use as leverage against their enemy. Sounds of planes and bombs filled the theatre the size of a lecture room in the engineering building on Ryerson’s campus.

The intimate setting placed the audience inside of each scene and convincing performances guided the play that ran-approximately 100 minutes.

The Possibilities revealed a darker and dangerous side of the human condition throughout the vignettes. In one vignette titled “The Dumb Woman’s Ecstasy,” a foreigner with a handlebar moustache enters a lodge seeking a room.

He pounds on the door. The audience is in the lodge with the owner, a senior woman who is deaf and has no tongue to speak is played by Kierstyn Penney. The elderly woman’s exchange with the Borat-resembling foreigner is comedic as she stares at him intently and he carries on speaking and insulting the woman. The woman’s son played by Vitan Pravtchev and the foreigner become acquainted, or so it seems. The woman and her son have a plan to murder the foreigner hoping he returns from a bar drunk.

The foreigner does not return drunk. Instead he dances with the son before murdering him in front of his mother. The woman cries holding her dead son while the foreigner sits by. The lights grow dim until the stage is completely dark, shortly after the next vignette begins.

The theme of violence and revenge carries on until the very last scene titled “Not Him.” A message in each vignette is not explicitly stated, instead it is up to audience members to interpret the play.

The actors leave the stage cheering and celebrating for the final production. Farewell to the Abrams Studio Theatre. Hello to the newly constructed SLC theatre.

Ryerson Builds said the new theatre at the SLC located at Yonge and Gould Streets would be ready for the Ryerson School of Performance this fall.

Construction in the building started last year in August 2015. The facility will have more space for students to perform and learn with a little over of 17,400 square feet of space to work with.

Ryerson Builds revealed that details for the project include a performance theatre which will accommodate up to 75 seats, two dance studios, and a multi-purpose studio. Space for a box office and change rooms will also be included. According to the Ryerson Builds plan, the wardrobe, lighting and audio facilities will be updated.

On Friday the Ryerson School of Performance posted to their Facebook page, “Today is the last day of classes in 44 Gerrard St E. Thanks 44, for being our home and giving us so many memories!” with many hashtags including hashtag love this place.

The performance school is hosting a final gathering at the Abrams Studio next week.

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