June 6, 2013

Posted by  

Photo: Hopegrown Productions Facebook.
Photo: Hopegrown Productions 

Hopegrown Productions was born out of necessity. Months earlier and a few months away from graduation, three fourth-year theatre students at Concordia University – Miriam Cummings, Lindsey Huebner and Samantha Megarry – in dreaded anticipation of the empty abyss of joblessness, post-study decided to find a play that they could possibly perform at the St. Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival.

They went in rosy-eyed eager to choose which they would perform. Except for one thing– they couldn’t. There was quite literally no play with a small(ish) cast featuring three young women that weren’t old or bimbos. It’s a constant struggle in the theatre and film business to find roles for women that are fully developed characters and not simply a part of the scenery or a force of chaos.

On their website they explain, “Here’s a dirty theatre secret: the majority of theatre school graduates are women, yet there are very few good plays full of strong roles for young female actors. What we want is to play our own age and gender in an exciting new piece of Canadian theatre.

So, they went to a professor, Harry Standjofski, who had spoken openly about his issues with the lack of female roles in theatre. A few months later, in an amazing twist of fate, the three were presented with Around Miss Julie.

Around Miss Julie is an original piece featuring three young actresses auditioning for the lead role of August Strindberg’s Miss Julie. Around Miss Julie combines elements of Strindberg’s classic with behind-the-scenes pandemonium of staging a production.

Photo: Around Miss Julie cast. Charlebois Post.

Photo: Around Miss Julie cast. Charlebois Post.

With play, team, and an indiegogo firmly in place, the group applied to the Fringe Festival in Montreal and the show dates began pouring in. Hopegrown Productions will be making a six-stop tour across Canada and the UK. The crew raised money with a series of pub nights at McKibbins, events, and performances in the past year in addition to receiving grants from Concordia. 

If you need a taste of what these ladies can bring, I first saw Hopegrown at the Mainline Theatre/ Art Matters Festival/ St. Ambroise Fringe Festival Nuit Blanche event I had worked at. Sam Megarry and Miriam Cummings stopped the party to perform a scene from Tartuffe (it’s a way famous crazy rhyming play written by Molière, keep up) when groans and boos of disapproval were heard from the confused (and heavily bearded?) audience. “Fuck this shit!” People in the crowd started freaking out and then BAM stage fighting, and good stage fighting at that between a cast member and an “audience member”. It was hilarious, shocking, and memorable.

To Hopegrown, the company is “not necessarily a collective creation, but a collaborative initiative” that allows them to take part in the industry they’ve loved all their lives, while keeping their integrity and beliefs in check.

It’s an 11pm show at Fringe this month and I fully expect to see you all there with me screaming girl power and laughing/crying our asses off.

Hopegrown Productions — 2013 — Around Miss Julie