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Meet the Artists of BUILDING THE WALL

HHG Theatre is proud to bring this shockingly relevant script to Ottawa for the Canadian premiere! We’re very excited to introduce the creative team, with some faces familiar to HHG Theatre audiences, and some exciting new faces as well.

Tickets for BUILDING THE WALL are on sale now. There are only 7 performances, so be sure to get them while they last!

Robert Schenkkan

Robert Schenkkan (playwright) is a Pulitzer prize winning, Tony award winning, and Academy Award nominated of stage, television and film. His recent play All The Way played on Broadway after originating at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and playing at theatres across the US. His recent screenplay Hacksaw Ridge was nominated for an Academy Award.

Sean Devine-1

Sean Devine (director) is the Artistic Director of Horseshoes & Hand Grenades Theatre. Recent directing credits with HHG include Re:Union at the 2015 Magnetic North Theatre Festival, and Suit Up at the 2015 subDevision Festival. As a playwright, Sean’s play Re:Union was published by Scirocco Drama, and has played in Vancouver (2011) and Ottawa (2015). His play Daisy will be published in 2017, premiered at Seattle’s ACT Theatre in 2016, and will play at Houston’s Main Street Theatre in 2018. His newest play When There’s Nothing Left to Burn will premiere at the University of Lethbridge in 2017.

Headshot Cassandre Mentor

Cassandre Mentor (performer) is a multidisciplinary artist and teacher born and raised in Ottawa. Since graduating from Concordia University’s Theatre Performance program, she’s had the opportunity to work with some of Canada’s most prestigious artists and companies. Selected credits include: Black Lives, Black Words (Rhubarb Festival); When Elephant Was King (Black Theatre Workshop); A Thousand Paper Cranes (Geordie Productions ); Colombia Days: A Musical Memoir (Bridge Theatre); Quebec a La Carte (Charlottetown Festival) and Oedipus (City of Wine Festival). When not performing, Cassandre has a blast teaching (and learning from) local students in her roles as an Occasional Elementary Teacher for the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board.

Headshot Brad Long

Brad Long (performer) is one of Ottawa’s best-known and versatile theatre artists, and an Associate Artist at Horseshoes & Hand Grenades. Recent credits include Burnt (Undercurrents 2017, Co-Director), The December Man (NAC, Assistant Director), Re:Union (Prix Rideau Award nomination, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades and Magnetic North Theatre Festival), The End of Civilization (Gladstone Theatre), This is War (GCTC), We Glow (Prix Rideau Award for Outstanding Male Performance, Outstanding New Creation), playing Mark Antony in Julius Caesar (Ottawa Shakespeare), Othello and Midsummer Nights Dream (St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival). He has been an instructor with the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama, Algonquin College and the University of Ottawa.

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HHG Theatre featured on CBC’s The Current

Our upcoming production of Robert Schenkkan’s brand new play Building The Wall is quickly becoming one of the world’s hottest pieces of theatre, with  numerous productions planned for across the U.S., Europe, Mexico, and HHG Theatre’s production of the Canadian premiere. Recently, the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright spoke to CBC’s The Current about the motivation and success of his politically-charged drama, and the upcoming Ottawa production. Find out more here!

"Building The Wall" playwright Robert Schenkkan

“Building The Wall” playwright Robert Schenkkan

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2017/18 Season Announcement: April 25!

Horseshoes & Hand Grenades Theatre has been quietly busy the last few months, putting together one of our most exciting seasons ever, filled with insightful, provocative and passionate theatre and community engagement. We’ve got an inspiring community project about the Muslim experience in Canada, as part of the Canada 150 Celebrations. We’re excited to announce the Canadian premiere of one of the hottest political plays in the US this year. And we have plenty of new projects in the works, and other exciting annoucements. Check it all out right here!

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When Present Meets Past: “Confessions”

There’s been a lot of online discussion surrounding the 1964 “Confessions of a Republican” ad, created by Doyle Dane Bernbach for the 1964 LBJ campaign. The theory is that this ad must be a fake, since the ad’s claim – in which a Republican voter is frightened of extremism within his party – is too much like what’s happening now with Donald Trump.

In 2014 I interviewed the actor who starred in this commercial. I was doing research for my new play DAISY, the true story behind the infamous 1964 television ad campaign. The actor’s name is Bill Bogert. We met in NYC near his home on the Upper West Side. We talked for about an hour. Then I asked if he wanted to watch the “Confessions” commercial. Based on the look he gave me, it had certainly been a while. Here’s the video: 

Bill Bogert “Confessions”

The “Confessions of a Republican” ad is real, folks. The comparisons between Goldwater and Trump are real, except that Trump is a whole lot closer to winning than Goldwater ever dreamed of.

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Speaking Truth to Power: Talking Diversity

From Sean Devine: A couple of years ago Valerie Sing Turner sent me an email with a question of concern over my new play DAISY, which was still in its early development. I think she may have either read a draft or heard about the characters, or something to that effect. At the time, the characters were all white, and all male. And it was going to require a large cast of 7 male actors to perform it.

Valerie wrote to me asking if I’d consider making changes to my characters, in order to add some diversity. She was asking me to change the cultural / gender make-up of characters who were based on real people! DAISY is a true story set in the real world of politics and adversiting of 1964. None of the real people in my true story were non-white or non-male.

At first, I did not respond too well to Valerie Sing Turner’s request, and said as much to her. My first obligation was to be truthful to the history I was dramatizing, and the real people whose lives I was borrowing.

And then I chose to honour Valerie’s request.

I now have a play where the lead role is a female character named Louise Brown, who took the place of a real person named Stan Lee. And another pivotal character – one might even call him the antagonist – is a fictional African-American character based on a real African-American political pioneer; though the original historical figure was certainly not.

Each of these new characters has brought with him and her nuances and complexities that I would never have found otherwise. The issue of race in American during the bloody riots of the 1960s is now a focal point of the play. A strong female character – the protagonist – is driving my story on questions of ethical struggles and opportunism that have nothing to do with her gender, just as if she were a man. But of course the male characters attack her for it, which makes her struggle all the richer.

And this play – perhaps thanks to its rich nuances – is getting a big-budget world premiere at a major American theatre company at a time in history when the subject matter is being reflected right on the streets that the theatre’s doors open onto.

So I wish to extend a heartfelt thank-you to Valerie Sing Turner, and all of the other theatre pioneers who are bravely speaking truth to power when it comes to demanding that our noble art form be truly honourable, as we seek to honour the rich diversity of lives and truths that we walk among.

 

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History Repeats Itself: DAISY

The cyclical nature of humankind’s foibles and achievements is a common thread to much of HHG Theatre’s work. Several of our plays – shows like Re:Union, Except in the Unlikely Event of War, and works-in-progress like Glacier and It Can’t Happen Here – are set in bygone eras or previous generations. In a sense, we’re choosing to investigate our present state through a “reflective” lens. Perhaps it’s a more direct route to coming to terms with who we are by connecting with who we’ve always been.

This is certainly the case with our new project Daisy. When we started developing this story set during the 1964 U.S. Presidential election we knew that we were using it to comment on contemporary society and democracy, but we had no idea just how similar the past was going to be to the present.

The 1964 U.S. Presidential election featured Barry Goldwater as the Republican candidate, a man who was carried forward to his Party’s nomination on a wave of extremism that he was both the progenitor of and the fortunate beneficiary of. Sound familiar?

Donald Trump (and Ted Cruz) and the current state of the Republican Party are looking frightfully similar to what was going on in 1964.

Of course, the 1964 campaign is most remembered by the infamous “Daisy Girl” ad, which is the central element to our play. But there was another famous advertisement from that campaign which was just as devastating, and which has recently come back into the public consciousness like a bolt of collective lighting.

“Confessions of a Republican” is a brilliant piece of political messaging created by Doyle Dane Bernbach that features an actor (who was a real Republican) delivering a blistering criticism of why he cannot support his nominee Barry Goldwater, even though he’s been a lifelong Republican. As you listen to this brilliant ad, it’s impossible not to hear “Trump” everytime you hear “Goldwater”.

It just so happens that this ad has gone viral over the last few days, with a huge stream online discussion and commentary about the similarities.

Bill Bogert, as the young Republican in 1964.

Bill Bogert, as the young Republican in 1964.

Bill Bogert today, still a Republican, but with no one worthy of his vote.

Bill Bogert today, still a Republican, but with no one worthy of his vote.

Playwright Sean Devine went to New York City in 2014 and got to meet and interview the actor Bill Bogert who played the “Republican” in the ad, and got to watch Mr. Bogert watch himself. Here he is:

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