Obscure Edwardian ‘New Drama’ closes UWinnipeg Theatre Season

Winnipeg, MB – The University of Winnipeg’s Department of Theatre and Film presents The Cassilis Engagement: A Comedy for Mothers, by St. John Hankin, at The Gas Station Arts Centre from March 31st to April 4th, 2015. UWinnipeg Alum Kelly Daniels returns to Winnipeg to direct the fourth-year Honours Acting Class in this little-known satirical comedy by the likewise little-known Hankin.

Geoffrey Cassilis is engaged to Ethel Borridge, a “very pretty,” but “second-rate girl” who is – by her own admission – as “common as common.”  Scandal begins with Geoffrey’s betrothal to Ethel and ends with Mrs. Cassilis, his mother, at the family estate. Hankin’s plays are known for satirizing snobbery and class-consciousness and The Cassilis Engagement delivers in spades.

Hankin was a major exponent of Edwardian “New Drama.” He wrote only comedies and this one was first produced in 1907 by The Stage Society, of which he was a member.  He was a respected colleague of George Bernard Shaw, John Galsworthy, and Harley Granville-Barker but didn’t share in their notoriety and The Cassilis Engagement, like most of his plays, was lost to obscurity after his death in 1909.  It didn’t  emerge again until 1990.  In spite of this lack of recognition, Christopher Newton, Artistic Director Emeritus of The Shaw Festival, describes Hankin as “the comic bridge between Oscar Wilde and Noel Coward.”

Kelly Daniels is thrilled to be back in her hometown and directing for her alma mater. For the past 11 years, she has resided in Niagara where she ran Lyndesfarne Theatre Projects with husband and Shaw Festival Ensemble member, Ric Reid. A fan of dark comedy and the series Downton Abbey, Kelly immediately felt an affinity with The Cassilis Engagement.

“Part of my task is to provide an opportunity for this class to draw upon all of the necessary skills learned over the course of their training at UW to showcase their strengths, while at the same time challenging their growth as performers. The stylistic demands of this play culminate in what will be an exhilarating tour de force for these emerging artists.”

Sean E. McMullen’s magnificent, multi-functional set is inspired by the architecture of Downton Abbey’s Highclere Castle. Joseph Abetria’s exquisite costume designs are re-imagined styles of the era, and with the addition of corsets by Jean-Marc Lafond, the female actors will have an opportunity to create character drama like never before. Ksenia Broda-Milian’s lighting design underscores the grandeur and opulence of the aristocracy at home in the country. There is a significant production team comprised of instructors and students all hard at work to bring this exciting production to fruition.

Performances are Tuesday, March 31st through Friday, April 3rd at  8:00 pm nightly, and Saturday, April 4th at 2:00 p.m. AND 7:00 pm at the Gas Station Arts Centre (445 River Avenue). Admission is free but reservations are recommended. Please call our 24-hour Reservation Line at 204.786.9152, or visit  UWinnipeg’s Department of Theatre and Film website at http://theatre.uwinnipeg.ca.

Based in the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film at The University of Winnipeg, the Department of Theatre and Film offers areas of study in Acting, Design, Drama in Education, Filmmaking, Playwriting, and Production/Stage Management. Our classes are small and our approach is practical. Our faculty is comprised of highly respected and award-winning professionals who are experienced teachers and remain active in their disciplines, bringing relevant and up-to-date instruction to our students.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Patty Hawkins, Dept. of Theatre and Film,
The University of Winnipeg
T: 204.786.9955, E:  p.hawkins@uwinnipeg.ca

Kelly Daniels, Dept. of Theatre and Film
The University of Winnipeg
T:  1.905.357.8822, : kellydd62@gmail.com

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