Mirth and Melancholy – A Melange of One-Acts- Jan. 2010

It is Michael Granville’s mission and his mantra; make Moncton laugh. And he has completed that  mission as long as people connect the name of his theater troupe, Hairy Tease, with a a night of  comedy.

“We want to be known as the community theater group that specializes in comedy, and comedy that is  guaranteed to make audiences laugh”, says Michael, who once ran the drama department at Harrison Trimble High School.

However, sometimes Hairy Tease takes a stroll on the dark side. During the upcoming production, Mirth and Melancholy,  A Melange of One-Acts, the audience will be treated to nine plays of about ten minutes length each. Some of the plays are funny, some are dramatic and some are a slice of life.

Michael created Mirth and Melancholy to accommodate his growing theater troupe of eighteen willing actors. He wanted to give all the actors a chance to have their own production.

“Last year I came up with this super plan of a couple nights of one acts. So I found a couple of one act plays that I thought were entertaining to a general audience, and  we did some drama and some comedy  and put it together in a melange of plays called Mirth and Melancholy. It was a success, so I decided we’d do it again”.

Aloma Jardine’s name may sound familiar, she is a staff writer for the Times and Transcript, but she is also a member of Hairy Tease Productions. Last year she attended the first Mirth and Melancholy production, on one of her first nights out after the birth of her baby.

“I saw the show last year, and it was such a wonderful mix. You find yourself laughing one minute and the next you are sitting on the edge of your seat, and the next you are crying”.

One-act plays are often reserved for festivals and acting classes, “But”, says Aloma, “there are some really wonderful funny, dramatic one act plays and they don’t often get an audience, or a chance to be on the stage, So I really love this idea,  a showcase for these little shows that often times get performed at a  festival and then you never see them again”.

This year Aloma has returned to acting and will be performing at Mirth and Melancholy, with actor Ryan Hudson, in a comedic one act play titled Short Term Affairs. Her enthusiasm for theater knowing no bounds, she has managed to rehearse for the play in the evening when the baby (now 14 months) is asleep. Aloma says that her involvement with theater provides her release from daily worries.

“It is my stress relief and I think it is the same for many of us,  although it takes time and commitment  to fit it in there, if you have had a bad day then you can go and  just laugh and laugh at rehearsal and it takes the rest of life’s stress away. All of us make time to do it, we all have day jobs”.

“Anywhere I have ever lived, I have always found myself a theater troupe to be part of and I immediately  make good fiends  because they are people that have that wonderful thing in common with you. You can  be very different people, and we all are, yet  we still get along so well because we all have this love for the theater”.

Director and retired teacher, Michael Granville, has endless energy and passion for theater as well. He spends his free time reading plays, “One of my past times is reading plays, it is something I like to do”.

This year he found nine new one act plays, some of the titles of the plays are, ‘ A Mustache and a Mattress’ and  ‘Rumple Schmumple’.

“If something strikes me and I find myself chuckling over it when it is on the page I usually feel quite confident with the excellent talent that our actors have, that I can put a show out there that will entertain an audience, be it dramatic or comedic”.

“We had one very serious piece last year called the Wooden Pear , which was thirty eight minutes long  and it was extremely dramatic. This year we have increased the numbers of plays and cut them down in size so I don’t have anything as intense as that. Actually there are only two dramas out of the nine. ‘Landscape with Pidgeons’ and ‘Rats’ are both dramas, brief but intense. I think the audience will be riveted by them”.

“There is another play that’s not really that funny and not really that serious but it is just an ordinary slice of life with  two guys basically talking about their lives. I liked it because it was very real and not because it was funny or earth shattering dramatic, it is just a slice of life . The play, titled Defrosting, is about two guys sitting around, chewing the fat and talking about the problems in their lives”.

Michael says that Hairy Tease is not about to move into serious drama. “ These little forays off into drama once every winter  are probably as far down the dramatic road as we are going to go”.

Plays are expensive and time consuming to produce so much of the plays proceeds go back into the next production. Hairy Tease is a going concern, “We have established a good audience base, and we are self sustaining now. It is non profit, we don’t really make a profit  because we pretty well spend what we make off each one.”

The theater, L’Escaouette only seats about 210 people so the shows are generally sold out. Preview night, when tickets are only ten dollars, is always sold out. “This time our preview night was pretty much jammed full”, says Michael.

Mirth and Melancholy is a fast moving production. The sets are simple and the pauses between plays can be as short as thirty seconds.  Says Michael, “The settings are very simple ranging from a park bench to a couch to a desk and chairs, that’s all it is We use a few sound effects and lighting effects, but basically the light comes up, they do their play, the lights go down, they replace the couch with a chair,  the lights come back up, they do another play. It is fast moving and very little delay between each show”.

Hairy Tease productions  are not X-rated but, according to Michael, “ You’ve got to be a little older to handle some of the situations. He says all Hairy Tease productions are a PG rating. 

What: Mirth and Melancholy – A Melange of One-Acts

When: Friday January 29 and Saturday 30th  at 8 PM

Where: theatre ‘Escaouette, 170 Botsford Street

How much: Tickets are $15.00

Available from Box Office and by calling 855-0001

Website: www.hairytease.com

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