Friday, December 28, 2007

Doing Time on The Coast's "Best of 2007" List

It's always nice to know that you made an impact, and that of all the low budget indie plays run in Halifax this past year, Doing Time resonated with the critics. The Coast's Year End Review

Most pleasant surprise: Director Paul Kimball's adaptation of a sci-fi short story called Doing Time proved theatre on a shoestring can be as entertaining as big-budget productions. The intimate basement room at The Wired Monk Cafe was perfect - Kate Watson
Thanks Kate for the kind words, and thanks again to everyone who was part of the production, which looks like it will continue to live into 2008 (more on that in the new year). Expect more of the same from Semaphore in 2008!

Paul Kimball

Monday, December 3, 2007

Doing Time - Onward and Upward!

The world premiere run of Doing Time has ended, and it was a great... er, "time". The crowds were enthusiastic, the reviews were great, the work by the actors (Kris McBride, Nick Lachance and Christina Cuffari) was stellar, and the crew (David Connellan and Christine Boss) was super. Both Mac Tonnies, who was in town from Kansas City for the entire run, and I had a great time. It was a wonderful experience.

So... what next?

Well, for starters, Doing Time is being submitted to a number of fringe festivals in North America and Europe for 2008. You can expect to see it somewhere besides Halifax next year, although I can't say just where yet. As anyone who knows me from the film and television industry is aware, however, I love to travel, so it's a safe bet that I'll be taking a play as good as Doing Time on the road.

Speaking of the film and television industry (which is, after all, what I do for a living)...

Plans are afoot to film Doing Time as a 1/2 hour short film sometime in the spring of 2008. I'll be working to raise the money for this venture over the next couple of months, and will keep folks posted.

Finally, Mac and I will be publishing the play within the next couple of months as well. Again, updates when available.

So, that's it... for now. Rest assured, however - Doing Time will live on in 2008, and beyond.

As for the next step for Semaphore Theatre...

Well, that's the subject of another post, for another day!

Thanks to everyone who came to see Doing Time, and everyone involved in the production, for making the first Semaphore Theatre show a rousing success.

Paul Kimball

Friday, November 30, 2007

InfoMonkey review for Doing Time

Doing Time A Breath Of Fresh Air
Submitted by Ron Foley Macdonald on 11.28.07 at 7:03pm. [original here ]

There’s something genuinely thrilling - and unsettling - about Semaphore Theatre’s world premiere of the play Doing Time. First off, it’s unapologetically hard-core sci-fi. Second, it’s a stage piece more interested in ideas that character.

For audiences who despair of the contemporary theatre’s capacity for endless navel-gazing, Doing Time is like a breath of fresh air. Adapted by director Paul Kimball and Kansas City author Mac Tonnies from Tonnies’ short story, the play dispenses with the all those self-conscious notions about the relationship between audiences and players to simply present a space-time mystery that rockets along like a great 1950 pulp sci-fi paperback.

At about one hour in length, the play follows a single young female named Leda as she is held prisoner on some kind of spacecraft. With a single unadorned set, we’re spared any attempt to visualize the ship; instead, a few hung sheets, chairs, and bed establish her cell. She’s accompanied by an aggressively chirpy attendant - Chistina Cuffari in neatly robotic role - who keeps Leda’s questions at bay for the first half of the play.

When Nick Lachance enters - as John, the ‘manager’ - Doing Time’s action picks up considerably. Lachance also injects a great deal of wry, unexpected humour into the play with his quizzical delivery and dry asides. He’s clearly having a great deal of fun with the role, defining it as a kind of slightly off-kilter existential space delivery man.

Kris Lee McBride - in the central role of Leda - modulates her performance in the central role of the piece to underplay her growing rage and exasperation. At the end of the play she achieves a striking sense of resignation that translates into a glimmer of hope, especially since she’s faced with the ultimate unknown.

Kimball’s raw, no-nonsense direction often sacrifices delicacy in order to accelerate the plot; a couple of pantomime scenes that illustrate Leda’s boredom with the voyage reflect a cinematic rather than a stage background, with brisk fade-up-and-back-to-blacks.

The only drawback to the production was the odd use of rather well-worn Bob Dylan songs (All Along The Watchtower, Lay Lady Lay) over the scene transitions. Some Tangerine Dream or Portishead might have provided something a bit more appropriately mysterious and futuristic for a show that seems suspended in some other time and space.

The inanimate basement performance space at The Wired Monk coffee shop at the corner of Hollis and Morris proved to be a surprisingly effective place to stage a play. Hanging on the walls is a rather neat series of sci-fi-like paintings that resonate with the show and warrant a separate visit by themselves.

Doing Time is small but smart production that reveals Semaphore Theatre as a substantial new player on the indie theatre scene. Aimed at wider genre-loving audiences rather than the usual jaded theatre crowd, the company has made a serious stride into a totally new direction for theatre in Halifax.

The Coast review for Doing Time

It appears that we're a hit! All credit to Mac for coming up with a great story, and three great actors - Nick, Kris and Christina - for making it come alive.

Paul Kimball

Make Time for a Great Play
Semaphore Theatre Company's sci-fi hit
by Kate Watson
November 30, 2007 09:27 AM
[Original article here]

Time is running out to see Doing Time, a highly entertaining mystery based on a sci-fi short story by Kansas City author Mac Tonnies and adapted by the play's director Paul Kimball. It is staged in the tiny basement room of the Wired Monk Coffee Shop, which makes for a surprisingly effective space for this particular play.

The story is classic sci-fi, but you don't have to be a fan of the genre to enjoy Doing Time.

Three terrific actors elevate this play to must-see status. Kris Lee McBride anchors the work with an entirely convincing performance as the prisoner Leda. Christina Cuffari is controlled without being stiff, and does a fine job of showing the warmth beneath her character's frosty exterior. Nick Lachance is charming and funny and injects the last part of the show with a great energy.

In a season that has already had a banner crop of shows, Doing Time still manages to stand out.

Doing Time runs until Dec. 1st at the Wired Monk, corner of Hollis and Morris, at 7:30. Tickets are $8, $6 for students.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Meet Christina Cuffari - "Jane"

Christina Cuffari

Current home
Ottawa, Ontario

Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honours – Acting, University of Windsor, 2006

Selected credits

Christina in Violet the Pilot [Solar Stage Children’s Theatre]
Joan in Far Away [Leonard Beaulne Studio]
Mollie in The Mousetrap [University Players]
Vera in Stepping Out [University Players]
Rebecca in Scenes and Revelations [University Players]
Tanis in The Vic [Studio Theatre]

Lacey in Autopilot Off [SAW Video]
Jess in Mistletoe Bound [Chad M. Lawson Productions]
Live 88.5 Commercial [Kenneth McGrath Seventh Sense Studios]
Netslingers Commercial [Kenneth McGrath Seventh Sense Studios]

Christina just booked her ticket to Halifax from Ottawa, and arrives on November 4th. In her e-mail to me today to give me her flight information, she made it clear that she wanted to hit the ground running, i.e. start rehearsing the same day she gets here.


Paul Kimball

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Illumined Black

Doing Time is based on a short story by Mac Tonnies which first appeared in his book Illumined Black, which was published in 1995.

You can purchase a copy here.

Paul Kimball

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Christina Cuffari and Nick Lachance - Jane and John

Ottawa's Christina Cuffari and native Haligonian Nick Lachance have been cast as Jane and John in Doing Time. They join Kris Lee McBride, who had already been cast as Leda Calder

I look forward to working with all three of these talented actors.

Paul Kimball

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Doing Time - Update

Mac Tonnies is still working away at Doing Time, but we have a delivery date for the final draft: September 11th. Casting for the final three roles will begin in early October when I return from a trip to the United States, and it looks like the show will debut sometime in late November, with Kris Lee McBride already cast as Leda.

In the meantime, here is a short section from Act 1... just as a teaser. From what I've seen so far, this is going to be a play people in Halifax are going to want to see. I'm already planning a film version as well.

Paul Kimball

From Act 1


ANON (casually): Anything good on TV?

LEDA: Static. What else? Why did you even give me a TV if all you're going to show me is static? I've told you that before. Play some music videos, some Seinfeld reruns . . . anything. And get me some new books while you're at it. I'm tired of this stuff. I wasn't a fan before and I'm not a fan now. Is this
some sort of brainwashing scheme?

ANON: A most inefficient one, given the time you've been in our custody. Wouldn't you think?

LEDA: I don't know what to think anymore. All I know is that I'm missing something. You're holding back.

ANON: Some might interpret that remark as a symptom of paranoia.

LEDA: Why wouldn't I be paranoid at this point? Sounds like a decent way to pass the time to me. And I'm sick to death of this . . . [Wrenches off suction cup and rubs her temple.]

ANON: I've told you not to do that.

LEDA: And I've told you: I don't even know if you're real. You could be a hallucination I've created to keep me company.

ANON: I can neither confirm nor deny. You should know that by now. Now reinstall the uplink before we both get in trouble.

LEDA: Are you saying you're my conscience? What if I don't put it back on? What does it matter? None of this is real.

ANON: That's a rather expansive accusation. Surely you're not including yourself.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Leda Calder

As promised, here is the announcement of the actress who will play Leda Calder in Doing Time...

Kris Lee McBride.

I had the opportunity to work with Kris when I directed Marat for Le Theatre de Boheme in February and March (she played a supporting role as Marianne, a prostitute), and when she narrated my documentary Best Evidence in March and April. She just finished a very successful run as Lori in Taboo theatre's production of The Whores.

She's a very talented young actress, who will get a chance to really build an unforgettable character with Leda. Mac and I are both very excited to have her on board.

As for the other three roles, casting will take place this summer sometime. Details will be posted here once the schedule for the actual production this fall firms up.

Paul Kimball

Thursday, May 10, 2007

"Doing Time" by Mac Tonnies to be first Semaphore production

The first play that I'll be producing and directing for my new theatre company, Semaphore Theatre, will be Doing Time, which American author Mac Tonnies (that's him pictured at the left) is currently beavering away at finishing for me.

It's an exciting prospect to give Mac the opportunity to move into a new artistic milieu, and to premiere a new work by a fine young author (and my good friend).

Here is Mac's description of the play:

Doing Time deals with the concept of time and the subjectivity of experience. In the play (adapted from a short-story), an amnesiac character finds herself in a ghastly environment from which she feels compelled to escape. Only later in the play is it revealed that she's a convict who's been involuntarily immersed in a virtual environment in lieu of physical imprisonment. Even more disorienting from the character's perspective, her induced 'dream' of imprisonment seems to have lasted hundreds of years -- yet law officials in the 'real' world assure her that only minutes have elapsed. Primary themes include the ethics of human-machine relationships and the potentially dehumanizing effects of technology. But the focus of the play is the role of time. Secondary characters are bureaucrats from the outside world who inform the main character of the nature of her dilemma and assist in her release.
The play itself is adapted from a short story in Mac's critically acclaimed collection of science-fiction short stories, Illumined Black, which was written a decade ago, when Mac was only twenty years old.

Booklist wrote:

With little more than small-press exposure to his credit, 20-year-old Tonnies makes an early bid for greater recognition with his first collection of short fiction, an uneven but always absorbing assortment of sketches that reveals a surprisingly mature craftsman at home with the vernacular of contemporary sf. In "Alchemist's Planet," a transformed human recalls, decades after the crash of an extraterrestrial spacecraft near Roswell, New Mexico, his previous identity as one of the aliens. In "Doing Time," a killer's sentence in a virtual reality prison is only five seconds long but subjectively lasts 500 years. In the title story, a neuroscientist's brain becomes the unwitting cargo of a space probe launched as a gift to an alien species. Tonnies' only major shortcoming is his inability to satisfactorily develop the plots of intriguing scenarios; he sometimes leaves the reader asking for more. His command of language, however, is indisputable. With a little more seasoning, Tonnies may become a major sf author"
Ten years of seasoning have given Mac that ability to develop plots. For actors, his ability to command language should tell you all you need to know about the kind of characters he creates - ones that have something to say, and say it well.

I'm very excited about working with Mac on this, and bringing a different kind of play to the Halifax theatre scene.

A casting call will go out sometime in the early summer.

In the meantime, you can check out Mac's latest short story in Flurb, an on-line sci-fi 'zine, here.

Also, he has created a blog for his new fiction, which you can find here.

Finally, you can never go wrong by checking in at least once a day at his main blog, Posthuman Blues. There's always some interesting stuff posted there.

Paul Kimball