If you visit Sage Theatre‘s website you will see they have declared their 2016-17 season to be the year of big, messy questions.

Founded in 1998, Sage Theatre has been a dramatic outlier and artistic incubator long before such terms came to be. Sage focuses on Alberta artists, and regularly premieres new works by Alberta’s playwrights. In 2005 they went a step further when they founded the Ignite! Festival for Emerging Artists. This festival puts out an annual call to young and emerging artists, and provides the means for them to hone their craft and showcase their talent.

Sage is currently in rehearsals for “Bea” the first play of their 2016/17 season. “Bea” is the story of a young woman searching for her voice as she struggles with a debilitating disease, and is an exploration about the limits of empathy and compassion. Written by acclaimed dramatist Mick Gordon, “Bea” continues a cycle of plays about psychology, philosophy and theology.

Sage’s second play, Soliciting Temptation, by Governor General’s Literary Award-winning Erin Shields, will be a joint production with Edmonton’s Shadow Theatre (March 9 to 26, 2017), and flips expectations and tropes about sex tourism.

Jason-50 percentIn keeping with the spirit of their season, NewScoop YYC caught up with Jason Mehmel, Artistic Director of Sage, and asked a few questions of our own.

Why did you choose “Bea” and “Soliciting Temptation” to be your productions this year?

This is something that I’ve started to call “Theatre of Complication.” This means that we’re creating theatre that doesn’t try to proscribe an answer to the complicated issues in the world. We won’t deliver a moral or a lesson around how you should feel on the subject. What we will do is investigate the subject deeply and sincerely, through narrative and through the intimacy of theatre, and ask you to join us in exploring what it means.

What is here in Calgary that lets you present challenging works like these?

Sage is a fairly small company in the Calgary cultural ecosystem, which allows us to be nimble and take bigger chances with our programming.

Calgary has a history of intelligent, focused, and engaged citizens. From WordFest to the High Performance Rodeo, to events like Beakerhead, Calgarians love to be engaged with something. We find we attract those people to our events.

Which questions would you like your audience to walk away from each production with? What conversations do you hope to incite?

I want to avoid giving a specific question for these stories, because those questions could themselves imply a moral or lesson. That said, I do want our audience to leave the theatre asking themselves “What would I do?” regarding the choices they see on stage. Or asking their fellow audience members. “What would you do?” The answers are up to them, but getting to questions is the goal.

BEA by Mick Gordon, runs November 3 – November 12, 2016


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