An Electrifying Collaboration: Bringing the Donnellys to Life

Jillian  large
Jillian Keiley
Vigilante  large
Kris Joseph, Scott Walters, Jan Alexandra Smith, David Leyshon © DBPhotographics
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Ensemble © David Cooper

When donors to the National Arts Centre Foundation took their seats in le Salon on March 30 to listen to a pre-chat before attending a performance of Vigilante, they had no idea that they would learn that they were crucial to the play’s development.

During an informal interview hosted by Bronwen Dearlove from the NAC’s Annual Fund office, Jonathan Christenson, Artistic Director of Catalyst Theatre and writer, composer and director of Vigilante, discussed how the play was part of NAC English Theatre’s Collaborations. The goal of The Collaborations is to place resources directly into the hands of the artists and is supported by NAC Foundation donors.

Upon seeing an early version of the play in Fort McMurray during one of their trips across Canada in search of exciting new productions, English Theatre’s Jillian Keiley and Sarah Garton Stanley knew that they wanted to support Vigilante through The Collaborations.

Jonathan revealed that participating in The Collaborations was a tremendous gift which allowed him to focus on the script. He spent time reviewing the dialogue with Sarah Garton Stanley, who was part of the script development, workshop and rehearsals. He confessed that the play would have been lesser without The Collaborations. In fact, it might have been very different.

Originally, the cast included the Donnelly brothers’ sole sister. During workshops, Jonathan realized that the sister’s presence, though minor, distracted the audience from the boys’ fierce loyalty to their mother. Thus, she was cut from the play. Jonathan underscored how valuable it was for him to sit with the audience during workshops and early versions of Vigilante—it helped him to determine what was and wasn’t working.

One thing is for sure—The Collaborations, supported by NAC Foundation donors’ generosity, was crucial to Jonathan’s success in telling this tale of revenge, loyalty and murder to its fullest potential.

Vigilante plays at the NAC in the Theatre until April 15 2017.

A special thank you to our Open Rehearsal and Preview Sponsor, Rob Marland, Royal LePage Performance Realty who makes these sessions possible for NAC Foundation donors.

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