Title of Show, Home Theatre Productions’ inaugural project, debuted on Sept. 12 at the Mainline Theatre. Those in attendance on opening night saw the intimate space packed with friends of the cast and crew, members of the community, and theatre fans alike, leaving nary an empty seat. The excitement in the room was palpable, for the evening marked not only the show’s premier but the beginning of something brand new for the Montreal theatre community.
“I kind of came up with the idea around September of last year,” Steven Greenwood, director of Title of Show and founding member of Home Theatre Productions, said in an interview with The McGill Tribune. “In order to do a Fringe Show you need a company, so I was like ‘oh, okay, I’ll just start a company,’ but then I was like ‘what if I actually started a company?’”
A Cultural Studies PhD candidate and course lecturer at McGill, Greenwood has been greatly involved in McGill’s theatre community. He has worked as a director and dramaturge with Player’s Theatre as well as the Arts Undergraduate Theatre Society (AUTS). Despite his enthusiasm for student theatre, Greenwood hoped to create a space for those seeking a challenge beyond university productions.
“There’s this weird gap in between student theatre and professional theatre, and a lot of students, once they’ve graduated, don’t know how to manage that,” Greenwood said, “I think that [Home Theatre Productions] could be a good in-between space for that. I think it’s also cool to get students off campus and out into the community.”
Being a lover of ‘lowbrow culture’ himself, Greenwood says he wanted to create an accessible space within the often exclusive realm of theatre,
“I love theatre, but I always have trouble finding plays I want to do because I love pop culture stuff, I love superheroes and detective stories, and stuff you don’t see on the stage a lot,” Greenwood said. “A lot of times, theatre can feel like a space where […] you need to know who Brecht is, or Becket, and there’s this whole cultural literacy that’s expected of people [in order to participate.] I kind of just wanted to break all that down.”
Title of Show fulfills this mandate to a tee. The story follows Jeff (Eric Lee), Hunter (Cathal Rynne), Heidi (Maya Lewis), and Susan (Mary Looney) as they attempt to write and produce the very one-act musical that they are currently performing for entry into the New York Musical Theatre Festival. What ensues is a hilariously meta meditation on the trials of creative collaboration and the importance of following your dreams. With musical accompaniment from pianist “Larry” (Zach Ripka), stage management and production by Cheyenne Cranston, and set design by Lucas Amato, the show was a heartwarming and triumphant first production for Home Theatre.
Cranston, Amato, and Greenwood, Home Theatre’s three permanent members, hope to mount four shows per year as a company, further establishing their ties to the community by producing plays by local playwrights. Open calls will be held to students, graduates, and members of the community for both acting and backstage opportunities.
“We want to be as open as possible to as many different people as possible,” Greenwood said.
Home Theatre Productions will be holding auditions Sept. 19—21 for their upcoming “Late Night Double Feature” event. The show will feature two original one-act plays, with dates and location to be announced. Theatre geeks and novice fans alike will be welcomed warmly.