Despite its name, northern artists have never been featured in the Magnetic North Theatre Festival.
Sour Brides Theatre Company is going to change that.
The Brides will be staging its play So Many Doors at the festival this June.
And with its motto “high North, high commitment,” it hopes to put the North in Magnetic North, Canada’s biggest contemporary theatre festival.
The company’s founders, Moira Sauer and Celia McBride, learned of the good news in November.
However, they’ve been under strict orders to keep it a secret up until the official announcement.
“We weren’t allowed to say anything to anyone because they need it hush hush before the announcement,” said Sauer.
“It’s kind of a big thing in the theatre world of Canada as to who’s going to be playing at Mag North each year.
“The announcement is an event.”
“I would say, in terms of a national theatre festival, it’s probably become the biggest one,” said McBride.
“It’s huge!” said Sauer.
“It’s two weeks long and the venue shifts every year, it changes the city,” said Sauer.
This year, the festival happens to be in Vancouver.
“I think the calibre of the festival is the greatest thing, I mean, it’s considered the place where you see the hot stuff that’s happening in the country each year,” said Sauer.
“And it’s where most of the buyers and presenters of theatre go.”
The girls hope to book more dates for So Many Doors’ Canadian tour.
After showcasing a 25-minute collage of fragments from the play in Ottawa, the Brides are booked to tour Southern Ontario in January 2009 and are in the process of booking Atlantic Canada.
Magnetic North will be an opportunity to extend that tour, and will be the first time that the play has run in its entirety outside of the Yukon.
The success of Sour Brides Theatre doesn’t come as a huge surprise to its founders.
“We created a business plan four years ago and if you open up that business plan it says exactly what we’re doing right now,” said McBride.
“We’ve been following it step-by-step.”
“And there’s a lot of steps,” said Sauer.
“We’ve been working our butts off.”
Once the pair discovered that they enjoyed working together, they began putting on productions.
“Each show we’ve done, for the last three and a half years we’ve really just sort of increased production value along the way,” said Sauer.
The Brides are multidisciplinary performers and have skills in playwriting, drama, comedy, and filmmaking.
Sauer’s background in puppetry was put to good use in her play Dirty Life, which the pair performed for the Nakai Homegrown Festival in 2006.
In 2005, the company adopted Celia’s play So Many Doors, which she began writing as Nakai’s playwright-in-residence the year before as a show that could possibly tour.
The emotional play tells the story of two Yukon couples dealing with the death of their infant children.
“We workshopped it for years until it was ready,” said McBride.
“We worked with the same director to develop the play to a production ready draft.”
The Brides staged a reading of the play in Whitehorse and invited national delegates to view it.
The world premiere was staged at the Yukon Arts Centre in October.
The pair met through an ex-boyfriend in Montreal in 1998 where McBride was working as a playwright and Sauer was a theatre student at McGill University.
The two women hit it off and began to write to each when they went their separate ways.
They kept in touch over the years, sometimes only meeting for a couple of hours each year.
Then Sauer moved to the Yukon, McBride’s hometown.
When McBride returned home, the pair realized that they would be competing for the same rolls.
So they decided to work together.
“And literally, then it was a train that could not be stopped,” said McBride.
So what’s the next step in the company’s detailed business plan?
“Now we go world famous!” said Sauer.
In all of the programs for Sour Brides productions, the confident duo signs off saying, “See you on the Tokyo tour” or “See you in Paris.”
And they’re very serious.
The Brides have their eye on performing internationally and have recently been courting representatives from the Dublin International Film Festival.
But they won’t be able to ride on the success of So Many Doors forever.
“It’s like a musician,” said McBride.
“When you’ve launched your first CD you have to be in the studio recording your second.”
“So, despite the fact that we’re doing this and we’ve been accepted to Mag North and we’re touring the show, we actually need to be developing our next show.”
Next year Sour Brides Theatre is going to be workshopping a couple of new pieces the pair has written.
“We’re just going to feel them out and see where they go,” said Sauer.
“Maybe they’ll be the next great Sour Brides tour, or maybe they’re not. We have to find that out.”
For more information on Sour Brides Theatre and the Magnetic North Theatre Festival go to www.sourbrides.com.