Grenfell’s graduating theatre class will present The Swanne (Princess Charlotte – The Acts of Venus) by Peter Hinton as their final class performance.
Over three summers, from 2002 until 2004, the Stratford Festival of Canada gave birth to one of the most extraordinary events in Canadian theatre history: the premier production of The Swanne: A Romance in Three Parts by Peter Hinton.
Eleven years in the making, this hugely ambitious work was mounted as three separate plays. It spans the period of British history from the death of “mad” King George III to the ascension of Queen Victoria to the throne at the tender age of 18. The Swanne is in fact an imaginary history concocted by the young Victoria (Drina) as she contemplates the underbelly of Regency London and wonders, theatrically, about an alternative line of succession that would spare her the enormous burden that she knows lies ahead.
Princess Charlotte – The Acts of Venus is the middle part of the trilogy and is a complete story in itself, spanning the years 1817 to 1833 and featuring more than 50 characters, including at least one goddess.
The Swanne is set among the palaces, brothels, back alleys, parks and theatres of late Georgian England – a rich theatrical stew that mixes bastard pretenders to the throne with whoremongers, transvestites, armed rebels and the Royal Family in a plot that blends madness and revolution with corruption, bribery and murder.
For history buffs, fans of new Canadian writing or for those who are intrigued by challenging theatre, The Swanne is not to be missed. Audiences should be aware that The Swanne contains scenes of an explicit sexual nature and provocative and colourful language.
This will be its first authorized performance since its Stratford debut. Plans are afoot for future productions at Stratford, The National Arts Centre and perhaps even The Royal Shakespeare Company.
Fresh from their triumph in Nicholas Nickleby Part I and II, The Swanne (Princess Charlotte – The Acts of Venus) this year’s fourth-year acting and stagecraft students are:
Jim Chalmers Gow
Gregory T. White
The Swanne is designed and directed by Ken Livingstone, head of the Division of Fine Arts. Costume design is by resident designer Carol Nelson. Professor Doreen Klassen will provide special piano accompaniment.
The Swanne runs nightly at 8 p.m. in the Fine Arts Theatre from Thursday, March 28, to Saturday, March 31. Tickets are available at the college bookstore or at the box office on the evening of each performance. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors.