Downstage is a theatre company based in Calgary, Alberta. Founded in 2004 by Artistic Director Simon Mallett, Downstage is dedicated to producing Canadian theatre that creates conversation around social issues. Their work provokes vibrant dialogue between Calgarians both informally and through nightly post-performance discussions. A resident company of the Centre for Performing Arts in Calgary, Downtage manages two performance venues - Motel and Birds & Stone.
The current staff of Downstage is:
- Simon Mallett - Artistic Director
- Ellen Close - Artistic Producer
- Tuled Giovanazzi - Production & Venue Manager
The Downstage Creation Ensemble
Founded in 2008, the Downstage Creation Ensemble (DCE) is an award-winning group of seven artists that create new work within Downstage's mandate. The current members are:
- Simon Mallett - Director
- Anton de Groot - Designer
- Ethan Cole - Composer
- Ellen Close - Performer
- Col Cseke - Performer
- Braden Griffiths - Performer
- Nicola Elson - Performer
While each member of the Ensemble have a specialization, the seven work as co-creators / co-writers on each of the DCE's shows.
The first official DCE show was called Bus(t), a mask performance about the role of debt in economic collapse that took place on a converted 13-seated mini-bus. Originally performed in January 2009 in the field behind the Pumphouse Theatres in Calgary, it was subsequently performed again in June 2009 and November 2013.
The DCE received a Betty Mitchell Award Nomination for Outstanding New Play for Bus(t) in 2010. And for her performance as Leslie, Nicola Elson received a Betty Mitchell Award nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Supporting Role.
In the Wake
In the Wake is an award-winning 75-minute performance created by the Downstage Creation Ensemble. The show is a darkly-comic and highly-physical exploration of complex dilemmas surrounding geo-engineering, oceanic health and eco-terrorism and takes place entirely atop a 6' X 3' illuminated platform.
All of the physical architecture of the 32 scenes is created using the bodies of the four performers, transforming the platform into a dynamic landscape. The show travels from a small fishing community in British Columbia to Ottawa’s Parliament buildings to the depths of the ocean - an epic story on a very small stage.
The show is accompanied by a live musical score using a combination of keyboard, drums, electric guitar and glockenspiel. The platform is divided in six sections, each containing lights of different colours, allowing for the stage floor to be lit like a grid in constantly shifting patterns and colours. There are over 200 lighting cues in the 75-minute show.
Following the World Premiere of In the Wake in April 2010, the show was nominated for 4 Betty Mitchell Awards; Calgary's professional theatre awards. In addition to its nominations for Outstanding Composition/Sound Design (Ethan Cole), Outstanding Direction (Simon Mallett), and Outstanding Production of a Play, In the Wake received the 2010 Betty Mitchell Award for Outstanding New Play.
Presented as a part of Alberta Theatre Projects' Enbridge playRITES Festival of New Canadian Plays, Good Fences examines the relationship between the energy industry and the agriculture industry in Alberta. Researched and created over the course of eighteen months, the play blends fictional narrative with documentary-style interludes about the play's creation. Good Fences was first performed in the Big Secret Theatre in February 2012, and this production was subsequently nominated for two Betty Mitchell Awards - Outstanding New Play, Outstanding Set Design (Anton de Groot), and Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Drama (Braden Griffiths).
An updated one-act touring version of Good Fences was further developed in 2013, and played at the Longview Community Centre in Longview, Alberta, and in Motel in the Centre for Performing Arts.
- Good Fences by the Downstage Creation Ensemble (Community Tour Pilot)
- A Bomb in the Heart by Wajdi Mouawad, translated by Linda Gaboriau
- My Family and Other Endangered Species by Ellen Close & Braden Griffiths, adapted from the novel Amphibian by Carla Gunn
- Uprising 2012 (part of the Magnetic North Theatre Festival)
- Bashir Lazhar by Evelyne de la Chenelière, trans. by Morwyn Brebner
- Sequence by Arun Lakra
- In a World Created by a Drunken God by Drew Hayden Taylor
- Good Fences by the Downstage Creation Ensemble
- Sia by Matthew MacKenzie
- Goodness by Michael Redhill
- Uprising 2010
- In the Wake by the Downstage Creation Ensemble
- And So It Goes by George F. Walker
- Enoch Arden in the Hope Shelter by Judith Thompson
- Uprising 2009
- Bone Cage by Catherine Banks
- In the Wake by the Downstage Creation Ensemble
- Palace of the End by Judith Thompson
- The Piper by Colleen Murphy
- Bus(t) by the Downstage Creation Ensemble
- Arm's-Length Embrace by Downstage
- The Dishwashers by Morris Panych
- Habitat by Judith Thompson
- Heaven by George F. Walker
- This is for You, Anna by The Anna Project
- Man Out of Joint by Sharon Pollock
- A Line in the Sand by Guillermo Verdecchia & Marcus Youssef
- Prometheus Bound adapted by George Ryga
- pppeeeaaaccceee by Darren O'Donnell
- Dog from the Machine by Downstage (The Culture of Fear, Rights & Freedumbs, Rogue Wheat & Smoking Broccoli)
- Pulling the Wool by Simon Mallett