MR. FOOTE'S OTHER LEG
by Ian Kelly
directed by Sarah Rodgers
A United Players of Vancouver production
at Jericho Arts Centre
September 1 - 24, 2017
TICKET & BOX OFFICE INFORMATION
Spotlight Article by Sabrina Furminger
Fame and notoriety aren’t inventions of the modern age; centuries before gossip blogs and cable news, outlandish British comedian Samuel Foote drew crowds of commoners and royalty to West End theatres with his biting satirical performances and scandal-laden private life and his meteoric rise to fame and cataclysmic fall are immortalized for the stage in Ian Kelly’s witty, eye-opening, and breathlessly engaging play Mr. Foote’s Other Leg.
In 18th century London, the theatre scene is still relatively young, and Samuel Foote satirist, impressionist, and dangerous comedian is among the visionaries helping showbiz find its feet. Audiences love Foote’s scathing theatrical caricatures of controversial Londoners (which often involve uncanny impressions and cross-dressing), but his private life is as tumultuous and entertaining as the work he brings to the stage. Mr. Foote’s Other Leg takes us backstage and into the wings of Foote’s whirlwind world, where Foote entertains kings and scientists who are fascinated by his singular brain, bandies with rivals (including iconic theatre-maker David Garrick), shares all manner of intimacies with friends and foes, and ultimately suffers the consequences of rampant fame, ego, unchecked passion, and a surgeon’s saw…
Fast-paced, often funny, and illuminative, Kelly’s 2015 play brings to life the true story of the Oscar Wilde of the 18th century.
Although nearly 300 years have passed since the events of Mr. Foote’s Other Leg, parallels exist between 18th century England and modern-day society, according to Sarah Rodgers, director of United Players’ production especially where theatre is concerned.
“The most important element, the heart of this piece, is that it is a love letter to the theatre,” says Rodgers. “Ian Kelly is celebrating theatre, and he’s celebrating the unsung heroes of theatre. The stars of this play are not only the famous actors, but also the dresser that has come from the West Indies and is a new free man, and also the stage manager is a huge beautiful role, and we see the people behind the scenes that spend their life committed to theatre with little recognition. That is still the same today. There are some elements to the theatre that are exactly the same as it was in the 1750s, and it’s beautiful.”
The era in which the events of Mr. Foote’s Other Leg unfold the 1750s, in the middle of the Georgian era was an important one in the history of theatre. “It’s a time in theatre history when the style of acting is changing,” says Rodgers. “They’re starting to get into naturalism. It was a new style of acting where you would be truthful. You wouldn’t have the strong gestures of the earlier stylized work.” Early progenitors of this style of acting including Garrick and Charles Macklin are present in the play. “It’s a delightful period, and it’s so fun to bring these famous people to life.”
There’s also something outrageous about Mr. Foote’s Other Leg, says Rodgers. “It’s very British humour,” notes Rodgers. “It’s not politically correct at all, and I find that frightening. I find it fascinating. I also find it refreshing in a world where we are so politically correct. There’s something quite hysterical about the outrageousness.” What Kelly is doing, says Rodgers, is “taking us back in time to the 1750s, and he’s unabashed and he’s unashamed about how things were in the 1750s and how people spoke and the style of acting that was happening on stage, including white men playing Othello.”
The result is a play that is “a rollicking good time,” says Rodgers. “It’s witty and so clever. Samuel Foote is an important person in theatre history, and his story is a beautiful story and a brave story and a tragic story. It’s a very Oscar Wilde story, and he should be known, and I think that’s what Ian Kelly is saying: This person is important, and made an amazing stamp on theatre.”
United Players’ production of Mr. Foote’s Other Leg features Kazz Leskard as Samuel Foote, Elizabeth Willow as Peg Woffington, Francis Winter as David Garrick, Simon Webb as John Hunter, Russell Zishiri as Frank Barber, Bethany Stanley as Mrs. Garner, Joel Garner as Prince George, as well as Kenta Nezu, Shona Struthers, and Aidan Wright.
The production team includes Sarah Rodgers (Director), Andree Karas (Artistic Director), John Harris (Producer), Michael Methot (Technical Director), Brian Ball (Set Designer), Darren W. Hales (Lighting Designer), Catherine E. Carr (Costume Designer), Linda Begg (Props Mistress), Jessica Hildebrand (Stage Manager), Alen Dominguez (Assistant Director), and Kaelee Steele (Assistant Stage Manager).
Sarah Rodgers is a dynamic actor and director who received a Master of Fine Arts from the University of British Columbia in 2003. For United Players, Sarah has directed The Feigned Courtesans, The Impromptu of Outremont, Rosmersholm, The Old Curiosity Shop, and A Room with a View. Other directing highlights include Billy Bishop Goes to War (UBC/Arts Club Theatre/Persephone), which received a Jessie Richardson Award for Outstanding Direction in Large Theatre; The Thirteenth Chair (Studio 58); The Duchess (UBC); Educating Rita (WCT); Godspell, A Christmas Carol (Pacific Theatre); Sisters (The Gateway Theatre) Anything Goes, The Music Man, How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying (Theatre Under the Stars).
Ian Kelly is a British writer and actor whose works include historical biographies, stage, and screenplays. He’s the biographer behind books about Antonin Careme, Beau Brummell, Casanova, and Samuel Foote (Mr. Foote's Other Leg, 2012), the last of which was named Best Theatre Book by the Society for Theatre Research in May 2013. He adapted it as a play in 2015 and appeared in the premiere production himself as George III.
Kelly has written for most of the British broadsheets and the New York Times. He is a contributing editor of Food Arts Magazine; his biography of Vivienne Westwood, written with Dame Vivienne, came out in October 2014. An in-demand actor, Kelly played Hermione Granger's father in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1; stage and television credits include The Pitmen Painters, A Busy Day, Downton Abbey, and Beau Brummell. Kelly was nominated for Best Actor for his work in Tom Stoppard's Arcadia (Manchester Drama Awards), and for Alexei Balabanov's Voyna (War), shot in Chechnya and the Caucasus. Kelly lives in Suffolk and London.
-With files from Wikipedia and Nick Hern Books
BOOK YOUR TICKETS FOR MR. FOOTE'S OTHER LEG NOW
At the Jericho Arts Centre - 1675 Discovery (near Jericho Beach)
SEPTEMBER 1 - 24
Thursday through Sunday, at 8 pm
(2pm only on September 10, 17 & 24)
$12 Preview: August 31
Talkback: September 7
Matinees: September 10, 17 & 24 at 2pm
(no evening performances on those dates)
Single Tickets: $20 - $26
Jericho Arts Centre
1675 Discovery Street, Vancouver, B.C. V6R 4K5
TICKETS: Online or call 604 224 8007, ext. 2
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