Theatre Kingston stages Isabel Bader Centres first theatre production

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By Hollie Pratt-Campbell

David Ives' play Venus in Fur could be described as a very metaslice of theatre on many levels though perhaps especially for a male director like Brett Christopher, who directed Theatre Kingstons production of the play, opening this week at the Isabel.

Venus in Fur tells of an actress named Vanda Jordan (Charlotte Gowdy), who is auditioning for a part in a play written and directed by Thomas Novacheck (Shane Carty); the play within the playis an adaptation of German writer Leopold von Sacher-Masochs novella Venus in Furs.

Its a simple concept,says Christopher. This play is about a woman whos auditioning for a part who probably is the worst option possible, but the guy gives her an audition anyway. Over the course of their 90 minutes together a whole bunch of stuff comes out about him, about her, about the play, about society. It just kind of unravels into this huge, rich tapestry.

Christopher notes that hes also come face-to-face with certain subconscious aspects of himself over the course of directing the play.

I relate to the character [of Thomas] because hes a white, liberal-minded male - sensitive, kind,Christopher says. He has written a play he thinks is really to celebrate women and their power. He felt he could be the mouthpiece as the playwright for womens empowerment, to strengthen women, and in the end she unveils his innate sexism.

The running theme in Venus in Fur is sadomasochism (S&M) but dont expect too much innuendo.

Generally its a frank discussion about sex and power,says Christopher.

Theatre Kingstons Venus in Fur is the first professional production to be held in Queens Universitys new Isabel Bader Centre.

Were very lucky,says Christopher. Its an incredible space. The hope is that by bringing professional artists into a student setting it will help create an example of the art form for them, so theyre not just watching student work, but also professional work and understanding what that level of work is.

Christopher, who is also the artistic director of Theatre Kingston, hopes to continue to build on this relationship when the company moves into the Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning, located right next door to the Isabel, in the New Year.

I want to have a really strong relationship with the professors and the students and the other groups that come through this space because I think we can create quite a strong hub together.

These buildings are literally 50 feet from one another,he adds. Its a perfect example of that city-university connection.

Venus in Fur runs Nov. 21 Dec. 7 at the Isabel Bader Centre. For tickets, visit