Tarragon Theatre proudly presents the world premiere of A God in Need of Help by playwright-in-residence Sean Dixon, directed by the theatre’s artistic director, Richard Rose. This vividly painted sojourn into 17th century Europe examines the role of faith at the dawn of the Age of Reason from Wednesday, April 23 to May 25, 2014.
It is 1606 and Europe is at war over God. The four strongest men in Venice and their Captain stand before the Magistrate of Venice and the Cardinal-Archbishop of Milan. The men had been charged with transporting a holy painting – The Brotherhood of the Rosary – at the behest of Rudolf II of Austria from Venice across the Alps to Prague. In the small Alpine village of Pusterwald, they were set upon by Protestant zealots; their escape attributed to a miracle. An inquiry has been called to determine whether something miraculous did indeed occur. The imperious Magistrate swears all to secrecy while the art-expert Archbishop leads the investigation.
Director Richard Rose has assembled an outstanding cast for this mystery set in a time fraught with religious and political upheaval.
Richard McMillan (2011 Toronto Theatre Critics Award for Tarragon’s After Akhmatova, 11 seasons at the Stratford Festival, 4 Dora Awards) portrays Cardinal-Archbishop Federico Borromeo; John Cleland (Bottom in CanStage’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Dora Award for title role in Workman Arts’ Edward the Crazy Man) is the Magistrate of Venice, Renier Zen. Alden Adair (The Valley for Prairie Theatre Exchange and appearances in Cymbeline and Elektra for Stratford Festival), Daniel Kash (Tarragon’s Alice’s Affair, premiere Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love for Crow’s), Tony Nappo (The Real World? and The Golden Dragon for Tarragon, Mirvish Productions/Studio 180′s God of Carnage) and Jonathan Seinen (The Normal Heart for Studio 180/Buddies in Bad Times, Highway 63: The Fort Mac Show for Theatre Passe Muraille /Architect Theatre) portray the four strong men – Marco, Cocco, Dolfin, and the enigmatic Rafal respectively – while Dmitry Chepovetsky (Tarragon’s Forests and Remnants, YPT’s Cinderella) plays the Captain hired to ensure their safety. Daniel Giverin and Ben Irvine (both seen in Tarragon’s No Great Mischief) round out the cast as Guards.
Set and costume design is by Camellia Koo, lighting design by Kimberly Purtell and sound design by John Gzowski. The stage manager is Kristen Kitcher.
Sean Dixon is a playwright, novelist, and actor. While this is his first play for Tarragon, his plays have been produced all over Canada, the U.S, Australia and England. They include The Notorious Right Robert and His Robber Bride (Caravan Farm Theatre 2012), France or, The Niqab (Summerworks 2012), Lost Heir (Blyth 2007) and the Chalmers’ nominated District of Centuries (1995), among others. Dixon’s first novel, The Girls Who Saw Everything (2007), has been published all over the English-speaking world and translated into Romanian. His second novel is The Many Revenges of Kip Flynn (2011). He has also written two young adult novels, set in the time of the Viking expansion.
When asked about his inspiration for this play, he notes, “It is based on true events. Emperor Rudolf II did hire four strong men to carry this painting over the Alps on foot from Venice to Prague, because he was morbidly afraid it would get damaged from transport in a cart. But in my version, something happens that stops the men halfway. That, and the events that ensue, are fictional. I wrote it partly because I once got lost in those mountains and felt briefly what it must have been like to be one of those guys carrying that painting, swept along by the broom of history. But more, I suppose, I wrote it to express empathy for those held in the grip of a passion or belief that gives their life meaning against all reason.”
Richard Rose recently directed Joan MacLeod’s The Valley and Evelyne de la Chenelière’s Flesh and Other Fragments of Love for Tarragon earlier this season. Since becoming Tarragon’s Artistic Director in 2002, he has directed over 20 productions for the Tarragon stage, won 5 Dora Awards and received the prestigious Walter Carsen Prize and City of Toronto Mayor’s Award for career achievements including an Honourary Doctorate from Thorneloe University, Sudbury. Rose continues to direct outside of Tarragon: across the country including at Neptune Theatre, Manitoba Theatre Centre, Theatre Calgary and the Stratford Festival; internationally in Los Angeles, New York and London. Before Tarragon, Rose founded and was Artistic Director of Necessary Angel for 24 years.
Tickets range from $21.00 – $53.00. Visit www.tarrgontheatre.com for more information.