Friends of The Arden Theatre Society & The City of St. Albert, St. Albert AB Feb. 3
Persephone Theatre, Saskatoon SK Feb. 10-15
Inside Out Theatre, Calgary AB Feb. 22 – Mar. 2
Dave Clarke – Music and Lyrics
Dave is an Edmonton musician, writer, actor and sound designer. He has composed music for theatre, film, dance and multi-media for three decades. He worked for seven years on CBC Radio’s The Irrelevant Show. His workplace safety comedy for young audiences That’s Danger! (Alberta Workers’ Health Centre) toured Alberta junior high schools for a decade. Dave also composed music for The Tempest (Citadel Theatre) featuring hearing and Deaf actors, in April 2019.
Previous composition for Concrete Theatre include Consent, Paper Song, Jeremy Fisher, Smokescreen, Offensive Fouls, Under Cover, Routes, The Shape of a Girl, I Am For You, and two decades of the Sprouts New Play Festival For Kids.
Sound designs so far in the 2023-24 season include the musical Little Shop of Horrors (Vancouver Arts Club, Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre), All The Little Animals I have Eaten and The Drawer Boy (Shadow Theatre), and Enough (Northern Light Theatre), Dave has been nominated for and won many awards for his work in radio, film, television and theatre; most recently an Edmonton Theatre Award for Outstanding Sound Design for the Citadel Theatre show The Royale.
Caroline Howarth – Co-Director/Co-Dramturg
Caroline is a director, educator and dramaturg born and raised in Alberta. She is a co-founder of Concrete Theatre and served as Artistic co-director until 2012. Over the past 30 years she has directed and facilitated many productions and projects for young people and families including Paper Song, The Early Bloomer and the premiere production of Songs My Mother Never Sung Me. She has worked on Concrete’s Sprouts Festival of New Plays for Kids as a coordinator, dramaturg and director. Over the years, Caroline has worked with the University of Alberta, The Citadel Theatre, Edmonton Opera, Opera Nuova and Fringe Theatre Adventures. She is now an Associate Professor of Drama at Concordia University of Edmonton where she teaches improvisation, theatre for young audiences, directing, and acting. She has directed many productions at Concordia including Haroun and the Sea of Stories, The Dada Play and Everyman. She is on the board of Canada’s national theatre for young audience association, ASSITEJ Canada and is passionate about creating engaging, inclusive theatre for young people that helps them to navigate their place in the world. Caroline lives near the river valley on Treaty 6 Territory in Edmonton with her family John, Xavier, Sarah and two energetic dogs.
Mieko Ouchi* – Co-Director/Co-Dramturg
Mieko is thrilled to be coming back to this incredibly special project, with such a wonderful creative team of artists. She’s proud to be one of the founding members of Concrete and has written, translated, dramaturged, performed in and directed over 35 shows for the company. After working in an artistic leadership role with the company for 31 years, in 2020 she stepped down to her new role as Artistic Associate, in order to become Associate Artistic Director at the Citadel. Recent theatre directing includes: She Kills Monsters (UofA Timms Theatre), Alberta Kitchen Party (ATP), Pride and Prejudice (Citadel-Sterling nomination for Outstanding Director) and the world premiere of her own new play Burning Mom (Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre) and as a staged reading (Arcola Theatre) in London, UK. Mieko received the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Distinguished Artist Award in 2023. She lives in Edmonton with her husband Kim and her dog Nara.
Sang Sang Lee* – Stage Manager
Sang-Sang’s very happy to be back sharing this special production with more people! For Concrete: Songs My Mother Never Sung Me, Pia and Maria the Radio Play, Sprouts, and Antessy. Selected credits: A Christmas Carol, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, and Honour Beat (Theatre Calgary); The Amen Corner and The Clearing (Shaw); Rock of Ages, Vegas Live, Sexy Laundry, Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, Super Groovy 70s, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Mayfield); The Herd (Citadel/ Tarragon); Banff Centre’s Opera in the 21st Century; The Fiancée, A Brimful of Asha, Peter Pan Goes Wrong, Tempest, Hadestown, Redpatch, Mamma Mia!, Sense and Sensibility, Million Dollar Quartet, West Side Story, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Avenue Q, One Man, Two Guvnors, Make Mine Love, Spamalot, and Private Lives (Citadel); The Exquisite Hour, Love is for Poor People, and Fever Land (Teatro Live!); Makings of a Voice, The Blue Hour (SkirtsAfire); Disgraced (ATP); Hamlet, Merchant of Venice, King Lear, Midsummer Night’s Dream (Freewill Shakespeare); Salt Baby (Globe).
Elizabeth Morris* – Mom
Elizabeth Morris is a professional Deaf actor. She was born in England and has lived in England, Japan, USA, and Canada. In 2004, she graduated from Gallaudet University for the Deaf (Washington, D.C.) with a BA in Educational Drama and Elementary Education. While in D.C. she was part of a theater company called “Quest for Arts” during which time she performed in Mexico, Romania, South Africa, Japan and Australia. She had the honour of performing at the Deaf Olympics opening ceremony in Australia. Later she joined the National Theatre of the Deaf based in Hartford, Connecticut. On returning to Canada, she graduated from OCAD University (Toronto, Ontario) with a MDes in Inclusive Design in 2017. Her thesis was based on creating ways to make live theatre more accessible and inclusive for Deaf and Hard of Hearing audience members, including their families and friends. She won a medal for the best exhibit in her program at OCAD U’s 102nd Graduate Exhibition.
In Canada, Elizabeth was the very first Deaf signing actor to perform at the Stratford Festival. Also, she performed at the Young People’s Theatre, Theatre Passe Muraille, and Shakespeare Link Canada (Toronto, Ontario), National Arts Centre (Ottawa), Concrete Theatre and Citadel Theatre (Edmonton, Alberta). She is an actor, Deaf Interpreter for the theatre, ASL coach, and Deaf Community Consultant/Inclusive Designer. She is a co-founder of the Deaf Spirit Theatre company. She loves being an actor for theatre and film!
Scott Olynek* – Narrator
Hello! I am so excited and honoured to be part of this wonderful production and these wonderful artists. I am a past graduate of the U of A BFA program, and have spent the majority of my time performing in Calgary. Among productions in all the major theatres in Calgary, I have done productions in Edmonton, Regina, and LA. Some favourites include: Measure for Measure (Citadel Theatre), Billy Elliot (Theatre Calgary), Sweeney Todd (Vertigo Theatre), Twelfth Night (Globe Theatre), Seussical (ATP), The Louder We Get (Theatre Calgary), Goodness (Downstage), The Big League (Quest Theatre), Fiddler on the Roof (Stage West), among many more. Film/TV credits include: Under The Banner of Heaven, The Revenant, iCarly, Mystery Alaska, etc.
Awards: Betty Mitchell Award Best Musical Production (Naughty But Nice), Betty Mitchell nomination for Outstanding Ensemble (Naughty But Nice), Calgary Critics Choice nomination for Best Actor in a musical (Naughty But Nice).
Wishing everyone a wonderful start to their New Year. Thank you for joining us!
Kate Ryan* – Voice of Mom
Kate is thrilled to be a part of this production. She has been a working artist for over 25 years. A graduate of the University of Alberta’s BFA Acting program, some of Kate’s performing credits include Fun Home (Plain Jane Theatre); A Christmas Carol, It Takes Two: An Evening of Sondheim (Citadel Theatre); Mary Poppins (Citadel Theatre, Theatre Calgary), The Light in the Piazza (Theatre Calgary); Oklahoma, Carousel, The Sound of Music (Mayfield); The Ambassador’s Wives, and The Exquisite Hour (Teatro La Quindicina). Kate has also taught and directed for The Citadel Theatre (Assassins, Drowsy Chaperone); Mayfield Theatre (Rock of Ages, Mamma Mia, First Date) as well as for her company, Plain Jane Theatre (www.plainjanetheatre.com) in Edmonton. Kate has received Sterling Awards for Leading and Supporting Actress, and Director, as well as an AMPIA for Leading Actress in film. Enjoy the story!
Josh Travnik* – Boy
Josh is an Edmonton-based actor and singer, and is thrilled to be joining Concrete Theatre on the wonderful adventure that is Songs My Mother Never Sung Me! Some recent credits include Everybody Goes To Mitzi’s! With Teatro Live!, 10 Funerals with Shadow Theatre, and Sweeney Todd with Plain Jane Theatre. Josh received a Sterling Award nomination for Outstanding Fringe Performance by an Individual for his performance in Conjoined with Straight Edge Theatre. Other credits include Evil Dead: The Musical, Bat Boy, Ordinary Days, The Wind and the Rain, Witts: Ballad of Queer Cowboys, Cinderella, and Scenes from the Sidewalk. From 2018-2019 Josh was part of the record-breaking 312-performance tour of Pinocchio with Alberta Musical Theatre Company. Josh is also one half of pop-duo Homofonik with Daniel Belland.
A HUGE thank you to Amorena Bartlett for her patience teaching me the ASL in this show, and to the entire team at Concrete Theatre who trusted me with this role!
Instagram: @josh_travnik and @homofonik
Erik Mortimer – Musical Director and Pianist
Erik is a pianist, composer, and music director based in Edmonton. He has been recognized with Sterling award for his Composition of Sleeping Beauty (Capitol Theatre) and music direction, on The Last Five Years (Theatre Network), and was nominated on four other occasions for Peter and the Starcatcher (Citadel Theatre) Women on the Verge, Drat the Cat (Plain Janes) and Honk (Grindstone Theatre). He has composed scores for many productions, including 4 musicals at the Capitol Theatre and others including productions of Thou Art Here’s and Ron Pearson’s Mystery Wonder Show. He has worked with the many of Edmonton’s finest artists and companies including the Mayfield Dinner Theatre, Teatro la Quindicina, Concrete Theatre, Alberta Opera, Thou Art Here, Andrea House, Citadel Young Company and Rapid Fire. Erik is a versatile player who works as a studio musician, Jazz pianist and is rehearsal pianist at Edmonton Ballet.
Amorena Bartlett – ASL Coach and Deaf Consultant
Amorena Bartlett (she/her) is a queer Deaf consultant and ASL coach from Amiskwaciy Waskahikan, colonially known as Edmonton. Some productions she has been involved with include Songs My Mother Never Sung Me (Concrete Theatre); Glass Washrooms (NIUBOI, Chinook Series); Ren & the Wake (Catch The Keys Productions); Deafy (Citadel Theatre). She is grateful for opportunities to have worked with amazing individuals and would like to thank those who have put their trust in her to provide rewarding and inclusive theatrical experiences for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community.
Chris Dodd – ASL Consultant
Chris Dodd is a Treaty 6 based (Edmonton) award-winning Deaf actor, playwright, accessibility advocate and Governor General Innovation Award finalist. He is the founder and artistic director of SOUND OFF, Canada’s national festival devoted to Deaf performance. His play, Deafy, has been touring across Canada and was presented as part of Highwire Series during the Citadel Theatre’s 2022/23 season and has been published by Playwrights Canada Press as part of the anthology, “Interdependent Magic: Disability Performance in Canada”. Other plays include Alicia and the Machine and Indra’s Gift. Notable performances include the role of Alphonse in Ultrasound at Theatre Passe Muraille. Recent film credits include the role of Odin in the feature film, Finality of Dusk. In 2019 he was the recipient of the Guy Laliberté Prize for innovation and creative leadership by the Canada Council for the Arts.
c. m. zuby and Lynette Maurice – Set and Prop Design
c. m. & Lynette are artists, mask makers and puppeteers who have developed, designed, produced and created for theatres, parades, festivals and events, specializing in creative play areas for children. Their work has included developing and presenting entertaining and educational programs through puppetry and art. Their company, Zū-Ma: Talent to Amūz, finds the two of them working on many interesting and fun projects – painting at U of A, lanterns at Flying Canoe Volant, set design for Shadow Theatre, New Years Eve for the City of Edmonton – to name a few.
Patrick Beagan – Lighting Designer
Patrick Beagan is a proud halfbreed of Nlaka’pamux and Irish Canadian descent. He is General Manager of Concrete Theatre and a co-contributor to the 35//50 Initiative, whose community call to action is due for evaluation at the end of this season. Recent works include lighting The Importance of Being Earnest, Clue, The Fiancée, Mary’s Wedding: a Métis Love Story, A Brimful of Asha (Citadel Theatre), Hansel & Gretel, Sleeping Beauty, Pinocchio (Alberta Musical Theatre Co), Honour Beat (Theatre Calgary). His production design for The Antyssey, originally for Concrete,will be seen in Quest Theatre’s elementary school tour this spring.
Bobby Smale – Sound Design
Bobby is a sound designer based in Edmonton, Alberta. Design credits include sound design for The Dream Catchers (Confederation Centre for the Arts) Peter and the Starcatcher, Bitter Girl (Citadel Theatre). HMS Pinafore, The Magic Flute, The Mikado, Pirates of Penzance (Edmonton Opera), Angels in America (Keyano Theatre). Sound and Video design for The Blue Light (Keyano Theatre). He also builds custom guitars and stringed instruments from exotic hardwoods and found objects. His instruments can be found in the hands of musicians, on display in galleries and out at guitar trade shows. To see and hear more check out bobbysmale.com
Kim Clegg – Projection Design
Kim is “Head Rat” at Rat Creek Design, an Edmonton based company specializing in Motion Graphics and Animation. He started Rat Creek in 1996 and over the last 2 decades has worked as a hands-on motion designer/compositor and as Art Director and Media Consultant on team-based cross platform projects.
Highlights include Director of Animation on Anash and the Legacy of the Sun-Rock, a combination animation and live action FX based half-hour series for APTN; Lead Animator on Home Fire, an AMPIA award nominated series of animations for Native Counselling Services of Alberta and recent works for Full House Lottery, Calder Bateman, BBC GEL, ATB and Alberta Health Services. Rat Creek also collaborates with local artists and filmmakers on animation & MGFX for short films or in performance based productions, such as Concrete theatre’s Routes and Laura Krewski’s The Yellow Wallpaper.
Kim won the Innovation in the Arts Award at the 2005 Mayor’s Evening for the Arts, was the recipient of a 2006 Distinguished Alumni Award from MacEwan for his work in the Edmonton Production community, and won an AMPIA award for Best Animation for AADAC’s Firepit.
Deanna Finnman – Costume Design and Coordination
This is Deanna’s debut production with Concrete Theatre. She has designed costumes for over 150 professional productions including dance, theatre, and opera. Recent costume credits include Li Keur: Riels Heart of the North and La Ceneretola (Manitoba Opera); La Bohème, Rigoletto, Così fan tutte, and Count Ory (Edmonton Opera); Pride and Prejudice (Citadel Theatre); Two Headed Half Hearted (Northern Light Theatre); Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Pinocchio (Alberta Musical Theatre).
Alexander Boldt – Technical Director/Touring Technician
Alex Boldt is a theatre technician and videographer from Edmonton, Alberta. He graduated from Red Deer College’s Theatre Production Program in 2013 and Motion Picture Arts program in 2015 and has done various video and stage work since then. His theatre and film credits include Ctrl-Alt-Del, Apricot Stones, Journey from Syria to Canada, Spearphishing and monolith. He looks forward to exploring new ways to tell stories!
Gabby Frykberg, Jenica Drudge, Andrea Konowalec, Jody Morrison (pictured clockwise from centre). Rosalie Wishlow, Anne Websdale, Tami Ilkuf-Osmak
*Concrete Theatre is a member of the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres, and engages, under the terms of the Canadian Theatre Agreement, professional artists who are members of Canadian Actors’ Equity Association.
The use of unauthorized recordings or photographs of this production is strictly prohibited.
We have been on a wonderful journey developing the production you are seeing today. Back in 2008, we asked Dave a simple question. Could he write a short fifteen minute play for Concrete’s Sprouts New Play Festival for Kids? As a jumping off point, we asked if he could find a story that would explore his cultural background in any way that he wanted… and this extraordinary fictionalized story of his childhood as the son of Deaf parents emerged. We knew from the first notes of that very first song, that it was honest, moving and completely unique – something very special. And we knew this story needed to be told but how to do that? How could we work with Dave to create a theatrical experience – an opera – accessible to kids, families and people of all ages – hearing and Deaf? Those questions took us 11 years as a team to discover and answer. We premiered the full production of the piece at the SOUND OFF Deaf Theatre Festival in 2019. It has been a delight to continue our journey with new and returning artists recreating the production for this Western Canadian tour.
Along the way, we have traveled this road with many generous artists. There are so many people to thank – first and foremost Dave for sharing this deeply personal story and music, all the many folks who worked on workshops and the premiere along the way: Tracy, Nadien, Ryan, Ashley, Nick, Michelle, Jeremy, Eric, Faye, Mary, Scott, Thom, Cathy, Tamara, Diane, Gina, Andrea, Marquesa, Brooke, Nicole, Andrea, Kelsie, Luc, Martin, Susan and Connor. For this tour, we’d also like to thank the Canada Council for their generous support as funders.
Finally, we have huge thanks to this incredible 2024 cast – Elizabeth for her fantastic talent and patience with all us hearing folks, and Kate, Josh and Scott for their amazing work leaping in and taking on the challenge of learning to sing and sign – two languages – at the same time. And so much love to our musical director Erik for his work as pianist on stage and help guiding the artists through Dave’s beautiful music. We also thank our brilliant ASL coach Amorena whose expertise, diligence and awesome sense of humour has been invaluable. Also a giant thank you to the incredible interpreter team – Andrea, Jody, Gabby and Jenica. And a big thank you to Chris, our Deaf consultant and outreach support. Also huge hugs to our creative, design and production team: Sang Sang, Alex, Bobby, Patrick, Kim, Cindi and Lynette, and of course the Concrete staff Patrick and Heather and the Board. We’d also like to thank our wonderful tour presenters and partners: The Arden Theatre, Persephone Theatre and Inside Out Theatre.
We are so thrilled you are able to join us for this part of the Songs journey. Dave has created something complex, multi-lingual and multi-layered but at its heart, very, very simple…
The story of a boy and his mom.
Caroline and Mieko
The written words “Sing” and “Sign” are so close. That’s weird and cool.
I was born in the U.K. to Deaf parents and grew up with British Sign Language. “Songs” is based on my personal experience. One day, an old upright piano was delivered to our small house. Big furniture! Some of the music in Songs My Mother Never Sung Me was composed on that piano when I was a boy.
When I came to Canada I lived in Montreal. My parents – Hazel and Brian – visited me and we met people using different Sign Languages. Multiple Sign Languages we didn’t know. We were amazed.
Among other things, I am a musician, composer and sound designer. When people discover my parents are Deaf, they express interest. It’s a contradiction. That’s how Songs came about.
I was asked to write a fifteen minute version for the Sprouts Festival. I was reluctant. Too personal; too hard to integrate the Signed and the Sung. Staged at the Festival, I was encouraged by the positive response. It spoke to a range of people. Unexpected.
Songs grew. Through workshops I had the unique opportunity to meet people who brought their experience and skills. There are many (A LOT!) of folks who deserve thanks. You are all part of this. Most important, the kindness and patience of Concrete Theatre’s Caroline Howarth and Mieko Ouchi.
Deaf culture and communication is literal and (refreshingly) direct. Spoken language is evasive; about hiding as much as communicating. As I worked on Songs, the Sung language became more direct and the Sign became more lyrical.
The workshops and rehearsals for Songs have involved all the types of interpretation imaginable. With support and time, what seem like barriers become permeable. Music – “Vibration” – to the Deaf. Gestural and spatial language – “Words in the Air” – to the hearing. That said, there are moments during Songs you won’t understand what is being Sung or Signed. That’s on purpose.
Many Signs are more expressive (to me) than the Sung equivalent. For example, the Sign for the word “express” is literally the Signer giving you an imagined object from their core, from their gut.
This is the story of how my Mom helped me find my voice.
Ivan Siemens, Betty Kolodziej, Kelsey Acton
About Concrete Theatre
Concrete Theatre is an award-winning professional theatre company committed to creating, developing and producing artistically excellent and culturally diverse Theatre for Young Audiences that explores issues relevant to the lives of young people and their families. They tour their work across Alberta and Canada and are presented by other professional theatres in cities from coast to coast. They also work in schools doing Artist in School Residencies and produce the annual Sprouts New Play Festival For Kids. Concrete Theatre is a member of the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT) and engages, under the terms of the Canadian Theatre Agreement, professional artists who are members of the Canadian Actors’ Equity Association. Concrete Theatre is a non-profit organization and a registered charity.