Having abandoned the West Coast for the bright lights of Toronto three years ago, writer, producer and director Randie Parliament is back and once again pushing the limits of queer (and queer-friendly) theatre.
Best known locally for his critically acclaimed production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch and the even more risqué Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical in 2007, Parliament (pictured right with playwright and director Jordan Patterson and actor Chris Bolton) found himself in Toronto looking to explore new opportunities. But the call of what he considers home was too great.
“I was homesick,” explained Parliament as to his decision to move back to Vancouver. “I spent my time in Toronto missing Vancouver like crazy. Every time I came back to visit I wept when it was time to go back.”
While Parliament says he originally had no intention of moving to Toronto to continue producing and directing theatre, that is exactly what happened.
“I had done my tenure with theatre and I thought maybe I should be doing something else,” explained Parliament. “As one gets older you start to think about your career and I went to Toronto to explore other opportunities”.
It didn’t take long though for Parliament to find himself involved in the Toronto theatre scene producing an impressive eight shows in just two years. But while that may sound impressive, it pales in comparison to Parliament’s ambitious schedule of five shows in two months to mark his return to Vancouver. And while it sounded like a good idea at the time, Parliament admits it does have its challenges.
“The difference in the pre-production requirements for one show versus five is very small,” explained Parliament. “What I wasn’t prepared for though was the rehearsal schedule and the time commitment in directing three of those shows.”
Recognizing good theatre space is hard to find, Parliament gave into the hectic schedule and opens the inaugural Vancouver season of Ghost Light Projects on March 9, 2012 with a double-bill, the world premieres of Mother May I and The Pitch.
In Parliament’s Mother May I, Peter returns to his small-town Prairie roots to confront the racism, homophobia, and alcoholism which caused him to run away. In Jordan Patterson’s tragicomedy The Pitch, audiences will get a wacky look into the world of the gay drug culture as a writer attempts to put to paper an autobiographical television pilot.
Overlapping the six performances of the double-bill is Sky Gilbert’s outrageous comedy Drag Queens On Trial and beginning March 23, Parliament returns to his musical theatre roots by directing the outrageously titled The Great American Trailer Park Musical. His season comes to an end with an extended run of the 1968 penned The Boys in the Band.
“Before I left town I did Debbie Does Dallas and the cast out here was so fantastic that for the last four years we have talked about doing another project together,” said Parliament as to why he chose The Great American Trailer Park Musical as part of his season. “It is campy fun with a little a bit of an edge, but still family friendly.”
In closing out the season, Parliament has chosen his favourite play.
“I adore The Boys in The Band,” he said. “It is the quintessential classical gay piece and I love the fact that it is not about so many things that plague what gay theatre has to be about right now. It is about friends that come together and have this great party and it is what I love so much about the gay community: although we don’t always agree or get along, we are always friends the next day.”
An admitted ambitious homecoming for Parliament but with his desire to explore new works and to bring things to the stage others are not doing, this could very well be a Vancouver theatre-goers dream come true.
Ghost Light Projects 2012 Season
PAL Theatre, 581 Cardero Street, Vancouver
March 9 – May 6, 2012
Visit http://www.ghostlightprojects.com for tickets and information.