Brandon Hicks returns with “A Reunion of Lovers”.

Hicks’ short comedy about life in 2021 will be staged as part of this year’s Taking it to the Streets series of 10-minute plays. 

We’re excited to welcome back filmmaker, illustrator and playwright Brandon Hicks for our 20th anniversary festival. This year Brandon’s work will be featured as part of our Taking it to the Streets series, a collection of four 10-minute plays performed in an outdoor setting.  This year’s series will mark Brandon’s fourth festival appearance. His play A Reunion of Lovers will be featured together with work by emerging playwrights McKenna Boeckner, Madeline Savoie and Monika Rennick.

Brandon traces his love for creating theatre back to his time as a producer with Next Folding Theatre Company. After finishing school and leaving Fredericton, he has remained connected to theatre through his involvement with NotaBle Acts and cites the short play format as a contributing factor, especially for a comedy writer. 

“It’s perfect for comedy. All you really need is a funny concept and a couple of engaging characters, then you can just fill the thing with jokes,” he said. “Longer plays require deeper, overarching themes, multi-faceted characters, and an involved plot. Not that you can’t go deep in a short play, but the fact is, you just don’t have as much time.”

Working within time restraints allows very little time for an actor to develop a character’s personality, which is another reason Brandon enjoys working within this format.

“You need to fulfil the potential of your funny idea as quickly as possible,” he said. “The upside of this is that I get to see the actors and directors really bring more of themselves into it. The characters are often less specifically outlined, which forces those filling the roles to bring more of themselves into the play, which I believe brings a great deal of life and vitality to the production that goes far beyond the script. As a playwright, that’s extremely satisfying.”

With A Reunion of Lovers, Brandon looked to the current climate for comedic inspiration. 

“I wanted to write something that feels very ‘of the moment,’ and takes a head-on approach to addressing just how weird it is to gather together and play pretend after a global pandemic. I was fascinated by that tension of trying to move forward and create, while at the same time, remaining anxious and uncertain about what the future holds. It’s exciting to return, but it’s also kind of scary. And, like all things that scare me, I wanted to try to find a way to laugh at it.”

Brandon describes A Reunion of Lovers as a play about the state of live theatre itself as actors, directors and producers try to move forward after the recent pandemic.

“It’s very much a ‘2021’ play, which I’m especially excited about,” he said. “The fact that it’s a live performance about something very specific happening right now in our culture makes it feel like a very singular event. My plays tend to require a lot of props, costumes and intense physicality. I’m a cartoonist, by trade, so it’s just how my mind works. And this is probably my most complex yet. I don’t envy the actors, but they have my full confidence.”

In putting each new festival lineup together, we enjoy seeing new work from new playwrights as much as we enjoy receiving submissions from writers like Brandon who have, through repeated submissions, become part of our extended family. 

“If it wasn’t for Notable Acts, I don’t think that I’d still be writing plays at all. It’s really hard for someone who isn’t consistently and actively involved in theatre to find an outlet and to get their work performed. You have to write the play, find a space, find actors, find directors, and market it. For many, that is just a series of impossible tasks. Notable Acts has all of that infrastructure in place, and they take chances on unique plays from anybody who wants to submit. There are a ton of wannabe playwrights out there just looking for their chance. Notable Acts gives them that opportunity.”

Brandon Hicks is a writer, cartoonist and filmmaker based out of New Brunswick. His work has appeared in a number of publications, including CBC, The Maritime Edit, The Manatee and The Rumpus, where he also serves as Comics Editor. He’s written and directed a number of staged plays, and his short films have won awards from international film festivals. In 2021, he released two illustrated books—That’s Not True! (with Shauna Chase), and Seven Easy Steps to Go To Hell. He loves what he does. 

See Brandon Hicks’ A Reunion of Lovers as part of our 2021 Taking it to the Streets series. These plays will be performed as an hour of free theatre July 26-29 in Officer’s Square beginning at 7:30 p.m. 

NotaBle Acts Theatre Company to Stage 2021 Summer Theatre Festival, July 22-31

The NotaBle Acts Theatre Company will stage its 20th annual Summer Theatre Festival, showcasing new plays by emerging and established New Brunswick playwrights, from July 22 through 31 at venues across Fredericton. A year after 2020’s festival had to be heavily modified due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with vaccination rates now climbing and New Brunswick almost at Green, this year’s festival will see live audiences for all productions and a return to theatre (almost) as normal.  Thirteen new plays will be performed over ten days, including one act plays, ten-minute plays, a site-specific play, readings of new works in development, and 81 Minutes, a mainstage production staged in cooperation with the Falling Iguana Theatre Company, which divides its time between Fredericton and Toronto.  

Co-created by Alexa Higgins and Ian Goff, 81 Minutes is a physical theatre- and clown-inspired comedy/drama that takes the audience on a fast-paced thrill ride through the true story of one of the world’s most famous unsolved art thefts, which took place at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990. Falling Iguana’s speculative depiction of the heist features a five-person cast playing multiple colorful characters, weaving together the story of the theft with that of the museum’s founder, in a play that will run precisely 81 minutes—the exact length of time the thieves took to pull off their daring caper.  81 Minutes will be performed July 22-25 at Theatre New Brunswick’s Open Space Theatre. 

The twelve other new plays to be performed at the festival were selected as winners in NotaBle Acts’ annual province-wide playwriting contest, including MAD about Van Horne by Ron Kelly Spurles and Life Goes On by Muriel Falkenstein, winners of Acting Out, the 2021 competition’s one act category. MAD about Van Horne is a period play set in 1921 in St. Andrew’s, NB, about a local amateur theatre company staging a drama about the town’s most famous former resident, railroad baron and owner of Minister’s Island William Cornelius Van Horne. By contrast, Life Goes On draws on the history of the recent past to tell the intertwined stories of a group of New Brunswick teens living through the early months of the pandemic. Acting Out will be performed at Memorial Hall, UNB, nightly from July 29-31.

Taking it to the Streets, the winners of NB Acts’ 2021 ten-minute play competition, features four short plays performed outdoors at Officers’ Square, including Brandon Hicks’ A Reunion of Lovers, a comedy about two actors trying to perform a romantic melodrama under COVID restrictions; McKenna Boeckner’s Marionettes, a stark drama about two teens growing up in the hinterland of Northern Ontario; Closure, Monika Rennick’s comedy about a meddling mother who’s just not willing to let her daughter’s breakup with her ex-boyfriend go; and Madeline Savoie’s Graffiti; or, the Dangerous Mind of Avery Klein, which offers multiple characters’ perspectives on a teen whose artwork marks her as a high school rebel. These four plays will be performed as an hour of free theatre at 7:30 PM on July 26-29, and will be followed nearby by performances of Neomi Iancu Haliva’s site-specific play Concrete and Plaster. Set in a used clothing store, the play centres on a gay couple whose relationship is teetering over their conflicting desires to stay in Fredericton or follow their dreams elsewhere.

The festival lineup will also feature Play Out Loud, readings of five new plays in development, including three runners up in the festival’s One Act playwriting competition: Limbo by Madeline Savoie, Ill-Advised Capital by Sana Hashmat, and Go Ahead and Make Me the Happiest Woman in the World by Vy Phan. The readings will be rounded out by the two winners of the 2021 NB Acts Middle and High School playwriting contests: Alex Dawson’s She Sssaid and Ava Chamberlain’s The Mushroom Prince Play Out Loud readings will take place on the afternoons of July 25 and 31 at TNB’s Open Space Theatre. 

For full show, schedule, and ticket details, visit www.nbacts.com or email nbacts@unb.ca.