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Helen Lawrence
Conceived by Stan Douglas
Story by Chris Haddock and Stan Douglas
Written by Chris Haddock
A co-production with Canadian Stage, The Banff Centre, Stan Douglas Inc, Festival
TransAmériques, and Canada's National Arts Centre
March 13–April 13
The year is 1948. Vancouver is beset by a corrupt police force, and outside of the genteel confines of
downtown, low-level crime spreads unchecked. Constables on the take are making a mint in protection
rackets in the area around the notorious speakeasies of Hogan’s Alley, a hotbed of gambling and
prostitution. Helen Lawrence, a striking femme fatale travelling under the alias Elizabeth Mansfield,
heads north to Vancouver from California, seeking the man who killed her husband. Checking into a war
veterans’ hotel, she begins to inquire after the man who she thinks is the murderer. A series of wily men
try to get information out of her as she proceeds, but she keeps mum on her intentions, and eventually
works out who the killer is and where to find him—in Hogan’s Alley.
Other intrigues swirl, as men back from the war and the proprietors of the Alley’s illegal saloons contrive
a plot to save their unsavoury businesses from the wrecking ball. The city plans to raze the blighted
neighbourhood to make way for a new highway, but its denizens have other ideas. Collaborating with
crooked cops, they have gathered up enough money to buy off the mayor of Vancouver, who, in return
for a cool $50,000, will stay the demolition teams and appoint as chief of police a duplicitous young
inspector on good terms with the Alley’s residents. What’s more, some of the Alley’s best-connected will
get the chance to move into legal business, as the mayor will ensure that their application for a liquor
license goes smoothly.
At a Hogan’s Alley saloon late in the evening, events come to a head. While the mayor dines with the
men who are paying him off, Helen sidles into the bar, pistol strapped to her thigh, to await her revenge.
A fight breaks out, and shots are fired, leaving a man dead. During the commotion, Helen’s quarry slips
out. She tracks him to the train station, where she boards after him. As the locomotive pulls away from
the platform into the darkening night, wheels screech, and a whistle screams.
Stan Douglas, who conceived, cowrote, and codirected Helen
Lawrence, is an acclaimed Vancouver-based visual artist, who
works predominantly in film, photography, and video. His
oeuvre reflects an abiding interest in local history, and
engages with elements of British Columbia’s past to address
broader themes and global audiences; meticulous research
and painstaking reconstruction form a distinctive part of his
process. Douglas, a 1982 graduate of the Emily Carr College
of Art (now Emily Carr University of Art and Design), has
exhibited extensively around the world. The artist’s work has
been included at the some of the art world’s premier exhibitions—including the Venice Biennale (1990,
2001, 2005) and documenta (1992, 1997, 2002)—and is held in the permanent collections of the
Museum of Modern Art, the Tate Gallery, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the Vancouver Art
Gallery, among many others. Douglas was recently awarded the International Center of Photography’s
prestigious Infinity Award (2012) and the Canadian Scotiabank Photography Award (2013). His work is
represented by David Zwirner, New York, and Victoria Miro, London.
Chris Haddock,
’s cowriter, is a well-known
Canadian screenwriter, director, and producer. His television
projects, notable for their focus on the fictionalized criminal
underworld of Vancouver, as well as the city’s political and social
issues, are
, and, most
. In addition to his own series, Haddock has
contributed writing to various shows, including
, and has worked on scripts for Warner Bros., Fox, and
ABC. He is the recipient of thirty-four Gemini nominations, and
has won fifteen, including six for Best Writing in a Dramatic
The Arts Club Theatre Company has been involved with producing new work for over 30 years and the
premiere of Helen Lawrence will be one of the most important in a long list of premieres. One of the first
was Talking Dirty, by Sherman Snukal, at the original Arts Club on Seymour Street. That work premiered
in the fall of 1981 and went on to be one of the most successful non-musical plays we have presented,
playing for over a year, touring the province, and spawning productions in Toronto and at the National
Arts Centre in Ottawa. Playwrights like John Lazarus, David King, Morris Panych, Michelle Riml, Anosh
Irani, Hiro Kanagawa, and Yvette Nolan have seen their work first on an Arts Club stage. Earlier this
season we premiered Colleen Murphy’s Armstrong’s War at the Revue Stage, and we're thrilled to
premiere Helen Lawrence. This project began with the vision of Stan Douglas in telling stories based on
local history in this case, 1948 a year that forecast the change from Vancouver being regarded as a
western outpost to Vancouver as a City of the future.
The journey of this work, presented in a co-production with the Canadian Stage Company in association
with the Banff Centre, has been a lengthy one starting with visual artist Stan Douglas (“Abbot and
Cordova, 7 August, 1971”displayed at SFU Woodward’s) and film and TV writer/creator Chris Haddock
(Da Vinci’s Inquest), developing the work in time for the 2010 Olympic Arts Festival. In the spring of 2012
director Kim Collier (Tear the Curtain!/Electric Company Theatre) talked to Rachel Ditor and myself
about the project and we became intrigued, not only by the new technology that Stan Douglas was
working on, but also the involvement of Chris Haddock. Workshops were done at the Arts Club in the
summer, and then in early 2013, at the Banff Centre utilizing their resources and Stan’s workshop here
in Vancouver. Joined by designers Kevin McAllister (set), Nancy Bryant (costumes), Robert Sondergaard
(lighting), and Peter Courtemanche (virtual programmer), Stan created the virtual world with the onstage live components as the project progressed from vision to reality. A strong cast was then
assembled from Vancouver, Toronto, and Los Angeles with actors who combined experience in both
stage and film.
Rehearsals began the last week in January in our rehearsal hall and then the company moved to Banff
for the month of February to begin the complicated process of creating the virtual world on stage. And
now the premiere. The work will continue with presentations in Montreal, Munich, and Edinburgh with
a run in the fall in Toronto. We at the Arts Club Theatre Company are thrilled to be part of this creation.
—Bill Millerd, Artistic Managing Director
The ambitious challenge of creating fiction out of history and bringing veracity to the fiction, presenting
a day, a slice of life in 1948 Vancouver, creating a dozen characters in two distinct communities, with
completely new and untried artistic and technological aspects was irresistable to me.
It’s been a daunting, exhilarating commitment for actors and production crew coming from theatre and
film or television to join the expedition into unexplored territory: into the past for source and future for
the technology. It is in ways much like the post-war period of the story— stepping from the past into the
uncertain and unfamiliar. It is an anxious atmosphere, where identities fall away, and new ones tested.
It’s kept me on the edge of my writer’s chair. My gratitude goes to Stan Douglas for the challenge, the
actors for their sacrifices, commitments, talent, skills, and patience, to the production crew for the same
devotion, to the personnel of the Arts Club and Canadian Stage for having the nerve to risk the
—Chris Haddock
To anyone familiar with British Columbian history, place names like Nootka Sound, Barkerville,
Ballantyne Pier, and Strathcona call up a storied past, shot through with conflict, contention, and
change. At Nootka Sound, in the late eighteenth century, global powers and the Mowachaht people
sparred; in the nineteenth, the boomtown of Barkerville sprung up and then shrank away with the
coming and going of the gold rush; striking dock workers at Ballantyne Pier and police clashed violently
on the waterfront in 1935; and Strathcona blends the buildings and cultures of Vancouvers past and
present. Each of these distinct locales has figured in Stan Douglas’s work, foregrounding his engagement
with the complex social and political narratives that make up the history of his home province and city.
Douglas’s photography and film are often conspicuous for their attention to the many-sided memories
of past events. In his series of photographs of Nootka Sound and the video piece
, both from
1996, he delved into the competing modes of vision and value that characterized early European
contacts with indigenous peoples in British Columbia. In the video work, Spanish naval officer Esteban
José Martínez and his opposite number, the Englishman James Colnett, narrate from their respective
diaries, recounting the standoff between the competing nations. As they speak, their words overlap and
intermingle, muddying the audio, while the screen shows coastal terrain bereft of any human
habitation—signalling that the prior habitation of the coast by the Mowachaht meant little to these
early European explorers. Later work, like the video
(2006), which tells the story of a
Tsilhqot’in chief who took violent action to defend his territory against the incursions of Europeans and
then became the subject of a manhunt, pulls at some of the same broad thematic issues. As with
, Douglas created photographs that harmonize with the video. For
, Douglas created a
series of portraits based on his research of the nineteenth-century British Columbia he documents in the
video. These portraits, along with the series
(for which he followed the gold rush trail from the
Fraser Valley’s outskirts up to Barkerville) further contextualize his work, locating them in the fraught
relations between the Tsilhqot’in and the thousands of miners rushing to the Cariboo goldfields in the
late 1850s. These pendant pairs—photographic series and videos—have become common for Douglas.
In 2007, he told an interviewer that the practice of doing both wasn’t strictly necessary, but for him it
was a “parallel thing. It’s often a way of understanding where I am and what I’m looking at.”
—part film, part theatre—finds its complement in the series of photographs entitled
(2010). Douglas employs an authorial conceit in this series: the photographs are
supposedly the product of a novice photojournalist, returning home to Vancouver after the Second
World War. The pictures in the series all bear dates from the late 1940s and early 1950s. Taking his
inspiration for the fictional midcentury photographer from Vancouver newspaperman Raymond Munro,
Douglas references and recreates images (some derived from the archives of Artray, which Munro
briefly ran with a partner, Art Jones) in scrupulously accurate historical style. Several of his compositions
echo photos taken by Munro and Jones, and others pay homage to the celebrated New York street
photographer, Arthur Fellig, better known as Weegee. The black and white shots, some of crime scenes,
suggest a macabre Vancouver, and hint at what curator Christopher Phillips, in a catalogue essay for
, calls “dark forces operating behind the veneer of civic respectability.”
—in addition to another series of historical Vancouver scenes,
Douglas uncover the Vancouver he would invoke in
: a hotbed of vice and crooked cops
ripe with often forgotten history.
Vancouver in the late 1940s was ridden with petty crime and paid-off policemen. As recorded by Diane
Purvey and John Belshaw in their entertaining recent history,
, the city was plagued by
bank robbers, safecrackers, and their pursuers, trigger-happy constables. Police officers were largely
untrained former soldiers—as late as 1957 (and in an official police report, no less) the chief wrote that
many had “received little or no training.” Perhaps this contributed to the department’s bent reputation,
but so did the rot at the top. Walter Mulligan, appointed chief in 1947, vowed to root out the bad
apples, and restore public trust in the force. However, not ten years later, in 1955, he was subjected to a
governmental inquiry, which exposed likely unlawful dealings dating back many years, but not before an
implicated top officer had committed suicide and Mulligan had resigned and fled to Los Angeles.
Douglas mines these dark, morally ambiguous goings-on for
’s story, and telling links to
real-life places and people reveal further historical ties.
Many of the places referenced by characters are drawn from the period. The beer garden run by Buddy
White in the play takes its name from Buddy’s Beer Garden, a staple drinking and dicing establishment
in Hogan’s Alley, a then notorious neighbourhood—it was razed in the early 1970s to clear the way for
the building of the Georgia Viaduct. Some action also takes place outside the Scat Inn, another watering
hole of ill-repute in the same area. To the west, the old Hotel Vancouver (located where the TD Tower
now stands) did indeed, as in
, house veterans returning from the war. An acute housing
shortage led a group of veterans to take over the derelict hotel, which had been left empty after 1945.
The old hotel was demolished in 1949, a year after the events of
(the current Hotel
Vancouver had already been in operation since 1939 just a block away). Another background detail that
sets the piece in its time is the reference to the untimely death of the previous mayor, who had a heart
attack just a few months into his term. The historical allusion is to Gerry McGeer, who died in 1947, just
seven months after he was returned to city hall.
Douglas’s work, including
, is in dialogue with the past, but no one single version of it.
Real events from Vancouver’s past mingle with a largely fictional cast of characters, allowing for an
exploration of what might have been. Instead of a single narrative, the audience is presented with one
that interweaves threads of art and history. The play reimagines and recreates history to tease out
alternate versions. This is not wholesale replication; instead, it is a sincere re-examination, an attempt to
reconnect viewers with times, literally and figuratively, out of mind.
A man in a trench coat hustles down a bleak, empty street, shot in black and white. His gloomy shadow
flits across the brick walls. An alleyway gives onto the street, and against the corner leans a knowing
blonde proffering a cigarette. Quick, what sort of movie are you watching? It must be a film noir.
, with its midcentury setting, criminal overtones, and a murder at the centre of the story, fits
comfortably into the noir genre. The style of the play calls up an imagined era centred on noir’s filmic
conventions and their imagined Vancouver iterations.
Film noir, insofar as it exists as a genre, is defined by recurring characters and situations, brought to the
screen in what has become distinct visual shorthand. Products of the United States in the 1940s and
‘50s, classic film noirs take some of their visual cues from German Expressionist cinema of the 1920s.
They are shot in black and white, usually with stark, tenebristic lighting. Noir cinematography also
emphasizes irregularly framed shots and the extensive use of facial close-ups. This visual style brings to
the fore the oneiric, often uncertain tones associated with noir plots. Moral ambiguity and eroticism are
staples of film noir, along with storylines that take in convoluted tales of crime and misadventure.
Certain characters, like the hardboiled, whisky-swilling, moodily smoking detective and the beguiling
blonde (invariably labelled a femme fatale) are time-honoured noir archetypes, and though not always
present, they spring to mind as mainstays of the style. Classic noirs (like
, and
) incorporate many of these characters and characteristics. “Film noir,” as a
descriptive term, was coined in 1946 by critic Nino Frank, though it did not come into common usage
until the 1970s. Now the phrase has the power to call up both the films and the era they were made in,
linking the fictional and real postwar worlds.
Midcentury Vancouver had all the elements of noir: crooked policemen; gangsters and smugglers; dark,
rain-slicked streets, and an air of pessimistic cynicism. Rife with crime, newspapers ran stories of armed
robberies, frequent gunplay, rampant safecrackers, and encounters between street corner gangs. The
average citizen must have lived in fear for their belongings, if not their lives; hold-ups were a common
occurrence. In
, the writers report almost incredulously that
documented a 1958 bank robbery in which the robber slipped a note to the teller that read “this is a
hold-up, hand over the big bills,” then flashed the gun in his coat and said, “Hurry up—in about two
minutes you’ll get this.” Could more noir-like words be written? It is in this rough, bumptious port town,
at the intersection of fact and fiction, that
is set.
The themes and plot of
mark it out as a noir-inspired work. The murky postwar
underworld is exposed, and the double-dealing characters hatch plans to improve their own situations in
morally suspect ways. What’s more, at the heart of the story is a murder, a quintessential narrative
feature of noirs. Also included are a deceitful would-be police chief, a femme fatale on a quest for
vengeance, and a Los Angeles investigator hot on her heels. (This L.A. connection links
to the novels of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, famous writers of hardboiled detective
stories often set in California). Period details, like the frequent smoking and even more frequent
drinking, further put audiences in mind of the era.
By co-opting the visual language of the times,
transports us back to a little-explored part
of Vancouver’s history. The predicaments, tone, and characters all owe something to noir archetypes,
tells its own unique story within the conventions, one that explores our varying
ideas of how 1940s Vancouver looked and felt.
Crystal Balint ~ Mary Jackson
Crystal is thrilled to be returning to the Arts Club as part of such an incredible production and among
such an accomplished cast. Previous selected stage credits include Into the Woods, A Chorus Line and
most recently The Arts Club’s production of the musical Dreamgirls. Crystal also continues to work
extensively in film and television, appearing in such shows as V, Psych, True Justice, Hellcats, The LWord, Fringe, Supernatural, Continuum, Cedar Cove, and Arctic Air. Crystal is grateful for this amazing
opportunity and sends a special thanks to her loving husband Ryan, her supportive family, and
enthusiastic friends for their endless encouragement.
Nicholas Lea ~ Percy Walker
Well, it’s been a while, but Nick couldn’t be happier about being back on stage and a part of Helen
Lawrence! He is excited and proud to be working alongside this outstanding cast and production team in
this extraordinary project. Nick’s stage credits include Fair Game (Arts
Club), Bloody Business (Western Canada Theatre Company), and For What We Reap (Station Street).
Nick is a SAG Award nominee and Gemini and Leo Awards Best Actor nominee. His TV and film credits
include The X Files, NYPD Blue, CSI Las Vegas, V, Continuum, The Killing, Vertical Limit, Shattered, and
Crimes of Mike Recket. Fun fact: he appeared on Saturday Night Live! Nick is grateful for the never
ending support of his friends and family and longtime agent M.A. Nick would like to dedicate this
performance to his hometown, Vancouver.
Sterling Jarvis ~ Henry Williams
Sterling is thrilled to be in the world premiere of Helen Lawrence. Select theatre credits include: Annie
(YPT); The Whipping Man, Ruined (Obsidian Theatre, both Dora Award nominations); Clybourne Park
(Studio 180); Caroline or Change (Acting Up Stage Company, Dora Award winner); We Will Rock You, The
Lion King (Mirvish); and Of Mice and Men and Crowns (Canadian Stage). Film and television credits
include: Rookie Blue, Nikita, Lost Girls, Life with Boys, Covert Affairs, The Border, The Bridge, The
Sentinel, The West Wing and others. Sterling is a two-time Juno Award nominee who has sung anthems
for the Blue Jays, The Raptors, and the Toronto Maple Leafs. He would like to thank his family and
friends for all of their love and support.
Allan Louis ~ Buddy Black
Allan’s grounding as an actor has kept him busy from coast to coast, reinventing himself at every turn
with performances ranging from the reverent to the outrageous. Louis starred in the 2011 Broadway
season in Baby It's You. At the other end of the spectrum, Louis donned a duck suit in The Education of
Randy Newman, and later took part in a radical post-9/11 Antigone, directed by the esteemed Kate
Whoriskey. He has acted in Privileged, Chuck, Boston Legal, Invasion, Numb3rs, Cane, Days of Our Lives,
Charmed, Grey's Anatomy, NCIS LA, Person of Interest, CSI: Miami, and A Gifted Man. In film, Louis
appeared in Stomp the Yard, in the role of Dr. William Palmer. Louis has been a member of AEA since
Ava Markus ~ Eva Banks
Ava is an actor and producer based in Toronto. She performed in the Canadian premiere of Terminus
(Outside the March/Mirvish). Markus is currently co-producing Terminus’ tour to The Yukon Arts Centre
and The Belfry Theatre. Other credits include: The Apology (Alberta Theatre Projects, Betty Mitchell
nomination); Hunchback (Catalyst/Citadel/Vancouver Playhouse); Mr. Marmalade (Outside the March,
SummerWorks); Communion (ATP); Doubt, a Parable (Globe); Julius Caesar (Citadel); Hamlet, The
Taming of the Shrew, Much Ado About Nothing, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night (Freewill
Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare in the Park); The Attic, The Pearls, and Three Fine Girls (Sage Theatre,
Betty Mitchell Award).
Hrothgar Mathews ~ Harry Mitchell
Hrothgar is a multiple award winning actor. He recently completed a guest star role on Arctic Air and has
a recurring role in the Hallmark series When Calls the Heart. Some favourite theatre credits include The
Wild Guys, Dancing at Lughnasa, Becky’s New Car (The Arts Club);The Wars (Theatre Calgary, The
Playhouse); and A Rare Day In June (Alumni Theatre), where he met his wife. Hrothgar is excited to be
working again with Stan Douglas and Chris Haddock. He worked for Mr. Douglas 20 years ago on Pursuit,
Fear, Catastrophe: Ruskin B.C. He worked for Mr. Haddock more recently (Da Vinci’s Inquest and Da
Vinci’s City Hall). Hrothgar has multiple Leo and Gemini Award nominations and has won both, as well as
a Peabody Award.
Tom McBeath ~ Sargeant Leonard Perkins
Tom has survived a 40-year career as a freelance actor in Canada. Not a unique milestone, but it comes
with a deeper respect and admiration for those there and beyond. It also comes with a head shaking
combination of amazement, amusement, and thankfulness. Amazement that it was possible,
amusement that it happened, and thankfulness to the hundreds of theatre people he’s played with who
helped make it possible and so rewarding. And THANK YOU Karin for your never-ending support.
Haley McGee ~ Julie Winters
Haley is a multi-award winning actor and playwright. Her solo show, OH MY IRMA, has toured
extensively, including Edinburgh, London, New York, Berlin, Amsterdam, Toronto, Mongolia, and
Kosovo. As an actor, recent credits include Moss Park (Theatre PasseMuraille/Green Thumb), The Public
Servant (Theatre Columbus/GCTC), Having Hope at Home, Early August (Blyth Festival), and The Story
(Theatre Columbus, Dora Award nomination). As a playwright, she has developed work with the
National Theatre School of Canada, Banff Playwrights’ Colony, Stratford Festival’s Playwrights’ Retreat
and Tarragon Playwrights’ Unit. Most recently, Theatre Columbus commissioned and produced a new
play by Haley, Weather the Weather. She was a member of the Second City Conservatory and holds a
BFA in Theatre Performance from Ryerson University.
Mayko Nguyen~ Rose George
Theatre credits include: Passion Play (OtM/Convergence Theatre/Sheep No Wool), Carried Away On The
Crest Of A Wave (Tarragon Theatre), Claire, From the Bus (Liars), Offensive Fouls (Hustle N’ Bustle
Theatre – Dora Nomination Best TYA Production), Danny, King of the Basement (Carousel Players), and
Humans Anonymous (Next Stage Festival).
Gerard Plunkett ~ Chief James Muldoon
Gerard Plunkett is a multiple Jessie Richardson Award nominee. He received a best actor award for his
portrayal of Shelley Levene in Glengarry Glen Ross (Arts Club). He has tackled everything from
Ayckbourn to Shakespeare to his one-man show Oscar Wilde in Earnest. His movie appearances include
Eight Below, 2012, Sucker Punch, Nightwatching, Snakes on a Plane, and The Seventh Son. He recently
won a Leo for best supporting actor in the acclaimed Canadian feature film Camera Shy, and was
nominated for a UBCP/ACTRA best actor award in 2013. His TV appearances include Fringe, The Killing,
Supernatural, Sanctuary, Intelligence, Da Vinci's Inquest, XFiles, and Stargate. Gerard last appeared at
the Arts Club in the mind bending Tear the Curtain.
Lisa Ryder ~ Helen Lawrence
Lisa co-founded and performed with Bald Ego Theatre in the late nineties in Toronto. Highlights include
Café Naked, Panting of the Victors, and Put Me Away. Other credits from that period include Possible
Worlds (Theatre Passe Muraille), Insomnia (da da kamera), Insignificance (Theatre Junction), and
Proposals (MTC/Mirvish). More recently, Lisa was seen in Factory Theatre’s Zadie's Shoes. Recent
television and film credits include Remedy (Global), Cracked, Heartland (CBC), Alphas (SyFY), Good Dog
(TMN), and The Story of Luke (Fluid Films). Lisa appeared in cult favourite Jason X, recurred on The
Newsroom (CBC), was a series regular on Forever Knight, and is perhaps best known as Beka on Gene
Rodenberry's Andromeda where, for five seasons, she was the best starship pilot in the universe.
Adam Kenneth Wilson ~ Edward Banks
Adam Kenneth Wilson is a Toronto-based actor, best known for his portrayal of Charles Manson in the
Gemini and Rose d’Or-nominated Manson. Television credits include appearances on Played, Lost Girl,
Rookie Blue, The Listener, XIII, Flashpoint, Aaron Stone, and Are You Afraid of the Dark. Film appearances
include SUCK and the award-winning short films Good Looking and Ending the Eternal. Selected theatre
credits include Terminus, the Toronto Theatre Critics’ Best Production of the 2012-2013 season, The Life
of Jude, and Cowboy Mouth. Voice credits include Alien Mysteries, Beyblade, and By the Rapids. He costars in the forthcoming television series 24 Hour Rental. Many thanks to Stephanie, without whom he
wouldn't be here.
Stan Douglas ~ Concept & Story, Director
Stan Douglas is a visual artist who lives and works in Vancouver and Los Angeles. His films, videos and
photographs have been seen in exhibitions internationally, including Documentas IX, X and XI (1992,
1997, 2002) and three Venice Biennales (1990, 2001, 2005). A comprehensive survey of his work, Past
Imperfect: Works 1986–2007, was mounted by the Württembergischer Kunstverein and the
Staatsgalerie Stuttgart in the fall of 2007. In 2012 he was awarded the International Center for
Photography's Infinity Award in and in 2013 the Scotia Bank Photography Prize. Between 2004 and 2006
he was a professor at Universität der Künste Berlin and since 2009 has been a core faculty member of
the Grad Art Department of Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.
Chris Haddock ~ Concept & Story, Playwright
Chris is a multiple award winning screenwriter, director, and producer, internationally acclaimed for his
Vancouver-based television drama creations Da Vinci’s Inquest, City Hall, and cult favourite Intelligence.
Most recently Chris served as writer producer on the Martin Scorcese HBO production Boardwalk
Empire, and was nominated for a Writers’ Guild of America Award for that show. Helen Lawrence is the
result of his collaboration with long time friend Stan Douglas and his first exploration of theatrical
drama. He is currently writing and developing films and television dramas here in Canada and abroad.
With his full support and against his advice, his two children are also in the trade
Sarah Garton Stanley ~ Associate Director
A Montreal original, Sarah now lives between Ottawa and Kingston. Canadian Stage credits: Shrew. She
founded The Baby Grand, in Kingston, co-created Women Making Scenes in Montreal, and Die in Debt
Theatre in Toronto (a company dedicated to large canvas site-specific work). Sarah is a former Artistic
Director of Buddies in Bad Times, co-helmed the NTS Directing Program, and is adjunct at Concordia
University. Sarah makes work with Michael Rubenfeld including The Failure Show,
Mothermothermother, and upcoming We Keep Coming Back and The Book of Judith. Sarah is directing
Beatrice and Virgil (Lindsay Cochrane’s adaptation of Yann Martel’s novel) at Factory Theatre in April.
Sarah is the Associate Artistic Director of English Theatre at Canada's National Arts Centre.
Rachel Ditor ~ Dramaturg
Rachel is a freelance director and the Literary Manager at the Arts Club, where she acts as dramaturg on
new plays written for the company and runs the Silver Commissions and ReACT public readings
programs. Some recent dramaturgy credits at the Arts Club include: How Has My Love Affected You? My
Turquoise Years, Scar Tissue, Do You Want I What I Have Got? A Craigslist Cantata, Tear The Curtain!,
The Patron Saint of Stanley Park, Mom’s the Word: Remixed, and It’s a Wonderful Life. Rachel has
worked in new play development since 1992 with companies across the country and served as the
faculty dramaturg at The Banff Centre’s PlayRites Colony. She is an adjunct professor at UBC teaching
dramaturgy, and a member of the board of directors of the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the
Matthew Jocelyn ~ Dramaturg
Kevin McAllister ~ Scenery Designer
Kevin’s recent theatre credits include Singin’ in the Rain, The Gifts of the Magi, and Amadeus
(Chemainus Theatre Festival), Xanadu and Glengarry Glen Ross (Arts Club Theatre), Sisters (Gateway
Theatre), The Taming of the Shrew, Macbeth, As You Like It, and Merchant of Venice (Bard on the
Beach), and The Magic Flute (Vancouver Opera). His upcoming projects include the exhibit Rewilding
Vancouver (Museum of Vancouver), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Bard on the Beach), and Equivocation
(Belfry Theatre/Bard on the Beach). Kevin was Associate Designer on the Vancouver 2010 Olympic
opening and closing ceremonies (David Atkins Enterprises) and his theatre work has earned nine Jessie
Richardson Theatre Award nominations. Examples of Kevin’s work can be seen at
Nancy Bryant ~ Costume Designer
Nancy Bryant was born in Sherbrooke, Quebec and moved to the west coast of Canada at age 17. She is
a graduate of Emily Carr College of Art and Design in Vancouver and since then she has been designing
costumes and sets for dance which lead to design work in theatre, opera and film. Nancy has designed
for numerous dance companies across Canada as well as with Nederlands Dans Theatre, Ballet de Monte
Carlo, The Stuttgart Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem and most recently The Tempest Replica for Kidd
Pivot. Memorable costume designs for theatre include The Overcoat, Tear the Curtain, and The Constant
Wife to name a few. She has designed many productions for the Arts Club Theatre, Canadian Stage, The
Shaw Festival, The Vancouver Playhouse, and The Belfry Theatre. Her designs with the Pacific Opera
include The Flying Dutchman, Rodelinda, and The Rake’s Progress. Costume design credits for film
include Snow White, Legend of Earthsea (Leo Award), The Snow Queen, and many more. Nancy has
received 12 Jessie Richardson Awards.
Robert Sondergaard ~ Lighting Designer
Based in Vancouver, Robert’s work spans all genres of the entertainment industry including designs for
dance (Kidd Pivot, Royal Swedish Ballet, Nederlands Dans Theatre, Ballet BC, Movent, 605 Collective),
ceremonies (Arctic Winter Games, United Nations World Urban Forum, 2007 Canada Winter Games),
music (Rankin Family Canadian Tour, Barrage Vagabond Tails World Tour), theme parks (Legoland
Orlando and California), television (Anne Murray: Friends & Legends, 21st Annual Gemini Awards) and
film (Catwoman, Deck the Halls). Additionally, Robert works as a production designer. Some of his
prominent production design credits include the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2010
Vancouver Paralympic Winter Games and the Grey Cup Halftime Show 100th. Robert is a member of the
Associated Designers of Canada.
John Gzowski ~ Sound Designer
Composer, sound designer, musician and instrument maker John Gzowski has played banjo for opera in
Banff, studied Carnatic classical music in India, and played oud and guitar in jazz and folk festivals across
Canada and Europe. His theatre work has won him five Dora Awards, and another seven nominations,
using live music, acoustic instrumentation, foley, and electronic sources for companies like Shaw
Festival, Luminato, the Mirvishes, MTC, Canadian Stage, Soulpepper, Dancemakers, Red Sky, Tarragon,
Factory Theatre, and YPT in close to 200 productions. John has played on numerous CDs, with recent
releases with Patricia O'Callaghan, Tasa, and Autorickshaw as well as a Juno nomination with Maza
Meze. He has run Canada's first microtonal group, touring Canada playing the works of Harry Partch,
composed and performed with several new music groups, and worked as co-artistic director of the
Music Gallery.
Brian Johnson ~ Director of Photography
Brian has received numerous awards and accolades for his work as a director and as a cinematographer.
He has exhibited in festivals such as the Toronto International Film Festival and the Clairmont-Ferrand
International Short Film Festival. He has won two Golden Sheaf Awards, two Leos, and was nominated
for a Gemini for his work as a cinematographer on feature films such as On the Corner, The Delicate Art
of Parking, and Camera Shy. He is currently in development with Screen Siren Pictures to write and
direct a feature film about troubled youth in a Pacific Northwest coastal/industrial town. He is thrilled to
be working with everyone on Helen Lawrence.
Peter Courtemanche ~ Video Programmer
Peter creates custom technologies that enable artists to explore interesting aspects of sound, video,
film, and gadgetry that are not readily accessible through the normal industry interfaces. As an artist and
programmer he explores new technologies and ideas in a way that is inventive and not tied to any
particular form or medium. He was media director at the Western Front from 1997 to 2007. He has
worked with numerous artists to create film and video installations, wearables (electronics embedded in
clothing and accessories), network art, sound sculpture, and large-scale museum pieces. He has worked
with Stan Douglas for many years developing technologies for film and video installations.
Jonny Ostrem ~ Lead 3D Artist
Jonny is a visual/technical artist working in Canada's film/interactive industries after graduating from
Emily Carr University in 2010. Jonny won a Leo Award in 2012 for his work as a 3D artist/set designer for
the short The Tron Lebowski. In 2013 he served as the lead artist for the iOS app Circa 1948 produced by
the NFB and Stan Douglas. He currently works in Vancouver, BC as a freelance 3D artist.
Jan Hodgson ~ Stage Manager
Canadian Stage credits: Tear the Curtain (Electric Company and Arts Club), Studies in Motion, The
Hauntings of Eadweard Muybridge (Electric Company) and The Overcoat. Select credits include: Jack and
the Beanstalk: An East Van Panto (Theatre Replacement and The Cultch); The Great Gatsby (Theatre
Calgary); Head Over Heels (Caravan Farm Theatre); The Edward Curtis Project (Great Canadian Theatre
Company/The National Arts Centre); No Exit (Electric Company, ACT); Drowsy Chaperone (Vancouver
Playhouse, Citadel Theatre/National Arts Centre); Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Death of A Salesman, Fiddler
on the Roof, I Am My Own Wife, Trying (Vancouver Playhouse).
Peter Jotkus ~ Assistant Stage Manager
Peter’s career has taken him to many of the country’s regional theatres including: the Vancouver
Playhouse (14 consecutive seasons), Pacific Opera Victoria, The Belfry, Theatre Calgary, The Citadel,
MTC, Factory Theatre, Opera Atelier, NAC, Centaur, and the Stratford and Shaw Festivals. Canadian
Stage credits include: The Overcoat (National and International tours), Wit, and The Threepenny Opera.
Recently at the Arts Club, he stage managed David Sedaris’s The Santaland Diaries, and was the
Assistant Stage Manager on Next to Normal. Peter has had a long-time association with The Banff Centre
and was the Assistant Director for the Canadian Music Theatre Ensemble and the Program Coordinator
for the Banff/Citadel Professional Theatre Training Program. Peter is a graduate of The National Theatre
School of Canada.