Action-packed year ahead for VIU's Malaspina Theatre

Gabrielle Marcolin, left, and Connor Runnings, right, first-year VIU Theatre students, receive some instruction from Theatre Professor Ross Desprez, who is directing Malaspina Theatre’s fall play – Departures and Arrivals, written by Carol Shields. The Theatre is gearing up for a busy, action-packed 2016-17 season.

September 16, 2016 - 10:45am

University Theatre has an exciting lineup of events planned for the 2016-17 season

From a play by a Governor General Award-winning author, to an open house showcasing the recently renovated theatre, to the inaugural 24-hour playwriting competition, Vancouver Island University’s (VIU’s) Malaspina Theatre has an incredible lineup of events to entertain, inspire and excite theatre-goers this season.

Don’t want to miss out on any of the fun? Email to get on the Malaspina Theatre’s new mailing list, which provides arts fans with information about upcoming plays and events.

First up is a celebration of the theatre’s 40th anniversary and the renovations recently completed through VIU’s Encore fundraising campaign. After four decades of use by VIU students, faculty and staff, as well as community groups, the mid-sized theatre needed a makeover, explains Leon Potter, Chair of VIU’s Theatre Department.

To celebrate the successful campaign and show off the new look, which includes new seats, a fresh coat of paint, new lobby furniture, a donor plaque acknowledging campaign supporters and a new bar area, there will be an open house today (Friday, September 16) from 1 - 5 pm, followed by a VIU Theatre and Music Alumni Reunion in recognition of the theatre’s 40th anniversary from 6 - 9 pm.

“It’s a much more welcoming, professional space,” he says. “The goal is to continue to be a rich centre for the arts and culture scene in Nanaimo.”

Malaspina Theatre’s fall play (November 3 - 12) is Departures & Arrivals, a series of 22 vignettes set in an airport departure and arrival lounge, written by Governor General-award winning author and playwright Carol Shields and directed by Ross Desprez. “Her work is fantastically perceptive, not for its dramatic suspense, but rather for her ability to capture a vast spectrum of human nature,” says Potter. “She uses the medium of an airport arrivals area as a canvas on which she paints humanity in a series of amusing, dramatic, passionate and deeply moving scenes.”

The Theatre’s inaugural 24-Hour Playwriting Competition takes place November 18 - 20. Teams of five people each receive a prop, a costume piece, a quote and a sound effect to weave into a 15-minute-or-less show. Anyone can participate. “Never underestimate the power of last-minute panic,” says Potter. “On the Sunday are the final performances, which are judged by a panel of representatives from the arts community. The winning team scoops some prizes and, of course, bragging rights!”

In January (date to be determined), the Theatre’s One Acts Festival, put on by Satyr Players, a VIU student-run theatre company, brings in students from various departments across campus. Participants choose a play that’s less than half an hour long to produce. While mostly Theatre students participate as directors, they often choose a play written by a student in another program, says Potter. “It’s a popular event on campus – last year’s festival was sold out,” he says.

The season finishes off March 2 - 11 with an adaptation of a timeless classic – Oscar Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Gray. In the novel, a portrait of Dorian Gray somehow becomes enchanted, so that it ages instead of him. Free to do as he pleases with no visible effect on his physical self, Dorian spirals into a life of sin and debauchery, while the portrait bears the brunt of his lifestyle. Potter says the classic story is being adapted for stage and directed by Robinson Wilson, a local director/actor and fight choreographer. “The story is extremely powerful and it lends itself well to the stage,” Potter adds.

The Theatre is also home to numerous rentals throughout the year, from graduation celebrations, to fundraisers, to readings and dance performances. To learn more, sign up to the Theatre’s new mailing list by emailing or visit the upcoming events calendar.



Jenn McGarrigle, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

P: 250.740.6288 | C: 250.619.6860 | E: | T: @VIUNews

Sidebar: Malaspina Theatre 2016-17 Season Lineup

  • Friday, September 16: Open House and VIU Theatre and Music Alumni Reunion

  • November 3-12: Fall play: Departures & Arrivals written by Carol Shields and directed by Ross Desprez

  • November 18-20: 24-Hour Playwriting Competition

  • January (Date TBD): One Acts Festival

  • March 2-11: Spring play: Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, adapted to the stage and directed by Robinson Wilson

Tags: Announcements

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