As first time directors with the Studio Theatre, Mary-Jo Hilyer and Micheal Hodgson have been having a great time directing Office Hours, which begins its two-week run this Wednesday evening.
Starting while he was still in school, Hodgson has acted in many plays for the Studio Theatre, and done many jobs behind the scenes such as lights, sound, props, and stage managing.
“I’ve pretty much done everything except costumes and makeup,” Hodgson says.
Hilyer has worked behind the scenes in various roles such producing, stage managing, props managing, and once acting in a role in Bill W. and Dr. Bob.
So for her directing was a natural evolutionary challenge.
“I’ve been involved with the Studio Theatre for 11 years now and for me directing has evolved from watching other plays being developed,” Hilyer says. “Its been a great experience working with some very talented actors.”
Hilyer says she and Hodgson were ready to direct but felt it would be easier if they tackled their first directing project together.
They are each directing three of the six one-act plays that makes up Canadian playwright Norm Foster’s comedy Office Hours.
“It’s been fun,” Hodgson says. “Choosing a good script was very important. We wanted to find a good solid script for first time actors and directors and Norm Foster is as solid a Canadian playwright as you can get.”
Hilyer and Hodgson are each directing three of the six one-act plays that make up Office Hours.
Hodgson is directing The Agent, The Reporter, and The Dismissal while Hilyer is directing The Pitch, The Visit, and The Analyst.
Hodgson says his favourite skit is The Agent in which a husband has been caught cheating red handed by his wife and chaos ensues. “He tries every trick in the book to get out of trouble and fails,” Hodgson says.
Both Hilyer and Hodgson says they worked hard to bring newcomers into the Studio Theatre.
“Its going to be great fun to watch,” Hodgson says. “What we are most proud of is the number of new people we have brought into the theatre.”
Hilyer agrees that bringing in newcomers for roles on stage and behind the scenes has been one of their main goals. She says some of the new actors have acted with other clubs but are new to the Studio Theatre.
Newcomers to the Studio Theatre stage are Therisa Peimer as Pam Gerard, Ellie Young, and Sharon Freeman; Merla Monroe as Rhonda Penny; and Terra McGuire as Francine Majors and Sam Thurber.
Returning to the stage are Tony Savile as Lloyd Penny; Shane Tollefson as Mark Young and Artie Barnes; Dexter Giesbrecht as the one armed man, Gordon Blaine, and Richard/Neil Penny; and Harry Jennings as Warren Kimble, Bobby Holland, and a man.
“People who are already involved with the Studio Theatre are also taking on new challenges,” Hilyer says.
“All of the techs are new or are in different jobs,” Hodgson adds. He says stage manager Brad Lawryk has acted several times but this is his first time behind the scenes.
“We would like to encourage people who have never been to the Studio Theatre to see a play to come out and enjoy the performance,” Hilyer says.
“It all takes place in an office. The plays are different but they all connect in some way. It is a very light-hearted comedy.”
Office Hours is on stage at the Studio Theatre starting this Wednesday evening, Nov. 16 to 19 and Nov. 23 to 26.