The Incubator Project - 2016
The Belfry Theatre in Victoria, BC has accepted Open Pit Theatre into their two-year Incubator Project which aims to mentor individuals or companies over a two year period as they work on a new piece of theatre. Jessica is developing a new physical play about her mother that is currently called Marrying Mary.
In October 2016, Open Pit Theatre spent one week at The Belfry Theatre workshopping the play with an ensemble of ten performers. Julie McIsaac came over from Vancouver and Geneviève Doyon came down from the Yukon to assist as the main collaborators.
Open Pit Theatre aims to produce this new work by 2018.
The Yukon Verbatim Project - 2014
From June 2014 to March 2016, Open Pit Theatre embarked on a two year journey called The Yukon Verbatim Project. The project included over sixty territory-wide interviews with Yukon residents, verbatim workshops with guest dramaturge Joel Bernbaum, and the development of a new Yukon play called Words of the Yukon.
Here is a summary of the project:
- June 2014, Geneviève Doyon and Jessica Hickman travelled to Vancouver to meet with the project dramaturge. Joel had just finished working on his verbatim play Home is a Beautiful Word for The Belfry Theatre and spent three days giving Gen and Jess insights into the world of collecting verbatim theatre interviews. Gen would be writing the piece, and Jess would be directing it.
- From May to December 2014, Open Pit Theatre conducted interviews in Whitehorse and then travelled to Dawson City, Keno, Mayo, Carcross, Teslin, and Ross River. The interviews were conducted around the theme of home and land in the Yukon.
- The interviews were transcribed by over twenty-five nation wide transcribers and Gen set to work editing the large amount of material into one cohesive play.
- In January 2015, Joel visited Whitehorse for a one-week development workshop. Six actors were hired to work with Gen and Joel as they workshopped the gathered material. Joel led the actors and gave Gen playwriting exercises to allow her to dig further into the text.
- By March 2015 Gen had completed the first draft of the play and this is where our director, Jessica stepped back into the process. Open Pit Theatre hired six actors and Jessica led them in our second development workshop. After exploring the text on our feet, we presented a public staged reading of the play, which included some basic blocking. The readings were well attended and provided the company with positive feedback.
- Since then Gen has continued to refine the script. Our new verbatim play Words of the Yukon will premiere in September 2017 and will be directed by Jessica.
The Devised Yukon Project - 2011
Open Pit Theatre began as an ad hoc collective for the purposes of The Devised Yukon Project. In 2010, Sam Bergman-Good and Jessica Hickman were interested in forming an ensemble that would spend 8 weeks together developing a new work. They applied for funding, and were astounded to receive financial support from four funding bodies. Thus, the project began! Four performers, in addition to Sam and Jessica were hired from across Canada to participate in The Devised Yukon Project.
The launch the work, Open Pit Theatre invited guest artist Ker Wells to lead the ensemble in an intensive two week workshop. This workshop strengthened the ensemble vocabulary, way of working, and aesthetic.
From there, the group spent six weeks working full time on the development of a new show called Nowhere Near, which was presented as a new work in progress at The Yukon Arts Centre in August 2011.